Beehoon Kerabu

Oops, I did it again! Andy said that sometimes I make delicious food for him, and then sometimes I make him food that murders him. Yes, he accuses me of murdering him with my cooking. Although, last night, my beehoon kerabu was actually quite hot, even for my tastebuds.

I simply made this version of beehoon kerabu using my own recipe from last year. I did not have any large vegetarian shrimps, so I sliced some fried tofu balls (taufoo pok) and pan fried them until a little charred and crispy with a little bit of oil on a non-stick wok. I also added julienned snow peas for the added crunch in this dish. You can always use fresh beansprouts for the crunch factor.

I think that the heat of this dish came from the super deliciously red thai hot chillis (cili padi) that came from the Vietnamese store. I sliced a handful of them thinly and tossed them into the mixing bowl, seeds included. They seemed so harmless when I was chopping them, but looks can be deceiving šŸ˜›

For my yummy version of vegetarian beehoon kerabu, check it out here.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Sweet Pepper Couscous

Yet another last minute ingeniunity… LOL! I was inspired by a dish from Danielle of Mayple Syrup and Poutine made at our last cooking club meeting (the theme was Arabian Nights, hosted by Amarjot). Her contribution was a side dish made with roasted cherry tomatoes and Israeli couscous. I did not have any Israeli couscous handy, so I made my modified version with wholewheat couscous instead.

This dish paired nicely with breaded chicken cutlets from Quorn to complete my semi-homemade dinner.

I made too much couscous, so there will be extra for me tomorrow for lunch/dinner. Anyhow, I really should have made 1 cup of couscous for this dish. Also, it would had been nice to add some chopped cilantro and roasted pine nuts as well. O’ well…

Ingredients

  • 1 cup wholewheat couscous
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut lengthwise
  • 1 sweet bell pepper (red, yellow or orange), julienned
  • 7oz pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup roasted pine nuts (optional)
  • 1/4 chopped red onions (optional)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (more if desired)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A pinch of paprika
  • A few cracks of Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper or grind of 1 lemon (optional)
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Cook couscous according to package instructions using vegetable broth instead of water.
  2. Toss cut tomatoes and bell pepper with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400F degree for about 20-30mins or until semi-charred. Stir the tomatoes and bell peppers once or twice while in the oven.
  3. Once couscous, tomatoes and bell peppers are ready, toss all the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Drizzle more olive oil if mixture is too dry.

Vegetarian Hae Koh (Shrimp Paste)

I have every intention to make some vegetarian assam laksa one of these days, but I realized that I had forgotten to buy some vegetarian hae koh (shrimp paste) when I went home to Malaysia for Chinese New Year not too long ago. I was ecstatic to find the recipe for homemade vegetarian shrimp paste on the Internet tonight, and the goal of making assam laksa is can almost be materialized. I just have to find assam keping around here or in Toronto. Below is the recipe from Amy Beh of Kuali.com.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Marmite vegetarian yeast extract
  • 1 1/2 castor sugar
  • 4 tbsp maltose (mak nga tong) – found this is Vietnamese store
  • 1 tbsp thick soy sauce — I brought some from home since I cannot find thick soy sauce here that are not Indonesian
  • 2 tsp vegetarian belacan powder
  • 120ml water
  • Thickening: Combine 1 tbsp corn flour + 2 tbsp water

Method

Combine all ingredients in a non-stick saucepan and cook over low heat until it comes to a simmering boil for 1-2 minutes. Stir in thickening to mix.

Source: http://kuali.com/recipes/viewrecipe.asp?r=3342

Garlic Ricotta Stuffed Mushrooms

I made this really simple hors d’oeuvre/side dish along with garlic mash potatoes and grilled asparagus originally to complement some vegetarian chicken chops, but as it turned out, there was too much side dishes that we skipped the chicken chop altogether.

I got the recipe here, but as usual, I never really follow the instructions to a tee. I had 2 packs of white mushrooms lying around and this dish came about as we (yes, we, because Andy bought them and he hates to see his favourite vegetable, i.e. mushrooms) feared that it will spoil soon. We had extra stuffing, so we spooned them into Tostitos scoops and cooked them in the oven along with the stuffed mushrooms. Make sure that the mushroom caps are oiled, or that the foil is oiled so that the caps do not end up sticking too much on the pan.

Have fun with this recipe, it’s too difficult to mess this up, I think… unless you are using expired ricotta or something, LOL!

Soy Chorizo Taco

Well, guess what… I’m laid off! It sucked initially but I soon got over it. I don’t know why but I don’t seem to mind it too much anymore these days. It’s been almost 2 weeks since I received the somewhat predictable news over the phone during dinner time.

If there was one thing that I am finally able to do (along with daily praying, chanting and more of yoga… and hopefully meditation down the road) is planning our daily meals. Planning our meals has a great benefit, i.e. controlling our budget. We are now trying to keep our food and transportation allowance to CAD$100 a week, which isn’t too bad at all. I buy almost all of my produce from the local farm market, where fruits and vegetables are fresh and cheap. Once in a while, we splurge across the border at Trader Joes, Kroger, Target and Meijer to get cheaper vegetarian meat substitutes such as soy chorizo, which I managed to use this week.

I first saw the original meat version of chorizo taco made by Danielle of Maple Syrup and Poutine in our cooking club meeting in January, whereby I was the host. The theme that I had aptly picked was “All Wrapped Up”. It was the dead of winter, so I thought the theme was very appropriate since we were all bundled up in layers of sweaters, scarves and jackets. The original recipe is called Chorizo, Poblano and Yam Fajitas with Lime-Marinated Onions.

I made some modifications to the original recipe, one was of course, using soy chorizo that can be found even at Walmart in Dearborn, MI. I also did not use yam this time, since Andy is not a big fan of them. Also, I used banana peppers instead of poblanos. One of the key things about staying within a budget is not to be too rigid with ingredients. Danielle used sliced avocados as chorizo substitute for me when she made it, and I loved it so much that I kept it in when I made my version. Also, instead of feta cheese, Andy found some Southwest shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese. I have to say that it is not really necessary if you would like to use sour cream and avocado in this recipe. Also, I merely reheated the tortillas in the microwave wrapped in wet paper towels for about 50 seconds instead of reheating them over the stove.

The meal was very successful. Thanks again, Danielle, for introducing this one ingredient that I had been curios of for quite some time already.Ā  I had 3 pieces of the tacos that night while Andy had 7. Yeah, he is my eating machine and I do have to remind him that we are on a strict budget these days…Ā  More pics below.

Winter Solstice/Dong Zhi Celebration: Tong Yuen in Cane Sugar and Ginger Syrup

Yesterday was Winter Solstice 2008. The Chinese calls it Dong Zhi (Mandarin) or Guo Dong (Cantonese) and it is an auspicious day. Many cultures around the world observes some sort of celebration on the day of winter solstice, and for the Chinese, we gather the family around to make Tong Yuen. These days, you can also buy pre-made frozen Tong Yuens from Asian grocery store, but homemade ones are always better, in my opinion.

I am not with my family to celebrate this important day (again), which also signifies that the Lunar New Year is around the corner (Jan 26 in 2009). Luckily, I was able to find glutinous rice flour to make these chewy balls filled with palm sugar at the Vietnamese store near my house.Ā Andy claimed that he had never made Tong Yuen before so I sat him down with me and rolled up little red, white and green ballsĀ in our pajamas on an extraordinarily blustery Sunday morning.

Tong Yuens are also made for other Chinese auspicious events, such asĀ  Guo Dai Lai (Delivery of Bethrotal Gifts) before a Chinese wedding. My grandmotherĀ told meĀ that the white balls represent sons, and reds represent girls. Because Christmas is just a few days away, I also made green ones which are coloured and flavoured with pandan (screwpine) emulsion. I also offered a bowl of these auspicious dessert on my altar.

There are many variations of Tong Yuen, but I always favoured the plain and palm sugar filled ones. A quick search online revealed other recipes that calls for stuffing the balls with savoury ingredients (pork), peanuts, and black sesame paste.

Ā 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of glutinous rice flour
  • 3/4 cup of hot water (sprinkle more if needed)
  • Food colouring (I use Super Red from Americolor brand that I usually use to colour my fondant and buttercream icing)
  • Palm sugar, chopped to little pieces
  • Pandan leaves, tied in a knot (if available)
  • Mature ginger root
  • Rock sugar or cane sugar
  • A bowl of cold water
  • A small bowl of room temperature water to wet your fingers during the process of rolling the balls
  • Damp cloth or paper towel to cover unused dough

Method

  1. In a deep bowl, make a dam with the glutinous rice flour. Pour hot water into the well made with flour and combine together with chopsticks. Use your hands to knead the dough to combine the water and flour well. You may need to wet your fingers occasionally if the dough appears to be dry and flaky. Knead the dough until pliable. Let the dough rest for a few minutes.
  2. Section the dough into the number of colours that you wish to use. Cover the unused dough with a damp cloth or paper towel to avoid from drying, which happens very fast, especially in the winter here. Colour the dough by using toothpicks (if you are using gel colour), and knead the dough until the colour is well combined. You might prefer to have marbled effect for your tong yuens, so you could combine the colours according to your preference too.
  3. Pinch a piece of the dough, roll it into a ball and flatten it to form a size of a quarter. You might need to wet your fingers again if your dough dries up. Add a pinch of palm sugar or fillings of your choice in the center of the dough and wrap it up to form a ball. Make sure that the seams are closed so that your filling doesn’t leak out when the ball is cooked. Place the balls on a platter until all the dough is used up.
  4. Boil water, sliced mature ginger root, knotted pandan leaves (if available) and cane/rock sugar in a pot. This will be the syrup used to serve the tong yuens in. You may choose to make this ahead of time and heat it up just before serving.
  5. In a separate pot, fill 3/4 of the pot with water and bring to boil. Turn the heat down to medium high, and drop a handful of the completed tong yuens in to cook. When the balls float to the top, let them cook for another minute or so, or else the sugar will be grainy and unmelted.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the balls up and place them in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.
  7. Serve the tong yuens in a bowl with cane sugar and ginger syrup. These are best when eaten fresh.

solstice081

Sausage & Zucchini Fried Rice

I’ve been sick for a week now, battling a nasty cold bug. Today is the first day I’ve made anything in the kitchen that is decent enough for regular people’s consumption. Despite not being able to taste much yet, I felt that I can finally stomach some solid food. If I am not writing coherently, just bear with me for a while.

A peek out the window at noon revealed some fat snowflakes falling from the sky. Hrmmpphh.. a little too early I thought, it’s only November 16, for goodness sakes. We’re gonna get more snow tonight, lake effect snow anyway, but it’s enough to make my world looks like the inside of a snow globe already. AND we barely had autumn yet! We’re definitely not running out to the grocery store to buy anything today. So I found some zucchini in the crisper and some vegetarian Taiwanese sausage in the freezer. Luckily, we bought some eggs last week, so I had decided to make fried rice for today.

IĀ was sure that everyone knew how to make fried rice, until I met my husband. I suppose it is quite daunting to figure out the combination of ingredients are best for fried rice. As a general rule, I think leftovers or ingredients that won’t turn soggy upon cooking are usable for fried rice.Ā  I usually prefer to cook my proteins first (separately if you are using more than one type of protein) and put to the side until the fried rice/noodle dish is almost complete. I then re-introduce the cooked proteins into the wok just prior to seasoning. Eggs are an exception.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of cooked rice, fluffed with a fork or a pair of chopsticks (leftovers are best but allow at least a few hours to cool the rest if no leftovers are available)
  • 1 zucchini, cubed into 1cm square pieces
  • 2 Taiwanese sausages, cubed into 1cm square pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp of seasalt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp of white pepper, or to taste

Method

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a non-stick wok. Pan fry the sausages until they turn a little brown. Reserve on the side.
  2. Add another 2 tbsp of oil into the wok. Cook the garlic and zucchini until they start to soften a little.
  3. Add fluffed rice to the wok. Combine thoroughly. Add browned sausage back into the wok.
  4. Make a circle in the middle of the wok. Add 2 tbsp of oil in the circle and pour the beaten eggs in.
  5. Scramble the eggs in the center of the wok without mixing the rice in yet.
  6. When the 70% of the eggs begin to solidify, combine the rice into the eggs and mix thoroughly.
  7. Season with salt, white pepper and vegetable seasoning if preferred. I use Poloku brand.