Strawberry Mochi


Here is something sweet to end the week with. Mochi!

I seem to be inspired alot by other bloggers. LOL. This is another recipe that I took from Little Corner of mine. Just seeing that picture that she took made me think about mochi for days! I proceeded to the local Oriental store, gather up my ingredients, roll up my sleeves (literally) and did it!

Simple, sweet and delicious.

Mochi or Daifuku is a wonderful way to end your meal with. This microwave method is SO easy that it would be a crime if I didn’t attempt it!

That same week, I bought big fat juicy red strawberries. No kiddin! It was HUGE. I read Hugbear’s post on using strawberries in mochi so I decided to experiment with it I thought why not give it a go- wrap some red bean paste around huge strawberry and then cover it with a layer of mochi skin. I was pleasantly surprised when I cut it in half. The colours are beautiful!


So excited I was that I proceeded to make a SECOND batch of mochi straight away. This time round, I rolled balls of red bean paste on a plate of sesame seeds. As for the mochi batter- I added a teaspoon of cocoa powder. VoiLA! Sesame Red Bean Mochi! Unfortunately I ran out of dark cocoa powder and used the drinking chocolate kind. The chocolate taste was barely there but the sesame seeds gave it a great taste. Well, I thought that the colour matches the red bean paste well.

I made another batch the week after as well… see, I can’t get enough of them.

Recipe adapted from Little Corner and Hugbear:

1 cup glutinous rice flour
1/2 tsp. green tea powder – I increased it to 1 tsp as it wasn’t strong enough. Perhaps the quality of the green tea powder wasn’t as good.
180ml water
1/4 cup sugar
Strawberries

Red bean paste for filling
Cornstarch for dusting

Method:

1. In a glass bowl, combine flour, green tea powder and water. Stir to mix well. Then add in the sugar, stir till sugar dissolved.

2. Cover with a plastic wrap and microwave for 2 minutes. Remove and stir well. Return to microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir-well and check for doneness. If not, put it back for another 30 seconds, be careful not to burn it. In most cases, the first 30 seconds after the initial 2 mins should be enough.

3. Wrap filling around strawberries.

4. Flour the working surface with cornstarch and use a spoon to drop a ball of mochi on top and quickly cover it with starch. Divide into 8 or 10 pieces. Wrap the strawberry red bean filling inside and cover with more cornstarch. Shape into balls. Moisten if necessary to close the edges. Pop in your mouth and enjoy!

5. If you are storing it in the fridge, microwave mochi for about 10-20 seconds. 3 days is probably the maximum you can keep it as it hardens after that.

I’m confused beef salad

I will be the first to admit that I’m not a good food photographer. I try but I’m not the best. Imagine my surprise when a picture like that came up in the camera. “U mean I took this?” – I literally shouted for Mr AR to come and have a look. It’s nothing amazing if you compare these pictures to talented bloggers like Evan, Rasa Malaysia, Jaden from Steamy Kitchen and Culinary concoctions by Peabody. These pictures however make me feel as if I’m starting to learn how to take decent photographs of food. I’m sure I still need lots more work on it but maybe just maybe with lots of hope maybes, I’m slowly getting it?

I call this the “I’m confused beef salad”. Simply because I didn’t know if that was Japanese or Thai inspired. My last visit to Cafe Ruchee left me drooling for more beef salad, so I make my own! ;p On top of that, I was so inspired after reading Jaden’s very scientific way of making “Gucci prime steak” from “cheap cuts”. Previously, I shy away from grilling or cooking steak but thought it’s high time I give it a go again.

So I started off with good intentions of making this Thai style and then quickly realised that our basil and coriander plant wasn’t looking too healthy. I opened my fridge and found some feta cheese that I have to finish using, so in the cheese went. In the last minute, I also decided that some mirin and sesame seeds will be nice in the dressing, so in they went. So anyway, to cut the long story short, this is a one confused salad. A salad that was Thai inspired with hints of Jap and… erm.. hmm.. Australian cheese? (the feta was made in Australia).

I really really like this salad. Probably the best steak I have done. Who would have guessed that sea salt is the secret ingredient towards making the best steak ever. Thanks to Jaden from Steamy Kitchen– that’s a wonderful tip and one that I will use over and over again!


I’m confused beef salad
2 pieces of “Cheap cut beef”- I used porterhouse steak.
2 pieces of feta cheese
mixed salad leaves
half a cucumber
1/2 cup of cashew nuts
Sea salt

Dressing
3-4 tablespoons of mirin
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoon of fish sauce (see, thai inspired)
2 teaspoon of sesame seed
1 teaspoon of sesame oil

Method
1) Sprinkle steaks liberally with sea salt. Leave to marinate for 1-2 hours. See Jaden’s blog if you want to know the hows and whys.
2) Heat up your grill pan. Wash steaks. Pat it dry with paper towels. Season it with pepper.
3) Grill steak for 3 mins each side. Leave it to rest for 3-5 mins.
4) Meanwhile, assemble salad leaves, feta cheese and cucumber.
5) Toast cashews.
6) Slice steak.
7) Mix dressing ingredients.
8) Place sliced beef on top of salad leaves. Sprinkle cashews over it. Drizzle dressing over salad.
9) Serve it straight away!

ah……..

Foo Gwai Chinese Restaurant


Finding good dim sum can be a challenge. Over in Perth, we are lucky enough to find decent restaurants serving reasonably good dim sum. Most dim sum places here hire Hong Kong Chefs-which I think is an added bonus.

There are 2 dim sum restaurants that we go to. Foo Gwai is about 10-15mins drive from our place. I know that dim sum often features alot of meat but in Foo Gwai, their seafood dim sum takes center stage. Usually we would have ordered their mussels and squid- but the trolley seems to run out of dishes really quickly that afternoon =(

First on our list was their egg tarts. This was disappointing. I remembered Foo Gwai’s egg tarts to be flaky. This wasn’t. However, it has a melt in your mouth texture. Egg tarts from Foo Gwai brought back sweet memories for us. Mr AR rang and ordered egg tarts on a weekday and delibrately left work early just to pick those tarts up.
Black Bean spare ribs. Good stuff! Very tasty.

Beancurd roll- one of my favorites. Usually there is a seafood version as well. Anyhow, i remembered this being “ok”.

The waiter wasn’t able to explain what the above dish was! Not even in Cantonese. Since it contained green stuff, I decided to give it a go. To my surprise, it was filled with big juicy prawns and spinach. Really yummy.


Siew mai! Full of meat! They were huge! This is another “Must order”.

Do not order their siao long bao. Their siao long bao is like siew mai with a thicker skin.

This is what we came here for. Their prawn dumplings. The skin is thin but inside it, it’s filled with generous amount of prawn meat! I think there must be 2 prawns in each dumplings.

Nevertheless, it was a quick lunch and we were in and out under 45 mins. Total cost was just over AU$22 including Chinese tea and chili.YES, this finally settled my dim sum craving that was going on for 2 months!! Thanks to all those delicious posts that other bloggers have been posting! ;p

Foo Gwai Chinese Restaurant
755 Canning Hwy
Applecross 6153

Mid-Autumn Festival


It’s the time of the year again… to stuff ourselves silly with mooncakes! Lotus paste wrapped in golden casing of sweetness, or perhaps you would like the less-traditional version of durian mooncakes? Either way, enjoy enjoy enjoy!

Mooncake, Lantern, or Mid-Autumn Festival Three different names but in Chinese, they mean the same (Zhong Qiu Jie) thing. On the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calender, the moon is the shiniest and most beautiful. As a child, dad used to recount the store of “Chang Er” where an Emperor ordered an archer to shoot 10 suns. When the task was accomplished, a goddess gave the archer a pill that promises immortality. His wife took it instead and flew to the moon.

But the story that I really dig and the one that I think contains more truth is the war story. China was going through a tough civil war. Mooncakes were used to smuggle secret messages to the troops and to co-ordinate responses. Obviously the troops won-if not, we wont be celebrating it! :p

Whichever story you believe in or perhaps don’t believe in at all, mid autumn festival is a fantastic time to sit down relax, have Chinese tea and just admire the beautiful moon. Afterall, it is God’s creation we are admiring!

Let’s start by admiring the box of mooncake that we bought.I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t have a chance to try making mooncakes this year. I couldn’t find the mould here =(. Oh well, granny bought a few for me in SG already so there is always NEXT year! We are lucky enough to have these beautiful imported mooncakes from Malaysia Overseas restaurant. So far, we tasted 2 and they were lovely… yummy delicious. The one that is feature here is Emerald Mooncake or one made using Pandan Paste. The other one that we ate so quickly… was the Durian mooncake! Something different I supposed.

Tonight? I’m going to have the fruit and nuts one! Oh! and not forgeting the traditional lotus paste one. Favorites!!!!! If only we have snowskin mooncakes….*Dreaming*

The try and try again lemon poppy seeds cupcakes

Sometimes, it’s hard to be positive. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of saying “here comes another week” or “another Monday” and indeed, I feel the same way occasionally. I had a conversation with a friend and we were saying how perhaps it is so much more bearable to say “the next weekend is approaching” afterall, it’s only a few days away! =) That is what I will be telling myself this week.

I had abit of a disaster cupcake session last weekend.

How do you like my zombie cupcakes? I was so horrified that I fell off the chair laughing! At that point, I decided to make my 2nd batch of cupcakes. In case you are wondering, they are supposed to be lemon n poppy seeds!

Ok, I used another recipe but this one still looked a little weird…. The texture appeared way too dry to me. Nevertheless I frosted it…
and almost fell off my chair again. Notice how watery the frosting is? It was so hard trying to control the movement of the buttercream. Later in the week, I realised that it was because I used icing mixture instead of pure icing sugar. Also, I wasn’t using the usual brand of butter, and I suspect there was a tad too much water content in that butter/oil blend spread. The neighbours’ kids seemed to like it though…they finished everything!

Still dissatisfied, I proceeded to make my THIRD batch of cupcakes. By this time, I spent the whole afternoon + evening in the kitchen. It was the feeling of “I’m going to get this right! grrrr”

This time round, I used the Lemon cakes with passion fruit syrup recipe. I added poppy seeds for the extra crunch. Guess what? the little cakes turned out moist and crumby. Sometimes it pays to stick to the recipe that you know works!!

The frosting was a wee-bit better as I went out to buy another tub of butter! The sugar however was not pure icing/confectionery-hence you can see that the consistency wasn’t great. I did bring these little cakes to uni the next night (yes, postgrad student are quite hungry during our evening to night seminars) and they were gone. Someone even commented that they like their frosting soft or maybe they were trying to be encouraging… hmmm…

So here we go. Back to the drawing board for me. I still think it’s the icing sugar. 1 cup of butter to 3 cups of pure icing sugar NOT icing mixture. What do you think? Let me know!

Braised Mushrooms with Siew Yoke

It’s funny how I never cooked in SG but really got into the habit of doing so here in Perth. Food is associated with feelings and this particular dish is no exception.

This dish is a Cantonese favorite. Being granny’s girl means I grew up enjoying eating this without needing to think! Just show up and eat! LOL When she visits me in Perth, this is one that she re-creates over and over again. We are big fans of mushrooms, so it was a sure big hit among us when she cooked it.

Sure, it is not a “throw everything in a wok and fry” dish, rather, it requires a bit of patience. Having said that, it is an easy dish to make. Not so healthy but definitely easy!

Siew yoke or roast pork was bought from our local favorite roast shop. Man, that is one thing in Australia that I dig- the roast here is GOOD. Authentically good. Crisp skin and tender pork. yum. Don’t be turn off by the sugar added to this. It is what makes the mushrooms look so shiny and delicious!

Braised Mushrooms with Siew Yoke (Serves 4)
1 bowl of dried chinese mushrooms soaked in hot water for 1hr. Remove stems.
500grams of Siew Yoke/Roasted pork belly
1 tablespoon of garlic
4-5 tablespoons of dark soya sauce
2-3 tablespoons of light soya sauce
3-4 teaspoons of sugar (i honestly think my grandma added ALOT more than that, add 1-2 teaspoons more if u dare!)
about 1-2 cups of stock/water
Pepper to taste

Method
1) Gently fry garlic with olive oil in a heavy pot with a tight lid. Add mushrooms.
2) Add all sauces and sugar. Stir. Add about 1/2 cup of stock. Lower heat to low. Braised for about 1-2 hrs in low heat.
3) Check every 40 mins or so- adding water when it appears dry.
4) After braising for about 1 1/2 hrs. Add Siew Yoke in.
5) Stir and make sure the meat is coated with all the goody sauce.
6) Cover for about 20-30 mins.
7) Season with pepper to taste.
8) Serve with hot steamy rice!

1 week


1 week.

Last week this time, we received a call to say that Tino, the beloved dog of the Ratilal family in Malaysia has passed away. He was diagnosed with Autoimmune and finally cancer.

Tino was more than a dog to the Ratilals. Much much more than that.

It was privilege for me to have the chance to spend some time with Tino each time when I head over to KL. Being such a smart dog that Tino was, he remembered me-despite not seeing me for a year or so.

How smart was he, when he sneaked up to Zorro and skilfully picked up the snack that we placed in a toy. Zorro didn’t even realised there was a snack! LOL.

What about the times when we placed the “tyre” up the tree and Tino jumped on cue to catch it?

Or the times when he drooled over the window still into the house?

Not forgetting Tino’s love for towels.

Tino was a gentle, loving dog. I wish I have more time with him…. but it wasn’t meant to be. Despite my limited time with him, I missed him. I really really do. And perhaps, that is why it is so hard for me to write this down. It’s like, yup… he is gone for good. Perhaps it is harder for AR, RR and myself as we are not there… needless to say, it is harder for AR’s parents who adored Tino. =(

Whatever it is, Tino will always remain in a special place in our hearts.

We love you Tino.

No more boring meatloaf!


After 4 weeks of reading on a really dry area of my research, that draft appears to be completed. I say “appears” because I have a sneaking suspicion that there will many other add ons or editing done before the final version is completed. Even so, I’m beginning to feel the mental tiredness that one gets staring at the screen and trying to make coherent sense of the message I’m trying to get across.

Hence the reason for my multiple postings lately. Ask any postgraduate student and they will probably say that writing up can be quite isolating. So Facebook, emails and blogging are my other sources of social contact to the outside world! LOL Ok, I’m exaggerating a little.

I have always say that cooking and baking relaxes me. It’s great stuff. Very therapeutic. Hence blogging about food works in a similar way too. It creates another obsession outside of the work I’m doing. Something to take my mind off. In fact, I always find myself writing better after a good baking session.

OoPS. I digressed!

One can get alot of inspiration from other bloggers. It’s a whole new cooking playground out here. SO MUCH fun, so much discussion..and generous food bloggers are more than willing to share recipes and tips. I adapted this meatloaf recipe from Food pornographer. It’s really clear so have a look if you would like to make it too!!! Honestly, it’s good stuff. Everyone should have a good meatloaf recipe.

I didn’t have turkey mince so I used 600grams of pork mince instead. I used packaged spicy breadcrumbs and was really generous with celery pieces. Also, I added wholegrain mustard as I did not have dry mustard powder on hand. I also turned the heat up to about 200C and baked for 35 mins instead of 1 hr.

I served this with steamed vegetables. The dressing I used contained sesame seeds (i love sesame seeds..haha), mirin and plum sauce.

No more boring meatloaf! Bring in the fun bits- I call this the surprise meatloaf with the egg as the surprise. Definitely a good addition. Who would have thought a humble egg could add such a dimension to meatloaf?

Chwee Kueh

Chwee Kueh Time!

When I’m back in Singapore, Granny and I love to visit a little shop outlet selling Chwee Kueh/Rice cakes just opposite Bedok MRT station. Two of us, taking the ride and just savoring this favorite Chinese tea-time delight.

I’m a big fan of pickled radish. The saltness mixed with the crunchy texture is irresistible to me. Oh, you mustn’t forget the chili. HOT thick chili. The real kind.

So when I read Teckiee’s post on this, I was sold. I needed to make it!

Gina’s post in Cusine Asia was quite helpful as well.

I’m feeling the pressure of my work lately. And when I’m pressured and stressed, I get a little homesick. Homesick also means I miss those food you get as a child. And being a far away from home means you have to improvise.

So this is my version of Chwee Kueh adapted from Gina and Teckiee.

My conclusion- ah, i could eat this for breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper. Simple comfort.

Chwee Kueh
2 cups of rice flour
6 cups of water
2-3 tsp of salt

Method
1. Mix the flour and water.
2. Heat mixture on the stove. Stir briskly and add salt.
3. Whisk until the mixture turns thick. Do not be surprise if it turns starchy on you. Just keep stirring till it is smooth (or as smooth as it can be).
4. Remove the mixture from the stove when it becomes thick and pour it in a tin.
5. Steam for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Switch off your stove or whatever equipment you are using to steam it. Do not remove lid for another 15 mins or so.
6. Let it to cool.

Radish topping
Pickled radish/choy pou.
shallots
garlic
heh bee/dried shrimps. wash, drained and pounded.
dried chili flakes
olive oil (U can use lard)
1tsp of dark soya sauce.

Method
1. Chop everything up and fry with oil until fragrant. Add soya sauce to taste.

To serve
Cut chwee kueh/rice cakes into smaller pieces. Top with radish. Serve with hot chilli and fried shallots.

Cafe Ruchee

I have been to this place before when Hanno and Haz (my favourite couple) from Germany visited. Ruchee, who is the boss of this place is originally from Thailand and infused alot of her cooking with western styles. I like this place because it’s relatively quiet with reasonable priced meals and lovely hospitality.


True, the decor isn’t that fantastic but it’s a clean cut place.

The menu features a good mix of Thai and Western style. Personally, I tend to go for dishes that reflects the heritage of the chef (if I know what heritage it is/or perhaps the theme of the restaurant). I headed for Thai straight away because I know that Ruchee is famous for that! Cafe Ruchee has a deal with the nearby gym so weight loss fanatics can choose healthy meals too.

For every main meal ordered, you get to feast on the range of salads at the buffet table. My picture turned out blurry but it’s a good range of fruits, coleslaw, garden , potato, pasta and beetroot salads. I wouldn’t say it’s fantastic but certainly keeps your hunger at bay while you wait for the food. Food is make to order so there is a bit of a wait but guaranteed freshness.

Seafood Tom Yum soup with rice. Oops- I lost the cute picture of the rice!! They served it on a bed of shredded carrots. It’s really pretty. The tom yum has the right amount of sourness in it. From memory, most tom yum we tasted were rather oily. You couldn’t taste the oil in this. In fact, it’s a strong tasting soup with good amount of spiciness in it. The way Tom Yum should be. There wasn’t a greasy after taste as well.

I was debating whether to order thai seafood salad or thai beef salad. In the end, I chose Thai beef. I was not disappointed. They provided generous tender slices of beef- I felt like the salad was bottomless….After eating for 10 mins, there was still a heap of beef and salad left! The dressing was mild and contained hints of sesame oil and fish sauce. The crispy noodles added a good crunch. It was such a HUGE portion that 2 of us can’t finish that.

The winner is definitely the Thai Beef Salad. I’m so going back there again. Total cost- $30.

Cafe Ruchee
Bentley Shopping Centre
1140 Albany Hwy
Bentley
08 9358 2222

Edited post- I used Flickr to host the pictures but I was disappointed with how it turned out on blogger. I probably need to fiddle around with it abit more. Nevertheless, thanks to helpful readers, I have a better insight of how flickr works! =)
I will probably continue to use blogger “post pictures” function for a while but used flickr as an online food photo album. Besides, it looks pretty on the left side of the panel. ;p