Friday, December 31, 2010

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

It has been quite a while since I last cook this dish. I used to ask my mom made it for me during my younger days and to this day, it remains as one of my favorite dish. My mom usually did the pork in chunky style; the same as those you see if you order from any 'tai chau' place. As for me, I prefer to mince the meat and roll it into balls; the way most kids like it. I guess there will always be a 'kiddy' part in me. By right, you normally will not find a lot of gravy in this dish to go with your rice.  However since both hubby and I like to soak our rice with the appetizing sweet and sour gravy, I deliberately added more water to this recipe. But of course, I gotta increase the amount of ketchup as well.

Here's how I did the dish. The measurement has been left out.  You'll just have to estimate how sour, how sweet and how salty you want this dish to be.

Ingredients :
mince pork - marinated with sesame oil, soy sauce, salt , a little pepper and a little cornstarch

green capsicum - long strips
red capsicum - long strips
yellow capsicum - long strips
cucumber - squared
tomatoes - quatered
red chili - cut into an inch

pineapple - cut into small pieces
big onions - quatered
tomato ketchup
a little white vinegar
a little worcestershire sauce (optional)

1. Roll meat into balls and deep fried it till golden brown. Dish out and set aside.
2. Heat up oil, add in the onions. Stir fry for a while and add in all the vegetables.
3. Fry for a minute or two  then add in the pineapples. Pour in the ketchup, vinegar and worcestershire sauce. Add  in the sugar and taste to your preference.
4. Lastly, stir in the cornstarch to thicken the gravy a little.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

3 Cups Chicken

Recently I came across 2 very interesting blog and one of them had this recipe called 3 Cups Chicken. That was the 1st time I've heard of this recipe but apparently it's a very well known recipe and has been around for quite sometime. The recipe requires a handful of basil and I simply love the taste of basil. From the recipe, I deduce that the preparation should not be taking too much of my time and this is the kind of recipe that I desperately need. Nonetheless, I cooked it for dinner on my off day last week and it was fantastic. It was just me and hubby having it for dinner and I cooked 2 whole chicken leg. I meant to cook more so that I could bring it to office the next day as my lunch. As it turned out, the chicken was so delicous we both ate everything up in the claypot and not a drop of gravy was left in it.

2 whole leg chicken
5 cloves of garlic - chopped
5 slices of ginger
4 small red chilli
1 small bunch Thai basil leaves
1 cup Chinese cooking wine
¾ cup soy sauce
4 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 thumb size rock sugar or 1 tbsp sugar

1. Marinate chicken with soy sauce, 2 tbsp sesame oil, cooking wine and dark soy sauce for at least 4 hours.

2. Heat up the remaining 2 tbsp sesame oil in a wok or claypot until sizzling hot. Add in the garlic, ginger and dry chili. Stir fry until fragrant. Add in the chicken pieces and continue to stir until chicken changes color.

3. Add in the rest of the marinade liquid and sugar. Bring it up to boil, cover and cook and turn down the heat and let it simmer slowly.

4. Cook until all the liquid almost disappear and chicken is done. Check seasonings Add in the basil stir and dish out or serve it in the claypot.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Orange Chiffon Cake

Many people have told me that chiffon cake is one of the easiest type of cake to bake. I on the other hand think otherwise. For chiffon cake, you need to beat the egg yolks and whites separately. You cannot overbeat the whites else it the cake will be hard and not airy. However, you cannot under beat the whites either. The recipe always says beat the egg whites till stiff but the problem I am always facing is how stiff is consider stiff? Is it stiff enough or needs further beating? I've only made a pandan chiffon cake before using Fern's mom's recipe. Of course her mom made it better than me but I was very satisfied with the outcome of my chiffon.

Today I've decided to try my hands on Orange Chiffon Cake. For this, I do not need to find pandan leaves & squeeze the juice out. Neither do I need to buy freshly grated coconut. The recipe was derived from Bakingmum. Apparently she adapted the recipe from Kevin Chai but made some modification to it. The result of my baking is that the cake was not soft and airy enough. It's still very soft but not to the extend that I would have liken it to be. I attribute it to the beating of the egg whites. I guess I've overbeat it. Nonetheless, the chiffon cake still tasted good and brought out a really nice orange aroma. Here's the recipe. The * shows the modification I've made.

Ingredients :
(Part A)
7 egg yolks
50g sugar *(I used 40g)
60ml orange juice (I used 80 ml)
½ tsp salt
1tsp orange flavour/compound
4 tbsp cooking oil *(I used corn oil)
2 tbsp grated orange zest
110g self-raising flour
Few drops of orange colouring *(I omitted this)

(Part B)
7 egg whites
130g sugar *(I reduced the sugar to 100g)
½ tsp cream of tartar

(Part A)
1. Mix egg yolks, sugar, salt, oil, orange zest, orange juice and colouring in a mixing bowl. Fold in sifted flour until a batter is formed.

(Part B)
1. Whisk egg white and cream of tartar until foamy. Add in sugar and continue to beat at high speed until peaks form.

2. Gently fold beaten egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture until well mixed. Pour into a 22 cm chiffon cake mould and bake in a preheated oven at 170C for 30 -40 minutes or until cooked.

3. Remove from oven and invert cake pan to cool.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

X'mas Eve Dinner : Seared Sirlion Steak with Asparagus

It's really a blessing to work for an EU company because again they declared a day off for us on christmas eve. Hubby upon knowing this, applied for a day off too. We started our day without having any plans in mind but we know ultimately, we'll have a western homecooked dinner on x'mas eve.  We got what we were looking for in Cold Storage : a sirloin steak unmarinated because it was cheaper than marinated and a bunch cheap asparagus. Never in my life have I bought asparagus before because of  it's exorbitant price.

I was in charge of getting the greens ready while hubby offered to make a blackpepper sauce from scratch and get the steak done. It's a good thing I have this grill pan and hubby was able to sear the steak. As for the asparagus, I blanched it with hot water and later submerged it in cold water. In a pan, I melted a little butter together with a little olive oil, sauteed the garlic and threw in the asparagus and sprinkled a pinch of salt. It tasted awesome. And our quick fix dinner was completed with some steamed baby carrots, fresh vegetables and some cherry round tomatoes. I hope everyone has a lovely dinner on X'mas eve. Merry Christmas !

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chocolate chips cookies

I left office today after 8pm plus. By right the first thing I should do upon reaching home is to turn on my tv, sprawl on the couch and munch some snacks. Instead, I prepared a hasty dinner, sat down to eat with hubby over a tv program and then right after that, started baking this chocolate chip cookies. It was slightly before 10pm when I started it. I told you I ain't joking about this baking frenzy I'm currently in since last week. The recipe was derived from Technicolor Kitchen again. I am supposed to try it out tomorrow but I have another agenda on mind,  which is to bake a cake. I was kinda disappointed that my cookie colour did not turn out as nice looking as the picture shown. I would give anything to obtain that color but then again, with my Fagor oven, I've been encountering this problem for cookies. If I had used the high end oven in my office lab, I've every confidence in achieving the color that I desire. Each oven is different. Though you may use the same temperature, the cooking time varies.

For this chocolate chip cookie, I did not add as many choc chips as indicated simply because there just ain't enough of them in my fridge. Anyway, I console myself that this may be a good idea afterall since I'm been lamenting on my weight. The cookie turn out crunchy but for some of them, the sides were a little over-brown, hence crunchier. Perhaps I'll bake this as one of the chinese new year cookie.

1 ¼ cups (175g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (88g) packed light brown sugar  ** (I reduced to 60g and used molasses)
6 tablespoons (72g) granulated sugar ** (reduced to 60g)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract ** (I omitted this)
4 cups (24 oz/672g) semisweet chocolate chips – I used chips with 70% cocoa solids ** (I used 200g of Van Houten chocolate chips)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 180°C/350°F.
Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Use a tablespoon to drop heaping spoonfuls of dough  onto tray
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are lightly browned and the centers are golden, about 15 minutes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Butter Cake

You may have notice that the pictures quality that I've posted in the recent postings seems to be slightly different from the older ones. I need to confess that the recent 'not-so-nice' pictures were taken by me and not hubby. I hope as time goes by, I'll be able to improve on my photography skills but right now, please bear with my pictures. We came back from our Saturday errands late in the evening and I immediately started on my cake baking. I saw this Butter Cake recipe from Technicolor Kitchen and she said it's the kind of butter cake that grandma used to make. Err.. I guess Chinese grandma don't usually bake butter cake so this statement is not relevant to me. I like everything she makes and she even take very beautiful pictures of her food. For this recipe, she poured a very generous amount of icing topping. It looked so immensely nice with the snowy white topping but of course for the cake that I baked today, I cut the topping by half. The texture of cake is more than satisfying but I can't help feeling it's a tad too sweet for me. Perhaps you would like to omit the topping altogether or reduce the sugar in the cake.

½ cup + 1 tablespoon (127g) unsalted butter, very well softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (218g) caster sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ cups + 1 ½ tablespoons (225g) all purpose flour, sifted
½ teaspoon baking powder, sifted
¼ teaspoon baking soda, sifted
pinch of salt
½ cup (120ml) whole milk, room temperature

1 cup (140g) icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice or water

Preheat the oven to 160°C; butter a 20cm (8in) round cake pan, line the bottom with baking paper and butter the paper as well.

Place the butter, vanilla, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and milk in the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat on low speed until combined.

Scrape the sides of the bowl, then beat in high speed until the mixture is just smooth.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour or until risen, golden and cooked through when tested with a toothpick. Allow to cool in the pan, on a wire rack, for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold onto the rack. Let cool completely.

Make the icing: place the sugar in a small bowl and gradually add the juice/water, mixing until smooth (add more liquid if necessary). Drizzle over the cake.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Stir fry pea sprout with wolfberry

The weather is rather cold lately (by my standard) with the evening raining pouring down almost everyday. We are still slightly under the weather and have been eating porridge for dinner of late. Today is yet another simple vegetable as a dish to go with our plain porridge. As I am writing now, I could hear hubby chopping something loudly on my chopping board. He's preparing another dish to go with our porridge and I have no idea what he's making. I just hope he cleans up my kitchen after he finishes whatever he has started out. Well.. we'll see.'s vege is a simple stir fry pea sprout. It's of a different species where the stem is fatter, longer and juicier than the otherwise thin and scrawny stems.To make it slightly more tasty, I've added in a generous amount of strip ginger and an even more generous amount of wolfberries (kei chi). I was tempted to add in a little enhancer but since it's meant to be a healthy meal, I decided against it. It's great eating it with porridge and I can't wait to see what hubby is cooking.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peach Upside Down Cake

The need to bake an upside down cake finally caught up with me. The tin of peaches was sitting in my larder for the last 2 months and yesterday, only yesterday, I gingerly searched through the web to see which recipes to pick from. It was by pure chance that I came across this recipe from ICook4Fun. I studied through her recipe and I thought my chances of success should be pretty high. She provided the measurements in cups instead of ounces (I would need to convert to metric for the latter) and her method was rather straight forward, brief and precise.  Afterall, it's my very first attempt on any upside down cake. Without prior preparation the day before, I had to make a trip to Jaya Grocer's to get butter and other necessary ingredients. I thought the batter was not runny enough and added a little extra milk. As a result, I ended up baking the cake longer than the original 50 minutes as suggested. The top was already brown after 30 minutes but the entire cake was still wobbly when I gently shook the tin. That really got me worried because I wouldn't want to waste my entire morning, my energy and my ingredients on a failed baking attempt.  I was in for a very pleasant surprise in the end. The cake turned our beautifully. The texture was so soft and moist. I hope cousin Soo and hubby will enjoy eating it later/tomorrow. As for Devi, she was awarded a slice a while ago and I hope she likes it as much as I do.

Ingredients for topping:
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp brown sugar  * (I used molasses & reduced to 2 tbsp)
3 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced * (I used tin peaches)

Ingredients for the cake:
113g of butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp of milk* (I added 4tbsp)
1 tsp of orange zest

1. Line and greased an 8” round pan. Prepare the topping. Melt the butter and brown sugar. Pour it to the base of baking pan. Arrange the peach slices in a circle over the base. Set it aside.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 170 celcius. Cream butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in the egg one at a time until well combined.

3. Add in vanilla and orange zest. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Slow down the mixer and slowly add in the flour alternately with the 2 tbsp of milk (in which I used 4 tbsp). Mix until combined.

4. Spread the batter over the peaches and bake the cake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting it to a serving plate.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fried Wonton Noodles with Mince Pork (gan chau zhu rou mien)

The other day when I made the sui kow, I had plenty of mince meat leftover and also 2 bunches of wontoon noodles. Since I reckon I would be getting home from work earlier, I decided to fry my longtime favorite 'Fried mince pork noodles". This has been one dish I've mastered when I was in my Form 6. I guess I've got the inspiration to cook it from my mom and perhaps she had kinda guided me on what seasoning to use and what ingredients to go with this simple frying dish. Normally I would use Maggi instant noodles as the noodles but this time, not wanting to waste the frozen wontoon noodles in my freezer, I've substituted it with the maggie noodles. The effect was very satisfactory because the noodle was very slippery and hubby prefers thin noodles rather the fat & thick ones.

Here's how I fry it :

Ingredients :
Chili paste (already fried with lemongrass and pounded shallots)
Small onions - slice a handful
Mince pork
Mustard vegetables (I hope I got the name correct)
Tomatoes (optional)
Soy Sauce and pinch of salt
Black soy sauce
Wonton Noodles

Method :
1. Heat up oil and fry the onions. Once slightly brown, add in the chili paste.
2. Add in the mince meat and fry till cooked.
3. Add in the stems of the vegetables, saute a while before adding in the rest of the vegetables.
4. Dish in the noodles and add in all all the seasonings.  Done !

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Avillion Resort, Port Dickson

I am not a person who will splurge a large sum of money on luxurious hotels or should I say hotel rooms that cost a fortune. But then again, how much is considered exorbitant? Hubby has been telling me about water chalet in Avillion Port Dickson even before I married him. Apparently, he had been there many years ago on a company trip (huh.. company trip indeed !). There is a choice of water chalet or garden chalet to choose from but of course the ultimate reason for people to stay here is because of the water chalet which faces the sea offers a fantastic view of the Straits of Malacca. The rooms were designed with a combination of both old charm and modern comfort. I love the private little balcony where there are 2 rubber wood reclining beach chairs where you can just sit on with a nice book in your hand, facing the sea, with the wind billowing at your face while the sea water is lapping underneath you. The bathroom is spacious and has an open air standing shower and a bathtub. There is of course a double bed for couple but additionally, they provide what you called a day bed. It's actually a bed which I think is meant for couple lazing around. I just love the architecture and finishes of the room.


The kids are not only drawn to the pool but also to a little animal feeding ground where you'll find rabbits hopping around, some 'tamed' cocks perching on low branches, several guinea pigs scurrying around as well as some colouful peacocks. Not having a kid on tow, I joined in the feeding of the animals with the kids :)

All in all, it's a wonderful experience to have stayed here for a night , to enjoy the amenities that the hotel can offer and I'm sure it's a novel experience to stay in water chalet for most people.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sui Kow with Wonton Noodles

I still have not fully recover from the 1st onset of my illness more than 2 weeks ago. As such, my tastebud has changed from the usual fried and spicy related food to something soupy and bland. I took a day off yesterday had initially planned to cook nasi lemak. Since both hubby and I are still under the weather, I decided to make Sui Kow (dumplings). The broth I cooked with lots of anchovies and it's 100% free from those instant cube enhancers. The recipe was derived from rasa malaysia but then again, I didn't follow it exactly.

Sui Kow filling:
Mince pork
Carrot - cube
Fungus mushroom - slice thinly
Waterchestnut - cube

Seasoning for filling :
Oyster sauce
Sesame oil
Soy sauce

I made the broth or the soup with just boiling lots of anchovies in hot water and keep it simmering in low heat for 2 hours.

Of course an inevitable ingredient here is the sui kow skin (dumpling skin).  Since this was gonna be our dinner, I bought wonton noodles from the morning market. Hubby had the soup wonton noodles with the dumplings while I whipped out a kon lou version (dry type) of wonton noodles.