Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rainbow Jelly (Agar-Agar)

The weather here is really unbearable. Temperatures were around 93 degree and with 60 % humidity but we actually did some BBQ yesterday. Crazy isn't it. Carlos only cranks up the grill around 7.30pm. Diana posted some pictures of the BBQ at her blog so do go and check it out. I will post the satay recipe here soon.

After all the grill food we just wanted something cold and sweet the next day. I saw this beautiful agar agar at Lily's blog and decided to try it out. It turns out so beautifully and I actually can't bring myself to cut into it but I have to as I wanted to take some pictures and share it with you ;) Here is her recipe :

The Transparent Layer:
2 tbsp agar agar powder
1200 ml water
200 gm castor sugar
2 pandan leaves
Colorings - any color of your choice

The Coconut Milk Layer:
2 tbsp agar agar powder
400 ml concentrated coconut milk
800 ml water
200 gm of sugar
2 pandan leaves
1/2 tsp salt

1. Boil the ingredients for the transparent layer except colorings till dissolved. Sieve mixture and return to pot. Leave it on the stove on the lowest heat or doubleboil to keep the mixture warm until the coconut layer is ready for assembling. Remove the pandan leaves
2. Boil the agar agar, sugar and water for the coconut layer till dissolved, then add in coconut milk and salt. Sieve mixture and return to pot. Leave it on very low heat . Remove the pandan leaves.

To Assemble :

1. Measure about 250 ml of transparent agar agar and colour it with the color your choice. Leave it to harden slightly(not too hard if not the jelly will not stick together. If too hard, just use a fork to lightly scratch the surface before adding the next layer.)
2. The second layer will be 250 ml of the coconut milk agar agar. Leave to harden slightly
3. Do the same alternating between the transparent layer and the coconut milk layer until all the agar agar have been used up.
4. Leave the whole jelly to cool down before refrigerating it for at least a few hours. Serve cold.

Note : I added some pandan leaves to boil with the agar agar and I reduce the amount of sugar.

Another recipe similar to this : Sago Pearl Pudding

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thai Fish Cakes

This is a very popular dish in Thai cooking. Thai Fish Cake makes a great snack especially when you dipped it in spicy sweet chili sauce. You can serve this with rice or with some cucumber and carrots pickle.

Ingredients for the Fish Cakes

500 grm of white fish fillets - (I used Talapia)
1 egg
3 kaffir lime leaves - finely chopped
3 sprig of cilantro - finely chopped
2 sprig of green onion - thinly sliced
1 tbsp of red curry paste
1 tsp of sugar
1 tbsp of fish sauce
2 tbsp of corn starch
salt to taste

1. Put the fish in a food processor and pulse for a few times until it became a paste.
2. Remove and mix in all the rest of the ingredients and set aside for half an hour.
3. Take a spoonful of the mixture and form it into a round flat disk.
4. Drop fish cake into hot oil and fry until golden brown.
5. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel.
6. Serve fish cakes with sweet chili sauce or some cucumber pickle.

Ingredients for Cucumber & Carrots Pickle

1 cucumber - thinly sliced
1 carrot - thinly sliced
1 red chili - thinly sliced
3 tbsp of sugar
1/2 cup of white vinegar
1/2 tsp of salt
some ground peanuts - for garnish

1) Mix sugar, vinegar and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Set aside to cool.
2) When it's completely cool mix it into the cucumber, carrot and chili. Let it pickle for at least an hour before serving.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blueberry Butter Cake

I do not like summer because of the heat but one thing I do look forward to summer is all the fresh fruits. Fresh berries are relatively cheap now and I am really enjoying eating it fresh especially the cherries and strawberries. We ate so much of fresh strawberries in CA and they were really big and sweet compared to the one I get from the supermarket here.

I made this delicious cake with fresh blueberries I bought from the produce place. The cake is really soft and light. I’ve made so many cakes in my life but by far this can be one of my favorite cakes.

Ingredients :

2 stick of butter (1 cup)
1 1/4 cup of sugar
5 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
2 1/2 cup of flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of vanilla
2 cups of fresh blueberries (toss with 1 tbsp of flour)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and prepare a cake pan.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, and set aside. In a mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in the eggs one at a time follow by vanilla. Then slowly beat in flour in 3 addition alternately with milk.
4. Lastly fold in the blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted near center of cake comes out clean about 1 hour or until golden brown.
5. Cool cake in pan on rack 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto cooling rack and cool completely before cutting into it.

For more pictures check out here

Other dessert using blueberries : Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Monday, June 23, 2008

Spring Rolls

I love spring rolls and I think they are the best snacks or appetizers but I never like the spring rolls here because I think they put too much cabbage in it and it smell funny too. I like mine with lots of Jicama, carrots and meat in it. Over here it is easy to get frozen spring roll wrappers and all you have to do is leave the wrappers on the counter for half and hour and is ready to use. As for the filling you can use just about anything you like. Here is how I like my spring rolls.

Ingredients :

1 Jicama (sengkuang) - peel and julienned finely
2 carrots - peel and julienned finely
1 small onion - finely sliced
1 piece of chicken breast - sliced thinly
2 spring onions - slice thinly
2 cloves of garlic - chopped finely
1 egg - beaten
Some spring roll wrappers

Seasoning :

2 tbsp of oyster sauce
3 tbsp of soy sauce
1/2 tsp of sugar
Salt & pepper to taste

1) Thaw the frozen spring roll wrappers.
2) Heat up the frying pan with a tbsp of olive oil. Add in chopped garlic, onions and stir fry until fragrant. Add in chicken. Stir fry for a minute or until it changes color.
3) Add in jicama and carrots. Stir fry for 2 minutes minute and add in all the seasonings and 1/2 cup of water. Continue cooking until for another 2 mintues (you can cook longer if you want a softer fillings)
4) Check seasoning and lastly add in spring onions. Set aside to cool.
5) Peel off a piece of wrapper and place it on a flat surface. Place some cooked filling in the center of the wrapper, pull over both ends and roll up the wrapper. Brush the end with some egg to seal.
6) Heat up some oil in a frying pan and deep fry the spring rolls until golden brown. Drain the oil and serve with some chili sauce.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Chocolate & Corn Agar Agar

I am back!! Thank you everyone for your warm Birthday wishes. Carlos and I had a good time in CA. Came home early this morning and it was a tiring trip. It was really warm in CA and I got myself a good tan. In this hot and humid weather it is nice to have this cool and refreshing agar agar. I actually made this when we were having the heatwaves and finally get to post it now.

Ingredients :

1 packet (7 grm) of Swallow Brand white agar agar powder
600 ml of water
1 cup of low fat milk
1/2 cup of sugar (more if you want it sweeter)
2 tbsp of coco powder
1/2 can cream corn (4 oz)

1) In a pot, bring the water, sugar and agar agar powder to a boil over medium heat. Continue to stir until agar agar powder dissolved. Add in milk and bring it up to boil again.
2) Divide mixture to half. One part add in the coco powder and stir until well combined and the other part with corn. Keep the corn part warm over low heat.
3) Strain the coco part into a wet mould and let it set in the refrigerator. Once it's set scratch the surface with a fork and then pour the corn mixture on top.
4) Chill and let it set completely before cutting into it. Serve cold.

Note : You can replace the milk with coconut milk.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sweet & Sour Chicken Drumsticks

This is my favorite way of preparing chicken drumstick. I basically just marinate it for a few hours and stick in the oven. Even with the skin removed the drumstick came out deliciously moist. You can even grill this on your BBQ pit but since is so warm outside I just used the oven.

You can serve this dish with some roasted potatoes and salad.

Ingredients for marinate
2 pounds of drumstick (about 8 pieces)
1 tsp of paprika
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of lemon salt
1/2 tsp of pepper flakes
3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the dipping sauce/glaze
1 tsp of orange zest
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/4 of water
2 tbsp of honey
2 tbsp of soy sauce
1/4 tsp of coriander powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp of cornstarch + 2 tbsp of water
Some finely chopped mint

1) Clean drumsticks and remove skin or any access fat and marinate for at least 2 hours.
2) Line a baking pan with some aluminium foil and brush it with some oil. Line the drumsticks on the pan and bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for at least an hour or until the drumsticks is cook and golden brown. Half way through the baking turn the drumsticks for even browning.
3) To prepare the dipping sauce combined all the ingredients except the cornstarch in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Cook until the sauce reduce to half and add in the cornstarch solutions for thickening. Bring to boil and remove from heat.
4) Add in the chopped mint.
5) To serve you can either brush the drumsticks with the dipping sauce or just serve it on the side.

Note : I might not be able to update or reply to your comment for a few days as I will be having my belated birthday celebration in California. Take care everyone and see you when I get home in a week.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hainanese Chicken Rice/Poached Chicken Rice

I will always ask Diana what she wants me to cook for her whenever she comes home on the weekend. Last week she wanted me to teach her how to make Hainanese Chicken Rice. For this dish I personally prefer roast chicken rather than poach as I find poach chicken rather tasteless. With the temperature soaring up to 105 degree F it is a good idea to cook this as I don't have to spend too much time in the kitchen.

Ingredients For Chicken:

1 chicken (about 2.5 pound) preferably organic or free range chicken
2 spring onions
1 large piece of ginger, smashed
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp of pepper
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp of light sauce sauce

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Cream Puffs

There seems to be a craze going on in New York about a bakery called Bread Papa where they serve the best Japanese cream puffs. My friend Tina told me that it’s at the Upper West side of New York and she just can't get enough of it. Diana and I love cream puff too especially when they are crispy on the outside and the cream would burst inside your mouth when you bite into them. They were simply delicious.

I notice that it’s not easy to find cream puffs here but Éclairs seem to be more easily available at the bakeries so if I want to indulge in this delicious treats I have to make it myself. This is one of my favorite recipes which I had in my files for a very long time. They might appear to be challenging to make but they surprisingly easy to prepare. The custard for the filling can be made well in advance and cooled in the fridge.

Ingredients for the cream puffs dough
1 cup of water
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp of salt
1 cup of flour
4 eggs

1) Pre-heat oven toe 400 degree F. Grease a large baking sheet and set aside.
2) In a heavy saucepan combine water, butter and salt. Bring it up to a boil. Add in flour all at once and stir vigorously until mixture cook and turn into a ball. Remove and set aside to cool down for 10 minutes.
3) Transfer the dough to a mixer and whisk in one egg at a time, mixing it well after each addition.
4) Drop about 2 tbsp of dough into the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cream puffs are brown. Transfer puffs to wire rack to cool.

The same dough can be make into Éclairs

Ingredients for Pastry Cream
1/2 cup of sugar
3 tbsp of flour
3 tbsp of cornflour
2 cups of milk
4 egg yolks
1 tsp of vanilla

For Garnish (Optional)
Some Raspberry
Melted Chocolate

1) Mix egg yolks with sugar until combined. Add in both flour and mix well. Add in milk and stir until everything combined.
2) Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Transfer mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before using.
3) To assemble cut top off the puffs. Fill it with the pastry cream and garnish it with raspberries. To serve drizzle it with some melted chocolate or simply dust it with some powder sugar.

Diana and Carlos happily indulging themselves into the puffs :)
More photos of the Cream Puffs

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Mango Salad With Squid

My grandmother used to have a huge mango tree in front of her house. We just love the juicy sweet mango and some of the mango can weight up to 2 pound each. Because of the heavy weight some of the mango will fall to the ground when it is still green. We will either pickle it or make it into green mango salad. This is one of our favorite recipes to make. It's simple yet really refreshing to eat especially in this hot and humid weather.

Ingredients :
2 unripe mango - peel and shredded thinly
1 squid - clean, cut and boil for 2 min (optional)
2 kafir lime leaves - slice thinly (optional)
few spring of cilantro - roughly chopped
3 bird eyes chilies - slice thinly
4 tbsp of roasted peanuts - crushed
2 tsp of toasted sesame seeds

Dressing :
2 tbsp of fish sauce
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 tsp of palm sugar or sugar
Juice of 2 lime
salt to taste

1) In a large bowl combined mango, squid, kafir lime leaves, cilantro, chilies, peanuts and sesame seeds. Set aside.
2) Combined all dressing ingredients. Mix well and pour into the mango. Toss everything.
3) Transfer to a plate and garnish with some extra peanuts and sesame seeds.

Note : You can add some dried shrimp or fresh grill shrimp to this salad.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Penne Rustica

I’ve tasted this dish at Macaroni Grill Restaurant. This pasta had whole shrimp, grilled chicken and pancetta in rich Parmesan rosemary cream sauce. I tried to create this dish again but I lighten it up without compromising on the taste.

Instead of using pancetta I used Canadian Ham/bacon and as for the cream I used fat free half and half and for the pasta I used whole wheat penne pasta. Despite of all the changes I made, this turned out really delicious.

Ingredients :

1/2 box of whole wheat penne pasta
1 piece chicken breast - sliced thinly
10 shrimp - shell and devein
2 slices of Canadian bacon/ham - chopped roughly (optional)
2 pcs of roasted red peppers - diced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
a handful of grated cheddar cheese
1/4 of paprika
chopped parsley (garnish)

Cream Sauce

1 tsp butter
2 cloves of garlic - chopped
1/4 cup Marsala wine (you can replace this with chicken stock)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 cups low fat half & half (you can use heavy cream)

1. Cook pasta according to the instructions on the box and set aside.
2. In a large pan saute garlic and butter until lightly brown. Add Marsala wine, mustard, salt, rosemary, cayenne pepper and half and half. Cook until the sauce reduce to half.
2. In a different pan heat up some olive oil. Saute ham, chicken until chicken is half cook. Add in shrimp and stir fry for a minute.
3. Add in sauce, cooked pasta, peppers, Parmesan cheese, and paprika and mix thoroughly. Spread in baking dish. Sprinkle the top with some cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese and paprika.
4. Bake 425 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley and serve warm.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Steamed Pumpkin Cake

I’ve bought a small pumpkin a month ago and have been sitting on the kitchen counter and I have to think of what to do with it before it goes bad. I went online and see if I can find any recipe but nothing look interesting. Then I’ve decided to make this ‘Kim Kueh Ker’ (Hokkien). This Chinese snack is often eaten at dim sum restaurant or as a tea time snack and it’s very similar to Yam Cake (Or ker) and it really goes well with chili sauce.

Ingredients :

300 g pumpkin(remove seeds, hard skin then shred it)

Batter (Combined)

250 grm rice flour
70 grm of wheat starch
1 tbsp of chicken granules
1 tsp salt
750 ml water

Topping :

100 grm of chicken meat (cut into small cubes)
4 shallots (thinly slice)
4 bird eyes chilies - slice thinly
2 red chilies- slice thinly
2 spring onions - cut small
Some cilantro (garnish)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Put some oil in a hot pan and fry the shallots until golden brown. Dish out and set aside.
2. In the same oil stir-fry chicken until cook. Sprinkle some salt and dish out and mix it with shallots, chillis and spring onions. Add in a bit of salt and pepper and set aside the topping.
3. Using the same pan and 2 tbsp of oil, stir fry grated pumpkin for 2 minutes.
4. Pour in the batter mix and continue to cook and stir until batter thicken. Turn off the fire.
5. Grease a pan or small mould with some cooking oil and fill it up with the batter.
6. Steam over high for 30 minutes. Remove from steamer and sprinkle the topping on top.
7. Leave it to cool and cut into slices before serving.

Note : If you are steaming it in little mould let it cool completely before un-moulding and then sprinkle some topping.