Friday, December 30, 2011

Almond Choc Chip Cake

After one long month of marking English Language scripts, yesterday it finally came to a conclusive end.  Sighs of relief could be heard and constant chatting by my fellow examiners were rife; all planning what to do with the remainder of our holidays.  It also marked something special at this juncture of my service in the teaching profession and as always, I am happy to share goodies with my friends.  As usual what better way to make friends smile than to offer them some home-cooked food, and in this case I made for them, this Almond Choc Chip Cake!  Well, the recipe called for a 9-inch cake tin which I didn't have, so I made twelve huge cupcakes instead!   I am happy to note here that one of my colleagues even asked for seconds!  Fortunately there was an extra one left for him!  As with any other cake recipes, I especially adore this one because it is all in one!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fried Glass Noodles

My kids are currently crazy about anything that has to do with glass noodles!  Last week I made Glass Noodle Salad and that triggered their memories about the dish I used to make many months ago using this ingredient.  Actually, I saw this recipe being prepared by a cook at a Chinese restaurant and so I decided to replicate it at home and to my surprise, the kids loved it.  I guess they like it because of the texture of the glass noodle is a bit chewy compared to vermicelli.  Kids love chewy things I guess, so I made this for breakfast :-)

Penne Bolognese

I'm learning to be a bit adventurous with the dishes that I prepare and the one I prepared today is no exception.  You may know this recipe better by it's usual name that is Spaghetti Bolognese but I've decided to replace the spaghetti with penne.  And instead of putting the meatball sauce on top of the spaghetti and served, I've tried to layer the different ingredients of this pasta dish.

Actually the missus has been asking me to prepare Spaghetti Bolognese for quite some time now, but I have always found some excuse or other to get out of preparing it.  But since today is such a wonderful day and I'm in such a wonderful mood, I've decided to do it.  I did, however, tell her that I'm giving the dish a twist and she said it's okay.  Everyone loved the dish actually, except my second daughter who thought the tomato sauce was a bit sour (how many kilos of sugar did she expect me to put in the sauce??)  The preparation and ingredients are the same; only difference is the assembly!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rainbow Cake

I think it's a bit ironic baking a cake so named because of the very wet weather we've been having for this past week.  Irony or not, we all could do with a little more sunshine and not the odd half an hour or so rays and on odd days at that.  Then again, I am very thankful, nonetheless, that this wet weather is happening during the school holidays because at least we (teachers and students only; sorry!) can all cuddle up and keep ourselves warm at home.  And for me, baking is one way for me to keep warm, not least because I've got the oven on!  

Back to this Rainbow Cake; this recipe was shared by a colleague of mine, Cikgu Zubaidah Said who initially got it from her sister.  I think it's nice that people share things that they like and not keep it to themselves.  So, in the spirit of sharing, here's the recipe!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Potato Rosti

What can I say?  I had the oven out and there were some ingredients in the fridge and larder plus every body was hungry, so this is what I came up with.  I used to make potato rosti, but they have always been fried and in fact, I've never tried this one.  But it turned out just nice, a little tricky getting them out of the cupcake pan though, so next time I'll grease it with a little more margarine!  My kids loved it with some chili sauce (of course, to them, everything would taste better with some chili sauce!)  I only made a small batch of twelve rostis (enough for the cupcake pan) and it was gone before I know it!  And it didn't take long to put together either!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sheldon Shines Brighter!

After Sidney Sheldon passed away a few years back, I was left with a huge void as to whose novels would ever hope to replace his books as my favourite read.  I confess that I have grown up reading his books ever since I was in form four, thirty four years ago and had been collecting each and every one of his novels ever since.  It all started when I was waiting for a friend at the Loke Yew Building in Kuala Lumpur one day after school, and it had been pouring like mad.  I took shelter in a small book store in that building and at first, only wanted to browse around when my eyes caught sight of this rather plain looking book with a single black rose tainted with blood.  That was the first thing that caught my attention about the book.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Puding Som-Som

Another long, cold rainy day and the kids are hungry again.  Not that it's a bad thing because I know that they will like anything served to them when they are hungry; well almost anything.  Anyway, it's been raining for two days in a row and I'm too lazy to go to the nearest grocery shop to buy ingredients in order to make something for tea.  So, once again we (this time, my wife and I!) raided the larder and found ingredients to make this old traditional dessert, Puding Som-Som (in Malay).  Just four basic ingredients!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gifts For The Groom

The theme for this set of gifts was gold!  However, I had to offset the glitter of too much gold with some soft yellow and white.  Of course the main trimmings for any wedding gift decorations would be the ribbons and for this I used a couple of sizes of ribbons including the ones with the wired edges to ensure that the ribbons remain puffed up when arranged on top of the gifts.

The bride had also decided that the pedestals on which the gifts would be placed ought to be square(ish), which made putting the gifts on top a bit more challenging.  I decided to put the floral arrangements on one corner of each of the pedestals and using the gifts to cover the other three quarter part of the pedestals which were empty.

The bride also requested a place (or 'tepak') on which the ring for the groom would be put.  It was a last minute thought for me to come up with something to match the other gifts.  The initial one was rather simple, but adding ribbons and some crystals around the base, made it look more presentable.  I am happy to note that the relatives from the grooms side were all smiles when told that were allowed to take the decorated pedestals home with them, and not just the gifts as is normally the custom.  Here's wishing, may the bride and groom live a long and happy life together!

Pan-Fried Steak

In the west, having steak for lunch is not something out of the ordinary, but having steak in the east, especially here in Malaysia, calls for a special occasion.  As usual that special occasion for me and my family is when all of us are home, plus the fact that all my children has been hankering for us to prepare steak.  Of course, it is not difficult to prepare, but our society has always looked at meat as something of an accompaniment to rice, which means it does not take center stage.

Anyway, for a juicy result, of course the only choice for steak is rib eye.  I cut it to about 1 centimeter thick then marinate with chopped garlic, ginger, some pepper and olive oil overnight.  Make sure the meat has come up to room temperature before you start cooking it.  I fried it in olive oil for one minute a side because I like my meat medium rare.  And make sure you rest the meat before serving. And steak is nothing without the gravy.  Do adjust the flavoring to your personal taste :-)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Persona Layered Cake

No, I didn't try this recipe because its name is similar to the brand name of the car I'm driving.  However, I did try it out (the cake that is!) because ryo@Ryoazhar has put it so simply that I had to give it a go.  Plus the fact that all my kids are at home (the eldest is back for the weekend!) so shrieks of sibling teasing one another had to be silenced a bit by filling their mouths with food, aside from the fact that the cold weather is running havoc on everyone's meal time!

The result was a bit like Tiramisu.  Only thing, if I were to make this again, I'd leave the milk out or I'd dunk the biscuits in milk for a much shorter time!  But, my critics were kind to me as they devoured the whole batch of pudding in one go amidst  high tones of conversation and laughter.  My pudding didn't manage to silence them.  But at least they enjoyed the pud, and that was more than I could as for.  So, if you want to unsuccessfully keep your kids quiet, give this recipe a try!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Zucchini Loaf

Moody weather we've been having of late and the fact that it is cold does nothing to rid me and my family of our hunger pangs.  So this evening, my daughter has been ranting for something to eat for tea insisting that her tummy is making all kinds of noise.   So, again, I raid my fridge and my larder, and lo and behold, I have just enough ingredients to make this loaf that I made many years ago when I was living in Mary Morris International Residence in Leeds.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Creme Caramel Comel

Today was team building day.  Well, at least where cooking was concerned.  Since one of my daughters wanted Creme Caramel so I decided to delegate the tasks of assembling the dessert.  I started the ball rolling by searching for the recipe from old cookbooks in my collection (but ended up asking one of my colleagues for it!) after which the missus sorted out the ingredients and my daughter mixed everything up and poured the mixture into individual containers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cupcake Makeover!

Taking time out for a while, and as usual, checking out the fridge.  I have quite a few cupcakes given to me during my wife's niece's wedding reception.  They're nice just as they are, but I thought I'd give them a make over by putting some frosting and for the purpose of presentation, tie them with tiny ribbons.

It didn't take me long to whip up the frosting because all the ingredients are in the larder, including the silver thingies!  After piping the frosting onto the cupcakes, the kids had just enough restrain to hold back from devouring the cakes to give me just enough time to snap the pictures!  After that, they went like hot cakes (actually they were cold!) and the frosting made them even more irresistible (no modesty here!) 

Well, guess it's back to marking until the next time out!  Ciao! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Polka Dot-Dot-Dot

It's the school holidays and there's a lot of things to be done (by the parents!) and things that children need to do to keep them occupied in order to keep boredom at bay.  It's quite surprising to note that kids nowadays (pardon me for saying this) lack the imagination to do things to occupy their free time.  Children nowadays need, shall I say, things that are bought to amuse themselves like computer or video games, comics or even board (bored!) games.  Quite different from the days when I (and my siblings and other children our age) would look around us for things, like discarded tins, rubber bands, boxes, slippers, rubber seeds or even mere pebbles, then create games that would make us forget about our boredom.  The key word here is creativity!

Well, recently I noticed a bit of that creativity when my girls helped the missus make Apam Polka Dot.  The Apam did not just end up with polka dots on them but the girls made swirls and squiggles and even did some writings (note the ones in the middle!)

I am not sharing this recipe (hehe!) because if you want it you can ask the missus (it's hers!)  If not, you can always surf the net for the many cooking blogs for the recipe!  Happy surfing! :-)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chocolate Cake I

Last Tuesday the 15th of November, the Upper six students decided to have a farewell party before sitting for the STPM examinations.  They really went all out for the event because I overheard them planning to prepare a whole menu of food, all of them delicious (at least I personally thought so!)  Unfortunately, I was not able to attend because I was asked to be the master of ceremony for an official event at the open hall involving our town's assemblyman (woman in fact!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Asam Pedas Ikan Patin

The other day while waiting for the school day to end, I was talking casually with one of my colleague about on famous Malay dish that is Asam Pedas.  According to her, there are many different types of Asam Pedas and that they all vary in taste and thickness.  I was so used to the usual ones that my late mother used to prepare and now the ones that my wife frequently prepares.  

This colleague of mine hails from Melaka and so when she says that she know a thing or two about Asam Pedas, I knew she was being very modest.  After exchanging ideas on how to prepare the ultimate Asam Pedas, she finally shared one with me; a recipe which I have never really tasted and was eager to try.  And so  today, I decided to give her recipe a try.  Thanks Kak Mariya!

1 small ikan patin 
1 stalk vietnamese mint
1 small torch ginger bud
1 tbs fresh ground black pepper
4 tbs dried chili paste
5 shallots
4 cloves garlic
1 small piece shrimp paste ( very small piece!)
1 small piece galangal, bruised
1 tbs toasted coconut (kerisek)
some oil
tamarind juice (I used less to make a thick gravy)

As usual, grind the spices (chili, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste and black pepper).  Heat some oil in a pot and saute the spice mix.  When the spice mix is cooked, pour in tamarind juice (enough to cover the pieces of patin)  When mixture is boiling put in the fish, vietnamese mint and torch ginger.  Finally add in the 'kerisek' and season to taste.

P.S.  This Asam Pedas is a new high for me because after having the dish for lunch, I found myself slurping the leftover bowl of gravy like soup!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Banana Cake II

The school holidays in conjuction with a specific festival is long awaited by school citizens of all races and this time the holidays, which starts today, will be nine days long.  And as always, as a way to release all the stress of school, I have decided to bake!  I searched my pantry and I noticed I had all the ingredients I needed to bake a cake plus there were some over-ripe bananas.  So, the best thing to bake is a banana cake.  I know there's banana cakes and there's banana cakes, but I decided to give this recipe a try!

100g butter (I used salted butter since that's all I had in the fridge!)
100g brown castor sugar (ditto!)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g sour milk (full-cream milk plus juice from half a lemon)
100g mashed bananas (about two 'rastali' bananas)
200g self-raising flour

Beat butter and sugar until creamy and pale.  Add in the eggs, vanilla essence, sour milk and mashed bananas and mix well.  Then, using a spatula, fold in the flour until just mixed.  Pour into a greased and lined loaf pan and bake in a 180C oven for 40 minutes. 

P.S. This is a very moist and very brittle banana cake.  Love this one!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Giving Homok Talay a Try!

Some days you just don't feel like eating and everything just don't seem to tickle your tastebuds.  For me, today is one such day which got me thinking that I should try something new; in fact something that I had wanted to try making for a long time.  It's the Thai version of our local 'Otak-otak'.  Of course I tweaked the original recipe here and there (my apologies to the Thais) since my family do not like the smell of coriander leaves (but I just adore them! Sigh!)  But, anyway here's the reciple, minus the coriander leaves and kaffir lime leaves.

250g spanish mackerel fillets, cut into small portions
1 cup thick coconut cream
2 tbs sliced spring onions
1 tsp rice flour
1 medium egg
1 tbs fish sauce
50 g red curry paste *

Mix all the ingredients together, place in a heatproof container (I used ramekins) and steam for 10 minutes. 

The original recipe calls for 2 tbs each of sliced kaffir lime leaves and coriander leaves.  Meanwhile, the red curry paste is made by pounding the following ingredients together to a paste.
5 dried chillies, pounded
1 tsp galangal, pounded
1 tbs lemongrass, pounded
1/2 tsp kaffir lime zest
1 tbs coriander root, chopped finely
3 tbs shallots, sliced
A pinch of prawn paste
1/4 tsp pepper corn
1 tsp salt

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Brownies for Brownie Points!

It's been a while, yes, but I've been busy.  Like, today I finished invigilating the PMR examination and setting my own tradition as chief invigilator, I decided to treat my fellow invigilators to a home baked something.  It took me a while to think of what to bake when eventually I decided on brownies.  After all what better treat as brownie points for a hardworking lot of invigilators.

I'm glad the brownies went down well with the group.  Fortunate (or unfortunately, depending how you look at it!) these guys are the last lot to sample my baked treats, at least where invigilating exams are concerned; since I have from this year onwards decided not to invigilate anymore (or so I think!)  Anyway,  hope my fellow invigilators (the ladies at least!) will find this recipe easy to undertake and the result similar to mine, if not better.  Happy baking!

125g butter
100g dark chocolate
2 large eggs
200g sugar (I used brown sugar)
150g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g hazelnuts

Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler.  Remove from heat and beat in the eggs.  Add this mixture to the sugar, flour, baking powder and hazelnuts and beat until well-mixed.  Spoon into a lined and greased 9-inch tin and bake for 40 minutes in a 170 C oven.  Be sure to completely cool the brownies before cutting into squares.

P.S.  I prefer my nuts roasted prior to being used in a cake.  So I dry roasted them in a pan, removed the skin and bashed them a bit before chopping them!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Simple Burrito!

During the week long festive holiday, my family and I eventually got tired of eating the delicacies prepared during the occasion and thus decided we wanted to have something simple for breakfast.  I rummaged through my fridge and found some pieces of potato tortillas, some cold cuts, a few slices of cheese and two very ripe tomatoes.

With all the ingredients at hand, I really didn't need further encouragement from my family to prepare my version of burrito.  Quite simple actually!  I merely spread the tortillas with thick lashings of mayo, arranged slices of cold cuts (which I had blanched earlier!), a few pieces of cheese and some slices of tomatoes.

The result, as it turned out, was a very hearty and satisfying breakfast which my children and I enjoyed.  The same could not be said for my wife because she opted for a more traditional breakfast; bread with butter and jam!  Well, that meant an extra burrito for me!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pretty Pudding in Pink!

Fasting means to abstain from consuming food from dawn to dusk but it does not mean one cannot talk about it.  This is the thing that happens every month; when we can't eat food, we talk about it.  And in the process many recipes are exchanged between friends especially those that can be tried for Iftaar.  I am no exception because, since custard pudding is not my forte, I asked a friend for the recipe of this particular pudding which she made for one of our teachers' potlucks!  Of course, I tweaked the recipe here and there to cater to my own taste.  Luckily it turned out okay.  The only setback was it turned out pink!  Well, who cares about the colour as long as the taste was marvellous.  Thanks Fauziah and Faezah for tthe original recipe.  Here's my tweaked version!

4 cups plain water
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup cornflour
1 tin evaporated milk
1 tin fruit cocktail
1 packet powdered jelly (20gm)
1 large bottle yogurt drink (I used mango flavoured!)

Boil water, powdered jelly and sugar together.  Mix cornflour with the syrup from the fruit cocktail and the evaporated milk and add this to the sugar syrup stirring continuously until mixture thickens.  Cover bottom of a dish with half of the fruit cocktail and slowly pour the mixture into the dish.  Leave to cool then put in the fridge to set for a few hours.

To serve, cut the pudding into manageable sizes, put into a serving bowl and serve with more fruit cocktail poured over with some yogurt drink!

P.S.  You can tell this is not my recipe because most of the measurements are in CUPS! :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rozy's Roast Chicken

I must say that watching countless numbers of cooking programmes on my favourite channel has some how increased my confidence in cooking.  Today, after countless snide remarks by my children that I only watch the programmes but never try any of the recipes, I finally decided to try one.  This one is my version of Gina Steer's Oven Roast Chicken.  I used Italian herbs (since that's all I have in the pantry!) instead of oregano and thyme, plus I included carrots to add some vegetables to the roast.  Needless to say, my family enjoyed the roast chicken which we had for Iftaar, especially my son who consumed almost half the chicken.  I suppose that's a good thing because at least I know likes my cooking!  Anyway, do try this recipe and see if your family likes it too.

1.5kg to 1.8 kg chicken (no giblets please!)
4 large potatoes, quartered
6 small Bombay onions, halved
2 large carrots, cut approximately the same size as the two vegetables above
half a lemon, cut into four
1 head garlic, left unpeeled
50g butter
1 tbs dried Italian herbs
salt and pepper to taste.

Clean and prepare the chicken.  Mix the butter with the herbs and rub all over the chicken including under the breast skin for flavouring.  Rub the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper then stuff two of the onions into the cavity.  Place the chicken into a casserole dish.  Arrange the vegetables all around the chicken and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.  Cover the chicken with foil and roast in a 200C oven for one hour.  After that remove the foil and continue to roast for another half an hour at 180C until the skin turns golden.  Don't forget to squeeze the roasted garlic out of it's skin, mash it and mix it into the chicken juice to make the sauce!

Alternatively, for the potatoes, you can do like I did.  I actually boiled the quartered potatoes separately because my dish was too small.  When the potatoes are tender, heat some butter in a pan and fry the potatoes until golden brown and crispy (my children couldn't have enough of the fried potatoes!)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lip-smacking Lasagna

I have always had cravings for lasagna and have on one or two occasions satisfied them by having instant ones offered at a certain fast-food restaurant.  Even though the lasagna they had on the menu was seafood lasagna (I was shocked when I had it the first time!) I managed to swallow the layered pasta because of my craving.  I gave in to having instant and unsatisfactory lasagna only because I was too lazy to make one my own.

Well, the day finally came when my children decided that they too wanted some lasagna for lunch and I knew going to that fast-food restaurant would, firstly, take up a driving time of two hours to and back.  And secondly, it was cost me a small fortune to order lasagna for four!

So, once again, out of necessity, I decided to make my own lasagna (not that I have never made one before!)  But the version I decided to make was a vegetarian one, using two types of mushrooms to replace the meat!  See if you like the recipe.  If you do, be my guest and try it!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Apricot Blueberry Clafoutis

I really didn't feel like doing anything today, let alone bake.  Because the only thing I felt like doing today (after coming back from the Saturday Market, cleaning all the fish I bought and preparing all the ingredients for my beef stew!) was to just lie back and watch tv.  But as always, I gave in to the incessant pestering of my daughter, this time to use up the blueberries and apricots I had bought sometime back. 

Of course I have made clafoutis before (once!) when I was studying in the UK.  I know, I know.  You must be sick and tired of the same old line, but in all honesty that was where I first learned how to bake; as I mentioned, out of necessity.

And into the kitchen I dashed, got all my baking things and ingredients and started to whip up the simplest clafoutis (I told you, baking then was out of necessity and it still is!).  This recipe is so simple, any one can try it.  Read on and you will understand why.

40g ground almond
2tbsp plain flour
100g soft brown sugar
3 eggs
250ml full fat milk (of course!)

Place the blueberries and sliced apricots into a flan dish (I used my trusted casserole dish which had been slightly greased!)  Then, you just whizz everything else in a blender, pour mixture into the dish and bake in a 190C oven for twenty five minutes, until slightly brown and cooked.  So, there!  And in conjunction with clafoutis being a French dessert, I wish you bonne appetit!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Daring Durian Endeavour

A very warm hello once again to all friends who are now reading this entry.  I must admit it has been quite some time since I last wrote an entry into this blog, not because of lack of materials to write, but merely because of the lack of time.

Now that I have some time to write, since today is going to be the start of a long weekend including Monday.  And before I forget, I would like to wish al my Muslim friends happy fasting and may you get all the barakah the month of Ramadhan has to offer, Insya Allah.

My entry today is about this rather peculiar Durian Cake which I made as a way of saying thanks to one of my colleague who gave my family a whole container of ready-peeled durians.  Pn Hajah Mariya knew very well that I don't eat raw durians, which she had incidentally brought earlier for the Form 6 teachers!  So, she brought this batch especially for my wife and for me, so that I can turn it into something I would eat!

Of course, in order for me to eat the durian, I turned it into a cake; a Durian cake nonetheless, some of which I gave to my colleague.  She did ask for the recipe and I told her that she could get a hold of it in my blog; just to get her to visit my blog!  Well, for you Kak Mariya, here's the recipe!

250g butter
250g castor sugar
200g self-raising flour
50g plain flour
4 eggs
125g durian flesh, mashed

As usual, cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.  After that gradually beat in the flour alternating with the durian flesh.  Pour into an 8-inch square baking tin which has already been greased and lined with greaseproof paper.  Bake in a 185 C oven for about 45 minutes.  Since temperatures of ovens vary, adjust oven temperature and cooking time according to yours.  Happy baking!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Masak Lemak Daging Salai dengan Pisang Muda!

The other day my school canteen operator accepting a catering job from one of the local residents and one of the dishes in the menu included one that used Smoked Beef.  I don't very much fancy beef because I have had some unpleasant experiences with those that are stringy and sometimes not very fresh.  But when I saw my canteen operator actually smoking the beef, I quickly bought some from her. 

The usual way of cooking Smoked Beef is in coconut milk with bamboo shoots or a type of local mango.  I however prefer to prepare it with some young bananas.  This dish is a favourite amongst people from the state of Negeri Sembilan and the ingredients may vary from one district to another.  Nevertheless, this is my version of Smoked Beef cooked with coconut milk and young bananas.

5 stalks lemon grass
5 shallots
2 thumb size fresh turmeric
20 birds eye chilies
6 cups coconut cream
15 young bananas ( I like to have more!)
1/2 kilo smoked beef, thinly sliced
2 pieces 'Asam Kandis'
salt to taste

Grind the first four ingredients in a blender together with two cups of plain water.  Pour this into a pot, add the smoked beef and simmer until the beef is tender.  Then add the young bananas and boil until half-cooked.  Add the coconut cream, 'asam kandis' and kandis.  Simmer slowly until the bananas are tender.  Yum!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Longings for Nasi Ayam Penyet

My son has been going to Johor Bharu quite often of late and his frequent visit to the state (at least I feel they are frequent!) has helped to widen his gastronomic endeavours.  I suppose that is a good thing whereby his list of favourite food has now grown bigger, and so has his waistline (but he works hard at getting that excess 'spare tyre' by frequent jogs!) 

Anyway, one of the food he has given rave review (and if he does that, you can be sure the food is good!) is the Nasi Ayam Penyet.  I have heard of the dish but have never made it myself.  So, after searching the net, I came across a from where I adapted the recipe.  My thanks to the blogger!  My adaptation of the recipe is as follows, begining with the chicken :

1 chicken cut into 4
1 tbs cumin, dry-roasted and pounded
1 tbs coriander seeds, dry roasted and pounded
2 stalks lemon grass, sliced and pounded
1 thumb-size ginger, pounded
2 thumb-size galangal, pounded
5 cloves garlic, pounded
5 shallors, pounded

Mix the chicken pieces with all the ingredients and season with salt.  Marinade for at least three hours.  (I managed 1 hour because my son couldn't wait to taste my version of Ayam Penyet!)  Brush away as much of the marinade as you can, and boil the chicken until cooked (the stock can be used to make a simple chicken soup to go with the rice!)  Let cool, then season with the marinade once again, roll in rice flour and fry until the skin crispens.  Put the chicken between two chopping boards and press using your body weight to flatten the chicken (hence the name, Ayam Penyet!)

The dish is also accompanied with a selection of fresh vegetables (or ulam!) like sliced cucumber, salad leaves, long beans and tomatoes.  I also included fried 'tempe' which I fried after seasoning with some of the chicken marinade plus some turmeric (in fact, I rather prefer the 'temper' to the chicken!).  These then are eaten together with some 'sambal'; recipe as follows :

5 red chilies
10 birds eye chilies
5 shallots
2 ripe tomatoes
some dried anchovies
some shrimp paste and salt to taste

Fry the first three ingredients ( I used the oil I used to fry the chicken and 'tempe'!)  Then blend them with the rest of the ingredients.

Serve immediately, with the vegetables, 'tempe', chicken and hot plain white rice; not forgetting the soup!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Second Take At Bread Pudding

Dense but soft and not too sweet

I remember making this some time back but it turned out a bit hard, presumably because I used too many eggs and too little milk.  I was encouraged to try this pudding again today, again because I had a request from my children and this time my wife suggested that I make it a bit softer.

And this time I also added a little bit more trimmings than the last time.  Once baked, the pudding turned out as I expected, soft and not too sweet, much to the delight of my children (and my wife too!)  So, here's the recipe.
  • 8 slices day-old bread
  • 5 medium sized eggs
  • 1 tin evaporated milk (I used the 400g tin Ideal Milk)
  • 6 tbs granulated sugar
  • 2 tbs muscovado sugar
  • 10 glace cherries, chopped
  • 80 g almond flakes
  • some butter

Right out of the oven!

Beat the sugar and eggs until the sugar dissolves then stir in the evaporated milk.  Cut the bread diagonally into quarters and spread some butter on each slice.  Arrange in a greased 8 x 8 inch baking tin then pour the egg mixture slowly evenly over the bread.  Scatter the glace cherries on top of the bread followed by the flaked almonds.  Dot some butter and leave to stand a while so that the milk steep into the bread.  Bake for 35 minutes at 180 C.  Serve warm. (If your children can wait that long!)

Friday, July 1, 2011

No Nonsense Noodle Soup

 It has been a sweltering past few days and any food that includes thick, oily coconut cream is definitely out of the menu (for now at least!)  During hot weathers like what we are having now, the best food to have is something simple with a lot of clear broth.  So, using her better judgement, my wife prepared our Flat Noodle Soup with Garlic-flavoured Pickled Chili.  Of course, one would need to leave the pickled chili aside for a while before consuming it to get the true flavour of the garlic.  I like to garnish my noodle soup with shallot crisps, sliced scallions and bean sprouts.

We always prepared two types of noodles to choose from when eating this dish, but sometimes I mix both the flat noodles and vermicelli.  For the stock or soup, you would need to first of all dry roast 2 tsp each of cumin and coriander, then crush lightly with pestle and mortar and put into a muslin bag. 

2 lemon grass, bruised
6 pips garlic, blended
10 shallots, blended
2 thumb size ginger, blended
2 chicken thighs, cut into small portions
About 20 fresh fishballs
3 pieces bean curd sheets, broken into small pieces

Heat some oil in a stock pot and saute the lemon grass, followed by the blended ingredients and the two spices.  Then mix in the chicken and fish balls followed by five liters of chicken stock.  Lastly add in the bean curd sheets and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes.   Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the garlic-flavoured pickled chili, you will need :
10 green chilies, sliced
5 pips garlic, lightly bruised
1 cup distilled rice vinegar
1 cup plain water
1/2 sugar

Boil the sugar, vinegar and water until the sugar dissolves and let cool.  Stir in the garlic and chilies and leave aside to steep for about five minutes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Apple Cake For My Form 6 Students!

Today our school had its Co-op Day, as it has always done for the past five years since 2006.  The day was filled with several activities which started off with a formal assembly.  There were several speeches read by some Heads of Departments and activities that reflected tokens of appreciations.

One of the more interesting activities that was held, aside from the fact that there were no lessons for the day, was sales that were organised by students themselves, which meant they had to set up their own stalls, prepare the things that they wanted to sell, determine the prices and do the sales.  All by themselves!

Since the form 6 wanted to have their own stalls, but were initially undecided on what they would be selling, I decided to contribute something for them to sell, so I baked them Apple Cake.  Of course to make it more presentable for sale, I cut them into manageable pieces then tied them up individually into mini hampers!  The recipe is simple, so anybody can try making (and selling!) it.

175g self-raising flour
175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 medium-size eggs
half tsp ground all spice
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 red-skinned apples
3 tbs clear honey

Cream butter and sugar then beat in the eggs one at a time.  Sift in the flour and all spice and fold gently together with the vanilla essence.  Spoon into a greased and lined 8 inch square tin then arrange cored and sliced apples.  Brush with the honey and bake for about 35 minutes in a 180 C oven.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Starfruit Chili Crab

I have never been an efficianado of crabs, no matter how it is prepared.  It is however the favourite of all my children, especially the youngest.  Of course crab is very expensive over here, thus it is more of a luxury food which is only prepared for special occasions.  And my children prefer the crabs to be  prepared chili-style than anything else.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Story of Two Grass

Sometimes you tend to agree with the phrase 'Necessity is the mother of invention'!  However, I am by no means talking about mechanical or scientific inventions, but merely the desire to create a new dish just because you have grown tired of the same old tried and tested ones!  The euphoria is even massive when that new creation turns out to be something that your whole family enjoys!

Of course after having 'Nasi Minyak', 'Nasi Beriani' and 'Nasi Hujan Panas' countless numbers of times, my wife (yes! this one is by my her!) decided to change the ingredients for a certain rice recipe.  She thought of making the spices for the rice similar to those that are usually used to make beef or chicken 'rendang'.  She first, sauteed all the ground ingredients with some corn oil and margarine until slightly brown.  She then added chicken stock, brought it to a boil and then added in the rice.  After seasoning the rice with some salt, it was allowed to cook the same way you would ordinary rice.  Here are the ingredients for the spices!
  • 4 cups rice
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 5 shallots
  • 1 thumb-size ginger
  • 1 thumb-size galangal
  • 5 lemon grass, bruised
P.S. The title of this blog is actually referring to the lemon grass and rice, which incidentally belong to the grass family :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Request for Ratatouille

There was no spontaneous reaction other than a hearty belly laugh when my daughter requested that I cook something special for her in conjunction with Father's Day!  I mean, it's my special day and she wants me to cook for her when it should be the other way around.  Well, I guess it's a long time coming since she had been asking me to cook Ratatouille for her ever since she saw the dish in the animated movie of the same name.  She had been wondering what it taste like and the only way for her to find out was if I prepared it for her.

I was feeling tired after baking  a dozen Blueberry Cupcakes, but I thought, since I was in the mood for cooking, I might as well grant her that request.  After all it is not that difficult to prepare, since I'd already have all the ingredients in the fridge.  Of course I only prepared the simple version of Ratatouille so my apologies to all the chefs in the world who would faint at this simplicity!

Nevertheless I try to keep to the original ingredients, which are :
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 purple aubergines
  • 1 green capsicum
  • 1 yellow courgette
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Some thyme and basil (dried because that's all I had in the pantry!)
Dice all the vegetables.  Heat oil and saute onion and garlic then stir in the vegetables.  Then add in the dried herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste!  Voila!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blueberry Cupcakes for 20th Father's Day!

Twenty years ago on the 11th of November, I became a dad.  I couldn't describe my feelings then and I still cannot describe it now because the emotions that encompass within the inner walls of this father's heart keeps changing all the time, running amok with a huge gamut of different feelings, but always with that sense of joy and wonder.

This twentieth year of being a father is just like father's day before this.  The day passed without any special celebrations because I prefer it that way.  I feel that being a father is not something you celebrate once a year but something that should be instilled in everyone all the year round.  Something that should be remembered by the children and fathers alike, because the fathers were once children too.