Friday, April 30, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin And Butternut Squash Soup From The Tummies' Kitchen

It has been cold and grey all week here in Melbourne. With no desire to spend too much time in the kitchen, a simple soup seemed like a very good idea indeed. Not a lot went into the soup but I did roast the pumpkin and squash to enhance the sweetness of the vegetables. I also followed my old winning formula by adding some tasty toppings to the soup to make it look and taste less like baby food. It was dark and very cold when bowls of "fragrant warm sunshine" were served. 
P.S for more soup recipes click HERE.  

serves 2
you'll need;
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/4 grey pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 l of stock
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream to serve

Place vegetables on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme and season well with salt and pepper. Roast in a preheated oven at 200 C til golden.

Saute chopped onion with olive oil til soften, add stock and 3/4 of the roasted vegetables and simmer for 20 minutes.

Blend til smooth and check for seasonings.

Ladle soup into a bowl, top with some roasted vegetables, sprinkle with some thyme , a dollop of sour cream. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hakka Noodles 客家麵

When my friend Makcik Manggis from "Jom makan, jom masak masak.." requested for some Hakka dishes, this simple noodle dish sprang to mind (more wonderful Hakka dishes on the way). This is a popular hawker dish in Malaysia, there is also a very similar dish in Taiwan where there is a sizable Hakka population. I rendered some chicken fat and used some of the delicious cracklings as toppings, it is definitely worth the extra 15 minute jog. Selamat mencuba makcik!
P.S This is a halal version using chicken but use pork if your prefer. 

serves 2
you'll need;
1 chicken breast, minced, marinated with dash of soy, white pepper, sesame oil and corn flour
1/2 cup of dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup of mushroom soaking water
1/2 cup of chicken stock
dash of soy
dash of fish sauce
dash of white pepper
corn flour solution
bean sprouts, blanched
1 spring onion, chopped
chicken cracklings (optional)
oil used for frying shallots (shallot oil) or chicken fat

Marinated minced chicken and cubed mushrooms.

Saute garlic til lightly brown then add in the chicken, fry for a minute then add in the mushrooms.

Add seasonings, stock and mushroom soaking water. Simmer for a few minutes, check for seasonings then thicken with a little corn flour solution.

Cook noodles with plenty of hot water for 15 seconds, remove and rinse in a big pot of cold water. Bring the water back to a rapid boil, return noodles and cook til al dente. Blanch the bean sprouts.

Place a little chicken fat (or shallot oil) and a dash of soy in a bowl, mix in the cooked noodles and blanched bean sprouts. Ladle the meat and mushroom sauce over and top with chopped spring onions, chicken cracklings and crispy shallots. A bowl of broth with choysum and some cut chillies with soy will complete this wonderful meal.

Crispy Shallots

Once you have tried the homemade version of crispy shallots, you will never look at the shop bought often stale version again. This fragrant and crispy condiments can be used as toppings for soups, congee, noodle dishes and Asian salad. The shallot oil is equally delicious, just a few drops will transform any noodle dish.

Cut shallots into rings.

Fry shallots with plenty of peanut oil with a pinch of salt. Stir constantly till shallots are golden and drain well. Store crispy shallots in airtight container and shallot oil in a jar.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"The Strange But Wonderful Food Of Kuching 2" Sarawak Laksa 砂拉越叻沙

I found out my blogger friend Mary from "Keep learning keep smiling" is hailed from Sarawak after my posting of tomato noodle last week. I promised her I would do a post on Sarawak laksa and here it is. 
Sarawak laksa also known as Kuching laksa is the most popular breakfast dish in Kuching where I lived for a while, this is also a must try for any visitor to the East Malaysian state. It is rather different to the Malaysian/Singaporean laksa that most of us know so well as quite a few dried spices (cardamon, cloves, cumin and coriander etc) are used in the making of the paste* Sarawak laksa was virtually unheard of outside of Sarawak until Anthony Bourdain  featured it in his Malaysian leg of "No reservations". The Sarawakians are an extremely bias bunch so when one mentions laksa, there can only be this version.
P.S The Sarawak laksa paste is produced by 2 families and the recipe is secretly guarded (also it is not easily available outside of Sarawak). I have been trying to unlock the secret since last year, I am at the last stage of doing so so soon everyone will be able to cook this wonderful dish anywhere anytime. Stay tuned!

Updated on 3/11/11 - The secret of Sarawak laksa paste is revealed please click here for the recipe.

serves 10
for the laksa broth you'll need;
1 x 600 g of Sarawak laksa paste* or 500 g (2 cups) of homemade Sarawak laksa paste 
1 free range chicken
1 kg of prawns
2 x 400 ml of coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
* unfortunately ready made paste is not easily available outside of Sarawak and there are no known recipes on the internet or any cookbooks. Read P.S above.

you'll also need;
rice vermicelli, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained*
bean sprouts, blanched for 5 seconds just before serving
young coriander leaves (coriander sprouts are actually used for this dish)
eggs, beaten and made into thin omelet, sliced
lime wedges to serve
cut chillies to serve
* cook vermicelli in boiling water for a minute and drain just before serving

Bring 4 L of water to a boil and add the whole chicken. Return to a boil then cover and turn it down to a simmer for 35 minutes, remove chicken and submerge in cold water. This is a great way of poaching a whole chicken, tender juicy flesh every time!

Cook prawns in the chicken stock.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle - remove skin and hand shred chicken into bite size pieces, discharge skin and keep bones for stock. Then peel prawns but keep the tails intact, keep shells for stock. 

Return chicken bones and prawn shells together with the laksa paste to the chicken and prawns cooking water, simmer for an hour.

Strain broth and add coconut milk, season to taste.

Place rice vermicelli, blanched bean sprouts, chicken, prawns and omelet then ladle some broth over. Top with cut chillies and coriander leaves and serve with a wedge of lime.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mac And Cheese From The Tummie's Kitchen

Another well loved classic this time from the U.S.A and another first for me at the tummies' kitchen. The last time I made mac and cheese was a good 10 years ago, using packet sauce of course. After my success with the shepherd's pies using those individual ramekins; I have been thinking about different ways of using them again, apart from several delicious pies I had in mind mac and cheese also made it to the list. Making white sauce for the first time was both exciting and nerve wracking, thank god it was a lot easier than I thought PHEW! I added some peas and pancetta for extra colour and texture. Do get good quality cheese for this dish it is after all named mac and cheese for a reason.
P.S with no particular guidelines, I cooked a whole packet of macaroni which will feed 6 hungry adults easily, so do adjust the ingredients accordingly.

Serves 6
you'll need;
oven preheated at 200 C
500 g of macaroni, cooked til al dende and drained
150 g of gruyere 
150 g of smoked cheddar 
100 g of parmesan
1 l of milk
3 tbs of butter
3 tbs of flour
1 onion, sliced and saute (optional)
250 g of pancetta or ham, cubes and fried (optional)
250 g of peas (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare all the ingredients while the pasta is being cooked.

Cook macaroni with plenty of salted water til al dente and drain well.

To make the white sauce - melt butter in a pot then add in the flour, mix well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on low heat. Slowly add in the milk and with a whisk, continue to stir and whip til the sauce is smooth and thicken. Remove from the heat and stil in the 3/4 of the cheeses. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix pasta, onion, peas, pancetta and cheese sauce in a large pot and mix well. Check for seasonings.

Fill individual ramekins or baking tray with pasta mixture, top with the remaining grated cheese and fried pancetta.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes til golden and bubbling.

Serve immediately with a green salad. Another first and another success at the tummies' kitchen, I'm very pleased with that!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Beef Wellington From The Tummies' Kitchen And Our 200th post

This is the tummies' 200th post. When I first started my blog 6 months ago most people thought it would not last for more than a month. I have slowed down a little but more than ever I am going to make this blog better every time I put up a new post. Not a very exciting and good week for me personally, but it has been very rewarding when it comes to my experiments in the kitchen. It was just me and one other tummy for dinner tonight and he decided we (really he meant I) should be making Beef Wellington. Completely out of my comfort zone and armed with not the most useful information on the internet I started my quest to tackle one of the most well known classics for the first time. We were both extremely happy with the end result and I am proud to say this recipe certainly is going to give you the perfect Beef Wellington time and time again.

serves 4 with side dishes
you'll need;
oven preheated at 180 C 
4 x 125g beef fillet, seasoned with salt and pepper
300g of field mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 tsp of pate (optional)
3 tbs of English mustard
6 slices of thinly sliced pancetta or prosciutto (optional)*
puff pastry
1 egg beaten 
salt and pepper to taste
* there are versions using crepe 

To make the mushroom and pate paste - place chopped mushrooms into a food processor and blend to a paste. Fry mushroom paste with a little salt (without oil) til you get a condensed paste (get rid of as much liquid as possible). Remove from pan,  mix in the pate and set aside.

Brown beef fillets in a hot pan, rest for 5 minutes and brush with English mustard. Set aside.

To assemble - lay down a piece cling film on your work bench, place 1.5 piece of pancceta on the film and smear a thin layer of mushroom and pate paste over. Place the steak on top and a little more mushroom paste over the steak, wrap firmly and chill for 10 minutes.

The parcels should look like this, don't forget to remove the piece of film before wrapping of course :)

Wrap the parcels with puff pastry and try your best to make them look nice (I am very bad at this) Place them onto a baking tray, brush with a little egg wash and chill for another 10 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with side dishes of your choice. We had roast potatoes and saute green beans with almond. Blanched silverbeet or spinach could have been a better side dish as this is an extremely rich dish!

The moment of truth.... success of failure just a cut away.

A closer inspection... perfectly cooked!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ginger And Spring Onion Chicken With Egg Noodles 薑蔥雞塊撈麵

This is one of our must order dishes at our local Chinese. Some of you might be more familiar with the mud crab or lobster version, this is pretty delicious if you only want to spend a fraction of the other 2 versions. This is the first attempt and I must say it tasted just like what I remember. If you want to spend a bit more on a mud crab or lobster, the method is the same.
P.S The photos are horrendous so I hope it wouldn't stop you from trying. I will certainly be making this again, photos will be updated then.

Serves 3
you'll need;
3/4 of a free range chicken, chopped into pieces
10 cm piece of ginger, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 onion, sliced
4 spring onions, cut into 2" lengths
4 tbs of oyster sauce
dash of sesame oil
dash of soy
dash of Chinese cooking wine
dash of white pepper
2 cups of chicken stock
corn flour solution
fresh egg noodles (1.5/person)*
*Cook noodles with plenty of hot water for 15 seconds, remove and rinse in a big pot of cold water. Bring the water back to a rapid boil, return noodles and cook til al dente.

Prepare the vegetables.

Fry chicken pieces til golden.

Saute garlic and ginger til fragrant, add in the chicken and continue to cook for a minute on high heat.

Add seasonings and stock, bring it to a boil then chuck in the onions and continue to cook for a further minute. Check for seasonings and thicken the sauce with a little corn flour solution. Pour the everything over the awaiting cooked noodles.

Serve immediately with cut chillies and soy or Cantonese style chili oil. 

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melbourne, victoria, Australia