Saturday, December 12, 2009

Baked Salmon with Teriyaki Glaze

This was the recipe that was supposed to be the first entry in my blog, but as you would have read, Keith came home a little early that day and was very hungry; I quickly finished cooking dinner and forgot to take pictures of the dish. The teriyaki glaze goes well with many other things such as deep fried tofu, baked chicken drumsticks or even as a marinade for grilled chicken wings. As you can see from the picture I always pour on a little extra teriyaki glaze because it is just delicious drizzled over the steaming hot rice that I serve this with!

Serves 2

1 piece salmon (about 12 ounces)
Salt and black pepper
¼ cup teriyaki glaze

  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the salmon.
  • Spray a wire rack and place on a baking tray, place salmon on top
  • Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until salmon is done

2” piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely julienned
¼ cup oil

  • Heat oil, fry ginger until golden brown, remove from oil and set aside
  • Keep oil for curries or frying vegetables.

To serve:

  • Place baked salmon on a serving plate, spread teriyaki glaze evenly and sprinkle crispy fried ginger on top.

Teriyaki Glaze
Makes about ½ cup

½ cup soy sauce
½ cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 tbsp sugar
1 level tsp corn starch
¼ cup water

  • Combine the soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a saucepan. Boil on medium heat for about 30 – 40 minutes until reduced in half.
  • Mix corn starch with the water and pour into the saucepan. Boil for another 1 minute
  • Cool mixture. Store the teriyaki glaze in a clean jar in the fridge. Will keep well for about 2 months.
  • Note: Instead of mirin, you can also use sake/vermouth/dry sherry and ½ cup sugar

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Crispy, Crunchy, Gooey Apple Crisp

What would you do if given a bag of apples? Well I guess you could eat them just as they are, but where would be the fun in that? A "funner" way to eat them (although probably not as healthy!) would be to cook them as a dessert. Similar to apple crumble, apple crisp is a treat that is easy to make and oh so delicious!

Serves 8

Apple Filling:
3 pounds (about 7-8) apples, peeled, cored and sliced
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • For the apple filling, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl (use your hands!) and then place into a 9x13 inch pan.
  • For the crisp topping combine the oats, flour, brown sugar and salt, mix well. Pour in the melted butter and mix well again. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes until apples are tender and topping is golden brown.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream or a little whipped cream, if desired.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thai Red Curry Shrimp

There are days when I will make a meal from scratch even if it requires 20 ingredients and takes hours for the preparation and cooking - as when I make my beef rendang, and then there are days when I just want to open some cans and make do.

One compromise is to use ready made spices or pastes or sauces that make it possible to have a tasty, nutritious meal in just minutes. For Thai dishes I love these pastes that I get from my regular Asian grocery store. Just combine with some canned coconut milk; add chicken, beef, tofu or seafood and some vegetables (canned baby corn is another standard in my pantry) and in 30 minutes or less you have a great meal.

If you're lucky enough to have leftovers the next day just cook up some rice noodles and top with the left over curry.

Serves 4

1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 cups assorted vegetables ie. baby corn, bell peppers, long beans, bamboo shoots
2 tbsp fish sauce
¼ cup Thai basil or cilantro, torn

  • In a wok or pot, combine the coconut milk with the red curry paste and bring to a boil. Add the brown sugar and kaffir lime leaves then lower the heat to a simmer.
  • Add vegetables and shrimp, and cook until shrimp are orange-pink in color and vegetables are tender crisp, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in fish sauce and Thai basil or cilantro.
  • Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil or cilantro and sliced red chilies.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey Pot Pie

Turkey to me, is the gift that keeps on giving!

The day after Thanksgiving I pulled the meat off the carcass, threw the bones, skin, fat and whatnot into a big pot, added some chopped celery, carrots, parsley stems and a big onion, covered it with water and boiled that for 4 hours to make a huge pot of delicious turkey broth.

And finally today - the fourth day after Thanksgiving - the leftover stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, cranberry sauce and gravy have been eaten up. However, we still have lots of turkey left and that with a couple of cups of the turkey broth, some vegetables and a pastry topping makes for a great family pot pie.

Serves 4

2 cups cooked turkey, cubed
½ onion, chopped
1 carrot, cubed
2 stalks celery, cubed
1 cup frozen peas
3 tbsp butter
5 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups turkey broth
1 cup milk
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper to taste

  • Microwave, or boil the carrot and celery until crisp tender, drain.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour and then slowly stir in turkey broth. It will be lumpy at first, but continue stirring until sauce is smooth. Add in milk, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Stir in the turkey, carrots, celery, peas and simmer on medium low heat until thick. Pour into a 11”x8” dish and set aside to cool.
  • When cool, top with rolled out pastry, brush on an eggwash and bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Pot Pie Pastry
1¾ cups all purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
½ tsp salt
¼ cup cold water

  • In a large bowl, sprinkle salt on flour, add butter and rub with fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Add cold water a little at a time and mix with a butter knife. Knead very gently with your fingers until a ball is formed. Cover with cling wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Brined Turkey With Honey Lemon Herb Gravy

Our family Thanksgiving dinner other than a time to give thanks of course, is also not complete without turkey. Some families prefer a baked ham or roast beef, but for our family it HAS to be turkey. About a month before thanksgiving we had decided that we would try a turkey dinner (roasted turkey with 9 side dishes) ordered from a local restaurant for an inexpensive $79.99. However, the closer we came to the actual date I just couldn't bring myself to order the turkey dinner. You see I had been cooking the Christmas turkey year after year back in Malaysia and it would get rave reviews from family and friends. So yet again, four days before thanksgiving I went and got a turkey that weighed 19.71 pounds which by the way was way more than Little Miss M who at her 15 month pediatrician's visit that same day only weighed 18 pounds 12 ounces!

Many years ago my cousin taught me how to brine the turkey which makes for a very juicy and flavorful bird. I then came up with the honey lemon herb marinade which is also used for the gravy. The result was a delicious turkey with a gravy that was slightly salty, sweet and savory. This recipe may seem a little daunting especially if you have never roasted a turkey, so just read the recipe a few times to familiarize yourself and you will be fine. Alternatively you could also use two chickens, brined for not more than 12 hours.

Before you start, ensure that you have a pot or clean bucket that is large enough to hold the turkey and make sure it can fit into your fridge! You may have to remove the bottom rack, so also ensure that you don't need the space for your other dishes.

Roasting time: 3 – 3 ½ hours

1 cup sea salt
1 cup sugar
1 gallon cold water

2 cups apple juice
2 – 3 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp marjoram
grated zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 11-12 pounds whole turkey, neck and giblets reserved
2 cups water
1 – 1½ cup turkey stock ( this is the juices left in the pan after roasting, please note it will be very salty)
3 level tbsp plain flour
salt & pepper to taste

Brining the turkey:
Thaw the turkey in the fridge for at least 2 days. Remove the neck and giblets and set aside. Dissolve the salt and sugar in the water, immerse the turkey and add more water if necessary to cover the turkey. Leave in the fridge to brine for 18 – 24 hours

For the marinade:
Combine apple juice and honey in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until reduced to ½ cup, then remove pan from heat. Stir in 1½ tbsp thyme, marjoram, and lemon zest. Stir in butter until melted, and season with pepper (no salt as the turkey will already be salty). Cover, and refrigerate until cold.

Roasting the turkey:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Place rack in lower third of oven.
  • Remove the turkey from the brine, wash well with cold water, drain the turkey and pat the outside and inside dry with kitchen towels,
  • Place turkey on a rack set in a roasting pan. Reserve half the honey butter mixture for gravy, and rub the remaining honey butter under the skin of the breast and over the outside of turkey, being careful not to tear the skin. Pour 2 cups water into pan.
  • Roast turkey for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Cover entire turkey loosely with foil. Continue roasting for about 2 hours. Remove the foil, if you have a thermometer check that the meat at the breast is 160°F. Roast the turkey uncovered for another 15 minutes to brown it. Insert a bamboo skewer into the thigh of the turkey, if the juice that runs out is clear, the turkey is cooked, if not then roast for another 10 – 15 minutes. Transfer turkey to platter, loosely cover with the foil and let stand 30 minutes.

    To make the sauce:
  • Bring 1½ cups of water to a boil, add in the turkey stock. In a small bowl, mix the reserved honey butter and flour until smooth. Whisk flour and butter mixture into broth mixture. Stir in remaining thyme.
  • Boil, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, adding water if too thick. Note that the sauce will thicken when it is cool. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Yummy, Yummy, Mutton Curry

There are many really good Indian restaurants close to where we live and occasionally we like to indulge in the all-you-can-eat buffet that most of these places have. One of the dishes that Keith really likes is mutton curry. I do make this at home, and usually in a large quantity because it freezes very well. Leave out the potatoes if you are doing this and instead boil the potatoes separately and add them to the curry before serving.

Serves 6

2 pounds mutton, cut into 1½“ cubes
6 pips garlic } finely ground
1½“ ginger }
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
5 cardamoms
5 cloves
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 big onion, cut into rings
6 curry leaves
1 big tomato, cubed
3 heaped tbsp meat curry powder
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
½ cup oil

  • Marinade mutton cubes with ½ cup yogurt, ground ginger and garlic for 1 hour or more.
  • Heat oil, when hot fry cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds and cumin seeds for 2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add in sliced onions and curry leaves and fry until onions are slightly brown, add in the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes until tomatoes are slightly soft.
  • Add in marinated mutton cubes and stir until meat changes color. Add in ½ tbsp salt and 2 cups water, cover and cook on low fire for 30 – 40 minutes until meat is tender.
  • Add in potatoes and the meat curry powder and cook for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.
  • Add in the rest of the yogurt and cook another 5 minutes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Beginning

My sister has a food blog and has asked me a couple of times when I would be starting one too. I began by choosing a name for my blog and ended up with "Wok Tales" two days ago. That night I made baked salmon with teriyaki glaze for dinner and thought that it would be a nice dish to start my first blog. The salmon was cooking nicely and then my husband comes home early and is famished (as he always is!), what do I do? Well of course I quickly stir fry the accompanying sweet peas and dish up the rice and we all sit down and eat. Oh wait a minute! I was supposed to take photos of the salmon! Too late, half of it was eaten before I remembered. Oh well, next time then.

That night I started thinking about the blog, I AM interested to have one, but when am I going to find the time to take pictures, upload them, write an accompanying story and then post it on my blog? When my 15 month old baby is asleep? But that's when I do prep for dinner, write out my grocery list, clean up, read and reply e-mails, do laundry...and the list goes on. But then this idea of having a food blog is getting me excited and so I must just get organized and get going! And so begins the first entry of my food blog - no recipe, no restaurant review, not much anything about food actually, but a food blog begins nevertheless...bon appetit!