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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

slow roast new potatoes with tomato and paprika

Before I saw how it was done on BBC's Gardener's World, I never thought planting and harvesting your own potato is sooooo easy. I thought it would be like farming rice, you need at least an acre. But Monty Don who used to head the show a few seasons back actually showed you can even grow good potatoes in a pot using the ones you got from the supermarket!
WE usually end up recycling our old potatoes in the green bin. But a few months ago, I decided let's try growing all these old ones in a small patch on the right side of our house. I think I must have planted five potatoes... and yesterday, we dug out these babies!!!

There were more but it had the green things in them so we chucked those. I am quite happy to report I got about 3 kgs of potatoes. Not bad from 5 potatoes that would have ended up in the green bin eh? I am growing some more though, I think Monty Don has created a monster.My favourite way to cook new potatoes is very simple. I like to roast them slowly. I just scrub them clean without removing them skin, place them in a roasting tray with some vine tomatoes (also from the garden) and throw in some hard herbs like rosemary, lemon thyme and oregano and add some garlic, Maldon salt and crushed black pepper. We roasted some koftas yesterday and I used the same tray with beef drippings in them. It is good to do this at night when it is not so hot in the kitchen. Slow roasting would release the sugar from both the potatoes and tomatoes to caramelise slowly. I made this for dinner so I roasted them only for an hour at 100C, just enough to begin the slow roasting process without really drying the tomatoes and potatoes out. Today, I added a few pieces of chicken thighs to roast on top of the potato and tomato bed, further increasing the temperature to 150C and roasting them together for another hour. The result was sensational. The chicken were luscious and tender but almost taste like a side dish to the real star - the potaotes and tomatoes. I also love the mushy texture you get from mashing them together on the plate. The sauce that was created in the process were then poured into the chicken, potato and tomato. I can't even begin to explain how sublime the sauce was. Every flavour in the tray was represented and respected and they were all married to create a sweet sour, caramelised, toasted sensation. It was a very simple and rustic dinner put together very quickly using produce from our own backyard but the results made me feel a superstar!

PS: serve this at your dinner parties. It looks like you spent all day tending to them in the kitchen when they actually cooked themselves - giving you all the time to spend on yourself ;-)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

raspberry lassi

because you want something tasty, refreshing and cooling for summer! Or like me, you just love PINK!

Raspberry Lassi

100ml fresh raspberry
200ml fresh milk
2 TBSP Greek yoghurt
1 TBSP honey
pinch of salt

Combine all the ingredients in a blender - or use your immersion blender - and whiz everything. Pour into a glass and enjoy!
Note:If you like it to be sweeter, adjust the honey or use icing/confectionary sugar.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mihun Singapore

A friend of mine told me she usually order this dish when she goes for takeaway because no matter where she is, they are always the same - a plate of rice vermicelli fried in curry. You may get different type of bami (stir fried noodle) but the Mihun Singapore is always the same according to her. Funnily enough when she went to Singapore a few years back for holiday, she can't get the dish in Singapore and got a bowl of noodles in curry soup instead. I told her what he got was Curry Mee and she probably got it because she told them the noodle she wished for was cooked in curry.

I find the Mihun Singapore you get here rather insipid. I prefer the mihun to be fiery and fragrant, so I added a few things which you don't usually get when you go to restaurants. You can change the vegetables to whatever it is in season. I always use prawns and chicken but you can change that to a purely meat or seafood or even tofu. This is very easy to make as long as you have curry powder with you. I use the curry powder I get at my local supermarket.

Mihun Singapore
half a packet of mi hun - soak in hot water for 5 minutes (or as per packet instruction and drained) until al dente - make sure it is not too soft otherwise it will break. Rinse in cold water and drain until ready to use.
1 onion - sliced
2 garlic - crushed and sliced
1 cm ginger - peeled and julienned
2 chilies - sliced
1 TBSP curry powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 lemongrass - crushed
1 lemon
1 egg
1 chicken fillet - sliced
100g prawns - peeled
a handful of beansprout
a handful of shredded cabbage
1/2 cucumber - cut into matchsticks
1 baby carrot - peeled and cut into matchcticks
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
salt, pepper and sugar to taste

1. In a bowl combine the sliced cucumber and carrots. Add the vinegar, salt and sugar and set aside. It will now start to pickle.
2. Marinate the chicken and prawn in some salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Prepare all the ingredients so ti is next to you when you're ready to fry.
4. Heat up some vegetable oil in a wok until it is smoking.
5. Add the ginger and garlic and half the onion. Fry until fragrant
6. Add in the chicken and prawn and fry for a minute.
7. Add the curry powder and lemon grass and stir to mix.
8. Stir in the vegetables and fry some more.
9. Add in the chili, onion and egg and fry until the egg is *set*
10. Add in the mi hun. Add a little bit of water so the mi hun soak in all the flavours and gets softened further (this is why you mustn't soak it till it is really soft).
11. Add the pickled carrot and cucumber and season according to taste.
12. Squeeze some lemon juice and serve.
Note: Take the lemongrass out when serving - it is only there for taste.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Crispy Aromatic Fried Chicken

The Baked Lemon Thyme Chicken Wings is arguably the most popular post in this blog. It is also the one that I got most email for. The questions rising from the post were mostly if it can be fried and also if I could do a Malaysian/Asian version which can also be baked or fried. I thought I'd share my crispy fried chicken which which is first fried then finish in the oven and remain crispy and ideal for picnics.

The fried chicken of my dreams is moist in the inside and crunchy on the outside. And you achieve this by first marinating it in yoghurt or buttermilk for at least 4 hours or overnight if you can. You can use buttermilk and yoghurt interchangeably and I have success with both - I just use whatever I have in my fridge. Then it is rolled in a combination of flour, then coated in eggwash and then roll in breadcumbs. It sounds like hard work and but I think it is totally worth the effort.

To make things clearer, I divided the recipe into a few section.

Crispy Aromatic Fried Chicken
1 kg chicken whole legs - cut into thighs and drumsticks
2 eggs - beaten lightly
1 cup breadcrumbs - I used panko
cooking oil

Yoghurt/Buttermilk Marinade
500ml yoghurt/buttermilk
3 cm ginger - peeled and crushed
7 garlic - peel and crushed
black pepper corn
star anise

1. Toast the cinnamon, star anise and black pepper corn in a heated pan until fragrant for about 2 minutes.
2. Combine the yoghurt with the crushed ginger, garlic and toasted spices.
3. Add in the chicken pieces. Massage the marinade in. Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Spicy Flour Coating
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup AP flour
1/4 cup cornflour
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP Chinese five spice powder
1 tsp chili powder or chili flakes

1. Heat the Chinese spice powder and chili powder in a wok for about a minute, add all the flour in and stir quickly. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in the salt. Leave to cool down. You can make a large batch of this and keep in a tight container for 6 months.
1. When you are ready to fry the chicken, preheat the oven to 150C
2. Set up your work station. Place a shallow plate with the spicy flour, a bowl of egg wash and a shallow plate with the bread crumbs next to each other.
3. Prepare a metal strainer lines with kitchen paper to catch the fried chicken and a baking sheet.
4. Remove the access marinade from the chicken pieces and pat dry with kitchen paper.
5. Roll the chicken pieces in the spicy flour, dusting off excess flour.
6. Coat them in the eggwash piece by piece.
7. Roll in the washed chicken in the breadcrumb.
8. do this until you're done with all the chicken pieces. You can fry immediately or you can leave them to rest in the fridge for about 10 minutes while you get your oil ready.
9. Heat up cooking oil in a deep saute pan or a wok til about 180C.
10. Add the chicken pieces and don't crowd the pan too much. If you hear a lovely sizzle, you're doing it right. Otherwise, lower the heat at this point. Make sure that the oil doesn't get too hot otherwise you get a chicken that is cooked on the outside and raw in the inside.
11. Cook the chicken until it is golden on all sides, then leave to drain off the access oil on the paper lined strainer.
12. When all the chicken is fried, arrange in the bake sheet and then leave to finish in the oven for about 10 minutes. Serve immediately!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

the dinner that made itself

There were times when I am dreading dinner. Like these past few days when half of my face is swollen from the root canal I had on Friday. T has been a true champion - making dinners since Wednesday for everyone and congee for me, cleaning up, doing laundry and taking care of the children.
I do wish dinner can just magically appear on the table - something soft that I don't really have to chew but still a little spicy and aromatic. Dessert that is not so sweet but soft, homey and mushy with a little texture so I don't really feel like a patient.
I was feeling useless and I got a little tired of lying around and popping painkillers - you would too, if you've done it since Wednesday! So I did the next best thing, I decided to cook something that I can just throw in a pot and let it magically take care of itself, like Ayam Masak Lemak. It's just a few pieces of chicken thighs - chopped and added into a pot with some coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal, tomatoes, red chili, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and ginger. If you so feel like it some coriander. The chicken was allowed to boil once then simmer gently, cooked till the flesh fell off the bones. By then the white coconut broth would turn orangy pink from the colour of the chili and tomatoes. Just before dinner is served, I stir fried some kangkung (water spinach or Ipomoea aquatica) with garlic, chili and belacan.

  Dessert comes in the form of some homemade vla (dutch custard), raspberries picked by the little ones from the garden and chopped pistachio.

Dinner did appear magically on the table... and I spent less than 15 minutes prepping and stirring everything.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

karipap, baked

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this is probably not the most good looking karipap you've ever seen. It is perhaps the most delicious. The pastry delicate, buttery, rich and crumbly and melt in your mouth mingling with the most fragrant of beef, potatoes, carrot and peas filling.

It's the karipap that would immediately transport me to my childhood afternoon teas. No, it's not the fried version made with swirly pastry you find almost everywhere in Malaysia. It's baked and buttery, made from scratch. The kind that my mom made.

These were made using Michel Roux's Pate Brisee from his book Pastry, savoury and sweet. I must confess that I picked it up because it was Roux's book but I took it home because of the photo at the back hacket cover. It's a photo of cornish pasties which reminded me too much of my mom's karipap and I knew I had to go home, turn to page 20 and make the pate brisee.

The recipe worked the first time. You won't be tempted to knead it because the proportion worked and everything mixed just right to make the perfect dough. The texture of the dough is delicate so it might tear a little but I find it add charms to the end results. I wasn't brave enough to decorate the edges as the dough was crumbly. I love the rustic finish and think it looks so home made.

1 quantity pate brisee
eggwash made of eggyolk and 1TBSp milk

Pate Brisee
(from Michel Roux Pastry)
250g plain flour
150g butter - cut into small pieces and slightly softened
1 tsp fine salt
pinch of caster sugar
1 egg
1 TBSP cold milk

1. Heap the flour on a work surface and make a well. Put in the butter, sugar, salt and egg. Using your fingertips, mix and cream these ingredients together.
2. Little by little, draw in the flour, working the dough delicately until it has a grainy texture.
3. Add the milk and incorporate gently with your fingertips until the dough begins to hold together.
4. Using the palm of your hand, work the dough by pushing it away from you 4-5 times until it is smooth. Roll it into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate until ready to use. (I usually let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes)

the recipe can be found here
You can make the filling the night before and let it cool completely before assembly.

1. Preheat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4.
2. Roll our the pastry to a 2-3mm thickness. Using a cutter or bowl, cut the dough into discs.
3. Spoon the filling into an oval in the middle of each disc.
4. Brush the edge of the disc with eggwash.
5. Fold the sides of the pastry together, pinching hard in a dozen places to seal the pastry perfectly.
6. Place on a bakingsheet.
7. Brush with eggwash and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.
9. Serve at once.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Mache, Raspberry and Viola salad

Every year we wait for the raspberry to ripen and fill the garden with heavenly ambrosia. Sometimes I think we bought the house because of the raspberry bush. It's been so generous to us for the past 3 years - rewarding us with more fruits than we can eat, freeze and jam. The children around the neighbourhood like to come over to pick some too.
This year we successfully grow some Mache or lamb's lettuce or Veldsla in Dutch. It's probably my favourite salad leaves. I love the nutty and slightly bitter taste of the leaves. There is nothing like picking your own and dressing it immediately in something as simple as just olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. But combining it with the raspberries from the same garden? Sublime. Throw in some violas from the garden too, some toasted pecan and a little feta crumbled on top (for snow effect, according to my daughter). I mixed a little raspberry vinaigrette to go with it.
Adding fruit and flowers to a savoury salad is very typical Malaysian. Some of our salads actually feature fruits as the main ingredients. Rojak buah (fruit salad) combines different fruits like different types of mangoes, water chestnut and pineapple in a spicy and nutty sauce. The other equally ubiquitous salad using fruit as its main ingredient will be kerabu mangga. And there are other salads using young jackfuit, torch ginger flower (bunga kantan), banana flower (jantung pisang). Most of the ingredients to make these salads are found in your own backyard although these days you'd sooner get the ingredients from a market or the supermarket. Following this old adage, I thought it makes a lot of sense to use whatever I have in my own backyard and pantry to prepare this salad. The recipe provided is just as a guideline. I actually feel a little strange putting the recipe because I think mixing a salad and vinaigrette is so simple. I basically just mix whatever I happen to have at hand... and you should too ;-)

Dinner of grilled salmon and a foccassia on the side was ready in under half an hour... and the kids had fun helping to pick the fruits, salad leaves and flowers!
Raspberry, Mache and Viola Salad
1 cup and a bit more of raspberry
2 cup Mache
a handful of pecan - toasted
10 violas
goat cheese or feta to crumble on top
for the vinaigrette
Toasted hazelnut oil
Raspberry vinegar
1 shallot chopped finely
1 garlic crushed and chopped finely
flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and whisk until everything is mixed. Keep tasting and adjusting the balance until you are happy with it. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
2. Wash the mache thoroughly. Add The raspberry and toasted pecan and toss together.
3. Add the viola, crumble the cheese on top and add the vinaigrette just before eating.
4. Mix everything together and enjoy!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Banana Cinnamon Sorbet Lollies

Q is often jealous to see us eating ice cream. It's been so hot till the last few days, it is hard not to want to eat ice cream all the time. I am reluctant to give him store bought ice cream because he is only 18 months old. Homemade ice cream is easy to make and hard to compete with and you can really play around with flavour and adjust the sugar content. My ice cream maker is dead and since I can't decide between getting the Gaggia and Cuisinart, I thought making simple sorbet or semifreddo are easier.

Making fruit sorbet is so easy because they are basically just fruit ice. Basically you can make a simple sugar syrup and add fresh fruit pulp to it or use fruit juices. But I like the idea of adding cream and milk to make it healthier. Because fruits are so sweet and prime to use around this time of the year, you can get away with using less sugar.
Here's a simple recipe using banana and cinnamon - you can omit the cinnamon and try it with vanilla instead or just plain milk and cream. Make this once and you'll know how shockingly simple it is to make your own sorbet lollies!
Banana Cinnamon Sorbet Lollies
2 ripe bananas
250ml double cream
250ml full cream milk
2-3 TBSP granulated sugar -- or more, depending on your taste
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of salt

1. Mash the banana and mix in the salt and cinnamon.
2. Heat up the milk and cream in a medium heavy based saucepan.
3. Add 2 TBSP of sugar and stir until dissolved.
4. Add the mashed banana.
5. Taste for sweetness. If you think it need more sugar, adjust accordingly. Make sure to stir till the sugar is dissolved.
6. Bring the mixture to just boil stage, whisking it all the time then transfer it to a bowl and cover with clingwrap and leave to cool.
7. Once it reaches room temperature, blitz it in the blender or food processor or using an immersion blender for 1-2 minutes. Pour it into a plastic container and freeze for at least 4-5 hours.
8. Take the sorbet out and blitz it again in the blender or use your fork to mix it thoroughly and making sure all the ice crystals are broken.
9. Place it in the lolly mould of your choice (or leave it int he container if you don't want to make lollies then you can easily scoop the sorbet out later) and freeze it for another 8 hours. Then it will be ready to eat!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

random happiness

The effervescent Crash Test Mom tagged me on 6 little things that makes me happy. Here they are in very random order ;-)
1. My Javanese Massage - I found my fabulous therapist who does authentic Javanese Urut (massage) through my facialist. I love her touch and the fact that I get to have a chinwag in Malay/Indonesian for solid 2 hours. My last pregnancy was a lot easier because she was taking care of me until the final 3 weeks when she had to go to London to take care of her niece.
2. My foodblog - not only because I get to share what I cook and bake and my little-little experiments but I get to meet, chat and mail with all of you!
the other 4 are things that I use in my kitchen everyday:
3. My peppermill. It's been with me for more than 12 years. It is by Peugeot but it is not so typical because it has curves. It doesn't look very shiny because this is the one that has travelled with me through 4 continents and has a permenant spot next to me stove.
4. My kettle. I saw it on a shop window in Venice in Spring 1994 and knew I had to have it. I love it because I am the only coffee drinker in this house. The bird singing signifies time for tea, something to be shared with T and the family.
5. My strainer. The first time Terry saw this at my condo, he was so impressed that I had so many colourful things in my (otherwise black and white) kitchen. I didn't know until much later that he painted his room purple when he was a teenager. This Purple Monster have been with me for so long, works like a horse and looks cute.
6. My peeler. It's simple and I am so good at misplacing it, I keep getting a new (same made and brand) one. This one is less than 2 weeks old. I use it to peel everything. It is also extremely sharp and handy to make thin ribbons outta potatoes, zucchini, carrots and cucumber... and I love making ribbons out of them.
I am not tagging anyone but you are all welcome to play. If not in your own blog, in the comment box!