Thursday, April 21, 2011

Braised Mushroom Meat Sauce (香菇卤肉燥)

During my working days, I have a very close colleague turned friend.  In fact, we are still in touch now, meeting twice yearly on our birthdays.  Probably because we are so close, our many likes and dislikes are similar too.  I used to eat pork, but she doesn't.  So over time, I'm a convert.

After she left the company, I started to eat pork again since my lunch partners are pork eaters.  I never knew pork could be so tasty, didn't know what I've been missing hahaha!  But there is one exception, I won't order minced meat dishes from outside, for I've heard of so much horror stories about what goes into it.

Sometime back, I saw Shirley's Braised Mushroom Meat Sauce recipe and decided to give it a try.  I love mushrooms and added a few more than suggested.

I "ran out" of spring onions so the pictures look slightly bare.  Actually, I grow my own spring onions but they are not fully grown yet.

My family enjoys this dish and whenever I have any leftovers, they go into the freezer.  Great with instant noodles too!  There was also an occassion where I added the frozen stash to fry mee hoon :-)

I've modified the recipe slightly by reducing a small amount of seasonings and did the lazy way out (Shirley removed the fried shallots in Step 3, I didn't).  For those interested in the original recipe, please refer to Shirley's blog here.

300g minced pork
7 - 8 dried mushrooms
4 - 5 red shallots/small red onions, sliced
100ml - 120ml water/chicken stock

1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp sesame oil
some corn flour
* you may add more to your liking

1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
1 tbsp Dark Soya Sauce
1 1/2 tbsp Light Soya Sauce
1/2 tbsp Rock Sugar
Dash of White Pepper
Pinch of 5 spice powder (we don't like it too strong so I only added a pinch)
1 tbsp Rice Wine (I used ginger wine)

  1. Season minced pork with seasonings.
  2. Soak mushrooms in water and dice into small cubes.
  3. In a heated wok, add 1 - 2 tbsp oil, fry sliced shallots until brown and crispy.
  4. Add mushroom and fry till fragrant.  Add minced meat and stir fry until 70% cooked. 
  5. Add sauce ingredients (please feel free to adjust according to taste).
  6. Add water/chicken stock and simmer on low heat for one hour. Turn off heat and if possible leave the minced meat over night (I usually cook this in the morning with my thermal pot and we have it for dinner).
  7. Heat up again before serving.  If a thicker texture is preferred, thicken with a little potato starch solution.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Parmesan Cream Crackers

How many of you are using dairy whipping cream for cake decorating and always end up with 1/2 or more carton left but do not know what to do with it?  I had this problem, that explains why I'm always on the lookout for recipes with whipping cream, so that the balance won't go to waste.  When I get lazy, I just freeze the balance to cook creamy pasta.

There are several recipes online with whipping cream and here's sharing one that I like, Parmesan Cheese Crackers.

The original recipe uses the food processor but I used the rub-in method.

Parmesan Cream Crackers
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup all-purpose flour (120g), more as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (40g) grated Parmesan cheese
4 tbsp (60g) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup (60ml) whipping cream, more as needed
Coarse salt, pepper, sesame for sprinkling (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 190C.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly dust with flour.
  2. Put flour, salt and cheese in mixing bowl.  Using a fork, cut in butter until it resembles fine bread crumbs.
  3. Add about 1/4 cup whipping cream and roughly work until a dough forms. If it does not come together, add more liquid a teaspoon at a time, until mixture holds together but is not sticky. (I didn't add any extras)
  4. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/4-inch thick or even thinner, adding flour as needed.
  5. From here, you can either form them into individual crackers and bake them an inch apart on your baking sheet (the method I used) or transfer the entire rolled-out sheet to your baking sheet and score them lightly with a knife, pizza or pastry wheel to break into crackers after they are baked. For either method, dock all over with a fork and sprinkle with salt or any other toppings you are using. (I omit the toppings)
  6. Bake until moderately browned, about 12 minutes. Cool on a rack; serve warm or at room temperature or store in a tin for a few days.