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!  🙂

Third time’s a charm!

Had to satisfy a baking itch and the recent chiffon cake that was baked fell short of expectations.  So over the long weekend, I decided to head to the kitchen to try my hand at baking the chiffon cake again.

The last time I made Yuzu Chiffon Cake, it was passable.  This time round, I was itching to try a new concoction.  I blame Instagram and looking at R of the Pleasure Monger’s beautiful Rose Lychee Chiffon Cakes that she was selling at a pop-up bake sales made me want to try and whip up a similar cake.

When it comes to baking, I usually do not follow instructions all that well, so I need a simple recipe that I could follow.  Searched online and found a relatively simple one from Aunty Yochana.

So here’s my version of the Rose & Lychee Chiffon Cake if you are ever interested in baking one at home.

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Rose & Lychee Chiffon Cake (Recipe adapted from Aunty Yochana)

Ingredient A:
(makes one 18cm cake)

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 20ml vegetable or corn oil
  • 60gm chopped lychees drained without the syrup (approximately 4 -6 pieces of lychees)
  • 30ml lychee syrup from the can
  • 70g self-raising flour

Ingredient B:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of Cream of Tartar

Method:

  1. Sieve flour, baking powder together, set aside.
  2. Separate egg yolks/whites and bring to room temperature. (It is easier to separate eggs when they are cold.)
  3. Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl, add in sugar, and whisk till the mixture becomes very sticky and turn pale.
  4. Drizzle in the oil, whisking at the same time till the mixture is well combined. Repeat the same with the chopped lychees and lychee syrup. Sieve over the flour mixture and using a manual whisk this time, whisk until flour mixture is fully incorporated into the batter.
  5. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar with an electric mixer until mixture becomes frothy and foamy. Beat in the sugar in 3 separate additions on high speed until just before stiff peaks form.
  6. Fold egg yolk batter in 3 separate additions into the egg white mixture, each time folding gently with a spatula until just blended.
  7. Pour batter into a 18cm (7 inch) tube pan (do not grease the pan).
  8. Tap the pan lightly on a table top to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter.
  9. Bake in pre-heated convention oven at 170 degC for about 40mins or until the cake surface turns golden brown.  You can either use a skewer or you could press the top of the cake lightly.  If the cake bounces back (ie: springly), then you know it’s done.
  10. Now this step is really important!  Remove from the oven and invert the pan immediately. Let cool completely before attempting to remove the cake.
  11. To remove the cake from the pan, run a spatula around the inside of the pan and the center core. Gently release the cake and run the spatula along the base of the pan to remove the cake.

IMG_9695Now, all that’s left to do is to enjoy this treat!  🙂

This didn’t last very long in the home.. hehe, we finished this cake within a day.

Twice-baked?

Baked potatoes – we love them as a good side dish with our steak.  It was cook-out time for us over the weekend and instead of just making baked potatoes, I thought I’d try something new.  Started searching for a recipe over at Martha Stewart’s site and this recipe popped out! So we headed to buy the rest of the ingredients for the dish and made this to accompany our roast chicken.

Boy, was it delicious!  Gonna list this down for it’s gonna make a come-back at our dinners!

Twice-baked Potatoes (Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart)

Serves 2 – 3

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-sized russet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup snipped chives (save some for garnish)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Rub potatoes with vegetable oil. On a baking sheet, bake until potatoes are easily pierced with a paring knife, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. With paring knife, cut a thin slice lengthwise off the top of each potato and discard.
  3. Using a spoon, scoop out all but 1/2-inch potato flesh from inside skin. Transfer to a bowl and add sour cream, milk, butter, and chives; mash until combined. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Spoon mixture into potato skins.
  4. Bake until lightly browned on top for about 15 – 20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with more chives.

Granola Snack Attack

I’ve been trying to perfect my granola recipe and after one failed batch and one somewhat successful batch of maple granola, I was itching to make more.

So over the long weekend, I did just that. I experimented with another new recipe for I wanted my granola to be in a cluster form. This recipe from Kitchen Simplicity seemed fairly simple and one that I could hardly mess up.

IMG_8304This time round, I threw in candied fruit (you know those orangey bits in hot cross buns?) into the mix for I really liked them. Also in my granola were Pecans, Almonds, Walnuts and Sunflower seeds.

I did cheat a little for I wanted my granola mix to be a little crunchy and I realised that even though I toasted the oats with the nuts, it wasn’t as crunchy as I liked it to be, so I popped it into the oven for about 15 minutes. But it still wasn’t as crunchy as the other batch that I baked, so I took it out and let the granola cool down before storing in.

How did I like this batch compared to the previous one? Well, this batch of maple granola was a tad bit too sweet for my liking. Even though the recipe didn’t have oil added to it, the sweetness from the maple and the candied fruit was a too much for me. I’m sticking with the other recipe for now and maybe tweak it a little further the next time.

Stay tuned for more granola adventures to come. 🙂

 

Back in the kitchen: Roasted Aubergines

Back in the kitchen and it feels pretty good!

It’s been a while since I tried out a new recipe for an intimate dinner party.  Taking advantage of the May Day public holiday, I decided to break out the Ottolenghi Recipe book that we’ve been kindly gifted by friends who were staying with us for a couple of days.

The Man picked the Oven-Roasted Pork Belly recipe to try while I settled on the Roasted Aubergine with Saffron Yogurt recipe to try as I managed to score a really nice piece of aubergine at the market earlier that morning.

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The Man was rather skeptical about this dish for aubergines have never been a favourite vegetable of his. But for good measure, he gave it a try nonetheless and proclaimed it pretty yummy.  🙂

And guess who couldn’t resist getting in on the action while I was trying to photograph the dish.  Again, it’s been a while since I indulged in any food-styling pix.  Thought it would be good to jump in on the action and get my creative juices pumping.  In order to capture the natural lighting, I had to take the shots in the garden.  Passerbys who peered into my home thought I was crazy trying to photograph a plate with my camera perched on a tripod.  @-@

IMG_7784But if I may add, this aubergine dish as a starter was really, really good!  This recipe is definitely going into my book and will be appearing on our dining tables soon enough if we start our little dinner parties.  😉

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Roasted Aubergine with Yogurt [Recipe adapted from Ottolenghi’s Roasted Aubergine with Saffron Yogurt starter]

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium aubergine cut into slices, 2cm thick
  • olive oil for brushing
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • a handful of pomegranate seeds
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • coarse sea salt and black pepper

Yogurt dressing:

  • 150g of Greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. For the sauce, whisk yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt well to get a smooth golden sauce,  Taste and adjust the salt, if necessary, then chill.  This sauce will keep well in fridge for about 3 days.  [Note: the original recipe calls for saffron which I did not have on hand.  But if you are interested, simply add a small pinch of saffron strands and infuse them into 3 tbsps of hot water in a small bowl for 5 minutes. Pour the infusion into the bowl containing the yogurt and additional ingredients and follow as mentioned above.]
  2. Pre-heat the oven to about 220 degrees Celsius.  Place the aubergine slices on a roasting tray, brush with plenty of olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for about 20 – 35 minutes, until the slices take on a beautiful light brown colour.  Let them cool down.  The aubergines will keep in the fridge for 3 days; just let them come to room temperature before serving.
  4. To serve, arrange the aubergine slices on a large plate, slightly overlapping.  Drizzle the yogurt dressing over them, sprinkle with the pine nuts, pomegranate and finally, lay basil on top.

DSC04011Simply tuck in and enjoy, you won’t be sorry!

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen or my culinary adventures as an expat-wife in Geneva.

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.

 

Best served chilled..

I was itching to go back into the kitchen and after getting my hands on a bottle of Yuzu concentrate juice, I decided it’s time to whip up a zesty and citrus-y dessert at the loft.

One of my fave desserts that I learned to make during our stay in Geneva was this key lime tart.  I couldn’t think of a better dessert that would zing the taste-buds and beat the heat.  I thought instead of using the extract from 5 key-limes, I’ll simply use the extract from 2 key-limes and swap it with the Yuzu concentrate instead.

As I cooked the Yuzu and Key Lime curd, the tangy ‘fumes’ filled the kitchen and I almost couldn’t wait to get a bite of these tarts! But something went wrong along the way, I honestly don’t know what for I followed my trusty recipe to the tee with the exception of swapping part of the lime juice with that of Yuzu.  After prepping part 2 of the recipe, I waited patiently for 2 hours for the tarts to be chilled and hardened.  As I took one of them out for this little photog session, I noticed that they were still a little watery.  I thought perhaps they needed more time to be chilled but after placing them in the refrigerator for more than 6 hours, the texture was still not right.

Disappointed and exasperated at the failed tarts, I popped one of them into the freezer in the hope that the Yuzu & Key-Lime filling would harden.  5 minutes on, I went to check on the tart and it worked!  The hardened tart actually tasted like ice-cream!  As I bit into the tart, I thought ‘Whoa.. this is yummy!!’  I guess all’s not lost then, this ice-cream tart worked wonders in cooling me down and providing the much-needed respite from the heat.

I’ll definitely try making this combo again with a couple more tweaks to the usual recipe.  Hopefully this time round it will succeed.  Fingers crossed!