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.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mango Madness

Every year at this time of the year it's mango madness time because mango trees seem to be bearing fruits every where they are grown, from the north of the peninsular to the southern tip; with their varying types of shapes and sweetness.

"Harum Manis" which means "Fragrant Sweetness" when literally translated, is the crave of many mango enthusiasts, because, as it's name suggests, is favoured for its sweetness and fragrance, plus the smoothness of its flesh.

However, being someone who is most of the time different in taste from other people, I somehow do not fancy the "Harum Manis".  I usually prefer the unripe variety which is more sour in taste and crisp in texture.  Of course it being sour, I don't just eat it like that but usually turn it into a simple local salsa.  Any time you have some unripe mangoes in the fridge, make this simple accompaniment!  You need:
  • 3 cups of shredded unripe mango
  • half a carrot, julienned
  • 5 shallots, sliced
  • 3 birds eye chili, chopped
  • 3 squids cut into rings and poached
  • lime juice, fish sauce and sugar to taste
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Adjust seasoning and serve!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Duck Eggs in Turmeric Gravy

Who says you need to buy all the ingredients when you want to cook a dish?  I can tell you that in some situations you can get all the ingredients for free.

I recently went to visit my in-laws and it just so happened that quite a few of my other in-laws were already there.  By the end of the day, we decided to say our good byes, but before that, we distributed among us things that some of us had brought from our homes; things that we either planted or reared.

One of my in-laws who reared ducks began distributing duck eggs while another one distributed coconuts she had collected from her tree in the backyard.  The eldest in-law provided some carambola and some birds eye chili and I gave them turmeric roots and leaves which were growing in abundance in my garden patch at home.  All the ingredients, when put together,  became the crucial ingredients in making "Telor Itik Masak Lemak" or Duck Eggs in Turmeric Gravy.

This recipe does not focus on the idea that it is such a simple and ordinary recipe (for us over here!) but it focuses on the fact that things to cook with can be free and it can be obtained right in your backyard or the backyards of your relatives.  Nevertheless, here's the recipe!
  • 5 duck eggs
  • 750 ml coconut creamed, pressed from one coconut
  • 15 pieces carambola
  • 15 birds eye chili (less if you want less heat!)
  • 1 thumb-size turmeric root, pounded
  • 1 piece turmeric leaf, torn
Put all the ingredients into a pot and bring to a slow boil so that the coconut cream does not split.  Then break the eggs in a separate bowl, and slide them one at a time into the gravy.  Poach slowly until the eggs are totally cooked.  Best eaten hot with hot rice!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weddings and Things

I've made a few gift arrangements especially weddings, namely weddings of relatives.  Well, it all started many years back when my wife and I were dabbling on making small flowers to decorate some neighbours wedding gifts.  Of course, things did not take off full flight from there (it still hasn't and I have no big intention on such an endeavour!) but close relatives have relied on our so-called abilities ever since.

This simple collection was made for my wife's nephew (her sister's son!) who got married sometime back.  He requested that we made something simple because the gifts would be from the groom to the bride and it wouldn't be appropriate if the groom's gifts overshadowed the gifts from the bride's side.  Of course, the only exception he made was the pink colour theme because his then wife-to-be really like the colour pink.

Of course, one of the more traditional gifts that both sides would exchange is the gift of beautifully arranged betel nut leaves.  I for one do not see any practical function of these bitter leaves, except that it was once customary for people who descend upon other's homes to bring these leaves and offer them as a friendly gesture before actually bringing up the subject of marriage.

Well, betel leaves or not, people still get married.  And gifts will continue to be an integral part of the ceremony!

Sister's Sambal

I don't actually know the origin of the name of this chicken dish.  However, I seem to recall that my late mum used to call it by it's local name that is "Sambal Kakak" which when translated, literally means "Sister's Sambal".  Perhaps other people may call it (based on the similarity of the ingredients) by other names, but I know it by what my mother used to call it.  I used to love this dish, now it's one of my children's favourite.  They usually dig in once the dish is ready, and hence the single chicken portion in the picture, which I managed to save to immortalise in this foodie blog!
Anyway,  I say used to because, of late, I have started to reduce the consumption of coconut cream (one of the ingredients) and chicken!  But, once a while when I get an overwhelming request from my children, then I give in.  I only cook the dish, though!  It's that simple!
  • 1 chicken cut into 16 portions (I used a large one!)
  • 3 stalks lemon grass - grind
  • 5 large shallots - grind
  • 5 cloves garlic - grind
  • 1 thumb-size ginger - grind
  • 20 pieces dried chili - grind
  • 1 large "Asam Keping"
  • 6 cups coconut cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
Heat oil in a wok and saute the grounded spices until fragrant.  When the oil floats to the top add the chicken and let simmer for about 5 minutes.  And in the coconut cream and "Asam Keping" and simmer for another ten minutes or until chicken pieces are tender.  Season with salt and sugar to taste!

P.S. If "Asam Keping" is not available, substitute with two tablespoons of tamarind juice.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cards from the Heart!

It's that time again folks!  It's time to start making cards once again starting with a few samples for my sister who will be celebrating her birthday next month!  I know it's still a long way, but like I mentioned in the opening of this blog, this one of the little things I like to do when I have nothing to do.  And right now I have some time on my hand.  How better to keep me occupied but by making some cards of my own.

I don't have any particular theme when making my cards but I thought this time, since this sister is special to me, I've decided to include some of our favourite pictures as part of the card which I imported from my Picture Files.  Of course, using on-line applications helped a lot too!

And since this sister is a special person, I decided to make two cards so that I could choose the one I feel is the best to represent my sister.  Of course, if I can't choose one, I will probably send her both the cards that I have made.  After all the cards are for her birthday!

And, oh yes, I have made these cards to fit the commercially sold envelopes because I am afraid the postal services may not send my cards to my sister if they feel that my personalized envelopes do not fit their postal standards.

Terrific Turmeric

This is another versatile herb that I plant in my small garden patch which always find its way into my cooking pot and somethings used as traditional medicine.  I call it a versatile plant because every part of this plant can be used.

The leaves, when shredded finely, can be used in dishes like the ever popular "Beef Rendang" or "Masak Lemak Telor Itik".  As a whole piece of leaf, it can be used to wrap seasoned fish and roasted over charcoal fire.  The turmeric, which is the root part of the plant, is also usually used to both colour and flavour dishes.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Perfect Planta Prawns!

The Last Few

Today is my second day at my in-laws place in Seremban and my family and I will be here until this Sunday.  Tomorrow there's going to be a multiple 'kenduri' of sorts for a multitude of things; 'aqiqah' and 'cukur jambul' for my wife's niece's newborn son, 'doa selamat' for two girls in the family who will be sitting for their exams, one my daughter and the other her cousin sister plus 'doa selamat' for my sister-in-law's new house.  That's a lot of things to be thankful about, Alhamdulillah.

One more thing that we are all thankful for (I am thankful for a lot of things, but I only share a few of those things!) is the surprise seafood that was brought back by my wife's nephew who is a naval officer in Sabah.  He brought back three fresh garoupas, five soles and about fifteen huge prawns, as huge as a newborn's arm.  My in-laws decided not to turn the prawns into dishes that they are used to, so they asked my wife and I to cook something simple but at the same time, we were able to taste the freshness of the prawns without any over-powering sauce or 'sambals'.

I immediately suggested Buttered Prawns much to the mutual agreement of everybody.  But since we are quite a distance away from the nearest supermarket to get butter, so I suggested Planta Prawns.  The ingredients are the same except instead of butter I used Planta margarine.