Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Black Pepper Beef - A Malaysian Favourite



Black Pepper Beef is a favourite dish that you find in Chinese restaurants in Malaysia. A lot of the Chinese food over here is different from what you would typically find elsewhere, primarily because it has been influence by the local spices as well as the different cultures found in Malaysia. Many restaurants serve a variant of Black Pepper Beef using Venison or even Ostrich Meat.

This dish is a perennial favourite whenever we eat out at Chinese Restuarants - especially with the kids. The only problem with eating out at these restuarants is, more often than not, a lot of MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate - a taste enhancer) is added. Although the food is delicious, it kind of leaves a dry feeling in your mouth and well, anything that acts as a food enhancer cant be very good for you can it!


I didn't buy a whole lot of beef as I actually had something else in mind to make which I just didnt have the time to do. So in order to make sure that the beef was used fresh, I decided on Black Pepper Beef. This is what I did.

250g beef sirloin or other lean cut
1 inch ginger
1 clove garlic
1 tsp dark soy sauce
Loads of black pepper

Method
Slice the beef into thin strips.Chop the garlic and slice the ginger into thin strips. Sautee the ginger and garlic and then add in lots and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Add the beef and cook well before adding the dark soy sauce and a little bit of water. Allow to simmer till meat is nice and tender. Garnish with chopped red chillies.

I must say it turned out very well inded! I served it on a bed of lettuce, much like how they do it in the restaurants. Everyone loved it, especially the kids, so I guess this will become yet another favourite at home!



Sunday, 27 April 2008

Cheesecake Pops - Daring Bakers



This months challenge is rather special for me for two reasons. Firstly, the hosts for this month are Elle and Deborah. So what's so special about that? Well, when I joined the DB's back in July 2007, Elle was one of the first DBers to visit my blog and welcome me aboard. Not only that, but we soon became foodie buddies! I only wish I had more time to get to know more of you.



Secondly, When I first saw the challenge for this month, my thoughts immediately went back to about 9 years ago. I had gone to Cincinnati, on work, for about a week. One night, we were all hosted to dinner at this supposedly famous restaurant on the outskirts of Cinci(I cant recall the name). The restaurant was famous not only for its buffet spread but for the video games that abounded all over. What has this got to do with the DB challenge? Well, you see, there was this dessert on the dessert table that looked like a chocolate covered ice cream on a stick. It was triangular in shape, had this dark chocolate covering and of course an ice-cream stick (what the Americans would call a popsicle stick) coming out of it. I of course took one and as I bit into it, I realised it was not ice-cream but a delicious, creamy cheesecake! I swear it was so good that I went back and had another one… or maybe it was another two (I’m not ashamed to admit and show my greedy side to you all!). I cant quite remember how many of those choc covered cheesecakes on sticks I ate. All I do remember is that this was one of the best desserts I had ever tasted.

I also remember telling The Lovely Wife when I returned how awesome the dessert was. She doesn’t remember me telling her any such thing though…

So, now at least I know that this delicious dessert is called Cheesecake Pops. So you see, memories are always special and something that triggers a wonderful memory is even more special!

I was very excited to see this recipe and promptly decided to jump into making it. 4th of April was the date I started on this challenge which makes this the EARLIEST I have ever attempted a DB challenge.

Anyway, this is how it went. On the 4th evening, I started this challenge. I've had experience with Cheesecakes and a Water Bath before so that didn't frazzle me. The Cheese batter came together very nicely and although the recipe called for a 10" pan it didn't specify the shape. I used a 9" Square pan and still had quite a bit of batter left over so I baked another small dome.

I baked the cheesecake for about 45 minutes and it came out just slightly golden on the top. I regret not taking pictures but I was kind of tired and Friday nights is when the kids are allowed to stay up late and play - and they want to play with Daddy too!

The kids enjoyed the smells wafting out from the kitchen and I must admit, I had a hard time not trying to sample the cheesecake while it was cooling. After it cooled, I chucked it into the fridge to let it firm up overnight. Then it was time to go to bed.

The next morning, I took the cheesecake out. It had been in the fridge for just over 8 hours and seemed like it was nice and firm. Experience has taught me that a cheesecake needs to be cut with a knife dipped in warm water but we all ignore what we have learnt don't we! Somehow, I expected that the cheesecake would be really firm and hard - dont ask me why, but that's what I expected from the way the recipe was worded. I should have known that it wouldnt be so hard and firm coz the pops that I had eaten in Cinci were delightfully creamy inside.

So anyway, that's my reason (and excuse) for my rather 'ugly' shaped pops. I tried rolling one or two with my hands and although I did get lovely balls, I figured that I'd just cut them into rectangles and triangular shapes. I know, I know, the recipe stated 2oz sized balls but I figured eating a larger shape was what I really wanted!

In preparation for this challenge, I had looked all over for Ice Cream sticks, as you can't find lollipop sticks here (unless you want to eat a whole bunch of lollies). I finally found Ice Cream Sticks in an art and craft store. I also bought a set of plastic cocktail sticks and used both the cocktail sticks as well as the ice cream sticks. Into the freezer the pops went and I left them there for about 3.5 hours.

I used good quality Dark Chocolate mixed with a little shortening - just like the recipe said. The taste was still fantastic and the 'snap' was there - just like tempered chocolate but without having to temper it. Good thing too since the last time I tried to temper chocolate, I got into quite a temper. Me that is, and not the chocolate. But I suppose you've heard this kind of joke too often...



I didnt have much space in my fridge so what I did was to clear the freezer and put the trays in there for a little while for everything to harden. Then I packed the pops into tupperwares and I could now store them in the fridge!

Oh, and I had these great ideas of coating the pops in nuts, in sprinkles, of piping milk chocolate over the dark chocolate, dusting them with snow powder, so many wonderful ideas. But I didn't get round to doing it coz as soon as I had covered them in chocolate, I realised that I would need to have the sprinkles and nuts ready - and I didnt have those ready did I?



My way of rationalising my 'failure to decorate' is simply that chocolate with sprinkles or anything else would be akin to 'contaminating' the chocolate. Pretty good excuse dont you think?!!! :)

The Cheese Pops were absolutely, fantabulously, stupendously tasty! As good as I remember having them in Cinci - actually better! The cheesecake was lovely and creamy and almost melt in the mouth.

My official tasters loved it. My daughter especially since she loves cheesecake. The Lovely Wife thought they were wonderfully decadent although perhaps a tad too rich. She also thought that my sizing was a little on the large size.





I took a whole bunch of the pops to work and they were a hit. Everyone thoroughly enojoyed them. More than enjoyed them actually! Chocolate Covered Cheesecake on ice cream sticks is not quite the norm over here so to say that they were a hit would be a real understatement!!

I'd like to know though exactly how firm the cheesecake is supposed to be. Should it have cut cleanly with a sharp knife or should I have used a knife dipped in warm water like a normal cheesecake? Or is it possible that the cheesecake should have been cooked longer than what the recipe stated?

I'd like to see how everyone else fared with this recipe and if you are interested, check out the rest of the Daring Bakers at the official Blogroll!

Thanks again to Elle and Deborah for this great challenge. One thing I do realise is that I need to stop being so lazy and try and decorate a bit...!




This is the recipe.



Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor.
Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream

Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)


Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 160 degrees C. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.




Thursday, 24 April 2008

Currypuffs


Ahhh! Currypuffs! You can't get much better for a tea time snack, for a late morning snack or even as snacks to enjoy during office meetings! Yeap, currypuffs are the quintessential snack in Malaysia. Great eaten at any time of the day and perfect no matter what the filling. Some of you will know these delightful pastry puffs as Empanadas. Currypuffs are also usually staple fair at any birthday party!




Currypuffs come in various forms, shapes and sizes. More often than not they are filled with a spicy, savoury filling involving curried potatoes and some meat. Sometimes they are filled with sardines as well. The pastry also comes in various forms and is either baked or fried.
The Lovely Wife whipped up a batch of currypuffs for my daughter's birthday way back in February. The filling was basically a variation of my Kheema but using chicken instead of beef.



She also made some vegetarian - by leaving out the chicken of course - to cater for my daughters Vegen Godmother.

This is a guideline to how it is done. As with most dough recipes, there is a lot of leeway when it comes to specifying quantities!

1 cup flour
1 tbps butter or margarine
water

Mix the flour with the butter and knead. Slowly add in water till a dough like consistency is formed. Let rest for a little while before rolling out. Cut a square to cover the currypuff mould and then fill with the filling.
Fry till golden.

This is the mould. Once you fold the mould in half, it produces beautiful currypufs.



All rather easy and the secret, as with all pastry, is in the dough!



Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Cultural Exchange - Malaysian Strawberries and Cream!


How in the world does Strawberries and Cream become a topic for cultural exchange? Well read on and find out!

My son is a great fan of fruits and cream. He just loves it. Even better is Strawberries and Cream! Now Strawberries are rather expensive as they are not your typical Malaysian fruit. You can get the frozen variety but those are expensive as well and end up being quite mushy.

Most of the Strawberries you find are imported. Did I say most? Indeed!
There is a place called Cameron Highlands, one of four well known highland resorts that rise more than 1000 meters above sea level (the others being Genting Highlands, Frasers Hill and Maxwell Hill). At this height, the climate is cool with temperatures rarely rising about 25C and no lower than 12C. So that kind of makes it great for Strawberries!

Cameron Highlands is also where they cultivate tea leaves - and Malaysia is famous for its tea as well!

One of my fave foodie friends, Valli, who is in Canada knows all about Cameron Highlands - or at least her father does! See how small the world really is?



Even though you can get local strawberries, they are still expensive.
Nowhere near as expensive as the imported variety but expensive nonetheless. They are not easy to get either as they kind of get snapped up really fast.

So when I saw a heap of packets down at one of the hypermarts, I couldn't resist picking one up. With strawberries in one hand, I went round looking for cream. The usual assortment of cream seemed to have disappeared and the only option left was a rather exorbitantly priced brand. Bugger it. Maybe I"ll just use some yoghurt. So I bought a large container of yoghurt and made a mental note to check out how to sweeten and thicken yoghurt.


Lovely fresh strawberries!


Later that evening...

After a quick check on the web, I knew what had to be done. I made a thickened
vanilla cream out of yoghurt and it was just superb! It tasted almost like cream although it was much lighter. It was nice and thick and tasted lovely. It could even have been vanilla yoghurt ice cream!
This is what I did.

400ml yoghurt
4 tbsp icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Line a colander with cheese cloth or lots of paper kitchen towels. Put the yoghurt in and let it drain for about an hour so that it becomes nice and thick. Next, add in the sugar and vanilla and whisk together till smooth. Return to the fridge and let it chill until ready to serve.


See? It even Looks like cream!

Cut the strawberries and arrange them on a nice plate - just to make it look nice.



Then bring out the Faux Cream, spoon over the strawberries and enjoy! I really dont have to tell you how to enjoy strawberries with cream...!


Both the kids and the lovely wife LOVED the Faux Cream! As you can see, they polished off the bowl of yoghurt and my little princess asked for more.




Unfortunately, I had used up all the yoghurt. I'll definitely make this 'cream' again and perhaps even experiment with substituting it for cream in other desserts. The possibilities are really quite endless...

So now not only do you know a little bit more about Malaysia but you can also 'wow' your friends with the fact that Strawberries DO grow in the tropics!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Pollo ala Cacciatora



Ever noticed how food with a foreign name not only sounds more exotic but also seems more appealing? Chicken cooked in tomato sauce hardly holds any appeal. Chicken braised with tomatoes and mushrooms adds a bit more interest. Say Chicken Cacciatore and the whole dish takes on a whole new meaning. But call it Pollo ala Cacciatora and the eyes glass over, violins start to play in the background and you might even have to bring out a nice shirt and tie (or your little black dress for the ladies) for dinner!



I was introduced to this dish many years ago but always made it using the shortcut method. The shortcut involved a bottle of Pasta Sauce. Very quick, very easy and rather tasty.

Looking back, its strange that I used the shortcut method. I have never used bottled Pasta Sauce for my Pasta so I wonder why I decided it was okay for a chicken dish. Not sure I know the answer to my own question. I think it had something to do with someone explaining how they made their version of Chicken Cacciatore that included, of course, a bottle of Pasta Sauce.

Well, I don’t use bottled Pasta Sauce for my Chicken Cacciatore anymore. Uh-Uh. No more. Especially not when making Pollo alla Cacciatora. That would be absolutely disgraceful. No self respecting Pollo would allow itself to be Cacciatora-ed with a bottled Pasta Sauce. Just imaging the cluckings of protest!

Usually I sear my chicken pieces before letting them cook in the sauce but this, since I was a tad lazy, I just chucked the uncooked pieces into the sauce and let it stew for a while. However, I’ll give you my recipe the way its supposed to be made!

Ingredients
1 large chicken – cut into pieces
¼ inch ginger – ground
200 g Swiss Brown Mushrooms – sliced thinly
8 rashers back bacon - chopped
5 cloves garlic - chopped
1 large onion – chopped
1 stalk fresh rosemary
2 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
3 bay leaves
4 large tomatoes - quartered
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 red chilles or 1 capsicum – cut into pieces
2-3 splashes Worcestershire Sauce
2-3 splashes Tabasco Sauce
Black Pepper
Salt

Method
Clean and cut the chicken into pieces. Rub all over with the ground ginger. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Heat oil and fry the onions, garlic, basil, bay leaves, oregano and rosemary. Add in bacon and stir well until bacon is cooked. Add in mushrooms and continue cooking till juices are released. Add in fresh tomatoes with stewed tomatoes. Cover pan and allow tomatoes to disintegrate and form a paste.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat a little oil and sear the chicken until lightly browned. Remove from pan and add into the sauce. Add a little water and cover tha pan. Allow simmer for about 30 minutes.
Add in Worcestershire sauceand Tabasco sauce and mix well. Add in chillies/capsicum and simmer uncovered for another 10 minutes until sauce is thick. If need be, add a little corn flour (mix with water first!)

I served this dish with Couscous and also with rice. We found some flavoured couscous at the local supermarket and decided to expose the kids to something new instead of the regular rice.


This kids didn't really take a liking to the couscous but at least they thought the “Tomatoey Chicken with lots of mushrooms” was really nice. See, that’s what’s so special about kids. You cant fool them with fancy names or ‘packaging’ as I like to call it. They tell you honestly whether they like something or not.

Maybe someday when they are all grown up and someone try’s to impress them with Pollo alla Cacciatora at some fancy restaurant, they will eat it and remember that their Daddy used to make them something similar…




Monday, 14 April 2008

Spicy Mango Salad with Prawns



Some of you may have noticed that I've taken a bit of a break from participating in the Royal Foodie Joust hosted by Jenn, the Leftover Queen. I decided not to participate last month since I was helping the Queen with hosting the Joust. For the March joust, I just didnt have the time and of course for February, I chose the ingredients so I stayed out of the joust.

But I'm back!

Well, not really. You see, this month, The Lovely Wife came up with a killer recipe and although I did help her a tiny little bit, all credit goes to her for this Spicy Mango Salad with Prawns.





I had actually planned on making a pastry with the ingredients chosen by last months winner - Michelle (UsVfood). I mean, Mangoes, Brown Sugar and Cardamom just sort of scream out Pastry or Dessert don't they. I have to admit though that I'm not a great fan of mango - I mean I'll eat it and sometimes I even enjoy a really good mango, but it's not the kind of fruit that really excites me. The Lovely Wife on the other hand, LOVES mangoes.

So before I made the pastry/dessert I had in my head, I ran it past her. She would after all be eating the vast majority of it. She sort of wrinkled her nose at my ideas and said that she preferred mango in it's natural form - not baked, not moussed up, not mashed, not frozen. Just plain mango.

Yeah, okay. But there's this Royal Food Joust that I have to take part in you know, and I really want to make something, and there's Tupperware as an additional prize too! Her eyes kind of glassed over at the mention of Tuppperware and there was a slight trembling of the lips just before some foam started frothing at the corner of her mouth. Okay, so I jest. I sometimes forget this is the Royal Foodie Joust and not the Royal Jest...

Anyway, she suggested a Spicy Salad along the lines of a Kerabu but using ripe mangoes, with Chilli Padi (birds eye chillies) and shallots. I suggested throwing in some prawns or maybe beef strips. It looked like we had a plan!

In Malaysia, Mangoes are in season practically the whole year round. However, you dont always have to wait for the fruit to turn yellow. A green fruit that is soft when lightly pressed signifies that the fruit is already ripe. If you wait till it gets yellow, sometimes it is too soft and mushy inside! The mangoes we bought were green but lovely and sweet!


The Ripe Mango Fruit


The Fruit skinned


The seed that remains after slicing off all its flesh.

So much for the lesson on mangoes.

This is what we came up with:

Spicy Mango Salad with Prawns
10-15 medium prawns - shelled and deveined
100 g vermicelli - softened in boiling water
8-10 shallots
8-10 Chilli Padi (birds eye chilli)
2 Red Chillies
2 mangoes

1.5 tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
3 tsp Brown Sugar
5 cardamoms - pounded

Method
First, boil the prawns till they are a nice pink colour. Set aside.



Thinly slice the shallots, red chilli and chilli padi and place into a large salad bowl.


Pare the mango and cut into strips. Add into the salad bowl together with the prawns and strained vermicelli. Mix well, taking care not to break up the mango strips.

Make the sauce by combining the Fish sauce, brown sugar and lemon juice.


Pound the cardamom and then add into the sauce.

Let it steep for a while.



Strain the sauce into the bowl and then mix well.


And thats it!

The Cardamom lends a light taste to the sauce but more importantly, the fragrance tends to dull the smell of the fish sauce.

This is a delightful dish with a lovely complement of tastes. The sweet mango is offset by the hot and spicy chillies while the shallots lend a nice crunch. The vermicelli lends substance and texture to the mixture. You could substitute the prawns with beef or chicken or even go vegetarian and perhaps throw in some bean curd! This is perfect as a side dish and even better as a main meal!

If you like this recipe, try it out - its really delicious - but beware it is rather spicy due to the chillies!. But before that, please go over and vote for me. You see, aside from the Tupperware that the Lovely Wife wants, she has hinted that if she wins, she might wear The Apron for me - and ONLY the apron. Oh, and perhaps a smile as well!


Just to show you what Malaysian Chilli Padi (Birds Eye Chilli - although Padi is the Malay equivalent of Paddy - as in rice field) looks like. They are super hot and also available in red!

And since there are noodles in this, which sort of qualifies as Pasta, I'm also submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Ruth - without fail every Friday and now into its second year!


Saturday, 12 April 2008

Spicy Sausages ala Pub snack food!


All kids somehow love sausages and most Birthday Parties usually have a large tray of cocktail sausages sitting on the table. I like to serve sausages for my kids birthday's as well - but with a difference. Usually, I cut up the sausages and fry them with tomatoes and some herbs to make it a little fancy.

When deciding the menu for my daugther's party back in February, I decided to make sausages again but this time, I made it somewhat like how they make it in Pubs. Most, if not all, of the pubs in KL serve fried sausages as an appetizer or snack. The way they make them is hot and spicy with a lot of onions and chillis.
I thought I would replicate that and since my kids have no real problem with spicy food, I used loads of chillis, onions as well as black pepper. I also threw in some curry leaves!


This is what you do.

Sautee some chopped garlic and slice onions till fragrant. Add in curry leaves, black pepper and sliced chillies and lightly fry. Throw in the suasages, cut into thin rounds, and mix well. Continue cooking till sausages are cooked through. Sprinkle with more black pepper.



These are delicious eaten on its own or with some bread. Even better with a cold beer!






Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Daily Tiffin - Themed Birthday Parties



This article at the Daily Tiffin is the Final part of my Birthday Party Series. In my previous two posts, I explained how to decorate Birthday Cakes and how to make 3D cakes.
In this article, I am going to attempt to show you how to host Themed Birthday Parties. Every child loves a Themed Birthday Party. Some adults too! Although hosting a themed party conjures up images of lots of money, it's really not all the difficult.

Read my article over at the Daily Tiffin to find out how!

Monday, 7 April 2008

Leeking Garlic Prawns



I love prawns! I love the texture and I love the taste. Or is it Shrimp that I love so much?? I'm from the Commonwealth so over here it's Prawn. To paraphrase Shakespeare, That which the Americans call a shrimp by any other name, would still taste like a prawn.
I hope the old bard isn't doing cartwheels or somersaults in his grave...

Prawns have their own flavour so I dislike prawns that are soaked in too much sauce. That's not entirely true. Its almost impossible to dislike prawns. What I mean to say is that prawns should be cooked with just a tad of seasoning. Nothing overpowering to completely overwhelm the taste of this crustacean. The only exception to this 'rule' would be Sambal Prawns - but even them the taste of the prawns still come through.

I don't often make prawns for two reasons. Firstly, they are rather expensive. Secondly, the Lovely Wife is a little allergic to prawns although she does love shellfish as much as I do. It get's particularly bad if there is a full moon. Her face gets all dark and screwed up and she starts to howl quite a bit. Sometimes the facial hair gets rather thick too. Oh, but I'm mistaken. That's not the Lovely Wife but me - especially when I dont shave. Seriously though, she does have a mild reaction to shellfish and so she tries to stay away from it.

I made this dish quite some time ago for my daughter's 3rd birthday since we were having an Under The Sea Theme. I dug up these photos since I was writing an article on Themed Birthday Parties for the Daily Tiffin - scheduled to be out this Wednesday.

So anyway, it's really very simple and very delicious. Like most of what I do, I just threw a whole lot of things together and since this happened quite some time ago, I cant recall measurements. But this is how it goes"

Lots of garlic - chopped
Lots of Prawns - shelled and deveined
Some Chilli Flakes
A little Black Pepper
about two stalks of Leek - cut into 1 inch lengths

Boil some water and add in a little salt. Blanch the leek until just tender. Drain and set aside on a serving plate.
Heat some Olive Oil and fry the garlic and chilli flakes. Add in the shelled prawns and quickly stir fry until the prawns turn pink. Turn out onto the bed of leek. Garnish with some chopped coriander.

And there you have it! Garlic Prawns on a Bed of Leek otherwise known as Leeking Garlic Prawns!




Sunday, 6 April 2008

Royal Foodie Joust - April Winner!



In the absence of HRH Jenn, the Leftover Queen, Sir Obi-Dharm Wannabe, with the blessings of the Jedi Council takes great pleasure in announcing the winners of the April Royal Foodie Joust! But first, a message from the Head of the Jedi Council:


Hmmmphh... Congratulate our Queen before winners we announce. Rejoice for her we must. Wedding going to have is she. Hmmmm... Famed Roberto also congratulate we must. Welcome him to our midst. Happy make the Queen he must or else our wrath he will feel.


Last month’s Joust was won by the estemeed Rebel Squadron Leader Bellini Valli. She thus had the privilege of choosing this challenge’s 3 ingredients and this is what she chose:

From the Sea (fish, scallops, clams, etc - anything from the sea actually!)
Lemon or lime
Coconut

For those of you not familiar with this event – 3 ingredients are chosen by the previous month’s winner. All the contestants must use those 3 ingredients and any other ingredients to create a new dish.

I must say that we had some exceptionally creative entries and they all looked super delicious! I think ALL the entries were excellent but there can only be one winner...

Now for the winners:
In FIRST PLACE is.....Michelle (UsVFood) from Thursday Night Smackdown with her delectable entry of Coconut-Yellowtail Lollipops with a trio of spicy lime dipping sauces.






In SECOND PLACE we have....Ben (Arimou0) of Whats cooking with his fascinating entry of Royal Fish Empanadas and Coconut Rice.




And for THIRD PLACE... we have a TIE! They are
Aaron K of The Xocoatl Express with his Coconut-Lime Truffle




and

Toontz of Okara Mountain with her Island Ice Cream with Island Sugar


Both dont use any Seafood but have creatively and very interestingly used Ingredients From the Sea - one used Sea Salt while the other used Sea Salt AND Agar-Agar (gelatine from Seaweed).

Hosting the event this month was a lot of fun and I'd like to thank Jenn for trusting me enough to host on her behalf. It was indeed an honour!


If this kind of event interests you, then its time to stop by at the Leftover Queen and register yourself.


Afraid you are of joining, hmmmm? Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Release your fears and join now. Do or do not. There is no try.......


Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Pumpkin Soup



Every once in a while its nice to start of a meal with soup. The kids love it and there is nothing quite as delicious as homemade soup. This is the Lovely Wifes department. She is the soup queen and I never, ever interfere with her soupy endeavours! Well, maybe sometimes...

One of our favourite soups is Pumpkin Soup. Pumpkins are delicious on their own and even more so when made into a soup. This recipe is based on the Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection Soups book.
The actual recipe calls for long grained rice but the Lovely Wife added in some macaroni instead. The kids loved the fact that there was pasta in the soup and it gave a little more 'fill' to the soup.

This is the recipe from the book:
750g -1kg pumpkin
3 large potatoes - chopped
3 large tomatoes, halved and seeded
1 stalk lemon grass, white part only, bruised with the side of a large knife
1.2 litres chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
1 1/2 tablsepsoons long grain rice
pinch of nutmeg
15 g unsalted butter (optional)
3 tablespoons thick cream

Method
Cut a wide circle around the pumpkin stem using a small, sharp, pointed knife and remove the top. Using a large metal spoon, scarpe the seeds from the pumpkin and discard, then either scrape as much flesh as possible from the pumpkin using the spoon or cut the pumpkin into wedges. Slice just inside the skin to release the flesh and chop it roughly.
Place the pumpkin, potato, tomato and lemon grass into a large saucepan with the stock or water. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then reucde the heast and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Remove the lemon grass stalk and discard.
While the soup is simmering, add the rice to a pan of boiling salt water and stir to the boil. Cook for about 12 minutes or till tender. Drain the rice in a sieve and risne under water. Set aside and leave to drain well.
Transfer the soup to a blender of food processor and puree untill smooth. Return the soup to a clean pan, add the nutmeg and adjust the seasoning. The soup should be thick but still drinkable from a spoon. If the consistency seems too thick, ad a little milk. Stir in the rice, butter and cream then heat through. Pour into bowls and garnish with freshly ground pepper and some herbs if desired.

It was certainly delicious and to add some 'colour', The Lovely Wife dropped in a dollop of cream in the middle and swirled it. The kids loved this and wanted to keep adding more cream just to swirl it around!


Since there is a little pasta in this recipe, I'm submitting it to my friend Ruth who hosts Presto Pasta Nights over at Onceuponafeast.blogpsot.com

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