Baked Beans Pasta with Grilled Cheese

Friday, 26 September 2008

This is something I will cook whenever I feel lazy. It is very simple and has all the ingredients I like - baked beans and pasta! A very tasty and satisfying dish. I normally don't add cheese as it is very filling and fattening enough. But since I have some leftover cheese lying around in the fridge, and only Jeff was eating, I decided to use it. Jeff's comment: NOT ENOUGH!

Ingredients: serves 1
  • 100g Penne
  • 3/4 can Baked Beans
  • 1/2 cup Frozen Mixed Vegetables
  • 2 Frankfurters - sliced
  • 1 tbs Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 tbs Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp Dried Parsley
  • 1 tsp Dried Basil
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • Grated Cheese

  • Boil pasta until half-cooked. Drain and leave aside for later use.
  • Brown frankfurters in a pan with a little bit of oil.
  • Add in mixed vegetables, fry until softened.
  • Mix in all other ingredients.
  • Pour everything into a baking dish.
  • Sprinkle on some cheese and bake at 200°C for 10 mins.
  • Switch oven setting to grill and grill until cheese is browned.

Broiled Butterflied Chicken

Saturday, 20 September 2008

This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown's broiled, butterflied chicken. Love this technique as not only does this accelerate the chicken cooking process but also adds a lot of flavour to the chicken.

  • 1.5 kg Whole Chicken

Vegetable Bed: sliced (can use any leftover vegetables in the fridge)
  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Carrot
  • 2 Stalks Celery
  • 1 Courgette
  • 2 Tomatoes - quartered

Herb Mixture: mix all together
  • 15g Thyme - remove leaves from stem, use the leaves only
  • 25g Parsley - finely chopped
  • 1 tbs Minced Garlic
  • 3 tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • Set oven to grill and turn to the highest temperature.
  • Place all vegetables into a roasting pan.
  • Drizzle olive oil on vegetables and place under the grill for 15 mins.
  • Butterfly the whole chicken (see 'Comments' section).
  • Evenly distribute the herb mixture under skin.
  • Rub olive oil on both sides of the chicken.
  • Place chicken skin-side up on top of grilled vegetables.
  • Sprinkle a bit of salt and black pepper on chicken.
  • Grill in oven (leave oven door slightly ajar to let the steam escape) until the skin is dark mahogany in colour (about 25 mins).
  • Flip the chicken bone-side up by holding the drumstick ends with paper towels.
  • Cook for further 15 mins.
  • Remove chicken from oven, place chicken in another plate and cover loosely with foil.
  • Tilt roasting pan to pool the fats and juices.
  • Carefully siphon the fats off.
  • Serve chicken with remaining juice in pan.
To 'Butterfly' A Chicken:
1. Place chicken on a chopping board breast-side down.
2. Remove backbone with scissors
3. Open up chicken and lay it flat on the board.
4. Gently slice through the thin membrane covering the keel bone (bone separating the breast halves).

5. Break open chicken.
6. Place fingers underneath the keel bone to remove bone.
7. Remove the cartilage that was holding the bone.
8. Turn chicken breast-side up. Loosen skin by running a finger underneath the skin.
9. Loosen skin at the thighs as well.
10. Evenly distribute the herb mixture under the skin.


Chili Con Carne

Saturday, 13 September 2008

I had my first taste of chili con carne with fries at Ed's Diner. It's basically a spicy minced meat and bean stew - very tasty, spicy and full of depth. Jeff was craving for this dish so I thought I'll have a go. We had it with tortilla wraps instead of fries. Other fillings include lettuce, guacamole and spicy refried beans (all of which are bought from Sainsbury's, ready-made).

For Chili Con Carne:
  • 1 tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion - diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic - crushed
  • 500g Minced Meat (I used pork instead of beef as Jade doesn't eat beef)
  • 1 can canned Plum Tomatoes
  • 4 slices Sun-Dried Tomatoes - sliced
  • 2 tbs Concentrate Tomato Paste
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Beef Stock cube
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 can canned Kidney Beans - drained

Herbs/ Spices:
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 6 whole Cloves
  • 2 (or more) Red Chillies - sliced
  • 2 Bay Leaves

  • Heat up olive oil in pan, fry onions until translucent.
  • Add in garlic and fry until fragrant.
  • Increase heat, fry minced meat until browned.
  • Mix in all other ingredients (EXCEPT the beans).
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer until gravy thickens.
  • Stir in kidney beans and leave to simmer for another 10 mins.
  • Season with salt.



Pork Sausages with Borlotti Beans Stew

Thursday, 11 September 2008

  • 1 tbs Olive oil
  • 450g Pork Sausages
  • 1 Onion - finely diced
  • Half bulb Garlic - minced
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1/2 cup White wine
  • 1 can canned Borlotti Beans - drained
  • Black pepper

Tomato sauce:
  • 1 can canned Plum Tomatoes
  • 1 tbs Concentrate Tomato Paste
  • 4 slices Sun-Dried Tomatoes - sliced
  • 2 sprigs Fresh Sage
  • 3 Bay leaves

  • Place all ingredients for tomato sauce in a pot. Bring to boil.
  • Lower heat and leave to reduce until a thick sauce is formed (about 30 mins).
  • In a pan, heat up olive oil. Brown sausages in pan. Toss every 1-2 mins to brown all sides. Remove and leave aside for later use.
  • With the remaining oil in pan, sweat onions.
  • Add in garlic and fry until fragrant.
  • Pour in wine.
  • Lay sausages in pan.
  • Pour reduced tomato sauce over sausages.
  • Sprinkle oregano and sugar.
  • Cover and leave to simmer for about 30 mins.
  • Mix in bortolli beans and leave to simmer for about 10 mins.
  • Sprinkle on some grounded black pepper and serve.


Chickpea Soup

Saturday, 6 September 2008

A soup that Jeff actually craves for and enjoys as it is extremely thick and tasty. I find it a bit too thick, so I usually treat it as a dip and eat with bread. Love it with toasted garlic bread.

  • 1 can of Canned Chickpea in water
  • 3 cloves Garlic - crushed
  • 1 large Carrot - diced
  • 1 Large Onion - diced
  • 2 stalks Celery - diced
  • 1 Chicken Stock cube
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

  • Garnishing:
  • 1 handful Coriander - coarsely chopped
  • Pine nuts

  • Fry onions, carrots and celery in olive oil until softened.
  • Add in garlic and fry until fragrant.
  • Empty the whole can of chickpea into the pot, add in water, stock cube, sugar and water. Bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat and leave to simmer for about 20 mins.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Blend soup with hand blender or pour soup into a liquidiser to blend. You can blend soup until smooth or leave some ingredients half blended. I prefer to leave some bits for texture.
  • Stir in coriander and garnish with pine nuts.

  • I usually add in 2-3 Bay leaves for its aroma but its tasty enough even without. Remember to remove the bay leaves before blending.
  • To spice it up a little, I will add 1 tsp of tumeric powder.

Korean-Style Cellophane Noodles (Chapchae)

This is a must-order dish whenever we go to a Korean restaurant. We have this as a starter - a very light and extremely tasty dish.

  • 160g Dried Korean Sweet Potato Starch Noodles (Dangmyun)
  • 4 cloves Garlic - minced
  • 1 Onion - thinly sliced
  • 1 Red Chilli - sliced (optional)
  • 1 Courgette - thinly sliced
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper - thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Dried Chinese Mushrooms - soaked to soften, thinly sliced
  • 1 Carrot - thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Dried Black Fungus - soaked to soften
  • 1/3 cup Water
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 2-3 tbs Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 tbs Sesame Oil

Mushrooms and black fungus marinade:
  • 1/2 tbs Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • A pinch of Salt and Pepper

  • 1 stalk Spring onion - chopped
  • 1/2 tbs Sesame seeds (or more)

  • Marinate mushrooms and black fungus for at least 10 mins.
  • Cut the dried noodles to about 18-20 cm in length and boil noodles in a large pot for 5 mins.
  • Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • Heat some cooking oil in a wok/ pan and fry the onions until translucent.
  • Add in garlic and chilli, fry until fragrant.
  • Mix in courgette, bell pepper and carrots.
  • When vegetables are softened, toss in mushrooms, black fungus, noodles, water and sugar.
  • Cook for about 3 mins or until noodles are thoroughly heated.
  • Add soy sauce to taste.
  • Mix in sesame oil.
  • Garnish with spring onion and sesame seeds.
  • Chilli is totally optional. This dish is not spicy in restaurants. We are going through this spicy craze now, so I added chilli to spice it up a little.
  • Black fungus normally comes in a fan shape but I managed to find one which are already cut into thin strips so it's very convenient.


Low-Fat Brownies - Too Good To Be True?!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Joyce came across this article about low-fat brownies and asked me to give it a try. We are both suppose to be on a diet but she keeps tossing me with recipes to try. We both love our food so much and this whole dieting thing is just driving us crazy. So out of desperation, we revert to low-fat foods.

Jeff and Jade seemed to enjoyed the brownies. Better than expected considering its low-fat. Jeff says it's too sweet, not chocolatey, moist and tender enough. Very enjoyable and nice to eat - just don't think of it as a brownie. I agree to that, just that it seemed quite moist to me but at the same time crumbly - a weird texture actually. I like my brownies rich and chewy and they are not.

My verdict? I don't think I can ever or will ever try to skim off the fats in my desserts. The rich flavour and texture that you get just isn't the same. I think we deserve a treat every now and then.

Ingredients:28 x 18 x 4 cm tray
  • 60g Dark/ Unsweetened Chocolate - coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbs Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Caster Sugar
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 Egg White
  • 3 tbs Prune Puree
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 cup Mixed Nuts (optional)

Dry ingredients: sifted together

  • 1/2 cup Plain Flour
  • 2 tbs unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  • Melt butter and chocolate in a pan over low heat.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add in eggs, prune puree and vanilla. Stir until smooth.
  • Mix in dry ingredients until well incorporated.
  • Mix in nuts.
  • Evenly spread the batter in a greased baking tray.
  • Bake for about 22-24 mins or until done (no longer than 25 mins).

  • To make prune puree, blend together 1/2 cup soft prunes and 3 tbs hot water. Remember to blend until smooth. It was quite hard to blend such a small amount of prunes. I had to keep opening the lid of the blender and stir the mixture around. I did not blend until smooth and left a few large chunks of prunes. These pieces appear every now and then, it was like eating chocolate cake with prunes. Simply add more prunes and water to make the blending process easier.


ABC Soup

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

We always have soup for dinner together with various dishes at my grandmother's. She used to boil her soup on a charcoal stove for hours and is always yummy. This is one of my favourites as it's very simple yet very delicious.

I always wonder why it's called ABC soup and up until now, noone can give me a definite answer. So whenever people ask me why it's called ABC soup, I would just say because it has vitamins A, B and C - full of nutrients!

  • 500g Chicken/ Pork ribs - chopped and blanched
  • 1 Large Carrot - chopped into fairly large pieces
  • 1 Large Potato - chopped into fairly large pieces
  • 1 Large Tomato - quartered
  • 1 Large Onion - cut into large rings
  • 1 tsp White peppercorn - crushed
  • 1 tsp Black peppercorn - crushed
  • 1.5 L Water
  • Salt

Optional ingredients:

  • Place all ingredients into a large pot, bring to boil.
  • Lower heat and simmer for at least 1 hour.
  • Add salt to taste.