Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Cheater's Calzone or In-A-Pinch Pastie

A calzone is a pizza that has been folded over with all the toppings inside. A pastie is an English version of a calzone, with the same principle of a meat filling inside a semi-circle - a portable pie. In Singapore, this is sort of like our curry puff, but not with curry filling, of course.

A good friend posted the method of using frozen pratas in her Facebook to make these delicious versions of the calzone or pasties. The fillings is really up to your imagination and whatever you have in the kitchen.

The Cheater's Calzone or In-A-Pinch Pastie
8 Frozen Prata
1 can Luncheon meat
1 Onion chopped
2 tsp Minced Garlic
Dried Basil (I used fresh Basil as I had leftovers, but dried is fine)
Dried Oregano
Black Pepper
Sliced Cheese

  1. Combine the luncheon meat, onion, garlic, basil, oregano and pepper.
  2. Put the mashed mix on one side of the frozen prata.
  3. Put half a slice of cheese over the mix.
  4. Fold over the prata.
  5. Crimp the open sides of the prata with a fork to seal the prata up.
  6. Arrange the filled prata on a lined baking sheet.
  7. Pop it into the oven at 180 deg C for 20 minutes or until you see the prata nicely browned.
  8. Serve as is, or with veggies and baked beans.

I made another filling a few days later, this time with corned beef instead of luncheon meat. As you can see from the picture below, I also added avocado slices to the cheese, onion and garlic.

You can also try using tuna, sardines, curry or chicken pie fillings - the sky's the limit for these delicious and simple to make pasties! =)

Chicken Porridge

We usually have Chicken Porridge for our Sunday lunch, because it's just so simple to make.
All the ingredients go into the Thermal Pot in the morning before we walk 5 minutes to church. After church, we simply walk home to a piping hot meal of Chicken Porridge.

2 Chicken Legs, bone in
1 tbsp Cooking oil
2 cups Rice
1 litre Hot Water
5 slices Ginger
Salt to taste (about 1 tsp - we can always add light soy sauce later if the porridge isn't salty enough)
Fried Shallots, Sesame oil, White ground pepper and Spring onions for garnishing

  1. Wash the rice, drain it and put it into the inner pot. Put the salt and cooking oil into the damp rice and shake it about to coat it. My granny swears by this method to get a very smooth congee. ;)
  2. Into the pot, add the chicken, the ginger slices and the hot water, and set it all to boil. I usually boil the water in my electric kettle to save on boiling water on the stove; it's quicker for me, especially when I'm trying to get 3 kids ready to get out of the house. If you don't have hot water, just simply add water into the pot and then boil it with the other ingredients.
  3. After vigorous boiling for a minimum of 5 minutes, turn off the heat and put the inner pot into the Thermal Pot.
  4. Go out. Have fun. Go online. Watch grass grow.
  5. After about 2 hours or more, remove the chicken from the pot and shred the meat. BE CAREFUL! IT'S STILL VERY, VERY HOT!
  6. Pour more hot water into the pot to get the consistency you prefer. Since my kids like their porridge thick, I usually scoop their out first. I love my porridge thin, so I'll add more water into the pot after I've distributed the porridge out into bowls.
  7. Put the shredded chicken on top of the porridge and garnish with fried shallots, sesame oil, white ground pepper and spring onions.
  8. Serve with you tiao if you can find it. ;)
I like my porridge with egg, so before ladling it out to my bowl, I crack an egg and put it in the bottom of the bowl. I make sure that the porridge is HOT before ladling it on the egg. The heat from the porridge will cook the egg, thickening the porridge to a yummy texture.

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Instant Noodle Post

Do we eat instant noodles? Of course we do! =)

There's something absolutely yummy indulging in instant noodles that instantly makes our mouth waters, that invokes steaming salty soup, with yummy eggs and crunchy veggies - a sure satisfying mouthful when the hunger pang strikes. Or my favourite dry instant noodles - Indomie - with its salty-sweet slippery chewiness, topped off with a fried egg.

However, it has been quite a long time since we last bought a real pack of instant noodles. These days, we buy the noodle cakes without seasoning and make our own soup base, or in the case of this post, make our own 'Indomie'-styled noodles.

Recently, Taiwan has banned Indomie (Today Online),
which naturally raised some concerns in Singapore, as Indomie's Mi Goreng is very popular here.

This news didn't affect us much, though. Long before this, we were already enjoying our version of Indomie's Mi Goreng.

This time, the recipe is a step-by-step pictorial explanation of how to make my version of Indomie's Mi Goreng:

Brenda's Indomie

You'll need:
1 Instant Noodle cake (These can be bought in packs of 6 to 8 cakes, all without seasoning from the supermarket.)

1 to 2 tsp Fried Shallot with oil (You can make your own, or buy ready made ones)

1 tbsp HABHAL's Sweet (Soya Bean Sauce) (RED LABEL)

1 to 2 tsp of homemade Sambal Tumis (You could also get ready-made ones; just look for Nasi Lemak Chilli at the supermarket, if they don't stock Sambal Tumis.)

  1. Cook one cake of noodles. I like to add my leafy veggies after the noodles soften a bit.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients to replace the seasoning powder you find in the instant noodle packets. On a plate, put the shallot oil,the sweet soya sauce,and the sambal tumis.
  3. Drain the noodles and veggies, and mix them with the oil, sauce and chilli on the plate, until the noodles are well coated. The beauty of making your own is that you can have it spicier if you wish, or sweeter, or more shalloty fragrant. ;)
  4. We like to have a fried egg on top of our Mi Goreng, and have the semi-cooked egg yolk coat the noodles. YUM!

Pasta Fast to Cook, Good to Eat

Pasta - before instant noodles, these were the instant noodles! ;)

We had 2 versions of a pasta lunch today, and I thought it would be good to blog about how to cook these fast to cook, good to eat meals. Unfortunately, it's a lot of estimation because I literally just threw in stuff into the pot... we've made these so often that I didn't measure it out.

Chicken Alfredo (for 2 Adults)

1 Chicken thigh, cut into strips
1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
About 1 tablespoon Olive oil
About 1 tablespoon Flour
About 1 cup Milk
120g Dried Pasta, cooked in water until ready to use (we used Fusili today)
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Cheese for garnishing

  1. In a pot, heat up the oil and fry the flour lightly. When the flour has browned a little, whisk in the milk until you get a thickened white sauce.
  2. Add in the celery and chicken strips.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. The sauce is done once the chicken is cooked.
  5. Either separate the pasta into 2 dishes and pour the white sauce over, OR put the pasta into the sauce, give it a good stir and then serve it out into two dishes.
  6. Garnish with grated cheese. You can add in sliced olives too.

Prawn Aglio (for 1 Adult)

6 to 8 prawns, shelled and the shells kept aside
1/4 cup Olive oil
1/2 Small Onion
1 tsp Minced Garlic
1/2 stick Celery (or equal amount of hardy veggies like French Beans)
Sliced Olives
60g Dried Pasta, cooked in water until ready to use (I used Fettucini today)
A dash of Paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a pan, heat up the oil and fry the prawn heads and shell with a little salt, until you get the lovely, yummy fragrant prawn scent. Use a sieve and a spoon to squeeze and drain the oil from the prawn shells.
  2. Return the reddish prawn oil into the pan and add in the onion, garlic and celery. When the scent of the spices are released, add in the prawns, cooking it until they're done.
  3. Add in the pasta and olives, and give the mixture a good stir to coat the pasta.
  4. Finally, add in the paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve it up on a plate.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Sugar Cookies Icing

This post is just for the icing recipe I used on my cookie.

It's simple to make, dries out nicely and so easy to pipe!

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon flavoring (vanilla, lemon, rose or almond flavoring are good too)
Colouring, if needed

1. Stir sugar and milk together in a bowl until icing mixture is smooth. You might get lumps, but try to press in the sugar into the lumps.
2. Beat in corn syrup and flavouring until icing mixture is smooth and glossy in appearance. I used a egg-whisk because the amount was small.
3. Add food coloring to desired shade.
4. Put icing in a plastic bag and cut out a tiny hole at one corner of it. Use it to squeeze the icing out like a pen.
5. Ice cookie and set aside for the icing to harden. This would take more than an hour, depending on the humidity etc. To be sure that the icing hardens in time, try to ice the cookies half a day to a day before needed.

If you double or triple the amount of icing made, you could make the initial amount using a mixer. Then add colouring after the icing is made.

If you want to use the icing to coat the cookie, then thin the icing using more milk. Add the milk in by half teaspoon increments until you get the consistency you need. You can use a clean paint brush to help you decorate your cookie.

Another method is to pipe the "outline" of the cookie and then pour in the thinner icing into the shape left by the outline.

Whatever you do, enjoy the creative process and have fun decorating your cookies!

These are cookies made from a special cookie cutter that impresses letters while cutting out the cookie shapes.

A close up.

Below are cookies that I iced with the icing I made. I didn't add in any colours because the base colour of the cookies were so vibrant. After icing these 10 big cookies, I still had half of my icing recipe left. The silver ball sugar bits are available from Phoon Huat, and they make a lovely accent to the cookies.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Lizzy's Cookie Monster Cupcakes

I promised my 11-year-old niece, Lizzy, these Cookie Monster Cupcakes months ago, ever since she used a Cookie Monster cupcake as a profile pic for her Facebook.

That version of the cupcake used a muffin, blue-coloured grated coconut, and a particular type of sweet for its eyes which isn't available in Singapore.

Therefore, I had to improvise.

I debated with whether to go ahead with muffins or a cupcake, but since it was her birthday, I decided to go with a cupcake base.

I used my chocolate cupcake recipe and a light buttercream frosting I found online.

Light Buttercream Frosting
5 tbsp Flour
1 cup Milk
1 cup Unsalted Butter (227gm)
1 cup Fine Sugar (NOT icing sugar)
1-2 tsp Vanilla Extract

  1. Whisk together in a saucepan the flour and milk to make a roux. Cook over medium heat for a minute or two until the mixture thickens. Be careful not to let the mixture stiffen. (Mine did - and it created lumps in the frosting later, which made it very difficult to pipe as the starchy bits got stuck in the holes. I had to run the entire frosting through a sieve before I was able to make use of the frosting.)
  2. Run the roux mix through a sieve to get rid of lumps.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar until the butter lightens in colour. Beat in the cooled roux about 2 tablespoon at a time, until the buttercream is well mixed.
  4. Add the vanilla extract.

Cookie Monster Cupcakes
Mentos sweets (enough for 2 eyes for each cupcake)
Chocolate chips (one for each Mentos)
Chocolate chip cookies, one for each cupcake
Non-coloured buttercream frosting
Blue-coloured buttercream frosting
Grass piping tip

  1. Begin by baking the cupcakes. Allow it to cool before preparing for frosting, otherwise the heat in the cupcake will melt the buttercream frosting.
  2. Whilst waiting for the cupcakes to bake/cool, make the Cookie Monster eyes. Attach a chocolate chip with a bit of non-coloured frosting onto the Mentos, making sure to put it off-centred.

  3. Once the cupcakes are cooled, make a cut into the cupcake, remove a cavity large enough to hold a chocolate chip cookie comfortably.

  4. Make blue buttercream frosting by adding enough blue colouring to the buttercream frosting. Spread some frosting into the cavity for the cookie, so that it can hold the cookie well.

  5. I bought the grass piping tip from Phoon Huat (Wilton #234), to pipe the fur. Make sure to pipe under the cookie as well.

  6. Put the eyes close together. For really cute Cookie Monsters, try not to place the pupils of the eyes too evenly. Cookie Monster goes a little crazy when he has a yummy cookie in his mouth. ;P

I'm happy to report that Lizzy was happy with her little Cookie Monsters. They were a hit with everyone. =)