Hummus with sesame oil instead of tahini

A lot of people don’t like to use tahini because they think the taste is too strong, they don’t know where to purchase it, or they have no idea what it is. In my case, it is the latter.

Anyway, after a quick Google search I realized that tahini is something of a by product of sesame seeds. So I thought why not just try it with sesame oil which I have plenty of. So here’s what I did:

Ingredients

Tin of chick peas/garbanzo beans OR handful of dried chick peas, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, pinch of sea salt, pinch of black pepper, 2 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, squeeze of lemon juice.

Instructions

1a. If you’re using tinned chick peas then you’re good to go. Just remember that the tinned ones have a lot less nutrients in them than their dried counterparts.

1b. For dried chick peas you’ll need to firstly

Soak the Chickpeas in water for at least 8 hours.

OR Put the chickpeas in a pan, bring it to the boil then turn the heat off and soak the chickpeas for about 3 hours.

2. Once the chickpeas are done. Remove any loose skins and rinse them.

3. Place the chickpeas in a blender with the olive oil and the water. Blend them with short pulses.

4. Add the salt, pepper, lemon juice and more water if the hummus is too dry. Pulse the chickpeas again.

5. Add the sesame oil. Pulse again.

6. Serve with nice bread. Enjoy.

You might argue that this is not hummus because it doesn’t have tahini and it is probably made wrongly and blah blah blah. Whatever it is, I enjoyed it. This is how it looked:

Bibimbap (Korean)

Woohoo! I finally made some bibimbap. Largely inspired by this recipe: http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/bibimbap

One thing to note is that this dish is dangerously misleading as to how not-simple it is! In all it took me one hour from start to finish.

The changes to the recipe above are:

1. Soaked the beansprouts for longer. Longer seems better.

2. Angmoh-ified the beef a bit by keeping it chunky; but still marinated it in soy sauce, garlic and rice wine.

3. Didn’t use ‘kosari’ as I’ve no idea what it is… and it looks slightly poisonous.

4. I didn’t have any Korean style rice available. So just used plain old Thai rice.

5. Used ultra-hot chili paste from South Korea. As illustrated by the huge red container in the following picture:

 

 

Not bad for a first attempt.

My Ginseng Chicken Soup

There are many different recipes for ginseng chicken soup. This one is how I have interpreted it; given ingredients that are quickly available from my local supermarket.

It works for western taste buds too (tried and tested).

Ingredients (For about 4 People)

2 x Small Chickens

6 x Dried Red Dates (jujubes)

Dried ginseng root (to taste. I use about 10 thin slices)

Korean ginseng wine (this might not be so easy to find; but not 100% necessary)

8 x Cloves of garlic. Peeled. Leave whole.

6 x Dried wolfberries

1 x knob of ginger. Thinly sliced.

1 x handful of rice

1 Spring onion. Sliced

White Pepper

1-2 teaspoons of salt, depending on taste.

Instructions

1. Wash and de-skin the chicken. This is important if you don’t want the chicken soup to be loaded with oil on the top layer. (unless you like the oil, but we’re trying to be healthy with this soup).

2. Chop the chicken in half. Then separate the various parts. Pat to dry between some good quality kitchen towel.

3. Place the chicken, ginseng, rice, garlic, ginger, wolfberries and dates in a large pot. Fill the pot with water.

4. Bring the soup to the boil.

5. Cover the pot with a lid and leave on the lowest heat. Stirring occasionally.

The key is to cook this as slowly as possible. So that once it is done, the chicken is so tender that it more or less slides off the bone.

6. After 30 minutes, add in the ginseng wine and the salt.

7. Leave for another 30 minutes. Taste for flavour. If it is too bland, add more salt. Now is also a good time to add the white pepper to taste.

That’s at least 60 minutes cooking time, but it works best the longer you leave it and the slower you cook it. 90 minutes is optimal.

8. Bring back up to heat and serve with some chopped spring onion on the top for garnish.

Pikelets/Crumpets (Epicurious Recipe)

English Northerner living abroad?

Missing your pikelets or crumpets for breakfast?

Look no further than this recipe:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/ENGLISH-CRUMPETS-1224188

I am so excited about this as I have been looking for so long for a decent recipe for it. Now I can personally vouch that this one works!

My Tiramisu (Without that Awful Tia Maria Stuff)

I really really dislike Tia Maria but I love tiramisu. So I have mixed and matched a few tiramisu recipes and come up with my own version that works.

Ingredients

- 200g of Italian lady finger biscuits (available at cold storage)

- 250g mascarpone cheese (once again, available at cold storage)

- 3 to 4 tablespoons of golden caster sugar

- 1 egg

- Double shot of espresso

- Alcohol mix (half Bacardi rum (arr!), half scotch whisky). Measurements at chef’s discretion depending on level of alcohol dependence tolerance.

- Dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa). Frozen is best.

Directions

- Smash the lady finger biscuits to smithereens (by placing in a ziploc bag and smashing the crap out of them with a rolling pin or similar).

- Lay half of the crushed biscuits in a tray/box/whatever container that is safe for the freezer.

- Mix the coffee with the alcohol mix.

- Pour the coffee/alcohol mix over the first layer of crushed biscuits.

- Separate the egg yolk from the egg white.

- Mix the egg yolk with the sugar.

- Whisk the egg white for about 10 minutes until it starts to form peaks when you pull the whisk out.

- Mix the egg white, egg yolk/sugar mix and mascarpone cheese together and add a few drops of alcohol mix (sans coffee) into the creamy mixture. Try to fold the ingredients in, rather than stir.

- Lay half of the creamy mixture over the coffee mixture soaked biscuits.

- Add another layer of biscuits over the creamy mixture you just laid down.

- Again, drizzle the rest of the coffee/alcohol mixture over the new layer of biscuits.

- Spread the remaining creamy mixture over the second layer of biscuits.

- Freeze overnight

- Grate the chocolate (as much as you like), using a cheese grater, over the frozen tirimisu and serve.

There you have it. Do keep in mind that making tirimisu makes you an instant hero amongst your friends. (Alcohol, Coffee, Cheese and Sugar are all good for you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).

Will Modern Kitchens in Singapore Kill Singapore’s Cuisine?

One might laugh at the above title. How can the kitchen in a house/flat/condo/hdb/whatever be responsible for the decline of cuisine in a country that almost seems to be bursting at the seams with it?

Well, let us look at it from one perspective. Where do people learn to cook? I doubt that your average school leaver will graduate and walk straight into any restaurant or hawker centre as a fresh slate with no cooking experience at all. No chef would want to employ such a person and train them from scratch. Surely? I would therefore guess that the majority of chefs in Singapore learned their art by some expert guidance and wise words from their mother/father and figured out the rest whilst experimenting in their kitchen at home. I’d love to hear more views on this.

Now let us get to the part about the kitchen. The kitchen in my in-laws place is huge and has more than enough space to get the old pestle and mortar out to give some good ingredients a swift grinding. It seems like a perfect place for a master and student to transfer and create culinary knowledge. However, everything I’ve seen that was built during or after the late 90’s seems to have the tiniest of kitchens. The kitchen at my last place was tiny and my current place is tiny. I stand in them sometimes and wonder if these are really places for a mother & daughter/father & son/budding experimenter to engage in their crafts and figure things out. Barely two people can stand in the same kitchen and not get under each others’ feet.

The excuse? “Young people seldom cook these days lah. Where got need for a big kitchen? Young people just eat out.” Indeed, but I doubt the lack of interest in food could be a factor here. Singaporeans LOVE their food whether young or old; and I’m sure they would be interested to learn how to make such creations if given a chance. What about when ‘young’ people throw parties at their house too? Surely they need a place to store all the takeout stuff and litres of soda/beer/wine/etc. I gravely fear that this modern view on kitchen architecture could tragically lead to the ultimate death of Singapore’s magnificent cuisine. The young people will become old people one day (yes they will) and will have nothing to pass on to their children or have a complete lack of space to pass anything on. What do you think? I seriously hope not.
Naturally, this is not going to happen in the next year and even the next 30 years. Singapore will also have a steady flow of new immigrants coming into the country, all with something to offer. However, if they are in housing that does not allow them to practice their arts though, their food might be left behind in their country of origin. I guess this thought could be taken further. Or perhaps I’m being too negative about this and looking at it all the wrong way.

In my next house I’m going to have a HUGE kitchen. With a breakfast bar installed and places to store all my crap. If the architecture doesn’t allow it… some walls are getting smashed. (Shame I can’t do this right now because of the structural walls of bomb shelter in the way).

Interesting Peppery Summer Soup

Here’s a nice soup made up from mix and match ingredients from a soup I learned how to make years ago.

Ingredients: Sweet peppers (mixed), 1 red chili pepper (de-seeded), plum tomatoes, red wine, vinegar, chicken stock (or vegetable stock), olive oil.

1. Grill/oven toast some sweet peppers.

1. Grill/oven toast some sweet peppers.

2. Fry the grilled and chopped peppers in some olive oil and chopped chili

2. Fry the grilled and chopped peppers in some olive oil and chopped chili

3. Open up a tin of plum tomatoes

3. Open up a tin of plum tomatoes

4. Chop the tomatoes up and add them to the pan. Simmer.

4. Chop the tomatoes up and add them to the pan. Simmer.

5. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes start to get mushy. Then add some pepper.

5. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes start to get mushy. Then add some pepper.

6. Add chicken stock, red wine and a slight bit of vinegar. Simmer again for about 5 minutes.

6. Add chicken stock, red wine and a slight bit of vinegar. Simmer again for about 5 minutes.

Then it is done. Once again my phone camera + lousy camera skills don’t do the food justice.

The tricky part is getting the right mix of wine and vinegar. Too much vinegar and the whole thing is ruined :). Alternatively, the wine + vinegar can be replaced with straight up red wine vinegar (although that it pretty darn hard to find in Singapore).
With the Swine flu/H1N1/’hamthrax’/’aporkalypse’/etc! scare it might be better to stick to vegetarian stuff, so instead of chicken stock I guess vegetable stock can be used (and still make it taste good).