Friday, April 30, 2010

Jade: Bitemyrojak

I remember the haze and coxsackie outbreak out '97. My sister and I weren't allowed out of the house for nearly 2 months. While I was perfectly happy not going to school for 6 weeks, the thought of all the street food I was missing out on was pretty damn near unbearable. I would lie in bed at night imagining the smell and taste of my favourite noodles, unable to sleep. Having said that, I think a lot of the food we miss when we're away from home is associated with treasured memories and a sense of longing for days gone by rather than a sole appreciation of the actual flavours involved. For me, teh tarik is less about the sweet tea and more about nights out with boarding school mates at mamak stalls; kampua mee never fails to bring back that buzz of excitement I used to feel when we would load up the car for our yearly trips back to our hometown. So when my pregnant friend's husband brought her jars of rojak sauce from home, I found myself craving for exactly that. Not so much the husband bit, but the pungent, briny smell of prawn paste...takes me right back to when I was 12, waiting for my dad to pick me up from tuition, knowing he's late because he's stopped to get a packet of rojak and ang dao beng for tea :)

Rojak for two

Half a cucumber, pared into chunks
Half a pineapple, cut into chunks [ I got mine ready peeled and cored from Asda]
Half an apple, cored and cut into chunks
Half a block of firm white tofu, cubed and panfried till brown and crisp on the outside

2 big tbsp prawn paste
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sambal olek
1tsp roasted chilli paste [potent stuff, adjust accordingly]
Juice of half a lime
As much crushed peanuts as you like, reserving a bit to sprinkle on top. I'm very generous with the nuts
* In an ideal world, I'd have ginger flower..but let's be realistic..this is England..

1. While the tofu is frying, whisk together the ingredients for the rojak sauce, tasting and
adjusting as you go along. Helps to add a tiny bit of hot water to break things up a little.
2. Cut up the fruit and veg
3. Spoon over the delicious rojak sauce, sprinkle some crushed peanuts over it, toss to coat and top with even more peanuts..and what you should end up with are juicy, crunchy chunks of fresh fruit cloaked in spicy, salty dressing

*I rather think eating it is an art on its own..I start by eating all the cucumbers because I don't like them..then I start on the apples..then the sweet, sweet pineapples..and finally, I mop up what's left of the rich sauce with soft bits of tofu...sheer rapture :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jade: Bitemybruschetta

I love the versatility of food. It's hardly ever an exact science and most of the time recipes and cook books serve as more of a guide/ source of inspiration..I never follow recipes to the letter because half the fun is in experimenting with alternative ingredients and ratios. I got a little cookbook from the charity shops over the weekend and what I found most precious were the pencilled-in notes and suggestions in the margins of every page. "Too salty, try adding cumin?".."More zest, smaller portions, would make a wonderful starter"...someone had obviously taken the time to try these recipes and alter them to suit her palate. Shame that it ended up being given away...ah well, lucky me:)

Tomato bruschetta [ Adapted from yet another one of Raymond Blanc's recipes. This started out as Maman Blanc's tomato salad..thick slices of organic tomatoes marinated in a tangy mustard dressing. I had a craving for something light that I could pick on...something like bruschetta ;) ]

Half a crusty french baguette, sliced diagonally
1 beefsteak tomato [ you want something very firm and meaty since it forms the bulk of this dish]
1 shallot, cut in half, slice one half thinly and chop up the other half, this way u get a bit of it in the dressing, and a bit in the salad for crunch
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 tbsp dijon mustard [ I used wholegrain]
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp warm water
some torn, fresh basil
some chopped parsley
1 chunk of goats cheese

1. Chop the tomato into medium sized chunks and place in a bowl
2. Add the thinly sliced shallots
3. In a separate bowl, mix the mustard, oil, garlic and chopped shallots till you get a thick paste
4. Then add the warm water, and whisk, so you get a lovely yellow emulsion
5. Spoon over the tomatoes, give it a gentle mix and leave to marinade for an hour or so
6. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and when that's ready, bake the baguette slices for about 10 minutes
7. Remove the baguette and drizzle with olive oil. I used sundried tomato oil because I had some in the fridge
8. Add the herbs to the salad, give it a quick toss, spoon over the baguette slices and top with some torn up goats cheese. Bon apetít :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jade: Bitemytomato

The best thing about living in catered halls, besides having someone to clean your bathroom and kitchen, was always breakfast. Granted it was the only palatable meal served at the canteen..I loved the convenience of waking up, knowing a hot breakfast complete with my choice of tea, coffee or hot chocolate awaited. There was something so grown-up about getting to choose between hot danish or buttered toast, fruit or yoghurt and if it was yoghurt, what flavour? And then there was the cooked breakfast~ sausages, bacon, beans, mushrooms, eggs, fried bread..the works. It was always sausages and beans on days when I was feeling particularly indulgent...eggs on toast whenever I missed home because my mum used to make them..and on weekends, bacon on toast, topped with lashings of honey.

Stuffed tomato with mushrooms [ Inspired by Raymond Blanc's stuffed tomatoes. I was watching him on BBC and all I could think about the whole time was how I could turn it into a nice breakfast. Monsieur Blanc stuffed his tomatoes with minced pork and served them with a rich tomato sauce. I stuffed mine with sausage meat, nestled it in a bed of fried mushrooms and topped it with an egg, sunny side up]

1 beefsteak tomato [you want a big, sturdy tomato that will hold the filling and not turn into mush after baking]
1 pork sausage, skin removed
2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs [ I didn't have any so I used cracker crumbs]
1 small shallot, diced finely
1 clove garlic, minced
some chopped sage
1 egg yolk and a drizzle of olive oil to bind
some grated pecorino
freshly cracked black pepper

fresh parsley, chopped
a splash of white wine
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Combine sausage meat with breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs and seasoning, binding it with the egg and olive oil. Don't bother with a fork, use your hands
3. Cut off the top of the tomato, and using a spoon, gauge out the pulp and discard or save it for a tomato sauce
4. Stuff the tomato with your sausage mix, grate some more cheese over the top, drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 20-25 minutes
5. In the meantime, pop the mushrooms in a pan, add a glug of wine and stir till softened
6. Fry an egg just before the tomato is ready
7. Dish up and there you have it. My version of a British fry-up. None of the grease, all of the pleasure ;)

Jade: Bitemydongfun

One of my best friends' uncle owns a little coffeeshop in the old part of town. My family has been eating there since forever. It's nothing fancy~none of the western inspired deco sported by so many cafés these days, no colourful drinks with posh names..Just good old-fashioned mosaic-tiled floors, giant white ceiling fans and metal chairs. And the food? Proper hearty, homey fare that never fails to make me smile. It's the sort of place where you see the same retired old men sitting at the same table every morning with their cups of coffee, where the owners know you so well they bring you what you want before you even ask for it..Helps too that I get to eat for free when I go with my friend :P

Fried Dong Fun/ Bean threads [ One of my favourite dishes at Ah Hee's, who knows " giam liao, dang hoon ka jer'' ~go easy on the meat and veg, more bean threads please ]

Bean threads, soaked in cold water till soft and tossed in a bit of sesame oil so they don't go clumpy
Sliced belly pork, marinated in kicap manis, shao xing wine and sesame oil. Use beef if you prefer
Carrots, julienned
Spring onions, julienned
Cabbage, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
Beansprouts if you like them. I always pick them out so it's a bit pointless
1 tbsp kicap manis
1 tbsp shaoxing wine
Light soy to taste

1. Get a wok really hot, heat up some oil, and stir in the garlic
2. Add the julienned vegetables and give a quick stir. You could set them aside so they retain their crunch, but I hate carrots, so I will do anything to mask their taste n texture.
3. Add the pork
4. Add bean threads and toss well
5. Drizzle in the wine and kicap manis and season to taste
6. I like to leave it in the searing hot wok while I do the washing up so I get little charred bits at the bottom
7. Plate and slurp :)

And for dessert, because it's Friday and I had some leftover crumble mix that I'd frozen, a lush banana pecan crumble, my most comfy pyjamas and my favourite cooking show.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jade: Bitemycrumble

I think most people have their own little quirks when it comes to food~ a defining routine perhaps..or a pet peeve they have absolutely no tolerance for. I save my favourite bits on a dish till last, so I can savour them slowly once everything else is gone...the yummy egg whites of a slow braised soy egg.. the hot, crunchy skin off a piece of fried chicken..the juicy mushrooms in a rich stew...they stay on the corner of my plate not because I don't want them, and if you touch them I will hit you. I nibble the ears, arms and legs off gummy bears...I might eat the head if I'm in a good mood, but never the body. And very little irks me more than soggy pastry alá hospital canteens. Why anyone would drown a perfectly decent apple crumble or pie in watered down custard is beyond me. My way involves getting a wide bowl, sitting my piece of crumble right in the centre, and ladling the custard around the fruity compote so the crumble stays the way it's meant to stay~~ crumbly ;)

Apple crumble [ courtesy of a mid-movie craving and the lone apple in my fridge]

1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
Large pinch of cinnamon
1 tbsp white wine [ you could use water or juice, I was feeling a little self indulgent]

3 tbsp plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp cold butter
Pinch of salt
1 tsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
2. Put the apple, butter, sugar, cinnamon and wine in a little pot, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally~ You want to cook it down to a deliciously soft, sticky mess
3. Spoon into a ramekin, and leave to cool
4. In the meantime, rub the flour and butter until you get a coarse, mealy mixture
5. Stir in the sugar and sprinkle over the compote. I love the crumble topping, so I am very generous with it
6. Bake for 20 minutes, till the topping is golden and bubbling
7. Serve as is, with custard or ice cream and curl up in your squishiest chair with a girly choice? New Moon. Oh the cheesiness ;P

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jade: Bitemytofu

It's 1.30 in the afternoon, I'd spent the morning speaking to newly pregnant women...sounding like Donald Duck thanks to a heavy cold did nothing for my credibility..Nose dripping like a tap, I take a tentative step towards the canteen, momentarily pleased to have blocked sinuses that protect me from the usual pong of overcooked vegetables and old grease. In my head, I make a little deal with God~ If soup of the day is double-boiled chicken soup with shitaake mushrooms and fish maw, I shall donate my first paycheck to the NHS. Heart pounding, I lift the lid of the soup pot......No fish maw...only the remnants of a vegetable bouillon cube and some sad bits of cabbage.. :(

Tofu Soup~ the first thing I made the second I got back to my own kitchen.

1 block white tofu
300g pork ribs
1 tomato, quartered
1tbsp fried shallots
salt and pepper to taste

1. Blanch pork ribs, pour away the water, and refill the pot with about 3-4 cups of water
2. Add the tomato and fried shallots and bring to boil
3. Lower heat and simmer for about an hour
4. Add tofu, season to taste and simmer for another 10 minutes or so
5. Ladle into a large bowl and sip slowly while plotting grand bids to take over NHS catering.

** And if you get bored of plain tofu soup, a tablespoon of good quality tom yum paste, some coriander and lime juice, good splash of fish sauce and some seafood gives you instant, sexy tom yum soup ;)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jade: Bitemyhummingbird

I used to watch Oprah with my mum years ago and there was this particular episode...Art Smith was on it and everyone was raving about his hummingbird cake. I distinctly remember the secret ingredient being apple sauce and at the end of the show, waiters trooped down the aisles with individually packaged hummingbird cupcakes for everyone in the audience. Lucky sods. I finally decided to make hummingbird cake over the interesting concoction of mashed bananas, crushed pineapple and apple sauce. Did it live up to all that hype? .......haven't got a clue. I have the mother of all colds and I can't bloody smell or taste anything :(

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jade: Bitemysalad #3

You know those days when you get home after a long day in theatres and seemingly endless train journeys..and all you want to do is collapse in a heap on the cosy familiarity of your own bed and snuggle...doesn't matter if it's a smelly old baby blanket or a frayed soft toy you've had since you were 3...The only thing left to do is to order yourself some chinese takeaway and bury yourself in its msg-laden glory. Well as much as I would've died for some roast duck rice, with the sun shining and everyone prancing around in their summer best, I couldn't justify gorging on an entire container of fat, salt and carbs....So I made myself a salad instead. Equally comforting, much less guilt ;)

Roasted sweet potato salad with balsamic reduction [I think with all the diet trends floating about, salads have gained a rather unfair notoriety..the reality is if you just spend a little time on them, salads don't have to be rabbit food..but rather a symphony of fresh flavours and textures]

1 sweet potato, parboiled for about 15 minutes, cut into wedges
2 large shallots/ pearl onions, peeled and quartered
Handful toasted pine nuts
Some sharp, soft cheese [ Goats cheese would be perfect. I used some low fat cream cheese I had left]
Mixed salad leaves

Olive oil, salt and pepper, maybe a pinch of dried thyme
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp golden syrup

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees

2. Toss the potato wedges and shallots in olive oil, salt, pepper and dried herbs and bake for about 30-35 minutes
3. For the balsamic reduction, simmer the vinegar, sugar and golden syrup until it thickens and all that initial acridity disappears..leaving you with a dressing that has a mellow intensity
4. Arrange some torn salad leaves on a plate, drizzle with some dressing
5. Top with your sweet potato and onion wedges, tear up some cheese on top, sprinkle with pine nuts and finish off with the rest of your dressing

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jade: Bitemycaiguon

I went to Chinatown to pick up some stuff for a dish I was bringing to my friend's place. It was meant to be a potluck and I got a text from her saying "we have lots of curry, so anything but''...and the thing when you're making food for lots of people is, it has to be something easy and fun..and in this case portable. I wasn't about to braise a pork leg for 5 hours and attempt to cart that around because by the time that was done, I would be so exhausted and just give the dinner party a miss altogether. So anyway, filled my basket with groceries, brought it to the counter and realized I didn't bring my wallet...You always hear about this but you don't realize how mortifying it actually is until it happens to you. Finally managed to pay for it, and for the first time, the normally aloof shop girl came alive. She saw my basket and realized I'd be making a dish from her country~Vietnam. There was so much animation as she gave me her recipe for it, throwing in some free chives as she reminded me how important it was to get a good balance of sweet, salty and sour. I love how food brings complete strangers together..

Cai Guon~Vietnamese summer rolls [ To the lady in Chinatown, this is for you ;) I'm sad I couldn't find mint and basil too]

1 pack rice paper

1 shallow dish water

1 small packet bean threads/ dong fen, boiled to soften, tossed in a few drops of sesame oil and 1 tbsp of the dipping sauce shown below
Prawns boiled and halved lengthwise
Shredded carrots
Shredded cucumber
Shredded salad leaves [ You could use just lettuce, I used mixed leaves because the colours were pretty]
Shredded mint or basil [ I think this would've made a huge difference flavour wise so please don't leave it out. I had to because I couldn't find any last minute :(]

Dipping sauce
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp water
4 tbsp sugar
juice of one lime
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli finely chopped
1 stalk spring onion, thinly sliced

1. Mix the ingredients for the dipping sauce, reserving 1 tbsp to flavour the bean threads
*Try to work on a non stick surface. I used my silpat
2. Take a sheet of rice paper and dunk it in the dish of water for about 10-20 seconds, make sure the edges are submerged or it'll be a bit stiff to roll
3. Shake it to get rid of excess water, it'll still be a bit stiff, but it will soften while you pile on the ingredients so by the time you're ready to roll, it'll be just right
4. Take your prawns, I used 2 per roll, and place them red side down. This way you'll see that lovely orangey red through the translucent rice paper
5. Add some dong fen, carrots, cucumber and lettuce. Don't be'll break the wrapper
6. Take the edge that's furthest away from you, bring it towards you, tucking in any excess, fold in the sides and gently roll it up. I just found it easier to get a tighter, neater roll this way. Also the excess skin ends up at the bottom so it doesn't cover up the prettiness within the roll
7. Slice in half diagonally, take a piece, dunk it in the dipping sauce, pop the whole thing in your wait...for the explosion of freshness and flavours;)

Jade: Bitemydates

For as long as I can remember, my grandma would brew a huge pot of red date tea on the first day of Chinese New Year. And on the morning of the first day, all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren would gather in her kitchen, slurping down bowls of longevity noodles and cups of this sweet tea. It never occurred to me that I didn't actually have to wait until new year to have it...until my mum started brewing her own. It's amazing how 4 simple ingredients can give off such concentrated flavour...sweet, smoky...and a lovely note at the end that reminds me of palm sugar.

Ang zhor teh [Wikipaedia says it's good for stress and soothing sore throats...just so happens I have both]

100g red dates
80g dried longan

3 honey dates
5-6 cups water
lump sugar

Dump everything into a stock pot and boil for about 1-2 hours
Serve hot on a nippy day. Don't forget your porcelain spoon to scoop out crunchy bits of longan;)

~Although when I'm back home and it's 40 degrees, my mum always makes sure there's a ginormous bottle in the fridge

Monday, April 5, 2010

Jade: Bitemyturnip #2

I didn't finish my ultimate selfish day;) After a hearty breakfast of kaya toast and soft boiled eggs, my idea of the perfect selfish lunch would be a piping hot plate of 'char kuay'..not unlike the ubiquitous char kuay tiaw..only instead of boring flat rice noodles, what you get is mouthful after mouthful of fluffy turnip cake, crunchy preserved radish, barely wilted beansprouts and bits of caramelized egg. I like it because it reminds me of late night suppers with my best friends, of noisy food courts and cold beer in the smothering heat... of home:)

Char Kuay~ [my earliest memory of this was actually watching my dad eat my grandma's steamed pumpkin cake. He would cut up the panfried cake into bite sized pieces, and toss them in my grandma's chilli sauce.. and it looked like the most delicious thing in the world to my 5-year old self]

Steamed turnip cake, cut into bite sized chunks
Preserved radish, soaked for a few minutes and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 spring onion, chopped
1 large handful beansprouts
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp thai chilli shrimp paste [optional]
Glug of kicap manis for colour

1. Heat up some oil in a non stick pan, and pan fry the turnip cake. Don't turn them too much, the idea is to let them sit and caramelize and get all nice and crispy on the outside

2. When that's done, set it aside
3. Fry garlic, spring onion and preserved radish on high heat till fragrant and the radish starts to 'pop'
4. Add the chilli shrimp paste and the fried radish cake
5. Add the beansprouts and give a quick stir. Don't add the sprouts too early. You want them to retain their crunch
6. Add the beaten egg, scramble lightly and leave to set.
7. Add kicap manis, give a quick stir and leave it for a bit while you do the washing up. Again, you want some lightly charred just adds so much more depth to the dish
8. Dish up, sprinkle some chopped spring onions over it, drizzle with some chilli sauce if you like and there you have perfect selfish lunch..
Your turn to tell me all about yours :)

Jade: Bitemyturnip

One of the things that kept me sane in my 3rd year were the frequent visits to the local dimsum joint with the girls. For those 2 hours, we would forget about looming exams and horrendous consultants and just be girls. There was an almost ritualistic feel to those afternoons that was remarkably comforting~we would start off with a small cup of chinese tea, necessary in dreary british weather, chat over fried pastries and the occasional plate of roast duck..and finally have full-blown discussions about the most random things while savouring hot steamed dumplings and glistening chee cheong fun. We're in final year now, and while the conversations remain riveting, a 2-hour lunch is a luxury we can no longer afford...not when there are past year papers to be done and journal articles to be critically appraised. What I could and did do, however, was steam my own little dimsum between revision sessions, of course ;)

Lor Bak Gou~Daikon/turnip cake [Adapted from TasteofHongKong]

1kg turnip, peeled, grated and left to drain in a colander
150g rice flour
25g corn flour
1 piece lap cheong [optional, but it really does add to the flavour]
4 pieces dried mushrooms, soaked and roughly chopped
small handful dried scallops, soaked and flaked
20g dried shrimp, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 shallot, thinly sliced
**1 1/4 cup liquid

1/4 tsp fish sauce
1/4tsp sugar
1/4 tsp shaoxing wine

1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp fish sauce
few dashes white pepper

1. Prep your steamer
2.** Reserve juices drained from the grated turnip as well as the soaking juices for the mushrooms and scallops. Make it up to 1 1/4 cup and set aside

3. Marinade mushrooms, scallops and dried shrimp in fish sauce, sugar and wine
4. In a large wok, heat up some oil, I used lard because I had some around. Fry the shallots till they turn a light golden brown, add the marinated mushroom mixture, and fry till fragrant
5. Add the drained turnip and fry for about 5-7 minutes, until they turn translucent and a lovely shade of gold
6. In the meantime, add the reserved liquid to the rice flour and corn flour and whisk till you get a fairly thin batter
7. When the turnip is ready, lower the heat, and pour in the flour batter, stirring as you go along
8. Season to taste and keep stirring until the whole mix starts to resemble thick, sticky, mashed potatoes
9. Grease a baking tin, scoop in your cake mixture and level out the top
10. Steam over high heat for about an hour.
*I didn't have a steamer, so I attempted to construct one using a large pan filled with briskly boiling water, a cookie rack, and my baking tin covered tightly with tin foil. Didn't work very well and I wasn't about to let all that grating go to pot, so I poured some boiling water into a large roasting tin, preheated the oven to 150 degrees, transferred my batter-filled tin into the water bath, foil covering intact and oven steamed it for about an hour or so. Worked like a charm.
11. Let it cool completely before cutting as it's very soft when it's still hot
12. Either enjoy it as is, and believe me, it's delicious enough..or, for that something extra, pan fry it with a little oil so you get a little piece of heaven that is crisp, slightly charred on the outside...and soft, almost creamy on the inside..

Jade: Bitemytausa

Tau sa p'neah~Because I didn't have enough buttermilk filling and fancied making something pretty :) Sweet, nutty red bean paste, crisp, filmy pastry and a faint hit of sesame...brings back memories of treasured visits to the bakery with my dad on hot Saturday afternoons.

Jade: Bitemybuttermilk

There is this bakery opposite where I live back at home. Really really good buns, appalling service. I'm not one for violence but I have been sorely tempted on more than one occasion to throw a frying pan at the 2 owners. The thing that keeps me going back and my urge to hurt someone in check is the buttermilk bun. Not the tangy buttermilk that guarantees a moist cake, but rather this intensely buttery crumble-like concoction that is simultaneously sweet and savoury. It reminds me of the squishy buns we used to get off those mobile sundry shops that would come round in the mornings and how my cousin and I would tear the buns open, scrape out the filling and leave the stale bread. I tried recreating that filling in my kitchen to soothe my ego after pastest told me I'm unfit to sit for finals...choosing to encase the delicate filling in layers and layers of flaky chinese puff pastry instead. I am happy to announce that I no longer have reason to put up with rude bakery owners..and should they upset me ever again, I can always buy me a new frying pan after ;)

Buttermilk pastry~ my new favourite thing to eat
Water dough
120g flour
1/4 tsp maltose dissolved in 1/4 cup water
20g sugar
pinch of salt
35g butter

Oil dough
100g flour
60g shortening

100g butter
80g icing sugar
100g milk powder
pinch of salt

1. See here for pastry method
2. Leave pastry to rest for about 10 minutes and preheat oven to 200 degrees
3. Cream butter, sugar and salt, and beat in milk powder to form a soft, pliable dough
4. Shape into little spheres and wrap
5. Give the pastries a quick eggwash and bake for 20-25 minutes
6. You absolutely have to have one fresh from the oven...doesn't matter if it's burning need to smell the milky fragrance that wafts towards you as you cut into the need to feel the light, crisp pastry melt on your tongue..and you need to let the utter pleasure that is the gorgeous buttermilk filling wash over you and absolutely make your day :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Jade: Bitemykaya

I love Roald Dahl books..I love them for their simplicity and almost lyrical prose, I love how his characters seem to think the exact same thoughts as I do..and how they are brave enough to act on those naughty impulses..but most of all, I love the way he incorporates food into every one of his intricately spun tales ~ from the juicy meat pies and roasted stolen pheasants in Danny to the little aniseed balls I used to crave for in Boy...Imagine my delight when I discovered his granddaughter, equally witty with a deliciously impish demeanour, has a cooking show on BBC featuring themes, my favourite of which is the ultimate selfish day~ A day dedicated entirely to self indulgence. If you think about it, so much of our time is spent worrying about one thing or the other..sometimes pencilling in some down time is a lot more effort that it's worth. But with 2 months to finals, I thought a selfish day sounded like the perfect thing to do ;)

Kaya ~ [an hour of mindless stirring in preparation for my favourite selfish breakfast: Kaya toast and soft boiled eggs, light on the soy, heavy on the pepper]

4 large eggs
80g castor sugar
120g brown sugar
1 tbsp chopped up gula melaka
300g coconut milk

1. Beat eggs on medium speed
2. Add sugar and beat on high

3. Add coconut milk and beat on high for another minute or so
4. Sieve and transfer into a double boiler
5. Cook over low heat until it coats the back of your spoon. Should take about an hour
6. Throw in a pinch of salt at the end, and don't fret if some bits curdle. Just run it through a sieve and you'll end up with a smooth, luscious jam
7. Toast some bread, top with thick chunks of butter and slather with freshly made kaya....sweet coconut jam, slightly salty butter..melted into the tiniest crevices of crispy, hot you blame me for not wanting to share?;)