Leftover Queens

My friend Jane and I jokingly call ourselves the Leftover Queens because we specialise in magicking up meals from leftovers.  Being British, our speciality is Bubble & Squeak, of course.

Why is it that leftovers always taste nicer than the original? My fondest memory (and favourite food) is my father’s leftover turkey soup that we would eat for days after Christmas. I don’t know what the secret ingredients are, but the soup is simply out of the world. When I asked my dad for the recipe (which I do almost every year, deviously sometimes), he won’t tell me. “You have to come back to my house for my soup,” he would say with a twinkle in his eye. “That’s my insurance.”

Nothing I make could ever taste as good as my daddy’s turkey soup made from leftovers – and expensive wine, no doubt.

Though I love my leftover cuisine. Not only does it save money, it saves a lot of time, too: whenever I am cooking something, I would put the ‘inedible’ bits in a container, to be boiled up into a soup by either adding some beef bones or chicken carcass. Sometimes, I would just boil up the vegetables for a clear consommé. These were the end bits that our rabbits used to eat in the days we had eleven rabbits, but now, it ended up in a healthy soup (the veggies, not the rabbits):

From this humble bits, you could make either a simple rice and grain porridge or a healthy alternative to instant noodles. The recipe for the instant noodles is here.



So when you are preparing food next, don’t throw bits away – either bag them up for future use (freeze it) or chuck them into the pot to boil up.

One of the best kitchen tips I give folks is always have home-made stocks handy in the fridge. Because they are soooo easy to make, and they are the foundation of such delicious, simple, healthy dishes. Look differently at a carrot stub the next time round.

Mango sticky rice, my way!

I have never been a fan of sticky mango rice, though they are available on every street corner in Phuket, Thailand, where I live for part of the year. I found them too sickly and too sweet.

But when I was in Ho Chi Minh City and had dinner at the superb restaurant called Gao in District 3 (around the corner from a romantic live-music hangout place called Cafe Soi Ba), I had the most delicious sticky mango rice ever, namely one that is not too sweet and not sickly at all.

I came home and experimented, and here it is:

200g uncooked short-grain white rice
350ml water
250ml coconut milk
100g brown sugar (in my final recipe, I omitted that and stirred in honey when the rice is cooked)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pandan leaves, knotted
3 mangos, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds or chia seeds (I also used dried marigold flowers)

Cook the rice in water and pandan leaves until all the water has been absorbed. If the rice is too hard, add more water. Mix the coconut milk with the brown sugar until dissolved. Stir the mixture into the cooked rice (in the rice cooking pot where heat is retained) and keep covered for 1 hour until all the liquid is absorbed.

Drizzle with dulce le leche (optional), topped with seeds and serve with a side of small chunks of mango. Yums!


Got Alcohol? Got Tomatoes? Let’s Party!

OK, you are probably not expecting this on a parenting blog.  But these unusual fermented tomatoes are so wonderfully delicious (the alcohol content is actually low) and they make amazingly delicious spaghetti pomodoro.   I will make my version of unbelievably tasty spaghetti pomodoro tomorrow, after this batch of tomatoes ferments.

How to make fermented tomatoes:

Sterilise a mason jar or any glass jar with a seal.

Pour in equal amounts of extra virgin olive oil and alcohol (sherry is best, but I use Cointreau because I like the orangey taste). Add cloves of crushed garlic and basil leaves. Add the washed tomatoes. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Seal the jar and leave in the the refrigerator overnight. It can keep up to three days. The tomatoes should be slightly fizzy – shows that they are fermenting!

Stay tuned for my best-ever spaghetti pomodoro! Glamorous enough to be served at dinner parties 🙂

fermented tomatoes 2

Healing Foods

As a doctor, I am a firm believer in supporting the body to heal itself rather than a reliance on antibiotics and medicines. It has taken me a long while to arrive to this way of thinking: at the beginning, I was besotted with the miracle drugs that can ‘cure’ illnesses like magic, not being wise enough then to realise that an absence of symptoms does not equate to cure. But after half a lifetime’s journey, both as a doctor and a mother, I am now a strong believer in the philosophy that healing foods, a supportive lifestyle and love can cure most of the ills we encounter in today’s topsy-turvy world. Here are some of the core recipes:


There are three parts to my green smoothies:
1. Base
Made from fruits such as bananas, avocados, dragon fruits, papaya, honey dew melons, mangoes.

2. The green layer
Organic greens. Anything will do, the dark leafy ones are more nutritious, but mix with lighter ones for a milder taste. But whatever, make sure this layer is purely organic.

3. The topping
Chia seeds, flax seeds, goji berries.

Add some water and blitz. Remember to keep blitzing until you get an almost homogenous drink.


Oh, it is so difficult (and expensive) to find gluten-free cereals! Here’s my creation:

(1) Boil some quinoa according to packet instructions. You can do this the night before (quinoa keeps in the fridge for a couple of days).

(2) Break a slice of corn-thins and add to the quinoa.

(3) Top with fruits, nuts, goji berries and chia seeds as shown.

(4) Serve with cold milk.

(NOTE TO THOMAS: Corn thins on the breakfast bar)



Boil the following over low heat for several hours:
1. Organic, hormone-free and antibiotic-free chicken or beef bones
2. 2 tablespoons of vinegar
3. Carrots
4. Broccoli
5. Potatoes
6. Bay leaves

For a more filling meal, boil some small pasta (e.g. macaroni) separately and add to the broth just before serving.

Do not discard the leftovers (bones and veggies) – reboil it to make a weak soup and use it for the following:


rice millet

1. Add washed rice and millet into the soup and cook until tender.
2. Just before serving, break an egg into the pot and cook until the egg white is solidified and the yolk still soft (use safe eggs)
3. To serve, add garnishes: coriander leaves, spring onions, salt and pepper (the leftover bits of carrots and veggies make it all the yummier).

(NOTE TO THOMAS: No brown rice or millet at home, just use ordinary rice this week)



1. Cook the quinoa according to packet instructions.
2. Prepare the base with mixed green salad leaves.
3. Add the heavier elements, such as avocados or roasted beetroot.
4. Spoon the quinoa onto the nest.
5. Top with nuts and seeds.
6. For dressing, drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar.



1. Marinate the fish with salt and pepper. Make incisions in the flesh and put ginger slices in the incisions. Leave for a while.
2. Drizzle with olive oil.
3. Grill on a low setting until the fish is cooked (NOTE: Thomas, the grill is the fire on top)
4. In the meantime, heat up some olive oil in the pan. Add in garlic slices, stir until brown, and then add in greens. Season lightly with salt.
5. Serve with rice.



More on the medical basis of the diet I propose by the University of Massachusetts Medical School: http://www.umassmed.edu/news/news-archives/2014/04/UMMS-first-to-develop-evidence-based-diet-for-inflammatory-bowel-disease/