Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mini Caramelised Onion and Tomato Quiche



For the first time in my life, I cooked onions like I’ve never cooked them before. I cooked them till they were caramelized and for the first time I possibly ate something that had onions as the main ingredient. And for the first time, I thought onions indeed rocked!

I got this awesome recipe, from an awesome website. It has great recipes and if I’m not mistaken its authored by two individuals named Amanda and Debbie from Australia. I like how they are so detailed when explaining their methods and ingredients.

So back to this dish. I’ve tried mini quiches before – ham and cheese ones. They are divine. But there is something so special about these onion + tomato quiches that I just hope you give it a try. The process might seem longer than regular ham and cheese mini quiches but they are oh so worth it.

I will reproduce the recipe as is with my comments in red.

Mini Caramelized Onion and Tomato Quiche
Recipe from Exclusively Food

Makes: 24 quiches
Use a 20ml tablespoon and 250ml measuring cup

What you need:
500g red onions (about 2 very large onions) [I used about 7 mediums sized onions]
40ml (2 tablespoons) oil
40ml (2 tablespoons) balsamic vinegar
36g (2 tablespoons, firmly packed) brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste [don't add too much salt]
1 medium garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 teaspoons (10ml) oil [regular cooking oil]
4 medium roma tomatoes (about 335g total) [be sure you buy medium-sized and not large]
3 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed (we use sheets that measure about 25cm by 25cm)
4 large eggs
125ml (1/2 cup) cream
125g grated tasty cheddar cheese

What to do:
1) Peel onions. Cut onions in half and thinly slice.
That's a whole lot of onions!
2) Heat 40ml (2 tablespoons) oil in large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onion. Cook stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until onion is limp and its colour is less vibrant.
3) Add balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and salt to the saucepan, and stir until ingredients are well combined. Reduce heat to low and cover saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally  for about 30 minutes, until onion is very soft and caramelized. Remove lid and continue cooking, stirring every couple of minutes, until the mixture is thick and just beginning to catch on the bottom of the saucepan. If you onion mixture hasn’t reached this stage after about 10 minutes, increase the heat to medium to speed up the process.

This is how the caramelized onions should look like. Yes it's that ugly

4) Remove saucepan from heat, set aside and allow the onion mixture to cool to room temperature. The onion mixture can be cooled in the refrigerator if desired.
5) Preheat oven to 210C. Combine crushed garlic and 10ml (2 teaspoons) oil in a small bowl and set aside.
6) Generously grease two 12 hole non-stick muffin pans
7) Cut tomatoes into about ½ cm thick rounds. You will need 24 slices of tomato.

Assembling the Quiche
1) Using a round cutter with a diameter of 8cm, cut 24 rounds from the pastry sheets. Press pastry rounds into the muffin holes to cover the base and a little of the side of each hole. If you are making the quiche in two batches, keep half the pastry in the refrigerator while the first batch is cooking.

2) Using a fork, whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl until well combined.
3) Divide grated cheese evenly among the pastry cases.


4) Spoon a scant tablespoon of egg mixture into each pastry case.


5) Divide caramelized onion evenly among the quiches.


6) Top each with a tomato slice.

The tomatoes I bought were very large hence the slices look squished here

7) Spoon a small amount of garlic oil onto each tomato slice and season with pepper.
8) Bake quiches for about 22-24 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove quiches from pan while hot.

Notes From Exclusively Food:
1) If you have one muffin pan only, set aside half of the grated cheese, caramelized onion and egg mixture before you start filling the pastry cases. This will ensure you have the correct amounts of these ingredients for the 2nd batch of 12 quiches and make it easier to divide the ingredients evenly among the cases.
2) Serve quiches hot or at room temperature.
3) Store quiches in airtight container in the refrigerator. Suitable to freeze. [I've frozen them and then reheated in oven at 150C for about 8-10mins to eat]

Super yummy the combination of onions and tomato is heavenly!
I would like to wish all readers a very Blessed Christmas and Happy 2013!! Thanks for reading The Sudden Cook and it has been a pleasure starting this blog. Here's to more new recipes, exciting cooking adventures and lovely readers!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Favourite Chicken Curry Recipe



My SISTER who happens to be my number 1 reader (she better be or else who’s gonna babysit her 2 boys!), has asked me repeatedly why I haven’t updated my blog in a while. Well, it’s because I haven’t been cooking all that much due to work commitments. However as things have settled, and I am more relaxed now I hope to resume my cooking adventures.

The one thing that I had been looking for was a basic chicken curry recipe which I could fall back on. I tried one here, but found that it involved too much work. Hence the search continued until I happen to purchase a recipe book titled ‘Curries’ from the mini cookbooks series.

I’ve tried the chicken curry recipe from that book and have to say it’s pretty easy and good enough for me. I’ve made some tweaks to suit our taste but will list the recipe down as per the recipe book with my notes in red.

Chicken Curry
Recipe courtesy of 'Curries' cookbook from the mini cookbooks series 

What you need:
1.5kg chicken – cut into large pieces (I prefer them skinned and cut into small pieces)
Onion – 1 large, peeled and quartered
Ginger – 3cm knob peeled
Garlic – 3 cloves peeled
Red chillies – 2 ( I use 3-4)
Shallots – 55g peeled
Meat curry powder – 70g mixed with 100ml water and combined into a paste ( 70g is about 5 heaped tablespoons  - if unsure use a weighing scale)
Coconut milk  - 500ml or 2 cups ( I use only about 100ml)
Water – 500ml or 2 cups ( I use about 700ml)
Potatoes – 3 large, peeled and quartered ( I sometimes omit the potatoes or just use 1)
Salt – 2 ½ tsp
Sugar – ½ tsp

What to do:
Season chicken with ½ tsp salt and set aside
Grind onion, ginger, garlic, chillies and shallots together until fine. Heat oil in a pot and stir-fry the blended ingredients for 3 minutes
Add curry powder paste and stir-fry for another 5 minutes until fragrant
Add chicken pieces and fry for 5 minutes until well-coated with mixture. Add coconut milk and water. Bring to a boil.
Add potatoes, remaining salt and sugar. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes until chicken is tender. (I only simmer the chicken for 20 minutes especially if not adding potatoes).
Dish out and serve hot.

Verdict:
I add the extra chillies to up the spicy level.
I lessen the coconut milk as I’m not a fan of curries with too much coconut milk. 2 cups seems like a lot to me.
I omit the potatoes sometimes if I forget to buy them or add just 1.
Overall, my husband and I love this recipe. We usually have the dish with wholemeal bread, or frozen paratha or chappatis which I will pre-fry.

Here's to more recipes to come!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to cook Mutton Chops in Thick Gravy using a Pressure Cooker



“This tastes just like how mummy used to make it”. Ahhhhhh, the words were music to my ears. I don’t think my brother knew how happy he made me when he said it. My mum in her heyday cooked up the most awesome Indian dishes. And so after having my head in the clouds for a full 10 seconds, I came back down to earth and finished my meal.

What you need:
1kg mutton chops – I usually buy Australian mutton chops and ask the butcher to cut them into a thickness of three quarters of an inch
3 tbsp yoghurt
2 ½ tbsp chilli powder – you may wish to reduce this to 1 tbsp if it’s too spicy
2 ½ tbsp ground coriander
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 ¾ tsp salt

Ingredients to blend:
8 cloves garlic
5cm piece ginger
2 onions
3 green chillies
3 red chillies
Place all ingredients in a blender. Add some water to help blend smoothly.

Others:
2 sticks cinnamon
5 cardamoms
5 cloves
2 tsp aniseed, pounded coarsely
2 onions sliced
Few sprigs curry leaves
10 tbsp oil

What to do:

1) Marinade mutton chops with yoghurt, chilli powder, coriander powder, tomato paste, salt and blended ingredients for 30 mins or more.

2) Heat oil in pressure cooker. Fry cinnamon, cardamoms and cloves till fragrant. Add aniseed, onions and curry leaves. Keep frying till onions turn lightly brown, for about 5 minutes.

     3) Add in marinated mutton chops and stir.  Add ½ cup water and place pressure cooker lid on. Pressure cook for 23-25 minutes.

     4) Once the meat is pressure cooked (and pressure is released), remove lid and stir.

     5) Cook for another 10 minutes till meat is tender and gravy thickness is to your liking.

I got this recipe from ‘South Indian Temptations’ by Devagi Sanmugam. If you wish to improve your South Indian cooking, this recipe book is for you. However I must note that the method is completely altered as compared to the recipe in the book. The reason for this is because I used a pressure cooker thus the steps reproduced are ideally for those cooking using a pressure cooker. Also different from the original recipe, I reduced the number of green chillies from 5 to 3 and used tomato paste instead of fresh tomatoes.

Note: It's a good idea to skim off the oil which floats to the surface prior to serving.

I love the PC. I used it to make mutton varuval as well and it has served me well. For those of you who think a PC is quite complicated, it really isn’t. If you’re interested, have a peek at my post on how to use one here.

Yummy mutton chops just like how mum used to make 'em.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bacon & Cheese Pasta Bake



Yet another winning recipe shared by my sis. Apparently my nephews love to have this. I didn’t try the recipe until recently and once I did my first thought was “Why did I wait so long to try this????”.

The original recipe is actually ‘Ham & Cheese Pasta Bake’. However I used bacon because in the land of ham and bacon, bacon always wins.

What surprised me most was how EASY it was to prepare and how YUMMY it was to savour. Here’s the recipe.

Bacon & Cheese Pasta Bake

What you need:
200g or slightly more spirally or shell pasta – I used mini shells
200g bacon roughly chopped – You may use ham
1 onion chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil
300ml cream
125g grated cheddar cheese
Black pepper ground

What to do:

Pasta
Cook pasta in salted water as per directions. Strain and put back in pan.

The Rest
1)  Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat and cook onions until soft for 3 minutes. Add bacon and continue to cook for 5 minutes (if using ham cook only for 1 minute).
2) Add in cream, reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add generous sprinkling of black pepper.
3) Add bacon & cream mixture into pan with pasta. Add ¾ of grated cheese into mixture and mix well.  (If you feel you would like the mixture to remain creamy, use less cheese at this stage)
4)  Put into greased dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
Ready to go into the oven. Pasta, bacon, cream and cheese - did someone say YUM YUM?.

5)  Bake in preheated oven at 200C for about 20 minutes until cheese on top is melted and golden brown.

Additional:
  •  I used 3 ramekins to make the dish. It’s more convenient this way for me. You may use any oven proof dish.

I use oven proof ramekins but you can use any oven proof dish. 

  • Keep an eye towards the end, if you feel the cheese has melted enough and you’re happy you may retrieve it slightly less than 20 minutes.
  • I actually ‘accidentally’ bought mini shell pasta. But now that I’ve tried it, I love it. it doesn’t feel very ‘heavy’ as most pasta dishes can make me feel and it goes really well in this dish. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Quiche with Bacon and Cheese

I’ve made it before but I didn’t have Mr. Quiche Tin then.
The quiche tin I use now has a loose base which is handy when cutting up the quiche. The base detaches from the side of the tin easily and cutting the quiche is hassle free. If you’re into making quiches I would humbly advise you to get one.


The recipe I tried this time is from Exclusively Food. It’s the same website where I got the mini quiche recipe from. Let me tell you something about those mini quiches. Whenever I make them, it’s always a big hit. So try it out the next time there’s a potluck and you need to bring some finger food!

Here’s the quiche with bacon and cheese recipe I tried.

Quiche Lorraine Recipe from Exclusively Food
Serves: 8

Pastry
I used 1 sheet of frozen shortcrust pastry.
*You may refer to the original recipe for instructions on how to make the pastry from scratch.
1 egg white

Filling
1tsp oil
1 small onion - peeled and chopped
220g bacon - finely chopped (I don’t like it too fine so I roughly chop it)
5 large eggs (I only use 3)
125ml cream
¼ tsp nutmeg
110g grated tasty cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper

 Bacon
1) Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook onion until soft for 3 minutes. Add bacon and continue to cook for about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Blind baking pastry
2) Line dish with pastry. Cover dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
 
3) Preheat oven to 190C. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest shelf position; the pastry base will brown and crisp better if it is close to the bottom.

4) Remove quiche tin from fridge and line with baking paper. Weigh down the sheet of baking paper using uncooked kidney beans. You can get these from most stores for a nominal price and then re-use for blind baking.




5) Bake pastry for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove the kidney beans and baking paper (caution: hot!) Brush pastry with egg white and return to oven to bake for further 10 minutes.

Filling
6) To make filling, place eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk until well combined.

7) Sprinkle cooled bacon mixture on quiche tin. Top with grated cheese.

Gently pour egg mixture over the grated cheese.




8) Move oven rack to the middle of the oven. Bake quiche in the centre of the oven for about 30-35 minutes or until set and lightly browned.




Things to note:

  • Be sure to season well with black pepper and go easy on the salt.
  • I always place my quiche tin on a baking tray, then proceed to pour in the egg filling. Then I place the baking tray (with the quiche tin on top) right into the oven. This is because with a loose base tin, the filling might sometimes leak on the sides.
  • I grease the base of the tin lightly.
  • I did find there was some remaining egg filling after pouring it all into the tin.
  • I've tried making quiche using frozen puff pastry as well. My personal preference is shortcrust pastry.

Verdict
Though my quiche browned quite a bit at the top, it was very yummy.
Serve with a side salad!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sauteed Fish with Ginger and Spring Onions




I seem to be on an Amy Beh recipe cooking spree. No sooner had I tried her pork rendang recipe from The Star, I turned to one of her recipe books for another dish.

This dish is special. Only because the fish in question was actually caught by my husband. Yes, he loves to fish. He has supplied plenty of fresh fish to my sister and sister-in-law and of course myself. It’s kinda cool. He does a good job cleaning it and also makes sure the wet kitchen does not leave any lingering fish smell (my rule!). So he caught a nice Siakap (seabass) and filleted it for me. With that I tried this wonderful recipe which we enjoyed with plain white rice.

Sauteed Fish with Ginger and Spring Onions
From At Home with Amy Beh (2)

Serves 3-4

What you need:
300g fish fillet (garoupa) – (I of course used Siakap)
¼ tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-3 Tbsp corn flour, for dusting the fish

5 stalks spring onions, cut into 3.5cm lengths
50g young ginger, sliced thinly
1tsp chopped garlic
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil

Sauce (combine)
½ Tbsp Oyster Sauce
½ Tbsp light soy sauce
¾ tsp sugar
1 Tbsp Shao Hsing Hua Tiau cooking wine ( I omitted this)
Dash of pepper
2-3 Tbsp water
¼ corn flour
My ginger cutting skills - epic fail! Must.slice.thinner.
 What to do:
1)     Slice fish fillet into thin slices. Sprinkle lightly with salt and dip into beaten egg then toss in corn flour. Remove any excess corn flour before deep-frying in hot oil for a minute. Drain from oil and set aside. 

Dipping the fried fish fillets in tartar sauce served with a side salad makes a good meal too!

2) 
Heat oil and sesame oil in a wok. Stir-fry ginger and garlic for a few seconds until fragrant. Add spring onions and stir-fry for 30-40 seconds.

3)  Add sauce ingredients and return the fish to wok. Cook for a minute again to coat the fish with the sauce ingredients. Dish out and serve hot!

Tips:
1) I found that it’s actually easier to dip the fish into the corn flour first then into the egg.Otherwise I find the corn flour runs out pretty fast.

2) I added some sliced fresh red chillies for extra kick.

Look out for more fish recipes as my in-house fisherman does his thing. If you have fish fillets but this recipe is not your thing, do try this.
  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yummy Pork Rendang

So many ingredients, so little (cooking) time!

That pretty much sums up what this dish is about. I first came across this recipe in the Culinary Queries with Amy Beh column in The Star newspaper and it immediately caught my eye. Knowing my husband and his mad love for pork, I had to give it a go. Considering most of the recipes from Amy Beh which I  have tried have turned out well, I was ready to give it a go especially since the recipe called for it to be cooked using a pressure cooker (cooking time is so quick!).

The only thing which truly annoyed me the slightest bit was the list of ingredients as you can see from below. But trust me the whole process is so worth it. This dish is a must try for pork-lovers!

Besides the usual suspects of fresh red chillies, garlic, ginger and shallots, some of the remaining ingredients needed are seen above
Note: I halved the recipe because it was my first time making it.
However I have reproduced the recipe below as seen in the column with some personal notes.

Pork Rendang Recipe
From Culinary Queries with Amy Beh (Star2 copy 31 Jan 2012)

What you need:

1kg pork fillet, cut into thick slices
4-5 tbsp oil
250ml coconut milk (squeezed from 1 coconut) (I used coconut milk from the carton)
½ cup grated white coconut, fried till brown and pounded finely to make kerisek
3 pieces dried tamarind pieces or asam keping
½ piece turmeric leaf, finely shredded
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded

Ground spices:
20 – 25 shallots
1 whole garlic bulb
30 dried chillies, soaked in some hot water (I did not remove the seeds)
5 fresh red chillies
1 cm piece galangal
2 stalks lemon grass (use bottom white part only)
5 candlenuts
20g ginger
2 tbsp meat curry powder

Seasoning:
1 ½ tsp salt or to taste
50g palm sugar (I used normal white sugar)



Ground the ingredients well

What to do:

1) Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add ground spices and fry until fragrant. Put in pork and pour in coconut milk to mix. 
2) Add dried tamarind, turmeric leaf shreds and kaffir lime leaves.
3) Cover with pressure cooker lid and cook over medium heat until the indicator rod shows enough pressure. Reduce the heat and continue to cook for 10-12 minutes. (I cooked for 10 minutes)
4) Release the pressure and remove the cover. Adjust with seasoning and add kerisek. Stir and cook till the gravy is thick. (I cooked for another 10 minutes before gravy was thick enough to my liking)

Pressure cooking saves time!!
Verdict:
What I liked was the pork pieces were so well cooked. Very lovely. How it remained tender but not too soft.
Because I halved the recipe, I felt like I didn't get some flavours balanced.
My other  half really loved it but he is partial to pork anyway!
Overall, I would definitely make this again. Next time I will cook it using 1kg of pork considering it turned out well the first time.
Update: I tried making this over the weekend using 1kg of pork. Turned out beautifully! Only thing different I did from the recipe was add 200ml of coconut milk (instead of 250ml) and topped of with 50ml water.


Tips:
Try and get 'pork fillets' for this recipe. According to the aunty I bought these from, pork fillets are soft and excellent for making rendang. After trying it, I whole heartedly agree!


Extra:
Learning how to pressure cook has been a bonus for me. I personally cannot keep an eye on something which takes 1 hour to cook. So pressure cooking is for me.
Here is another recipe using the pressure cooker this time with mutton.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Yummy Blueberry Muffins

                                            
One of the first blogs that I found appealing and informative and that truly helped me as a novice cook was http://www.noobcook.com/. What I liked were the bright pictures, the relatable recipes and the tips provided by the blogger in some of her recipes. Although I browse many many blogs these days, I do find myself coming back to this blog for more recipes to try.

Recently, I was inspired to try this recipe of Noob Cook’s, and it turned out well. Here is the recipe as seen on her blog with some personal notes.

By Noob Cook

What you need:
190g plain flour
1 ½ eggs beaten (I used two eggs)
½ tbsp baking powder
225g caster sugar
150g blueberries
125ml milk
1tsp vanilla extract (I used normal vanilla essence)
65g butter, softened
Cupcake liners measuring 5cm in diameter by 3cm in height

What to do:

Sift flour, baking powder and sugar together and mix well.

Add in milk, vanilla extract, eggs and butter and stir until just blended (and lumpy). Be careful not to over mix as it will result in a tough texture.
(I used my hand mixer to mix all together)

Fold in the blueberries into the mixture. Place baking cases in muffin tins. Spoon the mixture into the cases till almost full.
(I spooned just above 2 tablespoons of batter into each liner)

Bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven of 200C or until slightly golden brown. Allow to rest for several minutes before serving.


Verdict:
In future, I would add a small pinch of salt into the mix.
Also, if your oven heats up fast, I would advice to bake the muffins at a temperature of 180C.

Tip:
It’s best to eat them warm. So if you’ve frozen or refrigerated a batch, be sure to remove the liners, pop them into a microwave for a few seconds and enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Indian Style Fish Curry

I love fish curry with bread.
So my sister lent me this awesome cookbook which I think she doesn’t realize is still with me. It’s part of the Periplus Mini Cookbooks and titled ‘Homestyle Indian Cooking’ authored by Devagi Sanmugam.

If like me, you’re still learning to make Indian dishes at home, this recipe book will come in handy. This is also the recipe book I referred too when making this for the first time.

Growing up, fish curry was not my favourite dish on the table. I felt like there were too many spices in the way of the curry. I found that I couldn’t enjoy the taste of the gravy without getting some sort of little yucky tasting spice into my mouth.  Not high on my list of recipes to try, I nonetheless tried out this fish curry recipe hoping it would be a winner. And it was!

What you need:
2 tablespoons oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp fenugreek
100g (1 cup) peeled and sliced shallots
Small piece ginger, sliced
2 green chillies, cut in half lengthwise (Sometimes I omit these if I don’t have)
2 sprigs curry leaves
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder (We like it spicier, so I add 2 ½ tablespoons chili powder)
80g (1/3 cup) tamarind pulp mixed with 1 ½ cups (375ml) water, stirred and strained
200g ladies’ finger, cut into 5-cm lengths 
2 tomatoes quartered
500g tenggiri fish steaks sliced ½ inch thick
250ml (1 cup) thick coconut milk (This is too much coconut milk for me, so I just add about 100ml coconut milk or less and 150ml water)
1 tsp salt
Showing them ladies' fingers some love. I love LF in curries!
What to do:
1)  In a large saucepan, heat the oil and fry the mustard seeds and fenugreek until aromatic. 
2) Add the shallots, ginger, green chilies and curry leaves. Saute until the shallots turn light brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
3)  Add the coriander, turmeric, cumin and chili powders and the tamarind water. Cook for further 5 minutes, stirring well.


4) Add the ladies’ fingers and tomatoes, boil for 3 minutes.


Then add fish slices. Boil until fish is cooked about 5 minutes.


5) Stir in the coconut milk (and water), return to the boil and simmer for approximately 1 minute. Season to taste, then serve.


Verdict:
To me, this is the best South Indian fish curry recipe I’ve tried thus far beating out the Claypot Fish Curry tried previously. Personally I like the ‘sourish’ taste in the fish curry which stems from the tamarind water, so I make sure I don’t stinge on the tamarind mixture.

Note:
Tamarind (asam jawa) is commonly available from supermarkets in the form of pulp which must be soaked in water, stirred, squeezed and strained to yield a sour liquid that adds intense flavour to a dish. All solids and pulp should be discarded from the liquid before use.
Source: Homestyle Indian Cooking by Devagi Sanmugam

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