Coffee Crepes ft. A Better Florist (Singapore)

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This post is an unexpected collaboration, one which I nevertheless believe thoughtful. Lately I’ve been feeling a little out of my element, such as every other human being once in a while. But there are the everyday things that remind me to love not just myself, but all the things and people around me. These nuances of everyday life are worthy encapsulations of hope and happiness. A few words before I get on with my favourite recipe for delicious vegan crepes.

I usually review cafés and restaurants, but I thought I’d make an exception just this once. Today I kinda want to talk about flowers.

OK, hear me out. My mum also recently got a huge bouquet of flowers, which she describes as a make-or-break element of any room. There’s something incredibly emotive and symbolic about a single bouquet. This is the sort of underrated everyday life thing I was talking about earlier.

I’ve been on both sides of the flower-giving tradition—the recipient and the presenter—so I’ve been acquainted with a fair share of florists and flower delivery in Singapore. One particular flower delivery in Singapore which stands out from all the other florists is A Better Florist. Unlike what you would expect from usual flower shops, they do have a better sense of their target market’s taste, and yes, I am part of their target market. I imagine they conceptualised their rustic yet stylishly-packaged flower arrangements with young and social media-savvy customers in mind because these bouquets are quite the eye-catchers. Although this post is in collaboration with them, I am a genuine fan.

If you follow me, you’ll know that my posts are mostly centred on food. However, I do appreciate the fresh fragrance of lush blooms mingling with the aroma of a cup of strong black coffee and French toast in the morning. That, to me, is the best way to start any day.

A Better Florist, also known as the best florist in Singapore, is relatively young when compared to other flower industry players in Singapore, but their determination to “Bloom Better” with great quality flowers and lightning-fast delivery has caught the attention of flower aficionados in my little red dot. They’ve gotten quite a lot of media attention and have been dubbed best florist in Singapore and best flower delivery in Singapore on several review sites. I’ve only really purchased their hand bouquets and so far they have not disappointed at all. The flowers were fresh, delivered on time, and I adored the detail of their packaging—from the burlap wrap to the carefully tied ribbon and the flower care instructions. Once, I ordered from their signature blooms collection and it came with this lovely twine-wrapped container which I used to display the flowers. Props all around for their excellent service. If you’re looking for something other than flowers, they do have gift baskets and hampers as well as fruit baskets. I might avail their fruit basket delivery for my pantry just to see the quality of their produce. I’ll let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, they also sell flowers for all events and occasions like grand opening flowers, wreaths, baby gift baskets and “get well soon” bouquets.

The holidays are rolling around pretty soon, so just in case you’re planning on hosting dinner parties, A Better Florist 100% has my vote for the freshest, fastest and cheapest flower delivery in Singapore.

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NOW. Crepes!

These are:

slightly chewy

crispy all round the edges

subtly flavoured with coffee

Just a little fun. And, like everything else I make, so easy. My favourite part is seeing the little holes pop out in clusters (slightly aggravating the little trypophobic me but hey), mini astroblemes produced by the impact of some cosmic body. I love mushing these into spoonfuls of thick, creamy soy yoghurt and frozen berries. Darn, I might have one soon because there are a few left over waiting in the fridge.

Coffee Crepes (makes 13-15 crepes, adapted from this lovely recipe)

Ingredients

200g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour, or use half plain and half whole wheat

3 tbsp coconut or brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

360ml (1 1/2 cups) plant milk of choice, I used almond

one shot espresso

1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil

Directions

Preheat your large pan (use a crepe pan if you’re fancy and feelin’ it) on medium-high heat and drizzle on some olive or coconut oil. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then add the espresso, oil, and finally the milk. You can do this the night before to save yourself some 30 seconds in the morning, if you wish. Simply whisk it all together and cover with cling film before putting it in the fridge.

When you can see the oil sizzle a little, add 3-4 tbsp of batter and swirl around to coat the bottom of the pan thinly. Watch the batter go a little darker and firm around the edges. Once you see a few bubbles, which will take a minute, use a spatula to flip the crepe and cook the other side for another minute. Rest your cooked crepe on a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Continue to cook up the rest of the batter, stacking the crepes with paper towels in between.

Enjoy these with thick plant-based yoghurt, fresh or frozen berries, a drizzle of nut butter or tahini, and lashings of maple syrup.

 

My Favourite Thing This Week x Pumpkin Turmeric Scones

Fall is here and ready to take over. Over my mental and physical worlds and everything in between. The first week of school has come and gone instantly, as if the mind-bending philosophies we were taught and lengthy pauses of appreciation they induced, workshops and field trips were as transient as my last 5 inhalations and next few exhalations. Earlier this week we went on a tour of the beautiful Chelsea Physic Gardens in the heart of London, which showcased most magnificently the vast and (if I do say so myself) underrated variety of medicinal herbs, spices and other botanical wonders. No skipping the Asian and other ethnic varieties either, which was what impressed me most. Rice? Sake? They had it all. This is a gem of a place and do encourage anyone in London to give the place a visit.

This ‘favourite thing’ should be more of a thing. Weekly, perhaps? Favouritism aside, it allows for reflection on a lot of things that have happened the past week, letting this physical reality overlap with hardcore introspection.

I want to talk about Paperless Post, which represents everything I adore. The bibliophile and letter fiend that I am always hesitates to replace technology with traditional scrawling (I am still that one in lectures with a pad and pen, struggling to match speed of brain with that of the lecturer’s tongue) in any case, especially for the sake of convenience. But Paperless proves to intensify one’s creative streak with its thousands of templates and quotes, designed by world-famous artists and graphic designers.

I gave it a shot by sending a few trial birthday invitations to my family and a few friends over the weekend… even though my birthday is in November! Here’s the silly one I designed. The site essentially lets you choose and design your own virtual postcards, invitations and birthday cards for those closest to you. It’s so easy– just set up an account using your email address, then choose your design, customise it by adding different fonts, colours and backdrops, and use their smart online tools like RSVP tracking and guest messaging to ice the cake. Ok, how cool is that… Forget any other platform, this is all you need. Why use Facebook when you can send beautiful, personalised invitations to the lucky select few? Birthday or barbecue, the extra 5 minutes choosing a deliciously good-looking template that represents you and what your event is all about, is worth it.

I spent a good few guiltless hours on the weekend playing around with templates, and was thoroughly impressed with all the designs on offer. It saves time, effort and a little sanity. To cut it short, Paperless is stressless. Everyone who received my card was touched by the design and caption of the card, and all it took was 5-10 minutes! I personally love how you can add whatever pictures or photos you may already have on your computer to your invitation. To be clear, this post is published in partnership with them and Anagram Interactive, but I will continue using this platform to send thoughtful, meaningful cards and invitations to those nearest and dearest. Whatever your creative or aesthetic style, there is something for you. Click here if you’re interested!

Now. Second favourite thing the past week?

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I’d say ‘today it’s turmeric’, but really it should be an almost-everyday thing. Pumpkin is everywhere and in everyone every fall, so for tradition and comfort I incorporated it too, but turmeric is the real showgirl here. The impressive little kicker has proven anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, all thanks to its main component curcumin. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of its pungent, gingery flavour upon first trying it, but I’ve grown to love its warmth and pepper. It’s pretty simple to incorporate turmeric into anything, be it scones, or porridge, or a savoury curry, its grounding aroma doing much to calm all the senses. Just this time last week I thought scones would be the most welcoming fall treat, something ultra buttery, flaky and hearty. Simple, sleek, marginally sexy.

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With a special double glaze– plain classic and fiery turmeric. It’s this turmeric glaze that is worth the hype. The intense spicy drizzle carves dimension and excitement into the buttery formula of the plain, spiced scone. Any worry about the foreign and disconcerting pairing of this exotic spice with the traditional breakfast item will be alleviated. Just you try, and see.

 

Pumpkin Turmeric Scones (makes 8 medium-sized scones)

Ingredients 

240g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour

150g (1 cup) rye flour

35g (1/4 cup+ 2 tbsp) sugar (white or coconut)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp turmeric latte mix or 1tbsp turmeric+1/2 tsp cinnamon+1/2 tsp cardamom

100g (1/2 cup+2 tbsp) vegan butter (cold)

60ml (1/4 cup) soy or any other plant-based yoghurt. Alternatively, you could use applesauce

3 tbsp pumpkin purée

100ml (a little under a 1/2 cup) plant milk (I used almond)

1/2 tsp vinegar

For the turmeric glaze:

100g icing sugar

2 tsp turmeric latte mix, or just 1 tsp or ground turmeric

1.5 tbsp almond milk

For the plain glaze:

100g icing sugar

1 tbsp almond milk

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Mix the milk and vinegar in a bowl and set it aside to let curdle a little. Meanwhile, combine all the other ingredients except the yoghurt and pumpkin purée in a bowl. Use your hands to mush the butter into the flour, which is actually very easy if you use vegan butter (yay!). Then add the milk mix and yoghurt. The final mixture should be moist but firm.

Tip the mix onto a liberally floured surface and shape into a disc. Place on a lined baking sheet and cut into 8 equal pieces, as can be seen in the picture above. Brush the top with almond/any other plant-based milk and bake in your preheated oven for 25 minutes. How easy was that?

Whilst it is baking, make the two glazes in separate bowls using a small fork as a whisk. Once the scones have finished baking, let them sit on the counter to cool for at least 10 minutes before drizzling with both glazes. Bon appetit, my fall friends!

Apple Crumble Cereal

The past week was spruced up with a read I have long meant to get around to digging in to, but put it off for too long in the name of all the fiction that I listed down first before my exams even started before June (exhale). Namely, it’s How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Gregor, which unveils a flurry of fact-based nutrition evidence supporting a whole foods, plant-based diet. Funny how just a year ago, or less even, I could never see myself buying into what initially seemed like pure trend. If the keto/HCLF/paleo diets all have their downsides, then why should I give two hoots about being a vegan? What’s the truth behind this ‘restriction’?

The answer, as we all swim in this vitriolic field of nutrition, would have to lie in the overlaps of the gargantuan venn diagram encompassing the evidence-based medicine and science, ethics and environment. Documentaries like Earthlings, Land of Hope and Glory (a new and wonderfully constructed documentary on the reality of the meat and dairy industries, like Earthlings 2.0), Forks Over Knives, and many Youtube videos on veganism illuminate a painful truth and cognitive dissonance most of us unconsciously drown in.

Every day is a choice, and I’ve made mine with conviction and confidence. This of course does not mean I am above anything or anyone, for to be human is to make mistakes. I’m happy to be the underdog, or just a friend. I type furiously as I think about how, sometimes, people talk without speaking, going in circles around moot points. But I am grateful for people who listen, feel uncomfortable, but try and understand. Life is a beautiful debate. It has taken me a while, especially regarding family, to admit to being preachy, or unnecessarily churlish, therefore sometimes, no matter how hard one may try to put forward a fact, the best option is to bow your head and accept that only time, and example, are the best ways forward.

As much as we are what we eat, we are also more than the sum of our parts. And there’s many a thing in our daily lives that can help us realise and appreciate this. Like yoga, intense work, a great book, poetry, nourishing food, people who can hold you accountable for things, and call you out when need be.

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Now to be a fangirl over THIS apple crumble cereal that will dissolve your maelstrom of discontent. I can dump anything, literally anything into a cereal bowl, douse with milk and call it a day. You name it, and I will soak. Banana bread, chunks of a pumpkin tart, lemon meringue pie… oh and cereal, perhaps. Anything but something savoury, I guess. Kimchi and almond milk… maybe not so much. God forbid I will ever only be able toe at those two together.

Made with coconut and almond flour, coconut sugar and plenty of apple, I do wish I had a proper picture of the apple crumble itself, however I designed it to be perfect in the context of cereal– fluffy and crumbly, with hearty, soft chunks of apple to break through all that marshmallowy loveliness, perfect to dissolve at the right rate upon pouring in a river of creamy plant milk (whichever one you prefer, I’m partial to soy, oat or almond). Mildly sweet clusters of fluff, soft and cinnamony fruit.

Apple Crumble Cereal

Ingredients (enough for 4-5 bowls, store the rest in the fridge)

1.5 large or 2 small apples chopped into large chunks

100g rolled oats

40g almond flour

60g coconut flour (or use 100g total of either almond or coconut flour)

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves (optional)

1 tbsp soy yogurt or any other non-dairy yoghurt of your choice

60ml maple syrup

3.5 tbsp coconut oil

Directions

Preheat your oven to 162C and lightly grease a 9×9-inch pan. In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for the apples and cinnamon. Add the yogurt, maple syrup and coconut oil to this dry mixture. It may look dry especially if you’re using the coconut flour, but the mixture should stick and clump together together nicely when squeezed with your hands.

In a bowl, toss the apples and cinnamon together and dump it into the pan. Put the crumble on top, press down lightly, then sprinkle on more oats and cinnamon on top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, no more and no less.

Once done, take the pan out of the oven, scoop as much as you want into a bowl and douse with whatever plant milk you like. I like to add more fruit, soy yogurt and tahini.

Rye Matcha Pillow Pancakes

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The weekend was high in spirit, holding hope, a promising virtue and nighttime sin. Last night was spent with some people I love most, reunited with the family, a boy I could have only dreamed of meeting (more than a year ago now), relatives, simple, delicious homemade food.

Having the chance to show someone around my own town is most rejuvenating. There is no better way to appreciate and undertake fresh perspective on your roots. Dig deep into why you may think and behave the way you do. There is something deeper to uncover about oneself, something untouched when smothered by the happenings of everyday life, necessary communication and work.

A few travel shots from a recent trip to Bangkok and more Singapore fun before I proceed any further with my recipe for these glorious pancakes, which are like a fudgy matcha brownie in pancake form.

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Another Hound café nestled in the busyness of Siam Paragon, Bangkok. Draping lights and my favourite colour scheme.
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And our favourite drink there– earl grey lime iced tea. There was a frigid ball of pure tea and syrup which melted to constantly produce a refreshing, distinct flavour.
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We visited a plane cemetery far away from the city on a highway. It was magical and unbelievable to see dangling oxygen masks and half open overhead compartments, ravaged by the natural course of time. 

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The apple speculoos affogato at The Affogato Bar. Soft, small chunks of cinnamony apple and a strong hit of espresso. An almost acidic strength is necessary for a good affogato, I believe. 
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Fun at The Bakery by Woodlands Sourdough (shoutout to Charlie for introducing this gem of a nook to me). I especially appreciate how they have vegan specials (usually on the weekends) and freshly baked, delicious, well-risen sourdough loaves every single day. Well-crafted sin.

Pancakes. That’s where it’s at. Usually tops a Saturday or Sunday for me, with that little bit of extra time permitting for lavish topping upon topping, pillowy layer on pillowy layer, dense and juuuuust done in the middle. Height and splendor. Maple syrup, coconut yoghurt and tahini are my favourite final touches. Maybe tear them up into shreds and douse with milk in a bowl. That’s just the sort of thing I would do, but mind you there are no obligations, because you would be the more rational human being.

Each rye pancake is hearty without being heavy, and I decided to inject mine with a little protein powder, the sort of bodybuilding stuff I would never use in a million years, but the kind folks behind Jimmyjoy’s Plennyshake offered me some and I’m not turning back because this stuff is definitely worth it. Check them out, I implore ya. Neither too sweet, nor does it feel unnecessary. It adds a nice prick of protein without any weird artificial flavour. All vegan, all good. The earthy matcha complements the moist and earthy offering of rye. Rye can tend to be a little sour if used too much, but the flavours here are balanced and refined.

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Rye Matcha Pillow Pancakes (makes 5 medium pancakes)

Ingredients

90g dark rye flour

A half tsp each of baking powder and baking soda

2 heaped tsp protein powder (optional)

2 tsp matcha powder

2 tsp coconut/ white sugar

14g melted vegan butter, plus some extra to grease the pan

half a banana, mashed

100ml plant milk of your choice (I used almond)

 

Directions

In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Dollop tablespoonfuls of the batter onto a pan heated on medium heat. Flip once the underside is done and cook the second side for another minute before removing and letting rest on a paper towel. Top with whatever you wish– I topped mine with vegan chocolate ice cream, crushed rice cakes I hauled from Bangkok (YUM), more matcha and strawberries.

A Collaboration with Nilufer Tea, The Best Organic Tea (ft. recipe for the most ideal pairing)

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Title says it all. Bleary-eyed from 5 hours of sleep, a neatly wrapped bundle in the post set my mind and palate into gear for the day. It’s been ages since I last indulged in a cup of tea, breathing in a subtle fragrance, meditating on steam. Now that I’ve been back in Singapore for a while it hasn’t occurred to me to have anything hot; dinner is typically preceded by a frigid green juice or iced water. Nevertheless, tradition transcends change of climate, and so I settled down to a long lost habit. Sent so kindly by the folks behind Nilufer tea, an organic herbal tea brand I am so grateful to have become acquainted with the past week, I decided it was only appropriate to enjoy them with the chewiest, chocolate-pumped salted cookies, of which recipe I recently developed. The best organic herbal tea, I learned, is borne out of love, sweat, and quality. This is quality tea, I repeat, which uses non-pesticide herbs & flowers with premium dried fruits. How stunning is that.

Straight from the hands of independent Japanese tea farmers, Nilufer has put itself a head above the crowd of conventional tea brands by capitalising on ethical business, involving itself in every step of the tea-making process, from laboured harvest to artisan packaging. I was stunned by the simple array of complex flavours to choose from– red rooibos, chamomile, herbal fruit, rose and ginger rooibos tea. I absorbed its ethos in its entirety as I placed a delicate ginger rooibos teabag into my mug.

Going vegan, as I have mentioned before, is not just about the food, but a keen awareness. Of where I am, what I’m doing, what is happening all around–I am now sitting outside in our little garden, feeling the cushion beneath me, beige and smooth, still learning to live comfortably with the dense air, as if packed solid with noise that does not move, as Sebastian Faulks beautifully puts. That awareness naturally involves awareness of one’s use of resources, and so though I am not as tea-crazed as some of my English friends, with a cup of tea comes an appreciation of the here and now, instilling some sense of emotional granularity, and the lesser need to constantly compare oneself with everyone else, caught up and blind in the world of faster, bigger, better. Every second is your own. I was therefore excited to collaborate with a brand whose ethos resonates so well with this sentiment; Nilufer’s organic approach rooted in sustainability would similarly appeal to many other vegans in Singapore. Learn more about the best organic herbal tea before treating yourself. Revel in that rare authenticity.

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Their rose tea was alluring and fragrant, which, by the way, also restores female hormonal balance and peace of mind. Perfect after an insanely busy office day. A touch of hibiscus accentuates a heady floral aroma with a hint of strawberry. Chamomile, one of my long-time favourites, is mixed with orange, ginger and lemongrass in an exotic blend for a more revitalising, mid-work kick. Chamomile also stimulates the production of enzymes in the gut for efficient digestion, complementing my passion for a gut-friendly plant-based diet.

My personal favourite was the very first flavour I tried– ginger rooibos. Red rooibos and peppery ginger up the ante here with spice and tingling earthiness, red rooibos itself being a potent antioxidant to help fend off oxidative stress, burnishing your beauty routine with several minerals for rapid skin regeneration and hair growth. All sounds pretty wild, but after meditation on each flavour, I for one am more inclined to believe.

Scrolled starry-eyed through their website. Thorough health and beauty articles (on Nilufer Tea blog) are written to pad out their wellness ethos. Do also check them out on Nilufer Tea Instagram and Nilufer Tea Facebook.

Now for cookies. Which, in my opinion, are perfect with this tea. Before I went vegan I was hooked on one particular recipe, and I was swimming in the conviction that nothing, ever, could beat it.

Until I went vegan and developed this baby (haha).

The chew is what will get to you. The secret here is the resting time in the fridge and top quality chocolate. The idea is that this gives the sugar in the cookies time to mix into the other ingredients and so, upon baking the next day, the sugar caramelises more efficiently and you get a deeper caramel flavour and chewier texture. Your cookies also spread less because the chilled cookie would have more solidified that melted fat. That means making the batter the night before is most ideal if you want to wake up to a glorious, familiar wafting fragrance and cookies with the best shape, form and flavour. No need for any flax/chia egg or funny flour (though by all means play around with buckwheat spirulina charcoal flour if you feel inclined to). The ingredients shine through in their simplicity and natural affinity for each other. Salt and sweet. Each bite is chockfull of chocolate, of which varied size and thickness offers such complex mouthfeel. The middle is dense, dark and sinfully chewy.

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Chewy Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes 12 medium-sized cookies)

Ingredients

250g plain flour, or use half plain flour and half whole-wheat/oat flour

¾ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

200g good quality dark vegan chocolate (use Lindt’s 70% or another vegan brand), chopped into chunks

110g soft, dark brown sugar

100g white/coconut sugar

1 tsp salt

coarse salt for sprinkling (I use Maldon)

1 tsp vanilla extract

100ml plain vegetable/canola/sunflower oil

80ml hot water

 

Directions

Line two baking trays with parchment paper and set aside for the time-being. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and the chopped chocolate. In a separate medium bowl, mix the oil, vanilla, water and two sugars together with a fork. Tip this into the dry mix and stir with a wooden spoon until everything is just combined.

Using an ice cream scoop for consistency, scoop your batter onto your lined baking trays. There should be 12-14 even balls. Press the balls down slightly with your fingers and liberally sprinkle salt over each one. Place the trays into the fridge to firm up for at least 10 hours or overnight (important, as stated before these instructions!!). The next morning, bake the cookies in an oven preheated to 180C (350F) for 12 minutes, no more and no less. There will be a little raw better on a wooden skewer stuck into a cookie- fret not, that’s what you want! The first time I did this I was sure it couldn’t be that raw, but the insides do firm up a little once you take the trays out of the oven and let the cookies cool completely

I’ll repeat that- let the cookies cool completely. The cookies may have a bit of rise but they will eventually deflate. The result? Inch-thick, ridiculously chewy, stretchy cookies, loved up with hand-chopped chocolate for an intense flavour and complex texture. These can be stored in an airtight container for a few days, though I promise they won’t last that long.