Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spiral Sardine / Curry Puffs

 
Deep-fried flaky pastry filled with spicy and tangy sardines, potatoes and onions



I have been craving for curry puffs the past few days, and although it's not that difficult to prepare the curry filling, I wasn't too keen on standing over a hot stove frying all the ingredients, especially since my air-conditioning had broken down (for the second time this year) and the weather has just been hot, hot, hot! On the other hand, preparing the sardine filling takes only half the time and effort, and I love sardine puffs as I find it packs more flavour and more punch compared to curry puffs.

I've always been daunted by the thought of making these spiral pastries, but the truth is, the dough is actually easy to make. Yeah, that was the easy part. The tricky part for me was rolling out the individual pieces of dough and wrapping the filling inside. If the dough dries out too much, the spiral layers tend to separate easily and may result in gaps in the pastry. I realised that I should have covered the dough with a damp cloth, which I did when I attempted making these again today.

I couldn't decide on which recipe to use. The ones I made yesterday used margarine, and today I used butter instead and added a bit of egg. Maybe next time I will just use butter instead of margarine and omit the egg, and see how they turn out. In any case, both versions were crispy and delicious (although I prefer today's one which had a slight buttery taste). I made a couple of mini buttered mashed potato puffs for dear H, and she loved them!

The recipe that I used for yesterday's batch was from Rinnchan.

And here is the recipe for today's version:


Spiral Sardine Puffs Recipe

Ingredients

Water dough:
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Oil dough:
  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g butter

Filling::
  • 1 can sardines in tomato sauce (about 200g), lightly mashed with a fork
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 red chillies, chopped
  • 1 large potato, diced into cubes and microwaved/steamed till cooked
  • 3-4 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp chicken stock powder
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
  • 1/4 cup water

Method
    To make water dough: Place flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add egg and oil and swirl it through with finger. Add water and swirl through until combined. Knead into a smooth dough.leave aside to rest for 10 minutes. Divide into 2 portions.
    To make oil dough: Rub butter into the flour to form an oily dough. Divide into 2 portions.
    To  make pastry (click here for pictorial instructions): Wrap oil dough inside water dough. Flatten the dough and roll up. Repeat the process. Cut the rolled-up dough into two. Use a rolling pin to press it flat. Shape into a circle. Add filling and seal the sides. Pinch the edges to form a scallop design. Deep fry puffs in hot oil.
    To make filling: Heat wok with 1 tbsp oil. Fry garlic, onions, chillies, and add the rest of the ingredients, and fry until the potatoes have absorbed the sauce. Add more water if necessary. The filling should be moist, not dry. Leave to cool.

Not the prettiest looking sardine puff, but still quite delicious



A moist and delicious sardine filling encased in crispy layers of deep-fried pastry

Raw dough that has been rolled up, sliced and ready to be rolled out


This is my second attempt, using butter instead of margarine (as in the earlier photos) in the dough.
Butter wins hands down! Yum!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cucur Udang (Prawn Fritters)

Hot and crispy Cucur Udang

This is one of my favourite Malaysian "pasar malam" (night market) snacks. I had a craving for it today after coming across photos and reminders of it on email and facebook, and fortunately, I had some school prawns which I bought last week and kept in the freezer, for the specific purpose of making cucur udang. It must be funny (like weird funny) how excited I usually get when I'm trying out a new dish or recipe. I've never made these before, but based on my "research", the ingredients are pretty much the same. The consistency of the batter has to be just right so that the fritter doesn't turn out too dense, but rather light and fluffy. I used the school prawns whole, with heads, shells and all (but I trimmed off the feelers, of course, not wanting to end up with Medusa-like fritters), and when deep-fried, the prawns were crisp and provided a nice contrast against the soft and fluffy dough, and the sweet and juicy crunch of the bean sprouts. I didn't have time to make a chilli sauce to go with it, so I just used Lingham's chilli sauce, which worked well too. I still have some prawns left in the freezer, so the next time I get craving for these again, I'm all prepared! :)

Here is the best recipe for cucur udang that I've tried so far. I found it on Home Sweet Home and tweaked it slightly.

Cucur Udang Recipe
Adapted from Home Sweet Home

Ingredients

3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup rice flour
3 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
1 tsp sugar
Approx 3 cups water
1-2 stalks spring onions, chopped
Handful of beansprouts, tails removed
300g small/medium prawns*

* Note: You can use medium prawns, shell and devein them and chop them coarsely, then mix them into the batter. Then, add a small prawn (with shell, head and all) on top of the batter before lowering it into the oil to deep-fry.

Method

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix evenly with a whisk. Make a well in the centre and slowly add water, whisking until the batter is smooth. Add spring onions, beansprouts and chopped prawns. Mix well and leave aside for 30 minutes.

Heat up sufficient oil for deep-frying in a wok. Use a large spoon or ladle to scoop the batter, add a small prawn on top and drop it into the hot oil. Repeat with the rest of the batter and fry until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with chilli sauce.


Deep-fried prawn and bean sprout fritters served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce


Second attempt using a different recipe, and this time I placed some prawns on top of the batter



Favourite Rosemary Meatballs and Cheat's Pasta


Ever since I tried ready-made pasta sauces (only the tomato-based ones), I find that they are extremely convenient, taste pretty good, and if not, you can always enhance it with fresh herbs or extra seasoning. The big plus is that you save the trouble of having tomato sauce splattered all over the stove, benchtop, floor and walls.

I usually buy Leggo's or Barilla tomato-based sauces and use them in bolognese, lasagna or meatball pastas. I looooooove meatballs and pasta, especially these ones that I've made here. So moist, juicy, tender and flavoursome, these meatballs can be addictive! Yum yum....

Rosemary Meatballs and Cheat's Pasta

Ingredients

For Meatballs:
500g beef mince (preferably not too lean)
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp chopped thyme
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup store-bought golden breadcrumbs
2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs (from 1 slice of day-old bread)
2 tbsp milk
1 egg
1 tsp worchestershire sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper

For pasta:
400g spaghetti/penne
1 jar of instant tomato-based pasta sauce
200g button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup water

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients for the meatballs (except beef mince) and let it sit for 2 minutes for the breadcrumbs to soak up the milk. Then add beef mince and mix well using your hands. Leave in fridge to marinade for 2 hours or so.
  2. Heat up 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Shape the beef mince mixture into rounds and place them in the pan (or you can shape them all first before heating up the oil). Brown them all over, ensuring they have formed a slight crust around them. Then toss in the pasta sauce with 1/2 cup water and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Check for seasoning (sugar, pepper) and add any extra herbs (basil, parsley etc) if desired. In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente.
  3. After the sauce has simmered and the meatballs have absorbed the flavours, add mushrooms and continue to simmer until done. Add more water if necessary. Place pasta on a serving plate and ladle the meatballs and sauce over it. Serve with grated parmesan.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Choc Chip Oreo Crumble Muffin

Kangkung Belacan

Water Convolvulus stir-fried in spicy shrimp paste sauce

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Deep-fried Vegemite Chicken

We always fall into the same trap of buying a large jar of Vegemite (pronounced "veggie-might" and not "Vuh-Gym-M'tee") when it's on sale, and then having Vegemite toast for a few days or weeks before it starts getting lost in the back of the larder (behind the chocolate bars and boxes of cereal). And then it would be a few months before we find it again (usually when we're looking for something else) and realise that at this rate, we might only manage to finish half the jar before it goes past its shelf life. Well, fortunately, there are more ways than one to use it, and so I prepared a dish of deep-fried chicken coated in a sticky Vegemite and black vinegar sauce. Here's the recipe below.



Deep-fried Vegemite Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

600g chicken thigh fillet, cubed

Marinade:
1 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
Dash of pepper
1/2 egg, beaten
4 tbsp cornflour

Sauce:
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp maltose
1/2 tbsp Vegemite
1/2 tbsp chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp black vinegar
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
 1/3 cup water

Method
  1. Combine chicken with marinade and leave in fridge for about an hour. Heat up oil in a wok and deep fry until golden brown and cooked. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
  2. Heat up 1 tbsp oil in a clean wok and add sauce ingredients. Stir until sauce is reduced and thickened. Taste for seasoning. Toss in the chicken and mix through until evenly coated. Dish out and serve with steamed jasmine rice.
Note: If you don't have Vegemite, try using Marmite or other yeast extracts, but the sweetness/saltiness/intensity of flavour may vary slightly, so adjust seasonings according to taste.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hokkien Prawn Mee with Pumpkin

Noodles in a rich prawn stock, served with succulent fresh prawns, tender pork ribs, fish cake slices, sweet pumpkin cubes, gooey hard-boiled egg and morning glory, garnished with crispy shallots and  topped with sambal chilli

I simply love hokkien prawn noodles with that deep red, rich and spicy prawn soup. The idea of adding pumpkin to the broth came from my FIL, which gives it a touch of natural sweetness. The stock is basically made from lots of prawn heads and shells (fry these in oil first till they turn pink), equal amount of pork ribs, and a large brown onion. Strain the stock and bring to a boil. Add the cubed pumpkin pieces, and then dish them out once they are cooked. Season the stock with salt, pepper and rock sugar. Add some garlic chilli paste to the soup (made by frying some ground dried chillies and garlic in oil, seasoned with salt and sugar), with some extra to serve on the side. Then drop the prawns into the boiling stock until they are just cooked, and remove. If you wish, you can slice the pork and prawns and quickly fry them in some chilli oil to give it a nice red colour.  To serve, place cooked noodles in a bowl along with bean sprouts, prawns, pork ribs, hard boiled egg, fish cake slices and blanched morning glory / water convolvulus, and ladle the soup into the bowl. Serve with extra garlic chilli paste and crispy fried shallots. Yum!

Suki Dipping Sauce for Steamboat



We had steamboat at L's house today and I brought a pavlova roulade for dessert and some chilli dipping sauce to go with the steamboat. I have only eaten at Coca (a Thai Suki steamboat restaurant chain) a couple of times, and that was many moons ago. However, I vaguely recall the special dipping sauce that came in little plastic bowls. It had a slightly gooey consistency with plenty of sesame seeds in it. I couldn't quite remember how it tasted like exactly, but I decided to make a sauce that hopefully came close to it. Hot, sweet and salty, with a little zing and a touch of earthiness from the bean sauce, here is the recipe below:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thai Red Curry Noodles with Chicken and Pumpkin ("Chiang Mai Noodles")

Egg noodles in Thai red curry with chicken, fishcake and pumpkin, garnished with crispy fried noodles and deep-fried onion rings, sliced red chilli, coriander leaves, spring onions and a wedge of lime

I saw a recipe for this in one of my cookbooks (actually I think the picture of the dish caught my eye first) and was curious what this "Chiang Mai Noodles" was all about. Having never been to Thailand before, this dish sounded foreign to me (pardon the pun). I just googled it today and found out that it's also called Khao Soi, a curry noodle dish often made with chicken, served over Chinese Bah-mi (thin and flat) egg noodle, and garnished with fried noodles, shallots, cilantro, pickled mustard greens, fried whole chillis and a squeeze of lime juice. The one I made last night was similar, except that I tossed in some pumpkin which added a lovely element of sweetness to the dish. And we love those crispy fried egg noodles! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Durian Chiffon Cake


This is my first chiffon cake, and I resorted to using durian and pandan extract/paste in making it as I didn't have any pandan leaves nor durian at home. I was happy with the results and it tasted pretty good. Everything went well until I overturned the chiffon tin in order to cool the cake. I left it upside down over a placemat, and when I came back to check on it 10 minutes later, I found that the entire cake had slipped off the tin and was resting on the placemat! I'm not sure why that happened, but no real harm done, except that maybe the cake could have been "taller" and fluffier. Still soft, fragrant and delicious anyway! And I was surprised that even the children loved it (perhaps they find green cakes fascinating), considering that they have never had a taste or whiff of durian before!





Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Snap, Crackle and Pork! (Siu Yuk / Crispy Roast Pork Belly)

 


I came across a beautiful piece of pork belly roast at the supermarket last weekend and couldn't resist buying it. And so last night, I decided to have some "fun" making crispy pork belly, and for the first time too! Intially, I was a little apprehensive because I wasn't sure if I would get the crackling nice and crisp. But hey, it really wasn't that difficult! Even G was surprised I managed to pull this one off so easily! The meat was moist and tender, balanced with perfect layers of fat in between. The crackling was super crisp and tasty, exuding a rich burst of "lardy" flavour with each crunchy bite.

It's pretty easy to make and here's what I did:

Ingredients:

900g pork belly, deboned
Plenty of salt
Vegetable oil

Marinade:
2 tsp five-spice powder
2 cubes red fermented beancurd (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Method:

  1. Boil some water in a pot with 2-3 teaspoons salt, and place the pork in the boiling water, making sure it is totally submerged. Boil uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove and drain on a wire rack. Pat dry with a paper towel and leave for about 20 minutes to dry out. Score the skin vertically with a knife, about 1/2 cm apart. Make sure it cuts through to the fat, as this will allow the fat to render.
  2. Rub about 1/2 tbsp of salt over the meat and skin. Combine marinade in a bowl and rub all over the meat (but not the skin). Place in the fridge uncovered for 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 180C. Rub a little salt over the skin. Place on a wire rack skin side up, and pour about 1-2 cups of water into the roasting pan so that it steams the meat in the oven. Place the pan in the middle rack in the oven and roast for 1 hour. Increase temperature to 220C and roast for another half hour or until skin starts to brown and sizzle. Turn on the grill/broiler on high to crisp up the skin, which should begin to bubble, crackle and pop! When it starts to char, and the skin is evenly crisped all over, remove from oven and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes before slicing/chopping into pieces (you can scrape off the blackened charred bits first using a knife). Best to use a chopper to do this, if not, a regular chef's knife is fine too. Serve with vinegared chilli sauce or sriracha.




Kuih Keria (Sweet Potato Donuts)

Deep-fried sweet potato rings encrusted with crystallized sugar

These doughnuts (or potato-nuts?) are a common breakfast or teatime snack in Malaysia. Made from sweet potatoes, they are slightly chewy with a crunchy sugary crust and are best eaten on the same day. Eating these brought back memories of how my mum used to buy them (along with epok-epok and other "kuih") for breakfast and I would slowly nibble around the doughnut, crunching on the flaky layers of crystalized sugar that coats the deep-fried sweet potato rings.

The recipe for making these is pretty standard, and it's super easy to make. Here's what I used:

Kuih Keria (Sweet Potato Donuts)

Ingredients:

600g yellow sweet potatoes
100g plain flour
Pinch of salt

Sugar coating:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Method:

  1. Steam or boil potatoes until soft, then mash them finely with a fork. Combine with flour and salt and lightly knead until it comes together.
  2. Wet hands and pinch off some dough, pat it to flatten slightly, then push a finger through to make a hole in the centre. Spin it around your finger to form a ring. Place on a floured surface and continue with the rest of the dough.
  3. Heat up oil in a wok and deep-fry the rings until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.
  4. Sugar coating: Place sugar and water in a wok and bring to boil until it reduces to a thick clear syrup. Lower the heat and toss the doughnuts in the syrup, stirring until the sugar is dry and forms a white coating on the doughnuts. Transfer doughnuts to a plate and serve warm.

Piped these out using a star nozzle and dusted them with icing sugar


Here's one coated with sugar and black sesame


Deep-fried sweet potato balls filled with pineapple jam and rolled in black sesame

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chilli Prawn, cousin to Chilli Crab



I have never attempted cooking crabs before, so I decided to make a prawn version of chilli crab. There are many versions of chilli crabs out there, and so, it's a matter of preference whether you want it more eggy, starchy, soupy, dry, spicy etc. The one I've made here is pretty thick and eggy (as I used one whole egg), so adjust the quantity of eggs and starch used to suit your preference. I also found that the use of the correct sweet chilli sauce (I used Lingham's Chilli Sauce, as suggested by Rasa Malaysia in her chilli crab recipe) is essential in bringing out the true flavours of this dish.

Here is the recipe for chilli prawns:


Chilli Prawn Recipe

Ingredients

500g large green/king prawns, shell and head intact, deveined
2 tbsp cornflour
3-5 cili padi / bird's eye chillies, chopped
A handful coriander leaves, chopped

Blend these ingredients together:
5 cloves garlic
1 shallot
1/2 inch ginger

Sauce:
4-5 tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp chinese cooking wine
1 1/2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (Thai sweet chilli or Lingham's Chilli Sauce)
1 cup water mixed with 1 tsp chicken stock powder
Dash of pepper

1/2 egg (or 1 small egg), beaten lightly
1/2 tbsp tapioca starch or cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water

Method

  1. Pat dry the prawns and lightly toss in cornflour. Heat up oil in wok and fry on high heat until almost cooked. Transfer onto a plate.
  2. Heat up oil in wok and fry the chopped garlic, shallots, ginger and chilli until fragrant. Add sauce ingredients and bring to boil. Check for seasoning and add salt if necessary.
  3. Add the starch/cornflour mixture and bring to boil. Add in the prawns and mix through quickly for about 1-2 minutes, taking care not to overcook. Quickly stir and disperse the eggs into the sauce until cooked. Dish out, garnish with chopped coriander, and serve hot with buttered toast or a crusty loaf.

Soft 'n Gooey Boiled Eggs

Semi-hard-boiled eggs with a silky smooth white external and a soft creamy centre

I have never really tried making eggs this way before, except when I unintentionally overcooked my supposedly soft-boiled eggs. The first time I had eggs like this was at Ryo's Noodles in Crows Nest a long time ago. It came with the bowl of ramen I ordered, and of course, those eggs different from the ones I made here. G thinks that they used duck's eggs, but I'm not too sure. Those eggs were sweet and gooey and a little gelatinous in texture. They were perfect.

I made these eggs (weighing 59g each, straight out of the fridge) by putting them in lightly boiling water for about 7 minutes. Then I plunged them in a bowl of iced water mixed with some vinegar. This stops the cooking process, and the vinegar makes the eggs easier to peel. I recently found out that the reason why eggs are sometimes so darn hard to peel is because the eggs are too fresh! So a little vinegar helps. Either that or use eggs that are 4-5 days old. I like having my eggs slightly cool, so I placed them in the fridge for a while before serving them. Or just have them at room temperature.

Here are some links to sites on how to make soft-centred hard-boiled eggs:


Had these eggs with some nasi lemak (coconut rice) and deep-fried spicy chicken

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cookies 'n Cream Cupcakes with Oreo Cream Cheese Frosting


We hardly buy ice-cream for ourselves, and it's usually the kids who ask for it, so we would often end up with Paddle Pops or Frozen Yoghurt ice-cream in the freezer. Last weekend, we happened to chance upon Connoisseur ice-cream which were selling at half price at the supermarket. I wasn't that excited by the flavours but decided to try out Cookies and Cream anyway. I must say it was sublime! It was hard to stop myself from eating more of it, and everytime I opened the freezer, it's just there staring at me. I can't bring myself to finish the whole tub, so now it's sitting in the freezer with barely a scoop left in it. I'm saving it for the kids. Really. Just don't let me do the scooping.

My recent obsession with cookies and cream led me on a quest to make these cupcakes. I found a number of recipes on the web, mostly posted by oreo addicts, not that I am one, until now. I settled on a recipe by Paula Deen, that I found on Dine and Dish. I only made 2/3 of the batch, and I used a different recipe for the frosting (see below). I would have used 2 cups of icing sugar, but I didn't have enough, so I substituted with some white chocolate instead.

Here is the recipe:

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes (from Paula Deen Best Dessert Special Collector’s Issue)
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 14 coarsely crushed cream-filled chocolate wafer cookies (Oreos)
  • Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
  • Garnish: miniature cream filled chocolate wafer cookies
  1. Preheat oven to  180°C / 350 °F . Line 28 muffin cups with foil liners.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in crushed cookies. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Spread or pipe Cream Cheese Frosting evenly over cupcakes. Garnish with cookies, if desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(I did not use this frosting, but made the one below instead. Alternatively, you can add crushed oreos to this recipe):
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 9 cups confectioners’ sugar (I only used 6 cups and the frosting was great)
In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. Beat in cream until combined. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.


I made an alternative frosting using the following recipe, enough for the 2/3 batch of cupcakes I made:

Oreo Cream Cheese Frosting

250g (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g (1/4 cup) butter, softened
50g white chocolate, melted (optional)
Pinch of salt
10 oreos, crushed

Method:

To prepare the frosting, beat butter and cream cheese till creamy. Gradually add icing sugar and beat till combined. Beat in the vanilla extract, chocolate and a tiny pinch of salt. Gently fold in the cookie crumbs with a spatula. Put in a piping bag and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Baked Cinnamon Tortilla Chips




The last time I made these were for Z's birthday party last year. This time, I'm making them to fill his school lunchbox so that he can have them for morning tea. He absolutely loves these (and so do we) and if you don't think about the butter and sugar that goes onto them, they are a healthy baked snack! And they don't crumble and leave crumbs everywhere, nor do they leave a sticky mess on little hands. And they also taste great topped with some warm mashed banana!
A real easy one to prepare (if you're using store-bought tortillas of course, or you can use pita bread if you like), try it out:

Baked Cinnamon Tortilla Chips

Ingredients:

Tortillas
Cinnamon sugar (Caster sugar combined with ground cinnamon)
Melted butter

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Line baking tray with greaseproof/baking paper.
  2. Brush a generous amount of butter over each tortilla and top them with a generous amount of cinnamon sugar. The sugar will caramelize in the oven and create a crunchy sweet buttery crust. If you like, you can butter and sugar both sides of the tortilla (which is easier done after you have cut them into eighths).
  3. Cut the tortilla into eighths using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Arrange them on the baking tray and pop them in the oven (upper rack) for 6-8 minutes until lightly browned, and sugar caramelized. Be careful as they brown and burn quickly.
  4. Remove from tray, leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

Deep-fried Spring Rolls

Crispy deep-fried spring rolls served with chilli sauce

Spring roll with shredded jicama and carrot filling

Lemon Blueberry Friands



After the spate of pineapple tarts I've been baking, I was left with many egg whites collecting in little Glad containers in the fridge. I used some of it to make a 1-yolk-4-egg-white sunny-side-up, and was still left with 4 more egg whites. One of the easiest ways (other than throwing them into the frying pan) to use them up is to make friands. All that is needed to make these are basically butter, almond meal, flour, sugar and egg whites. And I like recipes that don't require the use of a mixer/beater, which means less washing up! It's that simple and takes only minutes to prepare.

This recipe I used was adapted from Exclusively Food. The only difference is that I added some lemon zest to the batter. As I didn't have an oval friand pan, I made them using a regular muffin tin. I love a good friand that has just the right balance of almond meal and butter, and this recipe is all that. Great as a teatime snack or dessert.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wat Tan Hor (Flat Rice Noodles in Egg Gravy)

 

I knew that Z didn't fancy eating rice noodles, but I have never cooked this for him before. So I thought I'd give it a shot, and prepared it for tonight's dinner. I had bought some fish and pork, so I used that together with some fishcake and choy sum for this dish. You can use other types of meat, seafood or vegetables, as the star of the dish is the thick and creamy egg-laden gravy that coats the rice noodles and gives it the distinctive slurp factor.

When I first served it to Z, he frowned and complained "I don't like these noodles!". Oh oh. That came too soon, but just as I expected. I offered to top the noodles with some of his favourite crispy fried onions (shallots), and he reluctantly agreed to eat it (only because of the onions). I did just that, and then left him to eat his dinner. A few minutes later, I checked on his progress and noticed that he was quickly (and happily) slurping up his noodles! Ahh....what makes a mother happier than to see her children enjoying the food that she cooks. And he finished it too!

A hit with the kids, here's the recipe for tonight's winning dish:


Rice noodles covered in thick and creamy egg gravy


Wat Tan Hor (Flat Rice Noodles in Egg Gravy)
(recipe updated May 2014)

Ingredients

500g flat rice noodles
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp Cheong Chan thick caramel
Vegetable oil for frying

Meat and vegetables:
Sliced pork/chicken (seasoned with salt, pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornflour and a pinch of baking soda)
Prawns / squid (seasoned with salt, pepper and a pinch of baking soda)
Sliced fish cake or crab sticks
Asian greens (e.g. choy sum or baby bok choy) blanched in boiling water and drained
Crispy fried shallots

Sauce ingredients:
4 cups fresh hot chicken stock*
1 tbsp chinese cooking wine (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce, or to taste
3/4 tsp chicken stock powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Cheong Chan thick caramel (for colour, optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Thickening:
2 tsp tapioca/potato starch combined with 3 tbsp water **
2 eggs, beaten

Note:
Best to make fresh chicken stock, which I did by boiling a chicken carcass with one brown onion (quartered) and 2 carrots. Season with salt and pepper
** The consistency of the gravy needs to be thick enough (not watery) in order to coat the rice noodles effectively, so adjust the amount of starch used if necessary.

Method:

  1. Heat up 3 tbsp oil in the wok and fry the rice noodles, adding light soy and dark soy. Fry on high heat for about 2 minutes, allowing the noodles to sear until slightly charred. Transfer to a large serving dish / bowl and top with blanched choy sum or bok choy.
  2. Heat up 2 tbsp oil in the wok and fry the sliced meat until almost cooked. Push it aside and add the garlic to fry. Add the fish cake to lightly brown. Next, add sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the prawns and squid at this stage. Check for seasoning. Add more broth or water if the sauce has reduced.
  3. To the simmering broth in the wok, add starch mixture, stir until it comes to a boil. Turn off the heat. Add beaten eggs and stir quickly until eggs start too cook and gravy turns opaque and creamy. Ladle the gravy over the noodles. Top with crispy fried shallots and serve immediately, preferably with some pickled green chillies.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Home-made Lemon Barley

Cool and refreshing barley drink, delicious served with a squeeze of lemon

I love a refreshing glass of barley drink, especially during the past few days when the weather has been unbearably hot! It's a great thirst-quencher when ice-cold with a splash of lemon juice. Try making some barley drink at home. It's super easy and takes only half an hour to prepare.

Lemon Barley Drink Recipe

Ingredients:
200g (1 3/4 cup) barley
2 litres water
2 screwpine leaves, washed and knotted
150g-200g candied winter melon
1-2 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  1. Wash and rinse the barley with plenty of water until the water is almost clear.
  2. Boil the barley with the water and screwpine leaves.
  3. After the barley has started to soften (about 10 minutes later), add the candied winter melon and continue to boil for another 10 minutes. Add a little sugar if you prefer it sweeter.
  4. Refrain from boiling too long as the barley will overcook and release starch into the drink, making it thick and cloudy. Strain out the barley grains and winter melon. Serve either hot or cold, with a splash of lemon juice.
  
 
Screwpine/Pandanus leaves & Candied winter melon


Uncooked barley

   
 
Freshly brewed barley


Sweet 'n Sticky Deep-fried Pork Chops

Ever since I discovered maltose, I have been using it in my deep-fried pork dishes to give it the sticky consistency often found when you order at chinese restaurants. Here's a description of maltose from Recipetips.com:

"A crystalline, water-soluble sugar that is formed from germinated barley as it ferments during the brewing and distilling process, prior to being made into alcohol. Also called malt sugar or yitang, maltose is mainly used as a nutrient or sweetener and can be found in organic or specialty food stores. Common in Asian cooking, maltose is used in making food dishes such as Peking Roast Duck for which the malt sugar is used to baste the outer skin of the duck prior to cooking, creating a sweet, browned and crispy coating that keeps the meat moist as it cooks."

If you love pork chops, try this recipe. I coated the pork chops in flour and deep-fried them till crispy, and then tossed them in  some delicious sticky sweet and sour sauce, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

Deep-fried spiced pork chop in sticky sweet sauce

Sweet 'n Sticky Deep-fried Pork Chops

Ingredients:

3 pork chops (approx 600g), flattened and tenderised with a meat mallet
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Half a red pepper/capsicum, diced (optional)
Some toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Peanut oil for deep-frying

Marinade:
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp five-spice powder
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
1 tbsp cornflour
1 1/2 tbsp plain flour
Extra cornflour for dusting (before frying)

Sauce:
6 tbsp tomato sauce
1 1/2 tbsp maltose
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp kecap manis (or 1 tsp thick dark soy sauce, for colour)
1 1/2 tbsp chinese cooking wine
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
100ml water
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Combine pork with marinade and leave in fridge for 4 hours. Remove from the fridge half an hour before cooking.
  2. Heat up some peanut oil in a wok, enough for deep-frying. Sprinkle some of the extra cornflour on both sides of the pork chop, shake off excess and lower it into the hot oil. Deep-fry for about 6-8 minutes or until cooked. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
  3. Heat up a tablespoon of oil in a clean wok and fry garlic briefly, then add capsicum and fry on high heat. Add sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce until it's reduced to a thick syrupy consistency. Toss in the pork chops and coat it with the sauce. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

 Crispy deep-fried five-spiced pork chop

Maltose