Archive for the ‘Little Thumbs Up!’ Category

Lek Tau Suan or Tau Suan is a very popular South East Asian dessert. The main ingredient in this soup-like dessert is split green beans or mung beans, minus the green husks, hence the yellow colour instead of green.
 

In Kuching, where I grew up, there’s a huge following of this quite addictive dessert. One can order and eat the dessert, served warm in a Chinese bowl with a Chinese spoon or duck spoon al fresco at a stall or food court. Slices of yu char kueh (deep-fried Chinese crullers) is the icing on the cake. This combination is the classic version seen served in Malaysia and Singapore.

Mum used to buy the dessert home from her favourite stall. The dessert is popularly referred to as lek tau suan in Kuching. Although ‘tau‘ means beans or nuts, but Hokkien-speaking Kuchingites specifically differentiate one ‘tau‘ to another. For example ‘toh tau‘ is peanuts, ‘ang tau‘ is red beans, ‘oh tau‘ is black beans, therefore, ‘lek tau‘ is green beans (although the colour green in Hokkien is cheh. Confusing, eh?). In Singapore, this dessert is simply called ‘tau suan‘. Whatever and however way the pearly beans are called, this is one of my favourite desserts. My Mum and siblings know that. Every trip home to Kuching will see me indulging in this dessert without fail.

This is how a bowl of the sweet mung bean dessert is served. I love it warm, ie freshly scooped out of the pot or very cold when refrigerated. The sweet starchy soup with a hint of saltiness from the yu char kueh makes the dessert complete.

 

   
These deep-fried Chinese crullers, by the way, were taken at Gerrard Street in Chinatown during one of my recent trips to London. Unfortunately, I have yet to find any Asian stores in Belgium selling these crullers. I could make them myself, but seeing the amount of oil used to deep fry the crullers turned me off. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE yu char kueh anytime, anywhere if I can get hold of them ready-made, but the idea of making them in my kitchen is a BIG hassle. Reason being, I don’t own a fryolator and I never deep-fry my food in my own kitchen here in BE.

Would you spend EUR 5 (approx MYR 25) for a bowl of Lek Tau Suan?

Crazy but true, I did! 

I was craving for a bowl of the dessert and there in the fridge of a mini Thai store, was the last portion. This Thai Supermarket is ‘notoriously’ known to charge all her desserts at EUR 5 flat! My girlfriends with whom I have occasional lunches with will know which supermarket I’m referring to *wink*

Interestingly, this dessert is called ‘tau suan’ in Thai, at least that’s what the Thai lady at the store told me. The stark difference, though, was the ‘icing on the cake’. Thai and Vietnamese lek tau suan are served with drizzles of lightly salted coconut cream. The last portion I brought home was the first time I had my lek tau suan served á laThai or Vietnamese.

No Crullers No Problem

Last weekend, I was craving for lek tau suan… again! To be honest, I have made this dessert a few times already – plain as wel as with sago pearls – but never had them garnished with fried crullers. As mentioned earlier, I could not get deep-fried Chinese crullers, hence, I resorted to adapting my lek tau suan, the Thai or Vietnamese way this time round.

  

  
This is one of the easiest desserts to make.

And by the way, I was amazed with the long list of health benefits of this Ayuverdic beans, so folks, there is no reason to not indulging in these beans, sweet or savoury. And believe you me, it did not cost me anthing near to EUR 5 for serving up to 6 or more bowls of the sweet mung bean soup! I felt utterly cheated. Then again I knew, so serve me right…

The only alternative is D.I.Y. in the comfort of my own kitchen.

Note: The measurements and timing in this recipe are tried and tested based purely on personal preference, which may or may not agree with your tastebuds, so be warned.

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup split mung beans, washed and soaked for 6 hours
  • Some Pandan leaves
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup + 1  Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • A pinch of fleur de sel 

  
  

  
 Method

  • Wash  the mung beans in several changes of water until water is very clean and clear 
  • Soak the beans for 6 hours. Wash for the last time. Transfer the beans to a strainer to drain excess water
  • Pleat a ‘mat’ form with a few strands of Pandan leaves. Place the ‘mat’ in a steamer and pour the dry soaked beans on the Pandan ‘mat’. Cover the beans with all ends of the Pandan leaves and fasten with toothpicks. Steam for 15 minutes or until al dente (how I like my beans)
  • Boil 3 cups water. Throw in 2 knotted Pandan leaves. 
  • Add in sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove the knotted Pandan leaves
  • Make the starch by binding 1/3 cup tapioca flour with 1/2 cup water. 
  • Pour the starch in the sugared water. Stir until the liquid turns translucent and gluey.
  • When the mung beans are cooked at the stage of al dente, sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar and mix to coat the beans. Transfer beans to sugared starch water. Stir to mix the beans evenly.
  • In a small clean bowl, add a pinch of salt into the coconut cream. Stir to dissolve. Set aside.
  • Serve the sweet mung bean congee in dessert bowls and drizzle with a tablespoon of the coconut cream

   
 

Verdict:

The pre-soaking of the beans for 6 hours and steaming for 15 minutes resulted in a nice bite to the beans. I loved the chewy texture of the cooked beans rather than the distintegrated and mushy texture. By adding 1 Tbsp sugar to the steamed beans created that al dente texture as well as keeping each bean whole. Most recipes used sweet potato starch. I don’t have that flour. I have used corn flour before but the starchiness would not hold after a few hours or left cold. You will end up with a watery dessert. Tapioca flour is a better option. It’s gluten-free but high in carb. The liquid remained gluey even after leaving in the fridge overnight. Honestly, if I had the choice between coconut cream topping or slices of deep-fried Chinese crullers, I would go for the later.  It’s THE best combination ever!  The drizzle of coconut cream was good but the crullers were better. Again, a subjective choice 😉

I’m linking this post to the October blog-hop cooking event with the theme, “COCONUT” at  Little Thumbs Up organized by Doreen of my favourite little DIY and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and hosted by Jess of Bakericious at this post.

  

TGIF! Happy weekend all!

Cheers!

If there was one type of cake I had always wanted to bake it right first time, it’s got to be that feather light and tall cake! Yup, it’s none other than Chiffon Cake!

This cake has been on my Bucket List for a good number of years. I am so glad I finally owned that special Chiffon cake (tube) pan, with removable base. A colleague got it for me from The Netherlands early this year, however, it has not been used until yesterday!  It’s a pretty big pan at 26cm diameter. 

Live Demo!

Yesterday I had 4 ladies over at my house, one being the ‘sifu‘ (teacher) whilst the three others and myself were the eager students wanting to know the tricks of the trade of baking one of my favourite cakes!

  
According to Wikipedia, “A chiffon cake is a very light cake made with vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and flavorings. It is a combination of both batter and foam type (sponge type) cakes

By the way, we did not make one but 2 chiffon cakes yesterday!

One of my girlfriends also brought her cake pan over for the live cooking cum baking demo’s. Her chiffon cake pan was a smaller size than mine.

David and Goliath 😄

Baking, unlike cooking requires precise measurements, therefore, two different-size pans meant utilising different quantities of measurements. That’s when the subject of Mathematics came in handy 😉

Where precision in baking is concerned, I needed visual aids. I’m glad sifu JL took my offer by coming over to my house to give live cookery demo. 

She started with the smaller pan from my friend. While she was in control of everything from weighing the ingredients, mixing, whisking, etc, I was taking notes as I had to replicate what she had done by adapting the measurements aligning to the size of my 26cm chiffon cake pan.  You bet I was nervous. I was really paying attention to every detail.

And here were the results!

David and Goliath ~ the results!

Sifu JL got the recipe from another friend. She said it’s a foolproof recipe, even for a novice, and I couldn’t agree more. Thanks, JL!
  

My first visual aided attempt and definitely not my last! Before all these efforts went to waste and became lost in oblivion, I translated the verbal and visual ‘languages’ from yesterday to a ‘language’ I could decipher. I wanted to remind myself tomorrow or next week or next month or next year or in 10 or 20 years from now that if I googled my blog, I’m very certain that this is a tried and tested recipe that will not go wrong even for a novice …

Here’s my improvised recipe like how I grasped it, translated in a ‘language’ I’m comfortable with based on the live demo presented by JL yesterday with an amazingly positive result from my first ever aided attempt in baking a chiffon cake  😀

Pre-heat the oven to 165 deg C for 1 hour

Ingredients

(For a 7-egg 26 cm chiffon cake pan like mine)

  • 150g caster sugar (split 50/50 parts or 75g each for the whites and yolks)
  • 150g plain flour (sieved through very fine strainer)
  • 15g  baking powder
  • 59ml cooking oil (I used corn oil)
  • 118ml Chaokoh 100% coconut milk
  • Koepoe Koepoe” Pandan paste (Note: this is very concentrated paste, hence, a little goes a long way!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 63g * 7 fresh free-range eggs (room temperature)
  • 8g vanilla sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar or cream of tartar or lemon juice (optional)

 

 Method – 

  • Separate the egg whites and yolks. 
  • Divide the caster sugar into 2 small bowls of 75g each
  • In a large bowl, add all the wet ingredients ~ cooking oil, coconut milk, egg yolks and Pandan paste. Mix with a balloon whisk and then add 75g sugar and salt. Stir well to combine.
  • Re-sieve the flour with the baking powder into the wet ingredients. Mix well until no sign of flour is visible.
  • Whisk the egg whites in an electric stand mixer. Add the  sugar (75g) in 3 batches until the whites turned from foamy form to soft peak meringue and finally stiff peaks
  • Add a third of the meringue  into the cake batter and fold with a rubber spatula. Continue with the second and third batches, folding lightly but quickly until the meringue is completely combined with the batter
  • Pour the batter into the chiffon cake pan and remove any visible air bubbles by poking with the spatula. Level the top layer with the spatula 
  • Tap the cake pan 2 or 3 times on the work surface to raise the air bubbles out of the batter.
  • Check the timer of the oven and place the cake pan in the centre of the oven for 55 minutes.
  • When cake is cooked, remove from the oven and immediately tilt the cake pan upside down to cool the cake. This also helps to avoid the cake from shrinking from the pan.

   
 

I fell in love with the smooth top layer. My first aided attempt and the chiffon cake did not crack! 
 

   
 
Verdict:-

The crack was visible on the smaller cake pan due to the heat of the oven and the duration of the baking. So yes, the type of oven you own will trigger the different results.

Cream of tartar was not used as the stabilizing agent to beaten egg whites to increase their stability and volume in this recipe. My friend JL added 1/2 tsp white vinegar as substitute in the first cake. This step was omitted on the second cake. Vanilla sugar was also added in the first cake while it was omitted in the second cake. Overall, both cakes had perfect textures of a good chiffon cake, with or without the stabilizing agent. To be honest, I found the second cake was a wee bit sweeter than the first. In hindsight 150g sugar was a bit too much. I will reduce the sugar count in my subsequent attempts, plus making my own fresh Pandan juice. The Pandan paste was used due to time constraint.

Honestly speaking, making a chiffon cake is not as difficult as it appeared to be. Seeing is believing. I’ve seen it and it’s true! 

I’m linking this post over at the October blog-hop cooking event with the theme, “COCONUT” at Little Thumbs Up organized by Doreen of my favourite little DIY and Zoe of  Bake for Happy Kids and hosted by Jess of Bakericious at this post
 
 

This post is also linked to Dom’s (Belleau Kitchen) monthly “eggy” cooking challenge, Simply Eggcellent #8 with the theme, “Anything Goes!”

  

Happy new week!

Cheers!

Honestly speaking, I have been wanting to make this insanely simple “cake” for a long time! It has been on my bucket list since time immemorial. The original recipe is called “Kek Batik” (Batik Cake), however, I called this “cake”,bars or flapjacks without rolled oats, for the simple and logical reason that it does not have a texture of a cake at all. It is a flattened no-bake sweet tray, a bit dense, chewy and crunchy at the same time, the same way flapjack or muesli bar or cereal bar or granola bar is made.

What makes this “Kek” special is the visual batik pattern when cut at cross-sections.

  
When I first found out eons ago that Milo was one of the ingredients in making this “Kek“, I was over the moon!

Champion of all Beverages

Remember this? Minum Milo, anda jadi sihat dan kuat! (Drink Milo, you will be healthy and strong)…

When we were kids, we believed in Milo as the winner of all beverages. I remembered being absolutely happy when the Milo van came to my school and passed round free iced cold Milo drinks on a very hot day during school sports events. 

Glug, glug, glug! It was so good…

My Precious!!!

I’m not a kid anymore, but I still love my Milo

Looking for Milo in Belgium is like looking for a needle in a haystack! Arghhh!

When I finally found a 200g tin of Milo recently, I felt like Sméagol clutching its PRECIOUSSSS…!

Correction ~ MY preciousss! LOL!

Green with Envy …

I was in Kuching recently. The familiar green packs were ubiquitous in every local supermarket. Yup, I was green with envy😜

  
Oh by the way, I remembered eating this “Kek” a lot during the Eid or Hari Raya Aidil Fitri celebrations in Kuching. The Malays are very good at conjuring abstract looking cakes. I was told that this “Kek” is originated in Sarawak as with the popular kek lapis Sarawak (Sarawak layered-cake) The end result of the “Kek” represents the prints and designs of edible Batik or motifs of totem poles popular with the indigenous groups of people of Sarawak.

  
LOVERLY!

I based this recipe of Kek Batik from TryMasak.my with some changes here and there. I have reduced the amount of butter quite considerably, while increasing the amount of the rest of the ingredients slightly. I chose unsalted roasted peanuts for extra crunch and texture. And I thought the last minute sprinkle of white sesame seeds made the batik Milo flapjacks  looked absolutely stunning, like magical stardust! 😍
 Ingredients

  • 200g Delacre Maria biscuits, breaking each biscuit in 2 halves
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 200g sweetened condensed milk
  • 120g Milo
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • Unsalted roasted peanuts, roughly crushed with a pestle & mortar
  • Sesame seeds (topping)

   

   Method

  1. On medium heat, melt the butter, followed by the sweetened condensed milk, Milo and Cocoa powder.  Stir to combine, making sure the batter is lump-free.
  2. Add in the Maria biscuits. Remove pan from the heat. Stir to coat the biscuits in the brown batter. Finally toss in the crushed peanuts. Fold in lightly with a rubber spatula.
  3. Line a cake tin with parchment paper. Pour in the batter and press and flatten the surface tightly. Sprinkle with white sesame seeds.
  4. Refrigerate overnight

  

    
  

I’m linking this post to the Little Thumbs Up September 2015 blog-hop event (MILO), organized & hosted by Doreen (Mui) of my little favourite DIY  & Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids.

 

Have a great week ahead!

Cheers! 

Lui Cha Fon,  Lei Cha Fan… whatever, but I’ll stick to my guns. It’s Lui Cha Fon for me as it was the word I first heard eons ago! It’s how the Kuching Ho Poh Hakka people called this dish …

Total Recall 

You see we used to live next door to a Ho Poh Hakka family. The patriarch and matriarch, Mr and Mrs C had 14 children!

When Mrs C was carrying her 14th child, her eldest daughter was pregnant with her first-born son ~ in exactly the same year! A big family meant more mouths to feed…

I remembered Mrs C used to cook huge amounts of foods, simple but nutritious and on very tight budget.

Even with their frugal meals, the friendly matriarch would sometimes share a portion of her cooking with us. Although my Mum used to decline her offers, Mrs C always insisted.  One of the most standout dishes was the odd and murky looking green soup with rice served with 7 components of fresh and preserved vegetables and roasted peanuts.  She told my Mum that that was a Traditional Hakka dish. Luckily, my Mum loved trying new things and that was the best opportunity for her to try out a very typical Hakka dish. 

One afternoon after school, Mum gave me a bowl of rice garnished with the “7 treasures” with another bowl of green soup at the side.  Honestly speaking, the green soup looked revolting and tasted like muddy and bitter water.  The rice with the 7-treasures were alright.  The thing was, I had to pour the green soup in the bowl of rice and eat it like a soupy rice with vegetables. 

My first spoonful was like … Yucks! Well I was only 14 then and that was my honest feedback.  Sorry, Mrs C ..

It was not the first time Mrs C shared that dish with us. After several tries, my teen-aged palate grew to like the soupy green tea rice.

I’m glad my Mum learnt the technique of making Lui Cha  from the ever-smiling Mrs C. She did make a few times tweaking the dish with more flavours by including fried anchovies.

And believe you me, I have been craving for Lui Cha Fon – literally translated as pounded or crushed tea rice – ever since 😄

  
D.I.Y Thunder Tea Rice

Yup, it’s sometimes called “thunder tea” rice, although I’m not particularly sure why. Could it be the sounds of the grinding of the tea, herbs, nuts and seeds from the special ceramic mortar? The pestle, by the way, is made from the wood of the guava tree.  I don’t have these special Lui Cha pestle and mortar, hence, improvisation is key.

I resorted to using my electric hand mixer, instead, however, the biggest challenge was to find the right vegetables, which are usually chai sim, long beans, mani chai, 4-angled beans, kai lan and chai por. 

My version as follows inspired by Mrs C and my Mum’s addition of the extra umami flavour.

Note my ingredients were purely guesstimated, for 4 portions.

Pounded ingredients (Note I ground these ingredients with my electric hand mixer to form a thick paste or pesto-like consistency)

  

  • Loose-leaf Tung Ting Oolong tea
  • Roasted peanuts
  • White sesame seeds
  • Pine nuts 
  • Flax seeds
  • Roughly chopped mint
  • Roughly chopped basil
  • Roughly torn coriander
  • 1 clove garlic (not pictured)
  • Fried anchovies (in lieu of salt)

  

Cooked Rice

My choice of 7-treasure ingredients (Note each component was stir-fried / roasted separately)

  

  • French beans
  • Pek chai
  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Chai Por
  • Fried anchovies
  • Roasted peanuts 

Assembling Lui Cha Fon


 

  1. Take 2 Tbsp of the pounded tea paste in a bowl. Pour boiling water. This is your tea soup base.
  2. In another bowl, scoop a portion of cooked rice. Garnish with the 7  cooked veg – fresh and preserved and the roasted peanuts and fried anchovies 
  3. Ready to eat! Note how you want to eat is up to you, ie, by eating the rice and soup separately OR pouring the tea soup into the rice. I ate how I was first being introduced to this dish ~ the latter, of course *big smile*

   

   
Mang-mang sit! An ho sit oh! 😄

Verdict:

It was hard work washing, peeling, cutting, chopping and cooking the vegetables separately.  I understand now why this dish was originally served during the Chinese Lunar New Year by the Hakka clan when all the ladies would assemble together in the kitchen helping with the tedious kitchen preps. Unfortunately, I was alone in my kitchen, hence, I made the 4 portions for myself ~ Day 1’s lunch and dinner and Day 2’s lunch and dinner. LOL! I started my prep work at 11am and the final dish was ready by 1.30pm (including taking photographs… Ha ha…).  Note I purposely made this dish for myself because I foresaw my 3 carnivores would complain if I were to serve the dish as their main course. I was extremely pleased with the result, seeing that it was the first time I had a go in making the infamous Lui Cha Fon from scratch ~ finally! Yay! I was doubly contented with the taste. It was so closed to the best Lui Cha Fons I had in Kuching. The slightly bitter, herbal and minty taste of the green tea soup was spot on for me. No salt, please as the salty anchovies made a world of difference in the tea soup. The umami flavour was a double oomph! The chai por (preserved dried radish) and extra garnishing of the fried anchovies made great natural enhancers. It’s an absolutely LOVELY dish. I wish I could eat it everyday but the only stumbling block were the tedious preps 😦

I have used loose-leaf Oolong Tea in this recipe. For this, I’m linking this post at Little Thumbs Up (July 2015 theme: TEA) organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Cheryl of Baking Taitai.
 
Have a Great Week!

Cheers! 


I must confess that I was a hopeless, pathetic cook when I moved to Belgium permanently in 1995. I was a nervous wreck in the kitchen not knowing how to start…. until I watched Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook which was aired on BBC1 on weekday mornings. To be honest, I could relate myself to one of the categories of “useless” cooks, “Can’t Cook!” *blush*

One of my utterly useless kitchen disasters was baking a swiss roll cake for the first time that turned out leather-hard and completely un-rollable. It was meant to be a surprise for hubby’s birthday, but alas, hubby didn’t get to see a rolled cake because it went in the dustbin! And then I wanted to slow cook a pigeon which I got from my late MIL. The pigeon was freshly hunted when I first got it, but I froze the bird when I got home. Well, that’s OK because I was not in a hurry to make a meal out of the bird then. When I finally wanted a bird meal, I took the pigeon out from the freezer and dumped it in the slow cooker and filled the cooker with water that literally drowned the bird! No matter how long I cooked the bird, it remained hard rock frozen! So in went the bird in the bin!

There was no such thing as internet then. Or maybe there was, but I did not own a PC, and smartphones were unheard of then. Luckily, there were several “ancient” ways to refer to recipes, id est, recipe books, magazines, my prized helpline – Mummy dearest – and of course the multitude of cookery channels on the telly!

Being a newbie in a non-English speaking country, BBC was a big relief for me, because (1) BBC1 had loads of back-to-back cookery programs and (2) the programs were in English!! Yay!!

Ready, Steady, Cook!

Strange, but true, I first saw James Martin, one of the Chefs on Ready Steady Cook, prepared this ancient Chinese technique of smoking chicken in a wok in 20 minutes! He used only 3 ingredients – uncooked rice, sugar and tea – as the smoking mix.

>>> Fast forward 

Thanks to RSC, I have done several tea-smokings in my kitchen, in the meantime, and have experimented with different spices, herbs and proteins : tea-smoked salmon, duck, chicken and turkey.   

Here’s one I made recently, tea-smoked chicken thighs with Asian ingredients.

  You need –

  • 1 kg chicken thighs/ cutlets, skinned
  • 3 Stalks Spring Onions
  • Root Ginger, sliced (skin on)
  • 1/2 cup Hua Diao Rice Wine
  • Mushroom Soy Sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • Sesame oil

Marinate the chicken overnight in a ziplock bag.  

For glazing – 

  • Water
  • Honey

 

The next day, boil 500 ml water in an electric kettle. Remove the marinated chicken on a plate. Add the marinade in a pan and pour in boiling water. Cook the gravy until simmering hot. Add the chicken pieces in the pan. Boil the broth with the chicken until bubbling hot. Season to taste. Total cooking time should be at least 30 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces and transfer them to a colander to release any excess liquid. 

Glaze the chicken pieces with the honey water. 

Next prepare the tea-smoked ingredients –

  • 1/2 cup uncooked fragrant rice 
  • 1/4 cup mixture of light brown and palm sugars (or the less expensive white sugar works well, too)
  • 6 sachets of Jasmine tea with petals (as a matter of fact, any type of loose tea leaves will do)
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns 
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 4 dried chillies
  • Rind of 1 lemon
  • Heavy-duty aluminium foil 

  

Toss and mix the ingredients on a heavy-duty aluminium foil.

 

Add rinds of one lemon and place the aluminium foil in a wok. A wire rack is suspended above the tea-smoked mix.  

Heat the wok on medium to high heat, covered, until a few wisps of smoke escape from the lid. Then transfer the honey-glazed chicken pieces on the wire rack.   

Keep smoking the chicken for 45 minutes to 1 hour  (Note: I have an induction stove-top, hence  the longer smoking time

Ta-da! 

 Serve the tea-smoked chicken with home-made pickled red onion and some salad leaves. Yums!

   

My 100% home-made summer platter of tea-smoked chicken with pasta, pickled red onion, chunky guacamole and salad leaves

  
 

Verdict: As this is an indoor cooking (with an outdoor mindset), always pre-cook and season your proteins before smoking (or steaming) them. I found  marinating the meat overnight makes the meat more flavourful. The tea-smoking method is not a cooking method but is simply a technique to infuse the proteins to another level of imbued fragrance of smokiness.  It is important not to pre-smoke too long as the final result will be shamefully bitter, literally speaking. 

The selections of spices and herbs are just endless. For instance, Duck goes well with star anise, lemon and orange zests and five-spiced powder.  Salmon goes well with dhill, mixed peppercorns and lemon rind, Lamb with rosemary and thyme, and etcetera.  The sky is the limit and of course, most importantly, think out of the box and get out of your comfort zone and enjoy! And by the way, I’m learning all the time 😉

With “TEA” as the oddball and key ingredient in this recipe, I’m hopping over to the blog-hop event at Little Thumbs Up (July 2015 theme: TEA) organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Cheryl of Baking Taitai

   

I’m also sharing this post over at Cooking with Herbs for July: BBQ, hosted by Karen of Lavender & Lovage

With Summer in mind, this indoor smoking technique with an outdoor mindset, is perfect for the July Tea Time Treats with the theme “BBQ Fodder“, hosted by Janie of The Hedgecombers

    
It is with deep regret to have learnt that this is the last time Lucy at Supergolden Bakes will be hosting one of the coolest and most flexible blog-hop challenges. I wish her all the best and success in her new job. Congratulations, Lucy. I have enjoyed reading her blog and have drooled over her most amazing bakes! Without much ado, I’m linking this post at  #CookBlogShare 

 

    When my last packet of laksa paste went in the pot, I was being extremely careful not to waste anything from it. I wrung the last drop of juice from the pulp, which resulted in the pulp being as dry as the desert sands of Sahara! 

    The last replenishment of my laksa paste inventory was August last year when my Mum and eldest sis came to visit us. For a few months, we enjoyed glorious bowls of the aromatic and addictive laksa. My stock-count hit zero level a long time now and I literally drooled browsing the photos of the infamous Sarawak Laksa shared by my family…. *sigh*   

    Yessssssss … #laksa #Kuching 

    One of Travel Channel’s most famous Celebrity Chefs turned writer and CNN Presenter, Anthony Bourdain, posted a picture of a bowl of the irresistible Sarawak Laksa on Facebook and Twitter – with 2.14million followers – with just one hissing word, “Yessssssss….”

    And Yes Sire to that!  A picture is worth a thousand words! 

    Anthony Bourdain’s bowl of laksa with his satisfying exclamation “Yessssssss….”

     

    Mr Bourdain was in Kuching recently to shoot an episode for the Travel and Food Show on CNN, “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown“. Can you imagine this? He and his crew’s first stop was to a family-run laksa stall at Choon Hui kopitiam. And guess what? They were back at the same stall the following morning for another round of the most addictive laksa in the world! Dressed casually in a black T-shirt and jeans, the New Yorker ate the simmering hot and spicy Sarawak Laksa, filmed for about two hours and paid the bill for everyone at the stall that morning.

    Now, THAT is testimony to the core! A satisfied Customer pays his bills, treats his friends and shares with the world his favourite Kuching dish! Hats off to you, Mr Bourdain! 

    D.I.Y the hard way

    The secret to an exquisite bowl of laksa is definitely in the paste.

    Malaysia is a land of laksa’s. Each State has her own laksa paste – sour, watery, fishy, shrimpy, thick, greasy, curry-flavoured … you name it, but Sarawak Laksa is known for its signature creamy texture, aromatically spicy, delectably tasty with its fiery crimson colour.

    Sarawak Laksa is not a soup but a meal on its own. Five years ago, I posted a detailed write up and recipe to assemble a home-style bowl of Sarawak Laksa on this post, here.

    Since my last trip to Kuching in 2008, and having run out of stock of the paste, I resorted to making my own Sarawak Laksa paste. It was hard work and long labour, but it was worth it!      

    Stonemanor’s Malaysian Laksa paste 

    My eyes twinkled when I chanced upon a jar of Waitrose Cooks’ Laksa paste (Malaysian inspired dish) at the British Store in Everberg not too long ago. I grabbed a jar for try-out. And by the way, it wasn’t cheap. 

    Here’s how I assembled a quick laksa for 4 people…   

    Ingredients

    • 185g Waitrose Cooks’ Laksa paste (Malaysian inspired dish)
    • 140 ml Coconut cream (100% coconut extract)
    • 250g rice vermicelli 
    • Prawns (5 – 6 pieces per person)
    • 500g chicken thighs/ cutlets (with bones)
    • 200g bean sprouts 
    • 4 “Vrije uitloop” or “plein air” or free-range eggs
    • Fresh coriander leaves
    • Garam masala paste
    • Fish sauce
    • Stock cube to taste 

      
    Infused broth-

    • Kaffir lime leaves
    • 2 stalks lemon grass, bruised
    • 5cm piece fresh ginger
    • A handful black peppercorn
    • Some coriander stalks 

     
    Method

    1. Cook the prawns in the infused broth
    2. Cook the chicken in the infused broth after the prawns are done.
    3. Cook the laksa paste and add the flavoured broth and the coconut cream. Add 2 Tbsp garam masala paste. Season with half chicken stock cube and some drizzles of fish sauce (Note: I added garam masala paste because the 185g jar of laksa paste was not concentrated enough for 4 -5 servings)
    4. Assemble a bowl with vermicelli, topped with slivers of chicken, crispy bean sprouts, plump prawns and strips of omelette and then ladle the spicy and unctuous broth 
    5. Garnish with fresh coriander and a lemon wedge (or if available, calamansi lime) with a side condiment of sambal belacan 

      
    WYSIWYG on a classic bowl of Sarawak Laksa, and of course the pièce de résistance has got to be that simmering hot, thick, spicy and creamy broth! Heaven! I’m in heaven! Or was I?  

      
      

      

    Verdict: It was a good bowl of Laksa, but not the real McCoy. 185g laksa paste for 4 people did not conjure a concentrated broth. Garam Masala paste plus other fresh herbs, spices and seasonings came to the rescue. On its own, the laksa would not pass the test. The colour was not right and it was quite sour with a bit too much tamarind paste.  It was a “Malaysian” laksa but I had transformed  it to what I know best to that one dish that transported me back to Bumi Kenyalang or the Land of the Hornbills!

    I could not get fresh coconut cream, hence, I resorted to buying a small can of 100% pure coconut cream (incidentally, a product of Malaysia) I found on the shelf of a local Belgian supermarket.  Therefore, I’m happy to link this post over at Little Thumbs Up with the June 2015 theme “CREAM” organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Mui Mui of my little favourite DIY and hosted by Diana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe 

      

    As a saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” therefore, I have this to impart, “When in Kuching, do as what most Kuchingites would do. Have a bowl of Sarawak laksa for breakfast!” I’m not kidding here as the best laksa stalls in Kuching are opened as early as 7 am and closed by 10.30am. If you come by at noon, chances are you’d go home, feeling dis-satisfied and empty-handed. As there are so many different kinds of laksa’s in Malaysia, you can tell a Sarawak laksa apart from the rest as the must-have garnished ingredients are rice vermicelli, slivers of chicken, crisp bean sprouts, prawns, strips of omelette and sprinkles of fresh coriander with a condiment of sambal belacan and calamansi lime or lemon wedge. Anything else is NOT Sarawak laksa, ie NO tofu or sugar snap peas or cucumber or pineapple or lettuce, etc. Honestly speaking, I can have a bowl of Kuching laksa for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yes, it’s that good! For this, I’m linking this post to Simply Eggcellent #5 – how do you like your eggs in the morning? hosted by Dominic of Belleau Kitchen. I’m curious what he thinks of this entry with omelette in a bowl of simmering crimson hot and spicy laksa for breakfast 😉

      

    Have a great week!

    Cheers from SUNNY Belgium!

     I named these egg muffins, “Margherita” following the legend of the famous Pizza Margherita. If you don’t already know, the pizza was so named after Princess Margherita of Savoy, the Queen consort of the Kingdom of Italy during the reign of her first cousin and husband, King Umberto I (1878 – 1900). Legend has it that out of the three pizzas created by “modern” pizza-maker Raffaele Esposito and his wife of the then Pizzeria di Pietro e Basta Cosi in the Nineteenth Century in Naples, the Queen’s favourite pizza resembled the colours of the Italian flag – green (fresh basil), white (mozzarella) and red (tomato). According to Wikepedia, Esposito’s restaurant still exists, although the name has been changed to Pizzeria Brandi.

    Oh, you Poor Posh…!

    Now that we know the legend of Pizza “Queen” Margherita, which may sound rather posh, however, the ingredients used are nothing near to royalty. First of all, pizzas are oven-baked flatbreads without any toppings, were a staple of the peasants. That’s right… they were known as the dish for the poor people once-upon-a-time! And by the way, the three main ingredients topped on a pizza Margherita are commonly found in Italy and almost everywhere in Europe.

    Holy Trinity               Without a doubt, a posthumous credit is due to Raffaele Esposito for creating the most amazing ‘holy trinity’ in both colours and flavours of Italy on the plate and on the palate. So simple ingredients and yet so exquisite in taste.      

    Here’s my version of the not-so-posh “Margherita” egg muffin. The real Queen did not taste it but the kitchen “Queen” in Belgium made 9 muffins in 30 minutes flat (including prepping and baking). I’m quite certain the real Queen would have given her royal thumb UP if only she had tasted these delectable savoury little spongy discs 🙂

    The Sky’s the Limit

    What I LURVE about this recipe is that you can go crazy with your ingredients – a little or more of this or that. It’s insanely endless! The sky’s the limit! 

    For this post, I used fresh basil, fresh cherry tomatoes, grated old Italian cheese (or Parmesan cheese), light cream (20% less fat for daily use from Campina), a pinch of fleur de sel, freshly milled black pepper and of course EGGS!!!

    Note I did not measure my ingredients. I guesstimated and eyeballed, which portrayed the real me where savoury cooking is concerned;-)

    For 8 large eggs, I ended up filling 9 cavities in a 12-hole muffin pan.  

    While most people would mix the dry ingredients and herbs in the beaten eggs together and then pour the batter in the muffin pan, I prefer to assemble the dry ingredients separately into each hole of the muffin pan first and then pouring the lightly seasoned wet ingredients (beaten eggs and cream) last which ensures equal proportion and distribution of the ingredients per muffin. But of course you can do however you like. Your kitchen! Your call!

    Bake the little Margherita’s in the pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 18 minutes.  Please check your oven. 18 minutes may be too over or under for your type of oven but it’s Goldilocks test of “just right” consistency for 9 muffins in my ancient oven 🙂  
      What more can I say? 

    Bellissima!

    Notes: These muffins were great eaten warm as well as cold. I refrigerated 2 pieces and packed them in my lunchbox for work the following day and continued placing my lunchbox in the fridge at my office’s kitchenette until lunch time. Absolutely perfect! 

    If you prefer to munch on warm egg muffins, just microwave them for about 30 seconds covered with absorbent paper. The muffins will remain soft as if they were freshly baked.

    Enjoy!

    Although I did not use chives in this recipe, I’ve used one of my favourite herbs, basil, therefore, I’m linking this post over at Lavender & Lovage’s “Wild Garlic and Chives ” May and June’s Linky Party for Cooking with Herbs.

       

    This post is also  linked to Little Thumbs Up with the June 2015 theme “CREAM” organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Mui Mui of my little favourite DIY and hosted by Diana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe.

      

    I’m also linking this post to #CookBlogShare16 hosted by Lucy of Supergolden Bakes

    An egg muffin may not be the typical muffin we are used to, but muffins can be either sweet or savoury. These muffins will make a nice treat over at Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavender & Lovage and co-hosted by Jane from The Hedgecombers with the June theme “Muffins, Fairy Cakes and Cupcakes

     

    I’m also linking this somewhat eggy post over at Belleau Kitchen’s Simply Eggcellent #4. The June’s theme is “Anything Goes”… and how appropriate, me think…*wink*

     

    And last but not least, I’m sharing this post over at Tasty Tuedays Live hosted by HonestMum 

      
    Have a great Weekend and enjoy what’s left of the weekend…
    Cheers!