Citrus & Coconut Scones

I don’t really have a sweet tooth, I can easily pass on that dessert course and order a plate of cheese instead. I love cheese, I could bathe in cheese. I can live on just cheese and bread – all kinds of cheese and only with the best sourdough bread (ahem E5). But I digress, I’m okay about sweets but scones are irresistible. These warm and fluffy treats are some of the best things the UK has to offer.
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Braised Artichokes with Vegetables & Pistou

Artichokes are a real b*tch in the vegetable world.

A lot of things aren’t worth their price at restaurants – porridge for instance, or scrambled eggs, or granola or in fact anything served at brunch. The raw ingredients + the skills required in preparing them do not justify the numbers on the menu. But artichokes – they’re expensive in restaurants for all the understandable reasons. First, you get a whole artichoke, that’s not cheap to begin with, and with a giant artichoke, the actual edble part is just 40%. Then the prepping of it is just soo labor-intensive. In all honesty, I don’t know what I hate more – paying for an expensive dish of artichokes at home, or spending a lot of money and time to cook artichokes myself.

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Yellow Bruschetta

You know how so many of those detox juice blends are named by color? You have green juices made with spinach, cucumber & celery; orange juices made with pumpkin, carrot & apricot; red juices made with beet, peppers & tomatoes. It’s completely random on the basis of flavor profiles. These “juicers” simply looked to nature and grouped ingredients together by color and started selling them at £6 a bottle.

However, I inadvertedly did that with my bruschettas last night. Yellow saffron salt, yellow lemon zest, yellow corn, and even arguably yellow-ish parmesan. And you know what, they taste amazing but look how pretty! It’s like a beautiful plate of golden sunshine. I’m understanding why sticking to a color scheme appeals to consumers now.
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Multi-Seed Spelt Crackers

I am a product of globalization. My father’s Italian, my mother’s Chinese, I grew up in international schools in China and I’m now living in the UK. The point is, I do not know how to empathize with sentiments of nationalism and isolationism because I struggle to associate a country with my identity. I hold an Italian passport and I adore all the food and culture that Italy offers but I’ve never lived there. Italian’s not my native language. And to Italians I look Asian. I grew up in China and my mother’s a firm believer of Chinese medicine but I need a visa to go to the country. Most of my friends growing up were of international backgrounds. And to the Chinese I look white.

In the midst of all anti-globalization sentiment I feel a bit lost. I’d always loved London because I could actually be from here, I didn’t look or feel like a foreigner in this multicultural city.

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Plum & Brazil Nut Galette

My hatred for crowded areas stems from growing up in Beijing, where the high population density meant that there was no personal space in public spaces. To be fair, that also means that I have quite a high tolerance for cramped settings, as I don’t consider it “cramped” until I’m in constant physical contact with strangers. But when it is that “cramped”, I become one of those nasty human beings with a resting b*tch face. That is why, I don’t go to Borough Market, despite the fact that it is undoubtedly the best food market in London. I don’t go despite all the lovely things it offers – all the fresh produce, innovative craft goods, all the colors, all the smells, all the tastes – I don’t go because these wonderful things hide in the midst of irritating humans jammed together like a rush-hour train carriage.

But I missed it. I craved it. So this weekend, instead of sleeping in, we got up early to go to Borough Market whilst the rest of London was hungover. It was wonderful. And I bought wonderful plums to make this plum pie.

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Fennel Seed Taralli

I struggle with mindfulness. It’s silly as my stressed out life and jammed schedules could really benefit from mindfulness but it is because of those two factors that I have no patience or time for it. The one thing I’m trying to be more conscious of is mindful eating as mindless grazing is one of my many pitfalls. These taralli are exactly something I would mindlessly eat in front of my Mac until I reach the bottom of the bowl and find nothing but shame and guilt.
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Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce is something quite sacred in my household. It is made up of simply garlic, olive oil and tomatoes, finished off with some parmesan, and I promise you it is more difficult than it sounds. My father took years to teach me, and in turn it took years for my sauce to gain his approval. Maybe he’s difficult and I’m incompetent, maybe a good tomato sauce requires a lot of finesse.
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Chestnut Almond Cake (Torta Pisticcina)

This recipe left me dumbfounded.  You literally just mix everything in a bowl with a spatula.  No careful separation of eggs, no patient creaming of butter, no cumbersome whisking till stiff peaks – you put a handful of ingredients into a bowl, stir, pour into a lined cake tin and bake in a preheated oven.  I was dubious of the outcome, but the cake was dense, moist, earthy and all the positive adjectives you can associate a dessert with.
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Citrus Fennel Risotto

We’ve all had dreadful risottos.  You know the kind that comes congealed on your plate like a stiff pudding, with every mouthful an overcooked mush. Most of the time these taste of nothing but generic cheese.  You want a glossy, loose pool of risotto.  When you ladle it to the center of the plate you want it to gently spread into a thin layer.   You want it to still have a bite, and you want it to be light and you also want it to be creamy.  It’s a plate of pure delight when done right.  And it doesn’t need some protein protagonist to sit on top of it, let it be by itself.
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Pea Tahini Dip

Despite having grown up in Beijing with a Chinese mother, there are aspects of the Chinese culture I’ll never understand. My mother grew up during The Cultural Revolution – one of the most horrific movements in the 20th century that led to chaos, violence, deaths, f*cking mayhem –  yet she has never opened up to me about the pain and atrocities she witnessed and experienced in that time. It’s not appropriate in Chinese culture to share your misfortunes, I suppose, especially not with your children. She shares the fond memories from her childhood, like the monthly joy of receiving that rationed jar of sesame paste and smearing it on bread (plain Chinese bao bun) that’s sprinkled liberally with brown sugar. It’s like a sad PB&J. She still absolutely loves that snack.
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