Sunday, November 13, 2011

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

The Masterchef Malaysia series that are currently aired on Astro Ria has me to cook again after a long hiatus (almost a year since I entered the last post). Despite the controversy, I think Chef Riz is very talented. The last Masterchef Session he created "Awan Dahlia" which is basically Lai Chee Kang reinvented. It was a masterpiece (well I certainly think so!).

However, today's recipe is nothing to do with Lai Chee Kang. Macaroni and cheese (or mac & cheese in short) is a common dish. It's so easy to make. A short clip "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on Food Network inspired me to try this dish. It is crisp on the outside but moist & gooey on the inside. I did mine with a little twist.

1 can of cream of mushroom (as I cannot find fresh cream at Tesco)
250g macaroni pasta
250g mozarella cheese (grated)
50g parmesan cheese (grated)
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon
Salt & pepper

Bring to boil in a pan one can of cream mushroom plus 2 cans of water, which makes about 250ml of liquid.
Half-cook macaroni pasta in the liquid.
Add parmesan, half of the grated mozarella & spices into pan. (I improvised by adding dried oregano)
Stir until combined.
Scoop into ramekin dish while it is still hot.
Top with the remaining mozarella.
Bake in a hot oven for about 20 min when color turns golden.
Garnish with grated parmesan.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mutton Gearbox Bone Steak (Modified)

The original recipe can be found at the link above. Ever since Kak Raha's raya open house when she served this special dish, I wanted to try out a modification to the original recipe. If memory serves me right (quote from The Iron Chef program), the bone steak she served was very "tomatoey" & much more spicy. Through some guesswork, I omitted a few ingredients & add more of certain ingredients. You could say it's experimentation but this is how master chefs all around the world perfected their signature dishes. It turned out as "tomatoey" as the one served at Kak Raha's. Although my wifey dearest gave her two thumbs up, I think the taste need a little bit of adjustment. Next time I will experiment some more till I get it right. Once I got it I may have to keep it as my secret recipe because this dish has commercial potential.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cockles with Lemon Grass & Turmeric Leaf & Stir-fried Belacan Kangkong

Cockle or "kerang"is one of my favorite seafood. It's cheap & you can't get enough of it. The recipe for "kerang rebus" (steamed cockles) is my mum's, as far as I know the only way she cooks cockles. The smell of turmeric leaf & lemon grass in this cockle dish is so ingrained in my brain that I wouldn't enjoy cockles as much as I would any other way.

It's very simple.

1 kg of cockles
(washed & soaked in water)
2 sticks lemon grass
1 turmeric leaf
(both bruised to release the essential oils)
4 shallots
2 cloves garlic

Sauté chopped shallots & garlic
Throw in lemon grass & turmeric leaf
Add water & bring to boil
Season with salt (a little bit more because cockles will release its own juices)
I improvise by adding oyster sauce
Then dump in the cockles & cover to keep steam in the pot for about 7-10 minutes or until the cockles open up.

The rules of preparing/eating shellfish are throw away those that are always open before cooking (during washing) & those that are closed after cooking. You will be unpleasantly surprised if you break this rules.

I digress a bit. Talking about turmeric leaf. Last month I watched a program called "Chasing the Yum" hosted by a Chinese American chef (I think!). Yes correct you guessed it. He wrongly called turmeric leaf as curry leaf. I was stunned! A PRO got it wrong with a basic ingredient in Asian cooking. I think he's oblivious to his mistake. They say "knowledge is power -oblivion is bliss". Enough of that. FYI, I never watch that program anymore!

Next recipe is a favorite among Malaysians (I gotta say it a candidate for 1Malaysia dish). "Kangkong goreng belacan" or stir-fried belacan kangkong (spinach). This recipe works with other vegetables too e.g asparagus, French beans etc.

1 kg kangkong (believe me 1 kg will wilt down to nothing)
(washed, leaves plucked & stem bruissed & keep separate)
2 cm belacan (shrimp paste) toasted on a pan
2 tsp dried shrimp
5 shallots
3 cloves garlic
1-2 red chili or birds eye chili if you like more heat
(all pounded with pestle & mortar)

Sauté pounded ingredients till fragrant
Cook the stem first
After stem had wilted add the leaves
Season to taste
I don't know why but I always improvise by adding oyster sauce...maybe it's something about oyster & aphrodisiac!

Simple dinner combo. Prep time 30 min. Cooking time about 15-20 min.

Bon a petit!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Udang Masak Lemak Cili Padi


It has been a long while since my last post..... since February to be exact. I have been quite distracted. Changing workplace from Regency to Columbia Asia. The birth of Mia Ariana on April 6th 2010. Her hospitalization with pneumonia in May. A lot of things had happened in the meantime.

Today I was searching for authentic Negeri Sembilan recipes online when I came across my own blog. I wanted to try authentic "udang masak lemak cili padi" (prawn in coconut milk with bird's eye chili). I found out that there are so many ways to do it. There are recipes with no shallots, no garlic, no lemon grass, no sautéing, using tomato, tamarind slices or pineapple etc etc. All claimed to be authentic! Whatever it is it's the taste at the end of cooking that counts.

I tried this recipe previously but this time I omitted garlic & turmeric leaves and used tomatoes instead of dried tamarind slices for sourness. Next time I want to try it with pineapple.

This recipe is courtesy of Cik Leha (my brother's mother-in-law). She is an excellent cook who resides in Linggi. I would like to learn from her authentic Negeri Sembilan dishes when I have the chance.

Monday, February 1, 2010

BBQ Revisited Again

Family get together during Thaipusam holiday was a great opportunity to do a BBQ. Everybody loves BBQ and everybody was there....well almost!

Honey chicken wings (menu version 2)
Rosemary lamb (this time using fresh rosemary that I got from Jusco)
Mackerel wrapped with ginger & shallots
Squid in chilli oil

Disclaimer: Photo from Google image search.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beef Lasagna

It has been a long while since my last blog entry. Yesterday I thought I get my hands dirty and try this recipe. It turned out alright. I used a very convenient pre-cooked lasagna pasta which does not need boiling or soaking (St. Remo I think!). It was also convenient because of the recipe at the back of the box! Oh dear! I threw away the box already. Hmmmmmmmm....... let me recall the ingredients.

1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 carrot
500g minced beef
2x 400ml canned tomato
5 tbs tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
2 cups milk
150g cheese (mozarella or cheddar)

Heat oil in a pan.
Sweat onion, garlic & carrot till soft.
Add minced beef & cook till brown.
Add canned tomato, tomato paste, stock & nutmeg.
Season with salt & pepper.
Simmer for 20 minutes.

White sauce
Heat butter in a separate pan.
Take off heat & stir in flour.
Cook for 2 minutes on slow heat.
Add milk & keep stirring till thick & smooth.
Season with salt& pepper.

Preheat oven to 180C.
Lightly grease baking dish.
Layer pasta, meat sauce & white sauce alternately, starting with meat sauce and ending with white sauce on top. Make up to 4 layers.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nasi Beringin

It's been a long while since my last entry. A long while since I last cook something. This year I intend to cook something different for raya apart from ketupat, rendang, lodeh and sambal kacang, the usual dishes for raya. So I tried this "Nasi Beringin" recipe which I got from a newspaper article just before raya. And it worked!

4 cups Basmathi rice – wash and drain
3 cups coconut milk

2 cups water
4cm ginger – ground
15 shallots – finely sliced
4 stalks lemongrass – finely sliced
1 stick cinnamon
3 cloves
3 cardamons
1 star anise
3 tbsp ghee
Salt to taste

Heat ghee in the rice cooker. Sauté the spices, shallots, ground ginger and lemongrass until the shallots are soft. Add the coconut milk, water and salt to taste. Let the liquid boil, then add the rice. When the rice is cooked, fluff it up and serve.

Try soak the rice in water first and add just a tad more water (not too much) to get fluffier result.

Best served with curry, rendang or tomato-based meat dishes. Curry is the best!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kerang Bakar Lido

Yesterday I got the urge to cook. I felt like eating cockles. Then I remembered this recipe which I managed to get (believe it or not!) from a hawker at Tepian Tebrau, Lido Beach years ago. Now Tepian Tebrau has moved to a new place at Jalan Sungai Chat. As a matter of fact, it was only just last week my wife and I went to the place.
Usually hawker will keep recipes as trade secret but I was a regular at his hawker stall. I will usually order "ais kacang" and "kerang bakar". Then one day I tried my luck. Lo and behold, he told me all the ingredients including the special ingredient that he used for his famous "kerang bakar". What so special about his "kerang bakar" is the cockles are grilled with chilli paste in half-shells. Elsewhere e.g. Umbai, Melaka, "kerang bakar" means cockles grilled in whole shells over hot coal.
Actually, I had tried this recipe once long time ago. But my maid did it all. It didn't turn out well. So you can call this an experiment per se. Maybe last time I tried to cook too much. This time I will try with small amounts i.e. 1 kilogram of cockles only.

1 kg cockles, scrubbed & washed
3 shallots
2 cloves garlic
5 dried chilli, soaked in hot water & deseeded
1 stalk lemongrass
1/2 cm shrimp paste ("belacan")
50g dried shrimp ("udang kering") the more the better
2 tbs curry powder

Boil cockles in hot water till shells open up.
Remove half of the shells.
Put all ingredients except curry powder in blender.
Fry blended ingredients till fragrant. (you can do this in a wok or a flat grill)
Add curry powder then add cockles.
Add a little oil if too dry.
Cover & stir once in a while.
Season to taste.

The experiment last night was a success. It tasted almost like the original. Thumbs up from my wife. However, it was not enough. It turned out that 1 kg of cockles only filled a small bowl at the end. It was yummy, though. The lesson learnt after this experiment and the last one is: this recipe is best done in small batches. You can blend all the chilli paste that you want but cook the cockles in small batches.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mak Ngah's Suji Cookies

Apart from Ovaltine biscuit, this is another must during Eidul Fitr in my family. For as long as I remember, when I was growing up my mother has always been making this cookies. It is so easy to make. It takes just minutes to mix the dough BUT it takes hours to make those little balls and bake 'em. The first batch is usually finished as soon as it comes out of the oven. They just melts in your mouth.

Ingredients: (for 1 batch: can make several batches at a time)
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup ghee
3 1/2 cups wheat flour

Beat ghee & sugar till sugar dissolved.
Add flour and knead till fully combined.
Make into small balls.
Bake in 170 C oven for 20 minutes or till underside golden.

This is my family's traditional recipe. However, there are many variations for suji cookies for example, melt the ghee, add butter, brown the flour, use icing sugar, use sugee flour or cornflour etc. Some even add some other ingredients like almond, vanilla essence or even a pinch of salt. It's all up to your creative imagination but the way I remember the way my mother has always been making 'em.

Lesson of the day:
Ghee is a class of clarified butter used in Indian subcontinent cooking. It is made by simmering unsalted butter until all water has evaporated and milk solids has settled at the bottom. The cooked, clarified butter at the top is spooned off avoiding the milk solids at the bottom. Unlike butter, ghee can be stored for extended period without refrigeration in airtight container.
Caution...ghee is composed almost entirely of saturated fat!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fruit Cake

Fancy baking a fruit cake for any occasion? Christmas or wedding or Eid's so simple!
This easy boil and bake recipe was handed down to me by Kasmah Dewi. Together with the Chocolate Cake recipe (in previous entry), these two recipes will always remind me of my previous place of work, Hospital Sultanah Aminah.
This recipe has also undergone several experimentations over the years with substitution and addition of ingredients to the original recipe. This is the equivalent to home improvement in the kitchen.....recipe improvement!

Fruit Cake Kasmah Dewi

Ingredients A:
2 packets dried lime peel
1 box mixed fruit
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
8 oz butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon* (optional)
1 tsp ground allspice* (optional)

Ingredients B:
4 cups flour
1 tbs bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup golden syrup* (to replace "gula hangus")

Put ingredients A in a pan and bring to boil.
Simmer till sugar dissolved.
Cool to room temperature.
Add flour and eggs alternately into mixture.
Add golden syrup.
Turn into 8" lined and greased cake tin.
Bake in preheated oven at 180 C for 1 to 1 1/2 hour.

Simple right? Give it a try.