Archive for the ‘vege’ Category


In middle eastern, salad, Uncategorized, vege on January 12, 2014 at 4:02 pm



The main ingredient in this recipe is quinoa (pronounced kee-nwa), the superfood from the Andes. This grain can grow in very harsh conditions and has a very high nutritional content, making it a suitable food for the future. There are plans to feed NASA astronauts with this on long space missions.

It takes less time to cook than rice, and makes an ideal base for a filling salad, like the Middle eastern tabbouleh. This recipe, though tedious because of all the fine chopping you need to do, is easy to prepare. You just need to mix everything up. It’s filling enough for a simple lunch or dinner.

Shopping list: quinoa (try the organic section of supermarkets), parsley, tomato, cucumber, spring onion, mint, lemon (for juice)

From the pantry: olive oil, garlic, salt

Hardware: herb chopper (a knife will do too)

Can I do it?: Yes indeed

Tip: Substitute lemon with lime if you want a sharper taste.

Credit: Dr. Wendy Yang, South China Morning Post




The easiest pumpkin soup ever!

In soup, vege on November 15, 2013 at 1:22 am

Neo Tamarind pumpkin soup

I don’t think I’ve ever tasted pumpkin soup until I made my own. Although pumpkin is available in Malaysia and used in Indian cooking, I can’t recall having pumpkin soup even in Western restaurants – it’s usually cream of mushroom or chicken.

I’ve tried several pumpkin soup recipes – the pumpkin is either steamed or roasted in the oven first. I like this one because the pumpkin goes straight into the pot – this makes it the easiest pumpkin soup recipe I’ve tried. It’s something I’m confident of making the second time around – without referring to the recipe.

Just remember this – simmer the chicken stock, then add onion, carrot and celery. After about 20 minutes, add the pumpkin and simmer for another 20 minutes. Finally, stir in some honey and double cream. I used thickened cream that I had saved in the freezer. You can skip the cream if you don’t have any – it’s wasteful to buy expensive cream and use just a tablespoon. I don’t think this recipe will go wrong even if you don’t follow the measurements to a T. This is one of those recipes where you can agak-agak – a bit of this, a bit of that… Give it a try. It’s delicious and so simple to prepare.

Shopping list: pumpkin, celery, carrot, chicken stock (stock cubes are fine), double cream (optional)

From the pantry: onion, honey

Hardware: big pot

Can I do it?: Of course – it’s the easiest pumpkin soup ever!

Tip: There is no mention of blending the soup in the recipe but I did it anyway. If you don’t have a blender, use a potato masher to squish up the solid bits.

Credit: Sunday Metro, the Star and Neo Tamarind. Full recipe here.

Tomato soup

In Jamie Olver, soup, vege on March 24, 2013 at 5:23 pm

tomato soup by Jamie Oliver

I’ve always loved tomato soup and juice of the canned variety. Unfortunately, they contain a lot of chemical sounding ingredients that do not grow out of the ground. Canned soup and juice are tasty because of the high salt content and flavour enhancers.

If you’ve ever had tomato soup made from scratch, you’d notice that the taste is nothing like canned soup. It is less intense and tastes closer to fresh tomatoes. Your taste buds might need to be retrained to appreciate fresh flavours, but stick with it and your health will be better in the long run. Don’t kid yourself. Freshness doesn’t come in a can or box. Which is why I find it puzzling that this recipe uses both fresh and canned tomatoes.

Shopping list: celery, carrot canned plum tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, basil, chicken or vegetable broth (it’s okay to use a cube)

From the pantry: onions, garlic, salt, pepper

Hardware: blender

Can I do it?: It’s easy-peasy Jamie’s recipe

Credit: Jamie’s Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver. Full recipe here.

Spicy squid salad with cucumber and capers

In appetiser, Bill Granger, salad, seafood, vege on February 24, 2013 at 9:58 pm

spicy squid salad with cucumber and capers

If your idea of a salad is Caesar Salad, you need to expand your horizons. There is so much more to a salad than lettuce and tomatoes. If you’ve been cooking with Jamie Oliver, you would have been introduced to basil and rocket.

But today I’m writing about Bill Granger’s salad recipe. This one uses squid, and other than a quick cooking of the marinated squid (with olive oil, garlic and chilli) and the pickled capers, everything else is raw. It’s easy assembly. Just drizzle with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice seasoned with salt and pepper and you’re done.

Shopping list: squid, chilli, Lebanese cucumber (I used Japanese cucumber), yellow teardrop tomatoes (any small tomatoes will do, e.g. cherry tomatoes), celery stalks, celery leaves, basil, lemon, capers (you can find this in ‘expat’ mini markets like Hock Lee’s)

From the pantry: olive oil, garlic, salt, black pepper

Hardware: salad spinner (to dry the washed basil to prevent a soggy salad)

Can I do it?: If you can handle a knife, you’re all set.

Credit: Every Day by Bill Granger.

Tip: The success of this recipe is in the squid. Watch the stove. Don’t overcook the squid or it’ll end up rubbery.


Fresh Spring Rolls

In appetiser, eastern, salad, vege, vietnamese on October 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm

When it comes to traditional food, I’d say, stick to the tradition! Why mess with a good thing?

When truffle mooncakes appeared at the office, everyone made a beeline for them. I too was curious. I took a bite and… I can’t even describe the taste. No one could. It was very strange and AWFUL. So bad you’d want to spit it out. Sometimes, simplicity is really the best policy. All this fusion thing for the sake of being different is not working.

Which is why I like Bobby Chinn’s take on the Vietnamese spring rolls. I’m not sure if this is the original traditional version, but I’ve tried a few (including one with mango – didn’t work) and this is the best so far.

There are lots of vege in this, and it is surprisingly filling. Great for a simple meal if you’ve been pigging out. If cows can survive on greens (and they have four stomaches), so can you.

It’s easy to make. Just a matter of assembly. Except for the rice vermicelli and prawns, everything else is raw.  I favour steaming the prawns over boiling to retain the nutrients. Be careful not to overcook or you’ll get a rubbery texture.

Shopping list: rice papers, rice vermicelli, lettuce, mint, coriander, chive; for the fish sauce dip: rice vinegar, sugar, bird’s-eye chilli, garlic, lime, fish sauce

Hardware: salad spinner and a very large plate to soak the rice papers flat (you can also use a cake pan or baking tray)

Can I do it?: Of course. Assembly is easier than putting together IKEA furniture. But you do need a delicate touch not to tear the soft rice paper.

Credit: Vietnamese Cooking by Bobby Chinn. Full recipe here.

Tip 1: For the leaves, buy just enough a day or two before you make the rolls. Leaves don’t keep well. Wrap in newspapers if you need to store them in the fridge. Don’t leave them in plastic wrappers as condensation will ruin them. Use a salad spinner to get rid of excess water after washing.

Tip 2: Consume immediately. If you need to prepare these beforehand, place a damp muslin cloth (kitchen rolls will do too) over them to keep the rice paper from hardening.


World’s Best Baked Onions

In appetiser, baking, Jamie Olver, vege on November 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm

I first saw this on The Naked Chef years ago and have wanted to try it ever since. Jamie always manages to make whatever he’s dishing out seem super delicious. And anything that’s wrapped in bacon is bound to make me salivate.

Onions are rarely eaten on their own, especially whole like this. Don’t worry. You’d need to boil them first for about 15 minutes, so the sharp taste would be gone by then.

How this works is you dig out the middle part of the onion, chop it up and fry with some rosemary and garlic. Then, add double cream and Parmesan.

Slice off the base of the whole onion (so it can stand), wrap the bacon around it and secure with toothpicks (or rosemary twigs). Finally, put in the cooked onion mix into the onion cavity, place on a roasting tray and bake in the oven – 200 degrees Celsius for about 25 minutes.

Shopping list: white onions, fresh rosemary (or dried), double cream, Parmesan cheese (grated) ginger, pancetta or smoked streaky bacon rashers

From the pantry: cooking oil, garlic, salt and pepper for seasoning

Hardware: grater (for the cheese), toothpicks, oven

Can I do it?: It’s Jamie’s, of course you can!

Credit: Happy Days with the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver

Pitta-Bread Pizzas

In bread, vege on August 16, 2011 at 12:18 am

Pizza on a pitta! Voilà!

Since I started cooking with a mission, I find myself eating more dishes without meat. I’m discovering a whole new world of vegetables, where it isn’t a dish on its own, like stir-fried kailan or boiled cabbage (yuck!).

I’ve always loved vege, but never knew that it could make a meal interesting despite the absence of meat. Every meal had to have some sort of meat, seafood or egg.

This is a recipe so simple I couldn’t believe how good it tasted the first time I made it. In fact, I’ve even cooked it fresh (except for the potato which I boiled the night before) in the morning before I left for work. Just pop it into an airtight Tupperware and it’ll stay good for lunch.

The most interesting part of this recipe is the pizza on a pitta concept. Just cut the pitta into half, horizontally. Brush with olive oil on both sides, pop into the oven at 180 degrees celsius until golden brown and crispy (less than 10 minutes).

For the topping, stir-fry sliced peppers, cooked potato and rosemary. Then place everything onto the baked pitta, sprinkle with shaved Parmesan and heat up on a grill pan. That’s all.

Shopping list: pitta bread, red pepper, yellow pepper (frankly, any colour you fancy – they all taste almost the same), red potato (russet if you want something cheaper)

From the pantry: olive oil, salt, pepper, dried rosemary (if you don’t have fresh), Parmesan cheese

Hardware: oven, grill pan, pastry brush

Can I do it?: Oh yeah!

Tip: Experiment with other toppings. I want to try sundried tomatoes.

Credit: Cook’s Kitchen Handbook and 500 Basic Recipes edited by Carole Clements

Roast Aubergine with Shallot Oil

In roast, vege, vietnamese on March 7, 2011 at 3:39 am

Brinjal is one of my favourite vegetables. Slice, rub with light soya sauce and pan-fry wit a little oil and ta-daa!! – a tasty, simple dish to go with rice. The brinjal yong tau foo (a variety of ingredients stuffed with fish paste) is also a must-have for me.

For something a bit more impressive, try this great Vietnamese dish. The ingredients are easy to get and it’s hard to screw up this recipe.

What I really love about this is the layers of tastes. First, the smoky burnt headiness. If you always burn your food, this is the dish for you. Place the brinjals over a fire (your gas stove burner will do) until the skin is burnt on all sides. Black is good (you can peel off the burnt bits later), as this means the insides are completely cooked. Eating raw brinjal is like eating an unripe banana. Not pleasant. Then, you have the wicked taste of fish sauce dip heated together with spring onions. A drizzle of shallot oil. A generous sprinkling of crispy-fried shallots, crunchy and sweet-sharp. Heaven!

I’ve made this twice. First was the best (like first love), because I read from the recipe book. Second time, so-so to me but my parents loved it. They came down after Chinese New Year and I was really excited about making this for them, and teaching my mum a new way to cook brinjal.

I was winging it and had left out one ingredient (spring onion – which I couldn’t get from my regular supermarket and mini market – damn climate change and erratic food supply!) and forgotten the seasoning (salt and pepper) and one step (poking holes into the brinjal before grilling it). Oh, and strangely, I couldn’t find any long brinjals (which are always available – must be the climate change again), so, had to settle for the round eggplant.

As my father was getting hungry (and cranky) I also skipped leaving the grilled brinjal to sweat it out in a plastic bag. It still turned out okay but could’ve been better if I followed everything to the T. Sometimes, I leave out or substitute ingredients I can’t get or skip steps to speed things up. But this is one instance where the best results are guaranteed only if you use everything on the ingredient list and follow every single step.

Shopping list: brinjal/eggplant/aubergine (get the slender type – the round ones are less flavourful and are harder to cook evenly), spring onions, and for the fish sauce dip: cili padi and lime juice

From the pantry: crispy-fried shallots (make your own – you can buy but they’re all crunch and no taste), shallot oil (from frying the shallots), salt, black pepper, and for the fish sauce dip: rice vinegar, fish sauce and garlic

Hardware: plastic bag

Can I do it?: Idiot-proof. You can burn your food!

Tip: Want to do something different at a barbecue? Serve this! The fire’s ready. Just prepare the fish sauce dip and fried shallots in advance.

Credit: Vietnamese Food by Bobby Chinn

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