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Monday, October 4, 2010

Beef and Potato Curry Puffs

This is a breakfast or tea time favorite in Malaysia and some other South East Asian countries and is very similar to the samosas from the Indian region or empanadas of the Latin countries. It is believed that they were introduced to Malaysia in the 16th century by the Portuguese. These days you would be lucky to have any type of meat in the curry puffs (or karipap as they are called) that are sold by road side hawkers as they are usually made with a spicy potato and sweet potato filling; which are delicious all the same. This version is more similar to one my mother makes.

When we were younger we would wait eagerly for her to finish deep frying the curry puffs and as soon as they were out we would wait all of 10 seconds before picking up one, biting the two ends off and then blowing through one hole to send the steam out the other hole! We had to be careful not to have our fingers in the way though as the steam could really burn. On our recent trip to Malaysia my mother brought over some curry puffs, but luckily they were just warm and not piping hot otherwise I may have embarrassed myself in front of Keith doing the cooling down technique!

Curry puffs are usually deep fried but here I have adapted them so that they are encased in a short crust pastry and then baked. We had a friend drop by after I had made these and he wolfed down six although he had just had lunch so I guess they must have been good!

The curry is delicious served on rice or with an Indian bread like chapatti or naan and is very similar to Kheema curry. Just add a little more water so there is a sauce and half to one cup of frozen peas cooked for another two minutes before serving.

PS: I made this for Keith’s office baking contest just before Christmas and they won first prize!

BEEF CURRY PUFFS
Makes 32 curry puffs

Beef Curry Filling
2 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped or grated
2” ginger, finely chopped or grated
6 pips garlic, finely chopped or grated
6 – 7 curry leaves, finely sliced
1½ pounds minced beef
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
3 tbsp meat curry powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp beef stock granules
Salt to taste
½ cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Heat oil and cook onions until translucent, then add in ginger, garlic and curry leaves, cook another 1minute. Add in beef and cook until beef is browned.
  • Add in potatoes, curry powder, cinnamon powder, beef stock granules and salt to taste. Add in water, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until potatoes are cooked.
  • Add lemon juice, stir and leave to cool before filing pastry rounds.

Pastry
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (16 tbsp) butter/margarine/shortening
½ - ¾ cup cold water

  • Sprinkle salt onto flour, rub butter/margarine into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Pour ½ cup cold water in the middle of the flour mixture and using a butter knife or pastry blender stir it in until a dough starts to form, adding more water if necessary. Don’t add too much water and don’t overwork the dough.
  • Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the dough and cut into 32 equal pieces, roll each piece into a 3” round.
  • Place about 2 teaspoons of filling in the center and crimp the edges.
  • Place on an un-greased cookie tray and brush with egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp cream or 2 egg yolks)
  • Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 20 minutes.
  • Suitable to freeze. Re-heat directly from the freezer in a medium oven (350°F) for about 15 minutes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Best Cure for a Cold

 
 

 
It’s that time of the year again when Keith and Little Miss M will get the flu or a cold with the usual sore throats, cough, runny noses etc. I however, have been very lucky not to have gotten a cold in the last 4 years! I’m not sure what I’m doing right, it could be the multi-vitamins and vitamin C that I take every day, healthy eating or maybe as a mommy my body knows that I just can’t afford to get sick! Anyway the best cure when Daddy and daughter aren’t feeling well is chicken noodle soup which has actually been scientifically proven to help alleviate symptoms of a cold!


If you have the time, buy chicken bones or inexpensive thighs/drumsticks to make the chicken stock. Cover the bones with water and boil for at least 3 hours, strain, let it cool, refrigerate overnight then remove the solidified fat. One of my favorite ways to make stock is to use the bones from a rotisserie chicken which has a lovely depth of flavor because the chicken has been roasted. I almost always have a container or two of frozen chicken stock in the freezer, but today I didn’t because I had used it a couple of weeks ago for the Steamboat and had to resort to store bought stock. Use any type of vegetables you like and cut them as big or small as you like, just ensure that they are the same size. You can cook the pasta in the soup but I prefer to cook it separately because we usually can’t finish the soup in one sitting and I don’t like the pasta to soak in the soup and get mushy.

 
CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
Serves 4

8 cups (64 ounces) low sodium chicken stock
1 chicken breast (about ½ pound), cut into ¾” pieces
2 small carrots
2 ribs celery
1 zucchini
1 potato
A few sprigs of thyme or ½ tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup pasta, any type, cook according to package directions

 
  • Clean and cut vegetables into even sized pieces
  • Bring the stock to a boil in a large pot, add chicken, carrots, celery and potatoes together with the thyme or parsley if used, lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until almost tender.
  • Add zucchini, cover and cook another 5 minutes. Season to taste.
  • Serve with pasta.

 

 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Crock-pot Beef Rendang

Beef rendang
The main ingredients are clockwise from the top: beef cubes, toasted dessicated coconut,
kaffir lime leaves, ground ingredients fried in oil and a can of coconut milk

On the left is assam jawa (tamarind) and on the right is assam keping



My Muslim friends will celebrate the end of the fasting month (Ramadan) in two days with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr or Hari Raya Aidil Fitri as it is called in Malaysia. In Malaysia is it quite standard fare to be served chicken or beef rendang which is a spicy, Malay stew together with glutinous/sweet/sticky rice. There are many variations of rendang which typically has lemon grass, galangal, onions and chilies ground and cooked in lots of oil until fragrant and then may be made without any spices or many types of spices like cinnamon, star anise, cardamom and cloves. My version which I learnt from a Malay friend has a lot of spices and meat curry powder which has cumin, coriander and fennel which I think gives it a lot of depth. You can make rendang with pretty much any meat; the same friend has made it with turkey or you can also use mutton which is what my sister’s mother-in-law makes her delicious rendang with. It is also popularly made with chicken on the bone which cooks much faster than the beef.

I always make a big portion of rendang because it is quite time consuming to make it, but also because it freezes very well and I can thaw and reheat a portion for our dinner if I’m pressed for time or stumped with what to cook. Making it in a crock pot eliminates the need to stir the rendang often as the low heat of the cooking ensures that the dish will not burn.  If you don't own a crock pot then by all means cook this in a wok or large pot on the stove, but just be prepared to stir every few minutes and watch that the dish does not burn!  Keith absolutely loves this and so do most of our friends whom we’ve served this to (ok maybe they’re just being polite!) but it is definitely one of our favorites.

CROCK POT BEEF RENDANG
Serves 8 - 10

5 pounds beef (chuck or other stew meat), cut into 1½” cubes
1 cup (4 oz) desiccated coconut
3 tbsp meat curry powder
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 big onions
4 stalks lemongrass
2 tbsp galangal powder
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp turmeric
3 – 4 pieces assam keping (or soak 2 tbsp tamarind pulp in ½ cup warm water, strain)
5 – 6 kaffir lime leaves, torn
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 13.5 oz can (2 cups) coconut milk
1 cup water
1 cup oil
  • Dry fry the desiccated coconut in a wok, stirring continuously until dark golden brown. Cool then finely grind in a spice/coffee grinder. Set aside
  • Finely grind the onions and lemongrass in blender with 1 cup water. Stir in the galangal powder, chili powder and turmeric. Set aside
  • Heat oil, fry the cinnamon stick and star anise for a few minutes. Add the meat curry powder, fry for another minute until fragrant, stirring continuously.
  • Add ground onion mixture. Cook for about 30 minutes until fragrant and oil surfaces to the top.
  • Transfer to a crock pot, add beef, coconut milk, assam keping or tamarind juice, kaffir lime leaves, fried desiccated coconut, sugar and salt and mix well. Turn on crock pot to high heat and cook covered for 2 hours. Then take lid off and cook for another 2 hours, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has gone and the meat is tender.
  • Rendang tastes better the next day. Freezes well for up to 6 months

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tentacles and All

Squid curry

This is what squid looks like before it is cleaned

The ingredients for the curry

Squid curry on brown rice with sides of curried mashed eggplant, yogurt and papadums

Ah squid, you either love it or hate it! The thing to remember about cooking squid is that it takes either a very short time or a very long time to cook – cook it for just 5 minutes until tender or stew it for an hour, but nothing in between. If you don’t like squid then replace with either shrimp (in the shell or not) or blue crabs, they are equally delicious cooked in the curry sauce.

SQUID CURRY
Serves 4

1 pound squid, cleaned and cut into ½” rings
2 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1” ginger peeled and finely julienned
6 curry leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, crushed
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
1 heaped tbsp fish curry powder
1 tomato, diced
½ cup water
½ tbsp lemon/lime juice/tamarind pulp
¼ cup coconut milk/milk
½ tbsp salt
1 tbsp oil


  • Heat oil, fry shallots until lightly brown then add in the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin and fenugreek; continue frying for 2 minutes.
  • Add curry powder, stir for 30 seconds then add tomatoes, water, lemon juice and salt. When this comes to a boil add in the squid and cook for about 5 minutes or until just cooked.
  • Lastly add in the coconut milk/milk, cook for about 1 more minute.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Dry Chili Chicken


Chicken Varuval

From left, top to bottom: cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, 
cloves, dried red chili, cumin seeds, fennel seeds
ground black pepper, ground coriander, curry leaves
chili powder, turmeric
The parboiled chicken

Golden brown onions
The cuisine of south India is quite predominant in Malaysia and one of my favorite dishes is the Chicken Varuval or Chettinad Chicken which is a dry curry. I usually make it with chicken breast because Keith doesn’t like eating chicken on the bone. However, cooking it with chicken pieces on the bone actually results in a much tastier dish. Over the years I have adapted the recipe from the original that was given to me when I first started working more than 17 years ago by a colleague who used to make it with mutton. I also learnt from one of my former staff members whose family owned an Indian restaurant that they parboil the chicken to speed up the cooking process. This is a very popular recipe in Southern Indian restaurants and I’m sure you’ll like it once you’ve tried it. It is really good as part of a rice meal or eaten with chappati.


CHICKEN VARUVAL
Serves 8

5 pounds chicken (chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes or 1 whole chicken, chopped into small pieces)
½ cup oil
3 onions, cut in half then thinly sliced
1½ bulb garlic
4" ginger
2 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
8 cloves
8 cardamom pods
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
8 dried red chili
10 curry leaves
4 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp sugar
Salt to taste
Juice from 1 lime
  • In a large pot, cover chicken with water, add ½ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp chili powder and ½ tbsp salt. Bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat to a simmer, cook chicken for 30 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
  • Blend garlic and ginger with ½ cup water.
  • Heat oil, fry the sliced onions until golden brown (about 20 minutes), then add the cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamom, cumin seed, fennel seeds, dried chili and curry leaves and fry for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Add the garlic-ginger paste and cook another minute
  • Add the chicken, stir until well coated with the spices. Lower heat and add in the chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric, ground black pepper, sugar and salt to taste and fry for 10 minutes or until chicken is tender. 
  • Lastly add in the lime juice, mix well.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fish Curry

Roti canai with fish curry





When my cousin and her family visit from LA, it is almost a must that the Indian bread paratha or “roti canai” as it is called in Malaysia served with fish curry will be on the menu for breakfast or lunch. This may seem a little unusual to Westerners who are more used to their cereal and milk, or pancakes etc, but for Malaysians who are used to eating coconut rice with “ikan bilis sambal”, or curry noodles, or savory glutinous rice, this is just another normal breakfast.


FISH CURRY
Serves 6 - 8

1 pound white fish, cut into 2” pieces
3 shallots, sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1” ginger peeled and finely julienned
1 green chili, deseeded and sliced lengthwise
10 curry leaves
½ tbsp black mustard seeds
½ tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
4 – 6 tbsp fish curry powder
2 cups (about 20) okra/ladies fingers
1 Japanese eggplant, cut into 2” sticks
2 tomatoes, cut into about 6 wedges
1 tbsp tamarind seeds mixed with 1½ cup warm water, soaked and strained
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp oil
  • Heat oil, fry shallots until lightly brown then add in the garlic, ginger, green chili, curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin and fenugreek; continue frying for 2 minutes.
  • Add curry powder, stir for 30 seconds then add tamarind juice and salt. When this comes to a boil add in the eggplant cook for about 2 minutes then add in the okra and tomatoes, cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Lastly add in the fish and coconut milk, cook for about 5 minutes or until fish is cooked through.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Take A Can Of Tuna....

Take a can of tuna, add some chopped celery, minced shallot, a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise, a dash of vinegar, salt and black pepper to taste. Mix it all up and you have a delicious lunch! Oh alright, I‘ll write out the actual recipe!

But you get the idea right? What could be easier than taking a can of tuna and making it into something very tasty and nutritious in all of 5 minutes? When I was expecting Little Miss M and hungry all the time canned tuna was a such a savior because I could use it to make tuna salad, add it to fried rice or just eat it out of the can! I’ve used it to make “serunding” which is a spicy Malay floss that goes well with bread or rice and I remember my mother would add it to pasta sauce which was another tasty use. So go ahead, take a can of tuna….

SIMPLE SKINNY TUNA SALAD
Serves 4

1 can tuna, drained
¼ cup chopped celery/green apple
1 tbsp finely minced shallot
2 – 3 tbsp plain low-fat yogurt
1 – 2 tbsp low fat mayonnaise
1 tsp vinegar (any type you like) or lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Gently mix all ingredients together, taste and add more vegetables or seasoning as desired.
  • Add other ingredients if desired: chopped pickles, chopped red chili, chopped hard-boiled egg etc
  • Serve on bread, rolls, pita, crackers or just with salad greens

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Not Just a Pretty Face

 
Still pretty but maybe this "pretty face" needs a bit of botox!
Pandan leaves
The rice layer waiting to be cooked

If you can't get a banana leaf to flatten the rice, 
just use a serving spoon with a clean produce bag over it
If you are a Malaysian living overseas, what do you do if you crave a Malaysian dish? Do you wait until your next trip back so you can satisfy your craving or do you look up the recipe online or in your Malaysian recipe books and just attempt the recipe? Because I live in the Bay area which has a large Southeast Asian population it is easy to get ingredients for Malaysian dishes. So for me when I crave something I have to add another factor which is having enough people to eat what I cook! With savory dishes like rendang, satay, fish curry etc. it’s not a problem because Keith enjoys these dishes, but when it comes to desserts like kueh talam, onde-onde, kueh ketayap etc he’s not a big fan and so I have to wait for a day when other Malaysians are around to enjoy the dish with me.

A couple of weeks back my cousin Stephanie and her family came to visit us for a few days and before she came I asked the usual question of what they wanted on the menu. She requested a dessert called kueh seri muka which means pretty face cake in Malay. This is a steamed cake made with sweet/glutinous rice at the bottom and topped with a custard made from eggs, sugar, flour coconut milk and pandan juice. Pandan juice is made from screwpine leaves or “pandan leaves” in Malay, blended with water. Pandan leaves are used extensively in Southeast Asian cooking both in desserts and also to add fragrance to rice and other dishes. The Thais make a wonderful dish with marinated chicken pieces wrapped in pandan leaves and then deep fried or grilled called Pandan Chicken.

You will absolutely need to get fresh or frozen pandan leaves for this recipe. You can get pandan essence in small bottles but it is just not the same as using the leaves. As you can see in the photo the custard turned out a little soft because of insufficient flour (I have corrected the recipe) but it was delicious all the same. Some recipes ask for the custard to be cooked for a few minutes on the stove to thicken it before being poured onto the rice layer and then some recipes just require you to pour the raw custard batter on the rice and steam it. I tried the first method this time and will probably try the second method the next time I make this.

Stephanie, our friend Ivan and even Stephanie’s kids all agreed that the kueh seri muka was absolutely delicious. Even Keith said it was “nice”.  I actually dare say that it was better than some of the Seri Muka that I have had in Malaysia!  So if you have a craving for kueh seri muka and if you can get fresh or frozen pandan leaves do try making it.


KUEH SERI MUKA
Serves 6 - 8

Rice Layer
1½ cups sweet (glutinous) rice
1 cup thin coconut milk
½ tsp salt
1 pandan leaf, cut into a few lengths

Custard Layer
2 large eggs
1 cup thick coconut milk
¾ cup (6 oz) white sugar
1 cup pandan juice (blend 10 pandan leaves with 1 cup water, strain)
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp corn starch
1/3 cup all purpose flour

To make the rice layer
  • Wash rice in several changes of water until water runs clear. Cover with fresh water and soak for at least 3 hours. Rinse and drain rice.
  • Place in shallow 10” cake tin. Mix the coconut milk and salt together and add this to the rice. Bury the pandan leaf pieces in the rice and steam over rapidly boiling water until rice is cooked, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove pandan leaves and fluff rice up with a fork. Then, using a banana leave or a large spoon placed in a clean produce bag, press the rice down to form an even compact layer.
To make the custard layer
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, coconut milk and sugar, stirring with a balloon whisk or wooden spoon. Add the pandan juice, corn starch and plain flour. Stir well until smooth and free from lumps
  • Strain mixture into a metal bowl and sit this bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir continuously until custard just begins to thicken-do not overcook. Pour this over the rice layer. Steam over very gentle heat until set, about 30 minutes. Avoid opening the steamer as this will only allow heat to escape and lengthen the cooking time.
  • Allow cake to cool completely before cutting. Best eaten on day it is made as the rice hardens once refrigerated.

Monday, July 5, 2010

From Drab to Fab: Awesome Oatmeal Cookies

A stack of these + a hot cup of tea = heaven!
I like cookies but of course you can’t eat them all the time. But then again if they’re made with healthy stuff like oatmeal, dried fruit and cinnamon then that sort of cancels out all the unhealthy stuff like the butter, sugar and flour right? At least that’s my excuse for making these awesome oatmeal cookies whenever I have a hankering for cookies. What makes these oatmeal cookie awesome? The orange flavored dried cranberries (which I get from Trader Joe’s), white chocolate chips and the orange rind if you have some on hand, take what would be ordinary oatmeal cookies from drab to fab!


AWESOME OATMEAL COOKIES
Makes about 4 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grated orange rind (optional)
1½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
3 cups Quaker Oats
1 cup orange flavored dried cranberries
½ cup white chocolate chips

  • Heat oven to 350°F
  • Beat the butter with the brown and granulated sugars until creamy
  • Add eggs and vanilla and the orange rind (if used), beat well
  • In another bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, mix well
  • Add combined flour mix to the wet batter, mix well
  • Stir in oats, cranberries and chocolate chips
  • Drop tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet
  • Bake 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown
  • Cool, then remove to wire rack

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ribs To Die For!



BBQ ribs, corn bread and baked beans

I like to ask people this question, "If you were on death row waiting to be hanged what would be your last meal?" Ok so maybe the question is a little dramatic and I could just ask, "What is your most favorite meal?", but you have to admit that my death row question really makes a person think about their absolute, most favorite meal!

I would kill for really good BBQ ribs! Which I guess creates a paradox because I would be sent to death row where I would have BBQ ribs as my last meal! I just love the succulent, juicy, fall off the bone, sweet and spicy taste of really good BBQ ribs. Here's a recipe that I like to make especially in the summer. It is rubbed with a spice rub which has cocoa powder as an unusual ingredient, baked in the oven and then finished with BBQ sauce. People I have made this for have said it's good, and maybe even worth killing for!

BBQ Ribs

2 racks of St Louis style or baby back ribs. Trim excess fat, and remove the skin membrane on the inner side of the ribs so that the spice rub will penetrate.

Spice Rub for 2 racks of ribs:

3 tbsp ground fennel
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp celery seed
1 tbsp chili powder
½ tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp salt
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup BBQ sauce

  • Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil, and place a wire rack on top of each. Mix all ingredients together except the Dijon mustard. Spread the Dijon mustard on both sides of the ribs. Sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both sides of each rack of ribs. Press the spice mixture into the ribs to coat completely. Set aside in fridge for at least 2 hours for the flavors to penetrate.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Cook ribs on racks on sheets for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 275°F for another 2 – 2½ hours (until meat pulls away easily from the bones).
  • Remove from oven and using a basting/pastry brush, smother the ribs with ½ the BBQ sauce. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove, brush with the remaining BBQ sauce and let it stand 10 minutes for juices to redistribute before serving.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Little Miss M's Kitchen

The finished kitchen
My drawing of the kitchen

I hate my kitchen counters. The kitchen cabinets are a little worn but they are made of solid oak and can be refinished. The kitchen counters on the other hand are ugly tiles with dirty looking dark grout. They can be seen in some of the photos of the food especially when I have hungry people waiting for their dinner and I have less than 10 seconds to take a photo of a dish!

So when Little Miss M started showing interest in play cooking or "masak-masak” in the Malay language which translated literally is "cook-cook", I jumped at the chance to design and build "my" dream kitchen! I started by deciding where it would go and then designing the size and features of the kitchen. We got some ideas from blogs and most of them utilized tables and knick knacks from Ikea. Building this kitchen got us quite creative and we had a lot of fun going to the home improvement store thinking about what we could use to build our own faucet with sink, microwave and fridge from things there. 

Because we used wood and paint that we already had, we only spent about $20 on plastic baskets from the Dollar store, the hinges, magnetic door latch that we used for the microwave and fridge and PVC piping for the faucet. The sink is a cooking pot that my friend Ivan had given to me (the flat handleless lid is used as a play pizza pan!)

We thought we could knock out the kitchen in a weekend or two but because of bad weather, in the end it took us about five weekends! Would we do it again? Hmmm, it was a lot of work and we could have bought a nice play kitchen for only about $150, but seeing our work and the fun that Little Miss M gets when she plays with it is priceless. Now if only I could convince Keith that our kitchen will be easier to renovate….

Monday, May 3, 2010

Not My Mother's Meatloaf


Ok maybe the title is a little deceptive because my mother never actually made meatloaf, but if she did chances are she would have made it the traditional way which is to cook it in a loaf/bread pan. When I first started making meatloaf that was how I cooked it too, but was quite unhappy with the results. The meatloaf tended to steam in it's juices and at times it would just fall apart when I tried to unmold it from the loaf pan. I got the idea to shape the meatloaf and cook it on a parchment paper covered baking sheet while watching "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" on The Food Network - I believe Bobby Flay lost that one to his opponents.

The other difference in my recipe is that I use a combination of equal parts ground beef and ground pork because I think this gives a much lighter meatloaf. Keith said it tasted really good like this than when made with just ground beef. It reminded him of meatballs or fresh-made sausage. I think using beef with any other meat such as ground chicken or turkey would also work just as well.

Meatloaf is a classic comfort food which can be delicious and satisfying when made well and this recipe is sure to produce a well flavored, juicy meatloaf that holds up well and will become a family favorite just as it has become ours.


MEATLOAF
Serves 4

¾ pounds ground beef
¾ pounds ground pork
½ large onion, finely chopped or grated
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 carrot, finely chopped
½ cup sweet corn
1 egg
1½ cups fresh bread crumbs
½ tbsp parsley flakes
½ tbsp Italian seasoning
½ tbsp crushed bay leaves
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp pepper
¼ cup Parmesan, grated (optional)

Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1½ tbsp beef/chicken bouillon powder
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp dry mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil, sauté onions, garlic, carrots and sweet corn about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • In a small bowl, combine ketchup, bouillon powder, Balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, dry mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Reserve 3 tbsp for top of meatloaf.
  • In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, bread crumbs, sautéed vegetables, seasonings, egg, remaining sauce mixture, and optionally, Parmesan cheese.
  • Mold the meat into a loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pour remaining sauce over meat loaf to coat. Bake for 1¼ hour or until internal temperature is 165°F.
  • Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spaghetti Alio Olio with Shrimp


Literally translated as spaghetti garlic and oil, 'spaghetti alio olio' is possibly one of the most simple dishes and yet tastiest that can be made with just five ingredients: pasta, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley and parmesan cheese. I add a sixth ingredient: pepperoncino or red pepper flakes for a bit of a kick. You can serve it as it is or with a protein such as the shrimp that I have in the following recipe.


SPAGHETTI ALIO OLIO WITH SHRIMP
Serves 2

12 large shrimp (about 1/2 pound) peeled and cleaned
1/2 pound spaghetti or any pasta of your choice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

  • Boil a large pot of water, add some salt and start cooking the spaghetti
  • Sprinkle some salt and black pepper on the shrimp
  • Heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a pan on medium heat, place shrimp in pan in a single layer, cook for about 3 minutes and then turn over and cook the other side for another 3 minutes or until cooked. Set aside.
  • Heat the remaining olive oil, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, add the red pepper flakes, then the pasta which should have cooked to al dente by now.
  • Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top and stir well. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Add the cooked shrimp and add more salt to taste.
  • Serve with more parmesan cheese on the side if desired

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kung Pao Chicken


This is dish that I cook quite often because Keith likes it. So much so that we seem to order it even when we go out and eat at Chinese restaurants. It may look like a lot of ingredients but if you've done any Chinese cooking you would have almost all of the sauce and marinade ingredients in your pantry. And if you don't, go and get them and try making this dish because it's sure to become a family favorite.

KUNG PAO CHICKEN
Serves 4

1 pound boneless & skinless chicken breast or thighs
4 tbsp roasted peanuts or cashew nuts
5 dried red chilies
2 tbsp cooking oil
5 slices fresh ginger
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks scallion, sliced into 2” lengths

For the chicken marinade:
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
Dash of white and black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil

For the sauce:
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp black vinegar
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp sesame oil
Dash of white and black pepper
¼ cup water
2 tsp corn starch

  • Cut the chicken meat into 1” cubes and marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a wok and fry the dried chilies until browned, set aside.
  • Stir-fry the marinated chicken until nicely browned. Dish out and set aside.
  • Fry the ginger and garlic for a few seconds until fragrant then add the fried chilies, peanuts and the sauce.
  • When the sauce comes to a boil, add the chicken and stir continuously until the chicken is well coated with the sauce. Lastly add in the scallions and stir evenly.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Me So Like Miso

I have a new favorite right now, Miso soup. I have been making it to serve with dinner (if we have Asian style rice and meat), with noodles for lunch or just as it is as a snack in the mid afternoon. We have been trying to eat healthier and also have smaller meals so I have been stocking up on lots of fruits, serving bigger portions of vegetables and serving soup for dinner which obviously is more filling and helps us eat smaller portions of the main meal.

It is so easy to make and literally takes only as long as the time for the water to boil. As you can see from the picture my miso soup is not like what you would get in a Japanese restaurant, mine is chock-a-block full of tofu and wakame (seaweed).

MISO SOUP
Serves 2 as a side or 1 as a main meal

1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp granulated Dashi (I use Ajinomoto brand)
1/2 tsp miso paste
8 - 10 strands cut, dried wakame
1/4 block medium or firm tofu, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 stalk spring onion, finely sliced

  • Boil water, add dashi and miso, stir until they dissolve.
  • Add wakame and tofu, boil for 10 seconds.
  • Serve in bowls and scatter spring onion if used.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Black Pepper Beef Pot Roast



I had a nice piece of beef top round and was trying to figure out what to cook with it. Finally I remembered a very popular dish in Malaysia: beef - or actually any kind of meat with black pepper sauce. There are small stalls and big restaurants that serve beef, lamb or chicken with a black pepper sauce. In fact black pepper sauce is also featured in noodle dishes such as Japanese udon noodles with bell peppers and seafood.

I decided to make it easy on myself by just cooking the whole piece of beef as a pot roast in the oven rather than making the sauce separately and pouring it on steaks. It turned out beautifully tender and very flavorful. For just the black pepper sauce recipe, leave out the beef, carrots and mushrooms and you will be able to get about 2 cups of sauce.


Grilled New York strip steak with the black pepper sauce

BLACK PEPPER BEEF POT ROAST
Serves 4

2 pounds beef top round
2 tbsp olive oil
1 big onion, finely chopped
6 pips garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 cups water
1 beef stock cube
4 – 5 dashes of worcestershire sauce
½ tbsp sugar
3/4 tbsp black pepper, ground
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp plain flour mixed with 2 tbsp water (optional)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups mushrooms, sliced and sauteed in 1 tbsp butter

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Season the piece of beef with salt and black pepper. Heat oil in a heavy based pot on a medium heat, add meat and brown all over. Set aside.
  • To the pot, add chopped onion and cook until caramelized. This will take about 15 - 20 minutes and will make a big difference to the taste of the dish. Add in chopped garlic and sauté for a few minutes. Add in water, stock cube and tomato puree, bring to a boil, lower heat and cook until onions and garlic are soft (about 45 minutes).
  • Add in Worcestershire sauce, sugar, white and black pepper then the beef. Cover and place in the middle of the oven. Cook for about 1 1/2 hours until tender.
  • Carefully remove, set aside to cool 10 minutes then use a very sharp knife to slice into 1/4" - 1/2" slices, place in the sauce, scatter carrots and mushrooms around the meat, cover and cook in the oven for about 30 minutes more until carrots are tender.
  • Make a flour slurry with 1 tsp flour mixed with 2 tbsp water and mix into the sauce to thicken it if desired.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mexican Fruit Cake


I opened a can of what I thought was pineapple rings to make pineapple pork and instead saw crushed pineapple instead. Oops! Well I immediately thought of the cake that my mother-in-law had made one Christmas which was very tasty, very easy to make and the first time I had heard of crushed pineapple in a can. So I immediately got out all the ingredients and started mixing, but just as I was about to pour the batter into the pan, I realized that there was no butter or oil in the list of ingredients and I wondered if I had copied the recipe incorrectly. Now Keith's family members are good cooks, but they are all about tried and tested recipes and not necessarily inventive so I was quite sure I would find the recipe if I googled it. Yes, there it was and I confirmed that the cake did not use any kind of fat. However, the recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar and I just couldn't bring myself to use that much so I reduced it to 1 cup sugar and it was just as good. Keith was more than happy with his double dose of pineapple that night - pineapple pork for dinner and the Mexican fruit cake for dessert.

MEXICAN FRUIT CAKE

1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 eggs
1 20 oz can of crushed pineapple with the juice
1 cup chopped nuts
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Mix all ingredients together on slow for about 2 minutes
  • Put in greased 13” x 9” baking pan and bake for 40 - 45 minutes

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Who Pickles Brussel Sprouts??



This is what a stalk of brussel sprouts looks like
When in a pickle what do you do? I guess similar to the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” I decided to make brussel sprouts pickles when I was stumped with what to do with a big bunch I had. I had bought a stalk of brussel sprouts when I saw it at my grocery store mainly because it was still on the stalk and looked cool! I cooked some for dinner - al dente and with lots of bacon to give it flavor but Keith looked like he was going to keel over and die with every bite of the six sprouts that he ate at dinner that night! And I really didn’t want to eat the rest of them all by myself. So I started thinking about what I could do with them and then I thought that since I like pickled cabbage maybe the brussel sprouts would taste good pickled.

I found an Eurasian pickle recipe in a 35 year old cookbook (Ellice Handy) and adapted it. The pickles were terrific! I gave some to my friend Ivan who happens to be half Eurasian and he agreed that eaten as part of a Malaysian meal – with steaming hot white rice and fried fish as he did, it actually passed muster. So here it is, maybe for the first time ever - pickled Brussel Sprouts!

PICKLED BRUSSEL SPROUTS
Makes about 3 jars

3 cups brussel sprouts, halved
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp finely shredded ginger
1 stalk lemongrass, smashed
1” galangal
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp oil

  • In a large pot, boil 1 gallon of water with ½ cup vinegar, ½ cup sugar and 2 tbsp salt. Lower heat to simmer. In a few handfuls at a time, blanch vegetables for 1 minute. Use a salad spinner to spin dry. Set aside.
  • In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and galangal until fine.
  • Heat oil and fry ground ingredients until fragrant, add the lemongrass and turmeric, stir 1 minute then add the vinegar, sugar and salt and bring to a boil.
  • When the spice mix is cool add in the vegetables. Mix well.
  • Keep in clean jars for at least 1 day before eating.

Monday, March 1, 2010

These Muffins are Bananas!!

With a toddler, we almost always have bananas in the house - which don't always get eaten before they get overripe. A friend taught me to just stick overripe bananas (in their skin), in the freezer and then thaw them on the counter (for about 30 minutes) and they can be used in any recipe which requires mashed ripe bananas.

The banana skins will turn black and once thawed they will be very mushy, but just peel them or squeeze them over a bowl like squeezing toothpaste and you can use it just as you would fresh ripe bananas. I have to say though, after trying the frozen bananas in a recipe I actually like them more than using fresh bananas! I think the freezing actually makes them sweeter and these muffins get eaten really fast!

BANANA WALNUT MUFFINS
Makes about 24 muffins

6 ripe bananas
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
½ cup (1 stick) melted butter
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Mash bananas with a fork. Stir in other ingredients in order given, until just blended. Do not over mix.
  • Grease and flour muffin pans to make 24 muffins (or use cupcake baking cups)· Pour batter until 2/3 to the top
  • Bake for about 30 – 35 minutes

    For banana bread:
  • Pour into 2 greased and floured 9” x 5” pans and bake for 1 hour

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

And Fire Made It Good




Beef and chicken satay with peanut sauce (with a dollop of extra hot chili paste in the center), red onion slices, cucumber slices and cubes of compressed rice.


One of the most popular Malaysian dishes is Satay which is skewered grilled meat served with a peanut sauce (or kuah kacang in the Malay language), cucumber slices and red onion slices. Cubes of compressed rice or “nasi impit” is also usually served as it goes well with the peanut sauce. Other Asian countries have a similar style of cooking and I have had both the Indonesian and Thai versions, but I have to say that although the meat may have tasted alright, nothing compared to the Malaysian peanut sauce.

I made some chicken satay for our Christmas lunch at my cousin's place. Due to a miscommunication (understandable given that we were doing what Malaysians like to do which is to talk about all the food that we were going to have for that weekend) we didn't have quite enough skewers and so we ended up cutting the chicken and beef into slightly bigger pieces and threading about 7 pieces of meat on each skewer. I wouldn't recommend that because authentic Malaysian satay is thinly sliced meat and just 5 - 6 per skewer. Oh but don't get me wrong, it was delicious all the same!!

The next time we visit Malaysia I think I’ll actually get a proper satay grill to bring back, just hope the US Customs don’t stop me from bringing it in!


CHICKEN SATAY WITH PEANUT SAUCE
Makes 50 skewers and 8 cups sauce

4 pounds chicken thighs, cut into ¾” pieces
2 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp fennel
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp galangal powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 big red onion
2“ ginger
5 pips garlic
2 stalks lemongrass
2 tbsp peanut oil
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt

  • Toast coriander, cumin and fennel separately in a pan until fragrant. Leave to cool then grind finely in spice/coffee grinder.
  • Grind the onion, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass with the oil and about 1/4 cup of water.
  • Marinade chicken in spice mixture, ground ingredients, sugar and salt for at least 2 hours or overnight
  • Soak about 50 bamboo skewers for 15 minutes.
  • Thread about 6 - 7 pieces of chicken on each skewer.
  • Brush on some oil while grilling. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes on each side until golden brown and meat develops a few char spots.

Peanut Sauce
Makes 8 cups

2 onions } grind finely with ¼ cup water
5 pips garlic }
2 stalks lemongrass }
1 tbsp chili powder }
2 cups skinned peanuts
1 tbsp tamarind soaked in ½ cup warm water (or 2 tbsp tamarind puree)
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 cup oil

  • Toast peanuts in dry hot wok for about 10 minutes, leave to cool then coarsely grind in a spice/coffee grinder
  • Heat oil, sauté ground ingredients for about 30 minutes until the oil rises to the top, add 1 cup water.
  • When boiling add in the tamarind juice, sugar, salt and ground peanuts. Add more water if necessary (sauce will thicken when cool). Adjust seasoning
  • Serve chicken satay with peanut sauce, cucumber slices, red onion pieces and nasi impit

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year!

From top left: braised duck, steamed garlic prawns, stir fried sugar peas and sambal petai prawns

Steamed Garlic Prawns cooked in the microwave


I have always made a point to celebrate Chinese New Year, partly to celebrate the Chinese half of my heritage and I like the festivity, the food and the camaraderie shared with family and friends. Unfortunately Keith was going to be away at a convention that weekend and I was feeling kind of sad that it would be just Little Miss M and me.


But then a few days before Chinese New Year our friends Ivan and Gary called an invited us for lunch! Ivan is a good cook and I gladly accepted his invitation. For our meal he made: Teochew braised duck, sambal petai prawns, stir fried snap peas and steamed garlic prawns. The duck recipe he got off a Malaysian blog and the sampal petai prawns were cooked from prepared sambal mix from Malaysia, but the steamed garlic prawns which are cooked in the microwave was his own concoction. Everything was absolutely delicious and we had a really great start to the Chinese New Year.

IVAN’S STEAMED GARLIC PRAWNSServes 4

12 large prawns
4 - 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 stalk spring onion, finely chopped
  • Clean the prawns by using a scissors to cut the head where the 'horn' begins (about half-way of the head) or remove them completely if you like.
  • Slit the prawns lengthwise from the head to the tail, devein.
  • Place in a microwave safe plate and stuff with the minced garlic.
  • Sprinkle the wine, soy sauce and sesame oil evenly over the prawns, cover with plastic wrap (eg. Saran or Glad wrap) and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Leave aside for a minute and then sprinkle the chopped spring onions and serve.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Minced Pork with Edamame

Little Miss M's favorite 'baby', MoMo the mouse loves this dish too!

Although the grocery store is just 1 1/2 miles away from our house there are days when we're out of fresh food and I'm just too busy to make a trip to get groceries. Something I always turn to when this happens or when I'm too lazy to think of what to cook is the following dish. I am not ashamed to say that our freezer has NEVER not had bacon! I also stock up on edamame (shelled or whole in the pod) and at least a pound of minced pork.

You can also add fresh or reconstituted dried Shiitake mushrooms to the dish which I would if Keith didn't hate mushrooms so much. The minced pork is very good on noodles with some blanched bean sprouts and 'choy sum' (Chinese mustard greens). Both Keith and Little Miss M like this dish very much and served with brown rice and a green vegetable I think it provides a balanced meal.

MINCED PORK WITH EDAMAME
Serves 4

2 cloves garlic finely minced, or use 2 stalks of green onions, thinly sliced
1 pound minced pork
2 rashes bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
½ tbsp oyster sauce
½ tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tsp sesame seed oil
a dash of white pepper
½ cup water (or more, for more sauce)
½ cup shelled edamame beans
1 cup sliced fresh or reconstituted dried Shiitake mushrooms (optional)
  • Cook the bacon until crispy, set aside.
  • Remove all but ½ tbsp bacon fat, fry the garlic or scallions for 1 minute.
  • Add in the minced pork and fry until browned, breaking up the meat into small pieces. Add all the other ingredients except the edamame. If you are using mushrooms, add in now.
  • Cover and cook for about 10 minutes then check the seasoning.
  • Add in the edamame and cook for 3 minutes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Saucy Seduction


A very popular dish in the States, or maybe just where we live is Orange Chicken which is battered deep fried pieces of chicken coated in an orange sauce. You can even buy packaged orange chicken in the freezer aisle or just the bottled sauce which I admit I sometimes use (although I do freshen mine with freshly squeezed orange juice and some finely shredded orange rind).

Orange Chicken is ubiquitous not only to Chinese restaurants here, but apparently has even found it's way to my niece's school cafeteria! This information came up while we were having dinner at a Malaysian restaurant in LA where one of the dishes we ordered was, yes, Orange Chicken. In Malaysia Lemon Chicken is the common dish where typically a whole thigh and drumstick would be deboned, coated in seasoned batter and deep fried. The cut up chicken is then served on the sauce which keeps the chicken crispy.

There are two ways to prepare the chicken for orange chicken. The first is to marinate it, mix in one egg, then to coat with corn starch and deep fry. The second method which is healthier, and is the recipe here, is to marinate it and then pan fry the chicken. I have to admit the deep frying gives the chicken a delicious crunchy texture and is the method that orange chicken is usually made in the restaurants. So if you're thinking of indulging that would be the way to go.

ORANGE CHICKEN
Serves 4

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast or thighs
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp sesame oil
Dash of white and black pepper

Orange Sauce
Makes 1/2 cup sauce

1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

  • Cut the chicken into 1" cubes. Mix the marinade ingredients and pour over the chicken, mix well. Leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
    Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, fry the chicken until cooked and evenly browned. Pour over 1/4 cup sauce, mix well.
  • To make the sauce, place the orange juice concentrate, hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and red pepper flakes into a small saucepan, stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the mixture to about 1/2 cup, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool at least 5 minutes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

The finished cake
Just four ingredients

The first cake layer sitting on the pieces of parchment paper.

The iced cake before the pieces of parchment paper were pulled out.

All that was left that night - not much!

Keith’s birthday was a few days ago and I made a butter cake from a box mix. My preferred brand is Duncan Hines and they also make really good brownie mixes.

Yes you could make a cake from scratch but why bother when there are delicious box mixes which are so easy to make. The frostings however, I made from scratch: cream cheese frosting for the middle and a plain buttercream to ice the whole cake. The end result was that the two of us plus the four friends who were at dinner almost polished off the whole cake! Everyone had at least two slices and one of our friends actually had seven slices, albeit some of the slices were really thin. I think he would have liked to finish it off but maybe out of politeness though it better to leave at least a little something on the cake stand! Both frostings were delicious, but I think the next time I would just make it all cream cheese frosting.

In one of the pictures you see how I kept the cake plate frosting free. I saw this on TV when the 'Barefoot Contessa' Ina Garten was frosting a coffee cake she was making for a friend (she always seems to be cooking for her friends on that show!) Cut parchment paper into about six strips of approximately 3" x 6" and place under the cake. Ice the cake and then when done, carefully remove the pieces of paper leaving a clean cake plate.

So here’s the recipe for cream cheese frosting which would be excellent on carrot cake or on cupcakes. The amount to ice a round 9 inch cake is given and then in parenthesis [] is the amount if you are making just enough as filling.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
For one 9” round cake

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened [4 ounces]
½ cup butter, softened [2 ounces]
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar [1/2 cup]
1 tsp vanilla extract [1/4 tsp]
4 tbsp milk [1 tbsp]
  • In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Mix in the milk until desired consistency is reached.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mak Cik's Vegetable Acar


My aunt (or Mak Cik in Malay) is well known for her Vegetable Acar (pronounced 'ut-char') which is pickled vegetables in a spicy, vinegary and sweet base. I like to eat it as a side dish when I eat plain chicken or beef ramen or sometimes just on it's own as a snack! Unlike the Korean Kimchi, this is not as pungent as it does not use garlic. Without the addition of the peanuts, the acar can actually last refridgerated for about 6 months (or about 1 week with the peanuts).

MAK CIK’S VEGETABLE ACAR
Makes about 8 – 10 20-oz jars

2 pounds (about 4-5) carrots, peeled and cut into 2”x1/8” sticks
3 pounds (about 6-7) pickling cucumbers, deseeded and cut into 2”x¼” sticks
4 pounds (1 large) cabbage, separate the leaves and cut into 2" squares

Spice Mix
5 tbsp chili powder
4 stalks lemongrass
2 big onions
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp galangal powder
1 tbsp belacan powder
2 cups white vinegar
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
½ cup oil
1 cup ground roasted peanuts, optional
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, optional

To prepare the vegetables:
  • Boil a big pot of water and add in ½ cup vinegar, ¼ cup sugar and 2 tbsp salt. Lower heat to simmer and blanch vegetables for 1 minute, a few handfuls at a time. Use a salad spinner to spin dry. Set aside.

For the spice mix:
  • Finely grind the lemongrass and onions with ¼ cup water. Mix in the chili, turmeric, galangal and belacan powders.
  • Heat ½ cup cooking oil, fry ground ingredients for spice mix for about 1 hour until fragrant and oil rises to the top. Add in vinegar, sugar and salt.
  • Cool then add in the vegetables and the ground roasted peanuts if used. Mix well.
  • Keep in clean jars for at least 1 day before eating.
  • Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top before serving.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Heavenly Delicious Butternut Goodness





I love butternut squash so much so that I could eat it every day! The cold winter weather is the perfect time to make this because the hot oven then also heats the house. We had some of the squash with roasted chicken and green beans for dinner one night and the extra came in handy when I made it into roasted butternut soup the next day. I had to have my wisdom teeth pulled and knew that I wouldn't be able to eat solids for a couple of days. The good news was that I only had to have two wisdom teeth from my bottom jaw pulled as the two upper ones were impacted; the bad news was that the pain didn't just last a couple of days, it lasted more than a week!

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, cut into 1/2" slices
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tsp minced fresh herbs ie. rosemary, thyme, sage etc

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Mix all the ingredients and lay on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Bake for 30 minutes