Thursday, May 30, 2013

Creamy Butter Prawn With Spinach

I tried making this creamy butter prawn sometime last year when I first got my Happy Call Pan. At that time I followed the recipe from the Munch Ministry, except the salted egg yolks. I remember how creamy and absolutely yummy it was.

I had made a mental note to try this again, but this time I wanted to have more Indian spices in. Since I am mostly cooking one dish meals, I also I wanted to add in the green vegetable factor, the spinach. One thing I have discovered is that spinach goes well into most curry like dishes. You either put it in to stir fry before you make the gravy, else add in later, because its wilts away pretty fast. You also have a choice of chopping it fine, or leaving the leaves as it is.

While googling for a different recipe for inspiration, I came across this Steamy Kitchen blog on  how to prepare prawns with the bouncy bite, regardless of whether its fresh or frozen. Definitely great tips for prawn lovers out there.

As always, my supply of prawn was kinda underestimated. Its not my fault that the head and shells take so much of the package space. So the innovative me chopped some fish & soy pieces and added them together with the prawn, into the curry. You can omit it if you want.

You need:

1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, grated
2 tbsp butter       
500g prawn, shell and head removed
half can of evaporated milk
spinach, chopped
baby tomatoes, cut half
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
a little sprinkle of nutmeg powder
half tsp turmeric
half tbsp curry powder
half cup of water
salt and pepper

For marinade:
salt, pepper and corn flour

1) Marinate the prawns with the ingredients for 1-2 hours. You can almost see the prawns plumped up once marination time is over.
2) Fry the prawn in a lightly oiled pan till pink and set aside.
3) Heat up the pan and put in the butter, and sautee the onion and garlic for 5 minutes.
4) Add in the cumin, coriander, turmeric and curry powder. Give it a stir and smell the aroma. It would start drying up a little. Add in half cup of water and let it cook to a boil.
5) Add in the spinach leaves, and season with salt, pepper and ground nutmeg. Cook for 5 minutes.
6) Pour in the evaporated milk and let it cook further and reduce into thicker gravy.
7) After 10 minutes, you can add in the prawn. And it is ready to be served in 5 minutes!

I served it with some angel hair pasta, because I love the fact that it cooks so much faster than other pastas. And some roasted cashew nut on the side, because I am feeling generous. 

It is so creamy and rich to the taste. I wonder why don't we use evaporated milk more often in all dishes. It just makes anything so rich and sexy! Alright, back to reality, no we cannot have evaporated milk in everything if we want to take care of our waistline. Oh well, once in a while won't hurt!

This is also one of my secret as to how I get hubby to eat his spinach. No, no, popeye the sailorman trick doesn't do it anymore!

Happy trying!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mother Of All Shortcuts

It is once in a blue moon request from hubby comes in that he wants to eat something healthy. I asked why, and he goes 'because I am on a diet'. Then I briefly recalled a conversation on Sunday night, that after the long weekend binging, he wants to go on a diet. I am surprised, because usually these diets don't last more than 24 hours!

Well, no sweat, I am all for the healthy cooking and eating. I just need the audience, that's all. I thought of making chicken wraps. But there was one roadblock. I did not have any tortilla wraps at home, thanks to Tesco for not stocking on when I shopped there on Sunday. And the frozen paratha would totally not serve the purpose.

Rummaging through my tiny fridge (yeah, my fridge is so tiny I am amazed how I can stuff so much goodies into it) I found the ready made pizza crust. I could literally see the light bulb illuminate inside my head. Or maybe it was just the lighting in the freezer. The point is, I found a solution.

I cut the pizza crust into half, so now I have two semi spheres. I slit it in the center to create a pocket, and now we a pita bread that can be filled with yummy goodness! And the texture is just right to be eaten toasted too.

The chicken breast preparation is so much inspired from tandoori recipe. A few hours earlier I marinated some chicken breast in yogurt, chilli powder, ginger & garlic paste, salt and pepper. Then I cook them with no oil on the Happy Call Pan. I love my HCP so much but I always forget give it credit all the time. Prep some salad leaves, baby tomatoes and black olives.

Once chicken is done. I am torn as to how to toast the bread. I did not want to use up another utensil that would add up to the amount of washing I have to do. And the HCP called out to me, 'I am not two-sided for nothing!' I saw the light bulb illuminate again!

So I turn the HCP, and toast my pita breads on the unused side, and voila! Fill the 'pita' with the healthy goodness. And then hubby ate the pita bread with all kinds of sauce, ranging from roasted sesame, japanese mayo and barbeque sauce! Oh well, I suppose we can go overboard with the sauce since we went healthy till now.

The last I checked, no complains over the healthy meal. I wonder what comes today, to diet or not to diet?! Till then I shall keep the light bulb to rest, else the electricity bills are gonna soar.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rice Cooker Claypot Chicken Rice With Lap Cheong

With the two kids, hubby and the house to take care of, I am always pressed for time. I have formulated several strategies and shortcuts to make my chores simple yet effective. Cooking one pot dishes is one such life saviour for me, especially on weekdays.

For balanced meals, I have to ensure that the one pot dish contains all daily essentials, that is vegetables and meat. I usually add any kinds of vegetables to the usual dish to make it a balanced one pot dish. The trick to get the best combination of vegetables is to use all different colors together, such as red, yellow and green.

One favourite in our house is claypot chicken rice. Except that it is fully cooked in the rice cooker. It is pretty simple, with some prep, and some light sautee, and you can put it into the rice cooker to cook till done, the resulf of which is very satisfying!

I do not have exact measurements of each ingredient because I usually just splash them in as needed. I do keep the salt at minimum, hence no extra salt added apart from the soy sauce. You can tweak it as you like.

I am so slow with the camera that this is the best shot I got of my colourful effort. Recipe as follows.

You need:

2 sets of thigh & drumstick, cut into small pieces
2 cups of uncooked rice (I used basmati)
1 onion, diced
1 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick
garlic ginger paste
4 lap cheong, chopped into biased slices
spring onion, chopped long
diced vegetables - red/green pepper, frozen carrot/corn/peas

light soy sauce
dark soy sauce
sesame oil
oyster sauce
ginger garlic paste
corn flour


1) Marinate the chicken pieces with the marinade for 2-3 hours.
2) Lightly fry the lap cheong with no oil (I use non stick pan). Set aside.
3) Start to cook the rice as per normal in the rice cooker. Put in the ginger garlic paste and stir. Let it cook while you get onto the next step.
4) Use the same pan, with the leftover fat, sautee star anise and cinnamon with onion till fragrant. 
5) Add in all the vegetables (except spring onion) and sautee for 5 minutes.
6) Add in the chicken and stir fry for 5-10 minutes. Add the ginger garlic paste, and cook for 5 minutes more.
7) Turn off the heat and pour the chicken mixture into the halfway cooked rice, and give it a stir.
8) Once rice cooker turns off, sprinkle the lap cheong and spring onion on top. 

I usually keep it warm in the cooker for 30 minutes after cooking. It allows the chicken to slow cook further, and eventually the meat slips of the bones with no effort. You can see that I use a lot of ginger and garlic paste because I love the aroma that it gives. You can omit it if you are not crazy about it.

The final product, is again, so colourful. I love the freshness of the spring onion, visually and also to the taste! Happy trying!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

While They Are Sleeping...

We mummies are perhaps the most productive when the kids sleep. When Sanju was an infant, I was told to sleep while he sleeps. Somehow it was not possible because I am always frantically running around to complete my chores while he dozes off for a short while. Being in confinement is totally different because you have others around you helping, yet I would not be able to sleep for some reasons.

And if you are indeed a parent you would know by now that the saying 'sleeping like a baby' is the biggest hoax. Babies don't sleep that much to make it sound so long and peaceful. And some, even if they do sleep, they wake up after 10-15 minutes fussing and finally settle down only to repeat it after 10 minutes. I had this for one year with Jeev, who was an avid fan of nursing to sleep.

Now that both my babies are well into their toddlerhood, the picture of their sleep is slightly different. They nap on schedule, provided we are at our house with no guests. If we have our families over, I think they can go without sleep for days, if we don't force them to sleep! Although the challenge that it was, I managed to train both the fellas to nap simultaneously, which is the best gift that I could ever present myself with. Some 1-2 hours of peace and just ME. If I am lucky I get 2.5 hours!

As the kids are older I no longer rush to do my chores when they sleep. The most I do is defrost the meal, and prep the vegetables. Other cooking and washing can be done while they are awake since now that they can play on their own. They would either be busy with their toys or busy helping me mess the kitchen while I cook and clean.

While they sleep, I refuse to nap. If I nap, I lose my ME time. So matter how tired I am from the day before, or the morning, or my whole motherhood life, I refuse to close my eyes to sleep.

While they sleep, I refuse to pick up their toys. I don't mind if I have to share the couch with Ironman and his Avenger assemble. I sometimes even sit on the couch with the mega blocks as my cushion. If I pick after them, they would not learn to keep their toys by themselves. Plus it is fun to see what levels of voice intonation gets them picking up their own toys, ranging from 'Calm', 'Not-so-calm', to 'Do IT NOW'. It is a homeschooling activity on its own, if you know what I mean.

While they are sleeping, I get to catch up with myself. I take a slow sip into my cup of hot ginger tea. Sometimes dunking my favourite weetameal biscuits into it. While I watch my favourite cooking shows on the Food Network. At minimal volume, with the subtitles on. I don't mind, because the food looks just as yummy and tempting to cook.

While they sleep, is also when I get to recollect my thoughts and listen to my mind. Sit down for once, with no one calling me to carry or play. Sit by my old laptop and write my blog, with no one trying to pick my alphabets out. I can also finally sit with my Ipad with no one trying to pull it away from me. I can facebook as much as I want, and I get to tell facebook what's on my mind.

While they sleep, I get to do the little grooming for myself. I get my eyebrows done, my upper lip facial hair plucked. I also get to do my own mini pedicure session, and finally end with nice coloured toenails. Which Sanju always notices later and comments 'toes nice!'

A picture can say a thousand words, but these pictures can only say 4 words, 'Sleeping like a baby'!

While they sleep is when the house is on a pin-drop silence. And the world stops. Nothing needs to be cleaned, to be wiped, or washed, or bathed, or pacified, or even a slight undivided attention. Suddenly it seems weird having no voices around me 'ma' this, 'ma' that... I have to admit, during my occasional chances of their long napping I end up missing them, slightly. And I sit by the bed, occupying myself with internet surfing, waiting for their first voice or reaction of getting up.

It has been 1.5 hours of my ME time granted by the kids. Right now I still cannot decide how do I use the rest of the freedom. Eyebrows, check! Ginger tea, check! Blog, check! FB, check! I either watch something on tv or wait by the bed for them. Oh yes, I am a clingy mother.

Wishing a happy mother's day to all mummies!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

When life gave me lemons I made lemon poppy seed muffins out of it! 


Well in reality its quite the opposite. Mom has this magical spice that she adds into almost all her Indian cooking, and you know how sometimes even if the thing is right under your nose you can hardly spot it. It is called 'kas kas' in Hindi and I had no idea what is it called in English. I happened to see it once by chance together with the translation and I got ecstatic to know that it is indeed poppy seeds!

I remembered how lemon poppy seed cakes are a favourite in most baking websites. That is how I got to buying lemons next. And searching the internet for the perfect recipe. Most recipes called for yogurt or buttermilk, which I did not have at this moment, so I settled for this recipe from food network (also my favourite channel!).

This is definitely one of the many firsts. Also the first time I made muffins from scratch without any premix, apart from the first time lemon and poppy seed use. And gosh I never knew lemon zest can be so refreshing! Don't beat me for it, we are all in the learning curve after all.

This is also the first time ever I learnt to fold in the dry ingredients properly into the matter without over mixing it. Oh yeah, it does make ALL the difference!

I added some zing into it by giving it a lemon and honey glaze right when it is hot from the oven because it allows the muffin to soak up all the glaze. Just mix a teaspoon of lemon juice with 1 tablespoon of honey, or until you get your desired taste. Little did I know that juice from one lemon takes a lot of honey to bring the sour taste down. Well, well, another first here. All the better to have it more lemony, because as they say, lemon cuts down the fat, right? Right??! Thankfully my sourish glaze added the perfect amount of zing to it!

I feel my muffins look a little naked because I baked them directly inside the muffin trays, I suppose I should add muffin cups into my next shopping list.

I have been having throat inflammation for the last week, so I am hoping this lemon and honey combination will work just fine. Okay, I am just being hopeful and guilt-free here. I am still curious as to how would it taste if I used yogurt or buttermilk, I hope I will have the patience to try this again with yogurt next.

The end product is lovely, and the sweetness is just nice for us health conscious people. And the lemon taste will keep you refreshed the whole day! I can see why this can be a quick breakfast favourite. Suddenly 12 muffins seemed to little in real munching numbers that it disappeared so fast!


Related Posts with Thumbnails