Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lentils and Drumsticks



October is coming to an end... which means its Halloween time...skull
While everyone is busy cooking, baking... setting the mood for Trick or Treat pumpkin, I am falling behind and unable to keep up with the theme.... due to a very busy schedule... I have nothing to offer ... sadly.. but I have a story to tell...

Have you heard of Moringa Oleifera?  It is commonly known as Indian drumstick and Malays (from Kedah) would call this... Kacang Munggai.

Just imagine if you grow Moringa Oleifera in your backyard... It will not only gives you, your nutritional benefits, purify your water, it can also protect you from evil spell. And that is why... it is called ~ Tree of Life, or in East Africa... it is called "Mothers' best friend". The benefits are endless... you can Google 'Moringa Oleifera' and read about it.

 
I would like to add another one to that numerous list... with the story I am about to tell...
As a young girl... I would sit quietly and listen to adults talking and exchanging their hair raising, supernatural, ghostly stories... it scared the s**t out of me...worried nevertheless I was drawn to their stories.... just like a magnet...


One of the stories  would be about 'Orang Minyak' (direct translation would be the Oily Man ) a movie was made, back in 1956 based on this story/myth

I would refer him as The Cursed Man'... his body would be covered, in what the adult would say ..black oil (hence the name).  Apparently, he wanted to learn about the spritual world... malice intended. He sold his soul to the devil. In exchange... and to achieve his supernatural powers... he has to de-flower 40 young maiden virgins within a week...

Once the word was out that The Cursed Man is on the prowl...  villagers would be on alert and wary of their surroundings. Chaotic time...Men would patrol the village perimeters, hoping to catch  the culprit...However The Cursed Man managed to slip into the night unnoticed...

And Mothers would try their best to protect their young girls "innocence" by making the daughters wear their fathers' sweaty shirt at night... giving the impression that they were men instead of young girls...
During this terrifying moments ... parents would be 'frantically' looking for Moringa Oleifera trees... A foot long Moringa Oleifera sticks were given to these young girls, and to be placed under their pillow at night...
The foot long Moringa Oleifera stick has the same effect as garlic had on Dracula... The Cursed Man would stay away... as he was afraid, very afraid... One hit with the stick, his supernatural power would diminished and  he'd immediately transformed into a powerless man...

Just imagine the worried look on my parents' face... everytime they hear the news that The Cursed Man is on the prowl again... for they have 4 daughters...sigh

skullHappy Halloweenskull
Care to share your scary childhood stories with me?

I found frozen packets of Drumsticks in an Indian grocer... and decided to cook a simple dhal and serve with roti.

Wishing my Friends and Readers... Near and Far...

Have a wonderful

Diwali Celebration
 --------------------------------------------------------------

Recipe
1cup of washed red lentils
2 cups of water (approx)
1 frozen packet of Indian drumsticks (Moringa Oleifera) - thawed
2 inch of ginger
2 garlic
1 teaspoon of ground tumeric
2 dried chillies - cut up
salt
golden fried shallots
1 stalk of curry leaves
  1. Pound garlic and ginger until smooth. Set aside. 
  2. In a medium size saucepan, bring to boil lentils, chillies, curry leaves and drumsticks.
  3. Then reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes or lentils turned mushy.
  4. Remember to add water if the lentils becomes dry.
  5. Add pounded garlic, ginger, tumeric and salt.
  6. Cook for another 10 minutes and turned off the heat.
  7. Add the golden fried shallots.
  8. Serve.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Scones



I have this habit of jotting down what I've cooked and when I cooked/baked something, in my little Notebook... it can be cumbersome and annoying but I know I can be a forgetful person at times... most of the times...  hehehe... and its easy to refer to at a later date...

Seems that annoying habit paid off recently....
H has been hinting that its been awhile since I last bake scones.... unsure...confused and didn't want to argue... all I could say was 'errrr... I think so' while in my head I was doing a 180 degree turn and thinking... 'Didn't I just bake some recently?'.
Quietly... don't tell anyone I referred to my Notebook, and guess what? H was right. September 2009 was the last time I baked scones... time sure flies. Not wanting to keep him waiting for another 2 years...that same weekend... I made strawberry jam and baked him scones... and this was 2 weeks ago.

Last Saturday, we went out for our coffee/tea at one of Gloria Jeans' outlet... we ordered Macadamia slice and a slice of Maltesers cake... sat down, and while enjoying our quiet moment (without kids..), H said ...
H:  did you see the scones?
me:  No... why?
H:  Its huge.... I was tempted ... but I bet they aren't as light and delicious... as the ones you baked.
me:  oh really...  blushing at the same time feeling proud hehehe...
awwww.....Isn't he a darling? love struck  or he is trying his best to tell me subtly... to bake him more scones??? naughty naughty me for having such evil thoughts...  or
Shall I bake him scones every 2 years to get such 'sweet' and lovely compliment hee hee again...


This is the best scones recipe (from AWW) I have some come across. The scones are light and fluffy, plus it is easy to make and bake... refer to the note after the recipe... 

Recipes (makes about 12)
3 cups of plain flour
30g baking powder
1 cup of cream
1 cup of lemonade -aerated
a pinch of salt
  1. Pre-heat oven to 190C
  2. Line baking tray with baking paper
  3. Sieve plain flour with baking powder twice.
  4. Add cream, aerated lemonade and salt.
  5. Use butter knife and in chopping motion, mix well.
  6. Lightly floured the pastry board and the circular cookie cutter.
  7. Roll out with floured rolling pin to a 2.5cm thickness.
  8. cut out the scones with cookie cutter
  9. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Serve with strawbery jam and cream
Note: dont overwork or overmix the scones or they will be heavy and tough. Substitute plain flour and baking powder with self raising flour... as alternative

I have been tagged by Nami of Just One Cookbook... I will tend to it asap...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lavender Macarons


macarons

My first tell-tale signs that Spring is approaching... is when my lavender bushes starts to flower as soon as the weather warms up. I am so thrilled to spot the tiny purplish buds hiding within the greyish green leaves...
Spring has always been my favourite season... I love waking up to sounds of birds chirping... then having a walk round the garden to admire and breathe in the fragrance of the early Lavender bloomers...
Everything comes to life...

New Beginning

Spring... reminded me of a friendship between 2 teenage girls that lived in 2 different parts of the world. One in Canada and the other in Malaysia. They would write to each other, exchanged cards and photos. Good old days...the art of communication...using pens, papers, envelopes and stamps ... and oh!!! and Mr Postman too ...
They were "Penpals" for years until one left to UK to pursue her dreams... she lost contact with her Canadian penpal ...



Then one day, she received a message in her Facebook message box...
Are you the same person, who I was a penpal with in the 1970’s and 1980’s? I lived in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and the girl I correspond with was from Malaysia?
The Canadian Penpal was cleaning out her stuff and stumbled upon a box from her teenage years... and found a letter from her Malaysian penpal... she still remembers her Malaysian friend!!! ....



Thank you Cheryl J ... for keeping my letters and keeping in touch again. A toast to our 'Friendship'... with a bite of Lavender Macarons...

I am using the Swiss Method to make these gorgeous Lavender Macarons.

Recipe (Love Food cookbook)
80g egg whites
65g lavender sugar
80g almond meal
140g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
food colouring
dried lavender seeds

Filling
115g soft Philadelphia cream cheese
2 tablespoon lavender sugar

to make lavender sugar
1 cup of caster sugar
2 tablespoon of edible lavender
muslin cloth


Preparation 
~ 2 weeks ahead ~ wrap lavender in muslin cloth, secure with kitchen string. Pour caster sugar in an airtight container, and place the lavender sachet in the container. Give it a good shake everyday.
~ 3 days before making macarons ~ separate egg white from yolk. Refrigerate.

Making Macarons
  1. Egg white at room temperature
  2. Pulse Almond meal with icicng sugar for 5 minutes. Sieve. Set aside.
  3. Mix the egg white and castor sugar in a heatproof bowl.
  4. Making sure that the bowl will snuggly fit the pot, bring the water to boil then lower the heat to a gentle simmer.
  5. Place the bowl on top of the pot, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the simmering water... aka double boil method.
  6. Whisk the egg white mixture until the sugar is dissolved and the temperature reads50-55C on the sugar thermometer.
  7. Transfer the egg mixture into the mixing bowl with the balloon attachment.
  8. Add lemon juice.
  9. Whisk on medium speed until soft peak or 'shaving foam' consistency.
  10. Add in food colouring.
  11. Using a flexible silicon spatula, fold in sieved almond into the meringue one third at a time. And start counting the strokes.
  12. Continue to fold until all dry ingredients are fully incorporated and it forms a shiny batter with a thick, ribbon like consistency...
  13. Pour the mixture into a piping bag fitted with 10mm nozzle, and pipe onto prepared baking sheets.
    Sprinkle with lavender.
  14. Leave the tray at room temperature for 30 minutes or more until the macarons surface are 'drier' to touch.
  15. Pre heat oven to 150C and bake each tray for 15-20 minutes depending on the oven.
  16. Cool for 10 minutes then carefully peel off the baking sheet.
  17. Leave to cool completely before piping in the filling
  18. Filling~ beat the cream cheese and lavender sugar until smooth. Piped the filling onto the shells.
  19. Macarons tasted better...after an overnight refrigeration

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Middle Eastern Fish Casserole


We are familiar with '1000 things to do before I die'...even a book was published on... '1000 places to see before you die'.

Well, my dearest darling, Hnot wanting lose out... has his own "motto" ~ batting eyelashes

1000’s Food To Taste Before I Die
(note the 's'... as in many thousands)

This Middle Eastern Fish Casserole marked the beginning of his 'mission'...
hmm... looks like I have to keep on buying cookbooks and spend hours blog hopping. Nevermind that I've been labelled as Cookbook Addict, Blogoholic Mom, and the new title to add to the list ~ 'Prop' Monster.

I have a perfect solution ~ save money, space and time in order to fulfill H's mission ... get me a laptop (preferably the ones with the bitten Apple logo on the cover ... hint...hint)... I can browse, trying out new recipes, following its instruction in the comfort of my kitchen... saves $$$ as I dont have to buy cookbooks, saves me from running to and fro from study to kitchen, save us the 'filing' headache plus storage too...furthermore, we should be environmentally friendly ~ save a lot of trees by not printing recipes on papers...Right?
Isn't this a brilliant idea?tongue



This is my second attempt cooking Middle Eastern Fish Casserole. I used Barramundi fillets in my first attempt. The fish didn't hold its shape, flesh became soft and fell apart... plus I wasn't too excited with the photos I took....phbbbbt
So I use my all time favourite ~ Hiramasa fillets instead of Barramundi... and it tasted much better as Hiramasa soaked in the flavours of spices and fresh herbs ..  Excellent.
If I were to describe the taste... I would say it is quite similar to curry with subtle bitterness with every bite, I loved the taste despite the bitterness  note: I dislike anything bitter!!!... bitter taste came from the pierced lime, perhaps next time I'll choose the smallest lime I could find..

1 down... many thousands recipes to go, oh well...

Recipe (adapted from Just Add Spice from Lyndey Milan and Ian Hemphil)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 brown onion - chopped
2 cloves of garlic - chopped
2 tablespoon dill  (in the tube)
1 bunch of coriander - chopped
2 large tomatoes - chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 lime - pierced few times with sharp knife
1 1/2 cups of water
4 Hiramasa fillets cut into 3cm thick
2 tablespoon flour
Middle Eastern spice

1 teaspoon cardamom pods
2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 teaspoon salt
  1. Ground all the Middle Eastern spices.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion until transparent. Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, dill, coriander and lime with 2 teaspoon of the Middle Eastern Spice. Give it a good stir. Add 1 1/2 cups of water. Cover the saucepan, bring to boil then lower the heat to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the fish while the sauce is simmering...
  4. Pat dry the fish. Rub the remaining of the spice onto the fish, and dust with plain flour. Heat up the frying pan with the remaining of the olive oil, cook the fish cutlets lightly on both sides... to seal.
  5. Transfer the fish to the simmering sauce.
  6. Season to taste and simmer for another 10 minutes until the fish is cooked.
  7. Serve with steam rice.