Foodiva's Kitchen: July 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fennel, Date and Strawberry Ice Cream

It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.
~ Erma Bombeck

Ever since I started this blog and dabbled often with food and fresh ingredients, I've had time to reflect on how fortunate we, the people of Borneo island are. We have plenty of tropical bounty, and yet because my country (Brunei) is so small, it is unable to produce enough food for the whole population. Hence many of our staples like rice and sugar, as well as our fruits and vegetables, are still imported from neighboring countries and sometimes a little bit further offshore. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - Citrus Berry Tropical Fruit Terrine

Having sworn off from ever making terrines again after this attempt, I turned around and subsequently saw this recipe on the French Fridays with Dorie cooking list - Citrus Berry Terrine. Great. Not that I dislike eating terrines per se, in fact I could quite easily indulge my sugar addiction with decadent terrines like this chocolate one, made by Mardi of Eat Live Travel Write blog. I'm just not a big fan of the ones fixed in place with gelling agents. I simply don't get the concept of suspending the freshest seasonal ingredients in gelatine or agar, only to be sliced afterwards so we can admire its colors and layers from a cross-sectional view. Could someone explain to me what the fixation with that is, please?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ants Climbing a Tree (Sichuan Spicy Stir-Fried Vermicelli with Beef and Mushrooms)

Before I cooked this dish, I didn't have much of an inkling as to how to handle Sichuan or Szechuan cuisine in my kitchen. Previous experiences of eating delicious Sichuan in chinese restaurants, with their lavish presentations complete with intricate, edible carvings have spoiled me, I think. And made me break out in a sweat when I found out this month's International Incident Party theme was Sichuan. How on earth was I going to reproduce those masterpieces that I only knew how to eat (usually on corporate expense)?  

A few weeks and tons of research later, I found out that not all Sichuan dishes were spicy, nor were they all arduous to prepare. Like this stir-fried glass noodle dish, for example. Okay, it did say 'Spicy' in the title because the recipe contained chillies and ginger. When I cooked it though, it really wasn't too spicy at all, quite manageable by my (delicate) standards. It took me less than 30 minutes to prepare and fry up. That's a good thing when, if you're like me, you have a whole army of in-house relatives to feed! Not to mention parents and friends who like to drop by unannounced (ahem, this isn't a hint, by the way).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Popcorn Bread Pudding with Salted Butter Caramel Sauce

And so on and so forth. Before we are forgotten, we will be turned into kitsch. Kitsch is the stopover between being and oblivion.~ Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I don't often venture into the world of kitsch, but today I feel like something kitschy. Yes, I'm not always the classy babe you think I am.... guess that's what makes me interesting. Sorry, more interesting. It's July and I was surfing around the blogosphere to see who else had made bread pudding, traditionally a cold weather or winter dessert. There were exactly two blogs that posted up bread pudding recipes this month. I guess people are too busy chasing summer to bother firing up their ovens, and I just don't know what those people in the southern hemisphere (below me) are doing. Maybe their winter isn't cold enough to merit making a bread pudding. Who knows?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lemongrass Chilli Lime Ice Cream with Black Sesame Langues de Chat

I break tradition
Sometimes my tries
Are outside the lines

We've been conditioned
To not make mistakes
But I can't live that way, no
~ Lyrics from Unwritten, Natasha Bedingfield

My friend Nancy of Spicie Foodie blog is currently running a fun recipe contest with a giveaway which runs until July 27, 2011. The winner she eventually chooses will win a copy of her brimming-with-spices cookbook, An Epiphany of the Senses and the great news is, it's open to everyone. Yep, all of us on this planet are eligible to enter. Well, the catch is that you'd have to write up a post featuring a recipe that makes Nancy hungry and also uses several of your favorite spices. If it's your original creation, all the better!

Friday, July 22, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - Coconut Lemongrass-Braised Chicken with Pink Fettuccine

There is hope in every heartbeat
Tiny as it seems
You're a beautiful seed
~ Beautiful Seed lyrics, Corrinne May

If you're a regular here on Fridays, you'll probably do a double-take on my new banner. Overnight, it looks as if I've turned into an anime version of myself. Wearing pearls and a pink apron as per real life, but 20lbs thinner. I really like it! The banner is actually a gift from my friend, Nic in Singapore. I can't say 'thank you' enough times, Nic. In case you're all wondering, yes, I do have a bunch of fabulous and selfless friends like him. I try to surround myself with the real deal, or maybe they come to me. I really can't say for sure. 

Anyway, back to the business at hand. There was no ducking out of this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe without seeming a bit lame (after last week's absence). Coconut, lemongrass, turmeric, coriander, cardamom...I have them all; these ingredients form the hallmarks of my territory. In a twee twist, for there is always at least one, Dorie's Coconut Lemongrass-Braised Pork recipe was chicken-fied under my pork-less abode, but the rest of the ingredients remained. Oh, except for the turmeric, which Diva D threw out because she thought it had expired (I bought it just last year!). While writing this up, I did a quick research to see if turmeric in its powder form really does expire and came across this anecdote entitled Old Spice. You must click on the link and read it because it cracked me up...the things we women hoard in our kitchens!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oreo Milk Ice Cream with Fierce Chocolate Tuile Cones

You may have heard of Momofuku's famed Cereal Milk, the outrageous (but oh-so-real and yummy) creation of Momofuku Milk Bar's pastry chef and owner, Christina Tosi. This imaginative woman also created the equally addictive-sounding Crack Pie and Compost Cookies. Well, enough said.

A while ago, I was surfing through the net when I came across this very interesting twist to Cereal Milk, which is much, much better. What's better than Cereal Milk, you ask? Why, Cereal Milk Ice Cream, of course! Well done, Cenk of Cafe Fernando for doing something to realize the fantasies of many a foodie across the globe. His post then got me thinking...what else tastes good dipped in milk? I think you see where I'm going with this, yes? Well, your second foodie fantasy is about to be fulfilled.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Secret Recipe Club - Homemade Nutella Apple Coconut Chocolate Pop Tarts

I wish all my friends' houses were connected to mine via secret tunnels.
~ Blue Lady at

Whenever the Secret Recipe Club event rolls around, I feel as if I'm being given the opportunity to bear someone a precious gift. Not only to the blog owner that I'm assigned to by the event host, Amanda of Amanda's Cookin', but also to you, my friends and readers. So this month I'm lucky enough to get Savor The Thyme owned by the incredibly hip and talented Jennifer. I'm not sure why I've never come across her blog before this assignment but once I looked through it, I was hooked. There are plenty of healthy recipes using fresh and 'real' ingredients that I felt rather spoilt for choice. More than that, there is a paragraph in her 'About' page that sums up everything I myself personally value where she says:

"I believe in a healthy lifestyle and family: To us that includes being healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It includes great times with friends, life experiences and lots of hugging and laughing."

Well, I don't know you from Eve, Jennifer....but I think we could be psychological twins! I hope you will view this attempt at one of your recipes as a gift from me, 8000 miles away. To everyone else, go and discover Savor The Thyme now, for that is really my gift to you. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Starry Night Grape and Pineapple Cake with Pineapple Curd

La tristesse durera toujours. (The sadness will last forever)
~ Last words, Vincent van Gogh

Whenever Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment makes an appearance on my bedside table, I get slightly worried. It usually means that there's been too much going on in my life, I can't sleep well (hence the punishing read) and I'm simply....tired.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Red Kitchen Debut - One Bowl Mango and Raspberry Muffins

It's funny how resilient, how resourceful the human spirit becomes when it's stripped to the core. I discovered this when my father fell critically ill while on a work trip to Mexico in the spring of last year. After a stint at the ICU, he wasn't getting any better and was promptly flown to Washington DC for further treatment and surgery. Meanwhile on the other side of the world, my mother, sisters and I rushed over (well, if you can call a 2-day long flight 'rushing over') to be with him.

We ended up staying for about a month while he recuperated but in our hurry to get there, brought only the bare essentials. It's a bit like that question people often ask that makes you pause and ponder before you reply, which is - if you were stranded on an island and could bring only 3 things, what would you take with you? We had less than 24 hours to pack, so apart from the necessary travel documents and phone, I brought only a small pair of scissors, undergarments, a pair of jeans and a bare-shimmer lip gloss. What that says about me, I'm really not sure. When I'm alone, I travel extremely light. Of course, I returned home with 6 rather huge suitcases but that's another story altogether. Okay, it was the sales and I couldn't resist!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Of Figs, Mangoes, Pull-Apart Bread and Pudding Cake. A Guest Post Exchange with Evelyne of CEE.

Have I got something special for you today! Well, it's two recipes here and one over at Evelyne's blog, Cheap Ethnic Eatz, because we have both decided to do a guest post exchange cooking something that inspired us out of the other person's blog. By way of an intro, I first met Evelyne at an online cooking party (IIP). Through her various posts, I got to know that she's one adventurous gal and pretty fearless at trying out exotic and unusual flavors in her recipes. She's plenty of fun, has a big heart and gets really excited whenever she's out at the farmer's market because she tries to buy a little bit of everything.... Wait, am I describing Evelyne here or myself? Definitely Evelyne! But we're so much alike and that's probably why I said yes! when she asked me to do this fun project with her. 
I chose to bake her sweet potato pudding cake because I'd been dazzled by her description and photos of it from the word go. You can check the recipe out on my guest post on her blog. In the meantime, please join me in warmly welcoming Evelyne with her sweet-savory version of my pull-apart bread. The flavor combinations here just blew me away, and I know you'll feel the same way!

Friday, July 8, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - Salmon and Nectarines En Papillote

En papillote is quite a popular method of cooking in this household. Wrap a piece of meat or fish in parchment paper or foil, pop it in the oven, set the timer and forget about it for a while. Exactly our kind of effortless cooking! So luckily for us, this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Salmon and Tomatoes En Papillote, urged us to employ this method for baking our salmon. It was no major hardship and produced a result that was quite satisfying.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dragonfruit-Basil Mascarpone Ice Cream and Mochi Ice Cream

Have you noticed how there've been way too many recipes using dragonfruit on this blog lately? It's not that I can't help myself, but I really can't! Red-fleshed dragonfruit is seasonal, just like strawberries, and rhubarb and God knows what else. It lasts a mere few months and then I have to wait nearly a whole year to do this again. A whole year of resisting using artificial pink food coloring. Yes, my name is Maya and I'm a PINK addict. Do you think I need to join a support group as a form of therapy? :-)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mango, Cinnamon and Raspberry Pull-Apart Rolls, and YBR

No beets to be found anywhere for this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe, but's another mango recipe. And I'm truly sorry about it. Isn't it odd, me apologizing for having too many mango recipes as a consequence of too many mangoes growing on our tree outside? Well, brace yourself this month, because I've scheduled several other mango posts, and you may start to get sick of this sweet, aromatic fruit. God forbid it, though.

You'll be glad to know that I've lightened up the mango overload by adding some raspberries into the mix. Growing up, we ate plenty of mangoes but not a single raspberry. Until I moved to study overseas, that is. Sad thing was, the taste of raspberries failed to enchant me as much as the sweetness of mangoes did. I guess there's a lot to be said about memory-associated eating... however, now that we have easy access to raspberries (albeit airflown ones), I have warmed up to the fruit a fair bit.

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