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Weekend Cooking: Pumpkin Soup

Mummy has her “seasons” of favorite foods.  Currently she’s into pumpkins, and every week we’d pick one up from the grocery store.  Kak’mbang has tried making all sorts of stuff with it, from sayur labu to pengat to bingka, and most recently delicious pumpkin pudding.  Mummy requested sayur labu every day, then got sick of it and moved on to pengat, and got sick of that one too.  She loves the bingka and the pudding, but these are desserts and Kak’mbang wanted more savoury options.  This was where I came in, and I offered to make pumpkin soup.

I looked through several options on the Internet, and found this one to be most interesting.  I’ve tweaked it here and there as always, using readily available ingredients and spices in my pantry.  The end result was a hearty, flavorful soup, a comforting dish which would have been excellent served with crusty bread.   I might use about 50% more chicken stock cubes next time and adjust the salt quantity accordingly, for even more oomph.  

Definitely making this again!

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Weekend Cooking: Paella

Tesco had some good shrimp and mussels in stock, and I really wanted to take my lovely Le Creuset casserole (thanks Tiff!) for a spin, so I decided to try making and perfecting a paella recipe.

I’ve made this twice now, but am still not fully satisfied with the results.  The first time I felt that the meats were not adequately seasoned and there was just way too much rice.  The second time, I used a bit too much liquid so the rice turned out a bit mushy.  Flavor-wise I think the rice was nice, but I really need to get the rice to liquid ratio right.

The following recipe has been tweaked with my notes on what I’d do differently next time.  From the base recipe I added a few more herbs to the stock mixture, and salt the chicken and shrimp a little for a bit more flavor.  I found using beef bacon resulted in a less salty dish and additional salt might be required, so I tried smoked chicken breast and it gave a nice smoky taste to the dish.  I also chopped my onions and bell peppers using a food processor, for a finer cut as well as to save me a lot of time. I’d use a spicier sausage next time, though, for a bit more kick.  Italian just tastes too herby and mild for me.

Try it out!

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Weekend Cooking: Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya

After cycling through quite a few Middle Eastern dishes of late, I decided to revisit some of the old recipes I made but never got around to properly document.  This jambalaya recipe based on the one by Emeril Lagasse was particularly nostalgic for me, because this was one of the first dishes I made when I started cooking at home about 6 or 7 years ago.   There was a time when Kak’mbang going back to our hometown meant having takeout or delivery every day.  This dish was my first home cooked dinner for my family, and it was the start of many many more thereafter.

This dish is fairly foolproof and not difficult to make. All you need is patience, because you’ll be spending around 40 to 45 minutes stirring the stuff in the pot almost non-stop.  The result is a light, healthy one-pot meal, great for potlucks and gatherings.

The ingredients aren’t anything too fancy either – I usually get my Italian sausages from B.I.G. lately, but I used to frequent Village Grocer and I think theirs actually taste better.  Village Grocer also carries chicken Chorizo sausages as far as I know, and you can use that for a slightly spicier flavor.  Unlike commercially packed, mass market sausages which are very firm (and cooked, I’m guessing), premium sausages like those at B.I.G. or Village Grocer or the ones by Victoria Crest are raw and therefore can be quite challenging to slice when thawed.  I usually prefer to slice them when frozen to maintain their shape.

Enjoy!

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Weekend Cooking: Air-Fried Caramel Banana & Coconut Spring Roll

Kak’mbang and I were just chilling out one day talking about food (because why not), and she mentioned this yummy looking recipe she found on a random can of F&N sweetened condensed creamer.  Only the ingredients list was on the can, but spring rolls stuffed with bananas and grated coconut and drizzled with sweetened creamer? Heck yeah!  The recipe was a bit of a treasure hunt to find, buried somewhere on F&N’s website, and last I checked the website no longer works, so I’m glad I have this written down here.

The original recipe was for regular fried spring rolls, but since Mummy is trying to watch her fat intake (as should I -_-), my version is air fried, and the results were still so so amazing.  I highly recommend using pisang mas because of their wonderful sweetness and fragrant banana flavor, but just use whatever type you have on hand.  Because the filling is rather wet, I separated 12 spring roll sheets upfront to speed up the wrapping process, and while working on one sheet, I covered the rest with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.  I also rolled the spring rolls a bit tighter to get more layers and prevent them from bursting.

Guaranteed to be a hit among kids and adults alike.  Try it out!

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Make Your Own: Caramelized Biscuit Sauce

Have you guys ever tried Llaollao frozen yoghurt?  It’s absolutely divine when you have it topped with their signature Lotus caramelized biscuit sauce. Must. Try.

Aizat gave me the brilliant idea of stuffing plain roti paung with Lotus Biscoff Spread, which is pretty much the same thing used in Llaollao’s biscuit sauce.  The reason I love Llaollao’s froyo so much is because the rich, sweet biscuit sauce went so well with the tangy creaminess of the froyo, so I decided to simulate this wonderful flavor combination by also adding a cube of cream cheese on top of the biscuit spread.

While waiting for the rolls to finish baking in the oven, a thought occurred to me.  The filling is so fancy, yet the rolls look so plain on the outside.  What if I drizzled it with the caramelized biscuit sauce to jazz things up a bit?

Since pretty much everything can be found on the internet nowadays, I looked it up and found a recipe by The Cafe Sucre Farine.  I cut the recipe by a lot, and subbed with ingredients I had on hand, but the results were quite amazing.   I botched it a bit and heated the Biscoff Spread together with the rest of the ingredients instead of stirring it in at the end, which may have effected its texture, but I’m not sure.  Will try to get it right the next time.

Glad I still have quite a bit leftover after drizzling the rolls! Need to get some ice cream to use this sauce as a topping…

My original creation: Roti paung with cream cheese and Biscoff spread, drizzled with the caramelized biscuit sauce.

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Weekend Cooking: 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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For Your Spice Rack: 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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