By now, there are many variations of this popular recipe – first created by Finnish food blogger Jenni Hayrinen – on social media.
In 2019, when it first surfaced, it apparently caused a feta shortage in Finland. It is easy to see how its cheesy charms quickly won a legion of fans.
Feta cheese gives a lovely creamy texture and its salty notes amp up the umami.
Some cook this as a one-pan pasta. But I’m not keen on mixing just the salted pasta water and cheese together, so I toss portobello mushrooms into the baking dish too. The water released from the mushrooms makes for a more flavourful sauce.
Personalise the dish by adding other ingredients such as spinach, prawns and sausages.
This is one of those time-saving dishes that you can leave in the oven to cook, while you prepare other food for guests.
400g or 2 punnets of cherry tomatoes
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 punnet of portobello, white or brown mushrooms, quartered
5 tbsp olive oil
1 block of 200g feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
250g fusilli pasta
1 tsp salt
50g baby spinach
Fresh basil, roughly chopped
1. Preheat oven to 200 deg C.
2. In a medium baking dish, mix the cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves and mushrooms with three tablespoons of olive oil.
3. Place the block of feta in the centre of the dish. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, till the feta is golden brown and the tomatoes are bursting.
4. In the meantime, bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the pasta to cook for 10 minutes.
5. When the feta is ready, remove from the oven. Drain the pasta and add it into the baking dish. Mix all the ingredients together.
6. Add baby spinach – the residual heat will wilt the leaves into the pasta mixture.
7. Garnish with basil and mixed herbs.
Serves three to four
YONG LI XUAN
Bak Kwa Tortilla Wrap
Childhood bak kwa sandwiches enter the TikTok era with my Chinese New Year spin on the tortilla wrap hack.
Essentially, it is just another use of the wrap – with a simple yet smart way of enveloping ingredients.
After looking through various spins on this wrap phenomenon, I decide that mine will serve a higher purpose – help me clear my leftover bak kwa stash.
Quarter the square pieces or use the coin-shaped ones. If you are taking bak kwa out from the fridge or freezer, be sure to heat it up first in the microwave to soften the meat.
The lettuce cuts through the salt and oil from the bak kwa, while mozzarella gives a lovely melty cheese pull. Adding an omelette to the mix makes this a jazzed-up breakfast wrap – definitely several notches up from my school lunch box of yesteryear.
A dash of salt and white pepper
2 tbsp oil
1 tortilla wrap
2 butterhead lettuce leaves, shredded
1 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise
1 slice of bak kwa, quartered, or 4 pieces of coin-shaped bak kwa
10 to 20g shredded mozzarella
1. To make the omelette, crack an egg into a small bowl and scramble with a fork. Beat in salt and white pepper.
2. Heat a flat non-stick pan on medium heat and add the oil.
3. Pour the egg into the pan and leave to cook for a few minutes until the base has set.
4. With a spatula, fold the egg over in half. Then fold it over again into a quarter. Remove from heat and set aside on a plate.
5. To assemble the wrap, place a tortilla wrap on a cutting board. With a knife, make a cut from the middle of wrap straight down to the edge.
6. Place a different ingredient in each quadrant of the wrap. Start with the shredded lettuce in the bottom left quadrant and squeeze the Kewpie mayonnaise on top.
7. Move clockwise upwards to the top left quadrant. Place your bak kwa in this quadrant, followed by the omelette in the top right quadrant.
8. Finally in the last quadrant (bottom right), place your shredded mozzarella cheese.
9. Fold the wrap up, starting clockwise from the bottom left quadrant. Fold it up and over the top left quadrant. Then, fold it over to the top right quadrant. Finally, fold it down to the bottom right.
10. On medium heat, heat the same pan used to fry the omelette.
11. Place the wrap – mozzarella side at the bottom – on the pan for a few minutes till the cheese melts and the wrap turns golden brown. Then flip it over and sear the other side for a few minutes.
12. Plate and serve immediately.
YONG LI XUAN
The first time I attempt the roast potatoes recipe by TikTok-famous Cornell University student Jeremy Scheck, I am sold.
It is extremely satisfying to crunch through a crisp potato exterior that gives way to a soft, steamy centre. No wonder so many celebrities – including media personality Kylie Jenner – liked his post.
Instead of using only baby potatoes as suggested, I amp things up by tossing in some sweet potatoes from Japanese retailer Don Don Donki.
Quartered potatoes are easier to eat but halves give more satisfaction as there is a wider surface area to brown.
What’s important is to chop them all to roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. Also, remember to leave the potatoes in the hot oven for another 10 minutes after cooking – for the skin to get extra crisp.
If you have duck fat or lard lying around, use that instead of oil.
I’ve added this dish to my go-to party recipes – just make sure you prepare plenty because they will go fast.
Water, room temperature
1 tbsp salt
300g sweet potatoes, quartered or halved
300g baby potatoes, quartered or halved
30ml to 50ml olive oil
Fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 sprig rosemary, roughly chopped
1 sprig thyme, roughly chopped
2 tsp sea salt flakes
2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 230 deg C.
2. Place the cut potatoes in a pot of water – enough to cover the potatoes. Add salt, cover the pot and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes, or till the potatoes are fork-tender.
3. Drizzle olive oil and spread fresh herbs over a baking tray. When the potatoes are ready, drain from water and toss them in the herbs and oil. Ensure that each piece is coated in oil. Season with a teaspoon of salt.
4. Use the back of a spoon to gently flatten the potatoes slightly. This increases the surface area for crisping up.
5. Place the tray in the oven and roast at 230 deg C for 20 minutes. Halfway through, turn the potatoes with a pair of tongs to ensure even cooking.
6. At the end of the 20 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the potatoes in the closed oven for another 10 minutes. This allows the skin to continue crisping up.
7. When ready to serve, garnish with more herbs, salt and chilli flakes.