RSS

Category Archives: Cookbooks

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals: Tray Baked Chicken and Squashed Potatoes

Jamie's 30 Minute Meal - Tray baked chicken with squashed potatoes

Ever since we started menu planning, Jamie’s 30 minutes meals has been tested and tried almost once a month. Like we said in our last post, Jamie has a way of fast-tracking cooking and preparation times that IF (and that’s a very big IF!) we knew what we were doing, we just might sneak in within the 30 minute timeframe. Having said that, we weren’t too ambitious this time, and our goal was to make a delicious meal for the masses. Masses meaning 5. heh.

So we chose the Tray Baked Chicken and Squashed Potatoes (without the accompanied Creamed Spinach or Strawberry Slushie). Few reasons why we didn’t make the rest of it – we go by the principle of using up what’s in the fridge rather than buying new things, and secondly like what we learn from all cooking shows, we try and use seasonal produce! Strawberries weren’t in season at that time, so we were stuck with…well, no strawberries. It did look really good in the book though!!

If you are familiar with Jamie Oliver’s cooking, he’s often the king of “agar-ration”, by that I mean he’s a huge estimator. He loves using terms like “pinch”, “dollop”, “splash” – totally metric terms obviously! But that’s the whole thing about cooking – which is great! So these ingredients are not from the book but more of by “feel” and “look” – you just have to keep tasting!!

INGREDIENTS:

Potatoes
3-4 large potatoes (that are good for baked potatoes)
3-4 sprigs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
6 cloves of garlic

Jamie Oliver 30 min meal - Squashed Potatoes

Start with the potatoes (especially when this takes the longest). Put some water in a pot and sprinkle with some salt. Then wash and prep the potatoes thoroughly and cut them in half length ways before placing them into the water. Boil them for about 12-15 minutes or until they are cooked through. When they are cooked, just leave them to dry for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, get a pan ready and coat it with a layer of olive oil. Start by placing the rosemary and bay leaves into the pan, and put the potatoes on top of the herbs (make sure they are flat and not topped on one another), then sprinkle in some salt (always season!!) and crush the cloves of garlic and add them in as well.

Then comes the fun part – with a smaller pan or any flat apparatus really – press it down hard on the potatoes so that they burst and spread out across the pan. If the potatoes are cooked well, this should be done easily enough. Leave them in the pan for 3 minutes then turn over to the other side.

Chicken
4-5 chicken breasts (skin on or off entirely up to you!)
4 rashers of bacon
Pinch of dried oregano
Couple of tsp of sweet paprika
1 tbsp (roughly) of butter
1 lemon
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
2-3 sprigs of rosemary

Jamie's 30 Min Meals - Tray Baked Chicken

With the chicken, the seasoning (dried oregano, salt, pepper and paprika) were added to the chicken along with olive oil. Then, it was basically pan fried and browned.

When the chicken juices start to flow, place them onto a roasting tray with the lemon (quartered) and the cherry tomatoes. Make sure to pour in all the juices into the pan!!

Then, lay out the bacon onto the chicken. Coat the sprigs of rosemary in the juices under heat and then place them in the roasting tray as well.

Put the roasting tray under the grill and cook for about 12-15 minutes.

And then it’s just a matter of putting together a side of vegetables (in our case it was blanched buk choy) to form a perfectly balanced meal! Hmm, not if you don’t count dessert as a balanced diet that is! The chicken was good because it was not too dry and the bacon added a different texture and taste to it. I thought the idea of the squashed potatoes were ingenious although they might have been around for centuries, and I just didn’t know about it!! So all in all, another satisfied meal from Jamie’s book, but still well and above the 30 minute mark. I was telling Sammy that we might have to do these recipes again and again so that we know exactly what are were doing and that would probably shorten our um-ing and ah-ing and referring back to the book. And practice makes perfect…RIGHT??

Until next time…..!

Jamie Oliver 30 minute meal - Tray Baked Chicken and Squashed Potato - Side buk choy

Advertisements
 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Cookbooks, Western

 

Tags: , ,

Katsudon: Japanese takeaway at home

Wow! It’s been a while hasn’t it! This blog has seems to have taken a backseat in the midst of our busy busy lives!

Well, it’s back now! And we have another yummy recipe from Adam Liaw’s book, Two Asian Kitchens to share. Since buying this book, we’ve been interested to try the Japanese dishes. We have quite a few good Jap food places we frequent, but we have only made sushi at home.. yup.. thats as far as our Japanese cuisine repertoire goes. But since starting to cook some dishes from the book, we realise its not too difficult, just need to have some basic japanese ingredients kept in the pantry: mirin, rice vinegar, mentsuyu and dashi stock powder, and we’re set!

This time around we tried the Katsudon – it is typically a pork cutlet, deep-fried, and topped with egg served on top of a bed (or bowl, if you must be pedantic) of rice. Japanese takeaway restaurants here have versions of it done with chicken, which you can do as well, basically the same process i guess. But be warned, to serve a few people (we save some for lunch the next day as well), you will use up a mother-load of eggs!!

Katsudon (from Two Asian Kitchens, Adam Liaw)
(the recipe serves 2, but increase amount as you need, much of asian cooking is about estimation
anyway! :P)

75g Plain flour
1 tsp salt
2 thick pork cutlets*
3 eggs, lightly beaten
100g panko breadcrumbs
vegetable oil (for deep frying)
250ml mentsuyu (soy sauce used for soba/udon/dipping tempura – tastes lighter than chinese soy sauce)
1/2 small brown onion
3 eggs, extra
steamed rice for the meat to sit on

* Pork cutlets were quite expensive, so we used forequarter chops and removed the bones, not sure how it affects the overall dish, but i figured, they were for frying, why waste a good cut *shrug*. Here’s the meat we used. the chops were huge and we had enough for 3 meals!!

Pork chops

First, mix the flour and salt together. Dip the cutlet in the seasoned flour, then the egg mixture, then into the flour again, and into the egg again, then into the Panko bread crumbs. This is so there is a thick coating on the cutlet, so it remains juicy, even though its deep fried. (Can you see why you might go through your whole tray of eggs now?)

Katsudon pork cutlet crumbing

Panko crumbs

As per the directions: Apply LIBERALLY and fry! more panko = more crunchy goodness 🙂

Deep fry them in a wok with really hot oil until its golden brown or cooked through. Because some of the pieces were quite thick, We chucked them into the oven to let them cook thoroughly.

Katsudon fried pork cutlet

After all the cutlets are fried, heat up a fry pan and add the onions and fry them till they are softened. Then add the mentsuyu. (this forms the gravy that will make the dish less dry.. just the way we like it! 🙂 ) When this is done, add the pork cutlets that have been sliced up into the pan, then add the other 3 (or however many you need) lightly beaten eggs to the mixture in the pan. Let the eggs cook until they are just set.

Katsudon pork cutlet and egg

onion mixture (right) and pork cutlet & egg mixture (left).. got a bit jumbled there!

Spoon as much rice as you can (or would like to) consume into a bowl, and lift the pork out of the pan and set it on top of the rice.You can garnish it with some greens. The book suggested snow pea sprouts, but we didn’t have any. We served it with a side salad instead, with a sesame oil, soy and vinegar dressing. Yumm-o!

Japanese Pork Katsudon

Be warned that your home may smell like a japanese takeaway after this! Ours smelt like one for a few days after!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 10, 2011 in Cookbooks, Japanese

 

Tags: , , ,

Butter Prawns and a Feast as Sides (奶油虾)

Masterchef started tonight last night! Woohoo!! Was there anyone who watched the Logies instead? No prizes for guessing what we did today yesterday at 7.30pm! (It will be a great relief to be away from the Royal Wedding news that PLAGUE all forms of media at the moment…the dress looked SO good by the way, but was funny that the bridesmaid’s dress outshone the bride just a tad bit :P), but enough about television. In the spirit of Masterchef, we thought we would share a dish that we tried from Adam Liaw’s “Two Asian Kitchens” – Butter prawns!

I think it’s supposed to be “Lai Yao Har” (奶油虾) in Cantonese and this is one of my FAVOURITE dishes back in Malaysia – it’s basically fried prawns stirred in with egg, curry leaves and chillies that have been fried till crisp. So you have some idea of how excited I got when I saw this recipe in his book! We just had to try it!

This made up 1 of the dishes that was part of our feast that night – besides the butter prawns, we also made steamed egg (a quintessentially Cantonese dish I think), vegetables and leftover fried wontons. The recipe has not been changed except for personal preferences (chillies etc) – and I think you pretty much have to cook and taste as you go.

Butter Prawns Adam Liaw Two Asian Kitchens

Butter Prawns

Ingredients

500g raw prawns
3 egg yolks, beaten
45g dessicated coconut
100g unsalted butter
1 handful curry leaves
5 chilles, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp light soya sauce
1/2 tsp Shaoxing wine
Ground white pepper
salt
2 tsp castor sugar

Method

First things first , you have to clean the prawns! We cut off the legs and feelers of the prawns…

Prawns

Then, using a wok – fill it halfway up with oil and let the oil heat up. You know when it’s ready if you place a wooden chopstick into the oil and it starts bubbling against the chopstick. Then fry the prawns in batches until it’s crispy – about 2-3 minutes. When they’re ready, place them onto a plate lined with paper towel to absorb the additional oil.

Fried prawns in hot oil in wok

You can then take the oil out but leave some in there for the butter sauce. Then taking a sieve, pour the beaten egg yolks through the sieve into the wok…

Egg through whisk

Then, whisk it as it cooks on the wok until it becomes strands or little clumps (this was a 2 man job it seems – I was pouring the egg onto the sieve and Sammy was busy whisking away). Take it out onto a separate plate when it’s ready.

Egg strand for Lai Yao Har butter prawns lai yau prawn

Then, clean the wok and dry fry the dessicated coconut until coloured, then take it out.

Dessicated coconut fried

Melt the butter in the wok and fry the curry leaves until crispy, then add in the chillies and garlic and fry until fragrant. I think we used less chillies than the one in the cookbook, so this would be preferential and depending on how spicy the chillies are! Then add everything else inside (prawns, coconut, egg, soya sauce, Shaoxing wine, salt and sugar) and toss it a few times until it is well combined.

stir fry chilli garlic butter for butter prawns

The best way to eat prawns? Peel them with your hands – peel of its head (suck it a little to get the flavour – but please don’t do this if you have gout! :P), then peel off the shells on its body, suck the flavour out of it as you go and then eat the flesh…if its crispy enough, you can even eat everything together!

Butter Prawns Adam Liaw Two Asian Kitchens

Anyway, while we were doing this, Sammy also made:

Steamed Egg with Pork Mince (蒸水蛋)

Ingredients

Eggs
Pork mince
Dried Chinese Mushrooms
Water
Shaoxing wine
Salt

Method

Soak the dried chinese mushrooms in hot water. When it’s soft, drain the hot water and dice the mushrooms into small pieces.

Chopped chinese mushrooms

Then, fry the pork mince in the wok with a dash of Shaoxing wine and salt, and stir fry until the mince is cooked.

stir fry pork mince

Then, put it into a steamer with equal parts of egg and water (1 cup egg to 1 cup water etc) and then steam until it’s firm. An easy dish to make especially when you need it to make up 3 dishes in a chinese meal.

steamed egg with pork mince and mushroom

On top of that, we also made wontons out of the leftovers from the Dumpling Night, and also a token vegetable dish – so suffice to say, we were stuffed that night!! The king of the dishes was the butter prawns, they were DEElicious! Too bad we don’t have enough ‘wok hei’ (people back home, especially in the restaurants will cook from a charcoal stove, that had sufficient heat and added the smoky, charcoal-y flavour to the food that can’t be replicated with gas stoves unfortunately!). But for a dish that was cooked at home, it was a great dish – took a bit more effort though and our house ended up smelling like fried prawns for ages!! All worth it!

butter prawns steamed egg vegetables

 
3 Comments

Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Cookbooks, Malaysian

 

Tags: , , , ,

Jamie’s 30 minute meals: Challenge Accepted!

Wow, that was some hiatus!! We’ve had a lovely 5 day long weekend which was a good break for us from work, but I think we busied ourselves even more with housechores, many baking adventures and er…for me, it was catching up on Amazing Race! (I finished Season 17 and have caught up with Season 18!…Gosh, I’m such a sucker for Reality TV shows!)

So anyway, we have decided to plonk back on the blogging world after a break 😀 my good intentions of blogging the last weekend went out the window obviously! But now, I am truly back into this and we have so many adventures to blog about!

Jamie Oliver 30 Minute Meals Book Depository UK

We’ll start with Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals – we bought this book quite awhile ago, before the TV series went on air because we generally liked Jamie’s meals. He knows how to put delicious meals together simply and very quickly – great for full time workers like us! Hence the tagline “A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast”. And I can attest that it’s true! We’ve tried about 2-3 recipes from the book and we are amazed by all the “shortcuts” he takes, and how we can produce 2-3 course meals in about (well it’s not 30), but about an hour – which is quite a feat for us! 😀

If you haven’t seen the book before, it’s not categorized like other cookbooks – but in its own individual 3-4 course meals. It generally has a starter/entree/sides, main meal and a dessert. The steps are meant to be followed to the tee so that while you are cooking, you are multitasking and knowing what step comes next, and in doing that, you are meant to be more efficient in the kitchen.

But to be honest, it’s really difficult to follow every step and every ingredient to the tee – firstly, because we can’t find everything here in Australia – not if we head to specialty shops, ie: some of the salad greens (chicory, watercress) have to be substituted to what we can find here. And also, unless you have a thriving herb garden (which we don’t – sniff! – we have black, as opposed to green fingers), buying the amount of herbs that Jamie needs in his recipe can get quite expensive – but with a little bit of tweaking, and using local produce, it tastes great all the same. We just had to make adjustments and be a little more flexible then the book intended; and we started to see how valuable his little tips are.

So…30 minutes eh? I was intrigued when I looked through the cookbook – how can anyone do this in 30 minutes? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Recipe: Pregnant Jool’s Pasta and Salad

Jamie 30 minute meals Pregnant Jools Pasta complete

Yes, I know that the recipe is different from the book – but I didn’t have watercress, nor did I have time to make a dessert; so I skipped that part and just made the pasta, sauce and salad. It was actually quite easy and quick to make.

Ingredients for Pasta

4 spring onions
2 carrots
1-2 fresh red chillies
6 good quality sausages
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
500g dried pasta (any kind) – we used spirals for this
4 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tin chopped tomatoes
basil leaves

Steps:

5.10pm – I started preparing by getting all my ingredients out of the fridge and different parts of the kitchen all together on the counter so I had things within reach and didn’t have to go searching for it

5.20pm – (yea, took me 10 mins! I need to work a bit faster I think!) I started to boil the water in the kettle for the pasta and got my pot and strainer out. Then, I started prepping the vegetables – washing and roughly chopping the carrots and spring onions

 Carrots Spring Onion Food Processor Jamie 30 minute meals Pregnant Jools Pasta

5.25pm – I took out my handy food processor (Jamie calls it a food liquidizer – I had to google it!). If you don’t have one of these, go get one! They are inexpensive and versatile, and makes your life in the kitchen less stressful, especially when you’re busy. Anyway, I put the spring onions, carrots and chillies in the food processor and blitzed it for awhile. Then, I added in the sausages and blitzed some more until it was well combined; then I added in the fennel seed and oregano.

Food Processor Sausage Spring Onion Carrot mixture Jamie 30 minute meals Pregnant Jools Pasta

5.35pm – I boiled more water for the pasta (left the first kettle of water in the pot, and put it under low heat) and added salt in the water. Then I put the pan on the stove to heat up, placed about a tablespoon of olive oil and then poured the blitzed mixture into the pan, agitating them with a spatula and frying until it separates – much like corned beef.

Sausage mixture in the pan, Jamie 30 minute meals Pregnant Jools Pasta

Then, add in the 4 garlic cloves, crushed, along with the tin tomato and balsamic vinegar.

Jamie 30 minute meals Pregnant Jools Pasta sauce

5.45pm – The meat was still simmering and didn’t look quite cooked, so I left it on and started on the salad. By this time, Sammy came home, so I had an extra pair of hands! So she continued on with the salad while I checked on the pasta. (Also did some washing up so my hubby doesn’t have to deal with it!)

6.00pm – Pasta sauce was done and Sammy finished the salad – and the meal was done!

It obviously took us longer than 30 minutes, but I was amazed by how you can make the sauce from scratch without using the bottled ones. I probably did more things in between (when I should be making the dessert), like putting things back into its original place and some washing up etc so if I hadn’t done that, I probably would have come up with another course.

I’m always amazed by the new things I learn when I cook from this book, and how I can be more efficient in the kitchen, and in doing that I save time and will have more time in the day to do other things 🙂 So if you’re thinking of buying this book, I think it’s a good buy if you’re willing to learn from his techniques and a be a bit creative in terms of the ingredients but still sticking to the overall timing of the book. It’s on offer now, in Big W! Funny, I just saw it on the catalogue for $29.93! Or you can get it from Book Depository.

We cooked another dish from this book…so stay tuned….!!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Cookbooks, Fast Foodies

 

Tags: , , , ,

Getting Ready for Easter: Chocolate & Ginger Easter Egg Tart

Easter is less than 5 days away and I am SO excited – not just for the super long weekend – but because we can celebrate the victory that we have over death and sin through Jesus’ death and resurrection – and it’s a celebration of a new life that everyone can have through Jesus! So yes! I’m REALLY excited 😀 We often celebrate Good Friday and Easter as a solemn reminder (well, the church background that I come from does anyway), but I reckon Easter should be a joyous occasion, a celebration because our greatest enemy has been defeated, not by ourselves, but by our Saviour! What is there NOT to celebrate?

These past few years have been a steep learning curve spiritually because God has been reminding me about the centrality of the cross and how Jesus dying on the cross is not about me, but about Him and how He wants to glorify the Father’s name, and calls me to do the same. So it will be a special time and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Now, I don’t really know where this tradition of eggs, chocolate and bunnies came from, and how it was suddenly connected to celebrating Easter, but a quick read from Wikipedia tells me that Easter eggs may have started from the traditions of when Christians were ‘celebrating’ Lent, they were not allowed to eat dairy (including eggs) so come Easter Sunday, they had to use up all their eggs (which they ate hard boiled at that time) as part of a Clean-Up day. Another view is that it could be from the symbolism created by the Catholic church where they dye their eggs red to represent the blood of Christ, and the shell of the egg represents the tomb and when they crack the egg open, it represents the new life in Jesus and his resurrection. I don’t know which is true, or if any are true and there are many other legends connected to this as well, which I found a fascinating read, but adds nothing to the meaning of Easter I think 😛

Chocolate Ginger Easter Egg Tart Chocolate Crust Pastry

So anyway, back to the tart – I chose to make this tart because as I was reading through the Masterchef Magazine, and this was the recipe that struck me because it uses ginger in dessert. Chinese usually do include ginger in their savouries and sometimes their sweets, because ginger, in itself, has nutritional qualities especially for confinement periods after giving birth! So, putting ginger into a dessert isn’t very unusual, but what was interesting was ginger in a western dessert. I tried to picture in my head what it would taste like, but because I didn’t normally like ginger, it was difficult for me not be biased against it. But I went against my own notions about eating ginger and went ahead and tried it anyway, because it looked so good in the magazine!

This is Marion Grasby’s recipe, and I whilst I followed the ingredients, our methods differed a little…this was how I did it last week!

Chocolate and Ginger Easter Egg Tart

  • Preparation Time: 2 hours
  • Setting Time: 2 hours
  • Serves: 10

Ingredients for Pastry:

  • 125g cold unsalted butter, chopped
  • 185 g (1 1/4 cup) Plain Flour
  • 25g (1/4 cup) Cocoa powder
  • 55g (1/3 cup) icing sugar
  • 2 egg yolks

Method

Line a 23cm tart pan and butter the sides well (especially when its not non-stick)

Combine the dry ingredients (butter, flour, cocoa powder, icing sugar) together in a food processor and blitz until it becomes like breadcrumbs. Then add in the 2 egg yolks and blitz together until it forms a dough. (I forgot to separate the above two steps, and blitzed everything together, which was fine, but it just didn’t mix that well, so I would recommend combining the dry ingredients first).

chocolate short crust pastry dry ingredients food processor

Just a tip I learnt about separating egg whites from yolks (which is probably old news for some), crack the egg horizontally  directly on the benchtop (not at an angle on a bowl like I used to). By doing that, you would get a perfect crack around the egg, making it easier to pry it open to take the yolk out. Awesome tip from Lifehacker!

Chocolate shortcrust pastry just formed food processor

Once the dough is formed, tip it out onto a clean counter top and form it together into a disc (round-ish) shape. Wrap it in cling wrap and then place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Then, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees (celcius). After 30 minutes, take it out of the wrapper and if you are so inclined to roll it out, you can roll it out and then place it onto the prepared tart pan.

Another Tip: But if you want to do it the lazy easier way, try this method instead. I like this method better because shortcrust pastry can be really crumbly and it’s quite difficult to roll out without it crumbling everywhere. Place the whole piece of pastry on the tart pan (ideally you would have shaped it into a flat disc) and press and shape the pastry into the tart pan making sure that its spread evenly.

chocolate shortcrust pastry pressed in pan

Then, poke a few holes onto the pastry with a fork and place it back into the fridge for another 20 minutes. Then take it out of the fridge, place a piece of baking paper onto the pastry and fill it with pie weights or rice. Then bake it in the oven for about 15 -20 minutes until its cooked. Let the pastry cool down. While it cools, you can start on the filling.

Ingredients for Chocolate and Ginger Filling

  • 250ml (1cup) cream
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 350g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 125g glace ginger (sliced – if you like ginger, than bigger chunks, but if not, then dice into smaller pieces)
Glace ginger crystallized ginger sliced

In a saucepan, mix together cream, ground ginger and butter and stir with medium heat. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl…

Chopped chocolate heatproof bowl

…and just when the cream mixture starts to boil, pour the cream mixture onto the chocolate and stir until it completely melts. Stir in the glaced ginger and when mixed well, pour the filling into the cooled pastry tart.

chocolate ganache ginger glace mixture

Place the tart into the fridge and refrigerate for about 2 hours or until set. Then use Easter eggs to decorate it however you like! Just don’t be like me and use complementing chocolate flavours instead (i used mint chocolate and it didn’t really go together)

Marion Grasby's Chocolate and Ginger Easter Egg Tart Mint Chocolate Eggs

The ginger tart was…interesting. I didn’t like ginger that much, but in the chocolate tart it was not too bad – the chocolate seemed to mask the ‘bite’ that ginger has, but yet still has the taste. I realized how much ginger we had that night, and on top of it was more ginger in the dessert (that was totally coincidental). Those who loved ginger loved the tart, but those who didn’t mind it seemed to like it as well…but those that didn’t like ginger…hmm, I think they would have just preferred the chocolate part of it 🙂 I’m glad I tried to make it though, was an interesting experience and also it was a relatively simple tart to make. I have to say, the chocolate shortcrust pastry rocks..! I will definitely make it again the next time.

ps. How do you like our new theme?? I think we will stick with this for awhile!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 18, 2011 in Cookbooks, Desserts, Sunday Night Theme

 

Tags: , , ,

Easy Dessert: Pandan Agar-Agar (Jelly)

Pandan-leaf agar-agar jelly green

I love simple dessert recipes – especially in this day and age where everyone is busy, has a full time job and not having much time to cook, let alone make dessert! We don’t usually have much dessert after meals and they are usually a treat.  The most frequent “dessert” that I remember eating in our family are fruits! Imagine my surprise knowing that Westerners have dessert (cakes, pastries, tarts) after meals most of the time 🙂

Sometimes, asian desserts are not too difficult to make, especially with modern technology and how everything comes in packets! I got this agar-agar recipe from a book that I picked up during one of my travels back home to Malaysia. Many times, I crave home made or bought kuihs and dessert so I thought that I’d try my hand at some of the local delicacies.

Malaysian Cakes and Dessert

I’ve chosen to make the Pandan Agar-Agar because it was quite a simple recipe and once you’re done, all you have to do is store it in the fridge and forget about it until dessert time comes! “Agar-agar” is from the Malay word meaning “jelly”, and is a tasteless dried seaweed. It is used in many Malaysian desserts and is usually sold in small packets of white powder (but I was told, that it can also come in bars, strips or flakes). Interesting fact about “agar” from Wikipedia – when it’s not used for desserts, it is used as an agent for growth of bacteria or fungi (like in a petri dish) because ” microbial growth does not destroy the gel structure because most microorganisms are unable to digest agar.” NO WAY! Interesting for a noob like me anyway!

Back to the dessert!

Ingredients:

500ml (2 cups) water
3 tsp agar agar powder
120g white sugar
100 ml Pandanus Juice
(above made out of 7-8 Pandan leaves and 100 ml water)
120 ml thick coconut milk
1 egg (beaten)

Method:

Making the Pandanus Juice

Pandan-juice leaves green
We had to use frozen Pandan Leaves that we bought from our local oriental store and they come vacuum packed. Sadly beggars can’t be choosers, but if you do have access to fresh ones (Melbournians!), use them!

Pick about 7-8 leaves, wash them and cut them into 2cm pieces. Then put them into a blender (NOT a food processor! Once again, learnt the hard way) with 150ml water and blend well and until completely pulverized. Then strain the mixture through a fine sieve and push out the juice as required. Discard the solids. This should give you about 100 ml of pandanus juice.

Making the Pandan Agar-agar

pandanus jelly pandan

  1. Combine the water, agar-agar powder and sugar in a pan and heat until its boiling. Once it boils, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue unitl the powder completely dissolves which will take about 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the Pandanus Juice, coconut milk and beaten egg together. Mix well.
  3. Pour the Pandan mixture into the agar-agar mixture in the pan and stir constantly until it comes back to a roiling boil. Once it reaches that point, remove the pan from the heat and pour it into a glass dish or cake pan (approx 16cm across).
  4. Set aside to cool completely. Then, place in the refridgerator to chill and set completely. You’d know that it’s completely set when it’s firm when you press down on it with a finger.
  5. Then cut it into any shape that you want! I used cookie cutters for mine 🙂 But you could, of course just cut it the quentessentially asian way by cutting diamond shapes.

Pandanus Jelly pandan agar-agar

I like how it automatically sets in 2 layers, makes it preetier…

It’s a really easy dessert to make and eat – it’s not too sweet and you could just pop a few in without even thinking about it 🙂 This plate was gone in about 5 minutes!

 
7 Comments

Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Asian Sweets, Cookbooks, Desserts

 

Tags: , , ,

The perfect way to start your day: Coffee and Crumpets

crumpets breakfast

We were first introduced to the whole concept of crumpets-for-breakfast when we came here to study, and picked them up at a local Coles or Woolworths for $0.99. We buy them coz they were cheap, not necessarily the best thing to eat for breakfast. They are usually hard by the time they get into our toaster, and they can taste like cardboard – I know, highly unappetizing for breakfast.

All this changed, until we tried crumpets at Crumpets, Victoria Park – they were soft, fluffy, piping hot from the frying pan – and topped with butter and honey, they were divine!! This opened up a whole new world, if we knew crumpets should taste like that, (brainwave!) we should so totally make our own! We didn’t really know how to even start making crumpets so we turned to Dr.G (our term of endearment for Google) and tried out a recipe the first time, sometime last year. It was a success and so easy to make! I’ve lost that recipe unfortunately, but we knew roughly what to do…so we invited a few friends over to make it for the second time.

Our recipe was adapted from Home Baking Cookbook which I got from Hubby for Christmas (he knows my heart, and my love for cookbooks – I’m surprised he got me something that I could really use, considering my cookbook collection is growing by the minute!)

Crumpet Recipe


Makes:
10-12 pieces
Preparation Time:
1 hour
Cooking Time:
1 hour

Ingredients
350g plain flour
3 tsp dry yeast (or 15 g fresh yeast)
1 tsp caster sugar
400ml warm milk
pinch of salt
Butter for greasing
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
125ml water

Method

Make sure you give yourself plenty of time because the mixture needs to be proofed about an hour before, so allow yourself about 2 hours before breakfast for both preparation and cooking time. I got up about 7am and started preparation, but while waiting for the mixture to proof, I got a whole lot of housework done, so time is never wasted!! I think my mum just fell of her chair reading this – my daughter up at 7am, cooking AND doing the housework!! 😛 God changes people in tremendous ways, that’s all I can say!

Back to the crumpets, first make the yeast mixture. The recipe asked for fresh yeast, but I used dry yeast instead (because that’s what I had). Mix the yeast and sugar together in a bowl then mix it in with room temperature milk (make sure that your milk is not too hot, especially if you heat it up in the microwave. Overheating the milk will kill the yeast! Trust me, I learnt it the hard way :P). Once you see it turning into a browny mixture, you know you’re on the right path (and the yeast ain’t dead). Leave it for about 5-10 minutes.

Dry-yeast yeast-mixture milk sugar

Then start working on your flour mixture – measure the flour out and add in a pinch of salt. Then when the yeast mixture has risen, create a well in the middle of the flour and pour the yeast mixture into it. Mix it around until well combined then cling wrap it and leave it in a relatively warm place for the mixture to proof and rise for an hour.

Flour yeast crumpets

When you return, it should have risen to about twice it’s original size (above). Then, combine together the bicarbonate of soda and water and mix it into the dough, you should now have a batter-like consistency (a bit thicker than pancake batter).

 

Batter-like consistency

Heat a frying pan with butter. Using Egg-Rings (or any circular pan and heat proof contraption!), butter the sides of the egg rings well and then pour the batter into about 3/4 of the egg ring (it will rise as it cooks, so try not to pour too much). Let it brown for about 2-3 minutes on low heat.  When one side is cooked (you will know when you can easily move the crumpet around), ease the egg ring off and this should be easy if you have buttered them well! Then flip them over to cook on the other side, which will be another 2-3 minutes.

crumpets cooked frying pan

They are best served piping hot with butter and honey/maple syrup. We couldn’t wait to dig in – but we couldn’t eat it alone s0 Sammy grilled some chipolatas and bacon in the grill (healthier option than pan-frying)…

sausages grill

Esther and Deb brought mushrooms, which we fried with butter in a pan…and hubby made coffee bought from our recent Dunsborough trip from Yahava Koffeeworks (Monte Cristo blend). It was a perfect start to a Saturday morning – with a busy day ahead of us, why not start it right? Everything fit perfectly – from the crumpets, to the crispy bacon and the yummy coffee 🙂

It was a great breakfast and even greater company – thanks for being our guinea pigs Esther and Deb! I’m sure there will be many more to come…!

Crumpets mushrooms bacon chipolatas sausages

 
5 Comments

Posted by on April 5, 2011 in Breakfast, Cookbooks

 

Tags: , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: