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Ramadan Cooking: Shuraba (Meat and Oat Soup)

Mummy has been losing weight of late, and I’ve been trying out various soup recipes for her to have some variety in her diet.  I wanted to keep things interesting enough for her to want to eat, while at the same time provide her with all the necessary nutrition to stay healthy.

Since it’s fasting month and she might get even skinnier, I tried out this wonderful oat soup recipe by the Queen of Sheba.  It’s a soup which is pretty much a meal on its own, with healthy oats and protein from the meat.  At the same time it is really easy to eat, making it the perfect dish for sahur.  It is a bit heavy to have as a starter before a main course, so my family and I would dish out only very very small bowls during buka puasa.  

Try it out!

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Ramadan Cooking: Shrimp Scampi Pasta

I found some really nice (albeit expensive) shrimp at B.I.G. recently, and at the same time was having such a craving for pasta.  I’ve mentioned previously that I really love the shrimp scampi at Tony Roma’s, although over the years they seemed to have modified the recipe or something and even that has lost its appeal to me.  I’ve tried making it myself once before, using Tyler Florence’s recipe, but I found it to be just so-so.  This time, I stumbled upon this recipe by Rasa Malaysia and decided to work from there.

This being an Italian dish, the original recipe called for white wine, so as always I subbed it with apple juice.  I sometimes would dilute apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar as a substitute for white wine in soups and pies, but I found that in pasta dishes vinegar might make it turn out too acidic.  I also like to use cilantro instead of parsley especially for seafood dishes.  I doubled the amount of cayenne for a bit more heat.

The results were fabulous! Everyone had seconds.  When attempting this recipe, be sure to have all your ingredients on hand, measured and ready to go.  Once your shrimp is in the pan work fast – as soon as the shrimp turns fully opaque remove the pan from heat, to make sure they don’t overcook.  Give it a try!

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Ramadan Cooking: Moroccan Lamb Soup

I bought some lamb cubes some time back and never got around to cooking them.  Since it’s Ramadan and the evenings have been so rainy of late, I wanted to make something comforting and soupy.  Besides, Mummy is watching her health more carefully and no longer eats any red meat, so even though she’ll avoid this dish, it is just one of the many dishes we served with rice for our buka puasa meal.

I loved the broth, so flavourful yet the spices are not overpowering.  I flooded my rice with it, and i imagine this soup would also be excellent with bread.

The original recipe was intended for lamb shanks, but since I wanted to use up the lamb cubes in the freezer I just used that.  The meat turned out a bit tough even after simmering for 1 1/2 hours, so I wonder if I’ll give it 30 minutes in the pressure cooker next time.   Because it was already time to break fast and the meat wasn’t as tender as I had hoped, I skipped the shredding step.  Will make this again, using a couple of good quality shanks I hope.  Yums!

Adapted from a recipe on taste.com.au.

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Ramadan Cooking: Peri-peri Sausage Rolls

Ramadan mubarak, everyone! I can’t believe a year went by so fast.  Since I get off work an hour early, again I try to make small dishes like appetisers and snacks for breaking fast.  I still have a few bottles of Nando’s PERi-PERi sauce in the larder, so I looked through their website for ideas.  These sausage rolls looked so yummy, so away I went to Ben’s Independent Grocer during my half-hour afternoon break to buy what I needed.

A few things I did for this recipe: I used chicken cheese sausages and breadcrumbs with Italian herbs, and I think this made the rolls “taste like pizza”.  I also used Italian flat-leaf parsley instead of English (I wasn’t sure which one I was supposed to use until I came back and watched the video), which had a stronger flavor I didn’t fancy too much, so I’ll use English parsley next time.  In the spirit of Ramadan I gave the dish a slight Middle Eastern twist and used habbatus sauda in place of black sesame seeds.

Mind you this recipe makes quite a lot of filling, and depending on how big your bread is you might end up with multiple rolls instead of just one as stated in the original recipe.  I used Massimo white sandwich loaf, and ended up with four rolls in total.

Overall this was a delicious snack, great for moreh and sahur, as well as for potlucks and afternoon tea.  Give it a try!

Based on the recipe by Nando’s UK.

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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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