Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vegetable Spring Rolls

This is one of my most favourite entrées. Although it can be quite time consuming to make (wrapping the spring rolls individually), the effort is not wasted when you pop these crispy hot rolls into your mouth. Health conscious people might shun these lovely crispy rolls but there are ways to make it ‘less unhealthy’:). I once read in a food magazine that frying food in less oil (i.e. just enough to cover the surface level of the food), using vegetable oil (such as canola oil) and making sure that the excess oil from the fried food has been drained properly (using kitchen towels), makes it LESS unhealthy. After all, we don’t eat fried food everyday and enjoying fried food once in a while can be pardonable. (I am a fried food fan…can’t keep away from such goodies for too long). Fresh vegetables are used as the filling in these spring rolls. This might encourage children to eat more vegetables.

I have tried a few types of spring roll wrappers and in my opinion, the best type of spring roll wrappers are still the ‘Spring Home – TYJ Spring Roll Pastry’ brand (manufactured in Singapore). The spring roll wrappers are much more flexible and easier to fold compared to some other brands. It does not break easily during the wrapping process and has this thin crispy texture after they are deep fried.

Recipe for Vegetable Spring Rolls (makes about 20 mini spring rolls):

1 small slice of ginger
1 small glove of garlic (chopped finely)
½ of a small round cabbage
1 medium sized carrot
5 medium sized mushrooms
Light soy sauce
Spring roll wrappers
Small cup of water
Cooking oil (preferably vegetable oil)

1. Wash and cut the vegetables (cabbage, carrot and mushrooms) into strips.

2. Add small amount of oil onto a pan and fry the ginger and garlic for a short while (till fragrant) before adding the cabbage, carrot and mushrooms. Cook the vegetables till they turn soft. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of water to the vegetables if they stick to the pan or look dry.

3. Add the light soy sauce and pepper to taste. Mix well.

4. Remove the cooked vegetables from the heat and cool to room temperature.

5. Once the vegetables have been cooled, remove the slice of ginger and wrap the rest of the vegetables with the spring roll wrappers. Brush the end tip of the spring roll wrappers with water. This is to ensure that the spring rolls do not open up while frying.

6. Fry the spring rolls in vegetable oil till they turn light golden brown in colour. Drain off the excess oil and serve while it’s hot.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sambal Beef Noodles

I was wondering what to prepare for dinner with the left over beef from last night. I was thinking of doing a noodle stir-fry and happened to see the new jar of sambal sauce sitting in the fridge unopened. I decided to try something new this time round so I stir-fried the noodles with the sambal sauce.

The turn out was only average. Hopefully, there are nicer types of sambal sauces or paste around. This was the Yeo’s brand of sambal sauce and it was rather disappointing (I usually support home brand Singaporean products when residing overseas). I remembered one of my friends back in Singapore (Auntie Cecilia) used to make her own sambal chilli sauce and it was FANTASTIC!!! The homemade sauce was so good that I could even eat it with plain rice and lightly stir-fried vegetables.

This noodle dish works well especially when you have got to get rid of your leftovers. Beef, chicken, pork and even seafood such as prawns and squid go well with sambal. Add some fresh vegetables, eggs and lightly season the stir-fry with soy sauce and pepper. It is easy and quick to prepare.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Korokke (Japanese Potato Croquette)

Korokke is one of my favourite Japanese entrées. The outer crust is slightly crispy with a lovely crunch. The potato filling on the other hand, is warm, moist and a little sweet. Totally love this starter! I have been wondering how to make this nibble, especially making the potato filling moist and sweet. I then remembered one of my friends (Rebecca Lam), once told me that cooking is not that difficult. To cook something which you have tasted before, you just have to recall the taste and ingredients used in that dish. In addition, you will probably require a few ‘trial and error’ attempts but the end result should be quite satisfying. This was how I came up with the recipe.

I tried making korokke twice with different ingredients for the filling. The ingredients for the first attempt were sweet corn, carrots, peas, some cream and milk. For the second attempt, I used sweet corn, carrots, bacon and milk instead. Personally, the korokke from the first attempt was much nicer. It was sweeter and slightly more moist compared to the second attempt.

The best part of this entree is that you only need some salt and pepper to season it lightly. You could also substitute your favourite types of vegetables or meat in the potato filling and adjust the quantity of the ingredients according to your taste. However, do take note that the potato mixture should not be too wet. This will cause the potato mixture to crumble and break apart during frying.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chicken Laksa

I was craving for laksa and decided to try cooking it using the laksa spice paste (purchased from the NTUC supermarkets in Singapore). The taste of the laksa gravy was savoury and tasty but was not exactly what I expected...I was hoping to taste the ‘Singaporean-type’ of laksa (as indicated on the packaging of the laksa paste). The laksa gravy turned out to be slightly pale orange – yellow in colour. Perhaps I may have added slightly too much coconut cream. In any case, it was still a source of comfort food for someone who misses a spicy Asian rice noodle dish.

There were cooking instructions at the back of the laska paste sachets, but I added chopped onions, garlic, extra dried chilli and coriander flakes to give that extra spicy and South East Asian flavour to the dish.

1. Lightly season the chicken meat with salt and pepper.

2. Pan-fry the chicken meat thoroughly in cooking oil until it turns lightly browned (the meat should not be fully cooked as it will be cooked again in the spicy paste). Set aside the chicken meat.

3. Add oil in the wok and cook the chopped onions and garlic (for a short while) before adding the laksa paste and dried chilli flakes. Cook the laksa paste mixture till fragrant.

4. Add the pan-fried chicken meat back into the wok and mix well.

5. Add coconut cream, water and coriander flakes into the laksa mixture and bring to a boil before simmering for about 30 minutes in low heat.

6. While the laksa mixture is simmering, boil the rice noodles and prepare the hard boiled eggs, crabsticks and bean sprouts.

7. Once the laksa mixture is cooked, place some rice noodles, bean sprouts, hard boiled eggs and crabsticks into a bowl. Pour the hot laksa gravy with the chicken meat over the condiments and serve immediately.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Banana Cupcakes

This is another cake recipe that I read from the food magazine from Coles Supermarket. It works rather well and it’s an easy-to-implement recipe for cupcake lovers. The recipe uses ingredients such as bananas and fresh milk (note however that I substituted buttermilk in the recipe with fresh milk) and the fat content is at a relatively low level. It does not require food colouring or artificial flavouring etc. so this recipe would suit health conscious cake lovers as well as children who should be eating fresh fruits.

Banana Cupcakes Recipe (makes about 9)

¾ cup of plain flour
1½ tsp of baking powder
¼ tsp of bicarbonate of soda
½ cup of mashed banana, plus 9 thin slices of banana
¾ cup of caster sugar
1 egg
60g of butter, chopped at room temperature
¼ cup of buttermilk (or ¼ cup of milk mix with 2 tsp of baking powder)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line 9 x 1/3-cup holes of a muffin pan with paper cases.

2. Sift flour, baking powder and bicarbonate powder together.

3. Place banana, sugar and egg into a food processor. Process until smooth. Add butter and process until mixture is creamy. Add buttermilk and pulse until just combined. Add flour mixture and pulse until batter just comes together, do not over mix. Transfer to a bowl.

4. Using a ¼ cup measurement, fill the prepared muffin pan. Top each cupcake with a slice of banana.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until they spring back when touched. Cool in pan.