fastfast lasagne

by Anne Grace on September 15, 2011

I would almost dare to call this a lasagne hack. It’s brilliant. Lasagne in under half an hour – what more can you ask for?

I stumbled upon this recipe on the stonesoup blog. I have never seen lasagne being advertised to take (almost) 15 minutes. So I had to try it for myself.

I managed to get it done in about 20 something minutes – which is pretty darn good for a wholesome meal.. Not to mention that it tastes pretty darn good.

The catch is though, that it would be best to have an oven safe pan – something that people don’t usually buy unless they’re consciously looking out for it. I happened to get mine because my mum thought it would be nice to have a pan that could go in the oven as well. It’s pretty handy – to be able to cook something on the stove then stick it in the oven for further cooking. So if you come across any oven safe pans, would be awesome to get one!

Anyway, for this recipe, you don’t necessarily need an oven safe pan – you just have to be very very careful. I personally don’t like having the plastic handle coming anywhere close to the oven, but you can just stick this under the grill, with the handle sticking out of the oven. Works the same way anyhow.

Less talk – on to the recipe:

fastfast lasagne (adapted from stonesoup)

what?

500g mince
500g ricotta
3-4 mushrooms
half an onion
fresh lasagna sheets
lotsa (~ 3 handfuls) parmasen cheese
4-6 tbsp tomato paste
2-3 tbsp butter
salt + pepper

how?

1. heat a pan with some oil in it. when it heats up, fry the onions till it browns to a nice colour. add the mushrooms after that. heat up the grill while you’re at this stage too so it’s nice and hot later.
2. add the mince till it goes pretty brown overall. while this happens, combine the ricotta and the parmesan cheese.
3. add tomato paste and butter (omit if you’re watching that waistline).
4. season with salt and pepper.
5. transfer the majority of the mince and sauce into another bowl, leaving just enough  in the pan to cover the base. (while the steps below are performed, turn the heat down to low-medium)
6. arrange a layer of lasagne sheets over the base layer of mince, being careful not to have the sheets overlap too much.
7. spread some mince over the lasagne sheets then layer more lasagne sheets on top.
8. repeat until you run out of mince (or lasagne sheets).
9. spread the ricotta-parmesan cheese mix over the lovely layered goodness, shaving some parmesan over the top so it melts nicely.
10. pop the whole pan into the oven under the nice and hot grill.
11. when it’s nice and brown, it’s ready!

Some adaptations can be made with this recipe, e.g.:
– Substituting the ricotta with mashed potato (I preferred the ricotta)
– Using pasta sauce instead of tomato paste.

Me thinks this recipe is a keeper. So easy!

kuih batik

by Anne Grace on September 7, 2011

Due to my utter carelessness and over-excitement, I have forgotten to take a photo of the final product. Forgive me for committing this cardinal sin. Some things in life are just too yummy to get photographed.

So I will have to allow Google images to come to my rescue. It’s supposed to look like this:

Credits to Colours of Malaysia for the photo.

Anyway, I read online that this is an East Malaysian dessert. I remember seeing it in bakeries, glad wrapped and sold. But for some reason I didn’t fancy it that much. It just didn’t appeal to my young soul…

It’s the third time I’ve made this. And to be honest, it’s not all that fool proof. I’ve yet to develop the ‘instinct’ to get the right consistency every time I make it. This cake involves making a chocolatey-milo custard that is supposed to be mixed with the Marie biscuits and then refrigerated to set into a cake-like thingo.

Have a look at what’s involved first, and maybe you’ll understand why I might find it difficult to get the right consistency

kuih batik (recipe tweaked from corner café)

what?

1 cup milo+cocoa powder (ratios are up to you. i went 3 parts milo 1 part cocoa powder)
125ml boiling water
100g white sugar
200g condensed milk
190g butter, cubed
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
5 eggs
1 pack marie biscuits (250g) – i didn’t use the whole pack. just what was sufficient

how?

1. line a loaf tin with baking paper/foil.
2. dissolve milo-cocoa mixture in the boiling water (all this happens in a pot/someformofpanthingo)
3. add the remainder of the ingredients (except the biscuits) and put the mixture on medium heat. stir constantly.
4.  leave it on medium heat until you feel the mixture getting thicker. the butter should have melted by this stage. it should take about 5 mins (can be shorter though).
5. when this happens, turn the heat on low and continue stirring until it gets really thick. this is where things are a bit blurry for me. i take it off the heat when i think it’s thick enough. but it may not be. one way to check is to kinda scoop some up and let it drop down onto the mixture. if it doesn’t sink in then it should be thick enough.
6. mix it with quarter-broken marie biscuits or be a perfectionist like me and layer the whole thing (look at the photos to get what i mean).
7. if you decided to go the non-perfectionist way, then just dump it into the lined loaf tin, wrap and chilllllll.

Ok. Hope that wasn’t too confusing. Was trying to communicate two ways of assembling the cake in one sentence. Basically, you can either break the biscuits and mix it with the custard then just fill up the loaf tin. Or… arrange them so the layers are completely straight. So you go chocolateygoodness, layer of biscuits, chocolateygoodness, layer of biscuits *recurrent* until you’re out of custard. The photo shows the layering method.

I cannot guarantee that the thing will set. You will have to rely on your instincts for that. Other option is to just keep it on the low heat until it just don’t get any thicker. I haven’t tried that.

Another thing, I won’t be such a perfectionist next time round. I don’t think layering biscuits is such a nice way to go because when I did it, it didn’t provide enough ‘support’ for the soft fudgey chocolate.

Anyway, it’s still a yummylicious thing. Just not texturally perfect in my hands!

asian style mussels

by Anne Grace on August 30, 2011

I haven’t been taking care of this blog properly. Truth is, I was sick of posting up sweet/pastry/cake/dessert recipes. So I was looking for something to break the flow but nothing was exciting enough. But yes, excuses are just excuses and nothing more.

Anyway, MUSSELS. I like mussels. But I never cooked them before. I have a feeling they’re in season because we now sell mussels at work (I work in a supermarket deli) for $7.99 for 1kg.

So, funny story. I went to the markets today and walked by the mussels. $4.50 a kilo. Couldn’t resist. Problem is, my brother hates seafood. So that means I’d be eating them alone. Sadface. The other option was I could get just enough for myself and risk the lady behind the counter giving me a black’whybuysolittlewhatsthepoint’ face. And so I did..

And so I got the black’whybuysolittlewhatsthepoint’face. I got 6 mussels (which was just enough) and that came to a grand total of…. 80 cents.. 78 cents to be precise. Gosh, they’re cheaper than chicken!

I found this recipe at Noob Cook. It uses typical chinese ingredients. Nothing that can go way wrong. But seriously, it’s the easiest thing ever to cook mussels. The cleaning part might be a bit of a hassle but still, not much work involved.

Wiffy (of noobcook.com) says that soaking it in salt water for an hour will be able to make the mussels purge any excess sand out. Not too sure whether that works. The crucial thing is that you should not soak it in plain tap water.

Because the mussels will die. (I read that online. ‘DIE’) I was like ‘So you mean the mussels I bought are alive?!’  Suddenly, it was as though I had x-ray eyes which could see past those closed shells and see the little bits of mussel-ly flesh wriggling about, trying to escape its doom… Cleaning it got a bit freaky. I pulled on what is called the ‘mussel beard’ and a bit of the flesh got flew out with the beard. Freaked me out a bit thinking of those live mussels in there coming out with that beard to bite my finger off in self defence….

Anyway, shan’t let my imagination take over. We’ll pretend that we do not have x-ray eyes and that mussels do not come out of their shell to bite your finger off…

asian style mussels (adapted from noobcook.com) serves 1

what?
6 mussels
2 spring onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped (because garlic is goooood)
3-5 slices of ginger
1 small chilli padi (or more)
1/4 cup of chinese wine + water (up to you to adjust ratio. i like lotsa wine.)

how?
1. clean mussels thoroughly. discard any broken or irreversibly opened mussels. they have to be alive (and when they are, they are closed). If they are open, lightly tap them and if they are sleeping, they’d shut.
2. fry the garlic, ginger, spring onion and chilli until they smell nice. :D
3. add mussels and wine-water mixture and cover the pot/wok/pan
4. cook till the mussels open (approx 3-5 mins).

Mussels cook pretty quickly so you wouldn’t expect to leave them in there for ages. Any unopened mussels should be thrown away – they no good… You also won’t need salt because the mussels have salty juices.

Seriously, it’s like a magic show. You have this bunch of mussels which are closed so tightly that you think you’d need a chisel to forcefully yank them open. But its like heat is the magic key that opens these mussels oh so gracefully. Magic.

 

ps nice musselly video:

lemonade scones

by Anne Grace on July 20, 2011

Apologies for the absence. I had other things in life that I had to deal with… properly.

Anyway, another ‘baked’ thing. I can’t understand why it’s only the baked stuff I post up. Maybe it’s just that they feel a bit less mediocre than the savoury stuff I cook… Lol.

I came across this scone recipe. And guess what? NO BUTTER. I might go as far as saying this might be a scone hack! In case you didn’t know, making scones involve rubbing butter into flour until it resembles a sand-like texture. I hate this part. So this recipe is like God sent.

Anyway, shan’t blabber any longer. The only modification I made to the recipe was add in chocolate chips.. Cos I love chocolate….. It’s one of the rare times I bake during the day. So you would notice a natural light effect in the photos..

lemonade scones (recipe from taste.com.au)

what?

300g (2 cups) self raising flour
55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
125ml (1/2cup) thick cream
125ml (1/2cup lemonade)
40ml (2tbsp) milk
chocolate chips (as many as you want)

how?

1. Preheat oven to 220ºC
2. Mix it all up.
3. Knead a little on a lightly floured surface.
4. Press (Roll) it out till it’s about 2cm thick
5. Cut, in whatever shape you like.
6. Coat lightly with flour.
7. Bake for 10-15 minutes till its nice and brown.
8. EAT :D

Admittedly the dough got a little too sticky for my liking. Had to add a bit more flour than what was recommended. But it turned out well. So I’m happy.


the ultimate triple birthday cake

by Anne Grace on July 1, 2011

So there was a triple birthday party recently. My prank was to make a cake triple the height just to pull their legs.

I had intended for the cake to be taller. But I didn’t want a recipe that let it rise too much – in the fear that it may be too ‘airy’ that it would just topple over. So I took E.’s ultimate chocolate cake recipe and mix matched with some in-between fillings.

I suspect that the ultimate chocolate cake recipe will remain E’s ultimate secret so I do not possess the rights to share it. I will, however say that it is possible to use any chocolate cake recipe to build such a cake. It really is quite flexible.

But this is how I did it.

From bottom up:
Layer 1
Chocolate ganache
Layer 2
Raspberry filling
Layer 3
Whipped cream
Layer 4
Whipped raspberry cream
Layer 5
Whipped cream with raspberry filling on top
Layer 6
Chocolate ganache to cover

how?

raspberry filling
1. Take 20 ounces of frozen raspberry and whizz it in some food processor / whateverpuréeingdeviceavailable.
2. Strain the purée to get rid of seeds
3.  Dunk the strained purée in a pot with y amount of sugar (‘y’ = amount enough to take the sourness out)
4. Add  2 tbsp cornstarch (note: dissolve cornstarch in small amounts of purée before mixing it in with the rest)
5. Leave to cool.

chocolate ganache
1. 500g chocolate to 500ml cream.
2. Warm cream in a water bath then add chopped chocolate and stir to combine

whipped cream
1. Beat cream with a beater until soft peaks form. Add whatever you want. I like plain cream because I’m like that. xD

raspberry cream
1. Add aforementioned raspberry filling to the aforementioned whipped cream and there you go!

That’s pretty much it. Decorate it like no tomorrow!

 

photo credit : J. Lee and his Olympus Pen

chicken rice (lazy way)

by Anne Grace on June 19, 2011

it’s exams (LAST ONE YAY). i need something easy, fuss free, and something not instant noodles..

the recipe i used was adapted from a site which advertised it as ‘claypot chicken rice’ and you obviously can’t call it claypot unless you have it in a claypot.. so i’ll just call it chicken rice.

this dish uses classic chinese ingredients. you probably won’t go wrong if you just close your eyes, dunking in whatever that seems chinesey into it.

i didn’t use any measurements so i can only give you what ingredients i used. you tweak up the tastes you like and be slightly stingier with the stronger tasting stuff.

lazy chicken rice

what?

for the marinate:
sesame oil
light soy sauce
chinese wine (i put heaps in cos i like the smell)
pepper

for the rice:
rice
dark soy sauce
ginger
garlic (i put about 5-6 cloves)

other stuff:
chicken
chinese mushrooms
salt
spring onion (just to garnish – optional)

how?

1. marinate the chicken. i marinated it for about 30 mins but would have loved to have it sit overnight.
2. wash rice and add in the water required to cook the rice into the rice cooker.
3. add in crushed garlic and sliced/crushed ginger into the rice cooker.
4. add the marinated chicken and sliced mushroom into the rice cooker.
5. press the button to cook!
6. half way through, stir the rice just to mix stuff up a bit.
7. add dark soya sauce and some salt to add a little taste to it
8. TADA (can add chopped spring onion to make it look pretty)

the rice got a little soggy for me. they say that you add in 80% of the normal water you’d usually add to cook rice because there’s moisture from the chicken. i didn’t do that. so i got soggy rice. but still tasted great.

if you want to mimic the claypot chicken rice crunchy rice feature, just keep putting the rice cooker back onto the ‘cook’ function. the thermostat turns the rice cooker to ‘warm’ at a certain temperature. so if it refuses to go to ‘cook’, turn off the rice cooker to ‘cool it down’ a little then turn it on to ‘cook’. the rice at the bottom will go nice and crunchy.

i think other kinds of meat (specifically lap cheong / lap yuuk) will work nicely as a substitute or with the chicken. so feel free to manipulate the ingredients! :)

happy tummy happy body makes happy student. :D

 

the new definition of the cup-cake

by Anne Grace on June 10, 2011

Apologies for the hiatus. Admittedly I’m not too used to documenting my kitchen adventures… yet. Haven’t been doing much either, so add that with lack of documentation = hiatus.

Ah, excuses. Never a good excuse.

Anyway, I’m back! Just had 1 exam, 3 to go! So this is a post about what I needed to cater to my restlessness after an entire day at home.

 

meet teddy!

 

5 minute cupcake (adapted from the googled recipe)

what?
5 tbsp flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
teeny weeny bit of salt
1 tbsp oil
3 tbsp milk
1/4 tspn vanilla essence
3 tsp nutella (or more :D)
chocolate chips (optional)

how?
1. mix dry ingredients in a bowl (or the mug itself)
2. add wet ingredients
3. mix mix mix mix
4. microwave for 1.5 mins – 2 mins.

TADAAAAAA

 

Teddy thinks its yummy.

Well, it tasted pretty good. Except I didn’t quite measure things out precisely so mine didn’t get much chocolate taste.  So get your measurements right! :) It was a bit crumbly – since there isn’t egg (I didn’t have any egg left)

 

 

creamy tuna mushroom fettucine

by Anne Grace on March 29, 2011

i hate tuna.

ain’t that an odd way to start a post about a tuna-loaded recipe.

anyway, last sunday, apolo decided to work his cooking skills and dish up a jamie oliver tuna fettucine recipe for us. i was a little concerned but thought i’d just take it.

i don’t know what it is about tuna i don’t like. it’s probably the smell and taste of it all. i used to try to ignore the taste of tuna in those canteen sandwiches i used to buy the best i could (i used to buy the sandwich for the egg… seriously. xD). but it has a strong taste, i must say.

so apolo put this up and strangely… it tasted just fine! so i decided to replicate it. i knew the ingredients he used but not the quantity or the steps. so i decided to just play around with it. that’s why i can’t give you quantitative measures of each thing.

creamy tuna mushroom fettucine (adapted from jamie oliver, inspired by apolo)

what?
tuna (quantity depends on how much you love it)
mushrooms (i overloaded mine with this cos i heart mushrooms)
fettucine (or any pasta of choice)
crème fraîche
milk
butter
salt
pepper
chilli flakes
parmesan cheese

 

how?
1. boil pasta as it says on the packaging.
2. slice mushrooms and fry it in a chunk of butter until it turns relatively brownish
3.  add the canned tuna and pasta
4. add  crème fraîche & appropriate amount of milk to make it less dry
5. season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes
6. top with shaved parmesan, you who are cheesy lovers!

tada~!

 

some things that you might want to change:
– in the case that you can’t find crème fraîche, you can try normal cream instead of  crème fraîche and milk. the taste may change a little but me is guessing that it’d still be pretty good
– i might want to add a little lemon next time
– if you’re the kind who loathes tuna, try bacon instead. you might have to make sure the bacon’s cooked before adding in the pasta though

i suppose tuna can taste alright…?

tim tam truffles

by Anne Grace on March 22, 2011

before i begin this post, i must warn you that you can and will expect me to post more sweet desserty recipes compared to the savouries. this is due to the mere fact that i have a sweet tooth (and also because i’m significantly better at this kind xD). i’m the kind of girl who takes a friend’s birthday as an excuse to try out that new cake recipe. i’m also that girl who can’t stand boring pharmacology and dashes off to make tim tam truffles just because she can. lol

so this is a recipe that i found on su yin’s blog (shegotawesomeblogcheckitout!). loved the recipe instantly. however, this recipe and i just haven’t really got it together yet. you’ll see why.

now, i’ve made slight modifications to the recipe. su had these beautiful truffles on bamboo skewers, enabling her to create a bouquet of truffles. i did so on my first try, only to have the truffles sliding their way down the stick. i wasn’t very impressed. >=(

the first try

 

so this is my second take on the recipe. i decided to go a bit more conventional and keep these truffles in little party cupcake cases. they look just as cute ok. haha.

i’m not too sure whether you can find tim tams outside australia. pretty sure you can. if you can’t, i’m pretty sure you can use an alternative which involves chocolate, wafer, loadsmorechocolate, and chocolate.

tim tam truffles (recipe from su yin)

what?
one pack of tim tams
one 250g pack of cream cheese (low fat if you’re conscious)
cooking chocolate
thickened cream (or milk) – optional
topping of choice (nuts, sprinkles, choc chips, melted choc etc)

how?
1. crush tim tams till they are relatively crumbly and bread crumb like (or chuck it in the food processor. i did it nyonya way)
2. mix crushed tim tams with the whole pack of cream cheese until fully combined.
3. roll the mixture into a ball and place in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
4. take the mixture out and roll them into balls of desired size.
5. melt chocolate in a water bath. add thickened cream or milk if too clumpy.
6. coat yummylicious truffles in chocolate and decorate to your heart’s content.
7. pop into the fridge for 15 mins and it should be good to go down your digestive tract!

* when making the chocolate coating, use as much as you need. however, add as little cream/milk as possible – only just enough to make it easy to coat the truffles. thinning it out too much will cause the coating to remain soft.

 

i must admit, i still haven’t found a way to handle these little devils. the recipe looks incredibly easy but it is rather time consuming (well that’s cos i didn’t know how to work the melted choc well so it took me about 45 mins to coat and decorate 30ish truffles). but yeah, if you get the hang of it, it should treat you well.

all that said and done, the work and time was definitely worth it.

i am a happy girl who is ready to tackle pharmacology. ^^

Eggs

by Eli James on March 19, 2011

I’m a Uni student, living on campus, and so the amount of food I can keep in my room (or the shared fridge – where each resident has one tray to store their own food) at any one time is rather limited. I’d only recently come to terms with the fact that – while I can store meat for ages, vegetables and the like I can only buy once in a very long while.

So I’m here to talk about ingredients that make perfect sense for a college student. My criteria are as follows:

  1. Ideally, you want something that can keep for fairly long – say a week or two.
  2. You want foods that can be used in many different recipes, or cooked in many different ways (so as to maximize storage space)
  3. It can’t be too expensive – you aren’t going to buy and cook Foie Gras as a student, for instance!

At the very top of that list: eggs. It only hit me recently how useful eggs can be. They’re cheap, plentiful, and available in just about every country on earth. You can fry them, boil them, poach them, add them to salads, use random vegetable leftovers to cook omelettes, add them to instant noodles, dump them in pasta, toss them in a stir-fry to add texture and flavour, use them to ward off evil spirits – well, good for just about any dish you’d need to prepare, really!

Egg Omelette with tomatoes and onions

There’s also this saying that I chanced upon, a couple months back:

If you have an egg, you have a meal

And so now I try to have eggs around for as much as is feasibly possible. Power tip to university students: when in doubt, buy eggs. (God I wish someone had told me this earlier).