Tag Archives: dinner

JFR’s Spaghetti Bolognese

After more than a month of not having pasta, my boys asked for pasta a few nights ago. I promised to make it this week and while catching up on Kitchen Flavour’s blog, I came across a Spaghetti Bolognese recipe she has posted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Food Revolution. It’s a simpler recipe compared to other food celebrities’ and what I like most about it is it doesn’t ask for tomato paste and red wine, both of which I don’t cook with on a regular basis. I didn’t have fresh basil so I used dried basil instead and added it with the oregano.

The sauce turns red after the hour-long simmering and the addition of Parmesan in the sauce makes it rich. You can stop simmering after an hour but if you like your sauce to be thicker, simmer for an additional half an hour with the lid off. It’s a tasty sauce and the boys enjoyed their meal although I think they had more enthusiasm for the garlic toast…!

Read Kitchen Flavour’s post for her adapted recipe or click here for the original recipe.


Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Cooking, Food


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Stir-Fried Pork in Black Bean Sauce

I received a very nice belated birthday present from RC this weekend – The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook. It is a beautiful book with more than 370 recipes. I love that there is a picture for every recipe and each page has, in the sidebar, a tip or a fact about one of the ingredients in that recipe. This gift came in perfect timing as I’ve lost all enthusiasm for cooking after a long holiday in Malaysia where good food was everywhere and easily obtainable!

My inaugural recipe from this book was Stir-fried Pork in Black Bean Sauce. It’s a Chinese recipe and it’s ironical that I’m learning to cook this dish from a Western cookbook. 😉 It’s not so much the seasoning to use but the steps in cooking the dish that I need to learn. This is a tasty dish, thanks to the fermented black beans. I didn’t care much for the taste of the pork (gamey) and I’ll make this dish with chicken next time.

Stir-Fried Pork in Black Bean Sauce
(Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook)
Makes 4 – 6 servings

3/4 lb (375g) pork tenderloin
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp plus 1/4 tsp sugar
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 1/2 tbsp fermented black beans, well rinsed
1 tbsp oyster sauce (use less if your oyster sauce is very salty)
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 slices fresh ginger
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 each small green and red bell pepper, cut into cubes
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
3 cups steamed white rice

Cut the pork into bite-size cubes. In a bowl, combine the pork, baking soda, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp white pepper, and 2 tbsp water and mix well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.

To make the sauce, stir together the black beans, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar, cornstarch, 1/8 tsp white pepper, and 1/4 cup water in a bowl. Set aside.

In a wok or large saute pan over high heat, heat 1 tbsp oil until almost smoking. Add the garlic and ginger and fry till fragrant, about 5 seconds. Add the onion and bell peppers and stir-fry until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rice wine and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the pan bottom. When the wine has nearly evaporated, transfer the vegetables to a bowl.

Remove the pork cubes from the marinade and place on paper towels to drain. Return the pan to high heat and add 1 tbsp oil when the pan is very hot. When the oil is hot, add the pork and stir-fry until it browns and turns opaque, about 3 minutes. Return the cooked vegetables, add the sauce and stir-fry rapidly until the sauce thickens and the mixture is heated through, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the pork mixture to a warmed platter, garnish with cilantro sprigs (optional), and serve with the rice.


Posted by on May 30, 2011 in Cooking, Food


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Malaysian Chicken Curry

Chicken curry ranks right up there when you’re talking about popular Malaysian cuisine. In almost every potluck or party, chicken curry, with or without potatoes, will be there. It’s a time-consuming dish to make if you’re making it from scratch. There are spices to pound or grind before cooking them till the spices turn into a fragrant paste. The paste is the all-important base of the curry. Needless to say, I’ve never attempted to make it from scratch. Nowadays, we have the convenience of packaged curry paste. However, Malaysian curry paste wasn’t available in supermarkets here till a few years ago. I’m very glad T & T brings in Tean’s Chicken Curry Paste. It’s delicious and authentic, no more missing chicken curry from home! I add in lemon grass and curry leaves for extra flavour.

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Malaysian Chicken Curry with Potatoes

1.5 kg chicken meat, cut into bite-sized pieces (bone-in, skinless pieces)
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons kosher salt**
1 packet curry chicken paste (200g)
2 medium potatoes, cut into big chunks
1 red onion, cut into thick wedges
2 stalks lemon grass, bruised
A few sprigs of curry leaves
500ml water
200 – 300ml coconut milk, use more or less depending on how creamy you like your curry (I used Aroy-D canned coconut milk)

1. Marinade the chicken with the curry powder and salt for at least an hour.

2. Heat some oil in a Dutch oven or a wok and stir-fry the curry paste and potatoes for 5 minutes.

3. Add in the marinated chicken and cook till the chicken is cooked on the outside. This is to seal in the chicken juices.


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4.Add in the onions, lemon grass, curry leaves and water. The water should just cover the chicken and potatoes.

5. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender.

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6. Add in the coconut milk and simmer for another 10 minutes. The coconut milk is added only at the end as the flavour of the coconut milk will be cooked away if added too early. Taste and season with salt if necessary.

7. Serve with white rice or roti paratha (flat bread).

** The salt can be omitted if you want to reduce the salt content in this dish.



Posted by on March 27, 2011 in Cooking, Food


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Step-by-Step: Make-It-Mine Casserole

There’s a ‘Master Recipe’ in my Ultimate Casserole magazine which allows you to design your own casserole. Big Kid saw the recipe and thought it would be fun to make it. He selected the combination and we put it together this evening. I had my reservations about his combination but I went along with it so this casserole will be truly his! He helped to make it too and he liked the end result as did his brother. However, if it’s up to me, I wouldn’t use ham or tomato soup!

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The Ingredients:

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8 oz packaged dried Pasta e.g. macaroni, farfalle, egg noodles. He chose macaroni.

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1 pound meat e.g. ground beef, bulk sausage, ground turkey; 2 6-oz cans Tuna; or one 15-oz can Beans, rinsed and drained. He chose chopped ham (2 cups).

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1-1/2 cups Frozen Vegetables e.g. peas, peppers, mixed vegetables. He chose broccoli.

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1 cup Shredded Cheese (4 oz) e.g. cheddar, Mexican blend, Monterey Jack. He chose Italian blend.

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3/4 cup milk. 1 10.75-oz can Condensed Soup e.g. cream of celery, cream of mushroom. He chose Tomato.

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1/4 cup Goodie .e. sliced mushroom, canned sliced water chestnuts; drained, sliced olives. He chose slivered almonds. (This is Little Guy helping.)

1 teaspoon Seasoning e.g. Cajun seasoning, dried basil, chili powder plus 1/4 tsp. ground cumin

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1/2 cup Topper (optional) e.g. coarsely chopped nuts, crushed potato chips. We used Panko.

Cooking Directions:

1. Grease a 2-quart casserole; set aside. Cook Pasta according to package directions; drain.

2. In a large skillet cook Meat until meat is brown. Drain fat; discard. (If using ham, tuna or beans, skip this step.)

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3. Combine cooked Pasta, Meat, Condensed Soup, Frozen Vegetables, half of the Shredded Cheese, the milk, Goodie, and  Seasoning (which we omitted as the Tomato Soup was seasoned with Oregano and Basil) to cooked Pasta.

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4. Stir well to combine.

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5. Transfer Pasta mixture to the prepared casserole. Sprinkle with remaining Shredded Cheese.

6. Bake covered, in 350 degrees F-preheated oven for 45 minutes. Uncover; if desired, sprinkle with Topper. Return to oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more or until heated through and Topper (if using) is lightly browned. Makes 6 servings.

If using Panko or soft bread crumbs as Topper, melt 1 – 2 tablespoons butter and stir together.

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Posted by on March 26, 2011 in Cooking, Food


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Fried Rice-Pork Chops Casserole and Brownies

IMG_5980 (600x400)I made another recipe from the Ultimate Casseroles magazine tonight. It’s Sweet and Sour Pork Chops over Fried Rice, a recipe contributed by popular food blogger, Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen. It’s basically fried rice topped with pork chops and a sweet and sour sauce. I like the taste and the ‘casserole twist’ of this dish. If I don’t want to make it as a casserole, I could serve the rice and the pork chops separately.

Sweet and Sour Pork over Fried Rice
(Adapted from BHG Ultimate Casseroles)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups day-old cooked rice, clumps well separated
1 cup frozen peas and carrots or other mixed diced vegetables
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 3/4-inch-thick boneless pork top loin chops (about 1 pound total)
IMG_5993 (600x400) Freshly ground black pepper (I used white)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar (I used 2)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 large onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, cut into thick wedges

1. In a wok or large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add eggs; cook until nearly set and scramble them. Add rice, using a spatula to stir-fry and incorporate the eggs throughout the rice. Cook till rice is warm. Stir in peas and carrots and the 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Transfer rice mixture into an ungreased 3-quart rectangular baking dish.

2. Season pork chops on all sides with salt and pepper. Wipe the wok or skillet clean. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to wok or skillet; heat over medium-high heat. Add pork chops. Cook about 4 minutes or until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Arrange pork chops on rice mixture in baking dish.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the water, sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup and the 2 teaspoons soy sauce in a small bowl and set aside. Return wok or skillet to the stove top over medium-high heat (you should still have some vegetable oil left in the pan). When hot, add onion, stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add garlic, stir-fry for 1 minute more. Add tomatoes; stir-fry for 1 minute more. Add rice vinegar mixture; stir-fry for about 1 minute or until heated through. Pour sauce over pork chops. Bake, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pork chops are cooked through (160 degrees F). Makes 4 servings.


I also made a Cranberry, Chocolate and Kahlua brownie. It is chocolatey and delicious and I like the tart bites of cranberries in it. Use good quality chocolate and cocoa powder for the best flavour. I used Côte d’Or dark (70%) chocolate and Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa.

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The recipe is from Kitchen Flavours. I followed her step in reducing the amount of sugar and I only used half the amount of cranberries as Hubby is not crazy about fruits in his brownies. Check out her other recipes while you’re there!


Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Baking, Cooking, Food


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Skillet Green Beans with Spiced Walnuts

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I came across this recipe in a Cooks’ Illustrated magazine recently. What caught my attention was that their favoured method of cooking green beans here is similar to the Chinese stir-fry-steam-style of cooking. Most cookbooks will ask you to blanch, boil or steam the beans prior to tossing them in a hot skillet but the CI Test Kitchen prefers the flavour of the beans cooked this way – the beans are first browned in a skillet before being steamed-cooked.

I never knew how to cook green beans properly this way, didn’t know how long to stir-fry it and how long to steam it for. I’m very glad I found this recipe. The flavour can be easily changed with different toppings or sauces.

Skillet Green Beans with Spiced Walnuts

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3/4 cup walnuts, chopped coarse
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup water

1. Toss the walnuts in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter is browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sugar, ginger, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer the walnut mixture to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels.

2. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Add the green beans and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

3. Add the water, cover and cook until the green beans are bright green but still crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. (Cook’s note: At this point, you should be able to smell the beans, a sign that it’s cooked) Uncover, increase the heat to high and continue to cook until the water evaporates and the beans are crisp-tender and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes longer.

4. Off the heat, stir in the reserved walnut mixture. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, and serve.


Posted by on March 17, 2011 in Cooking, Food


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Casserole Night and Marble Cake

Sometimes when Friday rolls around, I’ll have renewed energy. Maybe it’s the thought of it being the last day of the week before the weekend! So today I made a casserole for dinner and baked a cake, that’s me being energetic. Winking smile They both need an oven temperature of 350F so I put one in after another.

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The casserole was from a food magazine I picked up last Sunday. It was Baked Risotto with Sausage and Artichokes (I left out the artichokes) and got a “Best casserole ever!” comment from picky Big Kid. It truly was very delicious. The risotto was creamy and tasty and the flavours of the Italian sausage, fennel and thyme so good!

The marble cake is a new recipe for me and after trying it, I’m making it my favourite marble cake recipe! I used to favour Donna Hay’s recipe but after a while I found it too ‘milky’. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe was alright but not fantastic. This one from Sarabeth, however, is a delight! It has a nice crust, moist inside, not too buttery, and the chocolate batter has a touch of almond flavour. If you like marble cakes, you got to try this one. I’m thinking here of my mum, my sisters and my cousins (SM H and SY H)! Thanks to Kitchen Flavours for posting this recipe.

Baked Risotto with Sausage and Artichokes
From Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Casseroles 2011

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1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 cup chopped fennel (1 medium bulb)
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup arborio rice or long grain rice
2 9-oz packages frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, drained and halved (I left this out)
1 cup coarsely shredded carrots (2 medium)
2 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine or chicken broth (I used broth)
1/2 cup panko or soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely shredded Asiago cheese or Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
Parmesan cheese shards (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a 12-inch skillet combine sausage, fennel, onion and garlic; cook over medium-high heat until meat is browned and vegetables are tender, using a wooden spoon to break up meat as it cooks. Drain off fat. Add uncooked rice to meat mixture in skillet; cook and stir for 1 minute more.

2. Add artichoke hearts, carrots, thyme and pepper. Stir in broth and wine. Bring just to boiling. Transfer to an ungreased 2-1/2 quart casserole. Bake, covered, about 1 hour or until rice is tender, stirring once. (I forgot to stir and it was fine. I stirred only at the end of the hour.)

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine panko, Asiago cheese, butter and lemon peel. Top casserole with crumb mixture. Bake uncovered, for 10 minutes more. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Spoon into individual bowls. If desired, garnish each serving with Parmesan cheese shards. Makes 6 to 8 servings. (My family of 2 + 2 finished it up!)

Marble Cake

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Full recipe here:

(Note: I used only 1 cup + 3 tablespoons of sugar)


Posted by on March 11, 2011 in Baking, Cooking, Food


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