Boxing Day dinner – red and green salad & pork and mash gratin

It was Boxing Day, OMG, so long time ago! I am also forgetting what did I cook or how I made it??? I will try my very best to remember!

We were having home party at one of my friend’s home, each of us had to cook or bring one dish. So, I decided to cook a salad and a main course with meat for the two of us to bring over there.

I would like to make a salad which is more Christmassy, so I am playing with the red and green colours and using pomegranate as a touch of gem. The ingredients for the salad are, baby spinach, red apple and green apple that cut in cubes, toasted pecan and mixed nuts and the final touch with pomegranate. For the apples, either you can cut them with ceramic knife to keep them nicely in their colour, or you can spill them with a splash of lemon juice, in order to keep them out of rust. For the dressing, mix olive oil, mustard, honey, lemon juice, black sesame seeds, touch of sesame oil, pinch of salt and black pepper, in a glass bottle and shake them well, mix the dressing with the salad right before serving.

For the pork, go to get a nice piece of pork fillet tenderloin. I get this recipe from Jamie Oliver, it is super simple with 5 ingredients, but I twisted it a bit. First of all, we need to get those potatoes ready, peel them and then boil them in hot water for about 15 to 20 minutes until they turned soft. Meanwhile, we can work on the pork tenderloin, season it with some salt and pepper, and then heat up the pan with some olive oil, and sear the porkloin for about 3 minutes, or until the entire surface is brown. Switch off the fire, remove the pork and quickly fry some rosemary, remove and set aside. Now, we can work on the potatoes, smash them and season with salt and pepper, add a touch of olive oil, a touch of water, and some parmesan cheese. Mix them well and then place the mashed potato in a baking tray, now place the piece of porkloin in the middle and pour the pork juice on top. Add some grated cheese on top of the potatoes, not on the pork. Place that in oven and grill for around 10 minutes under 230C. For the last touch, add some prosciutto around the porkloin by tucking them in-between the pork and the potato. Add the rosemary around, on top of the potato. Put the tray back in the oven for the last few minutes, cut the pork in slices and serve with mash potatoes.

Wednesday night homemade dinner – red wine braised beef brisket

Looking at all the pending blog posts that I have on my draft folder, I just realised that I haven’t worked on the writing since long time. I have so much to catch up! I will try my best today, and finish as many as I can.

Usually I cook every Sunday, but this one that I did was on Wednesday. Instead of cooking beef brisket in Chinese style with turnip, let’s try to do the beef brisket in Western style, of course one important ingredient is red wine.

My husband always prefer lean meat, he doesn’t like to see the fat in-between the beef brisket, which Chinese always love to have a bit of fat in-between. So, I got a big piece of beef brisket with less fat for this dish, and chop it into big cubes. Heat up the Dutch oven with some butter and a touch of olive oil, put some minced garlic and diced onion, brown them a bit and then put chopped carrot into it, cook them for a minute or two. Then put the beef brisket in, brown them until all surfaces are cooked. Now, pour in some red wine, and let it simmer for few minutes. Then, put some tomato puree, dry oregano and bay leaves, and fill up the pot with beef stock. Cover the lid, and let it simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours. You can also cook it inside the oven with 200C for an hour or 1.5 hours. This dish always taste better overnight, you can cook a big pot and save it for the next two days. It goes well with bread, potatoes or even rice.

Wednesday homemade dinner – Thai beef green curry with rice

I have this recipe with me for few years already, I kind of figure it out my own way by imagining how this should be. Of course, after learning some Thai recipes, I’ve adjusted it a little bit, but more or less it stays the same. The good thing about curry is you can have it with different kind of meat, seafood or even vegetable. Tonight I am doing this with beef, but as I said, you can do it with many other ingredients.

Of course the key ingredients are kaffir lime leaves, shallots, lemongrass, galangal, and red chilli pepper, you can get this as a tom yam pack in some super markets. Heat up the pan with some oil, then fry these ingredients with a medium heat, add cabbage, mini corns, mushrooms, Thai eggplant and okra in the pan and stir fry them. You have to look into the kind of vegetable you have and the combination with the meat, calculate the cooking time of each of them, and try to put them in the pan by sequence of the cooking time needed. I really don’t want to over cook the beef, of course depends on the cut of the beef, try to watch out the time and keep that in control. Put Thai green curry paste into the pan, then add coconut milk. Stir them well and let it simmer for around 10 minutes or until it’s done. Taste and season with salt as you like.

You can serve the curry with rice or bread, garnish them with some fresh coriander and squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Making use of the leftover pulp from juicing to make some snack

I am always concern about the environment, and lately I am looking into zero-waste cooking. Actually you just need to be creative and always have that idea in your mind, try to really think again before throwing anything away. You might surprise yourself how much you can make use of from the food waste that you created.

Today, I am making some snack bars from the leftover pulp that I’ve got from juicing with tomato, carrot, red bell pepper, celery and some ginger. It’s always a shame to throw away the pulp, there are a lot of ideas for leftover pulp, but today I am sharing this idea of making snack bars with you. We already kind of give up the idea of having chips and other junk food at home, we rather have healthy snack, such as fruit, cherry tomatoes, celery, cucumber and carrot. This one could be one of the healthy snack on our list when we are hungry in the middle of the day or in the middle of the night.

So, I am using around a cup of leftover pulp, mix with half cup of pumpkin seeds, and half cup of mixed nuts. You can also add some raisins, but I don’t really like raisins so I don’t add them. Then, we add one tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil, and three tablespoons of honey or syrup. I preheated the oven to 200 degree Celsius, and we just have to mix all the ingredients and press the mixture into a baking tray.  A little tip is to use the back of a spoon to help and flatten the snack bar mixture to around 1cm thick.  Then you can add sesame seeds on top as a final touch. Bake the snack bars for around 20 minutes, let it cool down after baking, and then cut them into small pieces. You can store them into vacuum jar or even freeze them.

It’s such a great idea, to make use of food waste and stay with healthy diet. You can also give this to your dogs if all the ingredients are dog safe, you just need to check it out and make sure they are good to eat them.


Cooking Wednesday dinner – garlic and lemon prawns with quinoa and baby spinach

I’ve cooked this shrimp dish the other night when my friends were over for home party. I am thinking to redo this dish with salad and quinoa, so I recreated it for a weekday dinner.

First of all, get some fresh prawns at the wet market, if you are not ready to cook them right away, you can just keep them in the fridge until you are ready to cook. Before cooking the prawns, which is going to take only 10 minutes, you better start with cooking the quinoa. I would like to use some chicken broth this time instead of water, to cook the quinoa with the rice cooker which make everything so much easier. If you don’t have rice cooker, you can just use a sauce pan. Put 1 portion of quinoa and 2 portions of chicken broth in the rice cooker, then cook until it’s done. You better let them cool down before serving, so by the time you get the prawns done, the quinoa should be already cool down.

Get the prawns out from the fridge, clean them and cut the antenna, and maybe also trim the pieopods (legs) a bit. Heat up the sauce pan with some butter and a touch of olive oil, add minced garlic, some red chili pepper if you like spicy. Then, add the prawns and some lemon slices , fry them until they turn pink, finally add finely chopped parsley and season with salt. Serve the prawns on top of  first layer of spinach salad with second layer of quinoa. You can also serve the prawns without shells, as that will be a bit more easier to eat. Use the remaining oil from the prawns as salad dressing.

Green Sunday dinner – caprese fussili pasta

Let’s do green Sunday again!!!! It’s really refreshing and it’s a good idea to keep doing vegetarian dishes on Sunday, just to clean up the system. So tonight I am thinking to do a vegetarian pasta, I tried to search for ideas online, and I found this caprese salad with pasta. Yes! Why not? I love caprese salad, so why not trying make the pasta version out of it?!

This dish is basically very simple, as simple as the caprese salad, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. You just have to choose the kind of pasta that you like to go with the salad, I suggested to go with something short, like what I did with fussili or even penne. Try not to use something long, like spaghetti or linguine. If you like, you can also use broken spaghetti, but short pasta for sure make more sense for this dish.

First of all, get the fussili pasta ready by boiling them in a pot of hot water, by adding some salt in the water as well. On the other hand, get some olive oil in a hot pan, add some minced garlic, then simply fry the halved cherry tomatoes, and hand shredded mozzarella for about 30 seconds to a minute, season them with a pinch of salt. Basically, you can just eat them raw, so no need to cook them for too long. Add the basil at last, then put all the fussili into the sauce, and mix them well. You can decided to serve it hot right after you cook, or you can have them as salad by chilling them in the fridge. I like to eat it hot right after cooking, season them with some black pepper and garnish with a touch of fresh basil on top. Wala……. so simple and so quick!

Vegetarian Sunday Dinner – baked zucchini with ricotta, spinach and tomato sauce

I was trying to apply this rule to our diet, mainly vegetarian with only 2 to 3 meaty night in a week. Last week, we had already enough dinner with meat, so I was thinking to cook something vegetarian on Sunday. I found this recipe online, and would love to make my own version out of it. The result is very good, and it tastes great, especially if you love cheese.

First all of, get the cheese filling, the pesto sauce and the tomato sauce ready. I used a can of plum tomato, cook it with some minced garlic, and season with a touch of salt and pepper, set them aside for later use. Then, work on the pesto sauce, put basil, olive oil, garlic, pinch of salt and pine nuts in the food processors and blend them together. For the cheese filling, put chopped spinach, ricotta cheese, one egg and black pepper in a bowl and mix them together. Preheat the oven to 170C, now get a tray ready. Cut the zucchini in thin slices, remember to get the big zucchini, as big as possible for easy wrapping. Place two pieces of zucchini slices in a cross, and put the cheese filling on top of the cross section, then add some pesto sauce on top, close and wrap up the zucchini. Repeat this process until you finished up with all zucchini slices. Put a layer of tomato sauce in the tray, then lay all zucchini wraps nicely in the tray. Place the tomato sauce on top of each zucchini wrap, as well as some pesto sauce as topping. Lastly, fill the entire tray with grated parmesan cheese, as much as you like. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.