31 October, 2011

Refrigerator soup

So I bought a whole clump of celery for oxtail stew I made that day (which I forgot to photograph and when I had remembered, everything was eaten)  The problem is that I don't like celery.  Not on it's own at least.  But considering there are about 10 sticks of celery in a bag at least, I had to come up with a way to consume!  So I made a whole lot of different soups. (I know I could make vegetable stock and freeze but I like my food fresh when I can help it.  Plus if I'm going to have to boil something, I might as well cook it as a meal.)

Digging around in my various archives, I tried to find the article I had come across about how to cook a soup from scratch without a recipe and couldn't find it so I decided to wing it.  Afterall, it can't be that difficult, right?  And you know what?  It really wasn't that difficult!

Refriderator soup
1 yellow onion chopped up
1/2 red onion chopped up
1 rib of celery chopped up 
2 large carrots chopped up
3oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic minced
4 cups of chicken stock
1/2 tsp mixed herbs (Masterfood)
1/4 tsp peppercorn
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup red wine
2 tbs tomato paste

  1. Place poricini mushrooms in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes
  2. Sautee the garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent
  3. Add carrots and celery and sautee until tender.
  4. Pour in poricni mushroom and stock and bring to a boil.
  5. Add herbs and tomato paste and simmer the soup.
  6. Add red wine towards the end of the cooking.
  1. If you don't have much time and don't like the sharp taste of celery, use a blending wand and blitz it up for a thicker soup or keep it overnight for the celery to absorb all the flavors.  Alternatively, boil to a mush.
  2. Adjust herbs and wine according to taste.  Be adventurous.

24 October, 2011

Asian Granola

I'm not a huge breakfast fan.  Perhaps it's because I'm terrible at waking up in the morning.  So I'm always in a rush.  So I figured if I could prepare something healthy to eat and yet store for extended periods of time at work, I may actually be able to work this breakfast thing into my daily routine.

Granola seemed like a fairly yummy option and fit into the above criteria.  So I gave it a shot and asianised it with sesame seeds and dried Goji berries.  A great yummy snack which can be taken as a breakfast.  Perfect!

Asian Granola
5 cups oats
175g sugar
1 3/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
3/4 cup black sesame seeds
1 3/4 cup cashew nuts
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Wet ingredients
60g melted butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup honey

  1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees celsius
  2. Line pan with greaseproof paper
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together
  4. Mix all the wet ingredients together
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones and stir well
  6. Spread mixture evenly onto pan
  7. Bake 35 - 40 minutes until golden brown.
  1. Rotate and shake the pan every 10 minutes for even roasting
  2. Allow the granola to cool before storing
  3. Can be stored in the fridge if it lasts long enough!

20 October, 2011

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

That day, I made a very big mistake.  I thought it would be a great idea to involve the tot in making some biscuits to bring to school.  Afterall, he's helped his aunt bake muffins before and I had not heard any complaints from her.  But I didn't realise one thing at that point - biscuits are DIFFERENT from muffins.

Muffins you scoop into muffin trays.  Biscuits you roll out and cut out.  Muffins look like gloop and biscuit dough, like play dough.

The dough is easy enough to make.  Took me all of 10 minutes.  But once I tried to roll out the dough for cutting, the kid thought it was play dough and proceeded to make a huge mess.  Add the fact that it is always above 30 degrees Celsius in Singapore, my table top was a mess of melted butter and flour.  And the floor littered with bits of dough and what nots.  I was about to cry.

Thank goodness for fantastic husbands!  My husband plucked him (the tot) up and took him for a bath, promising freshly baked biscuits if I were to be left alone to finish making them.  Then he cleaned the floor for me.

What started off as a disaster turned out great.  Scroll down to the tips for a relatively stress-free making process.  Without the kid's help, I made 180 biscuits (1" across) in about 1/2 hour.  The tot and his dad finished it in about the same amount of time.

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits
1.5 cup of shredded Cheddar Cheese
3/4 cup of All Purpose Flour
50g of butter

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until a dough is formed
2. Pick up all the crumbs to form a dough ball and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
4. Roll out the dough to 1/8" thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut out biscuits.
5. Place on baking tray lined with baking paper.
6. Bake biscuits for about 10 minutes until puffed up and golden brown.
6. Take out to cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

1. Instead of 1 big ball of dough, I make several small balls of dough.  They get put in the freezer and I rotate them.  When the ball of dough I'm rolling out gets a bit too soft for handling, I toss it back into the freezer and take the next ball out to work.
2. Instead of a cookie rack, I use a metal sieve to cool the biscuits.  I avoid having to place the biscuits properly to avoid slipping through the gaps.
3.  Watch your first batch of biscuits like a hawk.  They burn relatively easily.

10 October, 2011

One Bowl Brownies

I have a very sweet tooth.  Perhaps it's coz I was brought up by my grandmother who had an equally sweet tooth. But as the years go by, I'm starting to like my sweets less sweet.
I still remember being bewildered as a child why anyone would want to eat BITTER chocolate?  But now, I totally appreciate how the bitterness brings another dimension to the chocolate.  Brownies are no exception.

That day I decided to whip up a batch of brownies while waiting for the hubby to come home.  Coz these brownies are dead easy to bake and only really need 1 bowl (measuring cups and weighing scales not included!)

As usual, I assumed I had all the ingredients and started without checking.  Until I reached the point of - add the nuts.  The hubs had eaten us out of nuts in the entire house!

So I proceeded without any nuts and it was still great!

One-bowl Brownies

150 g bittersweet chocolate chopped
113 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tbs Milo powder
200 g granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
95 g all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and place the rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Line bottom of tray with aluminium foil.
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. 
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the Milo powder and sugar.
  5. Whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
  1. Make sure the equipment used to melt the chocolate is dry and avoid splashing water from the saucepan as this would cause the chocolate to "seize" and not be useable.
  2. I couldn't find baking cocoa and substituted Milo.  Just as good.
  3. If baking brownies for the first time, watch it carefully.  It is very easy to overbake.  Overbaked brownies become cakey.

24 September, 2011

Frog leg porridge

I know to many people, the thought of eating frogs is EWWW!!!  But trust me, when it is done well, it is a true delicacy.

As a child, my mum used to make frog leg porridge for us to eat.  It was supposed to be good for "cleansing the blood" or something like that.  Basically good for little children.  I remember it to be stringy and chicken-like.  Not fantastic but I still enjoyed it.

Then we grew up and got to try the hawker style frog legs which were yummy.  Sichuan style frog legs, deep fried frog legs, frog legs with spring onions....  Slurp!  The texture of the meat was never stringy nor dry. It was clean tasting, springy and never got stuck between the teeth.
So what's the secret?  The duration of cooking!  Like all other meat, over cooking renders frog meat tough.  So I get the fish monger to chop the meat up into chunks that would cook quickly and blanch them in boiling soup.

Fresh frog legs can be obtained from select markets in Singapore where the fish monger butchers and skins the live frogs for you on the spot.  I get mine from Chinatown.

Do you have any exotic dishes to share?

Frog Leg Porridge
Serves 4
500ml of Chicken stock (I make mine from scratch)
4 freshly slaughtered frogs chopped into chunks
4 handful of vegetables
2 cups of rice
1 can of button mushrooms


  1. Cook the rice as you would ordinarily.
  2. Bring the chicken stock to a rolling boil.
  3. Blanch the frog legs in the stock until just turned white.
  4. Add the vegetables and let simmer until the vegetables just wilt.
  5. Strain the button mushrooms and put into the soup.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Pour soup over the rice and serve.