What do you do when you have too many dreams and too little time? You blog and document every small step you take towards those dreams – perhaps those dreams will never come true, but writing about the process makes it all the more tangible and rewarding, regardless of whether the dream materializes or not.
Today I felt inspired by a little recipe book I picked up on a bus-stop in Singapore more than 10 years ago – “Seafood- Recipes from the Cliff” by Shawn Armstrong.
The Cliff, located on Sentosa Island, is an up-market restaurant – $$$$ on HungryGoWhere. It is a restaurant I have never been to, and one which I will probably never go to. Back then, I thought it was a cool book to have and to flip through, but never felt like I wanted to try out any of the recipes, as they seemed too involved for making in my mom’s haphazard kitchen where I had trouble even finding the basic utensils I needed. 😦
Since moving to Los Angeles, where I have my own kitchen, and where I have watched a surfeit of Masterchef for 3 years, I have been inspired to expand my cooking and baking repertoire. Every time I watch Masterchef, I shake my head at how incredibly skilled some of the home-cooks are, and tell myself I need to start experimenting with other types of meat, not just chicken and beef! Sometimes I imagine being a final contestant on Masterchef – how fun it would be to create my own take of a Singaporean favorite for Gordon Ramsey! But then I shake my head when I think about the sheer odds of making it that far, let alone the enormous time and effort it would take to get to that point!
Nevertheless, today I found myself reaching for this recipe book which has been gathering dust for years on my bookshelf in Singapore. And, almost like a nod of confirmation to me to document my dreams, I notice, for the first time, a little note the previous owner of the book left for me, ‘Enjoy The Book,” signed off in a sprawling cursive.
Then I remembered that back then in 2006, there was a trend where people would leave books on MRT trains and buses for random people to pick up and bring home. This person didn’t just forget the book, he/she left it behind for another person to use and appreciate!
I had always felt a bit guilty about taking the book, thinking perhaps I had deprived the owner of a recipe book he had somehow forgotten at a bus-stop. But now my conscience has been completely absolved. Thus, I have every intent of taking this book back to LA, and working through the recipes in it. I like the plating of the dishes in this book, and am looking forward to creating dishes which are appealing, both to the palette and to the eyes.
Speaking of which, I was recently inspired by a picture of pretty tarts I saw on Pinterest.
I noticed the different components in it, and decided to try my hand at an iteration of it.
I made some small strawberry meringues by adding a homemade strawberry coulis to a basic meringue recipe (it was my first time making meringues!). I defaulted to Paula Deen’s famous recipe for the tart base, and made basic pastry cream (also for the first time). To the tart, I added raspberries and meringues, as well as fresh cream whipped-up with confectioners sugar and pink coloring. Finally, I plated the tart and included a flourish of passionfruit juice reduction on the side (you can’t see the reduction in this picture). I loved the different textures and complementary flavor profiles of all the various elements! My husband and the two guests we had over enjoyed it so much that they suggested I compete in Masterchef, or, at the very least, Chopped! *lol*
I have to admit that while it definitely needs work in the visual department, the flavor profile was stunning.
It was perfect with a glass of fruity white wine from Trader Joe’s.
Cheers to all the dreams which we cherish and pursue, but may never actually achieve! New ones unfold each day.