10. February 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, At Home, Recipes · Tags:

One of those things that’s fun to think about is how the both of us are very different when it comes to cooking in the kitchen. Ling is the more inventive cook at home. She’s interested in trying out new recipes all the time, whether it’s a Green tea cake (her own version of the Macha cake from Bread Talk?), or some Japanese cuisine. Check out her Chicken Donburi pictured here for instance. Quite a magnificent attempt, and tastes as good as the real thing from a Japanese restaurant.

2007-Rivervale-CIMG2913-chicken-donburi.JPGOn the flip side, our dinner times become variable whenever she’s the chef for the night. When she says dinner’s at 6 we’d be lucky if it gets done at 7 pm sort of thing.

Food planning also takes a hit. The fridge is typically stocked with left over condiments and food items that get neglected all too soon. Too often, I’ll pull an item out from the fridge and the dialog will typically go like this:

“Dear, you know your bottle of milk has expired already right?”

“Er, I was supposed to use it for baking… sorry hor, just throw for me.”

In comparison, I’m less adventurous when it comes to trying out new food items. I’m really more interested in perfecting known recipes. Take for instance my Carbonara that Ling loves. Now, that recipe got perfected over 3 years cooking it in Perth. And I’ve got the cooking time zeroed down to a personal best of 22 minutes from start to finish, everything included – pasta cooking + onion and bacon + prawn shredding + gravy work.

Oh, I do try out a new recipe on the rare occasion, but only when I’m positively certain I can do it without error, with low cost, and with minimal cooking time. And I’m really only interested in Italian and Chinese stir-fry cooking. When I’m doing stir-fry for dinner, Ling will give me that sort of look (i.e. “Stir-fry french beans again…?”).

All that said, I shouldn’t complain too much, since the stuff Ling can put together is always worth the wait and occasional food wastage. So, when she has time and the inclination, there’ll always be something new on the dinner table. When we’re having a busy week with too much work, it’d be stir-fried french beans with carrots, capsicum, baby corn and fish cake, with a start to serving time of 20 minutes – I’m still working on it! :)

“Can we have fish n chips for dinner tonight, dear?”

Darling has a fish-crazed syndrome lately.

He has been tucking in fish n chips at his workplace canteen, Fish & Co., foodcourts and coffee shops. Just a couple of days ago, he got me into preparing fish n chips at home.

So far, I’ve done 2 fishy dishes: 1) Baked White Fish & Fingerling Potatoes, 2) Breaded Fish & Chips. So far so good. I’ve also learnt more about the types of delicious white fish available here in Singapore for fish & chips recipes.

Just starting out in the kitchen, the great variety of fish available at the local wet and super-markets can be intimidating to moi. Deciding on which kind of fish to buy is very much a daunting experience. I gave up trying out with the wet market fish mongers. They would stare at me for orders and as darling would have guessed it, I was too slow for their patience.

Shopping at the supermarkets is less frightening – I can take my own sweet time to learn the fish names and note their characteristics. Another thing I like about buying fish in supermarkets is that the prices are all fixed. Some fish stalls at wet markets do not display price tags and I may irritate the fish mongers by asking “eh, how much is the cod today?”, “How much does this fish fillet weigh?”, “hmm, where does the salmon come from?” and “Uncle, do you have halibut?” >> Uncle says, “Huh, I sell fish lah. Where got halibut?”. I may end up buying fish which I don’t want but out of nice-ness and sheer ‘paiseh-ness’. However, I was told that if I PR with the fish monger well enough he may give me his freshest fish. Okay granted, let me pick up the basic confidence about fish first and then work on the PR.

blog-2007-Cooking-CIMG2952-fish-n-chips.JPGBack to fishy business. Reading ’Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat’ by Naomi Moriyama & William Doyle got me really interested in Japanese food. I’m unsure about the ‘old’-less theory in the book but am convinced of the ‘fat’-less theory.

Anyway, of the seven pillars of Japanese home cooking, fish is one food which the Japanese nation consumes in huge quantities. And out of all kinds of fish, the salmon is king of all. The Japs love salmon and have many methods of cooking it. I love salmon too, especially when it is absolutely fresh and raw dipped in Jap soy sauce and wasabi. I’m in love.:D

Salmon is an excellent source for omega-3 fatty acids and hence very good for health. We get omega-6 fatty acids easily from seeds and grains but we normally do not consume enough seafood to obtain sufficient omega-3. A good ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases, stroke, cancers, etc! The Japs have it all: tonnes of omega-3 from fish and omega-6 from vegetable oils, beans, etc. No wonder they are ranked no. 1 in life expectancy in the world.

Waiting for salmon prices to fall now. Next dish: Salmon Teriyaki :D Yums!

23. April 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, Dining, Recipes · Tags: , ,

Chicken Rendang Curry @ Home

blog-2007-cooking-PICT3298-rendang-curry.jpgWhile I was in Australia, one of my favourite dinner menu items was curry using prepared paste, for example using Brahim’s simmer sauces. They’re really easy to prepare, with short cooking times of around 35 minutes.

I haven’t done this too much now here in Singapore, but gave it a go on Thursday evening. Here’s a picture of the outcome.

What you need: Brahim’s curry sauce (there’re many types available), around 110 grams of chicken meat per person, fresh mushrooms, carrots and potatoes. The total ingredient cost should be around $8 to $9 for two persons. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Cut the chicken into smaller pieces, and fry at medium heat for around 5 minutes with light seasoning.
  2. Pour the contents of the sauce package into a sauce pan with the chicken in it. Add water until it reasonably covers the chicken pieces.
  3. Put it at medium heat, stirring occasionally for around 15 minutes.
  4. Add sliced carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms. At medium heat, it should take around 20, 15 and 10 minutes for carrots, potatoes and mushrooms to cook reasonably.
  5. Cook until the gravy is of the concentration you like, e.g. less or more watery. Ling likes the watery kind of gravy while I prefer the opposite.
  6. Throw in garnishing. Basil leaves – yummy.

Serve, eat and get fat! :)

28. February 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, Dining, Recipes · Tags: ,

Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil @ Home

It’s been a while since I tried out new recipes at home. What with Ling going full bore on trying out new Peranakan and Asian cuisine at home, I figured it was time to reassert my place as Lord of the Kitchen @ Rivervale.:)

Now, one of the problems I occasionally face is finding the appropriate pasta sauce whenever I dish out a plate of carbonara. I usually opt for Leggo’s, but on at least a few occasions now, the NTUC outlets near home run out of stock on those stuff. I remembered that I received from Sharon and Siang an Italian cookbook as a Christmas present some years ago. So I dusted it away, picked it up, and chose one of the simpler recipes that didn’t need pasta sauces to try out. So here it goes:

dining-143.jpgPasta in parsley and pepper

  1. Slice and dice cloves several cloves of garlic.
  2. Cook it in olive oil until it’s very (very) slightly brown.
  3. Throw in cut fresh parsley. We couldn’t find parsley even at Cold Storage, so I opted for the bottled ones.
  4. Throw in pepper, or so the recipe said. I opted instead for the more potent black coarse pepper instead. Yummy.
  5. Throw in thinly sliced fresh mushrooms.
  6. Throw in fresh prawns. Ling had these sliced into halves for me.
  7. Throw in spaghetti, stir and mix well for 3 minutes.
  8. Introduce a mite bit more of olive oil.
  9. Shake a bottle of basil leaf pieces over it.
  10. Serve with a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

The dish didn’t take too long to prepare; perhaps just 15 minutes including spaghetti cooking time in all starting from scratch. And the turn out? Well, not too bad actually. It’s certainly cheaper than carbonara, since it’s sans bacon and sauce. And taste wise, it’s… different. Dried pasta that I enjoy slurping.:)

03. February 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, At Home, Dining, Recipes · Tags: ,

Spaghetti with bacon and eggs @ Home

In my continuing foray into home Italian cooking, the next recipe I tried was spaghetti served with bacon and eggs. This one is sans pre-prepared sauce again, and thus the component and condiment cost is pretty low; perhaps to around $6 that serves two persons nicely. This one’s a variant from my cookbook again.:)

  1. dining-146.jpgShred the bacon into tiny strips and pieces
  2. Cook in a large pan with just a bit of oil and two crushed cloves of garlic. I didn’t use too much oil, since the bacon will naturally shed its fat during cooking.
  3. Dash in some black pepper.
  4. While the bacon’s cooking, boil the spaghetti.
  5. While the spaghetti’s boiling, beat three eggs. Throw in parmesan cheese, pepper, and stir well.
  6. Keep the bacon on the pan on low heat since the spaghetti should take longer to boil.
  7. Once the spaghetti’s boiled, drain, turn off the pan’s heat and immediately toss it into the pan. Pour in the egg mixture.
  8. The heat from both the pan and also the newly boiled spaghetti will help cook the egg mixture. Stir and mix, and serve! :)

The overall result wasn’t too bad, though perhaps because the bacon had been left stir frying for too long, the dish tasted on the salty side. Ling had some fresh tomatoes in the fridge, so she cut a few slices and had them alongside her plate too.

16. January 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, Dining, Recipes · Tags: ,

Well, since I’m so bad at cooking, if any recipe turns out okay with me, it is idiot-proof man!

I’m starting a series of blogs on recipes which I’ve used and tested and darling dearest could eat. I’m not sure how long will my latest interest in cooking last but I would really love to share with those who are as discouraged as me at cooking decent stuff!

One of the wonderful things food does is to gather people around the table – eat and be merry. One does not have to know how to cook to bring people together but being able to cook is a useful skill because one can prepare good and wholesome meals for your loved ones (with lots of love!). Besides learning how to cook, I’m also learning how to bake cookies and cakes from my colleagues. You know, baking has a therupeutic effect on me.
Today’s recipe:

dining-134.jpgStir-fry cabbage with dried shrimps and shitake mushrooms

Ingredients: small cabbage (1), fresh & medium-sized shitake mushrooms (6-7), small handful of dried shrimps, 4-5 cloves of garlic, salt (1/2 tsp), oyster sauce (4 tbsp), water (1/2 cup), olive oil (4 tbsp)

  1. Rinse the whole cabbage with water and cut it into halves.
  2. Use a long, sharp knife and slice each half into thin strips. Set aside. Discard the main stem.
  3. Remove stalks from shitake mushrooms and slice them. Set aside.
  4. Peel the garlic cloves and chop finely. Set aside.
  5. Rinse the dried shrimps with water. Set aside.
  6. Heat up the wok / frying pan over gentle, medium fire and add 2 tbsp olive oil.
  7. Add in half portion of garlic and dried shrimps and stir fry until garlic is slightly golden brown or when the aroma of the shrimps comes out.
  8. Add shitake mushrooms and fry lightly until they soften. Remove everything from wok and set it aside.
  9. Add 2 tbsp olive oil into emptied wok and add in remaining portion of garlic. Stir fry gently and throw in the cabbage.
  10. Stir fry the cabbage for about a minute. Throw in the mushrooms and dried shrimps and continue to stir-fry until cabbage is partially soft.
  11. Add oyster sauce and salt, stir fry to mix well for another minute and add water. Mix well again and cover to simmer for 1 minute or longer depending on how soft you like your veg.
  12. Serve the veg on a plate. Goes well with steamed white rice.

P.S. This recipe isn’t from the book in the picture here; the cooking book was a Christmas present from darling dearest last year!

16. January 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, At Home, Recipes · Tags: ,

Well, since I’m so bad at cooking, if any recipe turns out okay with me, it is idiot-proof man!

I’m starting a series of blogs on recipes which I’ve used and tested and darling dearest could eat. I’m not sure how long will my latest interest in cooking last but I would really love to share with those who are as discouraged as me at cooking decent stuff!

One of the wonderful things food does is to gather people around the table – eat and be merry. One does not have to know how to cook to bring people together but being able to cook is a useful skill because one can prepare good and wholesome meals for your loved ones (with lots of love!). Besides learning how to cook, I’m also learning how to bake cookies and cakes from my colleagues. You know, baking has a therupeutic effect on me.
Today’s recipe:

dining-134.jpgStir-fry cabbage with dried shrimps and shitake mushrooms

Ingredients: small cabbage (1), fresh & medium-sized shitake mushrooms (6-7), small handful of dried shrimps, 4-5 cloves of garlic, salt (1/2 tsp), oyster sauce (4 tbsp), water (1/2 cup), olive oil (4 tbsp)

  1. Rinse the whole cabbage with water and cut it into halves.
  2. Use a long, sharp knife and slice each half into thin strips. Set aside. Discard the main stem.
  3. Remove stalks from shitake mushrooms and slice them. Set aside.
  4. Peel the garlic cloves and chop finely. Set aside.
  5. Rinse the dried shrimps with water. Set aside.
  6. Heat up the wok / frying pan over gentle, medium fire and add 2 tbsp olive oil.
  7. Add in half portion of garlic and dried shrimps and stir fry until garlic is slightly golden brown or when the aroma of the shrimps comes out.
  8. Add shitake mushrooms and fry lightly until they soften. Remove everything from wok and set it aside.
  9. Add 2 tbsp olive oil into emptied wok and add in remaining portion of garlic. Stir fry gently and throw in the cabbage.
  10. Stir fry the cabbage for about a minute. Throw in the mushrooms and dried shrimps and continue to stir-fry until cabbage is partially soft.
  11. Add oyster sauce and salt, stir fry to mix well for another minute and add water. Mix well again and cover to simmer for 1 minute or longer depending on how soft you like your veg.
  12. Serve the veg on a plate. Goes well with steamed white rice.

P.S. This recipe isn’t from the book in the picture here; the cooking book was a Christmas present from darling dearest last year!

12. January 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, At Home, Recipes · Tags: , ,

After doing this for 4 times, I think this recipe is reliable enough to share with others. ‘Jook’ in Teochew is porridge in English.

dining-140.jpgIngredients (for 2 large servings):

  • 150g lean chicken meat
  • Marinade sauce for chicken meat: 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper & 1 tsp sugar
  • 1.5 cup of rice
  • 700ml chicken stock
  • 0.5 cup dried scallops (small variety will do)
  • 2 century eggs
  • 1 spring onion
  • Ginger slices
  • Crushed garlic cloves
  • Sesame oil
  • Pepper
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt

Procedure:

  1. Cut chicken meat into thin strips and marinade with the sauce stated above. Set aside for 1 hour or leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. In a cooking pot, wash rice (2-3 times) and soak it in clean water for an hour.
  3. Drain water from the rice and add in chicken stock, dried scallops, 2 crushed garlic cloves & a few slices of ginger.
  4. Bring the entire pot to boil. In the meantime, peel and chop the century eggs and set it aside. Chop the spring onions and peel and cut ginger into fine strips – these will serve as garnishings.
  5. Once the porridge starts boiling, stir to mix the rice grains evenly and especially to prevent them from getting stuck to the bottom of pot (the use of corning ware is recommended as it is easier to remove any burnt marks later). Bring the flame down to low heat and continue stirring regularly.
  6. When the porridge appears to thicken, add some hot water and continue stirring.
  7. After about 30-40 mins (use your judgement), the grains would start to break up and scallops soften. Add some hot water again and stir well. (In fact, add water whenever the porridge thickens). Cook until you obtain the texture you desire.
  8. Add century egg and stir continously. Next, add the chicken meat and stir well.
  9. Add salt, soy sauce and pepper to taste. Once you are satisfied with the taste, douse 5-8 drops of sesame oil and give the porridge a final stir. Turn off the flame and serve immediately
  10. Add the sprng onions and ginger as garnishing on the porridge. Add 2-3 drops of sesame oil to add fragrance to the dish. If you have dried salted seaweed, serve it as a side dish. It tastes yummy with porridge!

Bon appetit!

Yanggie & I like to share a bowl of century egg porridge (congee) whenever we were out having dianxin. So one day, he suggested that we try preparing this dish at home. Having cooked the porridge twice now, i think it is something that’s quite easily done, yep. Before I begin sharing my recipe, there’s one ingredient which you might need some background information – the chicken stock. Either you prepare it yourself or buy it off the shelf. The former is healthier of course but time-consuming to prepare initially. The latter tends to be quite salty if you’re health-conscious. Anyway, my mother in-law taught me how to prepare the chicken stock and I shall share it with everybody here.

dining-1401.jpgDIY Chicken Broth

  1. Buy spring onions, ginger and chicken bones (especially the spine) which would cost about S$ 1 either from a local wet market or supermarket.
  2. Cut spring onions into shorter lengths (about 2-3 inches) and peel ginger and slice it into a few pieces.
  3. Place the chicken bones, spring onions & ginger into a pot and add water (about 1 – 1.5 litre). Bring it to boil and then simmer another 3 hours. Scoop out any floating particles at the initial stages.
  4. After 3-4 hours: Using a strainer, transfer only the liquid into another pot / large container. Let it cool before keeping it in a refrigerator. Discard the bones & vegetables.
  5. The oil from the chicken stock will float to the surface when left to stand. On the next day, use a spoon to scoop out the oil layer and there you have your chicken stock for multiple dishes! It can keep for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. If you want to prolong its shelf life, divide it into small portions (jam jars) and save them in the freezer.

I learned that chicken stock has higher bone to meat ratio while chicken broth is the opposite. Adding other vegetables such as carrots, celery root and onions is a common practice in the west.