Saturday, December 30, 2006

My kitchen

My small sized kitchen that has served me well and where I cook up wonders.

Mummy's Chicken Soup

I got really sick over the holidays and made a large pot of this stuff to help me get better. My mother's recipe for chicken soup.

Ingredients: 3 pieces of chicken (with bone)
1 large red onion (sliced in half)
1 clove garlic (smashed)
1 thumb sized portion of ginger (peeled and sliced)
lots of spinach (sliced)
2 tomatoes (cut into wedges)
1 spring onion (sliced)
1 tsp tumeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1. Use a large pot and fill half of it with water. Add chicken, onion, garlic and ginger. Leave to boil for one full hour. Keep stirring and adding water when necessary every 15 mins.
2. Add tomatoes, spinach and spring onion. Leave to boil for another 45 mins.
3. Add tumeric, chilli, salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat when soup is thick and flavourful.

Verdict: This hearty soup really helped me feel better as I had the worst flu in ages. It tastes of vegetables and chicken and all things good. Definitely healing for the soul.

Friday, December 15, 2006

My Biggest Fan

Tomato and Cucumber Salad (side accompaniment to Masala)

This is a salad usually served with hot curry that will cool the tongue.

Ingredients: 3 tomatoes (chopped)
1/2 cucumber (chopped)
5 tbs plain yogurt
2 limes (juiced)

1. Chop up tomatoes and cucumber.
2. Add the juice of 2 limes.
3. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
4. Add cold yogurt before serving.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sodhi (Indian Tomato Curry)

This is a recipe that I have gotten from my mother. A mild vegetarian curry that can be eaten with rice.

Ingredients: 1 red onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
5 tomatoes (boiled and skin removed)
1 tsp tumeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 cup coconut milk
chopped basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil and fry onion and garlic until softened.
2. Add tumeric powder and chilli powder. Fry the powders in oil for 3 mins to release flavour.
3. Add the boiled tomatoes and mash it in with onions and garlic with the wooden spatula. Add a cup of water.
4. Let the mixture simmer for 10 mins.
5. When the curry looks well combined and thickened, add coconut milk and give it a good stir. Add basil leaves, salt and pepper.
6. Remove from heat and serve with rice.

Verdict: When I told Thomas we were having curry for dinner, he anticipated something spicy and thick and was surprised the mildness of this curry which can almost be called a soup. I found it tasty and flavourful with a slight hint of chilli in it. I didnt really like the inclusion of the coconut milk as it made it too creamy and the coconut over-powered the taste of the other ingredients. Another way to make this dish is to skip the coconut and add the juice of lime instead, so you have a tangy soup. Overall, its a nice dish to make for an afternoon snack but not as a main course of a meal.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Humble Mortar and Pestle

The Mortar and Pestle is a key tool in Asian cooking. It is used to grind onions, garlic, ginger or chillies in any variety to be the base of a good Asian dish. It is considered a better alternative to the electric blender that tends to make too much of a watery blend and the flavours dont come out as strongly.

For a good sambal, you can use the mortar and pestle to crush dried red chilli. For Indian food, usually it is used to crush garlic and ginger together before these ingredients are fried in oil to release the flavour.

The good thing about the mortar and pestle is that you can adjust the consistency of the ingredients being ground for the meal. Also, its easy to wash and clean afterwards.

The mortar and pestle- a tool that I could not live without.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Roasted Citrus Chicken

I made a surprise romantic candlelight dinner for Thomas on Friday night. This is a simple recipe that looks good for a formal dinner. And it would give you enough time to get your clothes and make-up finished by the time it cooks.

Ingredients: 2 large chicken parts (remove skin)
1 lemon
1 tbs butter
Chicken seasoning (you can buy prepared meat rubs from the store)
1 clove garlic (pound with mortar and pestle)

1. Clean chicken under running water and remove skin.
2. Marinade with lemon juice and ground garlic for 1 hour in baking dish lined with greaseproof paper. During this time, you can get the dinner table set and chop up some salad as a side accompaniment.
3. Sprinkle chicken seasoning on the meat and put a knob of butter on each piece. Bake in a hot oven for an hour. (This gives you enough time to get your formal dress on and by the time you are prepared, your food comes out straight from the oven).
4. Put the candles on and surprise your partner with a perfectly cooked roasted chicken.

Verdict: The chicken was moist and juicy and had a strong citrus flavour. I made some garlic bread with the extra pounded garlic mixed with butter as a side accompaniment and a simple salad with tomatoes. The food was excellent and it was certainly a night to remember ;)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Chilli Pasta

I felt like making fusion (european + asian) food today- so I am presenting my version of chilli pasta.

Ingredients: 1 red onion (sliced into rings)
1 red chilli (sliced)
button mushrooms (sliced)
1 tomato (diced)
2 tbs linghams chilli sauce
1 tsp tomato paste
2 tbs grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbs cream
cooked pasta (can be macaroni or spiral pasta)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil and fry onions until soft and aromatic. Add fresh chilli slices and stir.
2. Add tomatoes and cooked pasta with some water. Cook while stirring constantly and tomatoes turn soft.
3. When water dries up, add tomato paste and linghams chilli sauce. Also add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Cook for another five minutes and then remove from heat. Stir in cream.
5. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and dried chilli flakes on top.

Verdict: I really liked the taste of the pasta, it was spicy and had a good strong flavour. Thomas felt it was a bit hot, so I could have made it without the fresh chilli. I realized while eating that chopped garlic would have been a much better base than onions for this dish. Also, I forgot to put some herbs like oregano, basil or parsley which would have definitely enhanced the flavour of the dish. Overall, it was fun to make the pasta and it had a good after-taste. I was satisfied all evening.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Tomato and Mozarella Salad

A really easy salad to be a side accompaniment to any dish.

Ingredients: 3 red tomatoes
1 tbs shredded mozarella
chopped basil leaves
2 tbs balsamic vinegar

1. Chop up tomatoes and mix in the mozarella and basil leaves.
2. Add balsamic vinegar when you are ready to serve.

Verdict: This dish is nice to serve because of the colour of the red tomatoes mixed with the green of the basil and yellow of the cheese. It has very distinct flavours as well- the tarty taste of tomatoes mixed with the sweet vinegar and enhanced by the cheese and basil. Easy to make and tastes very good.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tribute to the Curry Paste

I just thought to include the paste I used for the dish.

It is made up of : 30% fresh green chilli
20% lemongrass
16% garlic
15% onion
8% salt
5% spices
3% shrimp paste
3% galangal

Contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Made in Thailand!

Thai Green Curry Chicken

I have discovered bliss in a purely adulterated form. It is called green curry paste in a packet.

Ingredients: 2 tbs of green curry paste (can be found in danish supermarkets)
1 chicken breast (sliced in cubes)
1 can coconut milk
1 tbs sugar
2 birds eye chilli
sprigs of coriander leaves (chopped)
salt to taste

1. Heat oil and fry curry paste until fragrant.
2. Add chicken and 1/2 cup water. Cook until water dries up.
3. Add chilli and coriander leaves. Stir well.
4. Add coconut milk and simmer.
5. Add sugar. Taste the curry, if still too hot, add more sugar.
6. Add salt. Give it a final stir. Make sure it has been simmering for some time and curry paste is fully blended with coconut milk.
7. Serve

Verdict: The curry was perfect! It was really, really hot and really, really tasty. Thomas could barely finish it because it was so spicy. But it tasted exactly like how it is supposed to taste. The birds eye chilli can be scrapped for those who prefer less spice.

I refused to buy the green curry paste for a long time because I had learnt to cook traditional thai food in a cooking school in Thailand and I felt that I should make it from scratch. But it was just crazy trying to look for all the ingredients in the Danish supermarkets that I finally succumbed to the convenience of buying the paste. It made the cooking really easy actually and I barely had to do much work to create the divinity thats called Thai Green Curry.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sardine Puffs

I also made some savoury bites for the party.

Ingredients for shortcrust pastry: 100 g self raising flour
50 g butter
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tbs cold water

1. Sieve flour and add salt. Then add cold butter. Mix with fingers until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Put in 2 tbs of cold water and knead to a dough.
3. Place in the fridge for it to cool down. Then take it out after fifteen minutes and knead again. Place back in the fridge. Repeat this twice in order to get the best results for the dough.

Ingredients for the sardine filling: 1 red onion (chopped)
1 chilli (sliced)
2 cans of sardine in tomato sauce

1. Fry onions until soft. Add chilli and sardine and cook until the tomato sauce dries up and sardines are cooked slightly.

Method: Roll out dough. Cut out in circles. Then put filling into it and fold it up with fingers. Use water as a sealing paste.

Verdict: This dish takes a LOT of work! I spent a solid two hours kneading dough and rolling it out and making the pastry. It tastes good and is great as a finger food in parties. I am not sure how much the Danish would like sardines but if they can stomach pickled herring, then they should take to this dish well.

Rock Buns

It is Thomas' birthday party tomorrow and I am busy preparing some sweet treats today.

Ingredients: 100 g self raising flour
50 g butter
50 g sugar
50 g raisins
1 beaten egg
vanilla essence

1. Sieve flour into a bowl. Rub butter in with fingers until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Add sugar and raisins with a fork so that dough resembles a rocky mixture. Dont mix too hard or else butter will melt.
3. Add egg and vanilla essence with the fork.
4. Grease a pan and place spoonfuls of mixture on it. Bake at 200 degrees for 30 mins.

Verdict: The rock buns came out crisp on the outside and cake-like inside. I have been making this buns dozens of times so I rarely ever have problems making these rock buns. It was the first recipe I learnt in Home Economics class when I was thirteen. And it has stayed with me ever since.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thomas' Cheese Platter

Thomas is great with making a cheese platter with crackers, cheese, salami, olives, parsley and capsicums. I usually tap on him to make the appetizers when we entertain while I work on the main course.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Chinese Capsicum Chicken

I made a chinese stir fry last night to finish up the remaining capsicum in the refrigerator.

Chinese Capsicum Chicken

Ingredients: 1 chicken breast (chopped in cubes)
1 large red onion
1 green capsicum (chopped in cubes)
1 carrot (sliced in rings)
1 red chilli (sliced)
1 tbs of oyster sauce
1 tbs of soya sauce
1 tsp of cornflour
salt and pepper to taste

1. Marinade the chicken with oyster sauce, soya sauce and salt. Set aside.
2. Heat oil and fry onions until softened. Add chicken and stir fry until cooked. Add 1/2 glass of water and add capsicum, carrot and chilli. Allow to simmer for 15 mins until capscium is softened.
3. Add oyster sauce, soya sauce, salt and pepper.
4. Blend cornflour in water and add to the pot to thicken the sauce.

Verdict: This dish came out very well, and you could taste the sweetness of the cooked capsicum in the sauce. This was not the most authentic version of the dish however- you could add chinese rice wine and sesame oil to the dish to add more flavour. This dish could have been good with large peppercorns (I put in fine pepper instead). Overall, Thomas gave me an 8/10 for the food. I liked how it turned out- just the right flavour and tasted great on its own.

Healthy Cream of Celery Soup

On the same weekend, I also attempted to make a healthy version of a celery soup since we had loads of celery in the refrigerator.

Healthy Cream of Celery Soup

Ingredients: Large sprigs of celery (chopped)
2 large red onions
1 tbs of cornflour
2 large glasses of milk
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook onions and celery on low heat until softened. Remove from pot and add to the blender with a glass of water. Blend and return to pan.
2. Continue cooking the blended vegetables until aromatic. Blend the cornflour into the milk and add the milk to the pot. Put on low heat and lightly simmer until thickened.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

Verdict: I didnt think this dish came out as well as I expected, although Thomas loved it and had three portions. Firstly, you could really detect the missing stock in this dish and the taste of the milk and celery wasnt enough to make up for the lack of flavour. The milk and cornflour couldnt really create a good substitute for the creamy flavour that comes with the actual cream that was supposed to go in the dish. I did some browsing on the internet and found that canned evaporated milk would make up a better substitute for the cream so now, its just a matter of finding the canned milk in the store.

What I would do differently next time around: 1. Make a good chicken stock to be a base in the dish.
2. Try canned evaporated milk to make the dish more creamy.
3. Add parsley (I ran out of it and herbs are always a key in making a good soup)

Roasted Vegetable and Tomato Soup

This weekend, I worked on preparing some hearty soups. Its almost winter and such weather calls for a good soup.

My first attempt: Roasted Vegetable and Tomato Soup

Ingredients: 2 large red onions (chopped in rings)
1 clove garlic (roughly chopped)
4 large tomatoes (chopped in cubes)
1 red capsicum (cubed)
1 yellow capsicum (cubed)
large sprigs of parsley
handful of basil leaves
1/2 can of chopped tomatoes with juice
salt and pepper

1. Brown onions and garlic in olive oil. Add yellow capsicum and one glass of water. Leave it to simmer.
2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees and place red capsicum and tomatoes in a baking tray with olive oil drizzled on top of the vegetables. Leave it to roast for half an hour.
3. Add roasted vegetables to the pot with parsley and basil leaves. Let it simmer for another ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add canned tomatoes and give it a final mix.

Verdict: If you look at most soup recipes, they will tell you that the most important thing is preparing a good broth first which you add to the pot instead of a glass of water. I had not gotten around to preparing a broth before hand and decided to roast my vegetables to make up for the flavour. The roasted tomatoes and capsicum added a creamy and bold flavour to the soup and this made up for the lack of a good soup base.

I didnt really like adding the canned tomatoes to the dish although it did make the broth thicker and added colour to the dish. I looked at a number of recipes which called for the canned tomatoes so I thought to try and put that in. Maybe its just me disliking the taste of canned tomatoes and the next time I will try making the dish without the canned tomatoes.

Overall, the dish turned out fine and I would give it a solid thumbs up.

The purpose..

Well, I am really excited about starting this blog- but before that I must elaborate the purpose of this endeavour. Cooking is a great passion of mine but I must admit, its usually done by trial and error and I have never actually recorded down any of my recipes. Its always, "lets add a little more of that", "well, lets try something else and see how it turns out", etc. Sometimes the results are great, and other times it doesnt quite work out that way. I have gained a lot from reading other food blogs and also wanted to share some of my experiences with food.

'Half a teaspoon of Salt' is a name I came up with because there is not one single recipe I have found that doesnt call for half a teaspoon of salt.


Monday, November 06, 2006

My first entry..

Well, I have wanted to start a food blog for a very long time and today I have finally gotten around to doing it!