Archive for the ‘Tasty Tuesdays’ Category

“Funny when we‘re not there, they miss us. When we are there, they kinda close their eyes and pretend or think we are invisible.  When we are eventually there and as time goes by, we age quite rapidly. We actually black-out quite easily, too”.

Now, who or what are “we“, and please be specific, I asked my 2 boys.

A cat?

Nope! I wondered why a cat…

Light (bulb)?

Nope!

Fruit?

Erm…Nope!

Boys: Okay, we give up, Mum!

Mum: Well, it’s none other than those sweet yellow curvy thingy called Bananas, my boys… LOL!

Both my sons re-read the riddle that I invented and slowly nodded their heads with approval.

Boys: Yeah, you’re right Mum. No wonder you spared the lives of the bananas from being thrased and put them to good use for the umpteenth time! *LOL*

Mum: *Grin*

Banana Makeover!

I had 3 ripe bananas in my kitchen, dangling from the banana hanger, screaming out for a complete makeover! Actually, I had a few things in my mind with those bananas.

Initially, I was thinking of making banana fritters. It has been a long time since I had my last banana fritter in Kuching back in 2008!  After looking at all angles, I scrapped the idea of making banana fritters as they consumed too much cooking oil for frying and furthermore, I don’t own a fryolater.

Then I was thinking of baking a banana bread or cake. Nah! I’ve baked too many banana cakes already and have posted my downfalls and victories in these posts here, here,  here and here.

And then, I was toying with the idea of making banana chiffon cake. Not too long ago, a colleague brought his home-baked banana chiffon cake to work and shared a few wedges with me. Boy…I was bowled over! Simply scrummy, that I finally bought myself a chiffon cake pan! Did I bake a chiffon cake? Nah! Not now. That’ll come, for sure 😉

By the way, since it was Father’s Day recently, I thought of making something small with some extra goodness, and here’s the result! These little gems required no electric stand mixer. Only my working hand, a fork, a rubber spatula and 2 bowls (one big and one medium-sized), plus of course the measuring cups and spoons and the ingredients!

I have adapted the recipe from JoyOfBaking.com, which I have posted here, by including a few of my own touches.

Instead of using granulated white sugar, I opted for 1 Cup of soft light brown sugar (Cassonade Graeffe) and 1/2 tsp baking soda iso 1/4 tsp. I added 1 Tbsp caramel sauce as brown sugars are less sweet than the white granulated ones. To make the muffins a bit more special, I added 3/4 Cup Country Crisp with crunchy Chunky Nuts (wholegrain cereals, oat and barley flakes, dessiccated coconut, flaked almonds, chopped nuts – Brazil, pecan and roasted hazelnuts) and 1/4 Cup chopped pistachios.

The method of making Quick Bread or Banana bread is such a breeze. Mix all the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl and mix all the dry ingredients in a bigger bowl. Add the wet to the dry and the chemistry begins! Fold very lightly until all white speckles of flour are no longer visible. Do not over stir unless you want hard rock muffins!   

Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper muffin cups and fill each muffin cup 3/4 full.  Bake in the pre-heated oven at 177 deg C for a perfect muffin texture at 23 minutes! Please check your type of oven. It can be anywhere between 20 – 25 deg C. My oven usually takes the middle-of-the-road path 😉

Verdict: These muffins were a joy to bite into when still warm. They were really light and the sweet banana flavour with the warm hint of cinnamon and the goodness from the nuts and crisps came through perfectly. I must confess that the nuts were not crunchy any more but you’ll definitely know their presence as they gave a nice bite and texture to an otherwise mundane-looking muffin. My boys loved the muffins and it’s the surest way to enjoy “black-out” bananas! And by the way, the muffins tasted absolutely divine the day after. Perfect in my dessert box 😉

These were simple muffins but made with love and packed with extra goodness. I’m quite certain they 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 post to Tasty Tuesdays hosted by HonestMum  

Before this week ends, I’m linking up to #Recipe of the Week 20-26 June hosted by A Mummy Too

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Cheers!

I was trying to clear my kitchen cupboard, stuffed with loads of this and that! Gosh, it was like un-veiling a treasure chest that has not been opened since time immemorial! 

Deep inside the cupboard somewhere were a few un-touched, un-opened packets of God knows what – cake flour, pizza flour, cornflakes…. hmmm… I’m feeling really embarrassed now *blushing*

Oh-oh… and more “skeletons” kept appearing…tortilla wraps, spring roll wraps and there… tucked in the corner, was a brand new, virgin packet of Betty Crocker’s Cinnamon Streusel – Muffin & Quick Bread Mix! I hadn’t the slightest inkling when I bought it. Definitely, not this year! The first thing I did was searching for the expiry date, labelled somewhere on Ms Crocker’s Muffin pre-mix. Okay, got it! 12th July 2015.

Phew!

BUT, who or what is Betty Crocker?

By the way, not many people know that Betty Crocker is an iconic, fictitious character, like Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot created by Agatha Christie or James Bond, created by Ian Fleming.

Betty Crocker is actually a trademark and brand name of the American multinational manufacturer and marketer of branded consumer foods, General Mills, Inc. According to sources, the name “Betty” was selected because it was viewed as a cheery, friendly-sounding, all-American name. Betty’s surname, Crocker, was chosen in honour of the popular director, William Crocker of Washburn Crosby Company, the largest predecessor of General Mills.

And what the heck is “Streusel“?

The word, “streusel” is German meaning, “something scattered or sprinkled”. It is similar to the English verb “strew”, however, in the world of baking and pastry, streusel is just another glamourous word for the crumbly topping on breads, muffins, pies and cakes. The ingredients used in making the crumble topping or “streusel” are flour, butter and sugar, identical to the crumbly toppings of a basic Apple crumble pie!

The Science of Baking

With a net weight of 394g, Betty Crocker’s Cinnamon Streusel – Muffin & Quick Bread Mix comes with one packet of pre-mix flour base and another smaller packet of the crumbly topping mix or streusel. Baking is science. It’s all in the chemistry. Baking, unlike cooking, requires carefully balanced formulas. Tweakings are out of the question! The 2 dry ingredients I got out from the box of BC’s pre-mix will never ever make muffins or a quick bread on their own in a million, zillion or trillion years! Why? Because the extra leavening (eggs), moistening (water) and tenderizing (fats) ingredients were NOT included! And finally, with the missing chemistry of heat and water, the physical reactions would never take place.

What were needed were the following 

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil (I used corn oil)

I added a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon powder and I didn’t regret that a bit (NOTE: This was not on the instruction box)

Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C for 10 minutes without the muffins and then lower to 180 deg C when the baking starts (NOTE: This was not on Betty Crocker’s instruction box. This was my own because from experience, my ancient oven would have burnt the muffins if I left the oven on at 200 deg C throughout the baking process)

Add all the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine until all the ingredients are blended together into a smooth batter. Scoop one tablespoonful of the batter into each of the 12-hole muffin pan, then sprinkle the streusel or sweet crumbly topping on each muffin.

Alas! I sprinkled too much on the first few muffins and ended up with 3 ‘naked’ muffins. What I did was sprinkle some cinnamon powder on the last 3 muffins!

With all 12 muffins feeling happy and dressed up, they were ready to go in the oven for 18 minutes.

Et voilà! 

I was surprised by the feather-like texture of the muffins, be they fresh out of the oven or kept overnight. Of course the muffins did not last for more than 24 hours!

They were scrumptious with a cup of tea or coffee. Perfect for high tea, breakfast and for picnics.
       

I’m sharing these muffins 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 post to #CookBlogShare17 hosted by Lucy of  Supergolden Bakes

 

Without fresh eggs and the other extra wet ingredients, these BC’s muffins would never have transformed into what they were supposed to be… Yes, muffins and feather-light, too! And without much ado, I’m linking this post up to Belleau Kitchen’s Simply Eggcellent #4 with the June’s theme, “Anything Goes“.

 

 

I’m also linking up to Tasty Tuesdays hosted by HonestMum

 
Happy Saturday!

Blessed Sunday!
Cheers! 

Either you like it or you LOVE it! I don’t think I’ve met anyone who does not like Chicken Satay, unless you’re a vegetarian or a vegan 😉

 

This meat on skewer snack makes one of the best, tastiest and fast moving pot-luck platters loved by every carnivore from 2 to 92!  Chicken or Beef Satays are popular dishes at Malay ‘kenduri‘ (feast), and open-houses during the festive seasons. This dish knows no boundaries and appears on the table of a Chinese family at Chinese New Year, a Malay/ Muslim at Hari Raya Aidil Fitri or Eid al-Fitr, a Christian at Christmas, an Indian/ Hindu at Deepavali, native Sarawakian at Hari Gawai and native Sabahan at Pesta Kaamatan (Harvest Festival). It’s a dish that unites the people of Malaysia! Satays are sold in every strata of the society from roadside hawker stall to high end hotel restaurants.

 

My husband and both my sons LOVE their skewered meat. It’s sweet, tasty and simply delicious on its own but doubly addictive, smothered with peanut sauce!  It has been a while since I made this dish and I thought of treating the guys to another feast of chicken satay *wink*

  

 

Labour of Love

 

It takes only seconds to nibble the skewered meat down one’s throat, but it takes a LOT of preparation and a LONG time waiting for the end result. I call it “labour of love”. That accounts to the infrequent investment of time in making the dish at home, especially so when I’m the one and only chef in the kitchen 😦

 

The labour begins with the chopping of the fresh herbs and spices and blend them, one for the meat marinade and another batch for the peanut sauce.  The sliced meat needs to be marinated overnight, hence, a waiting time of 12 hours or more.  The peanut sauce takes at least 2-3 hours to cook to the right taste and consistency.  It’s hard work if done alone and I’m glad I had 3 pairs of thumbs UP, otherwise, I’d go on strike. LOL!

  

 

To Bake or to Grill?

 

Authentic satays are sold, grilled over hot charcoals, dabbed with cooking oil and coconut milk using a stalk of lemongrass, bruised at the fatter end of the stalk, like a paint brush. The taste and aroma of the slightly charred meat is to die for.  

 

My first chicken satay made in Belgium were oven-baked, and the most recent ones were home-grilled using an electric Grill-teppanyaki hot plate, which I got as a gift from work. It’s so easy, but you need to make sure that the kitchen extractor is on at full blast and the windows are opened!  It can be a rather smoky affair 🙂


But the result was worth it!

  

 

Main Item (for the satay) –

  • 1 kg chicken meat (I used 5 pieces chicken breasts)

Marinade ingredients-

For blending

  • 9 shallots
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 lemongrass
  • 4 candle nuts 
  • Fresh ginger
  • Fresh turmeric

Dry ingredients to be added to blended ingredients-

  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 Tbsp cinnamon powder
  • Brown sugar and salt, to taste

Marinade chicken overnight.

  1.     

Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

  • 400g roasted peanuts
  • Fresh ginger
  • Fresh turmeric
  • Galangal
  • 4 Lemongrass 
  • 20g dried shrimps in lieu of belacan
  • 4 candle nuts 
  • 12 dried chillies
  • 3 fresh chillies
  • 9 shallots
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, ground 
  • Tamarind paste
  • Cumin powder
  • Coriander powder
  • Brown sugar, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Water
  • Cooking oil 

   

   

I prefer to have lots of peanuts in my peanut sauce, hence, you will notice that the end result of my peanut sauce is a lot thicker than the ones you get at  the satay stalls or restaurants in Malaysia. Well, nothing beats home-cooked food wherever you may be 😉 

If you have an allergy for peanuts, try cashew nuts or any other nuts of your choice. I’m sure they work as well. 

!! Warning !! Please be warned when using candlenuts.  According to Wikipedia, the seeds contain saponin and phorbol, that are mildly toxic when raw.

The rule of thumb as follows-

  1. If making uncooked sambal, it is absolutely a must to toast / dry roast the candlenuts before blending them with the rest of the herbs and spices
  2. If you are making a paste which includes candlenuts as one of the ingredients, make sure to stir-fry the paste absolutely well before preparing your desired dish.

And by the way, the chicken satay freezes well too. 

I’m linking this post to Little Thumbs Up April event “CHICKEN“, organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe 

 


This post is also linked to HonestMum @ Tasty Tuesdays live.

 


I’m also linking this tasty chicken satay dish with its absolutely delicious peanut sauce to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking with Herbs April Linky

 


Cheers!

I wanted one whole chicken, but hubby came back with 8 pieces of chicken breasts! 

 

I was planning to try out my new Philips Multi Cooker (PMC) by cooking the entire bird in there, after Miss B from EEWIF showed me a photo of her cooked bird in her PMC not too long ago. Hmmm… yummy! 

 

With 8 chicken breasts, it’s another story.  I definitely had to put on my thinking cap and think of Plan B. So I ended up making this in my Philips Multi Cooker😄

  

 

Just one of my Kitchen Gadgets …

 

The PMC was one of my latest additions of kitchen gadgets.  I had wanted to buy a new Rice Cooker to kinda  “replace” my 20-year old National Rice Cooker.  It’s not that my “grand dame” was not working. On the contrary.  She’s been fighting tooth and nail, winning every battle by providing us with nicely cooked rice and porridge and cakes! The new RC was thought of under the condition of “what if..”

 

I bought my PMC during the Big Sale month of January this year, by the way. Miss B already bought hers in December. It’s good to have someone giving a review for the same product. Thanks, Miss B for “pushing” me into buying this new toy.  Ha ha …

 

I’m glad the PMC came with a recipe book in 2 languages (Dutch and French).  I was turning the pages looking for a chicken recipe.  There were a few – chicken curry, chicken tagine, basque chicken, however, the one that caught my eye was chicken legs with honey and soy sauce.  I did not follow the recipe completely as there were too few ingredients used; only 4. I wanted more flavours which I’m used to in my cooking, however, what I was interested in was the method of cooking the chicken with the PMC. To me, the steps are more important than the ingredients that went in the chicken. Well, that’s just me 😜


The following are the ingredients I used a lot in my kitchen, not necessarily the same, but ingredients that are available in my kitchen pantry, hence it can be any “mystery” item😄


Main item

8 pieces chicken breast meat

Marinade ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp Sushi & Sashimi Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp runny honey (I used Borneo Wild Honey)
  • 1 Tbsp ABC Kecap Manis (dark sweet soy)
  • 1 Tbsp Shaohsing wine
  • 1 fat clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon grass, minced
  • 3 cm piece ginger, finely grated
  • Fresh coriander leaves and stems, finely chopped
  • Freshly-milled White pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes 
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil 

 Steps

  • In a clean bowl, prepare the marinade, mixing all the ingredients together (see marinade ingredients)

  

  •  In a large bowl, coat the chicken breast meat with olive oil. 
  • Select the Bake/ Fry function. Pan-fry 3 pieces of chicken meat at a time to seal and brown lightly for 1 minute each side. Transfer to a plate.  Continue with the rest until the entire batch is done. Select the Off/Keep Warm function.

  

  • Coat the chicken meat with the marinade and immediately transfer to the cooking bowl of the PMC. Select the Slow-Cook function and pre-set the timer to 35 minutes.
  • After 35 minutes, make a cornflour mixture to thicken the gravy. Slow-cook for another 20 minutes. 
  • Garnish with torn fresh coriander leaves and white sesame seeds

  

Verdict: The chicken was tender and succulent, not dry, which I liked. I was amazed that the chicken browned really nicely with the Bake/ Fry function. The sauce turned out rather thin despite the cornflour mixture. Overall, it was a tasty chicken. 

I will cook this again, but improving as I go along😉

I’m linking this post to Little Thumbs Up April event “CHICKEN“, organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe 

 

This post is also linked to HonestMum @ Tasty Tuesdays live.

 

I’m also linking this special slow-cooked chicken to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking with Herbs April Linky

 



Happy Easter everyone!

I’m glad to see the sun shining outside as I write this post😄

Have a great week!

Cheers!

It’s not a big store, but big enough to store the most basic and fast moving inventories. I used to buy my Asian products at the family-run store and I appreciated the many advices I got from the owner.  I have written briefly about this friendly Chinese lady at this post : A Very Special Mapo Tofu.

 

It must be due to health reason that she has stopped operating the convenient store. I sensed she had undergone a facial stroke as her face was partially contorted and she limped quite badly. I have neither heard nor seen her since her shop was bought over by a young couple some 3 years ago. When I went back to the store, it’s not the same anymore.  I noticed there are more “kiddy-like” and less healthy stuffs, like instant noodles, sweets, cookies, instant sauces etc.  There are not many choices in the deep freezer section either. Quite sad, really.

 

One Healthy Advice

 

Fortunately, before she sold her business, she gave me tips on making healthy broth or tonic soups.  I don’t read Chinese so a first hand advice from someone who excelled in both Chinese and English was tremendously refreshing.

 

In one of my many stopovers to her shop, I was looking for the ingredients or herbs to make a tonic broth. She beckoned me to one of the shelves and showed me a few packages of Chinese herbs.  Erm…. it was all Greek, or rather, Chinese to me.  Ha ha …

 

And by the way, for a first timer, she introduced me to a mix of 7 dried Chinese herbs, which sounded sacred and biblical at the same time – Solomon’s Seal Root, Foxnut, Lily Bulb, Job’s Tear Barley, Lotus Seeds, Longan (dried dragon eye) and Chinese Yam.  These 7 heavenly herbs made up the Chin Po Liang, a very popular all-purpose tonic soup in a Chinese kitchen, particularly, of the Cantonese origin.  The Chin Po Liang is a ‘yin‘ soup as Liang means cooling and Po means tonic or nutritious.

 

I bought 2 different packages. I couldn’t remember what the other one was good for. It must be something similar which is also popular in the Vietnamese kitchen.

  

 

Pork is normally used in the broth, but I chose chicken.  I was told by the friendly “aunty” that if chicken is used instead of pork, then I had to choose a very old chicken.  BUT, where could I get an old hen in the supermarkets in Belgium?!

 

Not easy. I found the first chicken I saw at the poultry meat section at Delhaize. It was not a big bird, which I thought would be just right for my family of 4 people. In Belgium, the chicken is labelled as “soepkip” or translated literally as ‘soup chicken’.

  

 

Ingredients –

  • 1 whole “soepkip” (chicken for making soup), skin removed
  • 1 packet of the 7-herb mix of Chin Po Liang
  • Enough water to cover the chicken 

Oh by the way, I added the 8th “herb”, one carrot.  This is completely optional. I added this for colour and sweetness.

 

NOTE: Chinese tonic soups are usually slow-cooked without any enhancer. No salt, stock cube or pepper. That’s why it’s “chin po” (very nutritious)

 

Method –

  • Rinse the Chin Po Liang herbs with cold water.  Set aside 

  

  • Wash, clean and remove the skin off from the Chicken
  • In a soup pot, add enough water to submerge the chicken
  • Slow-cook the Chicken broth. If cooked in a pot over the stovetop, slow-cook for 2 hours. If cooked in a Slow-Cooker, cook on High for 2 hours plus another 4 hours on Low. You can leave the Slow-Cooker on overnight and enjoy a nutritious mug of goodness the next morning😉

NOTE: The water must be clear looking. Remove any scum floating on the surface of the pot.

  

 

Here’s  how I like my bowl of Chin Po Liang Clear Chicken Broth, without the herbs, as the herbal flavours have infused in the broth from the long hours of slow-cooking.

 

Brilliantly YUMMY!

  


By the way, my Mum calls this “Tun Kay T’ng” ( slow-cooked chicken soup). Mum used to make this kind of soup for my siblings and I when we were younger. We loved it. I still do and I call it chicken soup for the soul because it helps me when I feel a little under the weather. That’s what my GP would advise me as well, “Have plenty of rest and take chicken soup”😄

I have made this tonic broth on several occasions already. It works exceptionally well with frozen chicken as well. The last time I made the soup was with frozen chicken drumsticks.

The soup must be very clear that you can actually see through it. I added some Kei chi (goji berries or wolfberries) for colour and natural sweetness. 
  

  

 

!! WARNING !! This chicken broth is an acquired taste. Remember there was absolutely no enhancer.  By slow-cooking the broth, the flavours develop to one very rich-tasting tonic soup, however, if you simply cannot take a salt-free broth, then by all means, add some salt and pepper with rock sugar to taste.  I promise you it will transform the nourishing tonic soup to another level as well 😉

 

Transformer

 

I guess that’s my middle name. LoL!

 

I love fiddling around with leftovers.  Anyway, I have to be good at it because the 3 guys in my household do not like to eat the same dish 2 days in a row. I’m glad I work full time by day, otherwise I would run out of ideas cooking different dishes every single day.

 

With the leftover Chin Po Liang Chicken Broth, I added more water and brought the soup to a boil.  I added ginger, spring onion, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, salt, pepper and a piece of rock sugar to taste. I boiled some spaghetti sticks and served this in a bowl, garnished with char siu, brocolli stir-fry, thinly sliced napa cabbage, prawns and of course, topped with a piece of the leftover chicken.

 

And there you have it! One of the best transformers!

  

 

Enjoy!

 

This post is linked to Little Thumbs Up April event “CHICKEN“, organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe 

  

I’m also linking this post to Farmersgirl Kitchen’s Slow Cooked Challenge for the month April 2015

  

 


This post is also linked to HonestMum @ Tasty Tuesdays live.

  


I’m also linking this herbal chicken broth to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking with Herbs April Linky

  




Have a great week.

 

Cheers!