Monday, September 22, 2014

Pumpkin and Tomato Laksa

"Ladle It Up", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC).

For this week, I've selected Pumpkin and Tomato Laksa, recipe from The Kitchen Diaries. I have some leftover pumpkins which I needed to clear, and some tomatoes too in my fridge. In the recipe instructions, the pumpkin is peeled,  and cut into chunks, then steam for a few minutes until tender, where they will be added to the laksa gravy towards the end of cooking time.  I feel that this is an unnecessary step, as pumpkin gets cooked really fast. I omitted the steaming and simply added the pumpkin chunks along with the tomatoes into the laksa gravy, and cooked for about 8-10 minutes until they are soft and tender. 

The laksa paste smells really nice. Made up of red chillies, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, lime leaves, coriander roots and leaves, which are all blended into a fine paste. I've added half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Nigel has used only half the amount of the paste and he says to keep the other half for another day's use. I have adjusted the amount slightly to cook for only one meal. The paste is supposed to be cooked briefly in a saucepan, and he did not mention about using any oil at all. I have however, cooked the paste in some cooking oil, which I heated first, and fry the paste until they are fragrant, about 5-8 minutes. Then add in some stock and coconut milk (I've added the coconut milk at the last step of cooking). At this stage, I've added in the chopped tomatoes and pumpkins. Season to taste with some lemon juice, fish sauce and salt, let it simmer for 8-10 minutes until the pumpkin are soft and tender. I added in some fish balls during the last few minutes. And the coconut milk is added in, let the gravy come to a simmer, and ladle into bowls of pre-cooked noodles of your choice. I've used rice vermicelli. And garnish with some chopped coriander and mint leaves, and hard-boiled eggs, just because!

Simple and easy to cook. Though it does not exactly taste like our local laksa which is really rich and spicy, this bowl of mild laksa makes a nice meal. This is the first time I'm using pumpkin in a noodle laksa, and it makes such an interesting ingredient. The hard-boiled eggs and fish balls are my addition. Some cooked chicken meat may be added for a more substantial meal.  

Pumpkin and Tomato Laksa
Did not realize how messy the bowl looks after I stirred the laksa until I see this photo much later!

** my changes listed in blue
Pumpkin and Tomato Laksa
(adapted from "The Kitchen Diaries", Nigel Slater)
250gm pumpkin, unpeeled weight
5 small, red bird's eye chillies (I use 4 fresh red chillies)
4 cloves garlic
a lump of ginger the size of your thumb
2 plump stalks lemon grass
6 lime leaves
5 or 6 coriander roots
a large handful coriander leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (my addition)
a little vegetable oil
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
400ml coconut milk
24 cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons nampla (Thai fish sauce)
the juice of half a lemon
100gm dried noodles, cooked as it says on the packet
a large handful mint leaves

Cut the pumpkin into large chunks and place in the top of a steamer (alternatively, steam them in a colander balanced over a pan of boiling water). The pumpkin should be tender in twelve to fifteen minutes. Remove from the heat. (I omitted this step, I simply add in the pumpkin chunks along with the tomatoes later)
Chop the chillies, removing the seeds first if you wish, peel the garlic and ginger and chop roughly. Put them all into a food processor. Discard the outer leaves of the lemon grass and roughly chop the inner leaves, shred the lime leaves, then add them to the chillies. Scrub the coriander roots and add them to the chillies, along with half the coriander leaves and stems. Blitz them to a pulp, adding a little vegetable oil if the mixture needs it to go round.
Place a fairly deep pan over a moderate heat, add half the spice paste (keep the other half in the fridge for tomorrow) and fry it, moving it round the pan so it does not scorch. Do this for a minute or two, then pour in the stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil. (I heated some oil, fry the spice paste for about 5 minutes until fragrant before adding in the stock)
Cut the tomatoes in half and add them to the soup (together with the chunks of pumpkin), with the nam pla and lemon juice. They will take seven to ten minutes to cook. Add the chunks of pumpkin and continue cooking for a minute or two. (Add the coconut milk, let it some to a simmer). Place a swirl of cooked noodles in each of four bowls, pour over the laksa and add the mint and the remaining coriander leaves.
Enough for 4.


I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week "Ladle It Up"



Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sambal Telur (Egg Sambal)

During the last book sale in December, I bought three cookbooks, series of "The Best of Singapore's Recipes" by the late Mrs Leong Yee Soo, who was most popular for her Peranakan also known as Nyonya cuisine in Singapore, especially during the 1970's. I have not tried any of her recipes before, but have heard about her recipes which are popular and well-received. Being a Peranakan (Nyonya) myself, originally from Malacca, I do have my own family recipes which I cooked at home, but it is interesting to see other versions of Nyonya cuisine. BTW, I have not been to Singapore before, gasp!!!. I know, unbelievable! I remember when I was really young, each year, one neighbour or another would go to Singapore during the school holidays and they would come home, with some new umbrellas and towels, each trip, each year! No idea why it was always umbrellas and towels, reason was, these items are pretty cheap in Singapore back then. 

When Grace of Life Can Be Simple is hosting Asian Food Fest (AFF) : Singapore, for this month, this is the perfect chance for me to make use of at least one cookbook from the three that I've bought.

Browsing thru her cookbooks, I noticed there are some similarities in most recipes and yet quite different in some. For instance, this recipe Sambal Telur caught my attention, simply because of the sambal paste that is used. She called the sambal paste as "Chilli Garam Paste", whereas our version of "Chilli Garam Paste" is a little different from hers. She has used fresh red chillies and belacan (prawn paste). In my home, it would be called "Sambal Belacan". Our version of "Chilli Garam Paste" is made up of fresh red chillies and salt (which is called garam in Malay language), some shallots may be pounded together for certain dishes. I have cooked this before with fish, in my older post, here. I suppose the variation in Peranakan (Nyonya) cuisine depends on regional influence. Interesting to see the different variations yet so familiar.

Sambal Telur (Eggs in Sambal Paste)

Originally, the recipe calls for the hard-boiled eggs to be deep fried until light brown and slightly blistered. I did not do this step as I do not like hard-boiled eggs to be fried this way, it makes the outer layer of the whites sometimes rubbery. You would not find me choosing deep-fried hard-boiled eggs from the "chap-fun" stall, even if they look really good cooked in sambal! It is just my personal preference, that's all. If you like your hard-boiled eggs cooked this way, then by all means, follow the recipe, as long as you enjoy it, that's all matters!

The "Chili Garam Paste" recipe given below is for a large amount, so that you could use some now, and freeze the rest for future use. I have however made for one recipe only, enough for 4 eggs. I used 12 fresh red chillies and a small piece of belacan (prawn paste). And I have omitted the MSG. 
Though this dish is nice eaten with rice, I would prefer if there are some shallots blended together with the chilli paste to make it a little "onion-y sweet". This dish is quick and easy, if you are craving for some simple spicy dish which does not takes up much time to prepare. 

Sambal Telur
(adapted from "The Best of Singapore's Recipes : Hot & Spicy Treats", Mrs Leong Yee Soo)
10 eggs, hard-boiled
cooking oil for frying
140gm chilli garam paste (*refer recipe below)
1 level tsp sugar
1/2 tsp MSG, optional
pinch of salt
4 tbsp water
4 tbsp thick coconut milk
  1. Shell hard-boiled eggs and soak in slightly salted water for 20 minutes. Dry eggs on a tray.
  2. Deep-fry the eggs in hot oil until light brown and slightly blistered. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Remove oil from pan. In the same pan, fry the chilli garam paste over low heat until oil separates. 
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients, heat through and pour over eggs. Serve.

Chilli Garam Paste
600gm red chillies 
85gm shrimp paste, finely diced
1 cup cooking oil
2-1/4 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup water
  1. Coarsely pound together chillies and shrimp pase.
  2. Heat cooking oil in a pan, add the chilli paste and fry over moderate heat until fragrant and oil bubbles through.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir-fry until moist and oily.
  4. Leave to cool completely before packing into plastic containers. Store in freezer for future use.
  5. Note : When the chilli paste freezes, cut into 4cm (1-1/2 in) cubes, then put them back into the freezer. You can then thaw only the amount you need each time.


“I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest #11 Sept 2014 : Singapore hosted by Life can be Simple”.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

THB : Chocolate Nugget-Orange Granola Cake

Time for our bake at The Home Bakers (THB). Bake #41, Chocolate Nugget-Orange Flax Cake is selected by Mich of Piece of Cake.

I have made some slight changes to the ingredients. Originally, this cake uses flax cereal. Since I do not have any flax cereal, I've used my homemade granola instead. And it works out fine. This cake uses a mixture of plain flour and wholemeal flour, with buttermilk, canola oil, honey, orange juice, raisins and nuts. Since my granola already has nuts and raisins in it, I did not add any that the recipe calls for. 

A very easy cake to make, you don't even need to use the stand mixer. The dry ingredients are mixed in a bowl, and the wet in another, simply combine them together and add in the flax cereal (or granola). Pour into the prepared pan and scatter some chocolate chips and nuts over the top. I've made half a recipe, and baked for 26 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pan on wire rack. Serve warm, either cut in strips or squares.

Cake is really moist, soft, tender and not too sweet. If flax cereal, or any other cereal, which I'm sure would be good too, is used, then you'll have "Cereal-cake" for breakfast. In my case, it is "Granola-cake"!

For the full recipe and instructions, please visit the host of this bake, Mich of Piece of CakeTo view other members' bake, please visit The Home Bakers (THB).

Welcome to The Home Bakers

We are a group of home bakers who are currently baking from "Coffee Cakes" by Lou Seibert Pappas. This is our bake no. 41 and we have 19 recipes more to go. If you are interested to be a member and join in our bakes, you may drop me an email at


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Roasted Garlic and Rocket Chicken

"September Potluck", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). For our potluck theme, we are free to select any recipes from our current and previous featured chefs. 

I was looking for some recipes using rocket leaves, and did not really want to use it in a salad, but with something more than that. Searched thru Donna Hay's website and found this interesting Rocket Dressing! Sounds good and served with Roasted Garlic Chicken, already sounds delicious, as we are garlic lovers and who doesn't love roasted chicken!

My pot of Rocket Leaves (Arugula).

This Rocket Dressing is really nice. The leaves are fragrant, and peppery delicious. It is so simple and easy to make. The Rocket leaves are finely chopped and mix with some olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. 

Donna Hay has used one whole butterflied chicken, for roasting. I have used 3 whole chicken legs as it is only for the three of us. Three heads of garlic cloves are separated and placed under the chicken during the first hour of roasting. And the garlic cloves are pushed to the sides of the baking tray during the last 30 minutes of roasting. I actually placed the chicken legs, skin side down during the first 40 minutes, and turn them over with skin side up, for the rest of the roasting time, till they are brown and crispy. The only seasoning are some olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste. 

This is such a simple, easy and delicious meal. Everyone love the garlic! There's not a single clove of garlic left! Some of the garlic are really soft and creamy, while some which are at the corners of the tray, gets all crispy and crunchy! The chicken is really tasty with just the simple seasoning of olive oil, salt and black pepper, and the skin is deliciously crispy. Served with Rocket Dressing, delicious! Donna Hay does it again, with a simple, easy, fuss-free yet delicious dish. This Rocket Dressing would be great if spread on slices of baguette and grill till crisp. 

Roasted Garlic and Rocket Chicken
(adapted from
3 small heads garlic, cloves separated
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 x 1.6kg whole chicken, butterflied (I use 3 whole chicken legs)

rocket dressing :
1 cup baby rocket (arugula) leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the garlic on a baking tray, drizzle with half the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on top of the garlic and rub with the remaining oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour. Move the garlic from under the chicken to the edge of the tray and roast for a further 30 minutes, or until the chicken is golden and the garlic is tender. While the chicken is cooking, make the rocket dressing. Place the rocket, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix to combine. Serve the chicken with the roasted garlic and rocket dressing. Serves 4.

This post is linked to I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), the theme for this week, September Potluck.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cheesy Herb Popovers : Bake-Along #68

It's time for our Bake-Along, and for our bake #68, I've chosen "Popovers" to bake together with Lena and Zoe and anyone who wishes to bake along with us.

Do you like eating Popovers? Have you tried baking "Popovers" before? We like eating Popovers and they are really easy to make. Popovers are made with just eggs, flour and milk, and the flavours can varies between sweet and savoury or just plain, eaten with jam. Our favourite in my house are the savoury ones. Popovers are baked using popover pans, but muffins pans works out great. I baked mine using muffins pans, just be sure to grease them really well, so that they pop out easily. There are no leavening or yeast used for making popovers, as they bake, the steam causes the hollow in the centre, making the thin batter rises really high, and they will collapse, not long after baking. Though this recipe I've tried, remained quite puffy, deflating only a little, even after almost an hour after baking.

These are really super easy to make. All the ingredients are mixed in a blender and poured into greased muffin pans and bake! The only thing I added is more chives. Recipe states to add about a scant teaspoon of any fresh herbs, I've used chives, since I have some chives in my garden pot. And have used about 1-1/2 tablespoons for the batter, plus additional for sprinkling over the top. The blended batter has a light tinge of green because of the chives, and smells really nice.

Make sure the muffin pans are well greased. Pour the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, and sprinkle the top with some chopped chives and some shredded cheddar cheese. From the photo above, the green colour of the batter cannot be seen, as the green is very light.

Bake in a preheated oven at 220C for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180C, and bake for a further 15 minutes until they are golden brown and puffy. I like to watch the process of the popovers puffing up! The second photo, about 10 minutes after the placing the tray in the oven, the popovers are already puffing up.

Reduce the temperature as directed in the recipe and bake for a further 15 minutes or until they are golden brown and yummy looking!

Nice and golden. Delicious and fun to eat! Eat it while it is still hot and fresh from the oven.
The kitchen smells of cheese and chives while these are baking. I like the smell of melting cheese as they bake. So good.

This is really, really yummy! Look at the hollow centre. The crust is so crispy, especially the top, really delicious with the "melted-turned-crispy cheese", while the insides are soft and taste "chive-y" good!  Can you see the lightly tinge of green on the inside, that's from the blended chives. All the 12 popovers are gone within an hour. 

Please do join us by baking any Popovers recipe and link your post (must be current) to our linky below. If you have not tried Popovers before, well, maybe this is the time to try it. And don't forget to make a pot of tea!

Cheesy Herb Popovers
(adapted from "Williams-Sonoma Home Baked Comfort", Kim Laidlaw)
makes 12 popovers
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125ml) heavy cream
1 cup (8 fl oz/250ml) whole milk
1-1/4 cups (6-1/2 oz/200gm) all-purpose flour
scant tsp minced fresh thyme, chives or oregano (I use 1-1/2 tbsp minced chives)
extra minced chives to scatter the top before baking (my addition)
1/4-1/2 tsp kosher salt (depending on how salty the cheese is) (I use pinch of sea salt)
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (use 45gm salted butter)
1/2 cup (2oz/60gm) shredded Gruyere, Cheddar, or Parmesan cheese

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425F (220C). Generously butter 12 standard muffin cups, including the top of the pan.
In a blender, process the eggs, cream, milk, flour, herbs, and salt until blended. With the blender running, pour in the melted butter. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them about three-fourths full. Top each with a sprinkle of cheese, (and chopped chives, if using). Bake for 20 minutes (you may want to peek at the popovers, but whatever you do, don't be tempted to open the oven door).
Reduce the oven temperature to 350F (180C) and bake until the popovers are hollow and golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Immediately unmold the popovers onto a wire rack. They are best eaten right away, while hot (but please don't burn yourself).


Do stop by Lena of Frozen Wings and Zoe of Bake For Happy Kids, and all our friends who has baked along with us in the linky below :

For our next Bake-Along, we will be baking Maple Nut Pie, from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book, page 232 or you may get the recipe, here. Our linky which will start on 14th October till 23rd October. Everyone is welcome to join us! 


A friendly reminder when linking to our blog hop :
1. Please mention Bake-Along event in your own post linking direct to any of the hosts' post (JoyceLena or Zoe)
2. Please link only new and current post, PLEASE FOLLOW THE BAKE OR THEME provided by us. Unrelated post will be deleted.
3. Feel free to display our Bake-Along badge in your post.


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