Sunday, September 6, 2009


The first time I ate a macaroon, I was sitting in a tiny bed in a tiny room in the Le Grand Hotel Des Gobelins in Paris, watching French TV. I had bought 6 for myself that day - at LaDuree, Champs-Elysee. I planned to eat one only but polished off all 6 in that one sitting. Once I took my first ever bite, I was hooked - and in less than 15 minutes (a very enjoyable 15 minutes) I ate everything. Yes, 6. All 6 perfect discs, in perfect colours. By me in my tiny room with floral bedsheets, and French men yabbling away on TV. I might have missed my husband a little more during that 15 minutes, and I might have wished very much more that he was with me enjoying the macaroons, in that room - but I never regretted the calories, and oh how I enjoyed the awesomeness of the crunch of the shell, giving way to chewiness, and the filling in the different flavors.

So I guess it's really a no-brainer that one day, I'd try making some macaroons myself. And I did - about a year back, with results that were extremely laughable. And so, I gave up with just that one failure and vowed never to try again. Until I realised how much my husband loves macaroons (We stayed in Ritz-Carlton Osaka and Tokyo earlier this year, and he together with AWong ate up all the macaroons on the Club Floors. Eating our money's worth,they said. Luckily for us, the Japanese are polite and discreet - and I was never made to feel like I married a glutton)

So, with one failure in the pocket, I decided to go for a macaroon class held this morning - and check out my macaroons! I am so terribly pleased with them. i had all but given up hope when I failed the first time around, and you have no idea how much this makes me happy. :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Slow-cooked Portuguese Chicken or the weekend passed by too fast!

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I agree.  Provided that the absence is not extended of course.  I very much looked forward to coming back home to the husband after 3 days of Hanoi.  So yay to the husband who surprised me at the airport!

And yay to coming back on the cusp on weekend!

And it has been a great weekend although we didn't do very much really.  Friday night - I spent doing my "homework" for cake decorating class the next day, Saturday morning at class, lunch at Spruce, and then home for a long afternoon nap before we went off for dinner with the Sihoes at Pu Tien, where we stuffed ourselves silly with yummilicious Chinese food in the heart of little India.  We went for a walk at Mustafa Centre after dinner.  I marvelled at how Mr Mustafa built himself an empire.  Gosh - the place is quite huge!  That was our second time there - the first being Xmas eve 2 years back when the husband (then-boyfriend) and I had to scramble to do some last minute shopping.  Those were the days when both of us were still in law firms - busy times those were.  

And then we are at Sunday - I made dinner for both of us.  Slow-cooked portuguese chicken (Women's Weekly).   It smelt really good, and I kinda like how it turned out in the end although note to self - in the future, I will make some salsa-ish sauce to accompany the chicken.

Tis going to be a busy week ahead! I can't wait for the next weekend - my first ever visit into Bintan! 

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Papardelle Bolognese

They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach - that's why I want to learn to make kick-ass bolognese.  The husband is Mr Pasta himself - he said to me once before we were married, that I will need to learn to make good pasta dishes.  It may even have been a condition of our marriage.  But who knows - i generally have the memory of a goldfish, and in the 1 year and 8 months that we have been married, he hasn't bugged me once about making pasta - although I suddenly recall that in our first month of marriage, we had lots and lots of pasta.  All because we had much leftover xmas ham which we needed to eat up and pasta was just so easy.

When it comes to pasta, I really believe that sauces out of jars are good stuff -  you can never go wrong with them.  I swear by them, and generally have at least one bottle sitting around somewhere.  Having said that, I know there are supposed health benefits of eating homemade stuff and frankly nothing really beats the satisfaction of having a made-from-scratch pot of meat sauce simmering away on the counter (when that happened yesterday, I felt almost Italian what with my Mario Batali wooden spoon in hand.)

The great thing about this pasta sauce is that it's not just tomato and meat.  It is full of veggie goodness.  Stuff that the husband would not eat otherwise (like celery).  I think I have found a way to make him eat more vegetables! Just puree and add it into a meaty sauce.

I really wanted this recipe from Women's Weekly to be a kick-ass sauce but I think it still lacks a certain oomph.  I can't tell what yet - so I will keep experimenting with other recipes.  

But meanwhile, until I find that perfect kick-ass sauce, this will be my go-to recipe for days when I want a winner.

(Oh, how I wish the weekend could go on forever)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brown Butter Cake or Happy National Day

So, was the cake any good? We will never know, seeing how the psychedelic colors are, while pretty, a bit scary and hardly tempting. It has been sitting in the fridge for a few days - and will continue to sit for another few days, untouched - until my part-time helper comes in on Sunday and helps me throw it away.

By the way, can I also say for the record that I am a bit upset that I now have to use American English instead of the Queen's English in my new job, and that a word like color without the U irks me to no end? Not that I use the word color very much in my line of work - there is something else that I have been typing with a U and then deleting for fear that (god forbid) some American will think this Singaporean girl can't spell for nuts, but I can't remember it now, and I just know that I'll spend a good part of what's remained of tonight thinking and thinking about it.

Anyway, last week I turned my kitchen into an icing sugar wonderland. Given the amount of icing sugar flying around and creeping into cracks and crevices around the house, I was surprised that the husband and I haven't yet been carried away by an army of ants. Why sugar wonderland, you ask? Because I, true to the auntieness that I am blossoming into, signed up for a cake decorating class. Yes, you heard me right - a cake decorating class, where we sit around and try to pipe stars and hearts and roses in cartoon colors. Oh, but that's not to say I don't enjoy it - in fact, I relish being giving the opportunity to be forced to do something so homely (they give us homework in these classes). So last week, I found myself having to make not one, not two but three batches of icing. That means 3 bags of icing sugar and 3 cups of shortening. Man, stuff that will make my weighing machine go bonkers. And I swear all you need to do is to look at them and then you can sit back and watch your waistline grow.

But anyway, back to the whole story of how this cake came abt - it was a practice cake. Something that we had to make for class, so that we can pipe rainbows and stars and letters on. I made a brown butter cake - since I wanted something simple, and I've always wondered what brown butter taste like (I still don't know how it tastes like but one thing for sure, I love the smell.) The cake in my book says something like "Shawn 5" but obviously I don't know any 5 year old Shawn so in celebration of the National Day, I made a National Day cake without a national flag on it (but that's easy bananas - a rainbow with 5 different colors is so much harder). :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chicken Pappardelle and Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Man oh man oh man - my pregnant friend just announced her weight on Facebook.

And I am, erm, not too far away from being the same weight as a woman carrying a 5 month old baby. That doesn't make me feel good at all. In fact, that makes me feel bad. And sad. And fat. (Hey, that rhymes)

Oh, and about that box of heart cookies I wrote about yesterday? We finished them. With the help of the husband, I demolished them after dinner. That was some serious sugar. Please don't judge us.

I don't see an end to this. I am making a sweet and salty chocolate cake this weekend.

Oh, and yes - back to why I logged on. My cooking attempt. Not too bad. Can't be good for the weighing machine considering the amount of cream that went it. But I like the crunch of the walnuts and the chicken was quite juicy!

Pappardelle chicken and creamy mushroom sauce

Adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly The Complete Book of Modern Classics

Preparation time 15 minutes

Cooking time 15 minutes

Serves 2

1 tbp olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 small red onion (80g), chopped finely

125g swiss brown mushrooms, sliced thinly

1/2 cup cream

1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

10g butter

250g fettucine

1 1/2 cup coarsely shredded cooked chicken

1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

1/8 cup coarsely chopped fresh italian parsley

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan

Heat oil in large frying pan and cook garlic and onion, until onion softens. Add mushroom and cook until just tender. Add cream and rosemary to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until sauce thickens slightly. Add butter and stir until butter melts.

Cook pasta until tender and drain.

Add hot cream sauce, chicken, nuts, parsley and half of the cheese to the hot pasta. Toss gently and serve, sprinkled with remaining cheese

Heart Cookies

Art has never been my forte. I bought a book to try to make better looking cakes and cookies. I flipped through it and got awfully inspired. I wanted to do so many things. I decided to start small. Don't be so ambitious, I thought. You need to start simple and build up from them. I read from my book that cookies are a great way to get started in pasty decoration. So I decided to start with Heart Cookies. I gathered my supplies. I waited for the right moment. But the right moment never came. I lost steam. My interest moved elsewhere.

And then I had butter cookies at Mad's place. It was delicious. I was inspired. Two days later, I made butter cookies too. And then remembered my plan to make Heart Cookies.

And one afternoon and a whole lot of mess later, I had my Heart Cookies. They were not gorgeous - but I think they are much better-looking than the things I generally make.

I won't do it again though (I think) - the thought of making royal icing, dyeing them, outlining and flooding the cookies and then decorating with sanding sugar is giving me the shudders.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies

11 oz AP flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
6 oz butter unsalted
4 oz granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Sift flour, salt and baking powder together and set aside.  Combine butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add flour mixture in 2 batches, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Beat until dough comes together - do not overmix.  Form dough into a ball on a lightly floured surface, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Place better two pcs of parchment paper and roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut cookies into desired shapes and transfer to freezer and chill at least 15 minutes.  Bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chicken Baked with 40 Cloves of Garlic

I'm sorry for the really long absence but between the old job, the trips to Hong Kong, Macau and Perth and the new job - I haven't felt in the mood at all. I still been trying the recipes in my cookbooks though - although I haven't really been good with taking photographs. I simply did not want to overwhelm myself with editing so many photographs! I guess that's a (wee) bit of a perfectionist streak in me (just a little bit - I am suddenly reminded of how I regaled friends with stories of how I became an underachiever - and oddly enough, very proudly at that). With my wee bit of perfectionist though - I take way too long with tasks and assignments without deadlines because I just need to get the tasks/assignments perfect - and every little tweak (seem to) count.

My new job has been pretty good - decent hours and lovely colleagues. I am now working around the conservation shophouses in the Tanjong Pagar area so the change of environment has been really refreshing. I love walking out to lunch amongst buildings that have got more than 20 years in them, and to coffee shops helmed by uncles who look like they don't belong anywhere else but there. I'm still a bit apprehensive about the work I am doing - I know I can do a good job of it, but I am impatient and can't wait to learn the ropes well enough - to stop being a newbie and someone who is able to speak with authority and confidence. That will take a while - probably 3 to 6 months and while I know I'd get there - I just feel stuck in the present.

Meanwhile, it has been really great without a blackberry in tow. Gone are the days where I bring work out of the office into the home - where the blackberry would sit and vibrate on our dining table and I'd run and check to see if there are work that came in - even in the wee hours of the morning. Blackberries are seriously the ball and chain of work - it is truly liberating to walk around town or go for dinner or even just be at home, and know that I have really left my work where it should be - at work.

OK - back to documenting my experiments. I think this chicken is not too bad (considering that I left out the salt - which would have made the dish much better) but Kevin doesn't like chicken cooked like this so I guess we are not trying it again! And because I couldn't bear to cook with any of the white wine in my collection - I made a substitution and dumped the yellowtail in (because no one will drink it otherwise!) Yes, I know what they say about cooking with wine that you will drink but hey, I refuse to pass on the bottle to an unsuspecting host.

Guinea Fowl baked with Forty Cloves of Garlic

Adapted form Delia Smith How to Cook

Serves 4

1 chicken
30 cloves garlic, unpeeled
10g butter
2 tsp olive oil
6 small sprigs rosemary leaves
1 1/2 tbps rosemary leaves, bruised and chopped
1 1/4 cups white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the chicken.

Melt the butter and oil in the pot and brown the chicken carefully on all sides.

Remove chicken from the pot and toss the garlic and rosemary sprigs into the pot. Replace the chicken and sprinkle with chopped rosemary. Pour wine all around the chicken and let it gently come to a simmering point.

At this point, either seal with pot with huff paste*** and cover with lid or place a double sheet of foil over the pot before putting the lid on.

Place the pot in the oven and cook for 1 hour exactly.

Remove the lid and let the chicken continue to cook for another 10 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the cooking juices and garlic cloves.

***Add 150 ml cold water to 2 cups of flour to make a dough. Place all around the rim of the pot.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Eggs Benedict

Saturdays are made for brunches. Last night I promised the husband he will get eggs benedict for brunch. What I didn't expect was that today may just be the first and last time I am making these.

Immediately after plating them, I sighed in exhaustion and declared aloud to all and sundry (i.e. the husband) that I am never ever EVER making eggs benedict anymore.

Well, at least not after I learn what Jan's secret was. A couple of months back, she held a brunch at her place. Menu - eggs benedict. Verdict - yummilicious. She made it look so effortless that I was drawn into complacency when attempting these for the first time today. I thought I'd have culinary success with this simple breakfast fare but I think the sad truth was that I was on the verge of throwing things at the floor in despair a few times.

So how does she do it? I don't know but I told the husband I will need to learn a thing or two from her.

One of the first being, how not to use 8 eggs to cook 4 poached eggs.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sticky Lemon Chicken with Champ

This week is the last full week I have in the office.

After this, I will be in and out of the office and clearing leave. Naturally, I'm in a bit of an ORD mood (although the Boss seems to have forgotten that I am going to leave VERY SOON judging by the way he's piling work on me), and I have been trying to leave work at 6 sharp.

I like driving down my neighbourhood when the sun is just setting.

And because I have been reaching home early everyday, I have been inspired to cook, but it has to be something fast so that we don't eat dinner at 9pm.

So what do I do?

I turned to my Fast Food book collection. Gordon Ramsay in his book, Fast Food, promised that many of the dishes in his book can be prepared and cooked in less than half an hour. I decided to do a dish that will please the husband - sticky lemon chicken.

And announced that dinner will be served at 8.00pm.

Guess what?

We ate at 9.00pm.

Sticky Lemon Chicken tastes like, and I quote the husband, soya sauce chicken with a tang. The Champ (mash potato) wasn't too bad though.

Speaking of the husband, he sings this around the house whenever he feels like being irritating:

If you want to be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
So for my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you

Sticky Lemon Chicken
Serves 2

1 Chicken, cut into 5-6 pieces
Sea Salt and Black Pepper
Olive Oil
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
few thyme sprigs
splash of sherry vinegar
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp honey
1 lemon, sliced
Italian parsley, chopped

Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and brown the chicken over high heat with the garlic and thyme. Add sherry vinegar and reduce. Drizzle over the soy sauce and honey and mix. Pour in some hot water and add the lemon slices. Reduce until liquid is syrupy (about 10 minutes). Transfer the chicken to a platter and sprinkle over the chopped parsley.

Serve with champ.

Serves 2

500g potatoes, peeled and cut into similar-sized chunks
Sea salt and black pepper
15ml butter
chopped green onions
35ml whipping cream
35ml whole milk

Boil potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain well. Mash the potatoes and stir through the butter and onions.

Pour the cream and milk into a pan and bring just to a boil. Gradually pour onto the potatoes, mixing well. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

Can I tell you about what may possibly be the best muffin I have ever made? The husband said it first - and I gave him a look of disdain.  

Was he saying that my baked goods have not been yummy?

Secretly though, I think he may just be right.  I haven't made anything that the husband would eat up within a day of it being made.  For this batch of muffins, I was lucky to even be able to get photos.  Maybe the problem was that there were only 6 to be shared between the both of us (I halved the recipe you see).  But even then, 6 between the two of us can be classified as indulgence if you think about the butter, sugar and chocolate that went into the batter.

Anyway, I am so very pleased with this recipe that I would give it a 5-star!  I am planning to go and grab some more bananas to ripen so that I can make another batch this weekend.  It's really that yummy!  

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins.
Adapted from Baked - New Frontiers in Baking

Makes 6 muffins

3/4 cups mashed very ripe bananas (abt 1 1/2 Del Montes)
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/8 cup whole milk
1/2 egg (or 30g of an egg that has been beaten)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (3 oz) semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 170C, and prepare muffin pans.

In a medium bowl, stir banana, sugars, butter, milk and egg.  Set aside.

in another medium bowl, whisk flours, espresso powder, baking soda and salt.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill the muffin pans 3/4 full and bake in centre of oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Domo-kun Cake


We had a belated mum's day celebration on Sunday.

And I brought a Domo-kun cake. What's a Domo-kun, you say?

According to Wikipedia, he is a strange creature that hatched from an egg. His favorite food is Japanese-style meat and potato stew and he has a strong dislike for apples, because of an unexplained mystery in his DNA. Domo-kun is known to pass gas repeatedly when nervous or upset.

Not very glamorous right?

And it really probably wasn't very smart of me to bring a Domo-kun cake. The aunties all had a good laugh over the "monster-mum-in-law" cake. I actually guessed that would happen but I really wanted to make the cake after reading A Table For Two here!

On the plus side, my mum-in-law (I think she may be my biggest fan!) thinks my cake was very yummy! That's not too bad at all, considering that I basically used the chocolate cake recipe from the back of a box of Hershey's cocoa powder (it's my fave choc cake recipe!)

P.S. For the record, my mum-in-law is THE BESTEST mum-in-law in the world!

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake
Adapted from the back of a Hershey's Chocolate Box

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups AP flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup veg oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 180C. Grease and flour 2 8-inch square baking pans.

Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water and pour into pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely on a cake rack.

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup dark chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

Melt in bowl over simmering water on low heat. Cool before using.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

There are two things about me that salespeople really shouldn't know of. First, I am easy to persuade. I mean, REALLY easy. And I fall for every trick in the book - hook, line and sinker. Second, I like buying things. The thrill of swiping my card and the awesome presence of a one-hour old belonging in my house really makes buying things tops in my list of favourite things to do.

So, it was really no surprise to my husband when, after a cooking class at Shermay's a year back, I carted home a box containing a pizza machine.

What's that you ask?

Well, it's a super duper pizza machine, one that is guaranteed to churn out freshly baked hot pizzas in 5 minutes! It's perfect not just for a quick dinner for two at home, it's also perfect for a dinner party. Just lay out the ingredients, and let your guests do the work!

(By the way, an oven works equally well but don't tell my husband that)

Anyway, in order for this little red pizza maker not to turn into a white elephant, I have been making and baking pizzas from scratch using a recipe from Shermay. So that was great!

Problem was, I was getting more and more dissatisfied with my creature of habit of a husband who when asked, will without fail request for a ham and mushroom pizza. I think I've made ten pizzas using my little red, and I think all ten are ham and mushroom pizzas.

So, in an effort to persuade the creature of habit of a husband that there are other things in life that are just as yummy as a ham and mushroom pizza, I flipped to my Women's Weekly Book of Modern Classics, plag 56 and pointed.

And said -

Look, I have to try ALL recipes in ALL my books before I can buy a new cookbook. I have no choice. We HAVE to put olives and anchovies in our pizza tonight.

And implied -

If you want to make me happy, eat some olives! (I knew the husband really doesn't like olives but I thought I could persuade him to acquire the taste for olives, the same way I acquired mine...)

Verdict? Creature-of-habit-husband really doesn't like olives. He doesn't like basil leaves. And he doesn't like anchovies. Back to ham and mushroom then.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chocolate Mud Cupcake


Ok, here's a confession.

Wiggly, the reason why you didn't get birthday cupcakes from me is this:

They all SANK. Oh the shame.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Scrambled Eggs

I decided today that we should air the house. That means all the aircons are off and the windows are open. It's getting really warm but I like being able to hear sounds from the outside world - that means the leaves rustling as the wind blows, the water gushing at the fountain near the koi pond, and the neighbour's windchimes.

I made us brunch today. I think it's probably the first time I cooked a proper breakfast at home. We've had breakfast at home before, but as far as I can remember, we've only had cereal and toast - never something quite so greasy! I also thought that today would be good opportunity for me to try the scrambled egg recipe in my Delia Smith cookbook. I never realised until today how many different variations of recipes for scrambled eggs there are (I have four different recipes in my collection which was surprising to me because I didn't even think that scrambled eggs deserve recipes in the first place! It's almost like a recipe for boiling water!)

Anyway, I have always made scrambled eggs by gut feel - crack, beat, add salt and pepper to taste, cook, stir vigorously, serve.

What I didn't know was that there are rules to this. Like how the heat should be not too high and how the eggs should be removed from the heat when 3/4 of the egg is a creamy, solid mass and a quarter of it still liquid. Or what a great big difference butter makes (the more the yummier apparently).

Scrambed Eggs for Two
Adapted from How to Cook by Delia Smith
4 large eggs
20g butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crack and beat eggs in bowl. Add salt and pepper. James Peterson advocates adding a tablespoon of milk or heavy cream for each egg before beating. While my eggs are lovely this time around, I will try milk/cream next time - just to see if there are any real difference. Swirl half the butter in small saucepan over medium heat, until the bottom and the sides are covered. When the butter is just beginning to foam, pour in the beaten eggs and stir briskly using backwards and forwards movements all through the liquid eggs until 3/4 of the egg is a creamy, solid mass, and the remainder liquid. Remove pan from heat, add the rest of the butter and continue scrambling. As soon as there is no liquid egg left, remove from pan and serve immediately.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pork Bone Soup

So here I am, sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon, feeling all lethargic and lazy. I had a church wedding to attend this morning but I think we woke up just a couple of minutes before the bride was due to walk down the aisle. Can I say eeeks? I am now beating myself up with guilt. Really. I know I am terrible and that it's terribly insincere. But I woke up feeling like I needed to stay in my ratty old t-shirt and shorts and sit around the house and do absolutely nothing the whole day. I wasn't fancying a battle with the hair and putting warpaint on the face, or stressing over what to wear what to wear (the bride specified "late 19th century colours"). Sigh.

I think I will also give Muay Thai a miss this week. I don't think I can deal with a pair of smelly sweaty gloves today.

And even cooking - something that will normally get me up and going - failed to energise me today. I opted for an easy way out - we called in McDonalds for lunch.

Last week though, was a different story altogether. I made really good progress with my cookbooks.

Because I have to cook everything in my cookbooks, not just dishes that catch my eye, I am trying new things - things I wouldn't ever try if I had the choice, and in process, enjoying new flavours that are coming out from my kitchen. Like this pork bone soup. Normally, my thought process in relation to such a dish would be dude, it's just soup. With pork ribs. My mum makes pork ribs soup all the time. Who needs a recipe for pork ribs soup?

Except that my mum doesn't make soup with taucheo (salted soy beans), and what an interesting soup it was. I'd say it's more a pork-dish-with-lots-of-gravy rather than a soup - seeing how the broth is so rich and thick. It's comfort food at its very best and I'd definitely try this very easy dish again.

Pork Bone Soup

"A soup of pork and potatoes seasoned with garlic, salted soy beans and ginger" ~ Shermay Lee
Adapted from the New Mrs Lee's Cookbook Vol. 2
Serves 2
300g pork ribs (I added about 500g worth of pork bones to make the soup richer)
2 po
tatoes, cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp salted soy beans
3 tbsp oil
6 slices ginger
800 ml water
salt, to taste
a dash of dark soy sauce

Fry garlic and ginger in oil until light golden brown. Add the salted soy beans and pork. Stir-fry for one minute. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, and add potatos. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Add salt and soy sauce to taste.

Serve with rice.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bow-tie pasta with fried eggs and cheese

I love this dish for its simplicity.
When I first moved into my new home, I had two cookbooks to my name and I loved them to bits. That was just over a year ago. Now, I have maybe about 40 cookbooks sitting smugly on my shelves. My acquisitions have been quite deliberate. I generally only buy cookbooks that came recommended on reputable food blogs, and even then I'd pore over the reviews on Amazon before clicking the buy button.
I've never been drawn to this book - somehow it fell through the cracks. None of the bloggers I read mention this book. For me, the internet silence was deafening. I wasn't sure whether this book was worth it. I took the plunge though when a colleague of mine, a very good cook, had high praises of Jacques, and in fact attributed his good cooking skills to Jacques. Wow, that was inspiring, I thought and so I clicked buy.

Unfortunately, when the book arrived, I felt rather disappointed and uninspired. You see, the basic principle of the book is that food needn't be complicated. It can be fast, uncomplicated and still taste really good. I wasn't convinced. So the book sat on my shelves for the longest time.

I don't know why but I felt compelled to pick up the book recently. Immediately, I was captivated by the photo of an egg with a runny centre on top of a pile of pasta.

And so, the bow-tie pasta with fried eggs and cheese came into the picture. I really love the simplicity of this dish. It was very easy to prepare, and my trip to the supermarket was only for one ingredient, cheese. If I were to do this again, I'd do two eggs as recommended by Jacques Pepin. Two eggs would be just right.

Bow-tie Pasta with fried eggs and cheese
Adapted from Fast Food My Way, Jacques Pepin

Serves 2

Because of the simplicity of the dish, use the best possible olive oil, salt, pepper and Gruyere cheese.

6 oz bow-tie pasta
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp minced fresh chives (I used spring onions, since I had that sitting in my fridge)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp unsalted butter (I used cooking oil)
2 large eggs
3.5 oz grated Swiss cheese (I used Gruyere)

Cook the pasta and drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Combine olive oil, chives, salt, pepper and cooking water in a large bowl. Add the pasta and toss well. Plate the pasta and sprinkle on a heaping spoonful of cheese. Cook the eggs, covered over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Place eggs on top of the pasta and add more cheese. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sook Muy Tong

Did you enjoy the long Mayday weekend? I did, very much. I came back to work this Monday morning, rejuvenated from three days of surf-all-you-want internet and much-appreciated quality time with the husband (who has no choice as he is desk-bound by virtue of his upcoming exams).

I've been so inspired by my cooking successes over the weekend that I couldn't wait to come home and try the next recipe that I have earmarked.

Now, I am no stranger to this soup - it is probably my most favourite soup in my childhood days (I can't decide whether it is this or watercress with pork ribs soup). I reckon my mum knew this because we had corn soup a lot. We weren't really finicky eaters but I guess a mother of three needs a sure-winner every now and then (and every now and then would appear to be very often).

Meanwhile, I am dying to buy something on Etsy but the husband will view my purchase as disturbing behaviour...More on this at an appropriate juncture, else you think I am exhibiting disturbing behaviour as well...

Cream corn and minced chicken soup
Adapted from The New Mrs Lee's Cookbook Vol 2

200g minced chicken
1/2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tsp salt
a dash of pepper
4 tbsp cornflour
1 l chicken stock
2 eggs, beaten
425g cream corn

Add wine, salt and pepper to the chicken. Dissolve the corn flour in 5 tbsp chicken stock and combine with minced chicken mixture.

Bring chicken stock and cream corn to boil. Add the chicken mixture and stir continuously for 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the flame and pour the beaten egg into the hot soup while stirring.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Chicken Moolie

I woke up today at 12.30pm (needless to say, I didn't go to church - again) and had this on the table by 1.15pm.

I think though, that the quick cooking doesn't give the curry enough credit. There's simply not enough time for the flavours to come through. I have definitely made better curries (although I must admit that the "better" curries were all made from instant paste, never from scratch).

Having said that, this curry dish is really quick and easy, and perfect for days when you crave curry and need a fix in a rush. This is also lighter and not as rich as your typical curry.
"A mild and simple chicken curry"
Adapted from the New Mrs Lee Cookbook Vol. 2
1 kg chicken parts
1 tomato, quartered
5 tsbp oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 l coconut milk
For the rempah:
1/2 thumb size knob ginger
12 shallots
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsbp chilli powder
Prepare the rempah by grinding all the rempah ingredients together.
Heat wok until it smokes and add oil. Stir-fry rempah for about 3 minutes. Add 5 tbsp coconut milk and allow to simmer for 1 minute. Add the remaining coconut milk and bring to boil while stirring continuously. Add the chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Add tomato, sugar and salt and simmer for another 3-5 minutes.

Plain Mee Char

My motto for the moment is waste not want not (a refinement suggested by the husband after I proclaimed that my new motto in life shall be "don't waste food!" or alternatively, "not wasting food").
Last week, I made char kway teow. It was no big deal since almost everything came from a Prima Deli box. The recipe required some kway teow noodles, and some egg noodles (like a handful out of a bag I bought especially for the occasion). As a result, I had a bag of egg noodles left (come on - I only used a handful). I think it's kind of perishable. So in light of my motto, it was imperative that I use the noodles up.

Now, I HATE yellow noodles. They are really the reason why I don't ever eat fishball noodles although I lurve fishball. But this plain mee char is not too bad at all. And very easy recipe to make (although I did set my pan on fire at one point) . I think I may just be able to eat these yellow noodles after all!

We have rated this: Yummy! Can cook again! (Husband: without parsley, please!)

P.S. I have been feeling really guilty about my recent indiscriminate cookbook spree. So I proclaimed to the husband that I will not buy anymore cookbooks until I've cooked everything in each of my cookbook. (Even the husband was taken aback by the ambition. He said "erm, about 3 recipes from each book should be enough, la). But I would have none of it. Nosirree, when I decide on something, I will not change my mind (I'm a dumbass).

I'm starting with Shermay's Book 2 (because I can't remember where I left Book 1). So here goes! Wish me luck!

"A vegetarian fried egg noodles dish served in a sweet sauce"
Adapted from The New Mrs Lee Cookbook Volume 2

2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
2 sprigs Chinese parsley, finely chopped
6 spring onions, finely chopped
12 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp oil
3 chillies, sliced
1 1/2 tbsp gula melaka
1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
250g bean sprouts
500g yellow eggs noodles
3 tbsp fried shallots

(1) Stir-fry garlic until light golden brown.
(2) Add chillies and palm sugar. Add water to prevent burning.
(3) Add the soy sauces and salt. Stir-fry.
(4) Add bean sprouts, sliced tomatoes and noodles. Stir-fry.
(5) Add the spring onions and Chinese parsley. Toss.Garnish with
fried shallots.