Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chilli Prawns

I made this chilli prawn dish (辣椒虾)today, added some "ABC" extra-hot chilli sauce. It was so spicy that my hubby said he can literally spew fire. So we had a fire-spewing dragon at home! Guess it was too spicy for him, I personally felt that it was spicy too. But I only have 1 type of chilli sauce at home, and it happened to be "extra-hot", guess I should have reduced the chilli sauce and upped the ketchup instead for this recipe.

For those who love chilli prawns, here is the recipe I adapted from Violet Fenying. (Her recipe blog has ceased to exist since Mar 2010).

(Serving for 3 persons)

Ingredients A (chopped)
Garlic : 6 cloves
Ginger: 2 slices
Red Chilli : 2 pieces

Ingredients B
Prawns : 600g (shelled)

Ingredients C (mix well)
Chilli sauce : 2 tbsp
Ketchup : 3 tbsp
White pepper : ¼ tsp
Oyster sauce : 2 tbsp
Sesame oil : ½ tbsp
Vinegar : 1 tbsp
Sugar : 1 tbsp
Water : ½ cup

Ingredients D (mix well)
Corn flour : 1 tbsp
Water : 2 tbsp

Ingredient E
Egg : 1

Ingredient F
Spring onion : own preference

1. Heat up 3 tbsp of oil,  sauté Ingredients A till fragrant.

2. Toss in prawns, stir fry till fragrant.

3. Pour in Ingredients C, mix well.

4. Add in Ingredients D to thicken the sauce.

5. Stir in egg, mix well.

6. (Optional) Add spring onion, stir well, dish up and serve.

At the same time, I also did a quick stir-fry with whatever vegetables I could rummage from my fridge. Beans, carrots and courgette basically plus some minced garlic and shreds of ginger. Seasoned with a pinch of salt & sugar, soya sauce, oyster sauce and rice wine. Fry here fry there, and voila, the 2 dishes were ready simultaneously in 5 minutes time. I am glad that I have become more efficient over time. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Claypot Chicken Rice using Ricecooker

I just came back from a hectic 5-day trip to the city of lights, Paris. That explains my absence for a week. My ex-colleague, the "Ambitious Cloud" who came to visit us in Belgium and who accompanied us on the trip to Paris, reminded me that I have not posted my secret recipe for the claypot chicken rice which I cooked for her last Sunday. She wants to try the claypot rice when she returns to Singapore, but with pork chop instead of chicken.

This claypot rice is traditionally cooked using a claypot in Singapore coffeeshops and restaurants. But most households do not have claypots at home, besides you need a gas stove instead of an electric stove and you need to watch the fire in case the claypot rice gets burnt. So here is a shortcut to cooking claypot rice without the claypot. Use the ricecooker instead, and the taste is just as good.

So, dear "Ambitious Cloud", here is my "secret recipe" as promised. I hope that I get to eat claypot rice cooked by you the next time I return to Singapore. :) Don't always say you don't know how to cook, bcos you have been trained this time round. :p

Recipe adapted from "The Best of Singapore Cooking" by Mrs Leong Yee Soo

(Recipe for 3 persons)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dark soya sauce

1 thumb-sized ginger, shredded finely
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
4 shallots, sliced thinly

2 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sesami oil
1 chicken cube, mashed
1/4 tsp pepper

Other Ingredients
600g deboned chicken, cut into small pieces *
4 tbsp oil
4 dried chinese mushrooms, soaked and sliced
2 cups uncooked thai rice, washed and drained
2 cups water
2 chinese sausages, fried and sliced thinly
chinese parsley (optional)

* I used big chicken drumsticks cos I need to get rid of the frozen drumsticks in my freezer. The original recipe calls for using deboned chicken pieces.

1. Marinade the chicken with ingredient A for 30 min.

2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a hot pan and fry the chicken til brown on all sides. Set the chicken aside.

3. Fry the sliced chinese sausages til they are crackling but not burnt. Set the sausages aside.

4. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok and fry ingredient B til light brown. Add the mushrooms and stir fry for 1 min. Add the uncooked rice, stir well and make sure oil is absorbed.

5. Mix ingredient C in a bowl and add the seasoning to the rice together .Fry for a while. Remove the rice, place it in the rice cooker, add 2 cups of water, preferably the water used to soak the mushrooms. Ratio is 1 cup of water for every 1 cup of rice. Press the "cook" button. 

6. When the rice is almost cooked, place the fried chinese sausages and fried chicken pieces on top of the rice in the rice cooker. Leave them in the rice cooker to keep warm.

7. Serve while still hot.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Choco-Story Chocolate Museum in Brugge (Part 2)

(This is a continuation from Part 1)

I never realised that milk chocolate is so "unhealthy", or dark chocolate is so "healthy" until I went to the chocolate museum in Brugge. Well, everything is relative, isn't it? What is healthy to one, may be unhealthy to another and vice versa. But it is always useful to find out what you are actually eating. And after finding out, you will probably think twice the next time you munch on a piece of Godiva or Neuhaus belgian chocolate. :)

Do you know what are the key ingredients of chocolate and what  distinguishes milk chocolate from dark chocolate? Well, the key ingredients are namely Lecithin, Flavours, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, and last but not least, Powdered Milk and/or Cocoa Paste.

Here are the breakdown in components of the different kinds of chocolate.

1) White Chocolate : 
0.49% Lecithin, 0.01% Flavours, 29.5% Cocoa Butter, 45% Sugar, 25% Powdered Milk

White Chocolate
2) Milk Chocolate : 
0.49% Lecithin, 0.01% Flavours, 24.5% Cocoa Butter, 45% Sugar, 20% Powdered Milk, 10% Cocoa Paste

Milk Chocolate

3) Plain Chocolate (or Fondant Chocolate) : 
0.49% Lecithin, 0.01% Flavours, 9.5% Cocoa Butter, 45% Sugar, 45% Cocoa Paste
Plain/Fondant Chocolate
4) Dark Chocolate : 
0.49% Lecithin, 0.01% Flavours, 7% Cocoa Butter, 25% Sugar, 67.5% Cocoa Paste
Dark Chocolate
Gosh, I never knew that white chocolate, milk chocolate and plain chocolate have such high sugar content! But by eating dark chocolate rather than white/milk/plain chocolate, you are cutting down on sugar but getting a higher dosage of cocoa paste in return, which is still quite fattening for the waistline. But I think the worst choice has to be plain or fondant chocolate. 45% sugar, 45% cocoa paste and nearly 10% cocoa butter, oh my god! So the bottomline is, strictly no chocolates if you are on diet. :P

I also learnt something useful about working with chocolate in the chocolate museum. Here is what I read from the exhibits on display, which I had captured using my camera.

Working with Chocolate
1. Tempering with Chocolate
The traditional way is to pour the melted chocolate onto a marble worktop and work it with a spatula until the temperature falls to 27-28 degrees. Then the cooled chocolate is placed in tempering pots and the temperature brought back up to 29 degrees. The first crystals will make sure that the chocolate crystallizes perfectly into very small crystals, which will improve its properties. In particular, it will be very shiny.

2. Moulding Pralines
Chocolate is poured into the mould and the excess removed. Air bubbles are eliminated by vibrating the mould. The chocolate cups are cooled to solidify. The filling is injected and covered with chocolate. After cooling, the praline can be demoulded.

3. Garnishing
The top of the praline is garnished using a small piping bag filled, for example, with liquid chocolate.

4. Enrobing
This is the most ancient way of making pralines. The interior (marzipan, for example) is cut to size. Then it is dipped in chocolate and placed in the refrigerator. And so the praline, or truffle, is ready.

5. Making Hollow Figurines
Pour chocolate into clean dry moulds. On contact with the colder mould, a thin layer of chocolate forms. Pour away the excess chocolate and place the mould in the refrigerator. The chocolate hardens and detaches from the mould.

All in all, my visit to the Choco-Story Chocolate Museum in Brugge was an enlightening one. I didn't visit the Fries Museum which is in the same building, otherwise I would have given a short lecture on how to make belgian fries, hahaha. Maybe the next time. :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Choco-Story Chocolate Museum in Brugge

We brought a friend to visit Brugge today. The past few days have been horribly wet and windy, a typical belgium summer, so to speak. So today's weather is a good change, sunny and albeit windy, but otherwise very good weather for a day trip.

I have been to Brugge a few times, and this is at least the third time that I visit Brugge. For those who have not heard of or been to Brugge, Brugge is a place that you absolutely must visit if you have only 1 day to spend in Belgium. Skip Brussels and Antwerp and head out to Brugge in West Flanders and you will not be disappointed. It is a UNESCO world heritage city and it is nicknamed "Venice of the North".

Townhall of Brugge
We had a very fruitful trip at Brugge. We booked a guided tour at the tourist office of Brugge for 9 euro each and enjoyed a leisurely but very informative walking tour for 2 hours. I didn't take many pictures during the walk as I had already taken quite a number during my past 2 trips. Besides the guided tour, we also went to the Choco-Story, a chocolate museum in Brugge and I snapped quite a few interesting photos there. There are at least 2 chocolate museums that I heard of in Belgium. One is the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate in Brussels and the other is the one which I visited today, the Choco-Story Chocolate Museum in Brugge.

My hubby said it was like a mini study trip for me. Yes, I was there on a mission, to study the history and making of chocolate, haha. I learnt some very interesting facts at the chocolate museum. 

Do you know that cocoa beans were very precious and were used as a form of currency by the Aztecs? According to a document from Nahuatl in Tlaxcala in 1545, 1 cocoa bean can be used to buy 1 large tomato or 5 green peppers, and 1 rabbit would have cost 10 cocoa beans! Pots, jugs and plates sold at the market would cost between 40 to 100 cocoa beans. The Aztecs paid for their purchases with cocoa beans but the cocoa beans themselves were not for sale at the market. (The Aztec people were part of an ethnic group in central Mexico, who spoke the Nahuatl and who dominated Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.)

Another interesting fact. Cocoa, was being cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, Central and South America and cocoa mass was used originally in Mesoamerica both as a beverage and as an ingredient in foods. But it was only until the 16th century, during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec people that cocoa and chocolate were imported to Europe. Chocolate became so popular that it spreaded quickly throughout the European continent, but only the royals and the rich could afford this luxurious good.

How cocoa became the favourite drink of the Spaniards
It was mentioned in the museum that Spanish women, who emigrated to Mexico, loved chocolate so much that they couldn't stop drinking it. They even had their servants pour it for them during religious ceremonies. The constant coming and going of the servants became so annoying that the Bishop decided to prohibit it. Drinking of cocoa was prohibited during mass, and as a result people stayed away from church. Finally the bishop was murdered. Poison had been added to his cup of cocoa. :)

And for many years, the Spaniards who lived in Mexico carefully guarded the recipe of the cocoa drink. But here is the recipe I saw at the museum :

700g ground cocoa
56g cinnamon
14g cloves
1 pinch of aniseed
musk, amber
750g white sugar
14 pepper grains
3 vanilla sticks
1 hazelnut
1 orange flower

I also learnt about the history of praline at the chocolate museum. The word "praline" is french in origin and was said to have originated from César, duc de Choiseul, Comte du Plessis-Praslin, a 17th century french officer and diplomat, whose cook prepared for him, an almond dipped in sugar, which was called a Praslin.

But it was Jean Neuhaus who invented the Belgian praline. In 1857, his grandfather left Switzerland to set up in Gallerie de la Reine in Brussels, where he opened a "pharmaceutical sweetshop". He sold cough sweets, stomach syrups and bitter chocolate which was more of a medicine than a sweet. His son, Frederick, studied confectionery and sold caramel sweets, fruit pastes and vanilla chocolate. 

In 1912, Jean Neuhaus who inherited the business from his father, launched a new idea: first a hazelnut coated with chocolate and then a little filled chocolate cup. He called it a "praline". He wrapped these delicate chocolates in a strong cardboard box, designed in 1915 with his wife Louise Agostini. The "ballotin" was born, it was a real revolution in chocolate packaging. Until then, chocolates and other sweets were wrapped in simple sachets.

(to be continued...with Part 2)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

15 August - Mothers' Day in Antwerp

Mothers' Day is traditionally celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of May, but here in Antwerp (only in Antwerp, not in other parts of Belgium), they celebrate Mothers' Day on 15 August. 

Why? Because 15 August is the Day of the Assumption, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a day celebrating Mother Mary's being taken bodily to heaven at her death. It is a public holiday here in Belgium.

Since Sunday is Mothers' Day, I was given a treat by my hubby at a local taverne or brasserie called Peter & Zout on Friday. So what did I order? Guess what...vlaamse stoverij or flemish beef stew...hmm yummy yummy.

Here are some pictures of my flemish beef stew, I think my own home-made version looked and tasted almost as good as that served by the restaurant. :)

Ok, to be fair, the flemish beef stew that they served, had more sauce than mine...mine was a tad too dry. :)

My hubby had a belgian satay dish, I dunno what they call it in Dutch. It was very appetizing too, and we both enjoyed our main courses with belgian fries. All in all, we had an enjoyable evening on Friday without the baby (His Majesty).

So here is wishing everybody in Antwerp, a very Happy Mothers' Day!!! Gelukkige Moederkesdag!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Refreshing Rosemary Lemon Honey Drink

I was wondering what I should do with the fresh rosemary in my garden, until I came across this recipe on rosemary drink. How interesting! Rosemary with lemon, honey and whisky in ice water plus lots of ice cubes....Very refreshing on a hot sunny day....

I got the recipe from here, it was written in Chinese, so here is the English translation. Enjoy :)

1 stalk of fresh rosemary
1 tsp of lemon juice or syrup
1 tsp of whisky or brandy
1 tsp of honey
ice cubes
130 ml ice water

Tip : Dissolve the honey in a little bit of warm water first, before adding the ice water and ice cubes, if not the honey will not dissolve easily in ice water.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Leek with Ham and Cheese Au Gratin

As the saying goes, vegetables from your own garden taste the best.

See the celeries on the left and the leeks on the right?

This is our 1st year eating vegetables from our own backyard. Needless to say, I try to make sure that we make use of our home-grown vegetables as much as possible, in every single dish. So much so that my hubby assumes that whatever veggies that are served on our dining table come straight from the garden. Well, not everything. You know, we only have a limited variety of veggies and some are not doing particularly well, for instance the carrots. Don't ask me why, the roots just don't grow. It's quite a failure. Not the leek though. They are doing pretty well. But when it comes to leek, I am pretty clueless on how to make a dish out of it.

I was thinking of making a leek soup, then I remembered my earlier posting on Witloof with Ham and Cheese Au Gratin. Hey, we can do the same with leek too. Why didn't I think of that? I thought I would be able to get the credit for inventing this new dish but apparently this is a typical belgian dish. So great minds think alike!

The ingredients are almost identical, except that we replace witloof with leek. Easy peasy huh? Here we go...

Leek with Ham and Cheese Au Gratin (my own recipe)

INGREDIENTS (for 3 persons)
9 stalks of leek
6 pieces of ham (each piece of ham must be big enough to wrap up the leek)
1 packet of KNORR cheese sauce
some grated cheese
1a. First wash the leeks thoroughly, cut off the green leafy part, leaving behind the stems, and then cut the stem into 2 parts - the white stem and the not-so-white stem. So you have 2 stems for each stalk of leek. Retain the 2 stems but do not discard the top part (as seen in the picture) as they can still be used for making leek soup.

1b. Put the leeks in a big pot of slightly salted water and let it cook for about 15 min. Make sure there is sufficient water to cover the leeks.

2. After 15 min, take 250 ml of water from the pot of leeks and use it to prepare the cheese sauce in a separate pot. (the instructions on the packet says to cook the cheese sauce for just 1 min and not to boil it.)

3. Remove and drain the leeks. Carefully wrap a piece of ham around 3 pieces of leek stems. Place the rolled leeks in an oven-proof glass dish, pour the cheese sauce over it, and sprinkle grated cheese generously over the rolled leeks.

4. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for about 20-30 min or until the grated cheese on top of the leeks are nicely browned. 


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Homemade Strawberry Mousse

9 August is Singapore's National Day. Here is wishing Singapore a very Happy Birthday!!!  Let's celebrate Singapore's National Day with some freshly made strawberry mousse....yummy yummy. :)

Recipe adapted from "Everybody Eats Well in Belgium" by Ruth Van Waerebeek

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

500g strawberries, hulled & sliced
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp kirsch or Grand Marnier*
50g confectioners' sugar/icing sugar
1.25 cup heavy or whipping cream

* can be replaced with rum.


1. First make sure the strawberries are hulled (remove the green leafy top) and sliced. Place half the strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with granulated sugar and kirsch. Let macerate for 15 min.

2. Puree the remaining strawberries together with the confectioners' sugar in a blender.

3. Whip the cream to stiff peaks. Reserve a quarter of the whipped cream for garnish and refrigerate. Carefully fold the remaining cream into the pureed strawberries.

4. Arrange the macerated strawberries in 4 balloon shaped wine glasses, reserving a few strawberry slices for garnish. Fill the glasses with the strawberry cream, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours.

5. (Optional) Pipe the reserved whipped cream through a pastry bag fitted with a star tip over the mousse and decorate with the remaining sliced strawberries.

Serves 4.

Variation : Substitute an equal amount of raspberries for strawberries.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rabbit Stewed with Cherries in Rodenbach Beer

Yesterday I was forced to do something about the frozen rabbit in my freezer. I just bought 2 big packs of frozen chicken from ALDI and there was simply not enough space left in my fridge. Since the rabbit meat took up so much space, it had to make way for the chicken. So my rabbit chased away my chicken. And I reluctantly made a rabbit stew with my favourite Rodenbach beer and cherries (or krieken in Dutch).

Note the word "reluctantly". The last time I made a rabbit stew was in May. I bought a 2kg pack of frozen rabbit and used half of them (actually most of it were just bones) for my Rabbit Stew with Trappist Beer and Mushrooms, the remaining half was chucked away in the freezer until now.

The guilt of killing an innocent cute rabbit still haunts me. Yes, the sauce was delicious, but the truth was, it took so much effort to get the ingredients ready and then you still had to stew the rabbit for 2 hours, and all you got was a lot of bones and just a little meat. You start to wonder is it really worthwhile? I just want to know how to prepare a rabbit and how the meat tastes like. Now that I have achieved my mission by cooking the dish twice with 2 different recipes, it is time I leave the rabbits alone. Case closed. No more rabbits for another year or two, I hope. :p But I would definitely use this recipe for stewing chicken or turkey.

This is an adaptation of the recipe "Rabbit Stewed with Prunes in Beer" by Ruth Van Waerebeek.

INGREDIENTS (for 3 persons)
150g-200g canned cherries (krieken) + juice
3 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3-4 pieces of rabbit meat (about 1 kg)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 bottle Rodenbach beer
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leave
1 whole clove

1. Mix 2 tbsp of flour with salt and pepper. Dredge rabbit pieces with this mixture, shaking off any excess.

2. Heat the butter and oil in a large heavy dutch oven over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the rabbit pieces and saute until golden brown on both sides. Work in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Remove the rabbit pieces to a warmed platter and set aside.

3. Add the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, 4 to 5 min.

4. Put the rabbit pieces back into the pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp flour over the meat and onions. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 min. turning the meat from time to time. Add the Rodenbach beer gradually, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly each time before adding more. Add the vinegar, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and clove. Reduce the heat and simmer covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

5. Add the kriek cherries together with the juice. Simmer covered for about 45 more minutes. The meat should be very tender, almost falling off the bones.

6. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs, taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve.

Note: If you are a rabbit-lover (I mean if you hate killing them, not if you love eating them), you can still use this recipe for stewing chicken or turkey. For chicken, its not necessary to stew the meat for 2 hours, probably 1 hour in total will do. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chinese Beef Brisket with Ginger and Soya Sauce

I don't know what I am gonna call the dish that I just made. According to the recipe, it is called beef brisket. But honestly I have no idea what beef brisket is, let alone seen one. The meat that I am using is what I call stew meat. It may well be beef brisket, I don't know. Due to my bad command of Dutch, I generally leave the the grocery and marketing to experts and I just use whatever meat I can find in my freezer.

A quick check on the ever-so-trusty wikipedia, revealed that beef brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest. It is called 牛腩 (niu nan) in Chinese. Ah, does it sound a bell now? At least for Chinese readers. :)

Now no matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn't manage a nice shot out of it. Photos of beef stew are generally quite a challenge, based on what I learnt from my experiment on flemish beef stew, it seems easier to make a delicious dish than to make the (damned) photo look (damned) good. I admit that my photography skills still have a lot of room for improvement, but it is really difficult to snap pictures, capture the right angle with the right lighting and the right background, when the clock is ticking, the food is nearly burnt, the baby is screaming his head off and the rest of the family are all hungry.

That explains my lack of professionalism on the photography....hehehe. It has to be chop chop, take-1-shot-and-it-is-final, cos my hubby would say "Hey can you stop taking photos, I am hungry". And the baby will mumble "mum mum mum", either he is calling me mum or he is indicating that he is hungry too.

Anyway, back to this recipe. It is adapted from Leong Yee Soo's "Best of Singapore Cooking" cookbook (again). To tell the truth, I don't own the cookbook yet, but when I was back in Singapore in February, I borrowed this best-selling cookbook from the library and I managed to jot down a few good recipes. But the good news is, I am gonna be the happy owner of this famous cookbook very soon. A friend of mine will bring the book along (plus many other cookbooks) when she visits me in a few weeks time. Yippee! More Singapore recipes to come. :)

I love my flemish beef stew recipe, but this recipe is equally good, everybody should give it a try. :p

Chinese Beef Brisket with Ginger and Soya Sauce

Ingredients A
1 tbsp ginger juice
2 tbsp light soya sauce
3 tbsp dark soya sauce
1/2 tsp pepper

Ingredients B
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1.5-2 tbsp rice vinegar

Ingredients C (optional)
1 tbsp cornflour
3 tbsp water 

Ingredients D
1 tbsp sugar
6 slices ginger

Ingredients E
4 cloves garlic, bashed
4 shallots, halved

Ingredients F
1/4 tsp or 2 segments of star anise
1 stalk lemon grass, bruised
1 inch cinnamon bark

Other Ingredients
600g beef brisket, cut into pieces
2 tbsp lard or oil
300ml hot water

1. Marinate beef in A for 1 hour.

2. Mix B and C in separate bowls. 

3. Heat lard/oil in a saucepan and brown D. Add E to fry for 1 min. Then add F, marinated beef and B. Stir fry and cook over high heat for 10 min. Add 300ml hot water and let boil for 10 min.

4. Transfer dish to a earthern claypot or a heavy-bottomed pot. Bring back to heat and simmer til meat is tender (about 1.5 - 2 hours).

5. (Optional) Thicken gravy with C and stir well. (I personally don't like to thicken the gravy, but prefer the stewed beef to fully absorb the sauce).
6. (Optional) To serve, place whole pieces of lettuce on large serving plate. Arrange beef on lettuce and serve hot.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chinese Style Chicken Stew

I made a chicken stew today, a recipe adapted from Leong Yee Soo's "Best of Singapore Cooking" cookbook. It is interesting to note the ingredients and preparation method that she used in her cookbook. The preparation is always quite elaborate, add ingredients A, B, C, D and E...etc, and this level of details and elaborateness are quite typical for peranakan/straits chinese cooking. But the results are always well worth the effort. :)

I love Leong Yee Soo's cookbook, but there is a trick if you want to make good use of her recipes. You always have to do away with the msg (why is there msg in the first place, I wonder?) and reduce the amount of salt by half. I suppose people of the older generation are used to salty food. :)

So here is my adaptation of her chinese chicken stew recipe.

Chinese Chicken Stew

Ingredients A
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Ingredients B
3 big potatoes, cut into blocks
1 tsp peppercorns
1 carrot, cut into wedges
2 onions, quartered
1 chicken stock cube, mashed
500ml water

Ingredients C
4 shallots, pounded
1 thumb-sized ginger, cut into strips
1 cinnamon stick

Ingredients D
1 tsp dark soya sauce
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp water

Other Ingredients
600g chicken, cut into blocks
2 tbsp oil 
2 tbsp butter
3 tomatoes, quartered

1. Marinate chicken in A for 30 min.

2. Boil B in a pot for 10 min.

3. Heat the oil/butter in frying pan and brown C. Remove and set aside.

4. In the same frying pan, add oil/butter, add the marinated chicken and fry til brown on all sides. 

5. Mix D in a bowl and add to a big pot together with B (step 2) and C (step 3).

6. Stir and let simmer til the chicken is tender, about 20 min. Add the cut tomatoes and cook for another 5 min. Remove from heat. Serve hot.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Almond Cookies (Amandelkoekjes)

I first baked these cookies in late January just before Chinese New Year, when I wanted to bring some cookies back for my family in Singapore. So I found this recipe, had a try at it and gave some to my hubby, who in turn shared them with his colleagues at work. Then my hubby came back and told me that these almond cookies are what they called "amandelkoekjes" in Belgium. So it seems some recipes are universal after all. It was quite a success and I subsequently baked the cookies again at least 4-5 times, making 80 cookies each time. 

These almond cookies, together with peanut cookies, are quite popular in Singapore especially during CNY. I can assure you it is finger-licking delicious, it is crunchy on the outside but melts in your mouth. In fact, it can be quite fattening, given the amount of almonds, butter and sugar in it. But then again, if it is not fattening, it won't be delicious right?

I still have some ground almond powder left, I think I should attempt to bake the belgian version of almond cookies or amandelkoekjes the next week or so.

I promised to share the recipe a few months ago in my one of my earlier blog postings, so here it is. This is a recipe which I adapted from Fenying's blog (which has ceased to exist but I have copied down most of her recipes).

Ingredients A
125g butter
125g margarine
200g icing sugar

Ingredients B
2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp vanilla essence

Ingredients C
350g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients D
150g ground almond powder

Ingredients E
1 egg yolk + few drops of water
(beaten, for glazing)

1. Cream A until well-mixed using an electric mixer.

2. Add in B and beat well using an electric mixer.

3. Fold in C (sifted flour) using a spatula/wooden spoon.

4. Add in D (ground almond) and mix using a spatula/wooden spoon, then use your hands to form a soft dough.

5. Shape into small balls (the size of a rounded teaspoon). Arrange the cookies on a lined and greased baking tray, at least 3-4 cm apart. Brush with E (egg glaze).

6. Bake in preheated oven on the middle shelf at 180C for 15 to 20 min.

- This recipe will produce 80 cookies or so, if you use a rounded teaspoon to scoop and shape each cookie. Since I was only able to squeeze 20 cookies in a tray, you would have to bake in the oven 4 times.
- It is highly recommended to use 50% butter and 50% margarine for this recipe.

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