Friday, July 30, 2010

The 5th Element

Pretty slick huh, the title of this blog? I was thinking of that Sci-fi movie starring Bruce Willis while contemplating what name of this post to give for this dish I just prepared for dinner. It has five ingredients: kombu, red dates, mushrooms, pork bones, and pinto beans.

The fifth element in this case, was the pinto beans. Yup, you read it right, no rice (carbo), just beans to go with the rest of the one-dish soup meal. Simple to prepare and clean up after meal (hubby's not complaining since he's the one who does the washing up).

From Pulp to Pork

This morning, I prepared a different kind of breakfast. I called it the Leftovers. Let's see... there were four slices of whole grain bread left in the Gardenia bag, one orange which I brought back from my office's fruit day, and okara (soy pulp, remains from making soya milk last week). Now for a little magic: stir fried the okara with two eggs and some onion slices in the non stick pan, sandwich them in the bread slices, and then decorate with a few peels of refreshingly zesty orange slices. There you have it!
Hubby's been looking forward to Friday this week, not that it was the last work day of the week (that TGIF thingie), but because I promised him I'll cook his favourite dish for dinner: sweet and sour pork (or ko-ro-yok for the initiated). I used 257g of pork meat (hubby kinda protested when I trimmed off some of the fats but it's for his good actually), half stalk of crunchy telegraphic cucumber (whatever that is), freshly cut pineapples, onion slices, and most importantly, the sauce (ready-made Lee Kum Kee sweet and sour source). I'd very much wanted to make the sauce myself but for lack of time; oh well, maybe the next time round...
Hubby was all glee when I put the plate in front of him; you could tell how pleased he must've been, judging from his longing gaze on those pork meat cubes. I supposed at that moment he's only got eyes for them and not me. Can't blame him really, afterall I only cooked it twice since we married - last year and this year. Too much of this is certainly not good for him, you know... Haiz!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Home-Made Goodness

 What has mustard in common with vegetables? Well, not much actually, unless it happens to be msutard greens you're talking about. That's what we had for dinner tonight, since hubby has an affinity for the slightly bitter taste of this veggie, but certainly not me. To compromise so both of us got to enjoy it, I stir fried with chicken stock, some cut garlics, carrot slices, red chilli and anchovies.
Surprisingly, the dish turned out pretty well, as hubby kept helping himself to the gravy with all the natural sweetness infused. "Soft and sweet, very sweet!" was his remark.
And guess what? We had glutinous rice (my mum made and gave it to us last night when we went over for a visit) and hubby's mum's home-made chilli to go with it! It's truly a home-cooked meal with all the home-made goodness. And that's pure happiness...!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

PR and BS

No, I'm not talking about permanent residents (PR) or bull-shit (BS) here. Remember the Josephine pineapples I mentioned in my previous post? Well there's still some left over in the fridge so I decided to make Pineapple Rice with them.
The night I made PR, hubby brought home a tub of queer looking fried-curled fish chips and asked me to guess the name. "Looks like ikan bilis to me but it's kinda big..." I told him. He gave me that mischevious smile and said, "The chinese name is mei-ren-yu (mermaid fish). I got it from my company's canteen operator coz his wife cooked this dish today. Just wanna let you try."
Well, it's a little bit spicy but other than that, I like the crispiness. The BS part was the Burdock root Soup to be precise. My sister gave me this recipe. She said it is very good for health especially for people who always sit in front of the computer. It has detox value that purges out the “poison” in our body. I googled and learnt that there are many more benefits from eating burdock root. Since then it has become a regular dish on our dining table.
Burdock root can be easily found at the wet market or supermarket, whilst white and green carrots with leaves are quite a rare find. I learnt that the leaves of white and green carrots actually contain lots of vitamins and so are their skins. So far the only place I can find those carrots that come with leaves are at the wet market near our house. However, it is currently under renovation, so I can only make do with those that don’t come with leaves for the time being. Maybe if you know where I can get them, do let me know. Thanks!
Here's the recipe for this low-caloried soup (and it's no bull-shit, I assure you):
White carrot x 1 (with leaves). Do not peel skin
Green carrot x 1 (with leaves). Do not peel skin
Red carrot x 1
Burdock root 300g (remove skin)
Shitake mushroom x 4
Boiling water 4 bowls

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Carbo or Karbo

Nope, it should be Kabocha - Japanese pumpkin, a mini size one. Bought it at the West Coast market at the suggestion of the vegetable stall owner, who claimed that it's sweet and the skin can be eaten after steaming. Really? Now this, I gotta try...
Behold the interior of the Kabocha...
and after it's steamed in the pressure cooker...
Surprisingly, the skin turned soft and could be sliced up easily together with the inner flesh using a metal spoon. As it is rich in beta carotene, and contains iron, vitamin C, potassium, and smaller traces of calcium and folic acid, it can be prepared as a simple, healthy snack. Serves up!

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Raw Deal

Been busy the past week so didn't really have time to update my blog. Last Saturday I went with hubby on a one day trip to Kukup, West Malaysia, for seafood and durian. The tour guide recommended the Josephine pineapple (a cross between the Johor and Sarawak species), so we decided to buy some on our way home at the Jusco supermarket.

The next day, I got hubby to peel the skins and cut into fan-shaped pieces, thinking that I'll make some dishes using pineapple as one of the ingredients. As you can see, hubby really did a good job...

I have an appointment tonight with my church's ladies, so I decided to prepare something easy and raw, well almost - watercress pinapple salad with slices of red and green capsicum.  I got this idea from a Chinese book that talks about certain food combination and the effect it would cause.  It says that the combination of pineapple and watercress actually promote good blood circulation in our body; and the combination of pineapple with prawns may invigorate our gastric and cause vomitting.  Wow...didn't know that before !

So, I boiled the watercress slightly so that it'll be more forgiving on hubby's tummy, and just to be on the safe side, I also made a bowl of hot instant mushroom soup to go along with it.

Hubby's feedback? "Tonight's dinner is OK, except for one thing," he paused and looked at me for a moment, then added, "I know you like crunchy stuff, but next time go easy on the capsicum, alright? My jaws got tired after munching so much of it at one go, you know?" Oh well, I guess he'll not be having capsicum any time sooner for a while. Back to planning my next meal...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Garlically Speaking

Hubby has a strange taste for garlic. In the early days, I observed that he'll meticulously pick up every bit of garlic from the vegetable he's eating and arrange them nicely along the edge of his plate. When asked, he replied, "I don't like to eat vegetable with garlic bits coz they always get stuck between the grooves in my teeth. Very irritating! But it's alright if they're very small (finely chopped) since I can't pick them."
So I thought: perhaps if I smash the garlic cloves instead, he'll eat 'em since the chances of getting stuck in his teeth is less likely." Boy, was I wrong!" One evening I prepared cut potato cubes with carrot slices and leeks, then added in smashed garlic, sprinkled parsley, a few bay leaves, and a pinch of butter. When the mixture was cooked, I poured some stock to make it more soupy, thinking hubby would slurp it all up.
Imagine my surprise when he started picking out the smashed garlic pieces! "Darling, what are you doing?" I asked, feeling a little exasperated. "Umm... I don't like chunky garlic one... Well, maybe I can eat a few here and there, but not every one of them." Sometimes, I just couldn't understand his logic...
Fortunately, hubby was rather pleased with the baked fresh water prawns I caught during my company's recent prawning activity at the Hai Bin U Enterprise in Bishan. See how nice the colors of the prawn were after defrosting (just look at the long blue color pincers!)

Yeah, I know it looks kinda messy with all the herbs (thymes, basil leaves, paprika) and squeezed lemon juice, and a little canola oil. But that's just how I experiment and cook - anyhow. And believe me, they tasted fresh and juicy.
Hubby gave the thumbs up, and offered to peel the prawns for me. Huh! He subtly chose all the small prawns for me and kept the big ones for himself!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Roses are Red...

... and yellow, pink, white and blue as well.

Thursday evening, hubby came home as usual while I was busy in the kitchen preparing dinner. He gave me that typical "Dearie, I'm home!" greeting without me suspecting, put a bunch of roses on the dining table, and went inside the bedroom to change. When I came out with a bowl of boiled fresh brussels sprout mixed with sliced carrots and dried sole fish chips, I let out a cry of delight.
It's been a long while since we had flowers at home, and I had almost wanted to get some that afternoon during lunch, but did not as the flowers were pretty expensive in Orchard Road. How thoughtful of hubby! The roses certainly brightened my mood...
Hubby came home early on Friday evening as he had some site work that day. He had indicated his cravings for satay so after work he went to order take aways for 10 sticks of mutton and 4 rice cakes (aka ketupat in Malay). Hubby loves the sweet-spicy gravy ladened with generous amount of peanut chips.
Thinking that it might be a little too heaty, I made a dessert of white fungus, lotus seeds, fresh wild yam, dried longan, and hubby's favourite qian shi (aka euryale seed in TCM terms). Unbeknown to him, qian shi actually is good for man, if you know what I mean. Hehehe...
In a way, the dessert helped to put out the fire in hubby's tummy after he almost finished the whole bowl of satay sauce. Oh gosh...!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Milky Papaya Soup

I usually plan what I want to cook for the week on Sunday, noting them down in my little cooking notebook, and then listing down the ingredients I need to buy on a separate piece of marketing list. This week I'll be cooking mostly soup meals, since the weather is turning cooler so a bowl of hot soup for dinner would certainly be comforting.
For tonight, I started off with what is commonly called milky papaya soup, though there are other additional ingredients that are no less important. Below are the ingredients (tofu is not inside the picture, though): half ripe hawaiian papaya, two red tomatoes, an ear of pearl corn (aka Jagung Mutiara from Cameron highlands), and two fresh water prawns (caught by me during last Friday's prawning activity organised by my company).
I used the soup stock I prepared earlier using pork ribs and anchovies, bring it to a boil, then put in the cut papaya cubes and corns to let them simmer for a while, followed by cut tomatoes and peeled prawns, bring it to another boil, then added Anlene milk and vermicelli. When the broth is cooked, simply scoop the hot contents into a bowl with tofu and you're ready to tuck in.
Though I didn't use any extra seasoning, the soup tasted sweet and appetizing. Hubby liked the pearl corn cooked more than the raw piece I reserved for him to try, which in my opinion tasted just as nice and juicy. He didn't recognise the papaya at first, thinking it was potato cubes until he took a bite. Whoever said that papaya has to be red in color? I like my soup to be colorful as well as delicious, you know...
Note: There's so much corn silk from the pearl corn, I decided to make a drink from it. I learned that there are health benefits from corn silk drink, some of which are reducing stone formation in kidneys, clear boils, eases PMS, and is a diuretic, etc.
If you'd like to try the recipe, go here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cajun and Peanuts

I noticed that there's always a long queue at the Botak Jones outlet near our house. Authentic American food - Damn good food at a damn good price. That's their famous slogan. I've tried their cajun chicken and I like the spice-flavouring. Hubby likes it too, so I decided I'd do a cajun dish, but with fish meat instead of chicken. I like variety, remember? And I happened to have two slices of threadfin left in the freezer (what a coincidence, hehe...).
Since cajun is western, pasta (with green pesto sauce on top) would go well with it. Add a side salad order and the meal is just perfect!
That was Tuesday night. Tonight, however, I was in a porridge mood, and felt like braising some peanuts to tender softness to go with it. So I fired up my pressure cooker after filling it with washed shandong peanuts, one whole star anise, one piece of 3-inch cinnamon stick, and two big cups of water. When the mixture come to a boil, I added some seasoning (soy sauce, both light and thick, salt and sugar) and let it simmer a little while longer, and there you have it:
Hubby remarked that the peanuts are not soft enough though, but not too bad. Well, I'd admit it: I forgot to soak them in water before I leave home for work this morning. And I forgot to add in some smashed garlic too... Oh, gosh! I guess that's what happen when you anyhow cook. Shhhh....


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