August 10, 2015

Friends or Fauxs with Mini Bresaola, Pickled Radish & Watercress Tarts


Sorry, I know I jumped the gun, but I’m assuming it’ll be quicker if I cut to the chase before you ask where I’ve been and why I fell off the face of the earth completely unannounced. 

I’ll be brief.

Basically, some women have this neat ability to sail through building and bringing forth 8 pounds of human being into this world like it’s no big deal. They laugh in the face of hormonal horrors and epi-less labor and emerge from the rigors of child-bearing like champions; energized, refreshed, and ready for a round of high-fives, because pushing out a pot roast was the most pooped-their-yoga-pants ethereal experience ev-ver.  

Unfortunately, I am not one of those annoying a-holes. 

I’m your average zero-zen, fifty-shades-of-frustrated bun-baker and pregnancy puts everything on pause. 

I’m frazzled, I fuss, I complain, I cry…constantly, I obsess over the inane, and my automatic response to unpleasant situations is a red-hot over-reaction. 

No lies, I’m only open for low-level brain activity. 

I kid you not, in the past couple of months, the most strenuous mind-game I played was trying to find a comfortable position to sit, sleep, or stand in.

Sadly, all my attempts failed spectacularly and I was forced to settle for second prize: awkwardly reclining in positions that were neither lady-like nor fit for public consumption and periodically cursing T for putting me through this torture for the sake of more spawn.

Don’t you dare roll your eyes at me, okay? You’ve never had a yeti residing in your uterus.

Shit Just Got Real

In the bigger pregnancy picture, though, physical discomfort was such a frivolous dilemma.

What totally took its toll was the staggering impact of social isolation.

All those long, listless hours of overdressing saved, all those countless kill-me-now conversations avoided, all those five-minute Facebook BFFs banished and forgotten; purgatory, I tell you! 

The reality is, going underground is rife with repercussions and some people are completely capable of coping with the catastrophic consequences coming their way. 

I, again, unfortunately, am not one of those annoying a-holes. 

Maybe it’s because I’ve never not been “in” or “with it” before. Either way, the downward dip in my popularity has been devastating and I don’t know how to “deal” — I gave up on that boring “intellectual awakening” bullshit when I was18.

The result? I’m dying a slow death, wilted, withered, and utterly unloved.

The only people willing to hang with me are these two sad-assed girls I sort of know from school and their idea of a “fun” night is gearing up in pajamas, chugging vats of chai and talking.


Like, not to be mean or anything, but they just don’t get upscale glam, you know — gourmet food, fancy drinks, fine art, glitzy globe-trotting adventures, Bold and the Beautiful style bitchery, a solid squad of best frenemies, the frenzy to morph into a Kardashian clone — obviously, it’s not meant for such philistines. 

Oh well, they couldn’t afford the stardust anyway. 

I, on the other hand, like any Lahori worth her weight in Loubies, am dedicating my foreseeable future to reclaiming my Killin’-It-with-the-Cool-Kids title. 

Thankfully, according to the results of all those Buzzfeed quizzes I’ve been binging on, I’m ridiculously irresistible and my bombshell looks, winning personality, and quirky wit have people hooked at hello so…YAY, me.

Oh, and a note to you naysayers who may doubt the credibility of these questionnaires: FFS, stop being such cynical dum-dums! 

These things are a hundred-percent accurate, okay? Everrrrrryone knows that when a person’s emotional intelligence, attractiveness, and intellect are distilled into a dazzling description based on their preference for a particular color, corny quote, or cartoon character, it’s backed by some serious science and mathematical sorcery. 

Capicse? Cool.

Now, pack up your shitty hipster hate and go cry over captive Orcas or Cecil or some other cause no one except your activist ass gives a shit about.


Motherhood 2.0 

So, what have I learned after having a second baby? Mostly that I’m sick of this mom/milkmaid nonsense. 

What ever happened to flying like friggin’ an eagle, dangit!?

But what about the little ones, you wonder? Who’ll look after them while I’m busy taking Seal’s advice, you worry? 

Pffffft, please! 

What do you think I am? Some sort of irresponsible mother or something?

In case we’ve never discussed this before, I am a perfectionist. Parenting fails are neither an option, nor a possibility, okay? When it comes to my kids, I never settle for less than the best, and that’s why I always have a plan. Always. 

In this case, hordes of hired help. 

It takes a village, alright, and considering I’ve played the “nature” part twice over, the least that fat, lazy Filipino (or, if you’re a laughably low-brow mongrel who’s hired a local, those irritating ammas and aayas) can do is handle the “nurture” bit.

Prize-winning Parenting 101: making the best of a totally self-created, self-absorbed, absolutely avoidable situation.

Speaking of needless annoyances, do you know the kind of damage a burping baby can do to a fresh blow-dry?

Say no to spit-up and baby barf, beautiful people, and save the holding, kissing, and cuddling for photo-ops. 

In case you’re a part of the OTT can’t-put-a-limit-on-love camp, first, my commiserations. Second, I’ve heard that Instagramming the crap out of said photo-ops is a tried and tested act of super-parenting that successfully simulates additional affection, so…good luck with that. 

And please, uskay baad, bus kuro bachon kay saath latakna

Bloody leechars!

To Tell You The Truth

Anyways — God, seriously, stop side-tracking me — circling back to my crisis du jour: social inertia.

So, after five whole harrowing minutes of foraging around on my second most favorite and really reliable online resource, straining to figure out who’s in and what’s hot with my fantasy friends, I finally got some answers.

My incredible stash of insider information includes seminal findings such as where to go on holiday and the fact that posh people exclusively use the word “holiday”. Vacation is too… pedestrian. 

Anyways, Turkey and Italy are the seasons hottest hangouts, with Budapest, Portugal, and Prague rising steadily on the charts. Sri Lanka had a short stint this spring and Spain is still lukewarm, but Thailand is definitely making a comeback, as is “going up North.” Dil, dil, Deosai! London, of course, is a year-on-year favorite, while the anonymity that comes with “holidaying” in America has yet to excite the A-listers. Langkawi is officially over. 

In other news, studded Valentino heels that can double as weapon in case of a zombie apocalypse, bridal outfits worn by non-brides, men behaving like boys, aunties with groupies, political outrage, and entire paragraphs of hashtags are blowing up the internet and cementing social circles as we speak!

With invaluable insights like these, getting back on point with the hip and happening posse should be a cakewalk.

Zuckerberg, I owe you one. 

Game Face

Know Your ABCs:
Assess: Failing to plan is planning to fail, my pretties, so I’ve honed my hit-list is based on the four all-important Ps: party potential, a popping posse, personal wealth, and powerful parents. Oh, and I need be super wary of wallflowers. No one likes those nerds. They never have any gossip. 

Build Bridges: For a seamless in and introduction, befriending the friends of my future best friends is a super slick move. It’s called playing it cool and keeping it classy, okay? It’s not like I’m desperate or anything. 

Cling: Sometimes it’s okay to sink to stalker. Like when your ex starts seeing someone else and you incessantly patrol the new girl’s facebook page looking for proof that she is indeed the two-bit crack-whore you secretly hope she is.That’s normal, a part of the process. This is just like that, except that it’s nothing like that, but it’s still a totally legit reason for me to latch on like an alien to its mothership. 
Faux Pro Tip: Take Initiative 
Accepting any and all invitations is, of course, a given, but how do you bag those invites to begin with? Okay, so, I haven't taken this one for a test run yet, but sources reveal that formalities are for fools. The best way to procure a pass to any event is to slowly worm your way into the hosts life a couple of weeks, months, or, depending on how ambitious your goals are, maybe even years in advance, to offer a "helping hand" or to initiate a supposedly unrelated “hangout”. Follow up with casual hounding until your golden ticket finally arrives. P.S. it’s customary to talk trash about the party and hosts while you’re there. 
Common Denominators: Want to know what I have in common with the cool kids? Everything. Yes, everything. Psychologists have tried to stand in my way, using fancy terminology like over-identification and loss of self, but I don’t buy into that bull. I’m simply at one with my several dozen soul-mates. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get some blonde skunk stripes in my hair, buy some art I can’t afford, pretend to love my fat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, I’m-more-organic-than-you’ll-ever-be vegan diet, and casually cruise my way into the hearts and minds of everyone who matters.
Faux Pro Tip: Brush Up On Your Bullshit 
My favorite artist? Alejandro Perrera. Favorite designer? Sissy Godfried. Favorite author? Gustavo Janssen of The Day that Time Stood Still fame and Rajani Malhotra for her iconic Every River Has a Soul. Favorite chef? Definitely a tie between Garret Casella and Linda Evangelista’s insanely talented niece, Amelia Evangelista. If my picks seem obscure AF, it’s because I’m an avant garde intellectual with eclectic tastes and none of these people exist IRL. But who wants to admit they’re an outdated doofus, right? 

Silence of the Glams: Discussion, debate, dissent; what is this, some sort of college classroom? Disagreements are for deviants who don't want world peace and prosperity, okay? Me? I vow to stand united with any and all forms of asinine-ery, feigning solidarity through the liberal use of ambiguous sounds and statements such as “Mmm-hmm” “acha” “totally” “uh-huh” “bukwaaaaas” and “for sure”. Something tells me “Sir Jeeee” drawled out nice and slow could also be very effective. Everything else shall remain reserved for my inner monologue. 
Faux Pro Tip: Contribute Constructively
Okay, so, fine, rolling stones don’t any gather moss, but they definitely gather plenty of juice. For the compulsive conversator who finds a full-time commitment to the mute button excruciating, this is a most fortunate happenstance. Gossip is the greatest goddamn glue ever invented! Who cares if throwing your besties and all the resties under the bus is a tad sinister. Success demands sacrifice, sweet child.
Cheese, Please: In the digital age where optics are everything, it’s important to document my dalliances. That’s because stunted pictures are a perfect testament to the imaginary affinity between me and people I barely know. And no, it’s not crazy awkward forcing my spouse, mom, or other innocent bystanders to snap pouty photos of me with practical strangers. Slap some tags on, label them “the crew” or “my girls” and game, set, match.
Faux Pro Tip: Express Yourself
Listen, if you were the hottest thing to hit the world since Beyonce’s booty, would you ever want to stop hearing about your awesome-sauciness?  No, right? The point is, it’s important hail your heroes heartily., , lest they forget their own amazingness. Gush, gasp, and routinely chime in with a running commentary to their lives and definitely DON’T be discouraged if your idols aren’t immediately enthusiastic about these interactions. They’re just bashful.
But, listen, before you over-zealous, in-it-to-win-it types decide to go all smooth-operator yourselves, let’s get something straight — even though barely being a blip on the social radar is one of my most visceral fears (sorry, not sorry) and a bunch of men with mullets said, “Don’t stop believing,” and I’m all for the fake it ’til you make it philosophy, the reality is, everyone can’t be an alpha. And it’d probably be a lot less of a pain in the ass for everyone involved if some people just settled for being cool by association and accepted the fact that most losers never make it to the top of the food-chain.


Because life is cruel. And that’s the way the cookie crumbles. And mommy doesn’t love you. 

Bummer, right?

For you, maybe. 

I, fortunately, am not one of those annoying a-holes. 

Toodles, lamers!

Now, because I’m a straight frontin’ superstar, I’m going to show you how to faux frou-frou your food up with my Mini Bresaola, Pickled Radish, & Watercress Tarts. By the way, this recipe was first featured in the annual Eid Edition of MASALA! magazine, Dubai's most widely read lifestyle publication. What a great experience! 

See, see what I just did there? That, babies, is humble-bragging, a distant, but no less obnoxious, cousin of shameless self-promotion. A must-try it if you’re interested in people sitting up and taking notice of your spectacular self. 

You’re welcome!

So, the concept for these tarts is simple: store bought puff pastry, delicate slices of bresaola, tart quick-pickled radishes, fresh sprigs of peppery watercress, and a creamy horseradish sauce with a hint of heat come together to make an appetizer that’s bloody gorgeous and super easy to pull together.

In fact, that’s what sold me on these tarts in the first place — what ends up on the plate is so artsy you’ll seem like Marco White’s protege and to the unsuspecting eye it’ll seem like you slaved forever, but, really, the hardest thing you’ll really be doing is flipping on your oven. 

Life hacks of a lazy girl aiming to impress. 

In case bresaola is tough to source, pastrami, grilled chicken, and roast beef are excellent stand-ins. Smoked salmon, sour cream, capers, and chives, also heaven, but feel free to sub with pretty much any other toppings of your choice.

Mushrooms sauteed in butter with a generous heap of garlic and a fistful of parsley, an umami-packed classic, makes for an earthy, meaty, and deeply satisfying vegetarian option.  Or you could go Italian with thin slices of grilled eggplant layered over a quick tomato and basil compote topped with slivers of shaved parmesan or a grate of fresh mozzarella. Or, for you sweet-and-salty fiends, balsamic figs with blue cheese and candied walnuts are a perfect pairing.

Of course, these tarts can easily take a turn towards decadent desserts too — mulled strawberries with a dollop of sweet vanilla mascarpone, or a slather of Nutella topped with bananas, maple whipped cream, and chopped nuts, or chunky peanut butter coated in a gloss of bitter dark chocolate with a drizzle of salted caramel — there’s nothing this puff pastry can’t handle. 

500 grams chilled puff pastry
1 egg + 1 tablespoon water
4 radishes, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tsp castor sugar
100 grams sour cream
1 - 2 tablespoons horseradish sauce (or whole-grain mustard)
6 - 8 slices bresaola ( or pastrami) 
1 small bunch watercress
1 - 2 lemons (optional)
Olive oil, for drizzling
Black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200°C.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, sugar, and a generous pinch of salt. Pop the sliced radishes into this liquid and stick in the refrigerator to chill and pickle for at least 20 minutes. 

Stir the sour cream together with the horseradish sauce and season with salt. Place in the refrigerator to chill. 

Unfold the pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut the pastry into 12 circles. Place the pastry circles on a baking sheet and prick them thoroughly with a fork. Lightly brush the tops of the pastry with egg wash. 

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes or until the pastries are puffed and golden brown. Let the pastries cool for at least 10 minutes before beginning to assemble the tarts. 

All the components of this recipe — pickled radishes, sauce, and the pastry —  can be prepped up to 24 hours in advance.

To assemble the tarts, spoon a heaped teaspoon or so of the horseradish sauce on top of the pastry. Arrange a small ruffle of bresaola on each pastry and top with a few pickled radishes and a few sprigs of watercress. Finish with a grind of freshly cracked black pepper, a few drops of lemon juice (optional), and a drizzle of olive oil. 

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