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Friday, December 18, 2009

Organic Meat Steak and Cheese Pie Recipe

If you are a host of this coming Christmas party, sticking to the mantra "more than enough" is always the safest bet. One of the worst thing that could happen to any good host is is finding out that you're running low on food when the party is just getting into full swing. Steaks in fact, are good choices to kick start your next soiree. Easy and hassle free, this also encourages friendly conversation, being less structured than a sit-down meal and at the same time, your guests would appreciate the gradual build-up of different nuances, smoky aroma and flavors.

Instead of throwing a shrimp on the grill or barbecue, how about slices of delectable, perfectly marbled and always tender beefy parts like rib eye, porterhouse, tenderloin, New York strip, flatiron, bavette, skirt or hanger steaks? If you relish the idea of sinking your teeth into these bizarre bits, then a visit to Online Steak is in order. If you aren't much of a beef steak connoisseur, you can opt for tender and flavorful porks, sweet, mild, naturally tender and never gamy lambs or distinctive flavor poultries. Recognizing the need to encourage the adoption of a healthier, natural and organic intake, Niman Ranch produces and sells some of the best cut steaks online and specialises in different cuts of natural meats without antibiotic and hormone.

As an environmental and health-conscious consumer, I reckon it's essential to buy organic meat. You can contribute to the well-being of your community by supporting local, sustainable and organic farms that raise livestock traditionally in an ethical manner and caretake the environment. Farms that support healthy and ecological neighborhoods ensure the animals have the space, not confined and spend time outdoors in the fresh air and sunlight needed to live natural lives. Animals raised organically are not allowed to be fed antibiotics, added hormones, other artificial drugs or any genetically modified foods, hence they're always significantly healthier than their industrially-raised counterparts. Animal products certified as organic can not have their genes modified and their diet tends to be more well-rounded. Hence, these �free-range� and �ranch raised� livestock that are raised in a more humane way produce more purer, flavorful and healthier cuts of meat. Moreover, contrary to the synthetic pesticides and fertilizers used on industrial farms which tend to contaminate groundwater and soil, these free range animals graze as they are inclined and not fed with food containing pesticides, hence the amount of persistent pesticides in their fat is reduced. Eating organic animal fat reduces your exposure to these chemical residues and lead you to a more healthier life.

Organic meat topic aside, I will share steak and cheese pie recipe in this blog entry to help you indulging your guests without having to compromise on taste.  Here we go, Christmas party on tap!

Steak and Cheese Pie
Steak and Cheese Pie

Ingredients :
3 red onions, sliced
3 tbsp oilve oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 sprig of rosemary
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter + more for greasing pie plate
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
200g brown mushrooms, quartered
1kg beef brisket, cubed
2 cups dark beer or stout
1 1/2 tbsp plain flour
1 cup beef stock
200g shredded cheddar cheese
500g frozen puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

For the filling :

1. Pre-heat oven to 180'C.

2. In a deep, heavy ovenproof pot, saute onions over low heat with olive oil, salt and pepper until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in rosemary and garlic. Add 1 tbsp butter, celery, carrots and mushrooms. Add beef brisket.

4. Pour in beer or stout and stir.

5. In a small bowl, mix flour with 2 tbsp of beef stock to form a paste. Add to the pan and stir in to blend.

6. Pour just enough beef stock into the pan so that the liquid barely covers the beef and vegetables.

7. Put in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Take the stew out and give it a stir, and then cook for another hour. Stir in cheese and set aside to cool.

8. To make the pastry, pre-heat oven to 190�C. Thaw frozen puff pastry and then roll out to 5mm thin.

9. Grease a pie dish with some butter and line its bottom with the puff pastry. Bake blind for 20 minutes.

10. Roll out the rest of the pastry and cut in a circle to fit the top of your pie dish. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

11. When 20 minutes is up, remove pie dish in the oven, fill with cooled stew filling and carefully place the circle of pastry over the top, pressing down on the diameter of the pie to seal it.

12. Brush egg over the pastry and make a small slit in the centre of the pastry. Bake for 25 minutes.

Tips :

To bake blind, line pastry in the bottom of the pie dish, then cover with a piece of foil or baking parchment. Fill with pie weights, uncooked rice or beans and bake. This will help to weigh the pastry down so that it doesn't rise.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Casserole Roasted Chicken with Garlic, Lemon and Watercress Salad Recipe

I came across this comedy-drama film Julie & Julia while scouring the world wide web sometimes ago and it did pique my interest to find out more about the film. Written and directed by Nora Ephron, the film depicts events in the life of chef Julia Child in the early years in her culinary career, contrasting her life with Julie Powell, a frustrated secretary, who aspires to cook all 524 recipes from Child's cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking during a single year, 2002. Powell then blogs her daily experiences and gaining a loyal following along the way. Though separated by time and space, both women are at loose ends until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible.

Meryl Streep has received many positive review for her performance as Julia Child in the film. At her beguiling best, Meryl Streep is playing our idea of Julia Child more elusively and more truthfully. If you are Julia Child's fan but yet to watch the movie, you can preview this Julie and Julia movie trailer provided by Columbia Pictures below.


On another occasion, chef John from http://foodwishes.com/ demonstrated Julia Child's casserole roasted chicken in remembrance of Julia Child, a world renowned American chef, author and television personality who introduced French cuisine and cooking techniques to the American mainstream through her many cookbooks and television programs. Check it out!


"You? wanna be haunted by Julia Child? I don't think so." This really got a good chuckle out of me.

This recipe is from Julia Child's cookbook, Cooking with Master Chefs, from the chapter with Jeremiah Tower, an author of New American Classics, teacher at the California Culinary Academy and prestigious James Beard Award-winner who emphasizes the use of locally grown ingredients to elevate simple dishes to fine delicacies. The recipe goes like this. Bon appetit!

Ingredients :

For the Chicken :
A 5 pound roaster chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
Olive oil (as needed)
3 lemons, halved crosswise
2 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs thyme (optional)

6 cloves garlic, crushed, unpeeled
1 onion, sliced

For the Salad :
2 tbsp walnut or hazelnut oil
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 bunch watercress

Special Equipment Suggested :
A covered casserole or roaster just large enough to hold the chicken comfortably
A bulb baster
A pastry brush
An oven-proof serving platter

Timing :
Total 2 hours. 1 hour for covered roasting, 1/2 hour for browning, and a 30-minute rest before carving.

Preparing the Chicken :

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place all ingredients and equipment beside your main work area on a large tray or newspapers, and plan to dispose of and/or wash everything (including your hands) thoroughly with soap and hot water when you are through.

Remove the packet of giblets in the cavity, and reserve for something else. Remove any visible clumps of fat from inside the cavity, wash and dry them in paper towels, and set aside. Wash the chicken both inside and out under cold running water; dry thoroughly with paper towels.

Salt and pepper the cavity lightly, pour in a spoonful of olive oil, and stuff in a handful of garlic, thyme and rosemary. Squeeze in the juice of a lemon, and add the lemon halves. Truss the chicken, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set it breast up in the casserole. Flatten the reserved pieces of chicken fat with your fist and lay them over the breast. Smash the rest of the garlic cloves with the flat of your big knife and lay them also over the chicken along with the remaining rosemary and thyme. Squeeze on the rest of the lemons, tossing the squeezed halves into the casserole.

Note:
The chicken is now ready for the oven, and may be prepared to this point two hours ahead.

Roasting the Chicken - 1 1/2 hours:

Set the covered casserole in the lower third of the pre-heated oven. Basting is really not necessary, but a quick peek now and then is useful just to see how things are going. You may also desire a quick basting with the accumulated juices, using a bulb baster.

After an hour, remove the cover and turn the thermostat up to 400 F. Continue roasting and letting the chicken brown.

When is it done? The thighs will be fairly tender when pressed; the drumsticks will move up and down in their sockets fairly well. When the bird is lifted, the last juices to fall from the vent end will be clear yellow with no trace of rose.

Remove the chicken to the serving platter, cut off the trussing strings, and return the chicken to the turned-off oven, leaving the door ajar.

Preparing the sauce and serving the roasted chicken and salad :

Drain the juices from the casserole through a sieve. Using a ladle, push the garlic to extract juice from it as well. Skim the fat off the surface in the remaining juices of the strained liquid. Whisk in the walnut oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the watercress into the sauce to coat well. Place the seasoned watercress around the chicken and drizzle with any remaining sauce.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

How To Make Homemade Char Siew Pau (steamed bun with Chinese barbecued pork filling)

Char Siew Pau (Chinese barbecued pork or ???) is one of the signature dishes prevalent in Chinese dim sum restaurants.The mound of Char Siew fits snugly into the soft and fluffy little steamed bun, and is often gone in a few gulps. It's a stomach filler, to help those needling hunger pangs early in the morning or before the next meal in the evening.

Video below shown the making process of Char Siew Pau by Mrs. Tan from Kepong featured in Star online. You can see how the dough is deftly kneaded with the heel of the palm, and then set aside to rest for a few minutes or until it is doubled in size, before cut into pieces of about 40g each. She then invert each pieces of dough before flattening it with a rolling pin to make a 3� flat round shape. Then place a heap teaspoon of Chinese barbecued pork filling in the middle, wrap and pleat the dough to seal. Enjoy!


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Friday, November 27, 2009

Vegetables Gingko In Belachan Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Home-cooked Vegetables Gingko In Belachan
Home-cooked Vegetables Gingko In Belachan

A twist to our traditional and contemporary ways of preparing kai lan (a.k.a Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale). Instead of having kai lan stir-fried with ginger and garlic, or boiled (or steamed) and served with oyster sauce, a little of local flavor and piquancy thrown in by introducing a bit of Malaysian shrimp paste (belachan) and chilli boh (blended chilli paste). This Malaysian Chinese home-cooked dish is speckled with tiny dices of red chilli peppers (cayenne peppers) and dried shrimps whilst Chinese cabbage (a.ka.a Napa cabbage) serves to mellow it all out. Sweet snow peas (or alternatively sugar snap peas) add some deletable crunch, vibrantly delicious flavor, wonderful texture and packed with a wealth of health-promoting nutrients. To round out the dish with more nutrition, fresh ginkgo nuts which is touted and well recognized for its postive effect on brain functioning, are added in.

Below is the how-to recipe for home-cooked vegetables gingko in belachan. This is a healthy vegan dish which is packed with a great nutritional values.

Ingredients :
1 packet of fresh gingko nuts (??????)
100g kai lan (a.k.a. Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale) (??)
50g Chinese cabbage (a.k.a. Napa cabbage), cut into pieces (???,??????)
50g sweet snow peas (or alternatively sugar snap peas) (??)
1 red chilli pepper (a.k.a cayenne pepper) (???), cut into pieces
Some dried shrimps (??), soaked, chopped
A bit of shrimp paste (locally known as belachan) (???), about 1cm
1/2 tbsp chilli boh (blended chilli paste but not sambal)
2 pips garlic
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp tapioca flour (??), mix with 1 tsp water

Seasoning :
1 tsp light soy sauce
A pinch of sugar
50ml water

Method :

1. Sweet snow peas better to be trimmed off the ends before cooking. Pinch off the stem and then pull the string down the full length of the pod. Repeat the procedure on the other side. If desired, you may leave the strings intact. Some have a calyx and that should be removed for aesthetic as well as practical reasons. A quick snap of the wrist with or without a paring knife will do the trick.

2. Heat up a pot of hot water, blanch all vegetables for a while. Remove for later use. Drain on a sieve to discard excessive water.

3. Heat up a wok (or skillet) with some oil, add in minced dried shrimps, stir fry until fragrant. Add in belachan, chilli boh and all seasonings, stir fry over low heat until fragrant and boiled.

4. Return vegetables, stir quickly over high heat, keep stirring while pouring tapioca flour mixture. Stir till gravy thickens. Serve with steamed white rice.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Crispy Juicy Chicken Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Home-cooked Crispy Juicy Chicken
Home-cooked Crispy Juicy Chicken?????

Too often, we extol the virtues of the posh restaurant even as we eventually give the thumbs up to our favourite local hawker's stalls or home-cooked meals, when we have to choose. Admittedly, it's less painful on our wallet as sometimes we can whip them right out of our own kitchen without breaking a sweat and savor a simpler but equally exquisite western fare. Dunk this succulent chicken cubes which is wrapped in crispy skin in the savory sauce before shovelling into your mouth, each bite is simply palatable.

This is the how-to home-cooked recipe for you to recreate this easy-to-prepare crispy chicken morsels at your own abode.

Ingredients :
1/2 chicken, deboned and cut into few large chunks
some tapioca flour

Marinade :
1 egg
Dash of sugar
Dash of salt
Some rice wine (???)

Seasoning :
1/2 tbsp sour plum sauce (???)
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
Some sesame oil
1 tbsp Lea & Perrins sauce (?????)
1/2 tbsp chilli sauce
1/2 tbsp tomato sauce
3 tbsp water

Method :

1. Remove bone from chicken. Mix with marinade and marinate for 15 minutes.

2. To prepare gravy, heat up a wok (or skillet), add in all seasoning, cook till boiled, when the gravy reduced, dish up onto a plate for later use.

3. Heat up wok with oil again, coat chicken with corn flour and deep fry till crispy. Cut chicken into pieces and arrange on prepared gravy.

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Papaya Leaf, Food Fiber Source

Papaya leaf, although a bitter taste, can be dioleh delicious dishes. Quite a lot of the nutrients that are beneficial to health in the green-colored leaves. Compared with the pulp, vitamins A and C papaya leaves are much higher.
Another prominent component in the leaves of papaya are food fibers. Here are some of the benefits of papaya leaf fiber:

1. Consumption of high fiber foods (especially from papaya leaves) will affect the intestine mikroflora such a way that does not produce carcinogenic compounds cause cancer.
2. Fiber foods can lower cholesterol and increase bile acid excretion in feces. This will reduce the availability of fat and cholesterol, thus preventing aterosklersosis and heart disease.
3. Fiber food can prevent constipation. In the gastrointestinal tract, fiber capable of absorbing water in a large enough amount, so that a soft stool mass and the pressure decreases in the large intestine.
4. Fiber food in very good papaya leaves to support the diet program. Diets with high fiber food will help weight loss programs. Food fiber has the ability to absorb water that is high enough considering dapt nutrients that teleh simplified by digestive enzymes.
Nutrients are dissolved and attached to the fiber, then be excreted through feces. These circumstances could reduce the availability of nutrients to the body, so that they can lose weight and prevent obesity.
5. Food fiber capable of absorbing water and the binding of glucose, thereby reducing the availability of glucose. Enough fiber diet also led to complex carbohydrates and fiber, so that the reduced carbohydrate digestion. The situation is capable of reducing blood glucose rise and make it stay in control.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shopping Tips for Black Friday Sales and Cyber Monday Offers

The holiday shopping season is offically beginning this week and many retailers are kicking it off with a fabuluos Black Friday through Cyber Monday (30-November) sales and offers. Shopping is so much fun but we can easily get side tracked because of all the many temptations around, so learn to shop smart with tips below. You can bid impulse purchases and wrong choices farewell.

Step 1 : Stick to the plan

Wardrobe check, know your budget and shop only when you feel good are important steps but many miss it out and end up in the wrong sort of purchase. Take stock of what you already have and what you need, then set priorities. It's alright to deviate a little from the plan but if you find yourself overspending, then alarm bells should be ringing. When you feel tempted, take a look over your priority list and budget again as that will serve as a good reminder. Always remember, stepping into a store when you are feeling down presents two dangers and these two are the common pitfalls for shoppers. The first one is the shopping frenzy where you buy for the thrill and more often than not, end up with quantity rather than quality. Then other danger is self-loathing. Shopping is supposed to be fun and there's a degree of truth to retail theraphy but when you can't find anything that fits you, you're going to end up feeling even more depressed. Spare yourself the misery and just go shopping when you feel better.

Step 2 : Focus

Practical buys. I made this my new mantra when I am shopping during sales - bargain is only a bargain if it's something I will actually wear. Buy for your everyday life because you want you want your attire to allow you to be comfortable and to let you move with ease. Trust your instinct - if you know Clarins facial products work best for you then stick to them. A large part of being chic is being comfortable and confident in whatever you wear.

Step 3 : Invest

When you invest on quality items even though they might cost twice as much, it's an investment that will pay off. You'll need fewer garments because better quality clothes are generally more durable and versatile. And you always feel great wearing them, which, in itself, is pricessless.

So Are You Ready To Shop Smart?

So are you now be ready to shop smart for your essentials during this year-end festive sales? If below are the items in your planned shopping list, then you can grab them during this Black Friday sales at slashed prices or with additional free gift. Remember, stick to the plan, focus and invest! Here we go!

Black Friday through Cyber Monday Offers

Clarins offers a FREE Luxury Make-up Case filled with Deluxe-Travel Size Essentials (valued at $204), with any $100 purchase of Clarins products with code THANKS at checkout. Click on banner below to check it out! It's valid through 26 Nov - 30 Nov.

Free Gift (a $204 value) with $100 purchase!

MyStrollers.com has slashed prices on some great products during Black Friday sales. Check out the incredible deals being offered below!


There're thousands of products are also on sale for a limited time at Amazon. You can browse through Amazon Black Friday deals online and so as you don't have to stand in line to get a great deal.


For those you wish to radiate your natural beauty through mineral makeup, you can take an extra 25% off all mineral makeup at E.L.F. Cosmetics, from 17 November through 31 December 09. Just use 25% off mineral makeup coupon with code NATURE at checkout to take advantage of this offer.

25% Off Mineral Makeup with code NATURE

With dozens of predesigned kits to choose from, there's a kit for every taste. And with a coupon for 25% off every single one of them, this deal is even more enticing! Use coupon code PDKIT25 takes 25% off all predesigned kits through 31 December 09.


Have a great Thanksgiving!

Adapted from Secrets of Style by the editor in Style

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How to Make Ikan Assam Pedas (Spicy and Sour Tamarind-Flavored Fish) | Easy Asian Cooking

Ikan Assam Pedas(Spicy and Sour Tamarind-Flavored Fish)Yesterday I made this Nyonya dish as a weekday night dinner. Once I sank my teeth into this bowl of ikan assam pedas, I was mesmerised and overwhelmed. Yeah, for those who adore Penang asam laksa (sour fish-based soup with noodles), you will definitely head over heels in love with this. Tastewise, both bears a strong resemblance, which flavor is predominantly perked up by ginger flower and polygonum. My hubby is not much of tamarind-soured soup addict, so he can't vouch for its taste. Well, it's up to you if you are going to believe my verdict or not.

Ikan assam pedas (literally translated as spicy and sour tamarind-flavored fish) is one of the epitome of Malaysian fare. While the saltwater fish (Chubb mackerel, Spanish mackerel, Threadfin or Stingray are commonly used) is the centerpiece of this dish, others secret ingredient are polygonum (daun kesum ???), ginger flower (bunga kantan ???), lemongrass (??), red chillies, shallots and fresh turmeric (??). To make the soup more tangy and savory, shrimp paste (belachan) and tamarind skins (assam gelugor ???) are added.

Now here's the how-to recipe for ikan assam pedas (spicy and sour tamarind-flavored fish). Suffice it to say, it's such a appetite-whetting dish that leave you asking for more. Enjoy!

Ingredients :
Ingredients for Ikan Assam Pedas (Spicy and Sour Tamarind-Flavored Fish)
4 Chubb mackerel or Indian Mackerel (ikan kembong)
or Spanish mackerel (ikan tenggiri)
or Threadfin (ikan senangin)
or Stingray (ikan pari)
2 pcs tamarind skins (assam gelugor or assam keping ???)
4 stalks polygonum (a.k.a Vietnamese coriander, daun kesum in Malay or known locally as laksa leaves ???)
phaeomaria (a.k.a ginger flower or bunga kantan in Malay ???)
3 rice bowls of water
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp sugar (to taste)

Soup base ingredients, to be blended (or pounded) :
6 shallots
2.5cm fresh turmeric (kunyit ??), skinned
1 stalk lemongrass (serai ??), sliced finely
5 fresh red chilli peppers (fresh cayenne peppers) ???
3cm shrimp paste (belachan) ???

Method :

1. Clean fish and discard gills and intestines, set aside.

2. Wash polygonum (daun kesum or laksa leaves), discard stalks, set aside.

3. Cut phaeomaria (ginger flower or bunga kantan) into quarter (lengthwise), set aside.

4. Using a blender or food processor, blend all the soup base ingredients until fine. Alternatively, you can use pestle and mortar to pound them into a fine paste.

Ikan Assam Pedas(Spicy and Sour Tamarind-Flavored Fish)

5. Now pour in 3 rice bowls of water into a stockpot. Add in all the blended mixture (or pounded paste), tamarind pieces, polygonum and phaeomaria, stir well with a ladle. Bring to boil for a few minutes until the soup is fragrant.

6. Add sugar and salt to taste. Stir well. Then add fish into the soup. When the soup reaches rolling boil again, reduce to low heat and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot. This hot and sour fish soup goes well with steamed white rice.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Photography accessory : Star 8 Filter (Cross-Screen Filter)

Star 8 filter, a photography accessory? Yeah, you read it right, above title deviated from my usual line-up of topic on culinary. I interrupted my regular recipe-sharing and interspersed with bits and pieces of photography in between. For me, food writing and  photography should go in parallel, good photography skills is required to justify good food. I think this explain why the provocative term food porn has become particularly prevalent in food-related blogs, as both elements above boast a spectacular visual presentation of cooking or eating.

Well, before I digress further into food porn, I must admit I am a rookie at photography. As a self-confessed noob cook and budding photographer, I picked up some fundamental skills from my hubby and constantly made some progress on my photography learning curve. Photography accessory is not a necessity but sometimes it does contributes some intoxicating effects that exceeded what you are anticipating. At other time, I just like to unwind myself and experiment with some photography accessories apart from kitchen stuff.

Do you ever seen night scene photos with a very pleasing star burst pattern on the light source or bright objects? For example, night street scene with all the street lights emitting a star burst pattern. Well, my hubby bought a TianYa rotating star 8 point filter weeks ago and to experiment with the star burst effect, he waited for nightfall and captured some night scenes of our condominium garden.

Star burst effect by light source using a TianYa star 8 filter (cross-screen filter)
Star burst effect by light source using a TianYa star 8 filter (cross-screen filter)

How is it done? Well, there're two options, stepping down the lens or using a special effect filter called cross-screen filter (a.k.a star filter).

TianYa Star 8 Filter (Cross Screen Filter)Stepping the lens requires the lens aperture to be stepped down, for example using a smaller aperture, say f/16 or f/32. However, there's limitation to this approach. Common issue via stepping down is that most lens tend to step down too much and resulted in soft image (i.e. image not sharp). Also the number of star point depends on the number of aperture blade, a lens with 7 aperture blade will yield star with 14 point. This means that for a given lens, you're stuck with the number of star point.

A cross-screen filter, commonly known as a star filter, creates a "star" pattern, in which lines radiate outward from bright objects. The star pattern is generated by a very fine diffraction grating embedded in the filter. The number of stars varies by the construction of the filter, as does the number of points each star has. The naming of the filter is pretty straight forward, for example a star filter that produces 8 points star, is know as "Star 8 Filter". Most star filter also allows user to "rotate" the star orientation.

Thumbs up for Star filter from TianYa (well-known for making the another affordable Cokin P-Series compatible square filter). With an affordable price of only RM40, you can experiment with rotating star burst effect!

MY Photo Accessory Online Store

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How to Make Sambal Belachan and Sambal Petai | Easy Asian Cooking

Home-cooked Sambal Belachan and Sambal Petai
Sambal Belachan and Sambal Petai

Whilst my hubby and I found this irresistable famous nyonya cuisine intriguing, some detest petai bean due to its stinky and peculiar smell. Well, petai is like durian, whether you adore it or abhor it, there's no ambivalent or in between. Luckily we both are on the same wavelength on the tastebuds, else one'd have to tolerate with the other's preference when it comes to meal preparation.

The dish highlights the petai in itself by pairing it with this spicy sambal belachan, a stinky but luscious Malaysian condiment made from shrimp paste, red chilli peppers (fresh or/and dried), shallots, garlic, dried shrimp, lemongrass and also some tamarind juice to flare up the sourness. Just a reminder, hours after the petai, your excretions will have a very pungent petai odor - stinky urine, smelly breath or burp, strong-smelling flatulence et cetera. Despite this, it should not serve as a deterrent for not taking petai bean. If you take a look at its medicinal values, perhaps you'd give petai a second look you are musing! This stinky bean regulates blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke as it's high in potassium yet low in salt, cure depression, treat PMS (premenstrual syndrome), cure anaemia and among others, overcome the problem of constipation and the list goes on.
 
If you fancy, you can add some medium to large shrimps (trimmed and shelled) for a more substantial dish, which is known as sambal petai udang, or mingle it with tempeh (fermented soy bean cake that originates from Indonesia). Well, it's actually up to individual preference, you can just tweak it to suit your tastebuds. One thing good about home-cooked meal is, the approach is never rigid. Sometimes, you'll find that coming up with unusual dishes is akin to creating a piece of modern art, which rejuvenate your artful imagination.

Here's the how-to recipe for home-cooked sambal petai. Let's meld tangy and savory with this easy recipe.

Ingredients :
150g petai bean, skinned and cleaned, split the bean into two with a paring knife (to isolate the bean with worms that burrow their way into the heart of the petai)

Seasoning :
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

For Sambal Paste :
5 fresh red chilli peppers (fresh cayenne peppers), seeded ???
5 dried red chillies, seeded ???
150g dried shrimp, soaked and drained ??
2 cm turmeric (kunyit in Malay or ?? in Chinese)
5 shallots ???
5 pips garlic ??
1/2 tsp tamarind paste (asam jawa in Malay)
1cm Asian shrimp paste (known as belachan locally) ???
1 stalk lemongrass (serai in Malay or ?? in Chinese)
80ml water

Method :

1. Mix tamarind paste with water and squeeze out tamarind juice, set aside.

2. Half-fill a pot of water and boil, blanch all the petai with boiling water. Then dish up and drain on a metal sieve.

3. Peel shallots and garlic. Pound shallots, garlic and dried shrimp using a pestle and mortar. Then add in red chillies and dried chillies, pound again until fine. At this point, add in turmeric, belachan and lemongrass, pound until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Alternatively, you can use blender or food processor to blend the ingredients instead of pestle and mortar.

4. Heat up 4 tbsp oil and saute the pounded paste until the paste emanates a fragrant smell. Add in petai and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Then add in water and tamarind juice, then bring to a simmer. Add in seasoning and serve hot with steamed white rice.

Home-cooked Sambal Petai
Home-cooked Sambal Petai

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

How To Make Tom Yum Soup With Shrimp and Fish

Remember tangy Thai Tom Yam (Tom Yum) fish, a clear, spicy and sour soup? Well, the lingering aftertaste was haunting me and my big cravings was kicking in early this morning - I still remember how's the creeping chilli hot awaken my lethargic appetite that day. Whilst it's still early to whip up a dish at the crack of dawn, I just scoured the video from YouTube hoping to find a good Tom Yum soup recipe to satiate my gluttonous mind, at least. And voila! I found this Tom Yum soup video with a nice and rejuvenating background song - "Right Here Waiting" by Bryan Adams (Written by : Richard Marx). Enjoy!

Ingredients :
Chicken stock or chicken powder
1 stalk lemongrass
4 kaffir lime leaves (sold fresh or frozen at Asian food stores)
12 medium or large raw shrimp, trim off shrimp head, rest intact
1 white meat fish (any type, e.g. black pomfret et cetera), cut across into 2 or 3 portions
3 tbsp of tom yam paste (or alternatively 1 tsp chilli paste with soy bean oil (???))
2 tbsp fish sauce
5 red or green bird's eye chillies (quantity adjusted to your preference), finely sliced
1 tomato
6 fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 lime, squeeze out the juice
Coriander leaves (cilantro), chopped, to be sprinkled on top of the soup
Spring onions (scallions), sliced finely, to be sprinkled on top of the soup
1 red chilli pepper (Cayenne chilli pepper), seeded and sliced (optional)
1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving (optional)

Method :




Source


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Friday, November 20, 2009

Penang Asam Laksa (Sour Fish-based Soup with Noodles) Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

As Penang asam laksa (spicy noodle soup from Peranakan culture, usually served with thick rice noodles) top my food craving list, I always scout for this recipe online and today I am ecstatic to find this Penang asam laksa video from YouTube which traces its origin back to trymasak.my. Since the recipe was written in Malay, I translated it into English for a wider reach.

There're two variants of laksa, namely curry laksa and asam laksa. Curry laksa (coconut-based curry soup with noodles) is more commonly known in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore whilst asam laksa (sour fish-based soup with noodles) is more popular in Penang. Between the two, I'd veer on the latter version which acquires the sour taste from tamarind (or asam in Malay) which right away aroused my taste buds bringing forth a subtle drool. Having said so, I'm going to feature this Penang asam laksa recipe from TryMasak here in no time.


Ingredients :

1 packet of dried laksa
500g mackerel (ikan kembung in Malay), poached and then flaked.
4 sprigs of polygonum leaves (a.k.a Vietnamese coriander, laksa leaf or daun kesum in Malay)
4 shallots, skin peeled off
1 ginger flower (bunga kantan in Malay), quartered (lengthwise)
4 slices of dried tamarind (asam jawa in Malay)
6 bird's eye chillies (cili padi in Malay)
1/2 palm sugar slice (to taste) (gula melaka in Malay)
1 tsp of fried shrimp paste (belachan goreng in Malay)
A pinch of salt (to taste)

Method :

1. Half-filled a stockpot with water. When it reaches rolling boil, pour in the dried laksa noodles (thick rice noodles) and boil until the laksa noodles soften. At this point, remove the laksa noodles and drain the dripping water on a metal sieve. Set aside. Alternatively, commercially available wet laksa can also be used, if you opt for this, then cut down your boiling time.

2. In a blender or food processor, blend shallots, bird's eye chillies, fried shrimp paste (belachan goreng) with some water added in until it reaches a homogenous paste. Then pour this mixture into a stockpot and top it up with water until the pot is half-filled. Heat up the pot and stir the soup well. Then add in polygonum leaves (a.k.a. laksa leaf), ginger flowers (which is cut into 4, lengthwise) and dried tamarind slices.

3. Now back to the blender or food processor. Add in the poached and flaked mackerel (with fishbone discarded), blend until fine. Then add this blended fish paste into the stockpot followed by palm sugar. Stir constantly until the mixture is homogenous and boil. Reduced the flames and let it boils for another 15 minutes. Add some salt to taste.

4. The laksa is now ready to serve. Place the laksa noodles in a bowl, topped with cucumber strips, some fresh greens, polygonum and some chopped bird's eye chillies. You can also add half of the hard-boiled egg for a more substantial noodle soup if you fancy. Then topped with thick sweet shrimp paste (also known as petis udang in Malay or ?? in Chinese), mint, pineapple slices and thinly sliced onion. Well, it really goes with the rhythm of your desire.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Daughter's Christmas Wish List

As my daughter approaching three years old, she starts to appreciate things surrounding her. She fancy some mechanical devices that she can lay her hand on, role playing with the cartoon characters, enjoying story-telling which she learnt from her favourite anime and sometimes we are astonished by her great imagination and creativity. When it comes to getting a Christmas gift for my daughter, I begin to think of something my daughter has always wanted, suits her temperament and the gift is not costing us an arm and a leg. And when I came across this "do-it-yourself" gingerbread house kit at stonewallkitchen.com, it hits right the spot. Bingo! The truth is, nothing beats giving our quality time and spending precious moments building a gingerbread house together with her.

classic gingerbread house kit

This "do-it-yourself" gingerbread house kit comes with gingerbread pieces, icing mix, candy, one decorating bag with easy-to-follow tip and full instructions. Though stonewallkitchen.com offer fully assembled gingerbread house which comes beautifully decorated with frosting and candy, I reckon "do-it-yourself" kit already fit the bill. At least, it is also a great way to get my daughter involved, we can just assemble the basic frame structure together using icing glue and watch her decorating with her favorite candies.

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC
Another alternative is gingerbread lobster shack which is made from gingerbread and decorated with candy. Conceptually similar, the price also similar to gingerbread house kit. When asked my daughter on the preference by showing her photos, she veered on the side of gingerbread house kit, simply because she adore the colorful candies decorated on the rooftop.

gingerbread lobster shack

Apart from gingerbread house kit, I also searched for the homemade gingerbread house recipe online and found that homemade version is more economical. You can build basic gingerbread house structure from posterboard, prepare a base for your house using a piece of plywood covered with foil, a large heavy platter or baking tray, then apply the icing using a pastry bag and let sit for 30 minutes to set before actually assembling so as the pieces will adhere together well. And now it's the fun part, candy decorations! Let you kid's imagination and creativity sparks! You can pick assorted candies from local groceries or online stores. I chanced upon this Jelly Belly 20-flavor candiesicon which includes assorted flavors such as buttered popcorn, very cherry et cetera at a reasonable price of $8.99. To apply candy decorations, dab a small amount of icing to the underside of the candy and hold in place until set.
Jelly Belly 20-Flavor Christmas Gift Box
As I think that it's too early to send her to kindergarden at her age, I opted to resign from my industrial job to start homeschooling. From time to time, I will search for methods and materials and discovers what approaches work best for her. Then I stumbled upon ClickN KIDS online phonic reading and spelling program, one of the online resources for homeschooling. This program include interactive learning to read where children demonstrate their learned skills. My daughter will definitely experience the joy of self achievement because answers are learned and not just given away. It helps to boost up her self esteem because she is learning phonics on her own. Like many other children, my daughter enjoys the challenge of responding correctly and this program patiently re-teaches until the correct response is learned. This differ from her other learning electronic devices which gives away the answer when she responds incorrectly. She'll advance through the lessons without demonstrating she has learned the skills and at the end, she lost interest and forgot what she has learned before. I think to help a child to develop a healthy dose of self-esteem, sometimes we have to let them call the shots. If we're always telling our child exactly what to do and when to do it, he or she won't learn how to take the initiative. So instead of unilaterally saying that "This toy suits you" or "Lets play this game", encourage them  to decide for themself what activities (toys, games et cetera) they'd most like to do. This action will tell them that their opinion matters and we as parents will take it seriously. But always be clear that expressing their opinions or asking for things they want in a polite but assertive manner is the right way and not using manipulation or aggression to get their way. I'm sure most parents out there have many experiences to share with pertaining your child upbringing, what says you?



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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stir-fried Bean Curd with Minced Meat Recipe

Home-cooked Stir-fried Bean Curd with Minced Meat

A variant of steamed bean curd with minced meat and preserved radish. Instead of steaming the beancurd (tofu) with minced meat and preserved radish toppings, this recipe is calling for beancurd to be deep-fried for delicious crispiness before topped with minced meat and shitake mushroom mixture which is mingled well with seasoning and reduced for a scrumptious sauce.  Texturally different, you'll have a soft, crumbly and squishy bean curd interior and crisp-tender exterior, which is nicely balanced by the richness of the accompanying lumpy sauce and the earthiness of shitake mushroom and minced pork belly. Sprinkling of chopped spring onions add a final green touch to the dish, making the dish a feast for the eye and the palate.

Here's the how-to recipe to help you embark on the realm of bean curd. Here you go! ????????

Ingredients :
1 box Chinese-style soft bean curd (soft tofu)
1/2 onion, chopped
shitake mushroom, soaked and chopped
100g pork belly, chopped
2 pips garlic, chopped
Some spring onion, sliced

Seasoning :
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
Dash of sugar (to taste)
A pinch of pepper powder
120ml water

Method :

1. Cut bean curd into 2 pieces. Dip into boiling water for a while, pat dry with kitchen paper towels and set aside. Heat up oil in a non-stick skillet, slowly slide in bean curd, keep a watching eyes while deep-frying, turn to the other side to avoid burning. Dish up when the bean curd turn to golden brown. Arrange the deep-fried bean curds onto a serving plate.

2. Remove oil and leave about 2 tbsp oil in the skillet. Saute onion and garlic until fragrant, then add in pork belly and mushroom, stir well and add in seasoning. Stir-fry quickly till gravy is reduced and become thicken. Dish up and pour over the bean curd, then sprinkle with chopped spring onions to garnish.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vietnam-style Fried Shrimp Paste Chicken (Har Jiong Gai) Recipe | Easy Asian Cooking

Vietnam-style Fried Shrimp Paste Chicken (
Vietnam-style Fried Shrimp Paste Chicken ("Har Jiong Gai") ???

Fried chicken goes global. From Korean-style garlic fried chicken, Japan-style toriniku tatsuta-age, Indonesian-style ayam penyet, Thai-style fried chicken to Vietnam-style "har jiong gai ???" (fried shrimp paste chicken), the crispy skin and moist white meat literally make the world go round.

I used to have belachan (stinky but luscious Malaysian shrimp paste) fried chicken in Super Tanker hawker centre situated in Penang Lip Sin garden and the acquired taste resembled this home-cooked Vietnam-style fried shrimp paste chicken, with a very distinctive pungent and briny shrimp paste flavor. The secret of this flavorful fried chicken relies heavily on the shrimp paste marinade, a brownish-grey-colored condiment made from fermented shrimps (scroll down to see shrimp paste photo). You have to let it marinates for minimum 2 hours and long enough to allow the mixture of strong salty taste of the shrimp paste, ginger juice, rose wine and sugar to seep into the chicken, giving it a distinctive aroma and flavor. The flour (tapioca flour and plain flour mixture in the ratio of 1:1) coating adds a light crispy crust to the exterior, providing a delightful crunch while you chomp on it in your mouth. This fried shrimp paste chicken ("har jiong gai") is simply leaving my hubby and daughter went nut for it, it's such a plate-sweeper!

This shrimp paste chicken can commercially be found in many Hong Kong-style restaurants in Singapore and Malaysia. I'm going to lay out Vietnam-style fried shrimp paste chicken ("har jiong gai" or ???????) recipe here. If the pictures above make you coveting and ravenous with hunger, why not try to lay your hand to make this Vietnam-style fried chicken in your own kitchen? It's an easy home-cooked recipe without require you to break a sweat.

Ingredients :
1/2 chicken, cleaned and chopped into bite-sized pieces
Enough oil for deep-frying
Calamansi limes, sliced tomato or sliced cucumber, for garnish

Chicken Marinade :
5cm length of ginger, grate and squeeze to get 1 1/2 tbsp ginger juice
2 tbsp Chinese rose wine (????)
1 1/2 tbsp Chinese shrimp paste (Cantonese pronounced as "har jiong", ??)
1 tbsp rice flour
1 tsp sugar

For Coating :
50g tapioca flour (???)
50g plain flour

Method :

1. Grate ginger and squeeze to get 1 1/2 tbsp ginger juice. In a large bowl, combine ginger juice with rose wine, shrimp paste, rice flour and sugar. Add chicken and mix well. Cover airtight with cling film wrap and let marinate, refrigerated for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Vietnam-style Fried Shrimp Paste Chicken (Har Jiong Gai) : Ingredients and How-To Steps
Vietnam-style Fried Shrimp Paste Chicken (Har Jiong Gai) : Ingredients and How-To Steps

2. Heat oil until it shimmers and a light haze forms. Sift both tapioca flour and plain flour together onto a plate, and dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture to coat lightly but thoroughly. Shake off excess flour.

3. Fry chicken a few pieces at a time until golden brown and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per batch. Drain in a metal sieve. Drain briefly on kitchen paper towels and serve immediately, garnished with cucumber, tomato slices and cut limes.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Ordinary Kitchen Helpers That Do Household Wonders

Kitchen confidential unveiled! I stumbled upon these kitchen tips from food & travel magazine and found them noteworthy. We might never thought of some ordinary kitchen regulars could boost such an extraordinary fix-it powers hidden inside. Have a good read!

Below are the some common products that can work wonders in your home, from polishing silverware to shining your shoes.

Lemon

Try this refreshing lemon trick to remove the eyesore of tough food stains on your light wood and plastic cutting boards. First, slice the lemon in half, squeeze and rub against the soiled surface. Let it stand for about 20 minutes and rinse. With this, you'll get a clean and citrusy-smelling board.

Baking Soda

With this highly versatile kitchen regular, you can polish your silverware to blinding shininess. Start the polishing regime by washing the items and then placing them on aluminium foil in the bottom of a large pot. Drop this baking soda solution of 1/4 cup baking soda, a few teaspoons of salt and 4 cups of boiling water, then cover for a few seconds. Wipe dry and be delighted with the shiny results.

Besides polishing silverware, who knew you could boost your dishwashing liquid with a few spoonful of baking soda, then see it cut through grease like a hot knife!

Vegetable Oil

Put your best foot forward by shining your leather pumps with vegetable oil. Begin by using a damp cloth to wipe away dirt. Thereafter apply a small amount of oil on your shoe with a soft cloth and gently rub to remove scuff marks.

Lint Roller

For those hard-to-reach corners in the kitchen, running a lint roller around those areas should bust the dust bunnies. Furthermore, with the sticky adhesive rounding them up indefinitely, you can be sure your kitchen passes the white-glove test.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Basic Kitchen Seasoning and Spices

What is flavor without spices and seasoning? From zesty American to Malaysian cuisine, be wowed by the vast number of seasoning and spices that make our culinary world bursting with flavors. Making all the fundamental seasoning ingredients handy at kitchen, you can add more than an epicurean touches to dishes at any time when you have a sudden whim for cooking. Take a sneak peek at my little Malaysian kitchen with basic seasoning ingredients.

Basic Kitchen Seasoning :

Oyster Sauce ??                Light Soy Sauce ??            Dark Soy Sauce ??             Hoisin Sauce ???
Oyster Sauce ??Light Soy Sauce ?? Dark Soy Sauce ?? Hoisin Sauce ???

Tomato Ketchup ???        Sesame Oil ??                    Rice Vinegar ??               Spiced Vinegar ??
Tomato Ketchup ??? Sesame Oil ?? Rice Vinegar ??    Spiced Vinegar ??


Chinese Shrimp Paste ??     Beancurd Paste ??        Chicken Stock ????          Coconut Milk ??   
Chinese Shrimp Paste (Har Jiong) ?? Beancurd Paste ?? Concentrated Chicken Stock ????Coconut Milk ??

Preserved Beancurd ??   Salted Black Beans ???    Abalone Sauce ???        Plum Sauce ???
Preserved Beancurd ??Salted Black Beans ??? Abalone Sauce ???Plum Sauce ???

Salted Plum ???       Thai Tom Yam Paste ?????     Rose Wine ????     Chilli Sauce ?????
Salted Plum ???Thai Tom Yam Paste ?????Rose Wine ????Thai Chilli Sauce ?????

Shaoxing Wine ?????   Glutinous Rice Wine ????       Honey ??               
Fish Sauce ??
Shaoxing Wine ????? Glutinous Rice Wine ????Honey ??Fish Sauce ??

Shrimp Paste (Belachan or Belacan) ??? 
Shrimp Paste (Belachan or Belacan)???
Shrimp Paste (Belachan or Belacan)???


Herbs and Spices :

   Rosemary Herbs                   Oregano Herbs                       Thyme Herbs               White Pepper Powder  
Rosemary Herbs Oregano Herbs Thyme Herbs White Pepper Powder ???

Black Pepper ????           White Pepper???
Black Pepper ???? White Pepper ???

Fresh Ingredients :

  Bird's Eye Chillies ???                      Water Chestnuts ??
Bird's Eye Chillies ??? Water Chestnuts ??
          Calamansi lime                                  Ginger flower ??
calamansi lime Ginger flower (Phaeomaria) or bunga kantan ??
Daun kesum or daun laksa (Polygonum)
Daun kesum or daun laksa (Polygonum)

  Red Chilli Pepper               Fresh Lotus Seed
  (Cayenne Pepper)                    ???
         ???
Red Chilli Pepper (Cayenne Pepper) ??? Fresh Lotus Seed ???