Archive for October, 2007

Simple minestrone

Posted in Italian cuisine on October 28, 2007 by yongtzetan

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Simple minestrone, originally uploaded by yongtze.

Very comfortable and satisfying food and it’s a meal on its own. Traditionally, minestrone was simmered for long hours; however, you can cut down the cooking time, like this simple version. I made this completely vegetarians. However, pancetta or bacon can be added if you like.

serves 4-6
– 3 cloves garlic, chopped
– 2 carrots, chopped
– 1 potato, chopped
– 2 onions, chopped
– 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped (plus extra for sprinkling)
– 1 teaspoon rosemary leaves, chopped
– 1/2 small Savoy cabbage
– 3/4 cup short-grain rice traditionally (long grain rice is fine too, for me)
– 1/2 cup of broken spaghetti or small shell pasta
– salt and black pepper
– olive oil
– 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a large saucepan, add 3-4 tablespoons olive oil, add onions, potato, carrots, garlic, herbs to cook over high heat, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are softened.

2. Pour about 3 liters of boiling water, cover and simmer over low heat for about 25 minutes. Chop the cabbage in 1cm strips and add to the saucepan. Cook for another 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the rice and pasta, bring it to boil and lower the heat to simmer for another 15 minutes. Check the seasoning again and it is ready.

4. Sprinkle some chopped parsley. And serve with Parmesan passed separately.

Brutti ma buoni

Posted in Dessert, Italian cuisine on October 24, 2007 by yongtzetan

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Brutti ma buoni, originally uploaded by yongtze.

Literally meaning ‘Ugly but good’, this is one of the classic Italian cookies. Even though they don’t look very inviting, but they are sure delicious, if you like almond. A perfect after-dinner treat to be accompanied by coffee.

Makes about 18

– 1 cup almonds, toasted
– half cup plus 1 tablespoon caster sugar
– 2 egg whites
– dash of cinnamon

1. Finely chop the almonds with 1 tablespoon of sugar in a food processor. Beat the egg whites until soft peak forms. Beat in the remaining sugar and beat until stiff peak forms.

2. Gently fold in the almonds and cinnamon into the beaten egg whites. Cook this mixture over very low heat, stirring continuously , until it comes away from the sides of the saucepan. Set aside for a few minutes.

3. Place heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture on a baking paper. Allow room for expanding of the cookies. Bake in a preheated oven at about 150 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes. Serve cold.

Also try using toasted hazelnuts instead of almonds. Or adding 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder to the mixture.

Sauteed mushroom, aglio olio e peperoncino style

Posted in Vegetables on October 23, 2007 by yongtzetan

I was thinking of cooking some mushrooms as a side dish for dinner tonight. I like simple sauteed mushroom with butter or olive oil, but I wanted a bit more flavour so I added some chopped garlic and sliced chillies.

Incidentally, “garlic, oil, and chillies” is just exactly what “Aglio olio e peperoncino” is in Italian and it is a very traditional sauce for dried pasta – what a coincidence.

The whole mushrooms cooked this way are just lovely and absolutely satisfying in each bite. It takes a bit longer to cook whole mushrooms instead of sliced or quartered but it is worth the time. (Forgot to take pictures because simply couldn’t wait to eat them).

– 2 cups of white mushrooms, leave as whole
– 3 cloves garlic, chopped (not too fine or it will burn easily)
– 2 chillies, seeds removed and thinly sliced
– salt and pepper to taste
– olive oil

Combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, and chillies and whole mushrooms in a small skillet and saute over lowest possible heat until the mushrooms are cooked. Season well with salt and pepper. Toss every 1 minute. Add more oil if it gets dry. It should take about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the mushroom. Be careful not to burn the garlic or it will give a bitter flavour.

Spotted soda bread

Posted in Bread, Breakfast, British Cuisine on October 18, 2007 by yongtzetan

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spotted soda bread, originally uploaded by yongtze.

This is a quick bread recipe from Dan Brown’s ‘The handmade loaf but I changed the portions slightly.

As suggested by the author, this bread is best eaten in slices when freshly baked with some butter and good fruit preserve. Creamy and slightly sweet, good for afternoon tea.

– 300g flour
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
– 60 butter
– 250g milk
– 60g golden syrup
– 60g currants or sultanas or both.

1. Oil and flour the inside of a 12-18cm oblong tin. Preheat the oven to 210 degree Celsius.

2. In a bowl, whisk the milk and golden syrup until combined. Drop the currants or sultanas into the liquid to wet them.

3. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder, rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

4. Pour the liquid mixture into to the dry ingredients and mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin.

5. Bake for 20 minutes with a foil loosely covering the top of the tin. And remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until the top of the bread is a good golden-brown. Remove from oven, leave for a few minutes to cool and firm. Then remove the bread from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

"tau suan" – split mung bean dessert with chinese fritters

Posted in Chinese cuisine, Dessert on October 18, 2007 by yongtzetan

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"Tau suan" means "bean pearl" in Hokkien (a Chinese dialect). I’m not sure where it is originally from but it’s quite popular in my hometown where there is a huge Hokkien community.

The bean is actually split mung bean. And this dessert is eaten hot with some sliced Chinese fritters (or the so-called "yau char kueh" or "you tiao")

This dessert is sweet whilst the fritters adda a salty hint to the taste. I like my fritters crunchy. They are so wonderful when you bite them especially when they soak up the sweet mung bean soup. Very easy to make too. You can find all the ingredients in Asian grocery.

Serves about 4:

– 300g split green beans
– 200g rock sugar
– 2L water
– 2 pandan leaves, knotted
– 4 tablespoons corn/potato starch mixed with 5 tablespoon water
– Chinese fritters, sliced

1. Soak the beans in water for 30 minutes.

2. Drain and steam on high heat for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook sugar syrup by bringing to boil the water in a pot or a sauce pan with the pandan leaves thrown
in. Once water is boiling, add the rock sugar and stir till sugar has fully

4. After the beans have cooked, gently fluff them using
a fork. Add in the beans into the sugar syrup. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

5. Mix the starch well with cold water. Gradually stir in the starch into the sugar syrup and bean mixture
to thicken the syrup. Take care to add starch solution in small amounts at a time and stir well to prevent lumpiness.

6. Cook until the syrup has thickened (another 1 or 2 minutes) and has a translucent look.

7. Serve hot with sliced Chinese fritters.

Chicken fricassee with sauteed musroom and double cream

Posted in Chicken dishes, French cuisine on October 17, 2007 by yongtzetan

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You could say this is a far distant relative of the famous Coq Au Vin. You can experiment with different variation by changing the principle formula below slightly because it is a great way to cook chicken if you especially like thick and rich sauce:

A. Saute and brown the chicken briefly in butter/or a mixture or butter and olive oil.

B. Add onion and/or shallot and/or garlic and/or bacon and/or blanched bacon.

C. Add chicken stock, and experiment with different wines: red, wine, sweet muscat wine, marsala wine, etc.

D. Thyme and bay leaf being traditional,  try others like sage.

E. Enrich the reduced sauce with either butter, or cream, or egg yolk, or both cream and egg yolk, or creme fraiche.

For this version that serves 2:

– 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 25g butter
– 1 big shallots, chopped
– 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
– 150ml chicken stock
– 100ml white wine and 50ml marsala wine
– 75g mushrooms
– 50ml cream
– 1 egg yolk
– 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
– 1/2 teaspoon beurre manie (equal amount of butter and flour blended together into a paste, usually to thicken sauce)
– salt and pepper

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat half the oil and butter in a large skillet, brown the chicken pieces on both sides until golden brown. Lower the heat, add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add the wine and stock, bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.

3. Meanwhile, saute the mushroom in a little of the remaining butter and oil and season with some salt and pepper. When the chicken is done, lift the pieces onto a serving dish and scatter over the mushrooms.

4. Mix the cream and egg yolk together in a bowl. Remove the skillet from the heat and skim any excess fat from the surface of the remaining juices. Stir in the lemon juice. Add the cream and egg liaison to the pan with the beurre manie, return the pan to a low heat and stir over a very gentle low heat until the sauce thickens lightly, but never let it boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then pour the sauce over the chicken and mushroom. Serve with steamed rice and some green salad.

Chicken breast strips with white onion sauce

Posted in Chicken dishes, French cuisine on October 8, 2007 by yongtzetan

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My girlfriend and I both like Kun Ming’s chicken with onion sauce on rice so I thought I would try to make something similar. However, it turned out to be quite different because I have no idea how to make the sauce they make in the restaurant. My version of the onion sauce is actually a variation of the classic French velouté sauce, flavoured by onion and enriched by butter by the end. It tastes very home-cooked and not as salty as the one in the restaurant and I pan-fry the chicken instead of deep-fry them. A very quick and tasty meal.

Serves 2:
– two chicken breast fillets, skinned, cut into 4 pieces from each
– 1 large onion, sliced
– 5 tablespoons butter
– 1 1/2 tablespoons flour and extra to dust
– salt and pepper
– 1 1/2 cup boiling chicken stock

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Make the sauce: Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When bubbling, add 1 1/2 tablespoons flour and mix it well with the butter until it is well incorporated and then cook over low heat for 2 minutes, until the point where a raw flour taste is no longer apparent, keep stirring.

2. Remove the saucepan from heat, slowly add the boiling chicken stock and use a whisk to stir the butter-and-flour mixture (also called roux) well with the stock. When well-mixed, cook the sauce over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes, bubbling gently but not boiling vigourously. Add the onion and stir well. Cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. When the bubbles start to subside, dust the chicken with flour quickly, and pan-fry them in butter for about 4-5 minutes, turning twice, until nicely browned and just cooked.

4. Transfer the chicken on a warm plate, beat in another 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter into the onion sauce and blend well. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Serve immediately with rice.