Saturday, December 20, 2008

minced pork with salted fish

this is a homey chinese dish blutsie and i enjoy when we want something comforting. salted fish can be found in asian shops and can come dried, dried and soaked in oil or frozen. the dried variety from malaysia is my favourite, but difficult to come by. the salted fish soaked in oil is much more easily available and is from hong kong.
serve with steamed rice and blanched bok choy.

500g minced pork
2 eggs
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornflour
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 inch piece ginger, shredded finely
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 palm sized pieces salted fish
a few stalks spring onions and coriander

stir together the pork, eggs, sesame oil, cornflour, soy sauce, half the ginger, pepper and salt.
transfer to a serving dish large enough to contain the mixture. sprinkle the remaining ginger over the pork and place the 2 pieces of fish on top.
steam for 15 minutes.
serve scattered with chopped spring onions and coriander.

Friday, December 19, 2008

eggplant relish

i call this eggplant relish very loosely. i put tons of things in it, eggplant being one of them. i have always loved chutneys, relishes and pickles, especially when they are homemade; very often, bought ones have something lacking, although there are good ones around. this one is one of my very favourites because i've put in all the flavours i so adore in chutneys. i admit to not using the recipe faithfully - sometimes one has to wing it with whatever is on hand - approximations are fine as long as there's enough vinegar and sugar.
we love this with cheese, sliced meats and sandwiches.

1 kg eggplant, cut into 1cm cubes
1 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 chillies, seeded and sliced
1 red capsicum, diced
1/2 head garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons curry powder
1 orange, sliced thinly and chopped
1 cup dried apricots, diced
1 cup dates
1/2 cup crystalised ginger, diced
1/2 sultanas
1/2 cup currants
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
salt to taste

commence preparations the day before by soaking the diced eggplant in well salted water.
next day, rinse the eggplant well and squeeze and much moisture from them as possible.
heat oil in a large stockpot and add the onions, garlic, capsicum and chillies. stir over a low flame and allow the onions to soften. add the eggplant and stir to coat with the oil. allow to simmer until the eggplant has fully cooked. add the curry powder, orange, apricots, dates, ginger, sultanas and currants. stir well to combine. add the vinegar and sugar and allow to simmer over low heat for about half an hour. stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from catching. add salt if neccesary.
bottle in sterilised jars and seal immediately.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

about pei mei

yesterday, i posted a recipe from pei mei. today, i thought it would be nice to include some background on this famous pei mei person.

Miss Fu Pei-Mei is a famous Chinese culinary artist with the most distinguished background. Born in Foo-Shan County of Shantung Province. During the 2nd World War, she studied in a Japanese high school for girls in Dairen, Manchuria. After V-J Day, she went to Peiping and attended the National Girl's Normal University to further her study. Not too long after coming to Taiwan, she married Mr. Ch'eng Shao-ch'ing. At present, they have two lovely daughters and one son. Miss Fu has boon interested in culinary arts since her childhood. She had studied from many top-grade chefs from all parts of China for several years. She also went to Japan for advanced study on food nutrition. Through endless practice and eager research, she has perfected numerous Chinese recipes in line with the trend of the modern cuisine development in the world. In 1955, she established the Chinese Cooking Institute in Taipei. During the last two decades, more than ten thousand students have studied cooking under her direct guidance. In 1982 when television was first introduced to Taiwan, she started a Chinese cooking demonstration program at the invitation and sponsorship of Taiwan Television Company. This once a week culinary teaching program, which continues up to this day, has been deeply appreciated by countless housewife audiences. Later on, she assumed a membership in a committee, established by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Com- mission, for selecting qualified chefs to be employed overseas. She had acted as a judge of the Hong Kong Amateur Cooking Contest Committee. She was also asked by various governmental agencies to improve their mess services. Invitations from Japan, Hong Kong and other Southeast Asian nations to demonstrate Chinese cuisine have been frequent and she has conducted video taped programs to explain and popularize Chinese dishes of Taiwan. Miss Fu Pei-Mei, Taiwan's celebrated television chef, has had about fifteen years' experience in demonstrating the art of Chinese cookery. Her association with ladies of many other countries, who have shown interest in her art, has encouraged her to present this most comprehensive book in English and Chinese. She has skillfully compiled and up-dated recipes for more than one hundred traditional dishes which will appeal to both western and eastern tastes. Hopefully, the ease with which these dishes can be prepared will increase interest in Oriental cuisine and encourage further research by young and old cooks alike.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

pei mei's green onion pies

pei mei is this famous chinese cookbook writer. i have her three volume cookbook set, and i have to say that it is pretty comprehensive and covers just about all the authentic chinese dishes i have had or heard about.
her green onion pies are known by many other names: spring onion pancakes and scallion pancakes are just two.
this is one of those chinese snacks everyone tells me is easy to make but i confess that i still find them to be quite time consuming. i did do a cheat version earlier, but with some things, it's nice to have the real thing.
this isn't a bad recipe; i'm still trying out the different types of flour to see if there are any significant differences between them. i also intend to try making them using my pasta machine for rolling the dough to see if i can speed things up a bit.

3 cups wheat flour (this is a chinese cookbook, so there has to be a distinction between flours)
1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup cold water
6 tablespoons lard or oil (we used oil because we don't have lard...i don't don't know whether we would use lard if we had it though)
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
3 teaspoons salt
1 cup oil

place flour in bowl. add the boiling water and mix with chopsticks immediately. let cool. after three minutes add cold water and knead the dough thoroughly until it is smooth. cover and let rest a while.
remove the dough to a floured board, divide dough into 6 even pieces (or more than 6), knead and roll each piece of dough into 10" round as in making pie crust. rub 1/2 tablespoon lard on dough and sprinkle the whole top with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 tablespoon chopped green onion. roll up as for jell roll making sure the ends are tightly closed now form into a round snail shape tucking in the final end into the centre of the bun, then press down and roll out until 1/4" thick.
heat 2 tablespoons oil in frying pan, place the pie in and fry about 2 minutes. use low heat and cover this pan. flip over and splash 1 tablespoon oil down side. continue frying until this side is golden and crispy, shake and juggle the pan often while frying as this action make a flaky pastry.
cut into small pieces to serve.
note: these may be kept in a barely warm oven until all are prepared.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

a trip back to 2002

miss c was a very early reader. she started reading long before she was old enough to go to preschool. naturally, this had to be encouraged. mind you, i had ulterior motives - if she knew how to read, it would definitely negate the amount of time i would have to spend reading to her. i know, i should be ashamed of myself....i'm a bad parent. but i digress. this is a post about miss c and not me.
miss c was a voratious reader. these days, i believe more time is spent on other activities. in the days of voracious reading, she actually she actually did very well in the ms readathon, so much so, she appeared in the paper.....but that was quite a while back.
you realise that i'm adding this post to even things out, since it seems that miss k has been on the receiving end of alot of attention lately.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

another souvenir

miss k has another souvenir. remember how she was on the speech day invitations? well, they (the school) took it one step further. she's right smack in the middle of the speech day program cover. i picked up two copies of the programs, but the friends i was with thought it was funny to pick up a whole pile of copies for me.
when i met miss k after the conclusion of speech day, she greeted me with "how emabarrassing is that?" looking directly at the pile of programs i was holding. explained that she must thank the muntzes personally for the programs the next opportunity she got.
pity the muntzes didn't see miss k in the papers in october - we only have one copy of that, and that was quite by chance - the hole in the wall gang saw it and saved it for us. lucky, huh? otherwise, we would never have been any the wiser.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

poached chicken

miss k has been perfecting her chicken and leek pie and as such we have been tearing through masses of chicken and leek. to assist her in her pursuit of the perfect chicken and leek pie, i've been trying different methods of poaching for the chicken and this is my favourite, at the moment. the chicken is quite well flavoured and the resulting stock is strongly flavoured. i do stress that this is my poached chicken of the moment - i also like a simple poaching liquid which is flavoured with nothing other than salt - simplicity itself; it just depends on the mood and what's available.

1 chicken
celery tops
2 carrots, diced
a few cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons salt or to taste

place everything in a stockpot just big enough so the chicken fits snugly. cover the chicken with water.

bring everything to the boil and lower the heat to a bare simmer. allow to simmer for 20 minutes and remove from the heat. allow the chicken to cool in the liquid - this keeps the flesh moist.

use as required - i like using chicken cooked this way for anything requiring precooked chicken, such as salads and sandwiches.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

another variation

i just realised that there was something else which we like to make with the my basic bread dough - hong kong style frankfurt rolls. if you haven't had them before, they are like a hot dog, but frankfurt is baked inside, rather than added after the bread has been baked. it doesn't have any nutritive value, but is quite conforting to eat, like a regular hot dog. if you don't like hot dogs, chances are that you probably won't like this. miss k likes them for lunch on those days when i'm not bothered to go to the shops to buy a loaf of bread for her sandwiches for school and would rather make my own bread.

to make these frankfurt rolls, get yourself a piece of dough the size of a small tennis ball and wrap it around half a frankfurt (or use cocktail frankfurts) and pop it into a grease loaf tin. a loaf tin looks like this:

once you've filled the pan with the frankfurt rolls, set it aside in a warm place for an one or so, so the dough can rise.
preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius and pop the risen rolls in the oven for 20 minutes to bake.
when golden and ready, remove the rolls from the pan and place them on a wire rack so they don't go soggy in the pan.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

pineapple carrot cake

this is a recipe from the australian women's weekly.....august 15, 1979......
this first time i made this was a couple of years after that (it is rare for me to make something really soon after i see the recipe; it does happen, but it is rare). at the time, i wasn't a very experienced cake maker and just wanted something i could make that was at the very least half decent. and this helped me on my way. it was easy and moist. moist was important to me; i had spent a large part of my formative cake making years making cakes based on recipes from margaret fulton, and the butter cake recipe she had in her cookbook wasn't very encouraging because it was very dry. then, i came upon this recipe, and here was a cake that was moist and would stay moist for a couple of days. i was on my way.
i also love this cake because it's so quick and easy to mix - all you need is a bowl and a wooden spoon; there's no need for a mixer, so washing up is easy, too.
to test to see if a cake is done, you can either insert a skewer into the middle of the cake and if the cake is done, the skewer will come out clean, that is, without any batter or cake stuck to it; the other way to test a cake for doneness is to lightly press the centre of the cake and if it springs back, it's done; it will stay depressed if the cake is not yet done.

3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup finely grated carrot, lightly packed (about 1 large carrot)
450 can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs

preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius and line two 25cm x 8cm bar tins with baking paper.
combine the flours, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl.
add the carrot, pineapple oil and lighty beaten eggs and mix well.
pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 45 minute or until done when tested with a skewer.

Monday, December 1, 2008

apple and sultana scrolls

these are essentially a glorified scone, with yummy things rolled inside and drizzled on top to make them interesting. and irresistable. feel free to vary the filling and icing - think chocolate chips instead of sultanas....caramel icing instead of chocolate icing.....berries instead of apples....get the drift?
the first time i made these scrolls was in august 2004, just before i went to pick miss c and miss k up from school. the weather hadn't quite warmed up and the air was still a little nippy in the afternoon. they were just out of the oven and i made lots of chocolate icing to drizzle over them. to be really honest, the temptation is to drizzle them with chocolate icing the minute they come out of the oven. however, if you let them cool a bit before pouring the icing over, the icing will look better, so it will depend on whether you want them to look more aesthetically pleasing, or whether you want them super gooey and sticky. your call.
try not to overhandle the dough - once it is just mixed, go onto the next step of gently rolling it; there is no need to knead the dough. just think of it as toughening the dough each time you knead. this is a scone dough, remember?

2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp mixed spice
60g butter
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sultanas
extra flour, for dusting
1 large granny smith apple, peeled, cored, finely diced

chocolate icing
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tbs cocoa powder
3 tbs milk

preheat oven to 200°C. line a baking tray with baking paper.
place flour, sugar and mixed spice in a large bowl.
melt the butter and combine it with the milk.
make a well in the centre of the flour and add the milk mixture. use a round-bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until evenly incorporated and the mixture just comes together. turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out dough into a 25 x 30cm rectangle.
sprinkle with apple and sultanas. starting from the long side, firmly roll dough into a log. cut the log into twelve 2cm thick slices. arrange scrolls cut-side up, side by side on prepared tray.
bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack.
set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
meanwhile, make the chocolate icing; combine the icing sugar and cocoa powder in a small bowl. add the milk and stir until combined and smooth.
drizzle scrolls with chocolate icing and serve.