Chicken Pot Pie

Nothing spells hearty and comforting like a pie made with a rich, meaty and saucy filling. I always make more of these in advance and freeze them, so I can always heat them up when Mr Pie Craving comes knocking on my door. He can be quite a demanding creature, and drives a hard bargain.

Turn away now if you’re on a diet!

I had hand written this pie crust recipe from the internet donkey years ago but did not note down the source. If this is your recipe and you are reading this, thank you savior! You’ve saved my poor ol’ soul many many times!

Ingredients for pie crust
270gm vegetable shortening
3 cups of plain flour
1 large egg
5 tbsp cold water
pinch of salt

Ingredients for pie filling (makes 2 x 8″ pies plus 3 mini 3″ pies)
700gm of chicken meat (I used thigh because I have a disturbing love for fatty meat)
1 large purple onion
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
5 small potatoes, about 70+gm each
5 small carrots, about 230gm in total
3-4 eggs, hard-boiled and cut into quarters
3 cups of stock (I used chicken & veggie stock)
2 tbsp of Worcester sauce
splash of white wine
2 tsp of cornflour
tsp of chilli powder (optional)
tsp of garlic powder (optional)
1-1.5 tsp sea salt, or more suit taste
your desired amount of freshly ground black pepper

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Asian Meatballs

Every culture/cuisine has their own version of this highly comforting food, and I am not exactly sure where this one I often make originates from. But what I do know is that it knocks your socks off when you eat it. You can make them mini sized for a cocktail party too. It’s lethal people!

Ingredients (makes 32 medium magical meatballs)
500gm minced pork
handful of water chestnuts (about 10)
3 small purple/red onions
5-6 cloves of garlic
3 sprigs of coriander
1/2 carrot, diced
2 large eggs
2 tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
dash of chinese cooking wine
Vegetable oil for frying
1 tsp five spice powder (optional)

Finely slice the onions. Put on your goggles if you must.

Smash the garlic with the knife and give them hell!

Heat some oil in a pan and fry the onions and garlic to softened them but do not overcook. Remove from pan when soft and fragrant.

Finely chop the rest of the ingredients, crack in the eggs and mix everything into the minced meat, including the fried onions and garlic.

Give everything a good mix…..

And roll them up into balls.

Bake or pan fry the meatballs in medium heat, turning the balls over to evenly cook all sides.

Serve with some baked vegetables. I had mine with butter baked carrots, purple, red and sweet potatoes.

Ps: It’s also wonderful with your favourite gravy!

The Cheapest Healthy Dish Ever!

I know many Asian families have their own hand-me-down methods of making this dirt cheap vegetable dish. Bean sprouts are available in most markets / supermarkets and are so cheap its ridiculous. The above sprouts dish costed me a whopping S$1.10 (approximately USD0.75).

While it is a widely consumed veggie, not many people realise how richly nutrient-fied it is, probably due to its humble appearance. Half a cup of raw, uncooked bean sprouts contains 1.2g of dietary fibre, 31.5 mcg of folic acid and 7mg of vitamin C. Folic acid is especially important for expecting mums as it’s deficiency is linked to cleft palates and neural tube defects.

2 large handfuls of fresh, crispy beansprouts, washed
1 piece of firm tofu, cubed
handful of sweet peas
1 tbsp of garlic, minced
3 tbsp of sesame oil
1-2 tbsp of oyster sauce (depending on preference)
pinch of sea salt to taste

Heat sesame oil in a wok or pan. Fry tofu on all sides, then remove from pan. (*life saving tip: always pat dry tofu with kitchen towels to prevent splattering).

With the pan still heated, brown the garlic and throw in the peas and add oyster sauce. Throw in the beansprouts and give it a quick stir, adding some sea salt if you like. Quickly remove from heat to prevent overcooking.

Always remember that overcooking veggies is a criminal offense!

And there you have it. The cheapest healthy food you can get.

PS: I’d love to hear from you your favourite variation of this wonderful veg. Please!

Gingerbread Trees

Yeah I know it’s a little too late but hey, some people love gingerbread so much they don’t wait for X’mas to savour them! I made this on Christmas eve and the house couldn’t have smelt more festive.

Ingredients (yield depends on your cookie cutter, I made about 32 trees)
110gm unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
110gm brown or muscavado sugar
1 large egg (about 60gm with shell)
2/3 cup full-flavour molasses
420gm plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Sift flour in a medium bowl and add salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until it turns into a light cream.

Add egg and molasses and beat till well blended.

At this point you might see curdles. Do not panic, it’s not the end of the world. Yet.

Gradually add flour mixture in 3 to 4 additions until all the ingredients are blended and the mixture turns into a sticky dough.
Divide dough into 3 portions, cling wrap them and chuck them into the chiller for 3-4 hours or better still, overnight, until the dough is firm enough to be manageable. Dividing the dough into many portions allows you to work in batches. Otherwise once out of the chiller, the dough softens and it will be much stickier and messier.
Now that the dough is firm, flour the work top generously and flatten the dough to about a quarter inch thickness, and (yes finally!) cut the dough with your Christmasy cookie cutter.

Line the deliciousness on baking paper with about 1 inch gap as they expand during baking.

Bake at 175 degrees Celsius in a preheated oven for 15-18 minutes (depending on the size of your cookies), or until the sides turn a little brown, or when the cookies are slightly firm at touch.
Decorate to your heart’s content or if you’re anything like me, pop them straight into your mouths.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

It’s the favourite gastronomical season of many. I love the warm woodiness of gingerbread spices and molasses. It’s a pity gingerbread is often revisited only during the year end holidays. Maybe I should get Mr Brer Rabbit out more often and not just once a year.

This, I promise you is a quick, easy and painfree Gingerbread cupcake recipe. The ingredient list may look long but that’s it. Throwing everything together is not difficult and the end product is definitely worth it if u live for gingerbread. Colleagues loved it so much they are asking if I take orders. If only I have kitchen elves helping me with the washing, then I won’t mind! Any volunteers?

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Bingka Ubi Kayu (Baked Sweet Tapioca)

I simply cannot get enough of tapioca these days.  D-man loves it, so does the family, the friends, and the neighbours.  So please forgive me while I force you to acknowledge yet another South East Asian tapioca dessert.

Ingredients (makes a 8″ golden yummy cake)
300gm tapioca, grated
100gm coconut, grated & without skin
220ml coconut milk
30gm custard powder
30gm tapioca starch
80ml water
160gm sugar (I used brown)
pinch of sea salt
1 egg yolk for glazing

Lightly grease and line a 8 inch baking tin with paper.
Mix all the ingredients together, except the egg yolk, in a medium bowl.

Pour the mixture into the baking tin and steam on high heat for 30 minutes.

25 minutes after steaming, preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Remove the half cooked tapioca from the steamer and brush the top with beaten egg yolk.

Bake the cake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Now the toughest part. Wait for the cake to cool before cutting into serving pieces.

Thermal Pot Magic

This is an article about saving money on electricity. Question: How do you like
(a) the idea of having your food cooked while you’re sleeping/shopping/at work etc?
(b) Better still, how do you like idea of (a) above and at the same time incurring little/no electricity charges or gas usage while your food is being cooked?

Yeap, such a thing exists in real life. It’s called a thermal pot, and it basically works like a huge thermos flask.

Aunty Scroogey loves soups and frequently uses one to cook soup. All you need to do is put your ingredients into the pot, bring it to a boil and then put the whole pot into the thermal container (if you’re paranoid, you may want to simmer for another 10-20 mins before removing from fire). Soup is ready a few hours later; but I usually leave it to cook overnight. If you’re like me and like your soup piping hot, just bring it to a boil again before serving.

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Kueh Talam Ubi Kayu (Steamed Tapioca Cake)

One of my favourite Nonya dessert. Its not sickeningly sweet and has a fragrant whiff of gula melaka (coconut palm sugar). Go wear your aprons right now!

Ingredients (makes a 8″ round deliciously sticky cake)
(bottom layer)
250gm grated tapioca
100gm gula melaka
100gm grated coconut, without skin
50gm tapioca starch, sifted
100ml water
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
(top layer)
400ml coconut milk
50gm rice flour, sifted
pinch of salt
few drops of pandan essence (optional)

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Banana Leaf Boats

Use this pretty and easy to make ornaments to dress up your cakes, pastries and what not. Its very green, literally, and costs next to nothing.
Before using banana leaves, always scald them in boiling water to remove any bacteria or yucky stuff that you won’t want to go near. Wipe the leaves dry and air them a little before cutting them.
Start off by cutting a fairly square piece. You can estimate a square by folding a triangle from the edge.

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It’s a wrap!

If you love Thai/Laotian food and vegetables, you’ll find a little piece of healthy heaven in this one. I used fresh lettuce for this but you can also use “rice paper”, which are essentially spring roll skins made with rice flour.
Prepare the following vegetables and plain rice noodles.

Prepare the dipping sauce by mixing fish sauce, lime juice, chopped chillies, minced garlic, coriander, sugar, water and chopped peanuts.

Wash the lettuce without breaking it. You need a whole piece like this.

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