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Archive for the ‘From the kitchen’ Category

Homemade meatballs

Bought some mince beef and thought to make spaghetti bolognese, but hubby doesn’t seem to be interested.

“How about meatballs?  Do we have the ingredients?” he hinted.

“Hmmm…. there’s more work involved with meatballs….” I tried to hide the reluctance sensing that he is rather keen.

“I could help chop up the onions?” he volunteered, undeterred.

So, meatballs were for dinner.  Can the bolognese.

“Can you make them moist?”

Yea…. they WILL be moist….. I prayed 🙂

I looked around and used whatever I had in the pantry and fridge, very proud of my innovation and I thought my culinary skill has improved somewhat after all the cooking shows I have been watching.  Here’s recipe to my juicy meatballs!

Ingredients (Made about 50 small meatballs (each about 3cm in diameter))

2 onions – chopped

1 marinated red chilli – chopped (optional)

1 teaspoon dry herbs of your choice – I used mixed Italian herbs

1 teaspoon paprika

1kg premium beef mince

1 carrot – grated

1 nashi pear or apple – skinned and grated

1 can diced tomato (juice reserved)

2 tablespoon sugar

Salt to taste

1 whole egg or 2 egg whites

¾ cup breadcrumbs

Steps

  1. Fry the onions in sufficient oil to coat the pan over medium heat.  Add some butter whenever the pan is looking dry or the onion starts to burn.
  2. Add in the red chilli, dry herb and paprika as the onion begins to brown.  Continue frying when the aroma of herbs and chilli develops.  Turn off the heat and let cool.
  3. Mix all the rest of the ingredients and seasoning, except for the breadcrumbs, together in a deep pan.  When all is well combined add in the fried onions and breadcrumbs – adjust quantity of the breadcrumb as necessary as you do not want the mixture to be overly dry.  Mix until well combined.
  4. Heat a little oil in the fry pan.  Make meatballs and fry them in the pan over low heat until cooked through.  Rest before serving.
  5. For a time-saving option, brown the meatballs in a little oil on all sides and continue to cook them in an oven at 180C for about 7-8 minutes.  Rest in the oven for about 5 minutes after turning off the heat before serving.

Tip

* Serve them as-is or use them in pasta sauce.  I am going to try using them in place of falafel in a kebab bread and see how I go with that!!!

* Hubby bought me a convection microwave oven and I used that instead of the traditional large oven – it is fantastic!  It took only minutes to heat up and only needed 7 to 8 minutes to cook after that!  Look at the energy I’ve saved!

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Thanks to Terri’s blog http://hungerhunger.blogspot.com/2010/04/mantou.html, I made my first lot of steamed buns without a breadmaker!!!  Still, I used the food processor to help with kneading.

I made steamed vegie buns.  For filling I used shredded zuchinni, chinese mushrooms (soaked and minced), chinese black fungus (soaked and minced), a little preserved vegie or xie-cai (soaked and minced).  It is best to salt the shredded zuchinni and rest it for a little while, squeeze out the juice of the zhuchinni and mix in with rest of the filling ingredients (except for xie-cai). 

I first fried the xie cai in hot oil, seasoned with some sugar.  When it is ready (when it’s dry and begins to hop a little in the pan), put in the rest of the ingredients.  If you are not using xie-cai, you may now season them with some salt.  Add in some sesame oil after about 3-5 minutes of frying, and it should be about ready.  Let cooled.

Ingredients for the dough:

350g plain flour (the recipe called for Hong Kong flour, which I don’t believe we have in Australia)

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda (the recipe called for 1 tsp baking powder, which we didn’t have in the house at that time)

50g sugar

2 tsp dry yeast

180 – 200ml body temperature water

2 tsp oil

Method

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in the food processor (remember to have the dough blade inserted – I forgot to and had to tip the whole thing out!).  You may use the pulse function to do this.  Make sure it’s well blended because I discovered I actually had lumps of sugar in my dough.
  2. While the processor is running on low, pour in oil through the feeder tube.  Let the oil blends with the dry ingredients.
  3. Pour in the warm water through the feeder tube.  Pour in by batches so that the dry ingredient will incorporate the liquid evenly.  Every now and then you may need to pause the kneading and scrape down the sides to ensure everything is incorporated.
  4. The dough should form just before you finish the liquid.  Feel with your finger or spatula, the dough should feel soft but not sticking to the finger.  Knead in the processor or with your hands a little more until it’s elastic and smooth.
  5. Transfer to a bowl or basin that will allow it to increase twice in volume when risen.  Cover with a piece of damp cloth (preferably warm) and leave in a warm place to rest for about an hour.  As it’s autumn here I actually had to proof the dough in a warmed oven.
  6. It is ready when the dough has risen to twice its original size.  As I was making vegie buns, I used portions of about 4cm in diameter for each bun, flattened* and filled with the prepared vegie filling.
  7. To enclose the bun, supporting the “bun” on my left fingers, I pinch the edges together by going around the circumference bit by bit using the thumb and index finger of my right hand.  The left thumb assist by pushing the filling into the “bun” so that it is closed in by the time the full circle is gathered up.  Ensure there’s no opening or else the bun will open up when steamed.
  8. Put the buns away for second proofing, about 30 minutes.  Again covered with a damp cloth and in a warm place.
  9. Put the steamer on and steam the buns for 6 minutes when the water has boiled.

*the better practice is to make the edges of the circle slightly thinner, and the middle of the circle thicker.  This is because the filling should sit nicely in the middle when you pinch the edges closed, so a thicker middle (base) will hold the weight; while the pinched edges adds up the thickness.

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Similar to cheesecakes, there are several versions of the Chinese New Year cake – usually the steamed version, which could turn fairly hard after a period of time.  A fried of mum’s introduced me to the oven-baked version, which is easy and quick to whip up.

Ingredients:

40 grams softened butter

1 cup sugar (palm sugar is best but I was lazy to crush the log so I used raw sugar instead)

2 eggs

400 gram glutinous rice flour

600 ml coconut milk + fresh milk (it just depends how much of coconut milk I have and I just top up the volume with fresh milk)

a little baking powder (say a pinch less than 1 tsp)

Method:

  1. Beat butter with sugar until pale.
  2. Add in the eggs and beat well.
  3. Pour in the coconut/milk mixture between the glutinous rice flour.  Mix well.  It should resemble the usual batter consistency so add milk if you think it’s a little too thick.
  4. Stir in baking powder and pour batter into greased pan.
  5. Bake at 180 degree C for about 40 minutes or when skewer comes out clean.  The surface of the cake should be nice and browned and not too pale.   If you see cracks on the surface do not be alarmed, the cake will still be fine.
  6. Cool in pan and cut into pieces for serving.  The cake is best consumed 1-3 days from baking as it is nice and soft and chewy.

Easy!?

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A friend brought a few polo buns (Chinese pineapple buns) to our place the other week and it was absolutely delicious.  I asked for the recipe as breads from my previous attempts don’t seem to stay fluffy and fresh after the day it’s baked.  I tried it out over the weekend and they were absolutely fluffy!  I used her dough recipe and filled them with coconut and red bean paste in them.

Here is the recipe for the dough – thanks Grace for sharing!

Ingredients

500 grams of bread flour (I used plain flour with 3 tsp of gluten added into it to make up the 500 grams)

56 grams of butter – softened

236.6 ml (8 oz) warmed milk

113 grams of sugar

2 eggs

5 tsp dry yeast

Coconut and red bean paste filling (note: for the red bean paste I used some red bean boiled in sugar and melted some butter into it.  You can always buy the ready-made ones from Asian shops.)

Method

  1. Rub butter into flour.  Add a pinch of salt.
  2. Add buttered flour and the rest of the ingredients into bread machine and set it to dough mode.
  3. Divide basic dough into 14 portions – it can become fairly sticky so I used the spatula a lot and do not add any dry flour (no matter how tempting it may be!).
  4. Put your desired fillings into each portions.  I used the shaping method in Corner Cafe to shape the buns.
  5. Cover the buns with greased food wrap and prove in a warm place until they rise to twice its size.
  6. Brush with egg wash and bake in a preheated oven @ 180 degrees, for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Glaze with sugary syrup while they are still hot from the oven.

The bread was fluffy straight from the oven and I packed the left-overs into freezer bags for the next day.  Thawed bread can be warmed in a grill and the fluffiness was revived!!!

Home-made bread take 2

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This is a really easy recipe from Donna Hay’s book.  I tried it for a recent birthday and “dressed” it up with cream and strawberries – beautiful were the responses.  Try it for yourself!

dsc06643

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Pastries

Here is my latest addition to my kitchen diary – danish pastries.  I didn’t make the pastries myself, they are bought pastries from the supermarket.  All I needed to do was to thaw it, put on the toppings.  I used chocolate (some ready-to-eat Lindt-look-alike chocolate thins) and canned pears.

Here are the different type of danishes from today’s baking.  Not too bad huh??

Tip on folding the beautiful pinwheel danish can be found here:

http://cafeoftheeast.blogspot.com/2007/09/danish-pastry.html

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Moist chocolate cake

Here is my attempt at Chow’s recipe of the moist chocolate cake.  It’s a very simple and quick recipe – all over and done with within the hour.  Plus it’s a hassle-free recipe – I found all the necessary in the pantry, no butter to melt or eggs to beat up!  Very yummy 🙂

Here’s the link to the recipe.

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