Monthly Archives: November 2012

Mix Bean Curry “Soup” {what my beloved cooked}

I often raved about the joy of cooking. Once in a while, I like to be pampered and have someone cook for me. My beloved volunteered to cook dinner last night. This came as a surprise and it was a sweet gesture.  Since it doesn’t come often, I took the opportunity to capture the moment on my blog. I love a man who can cook. ;)

Mix Bean Curry “Soup”

(Recipe from my beloved’s mum)

I feel it is enough to feed 3-4 people with rice.

What you’ll need:-

  • Cooking oil
  • 1 brown onion, dice as finely as you can
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tbsps tomato paste
  •  1 x 420g/15 ounces four bean mix, rinsed & drained (My beloved used the Edgell brand)
  • 1 cup + add more to achieve your desired consistency (my beloved added 2 cups + of water)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing

Method:-

In a medium sized pot, add some oil and heat over medium flame. When the oil is hot, add diced onion and saute until slightly brown. Add ginger, garlic, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and chilli powder and saute over very low flame until aromatic. Add tomato paste and saute until the oil separates from the mixture, over very low flame. Then, add mixed beans and water. Simmer over medium flame until bubbling. Turn the flame to low-medium (even lower depending on the intensity of your stove) and allow the curry to simmer for 20 minutes or until the gravy thickens a little. Season with salt and garnish with some chopped coriander just before serving.

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Spicy Paprika Bolognese Sauce – Inspired by Hungarian Goulash

One everyday dish that is missing from my blog is a spaghetti Bolognese recipe. Despite the dish is no stranger to my dinner table, I often feel it is not special enough to share with you all.

So what’s changed, you wonder?

Bolognese is still a Bolognese, you know, the usual suspects of mince meat, tomatoes and herbs. I couldn’t think of a significant change that would make it better than it already is. Thick and well infused meat sauce tossed with spaghetti, a generous helping of grated cheese and chopped parsley is predictable but exciting at the same time.  Exciting because I know it is going to be a one belly-rubbing and satisfying meal. Oh yes, comfort food does that to you!

With that being said, the last time I made Bolognese, I wanted a change. A minor change of substituting Italian herbs with sweet paprika. Think Hungarian Goulash. Hungarian Goulash is the extent I know about Hungarian food. I enjoy cuisines that made up with an array of spices and substance.  I appreciate the complexity of balancing different spices in a dish without overpowering one another. That requires skills and experience or simply a good recipe from the internet or a Hungarian friend. ;)

If you are lucky enough to be surrounded by restaurants that offer a Hungarian dining experience, don’t forget to check out the coupons from Groupon Australia for deals and discounts! Don’t we all love a bit of bargain?

Spicy Paprika Bolognese Sauce (Inspired by Hungarian Goulash)

Serves 4

What you’ll need for the sauce:-

  • Olive oil – about 3 tbsps
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 brown onion, roughly diced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 tbsps sweet ground paprika
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 500g/ 18 ounces  mince beef
  • 2 x 400g/ 14 ounces canned tomatoes (I used whole & peeled tomatoes)
  • Freshly grind black pepper
  • Sugar to taste
  • 30 minutes of simmering time

Pasta – 500g/ 18 ounces of uncooked spaghetti, hot boiling water and salt (add 300g/11 ounces pasta to be super saucy)

Garnish – Flat leaf parsley, finely sliced and grated parmesan

Method:-

In a large pan, heat 2 tbsps of olive oil over medium flame. Then add garlic and onion with a pinch of salt and saute until the onions almost become translucent. Add paprika, caraway seeds and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Saute over low flame until the oil becomes red and aromatic (from the scent of paprika). Brown beef over medium flame and then add canned tomatoes and some freshly ground black pepper. When the mixture begins to bubble, turn the flame to the lowest possible and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes. In the last 15 minutes of the cooking time, season the sauce with salt and sugar to taste. Add more black pepper if you wish.  After that, you can start boiling the spaghetti in salted water according to the packet instructions and drained. Toss the spaghetti in bolognese sauce and serve with parsley and grated parmesan.

This post is brought to you by Groupon Australia.

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Smashed Broad Bean & Mozzarella Salad & Ben O’ Donoghue Found His Dishwashing Fairy

This post is brought to you by Fairy Australia.

I dread washing dishes after meals especially after a dinner party.  Strange because I enjoy all parts of food preparation from menu planning, grocery shopping, chopping, stirring, garnishing and serving.  Somehow when it comes to washing dishes, I’d love to “outsource” the task to my beloved in exchange for extra ice cream. :P

There are ways to make this task a little easier and bearable. A dish washing machine is a real life saver. If this is not an option, getting a good quality dish washing liquid will certainly improve the experience.  My definition of a good quality dish washing liquid is that it  can cut through grease easily and it doesn’t require a lot of product to wash dishes (super concentrated).

Now that UK’s number 1 iconic green dish washing liquid detergent – Fairy – is available in Australia, its quality was put to the test. The Fairy brand ambassador, celebrity chef Ben O’ Donoghue, has recently catered his popular dishes such as his Spaghetti Bolognese to the locals of the Margaret River – a town with more than 10,000 people . Imagine the amount of dishes which needed to be washed afterwards! According to Ben, his team were able to wash nearly 9,600 plates used during the feast with one 650ml bottle of Fairy Dishwashing liquid. Talk about action speaking louder than words huh?

I wanted to try Ben’s spag-bol recipe but I stumbled upon his smashed broad bean and mozzarella recipe instead. The weather in Orange has warmed up big time and salad seems like an appropriate meal for the weather. As I haven’t worked with the fresh broad beans before this recipe was the perfect excuse. Although the process of removing the beans from the pods to boiling and removal of their “second” skin was a little fiddly, it totally worth the effort. Simply because I was reminded the freshness and sweetness of beans taken out of their pods instead of the plastic bags (the frozen kind).

Smashed Broad Bean & Mozzarella Salad by Ben O’ Donoghue

(Recipe from Ben O’ Donoghue)

What you’ll need (I halved the original recipe below):-

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 100g /4 ounces Pecorino, grated (I used grated Parmesan)
  • Mint and basil a handful of leaves, use both or either (I used mint leaves only)
  • Olive oil
  • 300g/11 ounces of fresh broad beans (about 1 kg of  unpeeled beans to yield about 300g of beans, podded)
  • Salt
  • Freshly grind black pepper
  • Sourdough or country bread 8 slices, toasted, rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil
  • 2 x Buffalo mozzarella balls

Method:-

Prepare the dressing first by mixing lemon juice, pecorino (or parmesan), herbs and 4 tbsps olive oil. Set aside.  To prepare the broad beans – remove the beans from the shell, then boil the beans for 3 – 4 minutes and remove the pale green skin by peeling the top of each bean a little and slip out of the pale outer skin revealing the deep green bean. “Smash” the broad beans with a pinch of salt. The original recipe suggested a big pestle and mortar or a food processor (but be careful of not overdoing it in order to maintain the chunky texture). But a fork worked just fine for me. Toast the bread slices and then rub with garlic and drizzle with some olive oil. Pile the broad bean mash on the toasts and tear the mozzarella into chunks and sit on top of the mash.  Finish with drizzle of olive oil, a grinding of black pepper and herbs.

 

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My top 6 handy kitchen tips

I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my life in the kitchen easier (and better).  I believe in keeping a couple kitchen tips up my sleeve in effort to make the most of what I already have in the kitchen and hopefully, reducing food waste in the process.

So today, I’d like to share a couple of kitchen tips which I found to be useful on day-to-day basis. You may already know some of them…but I decided to share them anyway. Sharing is caring. I hope you’ll find them interesting and most importantly, useful.

Uncooked spaghetti –> a cake tester

This is a trick I picked up from Ms Nigella Lawson (from her cooking show, of course!).  What I love about using uncooked spaghetti as compared to a bamboo stick is the former is gentler on the cake when it comes to pricking a hole into the cake. I’ve tried with uncooked angel hair pasta but it didn’t work as well. As it is finer than spaghetti, it broke in the cake if you don’t take it out immediately.

Ice cube tray–>  to freeze partially used coconut milk & chicken stock

Despite my love for dishes which contain heavy amount of coconut milk (I’m Malaysian, after all!), I try to reduce the intake when possible. If I’m not cooking for special occasion, I tend to halve the amount of coconut milk in the recipe. Any leftover coconut will be poured into an ice cube tray and freeze until solid. As I have a relatively small freezer, I will transfer the frozen coconut milk cubes into a zip lock bag to save space.

Used lemons & limes –> Fridge freshener

This is my way of giving a second life to used lemons and limes. I normally leave them there until the scent is no longer there. Don’t expect it to smell like a burning candle. It is subtle and I find it to be effective to reduce odour in the fridge.

Unused & withering vegetables –> Grate & Freeze

This is an evidence of me being an impulse buyer rather than a sensible one. I’m drawn to bargains like my baby parrot to sunflower seeds. I often overindulged in bargains and bought more than I needed for 2 people. It’s fine as I know I can rely on my freezer to come to my rescue. I usually grate zucchini and carrots for freezing so I can use it for pasta sauce later. It works well for me. For tomatoes, I tend to dice and keep them in a zip lock bag. The options are endless when it comes to what you can do with these frozen veggies…pasta and curry just to name a few.

Clear plastic vegetable container –> Catchall Container

Okay, it has nothing to do with food but I’ve been collected clear plastic vegetable containers since like forever. Rather than buying organizational containers, I thought these plastic containers work well. Being a renter, I try not to get attach to things… so I won’t hesitate to toss these out if I have to move again.

Old Garlic No More –> Garlic Infused Oil

This is a tip shared from a friend who grows his own garlic. As you probably know when the garlic is kept outside for a while, it starts to grow the annoying green shoots. In order to keep the garlic a little longer, I’ve been recommended to slice the garlic in half to remove the shoots and cover in oil. I added some chilli flakes to create spicy infused oil. This is great for pan frying meat….

UPDATE:  A reader has kindly highligted the risk of storing garlic in oil due to the risk of botulism. The concern of botulism is you will not be able to pick it up by taste i.e. it doesn’t taste off. you The recommended steps to reduce risk of botulism is to use the infused oil within a week and store the infused oil in the fridge. Thank you for the information Jane! (To read more about this, Jane has kindly provide some links in the comment box below.)

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