In the kitchen

Since 2010, I started to include more food entries as an attempt to document the recipes I have browsed through cookbooks, magazines or classes that I have attended. The interest for cooking and baking then ballooned into something bigger; it became my passion.

From a young age, I have been fascinated by my mom who was ever so eager in learning to cook and bake. She would tune in to ‘Fang Tai’ on television, copied the instructions and try out the dishes and we were the recipients of all things yummy. At times, she would bring me to some cooking/baking class and soon after I would see her working in the kitchen.

Being a Cantonese, she would always prepare soup for us and the most delicious Cantonese food at home. She was a keen learner and even went on to attempt Hakka food (my dad is of Hakka background). Now that I’ve married a Peranakan, I was introduced to yet another cuisine. It helps a lot too that the auntie-in-law is a passionate Peranakan cook herself!

I hope to learn the secrets of cooking/baking through intensive reading and self-study and of course, working in the kitchen! I have relocated to Boston where my main purpose is to be a homemaker and I would have much time to think about FOOD! Hope you’d have fun too trying out the various recipes and do give your comments as we embark on this learning journey together!

The must-haves in my kitchen, in no particular order of preference.

#1 KitchenAid Standmixer
My hands are free to prepare other stuff while this machine helps to complete its assigned task. Good companion!


#2 Rachel Ray Basic 3-knife set

Sharp knives are good friends and knife skills are a must in the kitchen. You don’t even need any slicer when you have acquired the skill. I love this set because they are so sharp that I was cut a few times by them, normally as a result of carelessness when I washed them or brushed against them. I also own a kyocera ceramic knife. After they are worn out, I would buy Wusthof knives. A good investment they are, for any cooks!

From the Notes on Cooking, never scrape the sharp edge across the cutting board. To gather food bits – either waste or choppings – turn your knife over and scrape with the spine of the blade. I’m guilty of that. =(

#3 Electronic scales

Precision. Precision. Precision. What more can I say? This is crucial in baking and this scale has travelled miles with me.

#4 Cuisinart Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 3 Qt

Love this because it can be used both on stovetop and in the oven. Food cooks evenly in cast-iron and is particularly useful when roasting chicken. My only complaint? I should have bought a bigger one. A 5 Qt is essential to cook a whole chicken in it.

#5 Le Creuset cast-iron skillet

Same reason as above for its material. Anyway, I love anything by Le Creuset.

#6 Martha Stewart Magnetic Measuring Spoons

I love them for their colours and that I could still use the other side of the spoon if one side has been used. Useful especially when I have no time to wash and dry it. The magnets help a great deal because I could just stick them onto the oven or my sink. Space is a constraint in the kitchen and this is great!

#7 Rachel Ray bakeware

I only have the loaf pan and round cake pan. Love the fact that they have handles at the sides, making it easier for me to remove from the oven. Love the orange too!

#8 Silicon Baking Mat

I adore this! Traded parchment paper for this. My cookies do not stick to it, making it so much easier to remove from the mat. I could just picked the cookies up by the fingers! In the long run, I think it helps me to save more as compared to using parchment paper.

#9 Non Slip Flexible Pastry Mat

I don’t have a good open space to knead my dough, only one kitchen table which I share with the hubs for his studies. So this comes in handy. I love the measurement guide on it too! Aiming for a granite/marble tabletop in future!

#10 Le Creuset Spatula

Le-Creuset-Essential-Spoon-Spatula-Cherry-Red_2_500pxI love the silicon spatula spoon because it can both be used in cooking and baking and I love the feel of the handle. It is heat resistant up to 250C and is stain-resistant and non-abrasive. Moreover, it is resistant to odor and flavor absorption. Good!

Useful words to describe food

Taste and Smell:
Acrid                         Cooling                      Peppery
Bland                         Fruity                         Perfumed
Buttery                     Herbal                        Piquant
Bright                        Mellow                       Robust
Briny                         Nutty                          Creamy

Brittle                       Foamy                         Slippery
Chewy                      Gelatinous                 Velvety
Crisp                         Silky

Blanketed               Melted                         Sprinkled
Caramelized          Mottled                       Stuffed
Crumbled               Murky                          Syrupy
Crusty                      Plump                           Tired
Drowned                 Sheared                        Trembling
Lackluster              Shiny                            Wet
Leafy                        Smeared                       Wimpy
Limp                         Spice-dusted

Bubbling                 Fizzy                               Sizzling
Crackling                Popping                        Sputtering

Other favourites:
Alluring                   Denuded                       Impeccable
Comforting            Depth                             Liberal
Complemented    Dispirited                     Satisfying

Food adjectives (from Notes on Cooking)

Acerbic. Acidic. Acrid. Aged. Aromatic. Astringent. Biting. Bitter. Bland. Blunt. Brackish. Bright. Briny. Browned. Bubbly. Burnt. Buttery. Caramelized. Caustic. Charred. Cheesy. Critic. Clean. Cloying. Creamy. Crisp. Cruciferous. Crunchy. Dark. Deep. Delectable. Dry. Doughy. Dulcet. Earthy. Fizzy. Flaky. Floral. Forward. Fragile. Fresh. Fried. Frosty. Fruity. Full-bodied. Gamy. Glazed. Grassy. Greasy. Gritty. Hearty. Herbaceous. Hot. Icy. Juicy. Layered. Leathery. Lean. Light. Loud. Luscious. Mashed. Mellow. Mild. Milky. Minty. Moist. Musky. Nectarous. Nutty. Oily. Palatable. Peppery. Pickled. Piquant. Potable. Prickly. Puckery. Pulpy. Pungent. Quiet. Rancid. Rich. Ripe. Rubbery. Rustic. Saccharine. Salty. Satiny. Savory. Scrumptious. Seasoned. Sharp. Silky. Sinewy. Sizzling. Smoky. Smooth. Smothered. Soft. Sour. Spicy. Spongy. Steamy. Sticky. Stinging. Stuffed. Succulent. Sugary. Supernacular. Sweet. Syrupy. Tangy. Tantalizing. Tart. Tasteful. Tasteless. Tender. Tepid. Thin. Tough. Treacly. Toothsome. Umami. Unctuous. Velvety. Verdant. Vibrant. Warm. Waxy. Wet. Whipped. Woody. Yummy. Zesty.

Use medium eggs unless otherwise stated. Try to  buy free-range and organic is possible.

American cups/ conversions
Butter                                   225g/8oz                                  1 cup/2 sticks
Flour                                     150g/5oz                                  1 cup
Nuts, chopped                  125g/4oz                                  1 cup
Rice                                       200g/7oz                                 1 cup
Sugar                                    200g/7oz                                  1 cup

UK TERM          US TERM                 UK TERM                 US TERM
aubergine                     eggplant                      iceberg lettuce         crisphead letuce
baking tray                  cookie sheet              icing sugar                  confectioners’ sugar
caster sugar                 superfine sugar        kitchen paper            paper towel
clingfilm                        plastic wrap              mandarin                     mandarin orange
coriander                      cilantro                       minced pork/beef   ground pork/beef
cornflour                      cornstarch                 pak choy                      bok choy
courgette                      zucchini                       pan/frying pan         skillet
double cream              heavy cream             plain flour                   all-purpose flour
edamame bean           young soya bean     prawns                          shrimp
French bean                green bean                  soda water                  club soda
fresh root ginger       green ginger               spring onion              scallion
golden syrup               light corn syrup       spring roll                   egg roll
greaseproof paper    waxed paper              stone                             pit
green/red/yellow     bell/sweet pepper   tiger prawn                 jumbo shrimp
pepper                                                               wonton wrappers    wonton skins
groundnut oil             peanut oil                     wood ear                    cloud ear
ham                                cured pig meat                 mushroom                  mushroom

Huang, C.H. (2008). Chinese food made easy. HarperCollins: UK

About the Fridge

1. Here’s a revelation: butter doesn’t do best in the butter compartment, which, contrary to popular belief, isn’t the warmest part of most refrigerators. In fact, the front of the top shelf is one of the coldest places, meaning it’s perfect for keeping butter and eggs.
2. Hardy fruits like apples do well in the colder back part of the top shelf.
3. The back of the middle shelf is a cold spot, too, just right for leftovers and prepared foods, whereas the front is warmer, a good choice for beans, melons, and other produce that can be damaged by very cold temperatures.
4. The meat drawer, usually the fridge’s coldest spot, should be reserved exclusively for steaks, chicken pieces, ground beef and pork, and other raw meats.
5. Uncooked roasts and whole poultry should be stored in a cold spot, too; keep them in the back of the bottom shelf, safely stored on a sheet pan or in a plastic container.
6. The front of the bottom shelf, by contrast, is often the warmest zone, and thus ideal for mushrooms, corn, and other very cold-sensitive vegetables.
7. Crisper drawers are designed to retain humidity and are a good environment for leafy greens, broccoli, and cheeses.
8. If not butter in the butter compartment, then what? Herbs, in fact, do well in this moderately cool spot.
9. The relatively warm top and middle shelves of the fridge door are a good home for beverages and condiments, which needn’t be super-cold.
10. The door’s bottom shelf stays very cold and is the right place for milk, as well as egg- and dairy-based foods.
11. There is little temperature fluctuation in most freezers, but there are a couple of rules of thumb: don’t overstuff the compartment, and keep the foods in it thoroughly and tightly covered.

2 thoughts on “In the kitchen

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