Friday, August 31, 2007

Two special celebrations!

Today will be my blog's 1st birthday. I am surprised that I managed to make the one year mark being a new-beginner and all, and am grateful for the many friendly bloggers that I had come across along the way. Cheers to all of you!

I can't believe that it's been a year since I started blogging, and it's been such a fun and enjoyable experience. To mark this special day, I finally made my first swiss roll. This one is a pandan flavor one with kaya filling that was inspired by a picture of it I saw on Aunty Yochana's blog. Made the sheet-cake and kaya filling. May there be rolls and rows of blogging to follow? What do you think, MAY-BEEEE?

Recipe for Pandan Swiss Roll from Amy Beh

3 eggs (A size)

100g castor sugar


100g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Combine in a small bowl:

1 tbs pandan juice, warmed (omitted)

1/8 tsp apple green food colouring (omitted)

A drop of pandan essence (used 1 1/2 tsp)


Kaya (ready-made)
Grease the sides and line the base of a 32cm x 23cm swiss roll tin with non-stick parchment. Preheat oven at 200ºC.

Whisk eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl with a handheld electric beater for nine to 10 minutes (set the bowl over hot water but take care not to let it touch the water or the mixture will start to cook).

Beat until the mixture is pale and thick enough to leave a figure-eight ribbon trail on the surface when the whisk is lifted.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold the sifted dry ingredients into the mixture followed by the combined pandan juice.

Pour the batter slowly into the prepared tin, spreading it over to the edges.

Bake in a preheated oven for 12 minutes or until well risen and golden.

While it's still hot, turn the sponge crust-side down onto a piece of nonstick parchment dusted with sugar. Peel off the lining paper.

Place another piece of non-stick parchment paper over the sponge, then roll up. Leave aside to cool on a wire rack.

Unroll the sponge and spread with kaya filling. Re-roll the sponge again tightly using the parchment to help you. Chill the sponge in the refrigerator. Cut into slices before serving.

Today is also Malaysia's 50th Brithday. Happy Birthday Malaysia!!! And to all my dear Malaysian friends and adopted family of Penang friends, a wonderful, happy National Day. May we all be united in our love for this beautiful planet, humanity, happiness and food! Come to think of it, the celebration is probably happening now as Malaysia's time zone is ahead of where I'm residing.

Selamat Hari Merdeka!!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chinese Braised Beef with Noodle Soup 牛肉麵

All over south-east asia, there are variations of beef noodle soups, and I love them all. From the fragrant and flavorful Vietnamese pho with slices of flank steak (I always order extra meat) to the Taiwanese beef noodles.

The one that I remembered from my childhood had a rich, dark soup that was full of flavors from garlic, bean paste, soy sauce, rice wine, star anise and cinnamon. Then there was the popular and tasty beef ball noodles at the Scotts food court in Singapore. I wonder if they are still there?

Tried making this using a crockpot, and the star-anise flavors did shine through this dish.

I browned the beef and placed in the crock pot. Then I added soy sauce, water, garlic with skins intact, star anise and a piece of cinnamon. Also added a tsp of hot bean paste, bean paste, and sugar. Left it in the crock pot for 5 hours on low. Strain liquid and thicken with cornstarch.In a pot, blanch vegetables in boiling water and remove. In the same pot, add noodles and cook til al-dente. In a bowl, add soy sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper. Add in noodle, vegetable, beef and scallions. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Black Bean Dip

Several members of my family love mexican food, and I made this black bean dip to go with chicken enchiladas and a salad for dinner tonight. Made a different recipe tonight with the added ingredient of sambal oelek to spice it up a little, and the adults enjoyed it.
Black Bean Dip
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 large green pepper, diced
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained well
2 tbs fresh lime juice
2 tbs chopped coriander sprigs
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp sambal oelek or to taste
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tbs water

Saute the first 4 ingredients in a non-stick skillet til onion is translucent and remove from heat.
In food processor, blend 1/2 cup beans, lime juice, coriander sprigs, spices, and water til smooth. Add onion mixture and blend again. Add the rest of black beans, stir, and chill dip for at least 3 hrs and up to a day.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet

Note: The sambal oelek gave the dish a more spicy note and also heightened the sweet and sour notes for this dish. In the past, I have also added bacon. Use 1-2 slices of bacon, cook til crisp and drained on paper towel. Chop coarsely and use as garnish.

Total Luna Eclipse of the Heart

What a morning! I woke up before way before dawn this morning and managed to catch the eclipse of the moon without any pre-knowledge that it was going to happen. I must catch up on the news. Looking out from the kitchen window, it was quite a sight as the moon took on a reddish hue from the sunlight bouncing off the sun. It was a total lunar eclipse that occurs when the moon moves into the shadow of our beautiful Earth. Our dear luna moon passed through Earth's main dark, circular shadow, the umbra (the darkest point of a shadow). It then moves through a lighter region of shadow, the penumbra (light source is partially blocked, and there's a partial shadow), surrounding the umbra. I was completely mesmerized from 4am to 6am. Had the window opened, and there was a comforting, cool breeze blowing into the house as I sat there and watched the moon in the cloudless sky. What a wonderful reminder that we are all living in the space of time and just a little tiny speck in the whole universe. Helps me put things in perspective... like I'll be rushing out the door for a playdate for my kids, then lunch, followed by the oh-so-needed afternoon naps for them so I can work on other stuff - like blogging!
Scientists said that there will be another one next February.
By the way, if you are curious, I remembered the song was sang by Nicki French, and orginated by Bonnie Tyler. I think it was also sang by Air Supply?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Beautiful Sunday and Phad Thai

The weather was in the 80's, the sun was shining and there was a gentle breeze all day. A perfect day for flying.
Went out for a fun day with the folks and watch PapaG fly his UAV (unmaned aviation vehicle) in the open fields of grass. Unlike the other models that he had, this one is so quiet as it sliced through the air, doing circles with great ease. The electical plane was an awesome toy to watch as he made dare-devil stunts with his remote control. The whole family loved watching the show.Made phad thai noodles for the family and used a recipe that was new to me. There are so many variations of phad thai noodles out there to try yet, and I happened to have this one on-hand.The definition found in wikipedia showed Pad Thai (or Phad Thai, Thai: ผัดไทย, IPA: [pʰat tʰai], "Thai style frying") as a dish of stir-fried rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce (Thai น้ำปลา), tamarind juice, red chilli pepper, plus any combination of bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken, or tofu, garnished with crushed peanuts and coriander. It is normally served with a piece of lime, the juice of which can be added along with the usual Thai condiments. In Thailand, it is also served with a piece of banana flower.
Phad Thai Noodles
4 oz flat rice noodles
2 tbs plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tbs peanut butter
2 tbs plus 1 teaspoon Southeast Asian fish sauce (used soy sauce)
2 tbs rice vinegar
1/4 cup oil
2 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1 lb pork tenderloin
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (omitted)
Kosher salt
2 tsp minced garlic
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup cubed firm tofu (omitted)
3 garlic chives(white and green parts), cut into 1/2-inch pieces,
2 scallions, chopped
1 1/4 cups mung bean sprouts
1/3 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped, plus additional for garnish
For serving: Lime wedges, Sri Racha sauce (Thai hot chili sauce) Put the noodles in a medium bowl with hot water to cover. Soak until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside. Whisk the sugar with the fish sauce and vinegar in a small bowl.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Pour in the eggs, tilting the skillet as you pour to make a thin, even coating of egg. Cook until just set, about 45 seconds. Invert the eggs onto a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Add another 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil to the same skillet and heat over high heat. Add the pork, 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper flakes, and salt, to taste. Stir-fry until the pork are cooked through, about 2-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil over high heat. Add the garlic, shallots, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes and stir-fry until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the tofu and cook about 2 minutes more. Add the noodles and cook, tossing, until lightly coated with the garlic mixture, about 1 minute. Add the fish sauce mixture and large chives pieces and heat through. Stir in the cooked egg and pork, 1 cup of the sprouts, and the 1/3 cup peanuts and toss until hot. Divide the Phad Thai among plates and top with the remaining sprouts, additional peanuts, and chopped scallions. Serve immediately with the lime wedges and Sriracha chili sauce.

Recipe adapted from Food Network

Note: Added a couple of ingredients like paprika, peanut butter and garlic chives, used some substitutions and ommited some ingredients to suit my family's taste. It was an easy recipe and the kids enjoyed it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Red Bean and Coconut Ice Cream

Not long til summer ends here... So I was playing with my ice cream maker again. I have been doing a lot of ice cream recipes that doesn't require any eggs in the recipe for some special family members, and was going to do a vanilla ice cream when I decided to change it to coconut ice cream at the last minute. So typical of me! Then 15 mins into the the game, I remembered I had some home-made red bean paste left and decided to throw that into the ice cream as well. So, 10 mins later, I had red bean and coconut ice cream. My friends and family had fun licking all three spatulas that were used, which made me very happy!
1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup cream
3 cups coconut cream or thick coconut milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups red bean paste
In a med bowl, whisk sugar, milk and cream til sugar is dissolved. Stir in coconut cream and vanilla. Everything goes into the 2 quart Cuisinart ice cream maker. Enjoy in 25 mins.
Ice cream will be soft, creamy texture. Stick it into the freezer for about 2 hours if you want a firmer consisitency. Recipe adapted from vanilla ice cream recipe in manualGarnished with some cooked red beans, toasted shredded coconut, and a cherry today for the kids.

Beehoon Snack

Had some friends over and decided to make an easy beehoon (vermicelli) recipe that I came across on Cuisine Asia. It was just like the beehoon sold at the food section of markets in Singapore and a fun breakfast or anytime snack. I added an whole bag of shredded carrots into the recipe too.

Empty a packet of beehoon into a large pot, pour in just enough water to cover the beehoon. Soak for an hour in 3 tbs of dark soy sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil.

In a large non-stick skillet, add 2 Tbs vegetable oil and 1 tbs minced garlic and stir til fragrant. Add noodles and 1 cup of soaking liquid and 3 tbs kecap manis to the skillet. Stir fry til beehoon is cooked, and most of the liquid absorb. Add bean sprouts and shredded carrots and stir fry for another 4-6 mins. Serve hot.

Recipe adapted from Cuisine Asia. Thanks Gina!Note: I like the added shredded carrots to the recipe. Served with curry meat dish and it was delicious. Used light soy sauce and kecap manis instead. Omitted the original recipe ingredient of 3 tbs fish sauce as I didn't have it and it still tasted good.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sweet and Sour Sirloin Steak with Potatoes

The thing about living with a steak-and-potatoes kind of guy is that there's steaks on the grill once a week in the summer months, and I thought it would be a nice change to have that piece of steak dressed in asian flavors. So I am making an easy sweet and sour steak and potatoes tonight.

8 oz Sirloin Steak, diced
4 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup diced and cooked potatoes
1/2 cup diced pineapples
1/4 cup orange bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup diced onions
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbs Cornstarch
1 tbs Cider vinegar
1 tsp Sugar

In a microwavable boil, place diced potatoes in 1/4 c homemade chicken stock, and microwave 2-5 mins, or until cooked, depending on your microwave. Set aside.

In a non-stick wok over high heat add 3 tsp. hot oil, stir-fry carrots and green bell pepper and onions for 2-4 mins. With a slotted spoon,remove vegetables to a plate. Add remaining oil,ginger,garlic and beef to skillet. Cook 2-4 mins. Blend cornstarch with water, and stir in vinegar and sugar. Add to skillet stirring constantly til thickened. Return cooked vegetables and potatoes to skillet and heat thoroughly. Serve immediately with rice.

Note: Orginal recipe had 1 tbs of chilli flakes in it, but I omitted it for the kids. You can adjust the sweetness and sourness to your taste by increasing or decreasing the cider vinegar and sugar.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Going Green

Relax. This is not a fashion statement, though looking at this dress reminded me of the song lyrics '...If I had a million dollars, I'll buy you a dress, but not a real green dress, that's cruel...' Oh, I'm sure there's lots of pretty green dresses out there too.And I'm not going green in honor of St. Patrick's day yet. Although it would be fun to have another wild and crazy party again.

In case you are wondering, I am not turning green from eating way too much chocolate (done that before), or going green as in environmental issues, although I do recycle and my house is a build-green house and every little bit helps.

Nope. This time I am going green in terms of vegtables....Like these beautiful pea sprouts I bought from the asian market.I had always done the salad route in terms of vegtables especially for the hot summer months. But my gf Rosie's visit had left me with wonderful advice and lessons in adding more greens in my cooking. So I have been introducing more green, leafy vegtables to my family's meal at least twice a week. And here's a picture that made it all worthwhile! My kid chomping on her veggies. Who knew my kid would like kai lan?!?Kai Lan with oyster sauce
Blanch kai lan and put into ice-cold bath. Drain. Heat up oil in wok and stir fry garlic til fragrant. Add kai lan and cook for 1-2 mins. Add oyster sauce, cornstarch mixture for another 1-2 mins and serve.
Thanks Rosie!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Brownie and Ice Cream Sandwiches

Received some ice-cream molds and made this cute little sandwich ice cream stars for the kids. I used homemade vanilla and strawberry ice cream for the filling that is sandwiched between two thin layers of chocolate brownies, and it was a hit with everyone. Since I had just made the strawberry ice cream, it's a little on the soft-serve side, and you can see some of it begining to melt. It didn't get a chance though, as the kids were waiting to pounce on it just off-camera!
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
10 Tbs. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into
1/2-inch pieces
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
9 scoops of your favorite ice cream, softened

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a heatproof bowl set over but not touching barely simmering water in a saucepan, combine the butter and chocolate. Heat, stirring often, until melted, about 4 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the sugar and salt. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until well blended. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture and stir just until blended.Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownie comes out clean, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour. Using the ice cream sandwich molds, cut out 6 of each shape.

To assemble the ice cream sandwiches, snap the cookie sleeve of the mold into its corresponding base. Place 1 brownie cutout in the bottom of the sleeve. Place 1 scoop of ice cream in the sleeve and top with a second brownie cutout of the same shape. Using the press, press down on the top brownie until the ice cream has spread out evenly. Remove the base from the sleeve and carefully press the ice cream sandwich out. Repeat to make the remaining sandwiches.

Serve the ice cream sandwiches immediately, or place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper, cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 days. Makes 9 ice cream sandwiches.
Above Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

Strawberry Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
2 pints strawberries
1 tsp organic vanilla extract

I dumped everthing into a food processor, then into the bowl with the ice cream maker running, and it was ready in 25 mins.

Rice Salad

Made an easy rice salad with an italian touch, and adapted this recipe from a dish called Insalata de riso con pomodorini.

2 cups (400g) short-grain rice
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
28 grape tomatoes, diced
4 oz mozzeralla cheese, diced
1 seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
1 tbs capers, rinsed and drained
16 black olives, pitted, and coarsely chopped
1 sweet red onion, chopped
2 scallions, chopped,
1 shredded carrot, blanched
9 basil leaves, shredded
1/4 cup extra vigin olive oil
salt and pepper to tasteCook rice in a pot of salted boiling water until tender, about 15 mins. Drain well and cool under cold running water. Drain again and remove rice to a large salad bowl. Cook peas in pot salted boiling water until tender, about 5 mins. Drain well and cool under cold water. Drain and place in salad bowl.

Add tomatoes, cheese, cucumber, capers, olives, onion and basil and carrots.

Drizzle with oil and season with salt. Toss. Let rest of 10 mins before serving. Can also be served chilled.

Note: A nice salad to go with summer bbq. My kiddos enjoyed it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Grilled Chicken and Wild Rice

Time to clean up the fridge today. Had some organic chicken drumsticks in the freezer, and used it up in this fast and easy dish adapted from the current issue of Bon Appetit.
4 tbs olive oil
4 large chicken drumsticks with skin and bones (about 2 lb.)
Ground cloves

1/2 cup diced seeded red bell peppers
1/2 cup diced sedded green bell peppers
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pitted imported green olives
4 small bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon sambal oelek or other chili paste
1 1/2 cups wild rice (9 to 10 oz)
2 to 2 1/2 cups low-salt organic chicken brothHave the grill ready and and grill chicken til all sides have grilled marks, but not thoroughly cooked through. Transfer chicken to plate.

Pour 4 tbs of olive oil in non-stick saucepan. Add bell peppers, onion, raisins, olives, bay leaves, garlic, and chili paste to skillet. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Press chicken into rice. Add 2 cups broth; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender, adding more broth if dry, about 20 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

Note: Nice comfort food and a one-dish meal. I marinated the chicken in a spicy yogurt marinade and grilled it on med. high heat. By adding the almost cooked, grilled chicken into the rice mixture, it gave the whole dish a rich, smokey flavor. Served sambal oelek on the side instead and it blends well with the sweetness of the raisins. And I got my kids to like wild rice done this way.

Microwave Strawberry Sticky Rice Ball

Saw a recipe from Angie's website, had all the ingredients, and tried it out. Made this sticky snack/dessert today, and it was surprisingly different and interesting.
Recipe from Angie's
150 g glutinous rice flour
30 g sugar
1 cup water
2.5 tbs peanut oil
10 g fresh strawberries, destemmed
300 g red bean paste
some cooked glutinous rice flour

Add oil to red bean paste and blend to mix. Chill for 1 hour. Wrap each strawberry with prepared red bean paste, roll each into a ball and store them in the fridge until ready for use.

In a microwavable container, combine the glutinous rice flour, water, sugar and res of oil. Cover and microwave for 4 mins. Stir with a spoon and return to microwave for another 3 mins.

Once the rice dough is cooled enough to touch, take out and sprinkle with cooked rice flour.

Divide it into 10 portions and roll each into a round disk like a dumpling wrapper, wrap with prepared strawberry bean paste and form into balls.

Recipe from In Angie's Kitchen

Note: I thought this was a fun creation. Much better with sweet strawberries. I had a couple of tart strawberries, and it was fighting with the sweet red bean paste and the chewiness of this snack. Very interesting concept. Not so kid friendly.

Red Bean Paste Sweetened

Like every mom, I am constantly thinking of what kind of snacks to offer my kids in the afternoon. As I wanted to expand their taste to different snacks from around the world that is age-appropriate for their taste buds, I often return to the old faithful red bean paste made from red beans, sugar and a little oil. Like many colored beans, red beans is high in vitamin B, and has high antioxidant properties, so it's an added bonus in the kids' snacks.

In Asia, red bean paste is used to make a variety of desserts and snacks from fillings in freshly made buns sold at the bakery to fried snacks and steamed buns. Although it's available in ready-made cans, the home-made ones are my favorite as the taste is much better, and I can adjust the sweetness of the paste to my liking.
Making red bean paste is a straight forward process of cooking the beans in water, then adding sugar and blending it in the food processor, and finally cooking it again in a big wok with some vegetable oil. As I usually estimate the quantity when making this in the past, I decided to try this recipe from Grace Young's book Wisdom in the Chinese Kitchen, and it worked quite well.

12 ounces small red beans hoong dul or azuki red beans,about 2 cups
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbs vegetable oil Wash the beans, cover the cold water, and soak overnight. Drain beans and discard water. Place beans in a 3-quart saucepan, add 6 cups cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 1 hour, or until very soft. Monitor the pan to make sure water doesn't dry up. Drain and discard the water.
Place the beans in a food processor and process until smooth. Add brown sugar and process until just combined. In a non-stick wok, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the bean paste and cook, stirring 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture is dry. Remove from heat. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use and it will keep for 1 week.

Recipe doubled from Grace Yong's Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen

Note: To speed up the process, I used the pressure cooker to cook the beans after soaking them. The above recipe yields 3 cups which I use for different recipes like make steamed buns. I also freeze 1-cup portions in the freezer for future use. It will keep longer in the freezer.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Spicy Conch Chowder

I love conch shells, and have only tried conch meat in a chowder before. When I was browsing through the seafood section recently, I ran into a friend who was buying conch meat. So, I bought some too. Haven't cooked conch meat til now, but wanted to try this recipe that I came across from a popular seafood chain restaurant called Jax Fish House.

Conchs are harvested from the waters of the Caribbean and Flordia, and in season now during summer. Most conch meat are sold cleaned and trimmed. Besides asian markets, conch meat can also be found in some speciality grocery stores around here.

Recipe for Conch Chowder

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups chopped red bell pepper

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 1/2 cups Vidalia onions

2 jalapenos, stems removed, seeded and sliced into thin rings

1 cup chopped celery

2 cups Idaho potatoes, chrubbed but not peeled

1/4 cup finely chopped garlic

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

2 springs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 Tbs dry oregano

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups tomato juice

3 cups bottled clam juice or fish stock

1 1/2 lbs. conch meat, pounded to tenderize and minced

salt and pepper to tasteIn a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add red and green bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, celery and potatoes. Cook, stirring often, til onions are soft.

Stir in the garlic and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Stir in chopped tomato, thyme, bay leaves, oregano and cayenne. Cook for 5 mins, add tomato juice. Increase heat to reduce liquid to 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally. Add clam juice and conch meat. Simmer, partially covered for 30-40 mins. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe from Jax Fish House.

Note: Perfect for a cool, rainy evening. The soup was easy to make and wonderful with toasted garlic bread. Added jalapenos and the cayenne pepper to individual bowls and they add a bright spicy flavor to the soup.

Besides the fun experience of listening to the ocean by holding the conch shell to your ear, wikipedia states that the conch meat is eaten either raw, as in salads, or cooked, as in fritters, chowders, gumbos, and burgers. In East Asian cuisines, the meat is often cut into thin slices and then steamed or stir-fried. In El Salvador, live conch is served in a cocktail of onion, tomato, cilantro, and lemon juice. Conch meat is also often confused with Scungilli, which is more accurately whelk meats. Picture of conch copied from wikipedia's site.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Spicy Sloppy Joe Burger

There are days when I feel like the short-order cook of the family. Today was one of those days. Some wanted salmon burgers and others wanted sloppy joes. Good thing I like both, or there would have been three different dinners going. LOL! And I still have my sense of humor!
3 tbs olive oil
2 lb ground beef (or ground turkey would be great)
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle chile, seeded and minced
1 1/4 cups dark ale
1/2 cup bottled chili sauce or 2 Tbs sambal oelek
1/2 cup ketchup
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup finely chopped green onions
6 hamburger rolls, split, toasted
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add beef, green pepper and garlic and sauté until turkey is no longer pink, breaking up meat with back of fork, about 10 minutes. Mix in chili and stir 1 minute. Add next 4 ingredients. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Mix in green onions; season with salt and pepper.

Arrange burger bottoms on plates. Spoon sloppy joe mixture over; top with lettuce and tops. Served with beefy tomatoe slices, lettuce and lots of french fries and seedless green grapes.

Makes 4 large servings.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

Note: So easy and even better the next day.

Salmon Burgers with Green Tartar Sauce

It is a hot, hot, summer's day over here, and I can't believe it's already middle of August. Guess time really flies when one's having fun! With school beginning next week til early September depending on the schedule, it's the usual dreaded awakening that summer will soon come to an end soon. I have been enjoying this summer so much with friends visiting and the kid's activities that I don't want this season to end (not yet). So I am making salmon burgers and having it on the patio before before it gets too cold to eat outdoors. Serve it with homemade lemonade and ice tea (spike it if you prefer) for a refreshing summer meal.

Came across this old recipe from Chef Rick Moonen and made his salmon burgers with his special green tartar sauce. Yummilicious! Here's the recipe.

What you need:
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. Salmon, skin and bones removed, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 c green bell pepper, diced
1/4 c chopped scallions
1/4 c heavy cream
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 lg egg white
1 Tbs canola oil
2 tsp unsalted butter
1 ripe tomato, sliced
4 - 8 leaves red leaf lettuce, shredded

Preheat broiler. In a large bowl, mix salmon, green pepper, scallions, cream, Tabasco, and s&p. In seperate bowl whisk egg white till soft peaks form and gently fold half of the egg white mixture into the salmon mixture. Mix in the rest until everything is bound together. Form 4 patties.

Preheat a nonstick ovenproof skillet over med-high heat until hot. Add oil and brown burgers. Gently turn the burgers over and cook under the broiler for 1 min. Then back to the stove top for another 2 mins.

Green Tartar Sauce
1/4 c chopped dill pickles
2 Tbs capers
1 large shallot, diced
2/3 c mayonnaise
3 Tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c olive oil

In food processor, pulse together capers and shallot. Add mayonnaise, parsley, dill, lemon juice, mustard, and pepper. Add oil in a thin stream to form a thick sauce. Store in air-tight container overnight and serve on salmon.

Note: Served with sweet potatoe fries and a south-west quinoa salad. The sauce was so easy to make and a wonderful topping on the salmon. I can't wait to use the rest of the sauce on some home-battered fish and chips tomorrow!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Braised Asian Short Ribs

This is for you JC.

Tried this recipe from Leslie Revsin who used soy sauce and star anise to make this dish shine. This is a wonderful dish for entertaining as you can make it ahead and the flavors gets better the next day.

1-1/3 c. drained canned whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. sherry, dry white wine, or dry vermouth
2 tbs light brown sugar
4 whole star anise
6 to 6-1/2 lb. beef short ribs on the bone (each 3 to 4 inches long)
Freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tbs vegetable oil; more as needed
6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1-in. piece fresh ginger (about 1 ounce), peeled and cut into 8 slices
6 large scallions (white and green parts), cut into 2-inch lengths
1 tbs unsalted butter
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325F. Put the tomatoes, 2/3 cup water, the soy sauce, sherry, and brown sugar in a bowl and stir. Add the star anise.

Pat the short ribs dry with paper towels and season them with pepper. In an ovenproof pot that’s large enough to hold all the ribs in no more than two layers, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Put as many ribs in the pot as will fit without crowding and brown them on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter. Brown the rest of the ribs, adding more oil if needed, and transfer to the platter.

Pour off the fat from the pan, reduce the heat to low, and add the garlic, ginger, and scallions, stirring and pressing them against the pot, for 1 to 2 minutes to bring out their flavor. Return the ribs to the pot and pour the tomato and soy sauce mixture over them. Bring to a simmer and cover. Transfer the pot to the oven and braise the ribs, lifting and turning them about every half hour, until the meat is very tender and starts to fall off the bone when pulled with a fork, 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Transfer the ribs to a serving platter (or if you’re working ahead, transfer them to a baking dish; refrigerate, covered, when cool). Pick out and discard the ginger and star anise from the pot and pour the remaining sauce into a large, clear measuring cup. When the fat rises to the surface, after about 5 minutes, spoon it off and discard. (Or, if you’re working ahead, cool the sauce in the pot, refrigerate it, and skim the solid fat off the top. When it’s time to reheat the ribs, return them to the pot and heat gently in the oven.)

Reheat the sauce, season generously with pepper and more salt, if you like, and pour it over the ribs. Scatter the leeks over the top and serve.

Note: Cooked it ahead, and served it the next day on garlic mashed potatoes with baby carrots, broccolini and fresh corn. The meat were fall-off-the-bone soft.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sweet and Sour Whole Fish

Was running around town today, and stopped at an asian market for some pantry items. When I walked past the seafood section, I didn't see any live fish in the tanks, but I spotted a guy putting out some good looking red snappers on the open-air crushed ice display. I recalled my grandma's advice that the fresh fish should have clear eyes, smells like the ocean, and red under the gills. And I guess the store must be used to picky fish shoppers as the guy was nice enough to let me check out the fish as I flip the fish to look at both eyes, held it about 3 inches from my nose to sniff it, and looked under the gills. Sidenote: here's a good tip, always carry disinfectant wipes. I did. And I bought a red snapper with a sweet and sour fish in mind for dinner.

Adapted this recipe from Linda Doeser's book, and increased the vinegar amount for a brighter taste.

1 1/2 to 2 1/2 lb red snapper
4 tsp cornstarch
vegetable oil
1 tbs chopped garlic
1 tbs chopped ginger
1 tbs chopped shallots
8 oz cherry tomatoes
3 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs tomato ketchup
1 tbs chili sauce
1 tbs fish sauce
3 tbs water
1 tsp cornstach
salt and freshly ground black pepper
corinder leaves and
springs onions for garnishing

Heat oil in a large wok.

After rinsing fish and drying it, score both sides of fish diagonally. Drench it in corn starch and shake off excess..Gently slide fish into the hot oil, with fish sliding away from you to minimse splattering. With a ladle, bathe fish with the hot oil till it's brown and crispy on the underside. Remove and drain on paper towel. Pour off all the oil into a heatproof bowl and clean wok of crumbs. Return about 3-4 tbs of oil back onto the wok, and stir fry the garlic, ginger and shallots till fragrant. Add cherry tomatoes and cook til they are soft. Add in ketchup, chili sauce, vinegar and sugar. Mix the water with one tsp cornstarch and add to sauce. Cook for another 1-2 mins. Ladle sauce onto fish, season with salt and pepper, garnish and serve immediately with rice and vegetables.

Note: A very simple recipe and good for fish filets too.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I see White Cow!

You may find this hard to believe, but I have been playing with my ice cream maker and coming up with different flavors these past weeks. Oh yeah! And since I didn't want to change my blog name to East Meets West Ice Cream Fanatic in Kitchen (name too long?), I decided not to post all of my ice cream adventures (yet). Well, maybe just one more won't hurt right? This one has a little twist in that I am making milk shake from my ice cream, and it's a different subject, right? TOTOALLY!

Hubs was amused as he watched me make ice cream in the ice cream maker that was ready in 25 mins., then turn around and made a milk shake with the homemade ice cream (it's soft serve consistency was perfect for milk shakes) for my little guests. Guess he's relieved that I am using my kitchen electrics instead of letting it sit in the basement cabinets, hidden from the world!

Summertime and milkshakes. I remembered visiting local diners with their fun red and chrome interiors whenever we were traveling cross country over the school holidays. We would order a milk shake with cheeseburgers, and apple pie. What I liked most about some of these diners were their atmosphere and unique lingo. And since a white cow is the diner's lingo for a vanilla milk shake, here's a white cow recipe.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 pint vanilla ice cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

And if you like a malted shake (yum!), add 1-2 Tbs of malted milk powder to the shake.

For your enjoyment, here's more of restaurant diner's lingo taken from wikipedia:

Java or Joe: Coffee

Pair of drawers: Two cups of coffee

No cow: Without milk

A blonde with sand: Coffee with cream and sugar

Hot top: Hot chocolate

Sea dust: Salt

Paint it red: Put ketchup on an item

Lighthouse: Bottle of ketchup

Mississippi Mud or Yellow paint: Mustard

Boiled leaves: Tea

A spot with a twist: A cup of tea with lemon

Yum Yum or Sand: Sugar

Hug one or Squeeze one: A glass of orange juice

Moo juice or Cow juice or Baby juice or Sweet Alice: Milk

Throw it in the mud: Add chocolate syrup

Hail: Ice

Hold the hail: No ice

An M.D.: A Dr Pepper

Fifty-five: A glass of root beer

Black and white: Chocolate soda with vanilla ice cream

White Cow: Vanilla milkshake

Shake one in the hay: Strawberry milkshake

Life preservers: Doughnuts

Singapore Noodles?

When I first saw this dish on a menu in San Francisco years ago, I thought someone was playing a cruel joke on me. It's like someone came up with his/her version of a Singapore dish that he/she tried while asia-hopping many eons ago. Scary part is that I've grown to like it. Now fast forward to the present. Recently, someone asked me if I knew how to make Singapore Noodles. To which I replied "You mean Hokkien Mee or Laksa? Personally, I prefer the Penang Laksa. Haha!"

One more of the many namesake recipes of a country or region that only exists outside of that place, the dish called Singapore Noodles have become a favorite of mine. Though I have not seen this particular style of vermercelli noodles served in Singapore when I was living there, I do enjoy the mild spicy taste of curry with some lime in this recipe. So I made some today. Adapted this dish from one I caught on BBC recentlyIngredients
pure vegetable oil, for frying
2 c uncooked shrimp, peeled
1 c diced chicken
1 tsp finely minced garlic
1 c green cabbage, shredded
1 c red cabbage, shredded
1 c green onions, sliced diagonally
1 lg red onion, sliced
2 lb vermicelli noodles
5 eggs
3 c bean sprouts
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp Baba's curry powder
1/4 c chicken broth
To garnish
2 tbsp Sesame seeds, toasted
small bunch chopped coriander

Add a little oil into a large non-stick, flat-bottem wok to saute the shrimp with a little salt. Remove shrimp to one side.
Soak vermercelli noodles in water for 15-20 mins til soft. Remove from water and drain.
Add 2-3 tsp of oil to the wok and stir-fry onions and garlic for about 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add chicken and stir-fry till cook. Remove from the wok and leave to one side.

Add a 2-3 tbs of oil and add noodles. Stir fry vigorously for 4-5 minutes (using an extra long pair of chopstickes work well), sprinkling with a little chicken broth as it cooks. Empty the wok and set the noodles to one side.

Return the cabbages, onions and garlic to the wok, crack in the eggs and stir-fry with a sprinkling of water for 1-2 minutes. Keep the eggs moving around the wok.
Add the shrimp and stir fry for 1-2 mins. Add noodles and chicken.
Stir in the salt, sugar curry powder and chicken broth mixture into wok.
Stir fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
Stir in a little more water and serve in bowls, garnished with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and a scattering of chopped coriander if desired. Serve with a slice of lime on the side.

Note: I decrease the curry to 2 Tbs and omitted the eggs and bean spouts as per request of Hubs and it came out pretty well liked by the family. Added more shrimp for my shrimp-lovers.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Stuffed mushrooms

I have a problem...

I have leftovers.

I know I inherited my excessive-complusive behavior from my grandma who always insisted that there be extra food on the table when company comes over. Personally, I think she liked leftovers for lunch the next day. But I digress. Today I had steak leftover (again) from my bbq dinner the night before, and decided to use it up in my stuffed mushroom filling.

This is for you, my mushroom-loving friends.

1/2 tube of Jimmy Dean's sausage (used grilled steak this time)
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots
Stems of mushrooms
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
Olive oil
24 baby portabella of white button mushrooms, stemmed and cleaned
1/3 cup dry white wine

If using sausage, saute sausage and oregano in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until sausage is cooked through and brown, breaking into small pieces with back of fork, about 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage mixture to large bowl and cool.

Or in a food processor, mince up the sliced, seasoned, cooked steak. Remove to a small bowl.

To the same food processor, pause the garlic till fine, then add shallots, mushroom stems, herbs, and worchestershire sauce. Heat up a skillet and add this mixture to cook for 3-5 mins. Mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, then cream cheese. Season filling with salt and pepper.
Brush 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish with olive oil to coat. Brush cavity of each mushroom cap with white wine; fill with scant 1 tablespoon filling and sprinkle with some of remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange mushrooms, filling side up, in prepared dish.Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake uncovered until mushrooms are tender and filling is brown on top, about 25 minutes.

Note: The kids had fun with this fungi, and these poppers disappeared to the "party" in everyone's tummy! (that's how they said it.)

Baby Eggplant and Pork Tenderloin Stirfry

Warning: This is not suitable for my friends who don't like eggplants - you know who you are.**insert wink**

Wanted to use up the rest of the baby eggplants that I bought earlier in the week, and here was my dinner in a flash with rice and fried egg rolls.Baby Eggplant and Pork Tenderloin Stir-fry
3 tbs vegetable oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 lb pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
1 tbs yellow miso
1 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 lb baby eggplant
1 jalapeño chili, seeded, thinly sliced
2 brunches of green scallions, sliced
Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add garlic, ginger and pork, and stir-fry till pork is half-done. Add yellow miso, oyster sauce and sugar and stir to blend. Add vegetables and jalapeño and stir-fry til babt eggplants are crisp-tender, about 5-8 minutes. Add scallions and cook for another minute. Serve immediately with rice and egg rolls.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetite

Note: Since we are PG rated household with kids, I omitted the jalapeno and served some chili sambal on the side.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Stuffed Baby Eggplants

When I saw these little tiny baby eggplants at the store, I couldn't resist buying them. For my friends in Europe these are also called aubergines. Made them into stuffed baby eggplant party food. In Asia, these would probably be stuffed with fish paste, but I took a different route and went with ground beef to please my crowd.

I have seen a similar recipe for it in one of my many cookbooks, but didn't find it. So I improvised from my limited memory, and came up with this. Used a pound of ground beef, seasoned with pepper, salt, soy sauce, a little sesame oil and finely diced shallots. Cut the baby eggplant in half, keeping the stems part intact, and slice again to make a cross. Stuff beef mixture into the eggplant. Dip in sesame seeds and deep fry was what I recalled.Note: All the eggplant lovers enjoyed the soft texture of the baby eggplant with the ground beef and sesame seeds. It's kinda like poppers as you can finish it in one bite. Served this dish with some spicy red chili sauce on the side. Instead of deep frying the baby eggplants, I browned it with a little oil in the pan and finished it in the oven.