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Weekend Cooking: Sausage Meatballs with Gravy

This was a recipe I made a long, long time ago for Hari Raya celebrations, and at the point of time I haven’t started blogging my culinary exploits just yet. The recipe is from Emeril’s Potluck, and as you probably can imagine, this makes a potluck-sized batch.

Aside from the Essence which you may want to invest some time in (really worth the effort), the ingredients for this recipe are fairly easy to find. The Italian Seasoning and various types of canned tomatoes are available even in hypermarts like Tesco, and you can find the fresh sausages at the more upmarket grocers such as Village Grocer or B.I.G. What I found slightly more challenging is finding canned tomato sauce, but this can be substituted by pureeing canned stewed tomatoes.

I also splurged a bit on San Marzano canned whole peeled tomatoes; these are Italy’s best tomatoes, grown on volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius. Look for the words “Pomodoro S. Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino” on the can, which is supposed to indicate that these San Marzanos are the real deal. If the can doesn’t have any English on it, look for the words, “pomodori pelati interi” which means whole peeled tomatoes. San Marzanos are known for their sweetness and low acidity, which makes them perfect for making tomato soups and sauces. And my oh my, the investment really paid off.

The San Marzanos gave the sauce such a rich flavor and sweetness, I didn’t have to do much else to make the dish taste good. It was as if I made completely different recipe from the one last time, just by switching this one ingredient. So worth it!

Bring this to a potluck, San Marzanos and all, and I assure you it will be a hit at any gathering. Enjoy!

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Make Your Own: Italian Seasoning

We sometimes need Italian Seasoning for our pastas and such, so if you don’t happen to have any on hand, you can always make a batch of your own using herbs and spices you might already have in your pantry.

This recipe is based on Emeril’s Italian Essence recipe, and used when making Sausage Meatballs with Gravy. As with any spice mix containing onion or garlic powder, which does not keep well at room temperature in this hot, humid Malaysian weather, I always keep this spice mix in the freezer. This should keep it from masuk angin and clumping up.

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Steak and Mushroom Pie

When I first started cooking I basically had one go-to chef for most recipes I wanted to try – Emeril Lagasse. In the beginning I focused more on so-called Western dishes – pies, pasta, and casseroles – and one of my earliest attempts on pies was this steak and mushroom pie.

Last time I followed the recipe to a T (non-alcoholic ingredient substitutes aside), but this time, with more experience I’ve given it my own spin and also used my Philips electric pressure cooker to ensure the meat is tender and succulent.

Be sure to use a deep dish pie pan for this, as there is a lot of filling. The crust is wonderfully crispy, and its buttery aroma will fill your kitchen as the pie bakes in the oven. The tender beef and crispy beef breakfast strips is super hearty, perfect when paired with crusty country bread. Enjoy!

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Pastry top

I use this buttery crust for my Steak and Mushroom Pie. One recipe is enough to top one 9-inch round pie. Be patient when rolling it out; at about 1/8-inch thickness there is definitely enough dough for your pie. I recommend rolling the dough out onto a very well dusted, thin, flexible cutting board. You can then flip the board over and gently peel the dough off onto your pie.

The most rewarding moment will be when you hear the beautiful crunch of the freshly baked crust, as you cut into it. Yum!

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Weekend Cooking: Prejean’s Potato Salad

I’m on a short break before starting a new job next month, and Kak’mbang has gone back to Terengganu and will only be back at the end of the week.  We’ve been eating leftovers and takeout for the past few days, so today I made Smoked Duck and Sausage Gumbo for dinner, for a change.  The gumbo recipe was based on the one made by a restaurant called Prejean, and it is often enjoyed together with their potato salad.

The first time I made the gumbo I didn’t bother with the potato salad, but since today I had more time I wanted to try it out.  The potato salad was great on its own, but when mixed with the gumbo the tangy flavor of the relish and mustard went so well with the gumbo’s rich, smoky flavor.  So so good!  Definitely a winning combination.

Based on the recipe from Saveur.

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Moroccan Chickpea Soup

Made a few more soups for Mummy to try.  A few ingredients I recently tried were tomato, which was yummy but too light, and corn which was too heavy.  Since Mummy liked the lentil soup I made I figured other types of beans would also make decent soups with the right amount of heartiness, and since I had canned chickpeas in the larder this became my next ingredient of choice.

This Moroccan Chickpea Soup turned out nicely.  I loved the spices which gave it a more ‘exotic’ Mediterranean flavor; cinnamon, cumin and paprika.  There’s also something about tender beans in rich tomato based broth which feels so comforting.  Mummy loved it, so this recipe is now in our soup rotation.

Based on the recipe by Dave Lieberman, with my own modifications.

Next experiment: minestrone, perhaps?

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RayaFest 2018: Kak’mbang’s Peanut Sauce (Kuah Kacang)

Kak’mbang seriously makes the best kuah kacang.  We love it so much, whenever we see kuah kacang sold by vendors out there we never gave them a second look.  Of course Kak’mbang thinks everything she makes is just so-so, which is downright ridiculous.

Anyway, since there was a lot we needed to prep for Hari Raya, I volunteered to help Kak’mbang make her amazing kuah kacang this year.  She started without me so I didn’t get a shot of the ingredients, but thankfully I got everything else.  I’m so happy I managed to document yet another one of Kak’mbang’s yummy creations.

Selamat Hari Raya, everyone!

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RayaFest 2018: Pulut Lepa Terengganu

Being from Terengganu, I grew up thinking fish is a natural, common ingredient in so many local favorites; nasi lemak with sambal ikan tongkol, karipap, pulut panggang (we call ’em pulut lepa)… but *of course* fish is the main ingredient!

Wait… you guys have nasi lemak with chicken rendang and *gasp* paru (beef lung)? Karipap kentang? What is this orange coconut nonsense in this pulut panggang?!! Well, imagine how shocked I was discovering what them West-coast folks are eating.  This was probably when I was about 7 or 8 years old.

Anyway, fast forward to today, I really miss the East-coast pulut panggang with fish filling.  On very rare occassions someone managed to find it here in KL and I would eagerly wolf them down, but they mostly turned out quite underwhelming.  But we compromised anyway, because it was better than nothing.

Finally I thought, why not make it myself and serve it for Hari Raya? I looked around for recipes online, and combined with Kak’mbang’s knowledge and experience we managed to make a decent Terengganu-syle pulut lepa which Mummy and my aunties (all Terengganu natives) accepted as truly authentic.

Here it is, if you ever feel like having some Terengganu fare.  Do note that this recipe makes a lot, so feel free halving it.  Leftover fish filling can also be used in yummy Terengganu-style karipap.

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Ramadan Cooking: Eman’s Chicken Mandy

It’s the last weekend of Ramadan. Gosh, time really flies.  I wanted to make Chef Wan’s briyani gam with chicken kuzi, but I was missing a few ingredients and I’ll only be going to the market tomorrow.  Since I’ll also be eating out tomorrow, if I wanted to make something, tonight was my only window of opportunity to do so.  I decided on Eman’s chicken mandy, which I’ve been meaning to try for quite some time now.

I fell behind schedule and ended up rushing to have it ready for buka puasa, so this time I skipped the smoking process and completely forgot the fried onion and cilantro garnish.  Flavour-wise I think this was great, and the rice to water ratio was pretty spot on.  The original recipe called for saffron coloring which was supposed to give the chicken a nice reddish tone, but since I don’t have any on hand and have no idea where to get it, I’m thinking of using smoked paprika next time.

Will definitely make this again.

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Ramadan Cooking: Karnataka-style Chicken Briyani

Last Ramadan I was binging on Middle Eastern recipes, but this year I stumbled upon this YouTube channel called Get Curried and was intrigued by their selection of Indian recipes.  At first I wanted to try their butter chicken, but it’s the weekend and I should do something fancier and Mom also suggested I try making briyani.

This isn’t like the briyani I’m used to here in Malaysia.  The video says this is a style specific to the Karnataka state of India, and even then looking at the comments there are a bunch of Karnatakans claiming that theirs is more authentic than the rest, so I can’t comment on that.  Nonetheless the mixture of flavors from the yoghurt, cilantro and mint, and the heat from the cili padi was really interesting and yummy, and I loved how the rice turned out nicely moist without being mushy.

I found the planning stage most exciting when making this.  I started off by mixing the saffron milk, then prepped the ingredients for the green paste.  After marinating the chicken I set a small pot of water on the stove, and prepped the rest of the ingredients while the potatoes were boiling.  I soaked the rice, then put the pot of water for the rice on the stove, and started on the gravy while waiting for the water come to a boil, which would take about as much time as required for soaking the rice.  By the time it was time to add the chicken to the pot, the chicken has been marinating for an hour as planned.  So all the tasks were timed quite nicely and the dish was ready 10 minutes before it was time to break fast.  It was a lot of fun for me.

Do try this out, whenever you’re feeling like a different style of briyani.

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