In 2016, Rozz will make a foray into the world of YouTube with full recipe videos.
Photos: Rosalyn Lee
Rozz eats, Rozz cooks and #rozzrecipes are delightfully easy for anyone looking to whip up a home-cooked meal.
If her short 15-second cooking videos on Instagram (@heyrozz) are anything to go by, it is that you don’t need to be a cooking whiz to be able to cook a good and hearty meal for yourself. For food inspiration, take a quick scroll through the Lush 99.5FM deejay’s Instagram feed which is a glorious visual feast for the eyes, by that we mean the smorgasbord of food pictures, chopping board flat lays and cooking videos – not selfies or #OOTD shots. There’s something for everyone -- whether you like cooking or not.
A friendly word of advice though, don’t check it out at 12 midnight like we did, on an empty stomach, because god knows the next thing you’ll be looking for is the frying pan.
Like any regular person who can make a soup and do a fry-up, these posts are not intended to show off her cooking abilities and are instead her means of spreading “good vibes” to the people around her, said Rozz (Rosalyn Lee), whose healing journey through cooking began after her breakup with ex-boyfriend Justin Vanderstraaten last year.
Cooking badass: We’re a fan of her artfully arranged flat lays on the Breaking Bad chopping board. Clockwise from top left: Ingredients for Indian spiced scrambled eggs, chicken soup, tuna pasta and homemade wantons, recipes can be found at her Instagram hashtag #rozzrecipes.
“The one thing that centered me [during the breakup] was when I told myself: ‘I’m going to cook something for myself today. I know something good’s gonna come into my body’. And when I edit it and put it on Instagram and I get a response – it makes me feel good too”, she quipped, “The whole process makes me feel good and I just want to share it.”
Food, cooking and the kitchen plays an integral part of Rozz’s life, and funnily enough, she got into cooking because of the guys she met too.
“They’d whip up a dish by mixing sauces together, I tried to experiment at home, my mum liked it and I was very encouraged by it and started cooking and experimenting at home,” she chuckled.
The 36-year-old began cooking more independently for the family after she turned 18 or 19 years old, when her mother fell sick (Rozz’s mum passed away in 2004 after her battle with breast cancer) “because we needed to take care of ourselves”. Before that, she was assigned kitchen duties like peeling gingko nuts as a form of punishment whenever she misbehaved which, according to Rozz, meant “talking too loudly or being too opinionated.”
While she’d never attempt to peel another gingko nut now, the food experiments continue and the most complicated fusion recipe recently attempted by Rozz was baking ondeh ondeh cupcakes for a series of local food recipe videos for Lush 99.5FM. To top it off, she even made her own condiments, such as pandan essence and gula melaka, from scratch with the use of pandan leaves and freshly grated coconut.
The chicken carcass which she brought home from dinner was made into a pot of chicken soup the next day.
Rozz may come across as a person who spares no expense – or effort – when it comes to food and satiating her cravings (just like that one time she and her younger brother flew to Japan for sushi at Sukiyabashi Jiro, weeks after watching the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi) but you’d be surprised to learn about her economical ways in the kitchen.
She once brought home a chicken carcass (leftovers from a beer can chicken meal with friends) thinking she can make soup with it -- which she did. Sharing about her attempts to repurpose ‘leftovers’, Rozz said, “It’s a known thing that chicken rice stall owners usually keep the bones to make soup so I thought I’d just do that to make soup too.
“I don’t usually do it unless it’s substantial – if we’re eating chicken wings I’m not gonna collect everyone’s bones,” she laughed, “But if it’s a whole chicken, I would.”
Rozz shares with us what other food items can be repurposed and what she usually does with soon-to-expire food in her kitchen. Find out more on the next page.
More Huat’s On Your Plate stories:
Kym Ng’s journey to domestic goddess-hood
Waste not, want not with Kate Pang
Rozz loves her hawker fare as much as her atas restaurants and would stop at nothing to get something good.
Toggle: Have you ever tried cooking your own Chinese New Year dish?
Rozz: My brother and I lived together (he moved into his own place last year after getting married) and I try to keep the CNY thing alive because we finally have our own home. So I made this peppery soup – it’s a Hokkien thing with pig intestines but I don’t like intestines so I substituted it with a lot of shell fish, sea asparagus and all kinds of mushrooms and I’d put abalone in it with pork and lots and lots of pepper. I’d also make chap chye (mixed vegetable stew) and steamed prawns.
How often do you cook now and what type of meals do you usually cook for yourself?
Hardly, actually. I’d look at my schedule and if I have lunch and dinner free or if I don’t have to work – I’d buy food for the entire week. It’s very expensive to cook for yourself and they don’t sell food in single portions. So if I buy a packet of prawns, I’d need to think of ways to cook it for several days, so it depends on my schedule. Otherwise, I’d have regular items like eggs, rice, dried prawns, dried mushrooms and onions. With these things, I can whip up a simple pasta dish anytime – like with canned tuna too (not the lousy Ayam brand tuna but the good ones in olive oil). If I have those around, I can easily make up a spaghetti dish with garlic, onions and cilantro too.
Expect to see more recipe videos on local food, such as the ondeh ondeh cupcakes featured this week, by Rozz on Lush 99.5FM’s YouTube page.
What’s the most complicated food recipe you’ve attempted so far?
I got given a box of ondeh ondeh cupcakes and I’m like ‘I gotta learn how to make this!’ so I went on the internet and tried to find a few recipes on my own. It’s really tough because there are so many parts to it. I don’t believe in using pre-made pandan essence so I bought my own pandan leaves from some heartland supermarket, chopped it up, blended it and squeezed the juice. I had to make the gula melaka as well and so I bought freshly grated coconut that was hard to find, mix that together, set aside then make the batter and the cupcakes. The cupcakes didn’t look green until I baked them which is so strange! It looked cream in colour but once it came out from the oven it was green. So magical.
You are obsessed with cooking. So what kind of a cook are you? Someone who goes by the book or someone who’s more experimental?
I’ve gotten to a point where I read a recipe and I understand how it tastes like just by reading it. So I can take out something and substitute it with something. Sometimes, for example, when making chicken in Shaoxing wine but I don’t have Shaoxing wine at home, you can actually use beer – like any beer. If you want a sweeter taste you can use Japanese sake as well. I’ve used all these substitutes for Shaoxing chicken and it all tasted fine.
Ed’s note: Learn more about Rozz on the food personality quiz on the next page!
Omelettes are great for using up leftover ingredients – if you prefer a twist, consider adding in your favourite chips like Rozz did with her sunny side up on the right.
There are days where you’d whip up a ‘whatever’s in my fridge’ meal too, what is your favourite way of cooking with soon-to-expire ingredients?
It’d usually go into an omelette. Chop it all up and put it into eggs – especially chives. You can make that into an onion-style omelette too. If not, you can put lots of ground chili powder, cumin and it’d be transformed into a fresh new dish. (Check out her simple recipe for Spanish eggs on the next page)
As someone living by herself, how do you keep track of the food you have in the kitchen and in the fridge to prevent wastage of food?
I don’t buy a lot and if I buy something I know it’s there. I have cancelled meals or postponed appointments with people just so I can finish eating the food. If I’ve got one more portion left and someone wants to meet me for dinner I’d be like: ‘How about I meet you for drinks after? Let me just cook dinner at home, or I can meet you for lunch tomorrow.’
Don’t be afraid to make use of the freezer too. Like leftover prawn heads or shells – oh my god, I’ve been collecting these for a month long now. The meat that I put on standby are usually minced pork and prawns and for the prawns after I deshell and remove the head I don’t throw them away. I just keep, keep, keep and one day I’d fry it up and make prawn noodle soup because it can last in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.
Rozz has been saving up a bag of prawn heads and shells (left) in her freezer to make a pot of prawn noodle soup broth.
Only 13% of Singapore’s food waste is recycled on a yearly basis, the remaining amount is incinerated and sent to our one and only landfill, which is expected to run out of space if habits don’t change. What do you think are some simple habits people can adopt to cut back on food wastage?
I think when people shop for food, something they can take note of is there’s a best before date and a sell by date. I’m not really concerned by sell-by dates because that’s just shelf life and the date people need to get it off their supermarket shelves but it doesn’t mean it has gone bad. If it doesn’t look bad to me, if it doesn’t smell bad, I’d still use it. For the best-before date, it’s a bit tricky when it comes to milk but if it’s pasteurised, doesn’t taste sour or bad, I’d still drink it or use it for cooking. And for bread, if I don’t see mould on it I’d just toast it. There are other ways to use these food items.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Different types of food have varying lifespans and keeping them at the correct places helps to maximise their shelf lives and minimise spoilage and food wastage.
To clear out food products that are near-expiring efficiently, make it a point to a cook a use-it-up meal using only what’s available in the kitchen on a weekly basis. Pick up more tips on handling food at Save Food Cut Waste and Clean and Green Singapore.
Rozz’s one-pan Spanish eggs (minus the chorizos)
Half a white onion
Baby roma tomatoes
Season the tomatoes with tomato puree, paprika, chilli powder, fresh thyme and a pinch of salt. Throw a blob of butter into a pan, and sweat the onions till translucent. Add garlic and tomatoes, stir till all the liquid's dried up. Crack in an egg, cover for a minute to cook. Remove from stove and garnish with fresh parsley and more paprika. (Watch her cooking video below!)