Thursday, March 29, 2012

Carrot Cream Soup

A simple, weekend healthy soup with ground coriander and ginger.  Serve with your favourite bread, this can be a great starter or a warming supper!

250g carrot
1 onion
2 1/2 cups chicken stock / water
30g butter
1/2 cup cream
1/2 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste
Serves 2 - 3

1.  Peel carrots, cut them with onion into thin slices.  Heat butter in a soup pot, add onion and carrot.  Stir over low heat until onion is tender.

2.  Add flour, ground ginger, ground coriander and stir until well combine.  Add chicken stock, stir and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes or until the carrot is tender.

3.  Remove from heat, with a hand held blender, blend until smooth.  Alternatively, blend in a food blender.  Return to heat and add in the cream and season with salt and pepper, stir until heated through.  SServe the soup with some cream.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Soft Easter Cookies

This soft cookie dough is a great cookie base for all occasion.  They are always a hit in kids parties.  The dough itself is not too sweet as I normally decorated them with sugar icing which is fun and looks wonderful!

250g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
110g butter, soften
150g powder sugar
1 medium egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp grated lemon rind
Powder sugar, golden syrup, milk for sugar icing
Makes about 20 cookies

1.  Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in egg and then vanilla essence.

2.  Add all dry ingredients to the mixture to form a dough, wrap with a plastic wrap and press to form a disc.  Chill for at least 2 hours.

3.  Roll the dough into 5mm thickness on lightly floured surface or between two plastic wraps.  Cut with your favourite cookie cutters.

4.  Bake at 180 degree C on the medium rack for 5 to 7 minutes or until the sides turn a little bit brown.  Cool cookies on a wire rack.

5.  To make sugar icing, mix together 3 1/2 tablespoons powder sugar, 1/4 teaspoon golden syrup, 1 teaspoon milk and stir well.  If it's too runny, add a little sugar, bit by bit.  Add your favourite food colouring.  The amount of sugar icing you require may depend on how you decorate the cookies.

                          The same cookie base I used for Christmas cookies:


Chicken Meat Balls

So I bought some chicken breast meat with the intention of making my mother's version of egg rolls.  I even thought of a name for it thinking of sharing it here.  But after blending the meat, I said to myself "hmm... this minced meat's texture looks like it's good to make meat balls....".  So I took a bit of the meat, mix with some tapioca flour and tried it.  And it worked!

So plan changed, and I made these meat balls instead!

300g chicken, minced
6 prawn, minced
1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp tapioca flour
some pepper

1.  Blend the meat in a food blender.

2.  Mix all the ingredients together.   It is best to use the hand so as to assure that the seasoning is mixed well.  Add a tiny bit of water if the mixture is too dry.

3.  Boil a pot of water or broth.   To shape the meat into a ball, wet the hands with some cool water.  So that the meat won't stick on the hand.  Otherwise you can use two spoons, dip into the water before scooping the mixture.

4.  Cook in boiling water for about a minute or two.  The meat balls are done when they float.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Vegetables Spring Roll

Spring is for spring rolls!  That's how these crispy rolls got its name.  It was originally made from vegetables harvested in early spring or around Chinese New Year.  Meat were added in a later stage.  There are other varieties of spring rolls from Thailand or Vietnam.

Hot, crispy spring rolls serve with sweet chili sauce makes a great appetiser or finger food.  And making them yourself gives you the maximum freshness and flavour!

100g carrot, grated or thinly sliced
60g rice noodles, softened by soaking in water
100g red pepper, thinly sliced
200g cabbage, shredded
100g bean sprouts
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
some white pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten, for brushing
Small size spring roll wrappers (5 x 4.5 inch)
2 tbsp oil
oil for deep frying
Thai sweet chili sauce, to serve
makes about 30 mini spring rolls

1.  In a pan heat two tablespoon of oil.  Add the carrot, cabbage and cook for two minutes.  Add a little bit of water if necessary.  Then add the red pepper, rice noodles, salt, oyster sauce, sugar and pepper and stir for a minute.  Finally add the bean sprouts, have a quick stir, turn off the heat.  Leave to cool.

2.  Wrapping - Please refer to the steps below:

3.  while wrapping a spring roll, cover the rest of the wrappers with a wet tea towel.

4.  Deep frying - Heat a wok or pot over high heat.  Make sure the oil are enough to cover the spring rolls.  Deep fry the rolls in batches for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Drain on kitchen paper.

5.  Transfer the spring rolls on to a serving plate, serve immediately with Thai sweet chili sauce.

                                                A hill of wrapped spring rolls

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Easter Chocolate Nests

Spring is here!  Hooray!  It had been sunny and warmer the last few days.  The kids were happily playing outdoor.  Angelica, my daughter asked about when will we go for a picnic.  They're just excited that spring is here knowing that there're a lot of outdoor activities they can do.  After tomorrow, Andrew will have his Easter school break for more than two weeks.

Knowing that Easter is near, the kids have started eggs painting.  They also asked for marzipan to make some rabbit figures.  And I, I had been digging my recipes collections looking for Easter recipes, and the first one I found was this.

This chocolate nests are very easy to make.  Children can help out and have fun together.  Angelica was at my side all the time when I made this.  She was helping some, but I think she had eaten more of the unfinished nest then helping!  She kept saying "Mama, I think you have toooo much of the chocolate corn flakes mixture..... So I'm going to help you to eat some...."  :-)

130g plain chocolate
25g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
50g corn flakes or choco crisp
72 mini chocolate eggs or egg shaped candies
24 mini muffin cases

1.  Put the muffin cases into a mini muffin tray.

2.  Break the chocolate into small squares and put in a large pan together with butter and golden syrup. Heat the pan gently, stirring all the time until they have completely melted. Turn off the heat, add the corn flakes. Stir gently until all corn flakes are coated with chocolate.

3.  Fill the muffin cases with the mixture. Using the back of a teaspoon, make a well in the middle of each nest. Arrange three mini eggs in each nest.
4.  Put the tray in the fridge for at least an hour or until you want to serve them.

6.  This recipe makes 24 mini muffin size nest but you can also use a cupcake tray and make 10.

Banana Walnut Muffins

These healthy banana walnut muffins can be something extra in your kid's lunch box!  Or something to bring along for your next outing!  Most of the ingredients I used in this recipe are organic.  I sometimes make these on Saturday night and we then have them for breakfast on the next day.  

1/2 cup organic wholemeal plain flour
1/2 cup organic white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
60g organic butter, soften
1 organic egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup organic milk
2 organic banana, mashed
1/2 cup walnut, roughly chopped
makes 6 muffins

1.  Preheat oven to 190 degree C
2.  In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and sugar.
3.  In another bowl, mix together butter, banana, egg, milk and mix well.  Then add in chopped walnut and mix.
4.  Combine the banana mixture with the dry ingredients, just to combine, not to over beat.
5.  Spoon mixture into muffin cases, filling cases two-thirds full.  Springkle nuts or sugar deco on top if desire.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.  Cool muffins in tin for 5 minutes, then remove and cool on wire racks.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Malaysian Kuih Lapis / Nine Layers Coconut Cake 九层糕

This is the kuih I would normally buy when I went to the market or whenever I saw them.  Just like a kid, I like to eat them layer by layer.  And my son, who also loves this kuih eats them the same way.  That's the fun part I guess?

If you could look at it closely, I made it just 8 layers.  I lost count after a while and was also too eager to find out the result as this was my second attempt.  The first attempt, about two years ago was unsuccessful as I cut all the ingredients into half except forgot to do the same with the coconut milk.  Well, of course the kuih turned  out too watery.....

Traditionally they are cut into diamond shape.  But of course they can be cut into rectangle or any shape you wish.

2 cans coconut cream (400ml each can)
200ml water
180g rice flour
150g tapioca flour
250g sugar, more if you want it sweeter
1 tsp salt
few drops pandan essence
green, pink and red food colouring

1.  In a pot mix together coconut cream, water, sugar and salt, in low heat, just to dissolve the sugar.
2.  Mix the coconut mixture with both flour and whisk gently until it's free of lump.  Divide the batter into three portions.
3.  Colour one portion pink, another portion green which should mix with the pandan essence.  The third portion remain the original white colour.
4.  Pour one third of the green mixture into a 25cm tray or cake tin and steam in a preheated steamer.  Steam for about 3 minutes.
5.  Later layer it with one third of white colour mixture and steam for 3 minutes.  Do the same with the pink mixture until the last mixture. The last mixture should be pink, add a little red food colouring to it so that the last layer is red in colour.
6.  Leave it to cool completely before cutting into shapes.

Spicy Glass Noodles Salad with Prawns

This glass noodles salad is normally made with minced pork.  I haven't tried making it with pork yet as I thought the prawns bring out better colour.

180g glass noodles
5 tbsp fresh lime juice
4 tbsp fish sauce, or more, to taste
1/2 tbsp sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 hot Asian chili
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
40g carrot, cut in 2 inches length strips
1 onion, sliced
20 medium prawns, deveined, shelled
1 or 2 bunches of coriander, roughly chopped
serves 4

1.  In a pot of boiling water, cook the prawns for a minute or two, until they're just cooked.  Set the prawns aside to cool.  Using the same boiling water, boil the glass noodles for 2 -3 minutes, or follow the instruction of the package.  Rinse with cold water and set aside.

2.  In a mortar, put in chili, sugar, chopped garlic, lime juice, fish sauce and pound. 

3.  put glass noodles in a large salad bowl, pour the chili mixture in the bowl and mix with the noodles.  Season with more fish sauce if necessary.  Pour in the celery, carrot strips, prawns, onion, coriander and mix well.

 Serve as a starter or appetizer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Green! Is for St. Patrick's Day

Yes, we think of green when it comes to St. Patrick's Day.  So here I am showing you some of the images that go with this theme.

'Green Dudes' - Marshmallow coated with sugar icing.

 'Pretty Bretzel' - Bretzel coated with white chocolate.

And Malaysian Kuih Lenggang - Coconut in green pancake, check the recipe here.

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Kuih Lenggang / Coconut wrapped in pancake

This kuih is one of Malaysia's delicacies.  I have to use desiccated coconut instead of freshly grated coconut as I can't get any here.  This kuih remind me of the Malay buka puasa stalls where lots of kuih are sold.  Instead of adding water in the pancake mixture, I add milk and coconut cream.

130g flour
200ml milk (with 2 tbsp of coconut cream in it)
1/2 tsp salt
Pandan essence
1 egg
some green food colouring
oil/butter for brushing the pan

3 cups desiccated coconut
2 tbsp palm sugar (gula Melaka)
4 tbsp brown sugar
6 tbsp coconut cream
pinch of salt

To Prepare:
1.  In a medium bowl whisk the egg, add in milk and then flour and salt.  Follow by pandan essence and green colouring.  Whisk well until smooth and free of lump.  Set aside.
2.  Heat the 6 tbsp of coconut cream and melt the palm sugar in it.  In another pan toast the desiccated coconut, stir until aromatic and a little bit brown.
3.  Add in the brown sugar, salt and the coconut cream mixture, stir until all the brown sugar has dissolved.
4.  Remove from pan and let cool.
5.  On a piece of pancake, put two heaps teaspoons of filling on it.  Roll it up as rolling a spring roll and it's ready to be served.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thai Tom Kha Gai / Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

I managed to make a trip to the Asian shop yesterday.  My freezer is now full of galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and Thai chili. It's handy to have them in stored, so that I can make this tom kha gai or tom yam goong whenever I want.   

Galangal is from the ginger family, but its taste and flavour are very unique and different from ginger.  Some recipes suggest substitute galangal with ginger, but I think the soup would turn out completely different.  After all, the name kha in Thai means galangal, and that's one of the key ingredients of this soup.  If you wish, you can add some sliced mushroom, or bamboo shoot.  But for this recipe, I'm making it with just plain chicken.

For those who have yet to try this soup, hmmm.... what can I say?  Schade!  Which means 'too bad', 'what a pity' in German.  Try it, and you'll know what I mean....

1 can 400ml coconut milk
200ml chicken broth
6 slices galangal
2 stalks lemongrass
5 fresh kaffir lime leaves
250g chicken breast, sliced
3 tbsp fish sauce, or more, to taste
2 tbsp sugar, palm sugar if possible
1 tsp black chili paste, or chili oil
50ml fresh lime juice, squeezed from 2 limes
1/4 cup cilantro/coriander leaves, torn
2 Thai chili, crushed
Serves 2

To prepare:
1.  To bring out the flavour, tear the kaffir lime leaves as if you are angry at them. ;-)    Use only the white part of the lemongrass, cut into 1 inch pieces and crush them using the back of a knife.
2.  In a pot, pour in half of the coconut milk, all of chicken broth and cook with galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves to boiling.  cook for about a minute.
3.  Add the chicken, fish sauce and sugar.  Simmer for about 4 minutes.
4.  Add in the remaining coconut milk and heat just to boiling.  Turn off the heat, add in lime juice and chili paste or chili oil.  Garnish with cilantro leaves and crushed chili.
5.  This recipe serve 2, as appetizer or with plain rice.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spicy Green Beans and Shrimps Stir Fry

Stir Fries are easy and fast to cook.  Just get all the ingredients ready and the dish is done in a few minutes!

200g green bean - French/Snap bean, cut into 5cm pieces
30 small to medium size shrimps, shelled, deveined, tail attached
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp grated ginger
1/4 cup toasted peanut, chopped
Serves 2-3

For the sauce:
2 tbsp Lee Kum Kee's Chili garlic sauce (in a jar)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Maggi soy seasoning sauce
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/4 tsp hot chili powder (optional)

To prepare:
1.  Put a tbsp of cooking oil in the pan or wok with medium-high heat.  Add in the garlic and grated ginger and stir fry for about a minute or until aromatic.
2.  Add in green beans and continue to fry for about 2-3 minutes or almost cooked.
3.  Add in the shrimps and stir for 30 seconds.  Mix all the sauce ingredients together and pour in the pan/wok.  Stir fry for another 30 seconds or until the shrimps are cooked.
4.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts on top and serve with hot rice!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chicken Schnitzel / Hähnchenschnitzel

It's about time I post a recipe from this region - Schnitzel.  A traditional dish in Austria, very popular in Germany, Switzerland and Romania.  Strangely no one recommended us this dish while we were having all those holidays in Germany.  We came to know Schnitzel when we were living in Bucharest.  It was one of my son's favourite school lunch when he was schooling at the British School of Bucharest.  We also noticed almost all restaurants serve this.  To learn more about Schnitzel please read here.  Instead of just plain breadcrumbs, I've added some lemon rind and garlic powder.  Chicken breasts are used in this recipe and the meat is butterflied then pounded to very thin.  Butterflying is a type of meat cutting method, click here for more details.

As you can see the meat on the left is before butterflying.   And on the right, the meat is pounded thinly with a mallet.

500g chicken breast (4 small breasts about 120g each)
1/2 cup white flour
1  large egg
2/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
Salt and pepper
Lemon wedges
cooking oil
Serves 4

To prepare:
1.  Butterfly the meat.  Lay one piece between two plastic wrap and pound it with a mallet until evenly thin about 1cm thickness.
2.  Line 3 big plates on the worktop with one fill with flour, 2nd bowl with beaten egg, and the 3rd with breadcrumbs mix with the lemon rind and garlic powder.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
3.  Coat a piece of chicken in flour, shake off excess.  Dip in egg mixture, then coat in breadcrumbs mixture.  Place on a plate and repeat the steps with the remaining chicken.
4.  Heat oil in a frying pan on medium high heat.  Cook chicken, one at a time if you don't have a big frying pan.  Cook each side for a minute or two, since the meat is very thin, it doesn't need to cook that long.  Once the meat is cooked or turned golden, transfer to a heat proof plate and place in the oven to keep warm.
5.  When all schnitzel are done, serve with lemon wedges and your favourite salad or potato.