Friday, August 26, 2011

Asian Noodle Salad

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Yes, I am still here.

I cannot tell you how much I miss my blog, and all the blogs of my fellow food bloggers, when I am not able to sit down at the computer for extended periods of time! Things are going to be a little different around here for a while. Work has gotten busier, the house hunt is still on, which I'm sure will be followed by the craziness of moving. I have decided that while I still will blog, it will be less frequent. I am also going to try to visit as many blogs as possible in the midst of all this.

Thanks to all those who left me encouraging comments on my previous post. I really appreciate the comments, and all the positive wishes you all sent me! As I mentioned in that post, I do know that God has a better place in store for us, and I am not too worried about it! Now that I'm over the initial shock and the panic attack, I'm actually starting to look forward to a new environment, and I am excited about kinda setting up home all over again. My little girl will have new places to explore, and I am praying I will have a beautiful, and bigger kitchen. That's not a too much to hope for - if you knew how small my present kitchen is, you would understand. :)
Here is something I made a while ago. I had been wanting to try the popular peanut butter dressings for noodles for a long time. I combined a few recipes and added my own spin on the whole thing. On top of everything, I was feeling very pleased with myself for making the noodles from scratch using a borrowed pasta maker. I made a basic whole wheat egg pasta dough, and it was super silky, and really tasty.

Before I get into the recipe, please note that this is more a guide than a recipe. You might have to make adjustments based on your personal taste.

Asian Noodle Salad
Ingredients
250g whole wheat linguini/spaghetti/noodles, cooked al dente
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp (more or less, depending on taste) hot sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup shredded vegetables (I used mostly carrots & some cabbage)
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup cook broccoli florets
1 red onion, sliced thin
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, plus extra for garnish.

Method
1. In large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the noodles, the shredded vegetables, the sprouts, the broccoli, the onion and the sesame seeds.
2. Mix well, and taste. Adjust seasoning, adding more soy, vinegar, hot sauce or honey as desired.
3. Reserve about 1/3 of this dressing in a small bowl.
4. Into the remaining dressing in the large bowl, stir in the noodles, sliced onion, sprouts, broccoli and shredded vegetables. Stir lightly to coat everything.
5. If desired add the reserved dressing, or just keep it aside to drizzle over the salad on each person's plate.
6. Stir in the sesame seeds, and serve garnished with more toasted sesame seeds, and the reserved dressing.
Personally, I was quite pleased with this dish, and my little girl ate it without a fuss too. My husband complained it tasted too 'vegetable-ly'! I found that a strange thing because he usually loves his vegetables. It turned out he wasn't too fond of the sprouts in there. Of course, because I can see the future, I anticipated this would happen, and made one of his favorite chicken dishes to go on the side.
For the side salad for this salad, I just sliced up some fresh tomato, and drizzled over some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and seasoned it with salt and pepper. It was a delicious and light accompaniment to the noodles. At least I thought so. My husband detests tomatoes, and so he wouldn't even try the salad. He was really grateful for the chicken on his plate. I will share the chicken recipe another time. It is a simple but really popular dish among my family and friends.

Thanks to all those of you who keep visiting even though I've been so bad at visiting your sites these last few weeks. I hope to be back in a couple of months when we've settled into our new place. Until then, I will try to post a new recipe at least once in two weeks! Thanks for being such awesome peeps! :)
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chicken Porridge

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So much has happened this week. Thankfully, we are all back in good health. But things have gotten really crazy. And in the midst of all the craziness, I have not been able to sit down at the computer long enough to post, or even to visit blogs. I have started going through my subscriptions, and I have started visiting blogs, and if I haven't gotten around to yours yet, you can be sure I will soon!

In other news, we got a bit of bad news this week. We need to find a new place to live. Our landlord wants to move in to his own apartment, and so we have just over 2 months to find a new place and move in there. We've been here more than 7 years. We moved in here right after we got married, and this place is full of memories. This is the only home our little girl has ever known, and I am sure she won't have too many memories of this place when she grows up. I don't know where to start with the packing. So I am going to just concentrate on finding a new home first. God is good. And I am sure He is going to give us a better home than what we have right now.

During times like this, I need comfort food.
I made this a couple of weeks ago, and this is perfect comfort food. I wish I had had some of this leftover for this stressful week. My husband and I were addicted to this dish when we lived in Singapore, and we often ate it for breakfast. It is great for dinner too, in my opinion. I have made this a few times after we moved back. I don't know how authentic my version is, and I apologize to anyone I might offend with my recipe! I can assure you it tastes really good. In Singapore, we used to eat it with this yummy fried bread, but I haven't tried making that yet. Anyone have a good recipe for you tiao?

Chicken Porridge
Ingredients
For the stock
1/2 kg (a little more than a pound) bone-in chicken, washed and cut into small pieces
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped leeks
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 1" piece of ginger, peeled and crushed
2 bay leaves
1 2" piece of cinnamon
2 cloves
1 star anise
1 tablespoon pepper corns
2 1/2 litres water
Salt to taste

For the porridge
3/4 cup rice, washed and soaked for 1/2 hour
8-12 cups of chicken stock
Shredded, cooked chicken (from the stock)
2 tsp sesame oil
Salt, and pepper to taste

Garnishes
Caramelized onion
Chopped Spring onion
Chopped cilantro/coriander
Soy Sauce
Chili Vinegar Sauce

Method
1. Combine all the ingredients for the stock and cook for about 45 minutes. Strain and reserve all the stock. Shred the chicken from the bones, and discard the bones. You could leave the chicken shredded or chop it up. Discard all the vegetables and spices.
2. Bring 8 cups of stock to a boil, and add the washed, soaked rice.
3. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour on a medium flame until the rice is cooked and mushy. Add more stock if needed.
4. When the rice is cooked, and the porridge has the right consistency, add the chopped/shredded chicken and the sesame oil.
5. Check the seasoning and add more salt/pepper if needed.
6. For the caramelized onion garnish , deep fry 2-3 finely sliced red onions until golden brown. Stir some of the caramelized onion into the porridge, and reserve the remaining for garnish.
7. For the chili vinegar sauce, combine 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar with 1/4 cup of sugar, and 2-3 chopped, fresh chillies (depending on how 'hot' you want it), and cook together until it is slightly syrupy. Allow to cool before serving.
8. Serve the porridge warm, garnished with chopped cilantro, spring onions, and caramelized onions. On the side, serve small bowls of soy sauce, and chili vinegar sauce.
This can be made with store-bought stock as well. That would make this even quicker, and more convenient. You would just need some rice, and some cooked chicken to throw into the porridge. And the garnishes, of course. This dish just isn't the same without the garnishes. The flavors of the porridge are really subtle and the garnishes add that extra bit of magic to this dish.

It is perfect for when you need a warm bowl of comfort. It is also perfect on rainy days, perfect to eat in bed and perfect for when you're sick and nursing a cold. I love this dish. My husband loves it. I just discovered my little girl loves it too. And so does my dog. We are a happy, chicken porridge-loving family.
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Apple, Rosemary & Olive Oil Cake

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Before I get into this post, I want to thank all those who left comments/emailed asking about my daughter. She has completely recovered, by God's grace, and is back to driving mommy nuts. :) I'm a happy, nutty mommy. I was also sick for a while after that. That's why there hasn't been a recipe in over a week. And I feel bad about not being able to visit all your lovely blogs, but I intend to do some serious catching up in the coming week.

Moving on... I haven't mentioned this before, but I LOVE Masterchef Australia. I love how much I learn from it. I love George, Gary and Matt. I love the contestants. I love the celebrity chefs. I LOVE the ideas and inspiration that the food on the show gives me. Earlier this week, I was watching an episode with a challenge by celebrity chef Maggie Beer. She is an amazing person and chef. And the contestants had to plate up three desserts using her recipes - a nectarine frangipane flan, a bruleed lemon tart, and an apple, rosemary & olive oil cake. It was a great episode to watch, but even after the show was over, and I was in bed, that cake kept coming back to me. Apple, rosemary and olive oil! Sounds divine.

So, the very next day, I made this.

I found the recipe on the Masterchef website, and made only some minor substitutions. The main ingredient I had to substitute was verjuice. After doing quite a bit of research on it, I substituted it with a mixture of apple juice and apple cider vinegar. I have no idea how the cake tastes with real verjuice, but this tasted really good. Another was that I used Granny Smith apples. You can find the original recipe here.

There are four separate components, but it is doesn't take too long to put together. And the results are worth it.

Apple, Rosemary & Olive Oil Cake

Ingredients
Poached Apples
4 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
250ml apple juice
50ml apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Olive oil Cake
3 eggs, separated
125g castor sugar
75g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
60ml poaching liquid

Sabayon
2 egg yolks
1 tsp castor sugar
30 ml poaching liquid 

Glaze
1/4 cup castor sugar
Remaining poaching liquid

Method
1. Grease, and line the bottom of a 9 inch spring-form cake tin with greaseproof paper. 
2. In a deep frying pan, combine the apples, apple juice, vinegar and chopped rosemary. Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until apple is tender.
3. Strain, and reserve the poaching liquid.
4. Into the same frying pan, add the olive oil, and heat. Saute the apples until they are golden brown.
5. Arrange the apples in an even layer on the grease-proof paper in the cake tin, and set aside.
6. Preheat the oven to 180.
7. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Add half the sugar and continue until the sugar has dissolved.
8. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar.
9. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Pour in the olive oil and 60ml of the reserved poaching liquid. Stir to combine.
10. Fold in the egg whites, 1/3rd at a time.
11. Spoon the batter over the apples in the cake tin, and bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the cake is springy to the touch and evenly baked.
12. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
13. Remove the collar of the springform tin,  and invert the cake onto a cooling rack.
14. To make the sabayon, combine the egg yolks, 30 ml of the poaching liquid, and the castor sugar in a heat proof bowl. Place over a saucepan of water. Cook the sabayon over this water bath, whisking continuously as it thickens. If you feel the mixture is getting too hot, remove from the heat, and continue whisking vigorously. Return to the heat, and cook until the sabayon is thick, creamy and frothy. Set aside to cool.
15. To make the glaze, combine the remaining poaching liquid and the sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer until the glaze has reduced by half. If you feel you don't have enough liquid or that the glaze is too thick, just add more apple juice. Spoon over the apples on the cake.
16. Slice the cake, and serve warm with the sabayon.


What I love about this cake:
1. The generous, thick, juicy, perfectly tender chunks of apple.
2. The subtle but incredible flavor of rosemary.
3. The wonderful aroma of extra-virgin olive oil.
4. The beautifully light cake, with a tender crumb.
5. The fact that the only fat in this recipe is 60 ml + 1 tbsp olive oil. No butter. No butter.

This is a recipe I have no doubt I will make again, and again and again. All of us loved this cake. My husband said it was great, but that he would have liked less cake and more apple. I thought it was just perfect. Maggie Beer did not disappoint with this one.
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tag! I'm it!

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This week I was tagged by my fellow blogger who writes Easily Good Eats and the very informative Three Cookies blog. Thanks for the tag!!! :) 

It seemed like a fun tag to do, and so here are my seven links!

1. My most beautiful post: Walnut Muffins with Coffee Glaze
Not only was this super delicious, this was also my first (and only) picture to be accepted by Tastespotting, Foodgawker and Tasteologie. I usually submit only to these three sites, and I think 3 for 3 makes it my most beautiful post. Or at least the post with the most beautiful picture. :)
2. My post popular post: Pomegranate Pound Cake
Just going by the number of comments, I guess this would be my most popular post. And it just goes to show that people really like girly, pink cakes more than they will admit. :)
I guess don't have any posts that can be labelled controversial, but these were the two posts that got quite a few 'whaaaaat?!' comments because of the flavor combinations. Apparently not everyone enjoys meat in their brownies, or coarse pepper in their cookies. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!
4. My most helpful post: Homemade Boursin
Everyone loves copycat recipes. I got quite a few emails from people thanking me for this recipe. I guess everyone loves making a famous recipe at home, at a fraction of the price of the original. I know this is one of my favorite recipes too.
5. A post that was surprisingly successful: Pineapple Choux Fritters
While the sauce in this recipe blew me away, the fritters themselves, I thought, were burnt. We still ate the fritters, because I actually enjoy food that is slightly burnt. But this post almost never happened because of the blackened fritters. Surprisingly, it turns out a lot of people enjoy slightly burned food. I really did not expect so much positive feedback on this post! Thank you all! :)
6. The post that did not get the attention it deserved: Loaded Caramel Ice Cream
I am not kidding when I say that this is my favorite ice-cream flavor. Ever. It is a recipe for a creamy Salted Caramel Ice Cream, and the 'loaded' part is a chewy peanut butter-caramel ribbon and fudgy brownie chunks. I really am glad I got a chance to bring some attention back to this recipe.
7. The post I am most proud of: Filled Doughnuts
This was the hardest category to answer. To be very honest, I am proud of almost all the posts I have out there. But if I had to pick something that I would love to eat all the time, it would have to be these. The doughnut itself has a fabulous texture, and the creamy filling is delicious and made with real vanilla bean. I got a lot of rave reviews from people who tasted these doughnuts. 
This was really a fun tag to do!

Before I go any further, I also want to thank Manu of Manu's Menu for these wonderful awards. If you haven't ever visited Manu's site, then you've wasted enough time already. She is a fantastic cook, and awesome mom & wife, and a really wonderful person. Go visit her now! Thanks for the awards, Manu!

I am going to skip sharing 10 things about myself. I feel like this post is long enough already!

Now, I need to tag a five of my blogger friends for the tag. I also pass on these beautiful awards to them! Here they are, listed in alphabetical order, by blog name.

1. Lynne, of 365 days of baking
4. Briarrose, of Flour Dusted
5. Jennifurla, of Indigo's Sugar Spectrum

TAG! You're it! I hope you will share your seven links, and then tag five of your blogger friends. I can't wait to see the posts you share!

I hope to get out a couple more posts this week, but forgive me if I don't. Apart from a crazy work-load this week, my little girl is also sick. I think I will probably take some time off blogging/commenting, till she is all better. I pray that it will be real soon!
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Coconut Sesame Prawns

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Before I get into my post, I would just like to share that I have been having a lot of trouble with my blog feed updating on Google Reader. Many of my readers have informed me that they have not been receiving updates. If you did not see this post updated in your reader, or if you have never had an update from my site, please subscribe via email (using the subscription form on the top right of this page) to know when a post is published. Alternatively, you could email me at foofoofoodie(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add you to the subscriber list. If you are already an email subscriber, you may receive another email (from Feedburner) asking you to confirm your subscription. Please re-confirm your subscription by clicking on the confirmation link. I am sorry for the inconvenience. I am just trying to get all this sorted out. 

My husband is a really nice person. He is very helpful, doesn't lose his temper easily, and is very patient with me. That's not easy! But this week he did something extra-nice! When the doorbell rang early one morning, I assumed it was going to be some salesperson I was going to have to turn away, but instead it was a flower delivery guy, with the biggest bunch of roses I've ever received - 50 long-stemmed red roses, peppered with delicate baby's breath. I couldn't believe my eyes. What a surprise! And when I asked my husband what the special occasion was, he just replied, "No reason. I just wanted to send you flowers." Wow! Blew me away! Thank you, babe! You're the best! :)
Another one of the highs of this week, was when some friends from church sent me a bagful of beautiful, fresh, HUGE prawns for me to cook with. And they cleaned the prawns for me, too! How sweet! :) Now prawns are not a common thing in our home. I am the only one who really eats prawns, and so in all the years we've been married (almost 8), I think I must have cooked prawns 4-5 times. The legend goes that when he was a child, someone told my husband that the tiny shrimp he was eating were actually over-sized worms, and that's why he doesn't eat prawns. At least that's what his mom told me. He insists however, that he once ate a prawn and found that the person who cooked it hadn't cleaned it well, and he could still see the 'poop-shoot'. He claims this was the reason he went off prawns. Both interesting theories, but the bottom line is - he doesn't know what he's missing! 
I love prawns and don't miss a chance to order a prawn dish when we're at a restaurant, but I rarely splurge on prawns, because I don't feel inspired to cook for myself. I really appreciated this kind, and generous gift of prawns! Made me smile.

With prawns these beautiful and large, I knew I wanted to fry some. These are flavors I love with shrimp and I  hope you enjoy this recipe!

Coconut-Sesame Prawns
Ingredients
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp rice flour
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 large egg
90ml milk
4 oz freshly grated coconut
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 pound, prawns (cleaned, shelled and butterflied)

Method
1. In a small bowl, combine the flours, pepper and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, beat together the egg, milk and sugar.
3. Stir in the flour mixture and beat vigorously till the batter is smooth and silky. Set aside for at least 20 minutes.
4. In a large shallow dish, combine the coconut and sesame and set aside.
5. Pick up one of the prawns. Holding it firmly by the tail, dip first in the batter. Shake off the excess batter, and the dip into the coconut mixture, pressing slightly so that the coconut adheres to the prawns. Set the prawn aside on a clean plate. Repeat one by one, with the remaining prawns. Let the prawns sit for at least 15 minutes before frying.
6. Deep fry the prawns in batches until golden brown. Make sure your oil is hot, and add as many prawns as you can in each batch, without overcrowding the oil. 
7. Serve hot, with wedges of lemon garnished with lots of fresh cilantro, with a dipping sauce of your choice.

I ate these prawns with a simple homemade sauce. I just combined 1/4 cup of mayonnaise with fresh lime juice, a few dashes of hot sauce, some de-seeded chopped fresh chilly and chopped cilantro. Everything was added to taste, and so I don't have a recipe for you. Just wing it. It will taste brilliant. I'm sure of it.
The flavors were brilliant. Think about it - coconut, sesame, lime, cilantro, chilly & prawns - how could that possibly taste bad. I really enjoyed eating this dish, but felt like quite a pig because I had no one to share it with. Don't worry. I didn't eat a whole pound of  prawns by myself. I used only 6 prawns to make a small batch for myself, for lunch. The rest of the prawns (another 8) have been refrigerated for later today. I plan to just pan-fry them with butter and garlic and eat like a little piggy again. 
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pineapple Choux Fritters w/ Ginger Honey Dipping Sauce

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I love choux pastry. I've made my share of eclairs and profiteroles, but none since I started blogging. I should really get down to that soon. The other day, I felt like trying something new, and I came across 'Pineapple Choux Fritters'. It sounded very intriguing to me. And so I made these.
The fritters were just okay. I don't know if my deep-frying oil was too hot, but I had a lot of difficulty frying these little fritters. If I got them the right shade of golden brown, the inside was still gooey and raw. Only these slightly blackened, dark brown fritters were cooked all the way through. I didn't mind the little burnt black bits, because they added a nice flavor. I must mention that the fritters were not awful or bad. Just disappointing. The best part was the bursts of flavor from the tiny bits of pineapple in the dough.
But, this recipe has one winner. While the fritters themselves were just average, the dipping sauce - oh the dipping sauce was so good! I think I will be using this sauce for many other things. I imagine it would taste divine with a savory dish, too. Without doubt, the ginger-honey dipping sauce was the star of this recipe. I surprise myself by saying this, because I am not a huge fan of ginger. But this really, really works!
If 'Pineapple Choux Fritters' sounds as good to you as it does to me, I welcome you to play around with this recipe. And please, please let me know if you manage to make it taste divine.

Pineapple Choux Fritters
Ingredients
540g can of pineapple chunks in juice
4 tbsp butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
Zest of 1 orange

Method
1. Drain the pineapple pieces, and reserve 2/3 cup of the juice.
2. Check the pineapple pieces, and if there are any larger pieces, snip them into two using your kitchen scissors. Set aside
3. In a saucepan, pour in the 2/3 cup of the juice, and add in the butter.
4. Heat gently till the butter is dissolved. Turn up the heat and bring quickly to a boil.
5. As soon as starts to boil, take it off the heat, add all the flour and stir quickly until the mixture becomes a paste that leaves the sides of the saucepan.
6. Stop beating at this stage. Don't beat it too much or it will turn greasy.
7. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes
8. When cool, add in the eggs and orange rind and beat until the mixture is glossy.
9. Add the pineapple pieces and stir until just combined.
10. Heat your frying oil. If you are using an electric deep-fryer, heat your oil to 190/375.
11. Drop the batter using two teaspoons to shape into a rough quenelle shape.
12. Fry each batch for 3-5 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Don't overcrowd the oil.
13. Drain on paper towels and serve with the ginger dipping sauce.

Ginger-Honey Dipping Sauce
Ingredients
1 tsp arrowroot (or cornflour)
3 tbsp honey
4 tbsp pineapple juice
1 tbsp fresh ginger juice, strained
3-4 tbsp of chopped, candied ginger

Method
1. In a small saucepan, mix the arrowroot with the pineapple juice to make a smooth paste.
2. Stir in the ginger juice, honey and candied ginger.
3. Cook over a low heat until the mixture thickens and the ginger pieces have turned slightly translucent.
4. Turn off the heat, transfer to a bowl to cool, and enjoy!
I have made several versions of baked choux pastry, but this was my first time frying them. I don't know if I will go down this path again, unless I find a highly-rated, mind-blowing-ly good recipe. Until then, I will continue making my profiteroles and chocolate eclairs the old fashioned way.
But I will keep making this sauce, and you should try it too. Trust me on this one. It is really a winner!
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