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Smoked Duck and Sausage Gumbo

I’m really trying hard to clear out stuff from my freezer.  It doesn’t help that I keep buying new ingredients, I know, but I still try.  I had a few smoked duck breasts sitting at the bottom of my freezer for ages, and I knew I had to make something that would do them justice.  I’ve used them in risotto before, and considered using them in aglio olio.  But I wanted to use them all up in one go, so I decided on this gumbo recipe I found on Saveur.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when making this.  The ingredients looked simple enough, and given the rather tedious step of making a dark roux, I went on with it hoping it wasn’t for nothing.  When I finally tried it, served over steaming hot white rice, I was so pleasantly surprised.  The flavor was rich and dark and smoky and went so well with the plain rice.  All of us went for seconds.

The original recipe made a lot, so I halved the recipe and used ingredients I had on hand (and actually available in KL/Malaysia).  I couldn’t find mesquite seasoning anywhere, and making your own still seems like a pain, so I used barbecue seasoning instead.  The goal of this recipe is to create as much of that wonderful smoky flavor as possible, so do not sub that smoked paprika with sweet or hot (all three offer quite different flavors anyway), definitely use smoked duck instead of fresh, and find some good quality smoked sausages.  I made the mistake of using cheapo “smoked” sausages (see pic below), and was rather disappointed by the really meh texture, which resembled fishballs instead of meat and gristle.  The next time I make this (and I definitely will), I’ll use Victoria Crest’s smoked chicken sausages instead, which is available at the more upmarket grocers like B.I.G. and Village Grocer.  I’ll also be making the potato salad as well, which I hear is excellent when paired with this gumbo.

Try it out! Well worth the effort.

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Weekend Cooking: Apple Cider Doughnuts

Post turkey dinner I had a lot of apple cider left over, and was wondering what to do with it.  I can’t remember how I stumbled upon the idea of making doughnuts with apple cider, but now that I have, why didn’t I think of this sooner??

There are quite a few recipes out there. Fried ones, baked ones, and after reading through the reviews I decided on the version I found on Taste of Home.

I ran out of brown sugar when making these, so I ended up using some red sugar as well.  I find that red sugar adds a richer taste to the doughnuts, perhaps closer to the taste of palm sugar, which was nice.  The recipe also called for a ginger-sugar coating, but I decided to make mine with apple cider glaze.  I need to finish of that carton of juice in the fridge!

It was also my first time deep frying something in a pot on the stove.  Previously I’ve always weaseled my way around this by either using an electric deep fryer or an air fryer, or by asking Kak’mbang to help me out with it (yeah. terrible, I know).  When I was making this, everyone in the house was taking an afternoon nap.  I didn’t want to bother Kak’mbang again, so I decided to suck it up and do it myself.

Turns out, it wasn’t so bad after all.  I did overbrown the first batch or so, and I didn’t realize that I was letting the oil get too hot, but in the end I got a batch of excellent, tasty doughnuts.  No scary oil spills, no Captain America shield (my rice cooker pot lid) needed.

These doughnuts are best eaten fresh, as it will have a nice crunchy crust as you bite into it.  Over time the texture will resemble more like soft cake bread.  Do not skip the glaze, the doughnuts have a subtle apple and spice flavor on their own, but with the glaze the amazing brightness of the apple cider really shines through.

Try it out!

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GobbleFest 2017 Leftovers: Turkey Avgolemono Soup

I shredded the last bits of my leftover GobbleFest turkey meat and stored them in the freezer, along with the turkey carcass.  This weekend I just wanted to finish them all off and finally close the 2017 chapter of GobbleFest.  What better way to do that than to try a new recipe?

I made a casserole and a salad previously, so why not make soup this time?  I found this recipe on The Kitchn’s website, which uses only five ingredients, all of which are things I already have on hand.  I was intrigued by this Greek traditional comfort food, which uses eggs instead of dairy like cream or milk to achieve its creaminess.

It is a surprisingly bright, tangy soup, very unlike the creamy chicken/turkey soups I’m used to.  Most recipes for this soup uses a lot of lemon juice so I guess the sourness is expected, but I might halve the lemon juice the next time I make this, to see how it turns out.  While the original recipe calls for “long grain white rice”, which in my mind points to basmathi and the like, I decided to use Japanese rice for a starchier porridge.  I suspect Thai fragrant rice (beras wangi Siam) would work just as well.

Another Mummy-approved dish, best enjoyed when hot.

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GobbleFest 2017 Leftovers: Turkey Waldorf Salad

Happy New Year, everyone!  It’s a lazy New Year’s Day, and I decided to put together a light snack.

The first few times I made this was way back in 2012, when I was still actively involved in the Repertory Theater Club (RTC).  I made this for a post-rehearsal gathering with the RTC gang, and it turned out to be one of those salads that my guests surprisingly liked and actually finished.  I used chicken back then, but since we had our GobbleFest recently, I decided to make this in its original intended form, using our leftover turkey.  I’ve also included my notes in case you don’t have any turkey on hand.  Try it out!

Based on the recipe on Food Network, with my own twists.

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Make Your Own: Eman’s Saudi Spice Mix

I’ve been meaning to try out Eman’s kabuli rice recipe for a while now, but that dish requires Saudi spice or baharat, which I didn’t have on hand nor can easily get at stores.  Finally got around to making it over the New Year’s Day long weekend.

I only toasted the spices for about 5 minutes, because I noticed my cumin seeds were getting really brown.  I wonder if it would be better if I toasted it for a full 10 minutes as suggested.  My spices were a bit lumpy after grinding, and I wonder if it was because I didn’t dry the grinder jar well enough, or if it was because there was still some moisture in the spices.  In any case, I stored this in my freezer to make sure it keeps longer.

Can’t wait to try out the kabuli rice.

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GobbleFest 2017 Leftovers: Turkey Noodle Casserole

When there’s a turkey dinner there’s inevitably leftovers, which opens up opportunities for more culinary adventures.  I saved the carcass to make turkey stock later, and while some of the meat I planned to make yummy turkey waldorf salad with, for the family coming over for dinner tonight I decided to try this simple yet yummy looking recipe by The Kitchn.

I tweaked the ingredients based on the quantities I had on hand.  The results were still great, and guests cleaned out their plates and the whole tray of pasta, with enough for a few people to have seconds.  Give it a try!

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GobbleFest 2017: Twice Baked Potato Casserole

I actually made this for our first ever GobbleFest back in 2012.  At the time we bought our roast turkey from Turkey Point Cafe, and I only made the sides.  Back then I wasn’t wise enough to know to make a few dishes ahead, but this time, especially now that I roast my own turkey, I really needed to plan ahead.  This casserole tastes just as great made a day ahead; just take it out of the fridge about an hour to return to room temperature, and bake as instructed.

This is one of those dishes in which you can throw all sorts of additional ingredients to suit your fancy.  My first time making this, I ran out of beef bacon so I added a few Italian sausages in there.  Add a bit of chopped broccoli if you like, to fulfil your veggie quota.  It’s quite labor intensive and require quite a lot of prep time, but the result is a wonderful comforting dish, excellent for potlucks and goes really well with your roast turkey or chicken.  Enjoy!

Based on the recipe by Emeril Lagasse.

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Eman’s Chicken Kabsa

Mummy wasn’t feeling well a few weekends back, and I was really worried because she took so long to recover and had such poor appetite.  I decided to make something nice for her for dinner, in hopes that she’d eat more.  I didn’t want to do a lamb dish, because I figured an elevated blood pressure was the last thing Mummy needed at that point.  Finally I settled for a hearty pot of her favourite lentil soup, as well as this chicken kabsa recipe by Saudi Food Eman.

This chicken kabsa was slightly different from the version I made previously.  I like how Eman finishes her chicken in the oven, for a crispier chicken.  I would add 1/4 cup each of chickpeas and jumbo raisins next time, because Mummy seems to like that.  Try this out if you don’t have any pre-made Kabsah spices on hand.  Enjoy!

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Weekend Cooking: Lamb Meghazlia Rice

This was on my To-Make list for a while now, and finally I managed to make it this week.  Use a mix of meat and bones for a more flavorful stock; I chose lamb shoulder chops specifically for this purpose.  If you’re not keen on making your own meghazlia spice mix, I’m sure subbing with your favorite spice mix such as bukhari, kabsah and the like works just as well.  A great dish which was quite simple to make and easy to eat, I’ll definitely be making this again.

Try it out!

Based on the recipe by Saudi Food Eman.

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Make Your Own: Meghazlia Spice Mix

It took me a while to finally make Eman’s Lamb Meghazlia, mainly because I needed to mix the meghazlia spice mix myself.  Since I have some lamb in the freezer I really needed to get rid of, I set aside some time today to make this spice mix.

What took me a while to figure out was the “besbasa Indian” listed in Eman’s ingredients list.  After some research I thought what she was asking for was bisbas, a spicy Yemeni spice mix, and that was what I used to make my current batch of meghazlia.  While sitting around researching this spice a bit more, I realized that besbasa was another name for mace.  So my meghazlia spice mix is most probably going to be quite different from Eman’s.  Sigh.  Anyway, I’ve noted down both my version and Eman’s version, for my future reference.

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