Tuesday, August 30, 2005

IMBB 18: School Tuckshop Memories


I was walking past a school one day and heard the usual sounds of kids taking a break from classes and the all so familiar sounds of plates and cutlery coming together while kids were having a meal at the canteen, in those day we usually called it the "tuckshop".

It brought back memories of my school days and the kind of food i used to savour at my primary ad secondary schools.

I smiled to myself as i remembered how we used to have to queue up (endlessly it seems) just to get a bowl of noodles to satisfy my pangs of hunger and how i actually do miss those days!

I thought the best way to totally indulge in reminiscence would be to try at cooking up one of my favourite dishes from school. In addition, it is also in line with the latest IMBB (Is My Blog Burning) event for August; Summer's Flying, Let's Get Frying although i think i may be a little late for submissions!)

I remember attending a friend's house party where she prepared Mee Siam for everyone from scratch (well almost...it was not instant mix for sure!) and i thoroughly enjoyed it. I got on the phone, asked her for the recipe and i gave it a shot!

For our fellow bloggers from overseas, Mee Siam was originally a Thai dish of noodles made from rice flour noodles (vermicelli) and served in a light and piquant gravy made from tamarind juice (assam) and dried shrimps, and served with toppings such as fresh lime, tiny cubes of dried beancurd, chives and slices of boiled egg. It has since been adopted and sold by most of the races in Singapore including Indians, whose version is pinkish in colour and sweeter because it has more sugar in the gravy but i have decided to replicate it in Chinese style using chinese/nonya chilli paste instead.

Mee Siam (Chinese Style)

Ingredients:

1 pack Vermicelli; soaked in water till soften and drained
5 heaped tbsp Freshly mixed and grinded Chilli Paste; bought from any market specifically from a Nonya Store
Assam; 3 heaped tbsp; soaked in 500ml water
2 litres water
6 tbsp Soy Bean Paste (bottled)
5 pieces Tao Pok (dry beancurd puffs); blanched and cut into cubes
3-4 hard boiled eggs, quartered
chopped chives
handful of Beansprouts; blanched
Fish cake; toasted and sliced thinly into strips
Fresh lime; quartered
1-2 tsp Garlic; chopped
1-2 tsp Shallots; chopped
oil
Sugar

Method:

To prepare Chilli Paste

In a wok, heat 4tbsp of oil and add in chilli paste and stir fry till its fragrant; approx. 8 min.
Season with 1tsp salt and 3tbsp sugar. Dish out and set aside.

To prepare beanpaste

Using the same wok, heat 1 tbsp oil and add chopped garlic and shallots and stir fry till almost golden brown. Afterwhich, add 6 tbsp bean paste and stir-fry for about 1 min. Dish out and set aside.

To Prepare Vermicelli

Note: If you are using the traditional cast iron wok, chances are by now your wok would have some burnt bits of the chilli paste and bean paste. It would be advisable to give the wok a good rinse. If you are using a non-stick wok, you can continue using the wok without rinsing.

Heat wok and add in 2 tbsp of oil. Add in 1-2 tbsp of chilli paste (depending on how spicy you would like it to be) and 1/ cup water.
Add in softened vermicelli and stir fry till chilli is evenly mixed in with vermicelli. It should give a nice light orange-red colour. Dish out and set aside.

To Prepare Mee Siam Gravy

After the assam has been soaking in water for about 10 min, using your hand, squeeze and remove all assam seeds and skin and discard.
In a medium sized saucepan, add in 500ml of assam water, another 500-800ml of water depending on how thick you prefer your gravy and bring it to a boil. Once it starts boiling, add in 4 tbsp of chilli paste, cooked bean paste, 8 tbsp of sugar, 1 tsp salt and allow to simmer for about 30-40min.

Add desired amount of gravy over vermicelli and serve with hard boil eggs, tofu puffs, beansprouts and a sprinkle of chives. Lime if you prefer it to me little more tangy.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Pears....can you ever get enough?

When i think of pears, the first variety that comes to my mind is always the Nashi or the Packham's Triumph (common green skinned pear from Australia). The Nashi is wonderful due to its superb juicy character and the Packham is a totally different texture which i will go in further detail later.

My foodie buddy, Deetour chick and i decided to get together on Saturday afternoon to experiment on some recipes again. She was making a Lemon Layer Cake for a friend's birthday party and i had difficulty deciding on something from so many desirable recipes i have in my possession (not just my cookbooks, my stock-pile of gourmet magazines as well)!

The it struck me, since she is making a Lemon Layer cake, how about i go along with a fruit theme as well? I embarked on a search for a recipe that involved a fruit and i found more than what i was looking for. I realised that there were many many recipes that repeatedly involved 2 fruits; apples and pears. I chose the latter, purely because i love the shape of pears and i have never tried cooking with pears and thought to myself, this should be good fun and slightly challenging for me too.

I found at least 10 different recipes that used pears. Being the typical female here, i could not make a decision on what to try because they all looked so delicious! Then i went with what my palate would take well to; desserts that were not heavy (a few of them were on big pies and puff pastries which im not too fond of), something that is also rather refreshing with different preparation methods as well (for me to get some experience in cooking fruits in 3 different styles). Also being inspired by several blogs who are theming their culinary adventures to a single ingredient with a variety of preparation method, I embarked on my maiden journey with Pears.


Vanilla Poached Pear and Burnt Orange cardamom Custard
(Serves 6)

Ingredients:
1.5kg castor sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 beurre bosc pears (i raided all supermarkets at Holland Village, they were out of stock, i used Packham instead.)


Pic: Packham Triumph and Buerre Bosc Pears
For custard
2 oranges
2 cups pouring cream (Emborg UHT Whipping Cream is good)
300ml milk
8 cardamom pods, crushed
180g castor sugar
10 egg yolks

Equipment needed (as this involves many steps esp custard)
sharp vegetable peeler to ensure pears are neatly peeled with no bumps or holes
3 saucepans
6 Ramekins/150ml individual baking dishes
whisk
1 large bowl for whisking
roasting pan at least 2-3inches height

Method:

To prepare Pears
Boil 1.5litres of water, sugar, scraped seeds from vanilla bean and bean in a large heavy-based saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, peel pears and trim based to sit flat. Place pears in syrup and bring to just below the boil.
Cover with a round of baking paper and plate to keep the pears submerged in syrup, then simmer gently for 20min or till tender when pierced with a fork.
Remove from heat, cool pears in syrup then cover and refrigerate for several hours or until chilled. Can be done day before.

To prepare custard
Use a vegetable/potato peeler, peel thin strips of rind from oranges and remove any pith (white bits). Juice oranges (to make 200ml) then set aside.
Place orange rind, cream, milk, cardamom and 60g sugar in a saucepan and stir continuously over low heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to almost to the boil, remove from heat and stand for 20min to infuse.
Meanwhile, place egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk till well combined. Set aside.
Place remaining 120g sugar and 200ml orange juice in a another small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15min or until golden caramel.
Immediately pour orange juice caramel into cream mixture prepared earlier and whisk until smooth.
Gradually pour combined cream mixture over combined egg yolks, whisking continuously while you pour.
Pour whisked mixture through a sieve and divide among 6 ramekins or small 150ml baking dishes.
Place damp cloth in a roasting pan, place ramekins in pan and pour in enough boiling water to come 3/4 up the sides of ramekins, then cover roasting pan with double layer al-foil and pierce foil to allow steam to escape.
Bake at 120C for 55min or until centers of custard wobble slightly when gently shaken. Remove ramekins from water bath and cool to room temperature then refrigerate for several hours or overnight until set.
Serve with custard on plate with a drizzle of vanilla syrup (previously used to cook pears).

- Recipe compliments of Chef Jaclyn Nichols; Bistro Moncur-Sydney-


Caramelised Pears in Port & Orange Sauce
(Serves 4)
Ingredients:

1/3 cup greek-style yoghurt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1tbsp brown sugar (for yoghurt mixture)
20g butter
3 tbsp brown sugar (for browning pears)
3 pears (i would also suggest either Packham or Beurre Bosc; peeled and quartered)
1/4 cup port
1/2 cup orange juice

Method:

Place yoghurt, cinnamon and 1tbsp sugar in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add butter and 3 tbsp sugar and heat till sugar starts to caramelise.
Add pears in and cook till it is golden. Add the port and orange juice and cook for about 5-8min.
Serve with port & orange sauce and cinnamon yoghurt.

- Recipe adapted from Donna Hay-


Pear & Rosemary Chutney
(Makes about 2 cups)
Ingredients:

4 Packham or Buerre Bosc pears; peeled, cored & chopped into 1.5cm pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic; chopped
1 onion; finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp rosemary leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp grated giner
1/2 tsp all-spice powder
150g brown sugar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2tbsp currants

Method:

Heat olive oil in saucepan. Add chopped garlic, onion, sea salt, rosemary, mustard seeds, ginger and all spice powder and cook over medium heat for about 8min.
Add sugar, white wine vinegar, currants and simmer for 10min.
Add chopped pears and cook over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally for 50min or until thick.
Spoon into sterilised jars, seal and refrigerate for up to a month.
Great with cheeses, cold meats, charcuterie (sausages, hams, pates etc) and roast lamb or pork.

- Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller-

Friday, August 26, 2005

My very first Cookbook

Strange as it sounds but i still have my very first self-made cookbook from Secondary 4. One of the few subjects that always brings a smile to my face when i think about school. Those were the days when i had to wear a white apron (we were forced to sew our own names on the apron) and be cooking in a very old kitchen in school. The home economics classes were always the last lesson of the day and that was ideal as some of us who had to do washing & cleaning up usually were wet and smelled of either cooking oil from frying or of flour and butter deposits from rubbing butter and flour!

There it is, amidst the few cookbooks i have in my collection.

It is looking really tattered and yellow.....it has been too many years ago. I had a few favourite recipes within, but i remember cooking Braised Chicken Chops for my exam and because it was marinated with some honey, it was a pain to pan-fry as it used to splattered all over my arm and burn easily if the pan was too hot. Not a recipe i would recommend to anyone right now though.


Yes, all painfully handwritten (in my then worse handwriting) and had to be submitted to my teacher for marking to ensure we prepared before each lesson. Being in an all-girls school before, we only had 2 options; sewing or cooking for Home Economics.....I was absolutely hopeless in sewing as i wasn't born with nimble fingers and drawing capabilities. Cooking it is then. I am sure glad I had those years of training in school, I know my mother is more than glad as she can skip teaching me basics in the kitchen.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Chocolate Molten Cake...serious devil's food

I blame it on the euphoria i experienced from purchasing those cookbooks over the weekend that induced my desire to bake. Not just any cake, but I had to choose this particular cake which is known to be rather hard to perfect. I am honestly not a big fan of baking. After going through some traumatic foul-ups with baking in school (2 years of Home Economics in secondary school) i have sort of decided that i do not have the necessary patience nor skills to bake well. To me, i think the key to baking is to know your oven very very well and to be very precise and understand the fundamentals of all the ingredients within a cake, pastry or souffle for instance.

Looking at Delia's Melting Chocolate Pudding recipe, it looked really simple and i was confident that it would work. I decided to bake on Saturday evening after making my Chicken Cacciatore. I was proved otherwise...8 pudding cups, 8 tries, 8 failures! Imagine my devastation! However, what truely overwhelmed my frustration was the BIG craving for that chocolate cake that was not satisfied.....yet! After a long & tiring search on Epicurious, an awesome website of recipes featured in Bon Appetite and Gourmet from the US, i decided on a different recipe with different proportions of chocolate and butter as compared to the one from Delia. And it worked out beautifully!!



Molten Chocolate Cakes with Ice Cream

Ingredients:

150g chocolate, break into small pieces (i used Chocolate Dark Couverture bought from Phoon Huat, Singapore)
50g butter
1 tbsp brandy
2 eggs
2 yolks
5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp flour

Method:
Melt butter and chocolate in small saucepan suspended over hot water. When mixture is all melted, stir in brandy. Do not stir chocolate over flame, you only need the steam from the hot water to melt the chocolate. Leave aside to cool.
You will need 5 small pudding tins, preferably non-stick ones, about 4oz in volume each. Grease them with butter and sprinkle with sugar all around. The reason for the sugar is to ensure the cakes slide right out of the tins without needing to use a knife to scrap the sides for fear it might poke the cake and break it apart. Using a cake mixer or hand held whisk (on medium high speed), mix eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla essence till very thick ribbon falls when beater/s are lifted, about 5-6min. Colour should be off white.
Turn mixer speed to lowest and spoon in chocolate gradually till evenly mixed. Chocolate mixture must be cool before adding into egg mixture. You do not want your egg mixture being cooked by the chocolate. Then add in the flour and mix evenly. Do not over whisk.
Turn off mixer, using a flat wooden spoon, gently fold the mixture (3 folds) esp at the bottom to ensure mixture is even. Do not stir mixture, you will break the air pockets that makes the cake really soft and light.
Pour the mixture into tins. Do not use a spoon to spoon in mixture, again, it will break the mixture's air pockets apart.
Place tins with mixtures in the fridge and chill for minimum 1 hour before baking. Mixtures can be made day before and stored in fridge till you are ready to bake for your party the next day.
Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius and depending on how big your oven is, middle shelf is ideal for big ovens, bottom shelf if you oven is a small one (about the size of the Tefal with the element at the top).
Allow mixture to sit in room temperature for about 5-10min before baking.
The recipe said to bake for 15 min but because previously after 8 tries and i realised that my oven is really hot, I decided to cut down the timing to 9 min.
After 9 min, i used a toothpick to check the cake. The edges should be cooked (using toothpick poke about 1-2cm off the edge; toothpick should come out clean) and the center should still be runny, moist and springy when you wiggle it.
Allow cake to rest for 2-3 min before turning cake over on a plate.
Serve it with ice cream...the combination is awesome!

Note:
this is a very delicate cake to make but its simply delicious when you get it right. You and your guests will go weak in the knees savouring the cake! If you dont bake often and you do not know how hot your oven gets, my advice is to bake the cakes one at a time and then fine tune the timing as you go along. Use the same temperature, for this cake, the only variable that you need to alter is the timing. I find the recipe in Delia's How to Cook is not suitable for my oven....it kept cooking the cake right through for some strange reason. It could also be the type of chocolate i used at first, the Hershey's dark chocolate was what i used at first try.

Good Luck!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Chicken Cacciatore

According to GL, he feels that I am a very excitable person...small things in life induces some level of euphoria in me! He is pretty spot on. The possession of my new cookbooks does that to me. Immediately after I got home with my new purchase, I sat on my comfy couch and went through the recipes starting with Delia's.

It's been a while since I cooked a chicken dish (im more of a red meat person) and since I have a whole chicken in the freezer, I pulled it out and allowed it to defrost and decided on a dish I have never tried, the Chicken Cacciatore. Cacciatore (pronounced as "kah-chuh-TOR-ee") in Italian means Hunter Style, this style is apparently popular throughout Italy. It refers to food prepared with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, various herbs and sometimes wine. It's rich, flavoursome and to me, can easily make it to my list of comfort food especially when served on a bed of pasta.


Chicken Cacciatore served with Spaghetti & grated Parmesan

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 big onions, cut into big slices
700g tomatoes (about 6-7 regular sized tomatoes)
2 garlic, chopped
4tbsp tomato puree
3 springs rosemary, just the leaves and slighly rub between hands to release fragrance
1 bay leaf (i ran out of Bay leaves, i used 2 big basil leaves instead)
275ml White Wine
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt
gound black pepper

Method:

Marinate chicken with salt & pepper for a few hours
Heat saucepan, add olive oil and brown chicken pieces in 2 batches. Make sure that all chicken pieces are nicely golden brown. Put aside.
In the same pan, add in onions and turn heat down to low and allow onioins to sweat and slowly soften and brown, takes about 8min.
While onions are browning, boil some water for the tomatoes. Lightly score the tomatoes top to bottom for easy removal of skin. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes and allow it to soak for about 1 min. Peel off skin and cut into small cubes.
Add in garlic , tomatoes, tomato puree, rosemary, bay leaf/Basil leaves, white wine and white wine vinegar. Boil on low heat uncovered for about 15-20min or until it reduces to about half.
Add the chicken back into pan and simmer covered with lid this time under low heat for about 40min.
If you are serving with Pasta, make sure its not too dry as the sauce will serve as a base for the pasta.
Taste and season if necessary.

To cook pasta:
Ensure you add salt and olive oil in water before putting pasta in. Depending on thickness of pasta, usually for linguine or spaghetti, it takes no more than 8-9min for al dente.

A visit to the Bookstore

I have always enjoyed the solitude time at the bookstore looking around for magazines and occasionally a novel but most of all, i enjoy flipping through awesome cookbooks by recognised cooks or celebrity chefs from around the world. They are a source of inspiration to me. They all have their story on how they became who they are today and how hard they have all worked to get the recognition they have painstakingly earned.

A few of my favourite celebrity chefs are, Gordan Ramsay (some of you might know by now), Anthony Bourdain and Guy Rubino from Made to Order but no cookbooks out by them as yet (but do check out the site on Food Network Canada:Made to Order for online recipes).
I would love to read more about the famous Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller: French Laundry Cookbook, Ken Hom and of course, Tetsuya Wakuda.

I felt a sense of vertigo when i was flipping through Thomas Keller's French Laundry Cookbook. It's undoubtedly a beautiful cookbook with delicately presented dishes (which is something i strive to achieve in presentation) but the recipes......they were mostly long and complicated for an amateur cook like myself! Going through 95% of the book at Kinokuniya and reading the steps, imagining my solo self in my kitchen combined with my choronic perfection syndrome, i can so see myself preparing the meal to the best of my ability for my family/friends and one single frown at my food from anyone will send me jumping off my apartment window! Now i can understand why certain chefs who got striped off their title of being a Michelin Star chef would be motivated to self-destruct. Now, that is a serious cookbook for serious cooks who have the time and perhaps 2-4 maids in the kitchen to help with mis en place . But i put the book away telling myself.....perhaps one day, after much more experience and culinary skills acquired i will get there, it's not impossible!

So I decided on Anthony Bourdain: Les Halles Cookbook and Delia: How to Cook Book Two. Don't be fooled by Delia's How to Cook range. The title may be deceiving like its written for first time cooks with no experience at all in cooking. I gone through the recipes and found that it was not as easy as Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson's recipes. In addition, under each section, the brilliant thing I liked about it was that she expained majority of the ingredients in detail which gives the reader a much better understanding of how a particular ingredient can enhance the dish and how certain meats or veggies differ in taste texture and style. Can't cook when you don't understand and know your food! I have been cooking for the past 6 years now, I found myself benefiting from it.

As for Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook, I just had to get it because I am a fan and I respect him as a chef who earned his respect and recognition through sheer hardwork...i mean, he started out as a dishwasher scrubbing pots and his first job as a kitchen help was to manage "fry-ups" at a cafe in New York! He went back to meet his ex-boss who started & inspired him on his career in the kitchen during one of his first few episodes on "A Cook's Tour". I thought to myself, I am sure this guy has some gems to share!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

It's Mummy's Birthday!

Every year, during our family birthdays, I would be the one to cook or take them out to dinner. (My brother, unlike me, isn't too keen on slaving away in the kitchen to prepare a meal!)

Mum's birthday happened to be on a weekday this year (as I am working full-time), I had to decide on a menu that is manageable and rather effortless. I visited The Butcher at Holland Village, Singapore the night before and decided on cooking Lamb Shanks. To go with the lamb, i made a salad with a sweet balsamic dressing.



Lamb Shanks with Red Wine served with Parsnip Puree

Ingredients:

3 medium sized Lamb Shanks, score shanks to allow marinade to soak through
1/2 to 3/4 Bottle of Red Wine
Spring Onions, roughly chopped
Carrots, roughly chopped
Celery, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 sprig Rosemary, chopped
1 sprig Thyme, chopped
1 Bay leaf
2 star anise
2 cloves chopped garlic
750ml Vegetable stock
Olive oil

1 medium sized parsnip, peeled and chopped
Butter
Cream
Salt & Pepper

Method:
Marinate lamb shanks in salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, spring onions, garlic, celery, carrots and red wine overnight. The next day, remove shanks and vegetables from marinade.
Heat saucepan add olive oil and brown shanks to enhance flavour of the meat. Put aside.
In the same pan, add in chopped garlic, star anise, and the vegetables from the marinade and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add lamb shanks in and add in marinade and vegetable stock and allow it to come to a boil.
Simmer and cover under low flame for about 2-3 hours till the meat is soft and absolutely falling off the bone.
Honestly, the carrots and celery are to give it more flavour. The vegetables are too soft to be eaten by the time the shanks are cooked.
Remore shanks from pan and keep warm.
Strain remaining sauce from pan and continue simmering on low heat till it reduces to a thicker consistency.
The shanks were full of flavour, tender and moist! On another occasion, I shall try making these shanks in a pressure cooker, I think it could make quite a difference to the texture of the meat!

For Parsnip puree:
(adapted from Gordan Ramsay's Kitchen Heaven.)
Truthfully, I am not sure if pan-frying parsnips is the best idea (unless you have perfect heat control with your stove) as what happened to mine was the parsnips started browning before they were cooked through, thus, forming a thick brown skin on both sides that made it hard to mash into a smooth consistency. I have to admit here that i was so frustrated with the parsnips that i almost threw it out the window!! (being the chronic perfectionist i am) I am not gonna give up, I will try making it again till i get it right!

Anyhows, the method as follows:
Melt butter in frying pan over low heat and cook parsnips until completely soft and falling apart (about 25min). Add the cream and bring to the boil. Season then liquidize to a smooth puree.


Mixed Salad with Sweet Balsamic Vinegar

There is a story to my facination and determination to making a Sweet Balsamic. GL and I were in Adelaide and he being the beer loving man he is, we had to visit Harndoff, a little German town in Adelaide that not only boasts of its beers & sausages, it had several shops selling beautiful produce such as salami, cheeses, honey, and of course, some unusual sauces or jellies. GL bought a bottle of Sweet Balsamic in a bottle from this tiny gourmet shop there and I regretted not buying a bottle to bring it back with me. He made dinner for me one night and I tried the sweet balsamic he bought and fell in love with it but failed in convincing him to let me have the bottle! So here it is, my own version of the sweet balsamic that tastes almost close to the one that was bought in Harndoff.

Mixed salad
I selected rocket, baby spinach(remove stems from bigger leaves), red & yellow capsicums, honey cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese for the salad.

Sweet Balsamic dressing
Pour about 1/2 cup of balsamic and bring to boil in a small saucepan.
Boil till it reduces to about half.
Make sure you do not overboil as it will become a thick paste and it cant be used when it gets to that stage.
Pour vinegar in a bowl, whisk in 3tbsp of honey, 2tbsp olive oil, 1tsp chopped marjoram, salt & pepper.
Allow it to soak in for a while before serving.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

For the Love of Cod

Fish is one of my favourite seafood I could never get enough of. However, I am choosy of the type of fish I order or cook. I love the oily fish most!! My favourites are Cod, Salmon, Tuna (belly is the best!) and occasionally a Red Snapper. If cooking fish chinese style, I love the White Promfret, Sea Bass and Rainbow fish. There is one pet peeve i have about cooking fish. I hate it when fish is deep fried. Unless done in a super hot wok with boiling hot oil AND eaten straight away, the fish's texture and taste is all killed in the frying process. Two of my favourite ways of cooking fish, steamed and Pan-seared.

Today I had a craving for Cod for lunch. I looked into the fridge and grabbed whatever there was and decided on this simple but tasty recipe.




Pan-Fried Cod with Pesto Cream sauce served on Sweet Potato Mash

Ingredients:

2 pieces Cod fillets; marinated in sea salt and ground pepper
1/2 onion, chopped finely
1 spring parsley, chopped
Pesto
cream
lemon juice
3 pc Australian Sweet potato
butter
olive oil
salt & pepper

Method:

Pan-fry cod for about 3min each side or till golden brown.
Wash and skin sweet potato and cut them into medium sized pieces and then boil in water till its soft.
Mash the sweet potato in a bowl and add about 1/2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of cream and mix evenly. Salt & ground pepper to taste.
To make the sauce, in the same pan the cod was being pan-fried, add in chopped onions and fry till its slightly brown.
Add in 1tsp of pesto and 1/2tbsp lemon juice. Mix well.
Finally, stir in 1tbsp of cream and allow it to simmer gently for about 2min.
Serve the sweet potato in the center of the plate, place cod over the mash and drizzle it with the pesto cream sauce.

Because this is my own little recipe i created in my head, i was mildly surprised at the taste of the meal. I found the combination of the tangy taste to the sauce (from the lemon) and the sweetness from the sweet potato mash complemented each other very well! The natural taste of the cod as well...awesome!

I dreamt of.....


Just a while ago, I was telling GL that I dreamt of Cheese on Toast! I think that one should seriously worry when you actually dream of food and worse if you continue to dream about it. Well i am guessing its cos i have very fond memories of cheese and how it strangely entered my life only 6 years ago and i have honestly grown to love it!

While living in Australia, i basically ate and lived like how the Aussies would (hence the weight difference during my first year there). Coming from a traditional chinese family, my parents never had a habit to consume cheese in our daily diet, apart from the processed sliced cheddar. Living in Australia opened my eyes to the world of cheese. There were so many types of cheeses its actually rather over-whelming.

I remember coming home from school/work and usually would be starving by then. The first thing i would do is to crack open a bottle of red, out comes my block of brie and i would be having it as a snack with my flatmates and it went down beautifully with a good glass of wine!! Its the most sensational after-taste i get that i crave almost everyday!

To put things in perspective, i guess the message in my dream; its time to stock up my fridge on more cheese and wine!!

Barbi Pongteh-Compliments of Lil'al

My dearest cousin currently residing in London, also has a special knack for cooking! Maybe its a special "instinct" that runs in the family! Because of my huge weakness for Peranakan food, I have since constantly bugged several people whose grandmother is Peranakan if i can bribe them for a meal OR at least a recipe.

Well, here is her contribution to a Peranakan dish called Barbi Pongteh.

Note: this is a simplified version but it taste almost as close to what you might taste find in any Joo Chiat restaurant.


Ingredients:

600g of Pork (preferbly the belly cut as its better for stewing)
3 big shallots
1 tablespoon of garlic
1 tablespoon of tau cheo (fermented yellow beans)
bamboo shootshalf
a cinamon stick (less for those who cant take the taste)
1 tablespoon dark soy
2 tablespoon sugarsalt to taste
white pepper to taste (as you desire)
water (i arga arga one)

Method:

Minced the shallot, garlic and tau cheo into a pulp then sautee them together until fragrant. Then add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil.
Once done, simmer under low heat till pork is tender.
Approximately, 1 & half hours. (just poke the meat to see la)
The trick to this dish is actually the keeping it overnight as it allows the flavor to envelope further.
Garnish with Chilli or Coriander.

P/s: I will try this recipe out and post up a pic soon!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Yet Another "Orgasmic" Evening!

On National Day, our group of usual suspects got together, after several glasses of wine and great food, decided to start a little "club" to get together and cook and document each other's recipes. We decided to call our blog, Dias Deliciosos.

As Deetour Chick puts it, Dias Deliciosos's inaugural party this Sunday just gone, we had a total overflow of food contributed by about 12 people in total. The menu was extensive. As for me, I decided to endeavour at cooking a duck which I have never cooked on my own apart from observing how my mother used to prepare it. And a simple Mushroom Soup.

Braised Five-Spiced Duck served in 2 ways
a. Braised Duck served on a bed of shredded omelette and spring onion
b. Braised Duck Sushi with Unagi Sauce

Ingredients:

300g French Duck Breast
Chinese Five Spice Powder
Dark Soy
1 Cinnamon Stick
2 Star Anise
2tsp Sugar
olive oil
3 eggs; pan-fry as thin as possible and cut into strips
Spring onions; sliced very thinly and soak in water to curl the stripes
5tbsp Unagi Sauce
2 cups Sushi Rice
Sushi Rice Powder Mix

Method:

To Prepare Duck
Marinate duck breast with 2-3tbsp of Dark Soy then sprinkle some Five Spice Powder on both sides. Do not sprinkle too much five spice powder as it will become too bitter. Cling wrap and leave it in fridge overnight.
In a heated wok, add in 2-3tbsp olive oil and followed by 2 tsp of sugar.
When the sugar has melted, add in cinnamon stick and star anise and stir till its fragrant.
Add in the dark soy. Make sure you have the lid over the wok as it is going to sizzle big time.
Stir gently then add in about half a cup of water. We do not want too much sauce so that only half the duck is simmering in the sauce.
Make sure that the sugar is evenly mixed before adding the duck breast in. (meat side down)
Turn the flame right down, simmer the duck breast and slowly baste the top of the duck (the skin) so that it slowly absorbs the dark sauce and cooking the top of the meat.
There is no need to flip the duck for this recipe, the idea is to slowly baste the duck to give it a nice pink center when its being sliced.
Simmer and baste for a total of 15min on low flame.
Allow to cool before slicing duck.

To Prepare Sushi rice:
In a rice cooker, add in 2 cups of Japanese Sushi rice with 2 1/2 cups water.
When rice is ready, allow it to stand for about 10min before adding in sushi rice powder. The amount of sushi powder is up to your preference of taste. I took my mother's advice of using the Sushi Rice powder instead of liquid vinegar. It was indeed much better as its sweet and slightly sour as well.


To serve Version a:
In a small saucer, line bottom of saucer with shredded omelette. Place 2 slices of duck over shredded omelette and top it off with some sprigs of pre-soaked spring onion. Drizzle some of the sauce on the duck just before serving.


To serve Version b:
Roll Sushi rice after the rice is slightly cool.
Dip sliced duck into Unagi sauce and place it over the rolled rice.
Serve immediately.

Simplest Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:

650g mushrooms (I combined Portobello, Swiss Browns & Fresh White Button)
1 tbsp olive oil
90g butter
1 onion, chopped
3-4 bulbs of garlic
1 sprig parsley, chopped
2 tbsp Bulla cream
1/2 bottle of white wine
400ml Chicken Stock

Method:

I decided to be slightly adventurous....i grilled my Portobello mushrooms with some sea salt, pepper, olive oil till its starting to brown and sizzle. Cut into quarters.
For the rest of the mushrooms, cut into halves or quarters.
Heat a saucepan and add in olive oil.
Throw in the chopped onions and on low heat, allow onions to sweat a little. Add butter in and continue sweating the onions. Throw in the garlic and continue stirring.
Add in all the mushrooms, stir for about 5min. Season with sea salt and ground pepper. Throw in chopped parsley.
Add the wine and chicken stock.
On low fire, simmer the soup and reduce it to almost half the mixture. If you like your soup to be more "watery", then reduce your simmer time.
Using a blender, pour in entire mixtue in saucepan into blender and blend till all the mushrooms are finely blended. Soup is almost ready.
Pour soup back into saucepan. On low fire, stir in the cream. My preference is not for the soup to be too creamy or thick.
Serve in a small coffee cup or soup bowl. Add in a drop of cream on top and garnish with a sprig of parsley.
Serves about 10.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Efficient use of leftovers...

After an awesome lunch party on National Day at Koko's, we (as usual) over-catered and had so much leftovers.

Koko gave out as much food as she can to everyone and had to chow through the rest for the next 2-3 days. I took some of my roast lamb back with me and decided to make a stew out of it. I cooked it the next day for my family and it was marvellously delicious....i was really happy with it actually...! :)



Lamb Stew with Red Wine and Vegetables

Ingredients:

Roast lamb, bite size pieces
Carrots, skinned and cut into bite size
Potatoes; skinned and cut into halfs or quarters
Celery, be sure to shave off top layer of skin to remove tough stringy bits
Bacon or better if pancetta, cut into small pieces
I red onion; chopped
4 shallots, chopped
5 bulbs of garlic, chopped
Red Wine
Djon Mustard
1/2 cup Vegetable or lamb stock
Olive oil
Butter

Method:

Heat saucepan and add in olive oil and butter.
Throw in the chopped onions and shallots. When its starting to brown, add in garlic and fry till slightly golden.
Next, add in the lamb and bacon and stir for about 4 min. Followed by carrots, potatoes and celery. Continue frying for another 4 min.
Add 1 tbsp of Djon Mustard and the vegetable or lamb stock.
Add in half a bottle of red wine. (I used the Mouton Cadet Medoc; its not my choice for a red to drink, but its awesome for my stew!)
Simmer on low fire for about 45minutes to an hour. Taste and seaon with pepper if necessary.
Serve either with mash potato or steamed rice.


If you would like to use fresh lamb or beef to make a stew, just follow the steps below:

Marinate meat with whole crushed garlic, half bottle red wine, pepper or pepper corns for at least 4-6 hours.

Drain meat from marinade. Lightly sear the meat in olive oil and season with sea salt. Remove from pan.

Throw in the chopped onions and shallots. When its starting to brown, add in garlic and fry till slightly golden.

Next, add in the seared meat and stir for about 4 min.

Followed by carrots, potatoes and celery. Continue frying for another 4 min.

Add 1 tbsp of Djon Mustard and the vegetable or lamb stock.

Add in the red wine marinade . Simmer on low fire for about 45minutes to an hour. Taste and seaon with pepper if necessary.

Serve either with mash potato or steamed rice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Appetisers: Last installment-Smoked Salmon with Wasabi Mayonnaise


This is another pretty appetiser that is not only simple to make but is appealing to most people due to the taste of Smoked Salmon.

Smoked Salmon with Wasabi Mayonnaise

Ingredients:

Smoked Salmon (preferably Tasmanian or Scottish Salmon)
Wasabi (easiest to get those in the tube)
Mayonnaise

Method:

Trim pieces of smoked salmon and fold it into "flowers". The tip from GL is to use Tassy or scottish salmon as they are usually firmer and easier to fold into "flowers".
In a small bowl, mix about 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise to 1/2 tablespoon of wasabi. If you like it hotter, simply top up with more wasabi.
Then using either a sauce squeeze bottle (if you have) or simply use a teaspoon, add a drop of wasabi mayonnaise over the top of the salmon and serve.

I didnt have time this pot luck session to make my own mayonnaise. But if you do and would love a recipe, this is adapted from Gordan Ramsay's Kitchen Heaven.

Classic Mayonnaise:

Ingredients:

2 large egg yolks
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp English Mustard
sea salt
ground black pepper
300ml groundnut oil

Method:

In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, vinegar, mustard and pinch of salt. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking continuously until thick and emulsified. Best to refridgerate before using.

Appetisers: Maguro and Scallops


One of the ways i destress from a long and tiring day at work is to tune in to Discovery Travel & Living, especially the gourmet programmes. My current favourite is Made to Order where their creativity is stretched to the max when guests walk into their restaurant requesting for a particular menu for a special party or business meeting/dinner or even a wedding proposal. The way they make simple items look fabulously delicious is truely amazing! Check out their long list of Recipes that they have prepared and served during each episode.

I get even more inspired when I visit a restaurant whose chef actually makes the effort to present the items on a beautiful platter with simple garnishes that actually makes the items on the plate look even more fabulous! The last restaurant i remember GL and I went for a celebration dinner was to Taxi Restaurant at the Transport Hotel, Melbourne.

So, this is my humble attempt to create something simple that taste good and looks beautiful as well.


Seared Maguro marinated in Soy and Sesame Oil

Ingredients:

Fresh Maguro (Tuna) Fillet
Chinese or Japanese Light Soy
Black pepper
Chives
Olive Oil
Seasame Oil

Method:

Heat pan and add in Olive oil and few dashes of sesame
Sear Tuna for approx 20 seconds each side or until you see that the tuna is just starting to cook through. Idea is to ensure that the tuna is still rare in the center as thats the best way to eat tuna.
Slice the tuna and garnish with chopped chives.


Pan-Fried Scallops with herbs served on a bed of Asparagus

Ingredients:

Fresh scallops; marinated with fresh chopped Marjoram, sea salt and ground black pepper
Butter
Olive oil
Fresh Asparagus; only the top bits required as it is the softest portion. Blanched in boiling water
Lemon

Method:
Score the scallops (criss-crossed)
Heat pan and add in olive oil. When olive oil is heated, add in about 2 tsp of butter.
When butter is just beginning to brown, add in scallops and pan fry them till slightly brown on both sides.
Remove from pan and set aside.
Using the same pan, no need for extra oil, throw in blanched asparagus and toss it around the pan to lightly glaze it. Remove from pan and set aside.
For the sauce, using the same pan, over low heat, add just a few drops of olive oil then squeeze in half a lemon and allow it to simmer for 1 min.
To serve, line up about 4 sticks of asparagus and place scallops on top. With the sauce that's made, add in a tsp of the sauce over the scallops. Because the scallops have been scored, this also ensures that the sauce will sit nicely within the grooves without messing up the serving plate.

Roast Lamb with Rosemary and Pesto


To tell you the truth, i owe it to the Green Lantern who taught me how to make a roast without over-cooking it. It is one of his favourite dishes he makes at his usual dinner parties. He is actually another nut for cooking and loves entertaining!

So here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

1.3kg Lamb Leg **(boneless)
Sea Salt
Ground Black Pepper
Fresh Rosemary
Olive oil
Pesto (i use the bottled ones, easy)


Method:
Marinate the meat with olive oil, sea salt, rosemary, black pepper for at least 6 hours. When marinating roasts, make sure you cling wrap meat entirely to prevent the meat from drying out.
Pre-heat over to 180 degrees C.
Remove lamb from fridge and let it sit in room temperature for a bit before roasting.
Place it on roasting pan or pyrex dish and apply generous amounts of Pesto over the top.
Roast in oven for 20min.
After 20min, turn lamb over other side, apply pesto as well and roast for another 20min.
General guide for roasting time: 15min every 500g at 180 degrees C for medium rare. (The way I like it. Bear in mind that roasts cooks from the corners in and usually the ends are more cooked than the middle. If you have more guests who like their meat medium then roast it in there for another 7-9min.
Once roast is done, cover with aluminium foil and allow meat to rest in room temperature for a bit before carving.


** I got the lamb from the Swiss Butchery located along Greenwood Avenue (turn in from Hillcrest Road). I was amazed at the number of people that were in there and the amount of meats they sell and the variety as well. In Singapore, I would say they are pretty serious about their meats!

But nothing beats buying fresh produce in Australia!

I was at the Melbourne Prahran Market and I have never seen red meats this fresh and of such a vibrant red colour! I was in awe of the tall stacks of Beef Fillets, Rib-eye, Sirloin, Lamb cutlets, T-Bone etc....and the leg of lamb!!! I was so captivated by the meats there that I stood in front one of the butcher for a good 5 min before i placed my order!

Sadly, we (Singaporeans) belong to the poor deprived city slickers who are not used to seeing this many pieces of red meat just dying to be bought back home for a good roasting! So if anyone asks me what i miss most about moving back from Australia, it would most definitely be the fresh produce which we cant get (of the same freshness, variety and quality) in Singapore! :(

Pot Luck Party

I honestly think the best way to spend a weekend is to cook for a group of like-minded individuals who are as crazy about food and wine as i am.

In fact, we only just started on such get-togethers last year with my partner in crime whom i will refer to as Ko-Ko. First time it all started was when Ko-ko got married and moved into a wonderful rented apartment facing the sea. Next to host was DeeTour chick who has a room full of wine (literally!) at her place, thanks to her lovely dad! Then this National Day, it was held at Ko-Ko's again. We had so much fun sweating in the kitchen that we have decided to do such get-togethers about once a week or once a fortnight to share each other's culinary experience, recipes and secrets.

I know i had an awesome time just spending the day preparing and then the rest of the afternoon, indulging in everyone's superb dishes, sipping to wonderful reds and chatting just about everything!

The menu

Appetisers:
Pan-Seared Maguro marinated in Soy
Smoked Salmon with Wasabi Mayonnaise
Pan-fried Scallops with Herbs and lemon served on a bed of Asparagus

Salads:
Greek Salad
Mixed Green Salad in special dressing

Mains:
Roast Lamb Leg with Pesto and Rosemary
Roast Chicken
Shepard's Pie

Dessert:
Ice Cream of course!!!

The recipes for the dishes i made to follow.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Prawn Linguine tossed in Garlic, Olive oil and Chilli Flakes


Today I felt like italian instead of Mummy's usual healthy cooking.
Bought some ingredients and decided to whip up this really simple pasta to compliment my Grilled Beef Fillet.

Prawn Linguine tossed in Garlic, Olive Oil and Chilli Flakes

Ingredients:
6 pieces of large Angka prawns, shelled and de-veined
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
Chilli flakes, i used the Masterfood Chilli flakes which is HOT!
1 tbsp butter
Olive Oil
Sea salt

Method:
Boil water and add salt and oil. Cook linguine till al dente. Drain and put aside.
Heat pan/wok and add in olive oil followed by butter.
Throw in onions, fry till fragrant. Followed by sliced garlic.
Add in chilli flakes to your desire.
Throw in prawns and fry till it starts to pink.
Add in linguine and toss it till evenly mixed.
Sprinkle in some sea salt. The one i love using is called Fiddes Payne, Sea Salt with Country Herbs. Also great to marinate meats before roasting.
Serve with grated Parmesan Cheese

Just for you Lil al!

Hey Lil al,

i know it must be hard being away from home and missing some yummy food in Singapore. Well, here it is, as requested just for you.

Gingko Nut in Longan and Red Dates Tea

Ingredient:
Gingko Nuts
Red Dates
Dried longans
Sugar

Method:
According to my mother, the hardest part to this recipe is the preparation of the gingko nuts.
First, crack the shell and remove nut.
Peel off brown layer of skin from nut.
Remove the green root at the sharp end of the nut as this makes the gingko bitter and spoils the taste. The trick to removing the green root without cutting the nut into half is by using a toothpick to somewhat dig it out.
Put about half a pot of water to the boil and add in about 1 cup of sugar. When boiling, add in gingko nut and cook till gingko is slightly golden in colour. This is an extra step to enhance the flavour of the nut itself, if you prefer a sweeter taste.
For the tea, in proportion to the water, add in desired amount of red dates and longan. When water comes to a boil, partial cover the pot and allow tea to simmer for about 40min. Taste and add sugar to desired sweetness.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Try-Hard Domestic Goddess...no?

I couldn't quite remember how Nigella Lawson became so popular that she wrote a book that amazingly caught the eye of any female out there who potentially couldn't even prepare a sunny-side up?!?!

"How to be a Domestic Goddess."

I mean how would a title like this not catch the eye of any female who aspire a life like hers? I confess I did stop and browsed through it but shelfed it cos i wanted to start learning some tricks of my own from my mother before adapting recipes from cookbooks. And so i did....

In 1999 I packed up and left for Brisbane for a 2-year degree. Being the sheltered Singaporean girl, I obviously was put up in college (hostel) for the first year. After 6 months of night after night of the same menu rotated over 4 weeks a month, i got tired of the food, got fat cos we had a good chef who fed us really yummy oily sunday brunch (which incidentally was my hangover remedy every sunday!) and i started skipping meals at college. Even after opting for self-catered at college, i found myself sharing the kitchen at our senior wing with 5 other girls.

I was not fond of sharing a kitchen when its already such a teeny-tiny work area. I decided to move out with 2 flatmates (2 guys who wont bother me in the kitchen that much) and selected an apartment that had a fully furnished kitchen; electronic stove, oven, microwave. I was all set.

I remember going for my first proper grocery shopping at Woolworths at Toowong, i went almost nuts and blew my allowance! Bought everything from each food section, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, juices, meats, seafood, various types of sauces, rice, pasta, bread and of course, loaded up on WINE! My Aussie flatmates were horrified at the amount i bought for myself. There is one thing in life i believe in being lavish on; good food and wine!

Truth be told, i was not happy at my first few attempts at cooking up a meal for myself the first few weeks. I overcooked my steaks (pet peeve #1), undercooked my damn carrots in my pasta sauce, added too much garlic in my stir-fried vegetables in oyster sauce (followed by major flatulence), in attempt to make creamy mash i diluted it, my fish fillet breaking apart when pan-frying, overcooking my baked vegetables etc....the list goes on. Through this whole journey of self-discovery, i realised that i am a chronic perfectionist and its further exemplified in my cooking! Hee...well, it could be a blessing or a curse, but i think it made me even more determined to perfect my dishes i was cooking for myself. I believe that if im not happy with it, its not good enough, try again! After a few attempts, i started offering to cook for my blokes in the house and slowly, becoming the designated cook for the household that further enhanced my confidence in cooking.

A few of my favourite dishes i enjoyed making living in Brisbane some of which i will share the recipes:

* Grilled T-Bone steaks marinated in McCormick All-Spice & Chinese Rice Wine
* Linguine with beef mince and pan-fried egg plant in a thick tomato-based sauce
* Creamy Garlic Mash
* Roast Chicken (adapted from my mother's recipe)
* Baked Salmon fillet with mapel syrup and lemon
* Stir-fried beef with sliced onions in Black Pepper sauce
* Stir-fried pork with sliced white mushrooms in oyster sauce
* Butter Chicken with potatoes and mushrooms (use Partak's curry pastes, good quality and not watered-down!)

Grilled T-Bone steaks marinated in McCormick All-Spice & Chinese Rice Wine

Ingredients:
T-bone steaks
McCormick All Spice powder
Chinese Rice Wine
Sesame oil

Method:
Marinate steaks with All Spice powder, rice wine, dash of sesame oil overnight in a closed container to avoid meat from drying out in the fridge.
Remove from fridge and allow meat to warm to room temperature before cooking.
Sear the meat to lock in the juices before grilling.
Searing meat: Heat pan on high heat. Using a pair of kitchen tongs, place steaks on hot pan for 30sec each side. If you steak is a thick fillet, make sure to sear on the sides as well.
Grill on medium heat each side for 2min if you like your meat medium rare, the way i like my red meats!

Note: Reason why i like the chinese rice wine cos it gives the meat abit more character & fragrance.

I spoke to someone before who told me she could not cook at all. She was completely clueless about pasta as she feels its too tedious and intimidating. Honestly, pasta is the italian version of our Hokkien mee, but with a different sauce of course. After a few trail & errors, to me, the trick to a good pasta is all in the sauce. Never stinge on fresh good ingredients for a pasta, it makes a good load of difference.

Linguine with beef mince and Egg plant in a thick tomato-based sauce

Ingredients:
Minced beef; marinated with pepper and salt
Egg plant, cut into half slices
bottle of tomato sauce for pasta (i tend not to like the sauces with added ingredients such as sausages, mushrooms, etc; being a purist)
can of stewed whole tomatoes
beef stock powder
chopped fresh oregano and basil
chopped onion
chopped garlic
olive oil
butter
Salt and pepper
Pasta


Method:
Heat saucepan and add in about a heaped tablespoon of butter. When its starting to sizzle and brown slightly, add in olive oil. The butter truely enhances the taste of the sauce.
Add in onion, fry it till golden brown then add in garlic and fry till fragrant and lightly brown.
Add in mince, fry till its broken apart and lightly golden.
Add in egg plant, stir fry for a min or 2 before adding fresh basil and oregano.
When meat is superbly fragrant, add in stewed whole tomatoes, break the whole tomatoes apart and then add in the desired amount of pasta sauce.
Make about half a cup of warm water mixed with 1tsp beef stock. This gives sauce some water to simmer without becoming a furious reduction. Stock is essential.
Simmer for 10 min on low heat so that the flavour of the sauce is soaked through the meat.
While sauce is simmering, prepare pasta. Add oil and salt into boiling water before adding pasta in.
Serve sauce over cooked pasta with shaved parmesan cheese.
Always better to use fresh parmesan cheese from the block instead of the pre-packed ones.

Roast Chicken with Honey

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
McCormick's Spicy Season All
Five Spices SALT (see pic)
Dark soy Sauce
Honey

Method:
Wash and cut chicken into a half just on one side (through the boney side) and spread chicken out on roasting pan.
Pour dark soy sauce over chicken to give the chicken a nice dark colour.
Marinate with McCormick's spicy Season All and Five Spices Salt both inside and outside the chicken not too much as it may become too salty.
Cling wrap and allow it to marinate overnight. (very important!)
Pre-heat over to 180 degrees celcius.
Before roasting, baste the chicken with marinade then into the oven it goes for about 45min or when it starts getting slightly burnt on the skin. (thats the charm about roasting this chicken...does not taste good if it aint slightly charred on the skin!!!)
5 min before the chicken is ready, remove from oven.
Brush generous amounts of honey over the entire chicken.
Put it back into the oven for another 5-6min. This gives the chicken skin a nice crispy taste to it! So Yummy!

Baked Salmon in Mapel Syrup and Lemon
(special recipe a guy once made for me to try and impress me!)

Ingredients:
Salmon fillets (with skin attached)
1 large lemon
Mapel syrup (approx 150ml)
Djon Mustard 1 tablespoon
2-4 garlic cloves, crushed no need to chop
salt (2 pinches)
Black pepper

Method:
Mix all ingredients above and marinate overnight
Preheat oven to 150 degrees C
Sear the salmon fillets, 30sec each side
Pop them in a baking dish, pour in marinade and bake for 5-7min.
Salmon should be eaten medium. Try not to overcook it.


Stir-fried Pork with Sliced White Mushrooms in Chinese Rice Wine and Oyster sauce

Ingredients:
Pork; sliced thinly, marinated in light soy, 1tsp cornflour and pepper
Fresh white mushrooms, sliced
onions, sliced
chopped garlic
Sliced ginger
Chinese rice wine
oyster sauce

Method:
Chinese cooking is best done in a cast iron wok
Heat wok, and add oil when hot
Fry the onions and ginger till slightly golden before adding garlic. Garlic burns faster than onions.
When garlic is almost golden, throw in the sliced pork and fry it till fragrant. Add in about 1-2 tbsp of Chinese Rice Wine stir for 2 min followed by the mushrooms.
Add in about 3-4 tablespoons of oyster sauce. Stir till evenly mixed.
Add in about 1/4 cup of water and simmer for 3-4min.
Allow meat to simmer until sauce slightly reduces.

This is a simple stir-fry i used to make for myself when im eating alone. Its best with just steamed rice. When i did get lazy when living in Brisbane, i used to also just fry up some green veggies with garlic and oyster sauce and have it with steamed rice. Heehee....who says cooking for 1 is difficult!