Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Pho Bo - the quick way!

I recently blogged about instant sauces not too long ago and decided to use one of it to try out a Vietnamese beef noodle dish called Pho. I first fell in love with the dish when having it for the first time in Kuala Lumpur at Sao Nam. Yes, yes, yes... I know the original tastes way better in Vietnam, but I have yet to fly there and actually try it. In any case, my cooking senses was up to my ears and thought, if I can't get the original, I might as well give it a go trying to cook it. As what I normally do with my ingredients, I dig out what is available in my fridge. So here's my version of Pho Bo.

The ingredients:

1 Sachet                   Instant Pho Sauce Mix (here I used Asian Food Gourmet)
1 Packet                  dried egg noodles (the original uses flat rice noodles or thin rice noodles)
500 gms                   minced beef - marinated with pepper, chilli oil, light soy sauce and some sesame oil
                                (original normally uses sliced beef)
1 bunch                    romainne lettuce - washed (the original uses bean sprouts, veitnamese basil and mint)
2 stalks                    spring onions - finely chopped
3 bulbs                    shallots - diced
2 large bowls           water
                                pepper to taste


  1. Heat up soup pot, add in vegetable oil. Then add in the shallots and stir fry till fragrant. Next, add in water and instant Pho Sauce Mix. Bring to boil.
  2. When water is coming to a boil, spoon in small spoonfuls of minced beef. Alternatively you can roll them into balls and then add them in slowly in to the soup. Bring to a boil. When water is boiled, lower the temperature to a simmering consistency to allow beef to cook thoroughly and the marinade to mix with soup base.
  3. In a separate pot, bring to boil a bowl of water, some oil and salt. Add in the egg noodles when water is boiling and allow to cook for about 3 minutes or when noodles becomes soft and easy to manage. Drain water and add in cold water to stop the cooking process. Spoon into bowls accordingly.
  4. After noodles are cooked and separated into bowls, check your soup. This is when you can use your soup to cook the vegetables or rather blanch it. It is way easier than having to boil up another pot of water and blanch it separately. Place the vegetables into the soup. Once you see it turn a darker green, take it of and place it on the noodles. 
  5. Dish out the soup with enough meatballs or minced beef into the bowls, garnish with spring onions and serve.
Whilst the ingredients may not reflect that of the original Pho, it does provide you the taste. I enjoyed it tremendously and had the opportunity to have this version for 3 meals. Notice I did not add salt at all in the soup base. This is because your instant soup mix already has salt in it and the meat has been marinated with light soy sauce as well. The more salt you add, the saltier it gets. So, omit the salt where necessary. Just be aware of what you add in.

If you want the dish to look as authentic as it should be, then use these ingredients:

500 gms               thinly sliced beef
A bunch of           bean sprouts
2 sprigs                Vietnamese basil leaves
2 sprigs                Mint leaves
3                          bird's eye chillies - thinly sliced
A sliver                lime (lemon does not do justice here)

Savoured her craving for Vietnamese Pho Bo,
The Innovative Baker

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and many many happy returns of the DAY!!!!!!!!

I would like to personally thank everyone who has followed the donnowhat2cook blog till today and for many more years to come. I must say that it has been a fruitful 3 months despite me not having to blog that many times this month. But as a treat for most of you who know of my Chocolate Fudge Cake, here is the recipe. Due credit is given to Channel 4 Food for helping me find the perfect Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe.

The ingredients are (please take note that I have adjusted the recipe from the original to make it smoother):

110gms                   spreadable butter
250ml                      whole milk (truly, it tastes best when you use whole milk and not semi skimmed)
1 tbsp                      red wine vinegar
100 - 120 gms         plain / dark chocolate - melted
15 gms                    cocoa powder (here I used drinking chocolate) - sifted
300 gms                  self-raising flour - sifted
1 tsp                        bicarbonate of soda / baking powder - sifted
225 gms                  golden caster sugar
2                             medium eggs

Chocolate Ganache Recipe: Chocolate Ganache


  1. Heat up the oven to 180 Degree Celcius / fan 160 / gas 4. Grease a 20cm round cake tin or line with baking paper. Alternative you may use cupcake trays and line with cupcake cups.
  2. Stir vinegar into milk, leave aside. Next beat butter and sugar till creamy (this means the butter looks pale almost like gold as the sugar dissolves into the butter. Add in eggs one by one and continue beating. This process is quickened with an electronic mixer but I prefer to do it by hand.
  3. Next add in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder that has been sifted earlier in portions and not at one go. Slowly mix whilst adding the milk mixture alongside the flour.
  4. Finally add in the melted chocolate. Don't use milk chocolate as the colour will not come out as dark as you would like it to be plus the additional milk in the milk chocolate only tends to fade the colour more.
  5. Once combined, spoon out on to desired baking tin and bake for about 50 minutes for the cake and about 25 minutes for the cupcakes. As cupcakes are in smaller portions the baking time does not need to be that much. Stick a toothpick into the centre of the cake to check whether some cake batter is still sticking or comes out clean. The latter means it is nice and fluffy and bouncy whilst the former means you'll have a gooey centre which is not a problem either. But if you are planning to make a layered cake, then a cleaner toothpick is much prefered.
  6. Decorate with chocolate ganache by using an icing pipe or simply using a spoon. 
The beauty of this cake is that it is extremely flexible. Why? You can do it in many different shapes. So that it suits your taste.

So here is my Christmas gift to everyone. I hope you have a fun time trying it as I have had the joy of baking it many times :)

Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and Many Many Many Happy Returns of the Day.

In yuletide joy,
The Innovative Baker

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Donnowhat2cook for a party 2

Prawns in home made Mayo in Mini Pita

Following up on the party favours, we always try to find the easiest recipe to prepare for parties. Whilst in London, my flatmates and I decided to have a picnic at the park that ended up in our living room because of the misty weather we had one fine summer morning. Then again, it was good we had it indoors as we could make use of our crockery rather than take away packaging. Finger foods were probably the best bet so I made the Prawns in Home Made Mayo in Mini Pita. What went in?


1 packet or 500 grams                 medium sized prawns (pre-cooked)
1 packet or a dozen of                 mini pita bread

Home Made Mayo:
A dollop of                                  whole grain mustard (up to your liking rather)
Two                                            egg yolks
1 tsp                                            salt
1 tsp                                            pepper
2 sprigs of                                    fresh basil
a dash of                                      dried oregano
half a bottle of                              olive oil
(Mayonnaise is not for the light hearted)


  1. First prepare the mayo. Add all ingredients into a mixer except the olive oil. Start blitzing all the ingredients whilst dribbling in the olive oil. When mayo thickens, stop adding in olive oil. Continue mixing for another minute and then set aside.

  2. Wash prawns and pre boil. Drain, and remove shells. Even better when you find pre-cooked prawns and it was save you time.

  3. Combine prawns and mayo together and refrigerate.

  4. Toast mini pita bread in oven or toaster. When guests start arriving, fill mini pita with prawn filling. Serve accordingly.

This recipe is as simple as can be. And tastes great too! Plus, you can also make your own mayo. Fantastic right? If you do not like mustard, then you can take it out. You can add chilli flakes to make it asian tasting. The dish disappeared in one seating, so be sure to make more. The prawns can be alternated with chicken breasts.

Having fun preparing for a party,
The Innovative Baker

Friday, 11 December 2009

Donnowhat2cook for a party?

It has been a while since I have posted something up eh? Workload has been quite busy so hence the missing blogposts. Anyway, whilst sending my thank you messages to my fans on facebook, thank you again!!! Audrey mentioned she does not know what to cook for a pot lucky party for 30 people. I was recently asked to cook for a party here in Duesseldorf that would have been 20 if all came. The menu was predominantly Asian of course although the guests were actually German. The easiest of the dishes was the tossed chinese noodles in heated sesame oil and stir fried vegetables.

Tossed chinese noodles in heated sesame oil stir fried vegetables.

This dish proved to be a hit as it was easy to eat, different and quick to prepare. So what do you need?


1 large packet                chinese noodles (egg noodles like the ones you get for wanton noodles)
5 medium sized              carrots - julienned (cut into long thin strips preferably 5cm long but no need to be
1 medium sized              zucchini - julienned like the carrots
1 large packet                french beans - ends cut off and cut into half.
4 cloves                         garlic - finely chopped
2 to 3 tbsp                     sesame oil
1 tbsp                            vegetable oil
                                     salt and pepper to taste
                                     water to cook noodles


  1. First prepare the noodles. In a pot, boil water with some oil and salt. When water is brought to boil, end in the noodles. You will see the noodles start to soften, normally after 3 to 4 minutes, the noodles would have turned soft. Remove from heat, drain of water and run through cold water to stop the cooking process. Add in some oil to ensure the noodles do not end up sticking to each other. Put aside.
  2. Heat up wok, add in vegetable oil and garlic. Then the salt and stir fry till garlic is fragrant, then add it the vegetables that takes the longest to cook first. That would be the carrots first. After two minutes, add in the french beans, wait another two minutes and then add in the zucchini last. Continue stir frying. Add in pepper and more salt to taste. Transfer to serving bowl.
  3. In the same wok, heat up the sesame oil. Once oil is heated up, pour in a portion of the noodles. There is no need to put in the whole portion as the noodles once tossed will coat the rest of the noodles. Transfer tossed noodles into the serving bowl together with the vegetables and toss like you would a salad. Add in remaining noodles into serving bowl and continue tossing until all ingredients are well mixed. Serve like a salad or immediately.
If you want it to be slightly spicy, then add in some julienned red chillies (seeds removed) when stir frying the vegetables. Or alternatively, add in sambal belacan when stir frying the garlic to bring out the spiciness and then add in the vegetables.

Another alternative tossed noodle version would spaghetti with rocket leaves and pine nuts. Of which you also carry out the same method substituting the sesame oil with olive oil. Another beautiful dish!

Fit for a party,
The Innovative Baker

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Cookie Recipes to be TESTED!

Hello hello fellow foodies,

as a test run, I am trying to gather some fellow bakers in my side of town, London to group bake. I was at a group bake session in Cologne last, this week would be in Düsseldorf and when I get back I would be hoping to do group baking in London as well. So if you have cravings for cookies and would like to have your favourite cookie baked but have no idea how and what ingredients to use, just send me the names of your favourite cookies, and we shall embark on a journey to find the best cookie dough recipe ever!!!

This Sunday's menu is:

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies
Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Vanilla Lemon Cookies

There will also be some German cookie recipes that would be tested this Sunday so hopefully we would get to bake all of it!!!! Pictures will be taken. Click on the side show that I have on my blog to check out the cookies we baked last Saturday in Cologne. Otherwise, look out for further cookie pictures after the Sunday Bake Off. Or check out Cookie Bake Off for the pictures in Flickr!

Cookie Crowd Sourcing,
the Innovative Baker

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