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.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Onepot Meatball

Well my onepot meal is back! I guess it's my way of taking a break from cooking. Recently, I just went back to chasing my afternoon soap 'Bold and Beautiful' since the character of Taylor Forrester came back to life, lotsa changes with plastic surgery too. Got the kids out to the garden for some fresh air and sunshine since the weather was so beautiful. Blue sky, white clouds and cool breeze.... that reminds me of some of my vacations I had by the beach. Gosh! how I missed the beach, just sitting there doing nothing, absolutely nothing. Better still at Club Med, they feed you breakfast, lunch and dinner too! Got a snapshot of the beautiful sky. Okay, back to reality, my onepot still needs a little of my attention.

500 gm minced beef (can substitute with pork, chicken or even mutton) 4 Tbsp breadcrumbs (some stale bread toasted in the oven and pounded finely) 2 pieces sundried tomatoes (cut into small strips) 2 roma tomatoes (chopped roughly) 3 Tbsp Heinz tomato sauce 3 cloves chopped garlic 1 big onion (chopped), 1 bayleaf salt and pepper

Mix the minced meat with breadcrumbs and 1 tsp cornflour, salt and pepper. Roll them into balls. Heat some olive oil in a pot and saute the garlic and onions. Add bayleaf, sundried tomatoes, roma tomatoes and tomato sauce, bring to simmer for 10 minutes. Put the meatballs one by one into the sauce. Add a little hot water if the sauce thickens too fast. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. At the end, add 1 cup of white wine (optional) and a generous portion of grated cheddar cheese over the meatballs, then serve. (Photo above has no cheddar cheese on top but I love the taste and texture of the cheese in the sauce)

I served this meal over some mashed potatoes instead of pasta. Bon Appetite!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Nose Clearing Soup

Stuffed nose? Need to unclog? Here's an unorthodox remedy for relieving stuffy nose. Some find 'wasabi' a Japanese horseradish an instant relieve but I know of a soup that might just do the same. I don't know what this fish is called but in Cantonese is called 'Chei Yee Chai', I have it in the photo below, go figure... if you happen to know the name please tell me. This fish has a lot of scales and the smaller the size of the fish, the sweeter to soup.
5-6 fish, wash and gut but leave the scales on because we only want the sweetness of the fish in the soup. Add 3 lemongrass (bruised), 3 large red chilis (slit), 2 bird-eye chilis (slit) and a little fish sauce, a drop of dark soya sauce, pepper and light soya sauce to taste. Boil all the ingredients in a pot of filtered water (except the fish) until the chilis are soft and the lemongrass turns colour, then add the fish and continue to boil for 30 minutes or until the soup is tasty. Drink hot!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Bittergourd Chicken

In Cantonese this dish is called 'foo kua men kai', and is one of my family favourite recipes. I learned how to eat this dish during my schooling days when I had to spend my mornings at my neighbour's house where she would prepare lunch for my sister and I and her own children before we went to school. I really own it to her for teaching me how to savour this fantastic dish. Hopefully, my daughter will one day learn to enjoy it as much as we do.

I used chicken parts cos I only cooked this for dinner the other day with no accompanying dishes. Chicken parts can be substituted with sliced chicken fillets.

2 chicken drumsticks and 2 chicken wings (cut into small chunks)

Cut one medium size bittergourd into sticks as shown above after scraping out all the seeds in the core. Blanche them in boiling water for 2 minutes and drained (this is done to take away some of its bitterness).

Chop some garlic, 2 Tbsp tauchu paste (fermented soya beans), plop them into hot oil in a wok and saute for 1 minute and add chicken. Stir till chicken is slightly brown on the outside and add a drizzle of dark soya sauce and light soya sauce. Stir some more and add a little hot water before pouring in the pre-cooked bittergourd. Simmer for 15 minutes with lid on. Add salt to taste.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

10 Things I Miss of Mom's Cooking

I got a little note from Foodcrazee saying he tagged me for Meme. Yours truly here has no idea whatsoever what Meme is or stands for. After reading Foodcrazee's blog, I find it an honour to be tagged and what a incredible topic to be tagged for, '10 Things I Miss of My Mom's Cooking'. I find it a great blessing to have a mom like my mom who made sure there was always delicious food on the dining table for mealtimes and mom never miss celebrating our birthdays until we turned 18. Life practically grew around food since grandma's time and is still going strong. My list goes like that..... 1. Pork Belly Salted Fish Head Curry Mom used to make this dish and kept frozen in the freezer in smaller portions to be defrosted when needed to add flavour to our mealtimes. 2. Anchovies (ikan bilis) and Baby Cuttlefish Sambal This was another to-die-for appetizer cum sandwich filling. Mom used to spread a thick coat of butter on our bread and lace it with this particular sambal and packed it in our school lunch boxes. I can eat 6 slices of bread easily with this as filling! 3. Braised Dried Oyster with Sea Cucumber, Dried Cuttlefish, Dried Scallops, Dried Chinese Black Mushrooms and Abalone Slices This is one dish I never fail to cook during Chinese New Year since I got married. Reunion dinner is never complete without this aromatic slow-cooked braised dish. It originated from Grandma kitchen and Mom cooks it real well. 4. Grilled Stuff Sambal Belacan Mackeral Fish Just love this way of preparation, can smell the mouth-watering aroma a mile away! Mom still makes it occasionally but leave most of the cooking to me now, I guess is her time to relax and eat now. 5. Slow-Boil Clear Chicken Soup with Red Dates and Boxthorn Fruit (Kei Chee) in a Coconut This is a very tedious way of boiling soup but the result is just phenomenal. Mom had to ask the coconut seller to cut off the top of the coconut so that it closes like a pot lid over the coconut and slow-boiled over charcoal in our backyard. I think I will just stick to those precious memories for the time being. 6. Octopus Soup (Mak Yue Thong)
Used to have this soup almost every month when I was young. I guess it just happen to dissapear from the dining table altogether since my mom got acquainted with the meaning of 'Cholestral'. I remember the delicious aroma enveloping the whole house while the soup was simmering in the slow cooker and the tasty tender octopus meat. Very flavourful soup!
7. Kerabu Mee Hoon (Rice Vermicelli tossed in a mixture of finely cut fresh chili, shallot, coriander leaves, mint leaves, toasted belacan and fried shredded coconut)
This is basically a vermicelli salad that needs no cooking skills but slicing skills, I'm afraid.
8. Devilled Food Cake
This is a dark rich moist chocolate cake with mashmallow icing. Fabulous cake! I remember she made this for me to bring to school for 'last day of school party'.
9. Grandma's Har Kwai (meat pies)
These meat pies were created by my Grandma and was traditionally carried down by my mom and now I have the recipe (still on the to do list). It has chopped liver, pork, turnip, black chinese mushrooms, onions and lard as the filling. I really miss this! what can I say but to make it myself one day.
10. Giant Chili Cockles
We love cockles, eat them in many ways too. Mom's delicacy is to fry these giant cockles flesh in a garlic and chili paste until they're scrunchy with all the rich chili flavours. I can hardly find such fresh juicy giant cockles nowadays.
I have got so many more but 10 it is for this meme. Notice those with photos? Those are the only ones I have adopted so far and have cooked them before and now in my humble blog.
I now would like to tag 5 of my fellow bloggers for this meme.
1. Eatzycath of eatzybitzy.blogspot.com
2. Gustad Mody of ironcheff.blogspot.com
3. Sea Dragon of cafeoftheeast.blogspot.com
4. Suyin of cookingismypassion.blogspot.com
5. Jadepearl of playplayinthekitchen.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sour Cream Scones

Scones and Earl Grey tea ... brings back memories of Old Smokehouse (Cameron Highlands, Malaysia) evening tea spread. Pretty, polish and polite, not to mention pricey just for tea. Nevertheless, that particular trip more than 10 years ago, ignited a love for scones in my heart. Occassionally, I would get a strong craving for scones and I usually buy them from the bakery and lightly toast them before I indulge. This time was different, I was blogging when I found this recipe in one of the blogs I frequently visit, Sea Dragon's "cafe of the east.blogspot.com". There staring at me were these beautifully made sour cream scones, that was enough to send me running out to get a packet of sour cream! For this recipe, kindly refer to Sea Dragon's blog.
Here's the end result, slightly crispy on the outside, moist and soft on the inside and tastes full and rich. Served with a tall glass of chilled fresh milk. My entire household actually loved it and looks like it's going to be another regular in my home.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Spicy Curry Chicken

For those of you reading my blog regularly would know I have suddenly gone crazy with my sweet stuff more than my savoury and spicy. Maybe finally I am learning to enjoy the sweeter things life has to offer. I wonder if this is a starting point to mid-life cravings?? Today, I am back to my normal self and cooking one of my favourites ... Spicy Curry Chicken. This recipe is slightly different from my Fullmoon Fare curry chicken. All you need is :- 2 medium size chicken thigh with drumsticks (cut into bite size pieces) 4 chicken wings (cut into 2) 4 potatoes (cut into small chunks and par-boil) 1 ripe red tomato (cut into 4 wedges) 3 sprigs of fresh curry leaves 1 packet of chicken curry spices (powder) 20 gm assam (soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and discard seeds) Olive oil 1 tsp sugar sea salt to taste 1 Tbsp tumeric powder Ingredients to be blended :- 6 shallots 2 cloves garlic 2 pieces of toasted belacan (approx. 50gm) 2 big red chilis 8 bird eye chilis 3 dried chilis Blend all ingredients together finely and saute in hot oil in the curry pot. Stirring to avoid burning, add curry leaves, curry chicken powder and tumeric powder. When fragrant add sugar and chicken pieces and stir until chicken pieces starts to brown slightly. Add a little hot water, assam water and tomatoes and potatoes, simmer for 20 minutes with lid on. Curry chicken serves 4 adults. One practical suggestion here, if you want to cook more and freeze the curry chicken in the freezer for weekday dinners, just omit the potatoes. I used to do that pretty often while I was working 9 to 6, and boy! do I look forward to dinner!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Wholemeal Breakfast Pancakes

I am totally inspired by eatzycath's blog where she pasted her meatball and spaghetti photo with a beautifully crafted frame. With that photo still fresh in my mind, being an amateur as I am, I decided to try out new functions on my 'PhotoImpression' and stumble upon this automatic frame. That's how it looks! Anyway, I have never imagine I could learn so much just by blogging. I guess I should take this opportunity to thank all fellow bloggers for sharing and contributing their thoughts, recipes, cooking tips and photography skills on the net. It has widen my knowledge in a lot of things including places to eat and visit. As the saying goes "Life is a learning process that cannot finish".
So, here is a recipe for my wholemeal breakfast pancakes:-
150 gm all purpose flour
100 gm wholemeal flour
2 fresh eggs
a pinch of salt
250 ml fresh milk
1 Tbsp golden syrup
filtered water
Place the 2 types of flour in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Crack in the 2 eggs. Using a fork, mix in a circular motion starting from the centre where the eggs are. Pouring in the milk as you go along. Add salt and golden syrup and some filtered water until consistency feels like a runny mixture. Heat a small non-stick frying pan with a little butter and pour in a scoop of the mixture. Turn the pancake over when the side facing you still has a little raw mixture in the centre and flip it out when it is done and not burnt. Please use low heat. Serve with maple syrup, honey, fruit jam, butter or peanut butter and a hot cuppa coffee.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Basic Tomato Sauce Pasta

A classic recipe for an inexpensive meal.
1 Tbsp olive oil 1 large onion (chopped) 2 stalks celery (chopped) 3 cloves garlic (chopped) 1 can of peeled plum tomatoes (I prefer to use Cirio) 2 Tbsp tomato paste 1/2 tsp dried oregano 2 bay leafs 1 tsp brown sugar Crushed black pepper 2 shots of white wine Sea salt to taste Heat oil in pan and pour in the chopped ingredients until softens. Add tomatoes, oregano, bay leaf, sugar and bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Stirring from time to time to avoid burning. (Make sure to use a pot or pan with lid that does not allow much room for evaporation) When almost ready, pour in the wine and add pepper and salt to taste.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Baked Tom Yam Fish

Sunday dinners must always be fast and edible. Pretty tired after a long day out and not really wanting to dress up and go out again for dinner so I raided my freezer for a tray of frozen sole fish. I decided dinner would be 'baked tom yam fish'. Instead of grilling, I will be baking the fish in tin foil. I used to serve this dish during my BBQ party days when we first got married and all my friends were still without children. I remember enjoying myself even while standing over extreme heat chucking down cool icy beer with BBQ tongs in the other hand. I guess at this moment none of such pleasure except if it's someone else's BBQ party and kids not invited! Nasty me.
Recipe is very straight forward.
1 sheet of tin foil (enough to wrap the whole dish. Remember the reflective side facing out)
1 piece sole fish (deboned and thawed)
1 ripe red tomato (cut in thin wedges)
5 lady's fingers (cut in stars or slanted)
1 leek (cut in 1 inch length - optional)
1 lemongrass (finely sliced)
10 kaffir lime leaves (finely sliced)
3 red bird-eye chilis (sliced)
1 tsp tumeric powder
3 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp Tae-Pae tom yam paste
1 Tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
1 lime juice
3 Tbsp filtered water
Heat oven at 200 degree celsius.
Just pat dry the sole fish fillet and season with tumeric powder. Mix all the paste, fish sauce, lime juice and filtered water together and pour over the fish. Put all the cut vegetable and spices over the fish and seal the tin foil tightly. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve immediately

Thursday, June 01, 2006

'Chang' Festival (Boiled Rice Dumpling)

I guess, better late then never since the 'Chung' or 'Chang' festival was celebrated end of last month. In China, it's a summer festival celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month on the chinese calendar. I for one have never attempted to make 'Chang' (rice dumpling) from scratch before. Nevertheless, that does not stop me for getting a dose of all the dumplings when it comes to this time of the year. When I was about nine or ten years old, my Mom used to make them and she would teach us how to wrap and tie them. I was so incompetent until I had to sit on the floor with the main tie straw hooked onto the kitchen cabinet door and used my feet to balance the whole process. Don't remember how exactly but thinking back really got me wondering. The dumplings I wrapped always turned out looking pretty flat, nothing like the real thing but I was so proud of it cos I did it myself.
My mother's favourites are the sweet and salty filling dumpling also known as the "puah kiam ti chang' and the yellow split peas dumpling. The sweet and salty dumpling is actually a nyonya version of the traditional 'bak chang' salty meat dumpling. The rice in this dumpling is slightly colored blue with the dye from the butterfly pea flower which makes it quite exotic. As for me, I love the 'kee chang' (alkaline rice dumpling) which looks semi-transparent and is eaten with gula melaka (palm sugar syrup). Absolutely delicious! I just can't resist the texture and the feel of it...so bouncy, chewy and sweet. (photo below)
I have a recipe here share by an elderly lady which I am going to try one day, maybe you guys can try it first and let me know.
20 fresh young bamboo leaves (washed and soaked overnight)
200 gm glutinous rice (washed in several changes of water until water runs clear, soaked overnight and drained)
1/4 tsp alkaline water
1 tsp peanut oil
a pinch of boric powder (pang sar)
some hemp strings or tie straws
Stir peanut oil and alkaline water into the glutinous rice and leave aside for 1 hour.
Overlap 2 pieces of bamboo leaves making a cone and fill it 3/4 full with glutinous rice. Fold the extended ends of the bamboo leaves over the rice and try folding it into a pyramid shape. Tie with straws. (easier said then done!)
Place dumplings into plenty of hot boiling water with a pinch of boric powder and boil for approx. 4 hours over medium fire. The boric acid in the boiling water will prevent the bamboo leaves from sticking to the dumplings when cooked and also gives the dumplings a shiny coat.
Some people like it with some sweet red beans in the centre of the dumpling. Cook some red beans in water and sieve so that all the skin is removed. Add sugar and cook till creamy and cool. Make into small balls and cover in the fridge. When wrapping the dumpling, just pop the red bean ball into the centre of the rice and wrap like usual.
Leave dumpling to cool and serve with palm sugar syrup.
Eventhough I attempted none of it this year, I hope to make it one of my projects to make 'chang' before the next dumpling festival begins next year.
Another type of dumpling is the one with fatty meat, salted eggs yoke and chestnut known as salty meat dumpling 'kiam bak chang'. Let me try the recipes first then I shall post them later since I prefer to post tried and tested ones! (more meaningful that way)
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I'm Audrey from Somewhere in my kitchen, Malaysia.

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