Spam Fries with Key Lime Dip: A Perfect Munchies Hit

A little bit of excitement occurred recently — I just had my first piece of fiction published in an anthology!

It’s a short story titled “Ganja Ghosts” — about, well, smoking the you know what in Singapore. And it’s appeared in a lovely book called “The Marijuana Chronicles,” edited by the brilliant artist and bestselling mystery writer Jonathan Santlofer.

In addition to Jonathan, there are stories in there by Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child and more. To say I’ve been thrilled would barely even begin to describe it. And yes, all of you should absolutely run right out now and buy a copy!

So, it seemed like a celebration was in order — and thankfully, my Let’s Lunch mates were on board. For this month’s lunch date, we decided to share our ideas for perfect “munchies” …

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Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee: Singapore’s Best

For years, I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that the absolute best char kway teow in Singapore is over at Hill Street Fried Kway Teow

It appears, however, that I have been speaking out of turn. On a recent trip to Singapore, chef Willin Low (of the always impressive Wild Rocket restaurant) decided to correct me, putting me in his car and taking me to Hong Lim Market & Food Centre, a busy hawker center near the heart of Chinatown. Once there, we wended our way among the little stalls until we found one that had a line with more than a dozen people in it.

“Quick,” he said, shooing me to hurry over to Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee. “Get in line!”

This, apparently, was the best char kway teow in Singapore.

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Singapore Day: Blood, Eggs and Noodles

If I’ve been a little silent, it’s because I’ve run off and joined the police.

Alright, you got me. The last time I inspected a knife that seriously was when I was trying to hack my way through a brisket and wondering if it needed sharpening.

What you’re seeing above is one of my favorite mystery writers S.J. Rozan and me getting a close look at a faux crime scene set up by the Singapore police force at Singapore Day in Brooklyn a few weekends ago.

The day-long festival, which first came to New York City in 2007, is a day-long celebration of all things Singapore — the government there flies in actors, singers and even recruiters with jobs in hand.

All of this is fine and good — but what we really came for that day? Food — glorious hawker dishes from only the best little stalls you’ll find in Singapore …

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Hill Street Fried Kway Teow: True Singapore Noodles

As a New Yorker who has written a fair bit about food in my native Singapore, I’m often asked the question: “Where should I eat in Singapore?”

It’s a head-scratcher. Where to begin? You could have six meals a day for an entire month in Singapore and still stumble upon some delicious morsel you’ve not sampled before.

Even so, I have short list — one that runs through the curry shops, nasi padang (Malay rice smorgasbord) and Hainanese eateries that fill my head when I’m far from home.

The one place I rarely include on this list, however, is a tiny hawker stall located in the neighborhood of my youth — Hill Street Fried Kway Teow …

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Wordless Wednesday: Fresh Strawberry Pie

There is no story behind this pie.

Well, nothing beyond the fact that the plumpest, most gorgeous-smelling strawberries were on sale anyhow. And, also, the fact that it’s summer and pie seems to be calling to me every day.

And so I present my first Wordless Wednesday — which turns out to be not exactly wordless given that I had to share the recipe behind this delicious photo as well. (I know, I know — as the husband said: “You just can’t help yourself.”)

So, feast your eyes on this picture, dear readers. And if you want to give the recipe a spin, just carry on reading …

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Apple-Cheese Meatloaf: Pretty Sweet Meat (And a Gourmet Jerky Giveaway)

At a recent “A Tiger in the Kitchen” reading at Powell’s Books in Beaverton, Oregon, a young man asked a question I’ve been getting a fair bit: “What’s your favorite thing to cook?”

It’s a sound question, given my book is a memoir told through food and cooking. And my answer always surprises people: “Meatloaf.”

Although Tiger is about a year I spent traveling to Singapore, where I was born, to rediscover my native culture by learning how to cook, in my Brooklyn kitchen, it’s often good old American meatloaf that I turn to when I’m looking for something easy, satisfying — and likely to yield lots of leftovers. My obsession with meatloaf began when I moved to the United States at age 18. I had never encountered this brick of meat before — it was truly exotic to me.

Since I mention this fact in the book, some readers have been awfully generous in sharing their prized meatloaf recipes. And when my book tour recently took me to Seattle, where I had a lovely catch up with a dear, dear friend, he happened to mention a magical meatloaf recipe that he adores.

The moment I saw the name of Russ’s recipe — “Apple Cheese Loaf” — I knew I had to try it …

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Miso-Bacon-Corn Chowder: An Umami-Packed Liquid Lunch

The recipes, of course, have been lovely. As have the beautiful photos of creative dishes ranging from BLTs to kitchen-sink concoctions.

But in the close to two years that I’ve had a monthly virtual lunchdate with food bloggers spread out from California to Paris, the thing I’ve most adored is the friendships that have formed, firmly sealed via a shared love for cooking.

Over Let’s Lunch dates and regular Tweets, this trusty band of bloggers has gotten rather fond of one another. So when our dear Karen mentioned that she couldn’t join us for lunch in May because of a strict liquid diet due to cancer surgery, our decision was clear. If Karen had to have liquid lunches in May, then well, so would we.

What to make for lunch? After regretfully dispelling the idea of martinis — delicious, though probably not the most healthy — a filling, hearty chowder came to mind …

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Caramel-Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake: Doctor’s Orders

There are many perfectly lovely blogs out there that extol the virtues of healthy eating. Page after page will be filled with photos and recipes of jazzed up salads and low-calorie sweets, all nudging you to at least try to live a better life.

This blog, dear readers, is not one of them.

Yes, there has been the recent issue of the doctor’s concern. But when this concern has somehow led to an untouched mound of rapidly browning bananas sitting on the kitchen counter (because the doctor has ordered the consumption of a banana a day), something has to be done.

Not that this leads to any bananas actually getting consumed, mind you. Instead, a recipe is found — one that calls for ripe bananas that will be turned into a banana cake topped with a thick, hot layer of sweet caramel and walnuts.

The recipe oozes decadence and sin. But it does have a saving grace — there are bananas in there, after all. Isn’t that what the doctor ordered?

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Maple-Bacon Ice-Cream: Cheating Death (For Now)

This is what happens when a girl’s doctor discovers what she sort of does for a living (eat) and starts worrying about her cholesterol and blood pressure:

She comes upon a recipe for maple-bacon ice-cream calling for 12 large egg yolks.

And gosh darn it, she makes it.

One might speculate that there are many reasons for this occurrence — a deep-seated stubbornness, a misguided rebellion, a determination to cling to the belief of invincibility, the attempt to give the specter of death the big, well, you know.

But perhaps the reason is far, far simpler. (This is what she chooses to believe.) This ice-cream has bacon in it. Who wouldn’t want to try making it?
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Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Cheddar & Blue With Asian Pears & Rosemary Honey


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There's a lovely little bar near my Brooklyn home that serves the most brilliant grilled cheese sandwiches — the bread is sliced thin and grilled to crisp perfection. And the melted cheddar within is curled around slender slivers of green apples, which lend the sandwich a nice tartness that cuts through the rich cheese.

I think about that sandwich often — and it came to mind again when my Let's Lunch group, a bunch of far-flung bloggers who gather once a month for a virtual lunch date, decided on creative grilled cheese sandwiches for October.

The version I had in mind had a few twists, however …

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