Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Blanched Green Beans with Sambal Sauce


After a weekend of grilled meats, wraps and all things western, I figured my dinner should change to my Asian roots and give a hot splash to what may have been a hot Monday evening. Then again, in Malaysia, it is always hot. Anyway, cooking by instinct and what I have is what allows me to make sambal sauce time and again. I think most Asian kitchens especially when you're from South East Asia will have a bottle of pre-roasted belacan granules, a container full of dried chillies, freezer bound chillies (to make the stash last longer) and the list goes on... So here's my take on the sambal sauce:

(What dried prawns look like)

Ingredients:

2 Eshalion shallots (they're longish) / 4 to 5 bombay shallots (small red ones) - skinned and chopped roughly
3 medium sized cloves of garlic -skin removed
10cm sized ginger - skinned and chopped roughly
2 - 3 red chillies - chopped roughly. Remove seeds if you wish
1/2 cup dried prawns soaked in hot water
4 - 5 dried chillies soaked in hot water
1 tbsp tamarind paste soaked in hot water
2 tbsp pre-roasted belacan granules
3 - 4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 - 3 tsp brown sugar

1 packet green beans or any vegetable you prefer

Method:
  1. In a food processor or a mini chopper, add in the shallots, garlic, ginger, red chillies, dried prawns,   belacan granules and dried chillies with a bit of water from the dried prawns and blend into a paste.
  2. Next heat up a semi shallow pan or a pot with the vegetable oil. When oil is hot enough, add in the paste and fry til chilli oil is released. 
  3. Continue stirring to avoid it from burning, lower heat to simmer the sauce before adding the brown sugar and tamarind juice extracted from soaking the tamarind paste in hot water. Salt is rarely needed as the belacan and dried prawns are already salty enough.
  4. Simmer until more chilli oil is released and remove from the fire. This does not take more than 30 minutes.
  5. In a separate pot with water, bring to a boil before adding in green beans. Cook for only 2 minutes or until beans turn a rich green. Drain and place on a plate. Spoon the sambal sauce on to the vegetables and serve with piping hot rice and any other dishes!
Leftover sambal sauce? Keep it in an airtight container or a sterilised glass bottle (30 second in the oven is good enough) and place in the fridge. You can use the same sambal sauce for sambal prawns, fish, chicken or anything you fancy!

Reduce dried chilli content if you don't want it too spicy. This time round, the red chillies gave my sambal the extra heat!!! But all the more better to sweat it out!

Next to conquer, a vanilla cupcake stacked up!

The Innovative Baker


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Sunny Side Ups with Chorizo Bits



Not exactly the most apt recipe for the National Vegetarian Week but I know the meat lovers would appreciate this as a good breakfast alternative maybe?

Anyhoo... I was watching Saturday Kitchen Live where Sat Bains was fixing a seriously big brunch of eggs, chorizo sausages and such! So I figured, what a great way to fix up my chorizo since I only ever eat them sliced and on its own. Plus, you don't even need oil to cook the eggs and the chorizo itself renders enough oil and fat when fried for the eggs to get cooked!

Ingredients:
1 medium sized chorizo sausage or half a chorizo sausage if bought fresh
2 medium sized eggs
pepper and chilli flakes
2 slices of oat bread

Method:
  1. Firstly prepare the sausages by dicing them into smaller pieces but big enough to pierce through with a fork.
  2. Heat up a frying pan and toss in the diced chorizo. Let it render and you will see the oil and fat sipping out. Ladle the chorizo to one side of the pan.
  3. Add in the eggs and let the oil cook it. The eggs will incorporate the chorizo flavours. Add a dash of pepper and chilli flakes. As the chorizo is salty as well, there is no need for salt. Cook until whites are cooked and yolk is slightly runny.
  4. Ladle out the eggs and chorizo on to a plate, serve with 2 slices of toasted oat bread to soak up the leftover bits of juices, sauce, oil and egg yolk left over.
God...this was a dreamy breakfast and my breakfast menu keeps growing!

Next to watch out, inspired by the many food markets now, flowerpot bread.

The Innovative Baker

Monday, 21 May 2012

Its......National Vegetarian Week!!!!

(Image taken from deliciousmagazine.co.uk)

National Vegetarian Week is here!!! Well...a self-confessed meat eater, I like my meats but I shall challenge myself to come up with some ass-kicking vege recipes for you peeps out there who prefer veg over meat! But... just so that you have a glimpse of my past vegetarian dishes, here's a list for your to indulge in!


While the recipes are definitely 100% Vegetarian, my other recipes which you can find here are very easy to substitute the meat portion with vegetables, tofu, halloumi cheese and so forth!

So don't be afraid to become a vegetarian for a week!

The Innovative Baker

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Roasted Potato and Butternut Squash Soup


In the ever weird London weather, soup always serves a purpose...to warm you up. So not too long ago, when London (in April) was getting seriously cold, I figured why not chop up the butternut squash and leftover potatoes to make soup. I do make butternut squash soup from time to time but figured a heartier soup would be good to keep the energy up, the body warm and still remain healthy at the same.

So what went into it?

Ingredients:
1 medium sized butternut squash
3 to 4 medium sized potatoes (fit for roasting)
4 to 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
10 bay leaves
a good toss of dried thyme, basil and oregano
1 yellow onion - finely diced
500ml Vegetable broth / stock 
olive oil
salt
pepper

To accompany:
Freshly baked scones
a dollop of double cream / creme fraiche / greek yoghurt / single cream
Freshly ground black pepper
a drizzle of good olive oil

Method:
  1. Firstly heat up your oven to 190 Degrees Celcius
  2. Then prep your butternut squash by quatering it, leaving the skin on. Line them on a baking tray. The same goes with the potatoes with the skin on.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on the squash and potatoes, toss the dried herbs evenly including the bay leaves. For the fresh rosemary, remove the stems and then toss the rosemary onto the potatoes and squash. Last but not least, salt and pepper. Place into oven and let it roast for about an hour or when pricked with a fork it pierces easily. It would best when the edges of the potatoes and squash are brown from the roasting. That adds flavour to the soup.
  4. Remove roasted vegetables and let it cool. Mean time, heat up a pot with the onions and olive oil. 
  5. Make sure the onions have softened before adding in the vegetable stock. You have various options of making vegetable stock, either using stock cubes or from scratch. Let it come to a boil and then let it simmer.
  6. Meanwhile, using a spoon, spoon out the roasted squash from its skin (much like how you'd remove avocado flesh from its shell) onto a plate. Do not remove the herbs as that would also to the flavour of the soup. The only herb removed is the bayleaves. Cut the potatoes into smaller pieces leaving the skin on. Transfer the squash flesh and cut potatoes into the pot and let it simmer and soak up the vegetable broth. 
  7. Add in a little more salt and pepper if there isn't enough seasoning from the roasting. When the roasted vegetables and soup begins to incorporate after about 20mins, blitz it either with a hand blender or a blender. Be sure to cover the blender to avoid spritzing and when using a hand blender, careful not to blend too high as then bits of soup would fly!
  8. Ensuring that the pot of soup is literally creamed up (no bits of potatoes or squash are in sight but fully amalgamated with the stock), let it simmer for a little longer ( 5 to 10 mins max). Switch off and let it cool for a little.
  9. Then spoon out on to bowls, drizzle the olive oil, the cream and grind freshly ground black pepper onto the soup and serve a scone on the side. Bread is also a good alternative.
I made this when mom was around and she was licking the bowl at the end of it... 

To make it have a curry flavour at the end of it, when cooking the onions, toss a tbsp of curry powder in. Any kind will do. It would add another dimension to it. Prefer curry paste? Also possible. Spoon the same amount in and stir to let the aromas release into the air.

Now come on...this is one good vegetarian soup I must say...

The Innovative Baker

Monday, 14 May 2012

Kitchen Utensils: The Apple Corer

(Image taken from Jamie Oliver)

Do you own an apple corer? I didn't until recently. Why? It only cores apples right? Not necessarily. I was watching a cooking program not too long ago (though this is fast becoming an obsession on my part) and when they were trying to create a hole in cupcakes, they used an apple corer! Now blimey...here I am wondering what do I do aside from using a knife to pierce the centre of the cupcake. 

As you know apple corers have a serrated edge to allow easier coring of an apple. That allows it to also easily borough through the cupcake. Once done, the excess cake can be removed and then using your piping bag filled with whatever filling / cream etc that you have opted to fill the cupcake, can then cover the whole section of the hole. Cool right? This would definitely add another dimension to your already conventional cupcake. 

Want to do more for your cake? Especially tray bakes, using an apple corer would definitely help in infusing your cream with the cake as the ganache or cream cheese frosting or whatever innovative concoctions have been made can seep better into the cake thus adding more than just a layer above but also within the cake.

Apple corers also don't necessarily have to be limited to apples. Chinese pears or nashi pears:

(Image taken from Aziatische-ingredienten.nl)

which have the consistency and size of an apple can also use the corer. And like a cake, you can spoon in caramelised walnuts and raisins into the centre of the pear or apple before baking it. Now that sounds yummy...

Hoping to at least provide more useful kitchen tips,
The Innovative Baker


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Salmon and Broccoli Quiche


My mother was coming for a 6 week long visit from Malaysia. She's always been a quiche fan and moreover loves it when there's salmon tucked somewhere. You see...Salmon in Malaysia is freakishly expensive. Well, we do get a load of local fish but salmon is to Brits like what Talapia is to us. Anyway, After watching Masterchef and Jay having cooked up a beautiful version of this quiche, I figured I'd make it my own as well...

Ingredients:

For the pastry:
2/3 cups milk
125gms salted butter
2 cups self-raising flour
Baking beans

For the filling:
About 400gms salmon fillet
2 tbsp olive oil
1 head of broccoli - cut into florets
1 cup grated parmesan  / cheddar cheese
3 stalks of fresh dill - finely chopped
1 bunch of chives - finely chopped
124ml double cream
4 eggs
salt and pepper

Method:
  1. Firstly prepare the pastry. In a pot, melt the butter with the milk on low heat. Sift the flour in a mixing bowl while butter melts. When butter is fully melted then pour the butter and milk mixture into the flour. Then with a dough hook (with a cake mixer) or your fingers (if doing by hand), incorporate the ingredients together until it forms a dough. Then clingwrap it and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes or longer.
  2. In the meantime, prepare your salmon fillet. Season it with salt and pepper and dribble with some olive oil. Then on a heated pan, grill the salmon fillet slowly so that it cooks through. Should be about 4 minutes on each side. 
  3. Then in a separate pot, boil water and reduce to simmering to cook the broccoli. Drain and let it cool.
  4. Flake the salmon fillet and let it cool after it is cooked.
  5. Heat up the oven to 180 Degree Celcius.
  6. Now, remove pastry from the fridge and roll it out to about 5mm. Then carefully using the rolling pin, take the front end of the pastry and place it on top of the rolling pin, and slowly encase the rolling pin with the pastry. Then place it on a pie tin and unroll the pastry. Tuck in the pastry to ensure to air is under the pastry. Cut off excess pastry (leave some jutting out) and then prick the base of the pastry with a fork to allow air to escape during the baking process. Lay either aluminium foil or baking parchment on top of the pastry and pour the baking beans in. This is so that when the pastry is being baked blind, it does not puff up. Bake the pastry blind for about 15 minutes.
  7. Then in a jug or mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, double cream, chives and salt and pepper. Set aside.
  8. Remove the pastry from the oven after 15 minutes, remove the baking beans together with the parchment / foil and return to oven for another 5 minutes.
  9. Then take out the pastry, and start the assembly bit. Firstly lay the broccoli in a a circle with the flower bit sticking out and stems facing in. Then scatter the salmon fillet all around followed by the scattering of chopped dill. After which the grated parmesan / cheddar cheese is scattered before pouring in the cream mixture.
  10. Return to the oven for another 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and remove from oven and let it rest.
  11. Serve warm with some salad.
Click here for Jay's original recipe

What else can you ask for right?
The Innovative Baker

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