Pandan Kaya Cake Roll

 20150414_141458Recently, I went on a mission to look for recipes on Pandan Kaya Cake Roll and boy, did I have fun! The swiss roll is easy to make and bakes fast. So if you have the Kaya jam on hand, a dessert can easily be made.

Firstly, let me show you how to make pandan juice.

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Pandan leaves can be bought from the wet market or the supermarket for less than a dollar for a packet. Cut the blades into smaller pieces and place them in your blender/chopper. Add about 3/4 cup of water into the blender if you intend to use up the whole lot of pandan leaves from a whole packet. After the blender has done its work, pour the juice through a sieve and squeeze the juice from the leaves as well.

To make the Pandan Kaya jam, you would need the following:

200ml coconut milk
2 large eggs
50g sugar
2tbsp pandan juice
1tbsp corn flour
1tbsp plain flour
3 blades of pandan leaves
(If you prefer a stronger pandan flavor, add 1/4tsp of pandan paste.)

Steps:

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1. Mix coconut milk, eggs, corn flour, plain flour and pandan juice together until well combined.

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2. Strain mixture into a saucepan, add in sugar and pandan leaves.

3. Cook over low fire and stir constantly until mixture thicken. (Do not overcook.  Once kaya is too thick, it will turn lumpy and will be difficult to spread on the cake). The trick is to keep stirring! Discard pandan leaves and set aside to cool.

:: I have tried a few variations to making the Kaya jam. To make a healthier version, I used brown sugar instead of caster sugar and the flavour is more intense. There is also a difference if you use the pandan paste and pandan flavour. The pandan paste will give you a green kaya jam (pic on the left) whereas when I added the pandan flavour, the colour is more natural. So it really depends on your preference.

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Making the sponge roll is easy and for this following recipe, the steps require that you separate the egg yolk from the egg whites. This requires more work, of course. I have added another way to making the roll in which you use the whole egg. for the second recipe, you will yield half the amount of the first recipe.

Sponge Roll
Ingredients:

3 egg whites
70g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
45g cake flour
10g corn flour
1/4tsp salt
40g vegetable oil
1/3tsp pandan paste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line and grease the baking tray and set aside. My tray measures 24cm by 16cm by 3cm. If you use a bigger tray, then the roll will turn out thinner. But that should be fine.

3. Sift cake flour, corn flour and salt together and set aside.

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4. Use a cake mixer and whisk the egg whites until foamy.

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5. Add in sugar gradually and whisk till stiff peaks are formed.

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6. Switch mixer speed to medium and slowly add in egg yolks and pandan paste. Whisk for another minute till well blended.

7. Fold flour lightly into the mixture in 3 portions until well blended.

8. Lastly fold in the veg. oil into the batter until well blended.

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9. Pour batter onto the prepared tray.

10. Bake in a preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the tray you use. 

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11. When it’s done, the surface gives a nice golden brown look. Remove the sponge roll from the tray and cool on a rack with the skin facing up.

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I let the cake roll rest for about 5 to 8 minutes before I assemble. I find that if I wait longer, it will be difficult to roll and cracks will form.

Assembling the cake roll:

1. Carefully transfer the cake onto a greaseproof paper with the skin facing down.

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2. Spread pandan kaya on the cake.

3. Gently roll the cake by using the paper to lift the cake and to guide the roll.

4. Rest the roll in the fridge to stabilize its shape.

5. Remove, slice and serve.

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For an easier method and a smaller portion, the following works for me, using the size of the tray which I had mentoned earlier.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
35g caster sugar
25g cake flour
5g rice flour/corn flour
pinch of salt
20g vegetable oil
1/4 tsp pandan paste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 200C.

2. Line and grease the baking tray and set aside.

3. Sift cake flour, corn flour and salt together and set aside.image

4. Use a cake mixer and whisk the eggs until foamy.

5. Add in sugar gradually and whisk till the colour turns to pale yellow.

6. Switch mixer speed to medium and add in pandan paste. Whisk for another minute till well blended.

7. Fold flour lightly into the mixture in 3 portions until well blended.

8. Lastly fold in the vegetable oil into the batter until well blended.

9. Pour batter onto the prepared tray.

10.Bake in a preheated oven for 10mins.

Have fun baking!
I used and experimented with the recipe from happyflour.blogspot.sg and she has an awesome collection of good recipes!

A busy week and a soy-marinated steamed salmon don recipe

After a week of solo parenting (almost), this week wasn’t really kind as well. Faith ran a temperature for a few days and as a result, I incur more sleep debt. Thankfully, da man didn’t have to work late this week and could help out.

Faith has a tendency to explore every nook and corner of the house (as with most children) and then continue to indulge her curiosity by tasting whatever she picks up. When I was in the shower, she would open up the cover of the sewage pipe, touch it (the moss and all) and then put her finger into her mouth. I was desperately knocking at the glass door and asking her to stop but it was in vain. Perhaps, that is the result why she fell ill. Too much ‘goodies’ in her stomach.

We didn’t send her to the doc as we wanted her to fight the virus herself. Of course, our next course of action, should she not recover, was to consult the doc. Her temperature hovered around 39C, which was not really alarming until it hit 40C, I was told. Sponging her was a total waste of time as she refused such a treatment. In the end, we surrendered and gave her paracetamol instead. Those few days, a lot of diapers were used since she purged out a lot of waste (a good thing) and by the fourth day, she was well. Her cheerful disposition and appetite returned. Phew!20140403_163323 (1)

So, this week, I could only do one decent meal. All others are just ‘anyhow’ put together. This soy-marinated steamed salmon don recipe is so easy and fuss-free to prepare. Using the rice cooker, I steam the salmon while I parboil the sweet beans. Then I fry some eggs (with milk, soy sauce and pepper) before preparing the soy marinade. The salmon is then infused in the marinade for a few minutes before serving. Alternatively, you can marinade the salmon overnight before steaming it.

Soy Marinade
2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of mirn
2 tbsp of sake
2 lemon slices

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This week, I’m thankful to my father-in-law who came over to spend time with the little girl so that I could do some baking.

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And we celebrated mom’s and brother-in-law’s birthday. As usual, my cake received a lot of critique from my mom. So, I’m still in a quest to improve my cake!

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Foodie Friday | Teriyaki Chicken Don

I cook often and sometimes in a bid to get the meals out quickly, I stick to the ones that I often cook. It gets boring after a while and I think it’s time to inject some life into my cooking.

9789814398510Recently, I’m into Donburi, a rice meal topped with any ingredient. Still sounds dull right? Thankfully, I received some inspiration from a cooking book by Aki Watanabe called Donburi which includes a lot of delicious-looking rice meals waiting for me to try. I whipped up a few and love the end result so I thought I should share one of the recipes found in the book, a widely popular meal – Teriyaki Chicken Don. I’m sure many have tried cooking this but I absolutely adore the homemade teriyaki sauce listed in the book, so I thought I should share. I hope she doesn’t mind. This is an adapted version. I have omitted the salt and pepper since I am offering to the little one and soy sauce is tasteful enough for her!

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What you would need (yields 2): 
Boneless chicken leg 300g (I got mine from the market, deboned)
Canola oil for pan-frying
Steamed rice
Nori & wasabi sprouts for ganishing
Mixed chilli powder for seasoning

Teriyaki sauce
Soy sauce 40ml
Caster sugar 15g
Sake 10ml
Mirin 4 tbsp

1. Heat all ingredients for teriyaki sauce in a pan. Simmer until the mixture reduces by half. Set aside.

2. Remove yellow fat from chicken meat.

3. Heat oil in a pan. Pan-fry chicken over medium heat until both sides have browned.

4. Cover with a lid and cook chicken over low heat. When chicken is cooked through, remove from the pan.

5. Clean the pan with kitchen towels and pour in teriyaki sauce. Place chicken in the sauce and heat until the meat is glazed and the sauce thickens.

6. Slice chicken into strips and place on rice. Pour the sauce over.

7. Garnish with wasabi sprouts and nori or toasted sesame seeds.

8. Serve with mixed chilli powder.

Using the recipes found in the book, I’ve also cooked the Tofu and Mushroom Don, adjusting the flavour of the seasoning to suit my daughter. And she loved it!

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This is another meal that is inspired by one of the recipes. Not a don but ramen.

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The book has inspired me to cook better rice meals. Perhaps you can take a look for yourself? 😉

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In the mood for…

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Once in a while, I get the desire to want to whip up a good meal for the family. Today is one of 20140309-220439.jpgthose days.

For a while, I had wanted to do some sliders using charcoal buns after seeing pictures of those burgers from a certain restaurant ( I can’t remember which one now!). It is not difficult if you know how to bake bread. It just takes time. Since I still have some water roux/ Tang zhong in the refrigerator, I thought I should just bake a batch of buns lest it goes to waste. And instead of baking only one type of flavour, I decided to bake different types using charcoal powder, matcha powder and cocoa powder with cranberries and mixed fruits.

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Using estimation, I divided up the dough into various portions and added about 1/2 tbsp each of the powder to the individual portion and continued kneading until the powder is more or less blended with the dough before giving them time for the first rise. After about 40 minutes, the air was punched out and I divided the dough into rounds of about 50g – 60g each, depending on the combination that I want.

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So, once again, the kitchen is well-stocked with good old bread. Once that is done, I decided to cook honey-baked mustard chicken thighs again. It’s an easy dish (anything roasted is good!) and yummy too. While the chicken was being baked, I parboiled the asparagus and spinach, sauteed some shittake mushrooms and added in cream and wine. Heavenly.

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The sauce from the roasted chicken cannot be wasted. It can be drizzled on the salad which adds a nice flavour to the meal. Oh, for the sliders, I just cut up the meat from the chicken thighs into smaller pieces and add the mushrooms, spinach and a cube of cheese.

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This is really a dish that can be prepared in a short while once you have the buns ready. Da man was happy, little Faith kept eating and I was satisfied.

Honey baked chicken thigh – Marinate with honey, whole grain mustard and olive oil. Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes or until done.

Dark Beer Pork Ribs

If I could drown my sorrows in beer, I would. Alas, I don’t drink but that doesn’t mean I can’t cook with beer. Recently, we were involved in a car accident and it’s totally our fault. We decided not to get the insurance companies involved but to settle among ourselves. Three cars were involved and we were the one…at the back. Arghhhhh!

To cut the long story short, we have to fork out a few thousands which is a big sum for a single-income family. My heart was aching in pain as I negotiated with the other parties. If only…if only. Sigh. BIG SIGH!

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Anyway, back to cooking with beer. My sister is hosting dinner this evening for the first time since coming back to settle for good. 3.5 years in a {not so} distant land can be trying for a mother with 2 kids. She has to deal with language and cultural difference and definitely a vast difference in lifestyle with no help at all. I’m glad she’s back.

So, I am cooking Dark Beer Pork Ribs which I have attempted and (the hubs) love. Instead of deep frying the pork ribs, I bake them in the oven since I’m not too keen on the idea of having an oily kitchen. They taste well still but I wonder what the effects would be like if they are deep fried.

Serves my family of 6 adults
Ingredients:20131227-165151.jpg
1kg pork ribs
1 stalk lettuce
some parsley, spring onion
2 tbsp oil

Marinade:
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp dark beer
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp tapioca flour (to add last)

Seasoning:
50ml dark beer
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp tomato & chilli sauce
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce

1. Rinse the pork ribs and drain. Add marinade and mix well. Marinate for 3 hours.

2. Bake in a preheated oven of 180C for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until cooked through and browned.

3. Heat up a frying pan with 2 tbsp of oil. Add the seasoning and bring to boil. Add in the pork ribs and mix well.

4. Lastly, sprinkle with parsley and/or spring onion. Serve together with lettuce.

20131227-173904.jpgPacked and ready to go!

Bakwan Kepiting

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Oh no! It’s already December and I have not attempted any Peranakan recipes which I have aimed to do so by the end of the year. If I am to work on any recipe right now, it has to be Bakwan Kepiting, the hubs’ favourite, or so I thought.

Bakwan Kepiting is a Peranakan soupy dish that comprises minced pork, bamboo shoots, crab and prawn meat. Ken’s auntie will often cook this dish as she told me that it is his favourite. As a good wife (ahem!), I should really make an effort to make them. In the Singapore Mom Bloggers’ community, there are quite a number of Peranakans and one of the mommies, Adeline, had posted this recipe before and I promised myself that I would attempt one day. After going through the recipe, I’m personally surprised that there isn’t much sauce to be used for marinating the meat.

So, here I am, making Bakwan Kepiting for the dinner! Do visit Adeline’s page if you want to make this dsh. For me, I’ll just post the photos to remind myself the steps to making them.

Ingredients: Prawns, Crab and pork, all minced. Bamboo shoots, thinly sliced.

Ingredients: Prawns, Crab and pork, all minced. Bamboo shoots, thinly sliced.

Add cornflour and egg and mix. Leave aside for flavour to blend.

Add cornflour and egg and mix. Leave aside for flavour to blend.

Shape the marinated mixture into balls. Prepare the soup based using preserved soy bean paste and garlic cloves.

Shape the marinated mixture into balls. Prepare the soup based using preserved soy bean paste and garlic cloves.

The outcome: The hubs returned and told me that this dish is really not his favourite. It is his, based on what his auntie thought. Sigh! That revelation aside, I find the meat balls too smooth, and lack texture. Perhaps it’s because I have asked the stall-holder to grind the pork twice making the minced meat really, really minced! It’s a bit different from how Ken’s auntie made but still delicious nonetheless. Oh yes, the crab meat? I bought the canned type and it is rather expensive. Well, I guess it has to be since what is inside the can is really purely crab MEAT.

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I’ll attempt this again… for my in-laws the next time.
1 out of 5 Peranakan dishes attempted. 4 more to go!

‘Watermelon’ raisin bread

This week, the hubs and I finally decided that enough is enough and sleep-training has to be administered to little Faith. For months, we did not have quality sleep because Faith woke up a few times in the night and needed us to soothe her back to sleep. Initially, we thought we had it easy since she could sleep through the night when she was about 3 months old but that changed when she experienced teething.

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So, our sleep-training started on Monday. It proved easier for me when the hubs took over. I was simply too soft-hearted and felt terrible having to hear her cry so badly. It’s heart-wrenching. Yesterday, the crying was bad and to distract myself by surfing the Internet for baking recipes. It was then that I stumbled upon the video on Watermelon lookalike raisin bread and logged it into my mind that I would bake the following day. Faith loves bread and I thought this should turn out all right as compared to my previous failed panda bread attempt.

I didn’t really follow how it was done in the video. I guess in bread making, there are some fundamentals that we will all adhere to but there are certainly different ways to doing it. Here’s mine (I’m using the Tang Zhong/ water roux since I want a very light version for my bread. You can also use the standard bread dough for this):

Recipe for the water dough “water roux”:
Cook 250g water with 50g bread flour at medium low heat. Keep stirring until it becomes thickened and there’re no lumps left. If you’ve a candy thermometer, measure it until the temperature turn to 65C then turn off the heat. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with a cling wrap to avoid skin forming. The amount of water dough here would be more than what a recipe requires. You could store it in the fridge for about 2 days.
Recipe for the bread (approximately 550g for the dough):
(A) 195g bread flour20131129-060341.jpg
90g plain flour
12g milk powder
30g caster sugar
6g salt
6g yeast
60g beaten eggs
65g room temperature water
75g water roux (cooled & at room temperature)
(B) 45g unsalted butter
(C) 3/4 cup raisins
(D) Red and green food colouring (I used Wilton’s) or use Matcha powder for green
1. Put ingredients (A) and knead using the dough hook until it becomes dough-like and then add in the unsalted butter (B). Continue kneading for about 15 minutes at medium speed until the dough becomes elastic and does not stick to the side of the mixing bowl. You should hear the ‘flap, flap’ sound. 🙂
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2. Divide the  dough into 3 portions in this proportions – 150g (neutral colour), 150g (green) and the remaining for red. Add in the food colours and knead till it has reached the desired colours. Add in the raisins for the red dough and mix till they are evenly incorporated. Let them proof for 40 minutes in clean bowls covered with cling wrap.
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3. Punch down the dough to release the air. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
4. For the red dough, roll it into a log the length of your baking tin. Flatten the neutral-coloured dough and make sure it is big enough to wrap the red dough. You can use a rolling pin to do so. For me, I just use my palm and flatten like the roti prata man. Do the same for the green dough and wrap. Do make sure you seal the seams well, if not, they will open when they go into the oven. The following are the steps.
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5. Place the completed dough in the baking tin (9″ x 5″) [mine is slightly smaller] and proof for 40 minutes. 15 minutes before it is due for baking, switch on the oven to a temperature of 180C.
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6. Egg wash the top of the dough for 15 – 20 minutes. The loaf of bread is done when you hear a hollow sound as you tap the top of the bread. Unmould the loaf and let cool completely on a cooling rack before you cut it into slices.
Note: I would use more matcha powder the next time for green. I suspect it will make a nice combination with raisins. 😉 There’s so much room for improvement. Try it and let me know how it turns out!
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Panda Bread: A failed attempt

Just yesterday, Ruth from the mommy cafe posted a picture of the panda bread on FB and asked if anyone could bake it. It got me excited because I have the recipe bookmarked but never got to baking it. So, I thought I should get down to doing it and perhaps bless her kid with it. A search on the internet resulted in a Japanese website but thankfully there are bloggers who have translated it into English.

pandabread[source]

I have consolidated the recipe via two sources: one from here and the other one from a blogger who has baked bread as a project. How cool!

I must warn you that this is a failed attempt, a result of poor technique. The next time I attempt this again, I will not be using the normal loaf pan but the pullman loaf tin.

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Adapted from Taro Taro
Ingredients: Makes a 9 x 5 inch bread

230g bread flour
70g cake flour
30g sugar
90g milk + 1 yolk (30g) = 210g
4.5g salt
20g unsalted butter
4g yeast
8g green tea powder dissolved in 10g boiling hot water
8g cocoa powder dissolved in 8g boiling water

Method:
1. Heat up milk and yolk to temperature of 38C or warm to the touch.20130704-133628.jpg

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add the milk and egg. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until a rough dough forms, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the butter. Increase the speed to medium-low, and knead for 6 to 7 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl, and should be smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little extra flour or water during the kneading process, if necessary to achieve the proper consistency. Do the window-pane test.

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3. Divide dough (about 560g) into 3 parts: 75g for the chocolate, 210g plain and the rest of the dough which is less than 280g for the green tea.

4. Add chocolate to the 75g dough and knead till the colour is even. Add green tea mixture to the 280g dough and knead till colour is even. (I did this step manually).

5. Proof all 3 pieces of doughs on separate greased plates covered loosely with oiled cling wrap for 30 – 40 minutes.

6. Punch air out of dough and proof for another 20 – 30 minutes.

7. Use 90g plain dough for the face and 2 pieces of 27g chocolate dough for the eyes.

8. Fill the hollow of the eyes with 30g plain dough.

9. Roll remaining plain dough over the patterned dough.

10. Divide the remaining chocolate dough into 2 pieces (17.5g each) for the ears.

11. Use 70g of the green tea dough to fill up the hollow between the ears.

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12. Wrap the rest of the green tea dough all around the patterned dough.

13. Place dough into a well-greased loaf pan and cover it with a lid and proof for 50 – 60 minutes.

14. Bake at 200C for 25 – 30 minutes.

Out from the oven and you know it has failed.

Out from the oven and you know it has failed.

Mine looks more like a monster.

Mine looks more like a monster.

Stir-fry chicken noodle

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I thought of Thai cuisine when I came across this recipe in the magazine – Delicious as it uses coconut milk and fish sauce as the base. I’ve adapted quite a fair bit and added beansprouts and mushrooms to the recipe since I have these ingredients in the refrigerator. You can definitely improvise. Another quick and easy dish that can be made in about 15 minutes.

Again, I wish my photography skills can be better. Sigh!

Makes for 2 to 3 portions
200g thick rice noodles
1 tbsp canola oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 spring onions, trimmed, sliced at at angle
100g carrots, sliced at an angle
50g brown beech mushroom
70g beansprouts
150g skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into 1cm-thick slices
200ml coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
Small handful of coriander leaves (for garnishing)

Place the rice noodles in a bowl of boiling water and allow to soak for 4-5 minutes, until softened. Drain.

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Place the frypan over high heat. Pour in the oil and when it is hot, add the garlic and half of the spring onion. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the carrot and mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chicken and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the meat is cooked all the way through.

Stir in the coconut milk and fish sauce, bring to a simmer and allow to bubble for 2 minutes. Add the beansprouts and noodles to the frypan. Remove the frypan from the heat and stir in the remaining spring onion. Divide among bowls/ plates and serve with coriander leaves.

Parsley Fish Cakes

This is a recipe that I have taken from Today, 18 April 2013. At that point, I looked through my pantry and since I had all the necessary ingredients – minus a few – I thought I should just make these cakes. To make this cakes healthier, I would bake them in the oven the next time.

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Monday’s not so blue

Finally, the day has arrived – presentation on Singapore Education System at BC. For months, a few good men from our org have been planning and communicating with one another on this. The mix of undergrads and grad students was a good one since most of us have been in HQ before and could lend different perspectives when we prepared for the presentation slides.

Yesterday, it was at BC and a few weeks later, Harvard.

KJ was our representative and though only a few turned up, we were glad that at least some were interested in our ed system.

Okay. Actually the highlight was not the presentation. Celebrating KJ’s belated birthday at FuGaKyu Japanese Cuisine was. Okay, to be precise, it was the food that got our full attention that evening. The sashimi, tempura …were delish! Pity that the ramen was a disappointment. Ippudo’s still the best!

The dinner was most enjoyable because of one joker in our midst. That one, is very powerful! =)

Bak Kut Teh

I’ve never been fond of this Chinese soup which is popularly served in Malaysia, China, Taiwan, the Indonesian island of Riau and of course, Singaland. Perhaps, it’s because my mom doesn’t really cook this at home and thus I have little opportunity to appreciate it. The most recent time I had Bak Kut Teh was when a colleague brought me to the one along Keppel Road. That one…was good!

In an attempt to finish whatever food and pre-mixes that I have in my cupboard, I came across the one for Bak Kut Teh. The good folks at home, whoever they are (CG or in-laws), have mailed it to us, along with other packets and I thought it timely to make this dish!

And it’s real easy. I just have to dump 2 packets of the bag of spices ( star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds) in 1500ml of water, boil it for 30 minutes before adding soy sauce, dark soy sauce, garlic and the short ribs into it and simmer for 1.5 hours (remember to remove the scum!). The instructions on the packet suggested 1 hour but I want my meat to be fork-tender and adding 30 more minutes makes a good result. I also added another star anise and more Chinese pepper because I like it peppery. It turns out so delicious! Yum yum!

Such a simple dish and to be able to share it with the hubs is pure bliss.

 

Perfumed Pork Sausage

In case you’re wondering, nope, I didn’t add Chanel No. 5 in the patties. The fragrance comes from the lemongrass and it’s a refreshing moment as you combine the nine ingredients together. You can’t wait to cook them!

The picture doesn’t turn out well. My apologies. I’m not a pro photographer in the first place. Besides, I would rather spent the time savouring the pork sausage (doesn’t look like one) than taking perfect pictures.

As usual, I’m not brilliant when it comes to frying and some of them turned out charred even though I’ve replaced the oil after using it twice. Next time, I might try baking them. The amount of time for the frying is dependent on how thick your patties are. But, trust me, you have to try these. I like them!

Other ways to cook them:
1. Divide them into balls of about 1 inch and make a nice, warm soup complete with asparagus, carrots, dried seaweed and eggflower. Use chicken broth as the base soup and serve with rice.

2. Divide them into discs of diameter 2 inches and flatten them. Bake them in a 350F oven for 45 minutes.

Adapted from Eve: Contemporary Cuisine Methode Traditionelle
Serves 4

1 pound ground pork
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/3 cup shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small stalk lemon grass, minced (about 1 1/2 tbsp)
1/4 cup coriander stems, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Light cooking oil

1. Combine first 9 ingredients gently in bowl being careful not to overwork or meat will bind up and become tight.

2. From a single tsp of mixture into a patty, season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook in a small saute pan with a little oil. Taste to determine whether the rest of the batch needs additional seasoning – adjust seasoning as needed, incorporating gently as to not overwork meat. (You can skip this step if you like).

3. Divide sausage mixture into 8 – 9 patties – first forming gently into balls and then flatten gently as to not overwork mixture.

4. Season patties with salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat oil in a large saute  pan and saute until just cooked through – about 2-3 minutes per side (depending on thickness of the patties; I used 5 minutes per side).

Chinese Barbecued Spareribs

At last, after days of not cooking and baking, I have today to work in the kitchen before spending the next few days in school. I have loads of recipes to try before I go back to Singapore and I have to grab every little opportunity to do that!

These ribs are easy to prepare and the longer it is in the oven, the better they taste!

Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser
Serves 4

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp ketchup
1/2 cup water
4 pounds spareribs, cut into serving pieces

1. Combine the honey, soy sauce, garlic, ketchup, and water in a pan large enough to hold the ribs. Marinate the spareribs in this mixture in the refrigerator for several hours, turning a few times.

2. Roast the ribs for  1 1/2 hours in an oven set at 350F. I took it out at different times to baste the ribs. I find that the longer the ribs stay in the oven, the softer they become, and of course, the flavour too.

School’s starting!

I’m excited! School’s starting and that means time will fly past quickly and before we know it, it’s time to go back to the island!

Tmr is PSS’ parents’ orientation so I won’t be around to prepare lunch for da man. He has agreed to learn to cook one more dish and he learnt how to fry carrot cake! While we didn’t get to buy the pre-made radish cake, it is possible to make one yourself.

First, shred the radish

Steam the radish until it's translucent

Mix the steamed radish with rice flour and steam again

The rest of the ingredients (part of them)

Da man at work

Da man's version. Good job!

Yay! Now da man can cook one more dish, in addition to the fried rice. More to come? =p

Shepherd’s Pie with Curried Meat

This is interesting. It has an Asian twist to it with the addition of curry powder and spices such as cumin and coriander (found in Indian cuisine). I adjusted the portion so that it would cater to just the two of us and perhaps, some leftover for tonight. But the hubs kept eating and I think it means the dish is nice and that we’ll have little left for dinner. I’m not complaining. It’s worth all the trouble to prepare the dish when someone can appreciate.

As usual, I don’t like to use broiling because of some bad experiences with using it. The potatoes are not golden brown as can be seen from the pic. Nonetheless, it’s still delish.

Source: The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser
Serves 4 to 6

6 white potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
1 1/2 tbsp  curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup crushed canned imported tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp sugar
freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked fresh/frozen green peas
1/2 cup hot whole milk, plus more if needed
3 tbsp unsalted butter

1. Put the potatoes into a pot and add water to cover and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender to the core when pierced with a fork.

2. While the potatoes cook, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted. Add the curry powder, cumin, and coriander, and cook briefly, stirring. Add the meat and cook, stirring down with the side of a heavy kitchen spoon to break up the lumps, until it’s lost to raw colour. Add the tomatoes, broth, sugar and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Heat the broiler. Drain the potatoes and put them through a food mill or a potato ricer (or just use fork!) back into the hot pot. Stir in the peas and heat briefly. Add the hot milk, 2 tbsp butter, and pepper, preferably white, beating with a wooden spoon. If the mixture is too thick, add more hot milk.

4. Spoon the piping-hot curried meat into a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Top with the hot mashed potatoes. Smooth over the top. Dot with the remaining tbsp of butter.

5. Run the mixture under the broiler until the top is golden brown.

Curry and roll

Time flies. August celebrates our one-year of being in Boston. That also means that I have been working in the kitchen for the same period of time. No longer am I frustrated with certain outcomes of my culinary adventures but am embracing the uncertainties and amazing discoveries along the way.

But, to be honest, there is perhaps one cuisine that I’m still doubtful of even though it is commonly found in where I live. It is the Indian cuisine, one which is unimaginable without spices. And it is precisely the spices that deter me from attempting the recipes since the complex, multilayered flavours associated with the best Indian food are achieved through careful cooking and the artful combination of usually small amounts of several different spices.

Thankfully, though the spices are varied, you can be sure that the same basic ones are used. In the Indian pantry, the following spices can more often be found and it is advisable to buy whole spices since they can keep longer.

Whole spices:
Dried red Kashmiri chillies | Black (or brown) mustard seeds | Cumin seeds| Fenugreek seeds | Coriander seeds | Cinnamon sticks | Green cardamoms | Cloves | Black peppercorns | Whole nutmeg | Fennel seeds | White poppy seeds | Saffron strands

Ground spices:
Asafortida | Chilli powder | Tumeric

Of the above, how many are you familiar with? I don’t usually buy whole spices, preferring ground ones and I’m thankful to have found this recipe – Kari Ayam (Malaysian Curry Chicken) which uses ground spices! Obviously, you can try to replace whole spices with ground ones but I’m just too lazy to do the conversion. =p

To complete this dish, I’ve decided to bake some old-fashioned dinner rolls (Source: The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet)

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Cashew Chicken

The Hoisin sauce flavour is rather strong which overwhelms that of the chicken. And I realised that chicken breast can be tender too! Expect more chicken breast recipes!

Serves 2, adapted from Food Everyday

3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 scallions, white and green parts separated, each cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
3/8 cup raw cashews (2 ounces), toasted
White rice, for serving (optional)

1. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the cornstarch until the chicken is coated; season with 3/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/2 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken, tossing often, until browned. Add the garlic and the white parts of the scallions and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar; cook until evaporated, about 30 seconds.

3. Add the hoisin sauce and 1/4 cup water; cook, tossing, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the heat. Stir in the scallion greens and cashews. Serve immediately over white rice, if desired.

Beef Bulgogi

This Korean dish us usually eaten wrapped in lettuce leaves, but you could serve it over white rice instead. I added Dou Miao stir-fried with garlic to this one-dish meal.

Serves 2

3/4 pounds rib-eye steak, trimmed of excess fat
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 tbsp hot chile sesame oil*
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tbsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 medium red onions, halved and cut lengthwise into 1-inch wedges
1/2 green bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 small head Boston lettuce, separated into leaves

1. Slice diagonally (across the grain) into 1/8-inch-thick strips. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger. Place the onions and peppers in a small bowl; toss with half the soy marinade. Toss the steak in the remaining marinade; let stand for 15 minutes.

2. Heat 1 tsp of the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over  medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel.

3. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp vegetable oil over high heat. Cook the meat, turning often, until browned, about 2 minutes. Add the onion mixture. Cook, tossing, until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve with rice and vegetables on the side.

* If you can’t find hot chile sesame oil, add a dash of red pepper flakes to 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil.

Steamed chicken with coriander & Ginger dressing

I need a bigger kitchen and cool weather too! These days, Mr Sun has been shining so brightly and fiercely that one could easily be sapped of energy. We felt lethargic and even running for a mere 2km was a feat. It was too hot!

We did a 5km in the morning and upon returning home, I was hungry. It was 11am, just the right time to prepare lunch. I had wanted to prepare the steamed chicken with coriander and ginger dressing, a recipe I had kept in the blog for months. It was pretty easy to execute but it’s not just this dish that I’m preparing…I’m also stir-frying my favourite kang kong. So, my small stove-top can only accommodate small pans. Once the wok is in use, the other pots have to ‘squeeze’ in. My countertop is small too and while attempting mise en place, frustration set in.

I fully know I should be contented with this space since it’s considered relatively comfortable in apartments of this region. But it’s a far cry from the one back home. The real kitchen space is about 1/3 of the one at home and countertop space is soooooo limited! I know I shouldn’t complain but today I just wanted to rant! The hot weather didn’t help, nor did the very empty stomach. =p A hungry man is an angry man. Indeed!

But the dish is marvelicious! I…LOVE it! You would have extra sauce with the recipe and I think I would do a liang mian with it. Just nice for a summer day!

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shichimi-spiced pork ramen

I’m thankful, no doubt, that the hubs is a very easy-going person and does not demand a meal with a few dishes thrown in. Most of the time, I prefer to do a one-dish meal which has the carbo, proteins and fibre incorporated. At times, when I feel like it, I would prepare a few dishes but that’s rather seldom. A one-dish meal is good and prevents one from eating more than required. =p

I inherited a mini cookbook from Jac which has recipes of one-dish meals. One of them is shichimi-spiced beef ramen and it is really easy. I don’t normally deal with shichimi but since Jac also gave me her bottle of that spice powder, I thought why not prepare the dish. Well, I did a variation of it. Instead of beef, I used pork and I have run out of ramen noodles and used linguine instead. Works fine!

So, what you need to do is to rub the meat with oil and then season with shichimi togarashi and salt and then set aside to marinate for 5 minutes (whoah! so fast!). After that you can fry the meat for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Set aside and then keep warm. Next is the cooking of the noodles. For the stock, I used miso paste and add about 2 tbsp to the boiling water. Before assembling the meal, cut the meat into slices and then place on top of the noodle that is in the soup. Garnish with spring onion and seaweed.

Braised Pork Ribs with Coca-cola

This dish came rather by chance when Dom sent me an email about the 3rd season of Masterchef in Aussie Land and a recipe that she found interesting. It was fried lamp ribs marinated in coca-cola. I like the idea minus the deep-frying part and sourced for pork ribs instead and found the following recipe from Christine’s recipes ( I love her recipes. Go visit!)

Okay. Now you know I heart cola but that doesn’t mean I consume frequently! All right, that’s besides the point. The dish does not taste of cola though but it was heavenly. The meat fell off the bones and its tenderness melted my heart. This is a must-keep. I won’t follow the recipe religiously though it serves as a guide. Use your tongue/taste-buds instead. It will do just fine, if not better.

Ingredients:
600 gm pork ribs
2 stalks of spring onion, sectioned
4 slices of ginger
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup Coca-cola
1 cup water

Seasoning:
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine or Shaoxing cooking wine
Pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Blanch the ribs  in boiling water for 2 minutes to get rib of any blood and fat. Drain well.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in wok, sauté ginger and spring onion until aromatic.
  3. Add pork ribs, sauté and continue to cook until lightly brown. Pour in the seasonings, mix well.
  4. Transfer all ingredients to a clay pot or a medium pot. Add coca-cola and water. Cover and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 1 hour until the sauce thickens. To me, it is done when the meat falls off the bone easily when I use a fork to remove it and the sauce is right for my taste-buds.

You can add carrots or potatoes or mushrooms too!

Tonkatsu with fruit and nut quinoa salad

I suddenly had a craving for Tonkatsu, actually more because I have run out of ideas to cook and also wanted a fuss-free meal. The thought of cooking Tonkatsu came when I saw the box of Panko on the shelf while doing my grocery.

Commonly, Tonkatsu is served with cabbage and tomato wedges. I thought it would not be substantial for the hubs and since I’ve just purchased a box of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), decided to accompany the meat with a fruit and nut quinoa salad. The latter is also a dish that I have missed out on preparing for one of FFWD’s dishes. I didn’t know what quinoa was then and couldn’t find it in the supermarket that I frequent. Today, I chanced upon it!

Quinoa was a staple of the ancient Incas, who called it “the mother grain”. It remains an important staple in South American cuisine, as it contains more protein than most other grains. Its delicate flavour makes it a great alternative to rice or couscous as a side dish, and can be added to vegetables and meat as a main dish.

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Comfort food!

When I feel sad or miss home and friends, home-cooked food is the solution! Bak Chor Mee! And I think I do a mighty good job in it!

Smile!

Happy lunching! (EST)

We did our first >10km jog today…slow one but a good one nonetheless! Yay!

Asparagus tips in clear broth with wantons

It’s getting colder with the temperature in the negatives every day now. We couldn’t be clear whether it is still Autumn or we are approaching winter but it is definite that harsher weather condition is here to stay. Right now, being out in the cold night for more than 5 minutes is like having your face slapped a thousand times. Okay! I’m exaggerating but it’s really quite painful! Oh my poor face…

In response to this, more recipes for soups are expected to appear at this platform. After days of eating potato chips and heaty stuff, it’s time that I cook more soup. I like this particular one because I can get to eat my greens and it’s really a one pot dish – so convenient and healthy. I don’t think I have added any amount of cooking oil apart from a small drop of sesame oil when marinating the minced pork mixture to be wrapped into wontons, or should I say, the Chinese version of Ravioli.

 

Serves 2
For the broth:

500g asparagus
1 whole tomato
1 celery stalk, cut into 4 pieces
salt and ground black pepper

Main ingredients:
14 x 2 wonton skins (Ken and I can eat 7 each)
1 egg white, lightly beaten, to seal
Corainder leaves, to garnish
light soy sauce, to serve

For the filling:
minced pork
shrimps, deveined and cut into small portions
water chestnut, chopped into small pieces
finely chopped fresh gingerroot
light soy sauce
Shaoxing cooking wine
Sesame oil
salt & pepper

1. To make the broth, trim the asparagus tips off about 2.5 inches from the top and set aside. Put the rest of the stalks, tomato and celery into a pot with 1.5 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes, then break up the tomato and continue to simmer for 5 minutes longer. Strain this stock into another pot.

2. Marinate the filling. Mix the minced pork with the rest of the filling ingredients. Knead the mixture for a few minutes, then add salt and pepper, soy sauce and Shaoxing cooking wine to taste and mix in thoroughly. I usuallydo this step first and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3. Divide the filling into the portions that you have for wonton skins. Put one portion in the centre of a wonton skin. Brush the edges of the skin with lightly beaten egg white and then seal the wonton skin with another, on top of it.

4. Heat a saucepan of water and add 1 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil and drop in some wontons (depending on the size of your saucepan) to cook them. Boil for 4 – 5 minutes, then transfer with a draining spoon to a strainer to drain. Cook the remaining wontons in the same way ( You may want to cover the cooked wontons with some hot water/broth so that they do not stick together).

5. Just before serving, bring the broth to a boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the asparagus tips and simmer for 4 – 5 minutes or until they are just tender.

6. Pour the broth into the bowls and divide the asparagus tips and wontons between the bowls. Serve piping hot and garnish with coriander leaves.

Meal combination: Braised Chicken Wings with Oyster Sauce + Stir-Fried Bean Sprouts with Garlic & Carrots

My latest project, apart from reading up and experiment with cooking and baking various recipes, is to attempt to try out the recipes found in Kylie Kwong’s Simple Chinese Cooking. Her recipes are pleasantly familiar and I intend to cook through the recipes in the cookbook, but making changes to the servings such that they would be appropriate for TWO and to tweak the ingredients and the method of cooking to suit my style; I suspect it would largely resemble my mom’s cooking.

The project is called Eats for 2 and I’ll start with Chinese cuisine, although at times I would attempt other cuisine too.

Today’s meal is Steamed rice + Braised Chicken Wings with Oyster Sauce + Stir-Fried Bean Sprouts with Garlic & Carrots. You could top it up with a bowl of soup to make it more complete. =p The total time taken for them to be cooked excluding steamed rice is about 35 minutes. I used dutch oven to cook the chicken and wok to stir-fry the bean sprouts. In this way, I can cook two dishes simultaneously rather to have to wait for the first dish to be completed and then risk having them served cold. I’ve tried cooking the chicken using the wok too and I find both methods work well though I very much prefer the dutch oven since the food stays warm even after the heat has been turned off.

As with most cooking, the recipes are just a guide. Sometimes, you might not find that they suit your tastebuds and that’s why it is important to experiment with them. Oh! I forgot to mention. The portion here might be a tad little for some as both Ken and I are small eaters. As a gauge, we share a meal when we eat out.

    

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Chicken macaroni soup

Today was windy and it made running very difficult indeed – the breathing part, I mean. And it was indeed a very quiet day with few people on the streets. Perhaps, they have gone back home for Thanksgiving.

Following the advice of ZM, I decided to do something soupy and since the fridge has drumsticks and I really wanted to finish up the macaroni, it would not be difficult to guess what I would be preparing.

I love chicken soup, especially with dear ginger because to me, it is really comforting. Using 3 drumsticks (remember to clean them with kosher salt), 8 slices of ginger, scallions and 3 garlic cloves (crushed), place them in a pot and fill water to a level that is 1.5 inch above the drumsticks. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, cut carrots into stripes. I’m using carrots since that is the only vegetable available in the fridge. I would have used caixin or lettuce if I have them. When the water is boiling, reduce to medium heat and remove the scum. Cook until the meat is ready and tender. Then clear the soup by removing the ingredients in the stock. You may want to add soy sauce or a little salt to add to the flavour of the stock. I just added a drop of soy sauce since the stock was already rich the way I like it.

Fill another pot with water and add a tbsp of salt. It’s time to blanch the carrots (first) and to cook the macaroni, the latter for about 10 minutes. Once they are cooked, place the macaroni, carrot stripes and drumstick on a bowl and pour the stock over them. Garnish with coriander leaves. There you go, a simple lunch for two!

Mongolian Beef

Recently, I went to the library and got hold of Kylie Kwong’s Simple Chinese Cooking. As I flipped through the pages, the familiar pictures and recipes got me excited. I am so gonna cook them!

The recipes are divided into differnt categories: stocks, soups, beef, pork, chicken, duck, seafood, eggs, tofu, vegetables, salads, rice, noodles and wantons and side dishes and pickles. Hmm, let’s see if I could cook 80% of them before I return the cookbook. =p

This dish, called Mongolian Beef (not sure why it is called that) requires knife skills as you need to slice the carrots and red pepper and shred the cabbage. I did without the red pepper since Ken and I don’t quite like it. The combination of the meat and vegetables gives colour to the dish. Serve with steamed rice.

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Experiment – Char Siew Sauce

We are going to have guests coming over for dinner and naturally, I would be preparing something that I’m more familiar with, which is Chinese dishes. I was considering Fried carrot cake and sweet & sticky roasted honey chicken since I have attempted them before. In the end, I changed to Char Siew Wanton Mee.

My goal is those Wanton Mee that I ate in Hong Kong. Their wantons are bigger, unlike those back home and their noodles have a certain texture to it. My biggest worry is not the wantons or dumplings but the char siew because I need to be able to marinate them well and then to roast them.

So, I went to the Asian supermarket at Chinatown and asked the lady over at the meat section which section of the pork is suitable for Char Siew. “This one, right in front of me!” And I purchased the whole long piece of it for about US$5. Along with the purchased was the Char Siew sauce.

It’s experiment time! Cutting two pieces from the original piece of pork, I marinated one with the ready-made sauce that I purchased and marinated the other piece with my own sauce mixture.

 

Ken preferred the ready-made sauce while I preferred the other, just that it was missing out on something. There is still time before Friday and it’s time to do more research and testing!

Char Siew noodles for dinner.
* Choose pork loin with some fatty part or pork butt to make Char Siew.