Thursday, November 27, 2014

Chinese Roast Pork (Siu Yuk)

There can never be too many recipes for chinese roast pork (or "siu yuk" as commonly known in Cantonese). Over the years, I have attempted various recipes and methods for achieving the perfect crackling - crispy and brittle enough that it doesn't break your teeth when you bite into it. It has always been a hit and miss for me. Either the skin doesn't fully crackle all over (leaving some parts soft and chewy), or the meat's dried out, or the crackling is burnt in some parts. But now, I have successfully made the almost-perfect roast pork, twice in a row. Woo-hoo! I must be doing something right there?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Oxtail braised in red wine with sweet and sour carrots (sans turnips)

Here is another recipe from the "Gary Mehigan Favourites" cookbook. I thought I'd try it out as it was at the "top of his favourites list", although I had to make a few substitutions, particularly with the Barolo which costs a bomb (even more so as two bottles are needed for this). I used Cabernet Sauvignon instead. The recipe also called for baby turnips which I couldn't find (perhaps not in season?) and so I made do with just the baby carrots. They were delicious, cooked in butter and verjuice.  Quite a lot of preparation goes into cooking this as it also requires beef jus and beef stock. The oxtail turned out pretty well and could have done with another half hour in the oven so that they were meltingly tender all the way through. Tasty nonetheless, very savoury and complements the sweet and sour carrots which I love!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Not quite Bistecca Fiorentina

Based on the recipe "Bistecca Fiorentina with shallots, garlic and mushrooms" from Gary Mehigan Favourites.  The only difference is, I couldn't get hold of aged T-bone steak, which is of course the main ingredient. Still, it tasted superb especially with the caramelized shallots, creamy roasted garlic and tasty mushrooms, all covered in a sweet tangy balsamic vinegar sauce.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Yakitori with Yaki Onigiri (Grilled chicken with grilled rice ball)

Grilling chicken tends to dry out the meat easily, so these chicken skewers are best made with drumstick or thigh fillets, and never breast fillets.  If you want to add some chicken skin on the skewers, that's even better (but entirely optional). Yakitori ("grilled chicken") is typically Japanese grilled chicken on bamboo skewers, and could either be plainly seasoned with salt ("shio") or basted with "tare" sauce, which is what I've done here. The kids love it, and it's just something about food served on a stick that makes it so appealing.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Churros with maple glaze

These are choux-pastry type churros, as opposed to the more traditional (I think?!) churros which uses flour and boiling water in making the dough. I tried the latter method a long time ago, and it didn't turn out as I had hoped. So I decided to stick to these ones instead, with a little twist by covering it in a maple syrup glaze. I also made a chocolate sauce (by melting some chocolate in hot milk) for the kids to dunk their churros into. Churros are also referred to as Spanish doughnuts, and are relatively easier and quicker to make compared to regular yeast doughnuts, simply because there's no need to proof the dough.They are also wonderfully light, fluffy and buttery, with a sweet and crunchy exterior that is accentuated by the ridges characteristic of this popular street food.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Beef Sliders on Brioche with Sticky BBQ sauce and Thousand Island Dressing

Ever since I started baking brioche buns (see my Pulled Pork burger with Korean Slaw) and using them for mini beef burgers (a.k.a. sliders), there was no turning back. Given a choice, brioche wins over plain hamburger buns (particularly those that are sold by the dozen at the supermarket). Not all brioche buns are created equal. I have ordered brioche burgers before when dining out, and have come across really thick, heavy, dense and sweet buns that makes the mammoth of the burger a feat to eat (and enjoy). The recipe that I've used for these brioche buns is adapted from magazine (August 2014 edition). Rich, melt-in-your-mouth and buttery with a hint of sweetness, these brioche buns make supremely delicious burgers. I've also tried buttermilk brioche buns and they are equally good, with the slightest tang from the buttermilk.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

King brown mushroom with XO sauce

This has been the dish of the month for me. I've made these mushrooms at least five times since the start of August, and I've enjoyed it as a side dish, a light lunch and even added it to my instant noodles for a touch of "gourmet". I made a big batch of it which has lasted up till now (there's still some left in the fridge) and have been spooning it liberally on almost anything I can think of. Last night, I made some sushi for the kids and had leftover rice, which I mixed through with some XO sauce. Tasty! I also used the XO sauce in cooking Mapo tofu (instead of using hot bean paste) along with some diced chinese mushrooms. It's a wonderful condiment which I've also used to spruce up some boring fried rice from the Chinese takeaway.

I never knew how to make XO sauce until I found it in Gary Mehigan's new book "Favourites", and it was the first recipe I bookmarked to try (among many others). I thought it was the perfect recipe to try, as I had some premium dried scallops that was long forgotten in the fridge, and the rest were just pantry ingredients that I had. A pretty simple recipe, though I added some extra dried chillies to "colour" the oil more. I added a drop of Cheong Chan caramel towards the end for a little extra flavour. Homemade XO sauce is definitely worth making, and it's probably best you use good quality dried scallops if you plan to do so. I highly recommend serving it on top of grilled king brown (or king oyster) mushrooms and grilled scallions (also from "Favourites") as it's the simplest and tastiest way to enjoy XO sauce.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cream cheese cinnamon rolls with blueberries and white chocolate icing

I've come across many recipes for cinnamon rolls, from yeast-free doughs to the fancier ones using buttermilk or cream cheese. The key to a good cinnamon roll (or scroll/bun) is to use good quality cinnamon and in the right proportion to the sugar filling. The addition of a syrup (like maple syrup) makes for a sticky cinnamon roll, and you can add nuts or fruits to that as well. In my "search" for cinnamon, I learnt that there are hundreds of types of cinnamon, but the main ones are Ceylon Cinnamon, Chinese Cassia Cinnamon, Saigon Cinnamon and Indonesian Korintje Cinnamon. In this recipe, I've used Indonesian cinnamon which has a strong aromatic flavour that is sweet and spicy, and perfect for cinnamon rolls. Make sure you check the label on your bottle of ground cinnamon to see where it's sourced from.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Roast Chicken with Creamy Parsley and Fondant Potatoes

I purchased Gary Mehigan's new book "Favourites" a couple of weeks ago during his book-signing at Costco. I love that he has put together his all-time favourite recipes in one book, because honestly, there are way too many recipes out there that I would love to try. I may be dreaming of cooking chilli crab one minute and baking kouign amann the next, and sometimes I just end up making more that I can fit leftovers in the fridge.

So far, I've attempted two recipes from the book. One is the XO sauce, which is utterly, utterly delicious. I was a little skeptical about making a big batch of it, but I'm so glad I did because it means I can eat more of it with more of everything! The other recipe that tempted my tastebuds was the Creamy Parsley and Nutmeg, which I found a little unusual yet intriguing with the combination of parsley and cream. A little like creamed spinach, but with a herby taste, I suppose? It turned out to be one of the most amazing things I've ever made with parsley. It's luxuriously rich and creamy, and the added sweetness from the shallots makes this so tasty that I couldn't stop eating it out of the pan (I was just checking for seasoning, really). In his book, Gary recommends serving it with a roast chook or rib of beef. I've been cooking a lot of red meat lately, specifically pork belly and pork shoulder (see my previous post on Korean Pulled Pork Burgers), so I settled on a recipe for roast chicken from Gary's other book (under Lantern Cookery Classics). The recipe is also available on the Penguin/Lantern website.

Creamy parsley and nutmeg
It's wonderful how the simplest recipe for roast chicken can yield the most satisfying results. A testament to how good it is, is when my 6-year old takes a bite and her face just lights up as she goes "Mmmmm..." before she reaches for another mouthful. It's really just chicken stuffed with thyme, garlic and lemon, but I guess it's the technique and method of cooking it that makes the difference. Also important is to make sure you use good quality, corn-fed, free-range chicken. I find that La Ionica (chemical and hormone free) chickens are really good too, which we always use when making our best ever Hainanese chicken rice.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pulled Pork Burger with Spicy Mayo and Korean Slaw

This started with a craving for a Korean-style slaw with a spicy gochujang dressing. Gochujang (as many of you might be familiar with) is a Korean red pepper paste that are sold in tubs and come in varying degrees of "heat". You can usually tell by the number of chillies on the label. I chose one with 3 chillies I think, as these things can pack quite a punch in terms of heat and intensity of flavour. So, I was wondering what would go with Korean slaw, and thought of bo ssam (Korean boiled pork belly with lettuce wraps). I found David Chang's bo ssam recipe using pork shoulder/butt and decided to turn that into a pulled pork burger with Korean slaw. And what's a burger without mayonnaise, especially a spicy gochujang mayonnaise? And to top it off (no pun intended), I baked these wonderful buttermilk buns (or brioche) which were moist, tender and didn't fall apart like most buns do when you're halfway through a burger.
Korean food doesn't just stop at Korean Fried Chicken and Korean hotpot. Give these a go at your next party. They don't require much preparation (the buns are relatively easy too) and will feed an army or two. Moreover, you can make the slaw one day ahead, which allows the cabbage to absorb the tangy, spicy and sweet flavours from the dressing. Oh, and that slow-roasted pork? Amazing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Breads are actually pretty easy to make. You mostly let the machine do the kneading, then leave the dough to rise while you go about doing your chores, updating your Facebook status and checking out what's happening on Twitter, enjoy a cuppa etc. Then, it's time to roll out the dough and shape them into whatever you like, which doesn't really matter because after you let them rise again, they somehow bounce back into shape. I hardly make breads because I'd have to make a big batch, and they are best eaten on the same day.
These cinnamon rolls however, can be kept overnight refrigerated, about two days. All it takes is a few seconds in the microwave, and you've got fresh, soft and tasty cinnamon rolls all over again. I was never a big fan of cinnamon rolls as I find them a little too sweet and sticky for my liking. These, on the other hand, are not sticky nor overly sweet. It's the combination of that cream cheese frosting and the almost-savoury cinnamon filling that make this so addictive, and yet not too rich that you'd stop at one.

The kids came back from school one day saying that they had super-awesome cinnamon rolls in school, and that gave me the perfect excuse to make these. As they preferred their rolls plain, I skipped the frosting on half the batch. I must say, I was pleased with how they turned out. If you leave the frosting to set on the rolls for a few minutes, it leaves a thin crunchy layer on top, like Krispy Kreme frosting. The rolls rose beautifully despite the fact that it was a cold winter's day, and it helped to place the dough under the cooker hood lights for some heat.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chicken Cacciatore with Pappardelle

Chicken Cacciatore is a simple and delicious Italian-style chicken stew made with tomatoes and white wine. "Cacciatore" means "hunter" in Italian, so this is also known as hunter's stew. I first made this a year ago when my friend Tracey shared her recipe with me. I think she visited some cooking school on her Italian holiday and kept raving to me about chicken cacciatore. Get hold of fresh pappardelle if you can (here, I've used cracked black pepper and basil pappardelle), but otherwise, any of your favourite pasta will work too. You can omit the red peppers if you like, but I find that it lends a lovely sweetness and flavour to the dish. This is ideal for those big family dinners, where you can cook up a big batch, let it simmer on the stove while you sit, relax and have a sip or two of wine. That's stress-free cooking for you. Read on to get the recipe.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mee Pok (Flat Egg Noodles) with Beef and Bittergourd


In all my years of eating and cooking, I have only recently embraced bittergourd into my cooking repertoire. I was visiting my mum and she was wondering what to do with the leftover roast pork she had in the fridge. She suggested doing a stir-fried bittergourd with roast pork dish, which I've heard of but never tried before. I can't remember if she ever cooked that during my childhood, but back then, I shunned anything that had bittergourd in it. I was a picky eater when I was young. Dare I admit that I never ate my veggies until I was in my late teens. Okay, my kids don't have to know this. Really.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Portuguese Chicken with Piri-piri Sauce

Piri-piri is a Swahili word for "pepper pepper", and is also known as African Bird's Eye chilli. It is the predominant ingredient in making piri-piri sauce - a tangy, garlicky, fiery hot chilli sauce that is popular in South Africa cuisine. If you didn't know already, piri-piri chicken (also known as Portuguese chicken) originated in Mozambique (some say Angola), which were former Portuguese colonies. Hence, the influence of spicy Portuguese cooking found its way into South African cuisine.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Easy Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict on Toasted Croissant

I got woken up early this morning by the kids wishing me "Happy Mother's Day" while I was still half asleep in bed. They were already up before 7am and couldn't wait to give me their presents and cards. Give it a couple more years and I'd have them well-trained to make me breakfast in bed. For now, Mr TFWL (aka Mr G) is only too happy to make one of our favourite breakfasts - Eggs Benedict. Not just any ordinary Eggs Benedict, but one served on top of a freshly baked croissant. Lucky for us, there is a bakery down the road which sells delicious breads and pastries, including these flaky buttery croissants.
It's always such a treat to have Eggs Benedict for breakfast, with the perfectly poached eggs and creamy hollandaise sauce. Traditionally (or usually), they are served on top of an English muffin, or sometimes wood-fired bread. We discovered the most awesome Eggs Benedict at Bondi Beach many years ago (before we had kids), at this place called Lamrock Café. The last time we were there, it wasn't on the menu anymore, and we never came across any cafes in Sydney serving them on croissant either.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lor Mee (Braised Noodles)

I cooked "Lor Mee" (Singapore-style) this weekend and updated my earlier post with new photos.

Lor mee simply refers to braised noodles, which typically uses thick yellow noodles served in a bowl with a thick flavoursome gravy (thickened with starch solution and/or egg). They are usually topped with sliced pork, deep-fried yam or other fritters, hard-boiled egg, fish cake or fresh seafood, and then served with a generous drizzle of black vinegar, chilli and minced garlic.

I still have not had Lor Mee in Sydney, though I'm sure it would be available in one of the many Malaysian/Singaporean eateries that have been popping up in many places recently. I remember many years ago, there were only a couple of such eateries in the city, but now, there are just too many to keep track of. Of course, everyone claims to serve Malaysian/Singaporean cuisine, but whether they are authentic or not is something else.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lemon Meringue Tart (and a Baby Shower)

Ms L threw a baby shower last week, and isn't the pink theme adorable? Loving the pink pom-poms! I offered to make mini lemon meringue tarts and Hokkaido cupcakes for the shower. I threw in some Gougères (Cheese puffs) as a bonus simply because they were pretty quick and easy to make, and just in case there weren't enough savoury options on the menu.

Ms L bought this cute cupcake stand from the party shop. Pretty isn't it? Might have gone overboard with the pink, but that's the theme!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ebi Fry (Fried Shrimp)


I honestly think that Australia might have the highest consumption of laksa per capita compared to other countries. There's probably more laksa varieties in Sydney than there is in Singapore, and IMHO, they taste better too. But let's not go there. What fascinates me is that many Australians have come to embrace Asian food as part of their regular dining and grocery options. Take panko crumbs for example. The word panko doesn't sound the least like it's something edible, though it is an ingredient that is commonly available and used here. Why go for regular breadcrumbs when you can have super light and crunchy panko?

Don't these crunchy crumbed deep-fried prawns look lovely? That's the beauty of panko crumbs. Looks good, tastes great and sounds earth-shattering (okay, maybe that's a little too much). They are quite simple and easy to prepare, though I won't lie - I took a while to peel, devein and prep the prawns. But it's all worth it in the end, and I even saved some leftovers and popped them into the air-fryer the next day. My favourite way of serving these are with rice topped with a generous helping of thick Japanese curry. I will show you those in my next post. For now, have a go at making these Japanese fried shrimp (Ebi Fry) and serve them with tartare sauce or mayonnaise if you like. You can also use them as a topping for sushi, or in a sandwich. An Ebi Fry on a hot bread roll sounds good too, perhaps with some coleslaw and tartare sauce? Read on to get the recipe.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Roast Chicken with Russian Salad {Best Ever}

This is the most amazing and easy roast chicken ever. I'm dreaming of having this chicken again as I write this. I actually ate this three days in a row and never got tired of it. In fact, it tasted even better the following days, with the flavours from the marinade (and the pan juices) having absorbed into the chicken. I was a little sceptical about the Russian salad

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pork Ribs with Black Bean and Bitter Gourd

Now that the summer holidays are over and the kids are back in school, things are getting busy again. It's not only the homework, but birthday parties, shopping for birthday presents, ironing the summer uniforms (it's much easier in winter when they just have to wear their skivvies and pullovers!), planning meals and packing lunchboxes. The only time I cook is usually on the weekends, and even then, I try to spend more time with the kids and less in the kitchen.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Spicy Chicken (Vindaloo)


Here's a hot and spicy chicken dish that's quick and easy to prepare, and will have you going back for more! This tastes even better the next day or two, so double the batch if you want to save some leftovers for a busy weeknight dinner.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Almond Crisps (Almond Brittle)

Chinese New Year is less than two weeks away and I haven't started baking anything yet this year. Well, not until now, if you'd call throwing sugar and nuts together and melting them in the oven baking. I recently bought a packet of Bienetta Florentine Mix, which comes in powdered form. The simplest way to use it is to mix it with almonds, bake them and it miraculously turns into a crisp layer of caramelized almonds. Alternatively, you could substitute the Bienetta by using a Florentine recipe, which you can find in my previous post "Almond and Pretzel Butterscotch Brittle".