Zucchini Noodle Slice

I was reflecting how my palate has changed since leaving Singapore. Sure, I love my spicy food, carb ladden soup noodles and home made delights. Nothing can ever beat that. However, over time, I have learnt how to appreciate quick and easy bake meals, soups and even a meat and veg dish. It’s something that my grandmother would have scratch her head and wonder how could we ever feel fulfil with dishes like this? It’s not a complete meal if it is not rice, vege, soup and meat.

Worse if I decided to make a vegetarian non chinese dish.

It’s a battle of the heritage, but I think it’s so much more when we embrace it. I will never erase my Chinese roots, but there is nothing wrong if I sneak in a vege ladden egg slice now and then….

And just add some salmon on some salad leaves to get the horror look off my hubby face when I show him what’s for lunch :p

Zucchini and Corn Noodle Slice (Serves 3-4)
80 grams of rice noodles soaked in hot water, drained and snipped into shorter lengths
1 capsicum diced
1 zucchini grated
1 can of corn drained
few stalks of spring onions chopped
1 carrot grated
1 cup of self raising flour
1/2 cup of low fat cheddar cheese
4 eggs
3/4 cup soy or normal milk
2-3 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1/2 tsp of chili powder
salt and pepper

Preheat Oven to 200 C. Line slice pan with baking paper with sides hanging.

Squeeze all liquid out of the zucchini. Mix with carrots, corn spring onions and capsicum. Toss in flour, cheese. Lightly whisky eggs with milk, oyster sauce. Pour liquid into the vegetable mix. Season, including chili powder. Add the noodle mixture. Pour into slice tray and bake for around 25-30 minutes. Serve with side salad.

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Sundried Tomato Hummus

Once a month, I was on morning tea duty, preparing morning tea items for office colleagues. It’s our way to thank each other, appreciating each other for the work we put in weekly. This Hummus was my “last” morning tea preparation as I left the position soon after. As I was preparing it, it was bitter sweet- especially since I have many memories there.

Hence, it was important for me to get it right. To make something that everyone could enjoy. While I was blitzing this hummus up, I thought it was abit too tangy for my liking. I mmm and ahhh.. pondering whether to bring this hummus for morning tea. In the end I did it, and to my utmost surprise, everyone liked it and it was finished by the next morning. My colleagues assured me that it wasn’t a show but the tangyness was something slightly different from what other dips offered out there.

Well for me, I was just glad they liked it.

Sundried Tomato Hummus
1 can of chickpeas drained
80 grams of semi sundried tomatoes (I used the 97 fat free one)
1/2 lemon squeezed
1/4 cup of olive oil
Season with some salt and cracked pepper.

Blitz everything up. Serve with crackers. 😉

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Tomato Basil Soup with Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli

As the colder weather sets in, I’m making soups weekly. It’s a great one pot meal with little mess and fuss. As we like our soups chunky with lots of vegetables in it. It’s our way to increase our vegetables intake too. Usually, I make a big pot-enough for a couple of meals which save time.

I recall reading in a magazine or perhaps through browsing a cookbook in a bookstore that we could use store bought fresh lasagne sheets to make ravioli. With that in mind, I decided to give it a go by stuffing ravioli with spinach and ricotta. This helps to bulk our soup up with some carbs.

Amazingly, 8 lasagne sheets produced around 12-14 ravioli. That’s heaps for us! I themed this ravioli with a tomato and basil soup. The tangy taste of tomatoes and smooth basil was a hit for us.



Tomato Basil Soup with Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli (Serves 4-5)
1kg of tomatoes diced
1 can of diced tomatoes
few stalks of basil
1 ltre of vegetable stock
500 ml of water
1 onion chopped
4 chili padi chopped
1 tablespoon of garlic

a packet of lasagna sheets- around 8 sheets
1 egg whisked
200 grams ricotta
250 grams spinach
100grams smoked salmon sliced
cracked pepper

Fry garlic, chilli and onion till soft. Add in all tomatoes (including can). Simmer for around 3 minutes. Add stock and half of the water. Simmer.

Meanwhile, prepare ravioli filling. Quick blanched spinach leaves with hot water. Drain and squeeze all remaining water out of it (wait for it to cool down a little). Whisk ricotta till smooth. Combine spinach leaves and cracked pepper with ricotta. Set aside.

Take 1 piece of lasagna sheet, spoon ricotta mixture onto mixture (around 3 or 4 spoonfuls. Brush beaten egg around the mixture. Place another piece of lasagna sheet on top. Lightly press it so it seals. Using a knife or a pizza cutter. Cut them into pieces. Trim if needed. Repeat.

By that time, your soup should be boiling. Tear basil leaves into the soup. Taste and adjust accordingly.
Spoon soup into the blender. Blitz for a few minutes. Returning the mixture to the pot and return to boil.
Quickly add one ravioli to the soup for 2-3 minutes. Remove. Place ravioli into bowls. Repeat and cook ravioli as needed. Around 3-4 raviolis in one bowl is sufficient. Ladle soup onto the raviolis. Serve with basil leaves.

I’m serving this to my friends at Presto Pasta, founded by Ruth from Once Upon a Feast. This week, Trish is hosting from My Slap Kitchen.

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Japanese Tofu with Spicy Pork and Egg Budget AU$15

 When the theme for this month’s S$20 (or AUS$15) budget meals was announced to be Tofu, I got excited. Afterall, it is a humble ingredient that can be prepared in so many ways.

My favourite tofu, would be the silken egg tofu. The one that comes in a tube. I love to coat it with some cornflour and pan fry it, creating a slight crisp coating on the outside, but soft silky tofu on the inside. I fried up some mince, made an omelette and added the pre prepared tofu on the top.

While it looks messy, it is one of our favourite easy dish to have. The combine texture of crisp, soft, eggy..etc just makes it worthwhile.

I made ribs and lotus soup ( I realised I forgot to purchase some peanuts if not I would have added it there!) to pair with this dish. By boiling it in the morning before we head to work and placing it in the magic cooker, we were delighted to have a hot soup ready for us to drink when we got home in cold weather. A quick and simple bak choy stir fry was also made.

The Pork Ribs and Lotus soup was a bargain- Only $2.60 to make. We picked up some cheap pork bones which happened to be ribs for $3 for a big packet. We divided the packet into threes- So more soups for us! Lotus root was frozen though-nevertheless, it was $2.50 for a big packet (60cents). Enough to for at least another 2-3 meals. I added some dried scallops that was in my freezer which I estimated it to be around $1.

Bak Choy was $1 a bunch

Japanese Tofu with Spicy Pork and Egg was a little more pricey- around $7. On hindsight, probably one tube of tofu was enough but I got too carried away! So total cost of meal = AU$10.60. Not bad for a complete meal for 4.

Japanese Tofu with Spicy Pork and Egg (Serves 4-5)
2 tubes of Japanese Tofu
1 cup of corn flour
oil
200 grams pork mince
1/2 cup of hua tiao jiu
3 tablespoon of soy sauce
2 chili padi chopped
5 eggs
3 tablespoon of milk or soy milk

Slice tofu, coat it with corn flour lightly, shaking excess flour out. Fry tofu in hot pan with some oil. Turn after 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and place tofu in plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.

Meanwhile, sauté chili padi with pork mince. Add the hua tiao jiu and soy sauce. Cook till mince is done.

Beat eggs with some milk. Pour eggs into pan. Cook till nearly set. Place tofu on the top of the omelette. Serve warm.

Hosted by Ellana from Cusine Paradise, this is my entry to Budget Meals.

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Earl Grey Tea Cake

Are you more of a tea or coffee person? It’s really hard for me to choose because I am a fan of both. I like the delicate taste of tea, but love the robust caffeine hit that coffee provides. In terms of tea, I enjoy green tea (especially the one with brown rice), earl grey, english breakfast, jasmine tea..etc. Coffee- My favourite would be cappuccino.

While I would incorporate coffee into bakes, this is the first time I am using tea. Having spot this recipe in the recent Donna Hay Magazine, I couldn’t help but give it a go. Once again, I re-adapted it to my liking. I find this cake very moist and easy to eat. Next time, I would have used fresh tea leaves, and soak it into the dates a little longer.

It is a delicate cake that was very popular with my work colleagues. The tea taste was light but it definitely came out strong the next day.



Earl Grey Tea Cake (adapted from Donna Hay Magazine)
1.5 cups of chopped dried dates (original version calls for fresh dates)
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup of brewed earl grey tea. I used 2 tea bags.
2 apples peeled and chopped finely
1 1/4 cup of self raising flour
3/4 cup of brown sugar
150 grams butter melted
2 tsp of vanilla extract
4 eggs

Preheat Oven to 180C. Line baking loaf tin with baking paper. PLace dates, bicarb of soda and tea in a bowl. I left the tea bag in the bowl during this time for around 10 minutes.

Using the liquidiser, blend the mixture till smooth. Set aside.

Mix flour, apple and sugar in a bowl till combined. Add in butter, vanilla eggs and date mixture. Mix well. Spoon into loaf tin and bake for 45-50 minutes till cooked when tested with a skewer. Rest and cool before removing from tin.

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Roasted Pumpkin Isreali Couscous Salad

It’s only recent that I noticed larger pearl size couscous on the shelves of specialities delis. I have always been a fan of couscous as they are a great side dish-pairing it with a hearty stew or having it as a salad by itself. As a rule of thumb, I like to have a taste of the ingredient before attempting to try it at home. Especially when there was no written instruction on how to prepare it on the packet!!

Often, we have the luxury of tasting it in restaurants and cafe- which often leads me to experiment similar concepts in the humble home kitchen. This helps me to understand how the ingredient should be prepared, and also whether or not we will like it. No point wasting AU$7 on a packet if we are not happy with it. Hubby often joked that he gets a bang in his buck- not just for the meal in a restaurant but it is often my creativity zone when it comes to thinking of what to cook for meals.

Unfortunately, Isreali Couscous is still not very common in eateries yet. No chance to try this interesting ingredient. Hrmph.

Surprise surprise. In a recent picnic with our new french friends, they brought…… a isreali couscous salad!!! Oh how happy I was. Having a chat with her, she told me that all we needed to do was to cook Isreali couscous in a pot of boiling water as we would do with pasta. Easy done!

I love the texture of this pearl couscous and am amazed by how versatile it is. So in a recently bbq gathering, I brought a roasted pumpkin Isreali Couscous salad. I was greeted by the same reaction by our friends “What’s this?”, “are they little bubble tea bubbles?”, “pasta?”

But they agreed that it is a light, fulfilling and healthy dish!

Roasted Pumpkin Isreali Couscous Salad (Made enough to serve 10)
250 grams of Isreali Couscous
around 1 ltre of water
pinch of salt

1kg of butternut pumpkin peeled and chopped
drizzle of honey
4 tomatoes chopped
1 cucumber chopped

3-4 extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon squeezed
1/4 tsp of honey
salt/pepper

Roast pumpkin with drizzle of honey for around 20 minutes.

Meanwhile boil water with some salt. Cook isreali couscous for around 15 minutes or when it is done. Drained and set aside.

Prepare all vegetables. Make dressing by combining olive oil with lemon, honey, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust accordingly. Toss couscous with all veges.

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Foo Chuk (Barley, Beancurd and Ginko Nut Dessert)


 

Chinese desserts are one of a kind. Depending on different regions and cultures, it can be in a jelly form (agar agar, grass jelly) or perhaps in a soup form. As a child, I did not appreciate soupy desserts. I preferred cakes, jell-o and creamy ice-creams.

As a teenager and later on as a young adult, I grew to like them. In fact, I missed having them. Perhaps it is the case of absence makes your heart grows fonder. I was surrounded by chinese desserts and never once did I missed it. However, since leaving the country and realising how difficult (not to mention expensive) accessing them, it became a treasure hunt.

Many of my childhood weekends was spent sitting in a dessert shop in Chinatown, Singapore, savouring a bowl of black sesame paste or my grandmother’s favourite- Almond Paste. This particular bean curd dessert is a family favourite. It’s one that my mother or grandmother would made and it would be a big hit. Especially if it is chilled on a hot, humid day.

I often think it is a Godsend that the Internet was created. It allowed me to learn from fellow bloggers on how to make childhood dishes that I often craved. I took lessons from noobcook and Sonia. Not to forget, my grandmother when she was in Perth.

Beancurd Sheets are made from soy beans of course. It can be use in savoury or sweet dishes. I re-hydrated the sheets in normal tepid water for around 15 mins. Ginko Nuts are known to help in memory and general health well being. I usually make a big batch of this and fridge it. It makes a nice, handy dessert!

Foo Chuk (Barley, Beancurd and Ginko Nut Dessert) serve at least 15
200 grams of barley rinsed
200 grams of bean curd sheets
400 grams of ginko nuts (I used one can of ginko nuts)
100 grams of rock sugar
3 ltres of water 
few pandan leaves tied in knot
2 eggs beaten

Soak beancurd sheets in water. Set aside. Meanwhile boil 3 ltres of water with barley and pandan leaves.  It will take around 10-15 mins. Add bean curd sheets and ginko nuts. Simmer for another 15 mins or so, depending on how soft you like your bean curd. Add rock sugar. Taste to see if it is sweet enough. Turn heat off. Add eggs, gently stirring the pot while doing so.  Remove pandan leaves for serving. Chill if desired.

PS- Kitchen Snippets is offering a giftaway! How cute those apron looks! Have a look and visit her blog too. A space full of inspirations!

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Jamie Oliver’s Trapani Style Rigatoni

The best thing about Jamie’s Oliver 30 minute meals cookbook is that once you get the hanged of it, it’s actually really easy to replicate his dishes. It’s usually rustic, hence I don’t have to worry too much how it looks. Again, I have adapted and tried one of his pasta recipe with great success. I’m beginning to be excited with trying more food from this book now.

I goggled Trapani Style and found out that it represents a city in Sicily. What I like is that it has NO cream but yet it tasted creamy. The almond, fresh cherry tomatoes certainly did the trick. It was very tasty and addictive. I could finish that whole bowl by myself.

You can probably omit the anchovies as I didn’t think it gave it any kick-maybe even substitute it with olives if you want it vegetarian.  I do love the taste of basil and fresh chili which certainly lifts the dish to another new level.

Silly me bought only 200 grams of cherry tomato and substituted it with a can of diced tomatoes on hand. It did the trick but left me wondering how much sweeter can this get if I used cherry tomatoes all the way.

Jamie Oliver’s Trapani Style Rigatoni (Serves 4)
400 grams of Rigatoni
40 grams of parmesan cheese
100 whole blanched almonds
3-4 cloves of garlic 
2-3 fresh chili padi
2 large bunches of basil
5-6 anchovy fillets
200 grams cherry tomatoes
1 can of 400 grams diced tomatoes

Cook Rigatoni till nearly done.

Meanwhile, blitzed Parmesan cheese, almonds, garlic and chili till fine. Then add basil, anchovies and cherry tomatoes. When it turned into paste, add a dash of olive oil. Season. Heat a pan up and saute the paste. Add the tin of diced tomatoes. Add some water if it is too dry. Toss pasta through the sauce. Serve warm.

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Herb and Nut Cheese Roll

 Sweet Happy Mothers Day to all amazing mothers out there! Hope your family is pampering and bringing you lovely breakfast in bed on this pretty Sunday.

To our mothers, oh what amazing joy is it to be your children. I could never ask for more being blessed with hardworking, self sacrificing mothers. Both my mum, mother in law and grandmother taught me how a strong woman should be like. I take pride in calling them my family.

Recently, we were invited to a gorgeous dinner with our french friends. Here lies a dilemma, what do one bring when the french invites you over for dinner? They said no food… but finally agreed that I could bring drinks. I couldn’t resist, and decided to thank them for creating such a wonderful meal for us by bringing what I thought would be appropriate- cheese!

Camembert and cream cheese blended together then rolled in chives and pistachio nuts. I was told that both cheeses went well, and the pistachios gave it a nutty kick. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to try it as I was in the kitchen getting all excited in seeing a dessert being made. I got a text though from our friends later on who told us that they loved this simple cheese roll.

and I’m pleased. I have managed to bring something that the french like! 😉

Herb and Nut Cheese Roll

250 grams camembert cheese
150 grams of cream cheese
a small bunch of chives chopped
1/4 cup of pistachios shelled and chopped

Whisk both cheese together till well mixed. Place the mixture onto baking paper. Roll it up and twist both ends. Fridge it for at least 1 hour.

Unroll, roll cheese on to chives and pistachios. This time round, wrap mixture with glad wrap. Again, roll it and twist both ends. Fridge it for another 1 hr at least. Serve with crackers.

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Baileys Apple Crumble

The first time I tasted apple crumble, I was hooked. It’s a simple nutritious dessert that even has fruit in it! It is considered as a winter dessert and how fitting it is to have a warm bite of apple and crumbly oats in your mouth.

I chose to do a version with Baileys this time round. Baileys was one of the first liquor that I actually do like. Especially when it is on the rocks. Ever since my body rejects lactose, I rarely tasted it. I can still take some, just not the whole shot. By incorporating some in this dessert, it allowed me to enjoy the flavour of such a rich drink.

I kept it simple- choosing to caramelized the apples with brown sugar and baileys. Then using the rubbing in method, I rubbed some low fat spread/margarine into some flour, oats and mixed fruit. Enough dessert for two. A sweet ending to a busy week.




Baileys Apple Crumble (Serves 2)
1 green apple sliced thinly
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of baileys

1/4 cup of plain flour
75 grams of spread
1/4 cup of oats
1/4 cup of mixed fruits
1/2 tsp of cinnamon

Preheat Oven to 180C.
Melt sugar. Add apple and baileys. Caramalised for around 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, rub spread into flour. Mix with oats, mixed fruits and cinnamon.

Spoon apple mixture into ramekins. Top it with the oat mixture. Bake for 20 minutes.

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