Chocolate Chip Waffles

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Things to note this past week:

My class’s Friday book/film club is adorable and is the perfect excuse to bake every Thursday night if not being lazy.

The National Gallery is an underrated treasure here in London.

Another underrated food is caramelised banana.

Learning is the right balance of acceptance and curiosity.

The bright and vivid, dark ink of a new pen is almost orgasmic.

I picked at a mostly dry stack of buckwheat pancakes the other Saturday and am now afraid of ordering pancakes or waffles somewhere ever again. Today’s post is thus born out of a love for the neglected kitchen, a strong tribute to the homemakers of the century– who needs waffles outside when you can make amazing ones within the warm comfort of your home, to accompany a freshly brewed Nespresso cuppa, a book or probing documentary, and mountains of whatever toppings you would like?

Now that the first huge set of assignments are done, I’m relaxing with my waffles, already on my second cup of coffee. As I type, some doughnuts hibernate behind me. A free Wednesday is therapeutic and needed, sometimes. I think I spend all my money on flour and nothing else. Flour, frozen berries, bread and veggies. Those top the list. What else is required for a happy life; what else is needed to dedicate concentration to the hours that don’t make up breakfast, lunch and dinner?

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These waffles. They’re thick. They burst and bubble with specks of chocolate, all crisp round the edges and mildly chewy everywhere else. The rims and ridges are sharp and taut, ravines ready to catch your lashings of maple syrup (didn’t have any syrup this time sadly, so used blackstrap molasses which did the trick anyway). You probably can’t tell, but the first picture shows a plain version, the second is chocolate chip-stuffed. Depending on your mood, make either, but at your own caution, for chocolate, melting and caught between each crevice, really makes all the difference.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Waffles For One (scale up for more people as needed)

Ingredients

25g rolled oats

120g plain flour (or whole-wheat if you prefer)

35-40g chopped dark chocolate

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

120ml (1/2 cup) almond milk, or any other plant milk (soy/coconut/oat) you have

3 tbsp olive/coconut oil/vegan butter (doesn’t have to be melted, as long as it’s soft or at room temperature)

3 tbsp maple syrup/blackstrap molasses/rice syrup (use honey if you’re not vegan)

 

Directions

Tip all ingredients into a bowl and mix until all is well combined. The mixture should be like a thick cake batter; add more flour if it isn’t. You could do this the night before and pop the bowl into your fridge so you save a little time in the morning when you make it!

Preheat your waffle iron according to its instructions, grease with whatever fat you used in the batter itself (in this case I used coconut oil) and pour the batter in, making sure not to exceed the tips of the iron ridges. Cook until the surfaces are lightly browned. My waffle iron doesn’t require me to flip the waffles over, but if you feel the heating is uneven, go ahead and do just that after 3-4 minutes, depending on how fast and strong your iron is. This recipe makes about 2 thick waffles, a generous serving for one person, but sharing with someone else works too. Freeze any extras and toast in your toaster when you want to have them again. Soooo good with thick and creamy soy yoghurt, berries, caramelised banana (see above) and maple syrup.

Classic Baked Cheesecake

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‘We die and decay– or are burned– to come up again as wheat or roses, which in turn may form the bodies of future generations of people. Decay is the inevitable and necessary consequence of finite corporeal mortal life.’– Slightly morbid but beautiful quote of the day.

Lots of school, lots of reading, lots of fun. A lot of hesitation, but my head throbs with the chilling promise of a new day, each day.

So I could describe the entirety of my childhood in terms of cheesecake. It was definitely, undoubtedly, completely, a significant part of the reality I encased myself in. There was no such thing as no cheesecake twice a week, and yes, it did my soul a world of good, it was a chunk of my world and sometimes the world itself, when I didn’t feel like facing the real one. This was before I knew anything about the reality of the dairy industry, before I knew how much better it felt to put into myself a real damn cheesecake. A harmless, do-good cheesecake. So I was determined to make one. A proper one. A baked, New York-style cheesecake, soft, dense yet fluffy on the inside, firm and lightly browned everywhere else. They say anything made vegan is a compromise, which is true only if you’re not aware of what goes on in the food you enjoy on a day-to-day basis. Here is a cheesecake I made twice because I got so passionate about it. The ingredients are simple, the product flawless.

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Whilst meddling about experimenting with Minimalist Baker’s infamous recipe, I realised I could make the crust and filling, leave it in the fridge to set and then bake when I wanted it to (you don’t have to leave it in the fridge before baking though, I just did so due to time issues). Baking it together, without changing the temperature halfway, yielded an equally delicious and beautiful result.

No hint of hubris. It’s just a good, dense, flavourful vegan cheesecake.

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Classic Baked Vegan Cheesecake (Serves 8-10, adapted from Minimalist Baker’s stunner of a recipe)

Ingredients

For the crust:

70g (about a half cup) rolled or porridge oats

90g raw almonds (optional:sub with cashews)

pinch of sea salt

2 tbsp coconut/brown sugar

60g coconut oil, either melted or at least at room temperature

 

For the filling:

120g (1 cup) raw cashews

250g (1 cup) coconut cream

220g (about a tub) vegan cream cheese

1 tbsp cornstarch

150ml (half a cup+ 2 tbsp) maple syrup

1 tsp fine salt

juice of one lemon+the zest of the lemon

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

The night or day before you bake the cheesecake, put the cashews for the filling in a bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight on your counter or in the fridge. You can also do this for half an hour if you have the time earlier on in the day.

The next day, drain the soaked cashews and set aside. Preheat your oven to 170C and ready a 9-inch springform pan. In a food processor or blender, put in the ingredients for the crust and whizz it up until you can press the crust with your fingers and they stick a little. The crust should not be too oily to touch. Press this into a 9-inch springform pan and put it in the fridge to firm up a little while you make the filling.

Briefly wipe down your blender/food processor (don’t go all out to clean here yet!) and whack in your filling ingredients, including the soaked cashews. Blend everything together until you get a smooth, white creamy product. There are usually still bits of cashews after blending for a minute, so continue to blend until everything is smooth and bit-less. Pour this on your crust and then bake for 50 minutes. Check at 50 minutes– the top should be lightly browned. If not, continue baking until you see a light golden colour on top.

Remove, let cool on the counter for a half hour before moving it to the fridge to set a little more.

Enjoy with some vegan whipped cream or coconut yoghurt. Beautiful on its own as well. Dana did such a fantastic job with this recipe, and I’m dying for everyone else to try it! My favourite pairing is with berries and basil, as may be observed in the picture just above the recipe.

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.