Thursday, 30 December 2010

Home Made Flour Noodles - Pan Mee


Now trust me you would love my version of the famous home made flour noodles. This was a dish that I took sometime to make as the amount of work put into it seriously got me intimidated. But rest assured, I bucked up and decided to make it and the results were fantastic!

The process however took me two days to cook as I prepared the stock the night before and precooked most of the ingredients before commencing on making the noodles. So what went into making this spectacle of a dish?

Ingredients:

Part 1:
Stock:
1 kg dried anchovies (equivalent to 4 packets of dried anchovies from the Asian Grocery Store) - peeled, heads removed.
1 litre water

Part 2:
Condiments 1:
500gms (1 packet) pork / chicken minced meat
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce (sos kicap pekat)
1 tsp soy sauce 
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp cornflour
2 cloves of garlic

Condiments 2:
6 - 8 dried shiitake mushroms - finely sliced
2 medium sized dried morsels - finely sliced
2 tbsp Chinese Wine
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with some water
2 cloves of garlic

Condiment 3:
Dried Anchovies - from stock, dried in oven tossed with salt and oil and grilled in oven for about 30 minutes constantly stirred to avoid sticking to grill pan.
Spring Onions - finely chopped
Chinese Vegetables (Choy Sum, Kai Lan or Watercress Shoots) - washed and set aside.

Noodles:
250gms plain flour
250gms self-raising flour
1tsp salt
250ml water

Method:
  1. Firstly make the stock before hand to avoid longer cooking time. So if you have time to make the stock the night before even better. Simply put water and dried anchovies into a pot and boil. Warning: dried anchovies does give out a fishy smell and may stink the house up but trust me the effort is worth it.
  2. Drain anchovies from stock and store stock in fridge once cooled down. 
  3. Next prepare the anchovies for grilling. On a baking sheet, spread the anchovies and allow it to settle. Crank up the oven to about 200 Degrees C and put in the oven to start the drying process. After 15 minutes, you'll notice the anchovies turning dry. Remove them from the oven and sprinkle salt and oil. Toss them to ensure all the anchovies are fully covered in salt and oil before spreading them again for grilling. Put them back in the oven and let it sit for a further 15 minutes before stirring them to make sure the anchovies are fully grilled on all sides. Repeat the process and make sure to check the anchovies that they do not burn. Remove from the oven and let it sit in a plastic container and cool before covering.
  4. Prepare the condiments separately. First the minced meat. Fry up some garlic and add in the minced meat and fry till almost cooked through. Add some water to ensure everything gets cooked. Add some seasoning, the sauces and cook till the sauce reduces. Remove from heat. Repeat the same with the mushrooms and morsels. Leave aside to cool. 
  5. Next prepare the dough for the noodles. In a big mixing bowl, mix both flours salt and water until it becomes sticky and combined. Roll out onto a floured surface and knead a little to ensure all loose pieces of dough sticks together and cover with cling film. Leave in the refrigerator for an hour. Take it out and knead for a little while. Cut a quarter of the dough and roll it out till it is 1mm thickness. To make noodles strands, you can use a pizza cutter or a knife and cut downwards. If you fancy tearing the dough instead then leave the dough as is.
  6. Take the stock out of the fridge. Pour into a fresh pot and bring to boil. Once boiling, tear in the dough or noodles and constantly stir until it bounces up to the surface. Cook a little longer to ensure the noodles are cooked through. Then add in the washed vegetables and cook for a little bit more before dishing out onto a serving bowl. Add in a portion of morsels and mushrooms and a portion of minced meat before finally adding some grilled anchovies and fresh spring onions.
  7. Serve with a freshly made batch of sambal belacan (shrimp chilli paste) or sliced chillies soaked in soy sauce.

The end result was a fantastic meal, and the portions above can served up to 4 people. I know it fed me 4 days... 

The sambal belacan recipe waiting to be perfected, I leave you with this recipe to perhaps round up an exciting year of cooking (despite it not being as frequent as it should) to many wondrous other escapades from the kitchen of the Innovative Baker.

Here's wishing everyone a Happy New Year,
The Innovative Baker :)


Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Chicken cooked Chinese Wine - simply divine in super cold weather!


In times of extreme cold, a nice hearty soup always does the trick. Living in the UK meant you'd have a variety of English soups. From chicken and parsnip, leek and potato, butternut squash to the traditional winter vegetables and mushroom variety. I however, miss the typical Asian soups that have a clear broth but packed with goodies to munch on. One such dish is Chicken cooked in Chinese Wine. Before my coming here, I've never actually had to venture out to buy Chinese cooking wine, but in my larder, trust me, I have every single sauce you can think of. Anyway getting on... what went into the dish?

Ingredients:
8 chicken legs chopped into bite size pieces with skin left on (equivalent to one packet from the local supermarket)
10 dried shiitake mushrooms - soaked in hot water
3 large pieces of morsels - soaked in hot water
2 large stalks of leek (optional) - chopped finely
10 to 15 whole black / white pepper
1 large bowl of water
1 cup of Chinese cooking wine
1 thumb sized ginger - skinned and julienned
Some cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
  1. Firstly prepare your dried ingredients. Soak the mushrooms and morsels before putting on the pot on the stove. Whilst waiting for both ingredients to soak through before slicing them up, heat up a sizable pot and add in ginger into pan with the cooking oil. Stir fry for a bit before adding in the chicken. As you have kept the chicken skin on, the dish will have enough oil at the end.
  2. After stir frying the chicken for a bit add in the water. Then add in the whole peppers and bring to boil. Now your dried ingredients would be soft enough to be sliced. There is no need to finely slice the mushrooms nor morsels. The bigger sized the better. Toss them all in including the water that was used to soak both the dried ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil, once boiling, reduce to a simmering temperature and add in the Chinese cooking wine. 1 cup is just to add flavour but I normally add in more to give it that extra zing. Continue simmering and add in salt and pepper when needed for extra flavouring.
  4. Turn off the gas and serve piping hot with white rice and blanched Chinese Vegetables.
This dish warmed me up immediately! But in Malaysia, we eat it regardless of temperature. Hahahaha... enjoy it. No Chinese Wine? Then use normal white wine. It has the same effect :)

Next recipe to come devour coming up!
The Innovative Baker

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Bramley Apple Cake - The Most Divine you'd ever have!

Much apologies for the missing posts. I have been pretty caught up with many different projects one of which is write a Malaysian Recipe Cookbook using local ingredients from the UK and see how that grows. It is still in the beginning stages and I must say it is quite an exciting adventure as my culinary skills are put to the test. 

As the Christmas festivities have already kicked off and I am somewhat late in actually posting up yummy Christmas goodies, I'd much prefer to take things into my own stride. 

One of my favourite cakes is the Bromley Apple Cake. I was actually spurred on by a coursemate of mine from Denmark who requested a recipe with apples and I have finally gotten down to penning it.

The original recipe this apple cake is based on comes from Channel 4 but I've put my own tweek into it and the cake still turns out moist!

So what went into it?

Ingredients:
225g butter - partly melted in the microwave oven at medium heat for 50 seconds
3 medium sized Bramley Apples - it is about 450g. Once peeled, cored and diced, it will add up so don't worry
Lime zest from 2 limes and lime juice from one
200g sugar
3 medium sized eggs
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
30g ground almonds (alternatively use fresh almonds and blitz them in the food processor)
some demerara sugar

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 Degree Celcius. Grease a round 20' springform cake tin before lining it with grease proof paper. Set aside.
  2. Next prepare the apples by peeling, coring and dicing them - no need for uniformity. In a bowl, pour the lime juice and grated lime zest from 1 lime and stir well. Leave for juices to mix with the apples.
  3. Next combine semi-melted butter, sugar and remaining lime zest and beat till fluffy. Then add in one egg at a time whilst pouring in the sifted flour and baking powder bit by bit. Beat until batter becomes smooth and even.
  4. Drain the juice from the apple mixture before pouring into batter. Then fold apples into batter until well mixed. Pour into cake tin and even the surface with a spatula. Then scatter some demerara sugar on the surface of the batter before popping it into the oven.
  5. Bake for 1 hour. The surface of the cake will look lumpy but don't worry. It will turn golden brown. Then take it out of the oven and let it rest for a good 10 minutes before turning it out on the cooling rack. Let the cake sit and serve whilst still warm with a dollop of clotted cream or cold with ice cream.
When you read the recipe, notice that there is absolutely no milk nor water involved? But there's juice right? Well, even that is drained. Wouldn't that mean the cake would be dry? Trust me, the cake remains moist at any temperature and friends who have divulged in it have said that it is absolutely divine.

It doesn't take long to prepare so go out there and get those apples!

If you liked the recipe, then click on the paypal button on the right and donate an ingredient! 

Coming up with another recipe soon,
The Innovative Baker.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Baked Rainbow Trout with herbs, spices and sesame oil.


 

I realise how little fish I cook in the UK. One reason being, when I look at fish in the supermarket my face turns all odd. Only until Marks and Spencer started stocking rainbow trout did I really start purchasing fish. Hey, for GBP5 I get 2 packets that contains a whole fillet of fish each, why not? And mind you they keep well in the freezer too.

I will also admit that cooking fish is still relatively new to me as I have only ever attempted steamed fish and grilled fish. So why not I thought to myself attempt to bake the fish. So here's what went into it:

Ingredients:
1 packet of rainbow trout - contains two fillets
1 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
a dash of salt
a dash of soy sauce
2 tbsp of olive oil or enough to coat fish
1 tbsp of sesame oil
30cm sleeve of aluminium foil

Method:
  1. Heat your oven to 200 Degrees.
  2. Next wash your fillets under running water to rid of any sediments. Then on kitchen towels, dab til dry before transfering onto aluminium foil.
  3. Then carefully add all the marinade above before wrapping up fish. Even if it doesn't cover all the way is okay. As long as it does not leak from the sides. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. The fish meat will turn light pink and a little springy. That's when you know it is cooked. Don't overcook it, otherwise the fish will turn icky!!!
  5. Dish out onto dinner plate, pour remaining juices onto fish and over condiments and serve hot.
This dish can be served up with buttered french beans, and mash potatoes, or in this case, I toasted up sweet brioche. But in any case you can always serve it with anything. Don't worry about the chilli flakes. That is always optional. That's just the spice in me! Notice there is no pepper? That's because the chilli flakes are already in it and that would keep the spiciness just right :)

Enjoying the delectable tastes of baked fish,
The Innovative Baker


Monday, 8 November 2010

Malaysian Spices - Kaffir Lime Leaves


When you read a typical South East Asian recipe, especially Thai curries and Nyonya based dishes, the Kaffir Lime Leaf is actually quite essential. The fresh ones have a deep green colour to it and evokes a fresh lime essence when you smell it. Even dried, as is depicted in the picture still gives out the lime aroma and keeps longer when dried. However, when you do obtain them dried, you can freeze them. Be sure to wrap it in a layer of paper first to keep moisture out. A trick that my mother taught me, and it does work is use newsprint. Yes, actually newspaper sheets. So what you do is, place the fresh kaffir lime leaves into a zip log bag. Then wrap it with the newspaper sheet like you would a baby. Then carefully place them in the freezer. 

I usually keep a bunch of kaffir lime leaves, dried in the larder, and frozen as well because of my preference for both. A die hard cook I am anyway because if you are in a hurry, having the dried ones are handy. Whilst frozen ones can be added directly to the dish whilst cooking though I prefer to defrost them first. 


This is how the Kaffir Lime actually looks like and so far, I've only spotted it in Barcelona. The juice does taste slightly different but a normal lime is good enough whenever you're required to use limes in your cooking. However, I must admit that Kaffir Limes do give that added touch to a dish anytime.

So where can you buy Kaffir Lime Leaves? This is available seasonally fresh and more often dried in most major Asian grocery stores in London. I get my stash at:

New Loon Moon Supermarket
9A Gerrard Street
London W1D 5PN

See Woo Chinatown
18 - 20 Lisle Street
London WC2H 7BE

Want to experiment already? Then here's my take on using kaffir lime leaves in a non curry based dish:


Trying to identify the next essential ingredient,
The Innovative Baker

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Stir-Fried Chicken with Lemon grass, Coriander, Lime Leaves and Chinese Wine


 When concocting this particular recipe, I was having a recipe blockage. I stared into my fridge and found left over lemon grass, some lime leaves and freshly bought coriander. I did not want a heavily thick based soy sauce so I dug out my Chinese rice wine and I must say it turned out delicious.

So what went into the dish?

Ingredients:
2 whole chicken thighs - chopped into bite sized pieces then marinaded with 3 tbsps Chinese wine and 1 tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic - julienned
1 thumb sized ginger - skinned and julienned
2 stalks lemon grass - julienned
5 - 6 lime leaves
5 - 6 stalks of coriander - finely chopped
2 medium sized green chillies - julienned
2 medium sized dried chillies
Additional 4 tbsp Chinese wine
2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
1 cup of water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Firstly prepare your chicken and make sure to marinade it for a couple of minutes.
  2. Next heat up your pot and a deep enough pan with some cooking oil and throw in the garlic and ginger. Add a little salt here. Stir fry till fragrant before adding in green chillies and lemon grass. When cooking, the fragrant aroma of lemon grass will surface.
  3. Then add in marinated chicken with the juices in the pot. Turn the chicken to make sure it is coated with the garlic, ginger, lemon grass and green chili mixture. Add the cup of water and additional Chinese wine before letting it come to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer.
  4. Then add in the oyster sauce and dried chillies and stir to mix before letting it simmer again. Add in salt and pepper to taste. Before dishing it, add in coriander and stir. 
  5. Remove from heat and serve with piping hot rice and stir fried vegetables.
This recipe dispels the notion of lemon grass only being used in curries or in sauces. give it a try and tell me how it tastes! For those who don't like coriander, you can easily take it out. Alternatively replace it with flat leaf parsley. 

Next attempt: Thai Fish Cakes....
The Innovative Baker


Sunday, 31 October 2010

SCONES!!!!!!!!


My apologies for going AWOL for 2 weeks. I have been pretty caught up with work and access to my photos of food delight had become a bit a tad difficult... 

Anyway, my beloved god brother came a visiting from Australia and bunked on my couch a few nights. And as tradition, English scones was best made to savour typical English tea time! I made the scones for breakfast but it was totally well suited for the occasion anyway. Seriously easy to make and perfect with a dollop of butter. Of course the traditional way of eating it is accompanied by clotted cream and jam but I like it with melting butter...much like crumpets only better!

So what went into it?

Ingredients:

2 cups self-raising flour
2 tsp sugar
15g butter
250ml (1 Cup) milk

Method:
  1. Heat up the oven to 240 Degrees Celsius. Place a baking tray complete with baking paper in the oven to heat it up.
  2. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl before adding in sugar.
  3. Next rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Seriously...not joking.
  4. Next stir in the milk and use your hands to clump the mixture into a soft sticky dough.
  5. Pour some flour onto a kitchen worktop. Then pour dough onto floured surface. Knead the dough until smooth. Add a little flour as you go along to avoid it sticking to the worktop.
  6. Get any round surface that can cut through the dough and flour it. Next roll out the dough to about 5cm thick. Don't forget to flour the rolling pin so that it doesn't stick to the dough!
  7. Next cut into the dough by pressing downwards but don't twist it. Remove cut out dough and place on hot baking tray. Brush the top with some milk and scatter some sugar if you want before placing in the oven.
  8. Bake for 10 to 15 mins or until surface of scones is golden brown.
  9. Roll them out and serve piping hot! That's the way I like them anyway.
  10. Left over scones can be kept in an air tight container and reheated in the oven when you want to eat some later.
It only took me 10 minutes to make the dough and another 10 to 15 to bake...it was so easy, you'd want to make them every day!

Want to make them savoury? Add some parmesan, ricotta or even grated mozarella into the scones. Don't forget to add a little bit salt (1/2 tsp should do) and you have cheese scones. Can be eaten as is or together with your roast :) Much like the biscuits in South Carolina!

Enjoying a bite of scone,
The Innovative Baker

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Risotto with Cherry Tomatoes, Pea Shoots, Brown Cap Mushrooms and Chicken Breast


Ah yes, Italian rice. More fondly known as Risotto, many people I know tend to not like Risotto because of its starchy nature and somewhat uncooked texture. I am not a huge rice person despite being Asian but the Risotto has proven to remain a recurring dish on my Italian palette. I was taught by a fellow Italian friend who has since returned to Venice, Italy how to cook Risotto. Since then, I have made numerous versions of it for my liking.

This recipe was not much of an experiment but rather having had bips and bops in the fridge. And since I have not had Risotto for a while now, I figured why not. So what's the recipe?

Ingredients:
1 cup of Arborio Rice (can be bought at your local Tesco's, Sainsbury's, Asda, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer)
4 Brown Cup Mushroom - sliced
8 - 10 Cherry tomatoes - sliced in half 
1 packet of pre-washed pea shoots
1 chicken breast - diced and marinated with salt and pepper
750ml vegetable or chicken stock
2 cloves of garlic or half a bulb of yellow onion
A dash of dried herbs - oregano and basil
A dash of olive oil

Method:
  1. Firstly make your stock. If you have no idea what goes into a stock, then the simplest would be vegetable stock. At a local supermarket, there would be a packet of random vegetables tied together. This is what they use for vegetable stock. It would most likely consist of carrots, celery, a bouquet garni, some other root vegetables and so forth. I just use whatever vegetables I have in my fridge to make it. So roughly dice your vegetables including a bulb of yellow onion, place in 1 litre of water and just boil. Add some salt for taste but there is no need for it.
  2. When stock is simmering, prepare a deep frying pan for the rice. There is no need to prewash the rice. 
  3. In the pan, dash in the olive oil and toss in the garlic or onions which ever you prefer. Stir till fragrant. Add a bit of salt and then toss in the chicken breast. Quickly fry them so that it looks cooked on all sides but still pink in the middle.
  4. Now pour in the rice and stir to coat the rice with the oil, onions and chicken. Next add 2 scoops of vegetable stock into the rice pan and stir. Reduce the heat of the rice pan and let it simmer. Next add in your vegetables - the cherry tomatoes, pea shoots and brown cap mushrooms. Continue stirring. 
  5. When you notice that the stock seems to have reduce, add in another scoop of vegetable stock and stir into the rice mixture. Be alert as you don't want to see your rice sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Again when the stock has reduce and the rice seems to have fatten up, add another scoop of vegetable stock. This time add in your dry herbs, salt and pepper to taste and stir. Let it sit for about 2 to 3 minutes or until stock seems to have reduce even further. The rice will looks absolutely fat and stout! That's when you know the rice is fully cooked. 
  7. It'll look a little slimy but that is Risotto for you. Dish it out and serve hot!
I had a blast cooking it. And being me, I always add a dash of chilli flakes into it. But that is always optional. If you can't find pea shoots, then use rocket salad. This recipe can actually feed two people so if you can't finish at the first go, keep the remainder in the fridge, take it out add a little of vegetable stock in a pot and stir your rice until it has heated through. TADA!!!!

Going to explore more Italian dishes,
The Innovative Baker

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Sirloin Steak with Red Wine and Whole Grain Mustard sauce - YUMS!


Steaks are quite the specialty I suppose when you come to Europe. Yet, eating steak in a restaurant can be costly. And I'm sure at one point in time, you yourself wanted to know what goes into the sauce to make it look so good and taste so scrumptious!!! I had one of those cravings for steak but lacking the money. Knowing I hard a huge load of ingredients to make the perfect sauce (in my books that is), so I figured, lets cook steak!

So what is required?

Ingredients:

1 packet pre-sliced sirloin steaks from your local supermarket (contained 4, use 2 depending on size)
1 dollop / 1 1/2 tsp of whole grain mustard
1 slug / 2 tbsps of red wine (any kind)
1 tbsp of pancetta / diced bacon
4 to 5 mushrooms
2 garlic cloves - finely diced
whole red pepper
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method:
  1. prepare your steaks with the freshly ground black pepper and salt. Set aside.
  2. Next heat up your griddle and add 2 tbsp of normal olive oil. When pan is hot enough, place steaks in. Cook each side around 2 to 3 minutes to allow for a pink middle but no blood running through.
  3. Remove steaks from griddle and set aside. With left over juices from the steaks, add the pancetta and garlic and fry them up. The oil from the pancetta will add fragrance and taste to the sauce.
  4. Quickly add in the mustard and red wine. Stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. When boiling, add in the whole red peppers (slightly crush them if you prefer them so), mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Once sauce has reduced, remove from fire and pour over steaks. Serve with a side salad and some bread if you like.
You can also serve it with mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables or any side dish that you prefer. The sauce can taste a tad sour due to the red wine. So to counter the sourness, add a bid of honey and it'll sweeten the sauce to the right taste.

I had a fantastic lunch that's for sure. And having only spent a good 30 minutes including preparation in the kitchen, this is one dish that is sure to vet your appetite.

Having fun in the kitchen,
The Innovative Baker

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Ingredients Series: Cornstarch / Cornflour


Okay, so what is the deal with Cornflour / cornstarch? I know many people who have basic knowledge on thickening sauces and one of those things that we Asians love using to thicken anything is using cornstarch or cornflour as it is better known in the UK. 

Cornstarch is actually a very versatile ingredient. It can be used in baking and in cooking. How you say? Like wheatflour, once you mix it with water it thickens up. Pour it into your sauce and stir a little to mix it up. Slowly the sauce will thicken up. In baking, it is used in cookies just to give it that extra oomph!

In the UK, it is easily obtainable in supermarkets as well as Asian grocery stores. The brand normally appearing in Asian grocery stores tends to look like pre-packed clear plastic bags with Chinese wordings on with that ubiquitous single English sentence in bold writing 'CORN STARCH' and at the same time stocking Maizena:


My family used this when I was back in KL. Here I just obtain housebrand versions of cornstarch like the one from Sainsbury's. Now you don't even need to search for thickening agents. Just use cornstarch!

Go discover a whole new world of cooking with cornstarch,
The Innovative Baker

Stir-Fried Scallops in Chilli, Red Peppers and Onions



Seafood in the UK is quite pricey, so actually finding good quality seafood is a catch. I tend never to buy it in supermarkets as I can never see how good the quality is. But, Marks & Spencer here in the UK somehow lives up to its expectations. I was able to find scallops for a bargain. Not too bad considering how difficult it is to find good seafood here in London supermarkets.

I like my seafood simple and this recipe is just that.

Ingredients:
1 packet of fresh scallops (20 pcs or about 800grams)
Scallop marinade:
A dash of sesame oil
a tsp of freshly ground black pepper
a tsp of chilli flakes

A dash of soy sauce

1 whole red pepper - deseeded and julienned
1 whole yellow onion - sliced into rings
Salt and pepper to taste
additional sesame oil

Method:
  1. Firstly marinade your scallops and set aside.
  2. Next heat up your pan with some vegetable oil and a little bit of salt. Then add in the yellow onions and stir fry til fragrant and fully sweated.
  3. Add in the scallops and quickly fry not letting the scallops stick to the pan. Allow to fry for about 2 minutes.
  4. Next add in the red pepper and stir fry til slightly soft. Add a dash of pepper and salt to taste before finally adding in some sesame oil.
  5. Dish out quickly and serve piping hot with white rice and a vegetable accompaniment.
This dish literally took less than 30 minutes. If you don't like scallops, replace it with fish cut into bite sized pieces or prawns. Not a seafood fan? Then chicken can also be used.

Looking for crabs now,
The Innovative Baker




Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Ingredients Series: Malaysian Spices - Assam Gelugor


When reading recipes, sometimes you wonder what some of the speciality ingredients look like especially in the context of Asian cooking. If you are a fan of Malaysian cooking, you might have come across this particular ingredient / spice : Assam Gelugor. This particular ingredient is mainly used in Nyonya and Malay dishes. Originating from the plant called Garcinia atrovirdis (pic below is actual fruit before drying)



The fruit is then finely sliced before drying them in the sun. The effect would be as per the first picture. Used in various dishes, especially in sour based dishes like the Assam Laksa, this particular ingredient isn't exactly easily obtainable from any shop. In fact, it took me a while to find it until I discovered that it was sold in the Oriental Supermarket up at Bayswater, London. 


Where is Oriental Supermarket?
26 Queensway
London W2 3RX

So just in case you're wondering what in the world is Assam Gelugor, here's the big big picture for you!!!

Discovering more ingredients everyday,
The Innovative Baker


Turmeric Glutinous Rice @ Nasi Kunyit ala Lyn


In the effort of wanting to try something new, I set myself the task of making Nasi Kunyit. Now, I wasn't told in the beginning how long it would take to make this. Little did I know that it would take the better half of the day to produce the perfect sticky consistency that the dish is known for to be eaten with the perfect curry. So for those sticky rice / glutinous rice peeps who wants to know...here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

To soak together:
600 grams glutinous rice - washed and drained
enough water to soak glutinous rice in
2 - 3 pieces of assam gelugor 
4 cm turmeric root - skinned and crushed

For steaming:
30 whole white peppercorns (or a handful really)
300 ml coconut cream 
1/4 tsp salt
10 stalks of screwpine leaves / pandan leaves

Method:
  1. Firstly, after having washed and drained the glutinous rice, place it in a deep enough bowl or pot. Place the assam gelugor amongst the rice before filling it up with water. 
  2. The turmeric root should be skinned and crushed in a pastel and mortar to get the yellow colouring. Place this crushed turmeric root into a stainless steel sieve (plastic ones with absorb the yellow colouring) and place it in the glutinous rice for the rice to absorb the colour. You can take up to 20 minutes and constantly stir the sieve round the glutinous rice mixture to ensure evenness in the colouring. It acts like a staining agent.
  3. Soak the rice overnight (the best effect is at least 8 hours, if not 5 hours would do).
  4. Prepare your steamer. You have several methods to do this: Option 1 - 1 large pot, an upside plate that can go into the base of the pot and fill it up with water. Option 2 - 1 large pot, a steaming stand and water. Option 3 - a bamboo steamer on top of a wok with water or Option 4 - an actual electric steamer. For Options 1 to 3, ensure the water is thoroughly boiling before placing the glutinous rice in for steaming. Option 4 will automatically boil the water when activated.
  5. Drain the water from the rice and remove assam gelugor. Mix in the white peppercorns and spread in a large enough casserole dish or pan that has been layered with the screwpine leaves  for rice to be steamed. The first stage of steaming is 20 minutes.
  6. Whilst waiting for rice to be steamed, mix the coconut cream and salt together. Once the first stage is done, remove it from the steamer. In a mixing bowl, combine the steamed glutinous rice and coconut cream and mix thoroughly. Place it back into the casserole dish / pan for further 20 minutes of steaming. Top up the water should it have evaporated.
  7. Remove from steamer and let it cool. Serve with chicken curry, beef rendang or anything spicy really.
Just in case you're wondering how to layer the bottom of the casserole dish with the screwpine leaves, do what I did - weave them. It holds the leaves together and ensures that the fragrance of the leaves gets absorbed into the rice as well. At best, do this in advance if you have the time.

For my first attempt, this was indeed a fantastic yummy rice dish. It finished and I had to make white rice because there wasn't enough to go round. 

Anyone up for giving away first month baby gifts (traditionally Nyonya / Malaysian Chinese tradition), this would be the rice to be given away.

Now dreaming how to make Nasi Beryani,
The Innovative Baker





Thursday, 2 September 2010

Flash-Fried Chilli Prawns and Mushrooms served with a Garden and Peach Salad


From instant noodles, we now go to salads once again. Inspired by my visit to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Aunty Kathie told me that that part of the US was known for the huge harvest of peaches. Of course I didn't make this totally and immediately in the US but had the sudden bout of inspiration when I spotted peaches here. Despite the very unpredictable weather of the UK, salads are a great lunch getaways I think. So what did I put in it?

Ingredients:
1 whole peach - washed, pitted and cubed (you can also peel the skin if you wish, I left it on)
10 whole fresh prawns - marinated in soy sauce, chilli flakes and sesame oil
5 whole button mushrooms (white or chestnut) - sliced and put aside (1 portobello mushroom can also be used but cube the mushroom as it is extremely large)
1 whole green pepper - julienned
A bunch of baby lettuce
5 - 8 cherry tomatoes - depending on size, slice in half
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Vinaigrette
Juice of 1 lime
A dash of freshly ground black pepper
A dash of sea salt

Method:
  1. Prepare your prawns by marinating them in soy sauce, chilli flakes and some sesame oil. Leave for about 10 minutes, while you prepare all the other ingredients.
  2. Heat up a small skillet and add the olive oil. Immediately put in the prawns and flash fry it. Put in the sliced mushrooms and cook through. Remove from heat.
  3. In a salad bowl, add in all salad ingredients. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime and add a dash of pepper and salt. Then finally add in the prawns and mushrooms including the oil that was used for frying up the prawns. This would replace the olive oil that would normally be used in the vinaigrette.
  4. Toss the salad and serve up!
If you don't have mushrooms, you can replace it with leeks or other kinds of vegetables. If not, just the prawns is also fine. For an added kick, slice up some spring onions and toss it in as well.

The salad was total yums!!!

Enjoying the last days of summer,
The Innovative Baker


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Instant Noodles with a Kick!


Alright, I'm not supposed to encourage the use of instant noodles, but hey, it is very much a part of Asian Cuisine and is not specifically just Malaysian. Enter an Asian Grocery Store and you'll find yourself engulfed in the sea of Instant Noodle Packets from Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The most notable of them are Indomie and probably the Malaysian Maggi Mee Version. South Korea also has splendid flavours for Instant Noodles and so does Japan... Ok Ok...enough of that and on to the Recipe.

Now, sometimes you wonder whether just plain instant noodles is enough? Well, I tend to pack in more than I can chew in my instant noodle ventures. Here's one:

Ingredients:
1 Packet of Instant Noodles (flavouring to your liking) - I used Tom Yam Flavoured Instant Noodles from Maggi 
3 Slices Unsmoked Back Bacon
1 Red Chilli - Deseeded and Julienned lengthwise (approx. 5cm)
1 sprout of Pak Choy - washed and individual steam torn from main stem
1 Egg
1 bowl of water

Method:
  1. Firstly prepare a small frying pan for your bacon. There is no need to add any fat on to the pan as the bacon already has enough fat to fry it up! Slowly fry your bacon. Remove from heat but leave the bacon in the pan.
  2. In a medium sized pot, boil up some water. When water is boiling, add in the instant noodles. This is to remove the initial layer that keeps the noodles nice and crunchy. Once noodles soften and are springy, drain noodles and keep aside. Run through cold water to make sure noodles stop cooking.
  3. In the same pot, boil up more water. This time add in the instant flavour sachet. Bring it to a boil. Then add in the noodles again, the pak choy and the Chilli. Finally add in the egg and stir vigorously to break the egg up so you'd have an eggy soup. If not, just leave the egg be and let the soup poach the egg on its own.
  4. Serve up once egg looks 3/4 cooked in a large soup bowl. Lay on the bacon and there you have it.
Seriously good for a midnight snack.

Warning: as instant noodles do contain MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), do not in whatsoever fashion indulge in it should you have an allergy to it. You can make your own soup and purchase ready made noodles without the flavouring. For an alternative soup base that is quick, use ready made chicken stock, add in a touch of soy sauce, pepper and perhaps a sprinkle of sesame oil and the effect is the same.

Happy snacking people!

A snack away,
The Innovative Baker


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Warm Cold Salad with Grapes and Grilled Chicken

 

In the spirit of Summer, a ton of new salad concoctions invariably appear everywhere. Despite being very Malaysian, I like my salad concoctions. After having had 3 weeks of ultimate feasting and weight gains, I have gone back to my simple (not!!!) dishes coupled with the extreme exercise regime to lose the pounds gained. I had a couple of left overs from the big cook outs we had at home, so what better way then to fix up a warm cold salad right?

What were the ingredients?

Sliced Savoy Cabbage
Sliced Green Asparagus
1 piece of grilled chicken with its juices (grilled with rosemary, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper)
Stir fried prawns (alternatively can be grilled as well)
a bunch of grapes (red or green doesn't matter - specific number of grapes - 20)
2 - 3 pieces of sundried tomatoes - sliced
8 - 10 green or black olives - whole or sliced
Fresh coriander - finely chopped
A dash of soy sauce / or a dash of salt
Finely ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lime

Method:
  1. Using the juices of the grilled chicken, stir fry the green asparagus and savoy cabbage. Once cooked, pour into salad bowl, heat up grilled chicken and prawns on the same pan. 
  2. While waiting for the chicken and prawns to be heated up, prepare other ingredients that require slicing (sundried tomatoes, coriander). Toss them into the salad bowl. Add all other ingredients in.
  3. Remove chicken and prawns from the heat. Add the prawns without slicing and slice chicken into bite size pieces before adding to salad bowl. 
  4. Toss the salad, taste to see if it is salty enough and voila!
I made enough to feed an army. But kept some for lunch the next day. Still tastes yummy!!!! Some of you might find it odd to add a dash of soy sauce instead of salt. Well, in today's society where we are trying to reduce salt intake, soy sauce is a great alternative. Don't get conned though when you see fish sauce. Fish sauce is preferable with seafood and despite the dish having prawns in it, fish sauce still is predominantly better with Thai or Vietnamese related sauces. There are now different variations of soy sauces, so be sure to use the light and not the dark!

So, having a warm cold salad in the heat of this heatwave actually made my dining experience fantastic! Finishing it off with a glass of white wine (I'm not a wine drinker), or a glass of non-alcoholic bubbly, this would definitely perk your day :)



Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Summer Orange Salad - Perfect for London's crazy weather :)


A request was made to come up with a summer salad that included oranges. I'm normally not that big a fan on salads seeing that us Asians are known to cook a lot of our vegetables. But this was a refreshing salad, with a tinge of warm feeling in it, perfect for any time of the day :)

Ingredients:
1 whole naval orange (sliced into bite size pieces)
8 cherry tomatoes (halved)
5 sprigs of fresh coriander leaves (finely chopped)
1 tbsp five spice powder
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 whole lime (for juice and rind)
A bunch of salad leaves (doesn't matter what you have)
3 slices sun dried tomatoes
8 - 10 pitted olives (both green and black)
A knob of butter (approx. 10gms)
A handful of toasted pine nuts (or sliced almonds)
2 slices of ham (any kind) - roughly chopped
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste

Method:
  1. In a heated pan, add in butter, when butter starts melting, add in sliced oranges.
  2. Let it cook on high before adding in five spice powder and sugar. Continue stirring until oranges are cooked through. Let oranges cool on the side.
  3. Assemble your salad with all the ingredients. Be sure to slice your sun dried tomatoes and olives into bite size pieces. 
  4. For the dressing, combine olive oil, pepper, salt and juice of one lime with some lime rind. Stir vigorously or place in a tupperware with a lid and shake shake shake!
  5. Finally pour in cooked oranges and toss!
  6. Voila, you have a fantastic salad for summer!
  7. The ham is optional and can be replaced with precooked prawns or chicken slices.
I had a fantastic time devouring this gem of a meal, light and well balanced and giving you that tinge of sourness and sweetness altogether with peppery bits at the end!

Looking to indulge in more salads soon,
The Innovative Baker




Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Stir-Fried Chicken Strips with Vegetables in Wholemeal Wrap


This feels like I am cheating on my thesis, but for the sake of food, it outranks a thesis anytime!

Okay, getting along. On a bid to stay healthy, I turned to a healthier carbo option: the wrap! Not just any wrap, it's a wholemeal wrap. Mind you, wholemeal isn't bland. In fact, with the right ingredients, you could have a great tasting dish using wholemeal.

So this dish is called Stir-Fried Chicken Strips with Vegetables in Wholemeal Wrap. Continuing the simple sandwiches series, this dish is a version of a sandwich only using a different kind of bread to sandwich the filling. And for those who want to watch their diet, this is possibly a good alternative to the usual white bread that you are used to. 

So what are the ingredients:

1 wholemeal wrap
1 portion of chicken breast
10 to 15 French beans
1 medium sized carrot
1/2 medium sized yellow onions
2 red chillies
1 red bell pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Marinade for chicken breast:
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp cornstarch / cornflour
1 tsp soy sauce
a dash of finely ground black pepper

Method:
  1. Firstly, slice your chicken breast into strips. Then in a bowl, mix the chicken breast with the marinade and leave for the marinade to sip into the meat.
  2. Whilst waiting for the chicken to absorb the marinade, prepare your vegetables. Julienne all the vegetables into long strips measuring about 5 cm.
  3. Prepare a frying pan over high heat and add in the onions and oil first. Stir until onions turn translucent and emits fragrance before adding salt and chicken. Reduce to medium heat before continuing to stir fry. When chicken is 3/4 cooked (this means you can see only lines of pink along the strips), add in the carrots and beans first as this take longer to cook. When it is just about turning colour, add in the bell peppers and continue stir frying. Lastly add some pepper for additional taste.
  4. On a separate pan, heat it up with no oil. Next place the wrap just to give it a quick heat up before lining it on your cutting board. You can opt to spread some butter here but since the filling already contains oil, then there is no need. However, if you are like me who likes a huge spicy boost, I spread chilli sauce.
  5. Next lay filling nearer to one edge of the wrap. Be careful when wrapping the filling as it needs to be tight in order for the filling to encased by the wrap and not for it to fall out. Like spring roll pastry, wrap it up by first lifting the edge to cover the filling and then tuck it underneath the filling. Next, bring it in ensuring that is no space for the filling to move. Then fold in the sides using your remaining fingers before continuing to roll it up. You can choose to hold the wrap with a toothpick or leave it as it is.
  6. Now you have a perfectly good home made wrap!
For those who much prefer raw vegetables in your wrap rather than cooked ones, then no problem. Replace the vegetables with iceberg lettuce or rommaine lettuce. Be sure to slice the vegetables thinly. Alternatively, you can use the iceberg lettuce leaf as a liner as well for the wrap. How? After placing the wrap on the cutting board, add a lettuce leaf or two if it is not big enough on the wrap before spooning in your filling. If you want some sauce, then mayonnaise is great combo. After that spoon in the chicken and wrap it up! 

A great meal for those who want a more fulfilling one yet not too big and at the same time you can do so much with the filling to make it even more delicious. Other kinds of filling can be deep fried chicken strips, salmon fillet, prawns and even pork or beef. Take it from me, this is certainly easy and there is no need to run out to the store to get ingredients. Just use what you have in the fridge! No wrap, use up your baguette. 

Exploring more about the sandwich phenomenon,
The Innovative Baker


Monday, 26 April 2010

Chicken and Ham Sandwich with homemade Chilli Mayonnaise



I am a fan of making my own mayonnaise and chilli is like a staple in my diet. So what better than to combine both into a sauce.

How did I make the sauce?

Ingredients:

3 whole red chillies - deseeded and sliced in large pieces
4 egg yolks (save the egg whites for a quick stir fry)
1 whole lime
whole black pepper (crushed with pastel and mortar) or in pepper mill
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of salt
50ml olive oil

Method:
  1. Place deseeded chillies into blender. Add in egg yolks, crushed black pepper and pinch of sugar and salt. Add in some lime rind and the juice of one lime.
  2. Start the blender and as it blends and combines the ingredients, dribble the olive oil in. You will get a light pink texture with bits of black pepper and chillies. If the mayonaisse doesn't look like it's thickening, add more olive oil but only until you see it thicken. That means the mixture takes on a denser form and looks spreadable rather than dribbling.
  3. Pour into a glass jar and put in the fridge.
For the Sandwich, all you need is:

1 chicken breast - defrosted
2 thin slices of ham - to your liking
cucumber slices
bread rolls
butter
pepper and salt to taste

Method:
  1. Boil a pot of water. When almost to the point of boiling, add in your chicken breast and reduce heat. Simmer until chicken breast is fully cooked. Poke through the breast to check whether it is cooked thoroughly. This would take about 10 minutes.
  2. Let the chicken breast cool down. Next whip out your mayonnaise from the fridge, put some in a bowl. Cut your chicken into thinner slices or use your finger and tear the breast into long strips. Add the chicken into the mayonnaise. Add enough for 2 sandwiches. Stir to ensure chicken pieces are covered.
  3. Slice your cucumber into rings. Say about 10 pieces should be enough.
  4. Spread butter onto bread rolls, line cucumber pieces and place ham slices along each side of roll. Spoon in the chicken, add some pepper and salt and sandwich it. 
There you have it! A perfect sandwich for the healthier you. If you do not like boiled chicken, you can opt to grill it instead. How much did this cost? Nothing...because everything was from my fridge :) No chillies, no worries, add a dollop of mustard into the mayonnaise and you will have a tangy mustard. You can replace the lime with lemons as well.

Have a happy sandwich!

The Innovative Baker



Saturday, 10 April 2010

Simple Chilli and Garlic sauce


I get tired of store bought sauces after a while, so using my past experiences of watching my mom cook, she came up with an ingenious way of innovating the Hainanese Chicken Rice Chilli and Garlic Sauce. No blender needed, only a knife!

Ingredients:

2 whole red chillies - diced and deseeded
2 cloves garlic - diced
1 whole lime - for the juice
1 tsp finely granulated sugar
a dash of salt

Method:
  1. After dicing both the red chillies and garlic, place them in a bowl, juice the lime into the bowl withholding the pips, add the sugar and a dash of salt.
  2. Let it sit while you prepare your chicken rice. Serve along with it. 
It is as simple as ABC. Seriously! It tastes great as a condiment with your cold noodle salad too. More like a dressing to be exact. Replace the salt with fish sauce instead, and you have Vietnamese version of this sauce. 

Seriously yummy and easy,
The Innovative Baker



Thursday, 8 April 2010

Dry Egg Noodles with Button Mushrooms, Chicken Breast and Vegetables

 

Tired of having fried noodles? Then this is actually a healthier version for you. Living in non-Asian countries means most noodles come in dried format. Very much like the instant noodles and pasta you find in major supermarkets. However in Asia, noodles are made fresh, delivered fresh and used fresh. But of course, I'm writing from a world away from Asia and that fresh noodles are difficult to get especially rice noodles and egg noodles. But not to fret, the cooking process is as easy as 123 and you'll have fun preparing this.

Ingredients:

For condiments:
150gms chicken breast - sliced and marinated with oyster sauce, black pepper, sesame oil
5 - 6 button mushrooms - sliced

1 portion mustard leaves or rommaine lettuce (as per the pic above) - washed and cleaned off of any sediments
1 bunch of dried egg noodles
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 small baby onion or shallot - sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing for Tossing of noodles:
1 tbsp thick soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 puff or dash of white pepper
1 round of sesame oil

Method:
  1. Prepare your condiments first. Marinade your chicken with the ingredients and leave aside. You can replace oyster sauce with soy sauce and add in chilli flakes if you wish.
  2. First boil a pot of water, half filled. Add some vegetable oil and salt to ensure noodles remain crisp. When water is boiling, add in your noodles. Reduce the heat. Your noodles will soon loosen up. Keep it simmering for another 2 minutes or soft to the touch. How? Take a loose strand and pierce through with a fork, chopstick or your fingers. Remove from heat, drain and cool with cold water. Leave aside.
  3. On a separate pan, heat up the vegetable oil. Add in the baby onion and stir till fragrant. Add in chicken and cook for a few minutes making sure the meat turns white in the centre before adding in mushrooms. Add some water to let chicken and mushroom simmer and soak up the juices. Add in salt and pepper to taste. Once cooked leave aside.
  4. Remove noodles from original pot to boil another pot of water. When water is boiling, add in the vegetables to blanch them. It will turn a deep green when cooked. Remove from water.
  5. Now, prepare the dressing for the noodle tossing. On a flat bowl or plate, pour the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, white pepper and sesame oil on the base. Place cooked noodles on top of it. Use the salad tosser or a pair of chopsticks and run the noodles with the dressing. Add in light soy sauce should it not be salty enough. Leave noodles on plate. 
  6. Place the chicken mushroom stir fry over the noodles and line it with your cooked vegetables. 
  7. Serve while its still warm!
There you go, a simply recipe for you. The noodles can be anything really. The condiments can also be replaced with sliced pork, beef or tofu if you are a vegetarian. If you cannot have eggs, then use rice noodles like vermicelli or flat rice noodles (kueh teow). You want it spicy? Then, add in a dash of chilli oil when tossing the noodles and sliced red chillies when cooking the chicken and mushrooms.

A serving of chinese noodles always take the cake!
The innovative Baker



Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Yummy Grainy Mustard Mashed Potatoes



Yummy Mashed Potatoes are actually really straight forward. Though many still do find it difficult to make it. But what essentially makes the Mash that yummy? It's all that extra love you give to it :) I personally like my Mashed Potatoes with some potato lumps in them but it is to ones taste. Again, there is no need to go out and buy any ingredients really. Just what you have in the kitchen.

Ingredients:

2 - 3 large potatoes (look for those that indicate fluffy and easy to mash - it is normally stated on the packaging or ask your local grocer)
some black peppercorns (to be crushed with a pastel and mortar) or freshly grated black pepper.
50 ml double cream or full cream milk 
1 tbsp grainy mustard of any kind (omit if you do not like mustard)
100 gm butter (cut into cubes for easy mashing into potatoes)
some salt to taste

Method:
  1. First prepare a pot with water. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile clean your potatoes and cut into smaller chunks. Coarsely chopping it is fine. You can opt to keep the skin on or have it removed. I like it either way. When water is starting to boil, add in your potatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce fire to medium heat.
  2. To know whether your potatoes are cooked through, take a fork or a thong and grab the potatoes. When it is easily inserted through and breaks when it is trying to be lifted, it is ready to be removed. Get a sieve and pour contents to remove all access water. Or, alternatively, use the lid of the pot to act as a strainer. Be careful however when pouring the water as it is hot!
  3. With boiled potatoes in the same pot, begin mashing them with either a masher or a large fork. In the midst of mashing, add in your butter, pepper, cream or milk and mustard. If mustard is not your thing, you can add a bit of horse radish. If not, omit it all together. Only add in salt when it is not salty enough as the butter is already salted. Continue mashing until you get a creamy consistency. VoilĂ  you have your own home made Mashed Potato. Plus there is no extra ingredient to be bought. 
An alternative to your potato would be the sweet potato. This tastes super yummy as well and it is of course a much healthier version. However, as sweet potatoes are sweet, mustard may not go down as well as compared to the potato itself. So just be sure what your preference is. 

If you want a herby mash then try adding a fresh portion of finely chopped basil or rosemary. This accentuates the mashy flavours for sure :)

Mash can be made in 30 minutes so it isn't exactly that long in the kitchen. 


More easy recipes coming up!
The Innovative Baker


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