Wednesday, 29 October 2014

... For Nothing!

Didcha sing today?

I always have a tune or two on auto rewind in my head. Yesterday it was 'Money For Nothing' by Dire Straits - love the electric intro... 'That's the way you do it... '

Today I was romatici-sing to Luis Miguel's 'Perfidia'. oh... you've not heard of him? Same here.
I stumbled across his 'Mis Boleros Favoritos' album years ago at a CD shop (yes, these are rare nowadays) that was playing it at full blast. I bought it on the spot!

He's got this stretchy swoony voice that makes me sway & daydream...

What does this have to do with cooking, you ask? Nothing really... it's just that I still can't get 'Money for Nothing' outta my head from yesterday & I need company. Bet you're now stuck with 'We gotta install microwave ovens, Custom kitchen deliveray-ies, We gotta move these refrigerators...'

Plus, you know you're itching to check out Luis on Youtube! Heh Heh Heh

Music makes Life a Party and one of my favorite party foods is Burgers! Lamb Burgers in particular! Love them! You should make burgers at home - SO very much cheaper... it's almost Burgers For Nothing! (You can also substitute the patty with spicy 'otak-otak' for a change)

Here's my recipe - promise me you'll make them this weekend... 'I want my, I want my MTV... '

p/s: Throw in my nice Ham & Garlic Potatoes (see 'Throw it NOW!') & it'll be a Super meal.

Lamb Burgers
Prepare the uncooked lamb patties 2 to 3 days in advance for best taste!

Slurpy Burgers are the BEST!

Lamb patties (recipe below)
Hamburger buns, medium size
Mayonnaise (i use Hellman's)
Chopped dill pickle
Sweet & sour chilli sauce [i use Lingham’s (regular)]
Black pepper, freshly grated
Tomatoes, sliced
Onions, sliced

Heat up a bit of olive oil in a stainless steel or cast iron frying pan on medium to high heat. Do not use a non-stick pan (patties turn out not so tasty).

Fry each patty for 1 to 2 mins on each side (depends on how you like your meat cooked).

When flipping over, make sure the spatula picks up the whole patty (or it may break up as no egg and only a small amount of breadcrumbs is used).

Rest the patty for 3 mins.

Place the cooked patty on the bottom half of a bun.

Serving suggestion: Layer in this order – mayonnaise, dill, chilli sauce, black pepper, tomato, onion, lettuce.

Put on the top ‘hat’ of the bun and Enjoy! :)

Lamb patties - makes 4 thin (or 2 med) patties.
Amounts are approximate; adjust to your taste

300 g minced lamb (with some fat)
1 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp Vintage cheddar cheese (or Parmesan), finely grated & kept in fridge till needed
¼ tsp white pepper
⅛ tsp salt
Update: Plonk & mix in about ¼ tsp of English mustard & ½ onion (chopped) – gets tastier!

Using a shallow bowl, spread out the minced lamb.

Layer evenly over the lamb in this order – Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, cheese.

Using a metal spoon, mix gently & thoroughly**(see below). Divide into 4.

Update: For a juicier burger, leave it as one big chunk and shape them before frying. Cover tightly with a few layers of plastic wrap.

Take one portion & shape into a round, flat patty (they will shrink when fried, so shape it bigger).

Cling wrap each patty and stack them up in a small, shallow bowl.

Cover the entire bowl with two layers of clingwrap (the idea here is to minimise moisture loss).

Leave to marinate in the fridge (front or middle area) for 2-3 days.

** Pan fry a small bit and adjust Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper, to taste.

Celebrate with Burgers!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Krackle Krispy Ka-Runch!

Today at the mall, I saw this teenager in a head-on collision with this HUGE stack of cartons! Nobody got seriously hurt though. The delivery guy couldn’t see in front as the cartons blocked his view. The teenager was face down on his smartphone.

BOOM! CRASH!!!! I burst out laughing as the cartons fell all over the teen! He looked totally goofy-stunned!!! WA Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!! I quickly wandered off, looking away, when he tried to see who’s that loud, hysterical, mean hyena.

We have to watch what we do, especially in the kitchen. Dangers abound – sharp knives, boiling soups, electrical applicances cutting, slicing & grinding, woks smoking hot, ovens grilling. This is not a place for slackening on supervision (and certainly not smart to be on your smartphone!).

Worse yet if you screw things up, after you have done heavy prep work all day and you are nearing that finish line we call ‘dinner’! and you are deep-frying really, really nice crispy Wontons that go Krackle Krispy Ka-Runch with each bite!

Like these... Enjoy! (pssst... check out my demo videos below for folding the wrappers – yes, it’s me!)

Fried Wontons
I recommend including Fried Wontons in taco wraps – they totally ROCK!

With 200 g of minced meat, you’ll basically get 12 large or 30 small wontons, depending on how you wrap (use up extra filling to stir fry veg, in omelets etc.)

Basic Filling – Season according to your taste.
200 g coarsely minced pork (or half pork & half prawn)
Salt, to taste
White pepper
Light soy sauce
Sesame oil
Optional: fish sauce, corn starch, chilli paste, msg, extra white pepper (lots!)

  • add ginger juice for a nice zing!               
  • add chopped or small chunks of water chestnut        
  • mix in chopped spring onions (green part only) 
  • add whole or chunks of prawns 
  • add fish paste – smoother taste
  • create your own new twist!
Those are just white flour spots on the Big Wontons. Wrappers are dusted with flour to keep them from sticking together.

Mix all the filling ingredients well.

Take a small amount and pan fry. Taste & adjust seasonings.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Marinate for 4 hours or overnight.

Wrap the wontons, preferably just before cooking them.

For folding ideas, here are my demo videos!

This is for folding the Small wontons.

This is for the Large wontons.

Deep fry the wontons.

Drain on paper towels.

Serve with sweet sauce or mayo (my fave!) or dip of your choice.

When deep frying the wontons:
  • make sure your oil is hot enough
  • don’t crowd your wok or pan (see pic below)
  • don’t fry too long as it will dry out the meat
  • Impt: when golden brown, use long bbq tongs to turn each wonton upside down, and gently shake up & down to drip out excess oil

Nice Krackle sounds from my wok!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Bite Me!

I very often wake up in the morning with the gusto to cook & bake everything from my many, many (many!) cookbooks. That happens to you, too, doesn’t it? Buying that many cookbooks, I mean.

Pictures of savoury pastries, comfort stews and amazing desserts fill my visually-ready mind non-stop. It’s Food Paradise on paper!

I see myself smilingly hopping from stirring a boiling pot, to scooping up veggies with both hands and plonking the lot into a sizzling hot frying pan, to checking on that browning-along-nicely roast in the oven – all (and I really mean ‘ALL’) coming out PERFECTLY cooked and with a Fantastic Presentation to boot!

Top Class! Magnifique! I am GOOOOOD!! I confidently assure you I am definitely getting closer to that... well, in this decade soon, I hope... but, I am most happy to say that I DID make something that is a top crowd pleaser and so easy to toss together!

Here’s my ‘Angel Croquant Bites’ – savor the crunchy, nutty, smoky & oh! so salty-caramel taste! One bite and you KNOW you woke up to a Great Day!

(You are invited to read about a sweet Asian dessert (Ang Ku Kueh) at my 'Lucky Little Tortoise' post)

p/s: For a Zingy dessert, check out my soft, soft custard Angel Lemon Tart at 'When Life Gives Angel Lemon Tart' post... is your mouth watering already?

Angel Croquant Bites

Bursting with Sweet Nutty Flavors!

375 g   Frozen puff pastry (butter)     
150 g   Almond slivers (roasted)     
  70 g   Granulated sugar       
  80 g   Brown sugar                
Fine Salt, to taste

(Use non-stick muffin tins)

Defrost the puff pastry till you can cut it. Cut into 1 cm squares.

Mix the sugars & salt. Taste & adjust if you like it sweeter/ saltier.

Fill in muffin tins as shown.

Bake at 200°C for about 30 to 40 mins, till the sugars melt & bubble a bit.

Remove from the oven and immediately start scooping out the croquants to a plate (or heatproof container). It's ok for it to look messy.

If it hardens while still in the muffin tins, just pop it back into the oven to melt.

Allow to cool before consuming with your ready fingers!

Best eaten same day.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Cereal Killer

Hands up all of you who can, on your very first try, always produce Asian dishes that look just like those Gorgeous cookbook photos or taste exactly like restaurant-cooked! Well, Congratz! you’re super talented... or just plain Lucky!

Anyway, talent & luck aside, to make our cooking job easier, there are handy helpers such as curry powders, herb preparations and premix packets. My favorite is Cereal Prawns - I always score Big with this! I use more butter to moisten the cereal cos I like it that way.

If you love prawns, this is one dang best seller, gold medal winner, top notch dish that is quite foolproof. You just have to make sure you get the freshest prawns and all the correct ingredients. It guarantees you a first class ticket to ‘Swoon City’.

It’s Big on taste, the Aroma lingers and a sure-fire Finger Licking good time will be had by all. Enough said, I’ll shut up now - here’s the recipe.

p/s: If you like hot & spicy food, check out my 'I Got Curried Away' post on Chicken Curry - Peranakan Style for a tasty curry & a hearty laugh!

Cereal Prawns

1 Cereal Prawns packet (see below for the one I use)
20 large fresh prawns
2 bird’s eye chillies (use one if you can’t take the heat)
10 to 20 curry leaves
1 to 2 tbsp butter (more if you like it moist)

In a wok, add some oil and fry the prawns till they are just cooked. Remove & set aside.

On low heat, melt the butter in the wok.

Just when it starts foaming, add the chillies & curry leaves.

Increase to medium heat & stir fry for about 30 seconds.

Add the cooked prawns and mix.

On very low heat, pour in all* the cereal and gently stir fry till the cereal is lightly golden brown.

Serve immediately with rice. Ta-Dah!

*You can add less cereal – it’s up to you.

Monday, 6 October 2014

A Spicy Childhood

Gangs, Stares, Screams, Furious kicking, Running off barefoot, Crying, more Crying, Maniacal Laughter – just a typical Sunday afternoon at the indoor playgrounds in the malls.

Aren’t kids the BEST? They jump, giggle, and proud parents get to flaunt them like craZy! Flaunting your kids is a lifetime movie career (grandkids are great sequels). You may get a blockbuster hit, like if little Janelle turns out to be a doctor and oh... even an award (like one of those ‘Best Mom’ mugs, extremely flauntable).

I was a flaunted kid. I didn’t have a clue till I heard it from others, often delivered to me in, well... rather unusual ways.

Some kid would say, “So what if you are your mommy’s fay-vrett, your eyes so small... hahaha... ow ow!!!”
('fay-vrett' – iritating slow way of pronouncing ‘favorite’)
('ow ow' – the sound that mean kid made when I stepped on his foot. Hah!)

A neighbour would pass by, pop her head in the window and smilingly sing,“Tell your ma & pa to order New Year kueh from me, okay? They always listen to you”.

An auntie goes,“Your mother always cook what you like; I think because you are not so smart & need more food for your otak!”.
('otak' means brain)

... which brings me to today’s food recommendation... been loving this since I was a kid.
Introducing a yummy delight called ‘otak-otak’ (aka ‘otah’).

This is the entry level otak-otak that I usually buy, wrapped & unwrapped (just remove the toothpicks & unfold).

It is a fragrant spicy fish paste wrapped in banana leaves (smaller ones in coconut leaves) and grilled to a wonder shot for your tastebuds! Often deliciously eaten as is, you can serve it as a sandwich, dunked in plain instant noodles or just mash it into hot rice... up to you!

Used to be cooked super fragrantly over a charcoal grill, but nowadays it’s electric. Oh well, it’s still very lip-smacking savory good to eat.

I whipped up some fried beehoon, stir-fried half a cabbage and tossed in crunchy pickled green chillies for a nice complete flauntable meal.

Tastes so delicious - my small eyes grow bigger with every bite! Yes!