Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Comfort re-creating a dish that reminds me so much of my childhood.
As the first child in the family, my parents spoilt me as a kid and I was indeed very picky in what I eat. My mum told me that sometimes it took her over an hour just to get me to eat a bowl of rice. I still remember myself trying to 'escape' all the time when it comes to dinner time and my mum would chase me down the street with a bowl of rice in her hand and almost every single time she would find me at the local pet shop. The pet shop owner was a kind Chinese man who would let me play with his fish while being spoon-fed. Sometimes he even gave us free goldfish to keep so I wouldn't run down to his shop during my dinner time (it didn't really work as I was more into his colourful tropical fish so I always ran down whenever I had the chance :D). Anyway, as picky as I was, one of the dishes that I never had the urge to run away from was PRAWNS IN CARAMEL SAUCE.
I have always loved sweet and savoury dishes. Things like thit kho tau (pork braised in caramel sauce) or thit kho tieu (peppery pork slices) always made my mouth water :D. Prawns in caramel sauce is no exception. The shallots were saute quickly with garlic and sugar to create a caramel coating, then prawns were tossed in and fish sauce was then added. I used sweet soy sauce as an alternative for caramel sauce since I couldn't be bothered making caramel sauce this time. The end result was a sweet yet savoury dish where shallots just melt in your mouth and the sauce is so thick that you can devour every little bit of it.
I guess nothing is better than food that reminds you of your childhood memories.
P.S: proper recipe will be posted if requested.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Kimchi Noodles

I haven't had instant noodles for ages and this time I made an effort to 'dress up' my normally modest instant noodles. It's also incredibly easy to make and would make a perfect supper or a meal for one of those days when you just can't be bothered cooking.
1 hard-boiled egg (sliced in half)
3 prawns
3 cherry tomatoes
3 shitake mushrooms
2 spring onions (finely chopped the green parts)
3 tbsp frozen pea
a handful of chopped white cabbage
napa cabbage kimchi (as much as you can take :D)
1 packet of kimchi flavour instant noodles

1. Boil water, add the seasoning from the noodle packet.
2. Add prawns and boil for 3 mins
3. Add mushrooms, peas and white cabbage and continue cooking for another 5 mins.
4. Add tomatoes and spring onions.
5. Add noodles and continue cooking for 3-4 mins
6. Top with boiled egg and kimchi
7. Devour :D

This dish somehow reminded me a lot of the time when I first left home for college. Admittedly instant noodles are not good for you but it's an integral part of being an Asian :D

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Victoria sponge

110g/4oz butter or margarine
110g/4oz caster sugar
2 medium eggs
110g/4oz self raising flour

1. Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Line 2x18cm/7in cake tins with baking parchment
3. Use a hand mixer to cream the butter and the sugar together until pale.
4. Beat in the eggs.
5. Sift over the flour and fold in using a large metal spoon. The mixture should be of a dropping consistency - if it isn't, add a little milk.
6. Divide the mixture between the cake tins and gently spread out with a spatula.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
8. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before turning on to a wire rack to cool.
9. Sandwich the cakes together with jam, lemon curd or whipped cream and berries or just enjoy on its own.

TIP: use a pinch of baking powder as well to help the cake rise.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Ayam Masak Merah

Special thanks to Melting Wok for the amazing Spicy honey chicken recipe
Minor alteration include:

1. I marinated the chicken with 2 tbsp of fish sauce + turmeric instead of salt and turmeric. I believe the fish sauce goes into the chicken better than salt (be careful though because fish sauce is quite salty itself)
2. I deep fried the chicken instead of pan frying it. It takes a bit more effort because we haven't got a deep fryer at home so we had to use the wok. However, the chicken was crispy and very very tasty.

Except for those above changes, everything else was done in the same way. The hubby was more than impressed with the dish. Admittedly I've got to give him credit for helping me a lot in doing this dish.

Here's the end result. The novice cook proudly presents:

Spicy Honey Chicken served with sweet cabbage in oyster sauce and a bit of kimchi

French cuisine

First of all I'd like to thank my personal chef hubby for sharing with us this great idea. He's passionate about French cuisine and is capable of making various elaborate dishes that I can't help falling in love with. Maybe it was fate that a hopeless cook like myself ended up with a naturally talented cook like the hubby :D

The main course is called Co^te de porc Normande, which in my language, translates roughly as pork stew in cider and apple.

The potatoes accompanied the dish is called Pommes Duchess; which I believe, is basically mashed potatoes + 2 egg yolks + cream and then baked in the oven for 15 minutes.
This dish is similar, yet very different from chicken in cider. The sweet apples go perfectly well with pork and since the pork was cooked slowly in the oven, herbs and spices have more of a chance to incorporate into the meat.
Yum yum, I love the weekend when I can eat 'restaurant food' at home.
P.S: recipes will be posted if requested.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Blanketed Rice

This bizarre dish is a cross between teczcape 's Tom Yum Rice ...

...and My Korean Kitchen's omelette rice

The delightful result looked like this:


The only exceptions with the Tom Yum rice were that beans were replaced by cauliflowers, prawns were chopped instead and chopped shitake mushrooms and tomatoes were also included.
This dish is filling enough to make a substantial meal on its own. Thanks to teczcape and My Korean Kitchen for giving us such nice ideas.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

My first (and probably last) attempt to do kimbap

Now if someone out there is kind enough, I'd like to know what is the main difference between sushi and kimbap? I got this recipe off My Korean Kitchen and altered it a bit so that I didn't have to buy anything except for seaweed wraps. The seaweed wraps were on offer for 87p so I couldn't resist anyway :D.
I'd always thought that sushi/kimbap is pretty bland and I thought maybe if I tried to make it at home it would somehow taste better than the store-bought version. I was right in a way. The kimbap I made definitely had a fresher taste than the ones I used to buy from the supermarket. The only thing is, it is still tasteless. It's not like I don't like Korean food because I couldn't live without kimchi and gochujang. I guess I'm more into the hot and spicy side of Korean food.
Mmmm, even though I didn't like it in the end, at least I tried making it once.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Hainanese Steamed Chicken with Hainanese chilli ginger sauce

Wandering Chopsticks' post on her great grand-father death anniversary dinner made my mouth water over the picture of Hainanese Chicken. Admittedly I didn't have a whole chicken to follow the proper cooking process (I eat on my own so it'll be too wasteful to attempt cooking the whole chicken). So I cheated by steaming the chicken thigh and served it with Hainanese chilli ginger sauce. It still tastes pretty awesome :D.
I also did a simple canh (watery soup) with ginger, cabbage and shitake mushrooms, which is my mum's favorite food of all time.

It's super duper easy to make- you only need to fry lightly some chopped ginger, then pour in chicken stock and shitake mushrooms, season with fish sauce and simmer for 25 minutes, then the chopped cabbage is thrown in and simmered for another 10 minutes. Voila.
To be honest my mum's version of this dish is much better since she also uses dried shrimps and pork meatballs. Oh well, I still enjoyed it immensely though so it doesn't really matter.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Herbed chicken in cider

Not only yummy but also nutritious.
The chicken pieces are fried lightly in butter till golden, then mushrooms are thrown into the pot and it is then seasoned with salt, pepper, mixed herbs and simmered in chicken stock and cider for a good hour. Meanwhile, the rice grains are coated with vegetable oil and cooked with chicken stock in the normal method. Side veg i.e. seasonal asparagus spears are saute' in butter/olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
I love slow cooking method as all flavours and spices can incorporate into the food and it is more rewarding to eat something after waiting impatiently for a little while.
As usual, recipe will only be posted if a) I feel like it or b) somebody asks for it.
Also, due to a mini economic recession, the novice cook will have to plan her weekly meals ahead and there will limited trips to China Town supermarkets :sigh: Therefore in the next few weeks or so the food will be pretty basic (erhmm, actually the novice cook's foods have always been basic).Hopefully the novice cook will still find something interesting enough to write about:D

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

First-time donburi

Apparently donburi is a bowl of rice served with one or various toppings. Inspired by Cooking Cute, I decided to make my own donburi today. I didn't expect much but it came out quite nicely. The only thing is that I had a heap of dishes to wash afterwards.
The picture is from Cooking Cute website as my camera was playing up and I couldn't take a picture (:D honest, It's not because my dish is c**p). As I didn't have ground beef (or more precisely, I have to save the ground beef for the hubby's tea tonight) ;I replaced it with dried tofu sheet, which is similar in the way that it's another source of protein. The crispy texture of mange tout goes perfectly well with the soft scrambled egg and saute'd tofu. I also added sliced shitake mushrooms sauted in oyster sauce and soy sauce as I absolutely adore shitake mushrooms. After all, I topped it with a bit of gochujang (another confession, I am also addicted to gochujang) and mix everything together (steamed mange tout, shitake mushroom, scrambled egg and sauted tofu and of course, steaming hot rice.).
Hang on a minute, it tastes too similar to bibimbap. Now I'm confused, what is the difference between bibimbap and donburi then? Maybe I altered the recipe too much it has turned from Japanese food to Korean food with a Chinese twist. Or maybe I'm a novice cook after all and I can't tell the difference between Korean and Japanese food. Oh well, whatever, as long as it tastes nice, it's worth my effort.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Quintessential Vietnamese food

Thit kho tau -( which literally means pork belly braised in Chinese style) or a more common name in Viet restaurants is pork braised in coconut juice.
This is one of the most popular Vietnamese dish, which is served with white rice and sometimes picked bean sprouts. The meat is marinated and refrigerated for 8 hours ahead of the cooking time, then braised and simmered in a pan of coconut juice for at least 2 hours until all the flavour has incorporated into the meat and the hard boiled egg.
It is a lengthy cooking process but it's totally worth it when you chew into the soft and tender pork pieces which are both sweet (from the use of sweet soy sauce or caramel sauce) and savoury (from fish sauce). Eaten with pickled bean sprouts or picked Chinese mustard leaves as side dishes, it is one of my top ten all time favourite food.
Recipe will be dug up some time later if requested.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

An English love affair

To be honest I am not too sure whether this originally came from Scotland or England. I got the recipe from an English cookbook and it was relatively easy to follow. All you need is some self raising flour, sugar, salt, butter and milk to bind.
I mean, If I can do it, anyone else certainly can. I have to admit I love baking despite various disastrous attempts I've made so far. It's hit and miss really with the tiny oven I have. I need a bigger kitchen.
Anyway I'm off now for a scone and a cuppa tea. Will be back later.


I initially wanted to use silken tofu, as inspired by Simcooks post on silken tofu with shallot oil. However, I couldn't find any silken tofu from the local supermarket so I had to make do with firm tofu. The end result tasted a bit like mapo tofu to me. The tip of seasoning the mince pork with cornstarch worked a treat. I never thought of it before but it actually enhances the taste an awful lot.
Thanks simcook for the yummy recipe :D