Monday, May 30, 2011

Dad's "Should be World Famous" Yong Taufu

My Dad makes the best "yong taufu" which is fish paste stuffed in beancurd puffs or vegetables like eggplant, capsicum, chili and okra which is then fried or added to broth (trust me, it's tastier than it sounds). My Dad doesn't cook much but he does have a few special dishes up his sleeve that he makes now and then, which is well worth the wait.

A true Chinese cook doesn't really have a recipe that he follows as a lot depends on the feel of the ingredients you are working with at the time. In general Dad debones 2 mackerel cutlets and chops with Chinese meat cleaver on a wooden chopping board (don't even think about using a food processor, it needs to be done the traditional Chinese way for authenticity). Add water to the paste with a couple of teaspoons of salt and mix until the the paste is smooth and thick (if you can stand a spoon in the mixture, it's ready).

Cut the beancurd puff in half diagonally, make a slit and stuff with the fish paste.

Add a little oil in a wok and using super long wooden chopsticks (again to add to the authenticity), cook the beancurd puff, fish side down, until lightly brown.

Mum then takes over and makes the gravy with soy bean sauce. Add a little oil to the wok with a couple of teaspoons of soy bean sauce. Towards the end of the cooking (which is just to heat up the stuffed bean curd as it is cooked), add a cornflour water mix (in a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of cornflower with water) to thicken the gravy. For Mum, a dish is incomplete without chopped spring onion so sprinkle generously!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bill Granger's Madeleines

Here is another recipe from Bill Granger's 'Bill's Basic" cookbook which is fast becoming one of my favourite cook books. I have a soft spot for Bill ever since I read that Keanu Reeves (my future husband, he just doesn't know it yet) frequented Bill's when he was filming the Matrix trilogy in Sydney. Since the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, I better start perfecting Bill's recipes for Keanu!

My favourite non slip mixing bowl

Madeleines are light in texture and absolutely divine. Although I love the Kitchen Aid, I find hand whisking rather satisfying. Grease a madeleine tray, dust with plain flour and shake off excess. Melt 100g of butter, mix 2 tablespoons of of golden syrup and allow to cool. In a separate bowl, whisk 2 eggs with half a cup of castor sugar until the mixture thickens. Gently fold half a cup of sifted plain flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Spoon mixture into tray and cook for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Everything looks even better with a dusting with sifted icing sugar. Makes 16.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cherries Table Runner

After 6980 stitches (yep, I'm really that geeky), I'm SO excited to have finished my cherries table runner on Saturday night (even geekier to admit that I was home on Saturday night cross stitching). I had to add a couple more cherries as I ended up with 58 cherries - an extremely inauspicious number for a Cantonese (rough translation is "no prosperity") so the completed table runner contains 60 cherries in total. I was excited and a little sad - excited because the project is completed, but a little sad because I can't work on it any more!

Completing the last stitch!
Mum and I went to celebrate Buddha's Birthday at Melbourne's Federation Square on Sunday 15 May, where we bathed the Buddha which symbolises inner purification. The premise is that washing away physical dirt is easy, but it is "more difficult to cleanse one's inner dirt of greed, anger and ignorance". Performing the ritual is said to improve "harmony and inner balance, leading to a flourishing, fulfilling, wholesome, blissful and enlightened life". 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mum's version of Bill Granger's Baked Fish

This is a rather oriental style dish from Bill Granger's new book 'Bill's Basic'. The Chinese will steam the fish but this was baked which means the texture of the fish is firmer whereas it can get a little mushy if you over steam fish.

Mum marinated the snapper in sunflower oil, soy sauce, grated fresh ginger, chopped garlic, sugar, turmeric and sea salt. Bake for 30 minutes and sprinkle with coriander.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Curry Vegetable Filo Roll

Since filo pastry has less fat than shortcrust and puff pastry, it's my preferred pastry to use as you still have the flakey texture without feeling guilty about it later. I made these filo rolls for Mothers Day and it's super easy to make. I made 4 large rolls and 3 triangles with the left over pastry and filling.

For the filling, cook 6 potatoes (cubed), 2 carrots (cubed), 1 cup frozen peas and 1 cup corn kernels with 1 cup of stock. Sprinkle 1.5 teaspoons of curry powder and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Allow to cool.

Layer 4 sheets of filo pastry and brush with melted butter (since it was around 15*C in Melbourne, I had to microwave the butter a few times as it started to solidify). Spoon around 4 table spoons of filling and and fold the top of the pastry over before folding the two sides inwards. Continue rolling until you reach the end. Mum got the easy task of using scissors to cut some slits on top of the pastry. Really pretty!

Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes or until golden brown. Best eaten straight from the oven, and if you're Chinese drink some cooling tea to balance your yin-yang :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's Knitting Time!

When the weather starts getting cooler, I get out the yarn and needles and start knitting. I started knitting kid sized beanies when I saw a Guardian Pharmacy Guardian Angel Knitting Program advertisement in 2007. I feel privileged that I can wear warm clothes and can afford heating when so many people don’t have such “luxuries”. There was a scene in Vie en Rose where a reporter interviewed Edith Piaf (she was knitting on a beach) and ask who she was knitting for. She replied "whoever wants to wear it". That's how I see my knitting.

I knitted some beanies and scarves for a church group who was going to China in 2008 and it was lovely to see the knitted items being worn. The little boy's face is adorable - perhaps the beanie is little scratchy?

Since I had heaps of left over yarn, I knitted squares to make blankets for the Save the Children Knit One Save One campaign in 2010. They were aiming for 80,000 knitted squares but received 153, 438 squares which is an amazing effort!

My knitted squares didn't always turn out square, so I'll stick to knitting beanies again this year. The pattern I follow is really easy, and yes, I will knit other colours, not just pink (but it is my favourite colour!) To date I've knitted six beanies but as you can see, there is plenty of yarn in the basket! To support Australian businesses, I buy yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills who supply fantastic quality yarns at very reasonable prices.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Margaret Fulton's Apricot & Almond Slice

Mum and I found this quick and easy recipe from the Woolworth's free 'Fresh' magazine.

  • 125g butter
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoon plain flour
  • 1 1/4 cups almond meal
  • 16 apricot halves
  • 1 tablespoon apricot jam
1. Preheat oven to 180*c. Grease a 22cm square cake tin with melted butter and line with baking paper.

2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift in flour. Mix almond meal with a pinch of salt. Spoon into prepared tin and spread evenly.

3. Place apricot halves on top cut side up in a 4 by 4 pattern. Press them lightly into the batter.

4. Bake for 18 minutes. While the slice is still hot, microwave jam (we had lovely home made jam) until runny and brush over. Allow the slice to cool in the pan. Cut into 8 pieces (with 2 apricot halves per slice).

I didn't make these lovely door stoppers we bought from General Trader, but they appear to be easy to sew.