Monday, August 30, 2010

Fried String Beans with Chives & Egg

There are many ways to cook string beans or long beans. You can stir-fry with dried prawns and chilli paste, add it to sayur lodeh, vegetable curry, fried rice, etc, etc.

A favourite of mine is to fry it with eggs.

What I Used:

6 to 8 string beans, chopped thinly
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
some chives, cut to 2-cm lengths
some prawns, cubed
2 to 3 eggs, lightly beaten and seasoned with some salt
a little water
sliced chilli (optional)

What I Did:

1. Heat some oil in a pan and saute garlic, onions and string beans.

2. Add a little water to cook the beans to soften slightly.

3. Then add prawns and chives, stir to mix.

4. Pour egg over and leave it to set, then turn over to cook the other side.

5. Serve with rice or eat it in a sandwich.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Spicy Sting Ray (Ikan Pari)

I've been cooking rather simple fare and quite bland food for a while. It's time for a slight change of menu. My poor husband simply cannot eat bland food for too long. He doesn't care if it's for health's sake. So on days when I don't cook, he would go off and return with a big packet of Malay food and rice. To make up to him, I cooked his favourite fish - sting ray or ikan pari in Malay. It is a very easy dish to cook.

Sting ray was not a popular fish before, but now the demand for it is so great that its cost has escalated many times more. But we have to eat!

What I Used:

About 700g sting ray, cut into chunks
(Before cutting, remove the black skin(topside) or scrape with a knife to remove the 'dirt'. I prefer to remove the skin. Next scrape the white part(underside) to remove the slime. Rub salt and scrub with hands, then rinse and cut)

1 large onion, sliced
3 to 4 kaffir lime leaves
1 tomato, wedged

To be ground:
2 medium-sized onions
4 dried chillies, soaked and drained
2 fresh red chillies
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon belachan

1 packet coconut cream (I used Kara)
salt to taste

What I Did:

1. Heat oil and saute sliced onions and ground ingredients till the oil comes through.

2. Add fish and stir gently to cover the pieces with the spices.

3. Add some water and simmer till fish is cooked.

4. Add kaffir lime leaves, tomato and coconut cream and some water (depends on how much gravy you want). Add salt and bring to a boil. Remove from stove and serve.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Simple Fare - Potato and Bean Curd

Simple fare
Just for the two of us!
Cheap! Good! Easy!

Stir-Fried Potato

2 medium-sized potatoes, cut into strips
1 piece fish cake, cut into strips(leftover from mee siam)
1 large white onions, cut into strips
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 red and 1 green chilli, sliced
1 tomato, wedged
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
a little dark soya sauce
juice of half a lemon or 2 teaspoons vinegar
sugar to taste

1. Heat a little oil in a pan, stir fry potato strips till lightly brown and remove from pan.

2. Add a little bit more oil in pan, saute onion and garlic for a while and add the potatoes.

3. Stir to mix and add some water, bring to a boil, then simmer to cook potatoes.

4. Once potatoes are soft, add fish cake, oyster sauce to taste and a little dark sauce for colour, lemon juice, chilli and tomato and sugar. Stir to mix and let fry for a while and it is done. There's very little gravy for this dish.

Stir-Fried Bean Curd(tau kwa) with Bean Sprouts (leftovers from mee siam)

1 piece of bean curd, sliced and fried
a handful of bean sprouts
some chives, cut to 3-cm lengths
1 tomato, wedged
2 cloves garlic, chopped
any seasoning preferred

1. Heat oil in pan and saute garlic for a while. Don't let it turn brown.

2. Add bean curd, stir fry for a moment, then add bean sprouts, chives, tomato and seasoning all at one go.

3. Stir fry till mixed and remove from heat. Serve with rice.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mee Siam

My younger girl has not been coming home for her meals lately. She is a volunteer, helping out in the Youth Olympics. That's why lately, I've been resorting to cooking simple fare for myself and my husband.
Today, I felt like eating mee siam.
I love mee siam, in fact anything that's bee hoon! The danger of my cooking bee hoon is that I don't have limits eating it. Today is one such day! BURP!!

Forty-two years ago, I met a charming Indonesian lady in her late thirties . She was one of my guy friends' aunt. I learned a lot of baking and cooking from her. She was very knowledgeable in the art of cooking and baking including cake decorating with buttercream, royal icing and even gum paste. You could say she was my 'Guru' or 'Sifu' then.

I learnt to cook many Indonesian dishes. The mee siam is one of them. Hers is a wet version with gravy but I did a dry one instead and tweaked it a little.

What I Used:

500g bee hoon (vermicelli)(I used the thick ones meant for laksa)

1/2 cup shelled prawns (I omitted this and used sliced fish cake)

B (to be ground)
2 teaspoons belachan
3 cloves garlic
10 dried chillies, soaked to soften
12 small onions

50g dried prawns/hae bee/udang kering, soaked and ground
1 and 1/2 tablespoons preserved soya bean paste/tau cheo
2 big onions, sliced
2 handfuls of bean sprouts/tau gay
1 tomato, sliced
1 tablespoon assam, soaked in 300g water and strained
sugar to taste (I used 2 tablespoon gula melaka syrup)

D (save some for garnishing)
3 pieces tau kwa, fried and cubed
2 eggs, beaten and made into omelette, cut into strips
a bunch of chives, cut into 3-cm lengths

fried shallots

What I Did:

1. Heat oil and fry ground ingredients.

2. Add sliced onions, dried prawns and bean paste and fry for a while.

3. Add fish cake and bee hoon and stir well to mix and then add assam water and simmer to cook.

4. Add bean sprouts, tomato, 1/2 tau kwa, omelette and chives and gula melaka. Stir well and fry for a couple of minutes. Do not overcook bean sprouts or it will be soft and limp. No salt is required as the dried prawns and bean paste are salty enough.

5. Serve, garnish with remaining tau kwa, omelette, chives and fried shallots. Squeeze juice of one lime over mee siam. Yum!

I forgot to buy limes when I went to the market this morning. I had to make do with lemons which I happened to have in the fridge.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Crocs Alive at Swampland!

My oldest grandson turned eight on Thursday. He requested for a chocolate crocodile cake.

Instead I baked him a light butter cake and threw in some chocolate chips. Frankly I was getting bored baking chocolate cakes all the time and I wanted to have a chance to do something else.

I covered the cake with chocolate frosting - that's the closest I could do to accede to his request for a chocolate cake!

Here it is!

What a mess!

The crocodiles, tree, birds and the butterflies were made of fondant with tylose added to it so that they would harden and not become sticky in this humid climate.

The 'mud', flowers and leaves were home-made marshmallow fondant. My grandsons had a whale of a time peeling off the leaves and flowers and popping them into their mouths.

I didn't allow them to eat those with tylose added as the fondant was bought and it doesn't have a nice taste.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Brinjal and Spicy Dried Shrimps

I love brinjals and I eat them cooked with chilli or coconut milk.

When I was a child, my mum forbade me to eat too much brinjal. Her reason was - "It's bad for the eyes!" I never thought of asking her to elaborate further because I would be deemed rude and disobedient then. Nevertheless, I still eat it and today I have to rely on a pair of 'extra' eyes! LOL!

I Used:

2 purple brinjals (don't seem to see green ones around for a while), sliced to size and leave to soak in salt water to prevent discoloration. Drain water before cooking.

2 to 3 tablespoons dried shrimps (hae bee/udang kering), soaked in water for a while and drain off. Use grinder and just pulse once to get it coarsely ground.

1 large onion, sliced or chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chilli paste (for nasi lemak)

Sliced red chillies, optional


What I Did:

1. Heat a little oil and fry onion, garlic and dried shrimps for a minute or so.

2. Add chilli paste, stir to mix.

3. Add brinjals and stir to mix before adding some water to cook. Do not add too much water at one go. Cover to simmer to cook. Check if more water is required from time to time.

4. Taste to find out if salt is required. I didn't add any salt as the chilli paste is already seasoned and the dried shrimps are quite salty.

5. Cook brinjals to your preferred softness. I like mine 3/4 cooked, not too mushy and with a little gravy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stewed Chicken in Soya Sauce

This is a very easy-to-cook dish. You definitely can't go wrong with it. I cook this when I'm in one of those 'don't know what to cook' mood!

What I Used:

4 whole chicken legs, chopped to preferred size (I removed the skin)
6 slices of ginger
2 tablespoon sesame oil
About 3 to 5 tablespoon light soya sauce to taste
1 teaspoon dark soya sauce to give some colour
a little sugar to taste
1 tablespoon hua tiao chiew (wine) optional
enough water to cook

How I Did It:

1. Saute ginger in sesame oil till fragrant and then add in chicken and stir fry for a short while.

2. Add sauces and water. Bring to a boil and then cover to simmer till chicken is cooked.

3. Add sugar to taste and then the wine. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.

4. Serve hot with rice.

This stir-fried broccoli with mushroom and carrot in oyster sauce was the accompaniment to the chicken.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I have this newspaper cutting of a taralli recipe which I singled out one night to be on my to-do list.

Taralli is a kind of Italian snack or biscuit which can be sweet or savoury. There are many variations.

I googled for more info and recipes. Most recipes use yeast and white wine and the boiling method before baking. The recipe that I have does not use yeast but requires white wine and extra-virgin olive oil which I don't have either.

Then I came across a recipe which uses red wine (which I have) and baking powder.

Here are the two recipes which I tweaked to get my own.

From the newspaper cutting:

1 cup white wine
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
5 cups plain flour
2 tsp black pepper or chilli powder or chopped fennel seeds
1/2 cup chopped almonds
Whole almonds to decorate
1 beaten egg for glazing

From turosdolci.wordpress :

5 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup red wine
1 cup oil
egg glaze

My tweaked version:

5 cups plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin powder (didn't have any fennel)
1 cup red wine
1 cup olive oil
1/2 almond nips
egg glaze

How I Did It:

1. Sift all dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl.

2. Add oil, wine and almond and mix into a dough. Wrap in cling film and rest for 30 minutes.

The dough looks like meat due to the colour of red wine.
3. "Take golf ball-sized pieces of dough and roll between palms of hands to make finger-thick lengths. Form lengths into a loop by pinching the ends together."

4. Place loops on oiled tray. I lined the tray with foil and then oiled it. (makes washing easier)
Egg glaze the top.

The loops on a lined and greased with oil tray.

The egg-glazed loops
5. Bake in pre-heated oven 160 deg C for 40 minutes or when it becomes crispy.

6. Cool and store in air-tight containers.

The baked loops

The inside of a loop

I love the crunchiness and the not-so-sweet peppery taste. It is after all a healthy snack.

I will definitely make this again though it burns a little hole in the pocket because of the red wine. ;P
I will also adjust the size and make them thinner and smaller.
I will also try boiling the loops before baking to find out the difference in taste and texture.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Orange Chiffon Cake

Chiffon cakes were a rage way back in the 60s. I remembered baking almost every other day for my friends and friends' friends. They were not sold at bakeries nor cake shops then.
The most popular flavour was the pandan chiffon.

I did not have any coconut cream nor pandan leaves but I have a bottle of orange cordial.
So I made 2 chiffon cakes. I was a little worried as to whether the cakes would turn out well as I have not baked chiffons for almost 20 years. I gave up chiffons and went on to bake other types of cakes - chocolate torte cake, chocolate fudge, blueberry cake etc....

What I used:

4 egg yolks
2 tablespoon corn oil
75 ml orange cordial ( I used Sunquick)
100g Softasilk cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon orange essence or 2 teaspoons orange zest

7 egg whites
100g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

What I did:

1. Use a hand whisk to mix egg yolks, oil, essence and orange cordial in a bowl.

2. Sift flour and baking powder and add to the yolk mixture and mix well.

3. Add sugar and cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat at medium speed for a few seconds and then turn on to high speed for about 4 to 5 minutes or till egg white is stiff.

4. Pour the yolk mixture to the egg white and carefully mix with a spatula until combined. Do not over mix or the mixture will turn watery.

5. Fill up two 18-cm tube pans and bake in pre-heated oven 160 deg C. for about 50 minutes.

6. Over turn tube pans to cool cakes before removing.

The cake seems over-baked because at 160 deg C, my oven was too hot for chiffon. The cakes over-tanned within 15 minutes before I realised it. I lowered the temperature to 140 deg C. Thankfully the texture of the cake was not affected. It was soft and moist.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tom Yam Chilli Sambal Fish

I have a pack of about five 20-cm groupers left from my hubby's last fishing trip. I don't mind eating fish but I dislike having to scale and clean them. In fact I have been putting off cooking this last batch for a while.
To make my job easier, I chopped off the heads and belly - I don't have to wrestle with the gills and guts!!

I finally did it and as they were not fresh enough to be steamed, I make something spicy.
I had a jar of tom yam paste which I bought some months ago.
I had to use about 3/4 jar of paste before I was quite satisfied with the taste. It was still not good enough. I didn't get the 'oomph' I wanted.
I resorted to adding some home-made chilli sambal, 3 stalks of sliced serai and 4 chilli padi and WOW!

What I used:

3/4 jar tom yam paste
3 tablespoon chilli sambal
3 stalks serai, sliced thick
4 chilli padi, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
juice of one lemon
salt and sugar to taste

What I did:

1. Fry onions, serai, chilli, tom yam paste and sambal.

2. Add in lemon juice and some water.

3. Bring to a boil and season the gravy before adding the fish.

4. Simmer till the fish is cooked.

5. Serve with a spoonful of nonya achar.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Savoury Pancakes

I like to prepare one-dish meals that are fuss-free. This is one of them.
It can be eaten as a snack or a light lunch. It's healthy too!

What I used:

3 tablespoons plain flour
1 large egg
About 3 tablespoons stock or water

5 button mushrooms from the can, sliced
a handful shredded carrot
1 medium-sized potato, shredded
1/2 medium onion, chopped coarsely
1 sprig spring onion, chopped
1 sliced ham, chopped coarsely

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves ( fresh ones would be better)
2 to 3 teaspoons parmesan cheese

salt to taste

What I did:

1. Microwave potato with a little water to cook till slightly soft but not mushy.

2. Beat egg and water lightly and add to flour to make a batter. Add a pinch of salt.

3. Saute onion in a little oil for a minute, then add the potato and carrot. Stir fry for a couple of minutes.

4. Add the rest of the ingredients B and cook for a minute or two. Remove from fire.

5. Add the fried ingredients to the batter and mixed in cheese and oregano. The mixture may seem like there's more B than batter.

6. Use a non-stick pan and a little oil, spoon a portion of the mixture and spread it out to make it flat. Cook both sides till golden brown and serve.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Baked Curry Puffs

Another attempt to make curry puffs!

This time I decided to try Zurin's recipe.
There was no sign of the spirals again, this time probably due to the egg-glaze. But the pastry is great and it tasted good.

I won't post the recipe and the method as it can be obtained from Zurin's blog: Cherry on a Cake.

The filling is the usual curry potato but I added some minced beef as requested by my hubby.