Saturday, February 27, 2010

Watercress Soup

My kids love any melts in the mouth vegetables and a good way to get them to eat more greens is to cook them in soup!

Watercress was on offer at our local supermarket and I bought 2 bundles.  We don't like the stalk so I usually cook it with the meat first, dish out the stalks 1 hour later and throw in the leafy portion to cook for another hour.

Watercress Soup
500g watercress
500g pork ribs/lean meat
2 litres water
15 - 20 red dates (红枣)
salt to taste (optional)

  1. Blanch pork ribs/lean meat. 
  2. Bring 2 litres of water to boil and add all ingredients in a pot.  Using medium fire, bring water to boil again, reduce to small flame and simmer for 2 hours.
  3. Season with salt before serve.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Broccoli and Scallops

Nephew DP is on a week's leave and I offered him lunch at my house.  I prepared some simple dishes and here's one of them.

I caught an episode of Mediacorp's 三菜一汤 (3 Plus 1 Season 2) and one of the chef mentioned that we shouldn't cook garlic with broccoli, instead ginger will compliment this vegetable better.  So I did mine with ginger oil now :)

Broccoli and Scallops

(A) Ginger Oil
1 thumbsize ginger, finely chopped
2 - 3 tbsp oil

(B) Vegetables
200g broccoli
10 - 15 frozen scallops
1 tbsp vegetable oil

(C) Sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp hot water
cornstarch solution (1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp water, stir till dissolved)
* mixed together


(A) Ginger oil
  1. Put ginger and oil in a microwaveable bowl.
  2. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, remove and give it a stir.
  3. Return bowl to microwave and cook for another 1.5 - 2 minutes.
  4. Set aside to cool.
(B) Blanching vegetables

  1. Wash broccoli under running water, trim the tough outer skin and cut into smaller florets.  Peel stalk and cut quarter lengthwise.
  2. Add vegetable oil to a pot of water and bring to boil.
  3. Add broccoli and blanch for 3 - 4 minutes. Remove and plunge the blanched broccoli in cold water to prevent them from overcooking.
  4. Add scallops to the boiling water and cook for around 2 minutes, remove.
  5. Arrange broccoli and scallops on a plate.
  6. Drizzle the sauce and ginger oil over the vegetables.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Black Pepper Salmon

I was feeling bored and decided to do this trick with my dog - balancing act! 

He is not supposed to move until I give him the "okay" command where he will toss the food in the air and catch it with his mouth, that's his reward for staying still ;-)

Next in the pipeline is balancing the blueberry on his forehead, this is so much easier as the circumference is wider and easier for balancing.

Feeling lazy, we had cha soba with black pepper salmon for dinner.  We usually have our soba with saba (Japanese word for mackerel) or teriyaki salmon but I don't have any saba in my stash and I didn't want to use my teriyaki sauce (I bought the western brand and I didn't quite like the marinade, still very much prefer the Japanese version) for the salmon, I decided to cook it with ground black pepper.

I marinated the fish with salt and ground black pepper, pan fry (both sides) in a nonstick skillet till cooked through.  Though slightly spicy, the kids enjoyed their meals :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Poached Egg

My MIL always cook poached eggs whenever we have mee sua soup (面线汤).  She taught me a few times but I just can't seem to get it correct.  After several trial and error, I finally got it right :-)

Bring a pot of water to near boil and reduce heat to low.

Crack an egg into a bowl.  Using a pair of chopsticks/spoon, swirl it in the water in clockwise direction for a few seconds until you see a rapid.  Immediately pour the egg very slowly into the pot of hot water.

Let it cook for a few minutes (I cooked mine for about 3 mins).

Spoon the egg out of the pot with a straining ladle.  Serve!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Papaya Soup - Dessert

This is my first time cooking a sweet papaya soup (papaya courtesy of Auntie A).  I do not know if there is a correct method but I cooked mine this way.  I think this soup goes well with lotus seeds too.

Papaya Soup - Dessert
3 litres water
½ half ripe papaya/paw paw
40g white fungus
30 - 35 red dates
8 - 10 pandan leaves
rock sugar to taste

  1. Wash and soak white fungus till soft.  Remove the stalk and separate into petals.
  2. Cook white fungus and pandan leaves in a pot with 3 litres of water.  When boil, remove pandan leaves.  Add red dates and let it boil again, then reduce heat and simmer for around 30 mins.
  3. In the mean time, remove papaya skin and remove the seeds.  Cut into small cubes/bite sizes.
  4. Add the papaya and rock sugar and cook until rock sugar dissolves.
  5. Serve hot or cold.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Roast Pork Encore (烧肉)

After my first successful attempt in making roast pork (烧肉), I decided to make it again with more flavours.  This time round, I marinated the meat with rice wine and fermented beancurd.  While the meat was roasting in the oven, my mobile phone rang.  The school called to inform that DD1 is not feeling well and I had to pick her up from school immediately.

Lugging DS2 and DD3, I had wanted to catch a cab but there weren't any in sight so we took a 20 mins walk to school under the sizzling hot sun.  Thank goodness both DS2 and DD3 were cooperative and didn't make any fuss.

DD1 was in acute abdominal pain and she couldn't even walk out of the school's office.  Everyone in the office started worrying that she may be suffering from appendicitis. Now, that got me really worried.  While I was coaxing her to walk out to the main road to hire a cab, a very kind parent volunteer (Maria - I hope I got her name correct) offered to give us a lift home, without even asking where we live.  I gladly took up her offer without any hesitation as I really needed help.  And before I knew it, someone was carrying my 18kg DD1 to the car!  I'm really appreciative towards these ladies for all the help they've rendered.

A visit to the doctor revealed that DD1 was constipated and that caused her acute abdominal pain (I suspect it was due to too much new year goodies and too little water).  She was given saline laxative enema and in less than a minute, she cleared her bowels and was her normal cheerful self again :-)

Now, back to my roast pork.  I was out of the house since 2pm and back at 2.45pm to drop off DD1's school bag and out again to bring her to the doctor.  The queue at the clinic wasn't long but being a desperate mother, I consulted the patients ahead of us if they could let DD1 see the doctor first and I only got home at 3.45pm.  The roasting had stopped.

Instead of roasting the whole piece of meat, I sliced them into strips and scored the skin, then used satay sticks (bamboo skewers) to hold them in place (a tip from Lily).

The amount of oil collected wasn't as much as the first time and the oven wasn't oily too.  I attribute that to the scalding of the meat before roasting, not sure though.

Roast Pork II

1 piece of pork belly (around 1kg)

1.5 - 2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp five-spice powder
1 cube fermented beancurd
1 tsp rice wine

  1. Scald pork belly in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain and cool the pork belly completely.
  2. Score the skin using a sharp knife (see 2nd picture).
  3. Mix seasoning together and rub the meat with seasoning. 
  4. Leave the pork belly in the fridge (uncovered) to season overnight. This will dry up the skin.
  5. Pre-heat oven up to 210C.
  6. Place pork belly (skin side up) on a rack with a tray lined with aluminium foil to collect the oil drippings.
  7. Roast the pork belly for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until you see " bubbles" all over the skin.
  8. Cool completely before chopping into bite-size pieces and serve.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Green Peas Cookies

This is an overdue post :P

I've had this recipe for the longest time but didn't managed to find time to make it.  This year, I told myself I just have to make it for Chinese New Year as I simply love green peas especially the one coated with wasabi!  Delicious!

The intent was to do a trial bake in mid January but the green peas were out of stock.  I finally found a packet 2 days before CNY, phew!

I've reduced the sugar by a fraction but still find it sweet.  Other than the sweetness, this cookie is very addictive, and especially so if you are a green peas fan ;-)

Fried Green Peas Cookies
(Recipe adapted from the book Y3K "New Year Cookies" byAlan Ooi)
130g fried green peas, grinded
150g plain flour
90g icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
100g oil

  1. Put green peas into a food processor and grind finely. Leave aside for use later.
  2. Sift flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl.
  3. Add green peas and salt, mix well.
  4. Add oil and mix till a dough is formed.
  5. Roll dough in between 2 plastic sheets and cut out cookies.
  6. Bake at pre-heated oven of 170C for about 15 - 20 mins or till cooked.
  7. Cool completely before storing into cookie containers.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy New Year and Valentine's Day!!

Here's wishing all my Chinese friends, readers and bloggers:


with heartshaped pineapple tarts for Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Arrowhead Chips (Chiku)

Aunty A made 6kg of these and gave me a bottle.  It is really sweet of her to think of us when she bakes/cooks.  How I wish she's my neighbour, then I can probably order tingkat from her ;-)

For recipe and tips, please visit Wendy's blog.

Friday, February 12, 2010

年年有余 (鱼)

I love 年糕 (pronounced as nian gao which literally means Year Cake) especially the traditional ones steamed in banana leaves.  You can either eat it plain or sandwich them with sliced sweet potato and yam, dipped into flour batter to deep fry.  However, I find the commercial ones generally too sweet to my liking and was scouting around for recipes.

The challenge of making 年糕 is the long hours of steaming.  I first spotted Gina's recipe (white version) in Kitchen Capers 2 years ago but I wasn't keen to try it until DS2's former nursery teacher passed me a recipe a couple of weeks ago.  She was at Kitchen Capers Store and saw Gina in action, conducting a nian gao making demo so she took a recipe for me.  With this coincidence, I decided to give it a try this year.

A big boo-boo happened while I was steaming the coloured layers, I ran out of gas!  Yes, I'm still using LP Gas which I find it more economical.  While waiting for the gas man to deliver my new tank of gas, I can only pray that my fish will turn out alright.

I've oiled the moulds fairly well after reading Pure Enjoyment's encounter but it was still difficult to unmould the tails.  Out of the 7.5 fish 年糕 I made, none of the tails came out intact :-(

The taste is unlike the traditional 年糕 (I thought it tasted like tang yuan) but if you ain't fussy, this is a good substitute ;-)

年糕 (Nian Gao)
110g sugar
220g glutinous rice flour
250ml water
Some pandan leaves
1 drop of yellow colouring
1 drop of red colouring

Method to make the liquid batter
  1. In a pot add water, pandan leaves and sugar to heat over the fire till melts. Leave to cool completely before using.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour and slowly pour syrup in and stir till there are no lumps (mixture should be thick and runny).
  3. Scoop a small portion of mixture into a bowl and add orange colouring, stir to mix evenly.
  4. Scoop another portion into another bowl and add yellow colouring, stir till well mixed.
Method to steam
  1. Grease mould with oil using a kitchen towel.
  2. Pour a tablespoon of orange batter into mould and steam on high heat for 3 - 4 mins.
  3. Remove mould from steamer and pour in yellow batter, continue to steam on high heat for 3 - 4 mins.
  4. Finally add the white batter and cover to steam for 20 - 25 minutes.
  5. Remove mould from steamer and leave it to cool completely before chilling in fridge.
  6. Unmould 年糕 and stick roasted black sesame seeds as eyes.
  • Rose water was originally used but I replaced it by cooking pandan leaves with water to get some fragrance.
  • Use disposable gloves to unmould.
  • Use a toothpick to pick up the sesame seed and stick onto fish eye location.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crispy Crabstick

It is a tradition for married couples to give red packets to unmarried juniors during Chinese New Year.   Red packets are also known as 压岁钱 (which literally means using money to suppress or put down the evil spirit) during this period.  It is also a tradition to put brand new notes inside red packets.

My first trip to the bank was unfruitful as they ran out of new notes and was told to come back the next day.  The second trip yielded no favourable result too as new notes were running out fast.  I only managed to exchange new notes on my 4th trip to the bank.

While I in the queue, I overhead a commotion.  A couple in their fifties and an elderly (probably in her eighties) were attended by a Malay staff.  The staff explained that since the elderly only speaks and understands Teochew, she couldn't proceed with the withdrawal transaction as she was worried the elderly may not be aware that money will be withdrawn from her account.  The staff explained that she will have to refer them to her Chinese colleague so that mutual communication may be carried out.  The couple showed their displeasure and insisted that the old lady is aware of the happenings.  Apparently, the withdrawal is in the form of a cheque, addressed to the younger lady.  Given the benefit of doubt, the elderly may be withdrawing money on own accord but we have heard and see many cases of elderly being cheated of their hard-earned money.  I applaud the staff for their conscientious towards this matter.


XY shared this very interesting snack in a mothers' forum a few weeks ago.  I never like the idea of deep frying so I started off with the microwave.  They turned out crispy alright but some ends turned brown due to the uneven heating.  Next I tried baking in a low temperature oven, with and without oil.  The crabstick turned out crispy but the whole lot got stuck together despite a stir in-between baking time to break them up.  Finally I resorted to deep-frying but it was way too oily.  I'm definitely going to make this again either with the microwave or oven, no more deep-frying.  This is a simple yet delicious snack.

I'm sharing the method of cooking this with microwave.

Fried Crabstick
1 packet crabstick, shredded

  1. Lay shredded crabstick on a microwavable plate in a single layer.
  2. Microwave on High for 2 mins, remove and give it a stir, microwave for another 2 mins.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Happy Mama Blogger Award

Here's another award from A Full-Timed Housefly, thanks Pearlyn!

Pearlyn created this award specially for mothers, for their love, sacrifices and efforts given to their families.  I wonder if I can dedicate this award back to her for being such a great cook, churning out wonderful meals for her family?

Another few mothers I'll like to dedicate this to are (not in order of preference):
1. Wendy of Table for 2.... or more...
2. Sonia of Nasi Lemak Lover
3. Ju of The Little Teochew
4. HHB of Happy Home Baking
5. Lee Lee of Baking Mum

Friday, February 5, 2010

Kreativ Blogger Award

This award was long forgotten but since I'm not feeling too well today and can't stomach looking at food pictures (makes me nausea), I decided to take this opportunity to thank Tested & Tasted for my very first award.  It came as a pleasant surprise as I was only into my 5th month of blogging and didn't expect any award.

The Kreativ Blogger Award comes with some rules:

1. You must thank the person who has given you the award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who has nominated you for the award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on which of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated

I’m supposed to say seven things about myself and pass it along to seven people. Here goes:

1. Honestly speaking, I can't even think of  anything interesting to talk about myself :P
2. I hope I will get my butt moving to make some macarons!  Not that I love macarons, it's just a challenge to myself.
3. I do not want to die young as I want to watch my children grow up into adults and have children of their own.  And maybe, I may look after my grandchildren so my children can go to work without worries :)
4. I love children, not just mine but children in general, for their innocence.
5. I'm a copycat, I don't create recipes but always on the lookout for interesting recipes to fill my family's tummies.  BUT, I always give credit to the originator.
6. My favourite quote "Respect has to be earned, not given".
7. Really can't think of anything else...

As there are simply too many fabulous bloggers out there and I do not wish to leave anyone out, please help yourself to this award.

Healthy Juices

This was extracted from an email I received about a year ago.

Carrot + Ginger + Apple
Boost and cleanse our system.

Apple + Cucumber + Celery
Prevent cancer, reduce cholesterol, and improve stomach upset and headache.

Tomato + Carrot + Apple
Improve skin complexion and bad breath.

Bitter gourd + Apple + Milk
Avoid bad breath and reduce internal body heat.

Orange + Ginger + Cucumber
Improve Skin texture and moisture and reduce body heat.

Pineapple + Apple + Watermelon
To dispel excess salts, nourishes the bladder and kidney.

Apple + Cucumber + Kiwi
To improve skin complexion.

Pear + Banana
Regulates sugar content.

Carrot + Apple + Pear + Mango
Clear body heat, counteracts toxicity, decreased blood pressure and fight oxidization .

Honeydew + Grape + Watermelon + Milk
Rich in vitamin C + Vitamin B2 that increase cell activity and strengthen body immunity.

Papaya + Pineapple + Milk
Rich in vitamin C, E, Iron. Improve skin complexion and metabolism.

Banana + Pineapple + Milk
Rich in vitamin with nutritious and prevent constipation.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Roast Pork (烧肉)

I've always wanted to make my own roast pork (烧肉) but have read many reviews that they couldn't get a nice crisp.  Some were crispy while it's hot but turned chewy when cooled.  Some couldn't even get the skin crispy at all.  In addition, most recipes ask for red fermented beancurd (南乳) which I do not have at home.  After much contemplation, I decided to just shelf the idea until I saw Pearlyn's roast pork as she uses relatively basic ingredients.

To be doubly sure I get a nice crisp, I googled for more ideas and I found a really good tip in Lily's blog here, that is to score the skin instead of just piercing.  Also, another blogger, Pure Enjoyment shared to scald the meat first and to leave it marinated in the fridge uncovered to dry up the skin.

Being my first attempt, I was concern the salt content may be too high so I reduced it accordingly and it was just right for our family.  The baking time was almost a good 2 hours, I started off with 240C for 40 mins, then reduced to 210C and baked till I see bubbles on the skin.

The meat was very juicy and tender with a nice crispy skin!  Yes, I did it and it was a success!  I'm definitely going to make this again!

Pardon my chopping skills as it was my first time using the chopper :P

Roast Pork (烧肉)
(Recipe adapted from here, here and here)

1 piece of pork belly (around 1kg)
1.5 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp five-spice powder

  1. Scald pork belly in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain and cool the pork belly completely.
  2. Using a sharp pointed tool such as a chisel (I used a fork), pierce as many holes as possible onto the skin layer.  Then score the skin using a sharp knife (see 2nd picture).
  3. Mix five-spice powder and salt together and rub the seasoning into the pork.
  4. Leave the pork belly in the fridge (uncovered) to season overnight. This will dry up the skin.
  5. Pre-heat oven up to 240C.
  6. Place pork belly (skin side up) on a rack with a tray lined with aluminium foil to collect the oil drippings.
  7. Roast the pork belly for 40 minutes.
  8. Remove the pork belly from the oven and brush the skin with the diluted glazing.
  9. Reduce heat to 210C and continue to roast till you see " bubble " all over the skin.
  10. Cool completely before chopping into bite-size pieces and serve.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookie

DS2 was invited to a play date at his classmate's house yesterday. As it was only decided after school, I decided to fix up something quick and easy for him to bring along and cookies seem like the only answer.

Using the same recipe here, I added some cocoa powder and ground ginger for extra flavours.  Again, instead of using all chocolate chips, I replaced 1/2 portion with currants.

This recipe supposely yields 18 cookies but as I was rushing for time, I didn't want to bake 3 - 4 trays, with each tray baking for 15 mins.  So I used a tablespoon and scooped out a big heapful at a time and managed only 11 cookies (and that's only 2 trays).  Also, as I've reduced the butter slightly, the cookies didn't spread out as much and thus they were quite thick after baking.

Nevertherless, NQ's mother messaged me to say her parents enjoyed the cookies with a cup of coffee and commented that "IT'S OUT OF THE WORLD" ^-^

Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 11 cookies (10cm diameter, 1.5cm thick)

220 g all-purpose flour
1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
150 g unsalted butter, melted
120 g packed brown sugar *
40 g white sugar *
1 egg
1 egg yolk
340 g semisweet chocolate chips/currants

  1. Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, ground ginger, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
  4. Beat in the egg until light and creamy.
  5. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
  7. Drop cookie dough 3/4 tablespoon at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  8. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  9. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted.
  10. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
I still find it too sweet so you may want to reduce more sugar if you do not have a sweet tooth.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Garlic Oil

I've been adding shallot oil to my blanched vegetables, never occur to me to try out garlic oil until I saw it here.  The vegetables tasted very different from using shallot oil but I must say it tasted just as good.
Instead of cooking the garlic oil in a pot/wok, my lazy mode was turned on again.  I used the microwave oven and cook it on High for 2.5 - 3 mins so there's no need to wash another pot/wok :P

Extracted from

Do not take garlic without first talking to your doctor if you have a bleeding or blood clotting disorder or diabetes, or if you are taking any medicines to prevent or treat a blood clotting disorder or diabetes.  Garlic has been reported to affect blood clotting and blood sugar levels.