I’m not sure about you but I am terrible at finishing up items that I have bought in my pantry. Half opened this and thats scatter my groaning shelves (since I have to put everything overhead so that bubs doesn’t get to them!) In keeping with Chinese New Year traditions, I tried to do a little spring cleaning of my pantry (and fridge) A half opened box of Weetabix, almonds, sesame seeds and a bottle of honey in the pantry. A half opened box of mascarpone cheese and butter. It sounded like a possible dessert combination. I also had some lovely plums from the market which were a lovely crimson. Perfect! But what to make?
For dinner today, I was slow cooking some pork – about the same temperature to roast almonds in! Great! So the almonds pop into the oven along with the pork, while I rack my brains as to what to make. I remembered my cousin making some rather yummy cornflake clusters previously for CNY with the buttery honey taste making a lasting impression on me. So I figured a plum tart kind of thing should be good, right?
So it turned out better than good. The hubs polished off more than half of it. The bubs told me to keep the left overs so that he could have it tomorrow. My leftovers are finished and I’m emboldened to try something else the next time. But first, I have to bring down those items to remind me that I actually have them…
75g whole almonds
30g sesame seed
0.75 cup honey
100g mascarpone cheese
2 ripe plums
- Roast almonds whole at 150 degrees celsius for 20 minutes and leave to cool
- Melt honey and butter in a pan on low heat.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Chop almonds and Weetabix up coarsely with food processor.
- Add almonds, Weetabix and sesame seeds to the butter and honey and mix well.
- Press mixture into a lined baking pan and bake for 8 minutes.
- Slice up plum into even slices.
- Invert tart base into serving plate and leave to cool.
- Coat with mascarpone cheese and place plum slices on the top.
- As with all things with lots of honey in them, watch the tart base like a hawk! As you can see, I had a bit of singeing just because I was trying to be wonder woman and got distracted.
- You can use clotted cream or whipped cream instead of mascarpone cheese.
- You can use strawberries, peaches, nectarines or even blue berries instead of plums.
If you do read this blog on a regular basis, you’d know I am a muffin freak. So it wasn’t too surprising that it was what I decided to make when my husband got yet another dollar bag of bananas that were about to go.
Admittedly, all this baking and cooking has been going to the hips – remember the old saying “A minute on the lips, forever on the hips?” I’m definitely learning this fast! So I’ve been trying to eat healthy (let’s see how long that lasts!) Nothing screams healthy louder than wholemeal flour, yes? So in the same vein, I figured honey and olive oil sounded like good things to use too. The result were very filling muffins which definitely kept the muchies at bay. (And when I say munchies I actually mean crunchies which are way too easily available at work – for fundraising too! How is a girl supposed to say no?) And let’s just say the fibre in these babies is HIGH! Am quite pleased with my healthy snackeroos which also scores high in the natural sugars department!
Am trying to get used to my replacement camera. It’s got lots of functions but I’m not sure how to use them. I miss my DSLR.
Makes 6 – 8 muffins
3 large very ripe bananas
0.6 cup self raising wholemeal flour
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
30ml olive oil
0.5 tsp vanilla essence
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Peel and mash up the bananas.
- Mix the dry ingredients together.
- Mix the wet ingredients together.
- Mix the dry with the wet ingredients.
- Spoon into muffin cups
- Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer poked into the muffin comes out clean.
The weekend was very, very hot. 31 degrees to be exact. Nothing as bad as Singapore but it’s pretty high for around these parts lately. This was also evident at the markets. The fresh vegetables and fruits were deteriorating fast and selling very cheaply. $1/kg tomatoes, $1/kg bananas, $1/kg pears…. It was a field day for us! The best buy I got was 3 boxes of edible flowers for $1! Not that I knew what to do with them but at $0.30 a box, I wouldn’t have wasted too much money if it turned out to be a terrible buy. If I don’t try them now, I’d probably never try them. So I ended up with 1 box of begonias, 1 box of marigolds and 1 box of zucchini flowers.
Once I got home, I realised why they were being sold so cheaply. Any longer in the heat, the flowers would have deteriorated so badly, it wouldn’t be worth a cent. Trusty ole google came to the rescue to help me decide what to prepare with the flowers. What I found were:
- Zucchini flower patties
- Begonia salads
- Marigold buns
The begonia salads seemed like the most straightforward dish and fit right in with our dinner menu. So I set off to work on that. Not having the ingredients of any recipe I trawled up from the web, I concocted my own salad. Bubs was terribly excited to see flowers on the plate and I had to do a hurried picture (which explains the blurriness) before he spilled the whole dish.
Verdict? Begonias have a citrusy, sourish taste and definitely beautify a dish quickly. It’s a bit of an acquired taste and I found it best balanced against the sweetness of the carrots and the freshness of cucumber. It went quite well with a sweet vinagrette that I had in the fridge. I may buy it again if it were going for a song but it’s not going to be a permanent feature on my repetoire.
The next day, I had planned to cook the zucchini flowers. I then understood why it was recommended that one cooks and eats the flowers on the day itself. I did toy with idea of stuffed flowers but fortunately didn’t decide to do that as a good portion of the flower petals had disintegrated despite careful storage. So the patties were great as they required chopped up flowers. But it also meant that I had so few patties that everyone could only have 1 patty each.
Verdict? There is a light fragrance to the zucchini flower and a mild taste to it. The bubs definitely loved it (and pounced on it, persuading all the adults that he HAD to have it all) and that is a definite bonus. Unfortunately, there are no photos as bubs refused to surrender a single piece for photos.
I still have the marigolds in the fridge. Am trying very hard to look for another recipe for them instead of the buns. The recipe doesn’t sound all that yummy and I’m not keen to waste ingredients just to use the flowers up. Anyone with any ideas or suggestions? There’s always the back up of marigold tea but that seems hardly exciting!
Yes, I’ve got a sweet tooth AND I love rich food. Not good for the waist line at all! Doesn’t help that I’m short either. This means that I have to spread the guilt around when I bake (or in this case, don’t bake) . A potluck is always a good excuse to cook something sinful in terms of calories, but a bad time to experiment with a new recipe or so I’ve learnt!
In Singapore, there’s a very popular dessert / snack called Jelly Hearts. They cost a pretty penny to buy but are really popular despite the price. After having tried to make it myself, I reckon that if you aren’t fussy about appearances, I could probably make a decent one. I have also discovered that my freezer shelf is lopsided after cutting my cheesecake. The layers had set in uneven layers.
There isn’t actually a recipe that would give me the exact measurements for the aluminium tin pan I had. So I tried to guess the amounts required. Not too good I must say – the crust was over the top thick and the jelly not thick enough! I didn’t help things by spilling a good portion of the jelly when I banged into the fridge whilst trying to put the cake into the freezer. Also, I didn’t have time to nip out to get the strawberries (which do a mainly decorative job in my opinion) I’m just waiting for another potluck to try this thing out again with the correct proportions (as I have written below) and maybe with some strawberries.
Strawberry Jelly Cheesecake
Makes a 20cm by 20cm by 5cm cheesecake (the correct proportions)
150g digestive biscuits
250g cream cheese (room temperature)
1 tbs gelatine powder
50 g sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 box strawberry jello
- Crush the digestive biscuits into crumbs.
- Melt butter in the microwave for 10 seconds and stir and repeat if required. Be careful not to burn by over heating.
- Mix the biscuit crumbs into the butter and pour into baking tray. Place baking tray into the freezer to set biscuit base. It should take about 20 minutes.
- Bring the cream cheese to room temperature and add sugar and vanilla essence, blending until smooth.
- Dissolve gelatin in hot water and add to the cream cheese mixture.
- Pour cream cheese into baking pan and put into the freezer for 30 minutes until set.
- Follow the instruction on the box of jello to prepare jello.
- Pour jelly over the set cream cheese layer and put in the fridge to set.
- Cut and serve chilled.
- It’s always easier to blend cream cheese after bringing to room temperature.
- The biscuits can be crushed with a rolling pin and a plastic bag or a food processor. With the plastic bag, be careful not to make a hole in it, otherwise, it’s going to be a mess!
- You can use an electric mixer to blend the cream cheese but I use a food processor as I don’t have a mixer. You could even do it manually but it takes arm endurance sometimes.
- Using the freezer cuts the setting time. If you wish to leave the cake in for more than 30 minutes, I suggest you use the fridge to set the layer to avoid ice crystal formation.
- Don’t allow the gelatine to cool before mixing with the cream cheese as it will set on the edges of the container you used to dissolve it, resulting in a cream cheese layer that is too soft.
- Make sure the cream cheese layer is set well before proceeding with the next layer otherwise it will mix.
- You can set the jello in the freezer if you are in a hurry but remember to bring it down to the fridge to chill to avoid ice crystals!!
- You could use lemon jello or raspberry jello too! In fact, you could be adventurous and try other flavors!
Time spent with the family, the lack of internet access and the almost constantly overcast sky meant that I have neglected the blog for a while. I must say that I really miss it! And then when I was finally ready to blog again, my DSLR died on me. Sniff! I felt so crippled without my camera. Who food blogs without a camera? Who can? That was enough to make me go bananas.
Anyhow, the hubs bought 2kg of bananas for $1. We all know what that means – Bananas that have to be eaten or used ASAP. The family suggested banana chips in a bid to be helpful. The banana chips that we were familiar with are deep fried (in oil used goodness knows how many times) and coated with sugar. I was aiming for something a little healthier. So I opted for baking them. Each tray was finished even before the next tray was in. Highly addictive but highly labor intensive. So the rest of the bananas have to be used in a different way – let me know if you have any ideas? My fall back plan is always muffins.
- Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
- Slice banana into 2mm slices and lay on an oiled baking tray.
- Spray or drizzle some olive oil over banana slices.
- Put into oven for 20 minutes.
- Take out and allow to cool on a cooling rack before placing in bottles.
- It is easier to slice the banana at an angle to get larger pieces to save some time.
- The riper the banana, the softer it is and more difficult it is to handle but the sweeter the chips. You have been warned.
- The riper the banana, the browner the chips will be as the sugars caramelize.
- The riper the banana, the more likely it is to burn. If that is the case, turn the temperature down a little and take out when the chips are hard. It will cool to a crisp.
- You can toss with honey and nutmeg. But honestly, they are so good plain, I just don’t bother.
- Raw bananas can be substituted but I find them rather tasteless, necessitating the addition of honey and such. Also, there is a slimy after feel when being handled before cooking which I dislike.
The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.
A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,200 times in 2010. That’s about 10 full 747s.
In 2010, there were 28 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 53 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 27mb. That’s about a picture per week.
The busiest day of the year was November 24th with 571 views. The most popular post that day was Carrot muffins.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were tastespotting.com, foodgawker.com, foodpress.com, Google Reader, and en.wordpress.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for the accidental weekend chef, carrot muffins, cheese燒肉, accidental chef singapore, and caramelising char siew.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
Carrot muffins November 2010
How to stealth bake for Christmas December 2010
How it all started December 2010
Chocolate muffins November 2010
Baked chicken for a flu December 2010
As I was clearing out the fridge, I found a zucchini. You’d think that with a bar fridge, one would not actually forget about things in the fridge. But I forgot that I had it. And in my defense, when your fridge is so tightly packed, it isn’t exactly easy to see what you have. I can’t remember what I bought the zucchini for. There wasn’t anything else in the fridge which would have gone with it. I wasn’t about to start a round of baking and I needed something for dinner. But what to cook? I thought I’d start by skinning the zucchini. I tried a sliver of raw zucchini and it had this bitter aftertaste which was not very pleasant at all. So how to mask it? The Asian answer would be to use a generous amount of sambal balachan. Afterall, zucchini in itself doesn’t actually have a distinctive taste.
But I didn’t have that at hand – sambal balachan is great stuff but to toast it ensures that an apartment would stink for days. My neighbors would definitely not appreciate it at all, with the smell being very pungent to say the least. But I had a bottle of crispy shrimp and chili in chili oil. That would do.
The zucchini shrank to half it’s volume but the chili paste did it’s job. The bitter aftertaste was gone, we had a dish for dinner which was great with hot fluffy rice. Why fusion? We don’t actually use zucchini in Asian cuisine. Crispy shrimp and chili is definitely Asian. That should qualify as fusion, yes?
Spicy Stir-fried Zucchini
Makes enough for 4 side dishes
1 garlic clove finely chopped
1 shallot finely sliced
1 zucchini skinned and julliened
1 tbs Crispy shrimp and chili in chili oil
Salt to taste
1 tsp canola oil
- Heat up canola oil in saucepan and fry garlic and shallots until golden brown and fragrant.
- Add zucchini and stir fry until wilted. Continue frying to reduce the amount of water in the dish.
- Add shrimp and stir through.
- Add salt to taste.
- Serve with hot rice.
- When frying garlic and shallots, be very watchful as golden brown can quickly turn to black when you are not watching. I tend to add the garlic and shallots to the heated oil and stir constantly. If I find the garlic and shallots browning too fast, I take it off the stove and leave it to cool whilst I continue stirring. I only bring it back to the stove when I’m ready to add the next ingredient which would take the temperature down again.
- Zucchini can be shredded with a grater but I find that the pieces are too fine and almost disintegrate to nothing if stir fried.
- There will be a significant amount of water the comes out from the zucchini. It should be cooked until most of the water evaporates. Otherwise, it dilutes the flavor of the dish.
Spaghetti with meat sauce
It’s always a little stressful cooking for Sunday lunches before we leave for church. We need to get lunch ready that early because bubs gets tired and cranky if we wait until we reach home to eat. So he gets food in the car. Usually, I do some soup thing. But I forgot to put the food into the crock pot and we didn’t have soup ready as we usually do.
It meant scraping some food together for a quick one dish meal that he would eat which would cook quickly and easily.
Spaghetti and meat sauce
I love spaghetti and tomato based sauces. But many of the recipes online require either boiling for long periods or adding some salt laden ham which I try to avoid. There was the tray of canned tomatoes that the hubs bought because he thought I cooked with a lot of canned tomatoes – I don’t. I am not sure where he got the idea from. There were bay leaves that someone had left on their garden gate for passerbys to take, there was the requisite minced meat that we always had in the freezer, onions and carrots which always keep well and of course the remainders of the huge bag of mozarella that I bought and really should finish soon. I figured, I could put them together to make some kind of spaghetti meat sauce, couldn’t I?
The sauce that resulted was flavorsome and thick. What I liked about it was that it was a one dish meal that was easily done in 30 – 45 minutes. Leaving me enough time to get dressed, made up and ready for church after. AND it does help not to smell of food after that!
Spaghetti with Tomato Meat Sauce
Makes enough for 4 – 6 people.
500g minced pork
1 tbs canola oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 cans of canned tomatoes
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
Pasta of choice
- Heat canola oil in saucepan on medium heat and fry garlic and onions until fragrant.
- Add carrots and fry until tender.
- Add minced meat and keep stirring while it cooks.
- Add canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
- Add bay leaves and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer until desired consistency achieved.
- Remove bay leaves before serving over cooked pasta of choice.
- Top with mozarella cheese and oregano.
- Serve hot.
- The trick to cooking pasta is to cook with sufficient water and salt. Once the pasta has reached the desired consistency, remove from water and toss with some olive oil to keep them from sticking together and turning soggy.
- When buying balsamic vinegar, look at the ingredients. If there’s caramel added, it’s a poor quality vinegar.
- To get a melted mozarella cheese look, you can pop the pasta sprinkled with the cheese into a preheated oven (150 degrees celsius) for a few minutes or pop it into the microwave for half a minute.