Chicken, Corn & Coriander Quesadilla [Video Recipe!]

I'm back with another video recipe! This was a simple one to kick off 2014 – a chicken, corn and coriander pesto quesadilla that comes together in a matter of minutes.

It's also highly customisable – replace chicken with salmon, prawns, or make it veggie and add some cooked black beans.

The coriander and chilli pesto is a thing of wonder, and a real staple in my kitchen. It's a-mah-zing in this quesadilla, but it's also lovely on a piece of grilled fish, or with some roast chicken. It also makes a yummy dipping sauce with some nacho chips. So make it, keep it in the fridge and put it on EVERYTHING.

Coriander and Chilli Pesto

1/3 cup cashew nuts

1 cup coriander leaves and stems

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 peeled cloves of garlic

2 large green chillies, trimmed of their stems

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Blend everything together in a food processor or blender until smooth, and slather it all over the place (or just on your quesadilla).

Earl Grey Baby Bun Cookies [Video Recipe!]

Just as Chinese New Year is starting to wind down, I've got one of my Simply Special videos by the Asian Food Channel with a recipe that's suitable for a festive occasion or anytime, really.

These cookies are based on the little mantou-esque cookies that I used to devour when I was a kid. They're such cute little morsels, and they melt in your mouth with a lovely milky flavour. This time around, I added Earl Grey tea leaves for extra fragrance.

Give them a whirl, and let me know what you think! And look out for more to come from Simply Special!

Lemon Pistachio Cake, And Another Birthday


So it was my birthday two days ago. I am now closer to thirty than I am to twenty. Is that an eyeroll-worthy statement? Doesn't matter, it's true. I'm not saying I'm old, I'm just saying that I'm in a place in my life that I feel a little unprepared for.


Until relatively recently, I was always a 5-year plan sort of person. I thought I had everything worked out, present and future. And then things started deviating so much from what I had anticipated that the only way to live with everything was to let go, and accept that things will happen the way they're going to happen, not the way you want them to.


Don't get me wrong, I am in no way complaining. I think I'm just saying everything out loud to remind myself not to get caught in a web of small anxieties. And to remember that I'm a happier person for it. Things change, yes. But when they do, new things (and people) walk into your life, and make you see yourself in a different, and maybe even better way.


I am genuinely excited to see what the rest of this year holds, but I'm more than happy with simply pleasures, little joys and steady achievements. This cake is a beauty, but not in a wham bam kind of way. It's understated, comforting and just a little rough around the edges, but in the end, it can't help but be delicious – a little how I'd like my year to turn out.


Lemon and Pistachio Cake
[adapted from Huckleberry by Zoe Nathan]

For the cake:
430g/1 cups + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
450g/2 cups caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of 3 lemons
Seeds from 4 cardamom pods, ground
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 eggs
200g/2 cups toasted, ground pistachios (just whizz up shelled pistachios to a powder)
200g/2 cups ground almonds
100g/3/4 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

For the Lemon-Pistachio syrup:
100g/1/2 cup roasted pistachios
100g/1/2 cup caster sugar
100g/1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 170c and grease and line a 10-inch/25-cm round cake tin.

Using a handheld whisk or stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter, sugar salt and lemon zest on medium-high speed, until it becomes fluffy and pale. This takes about 2-3 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract and eggs one at a time, beating after every egg. Stop halfway through to scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula. Next, add the ground pistachios, ground almonds, flour, ground cardamom and baking powder and mix on a low speed, just until all the ingredients are blended.

Scrape the batter out into the prepared cake tin, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a cake tester or skewer stuck into the centre comes out clean. If it begins to brown too much on top but still wobbles in the centre, cover the top loosely with foil, lower the oven temperature to 160c and add 15 minutes to the cooking time.

Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a serving plate.

Make the syrup by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer together for about 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has thickened slightly.

Using a thin skewer or chopstick, poke small holes through the cake. Slowly drizzle the syrup and nuts onto the cake and let it sit for about 30 minutes, so the sticky sweet syrup really gets absorbed by the cake crumb. Serve!

If you'd like to add a more heady, Middle Eastern perfume to the cake, 1 teaspoon of rose water is really nice added to the cooked syrup.

Gyeoja Naengchae – Mustardy Korean Salad


I’ll admit, it took me a while to get on board with salad as a proper meal. Seeing people munching away on leaves, trying to will themselves to feel full, just didn’t do it for me. And yet, salads now make a regular appearance on my daily menu.

Did I join a rabbit-emulating cult? No. Unlike most salad bars that charge sky-high prices for watery leaves, not enough protein and an insipid dressing, the salads I like to make are satisfying, delicious and even a joyful thing to eat. All you need are the right ingredients and flavours.


This little number is a straight remake of a Korean classic, gyeoja naengchae. It’s crisp, sweet and refreshing, but the Korean mustard dressing gives it (and you) a huge kick. On a hot, sweaty day, it’s absolutely perfect. Like all salads, this is more of a guide than a recipe, so feel free to change up the ingredients as you like.

The OCD part of me loves this dish because of how it’s presented, with all the different ingredients nicely compartmentalised. After all, when you know you’re eating clean, your mind feels a little neater. Give this spicy, yummy meal a shot and say goodbye to the days of sad salad.


Gyeoja Naengchae (Korean Salad with Mustard Dressing)

Serves 2

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon mustard powder (I use Coleman’s English Mustard Powder)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

A pinch of salt

1 tablespoon sesame oil

For the salad:

1 Asian pear, peeled and sliced into thin strips

1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thin strips

1 cucumber, deseeded and sliced into thin strips

½ head of cabbage, sliced thinly

A generous handful of sprouts, such as dou miao, sunflower sprouts or alfalfa sprouts

1 cooked chicken breast, shredded

To make the dressing, mix the mustard powder with the vinegar and stir to combine. Let it sit and thicken for about 10 minutes. You can also use ready-made English mustard and reduce the amount of vinegar slightly.

Add the honey, salt and sesame oil to the dressing and mix well.

Arrange the salad ingredients on a plate or platter, and drizzle with the dressing. Top with sesame seeds, toasted pine nuts or even chia seeds. Dig in!

Happy 2015! (And A Mango Chia Pudding)

I think most people’s new years begin with a bunch of resolutions. Whether it’s hitting the gym, getting a promotion at work or attaining peace, people want to mark the start of something different and better.

But, when your resolutions resemble last year’s (and the year before’s), maybe you’re aiming for something too grand. It’s always admirable to aim high, but maybe new year’s resolutions should be a little more attainable. That way, the year won’t become a minefield of disappointments, but a landscape of little victories.

This recipe nicely embodies all the little resolutions I – and probably at least a few others – would like to get around to in the new year: cooking more, eating healthier, simplifying my life, enjoying it and spending more time with friends and loved ones.

It’s a perfect dessert to round up a dinner party, but it more than pulls its weight in the nourishment department. It’s also really easy to whip up. If it’s possible to start your year the way you’d like to end it, I’d say this is a small step in the right direction.

Spiced Mango Chia Pudding
Makes 4 servings

¼ cup chia seeds

2 cups fresh coconut or unsweetened soy milk (or a half water half milk mixture)

3 tablespoons agave nectar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-2 teaspoons rempah kueh (or a blend of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves)

2 large mangoes, cut into large cubes

In a bowl, mix the coconut or soy milk with the agave nectar, vanilla extract and spices until everything is combined. Add the chia seeds in and stir. Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes, until the chia seeds have plumped up and everything is thickened.

Spoon some pudding mix into a serving glass, until the halfway point. Layer some mango cubes on top, and cover with more pudding mix, leaving some room at the top of the glass. Finish off with more mango cubes.

Chill the puddings in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve cold and, if you like, topped with some toasted almond or coconut flakes.

Pommy Jolly Christmas

This is a really sore spot for me, but my father hates Christmas. In the lead-up to festivities, he’s ambivalent to any Christmas cheer. I’m not sure if I’ve ever gotten over the trauma of him throwing my precious small plastic Christmas tree away one year. Every year, all through Christmas dinner, he sits in a corner eating quietly and rolling his eyes at Christmas clichés. Then, a magical moment arrives. When it’s time to douse the Christmas pudding in brandy and flambé it, finally, I see a spark in his eyes and he gets excited.

Even if you don’t enjoy the shopping, eating frenzy that Christmas is sometimes, I think almost everyone has some festive moment to look forward to. I’m not embarrassed to say that I love Christmas. Not in a mystical or spiritual way, but for its full kitschy, silly glory.

This punch says so much about Christmas to me. First of all, it comes in a great big bowl, so everyone can help themselves to seconds. It’s ruby red, orangy, floral, leafy, warming, fizzy and definitely alcoholic. And just to go full Martha Stewart/elf, it’s topped with a ice ‘wreath’ filled with rosemary sprigs and clementine slices. Because if you can’t embrace a theme at Christmas, then when can you?

Pomegranate Elderflower Ginger Punch

¾ cup whisky (or go the whole hog and do 1 cup!)

1 cup Cointreau or other orange liqueur

3 cups pomegranate juice

⅓ cup elderflower cordial

1 cup ginger beer (or even champagne – but up the elderflower cordial for sweetness)

Juice of 1 lemon

Bunch of rosemary sprigs

Clementine or orange slices

To make the ice ring, lay most of the rosemary sprigs and clementine or orange slices around in a ring-shaped cake tin. Cover with water and freeze until solid.

In a big bowl, stir all the other ingredients and the remaining few rosemary sprigs together. Add the ice ring and serve!

This recipe first appeared on  Page Five, as part of Kitchenhoarder's ongoing collaboration with luxury vintage haven The Fifth Collection.

Macritchie Mule

There are two types of people in this world: Birthday people and not-Birthday people. I fall firmly in the first camp. Not because I think it’s important to celebrate Your Self or anything in that narcissistic vein. It’s because – and I’ve said this enough times – any excuse for a party is a worthy one.

I’m about to tell you about a take on a classic cocktail, but don’t freak out! I know that revamped recipes often involve complicated steps, obscure ingredients and the like, but I promise you this is achievable, impressive and delicious.

In honour of The Fifth Collection's Curator’s birthday, I’ve taken her favourite drink, the classic Moscow Mule, and given it a fresh, local spin. It’s the perfect refreshing drink for anyone in Singapore (or any other sweaty city) – thus, the Macritchie Mule, with an almost healthy bent. So sip away and celebrate!

Macritchie Mule

Makes one birthday girl or boy very happy

One (or two) 25-ml shot of vodka – I like Zubrowka here for its grassy flavour

One thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled

One big green chilli

Juice of one lime

Juice of one grapefruit, or 100ml grapefruit juice

2 teaspoons agave nectar

Sparkling water (or champagne!) to top up

With a fine grater, grate the ginger into a mixing glass. I like everything gingery, but if you don’t, just use less ginger. Slice the chilli into big diagonal slices and get rid of the seeds.

Add the vodka, lime juice, grapefruit juice and agave nectar, and stir to combine. Throw in two or three green chilli slices, and lightly muddle to get some spice going. Taste it and adjust to your liking.

Grab a pretty glass, fill with ice, and pour the cocktail over. Top up with soda water or champagne and garnish with a lime wedge and chilli slice.

This recipe first appeared on Page Five, as part of Kitchenhoarder's ongoing collaboration with luxury vintage haven The Fifth Collection.

Tomato, Anchovy and Pepper Pasta with Parsley

Italy. That sacred land of food. Something about the idea of eating in Italy really does captivate, doesn’t it? I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like Italian food, and I hope I never do. It’s the Tom Hanks of the food world: universally loved.

It’s no surprise, really. Italian food is so delicious, so fulfilling, yet not intimidating to try making yourself. I’ve spent weeks at a time surviving on pasta, and it never felt like a chore. On top of being perfect as day-to-day sustenance, it’s also built to impress. Roast a beautiful pork belly, porchetta style, or make your own gnocchi in sage brown butter, and anyone will be putty in your hands.

I may never have been to Italy, but I think there are few things in the world that can be as simultaneously comforting and sexy as a bowl of Spaghetti Carbonara, or as warm and welcoming as a bubbling pot of Lamb Ragu.

This simple recipe is perfect for hot summer days – and nights (all the time in Singapore). It’s almost part-salad, part-pasta. I like using plenty of tomatoes, and only cooking them slightly, so they still retain their freshness. With a base of anchovies and peppers, and finished with lots of parsley, chopped almonds and parmesan cheese, this makes an amazing companion to a glass of chilled white wine.

Tomato, Anchovy and Pepper Pasta with Parsley

Serves 2

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 red bell pepper, sliced into short strips

1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4-5 anchovies in olive oil

A generous bunch of parsley, leaves torn off and roughly chopped

A handful of almonds, roughly chopped

Parmesan cheese and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to finish

Enough spaghetti (I used wholemeal here) for two - around 120g

Boil the spaghetti, or whatever pasta you prefer, in plenty of salted boiling water.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil up in a sauté pan over a medium. Add the anchovies and garlic, and stir to dissolve the anchovies.

Add the bell pepper slices to the pan and stir to cook. You want the bell pepper to soften slightly, but still retain a bite. This usually takes about 5 minutes.

Toss in the halved cherry tomatoes and cook until they just start to wilt and are warmed through. Drain your pasta and mix through with the sauce. Throw in the parsley and give it a quick stir.

Serve your pasta with chopped almonds and grated parmesan cheese, as well as a lovely drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!

This recipe first appeared on Page Five, as part of Kitchenhoarder's ongoing collaboration with luxury vintage haven The Fifth Collection.