Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Midweek Pasta - Penne With Angus Beef Sausage In Tomato Sauce

It may take some time before one is able to walk into a mainstream supermarket and come out with ingredients for an authentic Chinese, Thai or Vietnamese meal..... and I am not talking about "pseudo Asian" or "Asian inspired " nonsense here. However shopping for an Italian meal is a quite a different story with shelves and shelves of pastas, sauces, oils and deli products for the picking.

This is another one of our favourite pasta dishes with all ingredients gathered from our local supermarket in less than 10 minutes. Normally Italian pork and fennel sausage is used but we thought we might give the Angus beef sausages a try and thankfully they didn't disappoint. 

P.S It is Malaysia's Independence Day today and the 2nd day of the Aidilfitri celebration, happy and safe holidays everyone! Oh don't forget to check out the virtual Merdeka Open House at Babe In The City -KL which is on now.

serve 3 to 4 as a one dish meal
you'll need;
500 g of good quality sausages
4 garlic cloves, chopped
a sprig of rosemary, chopped
a pinch of chili flakes (optional)
1 bottle of passata
1/2 cup of red wine (optional)
500 g of penne
a large handful of picked basil
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for cooking
grated parmesan cheese to serve
good quality olive oil to serve

Remove sausage meat from the casings and break into pieces.

Roughly chop garlic and rosemary and set aside.

Brown sausage meat with a tiny amount of olive oil then push it aside and saute the chopped garlic and rosemary with a little more oil.

Add chili flakes (if using) and cook for a few seconds before adding the passata. Add wine and season well and allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile cook pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente.

Add drained pasta to the sauce and add in the basil and mix well.

Serve pasta with grated parmesan cheese and drizzle with some good quality olive oil.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Keo Jiap Mee 茄汁麵 Kuching Tomato Noodles - Merdeka Open House 2011 & "Malaysian Monday 52"

The celebration of our independence day this year might have been postponed to the 16th of September (Malaysian day) but the annual Merdeka Open House at Babe In The City - KL is business as usual on the 31th of August.

I received an email from Pick Shan (Babe In The City - KL) announcing the theme for this year's Merdeka open house - Makan (eating) Through Malaysia . I had almost given up on taking part as all dishes have to be famously linked to a place or state in Malaysia and I have done most such dishes that I know of (ie. Ipoh hor fun, Penang laksa, Penang prawn paste chee cheong fun, KL hokkien noodles, Kuching laksa).

Fortunately I did manage to find a dish that is unique to Kuching, the only other place in Malaysia (apart from my hometown Cameron Highlands) that I called home for more than 3 years in the 90's. Culture shock would be an understatement after my many years in Singapore; I did however warm up to the charming city, its people and their way of life. I soon learnt to speak the lingua francaHokkien (while many Singaporeans would avoid speaking Hokkien, most Kuchingnites speak Hokkien regardless of their race and class/status) and also grew very fondly of some of the local dishes that I resisted at first and Keo jiap mee (keo jiap = tomato ketchup, mee = noodles in Hokkien) is just one of them. 

With a thickened sauce poured over some pre-fried noodles, it looks and sounds unmistakenly like a Cantonese style fried noodle dish (廣府炒) but wait a minute there is tomato ketchup in the sauce! It is strangely delicious but no one seems to know or care too much about the origin of the dish. Could it be a colonial legacy like the Hainanese chicken chop we have on the peninsular? Or a mistake by adding tomato ketchup instead of the intended oyster sauce while preparing the for mentioned dish? If you do know the answer please unveil it so we can all put the mystery to a rest.

As a West Malaysian I am bias towards the familiar wat dan hor or Cantonese style yuen yong but a plate of keo jiap mee (or kway teow- for the rice noodles version please click here) will always remind me of my friends and the good memories I left behind in Kuching. I am submitting this to Babe In The City - KL's Merdeka open house 2011.

serves 2 as a one dish meal
you'll need;
3 garlic cloves, chopped
8 medium size prawns, heads removed
200 g of chicken breast, sliced
5 stalks of choysum, cut into manageable lengths
a handful of sliced fish cakes
3 dried egg noodles, cooked til al dente and drained well
1 cup of chicken stock
3 tbs of tomato ketchup
2 tbs of oyster sauce
1 tbs of light soy
white pepper to taste
corn flour solution for thickening
sliced red chilies in vinegar to serve

Marinate chicken slices with a dash of light soy, sesame oil, white pepper and corn flour.

Boil the noodles until al dente, rinse with cold water and drain well.

You may deep fry the noodles like most hawkers in Kuching would but I do prefer to pan fry mine. I think it works much better this way and it is also a lot easier with home cook like us to deal with.

Saute ginger and garlic with a little cooking oil then add in the prawns and chicken and cook for a minute.

Add choysum and fish cake slices, cook for 30 seconds before adding the stock and seasonings.

Check for seasonings before thicken the sauce with the prepared corn flour solution.

Pour the sauce over the awaiting noodles and serve with some red chillies in vinegar - unlike us, our eastern cousins prefer this over our beloved pickled green chillies.

I am hosting the event this month, please send all your entries to
To find out more about the event and on how to enter, please click HERE.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Just A Little Prettiness 12

August 17, 2011 - It was dark, wet and glooming all day but the sun appeared briefly just before sunset. It put a big grin on my face when I saw the brilliant display of double rainbows through the bathroom window when I walked into the house.

Seconds later I was in the backyard with my camera and did a few quick snaps, and here are a few of the photos I would like to share with those of you who might have missed the spectacular display the other day.

Another kind of brilliance I encountered in front of the house.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BBQ Honey And Soy Chicken With Cucumber, Watercress And Toasted Sesame Salad

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon; a pleasant 20C, sunny, blue sky with not a cloud in the sky. I bumped into an old friend on the street after picking up a few essentials from the grocer. She mentioned lunch and I said "why not I cook something simple and we can have that in the garden?" and that was what happened next.

BBQ chicken and a refreshingly light salad was quite an appropriate dish to welcome the early arrival of spring I think, besides it is so simple to prepare leaving us plenty of time to catch up and enjoy the lovely afternoon.

recipe from the tummies' kitchen
serves 3 to 4 as a one dish meal
you'll need;
7 chicken thighs, excess fat removed
1 continental cucumber
1 bunch of watercress, picked
a pinch of toasted sesame seeds

for the marinade and dressing;
5 cm knob of ginger, grated
2 cloves of garlic, grated
6 tbs of Japanese soy
2 tbs of honey
2 tbs of mirin
2 tsp of sesame oil
juice from half a lime

Prepare the marinade/dressing, check for seasonings and adjust the taste.

Marinate the chicken pieces with 2/3 of the prepared marinade/dressing for at least an hour or overnight for the best result.

For the salad - use a vegetable peeler to peel/slice the cucumber lengthwise into long and thin ribbons and mix with the picked watercress. Dress the salad with the remaining marinade/dressing and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds just before serving.

BBQ the chicken thighs until golden and cooked through.

Rest chicken for a few minutes and serve with the dressed salad. A nice crisp white went down very well with our meal in the sunny courtyard.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mee Laksa Goreng Melayu 馬來炒瀨粉 Malay Fried Lai Fun- "Malaysian Monday 51"

It was not meant to be a productive weekend for food blogging as the weather was simply too good to be slaving away in the kitchen. On top of that tummy and both the friends I wanted to see were away, so it was noodles all weekend instead of some of the more elaborate Malaysian dishes I planned to share with them (and you).

I made a Malay style fried noodles with the lai fun (瀨粉, fresh round rice noodles or mee laksa in Malay) intended for laksa Kelantan and a new batch of sambal tumis I made recently for lunch before heading off to the park with a book.

It was my first time using lai fun in a stir fry and it certainly was a very refreshing change from my usual hor fun (fresh flat rice noodles) or fresh egg noodles done Chinese style lately.

serves 2 as a one dish meal
you'll need;
600 g of lai fun (fresh thick round rice noodles)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 prawns
150 g of chicken mince
a handful of sliced fish cakes
1 bunch of choysum, cut into manageable lengths
a handful of bean sprouts
2 eggs
3 tbs of sambal tumis 
2 tbs of tomato ketchup
2 tbs of ketchup manis
2 tbs of light soy
1/3 cup of chicken stock
lime or lemon wedges to serve
extra sambal tumis to serve

Prepare the choysum, garlic and fish cakes.

Saute garlic with some cooking oil in a very hot wok for 5 seconds before adding the chicken mince and prawns and fish cake slices. Cook for a minute on high heat.

Add the noodles and seasonings and stir well. Add stock and continue to cook for a minute, stirring from time to time.

Make a well in the centre, add a little more oil and crack in the eggs. When the eggs are half set; throw in the choysum, mix well and continue to cook till the vegetable is tender.

Finally add in the bean sprouts and mix well. Check for seasonings.

Serve with a wedge of lime or lemon and extra sambal tumis on the side if you wish.

It was a meal I throughly enjoyed in the courtyard with my reading materials.

I am hosting the event this month, please send all your entries to
To find out more about the event and on how to enter, please click HERE .

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sashimi 刺身

After obtaining some very fresh sashimi grade fish from the market I was getting all excited about my sushi and maki sushi making exercise but unfortunately our bamboo rolling mat was discarded during our big move.... I think.

There was no panic and swearing with plan A ruined, plan B was put in place calmly. Half of the fish was used for a sashimi platter and the rest turned into bowls of very colourful chirashizushi (scattered sushi bowl).

Other fish like snapper and mackerel  can be used as long as they are of sashimi grade and not on the endangered list. (ie. bluefin tuna)

serves 2 to 3 as an entree 
I used;
250 g of king fish
250 g of salmon
250 g yellowfin tuna
finely jullienned daikon (Chinese radish)
Japanese soy to serve
wasabi to serve
pickled ginger to serve

With a very sharp knife, slice fish into thin slices. I know this takes years to master but hey it's only lunch at home with friends.

Arrange sashimi on top of a bed of julienned daikon and serve with wasabi, soy and pickled ginger on the side.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Midweek Pasta - Spaghetti With Sardines, Pine Nuts And Breadcrumbs

We have pasta as least once a week; that's when tummy get to cook one of his favourite dishes of all time - different variations of  spaghetti with chillies, anchovies, capers and pancetta. It is always a treat as he has perfected the dish after many years of practice.

For some unknown reasons he decided to cook something different this week by adding sardines to another tried and tested recipe that we both adore - spaghetti with anchovies and breadcrumbs. It was a great decision and we both went back for our second serves.

For those not familiar with Italian cooking, this might sound like a very strange dish, but the magical combination of flavour and texture from such unlikely allies will have you come back for more!

P.S only homemade breadcrumbs should be used in this recipe.

serves 4 as a one dish meal with a salad
you'll need;
500 g of spaghetti
70 g of sultanas
1 red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 anchovies, chopped
a pinch of chili flakes (optional)
1 cup of homemade breadcrumbs*
1 can of sardine in olive 
4 tbs of pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup of chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
god olive oil
grated parmesan cheese
* to make your own breadcrumbs - place bread slices of your choice (mustn't be stale) on a wire rack then dry in a very low oven  for 15 minutes. Turn the bread slices half way through. Blend in in a food processor when cool. Place breadcrumbs in a hot pan and dry roast til golden. Add in enough olive oil to coat the crumbs and set aside.

The stars of the dish and unlikely bedfellows - sardines, pine nuts, sultanas and parmesan cheese.

Prepare the pine nuts, chop parsley, garlic and onion separately.

Saute onion, garlic, anchovies and chili flakes if using with plenty of olive oil for 5 minutes.

Add pine nuts, parsley and sardines and cook for a minute.

Finally add in the pre-fried breadcrumbs and mix well. 

Cook spaghetti together with the sultanas with plenty of salty water until al dente. Mix drained spaghetti and sultanas with half of breadcrumbs mixture. Always add a little of the pasta cooking water at this stage. Check for seasonings.

Plate the spaghetti, top with extra breadcrumbs mixture and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and don't forget the grated parmesan cheese. 

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3 hungry tummies

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melbourne, victoria, Australia