Beef Rendang

DSC_0118aWhen we were all a little younger than we are now (i.e., college-aged), it seemed that everyone fell into two camps on the subject of New Year’s resolutions. We were ardent believers, list-makers, inquisitive interrogators (“what are your New Year’s resolutions?”). Or we were hardened cynics. New Year’s resolution haters. I have to confess I fell more into the first category. I was extremely anxious if I hadn’t identified my New Year’s resolutions by Christmas, and I took them very seriously. The problem is: the day after one of the most dedicated partying nights of the year is not the best time for personal fortitude. Nor was it possible (for me, anyway) to rectify personality defects by sheer force of will. By mid-February, if I made it that far, like almost everyone else I invariably had broken my resolutions.

Now that we are older and the gloss of our idealistic zeal has been tarnished by years of hard living, the best that most of us can manage is a dry January. That is why I propose that we take a leaf from the book of that lofty body the United Nations, and adopt the more gentle practice of making non-binding New Year’s resolutions. The high-minded sentiment is there, without the guilt. Continue reading

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Caramelized Shallot, Yam, and Coconut Soup

I am sorry for the long hiatus since I last posted a recipe. I’ve been gallivanting around the west coast (Seattle to San Francisco) and cooked hardly at all (although I ate plenty). San Francisco is having a summery winter with unseasonably mild sunny t-shirt-and-flip-flop weather, but since my return to London this past Monday it has been FREEZING outside, and last night we even had snow. Soup weather I call this, when I’m not calling it something more unprintable. I’ve been craving a yam and coconut soup with a bit of tropical heat, but my complaint with such soups is that they often taste like holiday desserts – too light and sweet without any sonorous depth to round out the flavour. On a particularly cold day this week I trekked (i.e., took a bus) to the farmers market at Swiss Cottage. It’s wee, but one of my favourite veg sellers is there, and I came home laden with root vegetables and good ideas. Continue reading

Malaysian Squid Curry

I went to the Portobello Market today intending to buy a rabbit and some octopus. I was dreaming, vaguely, of Spanish food. I got there too late for the rabbit (damn jetlag!) and lovely Gary of Gary’s Fresh Fish said that octopus is too expensive right now for him to sell it at the prices he likes. But staring at me balefully from Gary’s bins were some giant – I mean massive – cephalopods. Continue reading

Spicy Black Bean, Coconut and Lime Soup

“Another soup?” I hear you gripe. “Didn’t Susan just make a soup?” To which I say, (a) yes, but (b) this soup is delicious! Also, (c) (cue plaintive voice) I’m jetlagged again, and (d) this month’s sweet heat challenge is SPICY SOUP! Continue reading