Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stir-Fried Cucumber with Oyster sauce

Something to look forward to in the summer season is when cucumbers start making an appearance in our shops. Other than having it with satays, we like it simply stir fried with oyster sauce.

Some might think it odd, cooking a marrow that is normally eaten fresh. Try it. It really does taste delicious.

Here's us Wishing Everyone a Very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. Eat, drink and be merry !

stirfry cucumber with oyster sauce

500g cucumber
1-2 Tbsp dry shrimps
1-2 Tbsp oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp oyster sauce
3-5 Tbsp water

1 tsp cornflour + 1½ tsp soy sauce (mix together)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Homemade Golden Syrup

If you are somewhere in this world where golden syrup is not readily available, this homemade version is a good substitute. Of course in terms of fragrance, you can't beat the commercial ones.

I made this especially to make mooncake but with the price of a tin of golden syrup being so expensive nowadays, I have been using this for any baking or cooking that calls for golden syrup in lieu of the store ones.

It is not labour intensive even though it requires 45 minutes cooking, as once the caramel is done, the syrup is left alone to boil quietly. I did admit I stuffed up as I extended the time to 1 hour and the next day after cooling, the syrup was admittedly very hard. But no matter, I did another half a recipe, halved the cooking time, poured the 'hard' syrup in and the golden syrup came out as good as !

Homemade golden syrup

200g sugar
50g water

1 kg sugar
600g boiling water
2 slice lemon

Monday, November 23, 2009

Soy Braised Fresh Mushrooms

We went a bit overboard when fresh flat mushrooms were on special at $3/kg bag. With beef wellington in mind, we bought 3 packets.

After the high cholestrol meal, we wanted something clean and simple for dinner the next day.

I decided to braise some of the mushrooms and have plenty of sauce to go with the homemade fresh noodles. The mushrooms were braised until they were really soft and it went extremely well with the silky smooth wanton noodles. The sauce was to die for !!

chinese braised mushroom

300g fresh mushroom

1 Tbsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 clove garlic, minced
1 small slice ginger, julienne

Monday, November 16, 2009

Christmas Fruit Cake

Have you made your christmas cake yet ? If you haven't, it is time to get cracking. Christmas is but just 6 weeks away. This leaves you with enough time for the fruit cake to mature ensuring the best possible flavour.

This the second year running I am making the cake from this recipe. Lovely and moist and the steps are easy and straight forward. From now till christmas, it will be dribbled with rum or brandy every week.

Fruit cakes are best made a few weeks or 2 months in advance.

christmas fruit cake
Makes : 3 x 6" (15cm)round cake

225g softened butter
200g sugar

6 eggs

2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 orange, grate rind and juice (¼ cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond essence
½ tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 Tbsp water

400g flour
1.5kg dried fruit mix

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Salting Chicken Eggs with Brine solution

Having tried different methods, I find soaking the eggs in wet brine solution is by far the best and most sucessful. It is really easy as there is no cooking skill involved. All that is required is dissolve some salt in water and one month later.....viola salted eggs. Cost wise it is cheap....price of ordinary eggs and some salt.

As we don't eat a lot of salted eggs, I salt about 5 at a time in a small plastic container.To salt the eggs, use whatever available sized container you have as long as the eggs stay submerged by the brine.

This lot was actually salted for mooncakes but I haven't got around to making the mooncake yet (too busy playing armchair golf !). Thank goodness I don't adhere to a strict festive calender ! Hard boiled salted eggs goes well with rice porridge.

homemade salted chicken eggs

1 cup water to ¼ cup salt (ratio)
large chicken or duck eggs

plastic or glass container

½ tsp szechuan peppercorn per 1 cup water (optional)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beef Wellington

We have always been fascinated when the contestants in Hell's Kitchen stuff up Gordon Ramsay's beef wellington. Of course we were intrigued as to how they could mess up something as simple as cooking a piece of meat wrapped up in pastry.

It is actually not hard to make but the trick is to cook the meat just right. In fact we love it so much that I am always on the lookout for mushrooms on special. I prefer to make our own flaky pastry as it is far less fattening than puff pastry.

A 5-star restaurant meal for a fraction of the cost.

Beef Wellington
400g mushroom
¼ onion

350g beef sirloin or scotch (or any tender cut)
2 slices bacon or parma ham
300g homemade flaky pastry or puff pastry

salt and pepper
egg yolk or beaten egg

beef wellington

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Curried Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Mr Redneck is quite fussy when it comes to pumpkin soup. We have tried various recipes and combinations but this is the one that have passed the test.

I was lucky that the garden managed to produce a few pumpkins last season and it stored well over the winter months. However one or two turned out to be the watery type which is good enough for soup. I usually make a whole pot to freeze for future lunches.

Nothing like a hot soup to warm up the body in the cold winter. Pumpkins are very healthy and is in the superfood category. If you don't add cream to this soup, this will turn out to be a non fattening yet delicious meal with very few calories.

Roasted pumpkin soup

1.5-1.8kg whole pumpkin

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp Baba curry powder
2 Tbsp tomato paste
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
¼ tsp salt

Roasted curry pumpkin soup

Monday, September 21, 2009

Marbled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ever since I had a bite of this cookie at my sis-in-law's, it has been our favourite. A very light, airy and crunchy chocolate chip cookie though it can be made chewy if that is what you fancy. All we served it to, seems to prefer cookies to be crunchy instead of chewy as we don't like bits of biscuits stuck in the teeth.

Even though this is a slightly healthier version than most of the recipes out there, they are still detrimental to ones waistline !

marbled choc chip cookies
Makes 30-34 cookies

125 gm butter
40 gm brown sugar
70 gm sugar
1 egg
½ tsp homemade vanilla extract

120 gm chocolate chips

190 gm plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder

crunchy choc chip cookies

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Steamed Pork Spare Ribs with Black Bean Sauce

I have been tweaking this dish for months now. It was missing that 'something' until I finally managed to get my hands on the illusive ingredient - preserved salted plums (wet suen mui) carried all the way back from Malaysia. I did try to substitute with dry salted plums (dry suen mui) but it just didn't quite work.

If you like to eat the steamed spare ribs at dim sum restaurants, then this is the dish for you. Not difficult as everything is thrown in to marinate and steam.

steamed pork spareribs with black bean sauce

1 kg pork spare ribs (cut to bite sizes)

4 clove chopped garlic
2 thin slice ginger, julian
1 chilli, sliced (optional)

2 Tbsp soya bean paste, mashed
2 Tbsp salted fermented black beans, mashed
2-3 wet sour plum (suen mui)
4 tsp shao hsing chinese wine
½ tsp dark soy sauce
½ tsp sesame oil
2 tsp plum sauce
2 tsp corn flour
pinch sugar
dash pepper

chinese steam pork spareribs

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chocolate, Rum & Vodka Ice Cream

When asked to choose an ice cream flavour, I dare say chocolate would have to be top of the list for almost everyone. We like to add alcohol to ours as it lends flavour and prevents the ice cream from turning to rock in the freezer. Good way to use up all the duty free liquor hiding in the cupboard.

Rum is a good addition to chocolate. When you open the container, the first thing that hits you is the nice aroma of rum. I prefer to use whole eggs instead of just egg yolk as I hate having to think up ways to use up the leftover egg white. We feel we can enjoy this ice cream without too much guilt as it uses low fat milk and less cream than normal. The texture haven't been compromised. We find it is just as rich and creamy.

chocolate, rum & vodka ice cream

375ml (1½ cup) low fat milk (light blue top)
15g cocoa powder
100-120g sugar
2 large eggs
pinch salt
250ml (1 cup)cream

2 Tbsp rum
1 Tbsp vodka

25g Cadbury chocolate, roughly chopped

Friday, August 07, 2009

Grow your own Galangal ~ Blue Ginger

Ever wanted to have a galangal plant in your own backyard, to harvest whenever you feel like cooking a rendang, teochew braised duck, assam babi, satay sauce or even to make your own red curry paste ? Fresh galangal adds flavor and depth to many dishes.

Well ......here's your chance. I have a few excess plants for sale to NZ readers.

The highly scented white flowers appear in April.

nam keong, lengkuas, kha
The plant will be supplied as a cut back, bare root rhizome (underground stem) with at least one growing shoot or bud.

If you are interested, please leave your email address in the comments column and I will come back to you. I can only post to New Zealand addresses. Limited stock only.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Beef Rendang 'Shiok' ~ Spicy Dry Coconut Beef

This particular rendang uses a bit more spices than the kerisik rendang but they are both equally good. We love our rendang and always have a container or two in our freezer for that quick and easy meal.

Rendang Daging

1 kg beef (stewing beef, shin, rump or any other cut)
300ml coconut cream + ½ cup water
3 stalk lemon grass
6 lime or tahitian leaf
4 slices blue ginger (galangal)
½ tsp salt

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lemon Yoghurt Cake

Whenever I serve this cake and later tell the guest that they were eating a healthy yoghurt cake with no butter, their eyes will open wide in disbelief. And their hand will reach for another slice to analyse it better.

I have tried making cakes with yogurt and most often their texture is usually denser. This recipe however makes an incredibly light cake. It is almost like a sponge cake. Very lemony and quick and easy to make. I can usually bake one in time for morning tea. As the taste is not boring, you can do away with icing the cake.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

2 large eggs
200g caster sugar

zest from 1 lemon, finely grated
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

280g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder

250ml low fat greek yoghurt
120ml oil

icing sugar for dusting

Yoghurt Lemon Cake

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bouncy Chicken MeatBalls

After successfully making bouncy meatballs from beef and pork, it was time to try with chicken. The recipe is basically the same.

For those who don't eat red meat you will be pleased to know that the chicken meatballs have just as much bounce and 'spring' but with a much softer texture. Handy to have in the freezer to add to that instant noodle meal anytime.

Bouncy chicken balls
Makes 48 balls (½ Tbsp size)

500 gm chicken breast, cut to smaller pieces

½ cup (125ml) icy cold water
1 Tbsp fish sauce
½ tsp salt
½ Tbsp sugar
½ Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp cornflour
1¼ tsp baking powder

dash of white pepper (optional)

chinese chicken meatballs

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Asian Style Braised Lamb Shank

I had three lamb shanks sitting in the freezer like forever ! All the recipes I looked up were leaning towards the European style cooking with red wine or port. The lamb shanks I had were not exactly bursting in the meat department. In fact it had very little meat and I was not too keen to open a bottle of red just to cook some bones.

Trawling the net, I came upon these Asian flavoured lamb shanks. This was more my cup of tea. The flavours were really good and the meat literally fell off the bone.

Asian flavoured braised lamb shank

3 lamb shanks

4 Tbsp soy sauce
150ml water
5 slices ginger
2 star anise
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp white vinegar or 2 tsp rice vinegar

1. Put all the ingredients except vinegar into the pressure cooker.

2. Pressure cook for 30 minutes or until the meat is tender.

3. With the lid off, boil to reduce and thicken the sauce. Turn the shanks over often. Add vinegar. Season with salt if required.

4. Remove the shanks from the sauce and grill/broil for 5-10 minutes to brown the meat. This process is optional.

5. Pour the sauce over the lamb shanks and serve with rice or noodles.

Star Anise Braised lamb shank

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Mandarin Whisky Marmalade

Every year our small mandarin trees supply us with just enough fruit to eat but never in excess that we have to think of plan B. This year even though only one of the trees bore fruit, it was a good heavy crop. Time to try our hand at making marmalade.

Mr Redneck is the marmalade eater and he has declared this jam to be 'Good '. Man of few words ! A delicious spread on toast. Love the tang and bitter sweet taste of the marmalade. The mandarins from our tree are seedless and this conserve will set without pectin.

My pantry is bulging at the moment with preserves, relishes, chutneys, jams, jellies all made from homegrown produce squirrelled away to be eaten in the coming months.

Homemade mandarin marmalade
Makes 5-6 cups

2kg mandarins
800g-1kg sugar
3 cups water
2 Tbsp whisky/brandy
1 lemon, juice and peel

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Assam Sambal Prawns ~ Spicy Tamarind Prawns

My mum used to serve a mean dish of assam prawns. I was younger then, and had no interest in cooking. I wish I had paid more attention. So many dishes are for now just a memory. It took me years of searching and testing various prawn sambal recipes. So pleased I have finally managed to nail the flavours of that memorable dish.

The aroma coming from this dish will draw everyone to the kitchen. For once there will be no need to ring the dinner bell.

Sambal Assam Prawns
Serves 2

300gm raw prawns
¼ onion, finely sliced
1 small tomato, cut to wedges
1 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbsp cooking oil

½ Tbsp tamarind paste
3/4 cup hot water

Spice Paste (grind together)
2 red chilli
½ onion
2 clove garlic
1 lemon grass (serai)
1 tsp belacan
4 candlenut (buah keras)

Assam Sambal Udang

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

The best chilli sauce ever. We now use this chilli sauce for dipping everything and anything from boiled mussels, bouncy beef balls, pork balls, chinese roast pork, salt and pepper squid to fried beehoon.

Boiled mussels with sweet chilli sauce
I am so glad to be able to cross out yet another type of processed food from my shopping list. Plus the price of a bottle of chilli sauce has really gone up. Must keep my eye out for a special on fresh chillies now so I can buy heaps to freeze.

As it is so quick and easy to make, I prefer to cook only a small quantity so that it doesn't need to 'hang out' in the fridge for too long. Even though I used my super hot chillies from the freezer, the finished product was not that hot at all. I can now use up my homegrown red hot chillis which have been residing in my freezer for years.

Mussel with Thai sweet chilli sauce
Makes about 75 ml

Friday, April 03, 2009

Apple Jelly

I have made jam heaps of times but not jelly. Jelly was always delegated to the too hard basket. Guess it is about time to tackle jelly since my 3 apple trees are bursting with fruits. Actually making jelly was very satisfying and easier than I thought once I figured out a place to hang the bag to catch the drips. One does need patience. Leave the bag in a corner out of the way and ignore it.

The apple jelly is delicious as jam on bread, scones and even pork dishes. Yoghurt ice cream is delicious with a dollop of apple jelly added to it. Or serve it as you would an ordinary jelly to kids.

Apple Jelly
Part 1 : Extracting Apple Juice

Extracts about 6-7 cups juice

2kg sweet eating apples
1.5 liter (6 cups) water
grated rind of 1 lemon

Bag for straining

1. Wash and roughly chop apples to smaller pieces. No need to peel or core.

2. Add apples, water and grated lemon rind into the pressure cooker.

3. Pressure cook for 10 minutes until soft and mushy. (With a normal pot this will take 25-30 minutes on gentle simmer).

4. Pour the mushed fruits into the bag and hang to strain out the juice. Leave overnight. Do not squeeze or you will get cloudy jelly.

5. You will end up with 6-7 cups of the strained juice.

Juice extraction with a jelly bag

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bacon and Egg Pie

Mr Redneck is a bacon and egg pie fan and he has given this pie the thumbs up. The combination of potatoes, peas and bacon makes the filling light and moist.

This is my first time making a big pie from scratch and I found this recipe to be surprisingly simple to put together. To make things easy for myself, as I wanted to have the pie ready by lunch time, I made the pastry the day before and left it to chill in the fridge. The long hours relaxing in the fridge may have help to really relax the gluten as I didn't have to fight with it at all when rolling out. I didn't even break out in cold sweat !

Bacon and egg pie
Makes 1 double crust 20-23cm pie

Quick Flaky pastry
4 rashes bacon, lightly cooked and chopped
1 cup cooked peas
1 cup chopped cooked potatoes or kumara
5 large eggs

1. Follow the steps on making the flaky pastry here. Roll out on a floured board to make 2 thin rounds to fit a 23cm pie plate.

2. Ease one lot of pastry into a lightly greased pie plate.

Roll and ease pastry into pie plate

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quick Flaky Pastry

I don't make pastry very often. In fact I have a phobia when it comes to pastry. So when I saw the recipe I thought to myself, this looks do-able ... I should try it. Truth be told, if it was not for the tempting photo in the cookbook I would not have given the recipe a second glance.
The dough was a breeze to roll thin and did not break or shrink. Flaky pastry is a quick and easy alternative to puff pastry. The pie crust turned out light and flaky. We loved it.

A real confidence booster especially for a non pastry person like me. No sweat to make and is much cheaper than buying readymade pastry from the shop. Do note that this dough uses milk instead of water for binding.

Bacon & Egg Pie

Makes 1 thinly rolled double crust 20-23cm pie

185gm flour
1 tsp baking powder
125gm very cold butter, cubed or grated

85ml - 100ml milk
1 tsp vinegar (add to milk)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Espresso Coffee Ice Cream

If we had to pick our favourite ice cream, it will have to be vanilla bean or Espresso Coffee. You can't help but fall in love with the coffee and kahlua combination.

Definitely an adult dessert, not recommended for children.

Espresso Ice Cream
Makes about 1 Litre

375ml low fat milk (light blue top)
100g sugar
1-2 vanilla bean
2 eggs
250 ml cream
1 shot Espresso
pinch salt
3-4 Tbsp Kahlua coffee liqueur

25g Cadbury chocolate, chopped

Coffee n Kahlua Ice Cream

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pininoa Tomato Sauce

Most tomato sauce recipes have a list of ingredients a mile long. Needless to say I was a bit sceptical when I saw this recipe with only five very basic ingredients. But I am game to try anything as I have tomatoes coming out of my ears.

Since the first pot, I have gone on to make 3 more batches. I love the shiny red colouring of this sauce. You can also add garlic, chilli or whatever you feel like to these base ingredients.

Tomato flower and sauce
Makes about 750ml

2 kg ripe red tomatoes
400gm - 550gm sugar
½ Tbsp Salt
2 tsp ground Allspice
1½ - 2 cups vinegar

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thai 3 Flavoured Fish ~ Pla Lat

It has been a while since I cooked a fish dish. Fish not being Mr Redneck's idea of a good feed, I have to be particularly picky when trying out a new recipe . The dish has to be strong flavoured and with plenty of sauce to mask the fish smell.

I used Trevally for this recipe. Spicy, sweet and tartiness - that fits Mr Redneck's criteria of a good fish dish. The original recipe deep fries the fish but I prefer to do the healthier version of just frying with a little oil on the cast iron pan.

Pla Lat
800gm whole fish, clean

Grind together
1-2 Tbsp chilli paste
3 clove garlic
½ onion

25gm tamarind paste + ½ cup hot water
25gm palm sugar, shaved
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp oil

Pla Lat

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Hamburger Buns

In the midst of an extremely hot dry summer, the last thing I want to do is cook up a storm in the kitchen. Summer is a time for light meals that doe not involve too much slaving over the stove. With the tomatoes ripening fast on the vine, what better then than to eat them with buns.

This massive burger which was our dinner had slices of sweet juicy tomatoes from the garden, shredded lettuce, pickled zucchini, thin slices of steak, bacon, fried egg and a squeeze of tomato sauce. Mr Redneck had his with a slice of smoked cheese as well.

The buns were soft and did not break up or disintegrate halfway through eating unlike those supermarket buns. Wholesome gourmet burger at a fraction of the cost !

Wholesome burgers
Makes 6 buns (4" diameter)

245 ml warm water
360 gm high grade bread flour
35 gm (¼ cup) wholemeal flour
1½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp sugar
1½ tsp surebake yeast

½ tsp garlic flakes (optional)

Homemade Burger buns

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Siew Ngap ~ Chinese Roast Duck

This year Chinese New Year falls on 26 January. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my friends and family KONG HEI FATT CHOY ! All the best for the year of the Ox. Good eats and all things nice. May the recession be over and food prices drop back to normal.

Our favourite all time food has to be duck. Recently our Indian shop decided to stock huge ducks (2.8kg) and at a reasonable price too. Choice! Usually ducks at 2kg or less come out a bit disappointing especially when we spent so much time and effort cooking to end up with just a thin sliver of meat.

At first I was worried that this enormous duck would end up being fatty. But not at all. It had this thick layer of meat and very little fat in the skin (could be due to all that pricking). We were able to get 4 meals out of this one duck. Guess how many bird I ended up buying....yes 5 is sitting in my freezer. I would hate the shop to run out of stock so I ended up hoarding. ha ha

Siew Ngap
Because this bird was huge I decided to try a different take on the roasting so as not to end up with burnt skin and uncooked meat. This duck is cooked for a longer period starting with a low temperature. Even though I only managed to marinade it for a short time frame of 4 hours, the meat had plenty of flavour. As usual we end up fighting over the skin. lol

A mouthwatering duck that is moist and succulent yet is not as time consuming and tedious to cook and prepare.

2.8 kg whole duck

2 ½ Tbsp five spice powder
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Honeycomb Biscuit~Kuih Loyang~Kuih Rose

A biscuit with many names. Some call it kuih loyang, kuih goyang, kuih rose, beehive or plain old honeycomb biscuit. This is a very popular cookie for Chinese New Year.

This recipe produces beehives that are light and crispy. Mr Redneck likes his with a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Crispy Honeycomb Biscuit
Makes about 16 biscuits

1 small egg (45g with shell, 40g without)
35g sugar
100ml coconut milk
60g plain flour
25g rice flour
1 tsp water

Kuih Loyang

Thursday, January 01, 2009

12345 Pork Spare Ribs

Thanks to Jackie who emailed me this recipe and suggested I try her family favourite. As the name implies, it is a very easy dish using five very basic ingredients. Love the intense flavour of the sauce. It is a very appetising dish.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish Everyone a Very Happy New Year.

Yat Yee Sam Seh Ng with pork softbone

1 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
4 Tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar
500 gm pork spare ribs or meat (cut to bite sizes)

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