Friday, August 15, 2008

Cooking frenzy

F's coming home today. After five days in camp. My poor sweetie have been eating endless packed rice and junk food i.e. pizza delivery (sheesh... talking about roughing it out in camp). Bet he missed home cooked food. I have leftover Mum's Nasi Lemak (which I have to add is AJ's fav dish) and F's fav quail eggs sambal. I decided to cook another of his fav dish - Ayam Ungkep... or Ungkep Ayam. Whichever way you pronounced it, it is a Javanese dish full with coriander flavour. Must make it spicy for him.

I learnt that this was his fav dish way before we were married. I asked MIL how to cook it. Thinking that I have all the skills of a chef, she just blabber the ingredients. I was flabbergasted. So after we got married, I surfed the net for it (ahhh... the wonders of internet) and chanced upon this one:

Ungkep Ayam
1kg chix wings (or you can use a whole chicken cut into 10 pieces)
5 tbs Coriander powder
1 tbs Cumin powder
1 tbs Grounded inger
4 - 5 Onion
1 - 2 cloves garlic
A pinch of tumeric powder
A bit more tumeric powder to marinate chix
Half cup of water
Salt and sugar to taste
** If you like it really spicy, then a few chillies. I used dried chillies and sometimes bird eye chillies. Depending on the heat/ spicyness.
The easiest method is to chuck everything (except the chix of course!) into a blender and grind until smooth.
1. Use a bit more tumeric powder to marinate the chix, leave it for 30mins. Then sear the chix pieces in a hot hot wok, no oil cos the chix will produce it's own oil.
2. Remove chix from the wok. Use the oil from the chix and perhaps a bit more to then fry the grinded ingredients till fragrant. You can add your salt and sugar here... or after step 3. Whichever rocks your boat....

3. Add chix and stir until chix are coated. Add water and let it simmer.
And voila.. you have Ungkep Ayam. Yet another chix recipe from the chickeney kitchen......
Here's a pix of the golden seared chix:

I have a confession. I overslept in the bus on the way home today and ended up at another neighbourhood. Heheh... I am quite familiar with the place, the fact that I overslept in the bus more than once. Hey... can't blame me, I did a 12-hour graveyard shift. And I had this overpowering urge to buy and cook veg veg veg. Also the fact that NL and I just discussed about doing a tour of the farms in Lim Chu Kang. Soo exciting to know that we have working farms in Singapore. Not just a lame educational farm with a few patch of Cai Xin and Cabbage.

Anyways, I bought the following:
A bag of carrots
2 bunches of spinach
2 ears of corn
A small bag of beansprouts
And a Thai Pumpkin... now I really dun know the exact English name but Mum called it Labu Siam. Literally translated Thai Pumpkin. Here's how it looks like:

OK. So I forgot to take a pix of it before I cut it. But the colour is just like a Guava, but more in a shape like a pear. The smaller ones, slightly smaller than your fist is nicer and sweeter. The bigger ones has less flavour.

And I went into a cooking frenzy. Planning and cooking for the next two days' meals. While the chix simmer, I made a Javanese Veg soup. It's really refreshing and you can put any hard veg that you like. Into the soup goes the corn, carrots, thai pumpkin, long beans (I have that in my fridge) and a small can of braised peanuts (washed off of the soya sauce coating). That'll be for the upcoming two days.

The spinach will go into a clear chicken stock soup. That's for today to go with the chix.

Since I only use the Spinach leaves for the clear soup... I took a bit of the stems, cut it into little pieces. Combined with julien carrots... and I'll make veg fritters. That's be for the upcoming two days too. I'll fry the fritters tonight for tmrw's lunch (I am working on Sat and Sun.... thus the rush).

And then..... I planned to do a stir-fry of beansprouts, spring onions (have that in the fridge k...) and little pieces of salted fish. I know I have some salted fish that mum or 3rd bro got for me on their last trip to M'sia. Yummy... but this one have to be eaten when it is freshly cooked. So this will probably be Monday's lunch. Hope the beansprouts lasts till Monday.

OK. So which veg recipe should I type first?

Javanese Veg Soup
Soup base:
2tbs dried prawns (soaked for a few mins in water to wash off the salt and then pounded)
2tbs grinded onion
2tps grinded garlic
1tbs grinded chilli (i used dried chillies)
1 tbs oil
About 4 - 5 cups of tamarind water
Salt and sugar to taste. (More sugar... cos the tamarind can be rather sour. But if you like sour... by all means...)

Again... the easist way is to just chuck everything into a blender and grind.

1. In a pot, fry the grinded ingredients until fragrant.
2. Pour in the tamarind water and let it come to a boil.
3. Put in your fav veg. You can choose from my shopping list above. Sometimes I put in cabbage too.
4. Bring it to a boil or until whatever veg that supp to be tender is tender e.g. corn.

The marvellous part is eating the corn. Cos it absorbs a bit of the sour, salty, spicy flavour of the soup.... but somehow retains part of its sweetness. So when you bite into the corn you can the soup flavour... and then the sweetness of the corn hits you. YUMMM!
More about the rest later I supp. F's back.... heheh

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

House arrest, and tear & share bread

Came down with a throat infection last week and had some terrible body ache. That graduated to a runny nose and chills. I seldom catch such flu bugs but when I do, it's just the worst anyone ever see. I was out of office for two days. Plus my off days, it was a total of almost six days. But I promised AC that I'll cut it short and come back on Monday. But I still look and sound terrible I suppose, cos AC send me home packing early and asked that I paid a visit to the doc again.

That I did. And it made me miss the family doc that I used to visit when I was staying with my mum. He's an elderly chap, very caring and always filled with some soothing words that made you feel like a six year old. He'll send you out of his room with a "take care" and "rest well" ... it makes you feel better already. But the queue at his clinic takes ages, be prepared to wait at least half a day to wait for your turn. He does not accept appointments too.

So I went ahead and have my record created at the 24hr clinic next to KFC near my place. It's a mere 2mins walk. But cos they are like a company, rather than a private practice (speaking of which Private Practice is playing on Starworld now!).... so the docs kept changing. And it is always these young chaps, prob just graduated with a few years under their belt. And if you get those on a night shift on a weekend... boo!! they look sicker than you. LOL.

Anyways, so with that, I didn't step out of the house for a good 5 days. I got totally bored that I started working on the weeks' worth of laundry that have been sitting in the guest room waiting to be folded. I then ironed two sets of F's reservist uniform (he's away on reservist now... for 5 whole days.....). And I decided to iron some of my clothes... work clothes that I didn't bother to wear anymore cos it needed ironing. There was one night that after taking my medi and I couldn't sleep.... I ended up making bread. Heheh... again.

This time, I used a recipe I got from one of the library books that I borrowed. I like the name... tear and share bread. That means that the bread does not have to be in a perfect shape.... I like that idea. Tear and share. It also evoked the memory of eating those yummy tomato and olive bread during our company's financial year kick-off celebration and the bread at Raffles Hotel's Bar and Billiard Room.

Olive and Tomato, tear and share bread

475g strong white flour
1tsp salt
1tsp caster sugar
1 1/4 tsp fast-action dried yeast
2tbs olive oil
275ml water
125g pitted or stuffed green olives, roughly chopped
40g sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil), roughly chopped
coarse sea salt and paprika, to garnish

Making by hand
1. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a large bowl. Add the olive oil then gradually mis in enough wam water to make a soft dough.
(mum taught me to always put in the oil last rather than first, that way it 'cleans' up the whole bowl and there'll be no dough sticking to the bowl... whichever works for you...)

2. Knead well on a light floured surface for 5mins until the dough is smooth and elastic. Put the dough back inyo the bowl and cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise for 1hr or until doubled in size.

3. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead well. Gradually work in the chopped olives and tomatoes. Pat into a rough circle about 20cm (8 inches) in diameter. Transfer to a greased baking sheet and mark the dough into 8 wedges, but do not cut right through to the base.

4. Sprinkle with the salt anf paprika then cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise for 30mins or until half as big again.

5. Remove the clingfilm (duh!) and bake in a preheated oven 200C for 30mins. Check after 15mins and cover with foil if overbrowning.

6. Transfer to wire rack to cool....

Now I didn't have any olives and all I have is the sun-dried tomatoes and capers in oil. So I used them. The book says that if we are using the tomatoes that's in oil, doubled the quantity, cos the oil would have made them heavier. Agreed. Also... I used the oil that the tomatoes and capers were soaked in, rather than freash olive oil.

ME was asking me for the recipe for the bread that I brought to office the other time. So ME, here's to you!! And oh! just add some Italian Herbs, chopped garlic (you can sautee the garlic a bit in olive oil to tone down the flavour a bit) and those sliced cheese (chopped them up a bit) to make it like the pizza-like bread that I brought to office. Remember to bring it to the office too!!

For the tear and share bread... I kept it in this air-tight tin I got courtesy of KT. It used to hold the popcorn that we got when watching Hancock the other time. Thanks KT!!

And when hunger pangs attacked... I sliced a few thick ones (yeah... I sliced and not tear) toast it up a bit and spread a thick butter.... YUMMMYYY!!! It's good with soup too. Which is my diet for the past 6 days.