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Jan 21, 2015

Sandwich Maker Tofu with a Zesty Miso Dip






This is an amazing idea!
You just gotta try it out. 
I’m not writing particularly about tofu. I mean, seared tofu? Pffft!!! Anyone can do that. 

I’d seen this idea floating about on the net a while ago and it inspired me to sear some tofu to go with this amazing, tangy, spicy, sweet, sour, zesty, all-textures dip that mum used to make. Brought back a ton of memories…

Anyway, the dip calls for a Chinese fermented bean paste (tau cheong) quite similar to miso. I didn’t have that paste, I had miso. Miso it is. And I think from now on, I’d stick to miso. It’s just so good!

Right, the tofu. 
Everyone has a waffle iron/sandwich maker, right? No? What? Oh …..
Never mind. Whenever you can get your paws on one….
Like I said, it’s such a good way to sear tofu. 
Or hash browns, polenta cakes, mochi……yes, you read right. Mochi. Those gooey little things. It gets crispy on the outside and still soft and gooey on the inside. Yummers!  I’m sure there are more stuff that can be done with a sandwich maker besides a grilled cheese sandwich. Get creative, peeps!
There’s very little oil used too. And it makes a more even shade of sear.


INGREDIENTS

Firm tofu, cut into wedges or whatever shapes that’ll fit your sandwich maker
oil for brushing or spray

Dip: (This is just a guide. Adjust to suit your tastebuds)

1 - 2 tbs dried shrimp, toasted (like you would nuts)
1 tbs brown miso
Juice of 1 large lime (key lime)
2 - 3 tsps sugar
chillies, sliced

METHOD

Mix all of the dip ingredients into a small bowl except the toasted shrimp.
Stir to mix until sugar has completely dissolved. Taste and adjust accordingly.
Stir in toasted dried shrimp just before serving so that it remains crispy.
Leave aside.

Brush or spray the sandwich maker plates with oil. Place the tofu wedges on, cover and let the gadget do its work. When done, check to see if it’s browned or golden enough to your liking. Otherwise, cook a little longer.
Remove and have it warm with the dip.

Makes a great appetiser.











Jan 3, 2015

Banana Chia Power Smoothie






So you’re all pooped from the festivities. 
Need an energy booster? 
Or a cure for a hangover? (Do I sound like an ad?)

This was something I picked up from my travels. An instant energy booster. Yummy to boot.
Just the other day, I’d found it on our local grocer’s chiller and wait …. how much was that? You gotta be kidding me?! Forget it, I’ll make my own ….. 

It makes a great breakfast on the go as well. For someone (me) who isn’t into the whole shebang of slicing, toasting, pan frying, buttering, eat, wash and wash some more … this is just brilliant. 

Make it the night before and you’re all set to take on the world the next day!


INGREDIENTS

(Note: measurements are per 250 - 300 ml bottle / mason jars)

1 - 2 small bananas, sliced (this depends on how thick you want your smoothie to be)
1 cup apple juice
1 tbs chia seeds (too much of this and you’ll get pudding)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
honey / sugar (optional)


METHOD

Puree bananas and 1/2 cup of the apple juice in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Put 1 tbs chia seeds and ground cinnamon into bottle / jars. 
Pour in puree and top up with remaining apple juice, cap and shake to mix it up.
Leave overnight in the fridge.
Glug the next day … watch out, world!










Dec 21, 2014

Merry Quiet Christmas





Merry Christmas everyone!

Wishing all you happy people more happy times, to those who have lost their loved ones, wishing you acceptance and closure and happier times ahead. It'll be a mellow Christmas for us who have sad memories but we still need to keep our strength .... so...we EAT!!

Like I told a fellow friend and blogger .... Food is always a good solution. Eat too much and you can't move to do any damage to anything... not enough and you'd be searching and too busy foraging to bother about what's happening around you. 
So my message to close off the end of a relatively non-eventful (thank goodness) year .... EAT.






Nov 23, 2014

Jaffa Cake Muffins






Orange and chocolate.
One of the best partnership ever created. 
Marsha hates fake orange flavours. So do I. Well, any fake flavour is horrible anyway. 
Marsha made these. Marsha tempted me. Marsha, this is all your fault for ending my no desserts and no sugar diet.
I shall start that stupid diet again after I’ve finished this lot. Maybe I’ll give them away …. but I’ve already eaten two. One more won’t hurt …. maybe I’ll keep 3 and give away the rest. Maybe I’ll keep them all …. just maybe.

My whole place smells so refreshing, so citrusy, so who needs a room freshener anyway.

The recipe is so simple. 
Blitz everything together, stir and bake. 
I’m at a phase where I’m totally not in the mood for creaming butter and sugar. I wanna blitz things together. Stir. And bake. 
You may call me lazy. Go ahead. Lay-zee….
We deserve to be that every now and then. Pamper yourself. Put your feet up. Enjoy some ME time.  Find an easy recipe, quick and simple, not a ton of utensils and bowls to wash after. Have a muffin (or two, or three, oh come on, you know you wanna) with a nice cuppa. (Not necessarily in that order).

I’ve made an orange pudding quite similar to this in that you blitz the whole orange and everything else and just dump it in the oven. That was awesome too!
This muffin turned out light and moist, unlike the usual denser muffin texture. I guess if you’d just put it in cake molds, you can call it a cake. (Marsha said that too).

Meet Marsha Thompson @ The Harried Cook. 
Nah … she’s not that harried. She likes being harried. She’s happily harried. 


INGREDIENTS

1 whole orange (unpeeled, quartered and seeded)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup butter, softened 
1 egg
1 3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
3 oz mini dark chocolate chips


METHOD

Preheat oven to 180ºC. 
Grease a 12 cup muffin tray or use liners or muffin cups. (I just pressed a square of baking paper into each hole...maybe that's why it looks so weird. See partial pic at bottom of page)
In a blender or a food processor, purée the quartered orange and juice until smooth. (Mine wasn’t very smooth but it worked out well. Next time I’ll try it a little chunkier for some citrusy bite).
Add the butter and egg and buzz until combined. Transfer mixture into a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Fold this into the purée until completely combined.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into muffin cups.
Bake for about 18-20 mins (I baked a little longer, about 25 - 30 mins).
Remove from the oven. Cool in tin for awhile before removing and serving.
* I discarded the liners once out of the oven (they get soggy while cooling) and left the muffins on a rack to cool.


















Nov 20, 2014

Watami : A Re Review



Watami @ 1 Utama



Back in 2012, I did a review at their outlet in Paradigm Mall and had a pretty okay experience. There were some good stuff, yes, of course. They still do. Some hype about it raised my expectations, I guess. This time I went without any, since I’m not here for a review. Was more impressed than the last visit (probably because they were trying too hard the last time) and I thought, they deserve an update … also because they do serve pork dishes now.

The quality of the salmon in the Salmon Sashimi Don was still as good. They certainly didn’t scrimp on the rice. I wish I could have finished it ….. soooo good! Real stuff …. no subs.
The Chawan Mushi was also very good, silky and flavourful…no bouncing on the floors with these. There’s only one other place I know (not talking about high-end Japanese restaurants, just the regular affordable ones) that makes it so beautifully.
Watami didn’t serve pork back then at my first review. Today, with so many Ramen shops sprouting up all over serving their versions of “authentic” Japanese Ramen, I’m not surprised they’ve included this in their menu. The quality of the pork slices were top notch but the texture of the ramen wasn’t quite up to par. I’ve no Phd in the ramen department…just that I like it silky smooth and al dente.
I’d asked about their Crab Croquettes and was disappointed they had taken that off the menu. Those were really something.
The homestyle gyozas were still around. Wonder why they kept this and not the croquettes? I thought the croquettes were so much yummier. Didn’t take a pic of those as they weren’t too photo friendly. You can take a look at them here.

The portions for the set meals were pleasantly and generously large. Service was excellent. In fact, the Ramen I had wasn’t on the set but they accommodated and changed it to what I wanted. Now, that’s service! 
Except for the waitress who insisted I use the shallow plate when I asked for a bowl to share my noodles with a friend…soup, noodles, duh….I got my bowl….it was a very good brunch. 
And no….unfortunately, we couldn’t fit in any desserts this time. 

The menu has changed some. I’ll definitely be back to try out more of their new stuff.
Yup…



Restaurant Review Disclaimer:

This review is of my own opinion. I am under no contract or obligation to write a review or to make it a positive one if I did.
I write my honest opinions and will tell you quickly if a product is not up to my standards. Anything I dislike may not be what you dislike (I can't help it if you have bad taste ... haha). My reviews are for entertainment purposes only. I am not a professional in the field and am not providing professional advice or anything of the sort.
Read at your own risk


Nov 10, 2014

Easy Dinner Rolls









Oh ….
My ….
Gawdness!!
This must be the easiest and fastest bread recipe I’ve ever tried!
And they turned out super!

Soft and tender crusted rolls. Not the hard crust dinner rolls.

My bread machine decided to die on me. I haven’t been making bread since my tennis elbow injury. 
Tried a “No Knead Bread” recipe. It was ok … no great shakes. 
Tonight I had a hankering for some plain soft buns, slathered with butter. I can wolf down a half dozen easily and then regret it all later when I feel like a hippopotamus that can’t swim. So yum!
Had to make some. 
Used a regular stand mixer this time, using the dough hook attachment. 
This is gonna be a repeat recipe for sure …. many, many repeats…probably with some improvisations later. 

Do not be shocked by the amount of yeast. It doesn’t turn out yeasty. All’s good. Tested, tasted and approved by several tonguebuds ...or maybe they're just being polite? 


(Adapted from kitchenmeetsgirl)
INGREDIENTS

1 cup plus 2 tbs warm water
1/3 cup oil (I used grape seed oil)
2 tbs active dry yeast (I used instant yeast)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3 1/2 cups bread flour / high protein flour

2 tbs butter, melted (for brushing)


METHOD

Preheat oven to 400ºF / 200ºC.
In the bowl of the stand mixer, combine warm water, oil, yeast and sugar. Give it a quick stir and leave to rest for 15 mins. You should have a foamy mush by then.
Mix 2 cups of the flour, salt and egg into the yeast mixture using dough hook attachments. 
Add remaining 1 1/2 cups flour 1/2 cup at a time.
Knead until you have a smooth and elastic dough.
Shape dough into 12 balls (I made into smaller ones and got 18).
Place dough balls into a large baking pan, spacing them apart enough for dough to rise until about doubled in size. Alternatively, you can also bake them in muffin pans.
Let rest for 10 mins (I left mine for 15 mins) or until doubled in size.
Bake for 10 mins (I baked for 10 mins, took them out and brushed with some melted butter and baked a further 5 mins) until tops are just golden brown.


Soooo goooood!!




I've used it as a burger bun, loaded with char shu (Chinese bbq meat) and pickled gherkins with a slathering of mustard. It's a little lighter than the usual burger buns. Okay if the filling isn't too heavy. If you're looking for a good burger bun, you can use this. Great buns for anything.

*Note: unused dough can be frozen before proofing stage. Wrap in cling film and freeze. Thaw, shape and allow to rise to double its size and bake as per instruction above.





Nov 2, 2014

Lemon Polenta Cake with Pine Nuts





Found me some gorgeous lemons!
Not aesthetically beautiful …..  but fragrant, lemony, sunshiny, wakey wakey kind of gorgeous!
You must understand my euphoria. The lemons we get here are usually pretty boring …. small, round little things that don’t have that lovely fresh tingly lemony fragrance. Honestly, if I’d never had the chance to taste and smell a better one, I wouldn’t have raved about this lot. 

Naturally the smaller, boring ones are cheaper but eh? what’s the point of getting lemons that don’t smell like lemons? You get that tart taste … we have local limes that are better substitutes. 
And so I bought a bagful… uh … make that 2 bagfuls. 
Forget about making stuff with them, I’m happy just scratching at the skin and sniffing at them. Ooohhh heavenly!

After much scratching and sniffing (great way to disinfect and have super clean and nice smelling nails), I remembered a cake I’d had that made such a great impression on my tastebuds I promised myself I’d make one if I ever got my hands on really good lemons. 
This was it. 
And I’m happy that it’s relatively easy to make. 

This has no flour in it, for the gluten intolerant. But unfortunately, there’s nuts, for folks who are allergic to them. And a ton of butter, for the fat intolerant. Indulge, for the ones who can’t say no to desserts.
Polenta / maize meal / corn meal gives it a grainy, rubble-like texture which works well with the lemon syrup drizzle as it doesn’t go all limp and soggy.

Should you attempt this, go for the good lemons. It’s worth it. Indulge.

(adapted from Nigella’s)
INGREDIENTS

CAKE

200 g butter, softened
200 g caster sugar
200 g ground almonds
100 g fine polenta 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
zest of 2 lemons (save juice for syrup)
pine nuts

SYRUP

juice of 2 lemons
125 g icing sugar


METHOD

(Nigella uses a 9” springform pan, Base lined, sides greased and baked for 40 mins).
I used mini loaf pans 2” x 4”, bases lined and sides greased. Use a long strip to line the base so that you have a little overhang … to lift out your cake when it’s cooled.

Preheat oven to 180ºC.
Beat butter and sugar til fluffy and pale.
In a separate bowl, mix together the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the whipped butter, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
Beat in the lemon zest and spoon into pans. Sprinkle with pine nuts.
Bake for about 20 - 25 mins or until the tops are golden.
Remove from oven but leave in pan to cool.

Meanwhile, make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar. Once the icing sugar has dissolved, you’re done.

Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester and drizzle the warm syrup over. 
(I drizzled about 2 tsps per little loaf. You can always use more but I didn’t want it to be too soggy or drizzle on just before serving).
Leave to cool before removing from pans.
(Use a spatula to loosen the sides a little when removing from pans)

Serve with extra drizzle, lemon curd and/or an extra sprinkling of toasted pine nuts. 
Indulge.