Happy New Year!

The year 2010- another year full of memories and life lessons. I thought a good way to sum up the year is to have a look at the all those beautiful moments and capture them in a post.

Highlights:

  • Started the New Year in Paris (plus Pierre Hermes’ macarons)!

  • We survived one year of marriage!! Woohoo!
  • Attended and be part of the bridal party for my closest friends. 
  • Emcee for the first time at a dinner banquet for my best friend. 
  • We bought sand land and will be building our home in 2011.
  •  We had the BEST road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne.
  •  Headed to Sydney and tried Guylian Chocolate Cafe and saw the Blue Mountains. (although my tummy felt really ill after the chocolate, the pain was worth it!)

  •  And officially on 30th of Dec 2010, achieved a milestone in my career. A goal that I have been aiming for since year 2000 when I arrived in Australia. 

And my cooking and baking highlights? 


Goals for 2011:

  • To continue to make changes and improve the appearance and accessibility to content of this blog.
  • Try making curry!! (from scratch!!!)
  • Ice-cream making perhaps. 
  • Continue my quest to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. 
  • To create more beautiful memories with my family and friends.
  • Accelerating to our dreams. 
  • To live more, laugh louder and breathe deeper when challenges cross our paths. 
  • Looking forward to the building process of our new home. 
  • To be even more respectful and loving towards my hubby. 
  • A closer journey with God. 
Wherever you are, here is wishing you a FANTASTIC NEW YEAR.  May each step you take in the New Year bring you closer to your dreams.

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Thai Inspired Spicy Noodle Salad

I’m backkkk! The highlight of the trip is of course being part of the bridal party of my best friend’s wedding. My gorgeous friend is married!! All those primary and secondary school days memories flooded back as I watched her walk down the aisle. She was brave, she allocated the task of being an emcee in her dinner banquet. I was emotional, as I saw those photos in Peg’s childhood slideshow, it struck me how much we have grown (alas, not in height, I meant wisdom and age….).I recall those study days, sleep overs, singing KTV none stop for 6 hrs. Ah… and now both of us are married.

Congratulations Rane and Peggy! 

Before I left for Singapore, hubby and I were invited to a last minute pot luck gathering. I arrived home from work at 6pm and was ready to leave home with our dish by 6:35pm. Glad I did bring something because turned out that everyone brought either pizza or kfc-neither dishes would have sat well with my stomach (or weight!).

This dish isn’t anything fancy. In fact, I was trying to do a salad but everyone at the gathering thought it was a stir fry noodle dish. Oops. I didn’t even correct them! I just smile and nod.Oh well, they finished the bowl which is the main thing.

I was trying to be real quick and cooked some pork mince with chili, fish sauce, sugar and soy. The result was a tangy mixture! I tossed it through some mung bean vermicelli. However, I did a taste test then, and it was blend. So I mixed some lemon juice, fish sauce, sugar and some stock in a jar. Stir it, pour it over the noodles, toss, added some fried shallots and viola, it tasted much better then!

So I’m still not sure if this is a salad? or?? Can someone suggest a new name perhaps? Whatever it was, it was quick, easy and beats fast food any day.

Thai Inspired Spicy Noodle Salad (Serves a party of 8-10 people or feeds 4-5 for a meal)
300 grams of pork mince
around 100 grams roast pork (left overs)
1 tablespoon of garlic 
1 cup of snow peas peeled
2 carrot shredded
2-3 sprigs of spring onions chopped
1 red chili chopped

2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tablespoon of soya sauce
1 tablespoon of plum sauce 
1/4 cup of water

“Dressing”
1/4 cup of lemon juice
2 tsp of fish sauce
1/2 tsp of sugar

1 medium bunch of mung bean vermicelli quickly blanched with hot water and drained. Mean while, saute garlic and chili and add pork mince and cook till it is done. Pour all sauces, water and sugar over the mixture. Simmer. Add veges. Cook for 1 min. Pour mixture to noodles and toss. Do a taste test and adjust “dressing”. Pour dressing over it. Serve with some fried shallots.

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Mango Coconut Agar Agar/Jelly

During hot summer days, I crave for something sweet and light. I used Agar Agar powder which makes this a firm jelly. Mangoes are in season- and this year, it’s at abundance and at great prices as well (HUGE mango for AU$6-enough to fit one family with one mango!).

Grandma will be coming to Perth with us this year. I’m so excited! Maybe I will be able to learn more recipes off her. She taught me how to make Coffee Agar Agar. I’m hoping I have a chance to learn more desserts off her- such as Baked Milk Pudding and so forth.

I’m also reminding myself to keep this recipe handy. It’s quick and it is a good dessert for people who are lactose sensitive or intolerant (like myself).


Mango Coconut Agar Agar
1 packet of Agar agar powder (think it is 13grms)
750 ltres water
200 grams sugar 
6 pieces pandan leaves tie in a knot (My pandan leaves were frozen but if you have fresh, try using 3-4 leaves)
1 mango cut into tiny cubes (hubby’s role)
300 ml lite coconut milk

Dissolve sugar, water , agar agar powder in a pot. Add tied pandan leaves. Boil for 10-15 mins. Remove leaves.
Turn to low heat and add coconut milk. Remove when it bubbles. Add mango cubes to pot. Pour mixture into jelly moulds. Leave to cool. Chill for at least 1 hr.

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Blueberry Dark and White Choc Muffins

I made these babies for work earlier in the month. The beautiful thing about summer in Australia is the abundance of fresh gorgeous fruits. Blueberries are in season again and I couldn’t resist getting a few punnets to munch on. These muffins contains yogurt which makes it a healthier option than butter. The only catch is that I did put in heaps of dark and white chocolate (to satisfy both dark and white chocolate lovers in the office).

I nearly forgot these muffin cups that I bought in Singapore a few years ago. I had to dust it and make sure they are clean before using them again. I like how small they were, which makes you feel good eating …just… one…more.. Certainly a recipe to keep and play with.

Blueberry Dark and White Choc Muffins (I made 18 small ones)

2 1/2 cups of self raising flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup white choc bits and 1/2 cup dark choc bits
1 punnet of blueberries
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup greek yogurt with vanilla bean (Or use plain greek yogurt) 
3/4 cup soy milk

Preheat Oven 180. Place muffin cups on baking tray.

Mix flour, sugar and chocolate in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, oil, yogurt and milk together. Fold wet ingredients to dry till combined. Fold in berries. Spoon mixture in muffin cups. Bake for 25-30 mins till it turned golden brown.


Indian Style Butter Bean and Avocado Dip

Every Tuesday, my colleagues and I take turns to bring morning tea. Given that we have hours of meetings, morning tea (which usually turns into our lunch) sweeten the deal. Recently, we seem to be pretty keen on dips. It started with store bought and we realized that it is probably much cheaper and healthier to make our own. It started with garlic hummus, and graduated to mashed avocado with taco seasoning dip (gotta try this one at home one day!). I decided to experiment and came out with this dip instead.

I toasted the spices first before adding it to the butter bean and avocado mixture. Instead of adding olive oil, I used fresh lemon juice. This makes this dip far healthier than other options out there.It’s addictive! Given that many of us hosts Christmas events, hopefully this dip will inspire you to create a dip with your own Christmas signature on it.

By the time you read this, I am on the plane for a short holiday and to be part of a bridal party at my best friend’s wedding. Thankfully, I have prepared some posts for you to enjoy while I am away and I hope you will enjoy what I have for you. *muacks*


Indian Style Butter Bean and Avocado Dip

2 cans of butter beans (You can also use chickpeas) 
1 large avocado
1 lemon-juiced

3 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1/2 tsp of chili powder
2 tsp of tumeric powder
1 tsp of garam masala powder
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Over low heat, add oil to small pan with spices. Toast gently till it smells beautiful.
Meanwhile, drain beans and place in food processor with chopped avocado and lemon juice. Blitz it for 1 min or 2. Add toasted spices and blitz it again. Taste and season accordingly. Serve with crackers.

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The Aussie Classic- Pavlova Success!

Some of you may have read my Pavlova disaster a few years back. Although it was initially a success, I placed cream and fruits on it too early on and it was crushed from its’ weight. It was also pretty embarrassing, since I had to serve this at a Christmas gathering with hubby’s (then fiance) extended family. 

When I looked at the previous post, it came to me that it has been TWO long years since I made pavlova. Given my last attempt, I knew that I just had to make it again and learn from my mistakes.

This time round, we hosted a lunch with some close friends and I chose to make this pavlova from the same recipe again. Gotta love Donna Hay! After whipping the egg whites and spooning it on the baking tray, I was quite worried that the pav will come out flat! The last one, I was able to pile it up higher. Perhaps I should have beat the egg whites a little longer. Since it was too late, I decided to give it a go and bake it anyway.

I left the pav in the oven that night to cool down and only chose to fridge it the next morning. The result was a slightly flatter pav but the same crisp outer shell and marshmallow soft texture inside. I did not repeat my mistakes and chose to put cream and fruits on it just before serving.

The plate was clean by the end of it.  You can only imagine how happy and proud I was!

Success can be obtained by failing. Failing is not to be feared but to be embraced as each failure brings us closer to success.

Pavlova
4 Egg whites
3/4 cup of caster sugar
1 tsp of white vinegar
3 tsps of corn flour

1) Preheat oven to 150C. Line baking tray and draw a 7inch circle on it.

2) Beat egg whites till soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat will till glossy and stiff. Sift cornflour and fold through vinegar.

3) Spoon meringue mixture onto baking paper. Place in oven and reduce temperature to 120C. Cook for 1 hr. Turn oven off and leave it to cool overnight in the oven.

4) To serve topped with freshly whipped cream and fruits. Serve immediately.

Quick and Easy Thai Style Noodle Soup

In almost every household, there will be an emergency meal stash somewhere. Whether is it cup noodles,  packet of instant noodles, or even frozen meals, whatever that you could come up with a jiffy.

Most of the times,  I prepare a week in advance on what meals we are going to have- usually based around our schedules. But there will be moments of “due to unforeseen circumstances”  that I will be home really late-and plans fall apart. In those moments, it’s either eat out or choose one of the above options.

It was only recently that I realised I usually have stock of noodles, and packets of chicken stock. Paired with some fish cake, veges and eggs- it is a meal by itself. Since then, I make sure that my freezer has some seafood fish cake and “crab” sticks (imitation crab of course made usually of fish and flour! why did they not call it fish sticks then?!). With some chili, fish sauce, soy and sugar, it gave a sweet, spicy and sour soup. Perfect for a chilly night.

Quick and Easy Thai Style Noodle Soup (Serves 2) 

1 ltre of chicken stock
3 cakes of noodles
assortment of fish cakes, fish balls, meat balls..etc
2 eggs
veges- whatever that is in the freezer!
2tsp of fish sauce
1/2 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of soy
chopped chili if available if not chili flakes or chili powder

Boil stock. Add sauces. Bring it to a simmer and add noodles and all the other ingredients. Boil for 3-5 minutes. Serve hot with a sprinkle of fried shallots.

Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter and Cranberry Cookies

Usually at around this time of the year, I start looking at recipes to make some Christmas Cookies for friends and ourselves. This year, I spotted this recipe and thought I could give it a go. Afterall, it has peanut butter in it!!

It was a tad too soft for my liking, though we totally did enjoy it. AR likes the touch of pumpkin seeds which has the added crunch to it. 

I  baked it for an additional 5 mins just to make it more crisp… I suspect though that with the high content of fat from peanut butter, it make it crumbly but not crisp. pr maybe… just maybe.. it’s because i ran out of almond meal and used flour!

If you like your cookies crumbly, this one is for you!


Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter and Cranberry Cookies ( makes around 45) Taken from Australia House and Garden Magazine
250 grams peanut butter (or almond butter)
1/3 cup of honey
2 eggs
1/4 cup light olive oil
2 cups of almond meal(I forgot so i added flour instead!)
1/2 cup of dark choc chips
2/3 cup cranberries
2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds

Preheat Oven 175C. Mix nut butter ad honey. Add eggs, oil and combine. Fold in almond meal, choc chips and cranberries.
Place tsp of mixture onto baking tray lined with paper. Flatten slightly and press pumpkin seeds into it. Bake 15-20 mins. Cool and store.

Mongolian Beef – Kylie Kwong ‘s Recipe

Years ago, I tried Mongolian Beef. It was a sweet sticky stir fry from a local Chinese take away shop in Perth. It was yucky and have nothing to do with Mongolian Cuisine.

I have been collecting small recipe booklets from our weekend newspaper reads. One of the booklets was from the famous Kylie Kwong who brought Chinese cooking too households in Australia. I tend to stay away from her recipes because I usually look towards my grandmother for some inspiration for home cooked meals.

I nearly flipped the page when I saw “Mongolian Beef” as one of the featured recipes. Interestingly enough though, it featured beef mince and salted cabbage. Especially the salted cabbage- can it really make a difference?

The end result? The salted cabbage added texture and crunch to the overall dish. I like how easy it is to eat this with some rice. Best of all, it is an one pot dish. Some fresh chopped chili and spring onions-and a meal is done.

I’m still not sure if it is Mongolian, but at least it is delicious to eat!

Mongolian Beef (Serves 5)

600 grams beef mince
5 cups of shredded Chinese cabbage (I had english cabbage though)
2 tsp sea salt
2 tablespoon of shao hsing wine
2 tablespoon of hoi sin sauce
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 carrot shredded
1 red pepper sliced finely
3/4 cup of sliced spring onions.

marinate
2 tablespoons of shao hsing wine
1 tablespoon of light soy
1 tablespoon of corn flour
garlic cloves diced
1/2 tsp of sesame oil

Marinate beef mince for 30 mins.

Place cabbage and sea salt in a bowl. Mix well. Stand for 15 mins, then rinse under cold water and drain. Squeeze out any excess liquid.

Heat pan till out. Fry beef, and break up lumps. Pour in sauces and fry for 30 seconds. Toss in cabbage, carrot, red pepper and fry for min. Add spring onions. Toss. Remove from heat. Spoon beef onto bed of rice. Top with spring onions and sliced chili.