There’s a running joke among my friends that I’m the unofficial ambassador for Singapore in Buenos Aires.
You see, because there are so few Singaporeans here in Buenos Aires, which is almost 30 hours by flight from Singapore, I almost always get contacted by friends or friends of friends who happen to drop by the Argentine capital city.
Every one or two months, someone sends me a message on Facebook to let me know that they will be spending a few weeks in Buenos Aires and that they would like to meet up for coffee, or that some friends of theirs will be touring Latin America, and could I possible take them out on a tour when they’re in Argentina?
Because I do miss Singaporean company every once in a while, I’ll admit that I love this side stint as an “ambassador”, during which I get to speak easily in Singlish (Singapore’s version of English), ask them about the local political news and latest haze pollution situation, etc.
And I’ll also have to say that my inherited role of being the unofficial Singaporean ambassador gives me the chance to catch up with people that I haven’t met in years, or whom I was previously only acquaintances with, and have now become friends, such as Jeanie and Sin Yee.
Last month, in March, a friend, Reuben, texted me to let me know he and his girlfriend, Joyce, had quit their wonderful jobs to be able to do a round-the-world trip, and that they were going to kick off this 365-day adventure with lucky Buenos Aires. Considering that their itinerary is pretty packed to the brim (think Argentina, Chile, Peru, Hungary, Czech Republic, Israel, and Nepal, among other countries), it’s really pretty cool that they chose Argentina as their starting point.
I was just thinking about it the other day, and while my friendship with Reuben goes back at least 10 years, we hadn’t met up in the longest of time. So this was a great way to catch up, over plenty of good Argentine meat, rich Malbec wine and conversations.
It was a rainy Sunday, and we each arrived slightly drenched by the sudden downpour, our umbrellas clutched in our hands. But over our asado, chorizo, morcilla, salad and a side of papas a la Provencal, with plenty of stories to trade, Reuben, Joyce, Jeriel (another Singaporean who so happens to be doing a one-year exchange at the Universidad Catolica de Argentina, and who also contacted “the embassy”) and I kept our stomachs full and chatted between sips of red wine.
It was amazing to be able to meet them (especially Reuben who I hadn’t seen in years!), and at the end of dinner, when we were too full to move, and had just finished paying the bill, Reuben and Joyce whipped out a jar of kaya (from Yakun!!), a surprise gift for me!
Guys, you’ll have to understand that because Argentina is just so physically far away from Singapore, my four years here in Buenos Aires have taught me to live and thrive without my favorite Singaporean delicacies.
Therefore, you must realize that this gift of kaya was a complete surprise, and definitely a treasured present (muchas gracias chicos!!!!).
In case you’re unfamiliar with what kaya is, it’s basically a type of jam-like spread made of coconut milk, eggs, and sugar, after which it is flavored with pandan leaves, which lends it a dark green color. A spread that originated in Malaysia and is common in South East Asian households, you can understand (or at least try to comprehend) why I was ecstatic when presented with this precious jar of kaya.
While it’s commonly used as a topping for certain desserts (as the Argentines do with dulce de leche here), my opinion is that the best way to eat kaya is to spread it generously on warm, freshly toasted bread, and then savoring each bite of creamy kaya and crunchy toast. This is what we Singaporeans familiarly refer to as “kaya toast”.
But…I had a little problem. Because I’m trying to go wheat-free (and grain-free) as much as possible, I didn’t want to eat bread made of wheat. Uh-oh. How was I going to eat my kaya toast then?
Thank goodness for the internet, and for so many grain-free blogs, such as Nourished and Nurtured, which was where I adapted this amazing grain-free bread recipe from.
Made mostly with coconut flour, almond meal, eggs, butter and a hint of honey, this loaf of bread has a denser texture compared to most breads made with wheat (which contains gluten, and gives bread the texture of bread). There is a slight sweetness to it, although you can barely taste the coconut and it’s hard to guess that it’s there, and you know what, when sliced thinly and toasted, the familiar crunch you get is just incredible (bread, I’ve missed you!).
Butter it, or better yet spread it which a thick, rich layer of kaya, and then enjoy this piece of heaven.
Thank you Reuben and Joyce for this thoughtful gift…!
I’ll definitely miss you guys when you leave Buenos Aires, but I’ll be sure to follow your journey around the world!
GRAIN-FREE COCONUT ALMOND BREAD (Makes 1 loaf)
Barely adapted from: Nourished and Nurtured
1) 3/4 cup of desicated coconut (or slightly more if batter is too liquid)
2) 1 cup of almond meal
3) 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of butter (140g)
4) 8 eggs
5) 1 tablespoon of mild-flavored honey (optional: if you prefer non-sweet bread, leave the honey out)
6) 1 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
7) 3/4 teaspoon of salt
8) 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1) Pre-heat oven to 300 deg Fahrenheit (150 deg cel) – Note that the oven temperature has to be this low so that the almond meal and coconut flour does not turn brown so easily.
2) Heat a saucepan over low heat and melt better. Turn off the heat and allow butter to cool for a couple of minutes.
3) Stir in the honey (if using) and apple cider vinegar and mix well.
4) Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat them. Add the salt, baking powder, almond meal, and butter mixture, and stir well.
5) Add the desiccated coconut and stir well with the other ingredients until homogeneous. If necessary, add a bit more desiccated coconut. (Note that the batter should be easy to pour into the loaf pan. It should not be too thick that you have to scoop it into the pan.)
6) Pour batter into a well-buttered loaf pan.
7) Bake for around 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
8) Allow bread to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before using a spatula or knife to go around the edges, then removing the bread from the pan.
9) Once bread has cooled completely, slice into thin pieces and serve with butter and jams or whatever spreads you like.
10) To store, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator or freezer.
Note: You can even toast this bread! Eat it slathered with cream cheese and topped with ham and cheese! Or eat it alone! Or with butter and jam. Or with kaya, perfect! Whichever way, it’s just soooooo good!