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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Aglio de Olio Spaghetti, Irish Soda Bread and A Little Bit of Grapes

I love simple, full of vegetable and extra spicy Aglio de Olio Spaghetti.  We had this for dinner tonight and  homemade Irish Soda Bread with generous helping of two types of cheeses that we bought during our holiday in Australia in June.  The Apricot & Almond Cheese and Chili Cheese.  Tasted great with freshly baked hot bread right from the oven!  Yumzz!  I will not post the recipe for my version of Aglia de Olio as this is such a simple dish to make and very versatile.  You can use what ever ingredients you want.  May it be seafood, or chicken or just vegetables.  You can never go wrong with this.

And of course, since this might be too spicy for my 2 princesses, I made them macaroni soup with chicken meatballs.  Don't be fooled by the clear soup.  It's actually quite tasty. The cauliflower and carrot added sweetness to it. 

Irish Soda Bread!  Very easy to make.  Pre-heat oven to 190degree celsius.  Mix 2 1/2 cup of flour with 1/2 tsp each of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar.  Add in 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of sugar.  Mix them up and rub in 20g of butter to resemble breadcrumbs.  Then add about 200 ml of milk.  Knead dough but do not over knead as it will turn hard after baking.   Place it in a lightly greased tray and bake for about 30-35 mins till done.
Just imagine the crustiness and yet soft in the inside after it's baked.  Be generous with the cheese or butter and I tell you, it's heaven!

 In the background, the Chili Cheese on the left and Apricot & Almond Cheese on the right.  Great combination!

And now, some updates on my garden.  I planted cherry tomatoes from the seeds.  Planted it in a pot and after more than 2 months, it's starting to bear fruits.  I'm all excited and can't wait to taste them.

And what about my grapes?  Well, we did some reading from the internet (some facts finding in the internet is really good) and it says that to get the most from your grape vines for good healthy fruits, is to prune the vines.  The least leaves left on the vines is the better as the leaves will deprive the fruits from getting all the nutrients and the result will be unhealthy fruits.  Unhealthy here means that the fruits will be small and will look miserable.

After reading up on pruning the vines, we decided to chop-off all the leaves and just leave the main bark of the grape vines.  After about 1 - 2 weeks, the leaves started to grow.  Then, one fine morning when I decided to take a close look at the leaves and new branches, I discovered a couple of grape flowers growing along the bark of the vine.  And now, they are turning into tiny little grapes.  There are 15 bunches in total!  We are very excited as this is the first time ever after 3 1/2 years, we get more than a bunch or two growing simultaneously together.  Looks like finally we will get enough of grapes for everyone!..err everyone would be my sisters, my in-laws, my neighbour and my office friends.  Wow, I hope there will be enough for everyone! Haahaaa...

Sorry...this is the only bunch that we managed to take as the others are rather small and hidden by the leaves. Will take more pictures when the bunches are much larger and when they start to 'overhang' from their branches. my wine making dream is coming closer now???!!?? hmmm....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Biscotti and Boiled Pineapple Fruitcake

Hari Raya Aidilfitri is just round the corner.  This means HOLIDAY!, waking up late, lepak (relax & unwind), open houses to go to (only if you are invited nowadays), rendang, ketupat, cookies, cakes and all those wonderful delicious food that you can get in a Muslim household.

I remember when I was a child growing up in a small 'kampung' (village) back in my hometown in Malacca, the children in my kampung just can't wait for the festive season.  Be it Hari Raya or Chinese New Year or Deepavali or Christmas, the feeling of joyfulness and being young and carefree, not bothering ones background or religion or race, everyone of us were so close and comfortable with each other. Back then, you don't need to be reminded that we are 1-Malaysia over and over again.  We don't need it.  We know who we were and there were harmony within us.  We still do except for some who have forgotten life's simple pleasures.  Unlike now, with so many insensitive and uncalled remarks or wrong-doings by some moron, now, everywhere you go there's this reminder in the radio, on TV, on billboards telling us who we are and emphasize on harmony.  It is quite sad actually.  What had gone wrong?  Definitely capital A for Attitude and capital G for Greedy in power! Sigh! Anyway...!

Each festive celebration, I remember my late dear mom would bake cookies and cakes or buy those bottled F&N drinks (by the cartons) and would offer them as gift to our neighbors even though life was difficult then.  She was such a gracious and generous lady.  To follow through her legacy and as generous as I can be, this year, I decided to make Hari Raya goodies as gifts for my good Muslim friends.  Today, I've made Biscotti and Boiled Pineapple Fruit Cake.  I've never tried this fruit cake recipe but since is uses the canned pineapple and then boil it with the mixed fruit and sugar, I guess this is worth a try.  And the good thing is, it does not require any alchohol ie brandy, rum or sherry like most fruitcake requires.  So my Muslim friends, you can enjoy this bake and hope you will like it!  Even if you think it's not so nice, well, pretend that you like it ok?  I spent hours in the kitchen preparing these stuff!  haahhhaaa...


Boiled Pineapple Fruitcake!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Orange Chocolate Chunk and Lemon & Almond Muffin

Spent almost the whole day in the kitchen today.  Started off with preparing the Devil's Curry paste, made for order and then on with preparing dinner.  Since I'm already slavering myself in the kitchen, why not some muffins for 'after-dinner' treat.  Made 2 types of muffins. One is Orange Chocolate Chunk and the other is Lemon & Almond Muffin.

The Orange Chocolate Chunk is exactly like its name.  You can taste the orange zest and at each bite,  generous chunks of melted chocolate just oozing into your mouth.  A great combination of orange and chocolate, I tell you!  It's heavenly wonderful especially after it's just baked. You must eat this while the chocolate is just melting.  Out of this world.....great with a cup of black coffee!

The Lemon & Almond Muffin is very different in taste and texture.  The lemon gives a nice citrus taste to it and the dessicated coconut that I added to the recipe, gives a wonderful texture.  This muffin certainly gives you the 'zang' that you need after a day's hard work.  It's all that you need when you want to put up your feet, relax and have a nice cup of hot tea.

And here are the recipes...

Orange Chocolate Chunk Muffin
120g butter
100g plain chocolate
2 oranges (zest and juice)
A little milk
1 egg
1tsp vanilla essence
285g plain flour
200g muscovado sugar (I used 160g)
1tsp b.o.s.
1/8tsp salt
For the filling: 150g plain choc roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 170 degree celsius.  Melt butter and choc.
2. Sift and combine flour, sugar, b.o.s. and salt.
3. Grate the zest from the orange and squeeze the juice. Combine with the zest and add a little milk to make up to 6 3/4 oz of the orange juice.  Add in the egg and vanilla and mix well.  Whisk into the melted chocolate and butter.
4. Fold in the flour to the chocolate mixture until just blended.
5. Fold in the chocolate chunks and spoon batter in prepared muffin tray with paper cups and bake till done for about 20-25 mins. 

Lemon & Almond Muffin
235 plain flour, sifted
170 g caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
100g ground almond
50g dessicated coconut
grated zest and juice of 2 lemon
A little milk
2 eggs
1tsp almond essence
100g butter

1. Preheat oven to 170 degree celcius. Combine all dry ingredient in a mixing bowl.
2. Make the lemon juice up to 6 oz with milk. Combine the eggs and essence, mix well.
3. Melt butter.
4. Add wet ingredients to the dry and fold together with a large metal spoon until just moistened.
5. Spoon batter in prepared muffin tin and bake for 20-25 mins.