Steamed Meatballs and Pickles with Pumpkin 菜脯肉丸蒸南瓜

Monday, 16 January 2012

Chinese New Year is just round the corner and so it's time to prepare our stomachs for all the upcoming delicious meals!

Steamed Meatballs and Pickles with Pumpkin 菜脯肉丸蒸南瓜

Here's a rather interesting recipe adapted from the cookbook 'The ultimate guide to steam cooking 蒸的好轻松 by 程安琪‘. The original recipe involves pickled sweet cucumber 酱瓜, but since I had chai po at hand, and it's also a type of sweet pickled vegetable, I used that instead. Also, I used a mixture of minced chicken and pork instead of purely pork to lower the fat content. The dish turned out really good. The pickled veg added a nice crunch and flavour to the savoury meatballs and the steamed pumpkin added sweetness to the dish. Another keeper!

Steamed Meatballs and Pickles with Pumpkin 菜脯肉丸蒸南瓜

Steamed Meatballs and Pickles with Pumpkin 菜脯肉丸蒸南瓜

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Yield: serves 3


Ingredients:
  • 190 g minced chicken
  • 250 g minced pork
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbs Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbs water
  • A few dashes white pepper powder
  • 4 tbs Chai Po (菜脯, minced preserved radish) - rinsed
  • 1 tbs corn starch
  • 250 g fresh pumpkin - sliced

Directions:
  • Place sliced pumpkin on a steaming dish.
  • Mix together minced meat, salt, sugar, light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, water and pepper in a mixing bowl. Stir in one direction with a pair of chopsticks until sticky.
  • Add pickles and mix well.
  • Add corn starch and mix well.
  • Lift the mince and slap it down on the bowl a few times, then make into meatballs and place on top of the sliced pumpkin.
  • Steam on high heat for about 15 mins or until cooked.
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Kimchi Mandu (Korean Kimchi Dumplings)

Friday, 13 January 2012

When you are feeling lazy or you just feel like having something simple, frozen dumplings come in handy. They are great deep-fried, pan-fried, steamed or even boiled. Cooking dumplings is an easy task but making them is a whole different story.

Kimchi Mandu (Korean Kimchi Dumplings)

The skin is the hardest part of making dumplings, but thank god for ready-made dumpling wrappers, which makes life a whole lot easier. Fresh dumpling wrappers in all sorts of shapes and sizes are available at most Asian grocery stores. You can make your own wrappers of course, but for me, the ready-made ones are good enough.

Kimchi Mandu (Korean Kimchi Dumplings)

Kimchi Mandu (Korean Kimchi Dumplings)

Printable recipe
Adapted from Maangchi.com
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 45 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Yield: makes about 70 dumplings


Ingredients:
  • 70 dumpling skin/ wonton wrappers
  • 200 g minced pork
  • 400 g minced beef
  • 1/2 bulb garlic - minced
  • 160 g chives - chopped
  • 80 g spring onions - diced
  • 1/2 cup onions - finely chopped
  • 300 g kimchi - drained and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup dried Chinese mushrooms - soaked until soften, cut into small pieces
  • 170 g tofu - crushed
    Seasonings:
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tbs white pepper powder

Directions:
  • Mix together all ingredients except the dumpling skin in a large bowl. I usually pan fry about 1 tsp of the mixture after this, and taste to check for extra necessary seasonings.
  • Wrap the mixture in dumpling skins and seal the dumplings with water.
  • You can either deep fry, pan fry, steam or boil the dumplings (cooked dumplings will float to the surface of boiling water). Or you can freeze the dumplings. To boil frozen dumplings, simply place frozen dumplings into boiling water and boil until they float to the surface. You don't have to thaw them before boiling.
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Laksa & Cashew Nut Pesto Linguine

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Pesto is an Italian puree and is made of crushed garlic, basil and pine nuts blended with olive oil with cheese. The name is originated in reference to the original method of preparation, using mortar and pestle (pestle, pesto, get it?). Well, times have changed, and people use the blender or a food processor instead of mortar and pestle, and, there are so many pesto variations, some with pine nuts, others with walnuts, even pistachios and cashews; some with other herbs such as coriander or parsley; some made with spinach. The possibilities are endless. I've made pesto a couple of times, using different combinations of herbs and nuts and they always turn out good.

Laksa & Cashew Nut Pesto Linguine

I came across this recipe at Evan's Kitchen Ramblings. The recipe involves laksa or kesom leaves, which I've never cooked with before.

Laksa & Cashew Nut Pesto Linguine

I know assam laksa, curry laksa, but have never came across fresh laksa leaves. I've never had a chance to make this as I couldn't find the leaves in the UK. I saw this at the supermarket here in Singapore and immediately thought of this recipe! I added toasted dried shrimps for extra flavour and turned out really delicious! The flavour is pretty distinctive, slightly zesty, spicy. Another keeper.

Laksa & Cashew Nut Pesto Linguine

Laksa & Cashew Nut Pesto Linguine

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Yield: serves 2


Ingredients:
  • 200 g linguine
  • 2 large squid - cut into rings
  • 2 soft boiled eggs
For pesto: makes 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup packed (30 g) laksa leaves only
  • 2 1/2 tbs (20 g) dried shrimps
  • 100 g cashew nuts
  • 2 red chili - coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic - peeled
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
For pesto:
  • Heat up a pan and lightly toast the cashew nuts. Do the same with the dried shrimps. Leave to cool slightly.
  • Place laksa leaves, shrimps, nuts, chili and garlic in a food processor and blend until a loose paste is formed.
  • Add sugar, half of the oil and continue to blend. Add more oil and blend until a paste is formed.
  • Add fish sauce to taste.
For pesto linguine:
  • Cook pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain.
  • Pan fry squid until cooked.
  • Mix together about 1 cup of the laksa pesto, pasta and squid.
  • Serve immediately with eggs.
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Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 2

Monday, 9 January 2012

This is a post about my Wilton cake decorating course 2 all in a single post. If you missed course 1, click here for the details. So, in course 1, it's all about the basics and buttercream icing. In course 2, we touched a bit on fondant and gum paste in our lesson 1, but the rest of the lessons were all royal icing. Not sure why we did fondant and gum paste though as in course 3 we will be exploring fondant and gum paste.

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 2 fondant gum paste

Like course 1, course 2 has 4 lessons altogether. We were each given a starter kit with most of the tools needed and a booklet outlining the lesson plan. Lesson 1 started with fondant and gum paste - using ready-made ones of course. The best part about this lesson is that it's mess-free! And also grease-free!

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 2

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 2

Lessons 2 and 3 were on making more flowers with royal icing. We had to bring in our own royal icing, which is much easier to prepare than buttercream icing. Love the matte finishing you get using royal icing. Besides, it hardens and can be stored longer than decorations made with buttercream icing. And again, the icing consistency is important! Too dry, you might end up with a broken wrist. Too moist, your decorations won't hold and will melt.

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 2 flowers

For our final lesson, we were taught how to draw stems, reverse shell border and the basketweave technique using buttercream icing. The basketweave technique is one of the prettiest decorating technique that I've come across and is not as complicated as you might think! A bit confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty simple. And the result is pretty impressive.

Wilton Method Basketweave cake

Finally, here's my creation!

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 2 basketweave flower cake

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 2 basketweave flower cake

Cakes created by my fellow course mates:

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 2 basketweave flower cake

PS. All pictures taken and processed using my iPhone 4s.
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Frog Porridge 田鸡粥

Friday, 6 January 2012

I'm sorry you had to see that, but it is quite a scene! A pool of frogs' carcasses.

Frogs 田鸡 paddy field chicken

We usually call this 'tin gai'(田鸡) in Cantonese, which simply translates into paddy field chicken. Misleading I know, but I guess it's better than frogs. We ordered this for a friend once telling him it was chicken and he happily gobbled up the whole dish. It was "chicken" stir-fried with ginger and spring onions and according to him, it was 'really tasty'. Ironically, he told us he doesn't eat frogs just before the meal. Evil of us, but what one doesn't know, won't hurt him.

Frog Porridge 田鸡粥

Paddy field chicken is also known as Chinese edible frog or East Asian bullfrog. The meat is very lean, low in fats, rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and potassium. It is believed to boost immune function and energy levels. Texture wise, it is more like chicken, but slightly chewy and flavour is mild, slightly fishy.

Frog Porridge 田鸡粥

Frog Porridge 田鸡粥

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Yield: serves 3


Ingredients:
  • 1 rice cup (150 g) rice - rinsed
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 3 frogs - chopped into pieces
  • 2 stalks spring onion - diced, white and green parts separated
  • 3 slices ginger - cut into matchsticks
  • 2 L boiling hot water
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder
Marinade:
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • A few dashes white pepper powder

Directions:
  • Combine frog pieces, white part of spring onions, ginger and all ingredients for marinade. Leave to marinate for at least 30 mins.
  • Place rice, 1 tsp of oil and enough water to cover rice into a pot. Leave to sit for about 10 mins. Discard water.
  • Combine rice and 1.5 L of hot water and chicken stock powder and leave to cook. Stir occasionally. Add more boiling water if too dry and boil until you get the consistency of porridge you desire.
  • Lastly, add all the marinated frog pieces and leave to cook until the meat is cooked (a few minutes will do).
  • Season to taste.
  • Garnish with green part of spring onions and sesame oil.

Notes:
  • Soaking the rice in water and oil somehow destroys the structure of the rice. The texture of the porridge is better and smoother, like blended rice.
  • Always add hot water to simmering porridge to keep it moist.

It was black chicken, then this and what's next? We'll see.
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Old Cucumber and Pork Ribs Soup 老黄瓜排骨汤

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Happy 2012!!!

I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year's eve. Despite the horrible weather around Christmas, we had fun, with lots of food involved of course. It was still raining cats and dogs during Christmas eve and the weather had been pretty glum after that until new year's day, and nowadays, it's just hot, hot, HOT!! This soup is perfect for this hot and stuffy weather as it helps eliminate body 'heat' and is diuretic.

Old Cucumber and Pork Ribs Soup 老黄瓜排骨汤

Old cucumber as the name suggests is just matured cucumber, hence the brown and crinkly skin. When choosing old cucumber, the darker colour the skin the better, and the rougher the better. It is extremely high in dietary fibre, helps regulate the body’s inner temperature, and is also belived to have anti-aging and anti-cancer properties.

Old Cucumber and Pork Ribs Soup 老黄瓜排骨汤

Old Cucumber and Pork Ribs Soup 老黄瓜排骨汤

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 2 hrs
Yield: serves 4


Ingredients:
  • 2 (about 440 g each) old cucumber - washed, seeds removed, cut into pieces
  • 500 g pork ribs
  • 10 dried red dates 红枣
  • 2 honey dates 蜜枣
  • 1.5 L water

Directions:
  • Blanch ribs. [Place ribs into a large pot, add enough water to cover. Bring to boil. Once water comes to a boil, remove from heat, drain and wash.]
  • Place all ingredients into a pot (I used a claypot). Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer for at least 2 hours covered.
    Season to taste with salt.
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