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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Seafood Bisque Spaghetti

I have been storing my prawn shells and heads in the freezer each time I cook prawns when I deshell them. So I have accumulated about 2 ziplock bags full of them. So decided to take one bag out today to cook seafood bisque spaghetti for the first time as I also had cooking cream, canned tomato paste and fresh herbs lying in my fridge since christmas party. It turned out unexpectedly tasty! I was amazed at how easy it was!

-canned tomato paste
-onions minced
-prawn heads/shells
-fresh herbs- thyme/mint to give freshness
-garlic minced
-white wine (optional) - I used white wine vinegar to cut through the heaviness of the bisque
-spaghetti - cooked it in salted boiling water
-olive oil
-salt/black pepper to taste
- bay leaf

1) Fry prawn shells/heads and mussel shells with butter/olive oil in pan till you can drop dead smelling the lovely fragrance.
(Note: Remember, you have to be generous with your shells for a tasty broth)
2) Throw in the onions and garlic. Keep mixing until translucent and fragrant.
3) Add water, tomato paste, bay leaf and herbs. Let it boil then simmer.

4) Once its tasty enough and after simmering for quite long, put through the sieve into another pot.
My 7 year old stirring the bisque after sieving

5) Taste it. Add butter to bind all together.
6) Add cream
7) Add salt/ black pepper to taste
8) Finally throw in the prawns and mussels (deshelled) to cook
9) Serve over spaghetti (I added peas for veggies. Yes, I am that mum who has to have veggies in a meal no matter what)
10) Topped with parmesan cheese and Italian Parsley.


Braised pork with tomato ketchup and pineapple

My first helper from Phillipines cooked this dish and my children loved it so much. After she left, she taught my parents' Indonesian helper until I decided to learn from her as I missed the dish so much. It is a bit like sweet and sour pork dish but the healthier version because it is braised.

You can either use pork ribs or pork belly for this dish.

- pork belly/pork ribs
- pineapple (cut into small pieces)
- tomato ketchup
- garlic (minced)
- shallots (minced)
- carrots (shred)
- dark sauce
- black pepper/sugar/salt to taste

1) Panfry the pork ribs/ pork belly first for the colour (a bit brown)
2) Remove it and throw in the garlic and shallots into the oil
3) Then add the shredded carrot and continue mixing
4) Then add the pineapples, tomato ketchup and water
5) Finally, throw the pork ribs/pork belly back in to mix with the tomato gravy
6) Add dark sauce and black peper and let it simmer
(Initially, it may be watery but after simmering, the gravy would thicken up and you might need to add more water after that. Keep tasting to make sure you have that rich tomato gravy that is tangy and sweet)
7) Add salt, sugar to taste if needed.

Enjoy! Excellent with rice!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Simple Rosemary Garlic Roast Chicken and to die-for sauce!

I wrote a recipe for roast chicken many years ago and realised how much I have grown in terms of skills. Maybe credit to lots of Masterchef and Top Chef shows as well as Youtube recipe channels! Nevertheless, I am happy to see myself learning more simple yet useful techniques in my cooking and one of them is to make your own sauce for the roast chicken! So be prepared because you are in for a tasty treat!

By the way, you can omit marinating the butter with rosemary and garlic and just keep it simple with butter, salt and black pepper on chicken. Up to you!

- Chicken of course!
- butter
- rosemary
- Garlic (Mashed)
- salt
- black pepper
- root veggies (e.g celery, carrot, potatoes-I used baby potatoes so that the skin is intact. Personal preference)
- one onion
- half or one chicken stock cube
- thyme
- bay leaves

Set your oven to 200 degrees C and start boiling a pot of water for stock base for your sauce.

1) Cut up your root veggies and onion and place them in your roasting pan as a bed for your chicken to rest later. Spread them out. You can just sprinkle a little salt if you like. Also add the sticks of thyme on top and bay leaves. Keep the ends of the onions (including the skins) as well as the skins and ends of the carrots !!
2) Place all the veggie trimmings to a  pot of boiling water..maybe about 1/2 to 3/4 full of water. Then when boiling, you can place the stock cube in.
3) Chopped up fresh rosemary leaves. Kept the stem and throw them into the boiling water too!
4) Mashed the garlic with my garlic presser
5) Mix the chopped up rosemary leaves and garlic to soft butter. Add olive oil and mix it so that it will look like paste.
6) Then, spread the butter paste to the chicken..covering every part including inside the cavity and under the skin.
7) Add salt and black pepper to chicken.
(Point 4 and 5 is my least favourite part because my hands get really gross and oily. Haha)
8) Then place the chicken on top of the veggies in your roasting pan.
9) Place the pan into the oven for about 80 mins, depending on size of chicken.
10) When it is done, you can take it out and test it by inserting a knife thick part close to bone to see if the juice runs out if clear or red
11) Remove the nice veggies for eating later.
12) Put chicken on plate and cover it with foil. Leave it to rest.
13) Then take the roasting pan and put it over the fire. Add plain flour and stir with the juices of the chicken.
14) Throw in the whole pot of vegetable trimming, stock cube water into the roasting pan and let it boil. Keep stirring so that the juices can all mix together. Use a masher to mash down the bits and pieces. I actually added broad beans to my vegetable stock pot so that when I mash it, it gives a nice thick texture too. But its up to you. You can leave some carrots, potatoes and celery from the roasting pan to contribute to the sauce so that you can mash them down into the roasting pan for the sauce. Whatever it is, make sure you have stuff to mash down into to create more body.

What was inside my roasting pan-carrot and onion trimmings, rosemary sticks, broad beans, onions from the roast

15) Sieve the sauce out back into the pot and just let it simmer to keep it hot before serving.
16) Finally, break down the chicken into wings, thighs, breast meat and serve with sauce among your vegetables.

My family commented that Christmas has arrived and we all starting, "We wish you a Merry Christmas.."

That's what I love about homecooked food...when family comes together and just have a good meal and laugh around the table!

PS: by the way, my children ended up soaking their whole plates with the sauce because it is so yummy!

Hope you enjoy this!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Thai basil chicken recipe (pad kra pao gai)

This is a very simple, yet tasty dish as the main time is spent cooking the chicken. Frying the egg and laying out the cucumber won't use up much of your precious time.

My whole family loved this. I omitted the chilli padi for my children. So I cooked in two batches.

Enjoy with your whole family!

- boneless chicken thigh/ breast meat
- thai basil
- chilli padi
- garlic
- fish sauce
- sugar
- dark soya sauce
- egg
- cucumber
- oyster sauce

1) Fry the egg with lots of oil. Must be really hot so that its a deep fried egg but make sure you don't overcook it so that the yolk will still be runny. Set it aside.

2) Pound the garlic with the chilli padi (for spicyness). If you are cooking for your children, then just pound the garlic.

3) Put in the pounded garlic and chilli into the oil in your hot wok. Keep stirring. put the chicken in and put the fish sauce, oyster sauce, dark sauce, and sugar into it. Finally, off the fire and throw in the basil leaves and still continue to stir in the hot wok.

4) Finally, serve over rice and put your egg in as well as slices of cucumber. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Easy and tasty Chicken Macaroni Soup

Was inspired by cooking this from my church food volunteers who prepares breakfast for all the helpers for that week. When I tasted it, I just knew I had to cook it because its so comforting, especially during a cold and rainy day.

Hope you will enjoy this dish as much as I do..

- all 3 types of carrot (orange, white and green- 1 each.) Picture below just in case you are not sure what I am talking about. The normal orange carrot probably needs no introduction.

- 1 whole chicken
- 1 big onion - diced
- spring onions (optional, garnish)
- fried shallots (optional, garnish)
- 2 slices of ginger
- few pieces of garlic
- macaroni

1) Diced up all the carrots into small squares
2) Add water to the pot. Have a pot big enough to have the whole chicken in. Add enough water to cover the chicken.
3) Throw in everything- onions, all the carrots, ginger and garlic and boil
4) Once the water is boiling hot, put the whole chicken in
5) Let it cook and boil
6) After about 20-30 mins, check the chicken to see if cook. Once its ok, I would bring it out and when cool down, I would shred the chicken meat and debone it and throw the bones back into the soup to continue boiling.
7) Boil until the veggies are soft enough and you add salt, soya sauce to taste. Most of the time, I don't add as its tasty and sweet on its own already.
8) Cook the macaroni separately in another pot
9) To serve, just add the cooked macaroni, topped with chicken meat and pour the soup with veggies over.
10) Can garnish with spring onions, fried shallots and slices of chilli padi if you like

Simple, nutritious and good for the soul!

Easy-bake Lasagna

Making Lasagna is quite simple. The main ingredient is getting the tomato, beef mixture right. Its a bit like cooking pasta and adding the sauce over, but just one more step to it - adding the cheese.

Ingredients (for 4-5 people)
- minced beef ( I bought 2 packets frozen from supermarket). You can substitute with minced chicken/pork if you don't eat beef.
- 2 cans of whole/chopped tomatoes
- 2 cans (6 oz) of tomato paste
- finely diced big onion (1-2 depending on your preference)
- minced garlic
- mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese (About 2-3 packets of cheese in total)
- dried basil
- dried parsley
- dried oregano
- carrots (optional)
- bell pepper (optional)
- one box of instant oven-ready lasagna sheets

Tray for 2 people
Tray for more people

1) Put oil into pot and fry the onions , carrots and bell peppers. The carrots and bell peppers are optional as it depends on your preference. If you want your family to have some greens, but they may not like it, I suggest, finely dicing fine that they wont even notice its there.

2) Once the onions is translucent, you can add the minced garlic and beef. I add the garlic late because I do not want the garlic to burn as it gets black easily.

3) After tossing and frying the beef for a short while, throw in the canned tomatoes and paste all in.

4) Add in the dried herbs...about one teaspoon each. Add salt, sugar and black pepper to taste.

5) Don't try to save on the paste until you add a can full of water.. For spaghetti, you can do that. But for Lasagna, you want to keep the paste as dry as you can. So just use your spoon to scrap as much from the cans and don't add extra water at all as the canned tomatoes have water in them already

6) Let it simmer until the whole thing is thick and does not have so much water/juice.

7) Once the main stuff is taken care of, you go prepare the rest

8) Get ready your tray and spray with oil first at the base.

9) Put the lasagna sheets in the tray. Lay all on the base.

10) Scoop the tomato beef mixture onto the sheets, covering all of it
11) Then put the cheese on top of the tomato beef mixture.

12) Then repeat the process by putting the lasagna sheets on top of the cheese.

13) So the order is basically lasagna sheets---tomato beef mixture---- cheese

14) You create about 4 layers if possible, ending off with the cheese on top

15) Put into the preheated over at about 180C for about 20-30 mins.

16) Check at about 15-20 mins to see if the cheese is brown. If it is, I suggest putting a piece of aluminium foil over the tray just to cover it, preventing the top from becoming burnt.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Special Bee Tai Mak

Had this once at my friend's house and loved it so much that I had to replicate it on my own. Cooked twice so far for my family and for my cell group and they all loved it! This dish is easy to cook but the difficulty is on the preparation. So what I do is to prepare what I can prepare first so that on that day itself, I do not have to rush.

- Minced pork
- Diced liver
- Minced garlic
- Chopped Coriander
- Sliced chilli padi
- Bean Sprouts
- Bee Tai Mak
- Lime
- Small Prawns (Bought this frozen from supermarket)

What you can prepare ahead
- Minced garlic
- Marinate pork
- Marinate liver
- Sliced chilli padi
- Squeeze lime

I know most people would squirm at the sight or mention of liver. But it is a good element to add as I feel it adds a good twist, richness and depth to the flavour profile of the dish. Anyway, this special dish is self-served. So leave it to your guests or family to choose what they like to add to their plate.

1) Minced garlic and fry it in pan. Put just enough oil to cover the garlic. Cook in low fire and stir continuously so that it won't brown up unevenly.

2) After the garlic turned golden brown, quickly off the fire, drained the oil and spread the fried garlic on a paper towel to cool down. Once cooled, put in airtight container and leave in fridge.

3) Squeeze the bag of lime with a sieve through to a glass bottle to store in fridge. Set aside

4) Marinate the minced pork with soya sauce, sugar, salt and dark sauce

5) Marinate the chopped up liver with oyster sauce, soya sauce, fish sauce, dark sauce

6) Sliced the chilli padi thinly, removing the seeds

7) Peel the bean sprouts. For it to look nice, you can remove the front and back of it. Blanch it in hot water.

8) Chopped up the coriander

9) Blanch the frozen 'cocktail' prawns

10) Boil the bee tai mak, strain it and set aside. Don't overcook it.

(The above steps can be done in any order)

11) I used the leftover garlic oil to cook the minced pork and liver. Add the marinated pork to the frying pan with oil. Add water to dissolve the pork so that it do not clump together. Finally add flour with water to thicken the gravy.

12) Fry up the liver. I actually added few slices of ginger and spring onions for the taste of liver. So that the smell and taste of liver is not that strong. Up to you. Taste it. Adjust it according to your preference.

In the end, just serve everything separately for the guests to add. Just remember that there are 9 components to this dish, just in case you accidentally left out something or forgot to bring.

It should look like this! (With a few teaspoons of lime in it!)

Then, tell your guests to mix it up properly!

Frankly speaking, this is a very well-balanced dish with spice, sour, salt, sweet. Texturally it is also perfect with the crunch from the fried garlic, prawns and bean sprouts!

Enjoy this unique dish! Do give me any comments once you have tried it!