Friday, 28 November 2014

Come Avo Walk with Me!

STOP RIGHT THERE! Click & Read this first: ‘Avo Maria’. I’ll bring you back here.

Okay, continuing from my ‘Avo Maria’ publication, here are the results of my 3 avocados over 3 days covering the 11 ways I ate them. It took 3 days as the trio I bought ripened at different times.

I am most lucky that a kind Australian lady member of my FB food group taught me how to check for ripeness by applying gentle thumb pressure on the stem end. Works like a charm!

The Challenger
Do you remember how scary it was the very first time you jumped down from a height that you weren’t sure of at all? That’s exactly how the first avocado looked like to me. I decided to have a chat with it first. I named it ‘Hank Hass’.

Me: I’m not sure you’re good & ready...

Hank: Hey, you did the thumb test – you Know I’m ready, Missy!

Me: Have you heard about my aversion to... you?

Hank: C’mon, stop wasting time. I’m ripening more as we speak!

Me: Thing is, it’s been years since I ate one and...

Hank: Yada Yada Yada... Boo Hoo Hoo! So you’re the only one with discomfort? I’ve been sitting in that cold fridge of yours for two days next to a bunch of noisy apples who just won’t stop yakking away! Geez!

Me: Ok, I’m real sorry about that, but I think I’ll have to put you back in there till I’m ready.

Hank: No way, José! Nuh-uh! I ain’t going back to Yakkety-Yak Town. You bought me, now Eat Me or else... so help me God!

Threatened by a ripe avocado, I proceeded to the first step of cutting it open and scooping out a teaspoonful. I closed my eyes, blanked out my mind, bravely opened my mouth and chewed.

I passed out IMMEDIATELY – nah, just kidding!

It was really Super, all that buttery & nutty flavor (the Biggest Surprise of All is revealed in the very last pic!). I eagerly moved on to the recommendations shown below. Come avo walk with me.

Avo 1

Mashed avocado with lime & salt – a pure beauty, then with lemon, salt & pepper – it pops!
On toasted bread rubbed with raw garlic – I love this; I wanted more!
Pomengranate, grapes & pear – Very Tasty & Refreshing!
(pears got a little brown while I was busy chatting with Hank)
I extracted the pomengranate juice to drizzle over the fruit version above.
Chopped cilantro, onions, chillies, tomato & lemon juice - to mix with the mashed avocado.
On toasted bread – a Feast of Flavors!
My tortilla chips have never been happier!
Piquete (Colombian) on boiled potatoes - Delicious Comfort Food!
Avo 2

Tuna sandwich (aka ‘Tunacado’) with chopped dill pickle, onions & red chillies.
Mashed avocado replaces mayo beautifully!
Savoury Taco/ Wraps - Absolutely Sensational!
 Avo 3

HLAT – Brings it all together Harmoniously!
(I had ham to finish so I substituted the bacon).
Easy to zap the small trial amount with my immersion blender for the smoothie.

Smoothie – the undisputed Best Surprise!
The Avocado Blooms Magnificently in this Cool Dessert!

I confirm that I am absolutely cured from my past experience and so pleasantly surprised that this fruit is super versatile with other foods as you have seen. I mean, who’d thought combining it with tuna or zapping it into a smoothie would bring smiles & cravings to this Singaporean?

I’d like to write more, but hey, I have years of avocado goodness to catch up with, so bye!

Acknowledgements: My sincere thanks to Michele Mai, George Hanus, Meike Hubert, Susan Cohen, Erin Crisman, Barbara Llorente, Linda Nightwood, Maree Reynolds, Shelby Jones, Evangeline Payawal & Christiam Guzmán for your kind support & recommendations. I am for-avo grateful.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Throw it NOW!

I made two sugar mistakes in the kitchen. Here’s the first one.

I accidentally grabbed salt for sugar and ended up putting the wrong amounts of each into my garam asam gravy! Dang! Dinner was to be served in forty minutes to my in-laws. I had two options.

One – call Pizza Hut, McDonald’s & KFC. Two – call my husband to the kitchen. As my traditional in-laws are not keen on fast food, I chose Option Two.

Crisis was averted after we miraculously managed to adjust the dish by discarding half of the gravy & adding fresh blended onions, etc. Phew... ! The moment dinner was over, I immediately labelled the salt & sugar containers (Yeah, Yeah, I didn’t before... so sue me!)

Here’s Sugar Boo-Boo Number 2... or so I thought.

I doubled a chocolate cupcake recipe, but Somehow (God only knows how!) I ended up doubling the doubled sugar amount or something. Oh Lord! What a shocker... !

Each cupcake overflowed the muffin tin and when cooled, every single one came out looking like a crater because the center caved in. They were hard & brittle.

The big one in the pan flopped out thick, sticky & gooey like this. Looks like a Sugar Battlefield, doesn’t it?

99% of me screamed Throw it, Throw it, THROW it NOW! I listened to my 1% and offered them to my young nephews.

Whoa! Wouldcha believe it? They loved it – a LOT! Way to go, Silver Lining!

The different textures & sweetness of my ‘failure’ turned out to be a winning snack, somewhere along the lines of toffee-meets-fudge-in-a-cake kinda thing. I can’t replicate it though, as I’m not too sure what I did right or wrong... but today’s recipe of a *simple potato dish turns out wonderful every time. Makes for a great side dish or just delicious on its own!

I love it for the simplicity and awesome taste, plus the oh! so few ingredients, and it Doesn’t have a grain of sugar, folks, so we’re safe.

*I figure I’d pop in something easy since you had to read my long Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee recipe from my previous post.

Ham & Garlic Potatoes

2 medium waxy potatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Some sliced ham*
Some chicken stock
Salted butter*, for dotting
Cheese of your choice, shredded (optional)
(*If you prefer pancetta or bacon, use unsalted/sweet butter)

Wash & peel the waxy potatoes.

Using a knife, slice them thinly (not too thin, don’t use a mandolin)

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F)

In an oven-proof dish, pour a bit of the chicken stock to just cover the bottom.

Layer with potato, then garlic, dot with butter, potato again, then ham. Repeat.

Finish with a layer of potato. Pour some chicken stock over it.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 mins to 1 hour (depends on the size of your dish).

Uncover and top with shredded cheese, if using. Grill till cheese melts.

Serve immediately.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Did & Did Not!

Gosh! Doesn’t time zoom by so much faster as an adult? Suddenly it’s November, and you are still in April mood. How did I get to here? What did I do in those months between? Where did all my money go... ?

I do, however, know what i didn’t do! I did NOT:
  • Win the lottery.
  • Receive the Nobel Literature Prize for this blog... yet.
  • Scam people at Sim Lim Square (just google ‘Sim Lim weeps’)
  • Kiss the kerb when it finally rained (dang Haze!).
  • Enjoy watching ‘Godzilla’ take his time to appear clearly on screen.

Oh wait... now I remember what i DID do! I certainly did:
  • Go out for the day without my phone & watch – FREEDOM!
  • Stain my T-shirt with laksa gravy again & again (some things never change!).
  • Re-edit & re-submit countless times to get my photos in foodgawker.
  • Try as hell to watch my diet, but failed with Old Chang Kee curry puffs.
  • Cook delicious Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee today
           ... and HERE’S THE RECIPE! (Surprised ya, didn't i?)

Yes, Yes, I know the recipe seems long & complicated, but it's really easy to do... c'mon, Be Adventurous! Let this be the thing you DID!

p/s: a really nice accompaniment to this slurpy dish is crispy Fried Wontons from my 'Krackle, Krispy, Ka-Runch' post with my wrapping demo videos (yes, it's me!). Have a look-see!

Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee

I never really measure for this dish, so please just estimate the amounts not shown according to how much you’d like. This noodle dish has evolved to become very ‘gravy-heavy’ with stock.

You can add more of the yellow noodles than rice noodles - it's up to you.

Ingredients - 4 servings
Prawn Stock (see below)
500 g Prawns, heads removed to make the prawn stock
Squid, sliced, optional
Pork belly, skin removed, then sliced or cut into thick strips, optional
500 g thick rice noodles (aka ‘chor bee hoon’ – this is not vermicelli*)
500 g yellow noodles
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 eggs
Fresh red chillies, sliced (can also be served on the side, if you prefer)
Spring onions, cut 5 cm lengths
Bean sprouts, washed (roots removed, if you wish)
Light soy sauce
Oyster sauce
Limes, optional
Msg, optional
Deep-fried pork fat croutons, optional (pls check online for info)

* You can sub dried medium vermicelli (which is the original noodle used). Soak 1 hr to soften.

Prawn Stock, Prawns, Squid, Pork Belly
Remove prawn heads. Carefully pry apart & wash out the brown mush for each prawn.
Boil for stock (water 2cm above the heads).
After 40 mins, using a strainer, press the heads to extract any stock. Discard the heads.
Add dashes of fish sauce, pepper, salt (& msg, optional).
Taste & adjust. It should be like a tasty soup.
Simmer (don’t boil) the stock & lightly cook the prawns, squid & pork belly in it.
Keep this stock on a very low simmer, for frying the noodles later.

Noodles  (Do this just before frying: Use a plastic glove; noodles are oily)
In a shallow basin, add some water to only the thick rice noodles & loosen it.
Mix in the yellow noodles.
Using kitchen scissors, cut/divide into 4 portions.
Leave the glove on top of the noodles.

- to stir fry one serving (fry one or two servings at a time; don’t crowd your wok)

Heat some oil in a wok on medium heat. Fry one chopped garlic.
Using the glove, add 1 portion of mixed noodles & a bit of stock. Stir fry 10 secs.
Push noodles to one side. Tilt your wok to the empty side. Increase the heat a bit.
Add some oil & scramble an egg.
Mix with the noodles.
(If you like your bean sprouts soft, add & fry them here)
Push everything to one side. Lower the heat.
**Add 3 tbsp prawn stock, then 2 tsp oyster sauce,  ¼ tsp light soy sauce & dashes of msg.
Increase to medium heat.
Mix with the noodles well. Lower to medium heat.
Add spring onions, bean sprouts & sliced chillies. Mix & Cover 10 secs.
(Add more stock here if you like your noodles slurpy)
Add prawns, squid, pork belly & 3 or 4 croutons. Quickly mix in.
Serve with a cut lime.
Squeeze the lime on a fork, all over the noodles & mix.
Eat Immediately & Enjoy!

** You can prepare this sauce in advance in a small bowl before you start frying. Stir to combine. This is an estimated amount, as oyster sauces vary in saltiness – you can a bit more oyster sauce if you like, but it should not taste too much of it.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Avo Maria

Once upon a time I had one bite of a raw avocado and hated it so much I swore off it for life. It took all I could to keep from spitting it out!

Then I joined a US food group on Facebook (yes, I do have an account) and found that the avocado is a much loved fruit eaten in all sorts of ways! I asked the members for ideas to gently wean me towards consuming this God-awful difficult task of mine. The suggestions came tidal-wave rushing in. People are indeed very kind to help an avocado-deprived lot like me.

Mashed into dressings, tossed in salads, mixed with pilaf, as a herby pasta sauce, smoothies, salsas, in tuna salad or just paired with sliced strawberries! A good friend even provided a link pointing me to the many varieties. I was overwhelmed at the pure kindness of strangers! (ok, most were not really total strangers as I have been yakking with them for a coupla months now).

It’s not often available here in Singapore, but I am just RARING to go the moment I spy that deep green pear-shaped challenge! Think I’ll buy three and try out as many methods as I can. I'm praying for the best.

Life is so wonderful – just when I think there’s a lull in cooking (the same things), I suddenly now have this great obstacle to overcome. I must & will above all else attempt the suggested ideas... cos if not I’ll have to answer to about 15 people who took the time to type those comments!

So you’ve already guessed my trials will be explicitly detailed in a future post. Will I pass or fail the whole exam? Can a person win over a despised life experience?

Is avocado such a big deal that I have to be a cry baby about it? Can you bring yourself to overcome the foods You hate? Why the heck is there no recipe in this post? What do you think? Stay Tuned...

Update: The results are in! See 'Come Avo Walk with Me!'