November 6, 2011

Apple and Raisins Scones

Autumn is apple season! A friend who knows that I love apples shared this recipe with me. It is great  served plain or with jam or crème fraîche. I am making this for a tea party and it isn't complete without a serving of scones. Enjoy with a freshly brewed cup of tea---how delightful!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced finely
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup sugar
¼ cup of raisins
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon granulated brown sugar
Crème fraîche, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a baking tray.
2. Sift flour and baking powder together into a large mixing bowl. Place the butter into the middle, cut butter into flour with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
3. Stir in the diced apples, nutmeg, sugar and raisins. Mix in the beaten egg until it forms into a dough. If mixture appears too soft, stir in another ¼ cup of flour (approximately) until dough reaches desired consistency.
4. Dust some flour on a wooden surface and gently roll dough into a round shaped disk. Cut into equal sized triangles (like a pizza). Lay each slice onto the baking sheet, sprinkle brown sugar on top of scones.
5. Bake in oven for about 20-30 minutes until risen and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve plain or with crème fraîche.
Tips: You can cut the dough into rounds using a cookie cutter.
Printable Recipe

Apple and Cheese Open Face Sandwich

Hello everyone, and a big welcome to fall--a season for apples! This recipe is simple and easy to prepare. I used plain Boursin cheese for the spread. Boursin is an authentic brand of Gournay cheese. It is a soft creamy cheese available in a variety of flavors in your local supermarkets. Use any soft cream cheese if you are unable to find this particular brand.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into thin slices
Juice of one small lemon
4 slices of walnut or raisin bread
¼ cup plain Boursin cheese, room temperature
1. Soak apple slices with lemon juice for 1 minute. Remove and lay between paper towels.
2. Remove crusts of from bread and cut into 3 bite-sized pieces. Spread a layer of cheese on top of bread slices. Lay apple slices on top of cheese.
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November 5, 2011

Walnut Chicken Tea Sandwich

Another delicious tea sandwich recipe that I would like to share with you. You can use any leftover roasted chicken instead of canned ones. Enjoy!
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 piece of organic chicken breast (or 1 can chicken breast, drained well)
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup walnuts, chopped finely
2 Tbsp. chopped raisins
salt and pepper to taste
8 slices quality whole wheat or nut bread
Herbed butter:
1 stick soft unsalted butter
2 tsp. minced fresh herbs of your choice (parsley, dill, chives, or chervil)
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
Herbed Butter: Place butter, and the rest of the ingredients into the bowl. Mix and blend well with a wooden spoon until smooth. (I used a hand held electric mixer). Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Walnut Chicken: Season chicken breast with some salt and pepper. Heat some oil in frying pan, cooked until brown on both sides. Drain and chopped finely. In a bowl, mix together mayonnaise and chopped chicken meat. Next, stir in walnuts and raisins to the mixture.
How to assemble:
1. Spread each 8 slices of bread with a layer of the herbed butter. Top each slice of bread with the chicken mixture. Cover with the remaining 4 slices of buttered bread.
2. Using a sharp knife cut off the crusts and into 4 equal bite-sized pieces.
Printable Recipe

Cucumber Tea Sandwich

Last week I bought a 22-piece English china tea set for $20. Even though a number of the pieces were missing it was quite a bargain. This will be perfect for a small afternoon tea party that I've been planning for awhile. Afternoon tea, is a light meal served between lunch and dinner, usually between 2pm and 5pm. A variety of teas are served with delicate sandwiches, baked cakes, scones, with jam and spread. I am planning to serve three kinds of sandwiches: chicken walnut; apple open faced, baked scones, and Panna Cotta with fruits. For starters, I shall start off with this popular recipe.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 English cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly
1 Tbsp. soft unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. cream cheese
½ loaf of quality white or whole wheat bread
a handful of dried dill (McCormick, It's a Dilly is best)
salt to taste
1. Using a fork, scored lines along the cucumber before slicing. Place cucumber slices between layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture.
2. In a small bowl, combine butter and cream cheese to a smooth mixture. Spread on one slice of the bread. Lay slices cucumber onto the buttered bread. Lightly sprinkle the cucumbers with salt and dill. Next cover the top with the other buttered side down. Do the same with the rest of the bread.
3. With a sharp knife cut off the crusts from each sandwich. Cut in half diagonally and then cut again in halves. You can cut into decorative shapes with cookie cutters.
4. Serve immediately.
Tips: I find that freezing the bread ahead of time makes it easier for handling.
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October 23, 2011

Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries

This is a traditional and simple Italian custard that is light and easy to prepare. You can make it ahead of time and serve it with fresh berries. I served mine with homemade mixed berries sauce flavored with a dash of raspberry wine. Yummy!

Ingredients: (Adapted from Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts)
1 quart half (4 cups) half and half (or heavy cream)
1/3 cup sugar (½ for sweeter)
1 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
6 Tbsp. iced cold water
2 envelopes gelatin (4 ½ tsp)
8 custard or ramekins (lightly oiled with vegetable oil)
1. Add sugar and cream in a saucepan and cook over medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and add the vanilla extract (paste).\
2. Sprinkle gelatin over the cold water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes.
3. Pour the warm milk mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Spoon and divide the into ramekins. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours until firm.
4. To serve: run a small knife around the edge of custard and unmold onto serving plate and garnish as desired.
Tips: Another alternative idea is to pour Panna Cotta mixture into dainty teacups or fluted wine glasses. This allows you to serve them in glasses without unmolding. You can add color to the mixture before pouring it into molds. Decorate with fruits.
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October 9, 2011

Root Cellar Soup with Smoked Ham

Fall is nearly here and this reminds me of Halloween, the spooky month of October. The neighbors had already started with the Halloween decorations of scary ghouls, spiders, and carved pumpkins. It also means that it's time to put away the summer clothing’s and think about warm hearty soups. This brings to mind a soup that is my family’s favorite. It is made with root vegetables: turnips, carrots, leeks, onions, and rutabagas. I've added another root vegetable, rutabaga. If you like turnips you'll love rutabagas is it has a mild bitterness that is balanced with a sweet earthiness. Hope this coming fall brings you much warm and a season of joy.
Ingredients: (adapted from Bon Appetit, Dec-94 issue)
¼ lb smoked ham, cut into small cubes
½ stick butter (¼ cup)
3 chopped leeks (use white and pale green parts only)
½ white onion, chopped
3 medium sized turnips (peeled and chopped)
1 rutabaga (peeled and chopped)
5-6 cups low-salt chicken broth
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ tsp. dried)
1. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped ham and saute until it beginning to brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drained off any excess fat into a bowl.
2. Add carrots, leek, onion, thyme and bay leaf and stir until onion and leeks are translucent. Add in broth, turnips and rutabaga and bring to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender about 30-35 minutes.
3. Remove bay leaves, and thyme if using fresh ones. Puree soup in small batches in a blender when it is cool enough to handle. Stir in the ham. (Soup can be made a day ahead and chill in the refrigerator)
4. Bring soup to a simmer, thinning with more broth if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into warmed tureen or bowls and serve with toast or freshly made bread.
Printable Recipe

September 24, 2011

Lemon Chiffon Pie with Cookie Crust

This is a light dessert of soft and silky lemon mousse filling in gingersnap cookie crust. A very nice pie for any occasion--what's great it's simple enough to prepare.
Ingredients: (adapted from, I cut back on the sugar)
1½ cups gingersnap cookie (about 25 cookies, finely ground in food processor)
2 Tbsp. sugar (instead of 2 tbsp.)
5 Tbsp. unsalted melted butter
9-inch glass pie dish (as it heat evenly)
2 cups ice cubes
¼ cup water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
¾ cup sugar (instead of ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp.)
¾ cup freshly sqeezed lemon juice, strained
4 large egg yolks
2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
a pinch of salt
1¼ cups whipping cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix cookie crumbs, sugar together. Add in the melted butter and stir until mixture is evenly moistened.  Transfer crumb mixture to pie dish and press firmly with fingers the crumb mixture to the bottom and sides of dish. Bake in the center of overn until crust is firm and turn a darker color--about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool crust completely (you can make this ahead of time)
2. In medium sized bowl, pour enough water to fill halfway up sides; add in ice cubes. In another small bowl, add ¼ cup of water and sprinkle gelatin over. Let this stand until gelatin softens.
3. Whisk sugar, lemon juices, egg yolks, grated lemon peepl and salt in a saucepan to mix completely over medium low heat. Stir until mixture has thickens slightly or until the mixture coat surface of spoon. The mixture should not curd, when test with thermometer it should registers 160°F. Add gelatin and continue whisking until gelatin dissolves and mixture is smooth and silky. Remove from heat and place saucepan in bowl of ice water, until the filling is cool enough to touch. Continue whisking for another 5-8 minutes.
4. When mixture is cool enough, transfer lemon filling to a large bowl. Beat whipping cream and powder sugar with an electric beater in another bowl. Beat until peaks form and firm. Gently fold in a small portion of the whipped cream into the lemon filling until incorporated. Fold in the remaining cream in three additions.
5. Transfer filling to cooled down crust, moulding the mixture in the center. Keep pie refrigerated until filling is set about 4-5 hour.
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September 10, 2011


Bouillabaisse is a French seafood stew made with various kinds of cooked fish, shellfish and vegetables. It is flavored with different herbs and spices, and is served with crusty bread. I served mine with lightly fried polenta and basil. You can use any types of non-oily and firm-flesh fish for this wonderful stew.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
2-3 lbs fresh fish
1 lb clams
1 lb mussels, rinse well
½ lb large prawns, shelled with tail intact
½ lb calamari (cut into bite-sized)
5 ripe tomatoes, skinned removed and chopped
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 large red onions, chopped
1 bunch of bouquet garni (sage, bay leaf, thyme)
1 fennel, sliced thinly (leave the stems for soup base)
¼ cup olive oil
6-8 pistils of saffron
½ tsp. orange peel
1 crusty bread, sliced and toasted
a dash of Cayenne pepper (optional)
a handful of parsley, chopped for garnishing
pepper and sea salt
2 cups fish or chicken stock
2 Tbsp. white wine (optional)
1. Clean and scaled the fish and rinse well. Fillet the fish and cut into large slices, leaving the bones and heads for stock.
2. In a large pot add some oil and fry half of the onions and garlic until fragrant and soft. Add the fish trimmings, bay leaf, some parsley, and fennel stems. Fry for about 5 minutes until the bones are lightly brown. Pour this mixture into a muslin bag and secure with strings. Return it to the pot and add the stock. Simmer on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
3. Remove stock to cool enough to handle. Squeeze and press the muslin bag to obtain as much of the fish juices as possible into a bowl. Strain the rest of the stock in the pot. Remove the excess fish mixture in the muslin bag.
4. In the same pot, add remaining oil and heat over medium heat. Add the leftover onions and garlic and fry until soft and fragrant. Add the fennel and tomatoes and fry for another 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through. Add in the fish stock, orange peel, Cayenne pepper (if used) and bring to a boil.
5. Add the pieces of fish, cuttlefish and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and the rest of the shellfish. for about 10 minutes. Add saffron strands and season with salt and pepper and wine (if used). Cook for another 5 minutes.
6. Serve warm with slices of crusty bread  pepper. Add clam juice, lemon juice, and white wine. Bring to a simmer again and cook about 5 minutes longer. Remove and serve with toasted bread.
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September 1, 2011

Baked Egg Custard

This recipe is one of my family's favorite dessert. It is nutritious and easy to prepare. I am glad my daughter asked me for the recipe, which reminds me that I don't have a post for it. So here it is, enjoy this comfort dessert using the simple ingredients of eggs and milk.
4 large eggs
½ cup sugar (¾ cup for sweeter)
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups milk, (scalded and allow to cool)
4 custard bowls
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. In a large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla extract together. Beat well to mix and blend in the scalded milk.
3. Pour into custard bowls and set it in a larger and deep pan or baking tray. Fill with water until it comes up halfway to the custard bowls. Sprinkle top with nutmeg.
4. Bake in the center of the oven and reduce temperature to 350­°F. Continue to bake for about 35-40 minutes until a clean skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on rack.
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August 21, 2011

Ginger Candied Kumquats

A restaurant friend gave me a bag of freshly picked kumquats in exchange for some of my homegrown Kaffir lime leaves. Kumquats are small citrus fruits that look like miniature oranges. You can eat it whole with the skin and it has a tart and bittersweet flavor. It is popular to the Chinese as the word, Kumquat in Cantonese means, "golden orange", as it is a symbol of prosperity and is popular during the Chinese New Year to give as gift or displayed around the house. It is great as a spread on toast--it's marmalade with a nice twist!
1 lb kumquats
1-inch fresh ginger, minced (or 1 tsp. ground ginger)
1 cup water
1½ cups sugar
a pinch of salt
1. Wash and dry the fruits well. Using a small knife cut into halves and remove seeds with the tip of knife or toothpick.
2. In a heavy saucepan, add water and sugar and bring to boil to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the ginger, salt followed by the kumquats. Let this cook for another 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low to simmer. Let this cook uncovered until the liquid has reduce down until it barely covers the fruit, and the fruit is covered with the sugar syrup.
3. Remove from heat and transfer fruit and syrup into tightly sealed glass jar and store in the refrigerator. They are ready to serve with your favorite toppings on dessert.
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August 19, 2011

Fragrant Claypot Chicken Rice

This is a simple rice dish to make if you want something quick and nutritious--all it takes is a rice cooker! This dish reminds me of the famous Kampar claypot chicken rice in Kuala Lumpur. It is cooked in small earthen claypots. The other specialty to this dish is the crispy fried salted fish served on top of the rice.

1 measuring cup of rice, washed and drained
5 chicken thigh meat, cut into pieces
10 dried Shitake mushrooms, presoaked
¾ cup chicken stock, or water
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
3 small shallots, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
some fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. Chinese wine
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. soy paste
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
½ tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. cornstarch
1. Marinade chicken with wine and pepper in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix the marinade ingredients and set aside.
2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and fry the ginger, shallots and garlic until fragrant and lightly brown. Lower heat to medium and add in drained rice and fry until the rice is fragrant and has absorbed most of the oil. Pour rice mixture into the rice cooker.
3. Replace pan to stove and add remaining oil and fry the mushroom for about 5-8 minutes, add in the chicken and stir to mix with the mushrooms and fry over medium heat for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the marinade sauce and mix well to coat chicken pieces completely.
4. Arrange chicken mixture on top of rice and pour in the chicken stock or water. Turn on the rice cooker to cook the rice and chicken, about 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with fresh cilantro and chilli sauce.

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August 13, 2011

Mango Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This is my 200th post since I’ve started this blog two years ago. To celebrate the occasion, I made this dish. This appetizer is a savory and refreshing dish found in most Chinese restaurants. It also makes a wonderful light main course as the lettuce is cool and crisp--great for a delicious hands-on summer fare! It takes very little time to prepare and it is perfect for any occasion. This is my version of it, hope you like it.
4 pieces of chicken thigh meat, cut into small pieces
1 can (8oz) whole Chinese water chestnut, chopped
1 medium mango (ones from Mexico are yellow skin and crunchy)
small bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 head of butter lettuce or iceberg (washed and drained dry)
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. oil
2 tsp. minced ginger
2 tsp. Hoisin sauce
1 tsp. Sesame seed paste
1 tsp. cumin powder
1½ tsp. cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste
black and white sesame seeds
hoisin sauce
1. Mix marinade in a bowl and season chicken, leave in the fridge for an hour. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add in minced shallots and fry until it is translucent, stir in the marinated meat and fry over medium heat until meat is not longer red and cooked.
2. Add in the chopped mangoes and water chestnuts and give it a good stir. Cook further for another 10 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. To serve, lightly spread hoisin sauce on a piece of lettuce and mound a spoonful of the chicken in the center. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
Cook's Tip: Substitute water chestnut with jicama if not available.
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August 8, 2011

Legendary Engagement Roast Chicken

One afternoon, I met an old friend from my meet-up group at our local cafe. Over a cup of coffee, we got to catch up with what's going on in one another's lives and sharing cooking ideas and recipes. She was sharing some of her secrets about how to roast a perfect and moist chicken. A lady in the next table overheard our discussion and told us this amazing story about the legendary Engagement Chicken. It is a home-roasted chicken dish, which appear to cause boyfriends to propose marriage. The recipe was developed by Kim Bonnell, a fashion editor at Glamour Magazine. In 1982, Bonnell gave the recipe to her co-worker, Kathy Suder to prepare for her boyfriend and soon afterwards, the couple was engaged. The recipe made the rounds in the office and soon three other women in the office were offered marriage proposals soon after making the dish for their boyfriends (Excerpt from Wikipedia) 
Wow! This must be a magical and charming dish to present to your future suitor. First come chicken, then comes a marriage proposal--how cool is that! Well, our mother's was right---the way to a man's heart is really through his stomach. I am sure this is only true for some people.
1 fresh organic chicken, (5 lbs)
3 fresh lemons, cut into wedges
2 onions, sliced in into thick chunks
2-3 pre-cooked small red potatoes, quartered
1 whole garlic, cut into halves (skin intact)
some fresh rosemary and thyme
¼ cup olive oil
1-2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp. dry white wine
1 cup good quality chicken stock
Roasting pan
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Pat chicken dry chicken with paper towel (this will give a crisp skin when roasting). Rub the cavity with salt and pepper, and add four lemon wedges, fresh herbs, and garlic into the chicken cavity.
2. Tie the legs with strings and tuck in both the wings. Pour half of the olive oil over the chicken, rub all over with salt and sprinkle pepper on the surface.
3. In a separate bowl, add the leftover lemons, onions, potatoes. Toss well with the rest of the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange this mixture around the roasting pan. Bake in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes. Test for doneness with thermometer (190°F) or when juice runs clear when cut between the leg and a thigh. Remove the cooked chicken onto a serving platter, cover with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
4. Return the roasting pan on top of the stove over medium heat. Pour in the wine and scrape with a spoon to remove any browning on the bottom of the pan. Add the stock and flour, stirring to mix the flour with the liquid until the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce into a gravy saucer and add any juices that collect under the chicken. Remove the herbs from the cavity and carve the chicken onto a platter and serve with the onions, and lemons on the side.
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August 7, 2011

Steamed Fuzzy Melon, Dried Scallops with White Sauce

My dear friend, Wendy brought me a lovely gift box of Chinese dried scallops from Hong Kong. Dried scallop is a type of dried seafood product made from the adductor muscle of scallops. It is rich in calcium and minerals, and it is used in Chinese cuisine for soups, congee, or braised with other meats and vegetables. This is one of my favorite dish using dried scallops and fuzzy melon. Fuzzy melon or "mo qua" is a sweet and mild squash that has a fuzzy feel on the surface.

1 fuzzy melon, scrape skin lightly with spoon
6 whole dried scallops, soak for at least an hour
1 egg white, lightly beaten
¼ cup chicken stock
1 tsp. cornstarch, mix with a little water
Steaming tray
1. Cut fuzzy melon into 1¼-inch thickness across in rounds. Use a teaspoon and gently scoop the surface in the middle to remove the seeds. It should be deep enough for the whole scallops to sit on top.
2. Heat a steamer rack with water to a rolling boil. Remove the dried scallops and place in a bowl and place in the steaming tray. Do the same with the melon rounds. Steam for 20-25 minutes to cook the dried scallops and melons. Remove and set aside.
3. Arrange the cooked melon on the dish and place each rounds with a cooked scallop.
3. Heat a frying pan with a teaspoon of oil over medium heat. Add the cornstarch and enough chicken stock to make a white sauce. Bring to a light boil and stir in the egg white and cook for 1 minute. Remove and spoon sauce over melon. Serve immediately with rice.
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August 5, 2011

Mee Rebus

Mee Rebus is a Malay-Indian (Mamak) style noodle with a spicy potato-based gravy. It is another popular hawker's delight in Malaysia. The term, "Mamak", is an expression used in Malaysia to describe the Indian Tamil Muslim community and culture.

Ingredients: (serve 4-6)
500 gm fresh yellow noodles, blanched (substitute for spaghetti if not available)
1 lb prawns, shelled (keep the shells for stock)
Curry spice: (grind together)
1 medium red onion, chopped
1-inch piece of ginger
2-inch piece of galanger (or 2 tsp. galangal powder)
5 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. coriander powder
1-2 Tbsp. chili powder (adjust to your taste)
2 tsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. turmeric powder
3 sprigs Indian curry leaves
1 Tbsp. tamarind paste (or Sinigang tamarind mix powder)
salt and sugar to taste
4 Tbsp. oil
2 medium sized sweet potatoes (peeled, boiled and mashed)
6 cups prawn stock (made by boiling unshelled prawns)
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 cup coconut milk
1 stalk lemon grass, cut in halves
Bean sprouts, scalded
4 eggs, hard boiled and sliced
2 small potatoes, boiled with skin on and quartered)
Fried tofu, fried and sliced
Spring onions, chopped
3 lemon or limes, sliced
20 shallots, sliced and deep fried
2 red chillies, sliced
1. In a saucepan, heat a tablespoon of oil and cook shelled prawns. Remove and slice into halves when cool enough to handle. Return pan to the stove and add another tablespoon of oil and fry prawn shells until fragrant. Add in 6 cups of water and simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Remove stock and set aside for later.
2. Heat a tablespoon oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir fry the curry ingredients, curry leaves, and lemon grass until fragrant about 10-15 minutes.
3. Drain prawn stock into a larger pot and bring to a boil. Add in the curry paste, mashed potatoes, tomato sauce, tamarind paste, and coconut milk. Stir well to mix. Lower heat to simmer on low for another 15 minutes until gravy is smooth without lumps. Add a little more water or chicken stock if it is too thick, but not too much. Season to taste with with salt and a pinch of sugar. (The taste is should be spicy and lightly sour)
4. To serve, place blanched noodles and bean sprouts into individual bowls. Pour hot gravy on top and garnish with tofu, eggs, potatoes, and lime. Note: Serve with sambal chili on the side for added spiciness.
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Turmeric Chicken

Tumeric or kunyit is a rhizome that is much favored for its healing properties. It is a native plant found in tropical areas in South Asia and only the root and leaf are used as a spice in curries and other Middle Eastern cuisine. The root has a deep-orange yellow color and is often sold fresh or in powdered form. Sometimes, you can use as an alternative to saffron spice, which is an expensive spice.
When I was pregnant with my son, an older Indian neighbor gave me this recipe. It is believed that a mother after giving birth is significantly weak during the labor process where a great deal of blood is lost. Thus, besides having to eat nourishing foods, rest is crucial to a speedy and healthy recovery for the mother. Hence, this is one of the recipes that she recommends and to this day, I sometimes cook it as a regular dish.
Ingredients: (serve 2)
4-5 pieces of skinless chicken thigh meat (or 1 small organic chicken)
10 shallots, peeled
4-5 stalks lemon grass, cut into 2-inch
8 fresh turmeric or 2 Tbsp. tumeric powder
10 peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp. sugar
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking
1. Cut chicken into serving portions and wipe dry with paper towels. Season with some salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Pound or blend lemon grass, shallots, and peppercorns into a fine paste. Add sugar and season chicken pieces. Wrap in plastic paper and leave it in the refrigerator for about 4-6 hours or overnight.
3. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry on both sides until crispy and cooked inside. You can also grill or bake in the oven if you prefer.
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August 1, 2011

Stir Fried Bitter Melons with Prawns

Occasionaly, I have craving for bitter melons or bitter gourds in English. I must admit, bitter melons are not for culinary cowards as not everyone will have a palate for it. Most people are put off by the name and those who have tried it probably find it to be quite unpleasant. If it is cooked right it is quite delicious as it is a matter of acquired taste. Speaking of tastes, bitterness is one of the five basic tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, and salty). In fact, bitter melon is a fruit and not a vegetable, and is perhaps the most bitter of all Asian vegetables. It is an oblong shape, with a light to medium green in color. The surface has irregular ridges and bumps that looks like warts. It is commonly cooked with beef or chicken, with strongly flavored ingredients such as black bean sauce, and other spices to neutralize the bitterness. Surprisingly, the bitterness does not impart on other ingredients, but rather give it a savory after-taste. My mother used to make a soup with meat as she believed to cleanse the blood and help lower cholesterol. Go ahead, and try this unusual healthy food---you might just like it!
1 medium sized bitter melon
¼ lb medium prawns
2 tsp. black bean sauce paste
2 tsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp cornstarch mixed with a little water
1 tsp salt
pinch of sugar
1. Cut bitter melon in half and use a spoon to remove the seeds and white rind in the middle. Slice into ¼-inch thick. Put in a bowl and rub the bitter melons with the salt. Le it sit for about 5-8 minutes. Gently squeeze the salt out and rinse off with water. Drained well.
2. Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add in the bitter melon and fry for about 8-10 minutes. Remove to a plate, return pan and heat 1 teaspoon of oil and fry the garlic, followed by the prawns.
3. When the prawns are almost cooked, stir in the sauces and bitter melons, continue to fry until the sauce has incorporate with the prawns and bitter melons. Season and adjust seasonings to your taste. Add in the cornstarch mixture to thicken. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 5-8 minutes (add some more liquid if you like more sauce).
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July 21, 2011

Minty Lemon-Lime Basil Sorbet

Ever since we bought an ice-cream maker, we've been making our own ice-cream and trying out new recipes. Whenever I passed by the ice-cream freezer in the grocery stores, John probably heard the same phrase, "Why don't they make ice-cream with less sugar". So, last week, he made a bitter sweet chocolate with just the right amount of sweetness and it was great!
The other day, a friend brought over a grocery bag of freshly picked lemons and some Key limes. Key lime is a smaller fruit and has a higher acidity. It has a distinctive aroma and flavor compared to other limes. The name comes from its association with the Florida Keys, where it is best known as a flavoring ingredient in Key lime pie. Today, being my day off work, I've decided to combine these two citrus fruits with basil and mint from the garden. I love the cool and refreshing taste of these two herbs! How wonderful to have the simple things in life!
2 cups sugar
2½ cup water
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
1½-2 cups packed fresh basil
1 bunch of fresh mint, rinsed
2½ cups lemon juice (3 cups if not using Key limes)
½ cup Key lime juice
a pinch of salt
1. Add water, sugar and half of the lemon zest to a saucepan and heat over medium fire until sugar has fully dissolved. Remove from heat.
2. Add in the herbs and salt. Cover and let mixture steep for half an hour. Add in the lemon juices, cover and refrigerated for at least 3 hours or overnight (the mixture has to be well-chilled)
3.Strain chilled mixture through a strainer. Turn on the ice-cream maker (per instructions), pour the mixture into the freezer bowl and let it mix until thickened, about 15-25 minutes. When the sorbet is almost done, add the leftover lemon zest and let it churn to combine. Transfer the sorbet into airtight container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours. Remove from freezer for about 15 minutes before serving.
Cook's Tip: Save the lemons halves and freezed them to make pretty containers for the sorbet.
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July 10, 2011

Mango Sorbet

Yesterday we have been driving to several stores looking for a decent ice-cream maker. We finally found one and it is an automatic frozen yogurt-ice cream & sorbet maker.  I remembered making ice cream the old-fashioned way with the bucket-style ice cream maker, where you had to keep adding ice cubes and rock salt to keep it well chilled. Adding salt to the water causes the temperature to drop and slows the melting process and therefore, increases the freezing rate. With this new gadget, I am inspired to make our own ice-cream! For starters, I’ll try this recipe using ripe Philippines. I prefer these mangoes over the ones imported from Mexican as they have a sweeter and smooth texture. I hope you enjoy this yummy treat.

3-4 firm and ripe mangos
½ cup sugar (use ¾ if you like it sweeter)
½ cup water
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
1. In a small saucepan add lemon zest, sugar, and water and heat over medium to melt the sugar. Remove and set aside to cool.
2. Peel, remove seeds and cut mangoes into cubes. Puree the mangoes in a food processor, slowly adding the syrup water and puree until smooth. Pour mixture into a container and chill in the refrigerator.
3. Pour the ingredients into the pre-freeze ice-cream container (per instructions on the booklet). When ready, pour sorbet into an airtight container and freeze.
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July 2, 2011

Steamed Egg with Fish Paste

Beside rice, egg is another practical ingredient in most Chinese household. Whenever we have an extra guest for dinner, we'd fried some eggs to add to the meal. This is another of my favorite dish that my mother used to make for us. She would prepare this quite often for us whenever a particular fish (ikan kurau) is in season to make fish paste. She would filet the fish and then minced the flesh on a wooden chopping board until the paste is smooth and bouncy to touch. This dish is easy enough to make nowadays, as fish paste is readily available in Asian supermarkets.
2 eggs, beaten
½ lb fish paste
1 stalk spring onions, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying
1. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Heat a shallow pan with some oil, and make 2 thin omelettes and cooked on both sides. Remove and set aside to cool.
2. In a bowl, mix fish paste with spring onions, and season with salt and pepper. Spread paste evenly on cooked omelettes and roll up to form a log.
3. Bring a steamer with water to a boil and steam and cook fish rolls for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool before slicing. Serve with rice and chilli sauce.
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June 30, 2011

Seafood Noodle Soup with Pickled Sour Mustard

This is one of my favorite dish to make whenever I have the craving for something sour and appetizing.
4-5 calamari, sliced
1 piece fish fillet, sliced
Rice vermicelli noodles, pre-soaked in water
1 piece 2-inch ginger, julliened
1 package pickled sour mustard
3-4 cups chicken broth
1 stalk spring onions, chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
1-2 Tbsp. tamarind powder (Sinigang)
1. Rinse the sour mustard greens well and squeezed off excess water. In a frying pan heat some oil and fry it with some ginger until fragrant for about 8-10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook vermicelli according to package instruction. Drain and set aside.
3. Heat chicken broth with rest of ginger and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes, spring onions and tamarind powder. Season to according to your taste. Bring the soup to a fast boil again and add in the fish and cuttlefish to cook.
4. To serve, add noodles into individual bowls and scoop hot broth along with vegetables and seafood on top. Serve warm.
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June 26, 2011

Baked Apple Tarte Normande

Tarte Normande is unique of Normandy due to the prolific of apples in that area in the region in France. The tart is made with a sweet crust with thinly sliced applies on top. For an impressive and dramatic touch to the tart, you can flambé with brandy before serving.
5-6 apples (golden delicous or any tart variety)
2 ozs sugar
4 ozs unsalted butter (softened)
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. brandy
½ tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. flour
4-5 small cubes of butter
3 oz brandy for flambé (optional)
10½ oz all purpose flour
4½ oz sugar
4½ oz unsalted butter, softened
2 medium eggs
1. Make the pastry by mixing the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon. Add eggs and mix together with your fingertips, followed by flour and mix until the dough is a smooth dough. Wrap dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes until dough is firm enough to handle.
2. In a bowl, mix the sugar with all the dry spices. Peel and cored the apples and sliced thinly. Add to a bowl with lemon juice to prevent it from turning brown.
3. Chop 1/3 of the apples into small cubes and cook them down into a compote in a heavy saucepan with softened butter, half of the spiced sugar, vanilla and brandy. Cook over medium heat and stir to mix with the apples. Reduce heat to simmer for about 30 minutes until apples have softened and fragrant. Remove from heat to cool. Add a tsp. of flour to apple mixture.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough and press to tart pan. Pour compote to the bottom of pan and arrange sliced apples in a rosette. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar evenly on top of apples. Dot top with butter.
5. Bake in oven for about 40 minutes until apples and crust are golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
6. Serve with whipped cream or ice-cream if you want it simple or flambé. Tips on how to flambé
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June 5, 2011

Pork Nuggets in Fragrant Sauce

I love to serve this appetizing dish with its spicy and piquant sauce. The pork are deep fried to a crispy brown golden color and serve with the sauce.
½ lb pork tenderlion or pork shoulder
2 shallots, chopped
some cornstarch, mixed with water
¾ cup all-purpose flour
Oil for frying
¾ cup good quality black vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. brown sugar (3 if maltose sugar not available)
1 Tbsp. maltose sugar (optional)
¾ cup water
¼ cup Chinese hua diao wine
2 tsp. butter
1 tsp. Dijon or English mustard
2 tsp. light soy sauce
2 tsp. oyster sauce
1 egg
1 tsp. rice vinegar
some constarch, mixed with a little water
1. Wash meat and pat dry. Cut meat into bite-size cubes and put into a bowl. Mix the marinade ingredients and add to meat to season for at least half an hour.
2. Gently heat sauce ingredients, except the wine in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until sugar dissolve and add some constarch to thicken. Season to taste according to your taste. When the sauce has thicken slightly add wine and stir for another minute. Remove and set aside.
3. Heat enough oil in a deep pan for frying. Coat a few pieces of meat in the flour, shaking off excess flour. When oil is hot and sizzling, drop meat carefully into the hot oil. Fry until meat turns golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat the same with the rest of the meat.
4. In another clean pan, some oil and fry shallots until soft and fragrant. Add in the sauce, followed with fried pork. Thicken with cornstarch mixture if needed and stir-fry briefly.
5. Remove and transfer to plate, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.
Cook's Tip: When deep frying, the oil should cover ingredients and oil should be heat in high temperature (190°C/375°F). When adding ingredients to the oil, be sure to use a long chopstick or tong and gently add along the pan or wok side. Do not overcrowd when deep frying.
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