July 16, 2010

Papaya Soup

Papaya has Papain, an enzyme that seems to increase lactation in post-natal mothers, as it helps speed up chemical reaction to the body. The fruit is also rich in Vitamin C, A, and potassium and it is abundant in green unripe fruits. Someone told me that tough cuts of meat can be tenderized by wrapping with papaya leaves as it break down the fibers in protein. Papayas when eaten as a fruit is soothing and has a cooling effect to the stomach as it helps digestion and is great after a heavy meal. This soup is inspired by a dear friend who is breastfeeding her one-year old son, and she tells me about how my late mother used to prepare this soup for her. Don't get me wrong, this soup is not restricted for new mothers but also great for the entire family, young and old as it is nutritious and healthy. I substituted the white fungus for dried bean curd sticks this time. Enjoy!
1 medium green unripe papaya, peeled, seeds removed and cut into chunks
5-6 dried Chinese dates, rinsed
¼ cup dried peanuts, without skins
¼ cup dried white fungus (tremella), soaked with water
5 sticks dried beancurd sticks, soaked in water to soften (optional)
1½  lbs. lean pork
1½  lbs. pork bones
1 piece ginger
8 cups water
1. Wash meat and bones well and remove any fat. Fill a heavy deep pot with some water and pre-boiled the meat over high heat (doing this removes scum and impurities from the meat and bones). When it starts to foam on top, remove from heat and pour away the water. Give the meat a final rinse with warm water.
2. Return the pot back to the stove and add the 8 cups of water and the rest of the ingredients. Boil uncovered over high heat for about 30 minutes; close lid and simmer for another hour or so. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.
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July 11, 2010

Beef Porridge/Congee

Congee or porridge makes a wonderful meal for breakfast or a mid-day meal. It is easily digested and nutritious.The trick to a smooth congee is to presoak the rice overnight with some oil and salt.
1 cup rice, presoaked overnight with a few drops of oil and salt
½ lb beef steak, minced
1 piece ginger
8 cups beef or chicken stock
1 bunch cilantro, chopped coarsely
1 bunch scallion, chopped coarsely
salt and pepper to taste
1. Rinsed rice in running water and pour into a large pot. Add stock and ginger and bring to boil on high heat. Simmer on low and stir to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom. Continue to cook until liquid has reduce and rice is cooked through. Add more stock if you like a watery consistency.
2. Bring to boil on high and stir in beef to cook and add the herbs before serving. Season to taste and serve warm.
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July 10, 2010

Fresh Apricot Cobbler

Our apricot tree in the backyard has plenty of fruits this summer. It is nice to sit under the tree in the late afternoon to see the lovely fruits on its branch, ripening to a yellowish-orange color in the hot summer heat. The fragrant of the ripening fruits are already attracting the birds and bugs. Before they do, I picked a basketful to make this simple and delicious dessert with homemade crust.
4 cups sliced apricots (in quarters)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup milk
½ cup sugar
pinch of salt
½ cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. butter, cut in chunks
Clear casserole or baking dish (of desired size)
whipped cream or ice cream
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt and just 1 tablespoon of sugar. Make a hole in the center of the flour, add shortening. Using a pastry cutter, cut shortening until it resembles fine crumbs. Add milk to form a soft pasty dough. Set aside
2. Combine apricots, the rest of the sugar, butter, cinnamon, 3 tablespoon flour, and nutmeg in a bowl. Pour fruits into the dish and pat dough to cover the apricots. Lightly sprinkle some sugar and nutmeg on top. Using a skewer, poke a few holes into the mixture to allow steam to escape when baking.
3. Bake in 450°F for about 10-15 minutes; then reduce heat to 350°F and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream.
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Olive and Anchovies Tapenade

If you like anchovies, here's is a simple and easy tapenade to prepare for any occasion.
1 cup pitted green or black olives
4 pieces of anchovies, rinsed well and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. caper
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Juice of a fresh lime or lemon
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
1. Rinse olives well under running water and drain. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and pulse to a coarse paste. Scrape bowl with spatula to mix, season and adjust seasoning. Add enough olive oil to form a desired consistency. Serve with toasted bread or corn chips.
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July 9, 2010

Coconut Candy

This delicious candy reminds me of my high school days in BBGS (Bukit Bintang Girls' School) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We used to make these candies for the chool fun fair and each year they were a sellout! Each class was given an event to do and participation was mandatory. Weeks ahead, the selected class would busy themselves in making colorful baskets from paper cups, decorated with crepe paper. The fun part was cooking the candies and packing it into the baskets.
350 gm. grated fresh white coconut (or flaked dried coconut)
500 gm. sugar
150 gm. evaporated milk
40 gm. unsweetend butter
2 tsps. vanilla essence
1 tsp. rum (optional)
food coloring of your choice
greased flat square pan
1.In a heavy saucepan, add coconut, sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla essence and stir to combine over medium heat to dissolve sugar. Stir constanstly to prevent it from burning or sticking to the pan.
2.Add in butter, rum (if used), food coloring and stir until the sugar mixture thickens, about 30 minutes.
3.Pour mixture into a well-greased pan and press until the surface is flat and even. Place in a cool place to set.
4.Cut into squares when it is cool slightly and store in air tight containers.Leave the candy aside to set. Cut the candy into small squares when it is slightly cool.
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Sun-Dried Tomato and Artichoke Tapenade

Tapenade is typically a dish of puréed, or finely chopped olives and blended with olive oil to form a paste. It is often flavored with other ingredients to give it an interesting taste, such as garlic, sun dried tomatoes, anchovies, artichokes, and capers. It is great served with toasted bread, crackers, or corn chips and eaten as a hors d'œuvre!
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (sold in loose or package)
1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 tsp. capers
½ tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped finely
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
juice of a fresh lime or lemon
1 ¼ cups boiling water
1. Soak dried tomatoes with enough hot water in a bowl to soften for about 20 minutes. Drain and reserved half of the liquid. Chop coarsely and return to the bowl with the reserved liquid.
2. Add ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well combined, adding enough of the reserved water to form a desired consistency. Add in the chopped artichoke and pulse gently to mix. Scrape mixture and pour into serving jars or dish and serve with toasted bread, crackers, or chips.
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