Sugar and spice and all things nice—that’s what girls are made of, right? This old adage rings true for food and fashion blogger Serena Goh. She cooks up tasty confections and has never met a stiletto or hot sauce she doesn’t like. Her blog—appropriately titled The Spicy Stiletto—is a home for her daily inspiration and West Coast-meets-East-Coast charm.
We chatted with Serena about all things holiday and asked her to share a recipe for her savory Cheddar and Chives Pull-Apart Bread—your life will never be the same!
What inspired you to start the blog?
I started the blog a few years ago solely as a means to express myself creatively while I was working in the technology field. It evolved into something more when I realized that food and fashion don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
My dad always reminds me to live slowly and just take a moment to step back and regroup. It could apply to anything in life like stressful work situations or simply an impatient moment.
I think we often forget that that life is a process and as a result, we stress about the little things. Once we slow things down and take a step back, we see the bigger picture and put emphasis on more important things.
What is the most coveted item in your closet at the moment?
Currently, my gold-plated Céline brogues are the most coveted item in my closet. I have to refrain from wearing them too often!
What is your absolute favorite 1) holiday cocktail, 2) seasonal savory snack and 3) sweet holiday treat?
The holidays are my excuse to indulge! I love warming up with hot toddies or mulled wine on a cold winter evening, munching on roasted sweet and savory cashews and finishing meals with chocolate babka. I was just introduced to this cake and it instantly became one of my favorite things.
What recipe have you been dying to try this holiday season?
I’ve been wanting to make a pumpkin meringue pie but, small disclaimer, I’ve never successfully followed a recipe and, therefore, am not the best baker. I’m sure I’ll overcome this obstacle in 2014, so you’ll definitely be seeing more sweets from me!
What items are at the top of your holiday wish list?
Shoes are always at the top of my wish list, and this year I’ve been eyeing the Manolo Blahnik BB suede pump. They’re such a classic, and I’m slightly disappointed that I don’t have them in my collection yet! For a more casual look, I can see myself wearing these Jil Sander ankle boots. I also have my sights set on the ultra-luxe ACNE Studios coat and this dainty Loren Stewart necklace. All major wants right now!
If you were accidentally locked in Freds, what would you be cooking in the morning?
I love Freds and breakfast is my favorite meal. I’d make some form of fluffy frittelle with a side of sausage and crispy bacon. And, if my appetite allowed, I’d probably add a stack fresh berry-glazed pancakes with sliced almonds to sweeten things up. I also can’t forget coffee. I need my coffee—no sugar with a touch of almond milk. I told you, I love breakfast!
What are your travel plans this holiday season?
I’m all over the place come holiday season. I’m originally from the West Coast, but my family likes to take trips every other year or so. I’ll most likely be headed to Hong Kong at some point, but I’ll be in California for Christmas.
Will you share one of your favorite holiday recipes?
I’ve been wanting to make pull-apart bread for longer than I can remember. The recipe below is inspired by my favorite thing to make during the holiday season—cheesy, flaky cheddar chive biscuits. It’s a simple recipe and something absolutely worth indulging in.
Cheddar and Chives Pull-Apart Bread
Makes 1 Loaf
½ cup warm water
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups of (organic) high-gluten bread flour
2 cup of all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for your work surface
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups of grated low-fat cheddar cheese
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons of fresh chives, finely chopped
4 cloves roasted garlic, finely chopped*
2-3 sprigs of thyme, stems removed
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
*Coat garlic with either butter or olive oil, wrap it in tin foil, and then place it in oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes.
1. Using the paddle mixer on low, mix water, yeast, salt, pepper and sugar until dry ingredients are dissolved. Let stand for 3 minutes. Add in bread flour and mix until the wet and dry ingredients are combined and the mixture no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Switch mixing paddle to dough hook, mixing on low and adding all-purpose flour 2-3 tablespoons at a time. Mix until dough can easily be formed into a ball. If dough is dry, add any additional warm water when needed, only 1 teaspoon at a time.
NOTE: As an alternative to a standalone mixer, add bread and all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to yeast mixture. Mix using hands until you can knead dough without it sticking to fingers. Add additional water when needed.
2. Grease a large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Place dough inside the bowl and seal with plastic wrap and cover with warm dish/cheese cloth. Let sit for 1 1/2–2 hours, or until dough has risen twice in size.
3. Once dough has risen, flour the work space and roll out dough to 12 x 24 rectangle, incorporating half of the cheddar cheese into the dough. Coat dough with melted butter, and sprinkle with herbs and cheese. Using a pizza cutter, divide dough into even squares (about 12). There will be uneven leftover edges that you can use in the loaf so don’t throw them out. Stack squares on top of one another, incorporating leftover edges throughout the stack.
4. Transfer the stack into the loaf pan by turning it on its side and using a spatula to lift it into the pan. Place any extra cheese filling that falls out during this process on top of the loaf. Pour last tablespoon of butter over the loaf, cover it with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for another 1 hour. In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
5. Place loaf in oven and bake for 35–40 minutes. Cool, then serve and enjoy!