Monday, 23 July 2012

Hummus dip

Posted by Kim Fong On 5:54 pm

Ever had lovely fresh bread but need something equally nice to eat it with? We were faced with this dilemma this weekend and decided to make hummus. Ah! The simple tastes are always enjoyed any time of the year. 

This recipe is pretty quick and simple. You'll need a blender though. We've approximated the values of the ingredients below. It will be just a matter of adding and adjusting the ratios to how you like your hummus. 

1 can (400g) chickpeas
2 Tbpn tahini
1 medium clove of garlic
Juice of half a lemon - approximately
1/2 cup olive oil - approximately
2 tspn ground cumin 
pinch of salt - adjust to taste

~ Sumac, Paprika and/or Kalonji (Nigella) seeds and extra olive oil to garnish

1. In a blender, combine chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and cumin. Blender for a few minutes on high until it forms a paste. 

2. Taste to adjust salt, oil, cumin, lemon and tahini. You can also add sumac to add a extra depth of tartness and less lemon. If you decided to add more, be sure to blend to mix through. You should form a smooth thick paste. 

3. To serve, sprinkle with some extra sumac or paprika and some Kalonji seeds and olive oil. Serve with nice fresh Turkish pide bread, lightly toasted.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Okonomiyaki – Japanese Cabbage Pancake

Posted by Kim Fong On 7:16 pm

I often have heaps of vegetables in the fridge and struggle to use it up before it goes off. This time around we had a lovely head of Chinese cabbage but with only two of us, we were struggling to eat this watermelon sized cabbage. Until I came across the idea to make Japanese cabbage pancake. For those who aren’t cabbage lovers, this might turn you off. However, this is YUMMY! You wouldn’t even notice it's made of cabbage and it's also great for those fussy kids too.

Okonomiyaki means whatever you like, grilled (apparently). So feel free to put whatever you fancy in this dish with the base obviously being cabbage. I see many recipes putting seafood (prawns, mussels, scallops), other have pickled ginger, shallots, onions etc. I’ve outlined the basic “base” below and what I used from what I had in the fridge. This is a great quick meal and suitable for vegetarians (with simple substitutes).

The recipe below I’ve adapted from Cook, Snap, Repeat! And I followed the method from this youtube video called Cooking With Dog.

(Serves 2)
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
1/2 cup of dashi stock (vegetarians can substitute for vegetable stock or water)
pinch of salt and pepper (to taste)
1 tblspn potato starch with a bit of water to form a paste (normal, the Japanese use grated yam but I didn’t have any handy, but the idea is to make it sticky)
~ 2+/- cup finely chopped cabbage (be sure to remove the thick bit of the cabbage)
1/4 large onion, finely chopped
200g mushrooms, chopped in small cubes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
herbs to suit (I added a bit of dill and parsley – not the most Japanese but I couldn’t pass up the option)
Oil (olive or vegetable) for coating fry pan
250g streaky bacon, cut in about 5cm lengths
~ You can add other ‘toppings’ to suit

To serve
Okonomiyaki sauce (optional)
Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie)
Sesame seeds
Bonito flakes

1. In a large bowl combine flour and baking powder. Add salt and pepper. Stir in stock to form a thick yet runny paste. You may need more liquid (stock or water) depending on the batter consistency. Watch the youtube video to get a better gauge of the consistency required. Add potato starch mixture and mix through.
2. Add chopped cabbage, onions, mushrooms (other filling ingredients you have chosen) to the batter. Add eggs. Stir to just combine. Be sure not to over mix.
3. On medium to high heat a small to medium fry pan, add oil to coat. Add about a cup of mixture to pan and using the back of a spoon, spread out to form a thick’ish pancake. Again the video will provide you with a good guide. Place bacon strips on the flattened batter. Add a little bit more batter just on top of the bacon so it secures the bacon onto the pancake.
4. After a few minutes (3 to 5 minutes), flip pancake. Cook for a further 3 to 5 minutes. Cover to cook through, uncover to crisp edges. Once cooked through, place on serving plate. Repeat step #3 and #4 with remaining batter.
5. To serve, top with sauce (I didn’t have any and am not a fan of sweet sauces so I left this out), mayonnaise, sesame seeds and bonito flakes. I also added nori sprinkles.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

New York Cheesecake

Posted by Kim Fong On 9:14 pm

So after watching re-run of Friends, there was an episode where Rachel and Chandler kept eating this baked cheesecake. It was so good they were willing to eat it off the floor after dropping it. Oh it gave me a craving! I LOVE cheesecake. The dense, creamy, rich slice of goodness! Admittedly, cheesecake does take a little bit of effort to make. Obvious by how much I was talking about it at work the whole week – a lot. Sorry guys. It is also a more expensive cake to make, considering the ingredients used and the amount of time required to cook it. So fair warning, this isn’t a ‘quick and simple’ recipe.

The base in this recipe I adapted from Donna Hay’s version from Masterchef Australia 2011. For those of you who know me, I’m not really a Masterchef fan. Don’t ask, I just think there are more negatives than positives about that show that I choose not to watch it. Saying that, Mum was watching a particular episode and asked me to get the recipe from the web. Reading the base’s ingredients, it definitely perked my interest. Especially not having to crush my own biscuits – a big plus. The portions below is enough to have the base go up the side of the cake.

Because I like dense cheesecakes, I opted for a different filling recipe. The one I always use is from I’ve reviewed many cheesecake recipes, but I always come back to this one. You’ll probably fall off your chair when you see how much cream cheese goes into it, its about 50% more than other recipes.  But it really makes it that much more dense and creamier! 

I’ve also researched a bunch of tips and tricks to get the perfect cheesecake. So follow the link and check it out before embarking on this cheesecake journey. Also I strongly suggest you use a proper cake mixer (Kenwood or Kitchen Aid). It just makes life a lot easier and is definitely worth the investment as its a lot easier to make other things too, including bread and pizza. You can find second hand ones/refurbished ones on eBay that are still in great working condition. They last a lifetime!

1 1/2 cups almond flour/meal
1 1/8 cup plain flour
1/3 cup caster sugar
135g butter, chilled and chopped

750g cream cheese, at room temperature (3 packets)
1 cup caster sugar (I cut it down to 3/4 cup)
2 tspn finely grated lemon rind (grated skin of 1 lemon)
1/2 tspn vanilla essence
2 tblspn plain flour
4 eggs
300ml sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Grease base and sides and line the base only (don't line the sides, the base won't stick to paper) of a 20cm spring form tin with baking paper. Cover the exterior of the tin with foil.

2. Place almond meal, flour, sugar and butter into a bowl. Rub mixture with your fingertips. You can also use a cake mixer with the dough hook attachment. The mixture will form coarse breadcrumbs (see picture below). You know this mixture is ready when you squeeze a handful in your palm and it stays that shape.

3. Place the base mixture in the tin and press gently with fingers to line the tin until even and then smooth out with the back of the spoon. I suggest doing the sides first before you press down the base. Bake for about 15 minutes or until light golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

~ You can keep the oven on if you work fast enough to get the filling ready. Otherwise, I suggest turning it off to save power. But remember to turn it back on and preheat to 160C before returning the cake to the oven.

4. Using electric cake mixer, beat cream cheese until a smooth consistency. Mix in sugar, vanilla and lemon rind until just combined. Beat in flour. Add the eggs, one at a time, beat well after each addition until combined. Stir in sour cream until just combined. Be sure not to over mix, as this will force more air into the mixture.

5. Pour cream cheese mixture into the base. Tap lightly to get rid of any bubbles.

6. Place tin in a baking tray lined with a tea towel. Fill tray with boiling water until it comes midway up the tin. Place in oven and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until just set in the centre. If you notice the top browning or cracking, the heat is too high, turn down the heat.

7. Leave the cake in the oven, turn the oven off and leave the oven door a jar for a couple of hours or until cooled completely (this also prevents the cake from cracking). Take cake out of oven and baking tray, remove foil and place in fridge for about 6 hours or overnight to chill.

8. Top with fruit (optional), cut into wedges to serve. Keeps in fridge for a few days (if it lasts that long!)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Broccoli Beef Noodle Stir-Fry

Posted by Kim Fong On 12:57 pm

Every South East Asian nation has their own version of stir fry noodles, and so does every Asian restaurant around the world, catering to the palates of their local patrons. 

With this dish, you have a lot of creative license. Throw together what you have or carefully select your favourite ingredients. Whatever you decide, there are a few simple directions to make this dish great. I’ve tried to highlight this in my instructions below. To summarise, it's a lot of different flavours – garlic, ginger, onions, herbs. And no matter how hard you try, you’ll always cook more than you think you need. But that’s okay, this is great as leftovers too (or mid-night snacks).

If you have your favourite version, I would love to hear about it, feel free to leave a comment.

This recipe serves 2 very hungry people or probably 3 to 4 average serves. Obviously you can increase the portions to cater for more people.

150g sirloin beef steak, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 tspn minced fresh ginger
1 medium onion, chopped
light soy sauce (I’m not sure of quantities, so just keep the bottle out. Basically use soy sauce of your salt.)
2 to 3 tblspn oyster sauce (I used vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce)
150g mushrooms, sliced
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite sized ‘tree-tops’ (as my mum likes to call them)
2 sticks of celery – thick slices
200g fried tofu, halved or quartered. (Apologies, this isn’t very descriptive, but you can see from the picture what I mean. But we love our fried tofu, obviously this is optional)
Vegetable or olive oil for frying
1 tspn flour corn starch mixed with 1/8 cup of water (cold or at room temperature)
200g fresh rice noodles (available at most Asian supermarkets)
bunch of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
Pepper and sesame oil to taste

Other ingredients you can include:
Chopped cabbage
Baby spinach
Chinese greens (bok choy, choy sum etc)
Carrots – thickly sliced julienne
Green beans
Snow peas
... I can go on! Essentially lots of veges
Chicken, pork, fish (instead of beef)

1. Marinate the meat – It doesn’t matter what little time you have, some marinating time is better than no marinating. This particular instance I did this 3 days before and left it in the fridge, but that’s a bit extreme. I’d just so happened to defrost the meat to make pho. So I decided to marinate it and leave it in the fridge until I needed it later in the week. So in a small bowl, combine the sliced beef, 1 tspn minced ginger, 2 cloves of garlic – minced, soy sauce (enough to just coat the meat) and pepper. Stir and set aside.

2. Prepare veges – Once you have the meat marinating, spend all the time you like chopping up your vegetables. The idea is to get them bite sized. Not too big you’ll struggle to put the piece in your mouth, but not too small it falls apart and the noodles can’t carry it. When you’re chopping it, keep them separated. Though they’re similar in size, they still take different lengths of time to cook.

3. Other prep – chop up your onions, more garlic, more ginger. Again keep them separate. Slice up the tofu. Put rice noodles in a colander and rinse under tap hot water to loosen up and wash away the residual oil from the packet.

4. The essence of this bit is high heat and work quick. If you can’t handle it, drop the heat or move the pan away from the burner until you’re ready to move on. Heat a wok or fry pan on high (when you put your hand over it, it should feel like you right next to a heater – toasty!) then add oil, swirl to coat the pan. Add onions, stir around until slightly translucent, add ginger and veges. General rule, the harder the vegetable, the longer it takes to cook. So carrots, broccoli generally take longer than the leafy spinach and the soft mushrooms.In this case I just added the broccoli, stir around, then add celery, reduce the heat slightly, add mushrooms, then add a dash of water and cover for about 30 seconds. This cooks the greens. You can tell its good when it just turns from a dull colour to a shiny bright colour, as soon as that happens take it off the pan and set aside. This will still be a bit crunchy but we’ll bring it back later so don’t worry.

5. In the same pan, bring the pan’s temperature back to hot, add more oil to just coat the pan and add meat. Stir around to just cooked through. As the meat starts browning add starch/water mix. This will create a thick gravy. Especially with beef this won’t take long. Set aside (can be in the same vessel as the vegetables from step #4).

6. Again, in the same pan, bring the heat back to hot and add a bit more oil and the tofu with about 1/2 tspn of chopped ginger. The idea is to the bring the tofu to hot and slightly flavour with ginger. Again this shouldn’t take long. 1 minute or so. At the same time, the tofu will pick up the residual flavour of the meat left behind from the previous step. Set aside (can be in the same vessel as the vegetables and meat from step #4 & #5).

7. In medium to high heat, add noodles, any gravy from the vegetables from step #4 and meat in step #5. Then add a dash of soy sauce and oyster sauce to noodles and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium. Add all the veges, meat and tofu back into the same pan and stir to combine evenly. This step is to bring it all together, reheat the vegetables, meat and tofu you set aside and make sure you have all the flavours right. This is a point to taste and adjust the seasoning where you see/taste fit. If too salty, add sugar. If not salty enough, add soy sauce.

8. Serve hot with a light coating of sesame oil and pepper.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Hazelnut & Almond Based Friands

Posted by Kim Fong On 6:45 pm

After creating two batches of custard tarts for the family, I had heaps of egg whites left overs. Which can only mean one thing, friands! These little morsels are just so tasty!

I first learnt about friands while working my way through university in a cafe. These little cakes were really popular but I never had one. I thought, why wouldn’t you just get a muffin, its 3 times bigger and probably cheaper. Then I had one one-day. Oh its so worth it. They’re dense, moist and really tasty. I then found a recipe in a magazine and gave it a go. I’ve never looked back. 

These are really easy to make and you can go wild with all sorts of flavours.
This time around I made 3 different versions: fresh strawberries and passion fruit, strawberry ripe and raspberry and white chocolate. All yummy and distinctly different. I’ve also changed the traditional recipe by substituting half the portion of almond meal/flour with hazelnut meal and cut down the sugar.

6 egg whites
185g butter, melted
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1 cup icing sugar mixture
1/2 cup flour

Strawberry ripe – 100g chopped strawberries, 100g chopped dark chocolate, 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
Raspberry and white chocolate – 100g frozen raspberries, 100g white chocolate chopped
Strawberry and passion fruit – 100g chopped strawberries, 1/3 cup passion fruit pulp
NB: Obviously if you want more or less flavouring you can add or subtract the quantities

1. Preheat over to moderately hot (190-200C). Grease 12 x 1/3 cup (125ml) capacity friand or muffin pan.
2. Place eggs whites in medium bowl, whisk lightly with fork until combined.
3. Add remaining ingredients to bowl. Including flavour variations. Stir until just combined. Be sure not to over mix.
4. Divide mixture among prepared pans.
5. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. Stand in pan for 5 minutes before turning them out on a wire rack. Serve dusted with extra sifted icing sugar.

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