Monday, February 28, 2011

Chwee Kueh and one of my favorite childhood games

In Cantonese, we call this “Voon chye go” and this is something that reminds me of my Mum’s good friend in Ipoh.  I called her “Ah Tai” (means the eldest).  According to my Mum, she got this nickname because she spoke with a very loud voice and all the neighbors on the street respected her and gave her "face" because she is the oldest and a very generous person.  She used to serve food and drinks to her mahjong “kakis” (mates).  One dish that she served that left a deep impression with me was her chwee kueh (rice cake).  They tasted out of this world delicious.! I remembered “Ah Tai” stayed in this famous street in Ipoh in one of the old shop houses. The street used to be called Theatre Street before our Government change all the streets’ name in Ipoh to Bahasa Malaysia.  Mum went there to play mahjong with her and her other friends. While Mum was playing mahjong, I would be playing with other children who lived there and one of our favorite games was kicking this colorful object which you will see in the photos below.  I have not seen this for 40 years since I moved from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur. The other day when my Quay Lo and I went to have lunch in one of our favorite Chinese coffee shops, we walked pass a shop and many of these were displayed outside on the varendah.  I turned to him and told him I must buy one and share my story about it with my friends.  Don’t ask me what this is called in English because I don’t have a clue.  Any of my Asian friends can tell me?  In Cantonese, it is called “Yin”.  Now you may want to know how did we play the game.  Okay, each of us would have our own“Yin”.  To play the game, we needed to kick this up in the air with one foot and continue kicking as many times as possible without letting it drop on the ground.  Once dropped on the ground, that will be our score. So who got the most score would be the winner. You will be surprised to know that the “Yin” we owned was one that we handmade by ourselves and we would decorate our “Yin” with very colorful tin can sheets and feathers. We would make it look very attractive and took great pride in it. We would compete with each other to own the best looking "Yin".  Sometimes we so admired our friend’s “Yin” that we made our “Yin” as a price to the winner.  It was a lot of fun kicking "Yin". In my opinion, games played during my childhood days were more outdoor, creative and interactive as compared to games played by kids today.  The next question for those who has never seen or heard of this game may be curious to know what this is made of.  They are made of  one very long nail with a rather big flat head and many layers of round rubber sheets and tin can sheets of about 3 to 4 cm in diameter. All the sheets were punched with a hole in the centre just big enough to let the nail go through.  The top and bottom layers had to be rubber.  In between were numerous tin can sheets.  Rubber bands were used to tie the feathers to the tip of nail.  Yes, it is that simple to make a toy for ourselves those days. It practically cost us nothing and yet we could derive hours of pleasure from it.






Now, coming back to chwee kueh, here is the recipe. Mine may not taste as good as At Tai’s but my mum and my friends love it so I presume it is worth sharing this recipe with you. 





Makes 30
Ingredients:

(A)
300g rice flour
½ tsp corn flour
2 C water
¼ tsp salt

(B)
3 C water
3 tbs oil

Toppings:
(C)
3 tbs oil
3 tbs garlic, chopped
150g dried preserved radish pieces (chai poh)
¼ tsp pepper
4 tbs sugar

Method:
Grease chwee kueh moulds of 4 cm diameter and place on steamer to heat. Mix (A) together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.  Bring 3 C water to boil. Add to A and blend with a whisk to get a slightly gluey consistency.  Pour batter into each chwee kueh mould, filling to just below the brim.  Steam for 20 mins over moderate heat. Ensure water is boiling before covering the steamer.  Cool before scooping out.  Top with (C).

To make topping (C):
Heat the oil and fry garlic till golden. Add preserved sweet radish and fry for 5 mins till fragrant.  Add pepper and sugar.  Add more sugar if a sweeter taste is desired. Fry for another min.

You can serve this with sambal belacan or hoi sin sauce or tauchew sauce. 

Note: Vary the amount of corn flour to adjust texture.  Use moderate heat when steaming to prevent dimples from forming. Also, put vinegar into the boiling water in the steamer so chwee kueh will be white. There are 2 types of chai poh. Use the sweet one and not the salted. It is better to prepare the toppings before hand and keep in the freezer for a week. Steamed chwee kueh, if kept in air tight container in the fridge can last for 2 days.






 I have submitted this entry to  Malaysian Monday.  Do check out  3 hungry tummies or test with a skewer for more information.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spinach Bacon mini quiche

Do you have days that you just want to eat something simple? Here is a recipe for a quick, simple and delicious meal. You can make a big batch of this and keep in the freezer. They come very handy on days when you just want to drop on your couch and eat your meal in front of the TV watching your favorite show.  Don’t even have dishes or cutlery to wash.




Ingredients:

4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups shredded Asiago cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 red capsicum, thinly sliced (if want spicy, replace with 1 red chilli)
2 to 3 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry wasabi
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 (10 ounce) package spinach, cooked, chopped and drained
1 (9 inch) short crust pastry (divide by 4 make 4 mini pie shell)


Method:

In a large bowl, beat eggs; whisk in milk, 1 cup cheese, capsicum,onion, bacon, salt, mustard and paprika. Add spinach. Pour into pie shell. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted halfway between the center and the edge comes out clean.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Braised Lamb Shank in garlic foam – Big Disappointment!

First I do not eat lamb, and I just cannot stand the gamey taste. There have been many times when everybody told me the lamb at a certain restaurant had no gamey taste, and I've tried, but the musky "gamey" taste is always there. Since both my hubby and son love lamb, I want to learn how to make this dish for them. So I found a recipe for lamb shank in Chef Sam Leong's recipe book. I followed the recipe to the dot and cannot tell what went wrong. I am not happy with the result of this dish. My food critic said the flavor was good but my lamb shank is not tender enough. I did not know that it is so difficult to get it right. No wonder I don't like it. LOL! I would love to hear your opinion on this. Any of you dear friends have a good lamb shank recipe, please point me to it ok? Pretty please?


Adapted from Chef Sam Leong’s recipe



Ingredients:
60g lamb shank,
½ tsp cooking oil
40g Edmame beans
salt to taste


Sauce:
50g diced carrot
50g diced celery
3g rosemary
3g thyme
1 bay leaf
160ml chicken stock
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp tomato paste
2 tsp red wine
Garlic Foam:
20g peeled garlic
50ml chicken stock
30g whipping cream
½ tsp salt


Garnish:
Pink peppercorns
Chives


Method:
Pan sear lamb shank until brown on all sides. Place a pot with sauce ingredients and braise for 1 hr. Reserve shanks but discard other ingredients. Deep fry whole garlic until brown. Steam with chicken stock for 30 mins until garlic is soft. Add cream and process mixture in a blender until foamy. Season with salt. Heat oil and sauté edamame beans. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Place edamame beans on a plate, top with lamb shanks and spoon garlic foam over. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns and chives.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Steam three kinds of eggs

My son and hubby loves eggs. You can cook them in any variation, they will still love it.  To me, my mum makes the best steam eggs. This may look simple to do but to get the right consistency and texture are not so.  Before I started this blog, I never pay any attention to how mum makes this dish. I just know that I love it and have not found any restaurant in Kuala Lumpur that can make it better than her. There are times when I craves for it. Whenever that happens, all I have to do is said to mum, I want to eat steam eggs. "PUOOFF!" the steam eggs will be served at dinner time! I consider myself VERY lucky to have mum staying with me.  She is my BEST friend, someone I can confide in and be myself.  There are times when I go cranky and become nasty and blow my top unreasonably.  Mum puts me back on track by giving me a nice scolding which I deserved! She is my guardian angel. 

As usual, mum does not follow any measurement.  When I asked her how she makes the steam eggs, she said, a pinch of this and a bowl of that and use this aluminium plate to hold the eggs. So, I have to explain to her that I need accurate measurement in order for me to share this recipe with my readers and blogger friends.  They don't have the same size bowl or the aluminium plate we use. I told her I need to measure all her "pinch of this and handful of that" and "a bowl of this and that" to get it right. You know what she said to me?  She said "Aiyoh, why so "Ma fan"(troublesome)?, I don't need so many cups and spoons to cook. All I have is my ten fingers!" LOL! So there you go, here is the recipe carefully measured from my mum's ten fingers.  Enjoy!



Ingredients:

1 egg
1 century egg
1 salted egg
¾ cup water
1 tsp chopped garlic, deep fried
1 shallot, thinly slice and deep fried
1 tsp diced chives
1 tsp sesame oil

Method:

Crack the regular and salted eggs in an aluminium plate. Dice the salted egg yolk. Add water and beat them lightly. Remove shell from century egg and cut into bite size and spread out into the salted egg and regular egg mixture.   Heat steam on high heat till water is boiling. Place plate with eggs mixture into the steamer and gently stir the mixture for 30 sec. Keep heat on high and close lid but just allowing a little gap. You can use a spoon or spatula to create the gap, this is a secret to getting the perfect steam egg custard with silky smooth surface. Steam for about 15 to 20 mins. Drizzle sesame oil on top of steamed eggs and garnish with deep fried garlic, deep fried shallots and chives. Serve hot.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Are you a romantic or a cynic? We are both!

When I arrived at the hotel and walked into the our room a day before Valentine's day, I saw this little arrangement on the dressing table. 






The flowers were lovely and I love the little butterfly clip. I really appreciate that my hubby took the time to make this little arrangement for me. He did not buy me expensive fancy chocolates but he bought me my favorite Kit-Kat!  That was a surprise!  He surprises me a lot and sometimes I wonder when is he going to run out of ideas. Frankly, I am not as creative as he is so I have long ago ran out of ideas to surprise him. Now my surprise to him is, there is no more surprises! I think I can get away with it because I am a "Chinese Kampong Girl"! LOL!

When I was at the mall on Valentine's afternoon, it was crowded with long ques of people at chocolate, cake stores, and florists. Everybody were rushing to get their love one a Valentine's gift.  Obviously, commercial interests has contributed greatly to the publicity that surrounds Valentine's day. No one can argue that they are all designed to rake in the profits.  To me, commercializing any holidays can often replace the true history and tradition of it but on the other hand, because of that, the holiday stays alive and not forgotten.  I think we should not be obsessed with tangible things and forget what the holiday really stands for. It is a big mistake to think that a gift or a dinner for your love ones on this day is going to make up for the fact that you don't show care for the rest of the year. Love is a precious experience and should be celebrated everyday in our own way not just once a year.

That evening, while everyone flocked to fancy restaurants for a candle light dinner to celebrate Valentine's day, we had a quiet dinner at a Kopitiam in the hotel we stayed in. We ordered three of our favorite dishes and two glasses of champagne. The deep fried tahu with bean sprouts and onions in a thin rojak sauce was delicious.  The beef rendang goes well with white rice.  There is nothing to shout about for the oysters sauce kai lan but a meal did not seem complete without vegetables. We enjoyed our meal and the attention from the waiters.  The service was better than usual because there were only a few of us there. To us, this is so much better than going to a crowded fancy restaurant, pay a big bill for a set menu of little choice and get annoyed by lousy service. We celebrated love in our own way.







Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The longest delicious meal I have ever had! and I made Otak-Otak

Before I give you guys the recipes for the Pickled cucumbers and Otak-Otak, I would like to share with you my first time meeting my blogger friends last Saturday. There were seven of us and we had a potluck gathering at Reese’s place at the poolside. Although it was my first time with these wonderful food lovers and cooks, I feel I knew them a long time and I was very comfortable in their company.  We eat, chat and laugh a lot.  In the following photo collage, you will see some of the food we had that day.



They are:
Nian Gou Puffs

Ikan kembung in banana leaves
Yee Sang

Lemon grass, pandan soda drink
Lemon grass chicken wings
Sausage

4-    From Swee San  http://thesweetspot.com.my/ 
Vietnamese rice paper rolls
Ispahan Mini Cakes
Nasi kerabu (jointly with Wendy)

5-    From Wendy http://wendyinkk.blogspot.com/
Bak Kwa
Jelly candies
Alive and kicking prawns

6-    From Pei-Lin http://dodol-mochi.blogspot.com/
Rojak

7-    From me
Shanghai Noodles (I added some prawns this time)
Pickled cucumber (scroll down to see recipe)
Otak-Otak (scroll down to see recipe)

Is your stomach growling after seeing all the nice food?

As food bloggers, there is no way we do not take pictures of the food right? Even Sonias’s son, Desmond will not give up the chance to do so for his mum.  Sonia, you trained him well. LOL!



As Swee San was the only one who knows how to start the fire, she did the most work and got herself all hot and sweaty.  Thanks Swee San for the hardwork.  You can see how hard she worked in the following photos.



While all of us were busy preparing the food, chatting and eating, the young gentleman, Desmond (Sonias's son)  and the pretty young lady, Cheryl (Reese's daughter) were getting aquainted and enjoying themselves.


The rain did not stop us from continuing our eating and chatting session as you can see we moved everything up to Reese’s apartment and continue the fun. 
So much for the bloggers meet, here comes the two recipes which my friends would like me to share:

Pickled cucumber



Ingredients:

2 cucumbers, remove seeds and diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 red chilli padi (birds chilli) finely diced (for very spicy)
or
1 red chilli, remove seeds and finely diced (for less spicy)
1 tsp roasted sesame
1 tbs plum sauce
1 tbs water
1 tsp oil
salt and sugar to taste

Method:
Heat oil in sauce pan and fry garlic till fragrant. Add plum sauce and stir fry for a few seconds, add chilli and water.  Add salt and sugar to taste. Stir fry for a min or two. Let cool and mix well with cucumbers. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Taste better when serve cold.
*****************
Otak-Otak



I was so flattered. Desmond loves my Otak-Otak

Ingredients:

(A)
500gm salmon fish fillets, cut into 2 inches x  1 inch x ½ in thick
225 ml thick coconut milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
8 pcs kaffir lime leaves, removed the spines and finely sliced
20 pcs betel leaves (blanch in boil water and let dry)
½ tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
20 pcs 6 inches x 8 inches banana leaves, cleaned (see video on how to soften the leaves)


video

Ingredients for the paste:
(B)
10 pieces red chillies, seeds removed and sliced (don't remove seeds if prefer more spicy)
2 stalk lemongrass, finely sliced
4 petals of Bunga Kanta (phaemaria - pink rojak flower, finely sliced
1/2 in galangal
10 pcs candlenuts, roasted
1 pc shrimp paste approx. 1.5 in x 1.5 in
4 cloves garlic sliced
5 shallots, finely sliced
1.5 inch fresh tumeric
1 tsp Maggie chicken stock

Method:
Clean fish, remove skin and cut them accordingly. Blend all paste ingredients (B) in a blender. If you want it to taste even better, pound the spices using mortar and pestle instead.  In a large mixing bowl, add in (A) & (B) and mix them thoroughly.

Method of making banana leaf parcels for steaming:
In each banana leaf, place 1 or 2 betel leaves. Place 1 pc of fish and spoon the paste enough to cover the piece of fish before wrapping. Use staples to secure the folds and place the parcels on the rack of a steamer for approximately 7 mins or until fished is cooked and paste is set. Serve hot.

See video on how to make banana parcel
video


Friday, February 11, 2011

Black eye peas and peanuts soup

I have been eating too much rich food the past few days and just want something plain and simple for a change. I put a cup of cooked rice into this soup and I have a healthy meal. This is it!



Ingredient:

(A)
50 gm black eye pea, soaked overnight
50 gm peanuts, soaked for 3 hours
600 ml water
1 cube bullion chicken stock

(B)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground white pepper

Method:
Add (A) in a soup pot and bring to boil.  Lower heat to medium and simmer for 1 hour. Add B and serve hot.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

CNY Day 4 – Potluck at my neighbors’ home

Last Sunday, we had a potluck dinner at my neighbors, Andrew and Annie’s home.  There are four families and each cooked a dish or two for the dinner. Dr. Hall brought some great wines and his wife, Dr. Lee cooked one of the famous Peranakan dish “Ju Hu Cha”.  Another neighbor, Mr. Meta share with us a bottle of fine champagne, Mrs. Meta brought curry chicken, while I made three dishes, garlic yellow squash, roasted butternut squash with rosemary and thyme and deep fried prawn in tamarind sauce. The host made two favorite Hakka dishes, stew pork belly and yam and braised pork belly with wood’s ear bean curd sauce. There were all very delicious. 

We all enjoyed the dinner and the company especially when we had Uncle Meta telling us so many funny stories.  He is such an adorable guy, his stories made me laugh so hard that my jaw hurts.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Meta are in their eighties who has just celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary. What a charming couple!  It warms my heart to see such a loving couple growing old together. They truly enjoys each other company, love life and find humor and laugh at anything positive or negative.  I saw Uncle Meta laughed at his aches and pain and cracked jokes about it instead of whining. He did not let that deter him from spending good times with his friends. I marvel at his positive attitude towards life. Oh and he is a lucky man because Mrs. Meta is a gorgeous lady and a good cook.

I think it is very important to know our neighbors and be on friendly basis with them because they are the closest friends in distance to us.  During times of emergency, neighbors can definitely fill in the need.  There were many times in the past when I was in need of help, my neighbors came to my rescue. So, do not just leave your house, drove off and then when you come home, go straight into your house and don’t even say “hello” to your neighbors.  Socialize with them, be their caring friends but not a nosy one. LOL!  I said,  friends nearby is worth two far away. Do you agree? 


Once I gather the recipes from all the foods in the picture, I will definitely share with you all. 

Top pic: roasted butternut squash with rosemary and thyme, bottom pic: deep fried prawn in tamarind sauce

Left pic: Ju hu Cha, right top pic: curry chicken, right center: stew pork belly and yam, right bottom: deep fried prawn in tamarind sauce

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lemon Curd

When I was cleaning up the refrigerator today, I saw half a dozen lemons there so I decided to make lemon curd and use it to practise my photography.  I killed two birds with a stone.  I have a jar of delicious lemon curd and at the same time get to know my camera better.

On the eve of Chinese New Year, my hubby made a peach tart and there were some balance of pie crust and I use them to make some mini lemon tarts and they taste really good.  On the second day of the Chinese New Year , my hubby discovered that lemon curd goes very well with the walnut cookies. I have to agree that it is really a great combination.







Makes about 2 cups
 Ingredients:
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 ½ big lemons)
2 tbs grated lemon zest
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick butter), cut into 10 slices

Method:
Add 1-inch of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. In a medium metal bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar for about 2 minutes until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest until combined. 


Place the mixing bowl on top of saucepan (the bowl should be wide enough to fit on top of the saucepan, but shouldn't be touching the simmering water). Stir the mixture constantly with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as you stir, until it begins to thicken, and will coat the back of a spoon. This will take approximately 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. 


Whisk in the butter, one slice at a time. Wait until each piece almost disappears before adding the next. Spoon into clean glass containers and allow to cool with a piece of plastic wrap laid on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

Refrigerate until needed. This lemon curd will keep for 2 to 3 weeks.