Saturday, July 24, 2010

Drunken Chicken in Spicy Dark Sauce

I missed the soy poached chicken sold in Singapore : ( so I decided to cook something similar but included an additional spicy punch to the dish. I chose to name my dish drunken chicken because the meat has been cooked in a considerable amount of shaoxing wine and the meat indeed looked kind of ‘drunk’ when soaked in the wine mixture. The other essential ingredients such as ginger, red chillies and dark soy sauce gave the dish its spiciness and colour to the sauce.

The dish tasted quite pleasant but still needs a lot of improvement. It will be wonderful if I could create a stronger pleasing aftertaste in the chicken meat so that it stays in the mouth longer. Perhaps I missed out certain ingredients when the meat was marinated. A few more trial and error ‘experiments’ will probably enhance the dish and hopefully by then, I will have a more precise recipe for this chicken dish. Please stay tuned for further developments! ; )

Stir-Fry Chinese Cabbage with Carrots

I was so glad when I noticed the variety of Asian vegetables sold in the supermarkets in Townsville. Chinese celery cabbage (also known as ‘wombok’ in Australia), Chinese white cabbage (also known as bok choy or bai cai), Chinese flowering cabbage (also known as choy sum or cai xin), water spinach (also known as kangkong) and bean sprouts etc. can be easily purchased in the supermarkets here. I was pleased with the wide selection of fresh Asian produce here because this meant that I would get to use these vegetables in my cooking.

Chinese celery cabbage is one of my favourite vegetables. They are sweet and mild-flavoured and taste fabulous in stir-frys or in soups. Simply add some ginger and garlic and stir-fry the cabbage with some carrots. They make a quick and easy-to-prepare dish.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Spaghetti with Spicy Beef Sausages

I am not a pasta lover but my husband simply fancies it, especially the tomato based type of pasta. Italian food is definitely not my cup of tea and the last time I made any pasta was years back using the ready made pasta sauce in those glass jars. This time, I decided not to use those instant pasta sauces sold in the supermarkets. One of my friends suggested that I should use fresh herbs in my pasta. She told me that the Italians use fresh basil leaves in their pasta and that is the key to making very aromatic sauces. I am not sure if this is true but my pasta sauce for this evening’s dinner did turn out quite well with an exceptionally lovely scented flavour.

This dish is fairly simple to prepare, particularly for pasta lovers who prefer a home cooked meal. The taste is light and mild for those who do not like an overly rich type of pasta sauce. The best part of preparing a pasta dish is that you can select any type of meat that suits your palate. Whether it is beef, chicken or pork (minced or chunks), they all go well in most tomato based pasta.

Recipe for Spaghetti with Spicy Beef Sausages (serves 3-4 persons):

Oil for cooking
Spicy beef sausages
1 large onion (finely chopped)
Bacon pieces (diced)
4 tomatoes (diced)
1 can of condensed tomato soup
250ml of water
Basil leaves (fresh, roughly diced)
Oregano leaves (fresh, roughly diced)
400g of spaghetti
Cheddar cheese (grated)
Parsley (fresh, roughly diced)

1. Heat up a pan and grease well with some oil. Pan-fry the sausages thoroughly. Set aside for later use.

2. Heat up the pan again. Grease the pan well with the cooking oil. Add the chopped onions. Cook them till they turn slightly translucent in colour and fragrant. Add the diced bacon and tomatoes and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

3. Add the tomato soup and water. Stir well and add the basil and oregano leaves into the tomato mixture. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low heat to simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

4. While the tomato mixture is being cooked, prepare the spaghetti. Boil a large pot of water. Add some salt and oil into the water. Add the spaghetti into the boiling water and remove from the pot once it is cooked. Drain the spaghetti.

5. Return to the pasta sauce. Add the cooked sausages and grated cheddar cheese into the tomato mixture and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir well so that the tomato mixture is well mixed.

6.  Add the fresh parsley, salt and pepper into the tomato mixture according to your taste.

7. Remove from heat and serve with the cooked spaghetti.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chocolate-Lemon Muffins

This was my first baking attempt without using any easy-to-implement cake mix formula from the supermarkets. I had very bad experiences with baking in the past. The last time I baked any cakes was probably about 7 years ago. The cakes I baked either sank in the middle, ended up in a weird shape or had a horrible texture. I was very happy that I overcome my baking ‘phobia’ and tried this out. Because of this experience, I am definitely going to try out more baking recipes. Yeah!

This recipe was adapted from one of the food magazine series from the Coles Supermarket. I am really impressed with the number and variety of simple recipes in such magazines. The recipes not only work but are very useful to amateur cooks like myself. Best of all, these magazines are FREE copies!!! :)

One of the main ingredients for this recipe is orange. However, I did not have any of this fruit when I tried out this recipe so I substituted it with lemon instead. The muffins have a very rich chocolate flavour and they are well complemented with the citrus taste of the fruit. Be careful not to over bake the muffins as this may cause the cakes to have a bitter base and a dry texture. Baking exactly between 20-25 minutes in the oven (please refer to the recipe), is the perfect baking duration for these muffins.

Chocolate-Lemon Muffins Recipe (makes about 12)

175g of butter (at room temperature, chopped)
175g of dark chocolate (chopped)
1 cup of brown sugar
3 eggs (lightly beaten)
½ lemon (juice)
1cup of self-raising flour
2 tbsp of cocoa powder
12 small pieces of lemon slices

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.

3. Add eggs and lemon juice. Beat with a wooden spoon until well-combined.

4. Sift the flour and cocoa powder and fold into a mixture, until just combined.

5. Fill the prepared muffin pan with the mixture and top each with a lemon slice.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.