Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sugar Frosted Rose Petals

Here's a quick shout-out:

When people tell you they enjoy reading your blog, it is already a huge compliment. But when fellow bloggers devote an entire post to your blog, it is a tremendous privilege. And I have had that privilege twice this week.

Thank you, Monique and Dave, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for your generosity, kindness and friendship.

Take a look at
Monique's Moist Butter Cake at La Table de Nana, and
- Dave's Son-in-law Eggs at
Year on the Grill.

- - - - -

I am still eating my way through the stash of Belgian chocolates my aunt hauled back from Brussels. One of the items is instant chocolate pudding. You just add sugar, boiling milk, and voila! A nice chocolaty treat awaits.

I made the pudding yesterday - perfect indulgence on a windy, rainy afternoon. Half of it, we ate when it was still warm, for we just could not wait ("we" refers to my daughter and I). And it was so gooood! Well, it's Belgian after all. The other half, I poured into serving cups and chilled them in the refrigerator.

At first, I never thought of doing a blog post on this. Instant pudding ... what's there to write? But then, an idea struck. I saw some Sugar Frosted Rose Petals from Jo Pratt's In a Mood For Food - it wasn't even a proper recipe, more of a 3-line side note. But I fell in love with them right away. I envisioned how they would turn these Plain Jane puddings into elegant eats.

Chilled instant pudding, powdered with cocoa and garnished with Sugar Frosted Rose Petals. Don't they look like a million bucks? A little embellishment goes a long way!

Frosting the petals was a breeze ... it only took minutes. But the finished product ... oh, they were a vision to behold. Delicate, beautiful and enchanting ... literally jewelled petals, ready to add glamour to whatever dish they were to garnish.

A little bling bling never did hurt anything! No one will realise you are serving instant pudding when they see these glittering rose petals.

For your next party, why not give these a try? Any dessert - whether an elaborate 3-tier cake or indeed, a cup of no-frills instant pudding - can do with an added touch of class. A word of caution, though: before you serve, take a deep breath and be prepared to face an onslaught of "oohs" and "ahhs".

(from Jo Pratt's In the Mood for Cooking)
- 1 rose (get organic if you intend to eat the petals!)
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- Caster sugar

1. Gently rinse individual petals and pat dry on paper towels.

2. Dip each petal into egg white, allowing excess to drip off.

3. Gently coat in caster sugar.

4. Leave dry on plate before using to decorate. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container.

5. If you don't have roses, I would imagine other edible flower petals would do fine too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nasi Lemak Sambal Chilli

Not too long ago, The Sunday Times featured several chef-owners of Singapore's well-known eateries. What made me sit up and pay attention was the fact that the famous recipes of these eateries were published in cold, hard print.

I truly applaud these chef-owners for their generosity. I think the wise know that while recipes can be copied, taste is hard to replicate. I can give 10 people the same recipe, and they can all follow it to a 'T' ... but the final result will be 10 different versions of the same dish. Don't you agree?

This is Nasi Lemak Sambal Chilli, which I made using Lee Wee & Brothers' recipe. AWESOME, is all I can say to describe the taste!

The article which appeared in The Sunday Times on 27 September 2009. I have filed it in my cabinet. :)

The recipe (which was split into 2 parts, no thanks to the awkward page layout).

Savoury, spicy, sweet. The grounded ikan bilis (dried anchovies) makes all the difference. If you like it smoother, add more oil. Mine was on the dry side but delish all the same.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Stirfried Cabbage

Stirfried cabbage.

How "interesting", huh? Yesterday, one of my friends commented that I am a very disciplined person. I let out a huge guffaw because of late, that is certainly not the case. Granted, I thrive on order and timeliness most of the time, but the moment the school holidays begin, my whole routine (what routine??) goes awry.

This is the time of year when my Apollonian self goes into hibernation, and the Dionysian in me comes out to make merry.

I have been eating out so much, it's beginning to show. OK, I jest. But I am starting to feel sluggish, and that bothers me. To make matters worse, a relative came over to visit recently, and she brought an entire roasted duck for us. For the past few days, I have been eating duck with rice, duck with noodles, duck with porridge, and duck with duck. Sigh, my cholesterol level! See why I have to start reining myself in? So, it's back to the kitchen again, to cook up some light meals that fill, not fatten.

I had this with a bowl of plain white porridge ... very light, very comforting and very Teochew.

This is a refreshing and crunchy veggie dish that I like a lot. Do you like cabbage? I love stirfried cabbage! My granny cooked cabbage very frequently for me when I was young. Every time I eat this dish with white porridge, I will inadvertently reminisce about my childhood days.

Usually, I fry it with dried shrimps. But today, I skipped that in lieu of shredded duck (for obvious reasons). That was the last of the duck, by the way ... thank goodness!

(if this can even qualify as one!)
- Round cabbage (cut into shreds)
- Bean sprouts (optional)
- Minced garlic
- Sliced chilli, deseeded
- Chicken stock
- Shredded leftovers (anything you want to finish off)

In a skillet, heat up some oil. Fry garlic and chilli till aromatic. Throw in cabbage and sprouts. Fry till they soften (over a medium flame). Add chicken stock and allow veggies to simmer till cooked. Toss in the shredded duck meat or any leftovers you want to finish off. Add a pinch of salt, if desired. That's it!

Typical simple fare I eat at home (usually without the duck). No matter how good the food is outside, homecooked food still reigns supreme for me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Moist Butter Cake

When I was a kid, I looked forward to the last day of school with eager anticipation. Now that I am a mom, I look forward to it even more! Woo hoo! No more frenzied mornings, rushing, sending, fetching, sending, fetching, nagging.

Finally, freedom!

As a gesture of thanks, I prepared some gifts for the teachers. Late last night though, I decided to add on a cake on impulse. I took the easiest route and baked a simple Butter Cake - the most 'neutral' choice of cake ... and the simplest one to make.

I have seen in blogs, what some moms baked for their children's teachers, and they are spectacular! Gorgeous cupcakes, complete with fondant, frosting, the works! My cake really pales in comparison. But what I lack in aesthetics, I try to make up in taste.

I always use this Butter Cake recipe. It works for me. For sure, there are countless Butter Cake recipes out there that are tried and tested and taste super. But for me, this recipe stays. It yields a moist, buttery cake that is not too oily and heavy. Just the way I like it.

My (not-so-secret) ingredient is a splash of cognac. It makes the cake come alive and gives it its ooomph. But even without, the cake is lovely.

I sliced the cake this morning and packed them into individual plastic containers, which I had lined. My god, they looked so hideous! Like I had "ta pau-ed" them from some obscure bakery. Hardly presentable, tsk tsk.

A quick search in my cupboard and I found some ribbons. Ah, that will do! At least, this looks better, no?

And then I hurried off to make my special deliveries. Happy school holidays, parents and children!


- 195g all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 170g unsalted butter, softened
- 225g sugar (I use slightly less, about 200g)
- 1 large egg, plus one large egg yolk
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 12 tbsp whole milk
Optional (but it is a must for me): Add a splash of cognac if you have some in the house!

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius. Butter and line a 9-inch cake pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Using a mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar until fluffy for about about 2 minutes.

4. Beat in egg, egg yolk, cognac and vanilla until well-combined.

5. On low speed, add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with milk.

6. Switch mixer to medium and beat for 10 to 15 seconds, just until batter appears uniform.

7. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with spatula or knife.

8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until it a skewer comes out clean.

9. Leave to rest in pan for 5 minutes before serving.

These are all the shots I managed to get this morning. Sorry! In a hurry!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

3 Cups Chicken (San Bei Ji)

The other evening, an alluring aroma came wafting into my home. Someone had obviously begun cooking dinner and clearly, was using a copious amount of sesame oil. I can't quite remember what I was doing at the moment, but I do recall telling myself that it must have been the wet, gloomy weather that was making me crave for a warming dish with plenty of sesame oil.

The next day, I cooked 3 Cups Chicken :)

If you are familiar with Chinese cuisine, you would have heard of this dish. It uses 3 key ingredients - sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine - and is traditionally served in claypot. According to Wikipedia, "When it is served at the table, the chicken should be sizzling — even popping — on the cusp of burning."

On the cusp of burning! Serve me something that is sizzling hot and I am an instant convert.

For the uninitiated, "3 cups" in this dish does not equate with the actual "cup" in the baking sense of the word. It merely refers to the proportions. So, if you used, say, 200ml sesame oil, then you will be using the same amounts for the soy and wine respectively. For me, I used my rice bowl as a guide.

Now, if you know me, I adore cognac in my food. Hence, faced with the choice of using Hua Tiao rice wine or Camus cognac, my decision couldn't have been more sober ;)

I would highly recommend marinating the chicken for an extended period of time, to allow the flavours to mingle and infuse. I did the marinating in the morning, at about 8.30am, and cooked the dish at about 6.30pm. Another time I made it, I allowed the chicken to marinate overnight, and it was even more delicious.

Everything was caramelised, including the garlic cloves!

Of course, being a fan of garlic, I added an entire bulb! I saved those nuggets of gold for last. I know you're probably going to laugh at me, but I can honestly say that while I thoroughly enjoyed the chicken in all its caramelised glory, I relished every clove of garlic even more. Slow-cooked in their own skins, their astringent bite mellowed, they were a pleasure to eat - so creamy, almost like potatoes. Heaven.

- 1 fresh chicken (chopped into identical-sized parts)
- 1 rice bowl black sesame oil
- 1 rice bowl soy sauce
- 1 rice bowl Hua Tiao Chinese rice wine (or COGNAC!)
- 1 bulb garlic, separated into individual cloves, skins on
- 3 slices old ginger
- 1 thumb size rock sugar (or 2 tbsp fine sugar - a little more or less won't hurt)
- 3 large bunches of spring onions, cut into 1 inch lengths (I did not have basil, as called for by most recipes, so I used spring onions in lieu ... they worked fine)
* For the sake of photography, I saved some spring onions for garnishing. You don't have to.

1. Marinate chicken with soy, sesame oil and rice wine. At least for 6 hours, although overnight is best.

2. Take the chill off the meat. Heat up some sesame oil in a wok or claypot until it is sizzling hot.

3. Throw in garlic, ginger and spring onions. Fry briefly till fragrant. Add in chicken and sear.

4. Keep stir-frying. Pour in the marinade liquid and the sugar. Continue to cook on medium.

5. Once you have a rolling boil, cover the wok/claypot and let it simmer over a small flame, until all the liquid has disappeared and the chicken is on the cusp of burning.

6. There should hardly be any gravy left. The chicken should be caramelised (charred at parts, even) and sizzling when served.

Maybe I should do a "3 Cups Garlic"?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

School's almost out and I have been taking it real easy. My kids and I go out a lot more these days, and naturally, we end up eating out too. As such, I haven't been cooking much, but I managed to sneak a cake in this week.

I have been wanting to make this cake for way too long. But I kept putting it off because I didn't have sour cream - the supposed magic ingredient touted by Nigella. So it stayed on my to-do list ... and would have continued staying there if not for Z of ovenhaven. She baked this cake and her photos immediately jolted me into finally baking it.

Ironically, I didn't use sour cream eventually! I had half a packet of creme fraiche, and I thought I could sub, since both were sour and creamy ;) Haha! I also didn't use the frosting recipe, because it called for golden syrup and I was not about to go out and buy a bottle just for that. Instead, I opted for a creamy chocolate frosting (a light, chocolate malt-coloured cream as opposed to a dark, glistening ganache).

It turned out to be a fabulous cake! My family loved it (aside, if you have been reading my blog, you can tell by now that we love our chocolate). I made this cake under a lot of stress though. The kids were giving me grief by rushing me. I did everything at breakneck speed, honest. This must have been one of the quickest cakes I have ever assembled, if not the quickest! I couldn't even make 2 layers as originally intended.

Now, the only way to frost using such a viscous buttercream (in a hurry, I might add) is to make swirls. I couldn't think of any other way. Plonk all the buttercream on top and then spread them out. Make small swirls ala Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night.

Then there was the mad rush of taking photos. My elder son was so impatient, he followed me and watched as I made good my promise to take "just a few shots". Indeed, after 10 shots (which I randomly took from all angles), I sliced the cake, and they finally left me alone ... for a short while. Why? They came back for seconds! In the end, I gave up. So, here they are. Thank goodness the photos turned out decent enough to post. But you know what? Even if they didn't, I would have still posted them, warts and all ... because this cake is just too good :)

Recipe for Cake
(adapted from my ultimate Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson - here)

- 200g plain flour
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 40g best-quality cocoa
- 175g soft unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
- 150ml sour cream (which I subbed with creme fraiche)
* Note that I halved everything to make a cake just right for my family size. The other reason being, my oven is just too small to accommodate 2 cake tins. Yes, THAT small. Sad.

1. Take everything out of the fridge so that all the ingredients can come to room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C and line and butter two 20cm sandwich tins with removable bases.

3. Now all you have to do is put all the cake ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream – into a food processor and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you want to go the long way around, just mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and creamy mixture.

4. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla and eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.

5. Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester, or a thin skewer, comes out clean, which should be about 35 minutes, but it is wise to start checking at 25.

6. Also, it might make sense to switch the two cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time.

7. Remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins. Don’t worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the icing later.

Additional Info from Nigella:
- I tend to keep my kitchen stocked with very good dark chocolate buttons (70 per cent cocoa solids) as this entirely dispenses with any need to chop chocolate before melting it. Do not dream of using normal confectionary ones (except just to eat, of course).

- I love to dot the top of this with sugar pansies – and you must admit, they do look enchanting – but there really is no need to make a shopping expedition out of it. Anything, or indeed nothing, will do.

- If you want to use Nigella's icing recipe, you can find it

Recipe for Creamy Chocolate Frosting

(from Allrecipes - here)
- 170 g confectioners' sugar
- 15 g unsweetened cocoa powder
- 45 g butter
- 40 ml evaporated milk
- 3 ml vanilla extract
* Note that this recipe is enough for 6 servings. If you want to bake a bigger cake, you can input your desired serving size at Allrecipes (click on the link) and the corresponding measurements will be re-calculated.

1. In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa, and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with evaporated milk. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more milk or sugar.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stuffed Tofu Puffs

This is one of my firm favourites - Stuffed Tofu Puffs (also known as Tau Pok). Tofu Puffs feature prominently in southeast asian cooking. They are usually thrown into soups and gravies because of their super absorbency. As such, they soak up flavours beautifully.

In this dish, though, I used them as little pockets to hold my fillings. When turned inside out, the soft insides of the Tofu Puffs crisp ever-so-perfectly when fried. You only need very little oil if you are using a non-stick pan.

(Left) Make a small slit at the side of each puff (the small square type) and turn them inside out gently.
(Right) Stuff them with the filling. Make sure they are packed to the brim.

I usually use fillings like minced meats or seafood pastes, seasoned with soy and mixed with spring onions and garlic. If I want some crunch, I would add some water chestnuts or carrots. In fact, this is a great dish to make if you have leftovers that need to be used up. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. That's it. No need for egg or corn starch. Just pack in as much as you can into each puff, and then fry them. You'll find that the fillings retain their juiciness really well.

On a separate note, school is almost out and I have been taking my kids out more frequently, which means I have been cooking and baking less these days ;) A welcomed break!

I used to seal the openings with toothpicks before frying, but discovered that as long as you are using fillings that are sticky/gluey, you don't need to. Probably only required for crumbly fillings. Try these. I make them all the time, and I am sure you will like them too!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kitchen Disasters

We ALL have them. Even the most seasoned cook/baker has his or her "off" days. The most important thing is, we learn from them :)

Read about my friends' funny encounters ... both involving pandan cakes! What a coincidence!

- Zurin at Cherry on a Cake
- Ellie at Almost Bourdain

These are truly gifted ladies who can cook, bake, photograph and blog spectacularly. That they share their "off" days with us just shows that they are not afraid to poke fun at themselves :) And that is such an endearing quality!

What is your kitchen disaster? ;)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Light Pandan Sponge Cake

I was happy to hear that 2 of my blogger friends tried baking my No Ovalette Moist Sponge Cake, with success. Coquerie de Chapot did an angelic version here while Cherry on a Cake gave it a pandan twist. I thought adding pandan was a brilliant idea - thanks, Zurin! Do blog about your cake soon ;)

Now, if you are unfamiliar with pandan - which very likely means you don't come from Southeast Asia - it is a plant which features prominently in Asian cooking/baking. To me, pandan is to Asian what vanilla is to Western :)

The leaves are used because they impart a sweet, gentle, musky fragrance which makes everything smell and taste delicious. I knew of a lady who, instead of drinking her water plain, would throw some pandan leaves into her kettle so that she could have pandan-flavoured water to drink. Now, that may be worth trying if you don't like drinking your 8 glasses a day.

Anyway, this cake was another of my kitchen experiments. It still needs a tiny bit of fine-tuning to get it right, so try this at your own risk ;) I would recommend increasing the flour by another 20g. The batter was a little thin.

Nonetheless, it was great fun making this cake. I involved my kids, so it was messy ... but fun. When the cake went into the oven, I noted the slightly thin batter and prayed that it would rise.

And golly, did it rise! It rose evenly and beautifully! The aroma wafting from the kitchen into the living room was pure heaven.

I realised that the unflattering pale shade of green was what a REAL pandan cake should look like. Suddenly, those bright green, commercial ones look so garish by comparison. What I liked in particular was the hint of coconut. It gave the cake a lovely richness.

We had slice after slice effortlessly, for the taste of pure pandan was addictive. I did note that the cake was slightly dense at the bottom. Still, I told my children, looked what came out of our little experiment today! Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

(my kitchen experiment - try at your own risk!)
- 3 eggs
- 120g flour (I would up this to 140g next time)
- 80g caster sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp condensed milk
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 2 tbsp coconut cream
- 1/2 cup fresh pandan juice*
* I threw 3 bundles of pandan leaves into the food processor together with 1/2 cup water, then blitzed till the leaves became pulpy. After that, I poured the pandan juice through a metal strainer.

1. Combine melted butter, coconut cream and pandan juice. Stir well and leave aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, beat 3 eggs, condensed milk and sugar till creamy, pale and stiff.

3. Fold in the flour in 3 parts, alternating with the pandan juice. Start and end with flour. Do not overmix.

4. Pour into a 6 inch pan that has been well greased and floured.

5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees celsius for 40 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Tent with a foil if top browns too quickly. Allow cake to cool before cutting.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Corn, Prawn And Banana Fritters

I made these fritters twice already. First time here, the second time here. And they are BACK! This time with a new addition - bananas! Yup, here is another great way to use up those ripe bananas instead of making them into cake.

I love them so much I made lots for last night's dinner, so that I could have extras today, as snacks. And even better, I relished every single bite while flipping through a new cookbook (with my non-greasy hand). Ah ...

I took a big bite for your sakes, dear readers ;) Just so you could see what the insides look like.

(adapted from recipe by Amy Van, Today newspaper)

If you want a pictorial guide, click here.

- 150g fresh prawns (shelled, deveined and chopped into small chunks)
- 2 ears sweet corn (peeled, washed, kernels removed from cob)
- 2 shallots (peeled and chopped)
- 1 stalk spring onions, chopped
- 1 red chilli (seeds removed, sliced or chopped)
- 2 ripe bananas, cut into small chunks
- 300g flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 375 ml water
- Oil for deep-frying
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste

1. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add salt and pepper. Slowly stir in water to obtain a thick batter (batter should slowly drip off the spoon).

2. Add prawns, shallots, sweet corn, banana chunks, spring onions and chilli to the batter. Stir until well-mixed.

3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drop 1 tbsp of batter into the oil, one at a time, until the skillet is filled up. Make sure your have sufficient space in between fritters so that they don't stick. Flip the fritters to ensure that both sides are browned. Fry in batches.

4. Remove the fritters from skillet and drain on paper towels (I find tempura paper better).

5. Serve with dips, although they are lovely on their own.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Quick Quiche

Not long ago, I saw these adorable quichelettes over at La Fuji Mama and instantly craved some. I used to buy frozen pastry sheets whenever I made quiches, but her recipe for the pastry dough looked so easy, I thought I would try my hand at it.

True enough, the dough was a breeze to put together. Do note though, that in hot and humid weather (like Singapore's), you need to work fast. Make sure your softened butter is still slightly chilled and not too soft.

I didn't have a muffin tin, so I made it into 1 large quiche (using a loose bottom cake tin). It worked perfectly fine.

As I made this quiche at about 11pm, I did not bother blind baking the pastry as I normally do. The bottom was a tad damp, but nothing to grouse about (I think I would not have this problem if I made them in quichelettes). Anyhow, I couldn't resist waiting till morning, so I stole a small slice ;) I enjoyed every bite of my midnight snack in front of my laptop, as I sat browsing my favourite blogs. You know who you are!

The next morning, I reheated it and we all had it for brekkie. Quiche is truly a wonderful, savoury delight. It's one of those perfect-anytime-of-day food, isn't it?

Pastry dough (from La Fuji Mama)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (~140g)
- 11 tablespoons (5.5 ounces) butter, softened (~156g)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, butter, egg, and salt together with a wooden spoon, or with a hand mixer on the lowest speed. Mix until the dough comes together into a cohesive mixture, rather than lots of individual lumps, and can be formed into a ball.

2. Place the dough into a greased cake tin (one which is springform or loose bottom) and use your fingers to flatten the dough out and up the sides of the tin. Shape your pastry shell as evenly as possible. As you can see, I did a really untidy job!

Quiche Lorraine Filling (from The Little Teochew)
- 3 eggs
- 4 to 5 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
- 1 jar creme fraiche from Carrefour's bio AGIR range (20cl) - it yields the best results in my opinion
- Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a skillet, fry bacon bits till crisp. Leave aside to cool.

2. Beat 3 eggs, creme fraiche, salt and pepper till well combined.

Sprinkle the base of your pastry shell with bacon bits. Pour egg mixture in slowly.

Bake at 140 degrees celsius, till the egg mixture sets. The top should look golden brown. Baking on low heat prevents the eggy mixture from rising into a 'dome' and cracking.

Allow quiche to cool slightly before slicing and serving. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Panfried Potatoes With Rosemary

I know the salmon looks like the star, but it is really the spuds I want to focus on in this post :)

I still remember the last time my husband and I went to Italy ... the Autogrill pitstops would be the highlight of our days spent travelling on the road. We would order some hot food and invariably, this Panfried Potatoes With Rosemary would show up at every single meal. It was our favourite item on the menu, hands down.

Since that trip, I have made this dish again and again. I use less rosemary leaves when I make it for my kids, and more when I make it for the adults. It's so easy - potatoes, olive oil, rosemary and salt. And it is so good. So good.

Every time I eat this, I will think of our glorious time spent in Bella Italia. Italy will always have a special place in my heart, for I brought home a permanent souvenir the last time I visited. She is 10 years old now and she looks a lot like me ;) Perhaps that is why she loves all things beautiful and Italian.

- Potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
- Olive oil
- Rosemary (fresh is better but dried is fine too)
- Salt

1. In a skillet, fry the potatoes and rosemary in plenty of olive oil. Fry over a low flame until the potatoes turn slightly crisp and golden around the edges.

2. Sprinkle with salt before serving.

That's it!

I made this for my daughter's lunch. It was a Friday, and the last day of her exams :) I knew she would enjoy a nice, hearty lunch to celebrate. These potatoes were perfect with a simple pan seared salmon, along with a creamy butter sauce ... everything in 30mins.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Easy Cheesy Baked Rice

One evening, not too long ago, we had dinner at a chain-restaurant-which-specialises-in-ice-cream-but-also-has-a-hot-food-menu. The dinner crowd was starting to pack into the mall, and we didn't want to walk around aimlessly wondering what to eat. Seeing that the queue was still reasonably short, we decided to eat there.

We placed our orders, and my daughter ordered a chicken baked rice. When her dish came, I took a small bite. To describe it objectively, it was plain white rice topped with tasteless, dry chicken fillets and smothered with a layer of diluted, starchy gravy.

Oh, yum. Bleah. Needless to say, we won't be going back there. Period.

The very next day, I whipped up my own version using some overnight rice and plenty of common sense. And it totally rawked, if I may say so myself ;) The kids licked the platter clean, literally!

As for that restaurant, tsk tsk. I think they should just stick to serving ice-cream.

- 6 to 7 tbsp chicken stock
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tsp corn flour, diluted with a little water
- 2 rice bowls cooked rice (best if it's overnight rice kept in the fridge)
- Carrots, sliced thinly
- Honey baked ham, shredded (or any other ingredient you like)
- A knob of butter
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Grated cheddar and mozzarella
- Grated parmesan

1. In a saucepan, bring chicken stock and heavy cream to a boil. Add corn starch liquid. Stir till the mixture thickens. Set aside.

2. In a skillet or wok, melt some butter. Fry the garlic till fragrant. Add carrots and fry over a low flame till semi-cooked. Add ham. Add rice. Keep frying and tossing. Break up all lumps.

3. Pour butter fried rice into a casserole dish. Pour chicken stock mixture over. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

4. Top with grated cheddar and mozzarella. Add a generous layer!

5. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 8 to 10mins, at 200 degrees celsius or until the cheese browns to a golden crust. This will happen very quickly, so keep your eyes on the dish. Serve piping hot.

Now, how difficult is it to get that right?!