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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Week 3, 2015

Jan 12 (Mon)

Superfood Crunch Salad and Honey Lime Chicken Skewer

Pomegranates are everywhere! The shiny red skinned huge orbs were calling my names every time I pass by them in the supermarket so I had to buy some. There's a misconception that pomegranates are hard to peel, but with a little bit of patience and technique it's rather simple. My favorite way is to find the membranes between the sections and slice down so entire sections can come out at one go. Here's a Youtube video showing you how. Forget about using water or whacking the poor fruit with a wooden spoon. It's messy, and pom juice stains everything! Now I just need to get myself a handy little knife like that to make it even easier.

It's not a dinner that will blow your mind, but it's easy to make, tastes good, and serves its purpose as a healthy dinner on a Monday. Incidentally, I had my health screening this morning. I should've had this for dinner on Sunday instead of all that duck sausages...

Jan 13 (Tue)

Today's smoothie

1 c cantaloupe 
A couple of pieces of pineapple (leftover in fridge)
1 kale leaf stem removed
Half a frozen banana
1/2c home made yogurt
4 dates

I always feel super healthy when my smoothies are green :0P so I saved a kale leaf when making salad the night before. This smoothie turned out really yummy and kept me energized during my private riding lesson this morning

J is in HK for two days so it's my chance to eat carbs!!! Ever since he went on this low-carb diet six months ago, I could only cook things where the carb portion can be separated so he doesn't eat it. That leaves me no chance to make any pasta dishes. Even Chinese food was hard because how do you eat it without rice? At his most fervent stage it was strictly NO-carbs, so he didn't even eat soya products, fruits high in sugar, or starchy vegetables such as corn or potato. Thank goodness that stage is over, but still, with him away, it's my chance to carbo load =o)

Spaghetti with lobster  

This is a pasta dish that you won't feel guilty eating. The sauce is tomato based with no added cream or cheese so it's light, but the lobster makes it extra flavorful. I hit the jackpot today and had a lobster with roe in it too! I've also made this with crabs and prawns before, and today I used home made fettuccine instead of spaghetti

Radicchio, Pear, Gorgonzola Salad

This salad has a strong flavor due to the balsamic dressing, and the gorgonzola cheese kicks up the flavor by another knotch. It is a nice contrast to the light and delicate pasta.

Jan 14 (Wed)

My day starts at 6am on Wednesdays. I have a jumping lesson at 7am and I never know which horse I'll get until I'm at the stables. Today I was assigned Mimo. She's a great little jumper but getting her to the jumps usually takes everything out of me. Thank goodness I had this smoothie on my way to the club
1 c pineapple
1/2 c cantaloupe
1/2 a frozen banana
1/2 c home made yogurt
After riding I take a quick shower and have breakfast before heading to SOSD to walk the shelter dogs from 9:30-12:30. Needless to say, I need a lot of energy for that, so I always make an overnight oatmeal. The basic recipe is really easy: 1/2 c oatmeal and 1/2c milk, stir and soak overnight. I usually top it with whatever fruits I have on hand, and add a little honey or maple syrup to sweeten it.

From studying horse feeds I learned that oats give a lot of energy, which is why polo ponies are always fed oats before a game. In this case, what works for the horses also works for the human. This kept me going until past 1pm =o)

I've been talking to some friends about my favourite cake at PS café recently so today I went there for tea. I almost always order the chocolate doorstop cake and the sticky date pudding. They are soooo yummy but very sinful, so make sure you share!

For dinner, I'm continuing to carbo load, before J comes back tomorrow =oP

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns 

My favourite Shanghai dim sum item is Sheng Jian Man Tou (生煎馒头) and it's very hard to find an authentic one outside of Shanghai. I've tried to make it myself but the dough proves challenging. It is semi-risen, and it's very hard to control just how much rise, so most of the times the dough turns out too fluffy. The meat filling of recipe is similar to Sheng Jian Man Tou in flavour so this time I tried to rest the dough for less time and it worked somewhat. However, because I was at tea I had to rely on my helper to make the buns and she made the skin too thick and couldn't resist turning them right side up after frying =o( (authentic Sheng Jian Man Tou is always fried seam side down) Here's a recipe on CNN, which I have not tried yet, but you can see what they should look like.

Cabbage Soup
Because the pork buns are quite time consuming to make, I paired it with this super easy cabbage soup. It turned out surprisingly tasty, kind of like the Russian borscht.

Jan 15 (Thur)

Asian Style Chicken Quinoa Salad

Going healthy again after yesterday's artery clogging cakes and pan fried buns. It meets J's low carb standard too, with quinoa and chicken as the main ingredients. I also like the raisins and cashews in it.

Jan 16 (Fri)

I had breakfast with some girlfriends after riding today. We were supposed to go to the Missing Pan, but the construction noise was so loud that we promptly escaped to Choupinette a few doors down. Choupinette is probably THE oldest French bakery/cafe in Singapore way before cafes are popping up on every street corner, but it was my first time there. I ordered Eggs Florentine and I have to say the eggs were really nice. My friends who ordered the eggs Benedict said the ham was extra tasty because the edges were perfectly charred. The coffee, on the other hand, was too weak for my taste. 

One of the dishes we always order when we go for crab meals at seafood restaurants is the steamed prawns. Some restaurants have an herbal version but my favourite is the plain kind, eaten with a light soy sauce dip. Chili crabs are hard to make at home, but this one is really easy, especially if you have a steamer oven.

Steamed Prawns
1 lb of whole prawns, cleaned
3 tbsp Chinese wine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
4 spring onions, each cut into 3-4 pieces
1" ginger, sliced

1. Arrange prawns in a shallow dish. (I find grey prawns work better for in this dish than tiger prawns, because the meat is sweeter.)
2. Combine wine, salt and sugar, and pour over prawns. Place spring onion piecess and ginger on top.
3. Heat steamer oven to 100% 100C, steam for 10 minutes (12 min if shrimps are large). If using conventional steamer, bring water to a full boil, then put dish inside and steam.  

Another signature Shanghai dish I always make if I have Spring bamboo shoot is the braised bamboo shoot in soy sauce. It's pretty intense in flavour and the longer you let the bamboo pieces sit in the sauce the more the flavours develop.  That's why I like to make this a couple of hours before it's time to eat, and leave it sitting, with the the occasional stir so all the pieces have a chance to soak in the sauce. Like most Shanghai dishes, this has a sweetness to it, which I love. If you're not used to having your savoury dishes slightly sweet, decrease the sugar, but I think it tastes infinitely better this way. Can you believe that when eaten together, the bamboo shoot had more umami than the prawns? I wish I didn't have to rely on friends who happen to come visit from Shanghai during the short two months or so that the bamboo shoots are in season, but I won't complain, at least I have been able to get them once a year for the past few years.

Braised Bamboo Shoots
5-6 spring bamboo shoots
2 tbsp dark Chinese soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar

1. Peel the skin and chop off tough bottom from bamboo shoots, and roughly chop into irregular pieces
2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok and stir-fry bamboo shoots for a little until well coated in oil
3. Add soy sauce and sugar, stir evenly, then add 1/2 c of water. Bring to a boil over high heat
4. Simmer for 3-5 min with lid on. Stir to evenly coat all the bamboo pieces.
5. Turn heat to high to evaporate most of the sauce except a little left on the bottom.

Jan 17 (Sat)

I followed the recipe except I didn't add blueberries into the batter, because I didn't want to deal with burst berries burned to my waffle iron =o( I really liked the flavor of this waffle batter, but find the texture a little dense. I don't know if this is due to the fact that I had to keep them warm in the oven for ages waiting for J to get up, but it's worth giving it another try on a day when he's already up when I started making breakfast...

A while ago I found a buttermilk powder on I don't know about you but I have no use for buttermilk except when baking, so when I buy a container, I can never use it up before it expires. The alternative is to add lemon juice to milk as a substitute, but this powder is really the best thing. All you need is water to reconstitute, and it's even low fat.

Today's smoothie 

Bottom layer: 1/2c mango, 1/2 frozen banana, 1/4c OJ. Top layer: 1/2 frozen banana, 6 strawberries, 1/4c homemade yogurt. A layer of homemade granola in between and some on top

Roast Chicken with Kimchi Smashed Potato

It looks like we've been having roast chicken and potato every Saturday this year, so here's another one. If you like kimchi you'll like this dish. I always use more chicken than the recipe calls for, because J loves chicken. I also used watercress instead of arugula. If you missed it last week, I posted a link on all the good things scientists have to say about watercress. This is another one dish meal that's easy to prepare on busy days.

Jan 18 (Sun)
J's New Year's resolution for 2015 is to learn how to cook, so I signed him up for a chef in training course at the school I used to teach. It's an 8-wk course taught by the executive chef of Absinthe, who's also a friend. Last week J learned how to make roast chicken, potato, seafood saffron soup and mushroom soup. Yesterday's menu was eggs Benedict, scrambled egg with smoked salmon, braised lentils and quiche Loraine. The eggs he ate at the school, the lentils and quiche he brought back. I have to say I was quite impressed. 

Since we didn't get to taste the eggs, he offered to make them for us for breakfast. I will have breakfast waiting for me when I come home from riding? Instead of scrambling to put something together without even showering first? Imagine that! 

Long story short, after burning the bread to a char (10 minutes was what he thought the timer should be set) and making the Hollandaise sauce way too early, causing it to split by the time we ate, they turned out pretty well. I especially like how he seasoned the spinach.

Spurred on by my encouragement, he said he'll make the scrambled eggs for next Sunday's breakfast. Woohoo!