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Showing posts from March, 2006

A lesson in deep frying

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I have yet to meet someone who really hates deep fried food. Most of the time people just avoid eating them, for obvious health reasons. Hubby and I love deep fried foods, but we hate the cleanup. So that's restricted to eating outside only. But a few days ago, when I was surveying the rows of Japanese foodstuff during my grocery, I saw a packet of Karaage pre-mix. Grabbed a packet for making batter for deep fried chicken pieces. It's so pricy to eat that outside, not to mention how small the portions are. So armed with our newly acquired tempura frying pan and the pre-mix, we were ready to fry.


The pre-mix worked well; the golden crispy chicken pieces were really wonderful. The seasoning in the pre-mix was just nice (no doubt with loads of MSG). We fried about 4 chicken thighs and took us about 25 mins with little damage to our kitchen stove, hence minimal cleanup.

Then, clever me suggested to hubby that since we were deep frying, might as well fry the packet of ikan billis (an…

What's cooking everyday?

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If you don't already know, I am a big fan of Mrs Leong Yee Soo. Her trusty dark brown cookbook is always the first book that I would reach out for whenever I want to cook a local dish. However, I found out that Mrs Leong had also published 2 earlier cookbooks entitled Singapore Cooking Vol 1 & 2. This two volumes are out of print and the library only have them for reference. *sigh* But all is not lost when the publisher re-packaged the cookbooks and republished them. BUT (there is always a but), this time round instead of two cookbooks, the recipes are re-classified and published in a few cookbooks instead (eg. Festive cooking, Nyonya speciality, etc). Well, I would agree that this is just their way of flogging a dead horse (excuse me, no punt intended and may Mrs Leong rest in peace) to maximise profits, but I frankly don't mind. Cos when I look at the beautifully, drool inducing pictures (which takes up a whole page each recipe), I get the "hey, I absolutely must co…

Dinner for lazy day (Part II)

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Seems that we are experiencing quite a few lazy days recently. =/ And this is really hubby's definition of quick dinner!

Anyway, this is usual answer to the "What's for dinner? And by the way, there's nothing much in the fridge" situation. This is one of my creation which I have used many times without fail as this dish is really very very accomodating. Just stick to the basic principle and it will be alright.

Basic princple: Fry onion in olive oil till tender, add major ingredients (for tonight's dinner was leek and mushrooms) and fry till tender/cooked. Pour a jar of spaghetti sauce over it and heat through. Spead a thin layer of the sauce on the base of the baking dish. Spead a layer of cooked pasta (your choice) and follow by a layer of sauce and then shredded moz cheese. Repeat layer and end with sauce and moz cheese on the top. Bake in a moderately hot oven till cheese has melted and turns brown.

Tonight I have actually used my food processor to do the pre…

Dinner for a lazy day

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After putting in a tiring day, what hubby and I looked forward to for dinner is something convenient and fuss-free. We used to call such meals TV-dinner meals, but since we don't eat in front of a tv anymore, it is simply called quick food. In fact, in my hubby's dictionary, a quick food ought to be something that can be eaten with only a spoon! Short of cooking instant noodles or calling take-outs, one-dish meals is as close as it can get.

Earlier in the day for lunch, we made Hainanese chicken rice and the chicken rice chilli. However, the chilli had to be made in bulk, we ended up with a full jar (think: reused Skippy Peanut Butter jar) of the chilli to be consumed within a week! That's how we thought of yee fu noodles as the chilli goes perfectly well with noodles.

While preparing the noodles, I realised that veggies are missing from our food. So a quick trimming of two broccoli heads, stir fry them quickly with some minced garlic, and we have a balanced meal. However, t…

Joyous cooking

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If you still haven't discover the joys of cooking, then you ought to get yourself this magnificent book titled the same: Joy Of Cooking. This book is absolutely amazing. Even though I haven't the time to read it from cover to cover, just skimming through a few pages is choking my brains with so much infomation! That's why the book is 1,152 pages thick!

As a start to my first test of the recipes from the book, I chose Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto). This is my first time buying a nicely tied roast beef (raw), which save much of the time in preparation. Hubby did the stuffing of herbs into the roast and browning it (which was the oiliest part of the deal). After cooking was done (which ended around 1+am), my house smells like some Italian restaurants. The pot roast was delicious and it was my life saver! As after cooking it, my baby had to be admitted to hospital and confined there for 3 days. The roast kept hubby an me going for those few exhuasting days when we couldn't …

Multi-dish dinner from scratch

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Ok, here was what was sitting in my fridge last night:
(1) Leftover meat fillings from previous Sichuan wanton dinner;
(2) Fresh tofu;
(3) Chicken breast carcass;
(4) Chicken breast meat;
(5) Eggplants; and
(6) Minced pork.

And the time was 8.45pm. Not wanting to spend the whole night slaving away in the kitchen, I combined as many items together as I possibly could to make a satisfying dinner .

Here's what we ended up having:

Meatball soup with tofu in chicken stock.

Chicken in homemade teriyaki sauce. This is from another Periplus Mini Cookbook entitled Japanese Favourites, which I just acquired a couple of days ago. This was my first time making teriyaki sauce. I had two recipes to choose from. One calls for brown sugar and the other didn't. The above was made without brown sugar and it still tasted good. Will definitely use this recipe next time for BBQs!

Sichuan eggplant with minced pork. Recipe calls for deep frying of eggplant before hand. Omitted this part. Consequence: The egg…

Wanton with Chilli Oil and Sichuan Pepper

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Spotted this nice, handy-size booklet by Periplus Mini Cookbooks series called Spicy Sichuan Cooking when I was doing grocery shopping the other day. On the cover of the book was a picture of yummy glossy looking wanton dressed with what-I-pressumed-to-be chilli sauce.

I adapted the recipe in the blending of the ingredients using a food processor (thank God for this miracle invention!), but I must have over processed the pork as I started with minced pork and not whole pork. The filling was really well blended. Will have to remember to add mince meat later than other ingredients.

Conclusion: The recipe was easy to follow and the wantons were ...... plain tasting! But what really perked up the dish was the delicious spicy chilli dressing. In terms of spicy levels on the scale of 1 to 5, this dressing easily score a 4.5! Will definitely make this again for my wanton-fanatic hubby. ******************************* Wanton with Chilli Oil and Sichuan Pepper ******************************* 500g mi…

Deep fried calamari

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For the first time ever, I bought sotong (aka calamari or squid) from market yesterday. I have seen my mom cleaned and prepared sotong before but I don't have any hands-on experience. So I decide to brave the squishy/mushy and try preparing it myself.

Although I have books on how to clean sotong, I was simply too lazy to check it up. Calling up all my mom's instructions from the deep recesses of my brain, I plunged right into the thick of it. Skinning the outer layer of the sotong, pulling out its transparent plastic spine, cutting out its mouth, cleaning out god-knows-what that's all inside the body of the sotong and finally scoring the clean product. Thank goodness for my mom's instructions, I think I managed well enough.

So now, with all the gruesome part done, it's down to trying to find a good recipe on how to make deep fried calamari. As I have eaten this dish in restaurants numerous times, I was expecting myself to make something similiar to those (ie. batter …

Jambalaya

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"Good-bye Joe, he gotta go, me oh my oh
He gotta go-pole the pirogue down the bayou
His Yvonne the sweetest one, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou"

"Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and fillet gumbo
For tonight, I'm a-gonna see my my-my cher a mi-o
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou"

-- Carpenters (Jambalaya)

Whenever I hear any song from the Carpenters, I would inevitably recall times when I would play their Gold Collection all day in the background while studying. The CD is probably unplayable now, but (shhh....) it's a borrowed copy. Years later, I finally owned one and I still play it once in a while while rocking baby to sleep.

For the longest time, I never had any idea what the lyrics was about. Seemed to me that she (Karen Carpenter) was just singing nonsense, just like some of the Mother Goose Rhymes. But now I know better. If you are like me and like cajun-spiced anything or can&…

Pho - Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Soup

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Hubby and I have always been fans of Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Soup. Whenever we see a Viet restuarant in sight, we would immediately make a beeline for it and order this dish together with Vietnamese Spring Rolls.

I have actually modified the recipe slightly from my cookbook, as I do not have ready-made beef stock on hand. Thankfully the end result was still good. Makes an easy but stomach warming dinner.

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Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Soup
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Soup base:
2 litres water
2 Knorrs beef stock cubes
1 white onion
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick

400gm tenderloin beef, sliced as thin as you could manage 300gm cooked rice noodles (kuay teow)

Accompaniments:
1 lime, sliced into wedges
1/2 small white onion, sliced thinly
30 mint leaves
150gm bean sprout, tailed
2 chili padi, sliced thinly
3 sprigs spring onion, sliced thinly

1. Make soup base by combining all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let simmer for …

Braised Duck

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So far in my kitchen experiments, I have yet to try cooking any other poultry other than chicken. I love to eat duck, but cooking one seems .... tedious, or so I thought.

After a few rounds of pleading from hubby, I agreed to try out a braised duck recipe he saw in one of my cookbooks. Ordered a fresh duck from market (I suspect that I have been conned, cos for a 3.3kg duck I paid S$16 and the duck probably died from obsesity!) and started the pots going. Marinated the duck with five spice powder and dark soy sauce and dunk the fellow into a bubbling spice pot for 2+ hours. And it's done. The meat flakes off the bone easily and is mouth tender. Although the fatty duck yielded one and a half cups of oil while braising, the fat-reduced skin remained intact while protecting the meat from over-cooking.

Conclusion: I won't be buying ready-made braised duck anymore! And also, I won't be patronising that market poultry stall anymore! Hmmph...
Braised DuckIngredients:

1 fresh duck (A)

Eggplant marsala

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It has been a long while since I dine in an Indian restaurant. Ahh.... I missed those crispy thin dosai and chunky marsala dosai, and most of all, I missed the fish head curry of little India. In fact, dining out anywhere is difficult as we are always looking at our watches for the next feeding time for our little cherub. We have not attempted to feed her outside since started weaning her. So I guess it would be so for a while more before we are able to resume our support for the F&B industry.

So in order to stave off our craving for something indian, I chose to make Eggplant Marsala as a side dish for our dinner. It is a nice vegeterian dish and relatively easy to make. I said relative cos the cooking is easy, but the buying of spices require some hunting, but definitely worth the effort. The recipe is as follows if you are interested to try.

Here is the recipe:

3 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 slender Asian eggplants, halved an…

Improving my cooking technique

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After preparing quite a few dishes, I realised that my food preparation calls for improvement in terms of presentation as well as technique. Without the proper cooking and food preparation technique is akin to driving without a licence. Yes, you know roughly how the car works, and probably would be able to get from point A to point B after running down a few pedestrians. But without proper instructions, one will probably have to run down more pedestrians to learn from practice. So when I came by Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques, I was estatic! The book is relatively easy to follow as there are so many photos showing how-to. So far, I have tried his method on how to mince an onion and it worked perfectly! Can't wait to try out his other instructions.

On the same note of improving my food prepration technique, I decided to encourage myself by buying a new multi-purpose knife despite the fact that my Global knife recommended by Anthony Boudain still sits in the drawer. My mum o…