Healthy Chips?

Well, step aside deep-fried potato chips, for there’s a new recipe in town and I think it’s here to stay!

Polenta.  Never used it before.  Don’t say I liked it tonnes but I’m impartial to its taste.  I didn’t even know polenta is another term for yellow corn-meal until the colleague grabbed me a packet of these just because I wanted to whip up some corn muffins and needed some yellow corn-meal as the recipe suggested.

So, like I said, this was a first for me.  Cooking Polenta and experimenting with what I could do with it.  And I would be lying if I didn’t say that it was partly because of this recipe by Lianne over from foodmadewithlove that kinda got me all excited about using polenta!  Chips that were sorta healthy?  Well, I’m definitely willing to try!

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And I did just that!  The Man was going to roast a chicken and I was left in-charge of sides again.  Wasn’t satisfied with just greens and grilled portobello mushrooms, so I suggested Polenta Chips.  I had the Polenta and some of the ingredients needed for the recipe, so I quickly got down to work!  An 1 hour later, these golden brown polenta chips popped out on to the dining table, and I was pleased with the results.

Here’s my version of the Polenta Chips!

Polenta Chips (adapted from this recipe over at foodmadewithlove)
[Serves 4, small portions]

Ingredients:
– 100g of polenta
– 400ml of water- 25g of unsalted butter
– 50g finely grated parmesan (I used mozzarella since that was the only cheese I had at home then)
– 2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
– salt & pepper, to taste and garnish

Method:

1) Line a tray with grease-proof baking paper allowing 2cm to overhang (I didn’t have sufficient baking paper so I made sure that my dish was well-buttered). Boil 400ml of water in a small pot, then reduce the heat to low. Do note that the amount of water is different for different brands of polenta, so please do check how much water is needed for the amount of polenta.

2) Stir in the polenta in a slow, steady stream, then cook and stir continuously for a couple of minutes or until it has thickened.  You’ll know it’s done when you see the mixture bubbling like a volcano.

3) Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, cheese and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and spoon it into the tray and smooth the surface. Press it down and make sure the polenta is really compact. Allow it to chill for at least an hour.

4) Remove polenta from dish and onto a board. Cut it half lengthways, then cut it into 1 1/2 cm thick chips or whatever way you desire.

5) Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. In batches, fry the polenta chips, turning, until golden and crisp.

6) Drain on the paper towel and keep warm in an oven or serve it immediately with a sprinkle of salt.

I served the chips with a Thai Green Chilli dip with Mayo.  We had brought back some awesome and super spicy green chilli from Bangkok.  To dial down the spiciness of the green chilli by a couple of notches, I added some low-fat mayo along with the chilli.  It still tasted superb and went really well with the chips!  🙂

Baked Salmon Parcel

I’m on a hunt for recipes with Salmon in it and couldn’t be happier with this new recipe that I found over at Bev‘s.  It’s my quick-fix dinner for weeknight when I try to stay away from carbs.

IMG_9749This honestly cannot be any easier to make!  Parcel-wrapped Salmon!

All I need to do is to get a slab of salmon (approx 200 – 300 grams) and place it on parchment (baking paper).  I then use whatever vegetables I fancy for the evening, from asparagus to carrots, peppers (you get the drift).  Then place a couple of cherry tomatoes on top of the salmon, add to that some sliced red onions (for that added sweetness), sprinkle sale and pepper, plus a tiny pat of butter.  Wrap the salmon package up like a bag.  Bev’s receipe called for a tablespoon of chicken stock before you seal and fold over the package tight but I usually omit this step.  Taste just as good.  Bake the package at 210celsius for 11 to 12 minutes and you are done!

It’s important not to go over 12 minutes or the salmon may be over-cooked.  Even at 12 minutes, the fish is cooked with a silky smooth center and it really just melts in the mouth.  Try it for a hearty and healthy dinner

A simple Feast with these easy recipes

Thought I better get round to posting some of these recipes of the dishes that we whipped out during our simple Christmas feast for we will definitely see most of these back on our dining table when entertaining at home.

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The starter was these really delicious stuffed portobello mushrooms with chopped mushroom stems, prosciutto ham, onions, parsley, rosemary, thyme and since we didn’t have any bread left at home. The helper crushed some crackers and I threw them into the mix. Pan-fry the ingredients and then stuff them into the mushroom caps. Drizzle a little olive oil and pop them into the oven. After approximately 20 mins, these babies should be done.

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Next, we always need a side of veggies to make our meal a little more wholesome. This is simple to put together. We got some pumpkin, broccoli and corn for the roast. All we did was to drizzle the olive oil liberally, add some salt and srigs of rosemary and thyme. Pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove broccoli and pumpkin from tray, pop the tray with the corn into the oven for about another 10-15 mins and it should be done.

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Highlight of our meal has got to be this Truffle Butter Roast Chicken recipe that I got off from Lavishley. Simple yet extremely flavorful! This is definitely making a comeback at our parties! 😉

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Last but not the least, the Man’s favorite molten chocolate lava cake with salted caramel ice-cream that I got from Marks and Spencer.

Hope these simple recipes would inspire you to cook more for the coming year. It definitely has inspired us to come up with a New Year menu.

Can burgers be healthy?

Well, yes, if you make them yourself. 🙂

I was in the mood for some home-made burgers but wanted a twist in my previous recipe.   So I surfed around and realised that I could substitute the Panko (Japanese bread-crumbs) in my recipe with tofu.  And the best part?  You won’t even know the difference.

If you like to give this recipe a try, click here and follow the steps.  Just omit the Panko and the milk if you are using tofu.  As for the type of tofu to use, I would recommend that you use the firm type of tofu and drain the moisture out of the tofu with paper-towels before throwing it into the meat mixture and mashing them up to form the hamburger patties. 🙂

An easy and wholesome dinner idea served alongside rice or in our case, a soup and potato gratin for a full meal.

 

Dinner-time: Truffle Pasta with Poached Egg

The mom-in-law. She lives with us so she does most of the cooking on weekdays. But she’s away for a couple of days so I took the opportunity to head back into the kitchen and whip up a simple dish for a weeknight dinner.

While stocking up for groceries to prep for the weeknight meal, the Man decided to pick up some Tagliatelle. He was in the mood for some Tagliatelle with white truffle oil. I found this recipe online.. tweaked it a little and viola.. whipped up this pasta along with some barbecued pork and steamed broccoli for a simple meal.

The recipe called for poached eggs. The Man and I, we attempted making them once but it failed terribly and ended up looking like flower eggs in hot water, so I never really dared to make them again. This time round, I was fairly determined to make them. Went online to find a tutorial on You Tube… watched the Gordon Ramsey video a couple of times before heading to the kitchen to make the poached eggs.

If you followed the step-by-step guide listed by Mr Ramsey, you’ll find that you will also be able to poach eggs at home too! We added white vinegar to the boiling water as it’s supposed to help the egg envelope in a cocoon faster. Pleased with the result, I started to prep the rest of the dish.

With some olive oil, I sauteed the portobello mushrooms and once it’s cooked, I added the cooked Tagliatelle pasta. If you find the pasta a little dry, you could add about 2-3 tablespoons of the pasta water (retained from cooking of the pasta). Thereafter, add about 3 tablespoons of white truffle oil. Give it a good toss and prepare to plate the pasta before putting the poached egg on top of the dish. Throw in a little chives as garnish and you’re done!

Kinda easy peasy huh?

So, S from Schwingen in Switzerland and L from The Swiss Watch Blog, I hope this recipe has inspired you gals to bring out the truffle oil and start cooking. 😉

Spiced-up comfort food

Whenever the Man ain’t feeling all too dandy (usually after a hard night of drinking), he would crave for mouse noodles 老鼠粉.  Yikes, what are mouse noodles?  They are actually called Mee Tak Mak, rice noodles shaped like a mouse’s tail.  Sounds and looks gross but trust me, it’s good.  After a hard night of partying, these mouse noodles are best served in a hot chicken broth.  Totally clears the system and immediately you’ll feel better as well.

When I popped over to my cousin’s place earlier this week, she kindly cooked lunch before we proceeded to whip up some macarons.  Her creation of the Mee Tak Mak all spiced up was so-so good!  This was more like comfort food for me rather than the soupy version for I love spicy stuff.  So I decided to recreate this spicy dish for the Man and the family last night.

Verdict?  The family loved it!  Even the helper who usually can’t quite take spicy stuff gave this a thumbs up.  🙂

Spicy Mee Tak Mak with Korean sauce (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets of Mee Tak Mak (got the packet ones from NTUC)
  • 1 medium red shallot – diced
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Korean Gochuchang paste
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 4-6 pieces of Taiwan Sausages
  • Handful of bean sprouts
  • Salt – to taste
  • Chinese parsley – coarsely chopped, for garnish (OPTIONAL)
  • Century egg – coarsely chopped, for garnish (OPTIONAL)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sweat them till it turns soft and translucent.
  2. Add Gochuchang paste and stir paste into shallots.  Add water.
  3. Add Mee Tak Mak and stir-fry the noodles till desired texture is achieve (I like my noodles abit firmer than soft).
  4. Add Taiwan Sausages and bean sprouts and mix them well with noodles.  If noodles are too dry, you can also add a little more water.
  5. Add salt to taste.
  6. Turn off heat and add chopped Chinese parsley at this point.  Remember to mix parsley well with noodles before dishing it up.
  7. (OPTIONAL) Adding the century egg gives the dish another flavour, so if you are a fan of century eggs, you could add this to the dish.

Blends.

I’ve never really been into kitchen gadgets. They are simply functional to me serving the basic needs to get food on to my table. That was until I started to learn how wonderful these gadgets can be in the kitchen; helping me to cut down preparation time and churning pretty food on to the table. I bought my very first hand-held whisk here in Geneva because I had wanted to make me some macarons. It’s gone on to be my partner-in-crime whenever I wanted to whip up some macs to be enjoyed.

Since then, I’ve gone on to add another tool: a handheld blender cum food-processor into our kitchen. Well, because it was on offer (yes, I couldn’t resist purchasing a device on sale after collecting some 25 stamps – it was one of those coupon thingy) and because I wanted to try my hand at making home-made soups – a first for me.

While surfing, I came across this recipe for Curried Carrot Soup posted by Ashlet from littlepaperplanes. Seemed fairly easy plus I had a big bag of curry powder stashed away that I could use for this. So I tried my hand at making and blending my very first soup for dinner one night and it was really.very.good if I may add. 🙂

Curried Carrot Soup (Recipe adapted from littlepaperplanes)

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 onion – chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of curry powder
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 chicken essence cube
  • 3 carrots (approx. 500g), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (OPTIONAL)

Directions:

  1. Heat butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, curry powder, salt, and pepper (the latter 2 ingredients according to taste). Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add broth, carrots, 4 cups water, chicken essence cube; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover, and simmer until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. In a blender, puree soup in batches until smooth; transfer to a clean saucepan. Add more water to thin to desired consistency. Reheat, if necessary.
  4. Stir in lemon juice. Serve garnished with cilantro, if desired.

I omitted step 4 as I tasted the soup which I thought was good enough for me and I was kinda worried that the lemon juice may change the flavour of the soup. I also added more curry powder for I wanted the soup to be a little spicier. Lastly, I couldn’t find cilantro at the supermarket here so I ended up garnishing with parsley and some cracked red pepper. Turned out pretty well too. That’s not all, this soup can be served warm or chill so no worries about making more of the yummy soup and stashing it in the refrigerator if you can’t finish it all.

This recipe is definitely for keeps and looks like my new kitchen tool is here to stay. 🙂