have you ever had this nagging feeling of what to cook whenever a festive season is around the corner? what mood do i want to create? i want it to be different but not too overwhelming for my guests....who am i inviting? what is the occasion? are they adults or children? big eaters or mousy eaters? well there is room for everyone... read on.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sunday Nite In

On Sundays usually after a long day at church, dinner is either eat-out or pack-home. However, once in a while I get bitten by the cooking bug and the next thing you know I have a couple of friends over for Sunday dinner. I can't explain it but I guess cooking is the way I unwind or call it escapism, whatever! Obviously whatever dished out has to be straight forward and hassle-free. I cook whatever I have in the house. I happen to find a big packet of anchovies (ikan bilis) and 2 packets of dried baby cuttlefish. So, a hot and spicy sambal ikan bilis and cuttlefish would be an appetizing dish. This dish has many uses, can be a filling for a bread and butter sandwich, an accompaniment for nasi lemak or just a appetizer for a blend meal. It can be kept in the fridge for a week.
400 gm anchovies (cleaned, peeled and stir fried in some oil till slightly brown and crispy) 60 gm dried cuttlefish (soak in water for 10 minutes, drained) Blended ingredients a handful of dried red chilies (pre-soaked in hot water, drained) 5 large red chilies 5 bird-eye chilies 5 cloves of garlic 5 shallots 1 Tbsp roasted belacan Olive oil sugar dark soya sauce 1 Tbsp assam paste (soaked in hot water and drained off the seeds)
Heat oil in wok and put in all blended ingredients, fry till fragrant, add sugar and assam water.
Put in all the pre-fried anchovies and let it simmer till anchovies are soft, adding water when starts to dry.
Add in the cuttlefish, fry for 10 minutes and soya sauce for coloring.
A refreshing baby spinach sautee with garlic compliments the hot and spicy sambal. Another cooling vegetable would be bittergourd (see spicy bittergourd recipe posted earlier).
While I was a growing up, my parents catered food from a nearby food caterer and one of the dishes I always look forward to as a child was the stewed pork patties with potaotes. It never failed to ignite my appetite that's for sure! and since I am on this topic, some other dishes were perut ikan, braised pig trotters in dark soya sauce, ikan pulai and the their curry chicken.
Recipe for stewed pork patties with potatoes.
400 gm minced pork
season with sea salt, soya sauce, da
rk soya sauce, pepper, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and garlic oil.
Shape into patties, fry with a little olive oil on a non stick pan till slightly brown. Let the patties cool on a plate while you make the sauce.
Peel pototoes and slice into 1 cm thick rounds. Put to boil till cooked. Drained and cool.
Heat some garlic oil, oyster sauce and hot water. Bring to simmer and add in 1 large onion (cut into rings).
Put in the pork patties and potatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. Thicken with cornflour.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Roasted Oink! Oink! Belly

Roasted Oink Oink Belly! is actually 'siew yoke'. A very popular roast among Malaysian chinese. I would rate it more sought after than roast leg of lamb or even roast turkey here. This piece of roast is not directly associated with any particular festive season and can be found sold in almost every local chinese coffee shop here. I never thought I would one day attempt to make this myself, the truth is, it's pretty simple. A good piece would have beautiful light crackling skin, not too much fatty streaks and a tasty marinate. When you cut it with a cleaver, the crispy sound it makes is just out of this world. Everytime I have siew yoke at home, I make sure that I have bottles and bottles of chilled cold beer to dunk it in with. Satisfying just plain satisfying!
I remember my grandma (my late father's mother) would have a stout with siew yoke or roasted duck thigh every evening at 4pm. I was about 4 years old then. Radiofusion music piping from her kitchen. Hmm those good old days, not a care in the world!
Get yourself a good piece of pork belly (not too fatty please or else it will turn out too oily, happened to me)
Pat dry the piece of pork belly (8" X 15") with a kitchen towel.
Prick the skin with a sharp paring knife tip and slice slits on the other side of the meat.
Marinate the slited side of the meat with a mixture of 5-Spice powder (from the chinese medical hall) and some sea salt.
Some would encourage you to put it to dry under the sun but I am just too lazy. I just place it under a rotating ceiling fan in my dining for 2 - 3 hours.
Heat oven at 220 degree celsius and pop in the piece of meat drizzled with a little olive oil. Put timer to 20 minutes and turn down to 200 degree celsius after that, checking every 10 - 15 minutes to avoid burning. Baske the meat with its own dripping everytime you check.
Turn the heat down a little if it is too hot but the skin must continue to crackle. If it doesn't, means the oven is not hot enough. Please do not cover the meat with a cover or tin foil throughout the whole roasting process. The roasting time will depend on the size of the meat, how much fat on the meat and the heat of your oven. An average piece like mine would take approximately 1 hour. The meat will shrink a little when completely cooked.
Let the meat rest (cool) for 1/2 hour before chopping it up into bite size pieces with a sharp knife.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Salted Fish Gulai Coming Up!

This recipe brings back precious memories. It was one of my best friends in my work place during the last chapter of my working life who willingly gave me this delicious recipe. She's a town planner in a reputable architectural firm where I still go visit time to time. Working life is comfortable and exciting but being a mommy is most satisfying. Let me not derail from my thoughts, originally this is a basic gulai with salted fish, brinjals, lady fingers and tomatoes. I took the opportunity to modify it just a little to suit my taste.
4 pieces of salted fish head (in place of the whole salted fish pieces) 1 Ma Yaw fish head (cut into chunks) 5 pieces of Ma Yaw fish cutlets
Fish roe (fish eggs) 8 lady fingers (blanche in hot water) 3 round brinjals (cut into quarters) 2 large ripe red tomatoes (cut into quarters)
1 large onion (cut into quarters) 3 Tbsp Burung Nuri fish curry powder 1 tsp sugar 1 Tbsp assam jawa (soaked in hot water and seeds discarded) Ingredients to be blended 3 cloves garlic 5 shallots 1 piece of 3" ginger 3 big red chillies 5 small chillies 3 dried chillies (presoaked in hot water) All the fish, fish roe and salted fish head pieces must be pre-fried in oil and drained. Pour some olive oil into a heated curry pot. Stir fry all the blended ingredients till fragrant and add in the curry powder and a little sugar. Put in the salted fish head and fry for another 15 minutes adding assam water and some hot water as it goes. Simmer for 20 minutes. In goes brinjal, onion and tomatoes and simmer for another 20 minutes till vegetable is soft. Notice I don't add in the lady fingers cos I like it a little raw but if you like it very cooked you can put it in together with the rest of the veggies. Add in the ma yaw fish and simmer for 10 minutes. Gulai is served. I usually eat 2 plates of rice with this dish.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Kiddies Lunches and Wholesome Dinners

Jamie Oliver did a very noble thing by trying to change the diet of school going children in the United Kingdom. I admire that step he took cos for those of you who have seen that episode, those children are eating junk food, really! and most of them are from pretty wealthy families. Sadly, affordability is not the issue here, mindset and time constrain is. More and more parents these days are working harder and harder just to provide the best for their children. It's natural to want to be able to give our children the best but often we neglect their basic needs. Food and attention are just as important as a roof over our heads, it builds the child and that's my personal conviction. We can't change the world over night but we definitely can make a difference a day at a time. Once we change our own mindset, we can slowly change the mindset of our younger generation. The book "The secrets of why french women don't get fat by Michel Montignac" is really inspirational cos it's all about how we want to live our lives. Malaysians overall have pretty unhealthy breakfasts. Someone said to me before that our national breakfast is nasi lemak. Wow! I love nasi lemak but eating it everyday is terribly unwise. Firstly, I believe that we can change all those mindset by instilling proper meals for our children. Kiddies meals are simple, it just need a little creativity and some tender loving care. I do have the pleasure of serving kiddie meals pretty often. My own and my nieces and nephews drop by very often and I find it a real joy to be able to whip up some tasty snacks or meals when they are around. It's so fulfilling to see them tuck in and licking the gravy off their plates. A little competition is good for the body and soul!
My fall back recipe for a quick meal is beef stew. 300 gm beef shin (uncut) 5 potatoes (peeled and cut into half) 1 big Australian carrot (cut in chunks) 1 big onion (cut into quarters) 3 cloves garlic (smashed) A handful of fresh peas 100 ml tomato puree
2 Tbsp Mesquite smoke sauce 400 ml beef stock olive oil sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat a saucepan with oil, put in the garlic and sear the beef shin till lightly brown. Pour in the tomato puree and add in the stock a little at a time. Simmer for 1 hour on low heat.

Add in the rest of the ingredients except peas and simmer for another 40 minutes. (Checking the tenderness of the beef). Once the beef is soft and tender pour in the peas, cut off the heat 5 minutes later and serve with crunchy toasts.

Another of my recipe is the pork and beans platter. First you'll need a piece of pork fillet (mui yoke) - Sliced thinly and marinate with a little tomato paste, dark soya sauce, sea salt, pepper and sugar for 4 hours in the fridge.

Heat the wok and drizzle some olive oil. Throw in some smashed garlic and 2 sundried tomatoes (cut in streaks). Put in the marinated pork slices and bring to sizzle. Add in 1 big quartered onion and a small can of whole roma tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. Pour in a can of baked beans and simmer for another 10 minutes. This dish can be served with rice and boiled vegetables like broccoli, french beans or even lady fingers.

Since most of our children do not go to boarding schools, school dinners do not apply. Instead, school lunches or snacks is my priority. Some schools serve a good variety of food but still most of them still can barely pass the basic nutritional requirement. I have seen french fries so yellow in color as if dipped in yellow dye. Fried rice fried with rice ... hardly any meat or veggies. Noodle soup which is actually noodles in msg water. That's the truth and it hurts! Can you imagine your little ones eating this everyday?

I have quite a number of pack lunches ideas to share and one of them is minced meat burger.

Meat used can be pork, beef or even mutton. Just season the minced meat with a little oyster sauce, dark soya sauce, light soya sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. A drizzle of olive oil in the pan with some chopped garlic, in goes the mince meat. Stir fry for 15 minutes and scoop into a buttered bun with a lettuce leaf. In it goes into the lunch box and off to school. This can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated.

Prawn omelettes are a great source of protein children need for healthy growth. 300 gms of peeled prawns seasoned with cornflour, sugar, sea salt and pepper. Beat 3 large chicken eggs in a bowl. Drizzle some olive oil in a non stick pan and pour in the prawns, stir fry for 5 minutes and in goes the beaten eggs. There you have it! can be served with 2 slices of wholemeal bread, crunchy vegetable or just some tomato sauce.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Good Morning Muffins!

Last night just as I jump into bed, I had this cravings for muffins! Gosh! to get out of bed at that ungodly hour just to make muffins seems most ridiculous. So I decided to crawl out of bed early this morning to whip up a batch to satisfy my desire. Here is the recipe for my muffins. You can make it in a jiffy. It's fast and easy, right on time for breakfast. Muffins have to be eaten straight from the oven served with a cup of freshly brewed coffee and the morning newspapers of course!

375 gm self raising flour (sifted) 75 gm castor sugar 2 tsp baking powder 375 ml fresh milk 2 large eggs (slightly beaten) 250 gm pure butter 1 can of sweetened seedless cherries (strained) Heat oven at 190 degrees celsius. Melt the butter. Put all the flour, sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add in the melted butter, milk and eggs in the centre of the flour mixture and mix them together using a fork. The mixture must be a bit lumpy and batter like. Scoop the batter into the muffin trays. Only half fill the moulds with batter. Put 3 - 4 cherries into the centre of each mould and top it up with the rest of the batter. Pop it into the oven for 20 minutes. Take it out from the oven and cool on the cake trays.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

One Plate Meals

I am a great supporter of one-plate lunches and one-plate dinners. I don't have to slave over the kitchen sink washing up plate after plate. One-plate not neccessary mean malnutrition ... nope, nope, nope. In fact, I find it much simpler to balance a meal that way. Eat all on your plate and you're done! It's very much like the main course of a set meal. We have protein, vegetables and carbo all on one plate. I enjoy piecing these food chains together but tonite, I am serving a carboless diet cos earlier today, I had a pasta dish. Another thing I like to do is to Malaysianise my dishes cos I don't really fancy too much butter or cream in my diet. I believe chinese cooking styles are very healthy and sumptous so I always incorporate them in my cooking.
Just like tonite's menu of pan-fry steak, stir-fry watercress shoots and oven roasted pumpkin. For a balance meal you may replace the pumpkin with potatoes, alio olio pasta, french loaf, rice, couscous and etc. Usually, I like my steak marinated with sea salt and black pepper but tonite's marinate is different with a little mesquite smoke sauce, sea salt and black pepper. When dinner is about served, heat up the pan with olive oil and just sear the steak to the way you like it. As for the watercress shoots, just pluck off the shoots from the whole twig of watercress, mince some garlic and stir fry in a pan. Add salt to taste. Roasted pumpkin is simple. Cut pumpkin into wedges, rub a little salt and drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil. Pop it in the oven marked 180 degree celsius for about 30 - 40 minutes. Poke a knife through the pumpkin to check if it is cooked.
As for the watercress stems, I just turn them into watercress soup.
1.5 litre of filtered water
300 gm soup meat (preferrably pork)
6 red dates
2 small pieces of dried cuttlefish
Bring water to boil and add in the dates, cuttlefish and soup meat. Boil for 30 minutes and throw in the watercress and simmer for another 20 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

When bitter is good!

Ekkk! so bitter! was my first impression of bittergourd. I can imagine many share this tongue-killing experience with me. I have learnt through the years not to under estimate this gourd. It is rich in vitamins A and C and also believed to be good for those with low blood pressure. Lately it seems that research has shown that it contains properties that can give us clear healthy complexion. Well, anything to look great and healthy! To make it more palatable, I have a few ways to dish it out. Most common is in the form of 'Yong Tau Foo' which the bittergourd is cut in rounds or slightly slanted and the empty space in the centre is filled with yummy fish paste. It is then deep fried in oil and drained. The filled gourd is then served with other types of vegetables like lady fingers, red chilles, aubergine, long beans twisted into a circle and filled with fish paste. I have been trying to capture a nice photo of Yong Tau Foo with bittergourd but seem to have failed but I guess I shall keep trying cos I don't intend make this dish myself since lots of stalls out there make real delicious ones.
Bittergourd stewed with chicken (Foo Kua Mun Khai) is another decently palatable dish. Lately with 'Bird Flu' around I am not too keen to cook chicken eventhough I love this dish. When times are better I shall post this recipe and photo. (Stay tuned for a better future)
Spicy Bittergourd Dish
4 small bitter gourd (pitted and cut like the photo on the right)
Ingredients Blended
3 cloves of garlic
2 large red chilies (sorry I have been spelling chillies all this while!)
3 bird eye chili (feels strange with 1 L)
2 tsp whole bean tauchu paste (fermented soya beans)
1 Tbsp of scallop and chicken concentrated stock (from the bottle - optional)
A dash of black soya sauce (for coloring)
Boil a pot of water and dunk in the sliced bittergourd. This process is done for those who don't like it too bitter. Drained off the water and run bittergourd under normal temperature filtered water. (To preserve its crunchyness)
Drizzle some olive oil in a saucepan and put in the 3 blended ingredients and tauchu paste. Stir fry till fragrant and put in the scallop and chicken stock.
Throw in all the bittergourd and stir come more, adding a little water and saute for another 10 minutes. A dash of soya sauce and just a stir and it is ready to be served.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Crabs and more crabs!

My favourite seafood is the crab, followed closely by the prawn. In my opinion, it's even tastier then lobsters or abalone. I like it steamed, salt baked, chilli, bisques, boulaibasse or just simply BBQed. When it is eaten freshly cooked it possess a very sweet flavourful tinge. I guess I just love seafood!
When we were young, our parents used to take us to the beach a lot. I don't enjoy swimming in the sea but I definitely love digging for shellfish washed up shore, prying small oysters off the rocks and eating them, chasing after little crabs or just building sand castles. Occassionally, we see fishermen with their evening catch coming to shore in their little sampan (boat). The fish and prawns still jumping around in the sampan and the squid (calamari) still looks transparent. Hmm can you imagine the freshness of the seafood? Mom will always buy some home and we will enjoy a delicious 'catch of the day' meal without must resistance.
A day by the beach was a real retreat for me then and is still is. For me, a vacation is not a vacation without the beach! The warmth of the fine white sand between your toes and the fresh sea breeze blowing, seagulls flying looking for fish and a book in hand. Ah! paradise! What can I ask for more but just thank God I am alive.
This is a one person recipe actually. I alone can eat 3 blue swimmers (crabs) easily.
3 blue swimmer crabs (cleaned and halfed)
6 medium size prawns
1 Tbsp Tauchu (whole beans)
2 Tbsp tomato sauce
1 Tbsp chilli sauce
3 big red chillies
3 small bird eye chilli
3 cloves garlic
sea salt
Blend all chillies and garlic together.
Heat up some olive oil in a wok, tumis (sauteed) the blended ingredients and tauchu till fragrant.
Add in the sauces and a little hot water for a more watery consistency.
Put in the crabs, followed by prawns.
Stir and cover for 15 minutes. Sugar and salt to taste

Monday, March 13, 2006

My Darling Nephew's First Birthday

First birthdays are special and will always be. Most importantly for the birthday child is the memories it may bring in the later years. Birthday cake, candle(s), sounds of children's laughter floating in the air, guests chatting with one another, some happily tucking in the food oblivious to its surrounding, all captured on video and photographs.
I had the priviledge to be invited to my nephew's first birthday bash by the poolside. The weather was perfect after a heavy downpour earlier in the afternoon. By 5 pm it was windy and cooling and to top it all, the pool was warm and not crowded. The attraction for the evening besides the birthday boy was Lobak! All 4 kgs of it! This lobak recipe is slightly different from those you eat in restaurants. We like it this way.
1 kg pork (kap sum)
1 kg pork fillet (mui yoke)
2 Tbsp 5 spice powder (I get mine from the chinese medical shops and not pre-mixed with salt)
1 Tbsp corn flour
sea salt to taste
2 cloves garlic (pounded)
3 shallots (pounded)
3 - 4 lobak skin (get the unsalted type)
Cut pork into small pieces and mix in 5 spice powder, cornflour, shallots, garlic and sea salt.
Marinate for 5 - 6 hours in the fridge.
Cut the lobak skin into 4" x 8" enough to wrap the meat in the centre without mess.
Wrap it a bit like in the photo.
Heat a wok full of oil and deep fry lobak a few at a time till skin is brown and cripsy and meat is completely cooked.
Fish it out and drain.
Besides lobak, another item that stood out was the 'Punch' the birthday boy's daddy made. It was refreshing and had a thirst quenching zing to it! I though that was one of the better non-alcoholic drinks I have had for a long time. Since I have gotten his permission to share it online with you... try it sometime! I have a strong feeling it goes well with BBQs too.
1 large tin Del Monte fruit cocktail
2 granny smith apples - cut into thin slices
Juice of 2 lemons (slice a few slices for decor)
1 box apple juice
1 bottle Zapple Apple
1 bottle Sprite
Put all the above except the last 3 items into a large bowl, give it a good stir. (You may want to keep it in a separate jug for extra punch!)
Add the desired amount of the above and add in the apple juice, Sprite, Zapple Apple and ice cubes. If you want to give a zing add a dash of liquor or a can of beer.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Family Food

When we have children in the family, we always have to think of what to cook for their growing needs. Be it a toddler, a young child or a school going kid, they all have to be fed appropriately. By now, you would more or less know what my comfort food is. Can't really go without spicy food for more then 3 days straight! So, I always have to constantly remind myself that there are little pitter patter feet running around who can't possibly live on spicy curries, tom yam etc... Meal times have to be spicy and non-spicy at all times. Tonight's meal will be hairy marrow stew (which has been a hit for sometime, even with the adults), spicy pumpkin fish curry and stir-fried vegetables of your choice served with hot steamy rice. I never thought pumpkin tastes so good in curries until I ran out of potatoes one day and had to find a worthy replacement. So far, I like it especially cooked with kaffir lime leaves. It seems to bring the best flavour out of the curry. 1 Ma Yaw fish head (I like bones! cut in bite-size pieces) 5 slices of Ma Yaw fish (marinate fish with some sea salt, pepper and tumeric powder) 3 Tbsp Thai red chilli paste 600 ml fish stock 3 lemongrass (cut into 5 cm length and bruised) 4 kaffir lime leaves (torn to pieces) 5 Tbsp fish sauce 1 Tbsp dark brown mollasses 1 tsp tumeric powder 1 kg pumpkin (peeled, cut into larger than bite size pieces) 100 ml full cream milk 4 siew pak choy (bok choy) or long beans (5 cm length) Juice of 5 limes coriander leaves (plucked from the stems) Heat curry pot with a little drizzle of olive oil and plop in the chilli paste and stir. Add fish stock, bring to boil and throw in the lemongrass, lime leaves, fish sauce, brown mollasses, tumeric powder. Simmer for 15 minutes. Put in the chucks of pumpkin and fast simmer for 10 minutes. Do not simmer too long or else there will be no more pumpkin left cos the pumpkin will continue to cook eventhough the heat is off. Then it will be called fish and pumpkin paste curry! Trust me that wouldn't be very nice. When ready to eat, reheat curry and pour in the fish and cook for 10 minutes and add vegetable into the hot curry. (I like the vegetables just slightly cooked) Dish out and squeeze lime juice over it and garnish with coriander leaves.

1 hairy marrow (peeled, cut into large bite-size chunks) 400 gms minced pork (marinated with sea salt, pepper, sugar, light soya sauce, a dash of dark soya sauce, cornflour) 2 ltr hot water 200 gms dried anchovies (ikan bilis) 1 ginger (4 cm, bruised) 2 dried octopus tentacles 1 big scallop 1 small packet of glass noodles Some baby spinach leaves Heat a saucepan with olive oil, put in the ginger, anchovies and let it sizzle till lightly brown and fragrant. Add a little hot water at a time and bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Sieve out the stock and place into a soup pot. Add in the octopus, scallop and bring to simmer for 30 minutes and throw in the chunks of hairy marrow and simmer for another 30 minutes. Roll the minced meat into meatballs and dump them into the boiling soup, boil for 10 minutes till the meatballs are completely cooked and at the same time put in the glass noodles. Add baby spinach and cover for 2 minutes. Soup is ready to be served.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Ju Hu Char Lunch

Root vegetables are absolutely deliciously sweet and refreshing. It's a simple dish to cook especially when I have health conscious friends coming over for lunch. Doesn't take much sweat in the kitchen and I will have all the time to catch up with current affairs. All I need is 2 white turnips (julienne), 2 medium size carrots (julienne), 8 dried chinese mushrooms (pre-soaked in hot water and julienne) and 300 gms dried julienne octopus (ju hu). Chop some garlic and saute in a hot wok drizzled with olive oil. Throw in the mushrooms and ju hu and stir for 10 minutes. Toss in the julienne vegetable and fry evenly till vegetable becomes soft and slightly mushy. Add light soya sauce to taste. Served with crispy iceberg lettuce or small crunchy butterheads.

On normal days, I look forward to having this same dish on a hot sunny afternoon. Just vegetables and a tall icy cold plain water. Talk about carbo free diet and detox! Refreshing and delicious!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Country Oxtail Stew

I can't stop thinking of oxtail stew lately, don't know why. The only thing that is stopping me from running to the butcher and whipping up a pot of stew is the cholestral. Anyway, my cravings has got the better of me this time. I always have a soft spot for oxtail soup. Seriously, I can actually taste it as I type. This is an authentic stew which is cooked in an oven instead of on the stove. I have cooked this dish in many styles but I find this most authentic. Well, this is not an everyday affair so let's have the best!
1 oxtails (cut into 4 cm pieces, marinate with a little sea salt and black pepper, dusted with plain flour) 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 4 sticks of smoked ribs (approx. 5cm pieces) 3 shallots (halfed) 5 cloves 5 cloves of garlic (crushed) 2 cups of white wine 3 Tbsp Mesquite cooking sauce (for the smoky flavour) 50 ml tomato puree 1 can peeled tomatoes 6 sticks celery (cut into 4 cm lenghts) 1 Tbsp toasted pinenuts 1 Tbsp sultanas
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Heat oil in a large casserole, fry smoked ribs till golden brown then remove from casserole. Sear oxtail thoroughly on all sides in the same casserole oil, the return the smoked ribs, add in the shallots, cloves and garlic. Stir till sizzles.
  2. Empty the can of tomatoes into the casserole dish and pour in the wine, add mesquite sauce, tomato puree and cover the dish with aluminium foil. Bake for approx. 3 - 4 hours till the meat is tender and falls off the bone. (Remember to turn the meat a few times to avoid burning)
  3. When casserole is cooked, add in the celery sticks, pinenuts, sultanas and pop it back into the oven for another 20 minutes.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.

This stew is best eaten with scoops of creamy warm mash potatoes. Peel 5 US potatoes and boil for 20 minutes in water. If the potatoes are cooked, the knife can go through effortlessly. Add small cube of butter, a pinch of sea salt, a dash of pepper and 170 mls full cream milk and mash them all together till fluffly and creamy. Serve with hot oxtail stew and oven fresh french loaf.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Rainy Days

I love rainy days, especially right before a thunder storm when the sky is dark and gloomy, cold wind howling, pushing itself through the side of my balcony door, trees waving crazily to and fro, oh yes...the smell of refreshing rain going through my nostrils. Hmm ... just can't describe that uplifting feeling when you have a pot of piping hot porridge waiting to be served. I can't think of a better time for this wonderful meal. Can you?
Porridge, just a simple man's food, then again made complicated by women! This meal is eaten all over the world and is given many different names. In England, porridge is actually oatmeal and is eaten for breakfast whereas is the East it is rice boiled in lots of water till each grain of rice opens up and becomes mushy and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is also a toddler's weaning food, cos it is easily digestable and can be flavoured with seafood, meats or vegetables. My regular doses of porridge is plain, simple and refreshing.
1 cup of rice (washed, drained and seasoned with sea salt and olive oil)
Bring rice to boil in a slow cooker for 4 hours to get that fine texture. I use the slow cooker cos it does not burn and the water does not evaporate. Garnish with chopped spring onions, coriander leaves and garlic oil.
200 gms cleaned anchovies (ikan bilis)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Heat olive oil in a non stick frying pan. Throw in the anchovies and stir carefully to avoid burning. When the anchovies start to turn light brown add in sugar and take it away from the fire. Ready to serve. This is one of my many favourites cos it's deliciously crunchy, crispy, sweet and salty at the same time!
3 salted duck eggs
Scrap away the black earth on the eggs and bring eggs to boil in a saucepan for 30 minutes, then cover. Cut the eggs in halves and serve.
1 can of sardines in tomato sauce
1 big onion (quartered)
tomato sauce
chilli sauce (optional)
Heat up the sardines in a pan and toss in the onions and sauces. There you have it.
Salted fish (tan lau is the preferred one - see right)
Cut the salted fish into small pieces and fry them in olive oil till crispy. Easy as that! (some like it with fresh lime juice and fresh cut onion wedges)
Braised peanuts (can)
Pickled chinese cabbage (bottle)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

100 Visitors Mark!

As to date, this blog has reached the 100 visitors mark since 15 February 2006. I am thrilled and thankful for all the support you food lovers out there have given me. Just thinking about all my future posts already fill me with sheer excitement. It has been 2 weeks since I started blogging and it sure is fun. I am actually enjoying myself, taking all those photographs and whipping up recipes as I go along. Sometimes, recipes that I have long forgotten, you know ... out of sight out of mind. I am glad the dishes still tastes as good as it use to. Besides recipes and good food, I also enjoy experimenting with herbs and other styles of cooking. So far, I have not written anything on western cooking which I just adore. Actually, the first dish I churned out from my mother's kitchen was spaghetti bolognese at 12 years old. I actually cooked from scratch and no instant sauces at that time except for good old ACE Food tomato and chilli sauce. That's when I knew I had a liking for cooking. Since then, there is no looking back .... can eat cannot eat, (sorry lah for those who had to try my not so likeable food) ... the recipes never stopped. In the year 1998, I baked so much till my dog refused to eat my cakes. Hmmm think about that! Whatever it is, I am doing what I like best, so hopefully my blog is giving you readers out there as much fun as it has for me.
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I'm Audrey from Somewhere in my kitchen, Malaysia.

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