Archive for the ‘Made with Love Mondays’ Category

I cannot believe this. We are almost at the tail end of Spring! Geez… how time flies! It seemed like only yesterday when we celebrated Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas – last year – I bought a simple electrical Soup Maker that became the be-all and end-all of (one of) my kitchen appliance(s) today.

To buy or not to buy…?

I must have walked round the shelf in that electrical store a myriad of times. To buy or not to buy? I reckoned the store’s CCTV was following every step and movement I made that day. LOL!

It was winter, for God’s sake, and the vision of a bowl of freshly-made hot soup was certainly very inviting in my mind’s eye. Mmmm…

And the Soup Maker looked SO cool!

But alas, the one I saw on the shelf was the last piece, not for sale but for the showroom! I immediately placed an order with the shop assistant, who graciously informed me that I had to wait for another week or two. The gadget was enormously popular.

A week passed by.  

I received a missed call on my cell phone from a rather unusual number. The ‘caller’ left a message on my voicemail and courteously informed me to pick up my order I had placed a week before!

Bingo!

My Soup Maker had arrived! Yay!

1. PeaMintSoup_Soupmaker 

The Soup Maker came with a recipe book, but I have yet to follow any of the recipes. I may get some ideas for making compotes later 😉

By the way, I am not being sponsored by the Maker – at all. It just so happened that that product was on the special Year End promotion at the store 😉

Warm Cold Days and One Big Supporter

I did not tell hubs about my “secret investment”. I don’t blame him because he knew that I have the tendency to hoard my ‘investment’. Gadgets I have bought seemed to be stashed in the cupboards untouched and unused – all brand new. LOL!

But not this time:-D

My Soup Maker is one of the most used items to-date!

1. RCC#1_soupmaker 

Hubs could not believe the soups I have concocted were made fresh from the Soup Maker. I have not only warmed our cold winter days, but I have won the heart of one huge supporter *wink*

Easing Number 26

Ouch!

I have one rather sick tooth. In the world of dentistry, this tooth has a name, and it’s called “Number 26”.

Number 26 has been bugging me for quite some time now. I could not enjoy eating a hearty meal as Number 26 just does not allow me to.

By the way, everyone has Number 26. It’s one of the 12 broad-faced grinding teeth. Number 26 happens to be my once-upon-a-time most used and active left upper grinder, but it’s currently quite ‘sick’ 😦 

No worries, it will be “repaired” soon … but only in a week or two … fingers crossed!

The Soup Maker has been my saviour the past days in calming my Number 26.

Here’s a soup I made recently, the Pea Mint Soup – all things fresh and in season, ready within half an hour from washing, chopping, slicing, cooking and platting up. Exactly what I needed with my busy schedule…

3. PeaMintSoup_Closedup 

Peas are in season, especially starting in the month of May through October. Peas and mint go really well together. Mint is a useful herb and is one of the remedial herbs to easing toothaches. In my case, it’s easing my Number 26 😀

Here’s how I made my quick and fresh Pea Mint Soup in my Soup Maker.

Ingredients (own recipe)
(serves 4)
 
  • 350 g peas, washed
  • 1 leek – the white part only, washed away any signs of grits and grimes between the folds and layers
  • 3 stalks white celery sticks, washed and removed the stringy outer layer
  • Fresh Mint leaves, washed and roughly torn
  • 1 medium-sized potato, peeled, washed and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • Course Sea Salt and pepper to taste

 4. PeaMintSoup_ingredients 

 Method –

  1. All vegetables must be cut, chopped and diced in more or less even sizes
  2. Transfer the cut vegetables into the Soup Maker
  3. Add seasoning – course sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
  4. Stir the mixture with a spoon
  5. Add water up to the level between MIN and MAX
  6. Stir one more time
  7. Select the button (I chose the 1st button for finely blended soup. Other functions included chunky soups, compotes and smoothies)
  8. Press Start

5a. PeaMintSoup_Soupmaker1

5b. PeaMintSoup_Soupmaker2

 

After 20 minutes, the soup was done!

Enjoy!

6a. PeaMintSoup_before

6b. PeaMintSoup_after

6c. PeaMintSoup_end result

Note: If you do not own a Soup Maker, by all means, prepare the soup in the manner you are most used to.

Oh by the way, I just came across this blog event, May’s Four Seasons Food which really intrigued me. Before the season’s up, I’m joining in the fun and am submitting this entry to Four Seasons Food May Challenge: Celebrating Spring hosted by Delicieux and Eat Your Veg

fsf-spring

In my previous post, Malaysian Honeycomb Cake Re-visited, I made a “grievous” fault in linking that entry to Made With Love Mondays Event (Week 5/5/2014). I should have read and re-read the event’s list of “prohibited / restricted” items. I have used a ‘canned’ item in the form of canned sweetened condensed milk. I would like to apologize to Mark. Then again I wonder if I could buy freshly made sweetened condensed milk anywhere. I have found one in a tube, though. To make amends for my previous linkup, this time, I am submitting all things fresh and made from scratch to Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/ Luv‘s  Made With Love Mondays: Week of 5th May 2014.  I hope I’m not disqualified with this submission…

Made with Love Mondays

 

I am also linking this post to Cooking With Herbs Recipe Challenge for the month of May, hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage. I have used fresh “Mint” as the selected cooking herb.

 Cooking with Herbs

 

P“eas(e)” be with you 😀

 

Cheers!

 

In my previous post, “Rice Cooker Pandan Sponge Cake – Third Time Lucky?”, I mentioned that the first successful cake I have ever made from scratch on my own was the Malaysian Honeycomb Cake. If you have read an earlier write-up I posted way back in July 2010, Baking is Not Really My Cup of Tea or is It?, it was then that I hinted my craving for aspongy, bitter-sweet, nutty and caramelised, dark brown cake resembling bee-or-ant nesting holes’, which I recalled – as a child – calling the cake “Beehive cake”.

Being a noob cook, I carried on dauntlessly searching on the net for “Beehive Cake”, but each search brought me to a totally different kind of cake!

Uh-uh! I definitely did not search for Marge Simpson’s hairdo look-alike. LOL! No offence to all those who carry Marge Simpson’s hairdo *chuckle*

Then I tried “Honeycomb Cake” because of the close semblance of the cake to a honeycomb-like pattern, like so …

A_Honeycomb_honeycomb pattern

And there, on the top search list was Malaysian Honeycomb Cake Recipe from the House of Annie. There are other bloggers who have made this cake and they have always seemed to refer to Nate & Annie’s foolproof recipe. Nate mentioned that he referred to Jo’s Deli Bakery’s website; however I could not trace back that particular link anymore. I wonder…?

House of Annie made a fantastic step-by-step instruction of the recipe on YouTube for dummies, like me. LOL!

I actually followed the YouTube Nate posted to a tee without actually reading the recipe on beforehand. But, it was C*R*Y*S*T*A*L clear from inception to completion! Thanks, Nate and Annie 🙂

And by the way, I wonder why you guys are so ‘silent’ these days? Do come back and keep posting…

Re-visited

The Malaysian Honeycomb Cake aka Kek Sarang Semut (Anthill or Ant Nest) is similar (re texture) to the Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake (Bánh Bò Nướng) and the Indonesian Kuih Bingka Ambon, however, the glaring difference is that the Malaysian Honeycomb Cake recipe has no coconut milk and is dark brown in colour, due to the process of the caramelizing or browning of the sugar.

I must confess that this is about the only cake I have re-visited gazillions of times. My sons love this cake and the older one has become quite addicted to it, hence dubbing the cake, “space cake”. LOL!

I made this cake again recently. I guess my childhood craving got the better of me 😉

I felt a sense of nostalgia hanging over me at each mention of the “beehive cake”… erm…I meant the Honeycomb Cake. The BIG difference, though, was that I home-baked the cake from scratch! Not store-bought that was labelled with a shelf life.

Introducing my Malaysian Honeycomb Cake made in my kitchen in Belgium. It was fresher than FRESH! It was simply divine 😉 

1. Honeycomb_whole cake_r

B_Honeycomb_bundt pan_before+after

Instead of a round cake pan, I used the Gugelhupf or Bundt pan and I think I will stick to baking this cake in that pan. Why? Because, it made the cake looked more like a ‘Beehive Cake’, hence, reconciling how I used to call the cake as a child versus the appearance. LOL! 

C_Honeycomb_pattern+whole

Un-melting sweet moments …

Usually when a recipe calls for sugar, I opt to use raw cane sugar as much as possible. Well, sugar is sugar. No matter what, it gets into our system. Unfortunately, our liver cannot tell whether the sugar we used is raw, white or organic.

Since raw cane sugar are less processed compared to most other sweeteners, I would like to believe that it’s just a tad healthier 😉

But what happened when I chose to use raw cane sugar in my home-baked honeycomb cake?

Wrong choice!

The raw cane sugar just did not caramelize!

The sugar crystals remained whole even when the pan was smoking away! I did add some cassonade light brown sugar to see the effect. Both sugars did not melt at all. In fact they hardened! Well I did not want to wait until next May or a century for the caramel sauce to develop, hence, exit the raw cane sugar.

Definitely, not the right choice of sugar to make the caramel sauce.

D_Honeycomb_wrong sugar to use

This recipe is adapted from House of Annie’s Malaysian Honeycomb Cake Recipe, with only a few changes indicated in blue font.

Ingredients –

  • 210 g sugar (Table sugar or granulated white sugar is best to optimize the caramel effect – in a jiffy!!)
  • 240 g water
  • 80 g butter (I used ‘Solo’ butter, which, apparently was slightly salted – which was perfect)
  • 6 eggs
  • 160 g condensed milk
  • 180 g all-purpose flour (I used self-raising flour, sifted)
  • 2½ tsp baking soda

Method –

  1. In a saucepan over low heat, caramelize the sugar until it turns a dark golden brown.
  2. Slowly and carefully pour the water into the caramel. In their video, Nate warned us that the caramel is very hot and the water will quickly boil and steam. Stir until the caramel is dissolved in the water and it becomes thin syrup. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the butter and set the pan aside to cool.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F (circa 180C)
  5. Mix together the egg and condensed milk in a bowl.
  6. Sift the flour and baking soda together into the egg and milk. Mix well.
  7. Pour the caramel butter sauce into the batter and mix well.
  8. Pour the batter into a greased, 9-inch round cake pan. Let it sit for 5 minutes for the bubbles to begin developing. (I used a Gugelhupf / Bundt pan, greased)
  9. Bake at 350F (ca 180C) with bottom heat only (no convection!) for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  10. When the cake is cool, turn it out onto a plate. Slice and serve. (I cooled my baked cake on a wire rake)

 E_Honeycomb_process_caramel

F_Honeycomb_method_milk+eggs

G_Honeycomb_batter-mix

2. Honeycomb_collage1

I_Honeycomb_50whole50part

J_Honeycomb_honeycomb patterns_collage

K_Honeycomb_pattern_closed up

L_Honeycomb_slice1 M_Honeycomb_slice3

By the way, the Honeycomb Cake can be steamed as well – if I’m not mistaken, using a different type of flour. I have not tried steaming the cake, but I think I might give it a go in my Rice Cooker … one fine day *wink*

The milk used in the Honeycomb Cake recipe was the Sweetened Condensed Milk, hence, I thought linking up to the May 2014 LTU event with the selected item “MILK” hosted by Tze from Awayofmind Bakery House would be most appropriate. Little Thumbs up (LTU) is organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids. The May 2014 entries can be found on this post, which included the linkup of this write-up.

 

Little Thumbs Up

Because this extraordinary cake reminded me of my childhood days, it was made with LOTS of love and care.  I thought a link up to Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/ Luv‘s  Made With Love Mondays: Week of 5th May 2014 would be most appropriate.

Made with Love Mondays

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Cheers!

I was feeling rather sluggish and lethargic of late. With the back-to-back meetings at work, it did not help at all. I had to miss a proper lunch and ended up getting the last piece of a super teeny-weeny, mini piccolo sandwich from our sandwich vending machine.

My stomach rumbled and my head spun like a spinning top. I felt as if someone had drilled a crowbar through the skull of my head and my eyeballs felt like they were popping out of their sockets. The pain was excruciating, and driving home from work with the glaring sunlight was no fun.

Not the first time

That was not the first time. I have had many bouts of severe headaches or migraine and I have found a way to ease the pain, at least it worked for me.

By not eating anything would aggravate or even trigger the pain and I am not a person who likes to pop over-the-counter painkillers.

Quick Fix

I had a Russian colleague who told me that coca cola worked for her. I did try her method. It was really only temporary. Anyway, I’m not into all these fizzy or carbonated beverages, hence, I eliminated that method. What I did was buy some sweet potatoes – the bright orange-fleshed ones. Purple-fleshed potatoes would be even better but I never had the chance to find those in our stores yet.

Because I wanted a quick fix, I resorted to microwaving the sweet potato, making a few pricks on the potato with a fork, and then placed it on an absorbent paper. I microwaved the sweet potato for a few minutes until the potato became softer when pressed lightly with the back of the fork. Then I would cut the potato in half lengthways and that’s it, just eat the potato right out from the shell, with a spoon, of course!

A Notch Above

That evening, I wanted something different, something more special than the ordinary, and something that could titillate my palate and calm my pain. I found just the answer! I was bowled over by the vibrant orange colour of the salad, simply called, Sweet Potato Salsa.

1. Sweet Potator Salsa_closed up1 

This is a Mexican salad, very colourful with its natural sweetness and above all, refreshing. All ingredients used are fresh, fresh and fresh.

2. Sweet Potato Salsa_collage 

The recipe is based on Julia Canning’s The Salad Bible. I have indicated my comments in blue font comparing with the author’s recipe.

Ingredients –

  • 675 g sweet potatoes, peeled & finely diced (I used 3 medium sized orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and then cut in big chunks of 3 cm)
  • Juice of 1 small orange (I squeezed the juice of ½ + ¼ of the normal size orange, or according to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried crushed jalapeños, or chilli flakes (I could not find fresh or dried jalapeños, hence I used fresh cayenne pepper, deseeded)
  • 4 small spring onion, finely chopped (I used 3 medium sized spring onions)
  • Salt to taste (I did not use)
  • Juice of 1 small lime (I used half in the salsa and half for garnishing)

 3. Sweet Potato Salsa_sweet potatoes 

Method –

  1. Boil sweet potatoes in water to cover over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or just until soft. ( I steamed my chunkily cut sweet potatoes in a microwavable steam basket for 7 minutes on 600W)
  2. Drain sweet potatoes well using a colander and return the sweet potatoes to saucepan and place back on burner with the heat turned off to dry out. ( Since I steamed my sweet potatoes, this step was completely omitted)
  3. Place in a bowl and allow to cool. (While my sweet potatoes were cooling down, I diced them up)
  4. Combine orange juice, jalapeños, spring onions. Set aside
  5. Mix gently with the diced sweet potatoes until well coated. Chill for at least 1 hour
  6. Add salt to taste and lime juice for a fresher taste (I did not use salt. I squeezed the juice of half a lime)
  7. Allow to stand for at least 1 hour longer before serving (I skipped this step as I was too hungry to wait for another hour. Furthermore, I made this salsa in the evening after coming home from work and I did not intend to have a supper!)

According to the author, the salsa will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days (For me, my bowl of salsa was gone the same evening I made it!)

4. Sweet Potato Salsa_ingredients

5. Sweet Potato Salsa_closed up2

By the way, my headaches were gone and I slept like a baby that evening. Sweet potatoes work for me all the time and they are – without a doubt – my sweet remedy 🙂

I am dedicating my Sweet Potato Salsa recipe to the following blog-hop events –

1)      Vanesther’s Bangers & Mash’s Mexican Month on The Spice Trail

spice-trail-badge-square[1]

2)      Cook-Your-Books #11 hosted by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours

Cook Your Books

3)      Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/ Luv’s Made with Love Mondays: Week 21st April

Made with Love Mondays

4)      Little Thumbs up with the April 2014 theme using “ORANGEas the main ingredient organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids, hosted by Ann from Anncoo Journal at this post.

th_littlethumbups1-1
What’s new and beneficial about Sweet Potatoes?

Please check the link here

 

 

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Cheers!

I was in London recently with my family. With the 2-week Easter school break, I thought, why not kill two birds with one stone? The main purpose of our trip was to have my Malaysian passport renewed at the Malaysian High Commission in London.

By the way, if you are wondering why I had not had my passport renewed in Belgium, well, the answer is “yes, I could do that”, but it would take at least 4 weeks! The Malaysian Embassy in Belgium would do exactly the same thing, ie, sending the entire necessary original documents to London for checking purposes and having them printed out with the special printing machine. Unfortunately, the special printer is not available in Belgium. Furthermore, I would not want to risk losing all my original documents in the post.

At the Malaysian High Commission in London, the passport was ready on the same day. How convenient was that! A write-up on this topic will come in a later post 😉

Mind the Gap!

1. Mind the Gap 

Mind the Gap between the train and the platform”.

This is really a catch phrase – very mesmeric, indeed – that you would hear over and over again from the public address system on the London Underground Rapid Transit System. It was introduced in 1969 as a warning to train passengers to remind them of the gap between the train door and the station platform or where platforms are of uneven heights with the train doors.

1. Underground

Some places of interest

We have been to London a few times already, mostly for shopping and sightseeing. We never failed to visit Knightsbridge where the famous Harrods stands regally.

2a. Harrods by day

2b. Harrods by night

Taking pictures inside Harrods was an absolute no-no. There were security guards in every nook and cranny of each hall; however, I could not resist taking this 1 meter high exclusive Belgian handcrafted chocolate Easter Egg. Just look at the price tag!

3. Easter EggI wanted to take another picture of an eye-popping display of a Roger Dubuis watch with a price tag of GBP 223,000!! I dared not click my camera because a beady-eyed guard was standing right behind me. Well, I approached the guard and asked – politely – his permission for a “little” snapshot. As expected, ‘Permission Denied’! Ouch!

Gerrard Street does not sound Chinese, but this street is as Chinese or Asian as can be. It’s of course London’s very own Chinatown! You would think that you’re in Asia somewhere 🙂

4. Gerrard Street

I love going to periodic Markets. If you are in London and it’s a Friday, don’t forget to go to Borough Market. According to the London Official Visitor Guide, Borough Market is one of the top 10 to-go-to markets in London and is described as “gourmet’s paradise”. The nearest Underground is the London Bridge. I could spend the whole day there, but we did not have a lot of time. There were a million and one other places to visit and things to do elsewhere…

Borough Market through the keyhole of a tourist …

 5a. Borough Market

5b. Borough Market

5c. Borough Market

Eating Out

We have heard Indian foods outside of India are the best in the UK. Well, we were tempted by the display of the delicious and aromatic vegetarian thali prepared by chefs from Gujarati Rasoi at the Borough Market. That became our lunch. We practically ate out of lunchboxes in London! There were other stopovers that enticed us for try outs out of lunchboxes that we became overly stuffed and were not able to eat a proper and decent meal.

6. Gujarati Rasoi Thali 

Probably, the only decent sit-down meal we had in London was at Wagamama near Leicester Square

7. Wagamama

As a matter of fact, we had earlier wanted to lunch at our favourite Malaysia Kopi Tiam (coffee shop/ house) on Charing Cross Road. We enjoyed many delicious platters served there in the past and were not disappointed – dishes that I was familiar with, of course. The following pictures were taken during our last trip to London in the summer of 2010.

8a. Kopitiam8c. Kopitiam

8b. Kopitiam8e. Kopitiam

8d. Kopitiam8f. Kopitiam 

Almost four years later, Malaysia Kopi Tiam was no longer in her former glory. What happened??!! I sincerely hope that the restaurant is under renovation or perhaps has moved to another location? I hope it’s the former…

9b. Kopitiam2

9a. Kopitiam1

Charing Cross Road = Shopping + Bookstores!

If you are on Charing Cross Road, the most logical thing to do is to shop! For me, Charing Cross Road is synonymous to the innumerable mega bookstores. We stopped at the two most well known bookstores – Foyles and Waterstone’s. I could spend my entire day there flipping through all kinds of genres of books.

It was at Foyles that I bought Martha Stewart’s Everyday Light cookbook. After eating out of takeaway lunchboxes for three days, I made sure that we had a proper Sunday lunch after our London trip.

Martha Stewart’s Leg of Lamb with Mint Sauce was my definite choice as Lamb is a special animal appropriately associated with Easter. Likewise, Lamb and Mint sauce go so well together. I have used Martha Stewart’s recipe with my modifications indicated in blue font.

Ingredients –

  • 1 whole bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed off excess fat and membrane (I bought a 2-kg leg of lamb)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper (I used Himalayan coarse salt and mixed Szechuan pepper, ground with a pestle and mortar)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, cut into 20 slivers total
  • Fresh sprigs of rosemary – this is not in the recipe

 1. Lamb prep_collage 

Method –

  1. Preheat oven to circa 230 deg Celsius (450 deg F)
  2. Rub lamb with a generous amount of freshly ground coarse salt and mixed pepper, and then rub with oil. With the tip of a sharp paring knife, cut twenty circa 1.5 cm (½ -inch) deep slits all over the lamb.
  3. Insert a garlic sliver and some of the fresh sprigs of rosemary into each opening
  4. Place the lamb on a roasting rack set on a baking or roasting pan. You may want to line the roasting pan with an aluminium foil or baking sheet. I skipped that.
  5. Transfer to oven and immediately reduce oven to ca 165 C (325 F). I do not have an instant-read thermometer, but if you owned one, then Martha Stewart recommended that the reading must register 52 C (125 F) to 57 C (135 F) for rare; or 57 C (135 F) to 60 C (140 F) for medium, 1¼ to 1¾ hours. Note the thermometer needs to be inserted in the thickest part (avoiding the bone). Since I do not have an instant-read thermometer, my acid test is based on the insertion of a metal skewer into the thickest part of the leg, and then I immediately place the skewer on my lower lip. If it’s still cold, the lambs goes right back in the oven. If the skewer feels hot on my lip, then the lamb is ready. The roasting time is between 1½ to 1¾ hours, depending on the weight and size of the leg of lamb
  6. Remove from the oven; tent with a tin foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
  7. Serve with mint sauce

 2. Lamb_roasted whole + carved

3. Lamb_roasted_whole

4. Lamb_roasted_carved1

4. Lamb_roasted_carved2

Mint Sauce

Ingredients –

  • ½ cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar (Sorry, but this was way too much! I used ½ cup raw cane sugar and even then, the mint sauce was too sweet for my liking. I will seriously reduce the amount of sugar the next time)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • A pinch of Himalayan coarse salt for balance of taste – this is not in the recipe

 Method –

  1. In a small saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, salt and water to a boil. I did not stir, but rather, swirl the saucepan around over the stovetop
  2. Lower heat and simmer until liquid is syrupy and reduced in amount, for about 15 to 20 minutes
  3. Remove from heat, stir in mint and let cool completely

 1. Mint sauce_prep_collage

According to Martha Stewart, the sauce can be refrigerated up to 1 week in an airtight container.

2. Mint sauce_cookbook

3. Lamb + Mint sauce_collage

4. Lamb + Mint sauce

I am most happy to link this post to Cooking with Herbs Challenge for April, hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage with the April theme of using Mint as the selected cooking herb.

Cooking with Herbs

This post is also linked to Cook like a Star – ALL Stars Anniversary with my choice of Star Chef, Martha Stewart. This event which runs between March to April is organised by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Mich from Piece of Cake

Cook Like A Star! 

Because I have picked a Cookbook to refer to for this special meal, I am linking this post to Cook-Your-Books #11 hosted by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours

Cook Your Books 

With another week passing us by, I am linking this special post meal of Lamb coinciding with the Holy Week to Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/ Luv’s Made with Love Mondays: Week 14th April

 Made with Love Mondays

Because this post has a hint of random thoughts and cookbook-related, I thought a link up to Beth Fish Reads’ Weekend Cooking: The Kitchen Journals: A Week in the Life is most appropriate.

 Weekend Cooking

 

Enjoy the rest of the week!

 

Cheers!

If there’s one vegetable that topped my family’s order list of meals ordered at Chinese restaurants back in Kuching that would undoubtedly be baby kai-lan, stir-fried with ginger, garlic and oyster sauce. So simple and yet so delicious!

Kai-lan is also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. I could eat a plate of this baby kai-lan all by myself. Yes, it’s THAT good!

A needle in a haystack with an ambiguous substitute…

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find baby kai-lan in the Asian stores in Belgium, at least where I live. I have tried preparing broccoli mimicking the recipe of the baby kai-lan, but it just did not taste the same 😦 

And THEN I found a substitute in one of the most ambiguous vegetables. Is it pak choi or bok choy? Most people (including many chefs) have been using both words to refer to the same vegetable, which is rather confusing.  

I am very sure there is a difference because I am more familiar with Hokkien. Pak choi (Cantonese) or pek chai (Hokkien) is literally translated as “white vegetable”. But the ones I bought recently were NOT white.

Will the real pak choi please raise your hand, erm… I meant leaf?

By the way, the true pak choi has snow-white stalks and dark green leaves with ruffled edges, but they were NOT the ones I bought recently.

The young bunch I bought recently had pale lime green, short, spoon-like and chunky stalks with light green leaves. I discovered the correct name for this veg is Shanghai bok choy or green-stem bok choy, while in the commercial world today they are popularly labelled as baby bok choy.

I will call my little gems with its correct name – Shanghai bok choy 😉

1. Steamed baby bok choy_fresh 

The texture of the leaves and stalks is crisp. The young Shanghai bok choy can be eaten raw in salads, but nothing beats a briefly (yes, very briefly, please…) cooked Shanghai bok choy.

Full steam ahead!

You can cook the Shanghai bok choy anyway you like – stir-fried, boiled, braised, steamed, stewed or in soups. I prefer mine, steamed with drizzles of homemade sauce, and served immediately. Sinfully delicious!

Ingredients –
Serves 4-5

A bunch of fresh Shanghai bok choy of 5 plants, quartered and wash away any grits and grimes in between the crevices of the stalks

For sautéing –

3 cm piece ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cooking oil (I used olive oil)
 

Marinade –

8 – 10 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp naturally brewed “less salt” soy sauce
2 Tbsp Mushroom vegetable sauce (vegetarian oyster sauce)
1 Tbsp Shaohsing wine (optional – but it really made the difference ;-))
1 Tbsp corn flour
1 tsp sesame oil
Freshly milled white pepper (optional)

 

Garnishing –

Crispy fried onions (optional, only if you want a bit of crunch)

The Acid Test …

Let me walk you through the method in preparing this uncomplicated and delectable dish in snapshots 😀 

Steam the Shanghai bok choy for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the type of steamer you have.

2. Steamed baby bok choy_quartered 

While the veg is busy steaming, prepare your ingredients for sautéing. There are only 2 main ingredients – ginger and garlic, both grated. At the same time, prepare the marinade for the sauce.

3. Steamed baby bok choy_ginger+garlic+marinade 

Sauté the minced garlic and grated ginger until fragrant

 4. Steamed baby bok choy_sauté 

Pour the marinade in the pan and stir well. You will notice the sauce starting to thicken (from the corn flour) and becomes glossier. At this point, it is important to check how thick or thin you want your sauce to be. Add some water to thin the sauce, if necessary. I prefer mine not too thick and lumpy, but still quite thick and not too runny.

5. Steamed baby bok choy_check thickness6. Steamed baby bok choy_right consistency 

Remove the steamed Shanghai bok choy from the steamer and arrange them on a serving plate.

7. Steamed baby bok choy_steamed done 10 mins8. Steamed baby bok choy_arranged on plate 

Drizzle the cooked sauce over the steamed Shanghai bok choy and garnish with some crispy fried onions. And that’s it, really – an honest and healthy plate. Delish!

 9. Steamed baby bok choy_platter1

9. Steamed baby bok choy_platter2

9. Steamed baby bok choy_platter3

Oh, by the way, I bought the bunch of the Shanghai bok choy (5 plants) for Eur 2.50. I am not sure if that is expensive or not, but I thought it could have been cheaper, as the vegetable grows all year round. Anyway, that does not stop me from going back for more 😉

I’m definitely linking this post to the following events –

1)      For the first time and definitely, not the last, to Bangers & Mash’s The Spice Trail: cooking with ginger. I was intrigued by the choice of  Vanesther Rees’ March’s theme of one of my favourite spices – GINGER!

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 AND –

2)      As well as to Javelin Warrior’s  Made with Love Mondays: Week of 24th Mar 2014.

I promised to come back and I did 😀

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Enjoy the rest of the week.

 

Cheers!

As far as I could remember, my late Dad was king consumer of any form of sambals. He liked his sambal with lots of heat. One of his favourites was sambal tempoyak, made with fermented durian.  Sounds yucky, but it was downright scrumptious, if you are a durian fan, that is *wink*

My Mum had to fulfill my Dad’s sambalish desire every so often. That’s when my Mum invented all kinds of sambal to her heart’s content. There was not a time when our house was not perfumed with the pleasantly pungent and acrid smells of the sambals.  😀

Have Sambal Will Eat…

Like my Dad, I love eating sambal, but I don’t think I could xerox my Mum’s noteworthy feat of sambal making.  My limitation comes in the form of my highly critical half.  His long nose could smell a rotten egg distance away 😀

But I want to eat sambal! Personally, this hot and spicy condiment makes the meal whole.  Arghh!!

I know I could buy these in the Asian stores, but none of the bottled ones could beat my Mum’s sambals.

Perfect Sambal

It was in 2010 when Mum came to the rescue.  That year, she and my younger sister came to visit us during the Summer hols.  I am really thankful to mummy dearest for this perfect sambal recipe.

I’m sure my hubs would not even know I cooked sambal in my kitchen.  His only remark the day I made the sambal was, “I smelled smelly feet”.  It was a fleeting remark and he continued tapping on his iPad.  Ha ha ha!

I’ve bookmarked my Mum’s perfect sambal udang tomato (prawn tomato sambal) since then.

A fresh guesstimate recipe

As with all genuine and authentic homemade (savoury) cooking by any brilliant and creative cooks, guesstimates are a norm.

There are no exact measurements in this recipe. As my Mum would say, “agak-agak” (guesstimate)

However, it is key to have all ingredients fresh. To conciliate with mortals who detest any form of “fishy” smell, this recipe does not use “belacan” (shrimp paste), but dried shrimps which are milder and camouflaged by the rest of the fragrant herbs and spices.

1. Fragrant sambal_dried shrimps
 
Ingredients –
My Mum’s agak-agak recipe – the Perfect Sambal for an anti-belacan omnivore 😀 
  • Plenty of tomatoes (I used 16 Roma tomatoes) – blend separately
  • Dried shrimps (I used 1 packet – soaked, removed water and dry roasted) – blend separately

Blended paste –

  • Handful of fresh chillies (I used 10 green chillies with seeds) – dry roast
  • Plenty of shallots (I used 10)
  • Quite a lot of garlic (I used 1 knob!)
  • Onion (I used 1 medium-sized onion)
  • Handful of kaffir lime leaves (hard stems removed)
  • Coriander roots (I used 8)
  • Fresh turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Galangal
  • Lemon Grass (I used 2 stalks)

The rest –

  • Cooking Oil
  • Lemon zest
  • Lemon juice
  • Tamarind juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Gula apong (I used palm sugar, to taste)
  • Chilli powder (I used 2 heap teaspoons – but this is optional – to taste)

Method – 

  • Sauté the blended paste in a heated wok with some cooking oil until fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes and dried shrimps. Stir to combine and cook over medium-low heat
  • Add the seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, sugar, zest of 1 lemon and lemon juice)
  • The sambal will be ready when the tomato mixture becomes quite dry. This will take a good 4 to 5 hours.  I cooked my sambal for ca 4 hours!
  • Cool the cooked sambal and store in air tight jars

Voilà

2. Fragrant sambal_air tight

And by the way, here’s how I eat my homemade sambal.  That’s right… on crackers and toasts.  Damn YUMMY!!

3. Fragrant sambal_crackers n toasts10. Fragrant sambal

A picture is worth a thousand words!

4. Fragrant sambal5. Fragrant sambal

6. Fragrant sambal7. Fragrant sambal

8. Fragrant sambal9. Fragrant sambal

It has been quite a while since I linked up to LTU.  Seeing that this post matched with the March theme of using prawns, I’m thinking, “why not?”.  So here’s to Little Thumbs up using the ingredient, “PRAWNS” organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and hosted by Food Playground

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I came accross this blog,  Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/ Luv  by chance via another blogger’s blog Ediblethings.  I’m a believer of using fresh ingredients, and, as much as possible, cooking from scratch.  So yes, why not?  Therefore, I’m linking this post for the first and defintely not the last time to  Made with Love Mondays: Week 31-07-2014 hosted by Javelin Warrior  

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I don’t normally publish a post every week, since time is not always on my side, and if I had the time and inspiration to write something, I will  check out Beth Fish Reads‘  Weekend Cooking – Thinking, Reading, Photographing

Weekend Cooking

Because I used all forms of fresh herbs and spices in my cooking, I’m hooked to Lavender and Lovage‘s blog. Although the herb, Rosemary is the main theme for March, I hope Karen will forgive me with this post.  I’m linking this post to the  March challenge for cooking with herbs

Cooking-with-Herbs-300x252

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Cheers!