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Archive for October, 2012

My friend Angela gave some of stuffed bitter melon and it was very tasty. Now bitter melon is still in season so I decide to try making this dish. The secret is the meat stuffing– it’s not ordinary ground pork, I added dried shrimp and cooked glutinous rice to the ground pork, which adds more flavor and texture. If you dare to eat bitter melon, try this recipe.

Stuffed Bitter Melon 苦瓜镶肉

Stuffed Bitter Melon 苦瓜镶肉

Stuffed Bitter Melon Recipe (makes 15-20 pieces)

Ingredients:
3 small/slimmer bitter melon (about size of 2 inches wide, 9 inches long)

stuffing:
1/2 lb ground pork

seasoning for ground pork:
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp tapioca starch
2-3 tbsp water

2 tbsp dried shrimps– soaked with 2 tbsp of water for 5 minutes, then finely chopped
2 tbsp cooked glutinous rice– add some water to loose up the rice, then rinse out water– see note below
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic– finely chopped

more tapioca starch for coating the inside of melon ring

Seasoning for the sause:
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1/2 tbsp sugar
water (enough to cover half the height of the melon rings)

Method:

  1. Wash bitter melons and remove both tips. Cut into 1 inch size rings. Remove the core. Put the melon rings in a big bowl and sprinkle about 1 tbsp of salt. Toss to coat well (this is to draw out the bitter juice so it will be less bitter). Set aside for 15 minutes. Rinse 2-3 times. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Prepare stuffing: season ground pork with ground pork seasoning. Then add in dried shrimps, glutinous rice, ginger and garlic. Stir in a circular motion several times until the mixture blend well and looks sticky.
  3. Coat inner rings with tapioca starch, then stuff ground pork into the ring with a butter knife, smooth the surface (do not over stuff as the stuffing will expand during cooking).
  4. Heat up a frying pan with a 2 tbsp oil. Fry melon rings on high heat, meat side down, until both side are browned. Be sure to place the rings in a single layer, fry in batches if necessary.
  5. Add enough water to cover half the height of the rings, and all other sauce seasoning. Bring to a boil, then continue cooking on medium high heat, until the stuffing is cooked through and melon softens (turning over once or twice during cooking). At this point the sauce should be reduced and thickened.
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Corn Bread Muffins

Corn Bread Muffins

Corn Bread Muffins (recipe from Chef John Folse’s Sweet and Airy Corn Bread— makes 12 pieces)

Ingredients:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ear corn kennels
1 1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
4 tbsp unsalted butter– melted and cooled

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease muffin pans with cooking spray.
  2. Sift cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a big bowl. Stir in corn kennels to mix well.
  3. Add eggs to the milk, whisk to blend well.
  4. Pour egg mixture and melted butter to the flour mixture. Gently fold until the batter is just moist and no lump(the batter will look runny). Do not over mix the batter.
  5. Scoop batter into muffin pans. Bake at preheated oven for 15-18 muffins. Transfer to cool on rack.

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My oldest son Alexander used to be not a fan of wontons. Then all of a sudden, after trying some, he decided he like it enough to make it to his favorite food list. I like to make a batch of wontons and freeze the extras. When I don’t know what to make for Alexander’s lunch, then these wontons come in handy. Alexander’s current wonton record is 10 pieces (about size of a table tennis/ping pong) at one serving.

To me, wonton is one of those food that is easy enough and doesn’t require writing down the recipe. But here I’m writing it down mainly for you, my dear son, so that when you are away from home and miss your mamma’s home made wontons, you’ll know how to make them.

Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup Recipe 云吞汤 (makes about 55-60 pieces)

Ingredients:
1 lb ground pork
1/2 lb shrimps– shelled and deveined, and coarsely chopped
6 water chestnut– chopped (optional)– see your mamma’s note below
1 pack (1 lb) medium wonton wrappers

Seasoning:
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp tapioca starch
4 tbsp water

some green leafy vegetables like “yu choi” 油菜– clean, cut to 2-inch length

Method:

To make wontons:

  1. Put ground pork in a mixing bowl, add in all the seasoning and mix well. Add in chopped shrimps and water chestnut (if used). Mix to combine all together. Then use a pair of chopsticks, stir the mixture in a circular motion for a few minutes, until the mixture appears sticky and some very thin strands are visible (you can use a standing mixer to do the job so you arm doesn’t get sore :-)).
  2. Put about 1/2 to 1 tbsp of ground pork filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Run your finger through water then wet all edges briefly. Fold it in half to form a triangle. Then bring the two ends on the long side together, wet touch one end and press seal the other end on top of it (if you find it hard to bring two ends together, make the triangle stand up first before proceeding). Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.
  3. Place wonton on a tray and freeze for about 1 hour or until the wonton are just frozen. At this point wontons are pretty much individually frozen and can be put in a ziplog bag– and here are your home made frozen wontons!

To make wonton soup:

  1. Okay, here comes the easy part– the soup: Boil some chicken broth or water in a pot. Carefully drop in frozen wontons (no need to thaw) into the boiling liquid. Stir immediately so the wontons do stick to the bottom of the pot. Let it bring to a boil, stir a few times to make sure wontons are swimming happily in the soup. Add in some water and bring to a boil again. When the wontons float to the top, cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove wontons to a bowl or else the wontons are over cooked and the wrappers will tear and become mushy.
  2. Cook leafy vegetables in the soup (cook it longer if you prefer softer texture). Add salt and ground white pepper to taste. Drizzle in a little sesame oil. Pour vegetables and soup over wontons. Enjoy while it’s hot!

Mamma’s Note:

  • Like I do with potstickers and dumplings, I like to make a batch of wontons and freeze them. Just loose them up before freezing in a bag, and cook them straight from frozen– no need to thaw.
  • water chestnut: Well, son… your mamma really likes water chestnut in the wontons (and in dumplings too) for its slightly crunchiness, but you and your brother and sister doesn’t like it and think it’s onion or some sort… one of these days you should really try it. It’s not going to kill you 🙂
Making wontons

Making wontons

Home made wontons

Home made wontons

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While I went back to Malaysia and Singapore this summer, I got the chance to stay at my aunt’s house and tasted all the delicious food her maid Lis made (she is a wonderful cook!). One of the food I had over there is curry pork ribs. This dish really changed my mind about pork and curry combination, as I never have the combination before. I asked Lis for the recipe, and here’s my version. The ribs are tender, packed with flavors– it’s not quite curry and not quite rendang, but somewhere between.

Tangy Curry Pork Ribs

Tangy Curry Pork Ribs

Tangy Curry Pork Ribs (serves 6-8 people)

Ingredients:
3 lbs pork spare ribs– cut into pieces
5 slices ginger
water to boil the ribs (water must cover the ribs in the pot)

Spice paste(blend well with enough water):
5 cloves garlic
10 shallots
1 inch ginger
2 inch galangal
1 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
2 buah keras
2 tsp balancan

3 tbsp sambal chili
3 lemon grass– use only the whitish part, crush with a knife handle
2 kiffir lime leaves
7 oz. coconut milk
4-5 cups of pork stock from boiling pork ribs
3-4 tbsp tamarind water (1 tbsp tamarind paste+5 tbsp hot water, mix well)
salt and sugar to taste

Method:

  1. Boil water in a deep pot. Add ginger slices and spare ribs (water must cover the ribs), cover and boil on high heat for 10 minutes. Reduce to medium heat, continue cooking for another 30-40 minutes. Remove the meat and discard any impurities. Keep the stock.
  2. While the pork is boiling, blend spice paste in a blender, adding just enough water to facilitate blending.
  3. Heat a frying pan and add 2 tbsp oil. Fry lemon grass until aromatic, pour in spice paste. Keep stirring until some liquid evaporates and the paste is aromatic.
  4. Add in sambal chili, kiffir lime leaves and coconut milk. Turn heat down to medium and keep stirring, until the sauce thickens and red oil starts to form from the bubbly holes.
  5. Add in the ribs, pork stock and tamarind water, stir to mix well. Cover with a lid, cook until the sauce reduces and the ribs absorb the flavor. Stir every few minutes to prevent burn at the bottom. Add in more pork stock if the sauce dries too fast. Add salt to taste.

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When I shop at local farmer’s markets, I always temp to buy all kinds of delicious summer fruits, and the result is buying too much– in this case it was 1/2 flat of fresh strawberries (after I already bought 3-4 pounds of stone fruits)! So, adding the last 2 over ripe banana on the kitchen counter, here comes the strawberry banana cake. It’s actually a fluffy banana cake, but with strawberries on the top. It is pretty much a flat chiffon cake with all that fluffy and light texture. Oh, and the strawberries taste so delicious too!

Strawberry Banana Chiffon Cake

Strawberry Banana Chiffon Cake

Strawberry Banana Chiffon Cake Recipe (makes one 9 x 13 inch pan)

Ingredients:

for yolk mixture:
4 egg yolks
4 tbsp sugar
2 ripe bananas– mashed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 tbsp unsalted butter– melted
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

for egg white mixture:
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3 tbsp sugar

for sprinkles:
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
finely shredded sweetened coconut
chopped walnuts

Method:

  1. Line a 9 x 13 x 2 baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Prepare yolk mixture: In a large mixing bowl whisk yolks and sugar with a balloon whisk, until it is pale yellow and fluffy. Mix in mashed bananas, vanilla extract, butter and salt to combine. Sift in cake flour, baking powder and ground cinnamon combined, in 2 batches. Mix until no dry ingredients appear.
  3. Prepare egg white mixture: In a separate bowl, whip egg white and cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually add in sugar, one tbsp at a time, and whip on high speed until soft peak (whipped egg white should have a little curl at the end tip when lifted up).
  4. Gently FOLD IN whipped egg whites to yolk mixture, in 3 batches. Pour cake batter into cake pan. Sprinkle strawberries, grated coconut and walnuts on the top. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake with parchment paper lining to a rack to cool.

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Never did I think about adding ground almond to muffins, but it’s a good alternative. I can really taste the almond in these muffins, and of course, the strawberries smell and taste heavenly too!

Strawberry Almond Muffins

Strawberry Almond Muffins

Strawberry Almond Muffins (makes 12 pieces)

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 salt
1/2 cup ground almond or almond meal– lightly toasted in a dry pan, cooled
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
6 tbsp unsalted butter– melted and cooled
1 cups fresh strawberries– chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease muffin pans with cooking spray.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a big bowl. Stir in ground almond.
  3. Add eggs to the milk, beat to blend well.
  4. Pour egg mixture and melted butter to the flour mixture. Use as spatula, gently fold the mixture until the batter is just moist. Fold in strawberries.
  5. Scoop batter into muffin pans. Bake at preheated oven for 25 minutes. Transfer to cool on a rack.

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“Balik” in Malay means return, and “kampung” means village. These are some of the pictures we took when we went back to my hometown Muar, Malaysia this summer. It was my BEST trip back to Malaysia ever! Enjoy the pictures!

Taking ferry ride to Pangkor Island Beach Resort.

Taking ferry ride to Pangkor Island Beach Resort.

Pangkor Island Beach Resort-- we had fun with the archery!

Pangkor Island Beach Resort– we had fun with the archery!

Pangkor Island Beach Resort-- this peacock was sleeping on the balcony of my sister Jasmine's room throughout the night. It was a very cool up close and personal experience with this beautiful bird!

Pangkor Island Beach Resort– this peacock was sleeping on the balcony of my sister Jasmine’s room throughout the night. It was a very cool up close and personal experience with this beautiful bird!

Pangkor Island Beach Resort-- (left to right) Audrey, Belinda, Alice and Siffone (front).

Pangkor Island Beach Resort– (left to right) Audrey, Belinda, Alice and Siffone (front).

Cameron Highlands, Perak

Cameron Highlands, Perak

Cameron Highlands-- visiting a tea plantation. I love the rolling hills of lush "green carpet"! (left to right) Belinda, Alice, Jasmine and Audrey (front).

Cameron Highlands– visiting a tea plantation. I love the rolling hills of lush “green carpet”! (left to right) Belinda, Alice, Jasmine and Audrey (front).

Cameron Highlands-- Ethan at a cactus farm.

Cameron Highlands– Ethan at a cactus farm.

Kuala Lumpur-- the famous Twin Tower!

Kuala Lumpur– the famous Twin Tower!

Kuala Lumpur-- visiting "Our King" Exhibition at the Royal Palace.

Kuala Lumpur– visiting “Our King” Exhibition at the Royal Palace.

Alexander and Ethan at Singapore Zoo.

Alexander and Ethan at Singapore Zoo.

The kids at the Harry Potter the Exhibit, Art Science Museum, Singapore. This car was in the movie, and it was the only artifact that we can take picture using our cameras.

The kids at the Harry Potter the Exhibit, Art Science Museum, Singapore. This car was in the movie, and it was the only artifact that we can take picture using our cameras.

My lovely children with famous Singapore landmarks in the background: ArtScience Meseum on the left, and Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino in the back.

My lovely children with famous Singapore landmarks in the background: ArtScience Meseum on the left, and Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino in the back.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino: a closer look of this beautiful architecture from a river cruise.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino: a closer look of this beautiful architecture from a river cruise.

Ethan and Alexander, with Merlion in the back.

Ethan and Alexander, with Merlion in the back.

Hungry? These are foods sold by one of the many vendors in a food court-- a very typical scene at any food court in Malaysia and Singapore.

Hungry? These are foods sold by one of the many vendors in a food court– a very typical scene at any food court in Malaysia and Singapore.

Singapore Night Safari: a family photo before the tram ride begins! Night Safari is a must see in Singapore!

Singapore Night Safari: a family photo before the tram ride begins! Night Safari is a must see in Singapore!

Singapore Jurong Bird Park: waiting for the Eagle Show to begin. The hot and humid weather wore the kids down.

Singapore Jurong Bird Park: waiting for the Eagle Show to begin. The hot and humid weather wore the kids down.

Singapore Jurong Bird Park: Ethan feeding the birds. These birds are NOT shy at all!!

Singapore Jurong Bird Park: Ethan feeding the birds. These birds are NOT shy at all!!

Singapore Jurong Bird Park: These birds are NOT shy at all, and can sometimes be intimating! We were the last visitors to this feeding section so we have LOTS of bird flying towards us and fighting for the very few food  we fed them.

Singapore Jurong Bird Park: These birds are NOT shy at all, and can sometimes be intimating! We were the last visitors to this feeding section so we have LOTS of bird flying towards us and fighting for the very few food we fed them.

Back to Muar-- high school alumni reunion fundraising dinner at my high school CHHS. There were over 1200 tables (10 people per table)! It was nice to catch up with my high school friends! What a FANTASTIC night!!

Back to Muar– high school alumni reunion fundraising dinner at my high school CHHS. There were over 1200 tables (10 people per table)! It was nice to catch up with my high school friends! What a FANTASTIC night!!

Back to Muar-- high school alumni reunion fundraising dinner at my high school CHHS. There were over 1200 tables (10 people per table)! It was nice to catch up with my high school friends! What a FANTASTIC night!!

Back to Muar– high school alumni reunion fundraising dinner at my high school CHHS. There were over 1200 tables (10 people per table)! It was nice to catch up with my high school friends! What a FANTASTIC night!!

Back to Muar: friends' gathering!

Back to Muar: friends’ gathering!

Back to Muar: more friends' gathering and yummy foods at SKT.

Back to Muar: more friends’ gathering and yummy foods at SKT.

Back to Muar: more friends' gathering and yummy foods at SKT.

Back to Muar: more friends’ gathering and yummy foods at SKT.

Back to Muar: friends' gathering again, with ice cold treats!

Back to Muar: friends’ gathering again, with ice cold treats!

Back to Muar: Malay vendors selling cakes and snacks along the roadsides in the afternoon-- a bustling scene only be found during puasa (Ramadan).

Back to Muar: Malay vendors selling cakes and snacks along the roadsides in the afternoon– a bustling scene only be found during puasa (Ramadan).

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