Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Scallop and Asparagus Soup

What a day! The weather went from sunny 80s over Memorial weekend to 60s today with hail, rain, flooding and tornados all within the state. We were fortunate that we only had the rain and pea-size hail. With the change of weather, I thought it would be nice to make a hot, rich soup with dinner.

I found this recipe in Annabel Jackson's Street Cafe Vietnam cookbook, and decided to make it with the ingredients I have in the fridge. This is my version of Sup Mang Tay Cua which is a vietnamese soup that has a french influence with the addition of asparagus in the ingredients. I made it with scallops, crabmeat, corn, asparagus, shitaki mushrooms, chopped coriander, and thickened with a beaten egg. It's traditionally served with quail's eggs which I omitted. Turned out delicious and reminded me of a very good egg drop soup with lots more ingredients. I think that was the reason the kids enjoyed it too.

Konnyaku at last

My dear cousin send several packets of konnyaku jelly for the kids, and I finally get to make this treat for the kids. The konnyaku I was used to in the past were troublesome in that you have to add flavoring, coloring, and citric acid it, but the ones that she send were all in one, and all I had to do was add water and the fruit of my choice. This jelly is firmer than the Jello brand, and unmolds easier too. I made the strawberry flavored one, and added fresh strawberries in it for the kids, and they loved it. Thanks Isabella!

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Had finally unpacked my 7-holed aebleskivers cast-iron pan and decided to make this delightful danish donut/pancake-like snack for breakfast. I used my favorite buttermilk whole wheat pancakes recipe, and added a half-sliced pitted cherry in each little morsel. These puff up to a beautiful round circle when cooked, but deflated when cooled. It is delicious with the powdered sugar or some warmed jam drizzled over it.

Here is the recipe from William Sonoma's website that I tried before, and it's very good.

1 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Zest of 1/2 lemon
3 egg yolks, lightly whisked
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
5 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together the orange juice and the 1/3 cup sugar. Heat until the mixture is just beginning to boil. Add the cherries, remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan, pressing on the cherries with the back of a spoon; reserve the cherries. Set the pan over medium heat and cook until the liquid is reduced to a syrup, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, the 1 1/2 Tbs. sugar, the salt and lemon zest. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk and ricotta. Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until combined; the batter will be lumpy. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the egg whites in two additions.

Put 1/2 tsp. butter in each well of a filled-pancake pan. Place over medium heat and heat until the butter begins to bubble. Pour 1 Tbs. batter into each well, add 1 compact tsp. cherries in the center of the batter and top with 1 Tbs. batter. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Using 2 forks, flip the pancakes over and cook for 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter and cherries.

Drizzle the pancakes with the orange-cherry syrup and serve immediately.

Note: I had halfed the above recipe from William Sonoma, and it was plenty for three.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Cheesy Sausage Quiche

Made a couple of quiches for breakfast. I like to do two at a time, as it freezes well, and the other quiche is usually consumed within the next week. And since I have the convention oven going, there's always room for another quiche in there.

Pastry Dough recipe from Gourmet 2004 magazine.
Makes 4 pieces of 9 inch crust.
5 cups all-purpose flour
3 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon salt
10-14 tablespoons ice water
Special equipment: a pastry or bench scraper

Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with 5 tablespoons ice water and gently stir with a fork (or pulse in food processor) until incorporated.
Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated, then test again. (Do not overwork mixture, or pastry will be tough.)

Turn mixture out onto a work surface and divide into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together with scraper and press into 2 balls, then flatten each into a 5-inch disk. Wrap disks separately in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Cheesy Sausage Quiche Recipe (makes 1)

1 pound Jimmy Dean Maple sausage
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbs flour
1 9-inch deep-dish pie crust
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbs parsley flakes
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp freshly grind black pepper

Cooke sausage in non-stick skillet. Drain sausage, reserving 2 tbs fat. Sauté onion and pepper in 2 tbs fat reserved from the sausage. Combine cheese and flour. Stir in sausage, pepper, and onion. Spread evenly in pie crust. Thoroughly mix rest of ingredients and pour into pie shell over sausage mixture.
Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for 35-40 minutes, until browned and cooked.

Whole Grain Waffles

My dear in-laws were with us for a short stay, and I made these and a cheesy quiche sausage for breakfast. FIL liked the waffles and had a couple of pieces, while MIL had it with her quiche. She tried the kaya(custard jam), and liked it on her waffles, too.

Whole Grain Waffles recipe from Hodgson Mills:

1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 c milk
2 eggs
1/3 c cooking oil
1 tsp vanilla (you can add more if you like)

In a large bowl combine the flour, corn meal, oat bran, active dry yeast and salt. Add the milk, eggs, oil and vanilla. Beat with rotary beater or an electric mixer on medium speed for 1 minute or until batter is thoroughly combined. Cover batter loosely and chill for 2 to 24 hours or until mixture is bubbly and slightly thickened. Before using, allow batter to stand at room temperature for 1 hour. (Or, to make waffles without chilling overnight, cover and let mixture stand for 1 hour at room temperature or till bubbly and slightly thickened.)

To prepare waffles, stir batter. Pour onto grids of preheated, lightly greased waffle maker. (Check manufacturer's directions for amount of batter to use.) Close lid. Bake waffles according to manufacturer's directions. Remove from grid with a fork. Repeat with remaining waffle batter. Serve hot immediately with good maple syrup.

Note: I processes the oat bran and corn meal in the food processor for a smoother texture for the kids.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Green Tea Ice Cream

I have had a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker sitting in a box in the basement for two years, and I finally broke it out of it's box after chatting with C. on matcha last week. Since I have some of the ground green tea leaves in the pantry, I decided to make my favorite dessert at sushi restaurants. It was quite easy, and I should have used my ice-cream maker long ago! Now I look forward to mango ice-cream...

Green Tea Ice Cream adapted from Gourmet
1 c whole milk
2 c heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
6 eggs
2/3 c sugar
3 tbs matcha (powdered Japanese green tea)
Ice Cream Maker

Add the first 3 ingredients into a 4-quart pot and heat till boiling. Remove from heat. Whisk the eggs, sugar and matcha together, then add to cream mixture. Put pot back on stove over medium-low heat, and whisk till instant thermometer reaches 170F. Do not boil mixture. Cool till room temperature, and chill in fridge for 1 hour. Freeze it in ice-cream maker, then store in air-tight container in freezer. Keeps up to 1 week.

Home-made Pandan Kaya

Maybe it's because of the number of Shrek advertisements on the air lately, but this is my second posting that is turning out a wonderful shade of green from the pandanus leaves that is often used in sweet and savoury dishes in South-East Asia. Not entirely ogre green, but close.

Finally gave in to making kaya, a egg custardy kind of jam that is wonderful on toast. I have seen many successful attempts on this recipe in KC, and decided to try my hand in it too since it's simply mixing the ingredients and adding it to the breadmaker under the jam function. It was ready in about an hour, and after blending it smooth in a blender or food processor, it was ready for consumption. However, I put it in the fridge for a couple of hours as I like it chilled, and it was delicious on the warm toast.

The main ingredients in this custardy kaya jam are 1 cup eggs, 1 cup coconut milk, 1 cup sugar (original was 2 cups), and pandanus leaves for flavor. In the old days, moms and grandmas used to stand in front of the stove, stirring the mixture constantly to ensure a smooth texture and that it doesn't burn on the sides of the pot. These days, with modern apparatus, it simplifies the process immensely. And we still get that great taste without spending as much time on it. Thanks tthksy and Gina!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Indonesian Grilled Tiger Shrimp with Satay Peanut Sauce

It used to be impossible to find fresh seafood in the mid-west other than trout and salmon, but now there are a lot more choices and availabilty. However, it's not like in Hong Kong where you can still go to the pier in the mornings when the fishing boats come in after their catch of the day, and you can pick and choose what you desire from that day's catch. That is what my girlfriend Rosie does in Hong Kong. Lucky gal!

Back on the tropical island just north of the equator, my mom had taught me some clues to whether the fish and shrimp is fresh. (It's all in the eyes, my friend.) Here, I have to settle for 6 in a package of headless tiger shrimp that are saran-wrapped, just hoping for freshness in the printed sell-by date on the package. The redeaming factor is that it comes with the shell split and the track along the back of the shrimp removed. All this for $18/lb. on sale. However, I'm lucky to have several wonderful food chains with healthy, organic options available here, and I have been lucky with the seafood purchased (so far!).

On with the tiger shrimps. I marinated it in tameric and chili spices, bbq-ed it, and served on a salad with satay sauce on the side. The shrimp was pretty good, even though I couldn't see it's eyes...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Special Scallop Fried Rice

I made this with ingredients at hand that day, and had left out the onions and green onions. Use more scallops if omitting dried scallops. I find that combining both scallops added to the texture and taste of the fried rice. It turned out to be hit with the family, and got the kiddos to consume scallops. Personally, I LOVE garlic, but you may want to reduce the amount of garlic for the faint-of-heart.
3 cups overnight rice
5 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs minced garlic
1/2 c chopped onion
1 c bay scallops
1/4 c dried bay scallops (optional)
sesame oil
green onions

Heat a large non-stick skillet with vegetable oil over medium high heat. Saute onions till soft. Add garlic and and do a quick saute. Careful as garlic burns easily. Add rice, scallops and eggs and stir-fry for about 5 mins, stiring constantly over high heat till eggs are cooked. Add salt, pepper, sesame oil and green onions, and stir-fry for another 2 mins. Serve immediately.

Note: If using dried scallops, wash it well and soak in warm water for 20 mins. Then steam for 20 mins. with some liquid/broth before using.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pan-seared Ahi Tuna with Sesame Seeds

Had bought some fresh tuna from Wholefoods, and since H enjoyed the pan-seared ahi tuna at P.F. Changs, I tried to imitate that recipe by marinating for 30-mins in 5-spice powder, soy, a little cayenne pepper, and sesame seeds. Served with scallop fried rice, wasabi-lime-chili-soy, and ajad. It was tastier, and H enjoyed it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Coconut Jelly/Agar Agar

Been looking for a coconut jelly/agar agar recipe to try, and came across this one. I love the double layer effect of this dessert, and the rich coconut taste. The ingredients are coconut milk, water, plain gelatin, and sugar. Cook everything in a pot, pour into the mold, and it seperates into the two-tone jelly when chilled.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Roasted Chicken Rice

H. have not been a fan of hainanese chicken rice, so I decided to make a roasted chicken version of this popular food court fare instead. Bought an organic whole chicken fryer and marinaded it overnight with soy sauce, oyster sauce, lots of garlic and seasonings. And thank god for the meat thermometer these days as it takes the guess work out of the roasting and bbq-ing. Simply sick the thermometer into the thickest part of the the thigh (without touching the bone), set the temperature to 180F and it peeps when the internal temperature of the meat is up to the preset temperature. I baked it at 400 in a convection oven for about 55 mins. Fortunately for H who is very wary of salmonella, this chicken does not have the 'barely done' redness as the ones sold in Singapore/Malaysia. Nothing against anyone who likes their chicken medium to just-cooked, but I tend to stay on the 'safe' side for poultry, even with organic chickens. That been said, I do miss those convenient take-outs from food stalls serving my favorite Chicken Rice at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice in the Maxwell Food Court. Or dining at Chatterbox in the Mandarin Hotel on Orchard Road. Or the one at blk 37 called Goldenhill something (can't remember the name). The rich chicken broth flavored rice at these stalls were fantastic. (sigh...)

This is traditionally served with cucumbers. However I only didn't make it to the grocery store, so it was served with broccoli instead.

For the chicken flavored rice, here's the recipe from my old notes:
Chicken Rice Ingredients
24 oz long grain rice
10 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
11 shallots or onions, peeled and chopped finely
6 Tbs vegetable oil
7 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
1 tsp salt

Heat non-stick pot in medium fire/heat. Add vegetable oil. Sautee shallots till fragrant. Add garlic and do the same. Careful not to burn these. Add rinsed and drained long grain rice and stir till well mixed for 5 mins. Add organic low-sodium broth and salt. Heat till boiling. Turn down heat and simmer for 30-40 mins. until rice is cooked.

This dish is orginally served with a chili sauce and a ginger sauce. But of course I opted for the off-the-shelve Vietnamese Sriracha Hot chili sauce instead. For those who need to be authentic, here's the chili sauce recipe that I found:
3 oz fresh red chilli peppers, most seeds discarded (I used bird's eye chili)
2 oz garlic, peeled
2 oz fresh young ginger, peeled
2 oz shallots, peeled
3/4 cup hot boiling low-sodium organic chicken broth
5 tsp lime juice
3 tsp sugar
One tsp salt

Grind the 4 ingredients in a food processor. Add the rest of ingredients. Mix well. Chill overnight and serve at room temperature. Can be stored in fridge for about 1 week.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Rice Krispy Treat

Finally had time to upload pics and post today. Made these really simple, sticky rice krispy bars for the family as it is one of their favorite snacks. Used generic, no-brand mini-mashmallows for this recipe and adapted the recipe from krafts food website. Also added a tablespoon of peanut butter to the sticky mixture before scooping it out of the saucepan into a 9x13 pyrex dish to cool. It was gone in less than a day... Melt 2 tbs of butter in a saucepan and add 10 oz of mini-mashmallows. Stir till melted. Add 6 cups of rice krispy cereal to it and 1 tbs of peanut butter for flavoring. Mix well and pour into a dish to cool. There are lots of optional toppings by adding chocolate chips, M&M's, raisins, but my kids like it just plain with the peanut butter flavoring - for now! Enjoy!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mango Pudding/Mango Jelly/Mango Jello

Made a fun mango jello/pudding dessert to go with a curry dinner tonight. Used Rose's recipe, and I didn't sleeve the mango this time as I was in a hurry. It gave the pudding/jello some bite which H liked, but it's not the smooth texture found in dim sum restaurants. Will do it again next time without a sick kid to attend upon.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Rempah for Baba

Have been doing the regular dishes plus some interesting new recipes that I am tweaking, and will adding to this site in a later date, but haven't had the time nor the engery to blog as the weather gets nicer and the kids are insisting that we go and play outside. Even when we had that batch of bad weather, the little ones are saying "Mommy, play park, paaalease!" Thank god for quick and easy casserole recipes. We have also been bbq-ing quite often too, even when the flurries fall relentlessly onto the grill...

Made another batch of rempah for moi, and it's once again a little varied from the last batch. Unlike the rempah for indonesian cooking, this malay word rempah commonly used in Singapore and Malaysia to refer to a ground paste of different spices and condoments usually consisting of fresh and dried chillies, garlic, shallots, belacan, kunyit, etc. This grounded paste is then sauteed at high heat and used in different recipes as the base for curries, mee rebus, laksa, etc.

Living at the mercy of what's available at the asian market has become a regular battle of finding the right ingredient for recipes. However, it has also given me a lot of freedom in coming up with variations to different recipes. Substituting ingredients has been fun, but I have to start jotting down notes on my culinary adventures, a habit I have not mastered. So, back to the rempah. Since I could only find frozen red chillies this time, I decided to mix a batch of red chillies with some mini, birds-eye, thai hot chillies. Found some nice-looking shallots at Wholefoods last weekend, and used that with some frozen galangal. The proportions were varied this time around too, so it came out extra spicy, especially when I cooked it and send the chillie aroma up my nose! Cleared my sinus immediately and initiated a series of coughs besides. This leathal mix will be consumed in small quantities, I am sure. I didn't think Baba could tolerate the heat. But he did!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Coconut Candy

Growing up with these coconut candy was a treat. They are hard and chewy little cubes of coconut joy, and usually colored pink and light green. They are also made with a few simple ingredients like coconut flakes, sugar, and milk.

Made some coconut candy from Mrs. Leong Yee Soo's cookbook the first time, and the first batch turned out a little moist when I used less than half the amount of sugar to compensate for the sweetened coconut flakes found at the local grocery store. My kids loved it as it was moist and chewy and went down great with a tall glass of nicely chilled milk. The second batch with the unsweetened grated coconut flakes from Wholefoods came out perfectly hard, like the ones found in Malaysia and Singapore, and H wolfed that down. I was going to make a batch of pink and another batch of green. However, the kids voted for pink, and H said he rather have it without any coloring added to it the next time. I used a little condensed milk as stated in her recipe, and it was a winner.

Thanks June, for reminding me of this yummy sweet candy from my childhood!
The second time I made this, I used Amy Beh's recipe and it came out great too.
2 1/2 freshly grated coconut (only the white part)

2 cups castor sugar

175ml evaporated milk

1/2 cup condensed milk

3/4 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla essence

One egg white, lightly beaten

Combine grated coconut, castor sugar, evaporated milk, condensed milk, butter and salt in a non-stick saucepan. Cook, stirring continuously over a low heat, until mixture starts to bubble.

Add vanilla essence and egg white and keep on stirring until mixture turns quite dry and does not stick to the sides of the saucepan.

Turn out mixture onto greased cookie trays. Level the mixture by pressing down with a flat spatula. Set aside to cool.

When the coconut candy has hardened slightly, cut into small cubes with a lightly greased knife. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe from Amy Beh.

Sweet Peanut Soup Dessert

Had some packets of raw peanuts in the pantry, and decided to make two peanut desserts that is sometimes also known as sweet peanut soup. One uses blanched peanuts and is the peanut dessert found in Taiwan that is usually served with do-hwa, and the other one is a creamy peanut dessert that is more of the cantonese style also known as fa-sung-woo. Both are easy recipes and use minimal ingredients.
The first peanut dessert uses 2 cups of blanched peanuts. Place peanuts in a pressure cooker with 6-7 cups water for about 30-40 mins, depending on your pressure cooker. My chuncky, electric Nutritionist by Russell Hobbs pressure cooker cooked it with 6 cups of water for 30 mins, whereas the recipe indicated 7 cups for 40 mins. The peanuts will be a soft melt-in-the-mouth texture. Add 2/3 cup sugar to the peanut mixture and heat till sugar is melted. Serve hot or chilled. May also serve it taiwanese style with to-fu-fa (extra soft bean curd) as shown below.
The second dessert is shown below, and uses roasted peanuts. I toasted the raw peanuts in a toaster oven till golden brown. Grind the roasted peanuts in a blender or a food processor till fine with a cup of water. Pour into a saucepan with sugar and additional water till it the sugar melts. Add in 1 Tbs of cornstarch mixed 1 Tbs of water to the peanut mixture if desired to thicken it. It should be the consistency of a thick, creamy soup. Serve hot or at room temperature. This is the kind of peanut dessert I grew up enjoying, and it is similar to a warm, creamy peanut butter texture. Which explains why I love to eat peanut butter by the spoonful once in awhile!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Assam Salmon and Prawns Laksa Noodles

Made one of my favorite Penang Assam Laksa using Thai Stick Noodles that is normally used for pad thai noodles instead of the traditional rice vermicelli. Also used salmon instead of mackeral which are more commonly found in the region. Used Cecilia Tan's recipe that included a ground mixture of shallots, lemon grass, kunyit (turmeric), dried and fresh chillies, belacan, assam keping (tamarind), and lime leaves. The broth was made with boiling the fish and shrimp, then removing both before adding the ground ingredients to the stock. Return to boil, and simmer for 1 hour, adding more water if necessary. Serve by adding assam laksa broth to cooked thai stick noodles and garnishing pineapple, cucumber, chillies, mint leaves and fried shallots if desired.