Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Espresso Walnut Cake

As I have mentioned in my previous entry, I am not too satisfied with the outcome of the Espresso Cupcake. It left me a hollow space in my chest waiting to be filled, and make me really want to bake something smells and tastes coffee....And also because I have bought 2 bottles of espresso powder on a whim not long ago. The powder which I think is only good for baking, but not for drinking (at least not for me). For these reasons, I am in search of recipes to bake some caffeine goods. It doesn't take me too long to find one on the

I glance through the ingredients and notice that it only called for 5 tablespoon of butter, and a fraction of sugar that other coffee cakes required and used non fat yoghurt to moisten the cake. Seems like a healthy snack cake to me! And the cake comes together in a snap. I don't even have to use my mixer.

Because I made it on Sunday night before bed, I only got to taste it on Monday morning. It was ok. It has enough sweetness from the brown sugar, and moistness from the sour cream that I subbed for the yoghurt. And the crunch from walnut pieces. However, I couldn't detect a hint of espresso in the cake, which I am frankly quite disappointed. Maybe a tablespoon of espresso powder really doesn't give the coffee addict in me much kick. In fact, I think it should simply be called a coffee cake instead of emphasize it as a ESPRESSO Walnut cake.

Maybe it is a good introduction to people who do not drink coffee/espresso at all.

Espresso Walnut Cake

Cooking spray
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon instant espresso or 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules, divided
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt (i used sour cream)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°.
Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour.

Combine brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon espresso granules in a small bowl.

Place the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave at high for 1 minute or until butter melts. Add granulated sugar, stirring with a whisk. Add eggs; stir well. Stir in yogurt, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Lightly spoon 1 1/3 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour and 2 teaspoons espresso powder, stirring just until blended (do not overstir).

Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan, and sprinkle with half of the brown sugar mixture. Carefully spread remaining batter over brown sugar mixture, and sprinkle with remaining brown sugar mixture.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares.

Yield: 9 servings (serving size: 1 cake square)


Espresso Cupcakes

I have borrowed Nigella Lawson's "How to be a Domestic Goddess" for awhile. Hence I think it's high time for me to try some of the recipes in the book. Actually quite a few of them caught my eyes, but I decided to go for something simple first. The Espresso Cupcake, for instant, for a start.

The recipe requires self-rising cake flour which I couldn't find here. So I substitute it with cake flour + baking powder + salt, as recommended by the baking911 website. The recipe also calls for instant espresso powder, melted chocolate and cocoa powder. It seems like a winner recipe to me.....And so I proceed. After 1 hour, this is what I get:

This is the inside of the cupcake with the small piece of chocolate I inserted in the centre:

Overall, the cupcake tastes a bit bitter, a bit dry and a bit burnt. Probably because they were left too long in the oven. Unfortunately, not a very good first impression with the cookbook Diva who takes other part of the world by storm...I am sure it must be the user error..... I am still determine to give other recipes in the book a try. Well, maybe some other time.

But I don't have to wait too long. Because our friend Adeline actually asked me to make a batch with her yesterday for her labmate's birthday...Errr, ok. So maybe the cupcake is not as bad as I have described. Anyway, we baked a batch yesterday with a special finish touch. The M&M was my idea, the smiley face's hers.


Thursday, May 25, 2006


OCT is finally home. I show him to the place where I last saw the cockroach. He gingerly removes some clusters in the wardrobe and reports that the cockroach is already dead. I feel a surge of relief. Hopefully this guest doesn't bring with it some other guests.

I showed OCT my previous entry, he said the title should be "unexpected pest" instead of "unexpected guest"!


Unexpected Guest

I am still feeling a bit unsettled now. I have an unexpected guest in my apartment. It turned up while I was cooking in the kitchen. At first, I thought it was my illusion. Then, I kneeled down to confirm...To my dismay, there it was. A cockroach!

Oh my God! I was cooking half way through, so I decided to finish cooking before attending to it. I was just talking about unexpected guest in my last entry, and never really expect what I kidded would come true. Maybe the cockroach read my blog? And wanted to come for a fresh chocolate chips cookie.

I was horrified when I saw it just after I finished cooking dinner. It scurried from the kitchen into the carbinet in the living room right in front of me! I gingerly open the carbinet and took out the broom, ready to kill. In one swift move, it scurried across the living room into our bedroom, and moved right into our wardrobe! Oh, why does this have to happen to me?

I hope OCT will come back soon, to deal with the guest, who apparently still in our bedroom now....


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

In Search of the Ultimate Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chips Cookies

Despite the fact that I am a full-time stay at home wife, I always opt for simple meal ideas instead of the more complicated recipes. Although I have the whole day to prep for the meal, I choose to do it the very last minute, every night. I feel so ashamed of my irresponsible behavior as a wife.....

So when OCT mentioned his fondness for chewy chocolate chips cookies this afternoon, I quickly decided to whip up a batch for him. Nevermind I have never succeeded in my past attempts. Though I have made countless batches, not a single one passed his definition as "soft and chewy"......In short, I am in a search for the perfect chewy cookies recipe.And I need one now! I remembered seeing one from Cook's Illustrated. So Cook's Illustrated it is! Only this time, I follow the recipe to the letter, including the tonnes of brown and granulated sugar and maximum recommended chocolate chips in the recipe. Not only that, I also pay a closer attention to the cookies in the oven than ever before.

While shaping the dough, I thought this is definitely the cookies you want to make for your worst enermies. Though not potent enough to kill them, these cookies can make them fat if not obese, and suffer from either high cholesterol, heart attack or type 2 diabetes. Just make them a batch every week, and you will see the result pretty soon. What a wicked thought! I am just joking on this, so please ignore this altogether. What I really want to say, is that these cookies are so darn good. It's simply irresistible and so addictive!I bake six cookies, and keep the rest of the shaped dough in the freezer."So that you can pull out the dough and make fresh cookies when unexpected guests turn up" said the magazine. Well, I am not sure about the unexpected guest's part, but freezing them for a later time sounds like a good idea. At least I know I won't end up eating most of them, and digging my own grave. I have also packed three of them for OCT to give to his lab mates tomorrow. Out of sight, out of mind,right? I think I am pretty safe right now.

I am not sure if this is THE ultimate chocolate chips cookie, but it surely make me a very happy girl today. Who say happiness is hard to find?


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ginger Chicken and roasted cauliflower

Tonight's dinner is another east meet west kind of meal. Ginger chicken is one dish that I learnt from my good friend cum ex-housemate Ying Ying back in Singapore. Though I have cooked it plenty of times, I think hers is still the best!

I have a head of cauliflower that I bought on impulse last week, still sitting in the fridge. It has treaten to rot, if I decided not to eat it up soon. So, I checked out a few trusted sites to get some inspirations to cook it up. Of course I can steam, boil or simply stirfry it. But to be totally honest, I am never a cauliflower fan. And I deeply regret buying it just because it was on sale. Now, I have to turn this veggie that I don't care much into something I enjoy...not to forget OCT who doesn't seem to have any interest in cauliflower too.

In the end, I decided to roast the cauliflower. I have pretty good experience with roasting vegetables so far. It is simply a process of caramelizing the veggie under a very high heat. Plus this is a recipe from Emeril Lagasse! And the many positively reassuring reviews on this recipe.

It is a pretty simple recipe. Just toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic and some lemon juice (from 1 lemon) and bake in 500F oven for 15 mins. It couldn't be simpler! And it tastes so good! This is going to be my official method of cooking cauliflower in the future. I can't wait to eat the leftover tomorrow!


Monday, May 22, 2006

Penne with turkey meatballs

What we have for dinners pretty much reflects what are on sale in the grocery store on that particular week. Being a poor pHD student's wife means we are living on a shoestring budget. (ok, maybe I have exaggerated a bit, but you get the idea) Unlike the time when I earned my own paycheck, I have to forego some of the luxury I took for granted last time. Having said this, I am still pretty amazed by how well we are fed with the limited allowance.

I think the key is really to stock up when price is low, and buy more fresh products. It's more expensive to buy processed food here, which is good news to us. This is because we hardly buy processed food! We may be short on money, but time is what I have. Plenty of time, if you ask me. So, I really don't mind spending some time to skin and bone the chicken thighs, and peel the prawns! And nothing gives me more satisfaction than cooking and baking from scratch! Errr, ok, most of the time. Sometime, I choose the shortcut to make life a bit easy for myself.

This week for example, we bought 2 pounds of ground turkey. First pound was being used in a new recipe that I saw from Giada De Laurentiis's "Everyday Italian". I am familiar with beef meatballs and meatloaf, but turkey meatballs? I never heard of that. Still, I am curious how it will turn out, as turkey is much leaner and healthier than beef.....

The ground turkey was first mixed with onions, garlics, parmesan cheese, egg, milk, crumbs, salt and pepper. Use hands, if you want everything to mix really well. Then, the mixture was rolled into golf balls size and dropped into the heated skillet. It was a slow process, especially when you have lots of meatballs. My 1 pound recipe required me to repeat the process 3 times.

After the meatballs were cooked, I drained the oil, and deglazed the pan with tomato basil sauce. The meatballs were then returned to the pan. We were pretty pleased with the meal, and I am surprised that this turkey version has just as much flavour as the beef meatballs. This will definitely return to our dinner table soon.

The total cost of this meal is less than 3 dollar. And we have it for dinner and next day lunch. This brings the cost per person per meal to less than 1 dollar. Isn't that pretty impressive?

Penne with Turkey Meatballs (adapted from Giada De Laurenttis)

1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup grated Romano
1 onion,minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 cups tomato sauce
1 pound dried penne pasta

In a large bowl add bread crumbs milk and mix until well combined. Mix in eggs and 1/2 cup Romano cheese, onion and garlic and mix well. Add turkey and gently combine, being careful not to overwork the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Shape into golf-size balls.
In a large skillet heat the oil over medium high heat. When almost smoking, add meatballs and without moving or turning the meat, allow it to brown for about 3 minutes. Turn meatballs and brown other side. Continue to cook until all sides are golden brown, about 8 minutes total. Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow meatballs to simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and keep warm on stove. Be careful not to overhandle the meatballs since they are soft and fragile.

In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta in a colander. Do not rinse pasta with water since you want to retain the pasta natural starches so that the sauce will cling to the penne.

Remove meatballs from sauce and place in serving bowl. Pour some tomato sauce over meatballs, but leave about 1 cup of sauce in skillet. Place the cooked penne into the skillet with the remaining sauce and toss well. Pour sauced pasta into a large serving bowl. Serve alongside the meatballs.


Saturday, May 20, 2006


Thank God the weather is lovely, so we can go picnic! It's such a simple wish, but we never really get around doing it. Back in Singapore, it seems too luxurious a thing to do on a precious precious Saturday....

But on a bright sunny Spring morning, we overcome our inertia to finally do picnic. Nevermind it's just going to a nearby park.....I packed some sandwiches, cookies, cake, chips and fruits for our first ever picnic. It's a 15 mins walk from our apartment, to a spot with shade and fountain.

Not many people are there, so we find ourselves a bench facing the fountain, and tuck-in!Such a serenity day, with no crowd and no place to rush. We eat quietly, listening to the fountain and birds chirping and twittering among the trees. We can't make out what kind of birds they are. But they sing the most harmonious song in the nature. Time becomes still, until the sun moves above us and shine directly on us. A sign that we should go.

How I wish we can go picnic more often...

A walk to the park....

First, we must walk into the unknown wood.

Then we see the steel bridge.

And see the train track beneath it

"Don't get distracted! or we will never reach the fountain" said OCT

"Hey, there's another bridge! Errr...are we there yet?" I am getting a bit hungry already.

"See, here's the fountain!"

"Err.. can we find a bench to sit down first?"
"See, I make you roast beef sandwich"

And lemon cookie in heart shape!
Don't take my picture when I am eating!
"OCT do you like picnic?hey, that's my coffee!"
"see, is this a heart shape?"


Friday, May 19, 2006

Shrimp Florentine with Caramelized Garlic

Friday is either pasta or pizza day! Tonight, I decided to have pasta. The recipe is one from Cookinglight. I really like their simple and yet tasty recipes. However, I don't have the half & half and chicken broth that the recipe called for. Undeterred, I decided to make some "adjustments" along the way.

First the cleaned and skinned garlics were roasted in a 350F oven for 25 min while I went on to prepare other ingredients. Because I used raw prawns, I had to peel them. But this was worth the effort as raw prawns have more flavour than the cooked one. I reserved and freeze the prawn shells for use in seafood stock next time......Ok, i shouldn't bore you with the detail.... you can see it all from the recipe I attached. More importantly, in my opinion, is that it's a simple and delicious meal. Nothing out of this world, but certainly satisfying. We like the caramelized garlics in our pasta. I will definitely go through the trouble to roast them again when I need some intense flavor in my pasta. Maybe I will also stirfry some chopped garlic in the skillet with the rest of the ingredients next time. What can I say? I am a garlic lover. In place of the half & half and chicken broth, I used milk + white wine. And omitted the butter in the recipe. I reckon that it may not have substantial flavour, so I added in 8 oz of baby portabella mushrooms (which coincidentally is what I like, and was on sale last week!)

Well, maybe I have made far too many changes to the recipe that it no longer taste anything close to what it should taste. Maybe it would have tasted better if I adhere closely to the recipe. Maybe next time I should measure all the ingredients as suggested insteads of follow my instinct. Whatever. At least now I know roasted garlic tastes good in pasta.

Shrimp Florentine with Caramelized Garlic

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
20 garlic cloves, peeled
Cooking spray

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon butter (omitted)
3/4 cup half-and-half (sub with milk)
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (sub with white wine)
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups frozen loose-leaf spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry

4 cups hot cooked linguine (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
*I also added 8 oz of sliced baby portabella mushrooms*

Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare garlic, combine 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and garlic in a bowl. Place garlic mixture on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.

To prepare shrimp, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; sauté 3 minutes or until done. Remove shrimp from pan.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in the same skillet, saute mushrooms until they are no longer hard. Stir in half-and-half, broth,(milk and wine, in my case) cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper, and black pepper. Cook 1 minute or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp and spinach; cook 1 minute. Combine shrimp mixture, garlic mixture, and pasta in a large bowl; toss well. Serve immediately.

Yield: 3 servings


Absolutely Malaysian Food: Popiah

Yesterday night, we had popiahs (fried spring rolls), some leftover chicken soup with rice for dinner. I was feeling really guilty for not making a more elaborate dinner for OCT...but I was really exhausted after the baking and cleaning! So I thought I would just make popiahs using the almost expiring broccoli shaw and leftover chicken from previous dinner. Luckily OCT was home late, because dinner was only ready around 8:30p.m....

Popiahs, from a Malaysian point of view, are always deep fried. I was shocked when presented with an unfried version in Singapore a couple of years ago. And the filling was sometime different from what we have in Malaysia too. So, this version that I made for OCT was absolutely Malaysian's.

The broccoli shaw was first stirfry with a bit of oil and salt, pepper to taste. Chicken was being diced into small cubes and added to the veggie. All the filling was then cooled and wrapped in the egg roll wrappers and deep fried. The store bought broccoli shaw was definitely a time saver! Think how much time I have saved from slicing the cabbage, carrot etc...

Although this is not the healthiest meal we have ever had, I must admit that I have a good time eating these sinful and high fat popiahs for dinner. Oh, and I have eaten 6 or 7 egg rolls on my own!

Lastly, a little confession: I think my version is tastier than mum's. hahaha....


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Happy Lemon Day!

I have a craving for lemon related pastries and having a hard time to decide whether I should bake lemon cookies or lemon cake. So guess what! I baked BOTH. hahaha. The lemon cake recipe comes from my to-try-list. After having a huge success with Ina Garten's Lemon Cake, I wonder how the Cook's Illustrated Version compared to the invincible recipe. As for the lemon cookies, I have been finding a tried and tested recipe for ages. This morning, I found my answer from Anna's Cookie Madness blog. The lemon cookie recipe even used wheat germ that I bought on sale last week.

Perfect! I thought. I will bake both, and have enough lemon pastries to curb my lemon craving once and for all. Since both recipes provide clear instructions, I thought I will just post pictures of my final products insteads of bore you with the details.

I even cut the cookies out in heart shape! Later, I have to abandon the idea as the dough was really sticky....
If the weather allows,maybe we will go to the park near our place for a little picnic this weekend. Something that I wanted to do for sometime but couldn't get around to do. And guess what's OCT 's concern since I suggested picnic this weekend? The food! He kept asking me what we are going to eat for the picnic! Now that we have some lemon cake and cookies, we will definitely bring them along.

Coming back to the baking. I think these 2 recipes are really design for one another. Let me explain. First, the cake called for 3 eggs and 1 egg yolk, while the cookies called for 1 egg and 1 egg white. Can you see how well they compliment one another? If I only make the cake or cookies, I will either have the white or egg yolk left! And the cookies have to be frozen in the freezer for an hour before it could be rolled out. While waiting for the cookie dough, the cake is baking away in the oven. When the cake is done, it's the cookies' turn. It's just right to bake both on the same day.

Much to my delight, both the lemon cake and lemon cookies are delicious! And I can't decide which one I like better....


Chicken breast roasted with honey, pine nuts and thyme

This is a recipe from Leslie Revsin's Come for Dinner. The chicken breasts are first browned, and finished off in the oven with flavourful mixture of honey, lemon juice, worchestershire sauce, thyme and pine nut. White wine is then pour into the roasting pan to add some complexity to the sauce. I particularly like the idea of using white wine as sauce. It makes the chicken taste so sweet. Ok, maybe sweet is not the appropiate word for a savory dish.....But it's nice....when I have run out of ideas of what to do with chicken breasts.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Lunch was my not so successful Mango Cheesecake. I was really hungry after working out in gym for an hour. Because the cheesecake wasn't exactly tasty, I ended up eating most of it myself. (instead of giving it away)

I tell you, the amount of fat in the cake is unbelievable. I think I need to hit the gym to burn off more fat tomorrow.....


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Diner Meat loaf "muffins"

Tonight's dinner comprises of diner meatloaf, stirfry celery & carrot and rice. These mini meatloaf "muffins" are baked individually in the muffin pans as contrast to the traditional loaf pan. Because of the bigger surface area, they take only 25 min to cook, which is a time saver.

These mini meatloaves are cute, and good for gauging individual serving. OCT seems to like it a lot. Normally when he doesn't like a dish, he will just eat without any comment. Even when being asked, he will just said "it's ok". However, this time, this diner meatloaves really scored well with him. He even said "thank you". He must be really pleased. Here's the recipe:

Diner Meatloaf "Muffins"

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup ketchup, divided
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, extra lean (raw)
1 cup finely crushed fat-free saltine crackers (about 20)
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, chopped carrot, dried oregano, and minced garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Cool.

Combine onion mixture, 1/2 cup ketchup, and the remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl.

Spoon the meat mixture into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Top each with 2 teaspoons ketchup. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Yield 16 muffins.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Roasted asparagus, potatoes and leftover chicken

That's what we have for dinner tonight. Asparagus is in season, and hence cheaper and fresher. I have bought 3lb altogether and have cleverly incorporated in our dinners for 2 consecutive nights. Last night, we had stir-fried asparagus with oyster sauce. Today, we had them roasted.

Oh, and I love roasted asparagus! It's so simple to make but yet so tasty. We paired them with the leftover chicken from yesterday night. For carbo, we have roasted potatoes. Equally yummy! Not a bad way to start off the week.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

This week's baking disaster

There are 2 actually, which happened on the same night. It all started when the novice baker thought she was no longer a "novice baker" and wanted to try her hands on something new. The recipe was decided long before I was sick, that is No Bake Mango Cheesecake. It was a recipe I saw from a Hongkong blog site. It featured a really cool cake where there's a layer of mango jelly in the middle. After gathering all the necessary ingredients, I thought I would make it on a Saturday night, so I could bring it to the church and shared with friends on Sunday...

Because it didn't turn out as it should, it was still sitting in our fringe. This is the thing: when the food doesn't turn out as it's supposed to be, we can not give it away. However, because it's not inedible, we can't throw it away either. (at least not in Ong's residence) In another word, I have to swallow my failure, literally.

That's mistake number one. I then proceeded to make a batch of strawberry scones after the cheesecake was in the fridge. This is a new recipe, from one of my beloved source. I got OCT to wash all the bowls and what not while I measured the ingredients for the strawberry scones. The process and ingredients was pretty standard, so I went through motion to make the dough and freeze them for breakfast this morning. Later that night, I realised that I forgot to add in 1 tablespoon of sugar. Calmly, I consoled myself that one tablespoon of sugar was no big deal and it probably is not going to have a make or break effect on my scones.....and I went on to zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

This morning, I baked a few and was greeted by the promising look of my sugarless scones. Boy the one tablespoon sugar less was a Huge mistake! The scone was soooo salty that I have absolutely no doubt of sweeping them into the waste bin. And as for the cheesecake, it was edible, as I have mentioned earlier, but not as delicious as I would have imagined.

After all this, I must say I am a much humbler person now and last but not least, still a novice baker.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Roast chicken and chicken soup

I always shy away from preparing a whole chicken. It was too scary an undertaking for me. Yes, I said SCARY. The 5-6 pounds chicken is as big as a baby's corpse. I am not a pervert, but I am just imaginative and very timid, unfortunately.

Coincidentally whole chicken was on sale in my local grocery store last week. The price was irresistible for this frugal housewife. So I went ahead to buy one, thinking that after roasting the chicken, I can use all the bones to make a nourishing soup on the following night.

On Tuesday night, I took the chicken out from the fridge and got down to do what was needed to be done. I put on the plastic glove so that I didn't have to be in direct contact with the chicken. I took a deep breath and remove the cover. Next, I needed to remove the giblets inside the bird's cavity. Oh my God! I was so so scare! Because even with the glove on, I can still feel the body of the bird! I couldn't even dare to lift the bird, let alone inserting my hand into its cavity. I was so close to the verge of throwing in the white towel and called it a day.....Then I started to sing some hymns out loud to summon up the courage that I badly need and distract myself at the same time. It was not easy. I managed to clean, remove the giblets, massage the marinate and position the bird on the baking tray.

It was worth it! The bird came from beautifully from the oven and lasted us for 3 nights! Here's my first roast chicken:

After crafting out the meat, the bones and drippping was reserved for soup tonight. I haven't have chicken soup for a long time that I have almost forgotten how tasty one can be!

I think we will buy whole chickens again next time, but I will definitely wait till OCT is around to roast it.......


Monday, May 08, 2006

Strawberry Bread

It's Monday, and I am feeling a bit better. I want to bake something, preferably something simple, to make up for the baking that I missed during last weekend.

I chanced upon this recipe from the internet, using strawberry. Perfect, I have a whole box of Strawberries in the fridge, screaming to be used! So, I went on my business and whipped up a loaf of strawberry bread! Simple but flavourful.

Strawberry Bread
(makes 1 loaf)

1.5cups flour
1 /2teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cups fresh chopped strawberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients. Add egg and oil; mix well. Stir in berries and nuts until evenly distributed - batter will be thick. Grease & flour two 9" loaf pans and divide batter evenly into each. Bake at 350 approx. 1 hour. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

I am sick :(

It all started with a seemingly harmless runny nose. And as usual, I failed to see it as a sign of something serious. I went ahead to do my grocery shopping, through the painfully long school shuttle route and cooked a good dinner, as a responsible wife would. We had semi home-made pizza, using Pilsbury pizza crust, and top it with lots of spinach, roast red pepper and a mixture of Gorgonzola and mozalrella cheese.

Maybe it's a bad choice, though we really think it's a good meal. The pizza aggravated my already sore throat. For the whole night, I couldn't sleep. My throat was so painful that I can't even swallow my saliva.

On Saturday morning, I was experiencing serious block nose, and sore throat. I can't do anything but sleep most of the time, and took in plenty of liquid. Arrgh, the last thing I want to happen is to fall sick on a weekend!! OCT was relieved that he didn't have to go out shopping with me, as planned. He got to play computer at home. Oh, and following the Singapore post-poll day report.

When I am sick, I eat porridge and plain white bread. OCT being a loving husband decided to cook me something nourishing. and this was what I had for lunch- steam cod with porridge:


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Parmesan and Ham

The original recipe called for bacon actually, but I forget to grab a packet at grocery just now. (I was too focus on getting the flour!)

I really like this pasta that I adapted from this month's Cookinglight. I made a few changes to the original recipe but the pasta turns out to be one of the best we have ever had. Using 1/2 cup of water, some white wine and lemon juice as sauce, it has been quickly absorbed by the spaghetti. It may seems dry at the outset, but a bite into the spaghetti assures us that it is indeed very flavorful.

I made so many changes to the original recipe that I can't help but want to claim this as MY OWN recipe....

Spaghetti with Asparagus, parmesan and ham

1 lb asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2- 1/3 lb uncooked thin spaghetti
1/2 packet of turkey ham(8 pieces), diced into cubes
1 vidalia onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in halves (or 2 normal tomatoes, cubed)
1/2 cup water

1/4- 1/3 cup white wine (or pour from bottle, count to3)
salt and white pepper to taste
fresh lemon juice from half a lemon
1/2 cup (2 ounces) preshredded Parmesan cheese

Cook asparagus and pasta according to pasta package directions, omitting salt and fat.(Note: add the asparagus when the pasta is almost done.This is because the asparagus cooks very quickly.) Drain when the color of asparagus turns bright green; set aside.

Cook ham in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until lightly brown; cool slightly. Remove ham from the pan. Heat 2 teaspoon of oil in the same skillet and add onion, garlic, and oregano; sauté 4 minutes or until onion is lightly browned. Add tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Return the ham into the skillet. Add water, white wine and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Stir in salt, and pepper; remove from heat.

Place asparagus and pasta in a large bowl; add tomato mixture and juice from the skillet, tossing well. Top with shredded cheese.

Feed 2 very hungry adults, with leftover for one adult.


Orange Pound Cake

This is the cousin of the Lemon Cake, a recipe from Ina Garten as well. I wanted to make something else actually but I was left with only 1.5 cup of flour. The thought of not having enough flour was appalling. I promised myself that I will go out and get 2 bags of flour tomorrow, rain or shine. The only reason I didn't go out yesterday was the thunderstorm.

Coming back to the Orange Pound Cake. It was nice, as expected. But it is too predictable, and doesn't offer us any surprise as the Lemon Cake did. Needless to say, I like the Lemon Cake better. I must make another batch one day. Orange pound cake, like the lemon cake is one refreshing treat on breakfast table. Not a bad accompaniment with a cup of tea at tea time either. To make this Orange Loaf Cake, just follow the recipe of lemon cake and use orange zest and orange juice instead of lemon.

Ina Garten's version embellish the loaf with a generous coat of glaze, which I think is too sweet and fattening for myself. But it does make a more professional presentation, especially when you are entertaining for breakfast or tea. I think I will do that when I am giving this as gift....


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mushroom & Spinach Frittata with Goat Cheese

Finally I got round my inertia to try out a new recipe from my subscribed Cookinglight magazine. Mushroom & Spinach Frittata is the first frittata recipe I try. Basically the term Frittata means dish with eggs as its major ingredient. Though I don't particularly love to eat eggs on their own, I enjoy eating quiche and omelet, and occasionally, scrambled eggs.

My first attempt on frittata is not a huge success. It seems ok from the photos, but it tastes a bit off to me. Something is lacking, I don't know what. The dish just doesn't shine despite its deceiving appearance. Maybe it's the hash brown I used to replace the shredded potato as specified in the recipe. Other than that, I pretty much adhere to the recipe. I don't know, I guess this is just not the winner frittata recipe I will repeat.


Back to usual dinner

I haven't make any plan for new recipes. So we keep going back for some tried and tested recipes. Not exactly in creative mode, but will definitely sit down to plan for something new soon. I asked OCT what was his favorite so far, and guess what he said:"Everything"! ok, when your husband gives "everything" as the answer for your question, it means he wants you to leave him alone. To me, MY question was not answered... Maybe afterall, nothing really leaves an impression on him. To be fair, OCT is never a picky eater. I am not sure if this is good or bad for me. I shall continue to be my hardest critic for the time being. Meanwhile, this is yesterday's dinner:
Sauteed spinach and baked chicken drumstick marinated with curry powder.

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