Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chocolate Marshmallow Rice Krispie Treats

I still remember the first time eating Rice Krispies cereal! It was at a food court in Changi Airport (Singapore) back when I was a kid. I don't remember where we were going on holiday, but I do remember being allowed to pick out my own snack before we left. I chose Rice Krispies and milk, since it was the first time I saw the Rice Krispies cereal. Yes, as a kid, I already chose to try things I've never had before, a trait I definitely got from my mom.

Anyway, for Chinese New Year, we sometimes make a snack with chocolate and corn cereal. I figured that I can concoct something like that based on Rice Krispies instead, and drew some influence from Rice Krispie treats. In the end, we got a Rice Krispie snack that is halfway between the Chinese New Year snack and Rice Krispie Treats. :)



Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2.5 oz marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies



Method
  • In a microwavable bowl, microwave the butter, marshmallows and chocolate chips for 1.5 minutes, then mix the mixture with a wooden spoon.
  • If the mixture becomes difficult to mix, microwave for 1 minute, then mix again. Repeat this step until the mixture is mixed evenly.
  • When the mixture is mixed evenly, add the Rice Krispies to the mixture, and coat the Rice Krispies with the mixture. 
  • If the mixture becomes hard and difficult to mix, microwave it for 1 minute, and continue mixing.



  • When the Rice Krispies and the chocolate-marshmallow mixtures are evenly mixed, press the Rice Krispies into a loaf pan, and let cool. It will harden.
  • When the Rice Krispies are hard, cut into small pieces and serve.





Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jacques Pépin's Chicken Liver Pâté

Chicken livers. You either hate it, or love it, and I happen to be in the "love it" category of foodies. It's my favorite part of the chicken! If you're squeamish about gizzards and innards and stuff like that, then perhaps this is not for you, but you should have at least tried it before squirming away.

Before anyone starts rambling about how bad chicken livers are for you because they are high in cholesterol, please read this. Yes, they are high in cholesterol. I'm not denying that. But, they are also high in many vitamins and minerals. Three words: Eat in Moderation. By eating less of other high cholesterol foods, chicken liver can be a smart addition to a healthy diet.

Here's a recipe from the master - Jacques Pépin, courtesy of Food and Wine magazine. I love Jacques Pépin and watch Julia and Jacques, Cooking at Home on Hulu when I have time. I love the older style cooking shows where they just cook and treat food with the utmost respect, which is more than I can say for present day cooking shows (though I watch a fair amount of that too).

Call me old-fashioned, but I like the idea of buying and serving whole animals because that is the first step to respecting your food. Unfortunately, I can't say I know five people who can butcher a whole chicken or fish these days. Supermarkets make it too easy for lazy people, coming to the point of not selling whole fish anymore (well, at least here in New England, the only places that sell whole fish are Asian supermarkets).

You are what you eat, and it is a pity people don't respect food anymore. A little part of me dies every time I see videos of Swedish Mealtime on YouTube, and I'm not linking it for obvious reasons.

Pâté - not the best presentation, but it sure was delicious. 
Ingredients (1 ramekin-full)
  • 1/2 pound chicken livers
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/4 teaspoons thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cognac or scotch whisky
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper

Method
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken livers, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. 
  • Add water and bring to a simmer.
  • Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the livers are barely pink inside (about 3 minutes).
  • Remove from heat, and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
  • Discard the bay leaf. 
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the livers, onion and garlic to a food processor and process until coarsely pureed.
  • With the machine on, add butter two tablespoons at a time, until incorporated.
  • Add cognac/whisky, season with salt and pepper, and process until completely smooth.
  • Scrape the pate in two large ramekins.
  • Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pate, and refrigerate until firm. 
  • Serve chilled.



Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hungarian Chicken Paprikash (Csirkepaprikás)

I don't have many friends in Hungary, but I've traveled there before, and have had my chicken paprikash experiences. It was definitely a dish that left an impression. [And if you're travelling a month and a half throughout Eastern Europe, and can make such a statement, surely it was hell of a meal.] It was fresh, yet very rich and had fall-off-the-bone pieces of chicken. I guess I would describe it as ang moh Katong laksa to my Singaporean friends and creamy chicken cacciatore to my Western friends. Either way, know that is good - very good.

Anyway, I've been searching for some Hungarian paprika for some time now. Actually, I've even stopped myself from buying normal paprika because I've heard Hungarian paprika is sweeter and more aromatic. I eventually found some at the local Indian grocery store - who would have thought, right?

For chicken paprikash, some people leave the tomato out, but to me, an addition of one more vegetable is definitely welcome in any recipe. I also couldn't find white bell peppers, which is the traditional bell pepper used in this dish, so I used green bell peppers instead (because red ones would be too sweet!)

Enjoy! This is so delicious. It goes really well with normal egg noodles or rice, but it's definitely best with nokedli (Hungarian 'dumpling'/egg noodle.)



Ingredients (4 servings)
  • 2 chicken legs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion (or two small onions), roughly chopped
  • 1 white pepper (I used a green pepper instead), chopped
  • [optional] 1 roma tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons paprika (Hungarian sweet paprika preferred)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup sour cream



Method
  • In a heated pan, add butter, and swirl the butter around the pan.
  • When the butter starts to brown, add the chicken pieces, skin side down onto the pan.
  • Turn the chicken pieces over when they start to brown, and cook the other side until brown as well.
  • When the chicken is brown on all sides, remove from the pan, but save the drippings.



  • To the remaining butter/chicken fat mixture, add the chopped onions and fry them.
  • When the onions are soft and slightly transparent, add the green pepper and tomato to the pan.
  • Continue frying, and make sure nothing gets burnt.



  • When the vegetables are soft, add the paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper to the pan.
  • Fry the vegetables with the seasoning until evenly combined.
  • Add the chicken pieces back to the pan, then add the chicken stock.
  • Bring the contents of the pan to a boil, then cover, and set the heat on low.
  • Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken pieces are cooked and the juices run clear.



  • When the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken and place the chicken on top your choice of starch. (I used Hungarian dumplings or nokedli. Here's the recipe.)
  • Turn off the heat, and let the vegetables cool down for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, add the sour cream to the pan, and stir to combine.
  • Spoon the sauce over the chicken and nokedli, and serve.

Hungarian Dumplings (Nokedli)

I think of nokedli as the Hungarian version of the German Spätzle, or the Western version of egg noodles. They are, in fact, egg noodles, since they are all made from egg and flour - just like most pasta! The dense eggy flavor is immediately apparent, and freshly made nokedli, like any freshly made pasta, is definitely to die for.

I decided to make nokedli because I was making Hungarian Chicken Paprikash, and decided that nokedli would go perfectly with it - of course, that's how the Hungarians like to eat it!



Ingredients (2-3 servings)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup plain yoghut or sour cream
  • pinch of salt


Method
  • Add all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and mix with a spatula until a soft dough is formed.


  • [Traditionally, the nokedli is made using a nokedli press, or by hand. Unfortunately, I'm too lazy to do each tiny piece of nokedli individually, and do not want to eat dinner the next morning, so I decided to use a shortcut by squeezing the dough through a strainer. A nokedli press is similar to a potato ricer, so that would perfectly as well, but I don't own one.]
  • Add water to a pot and bring it to a simmer.
  • Press and squeeze the dough through a strainer, and into the simmering water.
  • Remove the nokedli pieces when they start to float.
  • You now have nokedli for your Chicken Paprikash, or just to fry with some salt, pepper and cheese.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Berry Veggie Juice/Puree

Since finding out that my little blender works, I've been making veggie purees and sometimes have them for lunch. They are usually green because I usually blend a lot of veggies in them, but this one is slightly more appealing and not as ghoulish because I've added cherries and oranges for that nice reddish tinge. Check out the Green Monster Juice/Puree!



Ingredients (1 serving)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 orange
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 handful cherries, pits removed
  • 1/3 cup apple juice



Method
  • Peel the carrots, and cut it into small pieces.
  • Peel the orange, and cut it into small pieces too.
  • Cut the celery into small pieces.
  • Place all the fruits, juice and veggies into the blender, and blend away. 
  • Serve.



Shredded Pork and Baby Bamboo Stirfry 小竹炒肉絲

There is one half decent Chinese restaurant in the suburban university town where I live in, and their specialty is shredded pork and baby bamboo. The two times I've been there (I see no point in going to Chinese restaurants  in this country because 95% of the time, I get disappointed because I cook better), the recommended dish to order is this shredded pork and bamboo stirfry. And so, on the second time, I tried it.

It was great! Mind = blown! A simple, unassuming brown dish turned out to be absolutely delicious. I guess that's why everyone at the restaurant ordered that dish. It had the perfect combination of sweet and salty, and the texture of the bamboo shoots was just fantastic.

Being the culinary genius I am (just kidding), I could tell exactly what went into the dish by just tasting it. Yes, my palate is really pretty amazing, which is why I often imitate dishes I eat outside and cook it at home.

(apologies for the terrible iPhone picture)

Ingredients  (2 servings)
  • 1/2 pound pork, shredded (cut into thin strips)
  • 1 can of bamboo shoots, cut into strips
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce 

Method

  • In a heated pan, add oil and fry the garlic until fragrant.
  • When the garlic is fragrant, add the shredded pork.
  • When the pork is half-cooked, add the bamboo shoots, soy sauce and dark soy sauce.
  • Fry the mixture until the pork is completely cooked.
  • Serve.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Honey Soy Chicken Lollipops

When I first learned about Chicken Lollipops, I almost fell over my chair because I felt so dumb. The idea of making lollipops for chicken completely make sense, and is a great way to eat chicken wings without having a whole mess with ten fingers covered in oil (well, I've trained to use only the thumb and first finger on each hand, but I've seen people dig eat with all ten fingers before.) Prepping the chicken into lollipops may take a while the first time, but I eventually got better at it. These make a great snack time and game night food!



Ingredients (2 servings)
  • 4 whole chicken wings (wing and drum sections)
  • 2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey




Method
  • Make chicken lollipops out of the wings. 
  • For the best description, play the video above of Jacques Pépin doing it. Otherwise, read along. Cut at the joint between the drum and wing section. Then, break the joint of the wing and tail section, then place the wing section 'standing' at 90 degrees from the chopping board, and in a swift action, pull the tail section toward the chopping board. There will be two protruding bones (from the wing section). Pull out the smaller bone, then cut off the tail section. (Use it to make stock.) Then, turn all the meat inside out, over the non-protruding end of the larger bone. For the drum section, cut the meat away from the bone on the smaller side of the drum section, and use the knife to push the meat down to the meaty section. Turn the meat inside out, over the larger bone section.

  • Marinate the chicken lollipops with the soy sauce and honey for about 15 minutes. (Try not to get the bones coated in the sauce, or it will get very sticky.)


  • After marinating, lay the chicken lollipops on a baking sheet and bake it in the oven at 375F for 20 minutes.
  • Serve warm.



Beef Stew

Slow cooker stews have never worked out for me. Ever. I even tried getting different slow cookers, but the meat always comes out really tough. As such, I make stews the way I made them before a slow cooker came into my life - on the stovetop - and it is always incredible.

I like stews because everything in the stew is mostly inexpensive. Carrots, celery and potatoes are cheap, and are things I have in my kitchen all the time. (On hindsight, I think I have a fair amount of everything in my kitchen all the time.) Even the beef for stews are cheaper cuts that will become really tender after cooking. Cheap and tasty food = happy me!



Ingredients (5-6 servings)
  • 1 lb beef, cut into ~ 1.5" cubes
  • 5 carrots, peeled, cut into 2" sections
  • 5 stalks celery, cut into 2" sections
  • 1 onion, halved, then quartered
  • 2 cups apple cider (or apple juice)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt



Method
  • In a heated frying pan, brown the pieces of beef on all sides. (I did not add oil as I felt it was unnecessary.) Do not cook the meat, just brown the sides.
  • Remove meat from heat and set aside.


  • In a heated medium stockpot, add the olive oil and onions, and sautee the onions for about one minute.
  • Add carrots, celery and apple cider, then turn the heat to high. Stir often.
  • When the apple cider comes to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer.
  • Add the beef pieces to the stockpot, stir to mix, then cover again and let simmer for about four hours, stirring every half hour or so.
  • After four hours, remove the stew from heat, and serve.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Double Potato Home Fries

Home fries are an American breakfast favorite. I've actually never heard of home fries until moving here, but they are incredibly tasty, and I'd like to think that it's a lot healtheir than regular fries too, since they weren't deep fried. Really, who can dislike really crisp potato pieces?



Ingredients
  • 1 large potato, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato/sweet yam, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (or bacon fat)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • any chopped fresh herbs (optional)



Method
  • In a heated pan, add the cooking oil (or bacon fat), then add the potato cubes.
  • Fry the potato cubes for about 2 minutes, browning one side, before flipping them over and browning the other sides.
  • Fry the potatoes for about 10 minutes total, then add salt black pepper and some fresh herbs (optional).
  • Serve with toast, eggs and bacon for a great Sunday breakfast!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bulgogi Fried Noodles

It was the weekend, and weekends are times for Jason to cook with my supervision, in preparation of the summer without me (I'll be travelling a lot.) I wanted him to improvise in the kitchen, and work with what he has in the fridge and make it deliciously edible. 

This week, we had some marinated bulgogi (Korean marinated BBQ beef) in the freezer, some Chinese cabbage, egg noodles and beansprouts. I thought these would go together perfectly for a bulgogi-inspired Chinese stirfry-ish noodle dish. The results were amazing. We cooked in 10 minutes (well, prep took slightly longer as Jas was still unfamiliar in the kitchen and with knives and sorts, but at least he did all of the prep work), and it tasted really good for something just thrown together with leftovers in the fridge.


Ingredients (4 to 5 servings)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 an onion, sliced
  • 1/2 lb marinated bulgogi (Korean BBQ beef), sliced
  • 3/4 lb fresh egg noodles
  • 6 leaves Chinese cabbage, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1/2 lb mung bean sprouts
  • 1 to 2 stalks green onions, cut into 1" pieces
  • 3 tablespoons bulgogi sauce or - 1 1/2 tablespoons spy sauce and 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce


Method
  • In a large heated pan, add oil and fry the garlic and onions until the onions are slightly limp and transparent.
  • When the onions are limp and transparent, add the slices of bulgogi beef to the pan and fry the beef until half-cooked.
  • Add the noodles to the pan and fry until the noodles and beef are evenly combined.

  • Add the Chinese cabbage to the wok and fry until the cabbage is cooked.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of bulgogi sauce (or substitute with 1 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoons of dark soy sauce).
  • Add the mung bean sprouts, green onions and stirfry until everything is equally combined.
  • Serve.

Orh Kueh 芋头糕 (Steamed Yam Cake)

Yam cake is similar to the lo bak gou in dim sum, but it is made with yam/taro instead of radish, and is much heartier. It comes steamed or fried, and I like both versions, although I feel that the day-old cakes taste much better than the fresh ones. (An opinion also shared by my grandmother, therefore is correct.)

After inventing a contraption to steam things in my kitchen, I've made several kueh-type dishes like nian gao 年糕, sago kueh, and of course, my favorite of all time favorite foods - fried carrot cake or char kuay, which I have made several times since then.

Enjoy the loveliness of the kueh. Jason used to think the texture is weird, but now he likes them. :)



Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup yam/taro, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon wheat starch
  • 2 tablespoons wheat flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 3 shiitake mushrooms, soaked
  • 1/4 cup dried shrimp, minced
  • 1/2 link sweet Chinese sausage, minced
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil

Ingredients for Garnishing (optional)
  • sweet sauce
  • chili sauce
  • fried shallots
  • green onions, chopped
  • red chili, chopped
  • fried shallot oil



Method
  • In a heated stockpot, add oil and fry the thinly sliced shallots until they are golden brown.
  • When the shallots are done, remove half the shallots from the oil, and place them on a plate lined with a paper towel. There will be extra oil in the stockpot. Keep the oil in the stockpot, do not throw that oil away.
  • To the shallot oil, add the dried shrimp and Chinese sausage, and fry until fragrant.
  • When the dried shrimp and Chinese sausage are fragrant, add the taro pieces and stirfry for about two minutes.



  • Meanwhile, add the rice flour, wheat starch and water to a big bowl and stir until they are combined.
  • After two minutes, add the rice flour and water mixture to the stockpot and stir consistently.



  • After a while, the liquid will thicken, and resemble a paste-like consistency (like in the picture above right.)
  • Line your steaming bowl with plastic wrap, and transfer the paste into the steaming bowl.


  • Steam the bowl for about one hour.
  • After an hour, remove the bowl from the steamer and let cool before manipulating the yam cake. (I prefer cooling it, and letting it stay in the fridge for one more day, just to let the flavors mix.)
  • Slice the yam cake into squares (or whatever shape you want them to be) and serve with the optional garnishings.


Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies

In terms of food, Jas and I are mostly main meal types. However, we do have a soft spot for good cookies. Actually, that is an understatement. We are human cookie monsters! I don't have a favorite cookie of all time because I like all sorts of cookies. However, we are health conscious and tend to limit our cookie intake to many pieces of 'healthy' cookies, or two pieces of 'bad' cookies. Most recently, our ration for Girl Scout Cookies (these are so bad for you, but they are delicious!) are two cookies every two days, and the ration is not cumulative. [Yes, we're so horrible that we need these really strict rules/rations.]

Here's a soft ginger molasses cookie that is incredibly healthy. I've halved the sugar intake and halved the butter used. Have more than two! :)


Ingredients (makes 30 large cookies)
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (3 tablespoons if you like it noticeably gingery)
  • 1 teasponn baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar (this is a low sugar recipe)
  • 1/2 cup butter (this is a low fat recipe)
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water


Method
  • Add all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until mixed. The cookie dough will be very sticky.
  • Using a spoon, scoop about one heaping tablespoon of cookie dough onto the baking sheet.
  • Repeat until all the cookie dough is used.

  • Bake the cookies in the oven at 375F for 8 to 10  minutes.
  • Serve warm.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mei Cai Kou Rou Bao 梅菜扣肉包

I had some mei cai kou rou 梅菜扣肉 leftover from when I made it (check out the recipe for that here). One can only have it for that many meals before getting really tired of eating it. In the end, I froze the rest that I could not finish. Today, I took the frozen mei cai kou rou and decided to make a bao (steamed bun) out of it, and it was absolutely delicious. It might just be my favorite bao so far - yes, even better than the char siew bao!



Ingredients for Bao Skin (for 4 baos)
  • 1/3 cup warm water (and teaspoon by teaspoon if more is needed)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon oil
Ingredients


Method
  • Proof the yeast by adding the sugar, water and yeast in a mixing bowl for about 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, the water should be frothy. This means the yeast has been 'activated'. 
  • Now, add flour, baking powder and oil to the bowl, and knead the dough until it becomes pliable.
  • If needed, add water teaspoon by teaspoon. (I added 3 or 4 teaspoons while kneading.)
  • Cover the dough, and let the dough 'rise' for about 30 minutes.



  • After 30 minutes, the dough should be soft and pliable.
  • Knead the dough a few more times, and divide the dough into four equal portions.
  • Roll each portion into a ball, and flatten the ball into a small circle using a rolling pin.
  • Add 1/4 of the mei cai kou rou to the middle of the dough, and pleat to bring the edges together.
  • Line each bao with some baking paper, and place the bao in a steaming basket.


  • Steam the bao for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Serve warm.




Friday, February 17, 2012

Nyonya Bakwang Kepiting (Crab and Pork Balls in Soup)

In search for more Nyonya recipes, I found this rather interesting recipes for meatballs that have crabmeat and shrimp in them. I have not heard of the name bakwang kepiting before, but I definitely know of a meatball made with seafood in them that is absolutely delicious. I had no idea that it was even a Peranakan recipe because it didn't feel particularly Peranakan, due to the lack of lemongrass, tamarind, yellow beans and the usual Peranakan spices. 

Anyhow, it is absolutely delicious and goes really well with white rice. Obviously the soup stock does help in making the dish that much more tasty!


Ingredients for Meatballs (about 30 meatballs)
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 6 oz crab meat
  • 10 large shrimps, deshelled, deveined, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz bamboo shoots, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons 
  • dash of white pepper
  • pinch of salt

Ingredients for Soup
  • 2 lb pork bones
  • shells from shimps (optional)
  • 8 cilantro stems
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • approx. 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • dash of white pepper
  • 4 oz bamboo, sliced

Garnish
  • fried shallots (optional)

Method
  • To make the stock, add all the ingredients of the stock, except the bamboo, in a stockpot and boil it for about four hours. (I just put mine in a slow cooker overnight.)
  • Set aside a stockpot filled with water, and bring it to a simmer. This is the water we will parboil each meatball before adding it to the soup. Make sure it does not boil. If it boils, the meatballs will not be springy.



  • In a large mixing bowl, add the crabmeat, pork, shrimp, chopped bamboo shoots, egg and all seasonings.
  • Mix the mixture with one hand, and in a swift movement, pick up and 'throw' the mixture into the bowl. Repeat the 'throwing' action about 10 to 15 times. This will ensure the meatball is springy.
  • Using that one hand, squeeze the meatball mixture through the thumb and index finger, and 'pick up' the mixture with a spoon using the other hand. Drop this meatball in the simmering water. It will sink.
  • Keep making meatballs until there is no mixture left.



  • Remove the meatballs from the simmering water when the meatball floats, and add the meatballs to the stock.
  • Add the sliced bamboo shoots to the stock.
  • Warm the stock and serve.