Friday, October 10, 2008

Vegetarian Basil Fritata with Blood Orange Salad

What do you do when you're feeling a little uninspired and sorry for yourself? How do you pick yourself up and bring yourself out of the pitying hole?

Perhaps draw? Paint? Arrange colours on the plate and relish it with the simple joy that you can cook something from scratch? It does make me feel a little smarter.

I read on The Age recently about Jamie Oliver's latest mission to save the Great Britain society from junk food poisoning. I missed the episode where he burst into outrage after witnessing that dinner for a particularly family consisted of kebab shavings and chips served out of polystyrene box. You may think it's disgusting (I thought it was) but behind the greasy 'truth', poor people believe they can't afford to buy healthy food. It's like how busy people believe that they don't have time for their family.

I am a self-confessed tight arse. I keep a weekly budget of $20. I don't eat out because it costs less to cook my own meals. And if I do, it's for a special occasion and to enjoy the company of good friends. I don't spend my money on junk food or processed food. I often shop at fresh markets (and just before closing so I can strike a bigger bargain) and find that it's far cheaper than supermarkets.

I think it's not nearly so much about poor people having no money to buy good food, I believe it's poor people making poor choices (in that article, it says that the family owns a plasma tv and most of the money is spent on chocolates and sweets for the kids). Busy people have no time because they choose to make time-poor decisions. I've seen incredibly busy CEO's make (the keyword here is 'MAKE') time for their kids' school dramas, competition, holidays. I think it's rather interesting about the choices we choose to make. (Of course I make many bad ones)

Vegetarian Basil Fritata ( serves 4 )

  • 4 eggs
  • 250ml thickened cream
  • 120g cheddar cheese
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 4 baby tomatoes, halved
  • 100g pumpkin, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp of dried basil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan.
  2. Cook onions until translucent. Put vegetables in.
  3. Cook until soft. Stir occasionally.
  4. Beat eggs and add cream, basil, a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  6. Grease a baking tin with some butter or olive oil.
  7. Arrange cherry tomatoes and cooked vegetables in the baking tin.
  8. Pour egg mix in.
  9. Sprinkle cheese and place in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes or when egg has completely set in the middle.
Blood Orange Salad

You’ll need:

  • A mix of salad leaves
  • 1 blood orange, skinned and sliced
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Arrange salad leaves and blood orange on a plate.
  2. Drizzle walnuts and then olive oil.
  3. Season the salad with some salt and pepper. Serve with fritata.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Yosh! It's weekend! Don't you guys just love the weekend? :) It's time to relax, have fun and eat! ;) So, what's your typical weekend like? I'd usually spend one day doing grocery shopping, house chores and relaxing at home; and another day going out, eating, walking around town and catching up with friends!

Once in awhile, I'll give myself a break from cooking during the weekends (whispher: lazy). *ahem* Hey, we need to explore and try all those good foods out there yeah? :D Well, since I'll be eating out for dinner tonight with my friends, I've decided to make myself a simple meal for brunch.

Bacon and Egg Muffin
- 1 Muffin
- 1 slice of Bacon
- 1 Egg
- 1 slice of Cheese
- Margerine

1. Instead of toasting the muffin, I put it in the oven for 5 mins instead
2. Fry egg (I had my egg in omlette style, coz that's the only way I'll eat the yolk. :P)
3. Fry bacon
4. Spread margerine on muffins while it's still hot from the oven
5. Add a slice of cheese
6. Add egg
7. Add bacon
8. Eat! :D

You can also add in some tomatoes/lettuce if you want a more balance meal. ;) Enjoy your weekend!

Quote of the day ~ Find happiness in simple things ~

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

To Dip or Not To Dip?

Do you like dipping your food into drinks? I like dipping Hup Seng cream crackers into a cup of hot Milo or coffee. Oh, and of course dunking oreos into a glass of milk too! Yums.

However, I find it strange for someone to dip his french fries into coke! Why would someone do that? Is it strange or it's just me? Dipping fries into sundae is totally acceptable, but not into soft drinks. Somehow mixing fries with any drinks for that matter seems wrong to me. :P

It's also weird to see someone "drink" his mashed potatoes through a straw! Hahaha. I guess people have funny habits when it comes to eating too? :) Do you have any?

I certainly don't mind mixing my food.. when it comes to this:
Decadent chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip ice-cream sandwich! Double choc chips yumminess! ;)

Quote of the day ~ Today is a gift, that is why it is called Present ~

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bubur Nasi Hitam

I was an angry, sulky, rebellious teenager. I wasn't very comfortable in my own skin and I hated everything and everyone. In short, I was one big pain in the backside. I sure gave my parents hell (in return, my kids will probably provide me the same services because what goes around, comes around). I was a sad, pudgy kid who was confused about life and frankly speaking, a little lonely too.

There are some of the reasons why I don't like keeping in touch with the past and when the past comes back to visit, I make attempts to avoid it like a bowl of bitter melon juice.

However, a good book once read that you cannot bury the past. It only claws its way back to you. And true to its words, even though I've moved 6360 kilometers away from home, many of my former schoolmates have made, miraculously, the same decision. The result? Reunions.

I've since resigned to the fact that the world is far too small to run away. And to make amends with the past, I bought her breakfast last weekend. If I had the chance to speak to my young self, I would say this: 1)Don't be too hard on your self. 2)Don't take life so seriously because it doesn't even take itself seriously. 3)People actually don't bite when you make the effort to know them.

Bubur Nasi Hitam translates as Black Rice Pudding. Deliciously drizzled with santan, or coconut milk, it's an authentic Malaysian dessert served after dinner. Mom cooks it in a slow cooker the night before and that's why we have them for breakie in the mornings. I don't know why but I guess it's the same difference with cereal. It has the same consistency as Red Bean Soup but slightly thicker and richer (due to the coconut milk). It's best to add some dried longans for an additional fruity sweetness but if you can't find any, it's fine as it is.

Bubur Nasi Hitam (serves 4)

  • 1¾ cup black glutinous rice
  • 2 pandan leaves or 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 5 cups of water
  • ½ cup palm sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1½ cups fresh squeezed thick coconut milk


  1. Rinse rice thoroughly for 2 minutes under running water. Drain well.
  2. Put water, rice and pandan leaves into a heavy-based pot.
  3. Simmer over medium heat for approximately 40 minutes.
  4. Add palm sugar syrup and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Season with a pinch of salt. Remove from heat, allow to cool.
  6. Serve at room temperature, topped with a swirl of fresh squeezed creamy coconut milk.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Stir-fry Fish with Fermented Black Beans

Hi! Here's another quick and simple dish to add to the list. Aahhh.. this is a lazy weekend for me! :D

Stir-fry Fish with Fermented Black Beans
- 1 Basa fish fillet
- Fermented Black beans (hmm.. this is tricky.. I don't know how to put the measurement for this.. around 20 beans? 1 spoonful? hehe)
- Garlic
- 1 stalk of spring onion

1. Rinse some fermented black beans with water and mash them a little
2. Chop spring onion
3. Cut fish fillet into preferred size
4. Marinate fish with mashed fermented black beans
5. Chop garlic finely
4. Fry garlic in a pan till fragrant
5. Add marinated fish pieces with mashed fermented black beans
8. Stir fry fish pieces till they're cooked
9. Add chopped spring onion and stir through together
10. Serve with rice

Notice that I didn't add any soy sauce or salt to the dish. That's because the fermented black beans I used were quite salty. They gave the fish just the right amount of flavour. ;)

Quote of the day ~ A smile is the best accessory to wear ~

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Easy Peasy Stir-fry Beans

Hi! I'm back. *winks at Monkee* Gotta apologise for the lack of update from me. I've been occupied with some other activities (whisper: lazy). Thanks Monkee for posting up so many wonderful recipes and all those yummilicious photos! :)

Here's a simple recipe for a quick dish, very fast to whip up when you're hungry after work.

Stir fry Beans
Ingredients (for 2 persons)
- 100g minced pork
- String beans (hmm.. measurement for this? I just grabbed 3 hands full of them when I was shopping at the vege mart.. haha!)
- Garlic
- Soy sauce or salt

1. Wash and cut string beans
2. Marinate minced pork with soy sauce or salt
3. Chop garlic finely
4. Fry garlic in a pan till fragrant
5. Add marinated minced pork and stir through together
6. Add string beans and stir fry till they're cooked
7. Add salt or soy sauce to taste
8. Add some water and let it simmer for 5 mins if you like the beans to be softer
9. Serve with rice

I just had this today. ;) Hope you'll enjoy it too!

Quote of the day ~ The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted ~

Peeping Pear & Passionfruit Pudding

There's something wrong with Happee Monkee *sobs* I really hopes it comes back up online soon. I suppose this might be a sign to devote more tender loving care to my first born - Twenty Something which started off as a blog for a group of twenty-somethings. It's a little sad how it's become more like a one-man show. So, my second wish for tonight (I hope my fairy godmother's listening) is that the other twenty-somethings comes back from wherever they are and blog again. More is always merrier. Especially around food.

I've adapted this recipe from last week's copy of Epicure. I've added passionfruit for a few reasons: 1) I had it in the refrigerator 2) I thought the citrus acidity could help with chemically balancing the bi-carb soda. (I'm not sure if it worked, but it looks OK).

I avoid using baking powder because I found that it contains aluminum. It may not be much but I've become a firm believer that a little bit of everything can one day amount to make a big something.

Bi-carb soda works with acid (as it's alkaline-based) to release carbon dioxide which gives the cake a boost. Hence, the rising effect. In fact, there's why some heirloom chocolate cakes has vinegar in it. It has the acid compound to react with the bi-carbonate soda. Compared to baking powder, it has less chemical compounds in it and I reckon it makes a healthier alternative. But that's just me. If you personally feel it doesn't work as well as baking powder, then please do replace the soda bicarb in this recipe. The end result should be the same: a moist pudding with the glorious scent of passionfruit and the soft sweet flesh of pear.
Peeping Pear Passionfruit Pudding ( serves 6 )

  • 6 small ripe pears
  • 100g palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 600ml water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks or 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter (approx. 150g)
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar (approx 150g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup self raising flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp soda bi-carbonate
  • 4 passionfruits
  • 2 tbsp milk
  1. Bring sugar, cinnamon and water to boil.
  2. Poach the pears for 10 minutes or until pears are tender when pierced with a skewer.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 180C and grease baking dish.
  4. Beat butter, bi-carb and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time.
  6. Then mix in passionfruit pulp.
  7. Fold in half the flour, the milk and then the second half of the flour. Combine until smooth.
  8. Spoon into the baking dish.
  9. Trim the base of the pear and place firmly into the batter.
  10. Bake for 40 minutes or until pudding is set in the middle.
  11. Serve with icing sugar and thickened cream.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Otak-Otak (Spicy Fish Mousse)

For once, I decided to start blogging with Twenty Something & Cooking instead of Happee Monkee. I feel bad having to use the same material twice. So today, I decided to dance to a different tune.

Lately, I've been invited to a few gourmet events. One was Taste of Melbourne last Friday and just yesterday I met Peter Doyle of Est. at a Kiehl's launch. To tell you the truth, I hadn't heard of him before and apparently, he's quite a big shot in the culinary world. The man in flesh is really down-to-earth and friendly, a little shy and very unassuming. It's nice to know that fame and glamour doesn't always impact someone negatively.

Anyway, after all the gourmet eating, I think it might have gotten to my head as much as my stomach. Otak-Otak is a very conventional home dish. I love how the spice, herbs and fish works so well into a moussy smoothness. I don't know why it's called Otak-Otak because it translates as 'brain' in Malay. Perhaps there is truth in the belief that eating lots of fish makes you brainier. I'm not sure. But what I'm sure is that it's absolutely yummy.

Otak-Otak (Spicy Fish Mousse)

  • 400g white fish fillets
  • 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) of red curry paste
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • mint leaves
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons of lime juice
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  1. Chop fish into small pieces or to make into a paste, work it in a food processor.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together.
  3. Marinate for 20 - 30 minutes.
  4. Steam it on medium-high heat for 15 minutes until cooked and set.
  1. Make an aluminum foil envelope or a loaf tin and bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 170C till skewer comes out clean.
  2. Bake in a bain marie (loaf tin) in a pre-heated oven at 150-175 degree Celcius (300-350 degree F) for 20-25 minutes till skewer comes out clean when it is put into the centre of the fish cake.

Monday, August 25, 2008

5 Reasons Why You Should Start Food Blogging

If you've been spending a lot of time looking at food blogs, let me tell you why you should finally start your own.

1. You'll meet new people from all over the world.
There is a huge food community out there. Like ginormous! And the support that foodies have for each other is fantastic. They have the funniest and most entertaining anecdotes. So if you're feeling lonely, you're just a step away from making some great new friends.

2. You'll get to go to fun parties.
Okay okay, that doesn't automatically happen. After I started blogging, people have invited me to food events because to them, I'm a 'food person'. I've never been a gourmet person and experiencing it has brought food to a whole new level for me. Quality vs. quantity.

3. You'll start cooking healthier (hence eating healthier).
I find myself more particular with my ingredients. I shop more at fresh markets, buy free range eggs, eat more vegetables etc. I like to know what I put in my food rather than buying pre-made food and guessing. I like having more colours and variations just because it makes it unique. I experiment more. I can go on and on about this but it might become 10 reasons instead of 5.

4. You'll make/ eat things you've never made/ eaten before.
I've never made pastry from scratch. I've never made ba chang (Chinese festival food). I've never had rhubarb in my life. Food blogging is the perfect excuse to start.

5. You'll see the beauty in food.
I no longer look at food just as food. When I'm taking food pictures I make sure that it looks sexy. So sexy that you want to eat it. Okay, let's keep this friendly for children. Food photography is definitely the most amazing part for me. I just cannot wait to make something look beautiful to be put on screen. Ah ... eye candy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

No Yeast Pizza

I didn't do this intentionally. I just hadn't realize that the packet of dried yeast in my drawer had expired two years ago. Since Mr. G and I had already done all our shopping for the morning, I decided to think of a substitute. Besides, my aching legs were begging me no more (read: lazy); it was another cold and wet morning (read: lazy); Mr. G had to do some reading for work on Monday (read: lazy).

So instead of doing the proper thing, this lazy twenty-something took the leap and jumped into improvisation. Hence, a 'no-yeast-pizza'. It wasn't bad. I reckon it tasted pretty good. Mr. G couldn't tell the difference (very often he just enjoys his food while I scrutinize the food). I liked how the dough was herby and the additional fresh basil worked lovely bringing the pizza home.This recipe was adapted from Arudathi's blog. You can get the original recipe (with yeast) here.

No Yeast Pizza (serves 2)

  • 1 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dried herbs of choice (basil’s great!)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice (to activate the alkaline in the baking soda)


  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the olive oil and water and combine to form a ball.
  4. Knead just until it forms a smooth dough.
  5. Divide the dough into half.
  6. Roll out the dough on baking paper till required thickness.
  7. Add your favourite toppings and bake for 10 minutes.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Taste of Melbourne

Sophie, a former colleague of mine from good ol' magazine days, rang me the other day. Our conversation went like this:
S: Hey Mabs, I've got something really serious to talk to you about.
M: Uh...
S: Okay Okay it's not that serious but...
M: ... (in cold sweat)
S: I wanted to ask if you would like to go to Taste of Melbourne this Friday with me?

I had a great time just eating, watching a food demo, meeting people, and just being with my gorgeous friend Soph. We saw Tobie Puttock (Executive Head Chef of Fifteen Melbourne and author of Daily Italian) but I was too shy to ask him for a photo. That was my slice of celeb chef spotting. What a great way to start the weekend.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Home-Made Bolognese Sauce

I really owe it to Donna Hay, Australian food stylist & writer, for my love for food + photography. While I was still working with seventeen Magazine, my editor had put me in charge of the food column.

At first, panic. I've always heard stories about food styling. It sounded excruciating.

I remember that I kept it very simple the first month. I bought ready made stuff and focussed on making it look good. But as the months past, I found myself enjoying it more. I even started cooking. Making something look according to how I wanted it to be became a fanatical obsession.

No one would come near me when I was in the kitchen. I would wake up early in the morning to start. Pack it in my mother's picnic baskets, ferry it to work not before making sure every sauce, meat and morsel was safe and sound in my back sit.

The first thing I did when I arrived at the office was to go straight to the studios. I saw no one but the food and photographer the entire day. I would not be disturbed.

Yes, I can be cold and intense when I was 'in the zone'. So full of concentration I was that people would shrivel in fear just looking at me or at the sound of my bark.

Today, I am not so ... uptight. But I must say that Mr. G has suffered from The Look if he dared prod a finger in the picture out of jest. Poor man. I don't know if he's quite recovered yet.

Home-Made Bolognese Sauce

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 800g mince
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 can chopped tomato
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • sea salt
  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic, cook until fragrant and then add the onions. Stir till onions are slightly transparent and then remove from pan.
  3. Add olive oil and increase heat to high.
  4. Dust the mince in flour and cook until brown. Add the onion and garlic back in the pan.
  5. Gradually add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.
  6. Add tomatoes, paste, water, bay leaves, sugar and salt. Stir to combine.
  7. Leave to cook until sauce is thick (approximately an hour).
For an exciting variation on how else to enjoy the ragu, click here to go to Happee Monkee.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Award Time!

Woohoo! It's our first award! Oh yea! Thanks Margaret (from Kitchen Delights) for thinking about us. I've often seen awards on other foodie blogs and I must admit, feeling quite envious. My child-within is now satisfied. So I'm prancing around my living room - on behalf of everyone on 20-something :)

I'll be passing this on to some fabulous food blogs as well to follow the rules of the Brillante Weblog. The rules for receiving the Brillante Weblog award are as follows:

  • Post the logo on your blog.
  • Add a link to the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 5 other people for this award and add links to their blog.
  • Leave a message for the people you've nominated.
And the nominees are:
  1. Christy of 5 Types of Sugar and Other Treats
  2. Mochachocolata-Rita of Mochachocolata-Rita
  3. Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen
  4. Helen of Tartelette
  5. Lore of Culinarty

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cherry Strudel

I had extra cherries from the cherry pie. Good stuff must never go to waste so I decided to use them for another recipe: strudel. They tasted absolutely heavenly. I now wished I kept more for myself - but for the sake of my girth, I must refrain. The ruby red cherries work so well with the creamy whiteness of the strudel filling. My first strudel was when I was in Perth couple of years ago. A friend was kind enough to insist. I must thank her persistence for my first taste of heaven.

Have you been to Perth, Western Australia? If you haven't, try googling: Corica. The apple strudel is to absolutely die for.

When I was traveling around Hong Kong with Mom, we met another Malaysian who had been living in Perth for a long time. She divulged an alternative close to the heavenly strudel. Close, but you must try the real deal if you're in the neighborhood. Promise?Cherry Strudel (serves 4)
  • 1 puff pastry sheet
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 200ml thickened cream
  • 1 cup cherries
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • brown sugar to sprinkle


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Cut the puff pastry into half.
  3. Brush some egg yolk on it.
  4. Sprinkle some brown sugar and place it in the oven for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden and fluffy.
  5. Set aside and let it cool.
  6. Mix cherries, caster sugar, flour and cinnamon together.
  7. Whip cream until light and fluffy.
  8. Assemble strudel together first by putting cream on one pastry, then the cherry mixture and finally top it with the second pastry sheet.
  9. Decorate with lots and lots and lots of icing sugar. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

French Women Don't Get Fat by Mirelle Guiliano

I bought this book over eBay recently:French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating For Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano. As I go deeper into the book, I find that it's a cleverly written book about balance. Control. Eating with your head and not your stomach.

I'm glad that it isn't about dieting (which for sure, it'd be thrown out in a minute - wouldn't even consider buying it) because I'm not great follower of diet. First of all, I have no discipline. Second, I believe in healthy, fresh, nutritious food. Thirdly, I love food too much to give it up. Well, completely, at least.

There is this chapter which Guiliano asks all women (and men) to do: Go to the fresh markets. No, not supermarkets - but the noisy, open, sometimes wet markets where food has just been plucked from Mother Nature's nurturing breast. Fat juicy carrots, seasonable produce, barn-laid eggs. I bought a dozen of eggs today (I have now switched to barn-laid or free range because I like to think the chickens were stress-free and happy) so I can try my hand at some new (healthy) recipes for the coming week. They were the hugest, freshest, brownest looking eggs I have ever seen! I'm sure they'll taste glorious too.

The point that she makes is that it holds more flavour. And we eat more only because we don't taste the burst of flavour in our food. When our palates have been fulfilled and we can enjoy each and every mouthful, we naturally eat less. When we eat less, we grow (horizontally) less.

There is another point that Guiliano writes, which is, portion control. Not to over do the eating. I find that a hard one to follow. It's a matter of lagom - Swedish for 'not too much, not too little'. Why the sudden interjection of Swedish? That's a little secret that I will keep for a few more months. :)

There is also special detoxifying brew recommended by Guiliano that is known as the Magic Leek Soup. I've tried it once and uhm... well, I need more love in there. I do however, consciously drink more water now - which is another thing mentioned in the book. And walking. It's time I've picked up the habit again. I fear that the couch has been my friend for far too long.

If you find a copy of the book, do have a look in it and you'll find it light and witty. There are very simple recipes to follow as well and well-worth your time exploring.