Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tonkatsu and Katsudon

Tonkatsu (Breaded pork cutlet)

Tonkatsu, or deep-fried pork cutlets is a family favourite, and preparing it is easier than it looks. Check out this funny video on youtube by Cookingwithdog. The background music reminds me of the Truman show. That dog (the "host" and "narrator") is so still and obedient that sometimes I forget it's a real dog. A little creepy at times. But a great recipe for tonkatsu nonetheless! :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Malaysian-style Roast Chicken Maryland

Here is an easy roast chicken dish for weeknight dinners.

Vegetable Medallions

Medallions of potato, broccoli and cheese

I was inspired to make some Vegetable Medallions after having tried some at Ikea yesterday, where they served it with stuffed salmon. At first, it looked a little dodgy, but after the first bite, I just couldn't stop eating those medallions that tasted so light and buttery, with bits of potato and broccoli in them.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bubur Cha Cha

Here's one of my favourite Malaysian desserts called Bubur Cha Cha. It is a combination of yam/taro and sweet potatoes in a rich and milky pandan-infused coconut "soup". Sometimes it contains sago or tapioca balls/pearls. The one I've prepared is the basic version where I've used kumara (orange sweet potatoes) and purple yam (as I couldn't find the normal white/grey one).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Berry Moist Chocolate Hazelnut Friands

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pajeon (Scallion Pancake)

I never had real Korean food (ie. excludes Nongshim instant ramyun) until my sister introduced it to me a few years ago. She brought us to this place called Hanabi in the city, which serves a combination of Japanese and Korean cuisine (but mostly Korean) and she insisted that we had to try the Pajeon, along with some hotpot with pork and tofu (I think). When the Pajeon arrived at our table, my eyes lit up at the sight of the large, thin and crispy battered pancake with large strips of green scallions embedded on top. Then there was the little dish of dipping sauce that came with it. Taking cue from my sister, I helped myself to the cut-up squares of pancake and dipped them in the sauce. Oooh yum....crispy edges, fragrant scallions, chewy bits of seafood, and a delightful garlic, chilli, vinegar and soy dipping sauce...it was so good I wished we could just skip the main course and just eat that.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gateaux Piments / Magelek (Chilli Cakes)

G and I were watching Mauritian Food Safari (click for video) on TV one day when, all of a sudden, he pointed out "Hey, that looks like the Indian snack that they sell in Malaysia!". True enough, after taking a closer look, I was amused to see the familiar deep-fried lentil snack (which we call "Magelek", although that does not translate to "chilli cakes") on Australian television. And no wonder, these chilli cakes were apparently introduced by the Mauritian Indians. The only noticeable difference was that the Mauritian version was round like golf balls, whereas Magelek is shaped like a flying saucer (or something like that).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ham, Jam and Slaw Sandwich

I must say this one is probably not for the guys. It's sort of a sweetish sandwich with butter and strawberry jam, topped with a few slices of ham, a handful of cabbage salad and baja sauce (sour cream and a little lemon juice) that were left over from the Fish Taco dinner we had last weekend, drizzled with Korean mayonnaise for extra creaminess, and finished off with a dash of salt and pepper. And that's a yummy creamy sandwich!

Cabbage salad with sliced red onions and coriander leaves

Quick and Easy: Teriyaki Meatballs

These meatballs are easy to prepare and takes only minutes to fry. You can also serve them with barbecue sauce, ketchup or your favourite dipping sauce!

Teriyaki Meatballs


500g beef mince
1 egg
1 stalk spring onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup panko crumbs
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sake
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp cornflour

1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1 tbsp sake
1 tbsp sugar (or to taste, depending on the saltiness of the soy you're using)


Combine ingredients for the meatballs and leave to marinade for 1-2 hours. Shape into rounds the size of golf balls and deep-fry in hot oil for 2-3 minutes until browned and cooked. Drain on kitchen paper.

Heat up sauce ingredients in large pan and simmer until it starts to thicken slightly. Add meatballs to the pan and toss to coat for 1-2 minutes. Dish out and serve with rice, salad, as an appetizer or pack in a lunchbox!

Quick and Easy: Cashew Chicken Broccoli Stir-fry

Here's a simple stir-fry that will keep the kids happy!

Cashew Chicken Broccoli Stir-fry

500g chicken thigh fillets, diced into cubes
1 1/2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1/2 tbsp cornflour
1/2 inch ginger, grated
Unsalted cashew nuts, stir-fried in hot oil
1 cup broccoli, blanched in salted water

1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp chinese black vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp water
Dash of black pepper
A few drops sesame oil


Marinade chicken with wine, salt, ginger and cornflour for 1 hour. Heat up 1 tbsp oil in a wok/pan and fry the chicken until browned and cooked. Add in the sugar and mix well, followed by vinegar, soy, pepper and 2 tbsp water. When the sauce is slightly thickened, add broccoli, cashews, followed by sesame oil and toss briefly. Dish out and serve with steamed white rice.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Easy Yong Tau Foo

Yong Tau Foo in sweet anchovy broth, garnished with chopped spring onions

I happened to see some Red Fish for sale at the fishshop last weekend and images of Yong Tau Foo instantly sprang to mind. They were pretty inexpensive, so I bought about 300g of them and decided to make Yong Tau Foo on Sunday. We had Fish Tacos on Saturday by the way, which was as delicious as the first time I made them. No, actually it tasted better this time because I happened to have cabbage in the fridge and made cabbage and onion salad to go with it.

A quick and easy yong tau foo meal using Prima Taste Laksa packs

Anyway, back to Yong Tau Foo (which I will now refer to as YTF). It's a dish commonly found in Singapore food courts and hawker centres, where they have a wide array of YTF pieces for you to choose from. There used to be this super awesome YTF stall at Casuarina Road which is no longer there, and G and I think it's probably gone for good. We can't even remember the name of the stall, probably because we are always too distracted by all the different varieties of deep-fried stuff they had (being the main reason why it was our favourite!). I also love Malaysian-style yong tau foo, which is also served in soup, with chee cheong fun, and also Ampang-style with gravy.

YTF is actually really easy to prepare, and I don't know why I've been shying away from making it all this while. Basically, the fish (which I bought already filleted) is just minced in the blender with some dried shrimp, seasoned and then stuffed into tofu or vegetables. Then it just needs to be shallow-fried (optional, really, but I used stuffed chillies too and I wanted the chillies to be nicely blistered in the hot oil) and served with hoisin and chilli sauce, or served in Laksa (which I did on Sunday, using Prima Taste Laksa pack), or in anchovy broth (which I did the next day with the leftovers). Easy, right? Make sure, however, that the fish you use is fresh. You can substitute with Mackerel too, although I think they are a little more pricey. Find the recipe after the jump.

Bean curd sheets, tofu puffs and long red chillies stuffed with fish paste, and shallow-fried in oil

Yong Tau Foo
Makes about 16 pieces


300g fish fillets (Spanish mackerel or red fish is fine)
2 tbsp dried shrimp, washed and finely minced
2 tsp tapioca starch + 2 tbsp water
2 tsp fish sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Firm tofu or tofu puffs
Bean curd skin
Long red chillies


Chop up the fish fillets with a knife and then mince it in the blender together with the minced dried shrimp. Then, transfer to a medium bowl and fling it against the side of the bowl a few times until it's pasty and gluey. Season with fish sauce, salt and pepper.

Prepare the tofu and vegetables by cutting slits to form little pockets to stuff the fish paste in. Once they have been stuffed, you can choose to cook them in boiling soup, or shallow-fry them in oil first like I did before simmering them in your soup or laksa gravy. Then, serve with hoisin and chilli sauce, with some noodles or rice.

Soup base: Anchovy broth

To prepare the soup, take 1/2 cup ikan bilis, washed, with 2 cloves garlic and 2-3 slices of ginger. Add them to 6 cups of boiling water and simmer for 50-60 minutes. Add 1 tsp chicken stock powder along with salt and pepper to taste. Strain the soup. Add yong tau foo pieces and simmer briefly until softened to your liking. Transfer to a bowl, garnish with chopped spring onions, and serve with steamed rice or noodles!

I used a soup bag and filled it with ikan bilis, garlic and ginger. Soup bags are really useful
in keeping the soup clear and saves you the time from having to strain the soup.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tofu Omelette

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chamchi Jeon (Tuna Pancakes)

Another one of the Korean mums suggested that I make these tuna pancakes for Z's lunchbox. It's quick and easy to prepare especially when mornings at home with the kids can get quite busy sometimes. They are a little like crab cakes, using tuna instead. The addition of the baking powder gives these mini pancakes their crisp edges. Here's the recipe:

Chamchi Jeon (Tuna Pancakes)
Makes 6


1 small 95g can tuna, drained well and lightly mashed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 stalk spring onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp panko crumbs
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
1 tbsp olive oil for frying
Mayonnaise, barbecue sauce and ketchup to serve


Combine tuna, egg, spring onions, panko, baking powder, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well to combine. Heat up oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Drop heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the pan, using the spoon to shape the cakes into rounds. Fry them for 2-3 minutes each side until brown and crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot or cold with a drizzle of mayonnaise, barbecue sauce or ketchup. Ideal for picnics and school lunchboxes!

Jjajangmyun (Noodles in Black Bean Sauce)

Jjajangmyun is the Korean version of its Chinese counterpart, "Zha Jiang Mian". The thick black sauce is made from black bean paste, with diced pork, potatoes and radish, and is served with springy-textured wheat noodles. The Chinese version is usually a lighter brown colour, made with soy bean paste and contains ground pork, and does not have the starchy consistency of Jjajangmyun.

If I had to eat instant noodles, I would usually cook the instant Jjajangmyun as I enjoy the chewy noodles coated in the sweet and salty black bean sauce, with bits of potato and radish cubes. I hate to admit it, but little J loves it too, and he would happily slurp up the noodles and end up with black sauce smeared all around his mouth. Well, he is a very picky eater, so I'm relatively happy that at least he enjoys eating this.

I decided that it was about time I made these noodles from scratch if I was going to be feeding it to little J so often. So, I bought a jar of black bean paste from the Korean supermarket (with a picture of Jjajangmyun on it so I know I had the right stuff), and found a great recipe on Maangchi.com. It's really easy to make, and doesn't really use many ingredients. The only thing is that the diced pork needs to be slowly fried until browned and crisp, and most of the fat rendered out.

Well, these noodles are super delicious and has to be served hot, immediately! I still have leftovers from yesterday and will be sharing some with little J for lunch later! Yum yum!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Samgak Kimbap

My Korean friend showed me the triangular-shaped seaweed-wrapped kimbap (Korean sushi) that she made for her little boy's lunch the other day. She explained to me how she made the filling using canned tuna, and I was quite impressed to see a home-made kimbap. I usually just buy them from the food court when Z has a craving for sushi, but those are the Japanese version called Onigiri. The fillings are slightly different, being that the Korean ones usually contain tuna or kimchi.

I was thinking, gee, her little boy sure is lucky to have such a delightful looking lunch, and made me want some too! So during my trip to the Korean supermarket the other day, I grabbed a packet of seaweed specially for making samgak gimbap, which came with the triangular rice mould as well. I also bought some quality Nishiki rice for sushi, as I found that generic short-grained sushi rice had a grainy texture that didn't hold together so well, and didn't taste as good either.

Making this is really easy, especially when you have the mould, all you need to do is fill it up with the rice and tuna, then press it down to form a triangle. But you can just shape it using clingwrap if you don't have the mould, and wrap it with a regular sheet of seaweed that has been cut in half. Please find the recipe after the jump.

Samgak Kimbap with Tuna


4 cups cooked sushi (short-grain) rice, mixed with 2 tbsp vinegar, 1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar and 3/4 tsp of salt
Seaweed for Samgak Kimbap

1 small can tuna, drained well
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped onion (optional)
1 1/2 tsp light soy sauce (or to taste)
2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds


Heat up the vegetable oil and fry the garlic and onion (if used). Then add tuna, soy, sugar and pepper, and sautee on medium heat until dry and flaky. Add sesame oil and sesame seeds and toss to mix. Remove from heat and let it cool.

Assembling the kimbap: Lay out the seaweed per instructions on packet. Place the mould on the seaweed and fill it with 3 tbsp rice. Spoon some tuna in the centre and top up with more rice. Press it down firmly with the mould lid, and slowly remove the mould. Wrap the rice in the seaweed to form a triangle and secure with stickers provided.

There are videos on youtube that show you how to do it. Click here to view.

These are great for picnics and lunchboxes. The seaweed is kept fresh and crispy until the plastic wrapping is removed when ready to eat. Z loved it so much that he had it for lunch, dinner and again for his school lunchbox today!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sigumchi Namul (Korean Spinach Salad)

Sigumchi Namul is a seasoned spinach salad that is commonly served as banchan (Korean side dish), and is a great accompaniment to rice and other main dishes. For such a simple dish, it has a great flavour coming from the soy and sesame oil, and the sesame seeds gives it the toastiness that it needs. I served this with the Yangnyeom Tongdak that I made for dinner last night. It's really easy to prepare and here's how:

Sigumchi Namul (Korean Spinach Salad)


1 bunch spinach
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds


Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 2 tsp salt. Blanch the spinach for half a minute, remove and rinse under cold running water for half a minute. Use hands to gently squeeze out excess water from the spinach. Roughly cut the spinach into 1 1/2 inch lengths. Place the spinach in a bowl and add soy, salt, sugar and sesame oil. Toss well to coat. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve as a side dish.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Yangnyeom Tongdak (Korean Spicy Fried Chicken)

Boy, this is just soooo good......

Wow, this is one of the most sensational tasting fried chicken I've ever had! I could probably finish a whole plate of these! I reckon they taste even better than the ones I've had at the Korean restaurants here in Sydney, thanks to a great recipe by Maangchi.com (which will now be one of my favourite sources for Korean recipes). Apparently, she took three years to perfect the recipe, so no wonder it's so good!

If you've never had this before, they are, in essence, deep-fried chicken wings in thick crunchy batter, coated in a glossy and sticky sweet and spicy sauce. You could say it's like Buffalo Wings, Korean-style. The heat in this dish comes from the use of Korean red pepper paste called Gochujang. You can find them in Korean supermarkets and they usually come in red-coloured plastic tubs with pictures if red peppers on them. I just bought it over the weekend along with other Korean goodies that I can't wait to use!

Some of the goodies I bought from the Korean supermarket.
The red tub in the centre is the red pepper paste.
If you're up for some deep-frying, try out this dish and serve it with a spinach salad . I guarantee it'll be a hit!

Yangnyeom Tongdak (Korean Spicy Fried Chicken)
adapted from Maangchi.com


1.2kg chicken wings (cut in half, exluding wing tips)
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup potato flour (or you can substitute with cornstarch)
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg

1 tbsp oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup rice syrup (or substitute with corn syrup or glucose)
1/4 cup red pepper paste (Gochujang)
1 tbsp apple vinegar (I substituted with 1 tbsp rice vinegar and 1 tbsp apple juice)
Sesame seeds


  1. Wash and drain chicken well. Mix with black pepper and salt. Add the flour ingredients, bicarbonate of soda and egg. Mix well by hand to coat the chicken evenly.
  2. Heat up sufficient oil in a pan/wok for deep-frying. Once oil is hot, fry the chicken in batches for about 10 minutes each time until cooked. Remove and drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
  3. It is important to double fry the chicken to get a nice crunchy coating. So, starting with the first batch of chicken, fry them again in hot oil for 3-5 minutes until slightly brown and crisp. Remove, drain and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
  4. To make the sauce, heat up 1 tbsp oil in a pan/wok and fry the garlic. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer on low heat for 3-5 minutes. Add the chicken to the pan and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve hot or warm. Great for parties and picnics too!

Friday, August 12, 2011


Smooth, light and creamy tiramisu...yum yum!

Tiramisu is one of the easiest and most delicious desserts to make, but I have not attempted it until now, mostly because it contains Marsala (a type of fortified wine) which I don't have. The tiramisu recipe that I used here comes from Taste.com.au and is absolutely fantastic! And I didn't even use marsala. Instead, I substituted it with orange juice as suggested in the recipe. I have never tried other recipes before (well, since this is my first attempt) but this one's a keeper. I suppose you can't really go wrong with mascarpone and coffee-soaked sponge fingers, but the trick is not to oversoak those savoiardi biscuits to avoid a runny and soggy tiramisu. My, it was so good I literally licked my plate clean!

If you're looking for a great recipe for tiramisu, I highly recommend this one. It's not that difficult to prepare. The only thing I might point out is that it requires the cream, egg yolks and egg whites to be whisked separately. So, it will be handy if you have 3 mixing bowls at home. Also, make sure the dish you are assembling it in is deep enough as the tiramisu comes up to about 6cm high using a 19cm (base measurement) pyrex dish.

Tiramisu Recipe
adapted from Taste.com.au


2 cups strong black coffee, cooled
1/2 cup Marsala (or substitute with Kahlua, Tia Maria or orange juice) 
3 eggs, separated
1/3 cup caster sugar
250g mascarpone
1 cup thickened cream, whipped  to firm peaks
1 large packet (about 400g) of sponge fingers (savoiardi)
2 tbsp cocoa, for dusting


  1. Pour coffee and marsala into a shallow dish. Set aside.
  2. Beat egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl with electric beaters until pale and thick. Whisk in the mascarpone on low speed until just combined. Fold in the whipped cream.
  3. Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with electric beaters until stiff peaks form.  Using a large metal spoon, gently fold eggwhites into the mascarpone mixture.
  4. Take one biscuit at a time and dip the unsugared side into the coffee mixture for 1-2 seconds. Arrange enough biscuits to cover the base of a 19cm square ceramic/pyrex dish. Cover the biscuits with one-third of the mascarpone mixture. Repeat layers 2 times, ending with the cream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Dust generously with cocoa and serve.

  1. Take care not to soak the entire biscuit in the coffee mixture for too long as this will make the tiramisu soggy (unless you like it that way).
  2. The tiramisu is best eaten after it's been refrigerated for at least 8 hours to let the flavours develop.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lunchbox Ninja Rice Balls

I was so intrigued by the home-cooked food that some of the Korean moms shared with me during a picnic lunch yesterday. There were salads, sandwiches, fried dumplings, Gimbap (Korean sushi), some pork belly squares (they were square shaped slices of pork, could be a terrine?), spicy fried chicken etc. The flavours were mostly sweet and spicy, and I really should get some of that Korean chilli paste this weekend, which I think is called Gochujang. They make a great salad dressing!

Anyway, one of the moms showed me the Samgak Gimbap (Korean version of Japanese Onigiri - you know, the triangular shaped sushi?) that she made for her 4-year old. That got me thinking that I should pack a not-so-boring lunch for Z than plain ham sandwiches, and so last night, I told myself that I would get up early to make sushi for his lunchbox this morning. However, I woke up an hour later than I had planned to. Initially, I wanted to ditch the sushi plan and just revert to the usual stuff instead. But at the last minute, I figured I'd still have enough time if I set the rice-cooker to "Quick-cook" function, which took only half an hour to cook the rice. I microwaved some luncheon meat and mashed it up with a fork, and mixed it through the rice (to which I had folded in some vinegar-salt-sugar solution). Then, it was all just a matter of cutting, ripping and pasting the nori sheets onto the rice balls that I had shaped using cling wrap. I made the triangular shaped ones using cling wrap as well, and then used a strip of nori to wrap it around the rice.

Well, I must say it didn't take long to prepare, and Z was happy with his new lunch menu. Next time, however, I will probably try using something more nutricious than luncheon meat! Tuna, chicken, beef, corn, and how about some fried shallots thrown in...he would like that :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Twice-cooked Pork Belly with Salted Fish

Salted fish is a common ingredient used in chinese cooking, usually to add depth of flavour and saltiness to a dish, pretty much like how anchovies work. It can be used with chicken, fried rice, pork, vegetables, soup or curries, and the one I've prepared here is typically cooked in a claypot, but since I don't have a claypot at home, it works just as well stir-fried in a hot wok. I first tried this dish when my mum cooked it a few years ago. Her preferred method of cooking it was to steam the pork first until tender before slicing it thinly and stir-frying it with the sauce ingredients. And so, I adopted the same method as I wanted the pork to be tender enough for the kids to chew on.

I suppose for somebody who has never tried salted fish, it may be an acquired taste, just like how I don't really fancy anchovies (unless it's been finely chopped and mashed up in my caesar salad, in small quantities of course). But combined with the pork belly and dried chillies, it has an almost smoky salty flavour that makes you want to finish up that whole bowl of rice, and go for seconds. The sweetness from the onions is nicely balanced with the saltiness of the sauce, and the moist and juicy fat from the pork adds some of that "lardy" flavour to the dish.

Here is the recipe. Try to use a good quality salted fish if you can as it is the key ingredient in this dish.

Twice-cooked Pork Belly with Salted Fish


400g pork belly
60g salted fish, sliced
1 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
1/4 cup dried red chillies, cut in half
1 tsp thick caramel (thick black soy)
1 stalk spring onion, cut into 4cm lengths
1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp thick caramel (thick black soy)
1 tbsp chinese cooking wine
1/2 tsp sugar (or more to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cornflour


  1. Place 1 cup water in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Place the pork skin-side down in the water, cover and simmer for 1 1/4 hours until tender. Remove the pork and let it cool on a plate. Cut into thin slices, about 5mm. You can choose to leave the rind on or remove it completely.
  2. Heat up 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a wok. Fry the salted fish until fragrant, then add the sliced pork and sear on high heat. Push aside, leaving a little oil on the base of the wok, and add ginger, garlic, onion and chillies. Add more oil if necessary. Stir fry until onion starts to soften. Drizzle the thick caramel over the pork and toss to coat evenly.
  3. Push everything aside and add sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer and toss it through the meat. Add spring onion and sesame oil and toss briefly to mix. Dish out and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Bacon, Mac and Crunchy Potato Bake

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rhubarb Galette with Ricotta Ice-Cream

Here's a simple free-form rhubarb galette made using frozen butter puff pastry. The rhubarb is tossed in brown sugar, melted butter, orange rind and ground cinnamon, then arranged on the pastry sheet before baking. As the rhubarb is a little tart, it pairs well with vanilla or ricotta ice-cream.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Choc Chip Ricotta Cannoli Ice-Cream

I can never resist a good ricotta-filled cannoli - light, crisp and airy deep-fried pastry shell filled with cold, sweet and creamy ricotta, and dusted with icing sugar. They need to be eaten immediately, otherwise the pastry will turn soggy. I haven't attempted making cannoli before, and I don't really see the need to since I can easily get them from any Italian patisserie. But I love the mild sweet flavour of the ricotta filling, so turning it into ice-cream sounded like an excellent idea.

You can make this without an ice-cream machine by freezing it and whisking it every half hour for 2 hours so that the ice crystals that form are kept small, which gives the ice-cream a smooth and creamy texture.

Choc Chip Ricotta Cannoli Ice-Cream
(makes about 1 pint, or 2 cups)


1 1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tub (250g) ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond essence
1/4 cup (40g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tsp finely grated orange rind (optional)


  1. Heat up the cream, sugar and salt in a saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Using a stick blender (or food processor), blend the ricotta and orange rind (if used) until smooth and creamy. Stir in the scalded cream, vanilla and almond essence until well-combined. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Churn in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Otherwise, place the mixture in a freezer-proof container and freeze for 30-40 minutes, then remove and beat/whisk every 30 minutes for 2 hours. When the ice-cream is almost set, fold in the chocolate chips. Freeze for another 2-3 hours until firm before serving.
Note: To store the ice-cream, cover the surface with plastic wrap and seal with a tight-fitting lid. This reduces the amount of air in contact with the ice-cream and avoids freezer burn.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Frosted Lemon Yoghurt Cake

I just had the most amazing Lemon Yoghurt Cake! OMG, for such a simple and easy recipe (another one by Donna Hay), it tasted sooooooo good. I know the kids are going to love this. It's even better than the Lemon Syrup Cake that my cousins and I used to make over and over again. I bet they will love this recipe! The cake is so moist and tender, and not too sweet either. Complemented by the sugary lemon frosting that coats the chewy caramelized crust on the cake, it is truly a lemon lover's heaven on a plate. I had a slice (okay, I had two) to eat not long after I drizzled the syrup over the cake, and it was warm, chewy, crunchy, tender and everything I could want in a cake. I can't elaborate further, so here's the recipe below. It's an easy one-bowl recipe that I'm sure many will love.

Lemon Yoghurt Cake Recipe
adapted from Donna Hay


¾ cup (180ml) vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup (280g) thick natural yoghurt (I used vanilla yoghurt)
1¾ cups (385g) caster (superfine) sugar
2 cups (300g) self-raising flour

Lemon frosting:
¾ cup (120g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Place the oil, eggs, rind, lemon juice, yoghurt and sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Sift over the flour and stir until smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture into a well-greased 24cm fluted ring tin and bake for 35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
  5. While the cake is still hot remove from the tin. Shake it gently to loosen and overturn it onto a plate.
  6. To make the lemon frosting, gently stir together the sugar and lemon juice.
  7. Spoon over the cake and allow to set. Serve warm.
  • I didn't have natural yoghurt, so I used vanilla yoghurt instead.
  • Make sure the tin is greased properly so that the cake slides out easily.

Maple-glazed Chicken with Veggie Mash

This recipe comes from one of Donna Hay's episodes of Fast, Fresh, Simple that I try to catch on TV whenever I can. I love watching her shows as she makes cooking look so quick and simple, yet the food looks fantastic. Her test kitchen is absolutely clean, neat and spotless, and I wish were one of the lucky people there in the background, testing out recipes. I should look for a job in test kitchens!

This simple chicken cooked with a chilli-maple glaze is exactly that. Subtly sweet and sticky with bits of chilli flakes that surprisingly goes well with the syrup, it's quite delicious. I made a vegetable mash as a side dish to go with it, which is lovely especially when it soaks up some of that maple glaze.

Try making vegetable mash next time. It's a nice change from plain mashed potatoes and a great way to use up leftover bits of vegetables in the fridge. To make the mash, just boil or steam some of your favourite vegetables. I used pumpkin for sweetness, carrots for colour, cauliflower for texture and baby potatoes for some creaminess. You can also try using parsnip, sweet potatoes or any other root vegetables. Then just mash with a fork with some butter, hot milk, salt and cracked black pepper.

Here is the recipe for Donna Hay's Maple-glazed chicken:

Maple-Glazed Chicken Recipe


¼ cup (60ml) maple syrup
¼ cup (60ml) water
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 x 200g chicken breast fillets, trimmed
Roasted parsnips and steamed sugar snap peas, to serve


  1. Place the maple syrup, water, chilli, salt and pepper in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Bring to a simmer and add the chicken.
  3. Cook for 4–5 minutes each side or until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Serve the chicken with the pan sauce, roasted parsnips and steamed sugar snap peas.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Slow-Cooker Char Siew (Chinese Barbecued Pork)

I heard from my MIL that Oversea Restaurant, a well-known Malaysian Cantonese-themed restaurant, had recently opened a branch in Singapore. I recall having dined at one of its branches in Malaysia many years ago, and although I can't remember exactly I had, I know the food was really good with lots of fresh seafood. I decided to google it and check out pictures of the food that had been posted by other food-bloggers. Apparently, the char siew is one of their signature dishes, and from the photos I've seen, it appears to be perfectly charred slices of barbecued pork sitting in a thick pool of gleaming black gravy. That would be so complete with a big bowl of steamed rice!!

And so, to avoid sleepless nights dreaming about char siew, I decided to make some for dinner last night. If you haven't tried making this before, you should because it's really easy to prepare and it's sooooo delicious! The method I used is to slow-cook the pork in the marinade for an hour or so, then pop it in the oven under a hot grill to get it nicely charred and crisp all over the fatty bits. Make sure you use pork belly with adequate layers of fat on it. It just isn't char siew without the char! You don't have to use a slow-cooker if you don't have one, as long as you are able to cook it over low heat in a pan with a tight-fitting lid so the steam doesn't escape.

Here is the recipe:

Char Siew (Chinese Barbecued Pork)
Serves 2 hungry people


500g pork belly, rind removed
1 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying

1 small brown onion (or 3 shallots), chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp rose wine (or substitute with chinese cooking wine)
2 tsp thick black soy (caramel)

Optional: Syrup for basting (bring to boil in a small pan):
1 tbsp maltose
3 tbsp water


  1. Pound the onion and garlic with a mortar and pestle to extract the juice. Alternatively, process them in a blender until fine, leave for 20-30 minutes until the juices are released, then push through a fine sieve to extract the juices.
  2. Combine the juices above with the rest of the marinade ingredients and rub all over the pork. Leave to marinade in the fridge for at least an hour.
  3. Heat up oil a medium-sized pan. Gently shake off the marinade from the pork and place the pork in the pan. Sear all over until browned. Then add the marinade into the pan with 1-2 tbsp water, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer over low heat. Check occasionally to make sure the liquid doesn't dry up. Alternatively, you can transfer the pork to a slow-cooker and pour the marinade over it. Cook for 1 1/4 hours, turning the meat 3-4 times to ensure it's evenly coated with the sauce.
  4. At the end of the cooking time, open the lid and let the gravy simmer until it thickens. Transfer the pork onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Reserve the gravy for serving later.
  5. Preheat the oven grill on high. Brush the meat all over with half of the basting syrup. Pop it under the grill for 5 minutes or until it starts to char on the layer of fat. Turn the pork and brush the other side with the rest of the syrup. Grill it again for 5-8 minutes until it's slightly black and charred to your liking.
  6. Remove from oven, let it cool for 10 minutes before cutting into thin slices (about 6mm). Arrange on a serving plate and top with the luscious thick gravy reserved from earlier. Serve with steamed white rice. Enjoy!
Notes and Tips:
  • You can opt not to grill the pork in the oven, but I like the smoky flavour that comes from charring it.
  • The maltose is optional. However, it does give the meat the sweet and sticky characteristic of a good char siew. You can find maltose on the shelves of Asian supermarkets.
  • Don't overcook the pork in the pan. It needs to be still firm enough so it's easy to slice it neatly without the meat breaking up.