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Category: Vegetables

Kimchi tofu gyoza

I have this obsession with freezing food–as long as it can be frozen, I will freeze it. So in my tiny freezer, it is cramped with soup stock, duck fat, ramen, meyer lemon cream and a giant bag of homemade gyoza. The possibility of me starving to death is rather low.

Among my frozen (food) stock, one of my favourites is gyoza. They are great as late night snacks, and help to pimp up lacklustre meals. I only started making my own gyoza a few months ago, and I obsessed in getting the pleat right for the dumplings (at this stage, you might detect my OCD nature). Wrapping gyoza was easier than I expected–as long as you do not mind a few deformed looking ones.

Kimchi and tofu are my favourite fillings for gyoza. My homemade kimchi is slightly spicy and tangy and its flavours are absorbed by the firm tofu. There is a certain lightness in the kimchi tofu gyoza–you do not get too filled up as compared to meat-filled gyoza. So you do not feel guilty from eating them as supper.

Kimchi tofu gyoza
If you have fears in getting the pleat right for the gyoza, you don’t have to fret about it. You can keep things simple by just folding them. As long as they are delicious, no one will care how they look. But if you are really determined to make the pleat right, go to YouTube and do a search–there are many videos demonstrating the folding of gyoza.

Makes about 24 gyoza

Ingredients
1 packet of dumpling skin (round shaped)
300g kimchi, drain any excess liquid and roughly chop
200g firm tofu (tau kwa) (this is about one piece of tofu)
15g corn flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
1 egg, lightly beaten

Methods
-            Cut the tau kwa into small pieces and place them on a cheese cloth or a clean tea towel. Take the ends of the cloth/ towel and squeeze out all the liquid in the tau kwa. Once done, put the tau kwa in a large bowl.
-            In the large bowl, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. You can pan fried a bit of the filling to check on the seasoning. You might need more sugar as store bought kimchi tend to be on the sour side.
-            Once the filling is ready, it is time to wrap (at this point, prepare a bowl of water and set aside)! Place one dumpling skin onto the palm of your hand, using a teaspoon, scoop the filling and place it in the middle. Don’t go overzealous with the filling–when you wrap, the filling might leak out. Spread the filling, leaving the edge of the skin alone. Dip one of your fingers in the bowl of water, and wet the edge of the dumpling skin. At the lower half of the dumpling, hold the middle and fold. Press the middle of the skin and hold it with your thumb (the thumb is from the hand that is holding the gyoza). Start folding one side of the gyoza. Repeat for the other side.
-            To cook, place a large frying pan (make sure the pan comes with a lid) over medium heat and add one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the pan is heat, place the gyoza in the pan. As the gyoza began to cook, add in half a cup of water (if you are using a smaller pan, you might not need so much water) and cover. Let the gyoza cook for around 5-7 minutes and remove lid. If there is still water in the pan, just the gyoza continue to cook until the water evaporated. Once all the water is gone, check the bottom of the gyoza, it should be browned and crisp. If not, leave them in the pan for a few more minutes.
-            Once the gyoza are cooked, remove and eat!
-            If you intend to freeze your gyoza, flour a baking tray and place the gyoza onto the tray. Once done, stick the tray in the freezer. Once the gyoza are frozen, remove from the tray and place them into a freezer bag. They can be kept for up to 3 months.

A different kind of curry – Burmese’s traveller’s eggplant curry

When we think about curry, we are dreaming of this thick, golden brown liquid that embodies a lot of spices and heat. Burmese’s curry is the exact opposite–it is usually quite thin (and at times, hardly any liquid), and contained very little spices. However it does not mean Burmese’s curry ain’t tasty.

The traveller’s eggplant curry is quite easy to prepare. And it doesn’t take too long to cook. I was rather surprised when I first tasted this curry. When I looked at the gravy, I thought it will taste boring. No! You get the fragrance from the shallot and anchovies, and all the flavours are soaked up by the eggplants. This dish is actually quite rich but the acid from the tomatoes help to tone it down.

Because the curry is not chock-full of spices and chillies, you can still taste the flavours of the core ingredient. And for those who fear of heat in their food, Burmese’s curry is a good place to start. It is now a staple at my dinner table.

Traveller’s Eggplant Curry
(Adapted from Naomi Dugid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavor)
I love eggplants but I always fear of eating really bitter ones. Initially I was thinking of salting the eggplants before cooking (to get rid of any bitter liquid). It was not necessary at all. As long as the eggplants are well-cooked, the sweetness from the anchovies will penetrate into them.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side

Ingredients
1)      250g eggplants, cut into ¾” cubes (lengthwise)
2)      ¼ cup minced shallots (around 6-8 cloves of baby shallots)
3)      ½ teaspoon minced ginger (around one small thumb size)
4)      ¼ cup minced tomatoes (1 medium size tomato)
5)      1½ tablespoons dried anchovies, soak in warm water for 5 minutes, drained and minced
6)      1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
7)      A good pinch of turmeric (I used half of 1/8 teaspoon)
8)      ½ cup of warm water
9)      Salt
10)   Fish sauce (optional)
11)   Chilli oil (optional)

Methods
-        Place a medium-sized saucepan or wok over medium low heat, and add in the oil and turmeric. Once the turmeric starts to sizzle, throw in the minced shallots. Do a quick stir and ensure the shallots are all coated in the turmeric oil mixture.
-        Stir shallots occasionally for around 3 minutes. Once soften, add in the minced ginger and tomatoes, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. If the mixture looks a bit dry, you can in a few tablespoons of water.
-        Once the ginger softens, add in the eggplants. Stir and make sure that the eggplants are well coated in the tomato mixture.
-        Once the eggplants are coated, add in the minced anchovies and water. At this stage, increase the heat to medium high, and let the curry comes to a boil. Once boiled, lower the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
-        After 5 minutes, season the curry with salt, fish sauce and chilli oil (if using) accordingly to taste.
-        Once seasoned, let the curry cooks for another 15 minutes. If you like your eggplants to be very soft, let the curry cooks for a further 15 minutes. I prefer mine to retain a bite.
-        At this stage, you can adjust the seasoning accordingly to taste. I usually just add a bit more water so that I can have more gravy. Once seasoned, serve warm with rice.

It’s Honey Boo Boo Day!

I am a huge fan of Alana Thompson aka Honey Boo Boo Child. For those who are unfamiliar with Alana, she is a 7-year old girl who lives in McIntyre, Georgia and loves to participate in beauty pageants. She was first featured in TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras. And she was such a hit that TLC decided to do a spin-off called Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Child which features Alana’s everyday life and her family.

When I first watched snippets of this show, I was actually pretty annoyed by this family. They were so loud. And I just gave up watching. With the encouragement from friends (you can tell my standard for friends is pretty low), I persevere and I fall in love with this show. A little disclaimer here – not everyone will like the show. I have friends who are amazed such families exist. For me, the reason why I like the show is that Alana and her family look genuine. Their conversations, actions may seem weird but they sound and look real. Most importantly, there is no ridiculous drama in this family. They just cry, laugh, talk, smile and fart (I truly believe this is the first time I used the word “fart” in my blog).

A couple of months back, my friends and I organised a “Honey Boo Boo Day”. We were going to cook some food and do a Honey Boo Boo marathon. Since I would be bringing my dish over to my friend’s house and we were doing lunch, I needed something that was quick to cook, easy to assemble and portable without fuss and spill. I finally settled on Ottolenghi’s soba noodles with eggplant and mango (of course, nothing makes me happier than a visit to my mango man. He sells really good, dirt cheap mangoes at Tekka market. His honey mango is only S$1 each).

Before I served this dish to my friends, I must do a trial-run – to test and adjust the flavour, and get myself familiarise with the recipe. The flavour of this dish is unbelievably amazing. The first taste, it reminds me of yusheng – it is tangy, sweet and slightly spicy. It is so refreshing that when I reach the bottom of the mixing bowl (it is so good that I cannot be bothered to plate it), I can feel my stomach weeping.

Soba noodles with eggplant and mango
(Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty)
You can make this dish two hours in advance. If you are bringing this to a friend’s house (like me), add ¾ of the dressing into the noodles. Once you have reached your friend’s place, and when you are about to serve the dish, add in the rest of the dressing. The noodles might stick together when resting in the fridge so the dressing helps to loosen them.

Serves 6

Dressing
1)      120ml or ½ cup rice vinegar
2)      1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
3)      3 tablespoon granulated sugar
4)      ½ teaspoon kosher salt (table salt is fine)
5)      2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
6)      1 fresh red chilli, deseed and finely chopped (if you and your friends love spice, leave the seeds in the chilli)
7)      Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Methods
-        In a small saucepan, add in the rice vinegar, sugar and salt, and place it over a low heat. Using a spoon, gently stir the vinegar until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Once dissolved, remove the saucepan from the heat.
-        Pour the vinegar mix into a bowl (or the container that you might use if you are transporting this dish to a friend’s house), and add in the sesame seed oil, garlic and chopped red chilli.
-        Once the mix is cooled*, add in the lime zest and juice. If you add in the zest while the mix is warm, the heat will discolour it. Set aside.

Soba noodles with eggplant and mango
Ingredients
1)      2 small eggplants or 1 large eggplant, cut into ¾” dice
2)      1 large ripe mango, cut into ¾” dice (I used honey mango; the mango should be prepped last when you are about to assemble and mix the noodles. If you cut the mango too early, it might oxidise and turn brown)
3)      270g of dried soba noodles (the only reason why I used 270g of soba noodles is because mine came in 3 bundles of 90g. You can use less noodles but no more than 270g)
4)      A small bunch of coriander, chopped (set aside some for garnish)
5)      ½ red onion, very thinly sliced (if you want, you can use a mandolin. I was lazy and didn’t want to clean up so I just cut the onion very slowly and you should be able to achieve thin slices)
6)      2 tablespoon vegetable oil
7)      A tray of ice cubes
8)      Salt

Methods
-        Preheat the oven to 200oC. Place the diced eggplant on a baking tray, add in the vegetable oil, mix well and make sure they are coated with the oil. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until they turned golden brown.
-        Once the eggplant is baked, place them in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt and leave them to drain.
-        In a medium-sized saucepan, fill it with water (enough to cook the noodles) and place it over a medium heat. Once the water starts to boil, add in a generous pinch of salt and the noodles. Cook the noodles as per instructed on the pack. Mine takes about 6-8 minutes. The cooked noodles should be soft yet with a bite.
-        While the noodles are cooking, remove the eggplant from the colander and place them in a large mixing bowl**. Using the same colander (there is no need for washing up), fill it with a tray of ice cubes. Set aside.
-        Once the noodles are cooked, drain (don’t use the colander, just drain from the saucepan) and rinse it with cold water. Drain again but this time, using the colander that is filled with ice. Mix the ice cubes and noodles – this is to prevent the noodles from sticking and stop further cooking. Set aside.
-        Once the noodles and eggplant are ready, you can slice and dice the mango.
-        To assemble, in the mixing  bowl (with the eggplant), add in a tablespoon of the dressing, follow by the mango (the vinegar and lime juice will prevent the oxidisation of the mango). Add in the rest of the ingredients – soba noodles (make sure to drain off any excess water), onion, coriander and the dressing (remember if this is to be served later, reserve some of the dressing). You can use two forks or like Mama June (Alana’s mother) who believes hands are the best utensil, mix it with your (clean) hands.
-        To finish, garnish with more coriander.
-        If you are bringing this dish to a party, just pour in the rest of the dressing, mix and garnish.

*While the vinegar mix is cooling, you can crack on the rest of the dish.
**I am an advocate of use-less-bowl. However I will not recommend assembling or mixing this dish in the container or serving platter that you are going to use. You need a big bowl or room for you to mix all the ingredients and dressing together. And trust me, this will be less messy too.

Potluck favourite – potato dauphinois

Over the holidays, I have attended a few potluck parties. When it comes to bringing the appropriate food, it is always a bit tricky. It must be a dish that can withstand time (not everyone will arrive at the party on time), ability to keep warm and hopefully not require any heating up (not every house has an oven or an available stove) and most importantly easy to transport from your home to the host’s house.

Potato dauphinois is one dish that fits all the three requirements. It is essentially potato and cream with a hint of garlic. Seriously what’s not to love about potato and cream? This French dish is not terribly difficult to prepare and the ingredients are very easy to obtain. In addition, this dish can feed around 10 people as starter. It is also a great complement to any meat or fish dishes.

Besides being a starter, you can also prepare potato dauphinois as a meal, serving it with salad. If you like, you can add in protein to give it a bit more substance. However I don’t think this dish needs any cheese as the cream provides sufficient richness.

Potato dauphinois
(Adapted from Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen)
I am not very particular about the choice of potatoes – waxy (the potatoes will hope their shape, giving the dish a bite) vs. floury (the potatoes break down easily so you get a creamier gratin). In Singapore, the potatoes are not labelled but most of them are floury. If you like your potatoes to hold their shapes, cut down the cooking time in the pot.

Ingredients
1)      1kg potatoes of your choice
2)      300ml milk (and a bit more)
3)      300ml thickened cream (I used Bulla’s)
4)      A pinch of nutmeg (I prefer to use freshly grated nutmeg)
5)      1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6)      1 teaspoon (kosher) salt (Table salt is fine)
7)      1 clove of garlic, halve
8)      A knob of soft, unsalted butter
9)      Chopped parsley or dill (optional)

Methods
-        Prep the potatoes – peel (with a vegetable peeler) and slice them into 3mm-thickness. I like to use the mandolin for this as you will get a consistent result. If you do not have a mandolin, I would strongly urge you to get one. If not, take your time to slice the potatoes. Similar thickness will ensure even cooking.
-        In a large pot, pour in the milk, thickened cream, salt, nutmeg and mustard and give it a quick stir. Add in the sliced potatoes in the liquid mixture and put the pot on a stove and let it simmer for 10 minutes. If you like your potatoes to hold their shapes, you can cut down the cooking time to 7 minutes. In addition, if I am bringing this dish to a party, I tend to add in a bit more milk to prevent the potatoes from drying out during transportation and while sitting on the dining table.
-        While the potatoes are cooking (you can leave them alone to cook, there is no need to stir them; just make sure the cream don’t boil over.), preheat the oven to 200oC.
-        Using the cut side of the halved garlic, rub it around the inside of the baking dish. With the knob of unsalted butter, grease the inside of the baking dish. You can use any baking dish that will fit 1kg of potatoes and 600ml of liquid.
-        After the potatoes are cooked, place the potatoes and cream mixture in the baking tray. At this stage, I will pick the slices that are not broken and set aside. These pieces will be used to decorate the top of the dish.
-        Once the potatoes are placed evenly in the dish, you can put the picked slices of potatoes on top of the dish. It is not necessary for you to do this – I just like to present a pretty dish.
-        Bake the gratin for 35-40 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Be careful not to overcook as the cream will curdle. Once again, if you plan to bring this dish to a party, under-bake it (around 25 minutes) – the residual heat will cook the dish.
-        Serve hot with a sprinkle of chopped parsley or dill.

Eggplant parmesan

What do you do when you have some leftover tomato sauce and odd knobs of cheese? Well, some of you may be thinking about pasta or some sort of weird tomato cheese soup. I made a quick dash to my nearby wet market for some inspiration. Nothing really captured my attention until I spotted the really shiny eggplant. The fate of the eggplant (and the tomato sauce and cheese) was sealed – eggplant parmesan.

Roasted eggplant

I didn’t refer to any recipes – I built this dish based on what I know about eggplant parmesan, and what I have in the fridge. A lot of the traditional cooking treatment and ingredients to this dish is kind of “ignored” by me. Supposedly, mozzarella cheese is used in eggplant parmesan to give it that chewiness. As I don’t have that on hand, I substituted it with Gruyere and Parmesan. I also did not bother to pan-fry the eggplant (to prevent it from becoming soggy) – I didn’t want to wash another pan.

All I use was the oven and whatever the fridge has gifted me. Recipes are great but don’t be afraid to give it your own spin. Unless you are feeding it to your nonna, as long as the dish is delicious, I am sure it will keep many bellies happy.

Eggplant parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan
When I made this dish, I did not make the effort to measure any of the ingredients. This was created based on leftovers. I strongly encourage you to think about what’s already in your fridge and build a dish. This way, we would prevent wastage of food and also boost your creativity. You do not need to cook an entire dish on leftovers – like me, think about what you have and grab one key ingredient (in this case eggplant).

Serve one

Ingredients
1)      1 small eggplant
2)      ½ cup of tomato sauce
3)      Odd knobs of Gruyere and Parmesan, grated
4)      Panko crumbs
5)      Olive oil, salt and black pepper
6)      Puttanesca mix (optional)
7)      Thyme (optional)

Methods
-        Preheat your oven to 220oC.
-        Wash and cut the eggplant into ¼ inch thick slices.
-        On a baking tray, pour some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and black pepper. Place the sliced eggplant on the baking tray and coat each piece with the oil, salt and black pepper.
-        Put the baking tray in the oven and let it bake for about 15 minutes (you can rotate the tray after 8 minutes; but I usually leave it alone).
-        Once done, remove the tray from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 200oC.
-        In a small baking dish (I got mine from Daiso), layer it with about ¼ cup of tomato sauce or just enough to cover the base. If you have it on hand, you can add in a teaspoon of the puttanesca mix, and mix it with the tomato sauce.
-        Place the baked sliced eggplant on top of the sauce and sprinkled both cheeses – make sure you put enough to cover the eggplant.
-        For the second layer, repeat – tomato sauce (no puttanesca mix; the mix is actually pretty strong and salty, hence use it for one layer is good enough), eggplant and cheese.
-        To finish, cover the dish with panko crumbs and if you must, finely grated parmesan (Of course, I add in the extra cheese).
-        Bake for 10 minutes in the oven, and switch to grill/ broiler setting and bake it for another 5-8 minutes or until the top turned golden brown.
-        Sprinkle some thyme leaves (or basil) and serve it warm.
-        You can have this dish on its own, or serve it with some mix salad.

A simple lunch

Recently I had this insane craving for asparagus. Perhaps it was all the tweets about spring time and the abundance of asparagus. Or maybe it was all these recipes on this gorgeous vegetable.

Asparagus is one of the easiest vegetables to cook and there is almost no prep work needed. All you need to do is trim or snap off the woody ends and they are ready to be cooked. Before I start to cook asparagus, I like to blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds. This process turns them into a brighter green.

For lunch, I pan-fried some homemade chorizo. While the sausage was almost done, I threw in the (blanched) asparagus for a quick stir-fry. In this way, the asparagus will be coated with some of the oil from the chorizo.

A simple lunch – asparagus and chorizo

To serve, I placed some alfalfa sprouts on the plate, topped it with the asparagus and chorizo. I finished off with spoonful of cottage cheese and a bit of Colman’s English mustard. If I had crème fraiche in my fridge, I would mix it with a bit of mustard, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice, and you get this sharp and creamy dressing.

This lunch is quick and easy to prepare and great on a bloody hot day.

Heidi Swanson’s a simple tomato soup

Since young, I never really like tomatoes. My first encounter with tomatoes was when I was about four or five year old. I saw my mother, Mdm Tan, munching on a tomato like what she will do to an apple. She was enjoying this juicy red fruit, and I was curious and wanted to take a bite. I took my first bite and immediately I spit out the tomato. It was disgusting. The slimy seedy pulp and the sourish sweet taste just turned me off.

Some of the ingredients

It was only when I went to Australia for school, I began to like tomatoes. Perhaps my taste bud had changes. Or the tomatoes in Australia were more delicious. Every two weeks, I would pick up a 1kg pack of tomatoes. I would use them in sandwiches, stir-fry and pasta. And I slowly learn to like tomato-based soup like minestrone and creamy tomato.

Last month, I saw Heidi Swanson’s recipe for a simple tomato soup (which was an interpretation of Melissa Clark’s curried coconut soup) and was immediately drawn to its simplicity and flavour profile. Perhaps I don’t make enough soup, I would not put curry powder in my soup.

When I was making this soup, surprisingly I doubled the amount of curry powder – I found the “curry flavour” was not pronounced. Like Heidi, the soup actually tasted really good on its own without the coconut milk. However it is on an acidic side (and could be because of the canned tomatoes I used). I added just a touch of coconut milk to balance the flavour, and the soup was lighter and more drinkable.

A simple tomato soup

What surprised me the most was the suggestions on how to serve the soup. Heidi recommended serving the soup with brown rice, toasted almond slices, poached eggs and so on. It never occurred to me to put rice and ang moh (Western) soup together. And it worked! I had the soup with brown and wild rice, and toasted almond slices with herbs. This breaks the mundane of always having bread with soup. The wild rice and almond slices provided the crunch and the brown rice gave it substance.

For anyone who don’t like tomatoes like the five year old me, give this soup a try. It might make you fall in love with tomatoes.

Carrot and pumpkin soup

Recently I uncovered this video Chow.com did with Nach Waxman, owner of Kitchen Arts and Letters. During the interview, Waxman talked about one of his fears that was cooking would be lost due to people heavy reliance on cookbook. He exclaimed that “cookbooks don’t have to do anything, you have to do it”. I agreed with him.

Though I am the proud owner of many cookbooks, I cannot remember a time where I strictly follow a recipe. Even for baking where precision is key, I would always make adjustment here and there. To me, the purpose of cookbooks is to discover and understand flavour combination and to inspire my next meal or dessert.

This carrot and pumpkin soup evolved from what was in my refrigerator. These days, I tend to cook what I can find – it is almost like the mystery box challenge in Masterchef and Chopped.

The truth is with a bit of creativity, logic (a lost art form) and motivation, it is possible to make a decent, if not, a delicious dish from what’s in your fridge (unless your fridge is stock full of jars of condiment and no produce).

I created this soup without the use of measuring cup or scale. It was just based on my understanding of flavour, watching enough cooking show and most importantly taste.

The end product was a rich, delicious, winey soup.

Carrot and Pumpkin Soup
While I cannot give you the precise measurements, I can however list down the ingredients I used. If you are missing any ingredients, be brave, switch things around and go with the flow.

This serves roughly two people. Or one very very hungry person.

Ingredients
1)      (1 stalk of) celery, diced
2)      (1 medium) onion, diced
3)      (1 medium) carrots, diced
4)      (Slightly more than a quarter of a medium) pumpkin, diced
5)      Vegetable stock
6)      Cooking sake
7)      Mirin
8)      (Lea and Perrins) Worcestershire sauce
9)      Olive oil

Methods
-        Start off with a mirepoix – onion, celery and carrots – sautéed with a bit of olive oil in a big pot (the pot must be able to hold at least 1.5 litres of liquid). Stir the mirepoix occasionally.
-        Once the onion turned transparent (not brown) and the rest of the vegetables has somewhat softened, throw in the diced pumpkin (I used Japanese pumpkin, you can go ahead and use butternut squash and so on). Cook for another 5 minutes.
-        Add in any leftover vegetable stock (I used instant stock; you can use chicken stock, or even water). Simmered for about half an hour (or till all the vegetables have turned really soft (You should be able to pierce through either the carrot or pumpkin with a knife).
-        Pureed the soup via the immersion blender or the blender machine.
-        Once the soup is pureed, taste and flavour the soup accordingly. In my case, I put in a splash of mirin (for sweetness) and Worcestershire sauce (for saltiness), and a very generous glug of cooking sake.
-        If you do not like or don’t have mirin or sake, you can also add in salt and black pepper (and white wine). Always start with small quantity, taste and then add more.
-        To finish, a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs and Korean chilli powder (Gochutgaru) for some heat.

Jamie Oliver’s marinated bell peppers

As some of you might know (via Facebook), on Valentine’s Day, my friend Biona gave me two big bags of vegetables and fruits. Among the loots were six bell peppers. My mom (Mdm Tan) took some to feed my niece and nephew. Still I was left with quite a bit. I was not in the mood to make stuffed bell peppers or use them in any dishes. And they were taking a bit of the space in the fridge. And suddenly out of nowhere, I decided I should jar them.

So much vegetables

Yes, it is alright to burn your food

When it comes to jarring of food, the first person I could think of is Jamie Oliver. I spent hours watching his shows and I realised his infinite love for jarring (and charring of food). The only cookbook I had of him was Cook with Jamie which has nothing I can reference. However I have been reading his magazine, Jamie for years, and guess what? I scored a recipe on marinated bell peppers.

Marinated bell peppers

I changed his recipe a bit – basically I used whatever I had in my kitchen. So now this tub of goodness is sitting in the cupboard, marinating and I can’t wait to use it.

Jarring goodness

Marinated Bell Peppers
(Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie Dec09/ Jan10 issue)

Make one 500ml jar (I used Bormioli Rocco Fido jar which is cheap and sturdy)

Ingredients*
1)      4 bell peppers (The original recipe called for 3 red peppers which was wise  as I overstuffed my jars. I used assorted red and yellow peppers. Best to use red as they are the sweetest and please don’t bother using the green ones as they have no flavour.)
2)      4 unpeeled garlic cloves
3)      3 sprigs of thymes (You can use rosemary which was in the original recipe)
4)      2 red chillies (Not in the original recipe)
5)      3 slices of lemon (Not in the original recipe)
6)      3 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
7)      100ml of extra virgin olive oil

Methods
-        Sterilise the jar – you can do it either by putting it simmering hot water or stick it in the oven (100oC for 30 minutes) (Do not put the seal in the oven – instead put it in simmering hot water for 10 minutes).
-        Char the peppers and chillies (before you char the chillies, stab it with a fork a few times, if not it might burst and hit you) over a direct flame of your gas stove until blackened (If you do not use a gas stove, you can stick them in the oven (using the grill or broiler setting)).
-        Pop the charred peppers and chillies in a bowl and cover with cling film for 5 minutes (I like to use shower cap to cover the bowl, so much easier).
-        While waiting, put a pan over the fire, once heated, place the lemon slices on it and charred them – this should take 2 minutes each side.
-        Once the peppers and chillies are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin (DO NOT wash them under the sink, you will remove all sweetness derived from the charring process) (I also use a serrated knife to help with the peeling).
-        Once the skin are peeled, deseed and slice into 4cm wide strip (for the chillies, just slice them in half).
-        Add the lemon slices, peppers, chillies, thyme and garlic in the jar* – layered them accordingly. Top up with olive oil and vinegar (you can mix them together in a cup before pouring in), cover then seal the jar.
-        This would keep up to 2 months unopened. Once open, refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.

*The original recipe suggested the adding of salt and pepper in the mix. I skipped this as I wanted to keep the flavour clean.

Easy peasy pasta

by some twisted luck, i accidentally discovered de easiest pasta to make. i wanted to make aglio olio pasta w mushroom and chilli. however we ran out of chilli at home and i was too lazy to get some from de store. so i used de next best thing – store-bought belacan chilli.

pour some evoo (extra virgin olive oil)  into de pot, dumped in de garlic and belacan chilli then de sliced mushroom. stir fried for a couple of minutes, let de juice from de mushroom to ooze out. then throwed in de pasta (of course cooked! in a pot of salted and evoo-ed water) to absorb de juice. stired abit (if its abit dry, pour in abit more evoo). and VIOLA. de yummiest pasta ever!

seriously its that easy. de only you need to chop is de garlic and mushroom. i made it twice in a week and i am NOT sick of it at all.

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