Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mango Salsa


I hate falling behind on my updating this blog, but as I've said many times before, life sometimes just gets in the way. Though I still carry a considerable passion for food, cooking sometimes just seems to take a little too much energy, especially after a difficult or busy week at work. Well, not all cooking. New things. I've eaten plenty of home-cooked meals in the past few months--to the point of having to occupy an additional inch or so of the sofa now, in fact. I just haven't had the time to look through recipe books to find something new that I wanted to cook.

But that's okay. There are plenty of old, tried and tested recipes in my head that I still haven't posted here so at least they're new for the blog. Like this delicious mango salsa.


Now, most of the time, people just add a bit of onion and tomato and call it mango salsa, but I find that the slightly spicy flavours of the peppers, chili, and coriander actually compliment the sweetness of the mango a considerable lot. The lime is a must, as well!

So without further ado, here is the recipe!

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
3 medium mangos, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4-5 Thai red chilies, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 tbs coriander, chopped finely
Juice of 1-1.5 lime(s)
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Guess how easy it is--yup, mix it all up and you're good to go! Goes fantastically well when wrapped in a tortilla with slices of salt/pepper marinated grilled chicken. Try a lime and onion marinade for the chicken too!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Soy Milk


A couple of months back, I made a bit of a failed attempt at cooking some Chinese food. I think I became really moody because things didn't go as well as I'd expected, because I never really managed to finish making everything I had planned on the menu. One of these things was soybean milk.

In fact, I've been meaning to make soy milk ever since I bought a blender that came with a special attachment to make it. The attachment is just a wire mesh cylinder that fits right on top of the blender's blades. You put your beans inside the mesh with lots and lots of water, start the blender and wait until the beans turn to mush and you get some fresh and yummy soymilk!

Well, it's not that easy. There's still a couple more steps involved after this process to make it taste less like cardboard and more like the soy milk from your average hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Hong Kong. Supposedly one of these steps also involves adding pandan leaves, but since I have no idea what that is, I didn't bother; it still tasted just as it's supposed to. It's also very very cheap to make as just a handful of beans can give you enough milk for a couple of days!

Ingredients
  • 1 handful soybeans, hydrated overnight
  • Water, lots of it
  • Sugar, to taste
Directions
  1. Make sure the soybeans have been fully hydrated. An overnight bath with lots of water will do them well.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of beans with 3-4 cups of water inside the soybean milk-making attachment in a blender. If you don't have this attachment, add the beans straight into the blender with water. Blitz away until the beans are crushed and the water turns nice and milky white. 
  3. Use a cheese cloth to strain away the liquid into a container. Strain through the cheese cloth a couple more times until you're left with a soft and silky jug of liquid.
  4. Transfer the liquid to a pan and add sugar to taste. Stir to dissolve the sugar as you bring the pan to a boil. This is apparently where you'd add pandan leaves, but I didn't.
  5. Let the milk cook for a while to get rid of the bitterness, but keep stirring. And it's done! You can drink it warm, at room temperature, cold, in coffee, tea, or whatever. I prefer it when it's been in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Fettucini Alfredo



Who doesn't love a serving of possibly one of the simplest, creamiest, heaviest, heartiest, but utterly delicious pasta dishes? Well if you say you don't like it, you're probably lying to yourself or you aren't human.

There really isn't much that needs to be said about this other than the fact that I highly recommend using double or heavy cream instead of single cream for the pasta. It results in a thicker sauce, but one which just makes you want to cuddle up in bed with a teddy bear and a huge smile (in other words, its yummy to the Y).

It makes for a great side or a mains, and goes well with sauteed garlic shrimp or chicken breast, or just some steamed veggies like broccoli or asparagus (perhaps with a hint of a balsamic reduction sauce?). Apologies for the crappiness of the photo--only had a phone camera at hand at the time.

Buon appetito!

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 250g dry fettuccine pasta
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shaved or grated
  • 1/4 cup double (or heavy) cream
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 pinch nutmeg

Directions

  1. Cook fettuccine in a large pot of unsalted water.
  2. In another pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add in the cream as the butter melts. Stir continuously to combine the two. Do not turn off the heat!
  3. When the pasta is cooked (al dente, preferably), lift it out with tongs and transfer it right into the cream sauce while it's dripping wet.
  4. Increase the heat to medium and swirl the pasta around in the sauce until it's all combined.
  5. Add half of the cheese and keep swirling the pasta until it's coated with the cheese. If needed, add a couple of tablespoons of pasta water to thin the sauce. Add the rest of the cheese and repeat this step.
  6. Serve immediately with a dash of black pepper and nutmeg sprinkled on top, and with some grilled or steamed veggies on the side. Sauteed and grilled meats work well too!

Kerala Kozhi Eshstu (Kerala Chicken Stew)




One of my favourite presents from this past Christmas was a book on Indian recipes. I love home-cooked Indian food, but I've never had the confidence to try and cook it at home. With this simple and easy to follow book, however, I really have no excuse now.


Though I can't remember the name of the book (I'm too lazy to go look for it), I especially like the fact that it offers a wide variety of recipes from all over India that cannot commonly be found in Indian restaurants. The recipes are generally more home-friendly, as well, and are not very heavy (again, unlike most of the Mughlai food served in the restaurants).


This recipe, particularly, is very light and versatile. It's fresh and fruity enough to be good for a summer or spring lunch, but it also has chili and garlic to add enough of a heartiness for a chilly winter or autumn 'eve. All in all, it instantly received our seal of approval at home.

Ingredients (Serves 2)
  • 2 green finger chilies, roughly chopped (+ 1 for garnish)
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, grated (+1/2 tsp for garnish)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil (e.g. grapeseed)
  • 2-3 curry leaves
  • 1-2 cloves
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 500g chicken drumsticks (or thighs), skinned and pricked
  • 100ml coconut milk
Directions
  1. Crush the chilies, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, and 1 tbsp oil together with a mortar and pestle. Add 1-2 tbsp cold water and mix together to make a coarse paste. Alternatively, use a blender for this step.
  2. Heat the remaining oil over medium heat in a pot. Add curry leaves, cloves and the onion. Fry for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add in the paste. Fry for another minute.
  4. Reduce the heat to a medium-low. Add in the chicken and fry for around 10 minutes or until the chicken is partially cooked and golden brown.
  5. Rinse out the left-over contents of the mortar (or blender) with 100ml of cold water. Add them to the pot. 
  6. Add in the coconut milk. Mix the ingredients in the pot well. 
  7. Once the contents start to boil a little, lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked.
  8. Garnish with chopped green chilies, raw ginger (if you like), and serve hot with lemon rice, appam, or even pita bread.