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Showing posts from February, 2010

Good Read: Home Cooking: A Writer In The Kitchen

Sitting down to read a book from cover to cover is a fantasy that I have since the arrival of our little princess. A good book is hard to come by too. But I had the good fortune to pick one up over the Chinese New Year period from Borders.

Home Cooking: A Writer In The Kitchen is such a wonderful book to sit down with especially when I want a quick read while my little princess finish up her segment of Upin and Ipin on the TV. The book is a collection of many essays which the author has written for various columns. I am still trying to get used to her style of writing but I would say that most of what she has written will strike a cord with any home cook.

Take for instance her essay Baking Bread Without Agony. I suppose my lack of bread making over the past years was due to this agony from the process. When I attempted to make bread for the first time I was terrified of the long and complicated process. Some books are very fastidious in their methods while others are every exacting in …

Pesto Swirl Bread

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Still in the bread making mode, I stumbled upon this idea.
Grabbed a jar of pesto and a wedge of Parmesan cheese from the supermarket and couldn't wait to get started.
I had used a Japanese white bread dough and slather on a thick layer of the pesto on it. Just sprinkle the Parmesan cheese generously on it before rolling it up. Obviously I need more practice in rolling.
The original recipe is can be found online here. A slice of heaven.

A Slight Glitch On Cooking The Cookbooks

After just doing three recipes, it quickly became apparent that feeding these unusual foods to my four year old is not going to work.

Red bell peppers? Avocados? Nah ... And I can't blame her. I didn't like bell peppers until much recently.

So I am thinking how to go around this problem.

Tonight I made Soy Sauce Chicken for her dinner as she simply just doesn't want any of the leftover Stuffed Flank Steak. Sigh ...

She is such an Asian-mouthed kid.

So perhaps my next book should be either on Chinese or Japanese foods!

Stuffed Flank Steak

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I am a silly sort of person.

Really.

While my sister relishes any opportunity to have a car all to herself, I cower in fear. She calls it empowering, I call it burdensome. She would zip anywhere and everywhere with it. Just name the place. My car is like bus or train service - it only stops are designated places. New stops are unthinkable to me. Until someone suggests otherwise.

A few nights ago, we had this conversation:

Me: "I need to get some ingredients for my recipe." I'm always working on some recipes remember?

Hubby: "Now or tomorrow?"

Me: "Tomorrow."

Hubby: "Upmarket or ... "

Me: "Mmm ... I need to buy flank steak, capers, provolone cheese, jarred roasted red capsicum and ... "

Hubby: "Upmarket. Definitely upmarket. Why don't you swing by Great World City or Devonshire before picking her up?" Refering to our little princess.

Me: "You mean I can?"

Hubby: "..."

And that was what I did the next day. It fe…

Chicken Tonight

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As mentioned in my earlier post about the little experiment, I took the plunge last night and started the clock ticking.

My first book of choice for this little experiment is The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2007. I'm sure this came as no surprise that I have chosen a book from my favourite cooking people. I love them! I can't rememeber when I bought this book but probably back in 2007/8 and all I do with it was read it like a novel from page to page without stepping into the kitchen with it. So I hope that this little experiment will change that.

So let's get the ball rolling.


First off, Chicken Salad with Mango, Avocado and Citrus dressing. This simply hit all the right notes with me. We had some leftover chicken from the supposedly BBQ and they blend in wonderfully in the salad. The Citrus and Cilantro Spice Chicken provided the ommph factor to balance the sweetness from the managoes with hint of spices. Instead of the required Italian parsley, I used bright and arom…

Cooking The Cookbooks

I guess by now you would have probably caught the drift that I am a cookbook hoarder. Yes, it is a disease. But I don't want to seek help.

Over the CNY period, I wandered into Borders and came out with a big bag of books. All within a matter of an hour in the shop. I should be banned from bookshops. Even online ones!

As I was walking from the bookshop to the car, I had a epiphany. As if struck by lightening. I thought: "Why don't I just start cooking from some of the books that I have?" Rocket science problem resolved. I feel so proud of myself! Du-uh.

So I am going to try out a little experiment here to cook strictly from a cookbook for a whole month and see how many recipes I am able to turn out from it. This little experiment will probably help me (a) weed out books that I hoard for no particular reason; (b) try more new recipes; and (c) avoid inspiration void by narrowing the search to just one book.

Now let's see how I fare at the end of the month!

Tri-colour Marble Bread

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In line with my new year resolution, bread making is definitely on the list. I've tried the western version of white bread, and I don't quite appreciate the dense and chewy texture. So it's going to be those white fluffy kind for me.

Looking at the older posts, it could well explained why I felt so out-of-touch making the bread. I forgot to warm the milk and prep the butter before hand. Sigh ...

Here's a nice photo of it and also the recipe (but in Japanese). I will give my version of it once I could nail down the exact taste I would like to achieve.

Feast and Flabby

Greetings to all my readers who celebrate Chinese New Year. I believe a Vulcan salute is short and perfect for this sort of event, but sans the hand sign if you don't mind. So here goes: Live long and prosper.

The days leading to the CNY were filled with food and more food. Unfortunately, I got so swamped with food that I didn't take any photos at all.

CNY for us kicked off with a BBQ at my place with my side of the family. It was meant to be a BBQ but the wire cord for the electric grill went missing, so we had to improvise with a induction cooker and skillet. The food was mainly prepared by me. Hey, BBQ is the easiest way to entertain. Everything can be made before hand and the guests cook their own food. Here are some of the food that I made:

* Ratatouille
* White fungus dessert
* Sicilian Fish Stew
* Mango Salsa
* Simple Grilled Wagyu Beef
* Garlic, Ginger and Soy Marinated Beef Flank Steak
* Orange, Sage and Garlic Pork Tenderloin
* Citrus and Cilantro Spice Chicken
* Assorted store…

Fettered By Feta

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That was exactly how I felt when I look at the leftover piece of feta cheese sitting in the chiller. We did not use as much of it on our pizzas as we thought we would. So I felt that I needed to something about it before it gave up on me like the previous one when we made the pizzas.

I dug deep into the fridge and inspiration hit me. I love feta cheese in salads, so why not make another batch of salad? Pasta salad with feta again? No, thanks. I wanted something lighter.

And so I made this ....

Sauteed peppers with feta cheese, olives, tomatoes and cucumber dressed with lemon caper vinaigrette.

What a riot of colours!

The sauteed peppers were crunchy and sweet without any raw vegetable taste. The dressing was really lemony and provided just the right flavour to compliment the dense and creamy feta cheese. Perfect salad to accompany meaty dishes.

All-purpose Seafood Dish

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I can't remember when was the last time Hubby went to a wet market. When he did the marketing, I know I am in for standing at the sink for hours just to sort and prep the food for cooking the following week. Ahh ... those were the organised days.

In these laissez-faire days, we seem to be more JIT (just in time) with our grocery. But trust me, my fridge is still chock full of stuff and is far worse than this. Maybe there are some science projects hidden inside. Hmm ... Yes, there was a pair of Japanese sweet potatoes with eery purplish spots and then there was half a lemon sitting in there looking tired and sad.

So when my mom popped over for the dinner with various types of uncooked fish and scallops in tow, I was more than happy to whip up this dish for her, which she seems to like as much as we do. The base is always the same combo: garlic, stock, white wine, capers, lemon juice and halved cherry tomatoes. Once it comes to a boil, just dump the partially cooked fish and/or cleane…