denise


Hello! My name is Denise and I'm a born and bred Singaporean of Asian, Portuguese and British descent, married to an Indonesian of Padang origin.

I received my formal culinary training at the Shatec Institutes in Singapore. Now I take care of my three boys and write cookbooks and food related stuff. Publishers and editors are some of my very favourite people ;)

I speak English, Malay, Bahasa Indonesia, creole Portuguese and swear like a sailor in Hokkien and Mandarin. Sorry mum.

My boys, movies, tea, music, food, cooking, writing, travelling and books are the loves of my life. I hope to see Marrakesh, Portugal, Bora Bora, Cairo and Santorini before I die and to one day be a fabulously successful restaurateur. Chocolate buttons and words are my vices, so, pull out a chair at my virtual kitchen table and feel free to join in the conversation. I promise not to make every other post about pandan, much as I LOVE it and I'm telling you right now, you will never, ever see liquorice (eckk) in my kitchen! People writing or talking about themselves in the third person make me wanta smack em good. If you're my friend though, I'll overlook it. I don't like instant cake mixes because they taste weird, no matter what you add to improve them (but that's just me) and oooooh, I also hate finding (clearly) embarrassing photos of myself posted on Facebook, without my knowledge (or permission - now isn't that a novel concept?!) by well meaning (what's the alternative?) friends. *Gaaaah*

This blog is my attempt to document and share my culinary traditions as a proud Singaporean and Eurasian, which is not to say that I won't occasionally veer off the path and dabble in other cuisines. Though the focus will be on the food of Singapore, anything that makes me or my family go "mmmmm!" will find its way here. Many food bloggers profess a food philosophy or mission statement. Mine's simple; honest, unpretentious, as far as possible, made from scratch (ok, I cheated a bit here and alright, alright, stop twisting my arm already, I used store bought mayo here *geez* ) and if I won't put it in my mouth, I won't put it on my blog.

It really, really peeves me that Eurasians, including Portuguese descended Eurasians or Kristangs are often perceived as  a phantom or extinct race in Singapore, which is no surprise really, as even local history textbooks, until very recently, conveniently and lazily, perhaps even intentionally failed to mention us, though we  undeniably form part of Singapore's historical and cultural landscape. Young sovereign nations like Singapore in a bid to forge a new  and separate identity have a tendency to try to erase their colonial past and  people like us, stubborn and unerasable vestiges of colonialism, become marginalised in the process and written off as collateral damage. Street names don't have opinions, and they don't bite. People do.  Like I said, it really peeves me. We've existed in the region since the 16th century, we are still here and we are real. Taste our food and burp out loud if you like it!

So back to the food! Because of the unrelenting global culinary influences that Singapore is constantly bombarded with, I feel we are in danger of losing our culinary soul and direction. I hope my blog will help to preserve what I know and love of the culinary delights of this island that I call home, for my children.and for anyone with an interest in our culinary legacy. Maybe you're thinking as you read this, " fine, fine, but why Singapore Shiok ??  And why the swirly twirly banner that has nothing to do with food, cooking or kitchens?!?"

In Singapore, the term "shiok" (shee-oak) means damned good or out of this world, in no particular language. It's used and understood by all true blue Singaporeans regardless of race, and is said with gusto, in appreciation of a really good meal or dish. We don't say "that laksa was really good", we say "wah, after my 2 week detox, that laksa was damned shiok man!! Use of the term is usually preceeded by a sweat drenched forehead, ruddy cheeks and a slightly dazed look, not unlike that found on the very recently sexually satiated.

The twirling floral curlicues on the banner are a stylised representation of the beautifully ornate yet practical ventilation tiles used in traditional style homes in Singapore, many of which dot the expanse of Emerald Hill, and Katong, both former local Nyonya enclaves . They are a decorative yet highly functional feature of a homegrown architectural style that I particularly love, and make my blog feel like my other home. So, step inside, make yourselves comfortable, and please, come back often!

14 comments:

  1. Hello Denise. I just found your blog, via Clea cuisine. I was surprised to see your Portuguese "connection" and that totally motivated me to say hello from Lisbon, in Portugal. From what I could see in a brief look around, I will come back often.
    I actually blog about jewelry but I am a healthy food (and not so healthy sometimes) addict and I love to cook so I follow a few "classics" quite closely. Have fun! Silvia

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    1. Hi Silvia, so happy you found me and I hope you will be back often :-) I do try to feature a mix of healthy and indulgent recipes so there's something for everyone.

      Every girl needs some bling in her life and I will definitely check out your blog. Hope you have a great weekend!

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  2. Hello Denise.

    Jeanne here from France though I grew up in S'pore. I came across your blog when it was suggested by another excellant blog(KawanKawan)regarding Eurasian food. I feel so at home here too going through your dishes & sense of humour its truly shiok.
    Now living & working in France I miss Singaporean especially Eurasian food a lot as my late Mum was Portuguese/Dutch Eurasian with her clan hailing from Katong. I'm not gifted in the kitchen unfortunately but do the best I can. Certain ingrediants are not always easy to get hold off here so I have to compromise often but I have the Kristang spirit of being a bon vivant about food so I soldier on in the kitchen & try to surprise my husband & friends.
    Love your bog Denise & will definitely follow it. Catch up with you later.
    Regards
    Jeanne

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    1. Hi Jeanne, thanks for your spirited and heartwarming comment :) I'm always happy to be discovered by new readers and happier still when they leave me a note and tell me about themselves!

      I can appreciate your difficulty in trying to replicate the foods you grew up eating, in a place where many of the ingredients we take for granted here, are either difficult if not impossible to find, or only available at prices inflated by import taxes and freight charges. Pardon the shameless plug here, but that's the exact reason I wrote my latest cookbook, Mum's Not Cooking ;) I put my heart and soul into writing it, I highly recommend it for anyone who loves and misses the food of Singapore and have little recourse but to cook it for themselves. It's peppered with easy recipes and all kinds of substitutions for ingredients like belacan, curry pastes, south east asian herbs and vegetables, tamarind, ikan bilis, chilli paste etc.

      In any case, I do hope what I post on my blog will be of some help in your kitchen 'quest' as you charge along, undaunted by the challenges you face.

      From one Kristang to another, "Bong Natal" and I do hope to hear again from you again!

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  3. Hi Denise!

    I chanced upon your blog while googling for some recipes and I'm glad that I found yours. I like your food photography and presentation!

    You have a new follower!

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  4. Hi Chef and Sommelier :) I'm glad you found my blog too! Thanks for taking the time to say hello, and for your kind words. Appreciate the follow - I hope you'll continue to enjoy visiting my virtual kitchen, as much as I enjoy cooking and creating in it.

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  5. Hello Denise,
    New customer calling ! I came across your blog today and I'm sold. One of these days I shall be visiting for a more exhaustive look,hoping to rediscover the food I have enjoyed on all my holidays in Singapore...and still a long way to go. How many lifetimes will it take before I can say that I've tasted it all ?
    Great writing and photography, by the way.

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    1. Hi Usha :) Each time a visitor to Singapore tells me how much they like the food here, I feel like I could almost burst with pride! I suppose it might seem silly to some, but that's how food obsessed (read greedy) we are, and how proud we are, of our culinary history and heritage. So, from the bottom of my heart and the top of my plate, thank you very much, and if I may add, you are a woman of obviously excellent taste! ;) Building this blog up, post by post and documenting our culinary treasures, makes me ridiculously happy, to put it very simply. I only hope that it gives you and anyone else who visits, half as much pleasure as it gives me. I do look forward to your continuing readership and interaction and wish you many, many delicious and joyful meals ahead!

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  6. Hi Denise, many thanks for your Sugeee butter cake recipe. I enjoyed making the cake, but despite soaking thr semolina for 6 hours, the butter still oozed out of the cake. Wonder what I did wrong (but tgr the cake was delish)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Novice Baker :) Welcome to my blog.

      I will be updating my sugee cake post soon, to address this question, as a few other readers are also curious about this point.

      To give you a brief answer now, sugee cake is an extremely rich cake and made the traditional way, is very buttery, so one made the traditional Eurasian way, will leave butter stains on the serving platter, storage box, liner, your finger tips, lips, plate, cutlery and napkin etc. A sugee cake is considered "unauthentic" if is is not very rich and buttery and some butter staining on whatever comes into contact with the cake is expected. Of course if you're not familiar with this cake, you may be surprised by how rich and buttery it is. However, this greasy staining, should not be excessive and if it is, there are a few reasons why this happens.

      I hope this addresses your concern to some extent, for the moment. Please check back on the sugee cake post in the next 2 weeks or so, for the update. Thanks for reading and leaving your comment!

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  7. Hi Denise, I accidentally stumbled on your blog and am trying desperately to purchase your book. Would love to get it as soon as I possibly can . I cannot wait to start cooking some of the dishes. After all these years I am finally interested in cooking so I hope you will keep in touch and let me know how I can get your book. My e mail address is pamelasundram@yahoo.com

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  8. Hi Pamela,

    Thanks for taking the time to write, and thank you for your interest in getting my cook book. If you are in Singapore, my latest cookbook, Mum's Not Cooking is available at major local bookshops like Kinokuniya and Popular. If you are in Malaysia, Indonesia, or within the Asia Pacific region, or if you cannot find copies in local bookstores, you can contact my publisher for a copy. Please contact Huda Ali at :

    huda (at) epigrambooks (dot) sg

    If you are further away, please click on the link to Amazon.com on the right sidebar of my home page, under the picture of my book cover. Hope the info is helpful.

    Happy Holidays!

    denise

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  9. What a beautiful studio! I chanced upon your site while looking for an epokepok recipe and going to try that out now.

    Thanks for all this amazing photos and content!

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  10. Hi Denise, nice blog. I just chanced upon it today looking for a semolina cake recipe.
    I'm living in UK but from Malaysia originally. I miss Malaysian food very much and I'm always trying to replicate it but with less fuss!

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