Sunday, April 15, 2018

SRC 2018 Reunion - Sweet Chili Pork

I feel so immensely happy as I type this post and I owe it all to our SRC Reunion event. Those of you who've been around here for a while, will know that I was part of this super fun group called the Secret Recipe Club. This was a lot of fun, sort of like Secret Santa for food bloggers. You were assigned a partner and you had to pick and cook a recipe from their blog and all the members would post about it on a pre-determined day called Reveal Day. I was part of the SRC right from June 2011 to November 2016, a little over 5 years. So when we wrapped that up, I knew I would missed this bunch of bloggers.

Early last month, Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, who happens to be our SRC boss lady ;)  called out to all the club members and announced an SRC reunion event. Of course, I signed up for it and for this event, I was assigned Micha's blog, Cooking Mimi. Micha's blog is packed with great recipes. I had an absolute blast going through her blog and picking a recipe for today. After a lot of looking around I narrowed my choices down to this Hawaiian Pork, Potstickers (she even makes her own potsticker wrappers), Quick and Crispy Pork Cutlets and her Sweet Chili Pork. Have you spotted the trend here? I somehow happened to be zeroing in on Pork recipes. So this much was clear, I knew I was making Pork. When I saw her recipe for Sweet Chili Pork my mind was made up. This is what I was going to make.

Before we move on to the recipe, let's talk about this Sweet Chili Pork, shall we? This dish has it all with juicy little pieces of pork tossed in a sweet sauce with mild heat from the Sweet Chili sauce and the crunch of the onion and capsicum just rounds it off beautifully. I could not believe how easy this recipe was. I wanted to try it just to see if a recipe this minimal would hit the spot. And hit the spot it did. I am so glad I tried this out. My husband is not a fussy eater but he is my biggest critic and helps me work on recipes and tweak them. He was floored by this recipe. And I agree with him 100%. This recipe is very similar to the kind of takeaway meals we got back in Bombay, albeit not with pork, but with chicken. Thank you Micha, for an absolute stunner.

I only made a couple of minor additions to the original recipe. I added some finely chopped ginger and garlic and some pieces of capsicum (green peppers) to the recipe. We served this up with some fried rice, but this would work very well with some noodles too.




Sweet Chili Pork

1/4 kg boneless pork
1 egg
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, cut into cubes
1 /2 green capsicum, cut into cubes (similar in size to the onion cubes)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2" ginger, finely chopped
1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp lime juice

Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a skillet over moderate heat.

Crack the egg into a small bowl, whisk it and set it aside.

In another bowl, mix the flour and cornstarch.

Cut the pork into bite sized pieces. Toss the pieces in a little salt and lime juice. Toss the pork pieces in the flour mix. Then dip them in the egg and in the flour mix again .

Fry the pieces of pork in batches for about 3-4 minutes a side or until golden brown and crispy. Drain and set aside.


Heat 1 tbsp of oil in another pan.

When the oil is hot, add the onion and capsicum and stir fry till the pieces have just started to soften. I like mine a little crunchy. Cook it to your desired level of doneness.

Add the finely chopped ginger and garlic and stir it around.

Add the sweet chilly sauce and the fried pork pieces. Stir to coat everything in the sweet chili sauce. At this point, if you want a little more sauce in the dish, add some more. Toss well.

Serve hot.

Enjoy!!!


Here's a peek at all my previous SRC posts.


Don't forget to see what the others have whipped up for our 2018 reunion -


Monday, April 9, 2018

Spinach, Feta and Ricotta Rolls

Back when I was working at my last job, a colleague, who happened to be my work bestie, introduced me to this treat. We'd take our breaks together whenever we could and hop over to Muffin Break. Our Muffin Break outlet made the best Spinach and Feta Rolls (sidenote - their Bran muffins were to die for). But I'd never noticed these little beauties before this. I was on a first name basis with its Non-vegetarian counterpart - the sausage roll. I've had quite a few of those. But on this particular day, when we went over to Muffin Break, she ordered a Spinach and Feta Roll to go with her coffee. Needless, to say, I was intrigued. So I ordered one for myself too. And the rest, as they say, is history.

From that day on, if I ever need to grab a bite and am in the mood for something savory, I pick up one of their Spinach and Feta Rolls. They are seriously good. And, I like to think that I'm getting a little extra Spinach in my diet that day.

So getting back to yesterday. When I found myself with a big basket of Ricotta cheese and a bag of Spinach I needed to use up, I decided to see if I could use the two together and come up with something delicious. After a little looking around, I found just the thing. I've based my rolls on a similar recipe I found online and I just switched it up to my liking. This time around, I used store bought Puff pastry. I had a packet in the freezer that I wanted to use up too. This recipe has just 2 basic components - the pastry and the filling. The filling is really easy to put together. You just mix up all the ingredients and your ready to go. The verdict - These rolls are really good. They're not exactly like the Muffin Break ones. I am now convinced that there is some flour added to their filling, possibly to bulk it up. But these homemade rolls can give them a serious run for their money. And this time, I know for sure that there's a heap of spinach in there. And everyone knows that Spinach with Ricotta and Feta is a match made in heaven. So let's have a look at these Spinach Rolls, shall we?




Spinach, Feta and Ricotta Rolls
Adapted from: Lisa's Lemony Kitchen
Makes 18 rolls

3 sheets Pampas all butter Puff pastry
200g Feta Cheese
300g Ricotta Cheese
150g Baby Spinach, finely chopped
Red Chili Flakes, to taste
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 egg
Black sesame seeds, to sprinkle over

Preheat your oven to 180ºC.

Place the baking tray in the oven.

Thaw 3 sheets of puff pastry. The pastry should be soft enough to work with but still cold. If it warms up too much, it gets sticky and difficult to work with.

Crumble the feta into a bowl.

Now add the Ricotta and crumble that in as well.

Add crushed black pepper to taste.

Taste the mix and add more salt if you want. I didn't need to add any salt at this stage.

Add the spinach and red chili flakes. Mix well.

Crack the egg into a small bowl. Whisk and keep aside.

Working with one sheet at a time, cut the sheet in half.

Spoon the mix to form a long log in the center of each half of the pastry (lengthwise).

Brush one side (along the length) of each half of the sheet with the whisked egg.

Roll the other side of pastry over the spinach into a tight log. The egg will help seal the pastry.

Place the rolls on greaseproof paper, seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the pastry.

Carefully place the paper onto the heated tray.

Brush the tops of the rolls with the whisked egg (egg wash).

Crack some black pepper on the top of each roll and sprinkle some black sesame seeds on the rolls.

Bake for about 30 minutes or till golden brown in color.

Serve hot.



Sunday, April 8, 2018

Savory Ricotta Scones

This is a recipe I came across by pure chance. Last week I bought a big basket of fresh ricotta, not for the ricotta, but for the basket. Has anyone else done something as crazy as that? I needed the basket for a project I'm working on and if all goes well, I will share that with you. But I must admit, I was quite stoked to have the fresh ricotta to play with. And play I did. This is one of the things I made using that ricotta. I made a batch of these amazing Savory Ricotta Scones. I used a bunch of dried herbs I had in the kitchen, but I can only imagine how much more amazing these would taste with fresh herbs. One of the things I want to do, is grow my own herbs. And if I have any luck with that, I will make this recipe using fresh herbs.

Have you tried making scones before? I've tried these Chocolate Chip Banana Scones, Double Chocolate Scones and some Classic Scones - all sweet ones, out of which my favorite one is the Chocolate Chip Banana Scone. That being said, I do want to try my hand at a few more recipes. So this time, I decided to try out a savory scone and when I saw this recipe for Savory Ricotta Scones, I was thrilled. It would be the perfect way to build on my scones list as well as use up that amazing Ricotta.

The recipe itself was very simple and the scones turned out really well. They were tender and delicate and beautifully flavored. They would pair fantastically with a soup. I want to try these with a roasted tomato soup when the weather cools down. So whether or not you've tried scones before, I do hope you try these out. Serve them with a soup, or for brunch or with some tea and let me know what you think of them.

I've made a little video to help you through the process -





Savory Ricotta Scones
Adapted from: Love Life and Good Food

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp chilled butter
1/2 cup sliced spring onions
1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
Sea Salt
Black pepper, freshly cracked, to taste
Smoked paprika, to sprinkle over

Preheat the oven to 220ºC.

Line a baking tray with some parchment / baking paper and lightly grease the paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

Cut the butter through the flour mix or grate it and mix it till you get a coarse crumb texture.

Add the spring onions and herbs. Stir through.

Add the Ricotta cheese and milk and stir through just until combined.

Turn out on a lightly floured surface. Lightly bring the dough together. Do not knead.

Pat the dough into a rectangle. Dip the cutter or knife in some flour and cut into 10-12 equal pieces.

Place on the parchment lined baking tray.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tsp water. Use a silicone / pastry brush and brush the egg white on the scones. Sprinkle some salt, freshly cracked black pepper and smoked paprika over the tops of the scones.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Serve while still warm with a little butter.



If you're making these in advance or if you have leftovers, they reheat well either in a covered pan on low heat or wrap them in foil and warm in a 180ºC oven for about 5-10 minutes.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Nonya Chicken Curry

Growing up in Bombay and spending most of my summer breaks in Goa, I have had more than my fair share of curries. My Mum and my Aunt were great cooks and both could whip up a mean curry with great ease. So whether it was a meat (Chicken, mutton, beef or pork), seafood (fish, prawn or crab), lentil or vegetable curry, they were all really good. The best part is, they could do a lot of this without looking at a recipe. Now I haven't reached the 'no recipe' stage for some of the more intricate curries, but I do know a thing or two about them.

So, a while ago, when I saw this episode of Poh & Co, where Poh (one of my favorite TV chefs) whipped up a Nonya (a type of Malaysian) Chicken Curry, both, my husband and I knew we had to try the recipe out. The recipe does call for a few specialty ingredients, but the first time I made this curry, I didn't have them and so I left them out. Even then the curry was a great one. But I knew I wanted to try the recipe with all of the ingredients. So I picked up the Pandan leaves and the Shrimp Belachan at a local Asian grocery store and made the curry again. This time with all the ingredients. The result was a mind-blowing curry. Now I don't often refer to a curry as mind-blowing. A cake, maybe, but never a curry. But this curry is all that, and then some. It is one of my favorite chicken curries. And today I'm going to show you how I make mine. I have altered the method a tiny bit, to make the recipe more convenient and I hope you try this out the next time you want to make a chicken curry.

If you've never made a curry before, don't let the idea scare you. It is easier than you think. I've put together a video to walk you through the process.



Let's move on the the detailed recipe for this Nonya Chicken Curry.




Nonya Chicken Curry 
Recipe from: Poh Ling Yeow

3 tbsp Coriander seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp Fennel seeds
15 dried red chillies
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
20g toasted Belachan
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
8-10 curry leaves
2 tbsp oil (I use olive oil for all my cooking. You can use whatever oil you normally cook with.)
1 star anise
3 cloves
1 inch cinnamon
1 1/2 kilo chicken pieces
2 potatoes, cut into large cubes
2 birdseye chillies, slit lengthways
1 can coconut cream (400 ml can)
2 pandan leaves




Take the skin off the chicken, cut into pieces, trim the fat off and set aside.

Deseed the dried chillies and soak them in hot water till they've rehydrated and softened.

In a dry pan, on medium heat, roast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds till fragrant. Take them off the pan and set aside to cool.

Using a blender or food processor (you can also use a mortar and pestle if you dont have one), grind the roasted coriander-fennel-cumin seeds mix, drained red chillies, onion, garlic, belachan and turmeric to a fine paste, adding a little water as needed.

Heat oil in a large pot / pan over medium heat. Add the star anise, cinnamon and cloves and let them fry till fragrant about 20-30 seconds.

Add the spice paste (rempah) to the pan and saute for 6-8 minutes till the sauce is very fragrant.

Tear the pandan leaves into 3 strips lengthways and knot them together. Add the pandan and curry leaves to the spice mix.

Add the chicken to the pan and stir to coat with the spice paste. Saute for 1-2 minutes or till the chicken pieces start to look opaque.

Add the coconut cream and stir well.

Add the potatoes, salt and sugar. Add a little water to thin down the sauce a little to reach the desired consistency. Let it come to a boil.

Add the slit birdseye chillies, lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer till tender. Check after 5-7 minutes, add more water if needed, stir to make sure the curry doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Cover the pot and continue cooking till the chicken and potatoes are cooked.

Serve hot with rice. I tried to serve it up like a Nasi Lemak, but with plain rice instead of coconut rice. I added some fried baby anchovies, peanuts, boiled egg and some cucumber slices.



This curry also goes really well with roti or even bread. If you can get on hands on some Roti Canai, even better.

Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Quick and Easy Cole Slaw Salad

So what's all the fuss about making things from scratch? you ask?

I, for one, like knowing what I'm eating and feeding my family. Now, from time to time I do buy ready to eat food, but those instances are very few and far between. We enjoy eating out and that's not what I'm referring to here. I'm talking about frozen meals, ready sauces, spice pastes from a jar, canned pie filling, that kind of stuff. There are a few things that I will use, like tomato ketchup, mustard, wasabi / horseradish and that kind of stuff. I have found that for a little effort, you can make all of these things at home. They may take a little experimenting but almost always, the home made versions turn out so much better than the store bought ones. And once you try it out for yourself, you'll know what all the fuss is about. 

Making your own food from scratch is a good habit to get into. And once you try your hand at it, you'll want to learn more. It is addictive. I hate to come across as a snob, but I recently realized that in a pinch, I'd rather do a breakfast for dinner (fry up some eggs with toast) kinda thing rather than buying ready meals. If ready meals are your 'go to' option, try and keep an open mind to 'made from scratch'. You can control the sugar and salt in your food. And it is so much easier on your budget too. 

Where am I going with all of this? A while ago, I'd shared my recipe for Homemade Mayonnaise. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to make a batch. Okay, so you've made a batch of it. Now what? One of the ways, I use my homemade Mayo, is as a dressing in a Cole Slaw Salad. This salad couldn't be simpler. A few ingredients get thrown in a bowl and tossed together and you have yourself a yummy salad perfect for a barbecue or to serve with batter fried fish or fried chicken or even in a sandwich.

I have posted a recipe for Cole Slaw before, but this one is a step up from that version with the addition of horseradish and mustard.

And if I've piqued your interest about food made from scratch, take a look around my blog. You're sure to find recipes to try out.  




Cole Slaw

1/2 tsp grated Horseradish, or to taste
1/2 tsp Wholegrain or Dijon mustard, or to taste
1 carrot, grated
1 cup cabbage, finely sliced cabbage
A few slices of onion (finely sliced) or 1 spring onion, sliced
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Lime juice / lemon juice, to taste


In a bowl, mix the mayo, horseradish, mustard and freshly cracked black pepper. 

Add the carrots, cabbage and onion and mix well. 

Taste and adjust seasoning as required.

Your Cole Slaw is ready to serve. 

Enjoy!!!


Here's the video recipe - 


Monday, April 2, 2018

Goan Beef Cutlets

I have always had a love affair with food. Even as a kid, both my brother and I, were never picky about food. I guess we had Mum to thank for that. She was, and to this day is a fantastic cook. Given, now because of her health, she cannot do as much as she used to, back in the day. But when we were growing up, every meal was home cooked. I don't remember eating out till much later, when I was in college. Right from breakfast, through to lunch and dinner, snacks and desserts, she made everything. And a great variety of it too. I'm happy that now, I can proudly say, I try to do the same. I still have a lot to learn and experiment with, but I owe my love for cooking and good food to my Mother.

These Beef cutlets have got to be one of my favorite recipes. When we were kids, my brother and I would wait for Mum to make a batch of these cutlets at home. It wasn't made very often, but when it was, it was a real treat. I have, for the most part, stuck to my Mum's recipe, with just a few tweaks.

These cutlets are very versatile. Make them smaller in size and serve them up with some tomato ketchup or Barbecue Sauce as starters or Finger food, make them larger and use them as patties in Burgers or make a medium size and serve it up with some Mashed potatoes / Roasted potatoes / Fries and a salad .

I have posted a beef cutlet recipe before, but that was a really long time ago. This recipe is the same, with just the addition of some Worcestershire sauce. I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to take some new pictures. After all, its been a long journey from 'My Hobbie Lobbie' to 'The Aspiring Home Cook'. I've also filmed a little video with some handy dandy tips too. I will link the video at the end of this post.




Goan Beef Cutlets
(Makes about 14-15)

500g ground beef (beef mince)
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 birdseye chillies, finely chopped (optional)
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2" ginger, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 egg
1/4 tsp black pepper powder
1/4-1/3 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Salt, to taste
2 slices of bread
Bread crumbs, to coat the cutlets
Olive oil, for frying (You can use whatever cooking oil you have on hand)






Soak the slices of bread in water for a few seconds, drain out all the liquid and crumble. Mix together all the ingredients except the bread crumbs and vegetable oil.

Make sure all the ingredients are well mixed and evenly distributed.

Shape into cutlets.

Coat with bread crumbs.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Carefully place the cutlets in the pan and let it cook on a medium heat till its done to your liking. Turn over and cook the other side as well.






Repeat till you're done with the meat mix, adding more oil to the pan as and when you need to.

Serve hot.




Enjoy!!!



Here's the video -


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Quick and Easy Treat for Easter - Chocolate Nests

I have kept my Easter prep for too late this year. I'm usually a lot more prepared than this. However, a minor accident had reduced my mobility this past week. I am on the mend but still not back to 100%. So I wanted to keep my treats quick and easy.

With that in mind I whipped up some Chocolate Nests. I love this recipe. It takes 3 ingredients and half and hour to make a batch. This is a very versatile recipe so you can make as big or small a batch, as you'd like. It is also a flexible recipe, so you can use the chocolate of your choice and mini eggs of your choosing too. So, if like me, you've left Easter prep for the last minute, try out this recipe. It is very popular with the little kids ... and the big ones too.

Wish you and your loved ones a Happy and Holy Easter!




Chocolate Nests
Makes 8 Nests

100 grams Chocolate (I used Dark chocolate)
100 grams ready to serve Noodles
Mini Speckled Eggs



Chop up the chocolate roughly and melt using a double boiler. If you haven't worked with a double boiler, watch the video linked below to see how you can use a simple saucepan and bowl to make one. (You can also melt the chocolate in a micowave using a microwave safe bowl and in 30 second increments.)

Toss the noodles into the chocolate and mix gently to coat the noodles in the chocolate completely.

Using a spoon and either a spatula or a butter knife, scoop out portions of the noodles onto a tray lined with baking paper. Shape to form rough circular shapes and make a little dip in the center of each nest.

Place the mini eggs in the dents created.



Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Serve.


You can watch the video recipe here -


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