Saturday, March 31, 2012

[moved] Steamed Egg Custard with Pork, Tofu and Scallions 豬肉豆腐蒸水蛋

Ok, the picture looks ugly as hell, but don't be scared away by that, because this dish tastes "nothing like it looks" (quoting Jason). It is light and very fresh, and would be good for people who are sick and have to have blander foods. It is also good for people who can't chew properly, because it is soft too. My grandmother makes steamed eggs often, and I somehow forgot that she doesn't remove the egg from the steaming bowl. The steamed eggs are too soft to hold its shape outside the steaming bowl. This goes to show how deliciously soft it is!

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Nyonya Sambal Assam Udang (Shrimp in Tamarind Curry)

This is (I feel) the best thing that I've cooked in a long time. I'm so proud of myself for making sambal udang! Sambal udang is another dish from the Nyonya or Peranakan repertory. The 'usual' Peranakan spices are used, such as tamarind, shallots, lemongrass, galangal, coconut milk etc. are used, but somehow, it tastes very distinct from other Peranakan dishes. This actually reminds me of inchi kabin (Nyonya fried chicken), except with coconut milk and tamarind in a curry style.

This dish is different from Assam Udang, which is a dish that is marinated in tamarind, and pan fried, instead of stewed like in a curry.

  • 1/2 to 3/4lb shrimp (about 20 pieces)
  • 1 inch block of tamarind
  • 4 tablespoons of water
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch cube of belacan (shrimp paste)
  • 2 tablespoons sambal belacan (chilli and shrimp paste)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

  • Dissolve the tamarind block in 4 tablespoons of water to make tamarind pulp. Remove any tamarind seeds.
  • In a hot saucepan, add oil, and fry the belacan, shallots, garlic and sambal belacan.

  • When the shallots and garlic is fragrant, add in the tamarind pulp, and when the mixture starts to bubble, add the shrimp.
  • Continue frying until the shrimp is cooked, then add coconut milk.
  • Bring the coconut milk to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until shrimps are cooked.
  • Serve.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mini Pecan-crusted Monkeybread Cups

Most people I know don't know what monkey bread is. It is basically just biscuits (American biscuits, just to be clear) cut into smaller pieces and rolled in cinnamon and sugar, then baked.

As Jas' grandparents both turn 89 (yup, born on the same day of the same year) today, we visited them at their place over the weekend and brought them some monekybread cups. I guess it was well appreciated that we didn't just make "a brownie or something boring" :) Jas' grandmother makes the most delicious cookies and sweet stuff. My favorite has definitely got to be the pecan cookies I got for my birthday this year!

Ingredients (makes 12 cups)
  • 2 rolls of ready-made cookies (or 20 pieces)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pecans, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon butter

  • Cut up the biscuit into four or six pieces per biscuit. Set aside.
  • In a large microwavable bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon powder.
  • Add a few pieces of biscuit in the sugar/cinnamon mixture, and toss until coated.
  • Place the coated pieces of biscuit in muffin cups. 
  • Continue until all 12 muffin cups are filled with cinnamon sugar biscuits.

  • With the remaining sugar/cinnamon mixture, add the butter and crushed pecans.
  • Place the bowl in the microwave, and heat for 30 seconds, or until the butter is melted.
  • Remove the bowl from the microwave, then mix everything together evenly.

  • Divide this pecan/butter mixture over the twelve muffin cups. (We only did it for six.)

  • Bake the muffin cups in the oven for the time and temperature specified on the biscuits container.
  • Serve!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Green Bean Omelette

So this dish seems lame, but it is what we often had at home when I was a kid, and I really liked it. As a kid, I loved fried eggs. I could eat fried egg with rice and dark soy sauce for a meal, and be totally over the moon about it. Yup, I was an easy kid to feed. Green bean omelette - why not? It's easy, its nutritious and it is cheap!

Actually, green bean omelette is a very common side dish for Teochew (that's me!) congee. The Teowchews also like to fry up a ton of stuff in omelettes. We have onion omelettes, chaipo (preserved radish) omelettes and of course, the ever famous Egg Foo Young (or everything omelette as I call it). 

  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

  • Break the eggs in a bowl, add the sesame oil, salt and soy sauce and beat to combine.
  • In a heated pan, add oil and fry the green beans until half cooked.
  • Add the eggs over the green beans and fry on each side until golden brown.
  • Serve.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Morrocan Spiced Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

Yes, chicken is on sale again - 99c per pound! This is when we stock up on chicken for the next month or so. I usually get three or four whole chickens and hack them up into their respective chicken parts to freeze.

This is a lovely recipe. It is fragrant right from the very beginning - imagine blending cumin and garlic, then pounding that into a paste - ah, I can even smell it as I type. Also, the roasted sweet potatoes give a very subtle sweet undertone to the dish that compliments the somewhat spicy herby flavor. Bravo to the smart person who thought of using sweet potatoes in this!

It seems every chicken that comes through my kitchen gets cooked beautifully. Here's my Roast Chicken recipe that I'm sure many will also enjoy. I'm so glad to have the final journey of each bird be a beautiful and tasty one - well, for me at least. But really, buy whole chicken. I really don't need to get into the "respect for food" spiel again.

Ingredients (4-6 servings)
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 teaspoons cumin (or you can use cumin powder instead)
  • 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (I used Hungarian sweet paprika from my Hungarian Chicken Paprikash recipe.)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

Method for Chicken preparation (to be done the night before roasting): 
  • Wash the chicken under a running tap until it seems clean. (Pluck off any feathers if it was not cleaned properly.) 
  • With a pair of kitchen shears, cut off the neck (keep - good for making chicken stock) and butt (throw away). 
  •  Put your entire hand under the skin of the chicken, move it around, and detach the entire chicken skin from the chicken meat. 
  • At the end of this step, the only skin that is attached to the meat would be the skin on the chicken wings. 
  • Everywhere else, the skin covers the chicken meat, but is not attached to it. This step is very important for getting nice crispy chicken. 
  • Trim off all the fat you can find. Leave as little fat as possible on the chicken. (For the some people who think fat is skin, well, it isn't.) 
  • Give the chicken a thorough massage, making sure there are no 'stiff' muscles in the chicken. 
  • Generously pour coarse salt over every inch of chicken skin and rub vigorously, like you are giving the chicken a salt scrub. (Except, you are giving the chicken a salt scrub.) 
  • With this salt scrub, you are removing the remaining feather bits on the chicken, and the thin yellow-ish layer of old skin on the chicken. 
  • Wash the salt off the chicken. (The chicken skin should now be smoother than a baby's butt.) Put the chicken on a chicken roaster, and put the entire roaster into the fridge for a night. 
  • Tomorrow, the chicken skin should be completely dry.

  • Blend the cumin, chili flakes, sweet paprika and garlic in a food processor. (If you have one of those fancy mini-prep spice blenders, go ahead and use that!)
  • Transfer the blended spices into a mortar, add olive oil and salt, and pound it until it becomes a paste.
  • Rub this paste under the skin of the chicken and on the skin of the chicken. Basically, rub this paste everywhere.

  • Place the chicken in a baking dish, and add the sweet potatoes around the chicken.
  • Bake the chicken at 375F for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the juices of the chicken run clear.
  • When the chicken is done in the oven, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving.
  • Carve and serve!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Basic Stuffing (with Mushrooms)

I love stuffing! It's my favorite dish at Thanksgiving by a long shot! My favorite stuffing is a fancy wild rice with wild mushrooms stuffing - it's so good! However, I had no wild rice, and no wild mushrooms, so I had to settle for the basic stuffing (but with mushrooms of course!) Actually, I'm not really settling for it, since it is so delicious on its own too, especially if you haven't had the fancier stuffings.

We had some baguette left from when I made baguette for bánh mì thịt nướng (Vietnamese baguette with grilled pork) and I was thinking up recipes that would be fine with stale bread. Of course, there was the classic bread pudding, and the usual other stuff like croutons and bread crumbs. I finally thought of stuffing, and it seemed like an epiphany of sorts. Stuffing! I should have thought of that. I don't have to wait till Thanksgiving for stuffing now!

Ingredients (4-6 servings)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 baguette, cut into smaller pieces
  • 1 - 2 cups of chicken stalk (depends on how dry your bread is, and how wet you like your stuffing to be)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • [optional] 3 large white mushrooms (or 5 regular sized ones), chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter, then saute the onions.
  • When the onions are slightly soft, add the celery and fry until the celery is soft.
  • Add the baguette pieces, and add chicken stock 1/4 cup at a time, until slightly drier than your desired consistency.

  • Finally, add mushrooms and fry. (Mushrooms give out water when cooking, so it is important to not add more stock than needed.)
  • Add more stock if needed.

  • [optional] Transfer the stuffing into a 8" x 8" baking pan, and bake at 400F for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Serve.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Buttered Bok Choy with Almonds

This is going to be one hard recipe to categorized. What will buttered bok choy with almonds count as - Asian or Western? I have no idea, but the one thing I know is that this is my own recipe. I dreamt of it, believe it or not, and have been wanting to try this seemingly strange combination of ingredients. 

Well, I guess people can argue that this is not a strange concoction at all. After all, butter goes with anything - at least I think so, and the Asians have been using cashews in their stirfrys since forever. So, why not almonds, right? 

Ingredients (1 serving)
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 lb bok choy, washed
  • 2 tablespoons almond slivers (I didn't have any, so I chopped some whole roasted almonds)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Put the bok choy and 2 tablespoons of water in a pot. 
  • Cover, and turn up the heat. 
  • When steam starts becoming visible though the lid, uncover, and add the butter.
  • Mix the butter and bok choy until evenly combined. 
  • Add the almonds, toss to combine, then serve.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Orzo with Traffic Light Peppers

The name "traffic light" peppers came about because the three colored peppers - green, yellow and red - are the same colors as that on a "traffic light". I sometimes see packages of one each of green, yellow and red peppers marketed as "traffic light" peppers in Singapore, but not so much here. You'd think that people will pack things together because people seem lazier here (as we can tell from the existence of peeled onions and potatoes - seriously!) but I guess nobody bothers about colors as much as I do. 

I love the different colors of peppers, and for that reason, I don't cook the peppers very much, because the bright colors become dull very quickly - especially the green ones. Of course, peppers themselves are delicious raw too, so this orzo recipe could also be like a tossed salad of sorts, if you like your peppers raw...

Ingredients (5-6 servings)
  • 1 lb uncooked orzo
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Cook the orzo according to the instructions on the box. 
  • When the orzo is cooked, drain and set aside.

  • In a heated pan, add the olive oil and saute the minced garlic until fragrant.
  • When the garlic is golden brown, add the diced peppers and fry them lightly.
  • Add orzo to the pan when the peppers are done to your liking.
  • Add dried parsley flakes and toss to mix everything evenly.
  • Serve.

I serve the orzo with Balsamic Orange glazed Haddock filets!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Panfried Haddock with Orange Balsamic Glaze

Fish day is happy day! :) Although haddock (and all other rather tasteless white fish) is not my favorite fish, some fish is better than none, and I still look forward to Fish Day - that's when we go to H-Mart.

Once upon a time, Jason ate no fish. Slowly, I had to force fish down his throat - because the Chinese say fish make you smart - and eventually, he ate fish and started to like it. So from plain panfried fish, we slowly graduated to teriyaki and balsamic glazes, and I'm glad he's (we've) gotten this far. I tried the orange balsamic glaze on salmon before, and it was just amazing (or it could be just the salmon?) Vinegar sends Jas out of the kitchen faster than spiders, but he likes this orange balsamic glaze! That surely says a lot.

Ingredients (2 servings)
  • 2 haddock filets
  • salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for glaze
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • rind of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons of white sugar (or more, depending on your tastes)

  • In a hot pan, add some oil and place the fish skin side down. 
  • Cook it for 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on how thick your filet is. (Fish is cooked when it flakes easily - well not too easily!)
  • When the fish is cooked, remove from heat, and set aside.

  • In the same pan, add the balsamic vinegar, orange juice, orange rind and sugar.
  • Stir to combine, then bring to a boil, and let the mixture reduce until it becomes a thick, syrupy consistency. (Be careful to not over-boil this. It will burn!)
  • Spoon the glaze over the haddock filets. Serve and enjoy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

[moved] Maggi Goreng (Fried Instant Noodles)

Maggi goreng (fried instant noodles) is mugging food. Back in college, we would study (or just hang out) till the wee hours of the morning, and often visited the 24-hr prata shop (Niqqi's) behind my dorm. [Seriously, I think opening a food stall near a university campus that sells food till late is hell of a good business model.] 

Anyway, when we went to Niqqi's, I would sometimes get roti prata, but more often than not, I'd get maggi goreng, because it is delicious, and someone told me that there are the same amount of calories in one roti prata and one bar of chocolate! For that 'price', I'd much rather get a bar of chocolate. Who eats one piece of roti prata anyway? The usual serving is at least two pieces, more like three or four WITH curry! Now you can see why maggi goreng is seemingly a better idea. Of course, no one has told me how many bars of chocolate a plate of maggi goreng is (yet), but I guess ignorance is bliss.

The name maggi goreng is Malay for fried maggi noodles. Maggi is a famous brand of instant noodles in Southeast Asia.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Baked Ratatouille Pasta

It may sound surprising that I've never watched the movie/animation Ratatouille, since I've watched most cooking shows out there, but I really dislike cartoons and animated things. Anyway, the strange name itself prompted me to read about what a ratatouille really is, and I got excited and decided to make a re-interpretation of ratatouille in a form of pasta!

For those who don't know what ratatouille is, it is a French Provençal stewed vegetable dish that is usually made with tomatoes (this is key! Please ignore ratatouilles that do not have tomato in it!), zucchini, onions, eggplant, garlic, and bell peppers - all my favorite veggies! There are many kinds of ratatouille. Some are just all cooked together, while others are layered, and Julia Child does the half and half - layer the zucchini and eggplant, while the bell peppers, tomatoes and onions are made into a sauce. 

I did the layer everything version, and baked a little tri-colored rotini on the side. I guess this is a baked ratatouille pasta - for lack of a better, and more stupidly obvious name for the dish.

Ingredients (1 serving)
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 eggplant, sliced then cut into halves or quarters
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 garlic, sliced
  • [optional] 1/4 onion, sliced
  • [optional] 1/2 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup cooked pasta (I used tri-colored rotini)
  • 1/3 cup chopped or shredded cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • In a loaf pan, layer the zucchini, eggplant and tomato.
  • Slide slices of garlic in between every couple of layers.
  • Fill the other side of the loaf pan with the pasta, and top with the chopped or shredded cheese.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked.
  • Serve!
P.S. If you don't like your pasta to be just plain, you can toss the pasta in pesto or some red sauce before adding it to the loaf pan.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yu Choy Sum (Cai Xin) with Chinese Sausage and Garlic

This is the second recipe I tried with yu choy or caixin. The first time around, I made Yu Choy Sum (Caixin) with Shiitake Mushrooms.They are both good. The shiitake mushrooms gave the yu choy a slightly deeper undertone than with Chinese sausage. However, I do like the Chinese sausage version better, because it is brighter and has a more complex aroma.

Ingredients (2 servings)
  • approx 3/4 lb caixin (sometimes you find it as yu choy) 
  • 1 Chinese sausage, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce 

  • Wash the caixin, then cut it half, separating the leaves from the stems. 
  • Split the larger stems in half lengthwise, so that everything cooks for the same amount of time. 

  • In a heated pan, fry the Chinese sausage.
  • When oil starts to ooze out of the Chinese sausage, add cooking oil and garlic. 
  • Fry until the garlic is golden brown.
  • Add the stems, and fry until half cooked.
  • Add the leaves, and fry until completely cooked.
  • Add soy sauce and fry to combine.
  • Serve.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Emy's Pink Birthday Cake

When Jas asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him I wanted a pink cake with white icing. And that's what I got, although that wasn't all I got; he got me a 23" inch monitor that I now work on. It is great because it's so big compared to the 13" laptop screen that I've painstakingly edited scores on for years. I don't think I can go back to working on a 13" screen after I've been spoiled with a 23". The difference is a whopping 10" (diagonal length!)

Anyway, so we went about making a pink cake. I helped, of course, since I wanted to try making a recipe for a basic moist butter cake. So off we went with baking a cake from scratch. I even got my piping bag, piping tips and even a cake cutter ready for the big event - baking a pink cake!

I don't like buttercream icing - I find it too dense, so I used whipped cream as the icing instead. I need to find a recipe for an icing that is in between buttercream icing and whipped cream!

P.S. If you're wondering why I'm only 7, well, its a joke between the both of us. We subtracted many years to get to that number! :)

Ingredients for Cake
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar (this is a reduced sugar recipe)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essense
  • [optional] pink food coloring
  • whipping cream for topping

  • Cream butter with a hand mixer, and slowly add sugar and salt, and let this mixture cream for a few minutes.
  • Add eggs one at a time.
  • Alternate by adding some flour, then some milk, until everything is evenly combined.
  • Add vanilla essence and pink food coloring (optional).
  • Oil three 8-inch baking pans, and divide the mixture evenly between the three pans. (I used two 9-inch pans.)
  • Bake for about 30 minutes at 350F.

  • When done, let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pan.
  • Slice off the top and bottom surface of each cake. 
  • Assemble the cake by adding whipped cream in between each layer and all of the outside.
  • Decorate as you wish.

Any idea what we did on my birthday? We went out for Korean barbecue! - one of my favorite meals to ever have, since it is so delicious and comes with free flow of all the sides and drinks. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Coq au Vin (Chicken with Red Wine) in a Slow Cooker

The first time I had Coq au Vin, it was at Marie Louise Bistro back in ol'Balty. I remembered it being so good, that I often craved for it. Unfortunately, it was the one and only time I've had coq au vin at Marie Louise Bistro because they keep selling out for dinner.

Anyway, like I've always said, the slow cooker is my best friend. This semester, I have two days a week where I start at 9am and end at 8pm, so those days, I let my slow cooker cook for me. I prep everything the night before, put it in the fridge, then take it out the next morning, start the slow cooker and leave to do all my important things in school. When I come back, I can often smell food from the door, and it is just a great great aroma for welcoming me back home.

It is easy, and it is fast (since it is mostly prep work). More importantly, it is delicious. I never understood why having a long day at work is an excuse for eating out for many people. Makes no sense to me, if you can eat cheaply, healthily, deliciously and easily at home. Oh well, so much makes no sense to me these days. If only I can change the world, one crockpot at a time.

Ingredients (4 servings)
  • 2 chicken thighs + 2 chicken legs (or substitute with 2 breasts)
  • 4 carrots, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (I substituted with thyme powder)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (I substituted with dried rosemary)
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked till crispy
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 5 large white mushrooms, quartered (or 8 normal sized ones)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups red wine (dry is better)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Thickener (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour

  • Add all the ingredients in the crockpot, with the chicken on top of the vegetables.
  • Turn on the crock pot on low for at least 8 hours.
  • Mix the flour and butter together using a fork.

  • Before serving, remove the chicken pieces from the crock pot, then add the flour/butter mixture, and stir until the sauce has thickened.
  • Serve coq au vin with mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Roasted Butter Herbed Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerling potatoes are tiny potatoes that sometimes look like short stubby fingers - hence the name. At our local farmer's market, we picked up some Russian Banana potatoes (the yellow ones) and some Purple Peruvian potatoes (the purple ones). They are just like any potatoes, but due to their size, the skin is often left on. Because of this, greater care needs to be taken when washing the potatoes. I used a toothbrush and scrubbed the skin. Of course, you don't have to do that, but be sure to wash it and wash it well.

Fingerling potatoes are much more expensive than the usual potatoes. The potatoes on the plate cost about $2. For $2, I could buy 5 pounds of regular russets or whites at my local grocery store! Anyway, the purple ones are pretty, I guess that's why I bought them!

Ingredients (2 servings)
  • 1/2 lb fingerling potatoes
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 stalk green onions
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Wash your potatoes really well, then dry them with a wash cloth and place in a large bowl.
  • Melt the butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds (depends on your microwave too!)
  • Roughly chop some green onions (or other herbs), and put them in the same bowl with the potatoes.
  • Pour the melted butter over the potatoes (careful! butter is hot!)
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, then mix all the ingredients with a spatula.

  • Place the potatoes in one layer on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 450F for 30 minutes.
  • Serve!