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.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Yam Cake (Woo Tow Koe)

Yam Cake, a popular local savoury kuih 'snack' made from cubed yam steamed with rice flour is a favourite in many local homes. The truth is, it is so popular that you can get it just almost anywhere from a little stall on a busy street to a cafe in an elegant shopping mall. Moreover, it can be eaten as breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or even supper. Making a yam cake is actually not difficult at all, just a few simple steps to follow.

1 small yam (rinsed, skin peeled and cubed) 3 shallots, sliced 2 Tbsp dried shrimps (washed, soaked in hot water to soften) 100 gm rice flour 3 Tbsp tapioca flour 550 ml filtered water sea salt 1 tsp five spice powder white pepper

Steps to follow Steam cube yam for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Heat wok, drizzle in some oil, stir-fry shallots till slightly brown. Add in the cube yam, salt, five spice powder, pepper and stir for approximately 2 minutes. Combine rice flour, tapioca flour, salt and filtered water in a saucepan until mixture is smooth (lumps free), place over low heat, stirring continuously with a fork until it thickens like light custard. Remove saucepan from heat and add in all the yam, mix evenly. Transfer yam mixture into a 20 cm square cake tin and steam for 25 minutes. Leave to cool and garnish with chopped spring onions, chili and crispy fried shallots (as preferred). Served with sweet chili sauce of your choice.

Note : Most yam cake recipes call for alkali water which give this dish a gelatin texture but I have omitted it altogether. Instead, I keep my yam cake cling wrapped overnight in the refrigerator to firm up the texture. As for the tapioca flour (tapioca starch), it gives the dish an attractive glistening look.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Merdeka Special - Malaysian Recipe Long Forgotten

"Malaysia, a beautiful country that reflects the way of life for many ethnic groups living together in harmony on a small piece of land sandwiched between Thailand and Indonesia. We owe it all to God who has given us the ability to love one another, the way HE loves us. Without LOVE, I cannot imagine peace, tolerance, patience, kindness, respect and forgiveness.
GOD loves you Malaysia!"
I would like to thank fellow food blogger, babe in the city for hosting a little "down memory lane" food special for our Independence Day. As exciting as it seems, it is truly difficult to cook something like that! I had 2 lovely recipes in mind, alas- it was not meant to be! For the first dish, I couldn't find the main ingredient here in Kuala Lumpur. As for the second recipe, the fruit I was looking for was not in season. What are the odds, really? I finally settled for my third recipe which I find appropriate for this event. I now call it "Dry Muhibbah Curry", before, it was a nameless curry just whipped up whenever there is a craving for it .

The word 'Muhibbah' here is reflected in the style of cooking more than the ingredient itself. It consists of lots of pounding of fresh ingredients in a mortar just like the Malays and is later thickened with an egg just like in our Chinese ala "Sar Hor Fun" style.

Ingredients to be pounded : 5 large red chilis, 5 dried chilis, 3 chili padi (bird-eye), 5 shallots, 2 clove garlic, 1 Tbsp toasted belacan (prawn paste), 1 Tbsp dried shrimps.

1 kg peeled and deveined prawns (leaving tail on), 2 medium size aubergines, 8 lady fingers, 2 red juicy tomatoes. All vegetables cut into bite size pieces. 3 small pieces of salted fish head (pre-fried in oil), 1 dried cuttlefish (cut in small pieces).

Heat oil in a curry pot. As usual, put in all the pounded ingredients and fry till fragrant. Add a little sugar, cuttlefish and the salted fish head pieces, add a little hot water. Simmer for 10 minutes. Put in the prawns and stir, followed by the cut vegetables. Curry gravy should be thick. Lastly, crack an egg, slightly beaten and drizzled into the curry gravy quickly. Stir a bit and add salt to taste. There you have it, my family's Dry Muhibbah Curry!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Mom's Chili Tau Chu Crabs

School holiday is finally over. Life goes back to normal. Had a break from cooking for 1 whole week. Don't really know how I survived but I guess mommy needs a break too. I often feel there is so much to do but so little time. I wonder how many of you feel that way too. Sigh! My mom cooked this dish, not me. Still having a hangover from 'not cooking'. Mom knows we love crabs, she saw some live ones at the fresh market today and carted some home. God bless you, Mom! I will skip the murdering part and get straight to the recipe.
6 crabs (cleaned and chopped into half)
Ingredients to be blended
5 large red chilis 1 piece ginger (1" length) 2 Tbsp tau chu (fermented soya beans) 3 cloves garlic

Heat some oil in a wok and saute all the blended ingredients till fragrant.

Next, add a little hot water to the simmering gravy.

Add a dash of dark soya sauce to color and salt to taste.

Put in the crabs and stir till cooked.

Simple but finger licking good!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sotong Curry (Squid or Calamari in Curry Sauce)

It has been a long while since I was first inspired by a photo taken by boo-licious of masak-masak.blogspot.com of this sotong curry she reviewed sometime in my early days as a food blogger. I couldn't resist the delicious looking sotong curry photo she took, so I pasted it on my desktop as a reminder I should cook this delicacy someday. That day has finally come!
Sotong also known as squid or calamari is a relative of the octopus family and available all year round. The only reason I hardly cook this dish is because sotong is very high in cholesterol. Reading taken from a writing by Sheldon Margen and Dale A. Ogar in our Star newspapers sometime ago states sotong has "239 mg of cholesterol per a three ounce cooked portion, 117 calories and 4 g of fat, but less than 1 g is saturated." Just as a comparision, the same three ounce portion of crabs has 87 calories, 1.5 gm fat and only 85 gm of cholesterol. Even three ounce of fresh prawns (shrimps) only account for 166 mg of cholesterol, 89 calories and 1 g of fat.
Whether it is a myth or not that tamarind juice helps reduce cholesterol, I shall give it a clear shot!
6 fairly large sotong (skinned, de-boned and inky eyes and teeth removed)
1 Tbsp assam paste (tamarind paste) - soak in a small bowl of warm water, discard the seeds and use the assam water
1 tsp belacan paste (toasted till fragrant)
4 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt to taste
Ingredients to be blended
5 dried chilies
3 fresh large red chilies
5 bird-eye chilies
3 clove garlic
5 shallots
1/2 inch ginger
Heat wok, drizzle with olive oil, stir in blended ingredients till fragrant. Add belacan, sugar and assam water. Put in the cleaned sotong, stir just about 5 minutes. Always remember sotong will become rubbery once over-cooked. Sea salt to taste.
Serve and decorate with some mint leaves.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Scrumptious Pearl Corns

Ever got addicted to corns? I just did. Saw these little delectable babies in a grocery store last week and thought I give them a try since they look so beautiful with their plum kernels of white and yellow bursting out at me. Even their silky threads were almost silver in color and glowing in the light. They are slightly larger and bigger in diameter compared to the normal pure yellow corns. These babies cost me RM3.50 each but I must say "They were worth every single cent!" In fact, I am now constantly looking out for them whenever I visit the grocery store.

Since this was my first encounter with 'Pearl Corns' otherwise known as "Chun Chee Pow Sook", I steamed them so that I could taste its pure unadulterated flavour. No added salt or butter or anything else, just pure natural sweetness. Juicy kernels popping with every single bite, just like the saying goes "pops in your mouth". To steam the Pearl Corns, peel corns off the husks and discard the chucky stem. Bring some water to boil in the steamer. At boiling point, place corns in the steamer above the boiling water. Cover and steam for approximately 5 - 7 minutes. Off the heat and leave the corns to cool.

Word of caution : There's no turning back after one bite into these scrumptious pearlies.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Homemade Beluga Kaya

Beluga of Kaya?

This homemade kaya earned its name 'Beluga Kaya' because of its tiny round texture which looks a little like caviar compared to its counterpart which is creamy and silky. Many people I know prefer this kaya mainly because this kind of texture is more or less equivalent to 'homemade' and most importantly NO PRESERVATIVES! I admit I am not a kaya fanatic but my hubby can never resist a good bread, butter and kaya snack anytime, anywhere. Not to forget the kopitiam (means coffeeshop) style served with a couple of half-boiled eggs flavoured with light soya sauce and ground pepper. I guess our culture is more of the half boiled eggs rather than the poached ones. I clearly remember paying AUS 9.00 for a couple of poached eggs in a Sydney hotel just because my dear daughter decided to wean herself off milk just right at that faithful period when we were on holiday.

I have here a basket full of free-range farm fresh chicken eggs which inspired me to whip up a small pot of 'Beluga Kaya'. This recipe calls for an equal portion of eggs, castor sugar and santan (first pressed coconut milk). 4 eggs, 200 gm castor sugar, 200 gm santan and 2 pandan leaves (knotted or bruised for more flavour). Heat a pot of boiling water over the stove. In another saucepan, crack in the eggs and beat slightly with a fork, add sugar and stir some more. Slowly stir the saucepan over the pot of boiling water with a wooden spoon. The minute the sugar dissolves (30 seconds), run the liquid through a sieve and discard all semi-cooked pieces of eggs. Return the sieved liquid over the pot of boiling water, stirring consistently, gradually adding the santan and the pandan leaves. Keep stirring until batter begins to thicken and eventually looking like lumpy beluga caviar. Leave to cool before storing in a container.

There are more than one way to make this lovely paste. Some prefer to double boil, some steam and some even use the slow-cooker. Which ever way, the kaya will still be more authentic then the commercial ones. For those of you who like the kaya to be brownish, just caramelise the sugar and cool before repeating the same process. So I guess you know what you have to do when you feel that craving setting in! or just bribe someone to do it for you! Cheers!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Here's a batch of semi-indulgence cookies after all those healthy muffins earlier! I called them 'semi' cos they have healthy oatmeal inside. Ha! who am I trying to deceive? I especially like these cookies with a hot cup of black coffee. Just one or two pieces will be enough to satisfy those little urges to snack on something crispy, chewy and partially sweet. Most recipes I tried earlier did not yield what I craved for. They are either too sweet, too soft for soft-baked, too burnt and not crispy and most of all, does not flatten when baked thus looking like a round bomb, when it's done.
Ingredient A
120 gm butter
120 gm castor sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
125 gm all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
100 gm semi-sweet chocolate chips
140 gm rolled oats
30 ml grape seed oil / olive oil
Pre-heat oven at 160 degree celcius.
Pulse all 'Ingredient A' together in a food processor.
Stir in chocolate chips and rolled oats until even.
Drizzle in the grape seed oil and mix until batter is soft and slightly sticky.
Drop 1 teaspoon of cookie batter on a greased baking sheet and flatten it with the back of a fork.
Repeat this process till baking sheet is full, leaving enough space in between each cookie batter to expand when baking.
Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until cookies smells great and lightly browned.
Leave to cool completely on a wire rack before storing in an air tight container.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Healthy Batch of Muffins

Was doing my blog rounds and was captivated by Rachel's latest post on Thamjiak.blogspot.com. "Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Muffins". Absolutely a wonderful idea for a healthy breakfast. Well, I guess Moms too need a good healthy reason to wake up early in the morning! What better way then to have these delicious looking muffins waiting eagerly to be eaten. Checked my larder and 'what have we got?' 3 boxes of Luxury Swiss Muesli waiting to expire. Any other better way to recycle? For the original recipe kindly refer to Rachel's blog. As for this recipe, I made do with what I had in hand which was a small tub of sour cream so instead of low fat yoghurt, I replaced with 210 gm of sour cream. I omitted the unsweetened shredded coconut and replaced raisins with sultanas. The topping was my dear almost expiring Luxury Swiss Muesli. Bake at 170 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Cover with a foil after the 1st 5 minutes because my muffins were much smaller in size.

They turned out well, just like how Rachel described them slightly chocolatey, good thick texture, occassional encounter on soft sultanas and crunch on the nuts. Wonderfully said!

Word of caution : Not for Gobblers! Eat slowly to enjoy the nuts and other interesting stuff inside.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Pork Chop Stack

Anyone for a pork chop stack? This recipe is more to the chinese-styled pork chop. Purchase 6 pieces of 2 cm thick slabs of pork chops. I usually use the neck part called "kap sum" in Cantonese. The diameter of each slab approximately 12 cm. Marinate them overnight in a ziplock bag in 1 juice of lemon, salt, pepper and 3 Tbsp HP Sauce or any sauce of your choice. Place the ziplock bag in the fridge. Next morning, take the slabs out from the fridge to cool at room temperature, add 2 Tbsp of cornflour evenly, a dash of Shao Hsin fragrant wine, a dash of dark soya sauce and a dash of light soya sauce. Heat olive oil in a teflon pan (non-stick), place the slabs of pork chops in. If your pan can only take 3 chops at a time then sear and cook them in batches. Add a little hot water to help cook the pork chops evenly. Please ensure they are completely cooked. Stack pork chops aside. The left over oil in the pan is used to make the pork chop gravy. Heat the oil and add 1 tsp of cornflour dissolved in half a cup of Shao Hsin wine. Stir till the gravy is slightly thicken and add sea salt to taste. Pour gravy over the stack and serve with hot fluffy basmati rice.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Vegetable Curry Hotpot

This week has been pretty hectic for me, that's why 'no posts'. I guess this is one of those weeks where my mind is constantly thinking... Yea! Malaysia Carnival Sale! but no time to go. Hmm, I sound simply pathetic! Most people would think being a homemaker is just so relaxing, I beg to differ. I do not fall under the category "Hire a housemaid and be a lady of leisure" I just don't know how and I guess I won't be thrilled doing just that.

Here's a recipe I have in archives but have not posted. It's called vegetable curry hotpot. Hotpot reflects the way it is cooked, just put everything in and simmer. You will need vegetables of course.

Rinsed and cut into small chunks : 1 large onion, 3 small aubergines/brinjals, 6 lady fingers, 2 red ripe tomatoes.

Rinse and make a slit : 2 large green chilies and 2 large red chilies.

To be blended : 3 cloves garlic, 5 shallots, 1 piece of 3" old ginger, 2 large red chilies, 3 bird-eye chilies, 3 dried chilies.

Soaked in hot water : 1 Tbsp tamarind paste, use the tamarind water and discard the seeds.

3 Tbsp curry powder of your choice, 1 tsp sugar, fresh milk and salt to taste.

Method : Heat olive oil in a curry pot, toss in all the blended ingredients, stir to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pot. When fragrant, add sugar and curry powder, continue to stir, add a little hot water at a time. Repeat a few times until curry liquid looks like thick gravy, not too watery. Add in all the cut vegetables, chilies and tamarind water, simmer for 15 - 20 minutes on low heat. Drizzle a small cup of milk in place of coconut juice and add salt to taste. This recipe is all about personal tastes, you may use a pinch here, a drizzle there as long as it gives you the taste you desire.

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I'm Audrey from Somewhere in my kitchen, Malaysia.

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