Friday, April 29, 2011

Classic Meat Loaf – Its the American way

I did not know what meat loaf was until one day my Quay Lo (that American guy of mine) introduced this “Very American Thing” to me. From what I read in the “Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink”, meatloaf is the ultimate comfort food, a dish that brings back fond childhood memories for many American families. There are a varieties of preparation ranging from an ordinary meatloaf of just ground beef and chopped onion to one that is enhanced with herbs, flavours and "secret sauce" toppings.

Meatloaf is almost like saying "stew", almost a generic name, in its versatility, and lets the cook exhibit their creativity. Some basic notes however are worth heeding: To get a moist meatloaf, use only soft bread crumbs. To make your meatloaf more attractive, you may consider topping it with mashed potatoes or your favorite cheese. If cheese is used, don’t forget to return the meat loaf to the oven to bake for an extra 5-8 mins to let the cheese melt before serving. Also, be sure to keep any left over’s to use for sandwiches or crumble it in chilli sauce or tomato sauce to serve as an appetizer. My American thinks meatloaf is one of those dishes that ages in the fridge overnight to yield something far better the next day. He also thinks the meat should not be ground too fine. "If you want pate' go to France" is what I think he muttered as discussed the preparation for my first meat loaf.

What follows is a classic meat loaf served with mashed potatoes and brown gravy. No extra ingredients, no tricky flavour enhancements yet the taste is truly like a down to earth home style meatloaf. Yet, I suspect it is almost a holy experience for some Americans. Mine kept pausing, and sighing between mouthfuls, apparently in some kind of rapture and I am thinking what is this? It's just ground beef, it''s not like it's abalone in XO sauce...right?
Largely adapted from Janet Caldwell’s recipe
Classic Meat Loaf
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 egg
1 onion, chopped
1 cup milk
1 cup soft bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large bowl, combine the beef, egg, onion, milk and bread OR cracker crumbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste and place in a lightly greased 5x9 inch loaf pan, OR form into a loaf and place in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour.

Largely adapted from Linda Larsen
Mashed potatoes
2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup light cream, warmed
1-1/2 tsp. salt
ground black pepper
In a large pot, place potatoes. Cover with cold water by about 1". Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce heat to low and simmer potatoes until tender when pricked with a fork. This should take 20-30 minutes. Drain potatoes in a large colander; shake gently. Return potatoes to the hot dry pot and place over very low heat. Shake potatoes over the heat for 1-2 minutes to dry them. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or put through a ricer. Then stir in butter with spoon until well mixed. Add light cream, salt, and pepper to taste and mix well. Serve immediately or hold over hot water as directed above. 8-10 serving
Brown gravy
For convenience, I use Bisto rich brown a product from Australia. To make the gravy, just follow instruction on the box.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I have been tagged to celebrate Easter

 I was tagged by Ping of ping's pickings, and like her, I have not played this game for a long time too.  Kind of nice to join in the fun to celebrate Easter. Thanks Ping for the invitation.

I have to come up with a suggested menu of 5 - 10 items. and upload these photos from my previous posts and link them to their recipes.  After that, I have to tag 10 of my blogger friends to do the same.

Here is my Easter Menu (to get the recipe, please click on the photo):

Cocktail drink: QPC Snow White

Appetizer - Cabbage Roll

Soup - Clam Soup

Main Course - Stew Beef Brisket

Dessert - Creme Brulee

I would like to invite the following friends to join in the fun:

 8) Joelyn


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Honey-Lemon Rack of Lamb - Thanks to all the tips and advice from fellow bloggers!

If you remember, the first time I attempted to make a braised lamb shank, it was a disaster. Then, I received lots of tips and advice from fellow bloggers who were experienced cooks and they helped me solve my problem. They were so generous in sharing their knowledge with me. My "Quay Lo" has often said that my stubbornness has a good side, and that is that I don't give up easily. Like everyone, I have had my share of curve balls in the past and have been taken by surprise more than I can recall. I think I have found that stubbornness, or perhaps a better word is tenacity, leads to persevering over obstacles. However, the trait can be a two edged sword. In the face of an obstacle that is impossible to overcome, stubborness is stupid. There can be virtue in knowing "when to leave". In military terms this is "strategic withdrawal". While this idea is not unknown to me, believe me, there were many times I was stubborn to the point of stupid. I admit that I wondered if this was a case of doing that, but all the wonderful tips and advice from you steeled me to go at it again. I am so glad that I did. I think I got it right this time and I definitely learned along the way. My hubby says the most lasting lessons we learn come from trying and failing, and trying again. HOORAY!! The featured recipe today, with it's crusty pecan on the outside, and the tender lamb inside, is a match made in heaven. I proudly declare that this is a keeper lamb recipe. Try it!
Honey-Lemon Rack of Lamb featured 
on AFC (Offcial Facebook page on 
19 July 2012

Adapted from Diana Rattray recipes
2 racks of lamb, 4 to 5 ribs on each
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in thin slivers
½ tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbs fresh chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
Heat oven to 325°F or 160 degree C
Cut small slits all over the lamb and insert garlic slivers. Place the racks, bone side down, in a shallow roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine honey, brown sugar, lemon juice, and garlic powder in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring, over medium-low heat, until sugar is dissolved; remove from heat. Stir in lemon peel, mint, and pecans. Spoon the honey mixture over the lamb. Continue roasting, basting occasionally, for about 30 to 45 minutes longer, or to about 160°F. on a meat thermometer for medium.

Note: To use a meat thermometer, insert it in the meat so that the tip is in the center of the meat and not touching bone or the roasting pan.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stir-fry Mustard Green with Crabmeat

This used to be a common dish served at Chinese Wedding Dinners but not so much now.  I wonder why. I like the peppery taste of mustard green and crab meat is my favorite. This is not an easy dish to cook. It is rather difficult to get the right consistency for the gravy but then when you get it right, this is very delicious and worth the effort.  I have cooked this twice before. The first time, the gravy was too watery and second time, I could not get a good shot of the dish. Somehow, this is a rather difficult dish to photograph. How about these photos? Are they calling you to try to make this dish? 

Adapted from Red Cook

12 ozs. (or 3 cups cut) mustard green
6 ozs. cooked crabmeat
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
3/4 cup chicken stock (or water)
2 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water to make slurry

Cut the leafy portion of mustard green off, and then cut the green stem into approximately 1.5-inch square pieces. Use fresh or refrigerated cooked crabmeat if available. Otherwise canned crabmeat can be substituted. Heat two tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok until beginning to smoke. Put the mustard green in the wok and add 1/2 cup of stock or water. Cover the wok and simmer over medium heat for about 8 minutes. Stir the vegetable occasionally to make sure it is evenly cooked. When the vegetable is cooked and tender, but not mushy, remove it from the wok along with all the liquid and put it in a bowl. Set aside. Heat another one tablespoon of vegetable oil in the wok and stir-fry the garlic and ginger for about a minute. Add the crabmeat, cooking wine, salt, pepper and the rest of the stock or water. Cook for another two minutes or so and return the vegetable and its liquid into the wok. Thicken the sauce with the cornstarch slurry. Plate and serve immediately.

Note: To make it even more elegant, garnish the dish with a sprinkle of cooked crab roe.

I celebrate "YOU" with a “Mother's Day Give Away”



Mother's Day is round the corner so I want to take this opportunity to celebrate "YOU" as well. You guys have made my blogging experience so very wonderful! Your comments make each day more interesting for me and give me a sense of accomplishment. It had never crossed my mind that I could have a blog of my own because I afraid to write with my limited English. Furthermore, I did not even dream that someone would spend time reading my posts for I always felt that I thought and wrote would be boring. When I started I told myself, just write from my heart and share my thoughts and if nobody cares about my stories, I can at least share our recipes and surely there will be people out there who loves food and can benefit from it. There is a selfish motive for my blog though, for I knew that I would feel joy from sharing joy. 

Along the way, blogging has opened the door for me to meet many new friends far and near. Even though, I have not met all of my blogger friends, I have met and made friendships with many lovely local bloggers, I have made a few good friends from far away whom stay in touch by emails as well. Isn't that amazing? Thank you for all your friendship and I will always value it. This Quay Po's passion is burning high and bright because of your love and support. HUGS to all and Happy Mother's Day in advance.

This cookbook “Reviving Local Dialect Cuisine” by Pan Nyu Yoon is a bilinqual edition. Madam Pang was honoured with the Singapore’s first “Life Long Learning Award” in 2002 and her culinary finesse and creativity has won her a silver medal in the individual category of “The Fifth World Championships of Chinese Cuisine” held in Guangzhou in November 2004. In this cookbook, you will find many handpicked popular authentic recipes of Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hainanese and Hakka origin. On the first page of each section, there is a short description of each dialect's cultural roots pertaining to their food. I am sure the winner will enjoy this cookbook as much as I did.
A sneak peek in the book:
To participate:
  1) You must be my blog or twitter followers, to enter this contest. If you are not and would like to enter for this giveaway, can I bribe you to click on the follow button now? (hahaha, just kidding, the intention of this "Give Away" is not to lure followers but celebrate "YOU".)
2) Leave your comment and tell me the recipe or post that you like the most on my blog and why. (This is for me, I am curious to know)
3) This Giveaway ends 1st May 2011 at 12 midnight Malaysian Time.
4) The Winner will be announced on 2nd May 2011 so please check back on this post on that day to find out if you are the winner.
5) The Winner will be contacted on 3rd May 2011 for postal information and the book will be posted within 3 workings from the date of winner's reply.
Note: Those who post as anonymous, please leave your name and email address, otherwise I have no way of contacting you if you are the winner.
Once again, THANK YOU for being part of my culinary journey and blogging experience.

Friday, April 15, 2011

How I salvage a burnt top, half baked center cake

My cake got a burnt top and a half baked center. I did everything right so what happen? I am guessing that there is something wrong with my oven. This sounds like a bad carpenter blaming his tools. Short of pulling my hair, I was frustrated with the outcome. My first thought was to throw away the cake but I could not bring myself to do it because I was raised not to waste food. I thought of a way to salvage it.  I cut off the burn top and the half baked center and retained the baked part. I cut them into big slices and served them with vanilla ice cream.  Having packed with spices, this cake is buttery, fluffy and crunchy at the same time. No one complains about the odd shape slices that were served. They did not care, they ate them all and went for a second helping. The taste of this cake has definitely compensated for its look and that saves my bacon!

Cinnamon Pear Cake


250gm butter
220gm  castor sugar
4 eggs
150gm  self raising flour
35gm plain flour
120gm  sour cream
1 Large Chinese pear – peeled, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 pinch of ground clove
1 tsp vanilla extract


Arrange sliced pear in the cake pan. Beat butter and sugar with mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg one at a time. Fold in shifted flour and sour cream. Pour mixture over pear in the cake pan.  Bake at 180 degrees C or 375 degrees F for about 60 mins.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bagel egg sandwich - No recipe required

A simple and healthy “brunch" put together by my Quay Lo.  No recipe required. Just toast the bagels, apply some butter and assemble omelette and a piece of cheese of your choice and serve with salad.  The omelette and salad used here are left overs from our previous meals. A delicious way to use up left overs don't you think? Notice what the prints on the cover of the magazine say? "Work Hard, Play Harder". With meals like this, we sure have lots of time to play harder! LOL!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bacon cheddar cheese apple mini pie

I saw some pictures of cheddar apple pie by “feeding maybelle” and decided to adapt the idea to clear up  some chopped apples in my fridge.  I wanted something crunchy to the filling so I added fried bacon.  The saltish sweet taste of these mini pies are uniquely delicious.  I like that they are mini and it is not too filling even if I take two but I took three after they were baked and I have to stop myself not to take the fourth! An idea came to my mind, these mini pies will be a great snacks to carry on a road trip. 

I am submitting this recipe to Aspiring Bakers #6: Say Cheese! (April 2011) hosted by Jean of Nom I must. To find out more click here. Do head over to Jean's blog, she has lots of great bakes. 

Makes 18 mini pies

2 ½ pieces of  10 x 10 inches Borg short crust

Ingredients for fillings:
1/1/4 cup chopped green apple
3 tbs brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 pcs fried bacon
2 ½ sheets short crust pastry

Put A in a small pot and cook till apple is slightly limb.  Fried bacon till crispy and drain away all facts. Cut bacon into bite size. Mix bacon bits and shredded cheddar cheese with half cooked apple. Cut out 36 pieces of round short crust dough about 2 ½ inches in diameter.  Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each piece of cut-out dough and place another piece on top and seal it. Use a fork to poke some holes in the top crust and top with 2 thin slices of cheese crossing them.  Preheat oven at 170 degrees C. Bake the pie for 25 mins.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Char Siu Pau (BBQ pork steam bun)

I wanted to make pau for a long time and finally get to do it.  Sometimes, when you imagine something is hard to do, you procrastinate. In my mind, I feel it is a lot of work and very tedious to make pau.  There is a lot of waiting time too. By nature, I am a very impatient person so I really did not like the waiting part. However, I am curious to find out how homemade pau taste as compared to those in the restaurant.  People said curiosity killed the cat but in this case it did not, in fact it made the cat takes action. So are you ready to look at the pau made by a first timer?

What do you think? "Boleh tahan tak?" (can do or not?) 

Ingredients for filling:
1 lb. cooked BBQ pork (diced small)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons (diced) red onion
1 tablespoon chinese cooking wine
2 tablespoon soya sauce
3/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbs cup potato starch (to thicken the gravy)
1tbs water

Method to make Filling:
In a wok, add oil, sauté the onions and add the pork cook for 3 minutes. Add in the wine, soya sauce and hoisin sauce. and Cook for few more minutes. Mix potato flour water and pour in to thicken gravy. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool.

*NOTE - you can buy cooked BBQ Pork at any Chinese market or restaurant.

Ingredients for pau dough:
500 gm flour (super white flour or Pau flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp (6g) instant dry yeast
2 tbsp shorterning or vegetable oil
250 ml luke warm water

Method to make dough:
Mix all the dry ingredients together (flour,baking powder,salt,sugar,yeast and shortening) in a bowl and then add in the water and mix well until it forms a dough. Keep kneading the dough until it doesn't stick to your hands. Divide the dough into two balls and knead again until the dough texture is smooth. Leave the dough to rise until double its size, covered with a wet cloth. (about 1 hour).  When the dough has risen , punch the dough down to let the air out. Knead the dough and divide into small balls (about 50gms each). Flatten each ball of dough in your hands and put a tbs filling in the center. Use your fingers to pleat  and shape the dough. (Click here to go to the link to learn how to pleat and shape the pau. It will be a bit difficult to do but after to get the hang of it, it is not so bad.)  Place a small piece of paper underneath each pau. Leave all the paus to rise again for about 30 – 45 minutes. Meanwhile you can prepare the steamer to bring the water to boil. Steam the pau for about 15 minutes , and serve.

Monday, April 4, 2011

My humble apple crumble, can you tell I cheated? SSSH!!

I think in order to do anything well, one has to love doing it otherwise the result will not be as rewarding. Maybe I still do not love baking enough to produce good results.  I admire bakers who bake beautiful and delicious pastries, cakes, breads and cookies. Some of my fellow bloggers are so talented and I can spend hours at their blogs admiring their fabulous photos and quietly wish I can bake like them. To me, they are not only fantastic bakers, they are food artists. 

My first attempt on baking apple crumble was a failure.  Why?  That is because I was neither interested in baking or cooking but that was one year ago.  Now, I would say I have improved to a state where I am not ashamed to share with you this humble apple crumble recipe of mine. I usually serve it with vanilla ice cream and there is no doubt the combination of flavors is very pleasing to the palette. 

Before we move on to the recipe, I am curious to know if you have ever wonder how professional photographers take photos of ice cream?  The last time when I photographed my banana foster with vanilla ice cream, the scoop of ice cream melted before I could get the settings right on my camera. You can see it in the picture below. Look pathetic right? This photo did not do justice to the recipe. If you like banana foster, you must try this.  It is an original recipe from Chef Paul and to me, the best! Just click on the photo and it will bring you to the post.

When you look at my apple crumble with vanilla ice cream, you will must be thinking, "Oh, Quay Po has master the skill of taking photo of ice cream or how come the ice cream did not melt?" Want to know why? Please read on.

A friend, who is a professional photographer told me that some of the fantastic shots of ice creams in magazines were not ice cream. They are mashed potato mixed with lard, karo syrup and food coloring. If I did not tell you that I cheated, would you know that the ice-cream on my apple crumble is mashed potato?

If you want to take photos of real ice creams instead of fake, perhaps some preparation in advance may help. Make sure your camera, the right lens including the tripod are in place. Check that the lighting is what you want. Place whatever you are going to used to hold the ice cream in the freezer for at least half an hour before taking the shot. This will provide you with more time to make adjustments before the ice cream melts. My next project is to take photo of real ice cream. Wish me luck. 

Apple crumble 


3 medium size apples, peeled, cored and sliced or cube
25 g brown sugar
25 g raisins
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp vanilla extract

100 g plain flour
¼ tsp salt
60 g cold butter, cut into small pieces
25 g castor sugar
10g chopped almonds


Preheat oven to 200 C or 400 F.  Cook A for 5 – 8 mins till apple is slightly soft.  Pour into an ovenproof dish.  B - Sift flour with salt. Rub in butter till it resembles fine bread crumbs.  Lightly mix in sugar and almonds.  Sprinkle B over A.  Bake for 30 mins or until golden brown.  Serve hot with vanilla ice cream or thickened cream.