Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy Merdeka Malaysia!

Gulai Pisang Muda
(Young Banana in Turmeric flavoured Coconut Milk)

2 unripe bananas

1 can Coconut Milk

2 fresh chillies

1 cm turmeric

1 stalk lemon grass

1 piece of asam gelugor or som khaek (thai) to lend acidity - can be replaced with juice from half a lemon

1 cup water

1 cup tamarind juice


Wash and clean bananas by peeling skin and slice flesh thinly. Do not discard skin.
Soak in tamarind juice to prevent discolouration. Meanwhile, pound chillies and turmeric in mortar and pestle until fine. Roughly pound the lemon grass. Add chillies & turmeric paste and lemon grass into a pot filled with the coconut milk.

Add bananas. Over medium heat, bring to a boil stirring constantly, to prevent the coconut milk from curdling. Dish is cooked when the surface of the gravy is shiny from the oil separating from the milk.

Turn off heat and add lemon juice.

Warm memories of my childhood in Malaysia comes flooding in whenever I tuck into food that my Mum used to prepare.

Feeling blessed with the bountiful resources that was and still is available (but has somewhat been depleted in the last few decades)in Malaysia with its lush tropical trees & fruits, abundant seafood from the seas,rivers,& lakes.

So I send this message to all Malaysians, to preserve our inheritance, so the future generations can enjoy the same sort of childhood we were lucky enough to experience when we were growing up.

Maybe being away from home makes me appreciate Malaysia even more. I miss its beautiful beaches and of course its lovely food. Malaysians have a lot to be thankful for its bounty & beauty.

Sadly, in the name of development, a lot of Malaysia's greens have been bulldozed and replaced with a "concrete jungle". Rivers, lakes and waterways have been overfished and inundated with rubbish. Why are we doing this to our beloved country, our own abode, our own backyard, our haven? The Lord has blessed us with His bounty but we are now neglecting his gift to us. Shameless aren't we?

We are Malaysians, true & through, we produce cars, we produce beautiful batiks, we cook the best food so be proud of who we are and do take better care of our Mother Earth....Selamat Hari Merdeka!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sharing is Caring

Once upon a time....I came across a beautiful choc cake at a friend's house...and as I would always do when I like a dish, I would simply request for the recipe. My request was turned down very politely with the friend stating that she actually had to pay for that recipe. In which I then replied, "may I then pay you for the recipe?" and yes I was also turned down again.

And so, to this day I will do my very best not to refuse anyone when I am asked to share my recipe. Where is the joy of cooking/eating when you cant share it when your friends/families or a stranger? I have found a Lamb Curry recipe from an internet blog that I have memorized in my head because I cook it so often and I have shared it with so many people, every time I cook it for friends or office mates, they sing high praises for this dish, it warms my heart. (watch this space, I will share this recipe soon).

So here's a beautiful chocolate cake recipe from Donna Hay, the famous Australian Cookbook Editor. (just click on the title and it will link you to the recipe)

I have not tried the recipe myself but a friend shared a slice of this cake with me and I was very impressed with the moistness and its beautiful taste.

Do enjoy and let me know how you go.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sticky Date Pudding

Typically during Ramadhan, there's an abundance of dates available and I thought this would be the most opportune time to try out that sticky date recipe from the Masterchef Kitchen.

Well, I tried it for the first time tonight and the pudding turned out nice and moist, but I got impatient with the butterscotch sauce, and since I didn't have any cream in the pantry, I used milk instead, it tastes good but the milk curdled because my heat was too high.

I skipped doing the praline, but I would have loved to eat this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tried, tested and scored well with the usual suspects...the family :)

Makes 8
180g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1¼ cups (310ml) water
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ cup (165g) firmly packed brown sugar
60g butter, softened chopped
2 eggs
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour

Almond praline
½ cup (110g) caster sugar
¼ cup (35g) slivered almonds

Butterscotch sauce
50g butter
1 cup (220g) brown sugar
1 cup (250ml) cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 180˚C (160˚C fan-forced). Lightly grease eight (½ cup capacity) metal dariole moulds.

2. Place dates and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Remove from the heat. Add bicarbonate of soda, stir until dates start to break down, set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.

3. Beat butter and sugar in a bowl using a hand beater, gradually add eggs one at a time, beat until light and fluffy.

4. Add date mixture, stir to combine. Carefully fold through sifted flour, divide mixture evenly between the eight moulds, until 2/3 full.

5. Place moulds in a baking tray, carefully pour water in tray until it comes up 1/3 of the side of the moulds. Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until golden and skewer comes out clean.

6. Meanwhile, for the almond praline, combine sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan over medium heat and cook caramel without stirring, swirling pan, until deep golden. Scatter almonds onto a baking paper-lined oven tray, pour over caramel and cool until set. Break praline into pieces.

7. For the butterscotch sauce, combine butter, sugar, cream and vanilla in small saucepan over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring sauce to the boil, reduce heat and cook for 5-6 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly.

8. To serve, invert the hot pudding onto a serving plate, top with butterscotch sauce and shards of praline.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tasty Snacks

This is a commonly found snacks peddled at roadside stalls every afternoon in Malaysia. The dough is very similar to doughnuts but it is not coated in sugar or chocolate. It is normally eaten hot and dipped in coffee.


400 gm flour
80 gm sugar
4 g dry yeast
40 gm vegetable oil
184 gm water

Oil for deep frying


Add the above into your bread maker and use your dough setting (50 minutes)

Tip dough onto floured surface and let dough rise for 15 minutes.

Shape dough lengthways and slice dough 1 cm wide.

Heat oil in pan (until temperature is 120C), drop dough slices and fry for 3 minutes or until dough floats to surface and golden brown in color.

Serve with hot coffee.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sausage and Cheese Pasta Bake

I am always looking for different ways to prepare pasta. Pastas are a good source of carbs and always a winner with kids. It's very filling and easy to prepare. You can prep this ahead of time and simply put them together in a preheated oven and your dinner is served within 20 minutes.

I found this recipe from a facebook group that compiles hundreds of yummy recipes moderated by a group of lovely sisters.

You can join the group at http://www.facebook.com/Ramadan%20Recipes#!/pages/Ramadan-Recipes/101736563205085

Sausage and cheese pasta bake

Ingredients (serves 4)

6 chicken sausages
400g dried penne
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red onion, finely chopped
500g jar tomato pasta sauce
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup cooked mixed frozen vegetables
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
100g baby spinach leaves

Cook sausages and sliced thinly once cooled.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, following packet directions, until just tender. Drain. Return to saucepan.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until tender. Add onion mixture, pasta sauce, chicken, 3/4 cup cheese and spinach to hot pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Toss gently until well combined.

Spoon pasta mixture into a 7cm deep, 24cm x 19cm (base) baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and heated through. Serve.

Ritzy Chicken Nuggets

photo : courtesy from the Food Network

If you are struggling to find ways to prepare a quick & healthy meal after a hard days work, then you really need to add this recipe to your repertoire.

It's Nigella Lawson's Ritzy Chicken Nuggets made from chicken breasts and crispy Ritz crackers. Although you can have the option of frying or baking this, I have always used the bake option because it is healthier and far less fuss to clean.

I normally make a batch and freeze them in two servings, my kids are old enough now to bake them in the oven if they need an after school snack. Its convenient and definitely a healthier option than MacD chicken nuggets!


2 (each weighing approximately 8 ounces with the peg bone, less without) chicken breasts
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil (if you are frying the nuggets)
1 3/4 cups cracker crumbs (recommended: Ritz crackers)

Serving suggestion:

Cut off the chicken peg bone if there is 1, and put the chicken breasts one at a time into a freezer bag so that it lies flat. Bash with a rolling pin until the chicken is quite thin, and then take it out and slice into about 6 to 8 slices. Repeat with the other chicken breast. This is easiest done with scissors.

Put the slices into a freezer bag with the buttermilk and leave in the refrigerator to marinade for up to 2 days.

When you are ready to cook them, heat the oil in a large frying pan, or preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Tip the cracker crumbs into a wide shallow bowl, and then shake off the excess buttermilk from the nuggets and dip them in the crumbs. Coat them well before lying gently in the hot oil, and cooking for about 2 minutes or so a side until they are golden brown. Transfer to a kitchen towel on a plate to blot the excess oil.

Alternatively, you can lay the crumb-coated chicken nuggets on a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. They can also be frozen once marinated and crumbed. If cooking from frozen, add 5 minutes to the oven cooking time.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Laksa Johor

Laksa Johor

Ingredients for gravy

500g Mackerel tinned in Springwater or oil
*1 cm galangal( lengkuas )
*1cm ginger
*1cm turmeric
*3 cloves garlic
*2 onions
*1 tsp dried shrimp or 1 cm shrimp paste
*80g curry powder

1 can 500 ml coconut milk
½ cup tamarind juice
salt to taste
2 tbsp kerisik (grounded dry roasted coconut)
2 stalks lemon grass
4 tbsp cooking oil

1 packet cooked spaghetti (prepared as per instructions on pack)

Chili paste:
3 fresh chilies (deseeded) and chopped
1 cm toasted shrimp paste (belacan)
Blend both in food processer and add a pinch of salt.


1. Blend all * in your food processor
2. Heat oil and fry paste on medium heat for 5 minutes,
3. Add coconut milk & lemon grass and simmer on medium heat until oil forms on the surface (stirring occasionally)
4. Add 1 cup water if gravy is too thick.
5. Add kerisik, mix well and turn off heat.
6.Serve spaghetti and gravy, garnish with sliced cucumber, snake beans, bean sprouts,onions and a slice of lemon/lime with a dollop of chili paste( sambal belacan)

Laksa Johor is one of Malaysia's many dishes that originates from the southern state of Johor(hence the name). Its basically spaghetti topped with a creamy, curry based seafood gravy, garnished with fresh crunchy vegetables. Traditionally prepared from scratch with fresh mackerel, boiled to soften the flesh and blended. For busy mums like us, a tinned mackerel will do just fine and my family couldnt tell the difference either way.

This recipe is an updated/shortcut version and it didn't disappoint. It is rich in Omega 3(from the Mackerel) and plenty of fibre from the vegetables. If you would like to add Malaysian food to your forte, do get accustomed to preparing kerisik; commonly used in Malay traditional dishes - is coconut flakes, roasted on medium heat without oil in a pan until browned,then finely pounded in mortar and pestle or easily grounded in a coffee grinder.

Do give this a try. It is mild and tasty, but the heat can be turned up by adding more sambal belacan to your plate. Happy tasting!

Bubur Pulut Hitam (Sticky Rice Pudding)

Talk about comfort food, this would rank in my top ten dessert, maybe because mum used to make this all the time. Each bite would remind me of warm childhood memories, and how blessed we all are with His Mercy and Bounty.

Best of all, its sooo easy to make, although you would need to have pandan(screwpine) leaves. And if you didnt have any fresh ones like what I have in the backyard, chances are you can easily source them frozen from any Asian grocer, where you will be getting the black glutinous rice anyway. Just in case you are wondering, this black variety of rice is unmilled hence the colour remains black or deep purple.

FYI, Glutinous rice does not contain dietary gluten (i.e. does not contain glutenin and gliadin), and thus should be safe for gluten-free diets.(Source: Wikipedia)


1 cup black Glutinous rice
4 cups water or more
1 pandan leave (knotted)
half cup sugar

Coconut cream
Pinch of salt

Tip: Before boiling the rice, soaking it in water will allow any grits to float to water surface, and you can easily skim them off. Leave to soak for 10-20 minutes to reduce cooking time. (if you're in hurry, you can skip this step)

Add rice & pandan leave into a pot of water and simmer on low heat until the rice is soft and a pudding like consistency is achieved. Add sugar and stir.

Top with coconut cream with a pinch of salt, preferably chilled.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tasty Snacks

Potato Feta Cakes

300 g potatoes (peeled and boiled,and mashed)
Mix 2 tbsp fresh/dried chives
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
90 g feta cheese
Oil for frying

Beat egg with milk and chives, add cooled mashed potatoes.
Add crumbled feta..shaped into cakes and fry in nonstick pan until brown on both sides.

Banana Bread Recipe

My other half nicknames me the cyber cook, because every time I needed a recipe I would google the net and find the easiest option available. I normally use easy or quick as my keyword and these option will be listed first on my search results.

There are loads of banana bread recipes out there..but here is one that I have tried and tested and it turned out moist and yummy, not overly sweet, this one is a definite keeper! Simply click on the title and it will take you to the Simple Recipes blog site.

Black Pepper Beef

Here's another super simple recipe, good for busy mums like you and me. I have a good collection of recipes that are ready to serve under 30 minutes, this one is definitely top on my list. You have to try to believe how good this is. The cornflour breaks down the protein in the beef rendering it soft and succulent.


Marinate 500 g sliced beef with 2 tbsp crushed pepper. (more if you like more ummph), 2 tbsp cornflour, 1/2 cup light soy sauce. Leave in the fridge for 20mins (at least).

While beef marinades, slice young ginger, spring onions.
When ready to cook, sautee ginger slices and spring onions in high heat for 2 minutes.

Keep heat high, add beef and stir fry until brown approx 6-8 mins. add remaining spring onions. Turn off heat and serve with splash of sesame oil.

My food inspiration

Besides my mum, Jamie Oliver has been an inspiration when it comes to food. It doesnt hurt that he has the cutest lisp (lol), but seriously Jamie makes a real effort to encourage healthy eating. I am very fortunate to have been raised on home cooked meals and I strive to do the same for my kids and hopefully the tradition continues with the future generation.

Food is central is our lives, as it brings families, old & new friends together. Food can heal or hurt if taken in oversized portions. Which is why I love Ramadhan, where Muslims observes fasting from dusk to dawn. It has been scientifically proven that there are many health benefits by observing fasts. I will not get into that as I am not a health expert.

There is only one thing that I try to remind myself is practice restraint at iftar (break fast) which I know a lot of us tend to do, especially with the hundreds of food stalls, and Ramadhan buffets in most Muslim countries.

Hope everyone is having a good Ramadhan and please eat in moderation to prevent waste. You can check out healthy recipes at JamieOliver.com

Spicy Crab Soup

I have long been toying with the idea of a food blog, mainly because I feel food should be shared, if not on a plate; at least with pictures and words :) and so thanks to friends on or off facebook...I have taken the leap from simply cooking to writing about my cooking...so strap on to your seats..its gonna be a burrpy ride :)

I'll start with an all time family favourite, simple to prepare yet so delish, you will know what I mean when you start cooking this...the aroma will fill your kitchen and bring the family out from wherever they may be...into the dining room ready to savour this delicious meal.

Spicy Crab soup

3 shallots
1 clove garlic
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cm ginger
2 tbsp cooking oil (any vegetable oil will do)
300gm sand crabs cleaned & halved
3 cups water
Salt & pepper to taste

Pound first five ingredients in mortar & pestle until broken up (not too finely). Heat oil in pan on medium high and stir fry pounded spices for 2-3 minutes and add water. Bring to a boil and add crab pieces. Cover pot and and cook another 10minutes. Season with salt & pepper and serve hot with chopped cilantro.