Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Strawberry and Cream Cheese Muffins

I'm a fan of anything strawberry. It first started out as a 'pink thing', since most strawberry-flavored stuff are pink. Then, I realized that strawberries are really delicious, very much more so than strawberry-flavored stuff. Thankfully, strawberries are much cheaper here in the US than in Singapore. I've bought a pound of strawberries in Chinatown (New York City) for $1 before, but up here, it usually goes for around $2.99. In Singapore, that would probably cost around $6!

Anyway, cream cheese and strawberries go incredibly well together, and so I decided to make strawberry and cream cheese muffins! These are delicious! We served them on game night, and our friends thought so too. Grab some before they disappear!

Ingredients (makes 18 muffins)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar (this is a reduced sugar recipe)
  • 1 1/4 cup millk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 stick cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

  • Put your strawberries and cream cheese in the freezer for 20 to 30mins. This freezes them up a little, and makes it a lot easier for you to cut them. 
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla essence, egg, milk and vegetable oil. 
  • Mix it until everything is combined.

  • Remove your berries and cream cheese from the fridge, and cut them into tiny pieces.
  • Mix the berries and cream cheese into the mixture and stir until combined.

  • Pour the mixture into baking cups. Remember to only fill the baking cups only halfway as they will expand in the oven.
  • Bake them in the oven at 350F for 25 minutes.
  • Serve warm.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Traditional Singaporean Breakfast - Kaya Toast and Soft-Boiled Eggs

Breakfast culture has gone to hell for me. I blame staying up late, sleeping in and early morning classes. These days, breakfast is a bagel, maybe some cereal, and if I'm really lucky, toast. Gone are the days where I had real breakfasts before school.

Of course, growing up in Singapore, I have a very different idea of what a real breakfast is, because breakfast could well be dinner - there is less of a differentiation between which foods follow which meals. However, as a kid, I usually had a plate of noodles, or some delicious protein-packed sandwich, or porridge, or all sorts of kuehs (cakes) and if I'm really lucky - my all-time favorite, fried carrot cake! Breakfast is a big thing, well actually, anything food is a big thing.

The biggest and probably the most popular breakfast meal in Singapore is kaya toast, soft-boiled (half-boiled) eggs and a good strong cup of kopi (coffee). It is delicious, and it is everywhere. It is fast, simple and is a great meal to wake up to. 

Here's your typical Singaporean breakfast...

Ingredients for Kaya Toast (1 serving)
  • 4 thinly sliced pieces of sweet bread (I used my Amish Sweet Bread)
  • 2 tablespoons kaya
  • 2 slices butter, cold

Ingredients for Soft-Boiled Eggs (1 serving)
  • 2 eggs
  • hot water
  • dash of white pepper
  • soy sauce to taste
  • black soy sauce  to taste

  • Boil some water, and pour the boiling water over two eggs in a bowl, and set the timer for five (to six) minutes.
  • Toast 2 slices of bread in a toaster until it is warm and crisp on the outside (but still soft on the inside). [Traditionally, this is done over a charcoal grill. If you have one and want to take the trouble to use it, good for you.]
  • Spread 1 tablespoon of kaya over one slice of bread, and place 1 slice of butter on the kaya. [We don't spread the butter. We just slide a slice of it in there - its cold, it melts, and it is delicious.]
  • Place the other slice of toast over it.
  • Do the same for the other 2 slices. Serve on a plate.

  • When the eggs are done, crack them into a bowl, and top with a dash of pepper, and soy sauce and dark soy sauce to taste.
  • Crack the yolks and mix everything together.
  • Serve with kaya toast.
Some people eat the kaya toast and eggs separate, but others dip the kaya toast in the egg mixture. Some people use spoons for the eggs, while others just slurp it from the bowl. Either way, enjoy your Singaporean breakfast. It's a good way to start the day! Make sure your cup of kopi is fragrant and strong, unlike the coffee-flavored water they sell at Starbucks. :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nyonya Kaya (Coconut Jam)

Kaya (coconut jam) is a nyonya recipe that is quintessential in Singaporean breakfasts. (I will post more about the Singapore breakfast soon.) One of my grandmothers is part nyonya, which makes me a tiny bit nyonya, which I find really exciting, especially after watching the TV show 'The Little Nyonya'. The next thing you know, I will be making Sambal Udang and all these great nyonya recipes. (My grandmother makes the most awesome Sambal Udang I know, and I will go learn it!)

Kaya is extremely eggy and has a strong coconut flavor. While I am not a fan of coconut, I love kaya and kaya toasts. My favorite kaya is from Kiliney Road, and I've often smuggled bottles of their kaya across borders for friends in numerous countries (yup, not just one!). In fact, I think kaya is the most requested item when I ask people what they want from Singapore when I visit.

Kaya is yummy, and while the norm is to have the really smooth kaya, I prefer the kaya that is not as smooth, just as I like crunchy peanut butter to smooth. Well, to each his/her own. Go!

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 (3.5 fl. oz.) can coconut cream
  • 5 pandan (screwpine) leaves or 1 teaspoon pandan essence
  • 1/2 cup palm sugar

This shows the colors of the kaya as I cooked it.


  • Open the can of coconut cream without shaking it. The coconut cream usually floats on the top of the coconut water, and we don't want them mixing because we only want the coconut cream.
  • Using a spoon, spoon the coconut cream into a mixing bowl. (Coconut cream is thick and white. Coconut juice is whitish-transparent.) 
  • Add eggs, sugar and pandan leaves or pandan essence in a bowl. (I used pandan essence because I couldn't find pandan leaves.)
  • Mix this with a hand mixer until smooth, then strain it through a strainer into a metal bowl.
  • Place the metal bowl over water bath, and gently heat it, stirring often. This will take a long time.
  • The egg will slowly coagulate, and eventually turn into a thick paste. There may be lumps, but we will deal with that later.
  • When the mixture becomes pasty, remove the pandan leaves and let cool.
  • If you like a super smooth kaya, press the mixture through a sieve.
  • Keep kaya in a jar and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Crockpot Lemon Chicken and Potatoes

School's back full swing, and this semester is going to be more awesome than last because I'm starting my new job as a writing tutor (I got the keys to my office today!) That is really awesome, because I love teaching, but it also means longer hours and possibly even no time to cook dinner.

I've learnt that crockpots are the way to go when life pushes you like this. If I'm back home at 8pm after spending the last ten hours in school, I want to come home and dive into a hearty dinner straight away, and not spend the next 30 minutes figuring out a presentable dinner. Crockpot to the rescue!

So, I've only made stocks, soups and pulled pork in a crockpot before. I figured that if a hunk of pork goes in and comes out absolutely perfect, chicken should be the same too, since that's the only big hunk of meat we had. We had a bunch of potatoes lying around too, so I decided on chicken and potatoes. It's a classic right?

Anyway, a major plus for this recipe is that it took all but ten minutes to chop the veggies and to plop the chicken in the crockpot. Awesome!

- start rant -

We buy whole chickens these days. It is cheaper than buying any cut of chicken, and every part of the chicken is there - even the gizzards and liver (my favorite!) Somehow, having something whole gives me much more consolation than buying chicken parts. [Something about not adding to the wasted dark meat in America. American doesn't like dark meat because people think chicken breast taste better and is healthier. Truth is, chicken breast very very seldom tastes better than the leg, and is only healthier because people are too lazy to remove the fat from their dark meat. As a result, the dark meat demand is not proportional to the white meat demand, and so the extra dark meat is sold to Russia, but in recent years, these sales have dwindled, resulting in a waste of dark meat.] And the best part about buying chickens whole - bones! (I make my own chicken stock too, and freeze them till needed.)

 - end rant -

Ingredients (6 servings)
  • 1 whole chicken (mine was 5.5lb)
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 lemon
  • salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic

  • Peel your potatoes and carrots, then cut them into small chunks.
  • Lay the potatoes on the bottom of the crockpot.
  • Grate some lemon zest and set aside.
  • Slice the lemon, and add a few slices in the chicken cavity.
  • Salt both sides of the chicken liberally, then add the chicken on top of the potatoes.
  • Add the carrots, remaining lemon slices, lemon peel to the pot.
  • Grate two cloves of garlic and top with a dash of pepper.

  • Set the slow cooker to low, and check back in 7 to 8 hours.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Claypot Chicken Rice 沙锅/煲仔鸡饭

I absolutely love claypot chicken rice. When my grandmother makes it at home, I usually have seconds and thirds, because it is so good. I have never stopped eating claypot chicken rice at my own will before. I've only stopped because someone stopped me, or I'm saving food for others, or when the dish runs out. This is a true story.

In my opinion, the best part about claypot chicken rice is the slightly burnt and hard rice at the bottom of the claypot. That slightly burnt aroma mixed with the sweet smell of the Chinese sausage and tingling scent of the ginger just completes the dish. Many people do not believe that one can get that 'burnt' smell and texture by cooking claypot rice in a rice cooker, but I can. Read further to find out how. 

Anyway, another reason why I love claypot chicken rice so much is because it has Chinese liver sausage in it, and is one of the few dishes I know to incorporate Chinese liver sausage. I like liver. I like liverwurst. I like pate. I think the liver is the most delicious body parts of a pig/chicken ever, but it is so bad for you that I have never bought liver or liverwurst or even pate for fear of killing myself, because I can't stop myself from eating great food. Unfortunately, Chinese liver sausage is really hard to find (even in Singapore), and I couldn't find any at HMart, CMart or Super88, so against my wishes, there is no Chinese liver sausage in this, but thank goodness it still tastes good!

There is something about Chinese sausages that make them so delicious. I believe they call that umami. I can even smell my grandma's claypot chicken rice as I type this. Ah, the smell of home.

Yes, you're very welcome.

Ingredients (4 servings)
  • 2 chicken legs, deboned, deskinned and cut into one inch pieces
  • 2 Chinese sausages (ideally, 1 Chinese sausage and 1 Chinese liver sausage)
  • 1 tablespoon salted fish, fried (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 6 slices ginger
  • 10 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked (I substituted these with two packets of enoki mushrooms)
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice (uncooked)
  • 3 or 4 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 1 stem green onions, chopped
  • water

Ingredients for Chicken Marinade
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • dash of white pepper

  • In a bowl, marinate the chicken pieces with the marinade. This does not need to be done before hand. (There will be extra marinade.)
  • Slice the Chinese sausages on the bias. 

  • In the rice cooker, add the garlic, ginger and sliced Chinese sausages. 
  • Turn the rice cooker on and let the Chinese sausages cook and release their fat.
  • Fry the Chinese sausages, ginger and garlic until the ginger and garlic are golden brown.
  • Remove half the Chinese sausages and set aside.

  • Add the uncooked rice to the rice cooker, and fry until the rice turns slightly transparent.
  • Add 2 and a half cups of water and a few sprigs of cilantro to the rice cooker.
  • Set the rice cooker on 'cook'.

  • In a frying pan, pan fry the chicken pieces and excess marinade until the chicken is cooked.
  • When the chicken is cooked, spoon the chicken out of the pan and set aside. Leave the excess marinade in the pan.

  • In the same pan, fry the shiitake mushrooms or enoki mushrooms. 
  • When the mushrooms are cooked, remove from pan and set aside. 

  • When the rice is cooked, add the chicken, remaining Chinese sausages and mushrooms on top of the rice. If there is excess marinade from the chicken and mushrooms, pour it over the rice in the rice cooker.
  • Add some chopped green onions on top of the rice, chicken and mushrooms.
  • Remove the cover of the rice cooker, and set the rice cooker on 'cook' for three to five minutes. Skip this step if you don't like 'burnt' food. (I highly recommend this step though.)
  • Stir the ingredients with the rice until completely mixed.
  • (If you like more burnt bits like I do, set the cooker on 'cook' once or twice more. You get more burnt bits this way.)
  • Serve warm.

This is proof that there are 'burnt bits' in my rice. Delicious!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hearty Vegetable Lasagna

Last week, we found lasagna on sale at our local supermarket, so we got some and decided put that on the menu for the week. Jas wanted beef in his lasagna, but we had so many vegetables lying around, so I decided to make veggie lasagna instead. This is a low-fat recipe because we reduced the amount of cheese used, and we also used skimmed ricotta instead of full-fat ricotta. 

In lieu of beef in the lasagna, I made beef stuffed with ricotta and cheddar, and it worked really well with the lasagna too. (See below)

  • 1 packet oven-ready lasagna
  • 1 32oz container of ricotta cheese 
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1 large yellow squash, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bottle pasta sauce
  • 6 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 + 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • dash of black pepper

  • In a heated pot, add the olive oil, and fry the onions until they are transparent.
  • Add the diced zucchini and yellow squash and fry until they are half-cooked.
  • Add the pasta sauce and basil leaves, and let the sauce simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

  • In a large mixing bowl, mix the black pepper, eggs, pepper and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

  • Add 1/4 of the pasta sauce to the bottom of the 9 x 13 pan.
  • Add four sheets of lasagna on top of the sauce, and add 1/2 the ricotta mixture and 1/4 of the pasta sauce on top of the lasagna sheets.
  • Repeat the previous step.
  • Add four more sheets of lasagna, and top with the rest of the sauce.
  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese over the sauce.
  • Bake the lasagna in the oven at 350F for 60 minutes.
  • Serve warm. 

I served this with ricotta-stuffed beef!

Quick Fix: Chaipo (Preserved Turnip) Fried Rice

I like my lunches warm, delicious and quick, and this idea of mixing chaipo (preserved turnip) and fried rice came to me while I was walking home from school today. After all, chaipo omelette tastes amazing, so adding some garlic and rice would make it taste better right?

Ingredients (1 serving)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup cooked rice (preferably old rice)
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) chaipo (preserved turnips)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil

  • Add oil to a heated pan, and fry the garlic and chaipo (preserved turnips) until they are golden brown.
  • Add rice to the pan, and fry until the ingredients are all combined.
  • Make a hole in the middle of the rice, and crack an egg in the hole.
  • Scramble the egg, cover the egg with some rice, and let the egg set for a minute.
  • After a minute, continue frying the rice until all ingredients are combined.
  • Serve warm.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Year of the Water Dragon 2012!

Yeah, these are our non-matching (I had to specifically specify, because everyone thinks we bought the same sweater, but we're just not that type of couple) red fleece jacket/pullover. Everyone we skyped thought it was really funny, so we decided to take a bunch of random funnier photos as our new year greeting. I've never thought of doing photo greetings before, but if it makes people smile or laugh, why not?

Anyway, Happy New Year! 新年快樂 and 恭喜发财! Thanks for all the greetings. I could possibly go on and with the four-word greetings, but I'm just going to stop here (since those will take some looking up.)

Also, do check out my other Chinese New Year recipes and posts:
Nian Gao (Steamed Sweet Rice Cake) 年糕
Pineapple Tarts 黄梨挞/菠萝酥
Steamboat/Hotpot 火鍋
Bak Kwa (Homemade Chinese Meat Jerky) 肉干
Coco Crunch Cookies
Kueh Balu

P.S. Today, I realized that many Asian-Americans and Asians in America don't celebrate the new year or know what to do in return to a new year greeting. I'm a little disappointed by the abandonment of our 5000 years of culture, traditions and history. To that, I say...

... because I am Asian and I'm proud of my heritage.

I am no longer a ball.

[Back story: In my freshmen year of college, one of my professors called me 'ball ball' partly because I skipped around campus (no kidding) and because he/she felt that I had absolutely no idea about my cultural heritage, thus having 'no-strings-attached' like a ball.]

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kueh Balu

Kueh Balu is another popular 'cake' that we have for Chinese New Year. It usually comes in interesting shapes and sizes, but unfortunately, I don't have the fun molds for kueh balu. In fact, we don't have molds of any sort at all. The closest thing we got that was like a mold, were heart-shaped cookie cutters from Target at the 75% off post-Valentines sale. 

Last week, we finally bought a cupcake mold. This was after more than a year of going back and forth about getting it. So, instead of kueh balus looking like kueh balus, I present to you kueh balus looking like cupcakes. :) Ah, innovation. *haha* 

Scroll down to see what kueh balus are supposed to look like.

Ingredients (makes 8 kueh balu-cupcakes)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar (this is a reduced sugar recipe)
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • Divide the batter into eight portions, and scoop the batter to cupcake cups.
  • Bake the kueh balu-cupcakes in the oven for 15 minutes at 375F.
  • Serve.

This is what  kueh balus are supposed to look like.
Photograph from Sinners Food Gallery.

Coco Crunch Cookies

Over the fifteen days of Chinese New Year, young families will travel around visiting elderly relatives in their homes. In Singapore, we only have two days off work/school, unlike in China, but I guess the length of holidays correspond to the size of the country. Anyway, to entertain guests who visit over the new year, many families buy or make many cookies or snacks for the guests to enjoy while they visit. The older generation also gives red packets filled with money to the not-yet-married of the younger generation for good luck in the new year.

Not to mention, the weeks before the new year are for shopping for new clothes (everyone must wear new clothes for the new year), new year snacks and cookies, and food. As people probably know, we seldom buy clothes, and I have not bought clothes for the new year since coming to the US. However, we were at Target getting a food processor yesterday and spotted some items on sale for 70% off! (Yes, I'm a sucker for sales.) So, in the end, we ended up getting a red fleece jacket for myself (for $5) and a red fleece pullover for Jas (for $8). They both happened to be red, so we justified the expense by calling it 'Chinese New Year clothes' - not bad for $13.

As such, we kids (I now have to use kids in a broader term because I am an adult, but still am in the youngest generation and don't yet have to give out red packets) love the new year. New clothes, money and food? Don't mind if I do!

Ingredients (makes 3 full cookie sheets of cookies)
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 cups crushed coco crunch

  • Mix all the ingredients together, forming a dough. 
  • Roll the dough out into a long tube.
  • Pinch small amounts of dough from the tube, and lay them on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes in the oven at 375F.

Easy Steamboat/Hotpot 火鍋 for Chinese New Year

It is a Chinese tradition to have steamboat/hotpot (or some people here call it Chinese fondue) with the entire family for the New Year's Eve dinner. It is probably the most important meal of the lunar year, and the biggest even prior to the New Year. Like almost anything about Asian cultures, it is all about food, and the reunion dinner kickstarts this 'omnomathon'.

Dumplings are a staple at any new year's steamboat because their dumpling shape resembles gold ingots. There are also raw meats and veggie to cook together, and it is always a lot of fun. We don't have hot pot, so we used the 'cook' function on our rice cooker to keep the soup simmering while we eat, and surprisingly, it worked out fine.

This year, we welcome the year of the water dragon and we decided to hold a small steamboat dinner at our place. It was a cosy affair with two other friends from around the area, but we had a lot of fun.

Ingredients for Stock
  • pork and chicken bones
  • green onions
  • cilantro stems


Ingredients for Dipping Sauce
  • soy sauce
  • sesame paste
  • sesame oil
  • peanut butter
  • cilantro, chopped
  • chives, chopped
  • garlic, minced
  • chili paste
  • black vinegar

  • To cook the stock, add a bunch of pork bones and chicken bones to the pot with the stalks of green onions, garlic and cilantro. 
  • Fill the pot with water, and let this come to a boil. When the stock comes to a boil, lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for 30mins to an hour.
  • Skim away the scum on the stock surface to get clear stock.
  • Pour the stock into a hotpot, and cook the raw meats and other ingredients thoroughly before consuming them. 
  • I let my guests concoct their own dipping sauces. The traditional dipping sauce is soy sauce, but my family likes satay sauce while I often concoct mine with garlic, soy sauce, sesame paste and sesame oil.
  • Have fun, and Happy New Year! 

Caramelized Onions and Apple Phyllo Tart

This is a baklava-inspired pastry that I made for Jas' dad's birthday party. I had no idea where the inspiration for caramelized onions and apple came from, and using phyllo dough was an impromptu decision, but it all turned out pretty well in the end. *phew* Caramelized onions and apples are a killer combination, and I sure see myself making some other caramelized onion and apple tart or pie again in future!

  • 2 apples
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 packet phyllo pastry
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • eggwash
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

  • With a food processor (yes, we just got a new one!) finely mince the onion. [If you don't have a food processor, just go ahead and finely mince it with your knife.]
  • Using low heat, heat a pan, then add oil and the minced onion to the pan. Remember to stir the onions constantly, until they become brownish transparent, and limp. This will take a while.
  • Meanwhile, peel the skins off the apple and remove its core. With a food processor, finely mince the apples as well.
  • When the onions become are done, add the apples, cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder, salt and sugar to the onions and let the mixture cook and brown slightly.
  • In a 9x13 pan, add five or six layers of phyllo pastry, brushing each layer with some melted butter.
  • Add 1/3 of the apple-onion mixture on top of the phyllo pastry and spread it evenly on the top of the pastry.
  • Add another five or six layers of phyllo pastry on top of the apple-onion mixture, brushing each layer with some melted butter.
  • Repeat the previous two steps two more times, until all the apple-onion mixture is used up.
  • Brush the top layer with eggwash, and place the 9x13 pan in the oven at 375F for 30 minutes or until the topmost layer is golden brown.
  • Let cool and serve.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Marinated Pork, Chicken and Beef for Steamboat/Hotpot

Marinated Beef

  • 1/2 lb sliced beef
  • 1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

Marinated Chicken

please excuse the scum on the container

  • 1/2 lb sliced chicken
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • dash of pepper

Marinated Pork

  • 1/2 lb sliced pork
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon cooking wine
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

Nian Gao (Steamed Sweet Rice Cake) 年糕

Yes! It's another Chinese New Year recipe, because Chinese New Year is coming, and I need to fill this house with food just like it is back home, except on the scale of 0.1%. 

Nian Gao literally means Chinese New Year Cake, since nian means 'year' and gao means 'cake'. However, that name makes no sense, so I shall call it steamed sweet rice cake instead, since glutinous rice is too long, and many people call it 'sweet rice' anyway. People eat nian gao for Chinese New Year because nian also sounds like 'sticky' in Mandarin, and gao sounds like 'high' in Mandarin, as such, eating nian gao has the symbolism of raising oneself higher in the new year.

Ingredients for the Cake
  • 1 2/3 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar (this is already a reduced sugar recipe)
  • 3 tablespoon molasses 
  • 1 cup water

  • In a large bowl (I used my late food processor), add all the ingredients, then mix well.
  • Line the steaming container with banana leaves or just oil the container with regular cooking oil so that it does not stick to the container. [I tried using wax paper, but that didn't work out too well.]
  • Steam the sweet rice cake for about 30 minutes, or until the cake has set.
  • Let cool before slicing and serving.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Baba Ghanoush (Eggplant Hummus) بابا غنوج

Baba Ghanoush is a Levantine (Eastern Mediterranean) dish that is also popular in parts of Eastern Europe. To me, it is like hummus made with eggplant instead of chick peas. As much as I like hummus, I like baba ghanoush much more, since I love eggplant - they are so good at absorbing flavor, much more so than chick peas.

The best baba ghanoush I've ever had was in a hotel buffet bat in Kavala, Greece. This particular Greecian baba ghanoush had a very distinct smoky flavor that the other baba ghanoushes I've had before. Anyway, the secret to the smoky aroma is grilling the baba ghanoush with it's skin on, charring it completely, then removing the skin of the eggplant.

If you don't like smoky baba ghanoush, then just grill it in the oven and not over the stove/grill, and there won't be any smoky flavor to it. Either way, baba ghanoush is great! Eat it with pita bread, tortilla chips or anything you can think of!

This was the last time we used our food processor. I don't know what happened, but it stopped working after this, and now I have to spend a whole bunch of money replacing it because those things are expensive, and Cuisineart says it is a few months out of warranty. *pfFf*

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • handful of cilantro (or parsley) 

  • (As this will get messy, I suggest lining your range top with foil before starting.)
  • Lay an eggplant on top of the stove and grill it. 
  • Turn the eggplant every so often so that the entire eggplant will cook.
  • Remove from grill when the skin of the eggplant is charred and flaky, and when juices start dripping out of it.

  • Wait till the eggplant to cool before peeling the skin off. It should come off easily.

  • Roughly chop the eggplant into large pieces, then put the eggplant in a food processor. 
  • Add garlic, tahini, sesame seeds, salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  • Chop it or puree it to the consistency of your liking.
  • Add chopped cilantro and serve.

baba ghanoush