May 30, 2010

Spicy Kabocha Pumpkin Soup

This is a variation of the standard pumpkin soup that uses Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin/squash). Kabocha is naturally sweeter than the regular pumpkin. It has a nutty flavor and is great for digestion.
Ingredients:
1½ lbs Kabocha pumpkin, quartered, peeled and seeds removed
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
sea salt and pepper to taste
cilantro for garnishing
plain yogurt or cream for garnishing
Method:
1. Heat some oil in a large pan and gently fry the leeks and garlic until softened. Add the spices and stir for a minute.
2. Add the pumpkin, chicken stock and season to taste. Bring to a boil for about ½ hour, until the pumpkin is tender. Remove from heat to cool.
3. Process soup in batches in a blender or food processor. To serve, simply reheat soup in warmed bowls, with a swirl yogurt or cream on top and garnish with cilantro.

May 29, 2010

Braised Baby Onions with Raisins

If you like baby onions, you will love this piquant and flavorful dish. It is simple to prepare and great served with skewered meat, such as lamb or beef.
Ingredients:
20 baby white onions, peeled
½ cup red wine winegar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. honey or sugar
½ cup raisins
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Method:
1. Add all the ingredients in a saucepan with 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. Cook until onions are tender and most of the liquid has thickened.
2. Remove bay leaf and season to taste. Serve warm.
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May 28, 2010

Cheesy Potato Cakes

I found an old recipe book on potatoes and the different ways of cooking this spud. Here's a simple and easy one flavored with fresh dill and lemons from our garden. Great for an afternoon snack or a side dish.
Ingredients:
4 medium-sized potatoes
4 ozs goat cheese or plain feta cheese
1 bunch scallions, diced finely
2 Tbsp. dill, chopped
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for frying
all-purpose flour
Method:
1. Washed potatoes and boil them in their skins with a pinch of salt. Cook until they are soft. Drain, then peel while still warm. Put them in a mixing bowl and mash them.
2. Crumble cheese with your fingers into the potatoes and add the scallions, dill, egg mixture and lemon juice. Season with pepper and salt (lightly) as cheese is salty. Mix well to incorporate the ingredients.
3. Cover the mixture and leave in the refrigerator to chill when ready to fry.
4. Divide the mixture into golf-sized balls, flatten slightly and dredge them with flour to coat. Repeat the same with the rest of the mixture.
5. Heat a non-stick pan with some oil and fry the cakes on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.
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Lemon Barley Chicken Soup

Whenever I have some leftover cooked chicken, I would prepare his simple and tasty soup. This is an adapted version of the famous Avgolemono, a Greek soup. I used barley instead of the orzo pasta and added celery to the soup. You can use home made chicken stock or substitute with 3 cans of low-sodium chicken stock instead.
Ingredients:
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded finely
½ cup celery, finely diced (about 3 sticks)
3 Tbsp. barley, washed and drained
1 Tbsp. onion, finely diced
3 eggs, beaten
juice of 1 large lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Method:
1. In a large pot, heat some oil and fry the onions until soft, then stir in the celery and fry for about 5 minutes. Add in the stock and barley and bring to boil and cook until barley is cooked, about for 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
2. Mix the lemon juice to the egg mixture and a ladleful of the warm chicken soup. Stir this mixture into the soup, season with salt and pepper. Do not let soup boil once you've added the egg mixture as this will cause the eggs to curdle. Remove from heat and serve with lemon slices.
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May 23, 2010

Potato Dumplings/Gnocchi

Gnocchi, pronounced as "nyo kee" is one of our favorite Italian dishes. The word, Gnocchi is the plural for the word, gnocco which is the singular form. It is a small dumpling made with potatoes, flour, and sometimes with cheese. The shape of this dumpling is form and cut by hand, and pre-cooked in boiling water. It is served in the same manner as any pasta, favorably with either a white, red sauce, or a simple dressing with your favorite vegetables to bring out the freshness and lightness of these dumplings. I have seen it pan fried in oil and tossed with mixed greens. For this installment, I am going to serve it with a simple tomato sauce with artichokes and basil.
Ingredients:
2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
a pinch of salt
a sprig of sage
¼ cup olive or vegetable oil
Method:
1. In a large pot, steam potatoes until they are tender and soft, about 30 minutes. Drained and mash finely into a bowl or a floured board. (If you have a vegetable mill or potato ricer--this will work nicely)
2. In a large mixing bowl, add egg and salt to the center of the mashed potatoes. Stir the egg into the mashed potatoes and once it is mixed in, add in flour and fold in to mix. When it starts to clump together knead gently to form a smooth dough.
3. On a floured surface, roll and cut the dough into pieces with a floured knife. Using the palm of your hand shape each pieces into a long thin roll and cut each roll into bite-sized pieces (about 1-inch). Lay all the cut pieces of dough on to a floured tray and sprinkle some flour to prevent it from sticking. Using the tines of the fork with the concave part facing up, dip the tips of your fingers with flour; take a piece of the dough and press it down against the tines of the fork. This will form a nice indentation on one side and a ridged surface on the other. You can also press the dough on a cheese grater if you like. Continue in this manner with the rest of the dough.
5. Bring a large pot of water to a fast boil. Add the sage and a pinch of salt. In the meantime, set another bowl of ice water near the stove.
6. Drop pieces of dough into the boiling water and cook until they float. Remove them with a slotted spoon into the ice water to stop the cooking. Let it sit in the water for about 5 minutes, drained and add to a bowl. Toss in the oil and store in a cool place. In the meantime prepare your favorite sauce or vegetables. Serve warm.
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May 19, 2010

Almond Flavored Rice Pudding


Rice for dessert, unheard of! Being an Asian or just plain me, I was not accustomed to cooking rice with sugar or milk and eating it as a dessert. Rice to me is commonly served plain with other dishes. Well, I was curious and so I’ve decided to give it a try. On my first attempt, it was so thick and gluey that I can stick a spoon on top of the pudding. After the second and third attempts, it finally comes close to a decent rice pudding---good enough to eat! This version is a simple and delicious alternative to an old-fashioned rice pudding.
Ingredients:
¾ cup short-grain rice, washed and drained
½ cup almonds, chopped
¼ cup brown sugar
1 small piece cinnamon stick (or ½ tsp cinnamon spice)
½ tsp. almond extract
2½ cups milk
¼ cup condensed milk
3 Tbsp. rose or orange blossom flower water (optional)
½ cup dried raisins or currants
4 Tbsp. butter
pinch of salt
ground cinnamon and nutneg for garnishing
toasted slices of almonds for garnishing
Method:
1. Soak rice with some water and a pinch of salt. In a food processor or blender, add the chopped almonds with ½ cup hot water. Process until very fine and strain into a saucepan.
2. Add 1½ cups of water into the saucepan and bring to a boil, then add in the rest of the milks. Drain the rice and add to the milk mixture, together with brown sugar, dried fruits, cinnamon stick and half of the butter, and almond extract. Stir well to mix and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for about 20-30 minutes, adding more milk or sugar if necessary.
3. Continue to cook and stir the rice mixture to prevent burning at the bottom until it becomes thick and creamy. When the rice is of the right consistency, stir in the rose flower water, then season to taste for sweetness.
4. Serve pudding warm with a dollop of butter and sprinkle with sliced almonds, ground cinnamon and nutmeg.
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May 16, 2010

Savory Meat Pies

I have some leftovers from making the savory rice dumplings. This gave me an idea for a quick and easy snack.
Ingredients: (makes about 10 pies)
400 gms. chicken thigh meat, cut into small cubes
200 gms. roasted peanuts, grinded finely
100 gms. dried shrimps, presoaked and chopped finely
5-6 dried mushrooms, presoaked and chopped finely
2 tsp. coriander powder
2 medium-sized shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 beaten egg mixed with some milk
1 box Pillsbury Pie crust, thaw at room temperature
Non-stick baking tray
Method:
1. Heat oil in pan and fry garlic and shallots until soft. Add in mushrooms and dried shrimps and fry until fragrant. Then add the chicken meat and seasonings and stir until cooked. Season to taste with salt and/or sugar. Remove from heat and let cool. When completely cool, add in the peanuts.
2. Preheat oven to 450°F. Roll out pastry and cut into rounds. Put a tablespoon of filling in middle, moisten edges with some water to seal. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds on top. Bake for about 10-15 minutes till golden brown. Serve warm.
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May 15, 2010

Savory Rice Dumplings/Nyonya Bak Chang

Rice Dumpling festival or Dragon Boat festival falls on the 5th day of the 5th month on the Chinese lunar calendar. During the Chu dynasty (楚), there was a Chinese patriotic poet by the name of Qu Yuan who served as a minister for the emperor and was well loved by the villagers. However, some court officials were jealous of his popularity and his abilities, they influenced and convinced the emperor to dismiss and exiled him. Feeling desolated and disheartened, of the injustice and corruption he committed suicide by drowning himself in the Mi River. When the villagers found out about his death, they rowed their boats out to the river to look for his body. When they failed to find his body, they started making a racket of noises by beating their drums in hope to scare the fishes and sea creatures away from eating Qu Yuan's body. Yet, some villagers made rice dumplings to throw into the water believing that the fishes and sea creatures will be distracted and feast on the rice dumplings instead of his body. Thus, the Duan Wu festival, or Dragon Boat festival is to commemorates the life and death of this historic figure, Qu Yuan.
Rice Dumplings (Bak Chang in Hokkien) is a four-triangular faces (tetrahedron) of sticky glutinous rice stuffed with savory fillings, wrapped with bamboo leaves and then cook in boiling water. There are many variations to this dumpling. The traditional one has stuffing of pork, beans, salted egg yolks, and chestnuts. I am making the Peranakan, or Nyonya version, that has a salty and sweet savory filling. The bluish color is extracted from the Butterfly Pea flower (Bunga Telang). If this is not available, substitute with blue food coloring instead.
(Cantonese version dumpling)
Ingredients:
500 gms. glutinous rice, washed and soaked overnight
2 Tbsps. cooking oil
1 Tbsp. Bunga Telang juice, or few drops of blue food coloring)
1 packet dried bamboo leaves, presoaked in boiling water until soft
hemp strings, presoaked
3 pandan leaves, cut into 2 inchs lengths
Spices:
2 Tbsp. peppercorns
3 tsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
10 gms. cekur (zedoary) ginger root (substitute with 2 tsp. Sar ginger powder)
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
Filling:
400 gms. chicken, cut into small cubes
100 gms. candied winter melon, chopped finely (optional)
200 gms. roasted peanuts, grinded finely
150 gms. dried shrimps, presoaked and chopped finely
5-6 dried mushrooms, presoaked and chopped finely
5 medium-sized shallots, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Method:
1. Rinse glutinous rice until water runs clear, picked out stones and dirt in the rice. Remove about 200 gms of rice into a bowl and add blue coloring, one tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt. Mix well to incorporate coloring into rice. To the remaining of the rice, add one tablespoon of oil, salt and mix well.
2. Ground all the spices ingredients finely.  In a deep pan or wok, heat oil and fry garlic and shallots until soft. Add in mushrooms and dried shrimps and fry until fragrant. Then add the chicken meat and seasonings and stir until cooked. Season to taste with salt and/or sugar. Add in the candied melons, if using and fry for another minute. Remove from heat and let cool. When completely cool, add in the peanuts.
3. Wipe the bamboo leaves dry and drained. Arrange all the ingredients on the table. How to make a string cradle: Cut strings of 3 feet lengths. Put them together and tie a knot with a loop at the end of the strings or tie it over a chair. The loose ends will be use for tying the wrapped dumplings.
4. How to wrap a dumpling: Overlap 2 slices of leaves with the sharp edges in the middle and fold into a cone from about ¾ of the leaf, making sure there is no hole at the bottom of the cone. Fill cone with 1 heaped spoon of blue colored rice, 1 tablespoon of white rice, followed by 2 tablespoons of filling and another tablespoon of the white rice. Press the ingredients with a spoon to compact it. Place a piece of pandan leaf on the side. Using the right fingers, fold the loose ends of the bamboo leaves over the rice to cover completely. Wrap dumpling into a pyramid shape before securing with strings, making sure the rice is consealed and compact. Repeat this method with the remaining ingredients until you have dumplings tied into a bunch on the string cradle.
4. Bring a big pot of water to a boil, making sure the water is enough to cover the dumplings. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. Put in the tied dumplings and cook over high heat for 1-1½ hours, until the rice is completely cooked or until the rice shapes has dissappeared and form into a smooth triangle shaped dumpling. Remove, drain and serve warm.
 (Click arrow to view video)
video
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May 14, 2010

Chinese Barbecue Pork/Char Siew

Chinese barbecue pork is an easy dish to prepare and delicious on any occasion. You can either grill it over an open stove or roast it in the oven. Leftovers are perfect stir-fry with rice or noodles, or simply eat it by itself.
Ingredients:
3 lbs pork butt, cut into 1" thick strips
Seasonings:
3 Tbsp. Hoisin sauce
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. five-spice powder
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. Chinese wine (Mui Kai Lo, or Shao Xin)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Glaze:
2 Tbsp. maltose or honey
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
Method:
1. Mix seasonings in a bowl into a smooth texture. Washed and dry pork with paper towels. Marinate pork with seasonings, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
2. In a small saucepan, mix the glaze ingredients and stir to dissolve over low heat. Set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking tray with a layer of aluminium foil. Transfer marinated meat on tray and tent with foil. Place an ovenproof bowl with water on the lower tray in oven. This will keep the pork moist. Bake the meat in the middle shelf for about 15-20 minutes.
4. Remove top foil and continue baking until the marinade thickens, turn meat occassionaly to coat on all sides. Continue to roast until meat is slightly charred, but not burned for about 1-2 hours. Remove from oven and brush glaze on all sides. Return to over for another 5 minutes. Note: You can cook the pork on an outdoor grill and brush with glaze at the final cooking time to give it a nice glossy glaze.
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May 8, 2010

Country Style Egg Noodle Soup/Pan Meen

 

I remembered fondly how my mother used to prepare the dough and we would gathered around the stove to drop in pieces of flattened dough into the water to cook, while a pot of soup stock of ikan bilies(dried anchovies)simmering on the stove. It is so delicious and comforting! "Pan Mein" is served with "Sayor Manis" (Malaysian-Chinese for sujaichoy) and chilli sauce. It is a native plant in Sabah and is commonly known as Sabah vegetable.I am not sure how and where this dish was originated, and the names vary by ethnic groups. It has been called Mein Fun Goh, Pan Meen, or Meehoon Kuih. It is actually a poor man's food where one can get these items with very little money. I never miss this dish when I visit Malaysia.I've seen the local hawkers in Malaysia made the noodles using the pasta machine and the soup is mostly meat bones and sugar--nothing like preparing it yourself at home. You can get dried anchovies in most Asian or Korean supermarkets and substitute baby spinach or Chinese choy sum for the sayor manis.
Dough:
400 gms. plain flour
½ tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup lukewarm water
Soup Stock:
3 ozs.dried anchovies, heads and guts removed
1 chicken carcass
300 gms. pork bones
300 gms. pork meat
1 medium size jicama, peeled and quartered
10 cups of water
1 small piece of ginger, crushed
2 tsp. ikan bilies stock (if available)
2 Tbsp. oil
Garnishing:
1 packet baby spinach, washed and drained
fried dried anchovies
4 pcs. dried cloud ears fungus, soaked to soften and thinly sliced
8-10 dried mushrooms, soak to soften and thinly sliced
2 Tbsps. oil
2 Tbsps. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. oyster sauce
Chilli Sauce:
5-6 red chili deseeded and minced finely
1 tsp. fish sauce
juice of 2 large lemons
salt, and sugar to taste
Method:
1. In a large bowl, add the ingredients for the dough and mix well to incorporate. Add just enough water to dough to form into a pliable dough. Add more water only if necessary. Note: You can pulse the ingredients in a food processor. Wrap dough with plastic and covered in a warm place for at least an hour, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. In a pan,heat oil and fry the anchovies till golden and crispy. Remove half of it and drained in paper towels for garnishing. Add the rest of the anchovies,water, chicken, jicama, ginger, mushroom stems, and meat into a large pot. Bring to a boil. Remove any scum floating on top of the soup and simmer soup on medium heat for about an hour. Season soup to taste.
3. Heat oil in a shallow pan and fry the cloud ear fungus and mushrooms till soft and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove and set aside.
4. In a bowl mix chilies, soy sauce, and fish sauce, and lemon juice together. Set aside.
5. Bring another pot with enough water to a boil with a few drops of oil and salt. Remove dough from the plastic wrap, use your thumb and index fingers,tear small chunks of dough into small pieces and flatten it into thin pieces and drop them into the water. Remove pieces of dough as they float up with a slotted spoon into another bowl. Repeat the same with the rest of the dough. Note: You can prepare the dough with a pasta machine or simply roll out on a floured surface thinly and cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Add the vegetables to the water to cook.
6.Arrange some cooked noodles in individual bowl, add some spinach and spoon hot soup into the bowls. Garnish with mushrooms mixture and fried onions. Serve hot with chili sauce or a dash of sesame seed oil.
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Sweet Potato Galettes

This is a simple dish to prepare and great serve with any meaty dish. I used sweet potato for this installment.
Ingredients:
1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled
3 Tbsp. melted butter
salt and pepper
1 tsp. dried herbs (optional)
Method:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Slice thinly sweet potato with a mandolin or a sharp knife.
2. Line and butter baking pan with aluminium foil. Arrange slices of potato and overlap to form a spiral. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dried herbs.
3. Bake in oven until golden brown about 20-30 minutes.
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Hot and Spicy Soup/Tom Yum

I was trimming my kaffir lime bush this morning and this gives me and idea for tonight dinner. Tom Yum is a simple soup that cooks in a one pot in less than an hour. You can serve this soup with shrimp or chicken, I decided to use salmon tonight and serve warm with rice and a stir-fried vegetable dish.
Ingredients:
1 lb shrimps (washed, shelled leaving tails intact, keeping the heads and shells)
4 cups chicken stock/water
2 fresh tomato, sliced in chunks
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 pcs. lemon grass, cut in lengths and crushed
4 pcs. galangal (crushed)
2-3 pieces ginger
2 Tbsp. best quality fish sauce (nam pla, buy the one with the 3 crabs)
4-6 pcs. fresh kaffir lime leaves (crushed)
2 pieces of dried Thai fresh chilies (optional)
2 Tbsp. nam prik pow (Thai chili paste in soya bean oil)
3 Tbsp instant tom yum paste
juice of 2 limes or lemon
pinch of sugar
cilantro and mint leaves for garnishing
Method:
1. In a pot heat a little oil, fry the shrimps heads/shells until fragrant and red color. Add enough water to cover and lower heat to simmer for an hour. Strain the stock and press out as much juice from the shells.
2. In the same pot, add chicken stock, lemon grass, galangal, ginger, kaffir leaves, fresh chillies, and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. Lower heat to simmer and cook for another 20 minutes. Remove and let it sit longer to get as much flavor and essence from the ingredients.
3. Reheat the #2 stock, add the shrimp stock and bring to a fast boil. Stir in the tom yam paste, nam prik pow (if used), tomato, mushrooms, fish sauce and lime juice. Cook this for another 5 minutes, then add the shrimp meat and season to your taste (do not overcook the shrimp)
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Grilled Pork Chops

A chef once told me that the solution to a juicy, moist and tender pork chop is to marinade it with a brining mixture ahead of time. You can use other herbs and spices for added flavor and cook it either baked or grilled. I served mine with sweet potato galettes.
Ingredients:
4 pork chops
¾ cups apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. peppercorn, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
½ cup ice water
Method:
1. In a saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, peppercorns, bay leaf, and salt. Heat on low and whisk to dissolve ingredients. Remove from heat and add ice water to cool down the mixture completely. Note: Don't put the meat into hot brine, as it will cook the meat.
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2. Put meat in the mixture, cover and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. Remove the meat from the brine and dry with paper towels before cooking it.

May 2, 2010

Flambé White Sea Bass with Fresh Fennel

If you like the taste of licorice, and want to impress your guests you might enjoy this dish. The fish is grilled and flambé with Pernod, an alcoholic liqueur with the taste of anise. Bon Appétit!
Ingredients:
1 white sea bass, about 2 lbs, cleaned, gutted, and head removed
2 medium sized fresh fennel bulbs and fronds, sliced thinly
½ cup olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
3 tsp. fennel seeds
salt and pepper to taste
an ovenproof platter
½ cup Pernod
Method:
1. Pat fish dry and cut three deep cuts on both sides of the fish. Brush some olive oil on fish and season with salt and pepper. Stuff the cuts and the fish cavity with fennel seeds. Set aside.
2. Preheat the broiler. Spread the slices of fennel evenly on the broiler rack and brush with remaining olive oil. Broil on high for 3-4 minutes on each side until fennel is tender. Remove and transfer to an ovenproof platter and keep warm.
3. Place the oiled fish back to the broiler rack and broil for about 10-15 minutes on each side.
4. Assemble the fish on top of the fennel and garnish with fennel frounds. In a saucepan, heat the liqueur gently, light it with a long bamboo stick and pour the flaming warm liqueur over the fish. Serve immediately.
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Baked Lemony-Garlic Chicken


This is a delightful dish to serve with crusty bread to soak up every bit of the sauce. I made this with my daughter and we both enjoyed it. This one is for you Melissa :)
Ingredients:
8 pieces of skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3 cups organic chicken stock
25 garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
2 lemons, peeled, rind removed and sliced thinly
3 Tbsp. flour
3/4 cups dry white wine
salt and black pepper to taste
1 small bunch sweet basil, chopped for garnishing
Method:
1. Dry chicken with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add in garlic cloves and simmer on low for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a pan and fry chicken pieces are golden on all sides. Remove and transfer them into an ovenproof dish with lid. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Remove garlic from the chicken stock. Distribute the garlic and and lemon slices evenly among the chicken pieces.
3. Reheat the pan in which the chicken was browned, add flour to mix in with the brownings for about 2 minutes. Add in the wine, stirring constantly and then gradually add in the stock, making sure that mixture is smooth and free of lumps (use a small whisk). Continue doing this until the sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Remove from heat and pour flour mixture over the chicken. Cover and bake for an hour. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve with rice or bread.
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Fried Collard Greens with Smoked Apple Bacon

I was at Trader Joe this weekend and they were serving this delicious uncured apple bacon to shoppers. I took a bite and it was really good! It has a nice apple flavor and I like it as it is not as salty. What a perfect coincidence, as I went in to get some bacon for tonight's dinner. This would be wonderful with collard greens that I got from the farmers market. Beside collard greens, it is great with dinosaur kale (lacinato). Yummy!
Ingredients:
2 bunches collard greens, cut in bite sized
1 red onion, sliced thinly
4 ozs bacon, sliced thinly
half cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Method:
1. In a large frying pan, heat oil and add in bacon to brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and fry until the onions is beginning to soften and absorbed most of the bacon oil.
2. Add in the wine and simmer for about 3-4 minutes to reduce the liquid. Add in greens and seasonings. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 15-20 minutes until greens are tender. Serve hot with rice.
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Fried Tofu with Meat Sauce

This is a simple and easy dish for an everyday meal if you like tofu. I like to use fresh tofu rather than the pre-packed ones that you find in the Asian supermarkets. Tofu is great for stir-fry, braised or even fresh with seasoned hot oil. To test for freshness, take a sniff and if it smells stale, taste sour, or feels slippery it is bad.
Ingredients:
4 slices of firm white tofu, dry well with paper towel
1 small bunch sweet basil, chopped finely
¼ lbs lean pork, minced or chopped finely
5 dried mushrooms, soaked and chopped in pieces
2 tsp. oyster sauce
2 tsps. cornstarch
1/4 cup stock or water
1 tsp. minced garlic and ginger
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying
Method:
1. Heat a saucepan with enough oil on high. Gently add a piece of tofu to the oil and deep fry on both sides till golden brown. Drain well with paper towel. Do the same to the rest of the tofu. Arrange cooked tofu on a plate.
2. Season meat with salt and pepper and some cornstarch. Heat a wok with a little oil, fry mushrooms till fragrant for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic/ginger and mix with the mushrooms, follow by the pork. Cook until meat is no longer pink in color about 10-15 minutes. Mix cornstarch, oyster sauce with stock/water to dissolve and add to the pork mixture. Stir in basil and season to taste. Pour the hot mixture on top of tofu and garnish with basil. Serve hot with rice.
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May 1, 2010

Crispy Top Hats with Savory Fillings/Kueh Pi Tee

This dish is a Peranakan or Nyonya snack, popular in Penang and Singapore. Kueh pi tee or top hats are crispy pastry cases in the shape of a hat. The cases can be made ahead of time and makes great hors d'oeuvres. The mold is a hand fluted truncated cone made of bronze, its tapered shape allows the top hats to slide off the mold once they are cooked. Making this is no small feat as it requires patience, time and the right batter mixture. The trick is to get the mold seasoned with the hot oil before dipping into the batter.
Ingredients:(makes about 3 dozens)
150 gm rice flour
50 gm cornflour
50 gm all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
¼ tsp. baking powder
1 cup water
pinch of salt and pepper
oil for deep frying
Pi tee mold
Filling:
1 medium sized jicama, peeled and julienned
1 carrot, julienned
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 shallots, minced
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup cooked prawns, chopped in small pieces
2 tsps. oyster sauce cilantro for garnishing
fried shallots for garnishing
lettuce, shredded in small pieces
chilli sauce for dipping
Method:
1. Combine both flours in a mixing bowl; add the egg, water and salt to form a batter. Whisk until mixture is free from lumps. The batter is done, when it coats the wooden spoon or your finger with a light creamy layer thick enough to hold. Strain batter into a clean bowl and let stand for at least an hour.
2. Heat enough oil to a deep saucepan on high. When oil is hot, immersed the pi tee mold into the oil briefly for about 2 seconds. Lower the heat to medium. Dip the heated mold into the batter, until it come up to the rim of the mold, coated with the batter. Let the excess batter to drip off, then dip the mold into the hot oil.
3.To separate the batter, jiggle and move the mold up and down to loosen the edges around the top. The batter should come loose by poking gently with a fork or long bamboo skewer on the edges. Allow the casing to cook in the oil until it is light brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. When cool, store in air-tight containers.
4. In a wok, add some oil and fry the garlic and shallots till soft and fragrant. Add the jicama and carrot and cook for about 10-15 minutes until the jicama is soft. Add cooked prawns and season to taste with oyster sauce, salt and pepper. Remove and set aside.
5. In a clean work, add some oil and fry egg into a thin omelet. Remove and cut into thin strips.
6. To assemble: Put a piece of lettuce inside the pi tee case, then add a spoonsful of jicama mixture and garnish the top with eggs, fried shallots, and cilantro. Serve immediately with chilli sauce.
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