The Culinary Escapist

Savoir Faire

Remember what every one says when they hand you a lemon?

Make the best damn lemonade as if your life depends on it. Well, that’s not the actual phrase but you probably get what I’m squeezing at 😉

Metaphorically speaking, it’s the best line to encourage optimism and positivity in light of adversity. Because sometimes, you just need to do what your gut tells you and stop overthinking things. The lemon could probably be sour or sweet (if you’re lucky enough to be handed a gorgeous meyer lemon) but you never know till you slice it open and extract all the juice it has to offer.

Travelling is a lot like making lemonade. We all make it a certain way. I like mine with apple cider vinegar and a splash of maple syrup. Some prefer basil leaves in it. Every person has their travelling preference. For me, I delight in the kind of travel that transcends space/place. Don’t worry I’m not about to go all philosophical on you. In my world, travel is a journey. You don’t need to physically leave the country you’re in to ‘travel’ in the proper sense. If you focus hard, you can travel through your senses. That’s one of the best kind of travels, in my honest opinion. For a second, you escape your current literal reality and ‘teleport’ to a destination of your choice (no air fares needed!).

An ordinary bite of salsa, with guacamole and sour cream takes me to Mexico (even though I haven’t been!) and decadent jamon iberco on warm baguette slathered in french butter is enough to transport me to Barcelona (which I also haven’t been to!). The concept seems ethereal but if you think about it, it’s melding the tangible and intangible so that your reality (which is really what your mind perceives) becomes what you feel in your five senses.

This is my huge lesson of the year. I’ve been more adventurous in the kitchen, exploring healthier cooking options and more nourishing ingredients and it’s been terrific.

Savoir Faire

Many friends have asked me to open something to share the food that I’ve been cooking. To this, I have to say – it’s in the works. I have a long way to go. But it might be sooner rather than later as I’ve a pretty awesome cooking partner now and we’ve been cooking up quite a storm for our friends over the past few months. 

Here’s a peek into one of our homely dinners. The menu was decided on a whim as yours truly constantly trawls Tasting Table and Food52 for recipes to try. These dishes seem to fit (in theory) in terms of flavours so I thought why not?


Savoir Faire

Onions are one of my favourite ingredients and the way they caramelise and morph into something so rich so easily always leaves me spellbound so I couldn’t resist making this Cilantro-Lime Sofrito. Such an exotic sounding name isn’t it. For the layperson – it’s really onion jam that’s cooked till it’s sweet and layered with a burst of lime and lime zest. There are many versions of sofrito (it has its roots in Spanish culture but the Cubans, Filipinos and Greeks also have their take on it apparently) but for a start, this was a mind-blowing concoction. It went really well with the cauliflower rice we made. 

Savoir Faire

Cauliflower rice is super easy. Pulse a whole head in a food processor, fry some aromatics like garlic & onions in oil for about 3 to 5 minutes then throw the ‘cous-cous’ textured blitzed cauliflower. Unlike rice, it doesn’t weigh you down and it absorbs whatever gravy/sauce you douse it in. Which makes perfect sense when paired with Food52’s Shrimp & Okra stew

Savoir Faire

We doubled the recipe as there were 8 of us and it was one of the most easy yet complex tasting dish I’ve cooked. The smokiness of the back bacon complemented the buoyant prawns that glided through the liquid and pulp from the 8 tomatoes we threw in. What I loved most was when two of our guests shared how they don’t usually like prawns and okra but having tasted this stew, were completely converted. Feedback like that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling!

Savoir Faire

Every mouthful and every tender bite made sense. Best ‘icing’ on the figurative cake was how nutritious every dish was.

Even the dessert!  

Savoir Faire

Chocolate Avocado Pudding. Nothing I can say can accurately describe how life changing this dessert is. Raw, vegan, gluten free, dairy free and completely free of unrefined sugar, it’s one of the most healthy things you can feed yourself. But it doesn’t taste gross (as you would expect something that healthy to be eh?). Instead, it tastes decadent. You’d think there was heavy cream in it. Oh boy that’s when you understand the miracle of creamy ripe avocados!

One of our guests brought along his guitar and started singing & strumming some melodious latin inspired tunes. The best part was when we all got up to dance to the music.

For that second (or maybe a minute or two), we felt like we were in the Caribbean, swaying along, by the beachside.

We escaped reality. And it was awesome.

*NOTE: We are trying to make this a private supper club project so if anyone is interested or want to try our food, do drop me a line at 


Cilantro-Lime Sofrito  
Adapted from from Annie Pettry, Decca, Louisville, KY (as seen on Tasting Table)


3 tablespoons unsalted butter

5 cups finely chopped yellow onion (3 to 4 medium onions)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon minced garlic (1 large clove)

¼ cup finely chopped cilantro

Zest of ½ lime

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon, fresh lime juice (1 lime)


In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and salt, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook the onions slowly, stirring often, until they are soft and light golden, 1 hour. Add the garlic and cook until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cilantro, lime zest and lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt. Let cool.


Shrimp & Okra Stew (We doubled it to feed 8 pax)

  • 1 pound shrimp, raw, peeled, and deveined
  • 2 cups okra, tops removed and sliced about 1/8-inch thick
  • 2 ounces bacon, diced (I prefer double-smoked bacon)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups 3 to 4 tomatoes, peeled and crushed with your hand or diced-reserve with juices and then add enough water to make 2 cups
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme, minced
  • 2 teaspoons flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Place a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and begin to render the fat.
  2. Once the fat begins to release, add the okra. Season the okra with salt and pepper. Stir the okra as it cooks, taking note of the gelatinous strings that chase your spoon around the pan. Let the okra cook until the strands begin to dissipate and the okra becomes soft.
  3. Add the garlic and red chile flakes to the pan. Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant.
  4. Add the butter and let it melt, then add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp until it becomes pink, then add the tomato. Stir everything together to combine, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the thyme and half of the parsley. Let the shrimp finish cooking and the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the parsley.
  5. Serve the stew and juices over hot rice (so as mentioned, we used cauliflower rice)


Chocolate Avocado Pudding by Laura Miller (I doubled the ingredients to feed 8 pax)

-2 large avocados
-½ cup agave or maple syrup (I used maple)
-½ cup cocoa powder
-3 T coconut oil
-1/2 t balsamic
-1/2 t nama shoyu
-¼ t salt

-Blend all ingredients in a food processor.
-Enjoy as is, or freeze overnight!

-High in Vitamins C, K, B6
-Great source of fiber
-Healthy fats that boost your metabolism (including an amino acid L-carnitine)

Posted on 6th Sep 2015 in Uncategorized


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