The Occasional Cook

~Pottering about in my Pink Kitchen

Spaghetti Primavera — March 19, 2019

Spaghetti Primavera

I remember when I was a young Uni grad working part time at this Italian restaurant. And on the menu was spaghetti primavera. All I remembered was simply pasta with a whole lot of vegetables.

And since I am on a mission to feed myself and the family more vegetables, I decided to make my own version of it by adding more vegetables then I could remember in that Italian restaurant version!

I first sautéed garlic in olive oil and then added sliced shiitake mushrooms. Cook till browned. And then added zucchini slices and blanched broccoli followed by cherry tomatoes. And then I added my cooked spaghetti in and toss to mix. The last was from my fridge, I had a glass container full of my oven baked capsicum and slices of garlic in olive oil slices. I added about two huge tablespoons including some of the oil into the mixture. Season with sea salt and black pepper and a handful of grated Parmesan. To serve, sprinkle some red pepper flakes.

I am happy that the family ate this up. Lots of goodness in a plate. If you want to add more vegetables in your diet, I strongly recommend this simple yet delicious and nourishing dish!

Shakshouka — March 16, 2019

Shakshouka

Riding on the theme of tomatoes again, I made shakshouka. Such a fun dish to pronounce. But also very easy to make and so delicious.

I tried making it twice. First time in a pyrex dish and baked in the oven. And the second time over the stove. I prefer the second method. It’s easier, and I can control the eggs better.

It seriously is a very simple dish to make. Again, I used tinned tomatoes. And for depth, smoked paprika, cumin (ground), coriander (ground), dried mint. And of course sea salt and a pinch of sugar. Next time, I will use a spoonful of jarred harissa. The trick is to add plenty of other vegetables so it doesn’t just become a tomato soup. I added chopped capsicums and mushrooms to this shakshouka.

And to serve, a huge dollop of Greek yogurt. That really elevated the dish! I copied this from a café I tried shakshouka from. Except that they used sour cream instead of Greek Yogurt. I prefer the yogurt (friendlier to the waist too!). Sprinkle lots of Italian parsley on top to serve.

It’s best eaten with slices of sourdough bread, but I didn’t have any so just regular toasts work just as fine.

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Tomato based Beef Stew —

Tomato based Beef Stew

Lately, I’ve been pretty much obsessed with tomatoes. So one weekend, I decided to make beef stew, but wanted it to be with a tomato-based. So instead of just regular water, I poured it lots and lots of tomatoes. Jar, packet, tin…you name it, I’ve got ’em all in whate’er packaging it can come in. It’s really idiot proof, really, and the photos will show exactly how it’s done. Just a matter of browning the meat, and then putting it back inside and adding in all the veggies and tomatoes. Leave it to simmer till beef is tender. And voila! A meal for the entire family. The only thing was I forgot to brown the onions, so I did it separately in another pan. Don’t forget to season. I just used sea salt, black pepper and a pinch of Italian dried herbs.

 

 

 

Haloumi Tomato Sticks — March 2, 2019

Haloumi Tomato Sticks

Such a simple recipe (in fact, not even a recipe!) but so delightful and delicious.

Cut haloumi into squares, fry them till very brown in olive oil, and skewer them with cherry tomatoes. Just before serving, place skewers on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for about only 5 minutes.

I am so going to make this my signature dish to bring for family events! See how pretty it sits together with the other potluck dishes 🙂

Maakouda (Moroccan Potato Patty) —

Maakouda (Moroccan Potato Patty)

I am convinced that food unites people because there are many similar foods that every culture seems to call their own. I am pretty sure the interaction between communities has resulted in an exchange of wonderful ideas, and then adaptation.

When I first came across this, the first thought that came to my mind immediately was ‘bergedil’! ‘Begedil’ or ‘perkedil’ is a Malay/Indonesian potato patty made by frying and mashing these fried potatoes and then forming patties with the addition of fried minced meat and fried onions, is a favourite in this part of the world. Interestingly, ‘bergedil’ was introduced by the Dutch when they colonised Indonesia. The Dutch has a version of this called ‘frikadeller’. And now, I’m learning that the Moroccans also have their potato version, sans any meat.

I think the Moroccan version is much healthier. Instead of frying the potatoes, they boil them and mash them fine with spices and egg. Patties are larger and flatter. And they serve these maakouda in between bread (or eaten on its own).

 

I did not take a picture of the finished product on a plate because once they were off the pan, very quick hands snatched them and they were gone in seconds!

My version of the maakouda recipe

  1. 5 boiled large Russet potatoes
  2. 1 tsp smoked paprika
  3. 2 tsp ground cumin
  4. 1 tsp garlic
  5. 1 tsp French sea salt (just because)
  6. 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
  7. 1 egg

Form into patties, and then before frying, dust with plain flour and dip in beaten egg. Fry till brown and crispy.

Enjoy!

Indian French Toast — February 24, 2019

Indian French Toast

A Friend posted on Facebook a video of an old Indian Sikh man who is famous for his egg dishes. A makeshift stall by the side of the road selling only three types of eggs – boiled, half cooked or scrambled with bread (essentially a French toast style).

I decided to make the French omelette style bread.

In a bowl crack in three eggs. Add finely minced green chillies, tomatoes, a sprinkle of dried Mun and a few rounds of freshly ground black pepper. Salt to taste.

Pour the mixture into some hot oil and then proceed to add two slices of white bread. I didn’t manage to snap a photo when the bread went in. Fold the bread with the egg underneath it in half so essentially you’ll have two breads sitting on TOP of each other. Cook till eggs are done and cut the bread into two then fours using your spatula.

Voila! Is all done. For the egg mixture it’ll be nicer with finely minced purple onions but the family here doesn’t like onions so I’ve omitted it from the recipe.

The best of halal Thai Street food — December 10, 2018

The best of halal Thai Street food

So we just came back from a very good holiday in Krabi with a belly full of good food and a good shade darker.

Featuring the best of what I ate. Last photo of insects is just a novelty. Didn’t see a single person buying them at his stall at the Krabi Night Market. By the way, this is SUPER overated and really not worth the visit.

1. Grilled meats. Soooo tender and flavourful. There’s cubes of fat in the middle of the beef and hence the melt in the mouth deliciousness.

2. Fresh grilled squid with barbecue sauce.

3. Mango sticky rice!

4. Grilled corn. So delicious!

5. Khanom Buang. Traditional Thai snack only found on the weekends night markets. It’s meringue with a savoury topping. Nothing I’ve ever tasted in Singapore before. Yum!

6. Pad Thai! I bought packets of pad Thai sauce in this trip. Will be whipping some up when I get my new kitchen in a month’s time!

7. Thai tea! So good here especially when the weather was sooo hot on some days.

8. Fried insects! For the fearless and boundary-less 😃

Japchae — October 29, 2018

Japchae

A few years ago I posted a very lazy version of japchae: just using the noodles but stir frying it like how SE Asians fry noodles.

Yesterday I tried doing it the traditional Korean way ie to cook each ingredient individually and mix them into the noodles instead of stir frying them.

For the noodles, after boiling them, season with 6 tbsp of light soy sauce, 1 tbsp is sesame oil and 1 tbsp of yondu sauce. This yondu sauce can only be found in Korean grocery stores. And because I can’t read Korean, until today I do not know what it is. My BIL who married a Korean said that it is simply ‘magic sauce’ 😂

For the beef, I marinated with light soy sauce and erm worschestershire sauce. Not so authentically Korean here but that’s my liberty as a cook! Lol

For the carrots, stir fry till soft but there’s still a nice bite to it with chopped garlic, light soy sauce and the yondu sauce. I seasoned the sliced white button mushrooms the same way.

Mix the cooked ingredients into the noodles gently and sprinkle lots of sesame seeds. And voila! Japchae.

Nasi Goreng Kampong Hijau: Green Fried Rice — September 23, 2018

Nasi Goreng Kampong Hijau: Green Fried Rice

Nasi goreng kampong hijau or village green fried rice in its literal translation, is a typical Malay home cooked dish when you’re just too lazy to cook white rice with all its accompaniments. You know Malay cooking is tedious. You have the rice but you need a protein gravy dish. And if that’s not enough, it needs to be accompanied with a vegetable dish and sambals. So when tired or lazy, this one dish fried rice is a fixture once a week 😌

I love eating the green chilli version. It’s more fragrant.

In a chopper or blender, blend not too finely green chillies, some green chilli padi (for fiery heat), 3-4 garlic, onions (1 large) and a handful of ikan bilis or dried anchovies and a tablespoon of ground belacan (fermented shrimp ubiquitous is SEA cuisine).

Once the paste is done, the rest is easy. Fry paste in oil over medium heat till cooked and then add an egg in and rice. Mix well.

I use basmati rice hence the longer grains. And to serve, vegetables fried with beef and omelette. It’s usually served with keropok, or fish crackers but now is not the time for frying because of our busy work schedules.

Pesto and Cheese Whirls — September 22, 2018

Pesto and Cheese Whirls

Inspired by a recipe I read on GoodFood Magazine, I recreated this today.

I didn’t use their dough recipe because the Tastemade one I made last week works so well and I’ve got the measurements memorised.

I used olives and Italian flat leaf parsley, as well as semi sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

I must say, this one is a winner!

Next week I’ll make some more for colleagues but I’ll brush the sides with olive oil for more colour and flavour.