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Cranberry, Almond and Walnut Bread

I had leftover natural yoghurt in the fridge I’d like to clear out before it goes bad. Looking through the recipe book that came with my Kenwood BM450 machine I saw this recipe, and I had all the ingredients (or their substitutes) on hand, so here we are.

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Italian Herb and Parmesan Bread

After years of using my trusty Kenwood BM250 breadmaker, I did the stupidest thing. I let the breadpan sit in a sink filled with just a couple of inches of water. It wasn’t that much water, but it was enough for rust to build around the paddle rotator, and it became stuck. No amount of WD-40 could un-stick it, so I had a few options: 1) Keep up the WD-40 treatment and pray; 2) buy a new breadpan; or 3) buy a new breadmaker.

I chose option 1 at first. Then I had itchy fingers and checked out the Kenwood BM450 on Lazada. Payday Sale was on, and it was on sale at a 20% discount. Needless to say, I caved. I’ll still do Option 1 and figure out what to do with the old breadmaker if I did manage to fix the breadpan.

I love the Kenwood BM450. It is supposed to be better than the basic BM250, and best of all, it is gorgeous. Finally a winning combination of form and function.

I looked at the recipe book which came with the machine, and there were quite a few I’d like to try. This here though is something I found online on Genius Kitchen, which uses ingredients readily available in my pantry. My first loaf using my new machine!

I activated the yeast first because I wasn’t sure if it was still usable. You can skip this step if you like, as it is completely unnecessary for breadmaker recipes and when using instant yeast.

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Weekend Cooking: New York-Style Bagels

It’s so hard to find good bagels in KL. I can name a couple of bakeries selling it, but can’t say they are particularly spectacular. One day I had a major craving for bagels, so I looked up a few recipes and picked up the one by Sophisticated Gourmet, which didn’t seem too complicated compared to others.

My first try making this, I completely messed up the water-to-flour ratio and the dough resembled alien goo. The second time around, I went back to my learnings in the science of breadmaking, and got the ratios spot on. However I also had some problems with my breadmaker during the second try, and had to knead the dough by hand. Such a good workout, lol.

Verdict: absolutely loved it. This will definitely be my go-to recipe for bagels – simple, no frills, and absolutely delicious straight out of the oven.

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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: Braised Duck Legs

Tesco started stocking more than just whole ducks – whole legs, necks (for stock, I’m guessing), wings, and very rarely, breasts. I grabbed a bag of duck legs out of impulse, and after letting them sit in the freezer for a while, I searched the Internet again for ideas, and found this interesting recipe on SOS Cuisine.

I searched high and low at all the upmarket grocery stores for herbes de Provence, with no luck. It’s not easy to mix your own either, because you needs some exotic stuff like lavender and whatnot. Finally I found it at the most unexpected place possible – Tesco Online. It didn’t even cost much. Score!

This recipe was fairly easy to make, no need to make any special rubs, simple ingredients you can easily find at hypermarkets, and simple steps. Even if you couldn’t find the herbes de Provence, you can always sub with whatever herbs you have on hand, a mix of thyme, rosemary, basil, marjoram, oregano and tarragon.

Best of all, it is really delicious despite this simplicity, and can be a strong addition to your repertoire of dinner recipes. Give it a try!

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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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