Thursday, November 25, 2010

Banana Fritters

Banana fritters coated with icing sugar.

I made some banana fritters and the batter turned out to be quite nice with a lovely crunch. The batter was fairly easy to prepare. I used self-rising flour, eggs, water and some oil for the batter. The bananas on the other hand, were slightly unripe and the fritters did not turn out to be the way I expected. Lesson learnt: use ripe bananas for making fritters. Nevertheless, the batter was quite a success from this attempt.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Yaki Soba

I bought some soba noodles some time back and wanted to make cold soba with it. Unfortunately, I did not have the ingredients for that noodle dish and made Yaki Soba instead. ‘Yaki’ means grilled, broiled or pan-fried in Japanese while ‘Soba’ is a type of Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour. This noodle dish is basically a stir-fry with meat and vegetables. I chose chicken meat, carrots, mushrooms and brown onions for my yaki soba and the combination of the ingredients went quite well. Although mildly flavoured, it was still a tasty dish.

Serve Yaki Soba while it is hot with chopped spring onions and nori strips.

Yaki Soba Recipe (serves 2)

1 large chicken thigh (sliced thinly)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon corn flour
3 tablespoon soy sauce
3 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon sesame oil
180g of soba noodles
½ of a small brown onion (sliced)
1 small carrot (sliced thinly)
1 brown mushroom (sliced thinly)
1 egg (lightly beaten)
Spring onions (chopped)
Small piece of nori sheet (cut into small strips)

1. Marinate the chicken slices with salt, pepper, corn flour, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sugar for at least an hour.

2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the soba noodles and cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles under cold water. Leave it for later use.

3. Mix the remaining soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil in a bowl.

4. Heat up a wok with some oil and stir-fry the chicken meat until lightly browned (do not overcook the meat). Remove it from the heat and leave it for later use.

5. Heat up some oil in the wok again and stir-fry the onions for a while before adding the carrots and mushrooms.

6. Add the cooked soba noodles, chicken meat and sauce mixture into the wok and combine well.

7. Make a well in the centre, pour in the beaten egg and cook for 1-2 minutes. As soon as the egg starts to set, stir though with the noddles.

8. Dish up the noddles and garnish it with the chopped spring onions and nori strips.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yaki Onigiri (filled with Tamogoyaki)

Lightly pan-fried onigiri stuffed with tamogoyaki.

Yaki Onigiri are also known as Japanese grilled rice balls. Onigiri are made from white rice, shaped into triangular or oval shapes and usually wrapped with nori sheets (seaweed). Traditional onigiri are usually filled with pickled ingredients and is normally eaten as a quick snack. I once read that onigiri were popular in Japan as early as the 11th century. They were usually eaten during outdoor picnics, or wrapped in bamboo leaves by the Samurai as food that they could eat on the go. Since then, nothing has change much, and onigiri are still very popular in Japan, available as they are with various types of stuffing and in different flavours.

I was inspired to make my own onigiri after reading so much about it on the internet and in books. They taste great and make good main meals, side dishes or snacks. To make them, I used sushi rice and added a vinegar mixture (rice wine vinegar mixed with some sugar and salt) to the rice after it has been cooked. Once the rice had cooled, they were shaped into balls and stuffed with some tamogoyaki (slightly sweetened egg omelette) before pan-frying them lightly on a pan. For some added colour and flavour, I coated some Japanese soy sauce (I prefer this as it is less salty than Chinese soy sauce) on both sides of the onigiri while pan-frying them. You could also cut some strips of nori and wrap them around the onigiri as garnish.

Serve yaki onigiri while hot and with pickled ginger slices.

Onigiri that has been mixed with soy sauce before pan fried.

There is another similar recipe as the above but this time the cooked sushi rice is thoroughly mixed with some vinegar mixture and Japanese soy sauce before pan-frying them lightly. Once the rice has cooled down a little, shape the rice quickly into balls, stuff them with the tamogoyaki and wrap some slices of the nori around the onigiri. Onigiri are best eaten with pickled ginger slices. Oishii!!!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chicken and Potatoes in Black Peppercorn Stew

I was just looking at some of my previous blog entries and realised that I have been cooking meat dishes using more chicken than other types of meat (Honey Baked Chicken Wings, Chicken Laksa, and Drunken Chicken in Spicy Dark Sauce). I have not really tried much dishes using seafood and I hope to cook tuna or salmon one of these days. I guess my favourite type of meat is still chicken. Yum! I was cooking this dish last night – Chicken and Potatoes in Black Peppercorn Stew and it turned out quite pleasant. So for now, another chicken dish to share!

 This is an all time childhood favourite from my mum’s kitchen. The ingredients for this stew are not extravagant and this is a dish that could be easily prepared. The taste is sweet, savoury (as a result of the slow cooking of the onions, carrots and chicken) and has a nice aroma from the peppercorns. As I said earlier, the ingredients for the stew are fairly common and the taste is nothing extraordinary. However, what I really like about this homely hot stew is the combination of sweet and savoury flavours over a bowl of warm rice.

 I have tried cooking and perfecting this stew several times so that it could matches my mum’s original recipe. The first few attempts were not so successfully, but after several trial and errors (cooking is after all a practice of patience), I managed to create something which is somewhat similar to my mum’s dish.

Chicken and Potatoes in Black Peppercorn Stew Recipe (serves 4-5 persons)

1 teaspoon of grounded black pepper
4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
4 tablespoons of dark Soy sauce
Vegetable oil
2-3 large brown onions (chopped into small pieces)
½ tablespoon of black peppercorns (lightly crushed)
1 kg of chicken meat (boneless chicken thigh or drumsticks)
3 large potatoes (cut into quarter pieces)
3 medium sized carrots (cut into bite-sized pieces)
500ml of water
1 teaspoon of salt
Cornflour paste (mixture of 1 tablespoon of cornflour and 2 tablespoons of water)

1. Marinate the chicken meat with the grounded black pepper, 2 tablespoons each of light and dark soy sauces. Set the meat aside for an hour or longer. Keep the remaining light and dark soy sauces for later use.

2. Heat up some oil in a large wok or cooking pan. Add half of the onions and stir-fry in high heat for a while (be careful not to burn the onions).

3. Add the crushed black peppercorns and stir-fry them for a short while before adding the chicken meat into the wok. Brown the chicken meat lightly and do not overcook the meat. Remove the meat from the heat and set it aside.

4. Heat up some vegetable oil in the same wok and stir-fry the remaining onions in high heat for awhile. Add in the potatoes and carrots and stir-fry until fragrant.

5. Return the chicken meat into the wok and add in the water. Turn the heat to low-medium heat and simmer the mixture for an hour.

6. Stir the mixture occasionally to prevent the vegetables or meat from sticking at the bottom of the wok and to cook them more evenly. If the stew is boiling, reduce the heat to low and continue cooking. Add more water to the stew if it appears too dry.

7. After an hour, add the salt, cornflour paste, remaining light and dark soy sauces into the stew. Mix well and check if the meat and vegetables are cooked properly. Taste and adjust accordingly if you need to add more salt or soy sauce into the stew.

8. Bring the stew to a quick boil and remove from the heat. Dish the stew out and serve with warm rice.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pikelets with Butter and Jam

Pikelets are basically the smaller version of the usual pancake size. They tend to be very popular with children because they are bite-sized.

One of my friends introduced me to this cookbook called ‘Margaret Fulton’s Creative Cookery Course: A step-by-step guide for all occasions’. This book was written by Margaret Fulton and published in 1981. The recipes are very clearly explained, well illustrated and has instructions that are easy to follow. According to my friend, Margaret Fulton’s recipes were very popular in the 1970s and 1980s. This cookbook has definitely given me insight into Australian cuisine and lovely western home-cooked meals. This cookbook is highly recommended to anyone who wants a copy of good home-cooked western recipes.

All thanks to Margaret Fulton that I no longer need to rely on instant pancake mix. In my previous blog entry, I used a pancake recipe from the Coles Magazine. Comparing the two, Margaret Fulton’s pancake texture is more puffed and slightly cake-like. Personally, I think the taste is better too. Margaret Fulton uses a little lemon juice, butter and a pinch of salt in her pancake mixture. I think these are the keys to making well flavoured pancakes.

Making your own pancakes is not only quick and easy to prepare, they taste great too! It is also a great idea for parents who like to spend good bonding time with their children in the kitchen – they can prepare them together, and eat them with their favourite toppings (butter, jam, honey, fresh fruit, nuts or ice-cream). They are wonderful desserts for morning or afternoon teas.

Pikelets topped with butter and strawberry jam.

Pikelets Recipe (makes about 10-12) written by Margaret Fulton

1 cup self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
½ cup milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice added
15g butter (melted)
Extra butter for cooking
Extra butter and jam to serve

1. Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate into a medium-sized bowl.

2. Make a well in the centre and add the sugar, egg, milk and melted butter. (I whisk the wet ingredients together before adding them into the flour mixture.)

3. Stir in the mixture from the centre gradually drawing in the flour from the sides, until you have a smooth batter.

4. Grease a non-stick frying pan with a little butter. Drop the mixture by tablespoonfuls into a pan and cook over medium heat until the bottoms are brown. Turn carefully and brown the other sides. (If the batter thickens too much, thin with a little milk.)

5. Serve the pikelets warm with butter and a good berry jam.

Pancakes with Banana and Ice-cream

This is a simple pancake recipe for those who like to have a quick and easy dessert (and not having to rely on pancake mix). It tastes great and can be topped with various yummy ingredients of your choice. I like mine with fresh bananas, vanilla ice-cream and maple syrup. This is a delicious combination for adults who have a sweet tooth but I wouldn’t recommend this to the children as they will most likely be bouncing off the walls from the high sugar levels. Personally, I think pancakes with nuts and fresh fruit will suit the children much better.

This pancake recipe was adapted from the Coles magazine. It was really easy to prepare but I find the texture of the pancakes to be slightly heavy. I prefer a softer and cake-like texture. Hopefully with more practice, I will be able to make my ideal pancake!

Pancakes topped with fresh bananas, vanilla ice-cream and maple syrup.

Pancake recipe (makes about 6)

1 cup self-raising flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
¾ cup milk
1 egg
1tsp vanilla essence
Some butter for cooking
Bananas, vanilla ice-cream and maple syrup to serve

1. Sift the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.

2. Whisk the milk, egg and vanilla essence together in a jar.

3. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and stir gently until combined.

4. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat and grease the pan well with some butter.

5. Spoon the mixture with a ladle and cook the pancakes on the pan until bubbles appear on the surface. Turn over the pancakes and cook until golden brown.

6. Serve the pancakes with bananas and vanilla ice-cream. Top it off with some maple syrup if you have a sweet tooth.