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Showing posts from February, 2011

Parmesan Chicken

Despite my massive collection of cookbooks, I still do visit the libraries to check out their cookbooks. I will always walk out of the place with a book or two in hand. Sometimes even more. Just the other day I spotted this book at my nearest library. If you have been following me on this blog, you will know that I use many America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated recipes. So when I saw this book in the library, I was so surprised that the library was able to get such a newly released book and just had to bring it home to have a closer look. But before I was able to flip through it, my mom spotted it lying on my table that night and she said she feel like having the breadcumb crusted thingy on the cover page for dinner. I thought that if ATK put this dish on its cover page, it must be good and simple to prepare. Perfect recipe to test the worth of the book. And that's what we had for dinner. To shorten the cooking time and stretch the little amount of chicken breas

Kinpira-Gobo (きんぴらごぼう)

This is a two-vegetable dish of burdock and carrot stir-fried with the usual Japanese seasoning trio of soy sauce, sake and mirin. When I was in Tokyo, this crunchy and sweet side dish appear often in bentos we ate. And true enough according to The Japanese Kitchen , " The dish tastes better after a few hours, and can be kept in the refrigerator, covered, for a day ." So that and the lack of messy sauce make it a perfect bento complement. The burdock I bought from NTUC was almost as tall as our little princess. I snapped them into half for cooking miso soup and had been thinking of what to do with the remaining half. I love this root vegetable but our little princess has made known that she doesn't care for it. Sigh ... In case you have never encountered the burdock, this is how it looks like out of the ground . They are slender, astonishingly long, look almost bark-like and usually encrusted with dirt. Once you scrape the tough skin off, the exposed burdock is bei

Main Course Salads: How To Make Ahead

I am still very into salad these days and probably will start to turn various shades of green soon at this rate we are chomping them down. After making and eating quite a number of salads, I've came away with some notes on how to get a head start in making salads. Size - Cut it down I just came across an article from The Kitchn asking if there is a way to eat salad gracefully . I didn't think that there was much hope in that direction until I had the Wafu Salad from Tonkichi that made me realise that it is possible to eat salads gracefully - cut everything into bite-size. Prep ahead Although salads needs minimal cooking, it involves lots of knife-work. Slicing, dicing, chopping all take time. But as I've mentioned earlier, most ingredients of a salad can be prepared in advance, but not all. Cut avocados will turn black, apples brown, and so forth. So if you are considering these items for your salad, either wait until just before serving to dice them up or leave

Mommy, I Will Follow You

It seems to me that it was just yesterday when she was still in diapers and drinking from milk bottles. Erm ... In fact she was still in a diaper when she woke up and drank milk from her milk bottle this morning. She is six this year, why did you ask? I snapped this photo last Sunday when we were running to Mediya (running cos I left the car with the smart-key in my bag and Hubby was sort of stranded in the car, so had to run back to pass him the smart-key; smart indeed) . I just couldn't resist when I saw how pretty she looked. She still likes boys stuff, but was willing to oblige her manupulative mother by wearing this. These days when I go out with her in my hand, I have the odd thinking that I am too young to have a daughter this old. I am in denial. On some days, I'd wish she would grow up quickly but on others I wish she would stay this way forever. On most days, I will just marvel at how much she has grown. Last Friday after doing her homework, she decided she did

Main Course Salads: Salade Nicoise

My motivation for looking into main course salad was born out of sheer laziness. I was looking for a one-dish meal (less plates) that requires minimal cooking (less pots/pans) and packs lots of veggies as well as being filling. No skimpy wimpy diet salads for this gal. So if I have to put this into a checklist of evaluating a salad, it would probably look like this. Salade Nicoise has all the ticks in the check-boxes. Everything in this salad can be made ahead of time. Right down to the proteins of eggs and fish (either canned tuna or leftover grilled salmon). Now, isn't this dish time friendly? The dressing for Salade Nicoise is just a simple olive oil and acid mix (ratio is 1 : 1.5)with shallots and herbs thrown in together with Dijon mustard. The recipe for the vinaigrette I used came from The New Best Recipe which you will be able to find it on Simply Recipe . I haven't had many main course salads in restaurants, but from the very few that I had eaten, the dre

Kimchi Tofu Don

There are always days when the idea of cooking dinner throws up much frustration in me. When cooking for myself, I know exactly what I would want everyday - buttery mashed potatoes and sauteed zucchini. But cooking for others, I would have more to consider apart from my own freakish taste buds. Hubby will eat anything that I put on the table. That's great support from him but he is eating too much. Princess is still a kid with limited tolerance for any exotic foods. So everyday I will have to thread on that fine line that meets all these considerations. And then there are days when I am just too lazy to cook. Just the thought of prep, cook and clean is enough to send me back to my sofa for another hour of mindless tv watching. When such days do occur, I would usually resort to one-pan meals (i.e. fried rice, fried noodles, hotpot, etc.). So the other day I piece this together with whatever that I have in the fridge. Stir fried pork with tofu and kimchi. Princess' versi

Animal Cookies

Usually Hubby is quite indulgent in most things that I do or want to do. But today, he drew the line at this. What's wrong, you ask? Cos he deems this as overly tedious and serves no purpose. But I beg to differ. The decorations do serve a purpose. They make me happy. And I am quite sure that our princess' friends and teachers were as well when she passed them around during the snack time. Look that them and tell me that it doesn't bring a smile to your face. Oh ... They don't? I'm just going to pretend that I didn't hear you say that. When I saw the cute Lion Cookies from Diamonds For Dessert , I thought they were ultra cute and that our little princess would like it. But when our princess saw them, she wanted me to bake some for her school on Valentine's Day! She said that she was wanted to bring something special for her special friend on Valentine's Day. I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that but I agreed. After leaving schoo

Chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し)

Whenever we ask our little princess what she would like to have for dinner, the answer will invariably come back (a) Tonkichi; (b) duck rice; or (c) any rice-veg-meat combo. I think you can see the trend. She is definitely a rice eater. We have been visiting Tonkichi so often that the staff could recognise us immediately and know what is our usual. Good or bad? So far it has been more good than bad. Let's hope it stays this way. At Tonkichi, our little princess has learnt to partake her meal with more fanciful add-ons. She would ask for an upgrade of her soup from plain miso to tonjiru (basically miso soup still but with added gobo (burdock), carrots, raddish, konnyaku (taro gelatin) and pork slices thrown in) as well as adding a serving of chawanmushi. I am eyeing the situation carefully and suspecting that she will probably eat us out of our house when she hits another growth spurt. Child rearing is expensive business. In theory, chawanmushi is simply an easy dish to prepare

Spanish-Style Braised Lentils with Sausage

Whenever lentils appears on the table, our little princess would eye it warily. She doesn't like lentils, even when they are cooked with her most favourite thing in the world: sausages. But being the story monster that she is, she is always hungry for a good story. In a bid to get her to try the lentils, I had sort of made one up about lentils. Long ago in India, there was a widespread famine which lasted for three years due to the lack of rain. Crops fail and livestock died. People were dying of starvation and they were very sad. They prayed to Buddha for salvation. Buddha heard the prayers of the people and gifted them with a strange plant called lentils which grew easily even in poor weather. Soon lentils began growing in the abandoned farm lands. Many people started eating lentils and were saved from hunger and starvation. Even after the end of the famine, the people of India continued to eat lentils together with their rice because it is highly nutritious and keeps them he

A Different Chinese New Year

This year's Chinese New Year felt somewhat ... different. Change #1 - A lighter dinner The festive celebration kicked off with our reunion dinner at my mom's place. Throughout dinner my brother and sister shot daggers at me from their eyes for my faux Yu-sheng . I did tell them I would bring something over in place of the usual Yu-sheng. Guess they really wanted Yu-sheng to feel festive. Usually reunion dinner is a big affair in my mom's place. We used to have eight- or nine-dish extravaganza year after year. But this year, after many years of persuasion by us, my mom relented and agreed to tone down for this year's meal. Our dinner menu - fish maw abalone soup - stewed medley of dried oysters, dried scallops and some sort of black weed that looks like dried hair - my mom's signature meat roll - steamed fish - a cold-dish entree, which much resembled what we used to get when we go for wedding dinners made up seasoned jellyfish, seasoned scallops, century eggs,

Spinach & Gruyere Cheese Strata

I woke up early on one Saturday morning, which is a rare occurance. Deciding not to climb back to bed, I went about making my morning tea. It is always nice to enjoy a cup of tea at home. But I decided to make it even better by waking everyone up with the smell of warm baked eggs. Not long after I pushed the skillet into the oven, I could hear shuffling feet coming my way. If only someone would make egg for me in the mornings, I will dump Hubby at the drop of a hat and elope with him at once. Until that someone comes along, I guess I will have to make do with Hubby. Well, I'm not alone. Even Lady Gaga's song tells of how much we love being pampered. "I'm not loose, I like to party Let's get lost in your Ferrari Not psychotic or dramatic I like boys and that is that Love it when you call me legs In the morning buy me eggs Watch your heart when we're together Boys like you love me forever" - Boys Boys Boys by Lady Gaga If you like quiche, you will li

Count Our Blessings

~ Please note that this post has nothing to do with food. ~ Do you read the obituary section in the papers? I do, almost every time I open the papers. And today, I came across this beautiful obituary dedicated to a Ms Dora Tay from her family. We think of you in silence and often speak your name, But all that's left to answer is your picture in a frame, If we could have one lifetime wish, one dream that would come true, We would wish with all our hearts for yesterday and you. If tears could build a stairway, and heartache make a lane, We would walk to anywhere to be with you again. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes as I imagine the loss and longings of the family. Often I could be heard saying "We are all waiting to die." I can't remember where I had picked that phrase up from but I know it resonates with my outlook of life. To acknowledge our mortality is to acknowledge our shortness of life. It is a grim reminder that we should cherish the peopl

Main Course Salads: Grilled Ribeye Steak Salad

I made this salad the other day. The good news is that we love having steak and salad in one plate. It packs more fibre and colours than the usual steak and potatoes combo. The bad news is that there is no recipe to share cos I just toss together the odds and ends I found in my fridge. But ... I will not leave you out cold without a recipe. Actually, I had my inspiration of making a grilled steak salad from The Pioneer Woman's Big Steak Salad . Head over and drool at her photos. I grilled 2 slabs of ribeye steaks seasoned with Cajun Seasoning and I could have eaten them hot off the grill while standing in the kitchen. The anticipation that built up while dicing them up for the salad was almost unbearable. I did snitch a bite though. The salad was dressed with my usual dipping sauce for Vietnamese Rice-Paper Roll . This is my favourite sauce for something salty and spicy. However, do note the high salt content in the fish sauce. Dressings are usual the black sheep of an oth