WEEKEND SALMON MEAL

 

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Hello 2018 !!! Late as usual but this year I plan to be a regular unlike last year. The hostess promises to be at her party (welcome to my jokes …LOL)

Anyways first things first…I must get this off my chest or I’ll choke on it. You see I have not been feeling true to my name “Sweetartisan”. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake and whip up scrumptious sweets, but gosh its just not practical to do so on a regular basis. Its the day to day mundane cooking which takes centre stage in my home. The Boy-man is suddenly physic conscious and Mr. Senior is watching the weighing scale, so they both seem to be turning away from the sugary stuff. That leaves me with the exciting task of whipping up interesting meals. We have resolved in the interest of our waist line to cut down on restaurant/ food court visits over the weekend too and further torture my poor soul. So a little birdie in my head tells me to (Re) create restaurant quality meals at home.

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The first challenge is always variety in a meal. Anything that’s a repeat is considered “same old crap” or categorised as uninventive or not good enough for a Sunday. Thank God I have the patience of a saint and a whole of 5 week days to recover from weekend food trauma. So friends let the weekend in-dining begin with a food court classic “Salmon Meal”. Singapore’s famous food courts are reasonably priced, so mind you cooking a salmon at home saves you no money, but the portion is generous, nationality of the salmon is guaranteed (Norwegian) and you are putting a lot more veges on the plate as against rice.

 

My salmon meal is accompanied by a 4 bean salad, stir fried veges and a small helping of rice. The salmon is marinated in  garlic and whatever sauces I have in my pantry. The flavours are a mish mash… a bit Asian with a little of a continental twist on the salad. The sweet and tangy-ness of the salad blends seamlessly with the fresh, rich and almost burnt sauciness of the salmon. You have a crunch from the greens and water chestnuts, smoothness from the beans, bite of stir fried veges and the rich taste of salmon…what you want more ????

The verdict-

Food ***** (5 stars)    Presentation 4.5 stars (plate looked messy)  Ambience 3.5 stars (cook cum waitress wearing tattered shorts with messy hair. Smelt fishy. She was bossy and snappy too)   Photography 1 Star ( SHE NEEDS TRAINING)

RECIPE

WEEKEND SALMON MEAL

serves 2

SALMON

2 fillets of salmon (deboned)

4-5 pods garlic cut fine

4 tablespoons Korean BBQ sauce/ any other BBQ sauce (smokey Flavoured)

2 tablespoons sweet soya sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 fresh or dried red chilly chopped fine

juice of half lemon

salt to taste

Mix all the sauces and aromatics in a shallow dish. Taste  and balance off as needed. Marinade the salmon fillets in the above. place the fillets flesh side down, making sure to coat the skin and sides with the sauce. Refrigerate for an hour atleast or until ready to use.

Prepare the salmon just before serving. Heat a heavy based frying pan. Add 2 tblspoons of vegetable oil. Swirl to coat well. Lift out the salmon from the sauce and shake out the liquid. Place the salmon skin side down in the sauce pan. Flip after cooking for 2 minutes. My salmon is always cooked through so I cook it longer than 3-4 minutes on each side. Once the salmon is done remove onto a plate. Pour remainder of the marinade into the hot pan. Add a little water if it thickens and starts to burn. Boil for a minute. Add salmon and coat well with sauce. Serve with rice and salad.

SALAD

1 head Lettuce/ 2 handfuls of mixed salad leaves

8 cherry tomatoes cut into halves

6 water chestnuts

8 Black olives chopped

200 grams Beans tinned (or beans of your choice soaked and cooked)

Basil leaves 4-5 shredded

2 spring onions cut on a slant

2 hard boiled eggs cut into 1/4

Dressing: lemon juice  (1/2 lemon), 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon honey, pepper, few drops Tabassco sauce, 2 tablespoons Japanese Kewpie Mayo ( any other mayo is good). mix the above and keep aside

Mix the salad. add salt to taste. Add the dressing and mix. Place the eggs on top

Sir fried veges- 6 florets broccoli, 1 medium carrot cut at a slant, 2 handful sprouts, 2 pods garlic chopped

fry the garlic in 1 tblspn hot oil. Add th broccoli and carrots , stir fry on very high heat. I like a few burnt marks on the veges. Add thesprouts and continue stir frying for another minute. Plate up.

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KHOW SUEY(MY WAY)

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Happy New Year dear readers, visitors, my regulars and the irregulars. By the time you read this we will be half way through the month. Its been one hell of a roller coaster year for us. Moving cities, setting up home in a new place for the 3rd time, a certain loveable boy in my house has turned 15 and shot up by 4 inches overnight, to tower over Dad, , using a new oven in my miniscule kitchen and discovering that 180o is 200 and amidst the ups and downs of life and this wonder called living I feel l lost myself somewhere and discovered a new me, I left behind a piece of my heart elsewhere and fell in love with a new place, a new home and I learnt that I can sand, prime and paint a dresser as well as I can bake. Phew that’s one helluva long sentence and I am out of breath.image

Coming out of the festive season and emerging out into a brand new year knowing that the hype is behind us, has a calming effect on my household. Father and son have realised that we have a kitchen at home too…. with a cook! So we decided to welcome the New Year with a quiet dinner of Khow Suey {Kha-o Sway}. A Burmese dish with Thai, Chinese and Indian influences. Khow Suey is a curry based dish eaten with noodles and topped with interesting little tit-bits like crispy fried garlic, sprouts, crispy onions, chopped parsley, peanuts and a dash of lime juice. Its unusual, simple yet very flavoursome and hearty. It has such a “family feel” to it. It is so much fun to construct your own bowl of Khow Suey at the table and take a helping of the toppings as per your taste. It can be made in a vegetarian, seafood or chicken version. For a change the recipe is longer than my introduction but don’t be intimidated by the length. It’s a simple and fun dish to make and eat. I always make 2 portions extra and yet find that there are raised eyebrows and expressions saying “That’s all?”

Its a very forgiving dish and you can make a plain curry with no additions and just let the toppings do the talking. Go ahead and give it a try….”your way”…”my way” or “the Khow Suey”

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RECIPE

KHOW SUEY

Serves 4

For the curry:

1 tblspn coriander seed powder

1 large onions, chopped roughly

Ginger- thumb-sized

4-5 cloves Garlic

3-4 fresh Red Chillies (alter according to your spice threshold)

Zest of 1 lemon

1-2 tablespoon oil

300 ml coconut milk

  • Grind all the above ingredients to a fine paste
  • In a deep vessel heat the oil, lower the heat and fry the paste on low heat of 4-5 minutes, stirring so occasionally. If the paste sticks to the bottom of the pan, add a little water. Turn off the heat and add the coconut milk. Cook the curry on low heat for 6-7 minutes stirring often. it should be thick and creamy. Add salt to taste. Keep aside.
  • For Vegeterian curry: Red and yellow peppers, Carrots, Water chestnuts, Brocolli. A total of 300 grms of vegetables chopped to bite sized pieces. Stir fry in a pan with a tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt, on high heat for 5 mins. Keep aside. Add to the curry before you serve.*
  • For prawn/ chicken curry: 400 grams of prawn or chicken (cut into 2 inch pieces). Can be added to the curry and cooked till done. This step can be done just before you serve. *

 

*The reason for the last minute addition of the veg and meat being that it doesn’t over cook to a soggy mess.

Noodles:

  • 5 portions of noodles (approx. 450 grms). Cook according to instructions on pack. Drain in a colander. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of oil and mix well coating the noodles to avoid sticking. Keep warm.

Toppings:

  • 10-12 cloves of garlic sliced thinly, deep fried to a golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel and place in a small bowl
  • 1 large onion sliced and deep fried to a golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel and place in a small bowl
  • 100 grams bean sprouts stir fried
  • A handful of peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup coriander chopped
  • Lime wedges
  • 2 hard-boiled Eggs (cut into quarters)

Put above toppings in individual serving bowls and line the bowls in a tray ready to serve.

 

Assembling Khow suey

  • In a large soup bowl or deep dish add a portion of noodles. Top with curry. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of each topping and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!!

GOBI MANCHURIAN

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I wouldn’t blame you if you thought this post is about the Gobi Desert in Mongolia or a lesson in politics on the disputed Sino-Soviet region of Manchuria. Its none of the above ….it’s about the fusion of Indian and Chinese cuisine, where the slogan “Hindi Chinny Bhai Bhai” (Indian Chinese Brotherhood) is revealed in a new and tastier light.

Let me start at the beginning….the Indian Chinese community that settled in the Indian city of Kolkata over a century ago, developed a range of Chinese vegetarian options to suit the Indian palate, using local vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes and the Indian staple Paneer (cottage Cheese). These veges or paneer are batter fried and served in spicy, tangy gravies that may resemble Chinese gravies but are clearly favoured and flavoured for the Indian palate. These gravies are an amalgamation of soya sauce, chilly sauce, a good dose of tomato ketchup, ginger, garlic and chilly and some more chilly.

From Kolkata to Mumbai and Ahmedabad to Allahabad , every city and small town in India caters to the Chinese food craze. From Chopsuey to Hakka noodles to Chilli fry to Spring rolls, its all there on the menu of street stalls and fancy restaurants. Chefs dish out their versions of Teriyaki, Manchirian, Cantonese, Thai and the general population is lapping it up and licking their bowls clean. They refuse to stop there…..as if embracing the Chinese cuisine and making it your own wasn’t enough now Indian fast food, Bhel and Dosas have a Chinese version as well. The humble Bhel ( a mix of puffed rice, crispy puries, onions, sev and tangy, sweet chutneys) has a Chinese brother (or sis), the Chinese Bhel – a concoction of crispy fried noodles, capsicum, onions, soya sauce and a red hot sauce that passes off as Schezwan. Any self respecting Chinese cook would commit suicide before he pronounced the dish as Chinese.

To get back to Gobi (cauliflower) Manchurian, I can say it’s a consolation prize for the vegetarian population who would otherwise miss out on the taste of China with a large helping of desi-ness. The cauli florets are batter fried to a crisp much like chicken or beef and then rolled in this very delectable, finger–licking sweet and sour gravy. Served with fried rice or noodles it ticks all the right boxes.

We Indians love to take a thing Phoren (foreign) and give it a Desi kiss and make it our own. Look, how we got the Big Mac to serve potato burgers and Paneer Wraps in India and see how the British are eating Chicken Tikka Masala (albeit their Anglicised version) by the ton. I am confident that in the light of the contribution made by the Indian Chefs to their rich heritage, the Chinese will soon declare Gobi Manchurian as their National Dish.

RECIPE

GOBI MANCHURIAN

For the Crispy fried Cauliflower

1 medium Cauliflower (approx 400 grmas)

½ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup cornflour

Salt to taste

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon chilly flakes (optional)

1 egg white

Oil for deep frying

For the gravy

5 cloves garlic chopped (coarsely ground)

1’ piece of ginger chopped

1 fresh/ dried red chilly cut into 4 pieces

1 tablespoon oil

2-3 tblspoons dark soya sauce

1 tblspoon chilli sauce

3-4 tblspoons tomato ketchup

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon cornflour mixed in a tablespoon of water

finely chopped coriander and green onions to garnish

  • For the crispy fried Cauliflower: Wash and break the cauliflower into large florets. Sprinkle salt and keep aside.
  • In a deep bowl mix the flour, salt, chilly flakes and egg white with a whisk. Add water to make it into a thick coatable batter (almost like cream).
  • Heat oil in a deep pot. Lower the heat to medium. Dip the florets in the batter to coat evenly and fry them in oil to a golden brown. Once fried, let them drain on kitchen papers to absorb the excess oil.
  • For the gravy: measure out all the sauces, sugar and vinegar in a bowl, stir to dissolve the sugar. Add 3 tblspoons water
  • In a shallow pan heat a tablespoon of oil. Fry the ginger garlic and chilly on low heat for a few seconds. Add in the sauces and bring to a boil. Put off the heat.
  • Just before you serve, reheat and toss the florets in a non-stick pan to crisp them up a little bit. This will help to get rid of excess oil. Re-heat the sauce and add in the cornflour paste to thicken. If the sauce is thick without the paste eliminate the use of cornflour.
  • Add the cauliflower, stir to coat. Sprinkle with finely chopped green onions and chopped coriander.
  • Serve with fried rice.

 

  • If you like more gravy feel free to double the gravy ingredients.

MINIMALISTIC MASALA POTATOES

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Hey there my Lovelies…wondering if I had fled the coop! Well, well I am back, yes back blogging but not in the same place, city or country. To cut a long story short I have moved …city, countries, homes. I am in Super organised, well-lined up, super super clean and extremely disciplined Singapore. Yes it’s a change from chaotic, buzzing, “I-don’t-know- What-hit-me” Mumbai, but its not that big a change, not like I have moved to the North Pole and have to live in an igloo and hunt down seals!!

So here I am living out of a service apartment with no baking equipment, no ingredients or tins. It’s like I have been banished from “bake-land”. I have here 2 pans and 3 pots and 2 knives and 3 tablespoons which double up as serving spoons. So whilst I await my 5 mixers, 20 whisks, a dozen bowls and 50 spatulas (LOL) I am literally living on the kitchen equivalent of a shoestring budget. I had the prudence to pack my masala essentials, though junior man was gunning for the plethora of food courts and restaurants that belt out these incredible aromas and food to match.

Never in my life have I cooked with so few ingredients/ masalas and yet have all dishes turning out surprisingly unique and tasty. There is a significant lesson for me out here, just because you have 10 spices lined up, doesn’t mean you have to use them all a few can do the job just fine. I am learning the art of “masala restraint”.

So in this cubby hole of a kitchen (why are there no spacious kitchens in Singapore? The answer lies in the wonderful food courts ), I decided to whip up some wholesome meals without the usual grumbling and hewing.

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Potatoes…. Since I haven’t yet chanced upon any Indian veges, potatoes are a staple and no ones complaining. My Minimalistic Potatoes are just what the name suggests, no curry leaves, hing (asofoetidia), no mustard seeds popping . Just green chillies, onions, garlic and a few masalas with a generous squeeze of lemon and parsley (coriander if you please). The boys are enjoying the Chinese and Japanese and Korean cuisine, I have no such luck as vegetarian food is not exactly their forte. Hence the aromas of my everyday cooking tide me over my home-sick taste buds.

Wherever I go, new home, new country, new people, new friends….no matter how much I miss home…. I am only as far from my home as my spice box.

RECIPE

Minimalistic Masala Potato

6 large potatoes (boiled till well done but not mushy)

1 large onion (cut into ½ cm cubes)

2 pods garlic chopped fine (almost minced)

1 green chilly cut into 3

2 tblspns oil

1tsp whole cumin

1 tsp. chilly powder

½ tsp Tumeric (haldi)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground Corriander seeds

1 tsp sugar

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt to taste

A fistful of coriander leaves chopped fine 

Once the potatoes are boiled, cool, peel and cut into cubes or roughly chop

Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add in the onion, garlic and chilly. Fry on a low flame till the onions change colour but do not brown. Add the spices and a tablespoon of water (to prevent them from burning)

Add in the potatoes =, salt, sugar and juice of ½ a lemon. Stir to coat the potato with the masala. Cover and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

Garnish with chopped coriander.

 

 

Mince Pie

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RECIPE

MINCE PIE

Makes 1 x 7” Pie

Serves 6

For the pastry crust make 1 ½ times the quantity needed for the Apple Pie

Filling

½ kg Chicken / Lamb mince

1 large onion finely chopped

1 tablespoon oil

2 large tomatoes skinned, deseeded and puree

1 sprig each, fresh rosemary and thyme

2 tablespoons, chopped garlic or chives

2 tablespoons barbeque sauce

1 teaspoon red chilli flakes

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon Pepper

½ cup grated Parmesan or Cheddar Cheese

  • Fry the onions over medium heat in oil till they are glassy and change colour.
  • Add in the tomatoes and let the liquid dry out a little. Add in the mince and stir constantly to break up any lumps. Stir till it changes colour. Add in the herbs, barbeque sauce, chilli flakes, salt and pepper.
  • Add in ¼ cup water and let it cook, covered for another 15 minutes. Open the lid and on a high flame stirring constantly dry out the juices if any.

 

  • When cooled spoon the mince into the ready shell which has been egg washed. Sprinkle the cheese over the mince.
  • Roll out a thin ¼” circle from the remaining dough and lay it on top to cover the filling. Make a few slashes with a knife to let out steam or make cut outs with tiny shape cutters. Brush the top with egg
  • Bake in a preheated 190oC oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden and flaky.

Coconut and Lentil rice (Thai Style)

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Baking and Desserts are a big part of my life. Desserts are like a vacation and since we can’t be on a vacation indefinitely, we do have to get back to the humdrum world of real food and hearty, nutritious meals. There are days when I am an inspired cook wanting to cook this, that and all and then there are days when I feel like it’s a donkey’s job……same old boring kitchen chores, sautéing onions, add in the tomato, spices and on and on…..

So for those days that I am inspired and don’t consider everyday cooking a drudgery, I can whip up some mean dishes and these recipes I wanted to share on my blog (though it goes against my sweet principle)

Rice is a big part of our meals. In some parts of India, like the south, rice and other rice preparations are a part of all 3 main meals and snacks too! In my home though we aren’t largely rice-eaters, we love our rice dishes for lunch on weekends. It’s a challenge not to repeat the same rice and lentil gravy or rice and chicken gravy every weekend. But I must say besides the carb kick that you get out of rice it is so versatile, you can alter a few spices and turn it into a new dish. So you guessed it I am a huge fan of rice…easy to make, no fuss and no “eat-your-veggies-or-watch-out” threats required.

The first time I put this beautiful rice dish on the table, I was met with “how-dare you-feed-us-khichdi” looks. “Khichdi” an Indian rice preparation with yellow lentils, is flavoured with turmeric powder, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. It is on every sick person’s must-have menu. As a child after a bout of belly troubles I would have to gulp down this insipid concoction and I remember begging my sisters for a bite of mango pickle to go with it. I was at a loss to make the “culinary challenged” family understand the difference. So, the next weekend it was khichdi and so was the weekend after that and then the difference between the elegant and run of the mill dawned on them Coconut and Lentil rice is a much tastier, fresher version with a “chilly hit”, aromatic and with a subtle, fresh taste of coconut milk.

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The lentils used are Masoor ( Red lentils). The subtle Thai flavour of the dish lends itself perfectly to sweet and sour Thai preparations or spicy curries. The boys no more tease me or call it glorified khichdi, the memory of 3 weekends of khichdi overdose is not easily forgotten!!

RECIPE

COCONUT AND LENTIL RICE

(Serves 4)

1 cup long grained rice (preferably Basmati)

4 tablespoons Red Lentils (Masoor)

2oo ml thick coconut milk

1-2 tablespoons oil

1 small onion thinly sliced

2 green chillies, broken into 1” pieces

5-6 curry leaves

1” piece ginger finely shredded

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

1’ piece cinnamon

4-5 cloves

1 teaspoon whole cumin

1 stalk lemon grass bruised or broken into pieces

A fistful of fresh coriander leaves chopped (for garnish)

Salt to taste

  • Wash and soak the lentils in water for 20 minutes. Boil them on high heat (rolling boil) for 8-9 minutes. Do not over boil. You want them firm and whole not squishy. Drain.
  • Wash rice and keep them aside.
  • Chop the vegetables

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  • In a heavy bottomed large vessel fry the onions till glassy (not brown), add the ginger, garlic, curry leaves, chillies, lemon grass, cumin, cinnamon and cloves. Stir around on medium heat for a minute.

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  • Add in the lentils and the rice. Pour in 1 cup water plus another ¼ cup. Add ¾ cup coconut milk. Use the same cup that you measured out the rice in. Don’t be tempted to add more coconut milk as the rice tends to remain uncooked in a thicker liquid.
  • Once the liquid comes to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, put the lid on and let it cook. Once the liquid is barely there, add in the salt and give a gentle stir with a butter knife, careful not to break the rice.
  • Add in the coriander after the rice is cooked.

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