Sunday, 25 January 2015

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Prepared a simple and healthy dish for dinner on this cold Sunday evening. Hollowed bell peppers are stuffed with minced beef mixture and then, simmered in basil-flavoured tomato sauce.  Both hubby and son had second helpings and gave their "thumbs up".

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 medium-sized bell peppers
1 big onion, to be peeled and finely cubed
1 tbsp cooking oil
750 g minced beef
2 eggs
1 tsp italian herbs
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 pip garlic, to be peeled and minced
salt & pepper to taste

1 can (400 ml) skinned tomatoes, to be chopped and juice saved
125 ml vegetable stock or white wine
1 tsp dried basil
salt & pepper to taste

Cut of tops of bell peppers and remove the seeds as shown.

In a small pan, heat 1 tbsp of cooking oil and sauté cubed onions until translucent. Leave aside to cool down completely.  In a large bowl, add minced beef, cubed onions, eggs, italian herbs, dried rosemary, minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

In a large pan, add tomatoes, juice, vegetable stock, dried basil, salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well. Then, fill bell peppers with minced beef mixture and place them in pan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cover pan and simmer for about 35 to 40 minutes.

Once done, check seasoning again.  If the taste is sour (due to the canned tomatoes), add 2 tsp of sugar.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Spaghetti served with Thyme Veal Sauce

A pleasant change from the usual Bolognese sauce, I prepared this simple gravy by sautéing veal strips and onion rings in Butterschmalz (ghee) until golden brown. Followed by the addition of beef stock and left simmered until veal is tender.  Lastly, Crème Fraîche and thyme are added to round up the flavour. This is a german dish which uses either marjoram or thyme.  I added thyme as hubby is not a fan of marjoram.

Ingredients (serves 4):
500 g veal meat, to be sliced into strips
1 large onion, to be peeled and sliced into rings
1 tbsp Butterschmalz (ghee) or butter
250 ml beef stock
200 g Crème Fraîche
1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
salt & pepper to taste

300 g spaghetti noodes, to be cooked according to packet instructions

Heat Butterschmalz (ghee) or butter in a pan over high heat.  Add veal strips and sauté until almost brown. Add onion rings and continue sautéing until they are golden brown.

Add beef stock and bring to a slight boil.  Put on lid and simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes.  Then, add Créme Fraîche and thyme.  Bring to a slight simmer before seasoning to taste.

Serve hot with spaghetti noodles.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Cereal Octopus

Since I introduced Cereal Prawns to my hubby, he requested that I prepare this dish for a change.  I must say that I like this dish better, although he still prefers Cereal Prawns.  The dry ingredients in the recipe are still the same.  Do try out with octopus and see whether you like it!

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 octopus (about 1 kg), to be washed clean
3 tbsp tempura flour
2-3 stalks of curry leaves, to be plucked
8-10 chilli padi
1 tbsp (levelled) sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5-6 tbsp Nestum Cereal
oil for deep-frying

In a medium-sized pot, place octopus.  Add water to about 2 or 3 cm high (from bottom of pot) and add 2 tsp salt.  Bring to a slight boil and put on lid.  Simmer over medium heat for about 40 minutes.  Once done, remove octopus to a bowl and leave it aside.  Once cooled down, cut the tentacles away from main body.  By using a small knife, scrape the skin off.  Then, cut the main body to bite pieces.

Toss in tempura flour and set aside.

In a wok, heat enough oil for deep-frying over medium/high heat.  Add octopus pieces portion-wise and deep-fry for about 15 to 20 seconds.  Remove to a plate which is lined with absorbent paper.

Remove oil from wok and wipe wok clean with kitchen paper.  Return wok to stove and add 1 or 2 tbsp of used oil.  Heat oil over medium heat and add curry leaves & chilli padis.

Then, add sugar and salt.  Stir well before adding Nestum.  Stir-fry for about 5 minutes before adding the deep-fried octopus.  Stir well. Serve hot!

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Smoked Salmon on Waffles

This is our younger son's early dinner which I just prepared.  Actually, I would like to use my new "toy" in the kitchen.  I have been searching for a good belgian waffles maker for quite some time and finally found it!  Nowadays, Junior is very health-conscious and requests for light lunch or dinner. I prepared waffles using buttermilk and served with smoked salmon, sauce and salad.  So, here it is .....

Batter Ingredients (serves 4):
600 ml buttermilk
3 eggs
85 ml vegetable oil
180 g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
2 tsp baking powder

Sauce Ingredients:
200 ml crème fraîche
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt & ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp fresh dill, to be chopped
a sprig dill for garnishing

200 g smoked salmon, to be thinly sliced

In a bowl, whisk eggs lightly.  Then, add vegetable oil and buttermilk.  Whisk well and set aside.  In another bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt.  Make a well in the centre and whisk egg mixture gradually into the flour mixture to form a smooth batter.

Heat up the waffles maker and adjust the browning setting according to your preference.

Pour about 125 ml of batter into each waffle area, you will need 2 x 125 ml in total. Close lid and bake for 6 minutes.  Once ready, remove waffles and trim the edges.  It is best to keep the waffles wam in an oven at a temperature of 100° C.  Repeat procedure until batter is used up.

In a small bowl, add all sauce ingredients except salt and pepper.  Season to taste. Serve sliced smoked salmon on top of waffles with sauce and salad.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Beef Bak Kwa

A tasty and spicy delicacy which is usually served during Chinese New Year.  Bak Kwa can be bought in any Chinatown all year round and is slightly similar to beef jerky.  Normally, these are made of minced pork and grilled.  But, I used minced beef and baked them in the oven.  The taste and texture are up to my hubby's satisfaction (mine too) as I can see the quantity diminishing by the minute.  Next time, I will add more chilli powder to make it more spicy.

1 kg minced beef
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp chilli or paprika powder (add 2 tbsp if you want it spicy)
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
a small pinch food colouring powder (red)
240 g fine sugar (I added slightly less), you may use maple syrup if you prefer
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine or non-alcoholic white wine
1 tsp sesame oil (optional)

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together.  Leave in fridge overnight.

Line baking tray with baking paper.  You will need 5 pieces of baking paper if using a normal baking tray.  Note that I am using a larger baking tray with a measurement of 40 cm x 34 cm.  Normally, I will get about 1300 g of meat mixture and divide it into 4 portions i.e. 4 baking trays.

Place a portion of meat mixture onto a piece of baking paper and cover with cling wrap.  Ensure that the cling wrap covers the whole of baking paper.  I used two cling wraps slightly on top of each other due to the size of my baking tray.

By using a rolling pin, thinly roll meat mixture to the size of the baking paper as shown.  I suggest that you prepare the other minced meat portions as well and set them aside.

Transfer baking paper to baking tray and remove cling wrap as shown below.

Bake in a preheated fan oven at a temperature of 130° C on the middle rack for 15 minutes.  Do note that the size will shrink!  Once done, remove from oven and cut into your preferred bite sizes. Transfer to another baking tray which is lined with baking paper.  Repeat procedure with the other portions.

Increase the temperature of the fan oven to 180° C.  Once the required temperature is reached, bake the cut-up bak kwa pieces for about 10 minutes.  Then, remove baking tray from oven and turn over each bak kwa piece.  Return to oven and bake for another 2 minutes.  It is very important that you do not over-bake them or else, the bak kwas will become very hard and crispy. You need to watch the baking process carefully as the temperature of your oven might be different from mine. Please adjust the oven temperature accordingly.

My hubby likes them crispy!  What I did was to turn over the bak kwas again and bake for another 2 minutes.  So, I had two portions crispy and 2 portions normal!

If you prefer to grill them, skip this step and grill until done!

Once done, remove to a rack and leave to cool down completely before storing in an airtight container.

Bon Appetit!