Monday, February 28, 2011

Cabbage Meatball in Fish Bone Broth





I love soups!  This is one of those home-made comfort soup that I love to cook for my family.  You have the meatball, sweet & soft cabbage and yummy soup all in one bowl of goodness.  

To prepare the rich, flavourful fish stock, I used some fresh fish bones, a handful of small dried scallops and two to three pieces of fried 扁鱼 (or 左口鱼 in Cantonese).  You can also use ikan bilis to replace dried scallops and/or 扁鱼, but the flavour will be different.   For this soup,  I used the heads and bones from about twelve "沙堆鱼" (looks like ikan kuning, but lighter in colour).  You can use fish bones from other kinds of fish.  To save time, I would usually make one big pot of fish stock, cool and freeze it in several small tubs.  Just defrost the required amount when you need it for soups or rich gravy.  


To make the fish bone stock:
Heat a little oil in wok over high heat.  Add few slices of ginger, then add the fish bones to brown on both sides.  Add the dried scallops (or ikan bilis) and stir fry gently to combine with the fish bone.  Add water (about 2 litres) and bring it to boil.  Transfer to pot, add fried 扁鱼 and simmer over low heat for an hour.   

The crucial part in preparing the fish stock is high heat + ginger + thorough stir-fry of fish bones/ikan bilis.  This will bring out the aroma and remove any fishy smell.  You can add a dash of cooking wine if desired.  The result is white and creamy fish stock without the addition of evaporated milk or MSG.  


To make the meatballs:
The most delicious bouncy and juicy meatballs is made by mincing the pork (with some fats in pork) with a chopper.  My mum prepares these wonderful meatballs in the traditional way (i.e. mincing with a chopper) and you can taste the different in the texture of the meatballs.  I skip this tedious step and bought ready-minced pork instead.  To add "bounciness" to the meatball, I minced it again lightly with a chopper before mixing it with other ingredients/seasonings (chopped water chestnut, chopped bamboo shoots, chopped mushrooms, a little 扁鱼粉, oyster sauce, sesame oil, corn starch etc).  Stir the mixture with a pair of chopsticks (in one direction) till a sticky paste is formed.


To make the soup:
Heat a little oil in wok/pot over high heat.  Add 2 slices of ginger and Chinese cabbages.  Stir fry to bring out aroma.  Add equal amount of fish stock and water into pot.  For richer flavour, you can use more fish stock or decrease the amount of water used.  Bring it to boil, add some sliced carrot, then simmer for 15 minutes till cabbages soften.  Bring the soup to boil on high.  Scoop minced meat mixture with a teaspoon, round it gently with your hands and drop it into the pot of soup.  Cook for another 3 minutes or till meat balls are cooked.



Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spicy Cucumber Salad (辣味小黄瓜)






I love these spicy cucumber!  Healthy, tasty and easy to prepare.  Chill them in fridge for 2 to 3 hours before serving.  They are sure to whet your appetite, especially on hot and humid days.



Ingredients:


(A)
2 Japanese cucumber (thinly sliced)
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

(B)
2 tbsp chopped spring onion
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 chili, thinly sliced
1 tsp Korean hot paste
1 tbsp black vinegar (浙醋)
1 tbsp shallot oil
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp 扁鱼粉* (or ikan bilis seasoning powder)
Dash of pepper

* Fry the 扁鱼, cool and grind into powder.  Add to soups, meatballs etc.   I usually make about half a small bottle and use it over a month.  Store in fridge.  

(C)
2 tbsp black & white sesame seeds (toasted)


Method:
1) Marinate cucumber by mixing ingredients (A) together for 30 minutes.

2) Squeeze out excess liquid in cucumber.

3) Mix cucumber with ingredients (B), cover and chill in fridge for around 2 hours for cucumbers to absorb the flavours.

4) Mix some toasted sesame seeds with the cucumber just before serving.  Garnish with a little more sesame seeds on top.

Trio-Colour Meat Roll






Same method as making the Enoki Mushroom Meat Rolls, just replace Enoki Mushrooms with thinly cut bamboo shoots, Chinese mushrooms and carrots.

Potato Crab Cakes




With a packet of frozen crab meat and a few Russet potatoes in my pantry, it's time to make some croquette or potato cakes!  You can cook & shape the potato cakes in advance and keep them in fridge or freezer.  When ready to serve, simply fry (or bake) them till golden brown.  These potato cakes are fairly easy to make, so get your kids to help to shape these cute little potato cakes.  Instead of just making round potato cakes, how about heart, star or even animal shapes?  Your kids will have great fun making this tasty little snack.


Basic steps:
1) Mix mashed potato with seasonings,  fillings and shape into potato cakes.
2) Lightly coat each cake with flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs.
3) Rest potato cakes for a few minutes (or store them in fridge/freezer).
4) Fry potato cakes in hot oil (or bake in oven, around 180C for 25 mins till golden brown).



Instead of using crab meat, you can use canned tuna, minced meat with mushrooms & peas, ham & cheese, leftover roast chicken or even our local otak otak as the fillings.  Exercise your creativity, mix and match and you will create your very own signature croquette!


Tip: After shaping, put them in the fridge (30 mins or more) to firm up for easy handling.




Friday, February 25, 2011

Cooking with Coca Cola





What do you do with leftover and almost flat Coca Cola?  I have this 1/4 bottle of Cola Cola in my fridge for about a week.  I poured one cup in a microwavable casserole, threw in some crushed ginger, boiled it for a quick ginger cola drink (heard is good remedy for cold).  I had this quick drink before fixing the dinner.

Next, get my pork & tofu stew ingredients ready, cook and this is ready in 20 minutes!  Quick & easy and wonderful with rice.  I used our local glass noodles for this dish, but it will taste better with those thicker Japanese or Korean glass noodles.  

You will not taste any cola in your food, though it does add sweetness to it. Cola helps to breakdown and tenderise meat.  If you are cooking some tough cuts of meat, you may want to try cooking it with cola next time.


Ingredients:
250g thinly sliced pork shoulder
1/2 box of tofu (cut into cubes)
1 stalk of leek (cut into thin strips - reserved some for garnish)
1/2 bundle of glass noodles (tung hoon) - soak to soften
1 clove minced garlic

Seasonings:
3/4 cup of Cola (or more if you like it sweeter)
1 tbsp of Korean hot paste
1- 2 tbsp soy sauce (adjust to taste)
1.5 cup water

Method:
1) Heat oil in clay pot over stove.  Add garlic, leek and stir fry.  Add pork and stir.
2) Add in hot paste, cola, water and cover till contents start boiling.
3) Add glass noodles, tofu and soy sauce.
4) Garnish with some sliced leek and serve bubbling hot!



Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shredded Potato with Sakura Ebi





Potato is so versatile and you can prepare a wide variety of dishes with this simple food.  Boil it for salad, roast it with other roots vegetables, cook it with carrot and tomato for a nice bowl of ABC soup.  How about some mashed potato for a side-dish or use it as toppings for your cottage pie?  Can anyone resist those yummy French Fries and how about an extra piece of potato when you order the hot & spicy curry chicken?  

Now, what about stir-frying it?  Stir-fried shredded potato is not common in Singapore.  I have never seen any vegetable rice stalls selling this dish (though there are long queues for the famous rosti at Marche - pan-fried shredded potato cakes).  Though I have heard of this dish (i.e. 炒土豆丝) before, I have never thought of trying it, as I find it rather strange.  How would it taste?  We are so used to eating potato that is soft and thoroughly cooked, will stir-frying be suitable for cooking potato?

For the first time I am cooking and eating this, I must say this is quite tasty.  It is crunchy and taste quite different from the usual potato dishes that we have in Singapore.  You can adjust the seasoning (soy sauce, oyster sauce, chilli paste and black vinegar) to suit to your taste.  The key to preparing this dish is thinly  shredded potato (sharpen your knife and slice/cut the potato as thinly as possible), soak in cold water to remove the starch content, so that the potato will not stick to each other when you cooked it.


Ingredients:
2 potatoes, thinly shredded
2 stalks of spring onion, thinly shredded
1/2 red chili, thinly shredded
2 tbsp of sakura ebi
3 to 4 shallots (peeled and thinly sliced)
3 cloves garlic, minced

Seasonings:
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 to 2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp chili paste (I omit this)
1 tbsp black vinegar (I omit this)
Dash of pepper


Method:
1) Soak the thinly shredded potato in water for 15 to 20 minutes and drain away water.
2) Heat wok on medium heat.  Add about 3 heap tablespoons oil and fry the shallots till golden brown.  Drain fried shallots on kitchen paper.
3) Stir fry the sakura ebi till fragrance and set aside.
4) With the remaining oil in wok (adjust to medium high heat), add the minced garlic.  Add shredded potato and keep stir frying it for a few minutes to ensure even cooking.
5) Add seasonings, 2 tablespoons water and continue stir-frying it for another minute or two.
6) Add shredded spring onion, chili, sakura ebi, fried shallot and stir-fry to combine the ingredients (Note: reserve some shredded spring onion and chili for garnish).
7) Garnish and serve hot.



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Braised Mocked Abalone (红烧白灵菇)





Bailing mushroom looks like the abalone mushroom, but it is much bigger in size.  The one I bought for cooking this dish is about the size of my palm!  Taste wise, bailing mushroom has a meaty texture like the portabello mushroom, but minus the woody taste.  On its own, it does not have much taste, so you can easily "add flavour" to it to suit the dish that you are cooking.  While it has a meaty bite, it remains very soft and tender after cooking, much like the texture of a real abalone.  Honestly, I think it tastes just as good, if not better than most canned abalone. 

Since this is an abalone dish, I will need to "add" some seafood flavour to the bailing mushroom.  Soak two medium-sized dried scallops with 2 cups of water till soften.  Pour the content in a pot, add about 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce, add the bailing mushroom, bring it to boil and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes.  Cover and let it rest for another hour or more.  When ready to serve, remove the bailing mushroom from the pot, thinly sliced and place them on a bed of blanched or stir-fried vegetables.  Pour over thickened scallop sauce to complete the dish.

To make the scallop sauce, sieve the stock in pot to set aside the pieces of scallop.  Take about one cup clear scallop stock, bring it to boil and thicken with some corn starch.  Thinly shred the pieces of scallop and use it for your next stir-fry or steamed eggs.  I added the shredded scallop for another dish, 桂花翅 that I prepared for the meal.



Ingredients:

1 fresh bailing mushroom
2 dried scallops (soaked with 2 cups of water)
Few handfuls of nai bai, 奶白 (you can also use broccoli, Shanghai green or spinach)
2 cloves of garlic (for stir-frying the vegetables)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1.5 tsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water


Method:

1) Wipe off any dirt on the surface of the bailing mushroom with a clean towel or kitchen paper.  Place the mushroom with the soaked scallops, oyster sauce in a pot.  Bring content to boil and then simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes.  Cover and rest for an hour or more.

2) Slice the bailing mushroom into thin slices.  Set aside.

3) Heat wok with a little oil over high heat.  Add garlic, follow by vegetables.  Stir fry quickly.  Add a pinch of salt, a little water (or scallop stock) and cover for about a minute (Note: nai bai has a sturdy stalk and can cause uneven cooking.  To cook nai bai thoroughly, make a cut at the stalk so that the stalk can be cooked at the same timing as the leafy portion ).

4) Place vegetables on serving plate.  Arrange sliced bailing mushrooms on top.

5) Sieve the scallop stock.  Take about 3/4 cup of clear stock, bring it to boil and thicken with cornstarch solution (Note: taste the sauce and add a little more oyster sauce, if necessary).  Add sesame oil, give it a quick stir and pour the sauce over bailing mushrooms and vegetables.  Serve hot.



Stir-fry "Shark's Fins" with Eggs (桂花翅)





Recently. I brought my mum to watch "大世界" (It's a Great Great World), a movie about Singapore's famous old night spot, The Great World Amusement Park.  I was particularly interested in the ending part of the movie, which showed the various yummy dishes served for a wedding dinner by Spring Court restaurant.  Coincidentally, both my parents and my parents-in-law held their wedding dinners at Spring Court!  It goes to show how famous and popular Spring Court restaurant must have been during the olden days.

As a child, there was one particular dish that I love to eat at wedding dinner - 桂花翅, served together with  a few other small dishes as the cold platter (冷盘).  I don't really go for the shark's fins cos it's the flavourful fried eggs that I like.  You can use real shark's fins or imitation shark's fins to cook this dish at home.  I just use some tung hoon (粉丝), soaked it briefly, as the imitation shark's fins.  I added some shredded dried scallops but this is not really essential and can always be replaced with some finely shredded ham instead.  Add some bean sprouts (both ends removed) for some crunch in the dish.

One necessary step is to stir-fry the bean sprouts lightly over high heat in wok.  This adds "wok hei" to the dish while removes the raw taste of the bean sprouts.  The heat must be high and be done quickly (takes less than a minute) so that the bean sprouts retain the natural water content and does not turn soggy.


Recipe

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1/2 small bundle tung hoon (粉丝)
Handful of bean sprouts (both ends removed)
2 dried scallops (soaked & shredded) or 1 sliced ham (shredded)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
Spring onion, cut into 2 inches long
Chili, thinly sliced

Seasoning:
2 tbsp stock
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soy sauce
Dash of pepper


Method:
1) Briefly soak the tung hoon in water to soften it a little.  Discard water.  Pour 2 tbsp of stock over the tung hoon for it to absorb the flavour (rest for a few minutes).

2) Beat the eggs lightly, add seasoning (except for stock).  Add the soaked tung hoon and stir to combine.

3) Heat wok over high heat.  Add a little oil and stir fry the bean sprouts quickly (less than a minute) with a pinch of salt.  Set aside.

4) Lower to medium heat.  Add another 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil.  Add garlic, follow by shredded scallops or ham.  Stir fry briefly and add the egg mixture to the wok.  Stir the eggs lightly.  When the mixture begins to dry up a little, add some of the chopped spring onion and the bean sprouts from (3).  Stir to combine.

5) Garnish with chopped spring onion, chili and serve hot immediately.



Monday, February 21, 2011

Blueberry & Cream Roll





The combination of the slightly tart blueberries with whipped cream is simply heaven!  Shall make this again as it is really delicious.  Where possible, use home-made blueberry fillings instead of commercially-available ones as it really makes a BIG DIFFERENCE in taste.  Get a punnet of fresh blueberries, cook them with half a tablespoon of butter + half a teaspoon of berries jam (or 1/2 tsp sugar) for about 3 to 5 minutes.  Cooking the blueberries bring out the flavour of the fruit.  Try to keep the fruit whole during cooking, as you want to savour the burst of blueberries in your mouth when you bite into these swiss rolls.  

I used the same method as my pandan roll, just made minor changes to the ingredients.

Ingredients:

Sponge (for 30cm x 20cm baking tray)
13g butter
13g blueberry or plain yogurt 
65g egg yolks (about 4 yolks) + 15g caster sugar
100g egg whites (about 3 whites) + 45g caster sugar + pinch of salt
45g top flour (sifted)


Blueberry jam fillings - Cook together:
1 punnet fresh blueberries (about 125g)
1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp berries jam (or 1/2 tsp sugar)


Whipped cream - Whipped together:
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp icing sugar





Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nutella Cupcakes with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting




As I have some leftover fondant, one small bag of Nutella cream cheese frosting and one HUGE bottle of Nutella spread, I wanted to "clear" these from my fridge as soon as possible.  Still on the lookout for more Nutella recipes ....




Ingredients:
(makes 8 small cupcakes)

60g butter
40g light brown sugar
1/2 tbsp instant coffee powder
2 tbsp Nutella spread
1 medium-sized egg
50ml whipping cream
90g cake flour + 1/2 tsp baking powder (sift together)


Method:
1) Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
2) Add instant coffee powder and Nutella, continue to beat.
3) Add egg and beat to smooth.
4) Fold the cake flour into the butter mixture and mix well.
5) Spoon batter into small paper cupcake to 3/4 full and bake at preheated oven of 175C for 25 minutes.
6) Cool completely, spread or pipe Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting on cupcake and topped with fondant heart.


I will be submitting this post to "Aspiring Bakers #4: Love In the Air! (Feb 2011)" hosted by Ellena of Cuisine Paradise.




Beef Short Ribs Stew in Special Sauce




I cooked this for our Valentine's dinner.  Ha... this is how "romantic" couples can be after getting married!  No expensive steak at fancy restaurant over some dim candle-light.  But honestly, it does not matter to me, especially when this beef stew taste so YUMMY!  My hubby helped himself to two more slices of bread with  the beef and gravy after he finished his bowl of rice ...  ^_^




Can you guess what special sauce(s) were used to prepare this wonderful pot of beef stew?  Last round when I cooked beef stew, I used a variety of herbs/spices with cooking wine (or beer).  Though the taste was flavourful, I find it a little complicated for my taste bud.  I have also tried beef stew with tomato puree & herbs (it tasted Italian).  

This must be my best beef stew to-date.  Tender beef ribs in rich flavourful sauce.  The carrots absorbed all the richness in the sauce while keeping their distinct sweetness.  The best part:  Simple ingredients to prepare, no messing around in kitchen for hours.  But, you really need to pay attention to it at the last 30 minutes into stewing.  Make sure the contents do not stick at the bottom of your pot or casserole.  


Ingredients: Beef short ribs, 2 carrots, 1 onion, 3 slices ginger, minced garlic
My special sauce: 1 piece fermented red bean curd (南乳), 3/4 tbsp bean paste, 2 tbsp cooking wine, 1 tsp sugar

I added some boiled quail eggs for added variety (my girl loves the "mini eggs").  


To prepare:

1) Heat wok on high with a tbsp oil.  Sear the beef lightly on both sides for about a minute.  Remove.
2) Add another tbsp oil, stir fry the ginger, onion, followed by garlic.
3) Lower to medium heat, add fermented red bean curd and bean paste and stir to release aroma.
4) Add beef, carrot and stir to combine.  Add cooking wine and stir.
5) Add water (almost covering the ingredients), sugar and cover.  When content starts boiling, transfer to casserole and simmer over low-heat for about 90 minutes (after 60 minutes, check to ensure the ingredients do not stick at the bottom).  At the last 5 minutes of cooking, add cooked quail eggs.
6) Let the stew rest for an hour (I find stew tastes better this way).
7) Reheat the stew and serve hot.




I keep a portion for my lunch next day to go with pasta.  Add a little pasta water (water used to cook the pasta) when you combine the cooked pasta with the stew.  Just before you turn off the heat, add 1 to 2 tbsp of cream for that smooth and rich gravy.  Sprinkle some chopped parsley and serve.



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Soft Nutella Cheesecake




Tall, light and soft as feather Japanese cheesecake.  I love it so much that I baked it again the very next day!  




I had a busy day in the kitchen baking Valentine's cookies in the morning and had a birthday dinner to attend.  So instead of making a sponge cake base for the cheesecake, I used crushed Oreo biscuits for a quick and easy base.  I wanted to use Digestive biscuits, but somehow it has run out of stock at my nearby supermarket.  Initially, I was half-expecting the base to be hard or crumbly after baking.  Surprisingly, the base turned out to be soft and goes very nicely with the cheesecake.  

This is how the mini cheesecake looks like before the chocolate coating:






Monday, February 14, 2011

Love You Beary Much - Valentine's treats!

Love is in the air!


I have been in a holiday cookie baking mood since Christmas last year.  Christmas cookies, CNY cookies and now -  Valentine's Day Cookies!


Getting ready the marshmallow fondant to cover the cookie.

Prepare the fondant one day ahead for easy handling.  Where possible, buy the mini marshmallow as they are easier to melt.  If you have big ones at home, just cut them using your kitchen scissor.  Get ready all the various parts of the bear before you start baking your cookies.  Once the cookie is out from oven, you can put together your decorating bits easily, cool and store them in airtight containers.


Ingredients:

For making Marshmallow Fondant
(adapted from Cake Journal)

180g mini plain marshmallow
1.5 tbsp water
400g to 650g icing sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla essence
Few drops of food colouring

Some shortening (this is for greasing your hands and plastic bag)

Decorative items:
Some chocolate rice for bear's eyes
Some mini chocolate chips for bear's nose
1 tsp corn syrup


Method:

1) Put the marshmallow and water in a microwavable bowl (I prefer to use a large bowl as I am going to knead the fondant directly in the bowl) and heat on high for 30 seconds.  Remove and stir.  Heat it for another 15 to 20 seconds if the marshmallow has not fully melted.

2) Stir the marshmallow to a smooth paste.  Add vanilla essence and food colouring (if you are making different fondant colours, divide the paste into few portions and add colourings separately).

3) Add about 300g icing sugar and stir (I stirred with a pair of chopsticks).  Keep adding icing sugar and stir until it looks like a dough.  Now, grease your hands with shortening and start kneading the fondant.  Continue to add icing sugar and knead till the fondant is pliable (you may not finish all the icing sugar).

4) Rub a little shortening in a plastic bag and place the fondant inside the bag.  Let it rest in room temperature for a day before use.

5) Dust your table top, hands and rolling pin with icing sugar.  Roll the fondant into a thin sheet (around 2mm).  Use cookie cutter (the same shape and size for making the cookie later) to cut out shapes.  Transfer cut fondant to tray lined with baking paper (cover with clingwrap).

6) For the bear's face: Roll out small balls of fondant, flatten and mark the bear's mouth and nose.  Transfer to baking paper and cover with clingwrap.

7) Use a small heart-shaped cutter to cut out heart-shaped pattern.


For making Cookie Base:
(makes about 24 cookies)


220g butter
100g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla essence
300g plain flour
60g corn flour


Cookie sticks (I used lollipop sticks as they are thinner, but you need to wrap each stick 3/4 way up with aluminium foil so that the exposed part do not get burnt in the oven)


Method:

1) Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.

2) Add egg yolk and vanilla essence, beat for another minute or two.

3) Sift plain flour and corn flour together.  Add into butter mixture and mix well to form a dough

4) Divide dough to 2 portions, cover with clingwrap and rest dough in fridge for an hour.

5) Roll each dough between baking paper and clingwrap to a thickness of 4 to 5mm.  Do not roll the dough too thinly or it will break when you insert the cookie stick.  Alternatively, you can do without the cookie stick.  In this case, you can roll the sheet thinner to around 2 to 3mm thick.

6) Rest the dough sheet back in fridge for 15 minutes.

7) Cut cookies using cookie cutter and place it on a small piece of baking paper.  Gently twist a cookie stick (or lollipop stick) into each cookie.  Flip the cookie around (this is where the baking paper comes handy), place a small piece of dough at the back of cookie to seal up the cookie stick.  Flip the cookie to the front and transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper.

8) Bake at preheated oven of 175C for 15 to 20 minutes.


Decorating the cookies:

1) Once the cookies are out of oven, gently place the fondant bear over the cookie.  The heat from the cookie will slightly melt the fondant and allow the fondant to stick onto the cookie.

2) Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool slightly.

3) Brush a little corn syrup to adhere the face to the bear.  Use a toothpick to apply a tiny bit of corn syrup to the nose and eyes areas.  Add chocolate chip for nose and chocolate rice for the eyes.  Press gently using the toothpick to ensure the chocolate chip/rices stick onto the fondant.

4) Stick the heart onto the bear.

5) Use a toothpick to poke tiny holes all round the edge of bear.

6) Cool the cookies completely and transfer them to airtight containers or ziplock bags.




Wrap each of your little bears in clear gift bag and secure it with some nice ribbon.  Now, you are ready to tell your friends and loved ones that you love them BEARY much!





I will be submitting this post to "Aspiring Bakers #4: Love In The Air! (Feb 2011)" to this link

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cabbage Stew with Roast Duck





Traditionally, we must have some leftover food from our Reunion dinner, so that there will always be excess food for the coming year (年年有余).  So, what do you do with the leftover food from Chinese New Year?

This is one of my favourite stew - made with roast duck, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, carrot, Chinese leeks and any assortment of vegetables suitable for stewing.  The best thing about this dish is you do not especially go and buy some roast duck.  Yes, you use the leftover roast duck bones and breast meat.  Store the leftovers in the freezer and when you are ready to cook this dish, simply defrost it.  The natural sweetness from the cabbage, carrot and whatever ingredients you put in, will come together nicely with the roast duck to give you a wonderful pot of vegetable stew.  Make sure you cook more rice for second serving!

Here are the ingredients:

Leftover roast duck, Chinese cabbage, dried pig tendon (猪脚筋), dried Chinese mushrooms, Chinese leeks,
carrots, ready-boiled bamboo shoots, spring onion, chili (optional), ginger (not in picture).


This is the best time of the year to eat Chinese cabbage and Chinese leeks, so put lots of them in this stew!   For the mushrooms, soak them in water till soft, squeeze out water and reserve liquid for stew.  For pig tendon, you need to briefly boil them in water (add 2 slices of ginger) for a few minutes and rinse them in cold water.  This will remove the "oily smell" from the pig tendon.  Other ingredients that you can add to this stew:  baby corns, button mushrooms, bean curd puffs, bean curd sticks etc (green leafy vegetables, broccoli are not suitable as they will turn yellow).


Yummy porridge from cabbage roast duck stew


And if you still have any leftover from this cabbage stew, you can "recycle" it to a comforting bowl of porridge (no kidding you)!  If you have tried home-cooked porridge with leftover roast duck, you will know how tasty and flavourful is the porridge.  This is essentially roast duck porridge with added vegetable stew.  

Simply cook some porridge as per normal (or boil some cooked rice in water for 10 to 15 minutes), add the leftover cabbage stew and cook for another 10 minutes.  Add salt/pepper to taste.  Add a beaten egg, stir and serve.  Super quick and easy!


Cocktail Buns (鸡尾包)






Cocktail buns or 鸡尾包, is a Hong Kong specialty snack, just like the famous Po Lo Buns or Pineapple Buns (菠萝包).  While I can easily figure out how Po Lo Buns get its name (the criss-cross topping resembles a pineapple), the cocktail bun does not look like a cock's tail to me.  Silly me!  Only when I googled for cocktail buns that I know that originally, the fillings inside was made of a "cocktail of unsold buns" - value-add and repackaged to become the famous cocktail buns (read more here)!  Really salute to the Hong Kong people for their creativity and entrepreneur spirits.

Anyway, the fillings for my buns is not a cocktail of any leftover CNY goodies or breads.  I took the recipe from Aunty Yochana and adapted it:


Ingredients:
(makes 12 buns)

(A) - bread dough:
300g bread flour
15g milk powder 
50g sugar
5g instant yeast
1 medium-sized egg
120ml water
45g butter (if used unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt)


(B) - fillings (mix together):
100g butter
40g sugar
120g grated coconut (fresh one will be better)
60g plain flour
50g milk powder
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

(C) - Mexico topping: 
30g butter
15g sugar
30g plain flour
2 tsp beaten eggs


Egg wash (1/2 beaten egg + 1 tsp water)
Handful of white sesame seeds

Method:
1) Mix ingredients from (A), except butter, and beat for 10 minutes.  Add butter and continue to beat for another 8 to 10 minutes till a smooth dough is formed.

2) Round the dough into a ball and let it rest for 45 to 60 minutes till doubled in size.

3) Divide the dough into 12 portions.  Roll the doughs into balls, loosely cover with cling wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.

4) With a rolling pin, flatten each ball to a round disc and wrap one tablespoon of fillings from (B) and seal each bun tightly.  Arrange buns on baking trays (lined with parchment paper) and let them proof for another 45 minutes (I proof mine in a closed-door oven with a tray of warm water for a humid environment).

5) For toppings: Stir together butter and sugar.  Add flour, 2 tsp eggs and mix well.  Transfer mixture into a small snack bag and make a tiny cut at a corner for piping later. 

6) Brush buns with egg wash, sprinkle some sesame seeds and pipe 3 lines of toppings on each bun.


7) Bake at preheated oven of 180C for about 12 to 15 minutes till golden brown.



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dried Scallop Congee with Fa Cai Yu Sheng





Yesterday was the seventh day of the Lunar New Year, traditionally known as ren ri (人日).  In Singapore, many like to celebrate 人日 with tossing of the raw fish salad, yu sheng (鱼生).  This is a colourful salad, consists mainly shredded carrot, shredded radish, colourful pickles and thin slices of raw fish.  The yu sheng is placed at the centre of the table and diners gather around the table, using their chopsticks to toss ("lo hei", Cantonese for 捞起) to a year of abundance and prosperity.   This is indeed an unique dining experience where little children get to "play" with their food (you don't get to toss your food all year round!) and learn a string of accompanying auspicious Chinese New Year greetings while tossing the yu sheng.  




I prepared a nice pot of congee to go with the yu sheng.  The porridge or congee is prepared the Cantonese-style, where it is simmered over low heat for a few hours till all the rice grains breakdown and melt.  The result is a smooth and tasty porridge, naturally thickened on its own without the addition of any cornstarch or potato starch.  You can add fish, chicken or pork to the congee.  Over here, I used fresh scallop and salmon for my seafood congee.




This is a DIY yu sheng, easily prepared at home with packets of shredded carrots and radish from the supermarket.  I have some smoked salmon at home, so I used it instead of getting the traditional raw fish.  For a nice colour combination,  I added some strawberries, canned pineapple, canned peaches, Chinese parsley and pomelo.  My little girl loves the crackers in yu sheng, so I fried some shredded wonton skins for that crispy crackers.




Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mini Lemon Orange Sponge Cake



吃个橘子蛋糕,祝大家大吉大利!


When I first saw these cupcake containers at Phoon Huat, I knew immediately that I am going to make some orange cupcakes during the Chinese New Year period.  I love the white potta dots against the bright cheerful orange background.  


小小一口,甜在心头


Instead of making butter cupcakes, I wanted something lighter and healthier - sponge cake with a lemon curd topping.  The lemon curd adds moisture and gives the sponge cake a lovely citrus taste.  I used caster sugar to make the lemon curd toppings, you can replace the caster sugar with honey if you like.  For a fuss-free topping, you can always spread some orange jam (dilute with a little warm water) instead.   Or how about adding some floral scent to the toppings, such as using dried osmanthus?  Play around and explore various combination.  A light whipped fresh cream, topped with half a strawberry will surely make a delightful treat for the coming Valentine's Day.



松软可口的橘子蛋糕,今天快来动手做做吧!


I love the texture of the sponge cake - very light and airy.  I use 1/2 tsp cream of tartar to help to stabilise the egg whites.  Instead of using plain flour or top flour for the sponge cake, I used corn flour and custard powder (also consists of corn flour) for that nice yellow colour.  Corn flour helps to give a light and airy texture to the sponge cake.


遍地黄金, 兔年事事顺利



Monday, February 7, 2011

Blueberries Crumb Muffins

I love to add a crumb topping to my muffins.


Soft and light inside, yet very crumbly on top.


Comparing notes: Existing blueberries muffin recipe, with another recipe from Allrecipes.



Enoki Mushroom Meat Roll






This dish needs only two ingredients - Enoki mushrooms and thinly sliced pork or beef.  If you had steamboat at home over this Chinese New Year period, you are likely to have these two ingredients in your kitchen.

Alternatively, if you have elderly or young children at home, they may find it a challenge to chew the Enoki mushroom, as it has a rather rubbery and elastic texture.  You may wish to replace the Enoki mushroom with bamboo shoots, carrots, Chinese dried mushroom and/or celery.  Use cooked bamboo shoots (available in packet or canned), parboil the thinly strips of carrot and celery.  Soak and cut the mushroom into strips.  Just ensure your choice of ingredients used - the bamboo shoots, carrot, celery and/or mushroom are around the same thickness and length.  Here the link to my trio-colour meatroll.


Ingredient:
1 packet thinly sliced pork or beef (for shabu shabu) - around 300g
A bunch of Enoki Mushrooms

(A):
1 tsp grated ginger
1.5 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp cooking oil

Seasoning:
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
2 to 3 tbsp water


Method:
1) Marinate sliced pork/beef with (A) and keep in fridge for an hour or more.
2) Cut off the stem portion of Enoki mushroom and discard.
3) Place a piece of sliced meat on your chopping board or plate, place a small bundle of Enoki mushroom at the edge of the sliced meat, roll up the meat and secure with a toothpick.  Repeat the same for all meat slices.
4) Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan over high heat.  When pan gets very hot, place all the meat rolls (toothpick intact) in pan to brown for about a minute.
5) Quickly remove all the toothpicks and turn the meat rolls to the other side to brown for another half a minute (I used a pair of wooden chopstick to flip the meat over).
6) Pour the seasoning sauce into the hot pan and cover for a minute.
7) Serve hot immediately.



Sunday, February 6, 2011

Steamed Radish Cake (萝卜糕)





Other than the sweet Chinese New Year cake (年糕) that we consume during the Chinese New Year festive period,Cantonese also loves to eat lo bak go (萝卜糕), a savory cake made with rice flour, radish (白萝卜), Chinese wax sausages (腊肠), dried Chinese mushrooms and dried shrimps.  

Preparation is the same as the earlier post.  I mixed 400g of rice flour (plus 1.5 tablespoon corn flour) to 1200ml liquid (water + liquid from soaking the mushrooms, dried shrimps/scallop, excess liquid drained from grated radish).    You need another 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water to cook the radish & ingredients before adding in the rice flour solution.  I used one huge radish (around 500g), five Chinese mushrooms, two waxed sausages and 4 big dried scallop (瑶柱) in placed of the usual dried shrimps.  For the dried scallop, soak it with water till it softens, shred it and use the liquid to mix with rice flour.  

The above makes one 24cm round pan (measured across the diameter of pan).

Some points to note (in addition to my earlier post):
  • Use fried shallot oil and be GENEROUS with it.  Yes, radish cake needs enough oil for it to have that smooth and soft texture.  You need a few heaped tablespoons of oil to fry the radish & ingredients, generous greasing of the steaming pan, some more to smooth the top before steaming, and another tablespoon of oil to brush on top after steaming (take it as day and night moisturising cream for the cake).
  • If you like your radish cake to be very soft, you can reduce the rice flour or increase the water.
  • After steaming, allow the radish cake to cool for an hour or more before cutting it.  




Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pan-Fried Salmon in Miso Sauce





Ingredients:

1 salmon fillet

(A):
1 tsp miso paste
1.5 tsp soya sauce
2 tsp mirin

(B):
1/2 cup water
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar



Method:

1) Marinate the salmon fillet with (A) for 30 minutes.
2) Gently scrape off the marinate sauce from the salmon fillet and transfer it to a bowl.  Mix the sauce with (B).  Set aside.
3) Heat a pan on high heat.  Add a little oil, lower heat to medium-high. Pan-fry the salmon fillet, skin side down first.  After a minute, flip to other side and fry for another minute.
4) Flip the salmon (skin side down again) and add the miso mixture.  Cover the pan and simmer on medium heat till miso sauce thickens and salmon is cooked.
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