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Tuesday 30 April 2013

Auckland Botanic Gardens

Kia Ora from New Zealand.

I've been here in Auckland a week now and it is good to be back here again.  The weather is cooling and sometimes do feel warm in the afternoon. 

Let's view some scenery photos.  Went to the Botanical Garden the other day as the weather is good to be outdoor.  As now is Autumn, so won't be able to see beautiful flowers surround.



No flowers......



Monday 22 April 2013

Mel is taking a long break holiday.....

To all my dear friends,

I will be taking a long break holiday for 3-4 months.  
I'm flying off to Auckland, NZ visiting my mum, sister, uncle, aunty, cousins, sister-in-law, nieces and friends.... thereafter might be off to Melbourne for a short visit too.

Well, during this long period of time, I will try to find time to update my blog here; , if I'm not posting my bakes or dishes, I will just post scenery pictures of NZ.

Here, I like to THANK YOU all for visiting my blog and leaving your comments as it does mean a lot to me!  Take care.  

Lots Love
                                                  It's Autumn now and be there till winter!


Saturday 13 April 2013

Baked Chicken Drumstick (Asian Style)

What to eat?  What to cook for dinner?  This is the common question frequently run into my head everyday.  As being the cook for the family, I am sure some of you might have to think ahead the menu to prepare for that day.  And most headache one is, if a member of the family is one picky of certain food, or if another member having cough or cold, we have to avoid deep fry food, or and so go on and on....

I think the easier way for me is Baked Chicken!

Baked Chicken Drumstick (Asian Style)
Recipe inspired from Greedy Gourmet 

olive oil, to drizzle
10 chicken drumsticks 
sea salt & black pepper to rub on the chicken

Glaze Sauce
6 tbsp honey
3 tbsp fish sauce   (I add only 2 tbsp)
1½ tbsp light soy sauce
 lemon lemons  (I only use 1 lemon)
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar 
1½ tbsp sesame oil
some whole shallots (optional)

Preheat the oven to 140°C.
Lightly oil a large baking dish. Season the drumsticks with salt and pepper and arrange in the dish in a single layer. Drizzle over a little olive oil, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

Prepare the glaze in the meantime. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl until evenly combined.
Take the chicken out of the oven and increase the temperature to 180°C.
Pour over the glaze and coat each drumstick.  (You may add in the whole shallots or garlic if you wish).
Return the chicken to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, turning several times, until the chicken is tender and nicely glazed.
Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving. 

At first I wasn't really sure whether this Asian style baked chicken would taste good because right after I have prepared the mix glaze sauce and give it a sip taste.....oh....very the 'soya sauce taste' but nevertheless just give it a go....

I served this Baked Chicken Drumsticks with steamed rice and baked tomatoes.

One picky member of my family, keep saying this chicken is very delicious for almost ten times!
"Ho chiak"

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Spinach, Feta and Potato Pies

I usually can't stop myself from paying a 'visit' if I happened to see food post of pies, or anything with potatoes or cheese!

Though by right I shouldn't take in too much of dairy products such as milk, cheese, chocolate or butter because I have allergic rhinitis and taking these dairy food would result in building up mucous.  And all these food are my favourite and how can I totally not having this or to totally cut down.

When Sonia  posted her Spinach, Feta & Potato Pies lately, I just got to try this out because I am sure I would love this very much.  But I made the cheated version ~ I used the ready made store bought crust pastry instead to make for a quicky fast lunch.

Spinach, Feta and Potato Pies
Recipe sourced from Sonia of NasiLemakLover with slight change 

For the pastry
280g plain flour, plus extra for dusting (or 140g wholemeal + 140g plain flour)
85g cold butter, diced
85g shortening
100ml milk, if needed

(For the pastry, I did not make the pastry,instead I used the store bought Crust Pastry)

For the filling
1 small US Russet potato, peeled and diced
200g spinach
100ml heavy cream  (ran out of cream ~ I used evaporated milk of 80ml)
100g feta, crumbled  (I used the Feta that brine in olive oil with herbs/dried tomato)
1 egg, beaten
100g cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated fresh nutmeg  (I did not add this as I have forgotten)

For the egg wash
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water

To make the pastry
Rub the flours together with the butter and shortening until it is the texture of breadcrumbs, then work in the milk (you may not need it all) until the pastry comes together. Lightly combine the pastry until soft. Press the pastry into a flat and round disc and chill for 1hr while you make the filling.
Boil the potato for 10mins until cooked, then drain.
Blanch spinach in hot water, drain and squeeze out all the liquid.
Mix spinach, potato, cream, feta, egg, and 2/3 cheddar. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Divide pastry into 7 portions, roll out the pastry to appx 13cm x 13cm with appx 3mm thickness.
Spoon the spinach mix into the centre of each square and bring all four corners together over the filling, pinching the edges together to make a sealed purse with the pinched edges facing up. 
Brush each with egg wash, then top with remaining cheddar.
Bake at preheated oven at 200C for 30mins or until golden.

(Original recipe : Pie cookbook by Dean Brettschneider, extracted from Food and Travel Magazine)

Want to know how it taste?  It is so, so, so, so, so, DEEEEELICIOUS!!   I loves the potato and the cheese filling.

And as for the spinach, you can substitute it with chives too.

I have some left over grated cheddar cheese which I did not add finish for the topping to bake so when serve warm, I sprinkle on top again ~ taste so yummy.  I love cheddar cheese.


Tuesday 9 April 2013

Lamb Bourguignon

Made this delicious Lamb Bourguignon the other day and in fact this is not the first time I cook Bourguignon and I always find that this type of dish or something like stew is my comfort food.  

I always love to cook one pot dish as it is easy with no hassle and by the time the dish is cooked, I will surely enjoy this hearty meal.  

Lamb Bourguignon
Recipe sourced from Eat Your Heart Out with changes
Originally from from Delia Smith
Serves 6-7

1kg lamb chop cut into 2 inch (5 cm) squares
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
450ml red Burgundy or other red wine (1 pour in 600ml)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
350g shallots, whole
150g smoked or unsmoked streaky bacon, cut into cubes
150g mushrooms, sliced (I used a mixture of white button mushrooms and fresh shitake)
Salt and freshly milled black pepper

You can either cut the lamb chop into large chunks (5cmx 5cm) or leave it whole (like a 2" steak).

Preheat oven to 140°C.

In a casserole or pan, heat  2 tablespoons of the oil over high heat and sear the beef, a few pieces at a time, to a rich, dark brown on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned meat to a plate.

Add the sliced onion to the casserole and cook for 3 minutes, until softened. Return the meat to the casserole or pan and sprinkle in the flour, stirring round to soak up all the juices. Then gradually pour in red wine, again stirring all the time. Add the chopped garlic, herbs and seasoning, put the lid on and cook very gently on top of the stove on a very low heat or transfer to the oven – either way it will take 2 hours.

Just before the 2 hours is up,  fry the shallots and bacon with 1 tbsp oil for 2 minutes to colour them lightly. Add to the casserole, together with the mushrooms, then put the lid on and cook for a further hour.

 So delicious!

Saturday 6 April 2013

Sticky Rice With Corn Pudding

Recipe sourced from Febie 

½ cup uncooked sticky rice (glutinous rice)
2 cups water plus more
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup fresh corn or from the can

Coconut sauce2
2 cups coconut milk  (I used only 1 cup)
½ cup sugar  (I used less than 1/4 cup) 
¼ tsp salt  (just a pinch)

Soak the sticky rice at least 4 hours or over night.
Put rice and water in the pot cook on medium heat, stirring often.
(You might need to add extra water if it is too thick).
Add sugar and corn stir together and turn of the heat.

In another pot cook the coconut milk sugar and salt until melt
Serve the corn and rice topped with coconut sauce .

Serves for 2-3 person

This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs up organised by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids) and Mui Mui (My Little Favourite DIY) and hosted by Ester of Copycake Kitchen

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Cooked Long Beans With Rice ( 豆角饭 )

Usually I prefer to cook ONE POT dish because it is easy (but some one pot dish needs some long list of preparation).

Well, I do admit that sometimes I can be lazy to cook for a set of meal of 3 dishes; because you need to stand for hours preparing the ingredients, cooking, clean up etc and lately with this kind of hot weather makes you feel more lazier!  

Whenever I finished cooking for all the three dishes and by the time ready for dinner, I always tend to eat little. hmm...probably already so "full up" cooking and inhaling all the fragrant and aroma inside me!  I understand well now, previously when my mum cooked all the dishes, she will eat teeny weeny only and all of us the children feel why our mum so painstakingly cooked for us and she is so scrimp of dishing up the delicious food into her plate!

So once in awhile being as the chef at home, so it is alright to just cook one pot dish and hope no one is complaining and muttering  out "Ah, only one dish?"  Well, at least I have a soup to go with it.

Herewith, one pot dish "Cooked Long Beans With Rice" 


(serves for 4-5 person)

Ingredients A
3 cups raw Rice
1 tsp olive oil
550ml water

Ingredients B
3 tbsp oil
4 shallots  (peeled, washed & sliced)
3cm ginger (scraped, washed & chopped)
2 ½ tbsp dried shrimps  (washed, soaked till soft, drained)
150g pork belly or Roast Pork (I used roast pork)
1 pair Chinese sausage  (washed with hot water, drained, remove skin, sliced in slant)
12 long beans  (washed, cut into 1 inch length)

Frying Rice Seasonings
3 cloves garlic (peeled, washed, chopped)
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp Shao-Xing Wine
½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp pepper
a dash of sesame oil

Preparation and Method

1.  Rinse and soak rice in water for 30mins, drained and mix thoroughly with olive oil, set

2. (If using pork belly)
     Boil pork belly for about 5 minutes, rinse, drain and cut into shred.  Heat the work
     Without oil and fry the pork till brown, the pork will release some oil during stir frying.

     (If using roasted pork)
 Heat up wok, add a tbsp oil and add in roasted pork, give it a quick toss under high
 heat. The pork will release some oil during stir frying. (You may add little light soy sauce and 
 sugar for more added flavour). Once it turn brownish, dish up and set aside.

3. Heat 3 tbsp of oil (Ingredients B) in wok, stir fry shallots till golden brown, add ginger
     and fry till fragrant follow by dried prawns, fried roast pork, sausage, long beans and
     sizzle in Shao-Xing wine, stir fry for a moment, then add Seasonings and stir well. 
     Dish out and put aside.

4. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok, fry garlic till fragrant, reduce to low heat, sizzle in 1 tbsp of
     light soy sauce, add rice, dark soy sauce and oyster sauce (In Frying Rice Seasonings)
     and fry evenly at high heat.  Turn off the flame.

5.  Transfer fried rice and add 550g water into rice cooker. Switch on and cook for about
      13 to 15 minutes until boiling, when water almost dried up, pour fried long beans
      mixture over it, cover with lid and continue to cook until the rice cooker automatically
      shut off.  Simmer for 5 minutes more.  Stir well and serve. 

Pour in the fried long beans once the water in the rice cooker dries up and continue to cook.

                                        Fluff and stir/mix well together before serve.

This long beans rice is full of fragrant of the chinese sausage and roast pork!  
I think my long beans are a little too cooked; simmer too long in the rice cooker resulted too soft and over cooked; blame me that I went for a long shower. :-)

Monday 1 April 2013

Plain and Simple White Bread (Delia Smith)

I wasn't prepared to bake anything lately as I was busy with other things to settle with but since my hands are getting "itch" and just the craving to bake something that this Plain Bread is  being baked.

I have so far have not bake a sandwich loaf or plain bread before because I was a little worry that it might not turn up as good as I wanted it to be.  

I decided to just make half of the recipe and continue to measure up the flour, salt, yeast, sugar in half portion and pour everything into the mixer and continue to measure the warm water but I forgot to half it and pour immediately into the flour...... amigosh......too wet.  Oh my, so I have no choice to measure the other half of the flour, salt, yeast and sugar into the mixer again.

Plain and Simple White Bread (Delia Smith) 
Recipe source from Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids 
Original recipe from Delia Smith

(700 g) strong white bread flour, plus a little extra for the top of the bread
1 level tbsp salt, or less, according to taste
1 level tsp easy-blend dried yeast
1 level tsp golden caster sugar (I used normal white caster sugar) 
425 ml hand-hot water

You will also need two 1 lb (450 g) loaf tins or one 2 lb (900 g) loaf tin, well buttered.
*  I only used ONE loaf pan with measurement of 6" x 10"

Begin by warming the flour in the oven for about 10 mins, then turn the oven off. (I didn't do this)

Sift the flour, salt, yeast and sugar into a bowl, make a well in the center of the mixture, then add the water. Now mix to a dough, starting off with a wooden spoon and using your hands in the final stages of mixing, adding a spot more water if there are any dry bits. Wipe the bowl clean with the dough and transfer it to a flat work surface (you may not need to flour this). Knead the dough for 3 mins or until it develops a sheen and blisters under the surface (it should also be springy and elastic). You can now either return the dough to the mixing bowl or transfer it to a clean bowl; either way, cover it with clingfilm that has been lightly oiled on the side that is facing the dough. Leave it until it looks as though it has doubled in bulk, which will be about 2 hrs at room temperature.

After that, knock the air out, then knead again for 2 mins. Now divide the dough in half, pat each piece out to an oblong, then fold one end into the center and the other in on top. Put each one into a buttered tin, sprinkle each with a dusting of flour, then place them side by side in an oiled polythene bag until the dough rises above the tops of the tins – this time about an hour at room temperature. Alternatively, place all the dough in the one tin. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven 230°C.

Bake the loaf on the center shelf for 30-40 mins, until they sound hollow when their bases are tapped. Now return them, out of their tins, upside-down to the oven to crisp the base and side crust for about 5 mins, then cool on a wire rack.