Monthly Archives: September 2012

Bitter Melon (Gourd) – 2 ways

Last weekend I re-acquainted with my least favourite childhood vegetable – bitter melon.  I was shopping at Harris Farm Market looking for green chilli and there it was….calling my name. I thought why not give bitter melon another chance. Plus I reckon it would make an interesting blog post especially for those who are curious about this.

I find bitter melons a little hit and miss. Sometimes I got the really bitter ones that reminded me what I dislike it in the first place and sometimes the bitterness is so subtle that it is negligible.  Applying the similar method to reduce bitterness in eggplant, you can add salt to the bitter melon slices, wait for 10 minutes or so and squeeze the juice out. Just so you know that even with squeezing out the juices, the bitterness won’t be eliminated completely. (My mum has recommended that to get less bitter ones, pick the ones that have bigger bumps i.e. the width of bumps is bigger.)

Below are the two ways on how I cooked my bitter melon. I bought a small one, weighing about 200g / 7 ounces. I halved it and cooked 2 dishes with each half.  If you are not too sure whether you will like this, a small bitter melon will go a long way. Trust me. :)

Bitter Melon Omelette – based on my childhood memory

(Feed about 2 people as a side dish with rice)

What you’ll need:-

  • Cooking oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 100g/ 3.5 ounces bitter melon, thinly sliced – see Note 1
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • salt to taste ( I added about 1/2 tsp)
  • White pepper

Note 1: For this dish, I did not salt the bitter melon prior cooking. If you are concern with the bitterness, mix the bitter melon slices with 1 tsp of salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then squeeze the juices out before making the omelette. You may want to reduce the salt in the omelette if you salt the bitter melon.

(1) Thinly sliced onion and bitter melon. Salt the bitter melon should you wish to. (2) In a medium sized non-sticked pan over medium heat, heat a tbsp of cooking oil and wait until the oil is hot. Add sliced onions and bitter melon (if you salt the bitter melon slices, you should squeeze the juices out before adding with the onion) and saute until the onion is translucent and bitter melon slices are soften.  While waiting for the onion and bitter melon to cook, beat egg with salt to taste and white pepper. (3) Add beaten egg and cook over low heat.  (4)When the omelette looks like 70% cooked, flip the omelette to cook the other side. You don’t have to flip the whole omelette at a time. What I’ve done was to flip it in 3 sections. Serve immediately with rice and other side dishes.

Spiced Bitter Melon

(A really small side dish – makes about 1/2 cup)

What you’ll need:-

  • Cooking oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 100g/ 3.5 ounces bitter melon, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • A pinch of chilli powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Chopped fresh coriander leaves as garnish

(1) Add sliced bitter melon, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric into a bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then squeeze the juices out. Set aside. (2) Thinly slice onion. (3) Add oil and onion into a small non-stick pan and saute over medium flame until golden brown. (4) Add 1 tsp of ground cumin and a pinch chilli to the onion. If the mixture is a little dry, add a little bit more oil. Saute until aromatic over low heat. (5) Add bitter melon and mix well with the onion mixture. Cook with a lid on over low heat for 10 – 15 minutes. (6) Check for taste if more salt is necessary. Then add sugar and saute until the mixture does not feel grainy. Serve immediately with some chopped fresh coriander leaves as garnish.

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Effortless Caprese Tarts

Spontaneity can be an attractive trait. Or not. Well it depends on the circumstances, I suppose.

Sponteneous baking a batch of cookies, good.

Sponteneous turning up to a friend’s house at almost dinner time, not so good (maybe borderline rude).

Major big disclaimer – It was not our intention to stay for dinner after rocking up to a friend’s house during dinner time. However, he was making pizzas using puff pastry as pizza base and leftover curry as toppings (minus the gravy, obviously). We were like “gtg” (got to go) but he insisted us to stay for dinner. Speaking of being  a hospitable host eh? Anyway, that dinner was the reason why I was craving for puff pastry. Plus I have some leftover frozen puff pastry from the last time I made the bite-sized quiches.

Since I’ve featured caprese salad on my blog, I thought I’d change it up a bit with a tart version and put my leftover puff pastry into good use. It sounds like a good plan right? ;)

Effortless Caprese Tart

Serves 2 people as a light meal (or 4 portions as a starter)

What you’ll need:-

Note 1 – measurement is 24 cm (9.5 inches) x 24 cm (9.5 inches)

Note 2 – In hindsight I should have eaten the marinated mozzarella straight with salad (like what I did here) as it is pretty tasty on its own. I felt that I could get away with the normal mozzarella (less expensive) for this tart.

(1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees C / 356 degrees F – see Note 3. Slice the sheet into half  and then form 1cm/ 0.4 inches edge by folding inward. (2) Remove the seeds of a tomato and dice into small pieces. (3) Since I’ve used a marinated mozzarella ball, I removed it from the oil and pat dry with a paper towel. (4) Tear the mozzarella ball with your fingers and distributed between the 2 tart shells. Then sprinkle with the diced tomato. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the puff pastry is golden brown – see Note 4. Serve immediate with freshly grind black pepper, sliced basil and a small drizzle of olive oil to finish. (Shhh….Tobasco sauce is a fiery addition too!)

See note 3 – if you use a fan forced oven, reduce the temperature by 20 degrees C/68 degrees F.

See note 4 – Do not freak out when you see a tiny pool of liquid (oozed from the tomato) filled the tart shell. Stop peeking through the oven window and walk away. Only check the tart when the time is up as you will be delighted to see the cheese is bubbling and tomato is slightly charred….and where’s the pool of liquid, you say? ;)

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The winner of …….

… the giveaway for my Barista Style Coffee with Devondale post is Laura.  Congrats!

Her comment was …

“A coffee made with Devondale Baristas Own frothing milk, is just what I need after spending a lazy Sunday morning snuggling in bed with my hubby. Need to replenish the energy stores! I couldn’t think of a better way to start the day ;-)

(Laura, please check your inbox as I’ve just sent an email to you. :))

There’s a current giveaway happening for a set of 6 Espresso cups and saucers (ending on 10 September 2012) and a chance to win a PHILIPS Saeco Syntia Class Automatic Espresso Machine retailed at $1,499 (ending on 7 September 2012). Both giveaways are open to Australia residents only. Click here for more details.

All you have to do is to leave a comment on my post on Factory Espresso, Orange NSW (click here)  and

“Tell me how Baristas Own frothing milk would help get your lazy Sunday off to a perfect start?”

So keep the comments rolling in and good luck!

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Sponsored Series 2: Factory Espresso, Orange NSW + Giveaways at the end of the post! [CLOSED]

What is the best way to compliment your lazy Sunday’s and make them even more perfect? A hot cup of frothed coffee of course! Devondale Barista’s Own is made to deliver a consistent smooth creamy froth to your favourite style of coffee at home.

As part of the collaborative effort with Devondale Barista’s Own Milk, do you remember the first part of my Lazy Sunday Series? Well, the  second part of the series is about my favourite local breakfast joint.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by many breakfast options in Orange (in NSW).  When it comes to my favourite place for breakfast, it is no other than Factory Espresso.

I initially went there for my morning cafe latte. Oh it was such a treat to have barista made coffee on daily basis don’t you agree? However, coffee from home is  not too shabby either as long as you have a coffee machine or a plunger (they don’t need to be expensive). Anyway, I love the selection of burgers, gourmet sandwiches and sweet treats placed near counter whenever I’m lining up for a coffee. Speaking of eye candy eh?

Freshly roasted coffee anyone? Did I mention these are Bill’s Beans coffee?

Quirky wall art – it doesn’t fail to crack me up whenever I see this. It somehow reminds me of my 2 pet conures, Pineapple and Mango. :P

Top from left, clockwise – Large cafe latte, polenta porridge with rhubarb & tamarillo compote, cappuccino & clay-pot spicy beans with guacamole. (Note – Factory Espresso has better breakfast selection on Saturday & Sunday. My friend had told me that if you go on week days for breakfast the selection is pretty basic.)

Here’s my pick of breakfast – poached eggs, mushrooms, wilted spinach and sauteed mushrooms. This combination has never let me down. :)

I hope you enjoyed the snippets of my favourite breakfast spot in Orange. In conjunction to this Lazy Sunday Series, Devondale is offering one Fuss Free Cooking reader a chance to win a set of 6 orange espresso cups and saucers.

To enter this giveaway, just answer the following question in the Comments Section of this post:

Tell me how Baristas Own frothing milk would help get your lazy Sunday off to a perfect start?

And don’t forget about the chance to win a PHILIPS Saeco Syntia Class Automatic Espresso Machine retailed at $1,499.

Both giveaways are open to Australian residents only. For Terms and Conditions, please click the following links:-

For the Espresso cups and saucer giveaway – 12:01 am AEDST on 4 September, 2012 and will continue until 5:00 pm AEDST on 10th September, 2012

For the PHILLIPS Saeco Syntia Class Automatic Espresso Machine giveaway – open from 12:01 am AEDST on 14 August, 2012 and will continue until 5:00 pm AEDST on 7 September, 2012.

Sponsored Series by Nuffnang

What is the best way to compliment your lazy Sunday’s and make them even more perfect? A hot cup of frothed coffee of course!
Devondale Barista’s Own is made to deliver a consistent smooth creamy froth to your favourite style of coffee at home. Check out some of the fantastic breakfast recipes in the Lazy Sunday Series thanks to Devondale Barista’s Own

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