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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Week 2, 2015

Some friends asked where the recipes are =o( They can be found by clicking on the title =oP
Also, if you tried and liked, or didn't like, any of recipes, please let me know in the comments. Thank you!

Jan 5 (Mon)

Grilled Pineapple, Chicken Avocado Salad 

On Mondays I consciously try to eat healthier and lighter, to balance out the inevitable weekend binge, so most of the times I make a hearty salad. This is a repeater packed full of proteins (chicken, avocado, feta), vitamins and antioxidants (pineapple, blueberry, salad greens). I had baby arugula left from the steak salad so used that instead of baby spinach, and cut down the amount of pineapple by half.

Jan 6 (Tue)

Breakfast smoothie: 

I use a variety of fruits, depending on what's in the fridge, but frozen bananas and blueberries are pretty standard. I normally use almond/quinoa or low fat milk and sometimes home made yogurt, but today I used a mixed fruit juice because I think it goes better with pineapple. This was like a slushy because of the frozen blueberries and banana, and gives you 150% of your daily Vit C requirement. Not bad, huh?

100g pineapple
80g frozen blueberries
1/2c purple mixed fruit juice
1/2 frozen banana (peel banana, slice and wrap in cling wrap before freezing)

Dinner at Big Eater Restaurant

A childhood friend was visiting and he loves crabs so we went to our favorite place for salty egg yolk crab. Their crab beehoon and frog dishes are also very nice. Yup, the three of us ate all that...

 Jan 7 (Wed)

I was invited to Joyce's birthday boat party, and she asked me to make the Ferrero Rocher cake.  It's my third time making it, and I finally figured out the right proportions for all the components.
However, with the new size I over-baked the cake a little so it ended up being dry. Also this needs to be taken out of the fridge about 30min to an hour before eating for best results, which we didn't do. But here's a photo of the beautiful sunset we were sailing into on the catamaran called Annette.

Jan 8 (Thur)

After two days of binge eating, it's time to cleanse again, so I made these two light and tasty dishes:

Fish in Crazy Water

I've made this a couple of times with frozen grouper filet. You can also use canned tomato if you don't have fresh, making this a pantry dinner that can be prepared on days you don't want to go to the supermarket. The sauce is yummy either on rice or soaked up with bread.

Asian Cabbage Mango Slaw

Easy to make, tasty, and pretty to look at. Need I say more?

Jan 9 (Fri)

Post-riding two layered smoothie

Bottom layer: 1/2 c each frozen blueberry & raspberry, half a frozen banana and some water to thin it
Top layer: 1 c pineapple, 1/2c home made yogurt, 1 tbsp PB2 to sweeten.

PB2 is, IMHO, the best thing that happened to smoothies and you can get it on It's basically  peanut butter in powder form. I use it as a sweetener for my smoothies in place of honey or maple syrup. 1 tbsp only has 22 calories and less than 1 g of fat but is full of peanut butter flavors. It also comes in a chocolate version, which I just ordered and am waiting for it to be delivered.

Garlic Lemon Shrimp with Root Veg Rice Pilaf

This dish makes a lot, so you may want to cut the rice pilaf portion in half if you don't have a lot of people to feed (or just have it for lunch the next day). The shrimp has a nice smokiness to it. I only have a grill pan but it turns out pretty well so imagine what it'll be like if you used a real grill. The pilaf is mild in flavor but I like the texture contrast of the crunchy jicama (called turnips in Singapore), and it accompanies the shrimp pretty well.

Orange Salad w Avocado & Watercress (need to google translate, or just guess)

This is another favorite of mine. Blood oranges are hard to come by here so I use all naval oranges. The sweetness of the oranges, the peppery taste of the watercress and the tartness of the dressing are all tied together by the creamy avocado and pungent feta cheese. If you don't like watercress I suppose you can substitute with arugula or baby spinach, but I read an article somewhere that says watercress is a far superior salad green in terms of nutritional value. I can't find that article, but here's another one touting its virtues as a powerhouse vegetable. 

Jan 10 (Sat)

Roast Chicken Legs with Lemon and Thyme

Not as crispy skinned as the Thomas Keller roast chicken but this one can be made with all legs and thighs! :0) If you want crispier skin, don't cover the chicken with lemon slices, slide them underneath instead. 

Polenta Crusted Roasted Potato

I declare this as my new favorite roasted potato recipe. The polenta (I used regular corn meal) really gives the potato pieces a nice coat, which stays crispy even as it cools. 
Green Salad
See Week 1 post  

Jan 11 (Sun)

Taking advantage of the cool weather to have brunch al fresco. French toast is one of the easiest and fastest breakfast items to make. I use soft thick sliced bread instead of brioche to cut down the fat a little. I also freeze unused bread and when I want to make French toast, or bread pudding, I put them in the fridge to thaw overnight. Today I used a cranberry bread bought in one of the local bakeries, may have been Bread Talk. For 4 slices of bread I used 3 eggs and half a cup of milk to soak them in. I have two pans going at the same time so it takes shorter time. Use very low heat and just a tiny sliver of butter in a non-stick pan. Slow and easy will give you a nice color and ensure the eggs are cooked. While the toast are cooking there's plenty of time to cut the melon, set the table, and make coffee :0)

I have friends visiting from Shanghai from time to time and being the good friends that they are, they always offer to bring me food. I usually ask for some seasonal vegetable that I can't get in Singapore. This time I asked for spring bamboo, and lucky for me, it has just come into season. Spring bamboo shoots are skinnier and more tender than the winter bamboo shoots, and seems to have less wastage. 
This is what's left after I peeled and chopped off the tough parts on the bottom. I freeze the bottom and use it in other soup stocks.

There is a traditional Shanghainese soup called 腌笃鲜, which literally means "braising the fresh with preserved" It's a slow cooked soup of salted and fresh pork, and one other ingredient: the spring bamboo. You can use winter bamboo but it won't have the same level of umami. When I lived in the US we substituted Virginia ham if there's no salted pork, or you can also use Jin Hua preserved ham but of course nothing is as authentic as Shanghai styled salted pork.

In case you're interested, here's a recipe if you want to make it yourself. It's in Chinese, but it basically entails rubbing a piece of pork belly with lots of salt and ground Sichuan pepper, place it into the fridge and weigh it down with something heavy. Flip it daily for 6 days, then dry it (in the fridge if you live in Singapore). It is then ready to be used. You only need two to three pieces for the soup, and can keep the unused portion in the freezer. 

Another "preserved" ingredient you can add is salted bamboo roots. They're like baby bamboo shoots before they come out of the ground. Too bad I don't have it and didn't feel like going to Chinatown to get it, so had to go without :0( 

Knotted bean curd sheets are also tossed into the soup usually half way through cooking. I make my own knots using bean curd skins. They come in a package like this     

I cut each sheet into four, about 15x6cm, roll it up lengthwise, then tie into a knot. 

For the amount of bamboo shoot I had, I bought 1kg of pork. I asked the butcher which parts are good in soups. He gave me two choices: tenderloin and "muscles." I took half kilo of each, but the muscles turned out much nicer. Next time I'll remember to use only muscles. 

Making the soup is relatively easy:
Cut pork into big chunks and parboil. Chop bamboo shoot into 2" pieces and place into the bottom of a slow cooker. Lay pork and salted pork pieces on top, cover everything in water, throw in some ginger pieces and spring onion, and add a splash of Chinese cooking wine. Cook on high for 4 hours, add bean curd knots and more salt if necessary. Cook for another hour. It looks plain but I promise it's packed full of umami. I had two large bowls :0) 

As a side dish I stir fried some baby kailan with oyster mushrooms and two kinds of Chinese sausages: duck liver and regular Cantonese styled pork sausage with Chinese wine. I always order this at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in my oldneighborhood  . Their version is much much tastier (without the mushroom) but they use about ten times the amount of oil, so most days I'm happy with my "healthier" version. Besides, J says he likes my version better :0P

I buy my duck liver sausages in Hong Kong. Yung Kee , the famous roast goose restaurant, has a good one, but if you don't have time to go, or if you visit HK in the summer (they don't make it in summer) you can also pick some up at the airport from
Wing Wah. 

Here's my version of the dish:

2 pkts of baby Kailan
3 oyster mushrooms, sliced
1-2 duck liver sausage
1 pork sausage 
Ginger slices

- Hear oil and stir fry ginger briefly
- Add sausages and stir until fragrant
- Add mushrooms and stir fry. Sausages will be releasing oil to coat mushroom, continue until mushroom softens slightly
- Add kailan, stir fry and season with salt until wilted. 

The duck liver sausage is really key to this dish and has a very intense Chinese wine flavor. So far I haven't been able to find a good one locally, which is why J has to haul some back for me when he goes to HK next week, hahaha!