What a Year

hk skyline

2013 was a big year for me. Last night, as I flipped back the pages in my mind before the clock strikes twelve, some memories formed into paintings of joy and laughter while others displayed a sense of melancholy.  It was the year where I decide to make a drastic change in my life with a precious opportunity which I am actually not quite prepared for.

Leaving home to work in a foreign country for the first time, the move to Hong Kong itself was already an experience. Besides getting to know the ways of living in this new city, my taste buds are also being challenged to recipes, flavors and textures that I am not accustomed to.

While the new may be interesting, it is often the familiar that kept me settled.  I’m so glad that my tiny kitchen is now stocked with extra virgin olive oil, Italian canned tomatoes, balsamic and my favorite spices.

Here’s a simple recipe to share. Happy New Year my friends!

Drumsticks Baked with Balsamic Vinegar

baked chicken with balsamic

Drumsticks

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Crushed black pepper

Dried rosemary (fresh ones are too costly over here)

Sea salt

Paprika

Lemon juice

Marinate drumsticks with all other ingredients overnight. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 45 minutes or until it looks good to the eye. Squeeze a wedge of lemon juice over before serving with your favorite greens or baked vegetables.

East Malaysia Cooking Trip – Part 1

brinjals

Hello my blogger friends, greetings from Hong Kong! For those who have been following my blog, I’ve finally settled down in this city that never sleeps. It’s been more than two months since my last post and I hope you will still get to see this in your reader or email 🙂

I am preparing to start cooking and baking soon but for now, I would love to share with you an amazing trip that I’ve made before my move. For this trip, I get to stay with my relative in Sarawak, East Malaysia who owns a little vegetable garden right in front of the house. Of course, you know my itchy hands wouldn’t leave those gorgeous plants alone. Hee hee!

chinese squash

These are oriental squash which are great for making clear soup with dried scallops and pork short ribs. Boil them together for an hour and all you need is just a little salt to flavor it.

be different

While most squash are long and straight, some just prefers to be different.

robot oven

dough in robot oven

I would like to introduce this powerful oven that looks more like an alien in scifi films which can pre-heat to 220C within 10minutes. The only thing to be careful is that the heating element is at the top so attention is needed to avoid the crust of my bread from getting burnt. Yes, I baked bread with it and the result is very satisfying.

foccacia

I made this foccacia bread with dried Italian herbs using that robot. It was really crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The bread was very well received and before I knew it, the pan was empty.

12 hour overnight poolish 

150g strong flour, 150g warm water, 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Mix everything together  and let it ferment overnight.

Main dough

278g strong flour, 150g warm water, 1 & 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast, dried Italian herbs, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, 2 tablespoon olive oil, poolish

Mix everything together and work your dough till it is smooth. Let it rest for 45 mins. Stretch and fold the dough and let it rest for another 45mins. Pre-heat oven to 200C and bake for 20mins. Sprinkle with grated parmigiano if desired.

harvesting egg plant

I just can’t keep my hands off these gorgeous brinjals or long eggplants. I’m so lucky that they are at their best when I was there. Green on the inside with no seeds yet.

pasta with brinjals

With limited ingredients, I turned the brinjals into this pasta dish.

brinjals, cut into circles

red chili, chopped

1 onion, chopped

italian herbs

1 big lime juice

olive oil

sea salt

black pepper

your favorite pasta

Fry brinjals in olive oil till caramelized and set aside for later use. With the same oil, saute onions till caramelized and put in red chili, sea salt and pepper. On another burner, cook pasta to al dente and keep some pasta water. Back to the frying pan, add in lime juice and pasta water follow by a good handful of italian herbs. Put in pasta, brinjal and toss well. Serve with grated parmigiano and perhaps more chili.

It’s been a great trip. I’ll share more recipes in part 2 okay?

Zucchini Pasta

photo (27)_1

 

This is undoubtedly a classic dish in many parts of the world but it is hard to find on menus here in Singapore. I was encouraged and inspired to create this recipe by the beautiful blogger Gabriela Blandy who is able to paint pictures with words in her popular blog thesenseofajourney . I sincerely hope that she will come round with her unforeseen transition in life and start writing again.

Gabriela suggested a recipe using fresh mint when she was visiting my post Pecorino Romano . As I could not get hold of mint while making, I adjusted the recipe into this.

Serves Three (my mom was here to taste it :))

2 big zucchinis

3 small bowls of penne

Chopped tomatoes

1 small chopped chili

Chopped Garlic

Dry Italian herbs

Half cup of cooking cream

Grated pecorino cheese

White wine

Balsamic vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly crushed black pepper

A wedge of lemon

Cut 6 thick slices of zucchini with skin on. Marinate with lots of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper and salt. Bake at 200 degrees C for 50 minutes. I started with a cold oven and it still came out well.

Chop the rest of zucchini into small pieces with skin on and blend with cream into a puree. Set aside for later use. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water. Add salt and start to cook penne till al dente. In a frying pan, heat up olive oil and fry garlic and chili till garlic starts to brown. Pour in white wine and continue cooking till the liquid is reduced by half. Pour in zucchini and cream puree. Add salt, pepper and a handful of Italian herbs to taste.  Cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add in grated pecorino cheese and penne. Squeeze some lemon juice over and serve immediately with baked zucchini and chopped tomatoes. Complete the meal with crusty bread and a glass of white.

Thanks for stopping by and please tell me how you like this.

Pumpkin Risotto

pumpkin risotto 2

After making pumpkin-rice-with-coconut-milk, I have longed to turn it into a risotto.

Pumpkin, cut into cubes

Risotto rice

White wine

Onions, finely chopped

Olive oil

Butter

Chicken stock

Coconut milk

Sea salt

Black pepper

pumpkin risotto 1

Finely chop onions and fry half of it in olive oil till the air in your kitchen is filled with fragrance.

Put in pumpkin cubes and cook till tender. Add salt and pepper.

Keep one third of it and blend the rest into puree.

Fry rest of the onions in olive oil and add rice.

Pour in half a cup of white wine and let the rice soak in it for three minutes.

Cover rice with pumpkin puree and chicken stock and cook till al dente.

Add in butter and coconut milk.

Follow by salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with pumpkin cubes.

ASPARAGUS WRAP WITH BACON

photo (53)

This recipe is too common and simple for most but it is my first time making it.

I would have to agree that these two ingredients are a match-made in heaven

after broiling them together with some olive oil and basic seasoning.

Fat asparagus

Streaky bacon

Olive oil

Black pepper

Your favorite chili sauce (optional)

A wedge of lemon juice

Wrap asparagus evenly with bacon from bottom to top. Brush bacon with chili sauce.

Grease a baking pan with olive oil to prevent sticking.

Place asparagus evenly on pan and season with crushed black pepper.

Broil till bacon turns crispy.

Squeeze a wedge of lemon juice over it before serving with a glass of chardonnay. 

STEAM CHICKEN SALAD

steam chicken salad 1

Quite often, I like to steam all ingredients to make a complete dish to get a balance in my diet. This recipe is one of my all-time favorite. You can boil the vegetables but I prefer to cut them into bite size and steam it to retain their full flavor and they cook fast in this way.

Chicken breast

Carrots

Potatoes

One Shallot, finely chopped

A sprig of rosemary

Whole grain mustard

Mayonnaise

Lemon juice

Olive oil

Sea salt

White pepper

Black pepper

steam chicken salad 2

Season chicken breast with salt and white pepper and steam them whole with rosemary. Cut into bite size when cooked. Cut potatoes and carrots and steam till tender. For the dressing, combine shallots, mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper and olive oil. Mix well then coat chicken, potatoes and carrots evenly. You can serve it immediately or leave it in the fridge for an hour.