20 July 2017

Banana/Blueberry/Cherry Chocolate Chip Muffins

I haven't baked anything new or test any new recipes recently. Seemed to be in a rut with no mojo at all. My mind is constantly brimming over with ideas and sometimes I even picture how the final product could be like, yet the body simply refuses to get going, and so my to-bake list just gets longer and longer...

Times like this, I guess I have to go back to basics, perhaps kick-start with something small, something easy, something that doesn't require much effort.

Fruit and chocolate chip muffin. Yep, this is as basic as it can get (aside from baking from a premix). Dry ingredients, wet ingredients, combine, add in the chopped fruits and chocolate chip, bake and that's it, no complicated methods, no mixer.

The truth is, I have a large bag of chocolate chips to use up, as well as lots of blueberries, bananas and cherries leftover in the fridge. So I thought to combine them into a simple muffin. Besides, these yummy treats make good breakfast and recess time snacks for the kiddo. I can bake a whole batch, freeze and reheat as and when I need it.

Banana/Blueberry/Cherry Chocolate Chip Muffins
(makes 20 muffins)
  • 250g cake flour
  • 120g light muscovado sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp sea salt
  • 250g fresh milk
  • 1 large egg (65g egg with shell)
  • 60g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120g chocolate chip
  • 50g banana, cubed
  • 50g blueberry
  • 50g cherry, cubed
  1. Preheat oven 175 degree celsius, fan mode. Line muffin pans with paper cases.
  2. Sift cake flour, sugar, baking powder and sea salt together. Set aside.
  3. Mix fresh milk, egg, unsalted butter and vanilla until well-blended.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and fold till just mixed.
  5. Add chocolate chip and fold gently till just mixed.
  6. Divide batter into 3 portions (about 280g per portion).
  7. Add the fruits into each portion of batter, fold gently till just mixed.
  8. Scoop the batter into prepared muffin cases till about 3/4 filled.
  9. Bake at 175 degree celsius, fan mode for 20-25 mins.
  10. Cool on wire rack before storing in airtight container or freezer bag (for storage in freezer).
  11. To re-heat, steam the muffins for 5 mins.
Love these fruity and chocolatey muffins, light on the palate and not too sweet with each bite bursting with juicy fruit and addictive chocolate. The kiddo's favourite is blueberry follow by banana. As for me, I like all of them. I guess it's kind of a healthy treat, with fruit and chocolate combined into one :d

Will be baking these whenever I have lots of leftover fruits, meanwhile I guess this current batch can last a few weeks.

15 July 2017

Laksa Seafood Tofu, Chicken Potato Croquette & Chicken Nugget using Dancing Chef Paste

Although I'm an avid home cook, I don't always make pastes or sauces from scratch for the dishes I cook. There are days when I'm pressed for time or lazy, that's where instant or ready-made pastes come in handy!

I was offered by Dancing Chef™ and Singapore Home Cooks to try two of their Singapore Heritage pastes, the Laksa Paste and Hainanese Chicken Rice Paste. Dancing Chef™ pastes are made from natural ingredients and hence contain no MSG, preservatives or artificial colouring. Pleased to know that I'm getting the real ingredients sans hard work of cutting, pounding and blending in a convenient pack!

Other than using these pastes to make Laksa and Chicken Rice only, these pastes are very versatile and can be used to make many other dishes. It's really up to your imagination :)

And hence, I came up with the idea of making finger food with them. Instead of going into the trouble of gathering different ingredients and condiments to season the finger foods, just add the pastes and you'll get quick and easy flavouring!

As I love Crispy Seafood Tofu sold at Zi Char stalls; to get a more spicy kick, I tried adding the Dancing Chef™ laksa paste. It's a bit like eating otah otah but less spicy and more depth of flavour, love the contrast in textures, crispy outside and soft inside.

The kiddo loves croquette and I've been making salmon potato croquette and beef potato croquette, and this time, I used minced chicken and potato with the Dancing Chef™ chicken rice paste as flavour, it was yummy and even the HB liked it.

As I have some extra chicken rice paste and chicken, I also tried making chicken nuggets using the paste, once again well received too.

Laksa Seafood Tofu
(makes one 5.5" square tray)
  • 50g Laksa paste
  • 300g egg tofu (2 tubes)
  • 100g cuttlefish paste
  • 100g fish paste
  • 10pcs praw, peel and devein
  • Potato starch
  1. Add all the ingredients into a food processor or electric chopper, blend till a smooth paste forms.
  2. Line an aluminum tray with cooking paper, pour the paste into the tray.
  3. Place the tray into a steamer (medium high heat) and steam for 10 to 12 mins.
  4. Remove the tray from steamer and let the Laksa Seafood Tofu cool down completely before chilling in the fridge to set.
  5. Cut the Laksa Seafood Tofu into desired pieces, coat with potato starch and pan-fry or deep-fry till golden and crispy. 
  6. Best eaten hot, on its own or with mayonnaise.
*More ingredients can be added to the paste, such as chopped coriander, water chestnut or carrot etc.
*The Laksa Seafood Tofu can be prepared in advance, freeze for up to a month or chill in fridge for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before frying.

Chicken Potato Croquette
(makes 9 big pieces)
  • 50g chicken rice paste
  • 150g chicken fillet, minced
  • 300g russet potato (2 pieces)
  • 1/2 pc carrot
  • 2 tbsp onion, minced
  • Corn starch, egg, bread crumb (panko)
  1. Peel and cut potato and carrot into slices and steam for 15-18 mins till softened. Mash the potato and carrot till smooth, set aside.
  2. In a frying pan, add minced onion and chicken rice paste and sautee till fragrant, add minced chicken and mixed with the onion and paste, break up the minced chicken into small bits and fry till cooked.
  3. Add the cooked minced chicken into the mashed potato and carrot and stir till well-mixed.
  4. Form the potato mixture into a ball (about golf ball size), flatten, coat with corn starch, follow by egg and then bread crumb. Repeat till all the potato mixture is used up. *At this point, the croquette can be kept in an air-tight box and store in freezer for up to a month or in fridge for up to 3 days.
  5. Pan-fry the croquette till golden brown and crispy on both sides.
  6. Best serve hot, on its own, with mayonnaise or tonkatsu sauce. 
Chicken nugget
(makes 15 pieces)
  • 50g chicken rice paste
  • 250g chicken fillet, chopped
  • 2 tbsp carrot, grated, discard juice
  • 2 tbsp onion, grated, discard juice
  • Crispy powder, water
  1. Mix all the ingredients together till well-blended. Marinate for 30-60 mins.
  2. Mix crispy powder with water to form a batter.
  3. Shape the chicken mixture into desired shape, coat with batter and deep-fry till golden and crispy.
  4. Best served hot, on its own or with ketchup, mayonnaise or curry sauce.

A shout-out for Dancing Chef™ Promotion
From 1 July to 31 August 2017, purchase three packets of Dancing Chef™ pastes at just S$7.45 (UP: S$2.85/packet). Exclusively available at NTUC Fair Price supermarkets.

#DancingChefSG #singaporehomecooks

08 July 2017

Grilled Pure South Lamb Chop with Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar

I've shared the goodness of Pure South's French Lamb Rack in the previous post, featuring an Asian-style Lemongrass Lambchop served with Lemongrass-Pandan-Ginger-infused Jasmine rice and Lemongrass-infused Pickled Veggies.

As mentioned, I was sponsored 1 pack of French Lamb Rack from Pure South Asia, and each pack actually consists of 2 racks i.e. 14 ribs. Since there are only 3 of us, I cooked the racks on 2 days. Basically defrost the whole pack (both racks are packed together), cooked a rack on day 1 and the remaining on day 2. The meat remained fresh the next day, so no worries about it!

This time, I went back to my Western-style grill pan and seasoned the lamb chops with sea salt and black pepper just before grilling. But I glazed the lamb chops with caramelised balsamic vinegar for some mellow sweetness and tangy flavouring.

I'm a big fan of Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar, tried it at a vineyard in Australia and fell in love with the mellow tangy and sweet taste so bought a bottle back. Used it as salad dressing, as glaze for meats, as sauce... It's actually very easy to make at home, it's essentially a reduction of balsamic vinegar with dark brown sugar and some water. Balsamic vinegar itself may smell and taste quite sharp, but after reduction and addition of dark brown sugar, it has this deep mellow flavour which is so tantalising.

Grilled Pure South Lamb Chop with Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar

  • 1 Pure South lamb rack (about 450g)
  • Sea salt, Black pepper
  • Caramelised balsamic vinegar (store-bought or homemade)
  1. Cut rack of lamb into individual lamb chops (7 pieces).
  2. Sprinkle both sides of lamb chops with sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to grill pan (brush till pan is evenly coated), heat the pan till smoking hot, and pan fry the lamb chops for 40 - 45s on each side (depends on desired doneness), until the chops get a slight char. Brush both sides of lamb chops generously with caramelized balsamic vinegar.
  4. Serve directly on grill pan, or transfer to serving plate.
  5. Best eaten hot, on its own or with more caramelized balsamic vinegar.

Caramelised balsamic vinegar

  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 95g dark brown sugar/muscovado sugar
  1. Add balsamic vinegar and water to a small pot, bring to boil on low heat.
  2. Reduce heat to very low and simmer liquid till reduced by half, about 8-10 mins.
  3. Add dark brown sugar and cook till all sugar is melted, about 5-8 mins.
  4. Let the caramelized balsamic vinegar cool down completely and store in glass bottle.
  5. Use as glaze or salad dressing.

Once again, I must rave about the quality of the lamb chops, they were so so so good, super tender and juicy. Can't decide whether I love the lemongrass flavour or this caramelised balsamic vinegar one better :) Talking about it makes me crave for some now!

This time, served the lamb chops with buttered corn kernels, creamy spinach, mashed potato and mango pomegranate salsa and cherry tomato. My goodness, what a spread! Wish I could eat like this everyday!

A shout-out to visit Pure South Asia's website for online ordering. From now till 31 July, use promo code FARMFRESH2U to get 10% off your first purchase!
Website: https://puresouth.asia/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PureSouthAsia/

Thank you Singapore Home Cooks and Pure South and looking forward to more collaborations =D

#puresouth #newzealand #grassfed #freerange #singaporehomecooks

07 July 2017

Pan-fried Lemongrass Pure South Lamb Chop

I used to prefer beef over lamb, but recent years started to take a liking to lamb after eating an unforgettable spit roast lamb in a Farmer's Market in Australia as well as some home-grilled lamb cutlets.

That said, my knowledge of lamb is still very little and I only eat lamb at home once in a blue moon. And times when I do cook it, I'll get lamb cutlets with just salt and pepper on grill pan and eaten with mint sauce.

When I was approached by Singapore Home Cooks to participate in the Pure South Campaign to come up with a dish for their lamb rack, I was hesitant because I'm unsure of how to handle a whole lamb rack. I'm so glad that I accepted the challenge, otherwise I might never have the courage to buy a lamb rack on my own and lose the opportunity to taste such excellent quality lamb!

So I learnt that Pure South lamb is from New Zealand, 100% grass-fed and free range, hence leaner and juicier. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6 and beta-carotene and as little as 140 calories per serving. Woohoo, bring on more lamb please!

The lamb rack is the most tender part of the lamb and Pure South's lamb rack is already frenched meaning the meat at the rib part is removed exposing the rib bones. Personally I feel that this makes it easier to cut and cook, and definitely more presentable (yep, I'm kind of intimated by a whole rack of lamb if it weren't frenched).

Since I've always done Western-style lamb chops on grill, decided to go for Asian-style this time using one of my favourite ingredient, lemongrass to create a marinate paste along with garlic, shallot and seasonings like Gula Melaka, fish sauce, light soy sauce and sesame oil.

As for cooking method, I opted for a simple method which is quick and easy for home cooks, that is to cut the lamb rack into individual lamb chops, marinate and then pan-fried.

Each pack of Pure South Frenched Lamb Rack comes frozen and in twos, weighing between 800g-1.1kg, meaning each rack is about 400-550g.

To maintain the quality of the meat, it's highly recommended to thaw the frozen meat in the fridge. After thawing the meat (overnight for me), I cut the rack into 7 lamb chops using a sharp knife. It's 8 portions actually, the last rib was too thick so I sliced off a small portion and used it to do "test-cook" before pan-frying the rest :p Thereafter, just marinate the lamb chops with the blended marinate paste for 2-3hrs, then pan-fry for less than a minute each side :)

Pan-fried Lemongrass Lamb Chop

  • 1 Pure South lamb rack (about 450g)
  • 4 stalks lemongrass, chopped (bottom 1/3 of the stalk, remove root and outer 2-3 layers)
  • 5 tbsp Gula Melaka
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 5 cloves shallot
  1. Cut rack of lamb into individual lamb chops (7 pieces).
  2. Place chopped lemongrass, gula melaka, fish sauce, light soy sauce, sesame oil, water, salt, garlic and shallot into a food processor or electric chopper and blend the ingredients into a wet paste.
  3. Marinate the lamb chops with the lemongrass paste for 2-3 hrs.
  4. Scrap off most of the lemongrass paste from the lamb chops, reserve the paste.
  5. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to frying pan, heat the pan till smoking hot, and pan fry the lamb chops for 45s to 1 min each side (depends on desired doneness), until the chops get a slight char.
  6. Transfer the chops to a plate and let them sit for about 5 mins.
  7. Using the same frying pan, add the lemongrass paste and any meat juice from the lamb chops and bring the sauce to boil.
  8. Transfer lamb chops to serving plate and drizzle with some lemongrass sauce. Enjoy!

Typically lamb chops are served with salads or grilled vegetables and baked or mashed potato.

But to echo the Asian-flavours, I served the dish with lemongrass-pandan-ginger infused jasmine rice and lemongrass-infused pickled vegetables.

Lemongrass-Pandan-Ginger-infused Rice

  • ¾ cup Jasmine white rice
  • ¼ cup Jasmine brown rice
  • 300ml bone broth/chicken stock
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, smashed (bottom 1/3 of the stalk, remove root and outer 2-3 layers)
  • 1 thumb young ginger, grated
  • 2 small pandan leaves, knotted (trim bottom whitish part)
  1. In a pot, add broth, lemongrass and grated ginger (with juice). Bring the broth to boil.
  2. Let the mixture cool down and sieve. Reserve the lemongrass. (Not necessary to sieve if wish to have stronger ginger taste).
  3. Rinse and drain the rice. Add rice, broth, lemongrass and pandan leaves to rice cooker.
  4. After rice is cooked, let it sit for 5 mins, remove lemongrass and pandan leaves and fluff up the rice.
  5. Best serve hot.

Lemongrass-infused Pickled Vegetables

  • 500ml water
  • 5 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 stalks lemongrass, smashed (remaining 2/3 from the lamb chops and rice, remove root and outer 2-3 layers)
  • 3 shallots
  • 2 chili padi
  • 1 carrot, cubed and julienned
  • 1 cucumber, cubed and julienned
  1. In a pot, add water, honey, vinegar and salt. Bring to boil till honey is fully melted.
  2. Add lemongrass, shallots and chili padi and let the liquid cool down completely.
  3. Add the carrot and cucumber to the pickling liquid and let the vegetables infuse for at least 1 hour.
  4. Transfer to glass jar and store the pickles in fridge, for up to 1 week.

I love love love how the lamb chops turned out! Thanks to the superb quality of Pure South's lamb, the meat was so juicy and tender! This was by far the most tender lamb meat I've ever eaten; and there wasn't even any gamey smell at all (unlike the lamb I've eaten in the past). Oh, what have I been missing out!
The lemongrass sauce went really well with the tender, juicy meat. Besides the amazing aroma, I can taste the part citrus, part minty, part gingery flavours, along with sweetness from gula melaka, as well as the umami savoury hint from fish sauce.

The jasmine rice which was cooked with a lemongrass-pandan-ginger infusion together with bone broth tasted so fragrant and yummy too! Perfect with the lamb chops as well as the lemongrass sauce!

The lemongrass-infused pickled vegetables provided a tinge of sweet, salty, sourish, spiciness as well as crunchy texture, and helped to refresh the palate, definitely an essential accompaniment to the dish! 

Once again, I felt so blessed to be able to enjoy such great quality lamb from Pure South. Really appreciate Singapore Home Cooks and Pure South for the opportunity.

Pure South Asia has recently launched their website and open for orders. From now till 31 July, use promo code FARMFRESH2U to get 10% off your first purchase!

Website: https://puresouth.asia/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PureSouthAsia/

I've already bought more lamb racks to share with friends. Go try too!

#puresouth #newzealand #grassfed #freerange #singaporehomecooks