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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Little Nonya

@ Offsite

“I’ve never tried cooking Ayam Buah Keluak before and I would like to know how” was the statement discussed over dinner one night.  “It takes a lot of work but if you really want to know how to cook it I’ll be more than happy to teach you” was my reply!  So a date was set and to my surprise my “little sister” (Anne-Marie) surprised us all with a wonderful night of delicious Peranakan cooking!  Testament to that there was nothing left in the pot of Ayam Buah Keluak!

Part of the experience of cooking though is the the whole mise en place “ceremony” – the sourcing and preparing of ingredients.  With shopping bags in hand the Chili Padi, Anne Marie and myself headed down to Tekka Market to get some Buah Keluak nuts, candle nuts, dried shrimp and scallops!

IMG_1442Buah Keluak Nuts @ Tekka Market

With supplies in hand the long process of washing then soaking then soaking and soaking the nuts began.  From what I was told it wasn’t much of a fun affair, one of the reasons why this dish is quite troublesome to make.

The hardest and some say the most dangerous part is cracking open the beetle nut shell and extracting the “meat”; the only way that I knew how to do it was with the back of a cleaver, once the meat is extracted it’s mixed with a blend of dried scallops, prawns and mince pork; this was all done and ready for cooking by the time we swung by for the actual cooking!

With the sambal made it was a pretty easy affair of simply throwing all the ingredients into a pot and letting it simmer.  The end result: A delicious fragrant pot of Ayam Buah Keluak!

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We all dove in for well multiple servings, it tasted great!

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Before we knew it the entire pot was gone.. yes there were some very hearty eaters who loved the dish! 

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Thanks Anne Marie for whipping up such a delightful dish on your first attempt.  Hope you had fun learning!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ba-Ba-Boom

@ Sin Ming / Cook House / Bakery / Whatever

So do you remember my previous post where I partook in a cooking class corporate bonding excursion: The Chef in You? Well I decided that I would try one of the recipes that I learnt; Baba Ghanoush or grilled eggplant paste with some Marinated Roasted Lamb and Pita Bread.

Marinated Roasted Lamb

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup dry red wine 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • 3/4 cup extra olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon crushed dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly cracked
  • 2 racks of lamb, (1 1/2 pounds each)

Directions

  1. Combine the lemon juice, red wine, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and brandy in a microwave-safe mixing bowl. Whisk in the olive oil a little at a time. Add the rosemary, garlic, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.
  2. Trim the fat from between the ribs and trim the excess covering of fat from the meat.
  3. Place the lamb in a container or large plastic roasting bag, pour the marinade over the lamb, and refrigerate overnight. Remove the lamb from the marinade (reserve marinade) and let lamb sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before roasting.
  4. In a small saucepan bring the reserved marinade to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. In a heavy saute pan over high heat, sear the lamb for 1 to 2 minutes on both sides.
  6. Place the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and then place in the oven, reduce the temperature to 400°F, and roast for 20 minutes or until done. Remove the lamb from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing.
  7. Serve with the cooked marinade, as desired.

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Baba Ghanoush

Ingredients

  • 3 Whole Eggplants
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of yoghurt
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Char the eggplants over an open flame until soft
  2. Peel and set aside
  3. Blend in food processor: Tahini, garlic, lemon juice, yoghurt
  4. Add eggplants and process until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper
  5. Place in a bowl, pour a generous amount of olive oil, sprinkle with paprika and pomegranate seeds then serve.

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Bon Appétit – Sidney

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sunday Roast!

@ Sin Ming / Cook House / Bakery / Whatever

Lamb and Yorkshire pudding would have to be one of my all time favorite dishes to cook.  A huge chuck of lamb infused with herbs roasting away in the oven just creates the most amazing aroma (not to mention it drives Sarah wild!).

I got my first recipe for making roasted lamb from a cookbook that my sister Anna gave me when I first set to live in Singapore some 11 years ago.  I think she knew way before I did that cooking would be such an integral part of my life.

Here’s the recipe for the roast lamb; it’s been chopped and changed somewhat to my own likes and tastes, experiment on your own with what herbs works well with your palette.

Roasted Leg of Lamb

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp of fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp of dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leg of lamb

Directions

  1. Blend ingredients in a blender, just a few pulses until well mixed.
  2. Place lamb and marinade into a plastic bag. Squeeze out as much of the air as possible from the bag and seal. Wrap again with another plastic bag to ensure that the marinating lamb doesn't leak.
  3. Marinate for several hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator.
  4. Remove the lamb, still in its marinade bag, from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before putting in the oven to help bring the lamb closer to room temperature before roasting.
  5. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  6. Remove the lamb roast from its marinade bag at dry the marinade off the lamb with paper towels. Generously salt and pepper all sides of the roast. Arrange fattiest side up, so while the lamb is cooking the fat will melt into the meat.
  7. Roast at 200°C for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 130°c and roast an additional hour. If you are cooking a roast bone-in, the bone will act as an insulator and will require a longer cooking time than a boneless roast.
  8. Remove drippings from lamb (bottom of tray) and reduce with corn flour to make gravy.

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Yorkshire Pudding

Ingredients

  • 4 large, fresh eggs, measured in a jug
  • Equal quantity of milk to eggs
  • Equal quantity of all purpose/plain flour to eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp lard / beef dripping / olive oil

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to the highest temperature possible, however, do not exceed 450F/230C or the fat may burn.
  2. Pour the eggs and milk into a large mixing bowl and add the pinch of salt. Whisk thoroughly with an electric hand beater or hand whisk. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Gradually sieve the same volume of flour (as the eggs) into the milk and egg mixture, again using an electric hand beater or hand-whisk to create a lump free batter resembling thick cream, if there are any lumps pass the batter through a fine sieve.
  4. Leave the batter to rest in the kitchen for a minimum of 30 minutes, longer if possible - up to several hours.
  5. Place a pea-sized piece of lard, dripping or ½ teaspoon vegetable oil into your chosen Yorkshire pudding tin, or a 4 x 2"/5cm hole tin or 12-hole muffin tin and heat in the oven until the fat is smoking.
  6. Give the batter another good whisk adding 2 tablespoons of cold water and fill a third of each section of the tin with batter and return quickly to the oven.
  7. Leave to cook until golden brown approximately 20 minutes. Repeat the last step again until all the batter is used up.

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I serve my lamb and Yorkshire pudding with some green salad and oven roasted vegetables.  Nothing too fancy I just like the mix of colors (and flavors) on the plate.

Bon Appétit – Sidney

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vegetarian Chicken

Sin Ming Cook House / Bakery / Whatever

Here’s a quick and dirty recipe for making yourself a semi-healthy salad for lunch.  I came up with this recipe on the fly as I had left overs in the fridge.

Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • De-skinned chicken breast
  • Corn flour
  • 1 Egg
  • Salt
  • Mixed lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Honey roasted cashews or Sunflower seeds
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Apple cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Butterfly the chicken breast to no more than 1.5cm thick (for faster cooking)
  2. Wrap chicken between a sheet of cling film and tenderize with blunt edge of a knife
  3. Pat dry the chicken and lightly salt and pepper
  4. Lightly coat the chicken in corn flour
  5. Drip coasted chicken in beaten egg mixture then coat again in flour
  6. Shallow fry for 5 minutes each side, remove and drain on absorbent paper then cut into strips
  7. Arrange chicken strips on bed of vegetables
  8. Sprinkle liberally sunflower seeds/roasted cashews
  9. In a separate container mix olive oil, pepper and apple cider vinegar together (to taste)
  10. Drizzle over chicken salad

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Bon Appétit – Sidney

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