Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sweet Chilli Fried Chicken with French Beans

It wasn't until I came to Sydney that I was introduced to Thai sweet chilli sauce, which is widely used not only as a dipping sauce but for seasoning and various stir-fries. I hardly recall using or coming across sweet chilli sauce in Singapore or Malaysia, probably because we prefer our chillies to be hot rather than sweet. However, it does make a very delicious coating for deep-fried chicken. Of course, you could just dip the fried chicken in the sauce separately, but tossing everything together allows time for the sauce to absorb into the crunchy batter on the chicken. The french beans in the dish are also lovely with that sweet chilli sauce and adds a bit of texture to the dish.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cheesecake Flan

If there's any dessert that should be on the world's "must-try" list, cheesecake flan is one of them. It was through my friend Simran's blog, A Little Yumminess, that I first learnt about this famous dessert served at Cafe Habana in New York. It was the most decadent, rich, creamy and luscious thing I had ever had as far as I could remember. I would describe it as a creme caramel flavoured cheesecake, and it is one that should be enjoyed quietly, and not shared, if possible, with no distractions so as to appreciate each bite that coats the entire palette and leaves you feeling almost euphoric. No kidding.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

No-Bake Lime Cheesecake with Raspberry Jelly

My kids love to eat jelly, and sometimes I grab a few boxes if they happen to be on sale. I managed to find a couple of boxes stashed right at the back of the larder, and one of them was lime flavour. I love lime flavoured desserts, although the kids don't particularly like anything that's citrusy. So, I decided to make a simple no-bake cheesecake incorporating the lime jelly in the cheese, and top that with a layer of raspberry-flavoured jelly. As I happened to have a punnet of raspberries in the fridge, I "studded" the cheesecake with a few plump and juicy raspberries.

Kakiage Don (Mixed Tempura on Rice)

Kakiage Don (drizzled with kabayaki sauce)
Kakiage is a type of tempura where a mixture of vegetables (often onions, carrot and burdock) are cut into thin strips and tossed together in a light tempura batter, then deep-fried to form a loose cluster of vegetable fritters. I haven't had kakiage in a long time and was thrilled when I saw that my friend Nami had posted a recipe for it on her website, Just One Cookbook.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mackerel Miso-ni (Poached Mackerel with Miso)

When I was browsing through a few Japanese cookbooks, I realised that the commonly used ingredients for seasoning are soy, mirin, sake, miso, rice vinegar and dashi. If you have these in your pantry, you can cook up quite a number of Japanese dishes, and I find them quite indispensable. I am no expert at Japanese cuisine, but reading all about the different cooking styles and preparation methods is an enjoyable learning experience for me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Oyako-Don (Chicken & Egg with Rice)

This is a super quick and easy one-bowl meal to prepare for times when you have nothing but eggs and chicken in the fridge, or when you have three noisy kids at home who need lots of attention. Apart from the rice that needs a little more time to cook, the topping for the rice takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. It's such a versatile dish that you can add other vegetables or meat to it, or top the rice with tempura, tonkatsu or chicken katsu instead.

Crispy Eggplant with Black Beans and XO Sauce

I'm really excited to share this fantastic eggplant recipe with you today! This was inspired by my sister's favourite eggplant dish from one of the Hongkong-style restaurants in Sydney, and is absolutely delicious. One bite into that golden shell of crisp tempura-style batter reveals a soft and silky eggplant filling that is so light it simply melts in your mouth. Then, you get these bits of savoury black beans and the spiciness of the XO sauce that melds together in your mouth with the creamy eggplant. These are so addictive (and deceptively filling on the tummy as well, as I discovered many eggplants later).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cashew Semolina (Sugee) Cookies

Semolina cookies are better known as sugee biscuits in Malaysia and Singapore. They usually contain ghee (or clarified butter) and ground almonds, and they have a delicate and fine sandy texture that melts in your mouth. The recipe for these cashew semolina cookies comes from Alex Goh's Baking Code, a book that I bought during my last trip to Malaysia. I had a packet of semolina that I had just opened last week to make Galaktoboureko (a Greek baked custard dessert), and so I decided to use some of it to make these sugee cookies.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chicken Sautéed with Cheese and Milk, and Crispy Potatoes with Rosemary and Seasalt

Every few weeks, we will make a trip to the local library with the family, where the kids will entertain themselves at the children's section, and I will head to the shelves where all the cookbooks are. The collection of cookbooks is pretty small, and I usually end up borrowing the same ones again if I happen to like the recipes. One of them is Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros, which has an adorable photograph of a pair of red leather Mary Janes on the front cover. I like it that it has recipes with interesting-sounding names, and most of the recipes are simple and easy to follow, using only a handful of ingredients. There was a recipe for chicken sauteed with cheese and milk which has caught my eye a number of times, and I guess partly because the book usually opens up to that page when I'm flipping through it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Broccoli Beef Deluxe


Whenever I ask G what I should cook for dinner, his answer is usually "Anything. I leave it to you". I guess I'm fortunate to have a husband who eats anything and everything, which leaves me free to cook whatever I'm in the mood for, even when it's the result of a cooking disaster, he will not waste food as long as it's edible. If he had to name a dish for me to cook, it's always the standard two dishes - "Sweet and sour pork" or "Broccoli Beef". I reckon he feels a little nostalgic when it comes to these two as they were his favourite chinese takeouts during his college days.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Ubiquitous Sweet and Sour Pork

We just can't get enough of sweet and sour pork, can we? Those crispy golden balls of light and airy puffiness surrounding that delicious little pork nugget within, covered in thick and syrupy sweet and sour sauce. I am referring to the American-style battered sweet and sour pork, which are also available at some of the chinese-takeaway shops in Australia. Not so much in the higher end chinese restaurants though. Those usually serve the unbattered version of sweet and sour pork, where the pork is dusted with cornflour and deep-fried, forming a layer of golden crust around it. I like both versions, but this time, I decided to make the battered kind, which G used to love eating back in Berkeley. Yeah, sometimes I just turn to G and ask him what his stomach desires, especially when I've got too many ideas in my head and it's easier for someone to just tell me what to cook.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sweet and Sour Pork Rib Stew

I am sure most people would be able to name a few of their favourite homecooked meals, made by mum (or sometimes dad, too). Sometimes, I envy those who live close enough to their parents that they still get to enjoy these tasty meals. We don't have the luxury of being able to pop by at our folks' place for dinner as they live really far, far away, which is why sometimes, I have to turn to my mum for recipes in order to replicate dishes such as my favourite mee rebus. My FIL is also a whiz in the kitchen, with some of his "famous" dishes being pineapple-glazed ham, yam and pork rib noodles, and pumpkin prawn noodles. One of the dishes that G often crave for is this sweet and sour pork rib stew, which he calls "Sng Bak", meaning "sour pork" in Hokkien dialect. I have never had this stew before until I met G and was fortunate enough to be invited to his house for these sumptuous homecooked meals. It was the first time I ever had an Asian-style pork stew with sliced baguette, but I must say I enjoyed dipping the crusty buttered bread into the rich and tangy gravy, and eating it with the melt-in-your-mouth pork and creamy potatoes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Creamy Chicken and Avocado Fettuccine

I usually spend Sunday nights thinking about what to cook for the rest of the week, or at least for the next few days. Sometimes, as I am going through in my head the ingredients I have in my fridge and pantry, I realise that I have "accumulated" ingredients over the past few days during my grocery shopping trips. This often happens when I'm browsing in the supermarket aisles, spot an item (or "items" usually) and feel inspired to make something with it. Or sometimes, they have these "buy 2 items at a special price" deals, although I really only need to use one. Just the other day, G bought these avocadoes as they were on special. I didn't realise until the next day that they were on the verge of being overripe. I figured the best way to use them up was to make this chicken and avocado pasta, which is one of our favourite kid-friendly go-to meals. Chicken and avocado always pair well together, and the light and creamy sauce in the pasta allows the rich and buttery taste of the avocadoes to shine through.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Seafood Yakisoba (Japanese Fried Noodles)

I love the simplicity of Japanese cuisine and how easy it is to replicate some of the dishes that are commonly served at Japanese restaurants. Many of the recipes are often simple enough with a relatively short list of ingredients, and the dishes can be prepared in a short amount of time. Yakisoba, which is a Japanese fried noodle dish, usually contains cabbage, meat and other vegetables, and is topped with aonori, which are green seaweed flakes. The noodles are flavoured with yakisoba sauce, which is a thick and tangy version of Worchestershire sauce. I used to think that soba (buckwheat) noodles were used for this, but in fact, it uses wheat noodles, similar to ramen or chinese egg noodles. You can buy yakisoba noodles that come packed in individual serving sizes. They don't need to be boiled, but can be added directly into the pan and sitr-fried with the other ingredients. That makes it such an easy and fuss-free dish to cook.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sweet and Salty Beet Chips

I remember the first time my husband bought me a birthday present, and it was a cookbook! Even though we had only known each other for less than a year at the time, he knew I was only interested in cookbooks filled with pages and pages of beautiful photos. No flowers, no perfume, none of that girly stuff. That book was one on Spanish tapas, which is where I found a recipe for theses sweet and salty beet chips. Beetroot (or red beet) is thinly sliced on a mandolin, and then deep fried until it loses all its moisture and crisp up into these delicate and crinkly chips. They look a little like rose petals, don't they? Now, there's an idea for edible wedding confetti!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Blood Orange Polenta Upside-down Cake


It has been a (relatively) long time since I last baked a cake. Baking is one of those things that you need to be in the right mood for. It's not just a matter of following the recipe, but you also need to put in a lot of love into what you're baking. And no distractions! I've been holding on to this recipe for a while now. I actually bought some blood oranges a few weeks ago with the intention of making a blood orange chocolate tart, but I just didn't have any craving for a dark rich chocolate dessert. And then, the recipe for this polenta cake came along, and I finally made it today. What a slice of heaven! The cake is tender and moist, and the polenta gives it just a slight grittiness that complements the chewy but juicy candied blood orange slices. The oranges lose most of their tartness in the caramelization process and takes on a bittersweet tang, without being cloyingly sweet. This cake is absolutely fabulous either eaten on its own, or served with creme fraiche or whipped cream.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Easy Japanese Modanyaki

Mini Modanyaki with Okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, bonito and aonori flakes

Modanyaki refers to "modern-yaki", or in other words, modern okonomiyaki. It's like okonomiyaki (a Japanese savoury pancake, or otherwise known as the Japanese-pizza), except that it has noodles as one of the fillings. So, if I'm not wrong, okonomi-yaki literally means "as you like it - fried". That means you can't really go wrong with okonomiyaki as long as you have the basic cabbage and pancake batter, and the rest is really as you like it! Then, add some thin egg noodles (I used yakisoba noodles) in between and you have the upgraded modern version. And since we're on the topic of okonomiyaki, there are basically two ways of preparing them. One is to mix all the ingredients into the batter before frying them, which is the Kansai or Osaka style. The other is the Hiroshima style where the ingredients are layered one at a time. Check out this modanyaki video to see what I mean.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Claypot Eggplant with Pork and Pineapple Gravy

Eggplant (or brinjal/aubergine) is one of my favourite vegetables, often in the form of tempura, in curries, or with a sweet spicy soy, and sometimes braised with minced pork and salted fish. This time, I cooked it in a claypot with minced pork and pineapples, and some chilli oil. The eggplant is simmered in the sweet and savoury gravy for a few minutes until they are just tender. Any longer than that and it will turn to mush. The texture of the eggplant is soft and silky, tender yet firm enough to hold its shape, and the minced pork is packed with the tasty flavours from the gravy. Served with a big bowl of steamed jasmine rice, this dish is all you need for a satisfying meal.