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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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GobbleFest 2017 Leftovers: Turkey Waldorf Salad

Happy New Year, everyone!  It’s a lazy New Year’s Day, and I wanted 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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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 in advance, 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 requires 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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Weekend Cooking: Saleeg

I’ve been looking through the Saudi Food Eman YouTube channel, and seriously this lady is pretty talented.  I’ve tried a few of her recipes already, and have quite a long list of others in my weekend cooking queue.  This particular dish, saleeg, was something different from the recent rice dishes I’ve been making.

Looking at how simple the ingredients were, I had my doubts about whether this was really as good as I imagined it to be, but in the end my fears were unfounded.  This tasty rice porrige worked so perfectly with the no-frills roast chicken, and yes, I think I agree with Eman that this dish may satisfy the pickiest eaters.  Try it out!

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Potluck: Emeril’s Potatoes a la Boulangere

Our friend Marissa will be jetting off to Jakarta soon for a new job, so Elina had us over for potluck dinner and card games last Sunday.  Danial made roast chicken and Elina made rotkohl, so I decided to bring some form of starch as a complementing side dish.  It was either the baked potato casserole or this interesting potato dish by Emeril, and finally our host chose this one.

People say potatoes a la boulangere make a great side dish for roast chicken.  Making it wasn’t difficult, but rather time consuming.  A sharp, heavy knife worked wonders for me when slicing the onions and potatoes into even-sized pieces.  I also took my time to properly caramelize the onions and potatoes, and I think this gave the dish a wonderful flavor.  An excellent dish for potlucks, which you can make ahead on those busy days.  Try it out!

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Weekend Cooking: Pressure Cooker Chicken with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Sausage

After having my morning coffee and having finished this week’s copy of The Edge, I wandered into the kitchen and saw Kak’mbang staring at the chicken she just cut up.  I asked her what was on her mind, and she said she had trouble figuring out what to do with it for lunch today.  I had one recipe sitting in the drafts folder of my blog, waiting to be tested, so I offered to take that problem off her hands.

This dish was hearty and flavorful, and a welcome change after a string of Middle Eastern dishes.  We had this with rice for lunch (and dinner), but I think it would’ve been excellent with crusty bread.  Definitely making this again.

Based on the recipe by Serious Eats.

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Weekend Cooking: Breakfast Mac and Cheese

One day Khairil sent me a link on Facebook messenger to this really yummy looking recipe by Spicy Southern Kitchen.  It looked simple enough, and I just received a bag of shredded Cheddar from Merv, so I thought it’d be nice to make this over the weekend and invite Adik over for brunch.  So yesterday after work I decided to stop by B.I.G. to grab whatever additional ingredients needed, and even found jalapenos – that place is so awesome!  In the end I found out that Adik was going away with Mom and Ayin and family to KK for the weekend, but I decided to go ahead and make this anyway.

Making the biscuits from scratch really cut down the cost a lot; store-bought frozen biscuits here cost upwards of 20 ringgit per bag.  This lovely casserole makes a really hearty brunch, and also great for potlucks and gatherings.  Give it a try!

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Weekend Cooking: Mak Long’s Baked Macaroni (Makaroni Bakar)

I usually make my casseroles truly “Western-style” – full of ground meats, dried herbs like oregano, thyme and parsley, and a lot of cheese.  A while back Kak’mbang asked me to try making baked macaroni casserole “Malay-style,” which uses common local spices and eggs as the primary binding agent.  Every now and then I’d surf the net for recipe ideas, but nothing really caught my fancy.  In fact, honestly I disliked many of the ones I’ve tried before.  Either the spices were overpowering, or folks would add really strange stuff like chili sauce and mayo to the casserole.  Nnno.

Last year, a week before Aidilfitri celebrations we visited Mak Long (Rudy’s aunt) for buka puasa.  She made her legendary nasi ulam, which was amazing and desperately needs to be immortalized in these pages at some point…

…but I digress.  After a huge meal for breaking fast, while beaching myself like a whale on the couch I browsed through Mak Long’s cookbooks, and chanced upon her handwritten cookbook.  This was her own personal collection of recipes tried and tested through years of experience in the kitchen.  I immediately tossed the other books aside and began flipping through the pages.  So many recipes looked interesting, and I snapped as many photos of these pages using my phone.  This baked macaroni casserole was one of the recipes I captured.

Mak Long did not disappoint.  This casserole is full of yummy meat and vegetables, and uses just the right balance of cheese and egg so that it’s not too rich.  My family devoured it.  A wonderful one-pot meal, perfect for potlucks or to be made-ahead for weeknight dinners.   Do give it a try and enjoy!

Thanks Mak Long!

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