Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mars: Ninjin Shirishirii

I was watching TOKIO's 5LDK talk show when the cast of Majo Saiban were there to promote the drama. Main reason was because Ikuta Toma was there as one of the leads in Majo Saiban. The other lead was Higa Manami - also known from her work in Code Blue with Pi and Aragaki Yui~

One of the segments in 5LDK is they will get their guests to cook for them - something simple and what they would usually cook at home!


Back to the recipe!

'Ninjin' is carrot. And 'shirishirii' is grate in Okinawan Japanese! Thus, the name speaks for itself!

Grated Carrots!

Ingredients (for 2 people):

- 1 tbsp butter
- 3 large carrots
- 2 eggs
- salt and pepper to taste

How to?
1. Coarsely grate the carrots
2. Melt butter in pan (medium heat)
3. Throw carrots in and stir with chopsticks
4. Crack eggs into pan and stir - don't let the mixture clump!
5. Add salt and pepper to taste!

The butter brings out the natural sweetness of the carrots! Serve with whatever you like!

I had it with pan-fried portobello mushrooms, salmon and salad!

It's an awesome rice alternative for those who are trying to cut down on carbs!

Serve to hungry people rushing 3 assignments by next Monday! (T_T)v

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jade: Bitemygratin

Most people see the weekend as a chance to catch up with friends, do a spot of shopping, have a coffee with the girls...Much as I love doing that, after a week of making mindless small talk to coax out delusions and hallucinations, my inner hermit yearns for a little quiet time..No phones, no Christmas music courtesy of NHS outpatient receptions [which incidentally, isn't exactly the best idea when half the people in the waiting room are depressed because it's Christmas]; Just silence. And the smell of freshly laundered sheets, the cosy familiarity of my own room and who can forget..a home-cooked meal :)

Today's special:
Pan seared cod on a bed of sweet potato and spinach gratin

1 cod fillet
rock salt and freshly cracked black pepper

3 small sweet potatoes, sliced thinly
1 packet baby spinach
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
White wine
Dried thyme

300ml milk
3tbsp flour
50g butter
1tsp mustard
220g red leicester cheese, grated [any cheese will do, I just thought the fluorescent cheese would pair well with the beautifully orange sweet potatoes]
Breadcrumbs [optional; I left them out since I didn't have any..but I think a bit of crunch would've added a whole new dimension to the dish]

1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.
2. Heat up some oil or butter and gently sauteed the garlic and onion until soft and transparent
3. Add a generous splosh of white wine and let it reduce
4. Stir in the spinach until just wilted, add the thyme and leave to cool
5. In a separate pot, combine milk, flour and butter, whisking over medium heat
6. Simmer for 2 minutes, add the mustard and 3/4 of the grated cheese and simmer for another minute.
7. Slice the sweet potatoes thinly and arrange half of it in a lightly greased oven-proof dish or roasting tin
8. Layer half the spinach mixture over the sweet potatoes
9. Pour half the cheese sauce over the spinach mix and repeat the layering.
10. When all that is done, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs if using
11. Bake for about 45 minutes.

* In the meantime, lightly butter a non stick pan, slap on the cod fillet, season with salt and pepper, and let it sear over medium heat

Now scoop up a generous portion of gratin, very very gently place the fish on top, and enjoy while it's still piping hot ~The creamy saltiness of the cheese sauce, delicate sweetness of the cod and sweet potatoes and that hint of acidity from the spinach and wine..I only wish every day were a Saturday..

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jade: Bitemyseafoodsoup

I've always liked crabsticks. There. I said it. Those garishly red and white logs of surimi masquerading as crab meat. Purists would happily run me over with a car at this point, but crabsticks take me back to my childhood, to days of large reunions and giant vats of hot soup at my grandma's place...And as someone who lives for a good steamboat, a chunky crabstick is the one thing that goes best with any kind of chili sauce..I think it's because they unravel just enough for the gooey spiciness to seep into every little crevice..aahh...So when I went shopping for seafood to make me a hot and spicy bowl of soup, I was rather pleased to see crabsticks featured in the packs of assorted seafood.

Seafood soup

1 pack assorted seafood, or if you prefer, get a nice assortment of squid rings, fish, prawns, mussels and clams from your fishmonger

3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
150 ml white wine [ or stock ]
Dried thyme or oregano
Salt and pepper/paprika to taste

1. Heat up some olive oil and sauteed garlic and onions until the onions turn a nice golden brown
2. Add the herbs and potatoes
3. Add white wine and simmer till slightly reduced
4. Add chopped tomatoes and simmer gently till potatoes are fork tender
5. Chuck in the seafood and bring to boil
6. Season to taste and savour the intense flavours soaked up by the soft, spongy seafood sticks..unless of course you chose not to add which I can only say...sighh

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Jade: Bitemycannoncini

I remember my first cannoncino...warm buttery pastry so feathery, silky cream bursting with the flavour of vanilla...i was could something so seemingly simple taste so good..At that very moment, my mind went into overdrive, thinking up ways to recreate it in my own kitchen.

I took a few shortcuts just because I'm in a lazy mood [ but itching to play with my new cream horn moulds!]...Although I will probably never use ready made puff pastry for this again...not unless it's all butter and comes with some form of celebrity chef endorsement. In retrospect, it is actually blindingly obvious that the quality of the pastry would make or break a dessert that is nothing more than a pastry horn filled with cream......Highsight is always so much clearer..Having said that, on days when the cravings strike and Princi's isn't a 5-minute walk away, my way will do ;)

Cheats' Cannoncini~Little cannons

1 tube ready made puff pastry [ do get a good quality tube...I'll post up the recipe for proper cannoncini pastry once I get the time to measure flour and grate butter]
1 egg lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar

Crema Pasticcera~gives about 2 cups so feel
free to halve the recipe

1/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup single cream
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
2 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 2oo degrees C.
2. Leave puff pastry for about 20 minutes to come to room temperature.
3. In the meantime, dissolve 2 tbsp sugar in cream over LOW heat, and bring some water to boil in a separate pot, preferably one that's big enough to hold a metal mixing bowl. The idea is to replicate a double boiler..if you have one on hand, lucky you. Once the water boils, lower the heat and let it simmer.
4. Beat eggs, cornstarch, salt and the rest of the sugar in your metal mixing bowl/ top half of your double boiler
5. Place it over the pot of simmering water and vigorously beat in the scalded cream from step 3 until the mixture thickens.
6. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla; let cool and chill.
7. Once the cream is done, grease your baking tray and cream horn moulds.
8. Unroll the pastry sheet and cut into 1'' wide strips
9. Wrap each strip around a cream horn mould, leaving a margin of about 1/4 of an inch with each wrap.
10. When that's done, give the pastry a light egg wash, and roll gently in sugar
11. Pop in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes
12. Remove the moulds, let cool and fill with pastry cream.- The trick is to push the nozzle of your piping bag right into the narrow end of the pastry so you dont get any creamless gaps..which frankly is just cruel.

Bon appetit ;)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mars: Lin Chee Kang

The housemates and I went to Lincoln's Inn a couple of days ago to take portrait pictures of us in full costume! (^_^)v But the walk home was terribly cold!

As soon as I stepped in the house, I ran into the kitchen to make some hot Lin Chee Kang. (^^,)v

Lin Chee Kang
- Incredibly easy to make! It's just throwing things into a pot and letting it come to a boil!

I used:
- White fungus
- Dried chestnuts
- Dried longan
- Dried lotus seeds
- Rock Candy

The softer you want the ingredients to be, the longer you leave it to boil on low heat!

Then sit by the window and enjoy your hot bowl of Lin Chee Kang. (^_^)v

Mars: Stuffed Peppers

Deadlines are coming up and this part of the Earth is getting colder by the day~ (=_=)"

I felt like putting in some effort for dinner so I made peppers stuffed with couscous, chicken, tomatoes and onion chutney~

Tho it does sound like a lot of work, it took me about 20 mins from start to finish including cleaning up!

Stuffed Peppers
1. Boil the couscous on the hob for about 4 minutes and stir in a knob of butter and/or salt to give it more flavour. Include any kind of herbs you want - I do suggest coriander leaves. (^_^)v
2. Slice onions and fry it on a low fire until its soft and slightly brown. Add herbs - I used thyme and basil. Add in a splosh of apple cider vinegar. Then add sugar to sweeten it and add salt to taste. Set aside to cool.
3. Slice or cube chicken breast and pan fry them in the same pan as the onions.
4. Mix the couscous, onions, chicken and cherry tomatoes in a bowl and stuff it in a hollowed out red pepper.
5. Either grill or pan fry the pepper until the skin chars.

Place on a plate and slice in half~ Serve with pickled jalapenos for an extra kick. (^_^)v

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jade: Bitemyudon

I have an aunt who balks at the mere thought of eating noodles. Once, as I was happily slurping up twirls of thick, dark hokkien mee, she gave me a look of utter distaste and said: "How can you not feel like you're eating worms"; I never said she was tactful... And in any case, it did nothing to diminish my love for a nice big bowl of slurpy noodles.

Noodle preference of the week: fat chewy strands of Udon. I couldn't decide between black pepper udon and my take on Wagamama's Amai udon, so I did what any carb lover would do. I had both ;)

Black pepper udon
~ a hot and fiery antidote to the disgusting weather we've been having

1 packet udon [Mine came tightly packed in a little plastic bag, so I ran it under a hot tap to loosen it up]
3 cloved garlic, minced
Baby anchovies
Fishballs, sliced
Wood ear fungus, soaked and julienned
Dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced
Napa cabbage, julienned [ and any other veg or meat you have on hand's a great way to
use up leftovers on a weekend]

1 1/2 tbsp black pepper sauce, I think mine's lee kum kee
1 tbsp oyster sauce
stock/ water

1. Heat up some oil and fry garlic and baby anchovies till golden brown, taking care not to burn
the garlic
2. Add the fishballs, mushrooms and vegetables. High heat always helps with flavour when it comes to stir fries.
3. Add the sauces and some water to get a thick gravy
4. Throw in the noodles and toss to coat
5. Dish up, garnish with some picked chili and slurp it all up as loud as you possibly can :)

Wagamamawannabe Amai udon

1 packet udon
3 cloves garlic, minced
half an onion, sliced
fishballs, sliced [ do use chicken or prawns..I just couldn't be bothered to make a trip to the shops]
whatever vegetables you have on hand

1 tsp tamarind pulp, soaked in a little bit of water and mashed into a paste
sugar and fish sauce to taste
splash of rice wine vinegar
chili flakes

crushed peanuts
spring onions, chopped

1. Fry garlic and onions in hot oil until golden brown
2. Add meat and veg and toss in noodles
3. Add sauce ingredients, tasting as you go along. What you want is a really nice balance of sweet, sour and savoury with a spicy kick at the end...akin to what you would expect from a really good plate of Pad-thai.
4. Toss everything together, plate, and top with crushed peanuts and some lovely green spring onions. Who says you have to go out for good food ;)