Desserts, Middle Eastern/Turkish

Kunafe – my version

So yesterday I made the best kunafe I’ve ever made. After learning the basics from cleobuttera and from others, I decided to combine a few recipes and my own judgement.

Lesson 1: the mould to use is important. I remember the very first time I made kunafe a few years ago, I used a glass dish. Bad idea. The bottom didn’t crisp and I ended up with a very soggy dessert.

Lesson 2: the cheese. You can’t use salty cheese here. I remember once I used a saltier dish and nope, the kunafe was weird. Sweet and salty here is not the combination you want.

Lesson 3: filling the kataifi pastry up the edges. The second time I made the kunafe, I had a run of blackened cheese around. It was not a pretty sight.

So with all of these mistakes, I learnt from them and made a kunafe that was gone in minutes. I use now only a springform metal round pan. I use butter and yesterday, a little bit of colouring. I filled the pan up the edges slightly so when I put the filling in, it won’t leak out.

For the filling: one whole bottle of English clotted cream mixed with one whole pack of ricotta cheese. Mix well. Add to the kataifi in the pan. Top with shredded mozzarella and then cover with more kataifi pastry, and then bake.

Once baked, quickly pour sugar syrup all over the hot kunafe. And then decorate.

I decorated with crushed pistachios and dried flowers.
Look at that cheese pull!

This is a great dessert for when you have guests coming over. Make one this weekend!

Looks so pretty on the table!

Western

Quiche

I decided that I’ll be using recipes from the many cookbooks I own from now on. Not that I dont think Internet ones are bad but to justify purchasing all the cookbooks I have in my kitchen now! 😅

So I picked up the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook on Pies and Tarts. I used to be such a fan of this Australian Women’s Weekly series and have a few in my kitchen.

I decided to make the quiche. The recipe for the pie crust was easy!

Plain flour: 225g

Cold butter: 125g

One egg yolk

And a couple teaspoons of cold water to combine

I must say after I started on my sourdough journey, I’ve been using weight measurements than cups. It’s more precise and I think it’s easy too once you have the weighing scale and just using the tare function, I can get all I need in one bowl.

The dough came nicely. After wrapping in cling film and refrigerating it for half an hour, I rolled it and naked blind in the oven.

For the filling, I used Turkey ham and French Brie cheese. The custard mixture came to 1/4 cup double cream, a few tablespoons of milk, 2 eggs. I seasoned with only black pepper and added chopped coriander because I didn’t have parsley.

Me filling in the pie with the custard mixture.
Perfect measurements! Nothing wasted.
Here it is straight out of the oven.
Top few.
A slice.
Bread and Batter

Sourdough Madness

Oh my goodness! I haven’t realised it’s been three whole months since my last post!

The reason is quite simple. Besides being very busy with work, I’ve also been crazy mad about sourdough!

Many failures, many attempts and it is only now that I am quite confident in making my own bread. Not so good that I can sell them but definitely good enough for the family to keep asking for more.

I failed twice making my own starter. Singapore is just way too humid and after failing, I did the next logical thing – to ask for some. A friend gifted me hers (it was a gift from her friend) and thereafter my sourdough experiments began.

Again, I couldn’t seem to get them right because Singapore is definitely extremely humid. The cookbook which I got and am still using calls for 8-10 hours of bulk proofing. It was only later when I joined a local sourdough group that I learnt never to go beyond 4 hours in our hot weather.

I still haven’t perfected it yet but I miss blogging and updating this blog so here are some of my bread pictures. The first few. I’ll share which recipes I’ve used later when my holidays begin and I cook regularly again. 🙂

This was when I tried using inclusions. Chocolate.
This was when I finally managed to get an ear, albeit a tiny one! Lol
This was when I I used wholemeal flour.

The journey is satisfying though full of trials and error. In fact, I’ve a pepper Jack loaf proofing in the fridge right now, ready for the oven by 8pm. I’ll share that in a proper post next.

Salads and Vegetables, Snack, Western

Poutine

I’ve a cool game I am playing with the children now. Though they are older now, it doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun, especially in this trying pandemic era.

In the last post I shared that the game involves being blindfolded and picking a country at random. Whichever country the finger lands at, I will learn more about the country and cook dishes relevant or popular to that place.

Last week after picking Mali the previous week, the Boy’s finger landed smack on Victoria Island, Canada. Now, that’s like almost Arctic territory and I scoured the Net but there’s very limited information about Victoria Island. I even borrowed a book online on Canadian cuisine but nothing on Victoria Island. Disappointed, I decided then to make Canada’s national dish of sorts – poutine!

What is there not to like about fried potatoes! But what’s even better is that it’s served with homemade gravy! And what can make it even better? Adding cheese. Goodness. Loaded with all the good stuff, but yes, not a diet friendly dish at all!

The first thing I did was make the gravy. Authentic ones use a combination of beef and chicken stock but I never have ready made home-made beef stock so I used all chicken. It’s so simple to make. Make a roux of butter and plain flour and make sure the mixture darkens to a dark brown. Add black pepper here at this stage. This adds to the fragrance of the gravy. Once it’s a dark brown, slowly add chicken stock and stir furiously. After that, thicken with 1-2 tsp of cornflour that had been mixed with some water. And that’s it! You may choose to season with salt but for me, that’s just too much sodium because I used boxed chicken stock.

For the potatoes, I used Idaho russet potatoes. They were huge, and the perfect length. Twice fry the potatoes. The first at a lower temperature to cook the insides, and the second at a higher temperature to crisp them up.

I don’t have cheese curds. We don’t have a wide range of cheeses here so I read that the best substitute is mozzarella. Use the block kind and tear it up into chunks.

And that’s it. Poutine is delicious but must be eaten hot. I’m glad I am playing this game because seriously, sometimes I run out of ideas on what to make next for the family. This is spontaneous and educational. Travelling vicariously through food and books now since it’s been 1.5 years since we travelled out of our island. 😦

African / African American, Meat

Tiguadege Na (Meat in Peanut Sauce)

So I have a new game with my kids. Every week, I blindfold one of them, spin the child around and they’ll point randomly at a place on my world map.

And the Boy two weeks ago pointed at Mali! I know nothing about Mali so when researching about this country, I found out that a popular and perhaps the National dish of Mali is meat in peanut sauce. It uses peanut butter! Loving the idea already!

So last week was the day I had to cook a dish from the country picked. I chose to make this dish using lamb cubes. The outcome was amazing! It almost tasted like Malay-style peanut sauce that we usually eat with our satay or ketupat (rice cakes) except there’s no spice or chilli at all here.

The first step is browning the lamb cubes. And once browned remove.
Then sauté chopped onions and garlic in oil. Add black pepper and some salt. Let the onions soften.
Add chicken stock or beef broth, a can of tomato diced, and Italian seasoning. The recipe I followed called for herbs de provence but I didn’t have any so Italian seasoning works the same too. Just a pinch will do.
Now this is the fascinating part! Add peanut butter! Mix and let it simmer till meat is done, adding potatoes and carrots.
I added the root vegetables
when I guessed the lamb cubes were halfway done.
And then voila! Serve with hot rice.
It was a good lunch. Learning and trying something new.