Recipe: Delicious Shortbread with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Shortbread is the food of the gods. This easy to bake, deliciously addictive, buttery and crumbly biscuit may be Scotland’s greatest vindication where cuisine is concerned. Traditional shortbread is made of nothing but awesome butter, sugar and flour and will save your ass when facing a sudden onslaught of uninvited guests. To go the extra mile, add fresh strawberries and whipped cream to make this an unforgettable dessert experience!

~ Basic Shortbread Recipe ~
(for about 30 or so biscuits)

  • 300g plain white flour
  • 200g butter (unsalted)
  • 100g white sugar
  • small pinch of salt
  • optional: some liquid vanilla extract

Add all ingredients in a bowl and knead with your bare hands until the dry crumbly mass sticks together. Roll the dough (I prefer 5-6mm for thickness but no less than 3mm) and cut into whatever shape you prefer. I’m lazy, so I do uneven squares.

Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15-20mins at 180°C. Once the biscuits start turning a dark golden around the edges, remove from the oven and leave on a cooling rack for at least 15mins.

shortbread02

We already ate a few…

This is where you’re done with the basic shortbread recipe – but we’re just halfway! For divine foodgasm, slice up some fresh strawberries and give them a nice tumble with a bit of powder/icing sugar in a bowl. Next, whip up some cream until light and fluffy.

~ How to serve ~

I like to do three layers of biscuits (still slightly warm after baking) per person or serving. Use a small dessert bowl and start off with some strawberries on the bottom. Break one biscuit in half (or quarters depending on size) and then cover with a spoonful of whipped cream. Rinse and repeat until you’re satisfied with the quantity. Always finish with cream and strawberries on top.

Congratulations – you have officially entered shortbread heaven! OMNOMNOM

shortbread

Fair warning: guests will be back for more.

That Holiday Classic — Spanikopita!

In two days, we (read: Americans) will be engorging ourselves on a feast that only comes round once a year: Thanksgiving dinner. I’m talking sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, yeast rolls, stuffing/dressing/whatever you prefer to call it, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, ham (at least at my house) and, of course, spanikopita! Uhh, you mean…turkey?  No, actually I mean spanikopita, a classic spinach pie with Greek roots. I discovered this magical meal early on in my turn towards vegetarianism, and it became something of a holiday-only thing because of the limited availability of phyllo dough. Back then, the only time I could find phyllo dough was in November and December. Now, that quirky pastry dough is easily findable year-round, but I still tend to only make spanikopita during the holidays. Putting aside the difficulties of working with phyllo dough, spanikopita is a delicious, savory, and satisfying dish that can be equally enjoyed by all. (Seriously, and I’m not much of a fan of spinach!) Yes, you have to be a little easy on the papery phyllo, but the results are worth ten times the effort.

The recipe below serves 6-8 people and can easily be doubled or tripled (which might require 2 packages of phyllo dough). It’s made in an 8- or 9-inch pie plate, but you can also use a similarly sized square baking dish. Or, if you’re feeling brave and creative, you can also cut the dough and fold the filling into triangular “packets.” (Place them on a greased baking sheet and cook at the same temp and time.) But you’ll have to venture elsewhere online to find out how to do that — I just don’t have the skills and patience.

Spanikopita

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil olive oil
1 lb spinach washed and drained, or 10-16 ounces. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
6-7 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper
6-8 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten
3-4 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 package of phyllo dough, thawed (if obtained frozen)

 Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8- or 9-inch pie plate with a little cooking spray.

2. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat and add spinach. Let it wilt fully and then remove from the pan. Place on paper or cloth towels to cool and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Note:  If using frozen spinach, simply thaw and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

3. In same pan sauté scallions in remaining oil until soft. Add spinach back in along with parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well until spinach is warmed through. Remove mixture from pan to cool at least to room temperature.

Note:  Spinach mixture can be made up to a day in advance and stored in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.

4. Once spinach has cooled, stir in feta cheese and egg.

5. Unwrap and unroll thawed phyllo dough and place all the dough between sheets of damp paper towel. Basting each sheet carefully with butter, layer six sheets crossways — alternating between placing them left to right and top to bottom — in bottom of pie plate. (Some of the dough may hang over the edges and that’s okay.)

6. Place spinach and cheese mixture into pie plate and spread evenly. If your phyllo dough hangs over the edges of the plate, wrap it over the top.

7. Again basting each sheet carefully with butter, arranged 6 more sheets of dough on top of the spinach. (You can wrap or fold the dough in whatever manner you like to cover the pie, but none should hang over the edges of the plate, otherwise it’ll burn.)

8. Baste top layer with butter and cook for about 30 minutes, or until top is browned and filling is set.

9. Once done, cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into wedges.

*****

Because of phyllo dough’s tendency to become soggy, spanikopita is best enjoyed the day it’s cooked. Leftovers reheat well enough, but the dough will not become as crispy as when it’s first cooked.


Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.

Mmmm…Pancakes

A couple weeks ago, I wrote up a post on Melt Organic, a butter substitute. That post included this picture:

Those pancakes...d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.

Those pancakes…d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.

I subsequently got a very nice request for my pancake recipe, which I’m pleased to share with the Internet today. Though in truth, this is not my recipe, but rather a recipe from my favorite Betty Crocker cookbook that I doctored slightly to include some preferential flavors (namely brown sugar and cinnamon, just enough to mildly spice things up). Though I like my pancakes to soak up gobs of flavor from an accompanying maple syrup, I don’t like pancakes that taste like bland batter. I grew up in a Bisquick household; that stuff was used for everything from breading chicken to making muffins, biscuits, and of course, pancakes. For kids who only wanted a Saturday morning sugar rush, it was fine. For me, now, Bisquick just doesn’t cut it. I will admit that I do keep pre-made pancake mix on hand (the kind to which you add eggs and milk) because I’m not always up to the task of creating light, fluffy flapjacks from scratch. But when the mood strikes and the time is right, from scratch is the way to go!

My Pancakes a la Betty Crocker

This recipe is supposed to serve a few people, but with my 7-inch skillet, it’s enough to serve one person three sizable pancakes. Maybe you’re better at moderation than me. Also, you can easily double or quadruple the recipe for a crowd.

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk or buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

oil or cooking spray for your pan

Instructions

1. Combine all the dry ingredients and sugars in a medium-sized bowl and mix together lightly. Create a well in the center of the mixture.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
3. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and combine until everything’s moist but still a little lumpy (i.e. do not overmix otherwise your pancakes will be rubbery. You can add extra milk or buttermilk if you want thinner pancakes.)
4. Lightly grease or oil your pan over medium heat. Let it warm up for a few minutes before adding the batter.
5. Depending on the size of your pan, pour batter in by scant 1/4- or 1/3-cup fulls.
6. Cook for about 2 minutes on one side or until batter takes on a bubbly surface and appears dry around the edges.
7. Flip pancake and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Serve (a stack) warm with lots of butter and syrup!


Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.

 

The Quintessential Guide to Traditional Swiss Fondue

I am a great cheese enthusiast. I love cheese from all around the world, in all variations, flavors, textures and colors. Melted cheese is sensational in any dish and there are few dishes as iconic for my home country as traditional cheese Fondue. Anyone who ever comes to visit me will at least get to eat Fondue once, be it spring, summer, fall or winter – even if it’s considered more of a winter than summer dish (rubbish if you ask me). To the Swiss, Fondue is strictly about cheese and it can be found and eaten almost anywhere, from small local restaurants to gas stations. The first mentions of Fondue in Switzerland date back to the 17th century and it’s since evolved into an important food tradition most people will indulge in several times a year.

The Fondue Tram on Zurich

The Fondue Tram in Zurich City (myswitzerland.com)

Fondue is a rustic and amazingly social dish that requires time to eat. It is therefore particularly popular at family and friend gatherings and often served on birthdays, Christmas or New Year. It is also simple to make, assuming you have access to the right cheese, get the correct equipment and follow a few basic guidelines. The following pointers are my comprehensive guide for anyone looking to make their next Fondue night a raging success!

1. The Cheese
Naturally there is nothing more essential to Fondue than the cheese mix. Unfortunately this is also the trickiest part to get right for anyone outside Switzerland, certainly outside its immediate neighborhood. Contrary to popular belief, Fondue is in fact not just “melted cheese” but a mixture of several cheeses as well as more ingredients like alcohol and starch. The balance of this mixture is vital and will not only decide over your Fondue’s flavor and consistency but whether the cheese curdles completely and becomes inedible. Therefore even here, nobody mixes their own Fondue; people will either rely on a local dairy for homemade mixes or get some (no less excellent) store-bought Fondue cheese. The most common cheeses used in Fondue are Emmentaler, Vacherin and Gruyères, the last two known as the magic formula of “moitié-moitié” (half-half or fifty-fifty) but there are many regional variations to what people prefer.

fgerber

Breaking up the cold mix before cooking

One of the universally most endorsed Fondue brands is Gerber’s red and I implore anybody seriously looking to make a great Fondue to put in the extra effort (and money) and order online. There are several websites including Amazon that export Fondue nowadays and since it’s not something you’ll have often, it’s worth getting the real deal. Really, a rubbery or curdled cheese mess ain’t pretty!

2. Equipment
As Fondue is meant to be eaten slowly over the course of one or even several hours, it comes with its own equipment that consists of either a clay or iron pot called “caquelon” (iron pots heat up faster), a steel rechaud (with oil or burner paste) and of course extra long Fondue forks. Most households around here own their own Fondue sets but maybe you can borrow yours or find alternatives to what essentially comes down to a boiling pot over a fire. Dedicated rechauds come with heat regulators but you can always keep it simple – I rarely use the regulator because we tend to obliterate our Fondue like rabid wolves anyway.

frechaud

Fondue rechaud with adjustable flame and lid

3. Sides
When I say “sides” I am referring to all food that’s being dipped into your Fondue. Traditionally, Fondue is eaten with bread cubes or diced cooked potatoes (popular especially in the French part of Switzerland), as well as less commonly with brussels sprouts or canned pineapple (and other fruits). Bread needs to be crusty: there should be one side of crust to every cube, so getting long, thin (baguette-shaped) bread is ideal. Nothing is as boring as ordinary soft, white bread for Fondue so try to pep it up with nut&seed bread, tomato or olive bread etc. Potatoes are a more light-weight alternative that I personally love, as well as steamed brussels sprouts if I’m feeling more lowcarb.

As far as complementary sides go, Fondue is always served with different pickles (cucumber, onion, baby corn) – the vinegar helping a great deal to cut through some of that heavy cheese. Some people will also serve canned mushrooms as well as chilli or stuffed peppers. No matter what sides you prefer, remember absolutely everything gets dipped in delicious cheese!

Steamed brussels sprouts, bread and pickles

Steamed brussels sprouts, bread and pickles

4. Spices and Ingredients
Only very few things go into traditional Fondue whilst cooking. Regional differences aside, most people will agree that Swiss Fondue is to be prepared with fresh garlic, nutmeg, Fondue spice mix and Kirsch (cherry brandy) or white wine (usually Fendant from the French part of Switzerland). While the alcohol may be optional for some (although it will cook out!), I would be devastated to discover I am out of garlic or nutmeg before cooking Fondue.

The amount is up to taste; as a garlic fan, I usually go with 8 cloves per pot. I press them for stronger flavor but you can also slice the garlic and make people go dive for it later on. If you’re not familiar with nutmeg, rather start using too little than too much or you’ll end up ruining everything.

Ground pepper, Fondue spice, nutmeg, garlic, lemon juice, Kirsch

Ground pepper, Fondue spice, nutmeg, garlic, lemon juice, Kirsch

Other than the basics, I will add a squirt of lemon juice to my Fondue sometimes to take off the edge of the fat. I also like adding a bit of paprika and ground pepper. If your Fondue runs too thin for some reason, Maizena corn starch dissolved in a bit of water will save the day.

5. Drinks
No Fondue is complete without the right drinks which come down to either Fendant (a white wine that is not too sour and very light) or slightly sweetened, warm black tea. This may sound weird but nothing complements Fondue quite as well as a simple Lipton Yellow Label (or more fancy if you prefer) which also helps with digestion later on. Try it, it’s lovely!

What is absolutely not recommended with Fondue are soda pops, sparkly water or anything of the sort as they don’t agree with the cheese.

6. Cooking Your Fondue / Step-by-Step Recipe
Once everything is set up, it’s time to cook that Fondue! I personally measure about 800 grams of Fondue for 3 people (=1 store-bought box of Fondue usually, containing 2 packs of cheese). A reasonably big pot can serve about double that amount of cheese but it’s recommended to have 4-5 people maximum per pot. If you’re planning for a big party with many guests, you’ll need several cooking sets or the hunger games are on.

Break up the cheese mass in your pot with a wooden spoon before heating things up to max temperature. If you’re going for a double serving, start off by filling the pot by half, adding the rest of the cheese slowly over time to avoid clumping. As your Fondue starts melting, stir slowly to avoid any burning on the bottom. When you reach creamier consistency, add nutmeg, spices, garlic and Kirsch (and whatever optionals). Keep stirring for about 10-15 more minutes after that; the cheese should become perfectly creamy and glossy before serving. Perfect Fondue consistency is neither watery nor thick as double cream – it should allow dipping in bread chunks with ease while covering them up nicely when removed. The closest in terms of consistency is probably melted chocolate / ganache.

Make sure the rechaud is set up and burning before you take your pot off the stove and gather everyone around quickly – dinner is served!

Creamy awesomeness

Creamy awesomeness

7. Fondue Tips, Tricks & Traditions

  • The “correct way” of dipping bread and other food in Fondue is by running your fork in a few (usually about three) clockwise circles around the inside of the pot, then twirling several times as it comes out to lose those strands of cheese.
  • As you’re eating away, a crust will form at the bottom of the pot which may be thicker/thinner and more or less burned depending on how fast you eat and how hot the cheese is cooking. Do NOT ever try to break up Fondue crust while there’s still cheese left to eat! A bitter, black crust will ruin the rest of your Fondue if disturbed and there’s no reason to do so. Leave the crust for the end and check if it’s yummie or not. A great crust is coveted among Fondue connaisseurs and colloquially called “the Grandmother” so treat that last bit as a special delicacy.
  • Fondue is often served in several rounds through the course of a night. If you only have one pot for too many people or didn’t quite get enough the first time around, take a break and prepare another serving in a bit!
  • Dedicated Fondue restaurants serve all kinds of different flavor Fondues: Chilli Fondue, Mushroom Fondue, Tomato Fondue, Bacon Fondue or Fondue with a variety of herbs or cream cheeses (often Gorgonzola) added while cooking. So if plain cheese sounds too boring for you, experiment away!
  • If your Fondue gets too watery and just won’t come together, a few spoonfuls of liquified Maizena (corn starch) are your best friend!
  • Do not ever wear warm sweaters or long sleeves that you cannot take off to a Fondue dinner! Trust me.
  • Since Fondue is such a social party dish, there are many traditions that have formed around it. The most common such tradition is this: before anyone is allowed to dig in, the stakes and punishment for losing one’s bread in the pot are agreed upon. Repercussions generally range from public shaming to kisses or more painful rituals in a set progression.
fasterix

Crazy Fondue traditions in “Asterix in Switzerland”

8. Waste not! About Fondue Leftovers
Sometimes you won’t quite finish your Fondue and that’s no problem because it’s still absolutely wonderful the next day. Do not ever throw away leftover Fondue – cover the pot and leave it standing! Break out the hardened Fondue the following day and enjoy it with some bread and meat cuts or alternatively, as a pure treat like I do (all you need is a spoon!). If you still have leftover potatoes or brussels sprouts, heat them up in a pan and cover with last night’s cheese for another round of delicious Fondue goodness! However, don’t consume cheese that’s been standing for longer than a day.

Happy Cooking!

And that’s it, the end of my Fondue knowledge! You have all the tools in your bag now, so I hope your next Fondue night will knock people off their socks! There’s nothing left for me to say other than happy cheese time and En Guete!

Recipe: Oven Roasted Veggies with Feta

I love colorful food that’s easy and quick to make. Veggies are an integral part of every healthy diet and yet veggie dishes are often considered heavy maintenance due to prepwork or amount of waste. So, here’s one of my favorite recipes for lazy people that’s also super flexible (you can pick almost any vegetable you like) and takes no more than 10mins of prepwork! There are no exact measurements for this recipe since the amount of vegetables is determined by the size of your baking sheet and number of people to serve.

veggieround

Some of my favorite veggies and feta cheese.

~ Ingredients ~
(serves 2-3 people for a main dish or 4-5 people as side)

  • 2 Red tomatoes
  • 2 Zucchini
  • 2 Medium-sized leeks
  • 15 Spring / baby potatoes
  • Feta cheese
  • Olive oil extra vergine
  • Rosemary and herbal salt
  • (Optional: diced bacon)

Preheat the oven at 220°C and start chopping your different vegetables. Cut the baby potatoes into even halves, bigger ones may be quartered. Make sure you’re not cutting other vegetables that contain more water, such as zuchchini / tomatoes / leek too thin, or they will dry out before the potatoes are done.

veggiecuts

Spread all vegetable slices on your baking sheet (covered with baking paper) and coat with a generous amount of olive oil. Add rosemary and any flavor of herbal salt you prefer – I tend to either go with italian or provençale flavors. Use your bare hands to mix and “massage” the oil and herbs onto all your veggies.

veggiemix

Spread the vegetables evenly, making use of the entire size of your pan. Finally, sprinkle feta cheese to taste over everything and put in the pre-heated oven for approx. 25-30 minutes at 220°C. This dish is basically done whenever your potatoes are.

veggiesdone

It’s omnom time!

Serves as a main vegetarian dish or side to any protein. I tend to go for a plate of purely veggies, sometimes with added bacon, and a spoonful of yoghurt or cottage cheese on top. Bon apétit!

A Newbie’s Guide to DIY Balsamic Vinaigrette and Lazy Person’s Salad

Store bought salad dressings contain a whole bunch of unnecessary ingredients to stabilize the mixture and make it look good-to-eat even after months in transit and sitting upon supermarket shelves. (Which makes sense, companies have to preserve the dressing and get it sold to make money, after all.)

But when you can whip up a tastier dressing fresh, using ingredients of your own choosing, why bother with a one-size-fits-all bottle containing economical oils and high-fructose corn syrup?

1) Start with 1 part good quality balsamic vinegar.

j_r1_vinaigrette1

2) Add good quality olive oil.

j_r1_vinaigrette2

Now, the commonly used ratio for vinaigrette is usually 3 parts oil : 1 vinegar.

You could probably do this with most kinds of (edible) oil and vinegar you have to hand, with the caveats that the worse quality your starting ingredients, the harsher the final result is likely to be.

I happen to like the tart aftertaste of my balsamic vinegar, and am less keen on drenching my vegetables in oil, so you may observe in the above picture that my personal ratio is a bit closer to 2 parts oil or even 1 part oil.

Remember, it’s all -to taste.-

Stir the thing up every now and then and lick your fork or spoon if you’re not SURE.

Only call the product “done” when you like it.

3) Add a sweetener to mellow things out if the vinaigrette is a little too harsh.

j_r1_vinaigrette3

I blame all the commercial low-fat dressings I’ve eaten. I like dressings on the sweet side.

In this case, I’ve added a splash of maple syrup (maybe half a part?) because I like the taste.

(Yes, I know it’s sugar and carbs. Don’t judge! You decide for yourself how much you want to add.)

You could add brown sugar, white sugar, honey, or fancy schmancy agave nectar or whatever else people use to sweeten stuff.

By the way, you could stop at any point past step 2 and call it a vinaigrette already. The basic thing is an emulsion (or mixture) of oil and vingear, after all.

The following steps are about fancying things up and creating variants, in this case, a sort of faux “Asian” dressing:

4) Salt also balances out a vinaigrette.

j_r1_vinaigrette4

We’re going Asian-style on this one, and I happen to have this bottle of Thai fish sauce in the fridge, so…

Instead of some salt, we add a few drops of fish sauce.

I stress the FEW, because fish sauce is awfully salty, do not get carried away with this.

You could also just use soy sauce (possibly needing more than a few drops) or salt, and tweak the taste thereof. (How about miso and make it reminiscent of Japan, for example?)

5) If you can take things spicy, those Asian-style dressings often have some kick to them, right?

j_r1_vinaigrette5

What do you mean you don’t have a jar of homemade chili sauce just sitting in your fridge?

Ok, ok, I kid.

You probably don’t.

This is just one of our family’s staple condiments that also just happened to be lying around when I was looking for stuff to spice up the dressing one day. It’s the standard accompaniment to Hainanese chicken rice and I’ve randomly googled up some recipes here and here if you want to know more about the dish.

The ingredients may be harder to get your hands on in Western countries – try your local Asian grocer if you’re interested.

Our particular family’s mix uses the normal fresh red chilies in Singapore (which I cannot for the life of me figure out the name of the variety) and a small amount of bird’s eye chili or chili padi, which is very very hot. There’s garlic, ginger and the rind of a calamansi lime, and the whole thing is blended till it becomes a paste.

j_r1_vinaigrette6

You could probably just chop a tiny amount of bird’s eye chili in there and get a similar amount of kick, or forgo the whole thing altogether.

Heck, just add pesto from a jar and make it a basil-garlic vinaigrette.

Or mustard for a mustard vinaigrette.

Or raspberry or strawberry jam for a sweeter berry-inspired vinaigrette.

Run wild. The sky’s the limit. Who wants dressing that tastes the same everyday?

j_r1_vinaigrette7

So, anyhow, this is probably too much chili.

But, to taste, right?

We start the mixing…

j_r1_vinaigrette8

…and if you observe closely, a spoon is not going to cut it here. The oil is not going to mix, and will likely just splash all over your table or counter instead.

j_r1_vinaigrette9

That’s better.

Whisk away briskly and get the oil and vinegar and everything else to temporarily play nice and mix together.

j_r1_vinaigrette10

Voila. Your very own DIY vinaigrette dressing.

Taste it and make sure you like it before you pour it all over your salad.

Worse case scenario, throw it out and start over. We’re working with mere spoonfuls here, these are minute quantities to waste until you get a combination you love. Then remember it or write it down, FOR SCIENCE and GOOD EATS!

j_r1_salad1

As for the salad itself, it’s whatever you’ve got on hand. (Because we’re being lazy here and eating healthy should not involve so many dang steps that you give up on the salad assembly.)

In this case, the last of a bunch of baby spinach leaves of which I’d already gone through most of.

Some cherry tomatoes.

Honestly, if I wasn’t taking photographs, I’d just wash and toss the things in whole. Slicing them in half makes it -look- photogenic, but I feel sorry for the juice that gets lost on the chopping board. More fun chomping them open in the mouth, in my opinion.

Since the salad still looked a little sorry, enter more fridge rummaging.

j_r1_salad2

Aha.

Feel free to substitute mangoes, strawberries, melons, celery, chickpeas, whatever you like and have in your salad.

j_r1_salad3

Enter lazy person tip number 2.

The IKEA Apple Slicer.

Mine’s the older version, and I linked to the Singapore store, but IKEA is a worldwide phenomenon, I’m sure you can find a similar utensil in your local IKEA store.

This thing takes away all your excuses to not eat apples.

j_r1_salad4

Seriously. One press. Done.

Rinse the slicer and hang it up again.

If you’re lazy, just toss the slices into the bowl. No one will know. You’ll eat it all.

If you’re a little less lazy, especially when it comes to chewing, then spend a bit more time and chop the slices up a little more.

j_r1_salad5

No one will know how crappy your knife skills are, unless you’re an idiot like me and post it for all the internet to see.

j_r1_salad6

Add salad ingredients. Add vinaigrette dressing.

Enter lazy person tip #3.

j_r1_salad7

The whole thing was assembled in a plastic takeaway box, complete with closeable lid.

I have no idea if this is culturally a thing anywhere else in the world, but in Singapore, you can find these containers anywhere and everywhere, and it’s a shame to use once and dispose. They can be washed and recycled a few times.

The more Western recipes seem to use Mason jars – which are maybe easier to get your hands on (Me, I’d probably break glass easily though.) You could use a Tupperware container or anything with a lid, or heck, improvise with a Ziploc bag or something.

Tossing with a fork and spoon is so passé, after all. The salad goes everywhere, you know?

Shake the heck out of the salad, letting the vinaigrette coat all the things.

If you can tolerate some wilting of the salad leaves and browning of the apple, you could even chuck it back in the fridge to eat later when the flavors have melded a little more and you’re done from a hard day or night’s gaming and don’t want to face cooking or prepping anything.

Or you can just pop open the lid and eat it now.

j_r1_salad8

In theory, you could even go so far as to pour it back out on a plate and rearrange it so that it looks more photogenically appealing before consumption, but I dunno, I never quite got to that stage before I was spooning it out by the forkful.

Recipe: Cauliflower and Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca is so quick and simple to make, but comes with huge flavor. You might have to pick up a couple of unusual ingredients depending on what you usually have in your pantry, but it’s worth it. It also needs very little human intervention or prep time, so it’s a perfect dish to put together in between Hearthstone games or whatever you might be up to.

In my version of puttanesca I replace half the pasta with cauliflower. It’s just lighter and better for a hot summer night.

Pasta Puttanesca
Serves 2

Ingredients
1/2 head of cauliflower
1 cup of penne or whatever pasta you have the cupboard
3 anchovy fillets
3 (at least) cloves of garlic
half a can of whole tomatoes
a handful of pitted kalamata olives
a handful of capers
dried basil
some salt and pepper
olive oil
fresh chopped Italian parsley
an optional slice of good crusty bread

Preparation

Break down the cauliflower into bite sized florets. Heat some olive oil in a pan and then throw the cauliflower in at medium temperature. Let it sizzle for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile start some water for the pasta and cook as directed for al dente.

Roughly chop up the garlic. Add it, the anchovy fillets, the basil, and salt and pepper to the hot cauliflower pan. Mash up the anchovy while it cooks, and stir it all in.

Add the capers and olives and let everything cook together on medium-hot for just a couple of minutes. Then add the whole tomatoes (and the juice they’re packed in). I usually cut them in half with my spatula.

Turn down the sauce and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Throw in the cooked, rinsed pasta at the end.

Serve with a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley and optionally a slice of crusty bread.


Jessica, aka Liore, can usually be found griping about video games on her blog and podcast at Herding Cats, or on Twitter. She likes saying “flavor profile” and going light on the carbs, and dislikes measuring things. Jessica is currently obsessed with Korean cuisine.