Tuesday, 22 November, 2011

Braised pork belly and Tau kwa

 
One of my easiest recipe is braised pork belly and Tau Kwa. Throw in some hard boiled eggs if you like.

Short-cut: use store-bought braising sauce as a base for preparing the stock.

After the stock is prepared and the first batch is cooked, subsequent meal preparation is super easy. I just have to strain the remaining stock into a clean container and refrigerate it for the next batch of braising.

Stock preparation:-
Half a bottle of sauce (I use Tai Hua Chinese Braising Sauce 305 ml), about 150 ml.
About 300 ml of water.
Optional:
About 100 ml of chicken broth.
1 stick of cinnamon, wash before cooking.
About a teaspoon of "five spice powder", which consists of coriander, cumin, anise cinnamon, star anise.
About 8 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed and peeled.

Notice that the amounts are approximate. It's a matter of personal preference. You can adjust the quantity of each spice. Even if you only use the store-bought braising sauce and just add water, it can be good enough as a start. 

Other ingredients:-
Pork belly, about 600 g.
Tau Kwa, about 600 g.
Eggs, about 4.

Method:-
Bring the soup stock to a boil. Meanwhile wash and cut the pork belly into one-inch strips. No seasoning is required. Place into the boiling stock. Bring to boil again. Then simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. 

While cooking, prepare hard boiled eggs. Also wash and cut Tau Kwa into big cubes. It's not necessary to season the Tau Kwa too. Bring the pot contents to boil again, add Tau Kwa and simmer for another 20 minutes. During last 5 to 10 minutes, remove shells of the hard boiled eggs and add to pot. Done!

This is super easy and flavourful. Good to eat with rice as it's rather salty. I like to cook a big batch as leftovers can be refrigerated and I just need to bring it to boil before consuming. Best part is: I can "recycle" the stock for future use.

Here's how. After you've eaten the ingredients, strain the soup stock (to remove the garlic & cinnamon etc) and refrigerate it. It's more savoury after cooking the pork belly in it. After refrigerating, you may find there's a layer of oil solidified on top. Just remove it if you prefer a less oily stock. For "recycling" into a new batch of pork belly or Tau Kwa, just add some braising sauce, water, and vary the quantities of the spices according to your preference. Sometimes I only add garlic and not the other spices. After this batch is done, remember to strain and keep the stock for future use, again and again.

This dish is one of my whole family's favourite. 

Friday, 30 September, 2011

Baked chicken wings

This is easy to prepare. Summarised recipe: marinate, chill, add onion, wrap, bake for 40 minutes. 

In fact there can be many variations depending on the marinade and vegetables used. 

First, wash the chicken wings. Use about 6 wings or 10 mid-joint wings. Then marinate. For the marinade, I use a combination of several sauces, so as to achieve a richer taste. Examples of my favourite sauces include: oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, chilli sauce, tomato ketchup. The amount of each sauce varies from half teaspoon to one tablespoon. Sometimes I add pepper, salt, sugar too. For a more "western" feel, add some dried basil leaves.

After coating the wings with marinade, chill them in the fridge for about an hour. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 180 deg Celsius. Dice an onion. You can also cut some carrots. Line a big piece of aluminium foil on a suitable plate. Layer the bottom with onion, carrots and a little water or broth. Place chicken wings on top. Pour in any excess marinade sauce as well. Wrap loosely so that there's only a tiny opening.

Bake for 40 minutes until it's done. To further brown the skin, uncover and bake at 190 degree Celsius for another 5 minutes. 

The above is only a general guideline. You can adjust almost every step. Experiment and discover your own preference. 

By the way I also wrapped some sweet potatoes with aluminium foil and threw them into a tray at the bottom, baked together with the chicken wings. This is my favourite two-in-one cooking, where I can produce two dishes within the same time frame and oven.

Real food. Simple steps. Easy preparation, easy clean up. Healthy home-cooked meal. Limited only by creativity and the courage to try :)

Monday, 11 July, 2011

Strawberry milkshake

Today I was thinking of giving my two kids a surprise treat. I happen to have some strawberries, so I decided to make a super simple strawberry milkshake.

Here's how I made it:
Wash & dice a few strawberries,
Add a cup of cold milk & a teaspoon of honey,
Blend everything.

Voilà!

Tip: I left my son's glass in the fridge to chill while he was taking his bath. Tasted better, thicker & creamier :)

PS. this is one good way of using up strawberries that are not sweet enough to be eaten on it's own. Just add more honey if you prefer a sweeter milkshake.

Tuesday, 19 April, 2011

Grill chicken

Other than soups & steamed dishes, I find that using an oven to bake or grill is one of the easiest cooking methods. There is also a certain distinct flavour different from steaming the same recipe.

For this recipe I used 3 deboned chicken drumstick. Marinate with pinch of salt and pepper for about 20 minutes. If you prefer a healthier chicken that's raised without growth hormones, antibiotics etc, try Sakura chicken from Kee Song Brothers. My kids love it too. You can literally taste the difference. The meat is tastier and contains less fat. Currently it's available at major NTUC supermarkets and some wet markets in Singapore. Make sure there's a pink ring on the chicken's leg which is a mark of authenticity.

Back to preparation. Preheat oven on high (grill). Meanwhile prepare other ingredients. Wash and slice fresh button mushrooms, dice a tomato, dice an onion. Line a suitable dish with aluminium foil. Spread out the above diced ingredients onto the dish. Place the marinated chicken pieces on top. Spread them out in the dish as flat as possible, skin side up. Add a tablespoon each of soy sauce and chicken broth.

Grill on high for 25 minutes. To prevent splatter or to have a moist dish, place a 'roof' on top using aluminium foil.

This dish takes minimal preparation time and is good for a simple complete meal by adding rice.

Enjoy :-)

Friday, 23 May, 2008

Chinese Spinach Soup with Tofu & Fish

This dish is simple to cook, and my hubby likes to eat chinese spinach. The only thing I don't like is removing the fibre from the stalks of the chinese spinach. To counter this problem, the chinese spinach can sometimes be replaced with other green leafy vegetables that are not so fibrous.

Ingredients:

  • one packet of chinese spinach or other green leafy vegetables, about 200gm
  • fish fillet (I like to use red grouper or ikan kurau threadfin), about 180gm
  • one box of tofu (beancurd), about 300gm
  • about 500ml of water or soup stock
  • a few thin slices of ginger
  • one teaspoon salt
  • one teaspoon sesame oil

Marinade sauce:

  • one teaspoon salt
  • one teaspoon sugar
  • one teaspoon soya sauce
  • one tablespoon sesame oil
  • a dash of pepper

Method:

  • clean, slice & marinate the fish
  • wash & remove fibre from vegetables, pluck into about 6cm length
  • cut beancurd into cubes
  • boil water, add salt
  • add beancurd, cook for about 10 minutes
  • add ginger slices and sesame oil
  • when water is boiling again, add fish, add vegetables, and cook for another 5 minutes

If you want the dish to look more appealing, consider adding carrot for colour. Cut into thin slices & cook with the tofu or cook a little while before adding the tofu. Continue with the other steps. Again, play around with your imagination or ingredients & seasoning. The recipe provided here is just a basic one which aims to save time & effort while serving something palatable.

Thursday, 22 May, 2008

Blanched Kale

If I feel tired but want something nutritious, this is a simple dish to cook.

Ingredients:

  • 200gm chinese kale (kai lan), or other suitable green leafy vegetables
  • 3 clove garlic, lightly crushed
  • 500ml water

Seasoning:

  • half teaspoon salt
  • one teaspoon sesame oil or normal cooking oil
  • one teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
  • one teaspoon soya sauce
  • one tablespoon oyster sauce

Garnish:

  • one teaspoon fried shallot (can be prepared in bulk before hand & kept in the fridge)

Method:

  • wash & drain the vegetables
  • boil water, put in garlic, salt, sesame oil, fish sauce
  • add vegetables and blanch (parboil) for about 2 minutes, until cooked
  • remove vegetables promptly & arrange on serving plate
  • dribble the soya sauce & oyster sauce onto the vegetables. (if necessary, add some of the water you've used for blanching to moisten the dish)
  • add fried shallot as garnish & serve

This dish can be served with porridge for a simple meal. Simple fare, but easy to prepare & easy to digest, easy to clean up too :-)

Friday, 16 May, 2008

Mixed Vegetables & Beancurd

This is an "all-in-one" dish. There are more steps involved compared to the others dishes I posted, but still quite easy to prepare. Here I cook in larger portion as the leftovers can be reheated with rice for my next meal, which helps to cut down time spent cooking. If you are preparing it as one of a few dishes for your meal, you could reduce the quantities given.

Ingredients:

  • one packet frozen mixed vegetables (carrot & peas). I use an organic packet which weighs about 284g
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 8 small sausages about 5cm each. I use this because it's more convenient and both my husband & son like the taste. However I prefer to use minced meat (whether chicken, pork or beef) whenever it's available, anywhere about 250-350g is good enough, depending on your preference of proportion of meat to vegetable (I prefer about 250g)
  • 2 packets of tofu (beancurd), each weighing 300g
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of chopped garlic
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of chopped ginger
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of chopped shallot (I have a bottle of deep fried shallot which my mum prepared for me to keep in the fridge, I use this for convenience & to help cut down cooking time too)
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoon cornflour with 2 tablespoon water (as cornflour mixture)

Seasoning:

  • half teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soya sauce

Sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chicken stock sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 400ml hot water

Method:

  • thaw, wash & drain the frozen mixed vegetables & sausages
  • wash & dice the tomatoes
  • cut the sausages into slices (if you use minced meat instead of sausages, you have to marinate it first with 1 teaspoon each of salt, sugar, soya sauce, sesame oil, cornflour and a dash of pepper)
  • rinse & drain the beancurd
  • heat 1 tablespoon oil in wok, add garlic, ginger, shallot. When fragrant, add mixed vegetables, tomatoes, sausages (or minced meat) & seasoning. Stir fry for 3 minutes on high heat. Ladle out & put aside
  • pour the sauce ingredients listed into the wok. When boiling, add the 2 blocks of beancurd, cover & cook for 3 minutes on medium heat. Carefully ladle onto serving bowl
  • continue to heat the sauce over high heat, add cornflour mixture & stir well for 2 minutes
  • add the vegetables prepared earlier
  • stir briskly for just half a minute to mix
  • pour over beancurd

There, you have a colourful & nutritious dish!

Tuesday, 25 March, 2008

Even Simpler Soup

Remember I introduced "Tomato with Cabbage (娃娃菜)" earlier? This cabbage is a versatile vegetable too, can be either stir-fried or cooked in soup (same as tomato, which I use quite often both in stir-fry and soup dishes). If you don't feel like heating up your wok, or want to have something light, try this!

Ingredients:

  • one packet cabbage (娃娃菜), about 300g
  • water or soup stock, about 250ml

Seasoning:

  • quarter teaspoon salt
  • dash of sesame oil
  • dash of pepper

Method:

  • clean cabbage & cut into appropriate size
  • when water is boiling, add seasoning
  • add cabbage, cook for about 3 to 5 minutes

Simple? It's also good as a complement to other "heavier" dishes :-)

This is a very basic soup recipe. As usual, you could add other ingredients or seasoning sauces to make the dish more interesting.

Meat Patties

After you make the meat patties, either steam them or pan-fry them, depending on your taste & preference.

Ingredients:

  • minced meat (I used pork, you can choose your preferred meat), about 300 g

Seasoning:

  • half teaspoon salt
  • half teaspoon sugar
  • quarter teaspoon pepper
  • one tablespoon soya sauce
  • half teaspoon sesame oil
  • one tablespoon corn flour

Method:

  • combine minced meat & seasoning, mix well, let stand for 10 minutes
  • take a heaped tablespoon of meat and roll into a ball between your palms, then press lightly to flatten, continue for all, making about 12 small patties
  • if you prefer it pan-fried, heat one-and-a-half tablespoon of oil in a wok or frying pan, fry on both sides, approximately 5 minutes each side
  • if you prefer the steamed version, put the patties in a plate & place them in a steamer when the water is boiling, cook for about 10 minutes

Other than using different cooking methods (maybe you can try deep frying?), you could also experiment with varying the seasoning or adding other ingredients (eg carrot) to get the flavour & texture you like.

Wednesday, 19 March, 2008

Lady's Finger with Fishball

Usually I see lady's fingers cooked with chilli or dried shrimps or curry. This is something light which I improvised because my mum gave me some fishballs and it's more suitable for my son too.

Ingredients:

  • one big packet of lady's fingers, about 200g I think, anyway my packet contained about 25 stalks :-), cut into slanted slices
  • ten cooked fishballs, cut into quarters
  • one tablespoon of crushed & minced garlic
  • one tablespoon of oil for stir-frying

Seasoning:

  • one tablespoon of salted soya bean sauce (豆酱)

Method:

  • heat wok, add oil, swirl to coat
  • add garlic, stir-fry until fragrant, about half a minute
  • add lady's fingers and salted soya beans, stir-fry on high heat for about 2-3 minutes
  • add fish balls and a little hot water for a dish moist with some gravy, stir-fry another minute or until water boil
  • ladle & serve

You could try varying the ingredients or seasoning sauces to get a different dish.

Monday, 17 March, 2008

Tomato with Cabbage (娃娃菜)

This is a fast-to-prepare stir-fry dish, which is also quite appetizing because of the tangy taste of tomato.

Ingredients:
- one packet of cabbage (娃娃菜), about 3 clusters or 300 g
- three tomatoes
- a clove of garlic, minced, approx 1 teaspoon
- one tablespoon of oil for stir-frying

Basic Seasoning:
- one tablespoon soy sauce
- one tablespoon oyster sauce

Method:
- wash & rinse cabbage, cut into appropriate length
- wash tomatoes, cut into thick slices (ie about 8 pieces per tomato)
- heat wok, add oil, add garlic, stir-fry till fragrant
- add tomatoes, stir-fry on high heat for a short while
- add cabbage, stir-fry on high heat
- add soy sauce to the side of the wok
- add oyster sauce to the centre, add about100ml water
- stir-fry till cabbage is cooked, cover it for a short while, then serve

Tips:
- seasoning suggested is the most basic. You could add a little salt, sugar, pepper, corn flour mixture according to your preference
- stir-fry carefully moving contents in the wok from the bottom to the top etc, and don't cook for too long. The tomatoes should still be "in shape" and not broken into a mess, haha.

Monday, 3 March, 2008

Stir-Fry Cauliflower with Carrot

This is a simple vegetable dish.

Ingredients:
-one "ball" of cauliflower, about 450 gram
-one carrot
-a tablespoon of chopped garlic
-a tablespoon of oil for stir-frying

Seasoning:
-a tablespoon of mushroom sauce (or oyster sauce)
-a tablespoon of light soy sauce
-a teaspoon of salt
-a dash of pepper

Method:
-wash the cauliflower & carrot
-separate the cauliflower into "florets"
-peel & cut the carrot into shapes of stars (or just cut into thin slices)
-heat wok, add a tablespoon oil, stir-fry garlic about a minute, til fragrant
-add carrot & cauliflower, stir-fry for about 5 minutes
-add seasonings & some water, stir-fry for another minute
-cover & cook for 3 to 5 minutes more, until tender

Tips:
-I tend to cook it this long because I prefer it soft, you can cut cooking time for a more "crunchy" texture

Serve it with rice and other dishes. Enjoy your simple healthy food!

Wednesday, 27 February, 2008

I'm Back! Announcement of 3rd Blog

The 15 days of Chinese New Year celebration has been a busy period, with lots of gatherings & visits, especially because we have many elder relatives in our family, and many friends too of course, haha. Well the busiest time is now over but I realized that while I was away from blogging, many people, even my son (who has just turned 9 years old) have been reading my blogs. That’s nice :-). It’s also a pleasant surprise to learn that more friends have started their own blogs. Wow!

For people who read my blogs, I do hope I can contribute in a positive way somehow. Some friends have excitedly shared with me that they tried my recipes on the cooking-simple-dishes blog. Though I’ll try to include as many healthy & nutritious dishes as I can, I would still like to give a gentle reminder to my friends: remember to eat regular & balanced meals containing high nutrition value, and try to avoid (junk) foods that are highly processed, contain additives & colourings, and those that have high fat, sugar & salt content. Remember the food pyramid, and eat more vegetables & fruits, not just “more” in terms of quantity but “more” variety as well, with as many different colours as possible.

As for friends who link to the teach-my-child blog, I hope you are not disappointed as the contents will be mainly on sharing my personal experiences & views in the upbringing of my own child. Anyway I’ve only one child, and my son is still young. There’s a long way to go, and really too early to say if I’ve brought him up well. I’m no guru in child education or development, just a mother who records down her experiences & thoughts, which would invariably include my flaws & limitations as well. In that sense, it is not yet “教子有道”,but just only“育儿经验分享”, though I must say I’m very grateful to my friends for giving me such a high level of recognition. :-)

Today I’ve also started a third blog, with contents on my personal views & encounters in daily life. Do feel free to give me your comments.

许多朋友相继开设自己的博客,有如雨后春笋,百花齐放,现代的科技促进了更多精神上的交流,大家在各自的空间里,传递正面的信息,真好!

很感谢朋友们链接到我的博客,希望我的拙作能起到抛砖引玉之效。不过有一点需要澄清的:teach-my-child blog 只是我在陪孩子成长的过程中,一些个人的看法、经验与体会,因此必然包括我本身的局限;而且我只有一个儿子,年纪尚幼,是否教养得好还言之过早,他日若能成才,也必然是由许多因素促成,绝对不只是我的功劳。朋友们厚爱,把它取名“教子有道”,令我诚惶诚恐,也鞭策我要朝这个方向去努力。

至于cooking-simple-dishes blog, 主要分享平常煮来糊口的小菜,当然没有专业水平,虽然尽量收录比较营养可口的食谱,但由于主要是煮给不太挑食的儿子,因此口味不一定适合所有人,欢迎大家给我一些指点或建议。无论如何,都希望对“吃”有兴趣的朋友们,要注意健康,虽说“病从口入”,幸好“营养”也是“从口入”,要尽量选择营养含量高的食物,多吃不同种类的蔬菜水果,避免高盐高糖高脂肪及“加料”(如颜料及化学成分)的食物。另外还要早睡早起,做适量的运动。

今天也开设了第三个博客,主要内容是分享对生活小事的想法,请大家多多指教。

祝大家在新的一年里,精神上有“进一步”的提升,生命有“进一步”的启发及超越,百尺竿头,更进一步!

Monday, 14 January, 2008

Taking A Break Before CNY

Dear friends, if you've been reading my blogs, you'd have noticed that I've not been updating them recently. Reason being this is the last month before CNY (Chinese New Year, 7 Feb this year), and I've been channelling my concentration & efforts towards getting my house etc ready for it.

Though there's so much that I want to write & share about, this period I'm shifting top priority to my CNY project. So you'll likely hear from me again after CNY. Hope everyone enjoys a healthy, prosperous & fulfilling new year!

Thursday, 3 January, 2008

Broccoli & Carrot With Minced Meat

This is basically a stir-fry dish. If you have small kids, minced meat will be easier for them to eat than sliced meat. The red & green colours perk up their appetite too, especially if you have time to make some patterns like cutting the carrot & broccoli stem into shapes of stars, moons, triangles etc. They will enjoy the meal more by "hunting" for the next star or guessing what shape they'll get next. If you prepare the ingredients beforehand, it takes only a short while to cook.

Ingredients:
- 1 "ball" of broccoli
- 1 small carrot
- 100gm minced meat
- 1 heaped teaspoon of chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon oil / sesame oil

Marinade:
- half teaspoon salt
- quarter teaspoon sugar
- half teaspoon vinegar
- dash of pepper
- half teaspoon cornflour
- half teaspoon soy sauce

Seasoning:
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- cornflour mixture (1 teaspoon corn flour dissolved in some water)

Method:
- marinate minced meat with above marinade sauce
- wash broccoli thorougly, cut & separate the stem from the "flowers". Remove some of the tough skin / fibre on surface of the stem. Cut stem into thin slices, & separate "flowers" into small florets
- wash carrot. Peel & cut into thin slices
- prepare garlic
- heat wok, add 1 tablespoon oil
- add garlic & stir-fry until fragrant
- add marinated minced meat, stir fry for a minute until almost cooked, ladle out & set aside
- add a few drops of oil / sesame oil if necessary into wok, add carrot & broccoli stem slices, stir-fry about a minute over high heat
- add broccoli florets, stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the colour change
- add minced meat from earlier on, stir-fry a bit, add some water / hot water
- add oyster sauce & soy sauce, continue to stir-fry for another minute
- stir corn flour mixture into the wok
- turn off heat, cover wok for short while, serve hot with rice or porridge

Tips:
- if you cut the carrot or broccoli stem into various shapes, don't slice them too thin, otherwise they'll break in the stir-frying process

If I only want to cook one dish for a meal, this is one of the dishes I prefer, as it's quite balanced in nutrition.

Wednesday, 2 January, 2008

Delicious Steamboat

This is an all-in-one dish that my mum usually cooks for Chinese New Year or at times when she doesn't feel like cooking so many dishes. It's versatile as any ingredients can be used, though I usually use cabbage & seafood. The amount of food can also be adjusted according to the number of persons. And you don't need to cook all ingredients, you can just prepare the raw ingredients and serve them on plates for guests to choose & cook for themselves. Of course you have to provide the necessary "tools" for them like colanders etc. I like its flexibility in variety & quantity. Fun too!

Ingredients:
- a pot of hot water or soup stock
- vegetables, suggest cabbage
- seafood, suggest fish & prawns (even abalone if it's for Chinese New Year)
- others, suggest fishballs, mushrooms, carrot, quail eggs
- 1 or 2 slices of ginger, optional, to mask "fishy" taste

Method:
- prepare vegetables beforehand, wash & cut
- cut fish into slices, marinate with salt, pepper, sesame oil & a little corn flour
- for tastier soup use whole prawns. For easy eating, remove heads & shells, then also marinate with salt, pepper, sesame oil & a little corn flour
- prepare quail eggs by separately boiling & shelling them, just like making hard boiled eggs
- prepare all other ingredients, washing, cutting etc
- put sufficient hot water or soup stock into the steamboat, wait for water to boil, add a little salt & sesame oil if desired
- add cabbage, carrot, mushrooms, fishballs
- add ginger, fish, prawns
- add fishballs, quail eggs

Tips:
- fish, prawns & abalone cook rather fast, only put them into the boiling soup when you want to eat & ladle them out immediately when done
- turn down heat when not cooking. Prepare a little more soup / hot water than you need as soup in the steamboat will dry out due to constant heating. Add when necessary
- raw fishballs are cooked if they "float" in the soup
- you can add any other ingredients that you like, for example "yong tau foo", meat balls, crabsticks, "tang hoon" (vermicelli) etc
- if you don't have a steamboat, just cook everything in a big pot and serve with rice. Tastes nice too :-)

Thursday, 27 December, 2007

Steamed Beancurd

Another simple dish! One of my favourites too. Also a good source of protein & easy for kids to eat.

Ingredients:
- 1 box of beancurd (tofu), about 300gm
- minced meat (chicken or pork or beef, whichever you prefer), about 100gm, more is ok too

Marinade sauce (suggested):
- half teaspoon salt
- half teaspoon sugar
- one teaspoon soy sauce
- one teaspoon oyster sauce
- half teaspoon corn flour
- dash of pepper

Method:
- marinate minced meat with suggested sauce for 10 minutes. You can play around with the quantity or type of marinade according to your taste. For example, chopped garlic, ginger, chilli or a little vinegar could be added too
- wash & rinse the whole chunk of beancurd, spread minced meat evenly onto the top
- steam with boiling water for about 10 minutes until cooked

Try it. I like to eat it with cooked rice.

Monday, 24 December, 2007

Sweet Potato Porridge

Let's try a basic dish which can be used to complement the dishes introduced earlier. Rice is a staple food & when cooked into porridge, is palatable & light, especially good if you're looking for something simple & refreshing.

Ingredients (serves 2 to 3 persons):
- 1 cup raw white rice
- 9 cups water
- 1 medium sweet potato (either yellow flesh or orange flesh is ok)

Method:
- wash & rinse rice
- cook rice & water in automatic rice cooker or large pot
- while cooking, peel sweet potato & break into small pieces, place into pot to cook together
- when done (about 40 minutes later), add a little salt & sesame oil (optional)

Variation:
- for a healthier version, white rice can be substituted with brown rice or multi-grain mixed rice

It's good eaten as it is or accompanied with any of the easy-to-cook dishes introduced in the previous articles.

Monday, 17 December, 2007

Cucumber Stir-fried

The humble cucumber is good eaten raw or cooked. Here I'll share my recipe for simple stir-fried cucumber. If you like, you could make up your own variations, see suggestions below.

Ingredients:
- 1 cucumber
- 1 heaped teaspoon of chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon oil

Seasoning:
- pinch of salt

Method:
- peel & wash the cucumber, remove the centre, cut into thin strips (maybe about 1cm by 4cm, & about 1 to 2mm thick; or about 2cm by 6cm, 3mm thick)
- heat the oil in a wok, add garlic, stir-fry for a short while until fragrant
- add cucumber & stir-fry until soft & almost transparent (this might take some time, about 5 minutes if you cut the cucumber thin enough & use a fire strong enough)
- add salt & other seasoning according to your preference
- add a little water for a moister dish
- cover & stew, make sure you add enough water if you want to cook a longer time to make the cucumber really soft (trust me, it tastes delicious when thoroughly cooked too, though very different from its raw taste)

Variations:
- if you like, slowly add a beaten egg in a circular motion at the last stage
- or if you prefer prawns instead, you could stir-fry them a short while till they turn pink, ladle out and cook as per above instructions, then add the prawns back to the cucumber during the last part of the process. This gives the dish a nice colour too

Saturday, 15 December, 2007

Tomato And Egg

These 2 ingredients are rather versatile. You can either cook them in a soup or as a stir-fry.

Ingredients:
- 2 tomatoes (washed & cut)
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- thin slice of ginger (optional)

Seasoning:
- pinch of salt added to the eggs

Method (for stir-fry):
- heat a tablespoon oil in the wok, fry ginger until fragrant
- put in tomatoes & stir-fry for a minute
- add eggs, fry until eggs are cooked
- add a little water or soup stock if you prefer it moist

Method (for soup):
- boil about 450ml of water or soup stock in a pot
- add ginger, tomatoes when water is boiling briskly, cook for 2 minutes
- turn down heat, add beaten eggs while stirring the soup

There you go! 2 recipes for the same ingredients. Choose either one to suit your mood or match other dishes served.

Friday, 14 December, 2007

Stewed Chicken Wings

This is one of my favourite & easiest chicken recipes.

Ingredients:
- about 4 whole chicken wings or 6 to 8 mid-joint of the wings

Sauce ingredients (see "tips" below):
- peeled & chopped garlic, about 1 heaped teaspoon
- peeled & chopped ginger, about 1 teaspoon
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- half teaspoon vinegar
- half teaspoon sesame oil
- pinch of salt
- pinch of sugar
- dash of pepper

Method:
- wash & clean chicken wings
- add about 150ml water to the sauce
- put everything into a pot or casserole
- when the contents start to boil, turn heat to medium-low & cook for another 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked
- during the cooking process, you could turn the chicken to ensure even colouring
- if the sauce is drying out too much while cooking, add a little hot water, not too much as you don't want the dish to turn into a soup, haha

Tips:
- again this is one recipe I devised which allows for a lot of flexibility. You can add other ingredients to the sauce depending on your preference. Or you can simply ignore some of the sauce ingredients if you don't like them or don't have them. Better still, play around with the quantities so you get a taste that you like most.

- there is flexibility in the cooking method too. You could first pan-fry the garlic & ginger with a little oil, then put in the chicken & fry it a bit, before adding water & the sauce ingredients, then continue to cook for about 20 minutes. The taste will turn out a bit different.

Go experiment with it and share with me your variations :-)

Steam Eggs

I've tried steaming eggs for many times and been figuring out what is the best way to do it. The following is the most basic.

Ingredients:
- 2 eggs
- 6 parts of water (see "tips" given below)
- pinch of salt
- dash of pepper (optional)
- a few drops of sesame oil (optional)

Method:
- boil water in steamer
- break the eggs into a bowl
- beat them with fork until whites & yolks are mixed evenly
- stir in the water, salt, sesame oil, pepper
- remove bubbles from surface if you want the surface to turn out nice
- steam over low heat for about 8 minutes or until the eggs set (turn solid)

Tips:
- this is how to decide how much water to add: 1 part = half an eggshell full of water. For every egg, add 3 parts water. Some people prefer to use same quantity of water to egg. You can try either. The less water you use the firmer the end result, & vice versa.
- do not use high heat, otherwise your egg custard will have many bubble "holes" in it when cooked.

This dish is easy to cook & easy to eat, especially for young children or when you don't feel like chewing, haha. However if you want a more sophisticated variation, you could always add other ingredients to this basic recipe, like adding minced meat into the egg mixture before you steam, or sprinkling fried shallot, spring onion & red chilli onto the dish just before it's cooked, etc etc. Again it all depends on your tastes, your moods, your preferences, your creativity!

Wednesday, 12 December, 2007

Simple Way to Cook Steamed Fish

Steaming is a healthy & easy way to cook. I would prefer to use fish fillet, so I don't have to deal with cleaning away the scales & the gut. I prefer to use ikan kurau or cod. As for salmon, I'll talk about it another time. Anyway, here comes the recipe.

Ingredients:
-fish fillet, about 200 gram
-ginger, about size of your thumb, less if you don't like the taste of it

Marinade:
-salt, about a teaspoon
-dash of pepper

Method:
-boil water in the steamer
-clean the fish fillet
-to marinate, coat the fish fillet with salt & pepper for about 10 minutes
-cut the ginger into slices or thin strips
-rinse the fish, though there's no need to get rid of *all* the marinade
-place ginger & fish onto a plate, put it into the steamer when the water is boiling
-continue to steam on high heat for about 8 minutes, until cooked
-if you prefer, you could add a dash of sesame oil or soya sauce to the fish when cooked

This is a simple way of cooking fish. If the fish is fresh, it will taste good too!

Cooking Simple Stir-fry Dish

Today let's try a stir-fry dish, which is rather simple to cook. Any quantity of the ingredients mentioned will be suitable for 2 persons.

Ingredients (basic minimum for now, we can venture into variations or additions later on):
- a tablespoon oil for stir frying
- peeled & chopped garlic, about a heaped teaspoon
- green leafy vegetables, can use any, suggest chye sim or kai lan or spinach
- half a carrot, sliced or diced or cut into strips or shapes of stars, whatever you fancy

Seasoning (suggestion only, you can put some or all, and feel free to plus or minus from the list according to your taste):
- pinch of salt
- pinch of sugar
- a little pepper
- a tablespoon of oyster sauce
- a teaspoon of soy sauce
- a teaspoon of cornflour (best if first dissolved in a little water)

Method:
- prepare vegetables. Wash & pluck or cut into suitable lengths. Drain away water
- prepare garlic & carrot
- heat wok, add some oil
- dump in the garlic, then the carrot, then the vegetables & seasoning, all the while ensuring that you *stir-fry* the contents in the wok, ie don't let them "sit" inside for too long without moving around
- during the process, add some water (preferably hot) if necessary, amount? just enough to moist the vegetables or form a little gravy
- when the vegetables change colour (from raw to cooked), you can dish them out.

Tip:
- how much oil to use? First, use high heat to warm up your wok, then put some oil in it. After that swivel a bit to coat most of the inside of the wok, then pour out all the oil. This way you're left with just enough oil to cook (ie those still stuck in the wok), and the dish will not be too oily. For everyday cooking, I find this method too troublesome. Usually I would put the exact amount of oil I need (usually one tablespoon) into a heated non-stick wok (hard anodized preferred), then swirl to coat the inside.

- use high heat and cook fast to retain the nutrition, texture & colour of the vegetables. So put whatever spices you need in a handy place, prepare them beforehand, or try adding them to the vegetables before stir-frying.

- put the "hard" vegetables or parts of vegetables into the wok first, then the "soft" leafy parts which take shorter time to cook.

- try to cut the ingredients to about the same size so they cook uniformly. Otherwise the smaller pieces would cook faster than the bigger ones. For everyday cooking, I don't really care, because the smaller pieces would be softer & suitable for my son while the larger ones would be "crunchy" or "crispy" & suitable for my husband. The different sizes would cater to their mouth sizes too, haha!

This dish sounds easy? You'll have a clear conscience too, knowing you're eating healthily.

Enjoy your cooking!

Tuesday, 11 December, 2007

Cooking Simple Soups

Soups are one of the easiest dishes to cook, you kind of dump everything into the pot then wait for it to cook, quite easy actually, no multiple steps to follow, haha. This is one of my favourite soup recipes.

Ingredients:
- onion, how many? suggest using 1
- carrot, suggest 1
- potato, suggest 2
- tomato, suggest 2
- pork spare rib, suggest 300 gram

Quantity:
- the above suggested quantities is for 2 to 3 persons. Anyway, it's flexible, depending on how much people you are cooking for, and you can even adjust the quantity of each ingredient according to your preference

Method:
- boil a pot of water for the soup, how much? about 1 bowl per person
- boil water for rinsing spare ribs, how much? enough to cover the ribs in a container
- in the meantime, clean & dice the onions, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes
- wash spare ribs, then rinse them in hot water to get rid of excess oil, or boil the ribs for a short while then remove & rinse
- put everything in the pot of boiling water, cook for 1 to 2 hours, lower the flame when necessary
- add salt to taste

You can add other ingredients for the soup to taste better. But this is a simple version and tastes delicious enough to me. Healthy too!

Happy cooking!

Beginning of Cooking-Simple-Dishes!

Yippee, I made it! Today I finally set up my blog about cooking simple dishes. After toying with the idea for a long time, this step is also the result of encouragement from my husband & friends, especially Nor who nudged me into *really* creating the blog.

Well, this is just the beginning, so what led to this & what's next?

In Singapore, there're many choices of delicious foods for meal-time, whether in price or nationality. There are less-costly hawker food stalls, and higher-end restaurants, and mid-priced ones in between. However, whenever we go out to eat, we would inevitably be asking the question: "what do we eat today?"

If we're not too choosey, maybe a simple meal at a coffee shop will cost about S$12 for the 3 of us. If we go to a simple restaurant, be it chinese, western, indonesian or japanese food, the final bill usually ranges from S$35 to S$55. Whereas the most "luxurious" meal I had costed S$100+, per person! Moreover, the food we get outside may not be as healthy as we would like it to be, whether in terms of ingredients or cooking methods. Plus, my one-of-a-kind son always give me sweet comments like "Mummy's cooking tastes the best", "I prefer home-cooked food" etc, though most of the time I only present very simple dishes, haha.

So I thought cooking at home is an alternative to get simple, delicious, nutritious food, and to cut some costs at the same time! But of course, sometimes I'll feel lazy and prefer to let someone else do the cooking while I sit down to enjoy the food and the time with my family. And I would prefer to leave those exquisite fine cooking to the experienced chefs. That is their expertise, not mine, not yet. Haha.

"You are what you eat". Foods give us energy and help us sustain life. However, inappropriate eating creates problems in our health & life. I hope with easy-to-cook nutritious meals, I would feed myself & my family properly, without "cooking up a storm" in the kitchen or spending too much time. In addition, I hope everyone reading my blog would benefit from it in some way: newbie cooks getting ideas & be inspired to cook, or veteran cooks sharing your comments so we can all improve. So in this blog I'll be sharing my recipes for simple cooking!

Of course, they may not be anything fantastic, but I hope to share those that I feel are easy to cook, nutritious, and at least pass the "taste okay" test with my son. Most of the recipes I share will be those that I myself cook regularly. They are the results from years of poring over cook books, watching cooking programs, asking tips from Mother, Mother-in-law, relatives & friends, etc. They are also the "easy-to-succeed" ones.

I didn't even know how to cook a proper meal before I was married. When I first started cooking after my wedding in 1995, how I wished there was some simple formula for cooking. So you can be sure most of the recipes I share here will be really easy to cook. And though I like to eat & enjoy foods from various nationalities, the majority of my cooking recipes are Chinese / Asian.

But I'm the type of cook who don't follow exact measurements most of the time and usually will not bother with "rigid" details of how much of what to use for how long etc. Haha, I know, I know, I used to follow every instruction to the last letter, coz I started out with zero experience. But after so many years, I feel cooking is kind of an art and sometimes you really have to rely on "gut feeling". Some of my favourite dishes are actually the results of my "experiments". However in this blog I'll try to write down as much details as possible, as it's meant to be a "record & reference" for my future use too. Maybe one day my husband or son could use this blog as a menu to "order" the food they would like to have for dinner! :-)

Hmm...The things we do must have a value in it, otherwise it'll not be easy to continue. In order for me to persevere in cooking simple dishes more frequently and in writing this blog, I shall first list down the benefits:

-know *exactly* what's in the dish I'm feeding to my son
-have full control over what ingredients to use or not to use
-freedom to decide which cooking method to use (simpler & healthier ones of course)
-flexibility to eat as healthily as possible
-easily limit intake of salt, sugar and fats for a healthier meal
-save time from travelling out to eat
-save money by cutting down frequency of eating at expensive restaurants
-cut medical expenses & enjoy better health from eating simple, proper meals
-be happy & contented knowing I'm feeding myself & my family with proper food & nutrition
-bonding with my family in the process of preparing, cooking, eating, & cleaning up
-etc etc... there must be lots more.

That's all I can think of for now. If anyone can think of further benefits or have any comments, do feel free to drop me a note. In the meantime, may everyone enjoy a healthy life!

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