June 28, 2010

Chinese Dumplings/Won Ton Soup

Won Ton is basically, Chinese dumplings filled with spiced minced pork and wrapped in a flour skin. It is usually served in soup or deep fried. My former kids' babysitter makes the best wonton! She would make batches of them and freeze it in freezer bags, and she would often give me some. It is delicious and wholesome--nothing like a freshly home-made wonton!

Ingredients: (makes about 30)
1 lb freshly ground chicken (pork or beef can be used)
1/2 lb prawns, shelled, deveined and minced
1 tsp. wine (or sherry)
1 tsp. salt
some pepper
2-3 drops of sesame seed oil
2 tsp. water
1 tsp. cornstarch
3 tsp. minced scallions
2 tsp. minced ginger root
2 cups chicken stock
1 package store-bought wonton wrappers
fresh vegetables of your choice
Method:
1. Add the ground meat and minced prawns in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients, except the chicken stock together to a smooth paste.
2. Put about a teaspoon of filling in the center of the wonton wrapper. Moisten the top edges, fold it diagonally in half to form a triangle. Make another fold from the bottom up about ½-inch. Bring the two points together, moisten one edge and overlap the corners together by pinching it together.
3. Bring chicken stock to a boil, add a drop of sesame seed oil, season with salt and pepper. Simmer and keep warm. In another pot, heat water to a boil and drop wonton into the water to cook for about 2-5 minutes, until the skins are transparent and cooked. (dumplings will float on top). Remove with a slotted spoon and cook the vegetables.
4.To serve, put the cooked dumplings and vegetables in individual bowl and ladle some soup on top. Serve warm.
Printable Recipe

June 27, 2010

Fresh Ginger and Lemongrass Ale

Whenever I feel like having a soft drink, I think of gingerale. I love the fizziness and the taste of ginger, but I didn't like the sugar content. I stumbled upon this recipe from CNN's Food Central from Jean-Georges Vongerichten. I've adjusted the sugar and left out the chilli. This will be great for the summer and the upcoming July 4th weekend BBQ!
Ingredients:
1 lb fresh ginger, cut into thin strips
3 stalks lemongrass, removed outer leaves and cut into half
1-2 cups sugar, per taste
1 quart water
soda water
ice cubes
Method:
1. Add ginger to a food processor and puree to smaller pieces. Remove and add to the puree in a heavy saucepan with sugar and water. Bring to fast boil over high heat, then lower heat to simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Remove, strain and chill for many hours in the refrigerator.
To serve: Place about 1/4 cup of the syrup in a glass full of ice. Fill with soda water; taste and add more syrup if you like. Garnish with a lime wedge, then serve.
Prntable Recipe

June 26, 2010

Bittersweet Chocolate Pots de Crème with Cherries


 
Pots de crème or pot-au-crème translates in French to English as “pot of cream”, as this dessert is served in small-lidded pots. It is basically, chocolate custard that is so smooth and silky and practically melts in your mouth. It is simply divine and wickedly delicious!
Ingredients:
8 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean
3/4 cup sugar
6 ozs. bittersweet chocolate, shaved
1 ¾ cups half and half
2 Tbsp. dark rum
½ cup pitted dark cherries
6 ramekins or wide mouth canning jars
Method:
1. Soak cherries with rum and set aside. Preheat oven to 325°F. In a heavy saucepan, break vanilla bean and add cream and heat over low heat, stirring until a thin film floats across the cream. Remove from heat and discard vanilla bean. Add shaved chocolate and stir until it melted completely.
2. In another bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar till well mixed. Stir in the rum from the cherries and pour egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Mix well and pour through a sieve and remove foam.
3. Pour slowly into jars or ramekins halfway and press some cherries into mixture, top with more of the chocolate mixture and remove any excess foam.
4. Place ramekins into a large deep baking tray and fill with water up to about 1-inch from the top of the ramekins. Bake in the middle rack for about 45 minutes until it comes out clean when tested with a skewer. Cool completely and serve with shaved chocolate and fresh cherries or cookies.
Printable Recipe

Fried Spinach with Potatoes/Aloo Palak


Aloo Palak is basically spinach fried with potatoes and spices. The word, Aloo means potatoes and Palak is spinach. It is a classic Indian dish that is healthy, easy and inexpensive to prepare as a side dish.
Ingredients:
1 lb spinach, fresh or frozen
2 medium or 1 large red potato, peeled and cubed
1 red onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. curry powder
2 small tomato, finely chopped
1 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tsp. cumin powder or 1 tsp. cumin seeds
juice of 1 small fresh lime or lemon
1½ Tbsp. olive oil, ghee, or butter
salt and pepper to taste
Method:
1. If you are using frozen spinach, thaw them ahead of time. Tear fresh spinach into large pieces and wash them to remove dirt completely.
2. In a pan, heat oil on medium and fry cumin and curry powder until fragrant. Add garlic and onions and stir to cook until the onions starts to caramelized. Add potatoes, tumeric and fry until the spices coat the potatoes and until it starts to brown on all sides. Add the chopped tomatoes, and cook for another 5 minutes at medium heat.
3. Toss in the spinach, give it a quick stir and cover to cook further until the potatoes are cooked and the spinach has wilted and not overcooked. Increase heat and toss the mixture until water has evaporates and spinach starts to stick to the pan. Remove from heat, cover the pan and let the heat settle inside the pan. Serve with a drizzle of lime or lemon juice on top. Serve with rice or flat bread.
Printable Recipe

Ruby Beets with Feta Cheese and Maple Glazed Pecans


Here is a simple and delicious salad that uses beets and cheese. You can add leftovers roasted chicken or turkey and you have a wholesome and satisfying meal.
Ingredients:
5 medium sized beets, scrubbed clean
1 package mixed fresh baby salad greens, washed and drained
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh orange juice
4 Tbsp. feta or goat cheese
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
¼ cup pecans
salt and pepper to taste
Method:
1. Steam beets with enough water until tender. Drain and cool, peeled and slice in ½-inch slices.
2. Place pecans in a saucepan over medium heat to toast. When it starts to brown, stir in the maple syrup to coat evenly. Remove from heat on freezer paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil to make the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. In individual plates, arrange greens and beets. Sprinkle cheese and pecans over greens. Drizzle with dressing or serve on the side.
Printable Recipe

Scrambled Eggs with Chives

Scrambled eggs is one of the first dish that I learned to cook in school. It is an easy and nutritious breakfast.
Ingredients: (serves 2)
4 eggs, beaten
¼ cup milk
1 small bunch fresh chives, chopped finely
1 tomato, sliced and chopped finely
½ tsp. minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. butter
Fresh eggs and chives from our garden
Method:
1. In a bowl, mix eggs, chives, milk and whisk together. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. When the butter starts foaming, pour egg mixture to pan.
2. When the bottom and edges has begun to cook, use a spatula and scrape and lift the edges and let the uncooked eggs to run under the part lifted. Repeat this procedure until the egg is cooked through and curdled. Remove from heat and keep warm.
3. In a smaller pan over medium heat, cook the tomatoes and garlic until the moisture has reduced slightly. Season to taste. Serve with scrambled eggs.
Printable Recipe

June 22, 2010

Lotus Root Soup

     
A bowl of soup is customary to the Chinese as it is designed to digest food, or used medicinally to balance a person's yin-yang. My mother is a firm believer that a meal is not complete without a soup, simple or elaborate. She once quote me a famous saying, "When there is soup there should be rice, the relationship between the both is like water to a boat," from a great Chinese poet, Li Yu. I asked my Chinese teacher about it one day in class and she gave me the full version of this poem. "As long as there is rice, there should be soup. The relationship between soup and rice is like that between water and a boat. When a boat is stranded on a sandy bank only water can wash it back to the river; thus rice goes down better with soup." This is one of my mother's exemplary soup and is also one of my favorite.
Ingredients:
1½-2 lbs. pork neck bones, washed and drained
1½-2 lbs lean pork, washed and drained
1 lotus root, skin scoured and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 piece dried octopus, presoaked with water to soften
10-12 pitted dried red dates (jujube)
½ cup raw skinless peanuts, washed and drained
12 cups water (approximate)
sea salt and pepper to taste
Method:
1. In a large deep pot, add enough water to cover meat and bones. Bring to a fast boil, remove and wash meat in cold running water to remove scum and impurities.
2. Put meat and bones, lotus root, red dates, peanuts and water, making sure water should cover the ingredients completely. Cook without the lid on high for 30 minutes. Replace lid and simmer for another hour and half, until the meat and lotus root are soft and fragrant. Season to taste and serve with rice.
Printable Recipe

June 19, 2010

Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls

These fresh spring rolls are full of flavor and delicious as a snack or appetizer. The rice paper are made of tapioca and rice starch and it is softened with warm water and wrapped with fresh herbs, meat and serve with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. You can use other varieties of cooked meat, such as prawn, beef or pork. They can be made several hours in advance, and kept moist. I prefer to set out the ingredients on a platter and have my guests have fun picking up their choice of ingredients and rolling it on individual plates.
Ingredients:
1 pack Vietnamese rice paper (6", small)
4 oz dried vermicelli noodles (cooked, drained and cut into 2-inch lengths)
1 packet bean sprouts, washed and drained
½ lb tri-tip beef, cut thinly
¼ cup korean bulgogi sauce
lettuce, washed and drained
fresh mint leaves
fresh cilantro leaves
Dipping sauce:
2 gloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp. sugar, honey, or Agave nectar
juice of 1 lime
2½ Tbsp. fish sauce
4 Tbsp. fried peanuts, chopped finely
¼ cup vinegar
Method:
1. Season meat with bulgogi sauce and set aside. Grill to cook on both sides and cut into 1-inch strips.
2. In a bowl mix the dipping sauce ingredients, season and adjust to your taste. It should be sweet and sour taste.
3. Heat a shallow pan with water and keep it warm. Assemble all the ingredients within reach on the table and fill a wide bowl with warm water.
4. Dip 1 piece of rice paper (with the rough side facing up) into the water for about 30 seconds, turning it around until it softened. Put on the plate and arrange lettuce, bean sprouts, vermicelli, mint and cilantro at the edge of the rice paper. Add a few pieces of beef about 2-inch below the top and roll from the bottom, tucking in the corners into a roll. Serve with dipping sauce. (Click below to watch video)
  video
Printable Recipe

June 12, 2010

Tamarind Pork

This is a simple dish that is flavorful and great for the hot summer weather. I served this with stir fried summer squash from our garden.
Ingredients:
1 lb pork butt or shoulder pork, cut into 3" cubes
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp. tamarind paste
1 cup chicken stock
1 piece dried tamarind peel
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
Spices:
2 tsp. lemon grass powder
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. chilli powder
Method:
1. Marinade pork with spices and set aside. Heat oil in pan and fry onions until soft and fragrant.  Add pork and brown on all sides. Mix tamarind paste with stock.
2. Add stock and tamarind peel to the pork. Stir to mix until sauce is fragrant, then add potatoes. Cover and simmer until sauce has thickens. Remove tamarind peel and serve hot with rice and a side vegetable dish.
Printable Recipe

June 11, 2010

Lamb in Fragrant Sauce

If you like lamb, you will love this dish. It is simmered with coriander, bean paste, and hoisin sauce. You can use lamb shanks and leave it whole, or easily substitute it with any type of meat, such as chicken or pork.
Ingredients:
1 lb lamb breast riblets, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tsp. Sar ginger powder
¾ cup warm water
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. oil
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp. garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. bean paste
2 tsp. hoisin sauce
6 Tbsp. coriander powder
Method:
1. In a bowl, mix garlic, bean paste, hoisin sauce and coriander powder to a smooth paste with some water. Marinate lamb pieces with ginger powder and salt, set aside.
2. Heat oil in large pan and fry onion until soft, then stir in spice paste. Fry until fragrant over medium heat, adding a little warm water if necessary. Add in lamb pieces and cook further to brown meat, stir to to mix with the sauce. Add the rest of the water and potatoes. Covered pan with lid and simmer until meat is cooked through and tender. Serve warm with rice.
Printable Recipe

Curry Prawns

This is a delicious curry in which the prawns is flavored with spices and curry leaf, a specialty in Malaysian local curries. I serve this with nasi kunyit.
Ingredients:
400gms prawns, deveined, washed and drained
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
2 tsp. garlic, minced
¾ cups coconut milk
2 sprigs curry leaves (murraya koenigii)
oil for cooking
Spices: mix to form a smooth paste
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. chilli powder
2 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. galangar powder
2 tsp. tomato paste
1½ Tbsp. coriander powder
½ tsp. fennel powder
2 Tbsp. water
Method:
1. In a frying pan, heat 2 tablepsoons of oil and fry onion and garlic until soft and fragrant. Stir in the spices and fry on low heat until oil exudes and separates from the paste (add a little more oil if necessary), for about 5-10 minutes.
2. Add the prawns and stir fry for another 5 minutes, then add coconut milk, curry leaves. Simmer to cook prawns and season to taste. Serve hot with rice.
Printable Recipe

Turmeric Rice/Nasi Kunyit

This is another specialty dish to serve on festive and auspicious occasions, such as weddings and on baby's full moon. Nasi Kunyit is glutinous rice dish that transcends from two ethnic cultures in Malaysia: Peranakan or Straits-born Chinese, and Malay. The former prepare this dish to celebrate a baby's one month anniversary since birth, while the latter serve it during the fasting month of Ramadan and weddings. The key ingredient to this simple and festive dish is turmeric, which gives it a rich golden yellow color. It is often accompanied with other dishes that is rich in gravy, such as curries or stews.
Ingredients:
1¼ cups glutinous rice, washed and soaked overnight
2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 cup coconut milk
1 piece dried tamarind
1 cup water
1 pandan (screwpine) leaves
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp. salt
Method:
1. Rinse and drain rice into a bowl, and set aside. In a frying pan over medium heat, pan fry cloves, cinnamon stick for about 5 minutes until fragrant. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the pan-roasted spices to the rice, along with turmeric powder and tamarind to a bowl. Mix well to mix and let sit for overnight or at least half a day.
3. Set a steamer with water to boil. Remove and drain only the rice to a deep pan. Add the coconut milk, water and screwpine leaf to it and steam for 1-2 hours or until rice is cooked and fluffy. Serve warm with your favorite curries.
Printable Recipe

Five-Spice Beancurd Rolls/Lobak

I love anything prepared with bean curd and this dish is using the by-product of soybeans. Bean curd skin is a thin film and/or skin on the surface of the cooked bean curd mixture. The thin films are collected and dried on bamboo pole into yellowish sheets known as tofu skin or bean curd skin. This is a traditional dish that can be found in most hawker stalls and open air night markets in Malaysia.
Ingredients:
1 lb pork butt, cut into ½ inch strips
1 package dry bean curd skin, soaked in water to soften
oil for deep frying
Spices:
1 medium red onion, chopped finely
1 tsp. five-spice powder (ng heong fun)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cornflour
salt and pepper to taste
Dipping Sauce:
¾ cup rich meat stock
2 tsp. cornflour
2 tsp. tapioca flour/starch
¼ tsp. five spice powder (ng heong fun)
2 tsp. water
2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
1 large egg white
salt and sugar to taste

Method:
1. Marinate meat strips with spices for at least half a day. Remove beancurd sheets and cut into 5" X 7" and gently pat dry with paper towels.
2. Spread the meat fillings on the beancurd sheet. Wrap into a roll and seal with flour paste (some flour mix with a little water). Do the same with the rest of the meat.
3. In a deep pot, heat enough oil on high. Fry in rolls in small batches until crispy and golden, about 10-15 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
4. In a small saucepan, bring stock to a boil. Mix the flours with a little water into a smooth paste, add to the stock to thicken. Add sugar, five spice powder, soy sauce, sugar and mix into sauce. Simmer over low and cook until sauce has thicken. Adjust seasonings to taste and stir until sauce turns smooth. Add in egg white and stir with a fork to form thin strands. Remove from heat.
5. Cut rolls into slices and serve with dipping sauce.
Printable Recipe

Sweet Soup with Lotus Seeds, Dates, & Longans

This is a specialty dish of the Straits-Born Chinese (Peranakan) to serve on any auspicious event, such as wedding or Chinese New Year. It is served as a dessert to the newly married couple for prosperity and good luck.
Ingredients:
½ cup dried longans, rinsed and drained
½ cup dried lotus seeds, rinsed and drained
¼ cup dried red dates, seeds removed
¼ cup light brown sugar (per taste)
1 piece pandan leaf
4 cups water
Method:
1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the dried fruits, pandan leaf and sugar and bring to a simmer after a fast boil. Cook until the dried fruits has swell and double in size, but not too soft. Serve warm in individual bowls.
Printable Recipe

June 9, 2010

Tri-Colored Vegetable Terrine

This is a light and flavorful appetizer that is wonderful to serve on any occasion.
Ingredients:
2 cups tomato juice
1 large red pepper, quartered, cored and seeds removed
1 large yellow pepper, quartered, cored and seeds removed
1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise
3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup raisins
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. powdered gelatin
5 Tbsp. olive oil
Method:
1. Broil red and yellow peppers until skins are slighty blackened. Remove and set aside.
2. Arrange eggplant and zuchinni slices on a baking tray. Brush them with a little oil on both sides and cook under the broiler until tender and golden.
3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan and add onion, raisins and vinegar. Stir and cook gently until onions are soft and raisins has absorbed most of the juices. Remove and let mixture cool.
4. Brush inside of terrrine (or a glass loaf pan) lightly with some oil. Line with plastic wrap and leave a little of wrap hanging over the sides of the terrine.
5. In a saucepan over low heat, add tomato juice and gelatine. Stir to dissolve and remove from heat.
6. Place a layer of peppers in the bottom of the terrine and pour some tomato juice over to cover. Arrange the terrine with a layer of eggplant, zucchini, tomato and raisins mixture, and peppers. Pour a layer of tomato/gelatine mixture after each layer of vegetables. Add the remaining gelatine mixture on top and give the terrine a sharp tap on the table to help settle the juice and compact the vegetables. Cover the terrine and chill well to set.
7. Turn out the terrine, remove the plastic wrap. Cut into thick slices and drizzled with a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing.
Printable Recipe

June 4, 2010

Cassoulet

I had this wonderful dish on my birthday and it was simply divine! Cassoulet is a classic French dish originated from the south of France. It is a hearty stew or casserole of various types of meats and beans slowly cooked with a crust on top. You can easily use other meats, such as pork, turkey or goose as an alternative.
Ingredients:
3 cups dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
1 lb salted pork, soaked overnight
3 duck breasts, turkey or pork (quartered)
1 fennel, cut in small chunks
2 medium sized onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
½ tsp. ground cloves
3 Tbsps. tomato paste
6 sausages (low sodium), cut into pieces
5 tomatoes, skin removed, and quartered
½ cup dried bread crumbs
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
sea salt and pepper to taste
Method:
1 Preheat oven to 375°F. Drain the beans and put into a large saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a fast boil for about 15 minutes. Remove beans from heat, drain and set aside. Cut salted pork and remove the rind and excess fat.
2. Heat some oil in a frying pan and browned salted pork. In a large saucepan, add beans, onions, garlic, bay leaves, ground cloves, and tomato paste. Add in salted pork and enough water to cover the beans and meat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer for about 1 hour, or until beans are tender.
3. In the same pan, heat some oil and brown the meat and sausages until browned. Remove and set aside. Reheat frying pan and add in bread crumbs and cook until pale golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in chopped parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside for later.
7. Add the bean mixture to a large casserole or ovenproof dish. Arrange the meat, sausages, fennel, and tomatoes evenly with the bean mixture. Season to taste with pepper and salt. Sprinkle the browned bread crumbs on top and bake in the center of the oven, uncovered for about an hour. Remove bay leaf before serving.
Printable Recipe

June 3, 2010

Mixed Salad with Edible Flowers

Nasturtiums, pancies, and marigolds are all edible flowers. It is great served with other greens, such as arugula, or frisée lettuce tossed with a simple dressing.
Ingredients:
1 small bunch frisée lettuce
4 ozs arugula
fresh tarragon sprigs
fresh chives
½ cup freshly picked flowers (nasturtiums or marigolds)
Dressing:
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. red wine winegar
½ tsp. French Dijon mustard
1 tsp. garlic, minced
pinch of sugar or ½ tsp. honey
Method:
1. Wash and drained salad greens and flowers. Toss it in a large mixing bowl. In a another bowl mix all the ingredients for the dressing and serve it on the side with the salad.