Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Quick Peppermint Soup

I bought fresh peppermint at the market today. I usually don't fancy peppermint but I thought with my flu and scratchy throat, peppermint soup sounds real good.

The peppermint was RM1 one bunch. When I came home, I just plucked the leaves and soaked them. Ditch the stems.

Next I marinated some fresh minced pork - about 1/3 cup of minced pork. You can use chicken if you want. Marinate with some salt, pepper and cornflour. The cornflour makes a world of difference. The minced meat will be smoother!Put this aside in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to boil. Since I was only making this soup for lunch and dinner, I measured out 4 medium bowls of water.

Once water is boiling away merrily, drop in the minced meat - form them into tiny balls of meat. I like mine like the size of marbles.

I also put into 3 cloves of garlic, with skin attached. This flavours the soup a bit.

Next, add your rinsed and drained peppermint leaves.

Let the soup simmer for 5 minutes on medium fire before you add salt, sugar, pepper and soya sauce. No MSG, if you please.

Finally, beat an egg and slowly drizzle this into the soup. Let soup simmer for another minute before you turn off the fire and cover the pot.

The soup should "sit" for 20 minutes or so before you serve. I find that this helps gel the flavours and intensify the taste tremendously.

That's why soups kept overnight in the fridge tend to be a lot more tasty than the day before.

Bread Update - BG's Recipe Worked!

Not that I am major doubter in his basic bread recipe... it's more like I doubt my bread kneading skills.

But I armed myself with complete knowledge before I plunged into breadmaking again yesterday, despite the awful headache I was having. Despite my flu and sneezing 20 times!

Still, I had to throw out cups of yeast in lukewarm water because silly me, I wasn't patient enough to let the yeast bubble and ferment. Finally it dawned on me that the yeast was alive but a bit slow in 'waking up'. 4 lukewarm cups of water + yeast + honey later, I realize this.


Anyway, the basic bread recipe is simple and yes, I finally have 94% of what resembles bread. I cannot say 100% because Nic says it needs some 10 minutes more in the oven but excited old me took it out at 30 minutes and it was slightly, just slightly underdone. But it was bread. It looked like bread, it tasted chewy and lovely. It was BREAD.

Thank you Cosmic Universe!

So the recipe is super simple. Make the yeast concoction first. Dilute 1 tsp instant yeast into a cup of lukewarm water mixed with 1 tsp honey or sugar. Let it sit until it foams and smells like beer. Mine took about 15 minutes. I was getting edgier by the minute.

Put 4 cups plain flour into a bowl. Make a well and pour the yeasty stuff into this and mix well. It starts off a goooey mess but soon you will be able to knead it. I had to use more flour to coat my hands as I kneaded. Let it rest for 20 minutes. Then knead again until you feel you are getting an upper arm workout. About 10 minutes kneading will do or I feel my biceps forming. At this time, work in some salt. Kneading as you add 1 tsp salt.

Put into a bowl (I oiled it first), cover with a wet cloth and let it sit for 2 hours. I put it into my oven as I felt a warm place helps yeast work faster.

After 2 hours, take dough and punch down. Literally it means punch to release the air pockets. Not too much. Just a mild punching will do.

Shape it into a round and bake in oven for 30 minutes at 200 C. I would have liked to glaze it with a bit of olive oil! Oh yes, I oiled the pan too so that the dough won't stick.

Thanks to BG and his bread recipe!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Bit of Bread Diversion

This blog may be about soup but sometimes, I come across other types of niche food blogs too and thought you might like to know!

Recently, a friend found me on my other blog. He apparently is into bread-making (like me, but my first few attempts sucked) and he seems to be a maestro at it, looking at the number of bread recipes and modified recipes he has at his blog.

I know I am the soup queen (please take it with a pinch of salt) but he is definitely a bread king. He makes his own bread so that his wife (who has a thyroid condition) need not eat commercial bread which as you know is full of preservatives and stuff even my cat won't eat. (Do you know that a piece of commercial bread can stay fresh and unmoldy up to a week or more?!)

As I am bread newbie, I can tell you I was excited on learning that he has a blog dedicated to his fascination with bread.

Do hop over to BG's blog on bread baking and bread making.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Steamed Tofu, Vegetarian Style

Sometimes I get so tired when I get home from work (even though it is my own business but I tell you, running a business is far more exhausting than being a salaried employee! I've been on both ends so I know that as an employee, you can 'shut off' the moment you get home. As a business person, I'm thinking of work even when I'm on the throne!)

So what's a girl to do when she comes home tired and yet wants to cook something homemade for the man in her life? Ah yes, I can be traditional in some ways. I think the less I eat out the better.

I always have some beancurd or tofu in my fridge for those emergency dinner moments. I prefer the silken tofu in a box which you can easily buy at any supermarket for RM1 per box.

1 box of tofu is good enough for 2 persons.

To prepare this steamed tofu (which takes less than 10 minutes to cook), just open up the plastic casing and put the tofu on a plate. Steam this over high heat for 5 minutes.

The tofu will 'sweat' some water during the steaming process. Drain away this water.

In a separate pan, heat up some vegetable oil. Saute some minced garlic and minced ginger for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and mix in 1 tbsp dark soya sauce, 1 tbsp light soya sauce and 1/2 tsp sugar. Combine well and pour over steamed tofu. Sprinkle chopped spring onions and serve warm with plain rice.

You can spice it up with a dollop of sambal. The sambal can be combined with the soya sauces and sugar.

This is my quick and easy version of Ma Poh Tofu, minus the minced pork meat!

This tofu dish is healthy and suitable for vegetarians.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

5 Bean Soup with Green Love Mix

I first had this soup when I was at my Mom-in-law's back in Kuching a few months ago. I really love beans so I decided to recreate this soup here in Penang.

I noted that my mom-in-law used a variety of beans in her soup plus some chicken carcasses.

I was thinking of buying a handful of each type of beans but thought better of it! It would be such a waste if my own concoction didn't turn out right or taste right.

So I turned to Green Love's Multi Bean Soup Mix which had 5 types of beans in one packet (RM4.80 for a 250 gm packet). The beans were chick peas, kidney beans, borlotti beans, large lima beans and Great Northern Beans.

This bean premix pack can make a savoury or sweet soup.

I made a savoury soup with blanched pork bones which was delectable. I love beans in all manner so this was really comfort food.

Here's how you make a Five Bean Soup (makes 6 serving bowls of soup).

125 gm of beans from Green Love's Multi Bean Soup Mix
300 gm blanched pork bones
1 tbsp medlar seeds, soaked and drained
2 slices of ginger
6 dried red dates, soaked and de-seeded

Bring a pot of water to boil (about 1.5 liter). Add in all ingredients. Boil on high and uncovered for 10 minutes. Cover pot and boil on low/simmer for 2 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste about 15 minutes before soup is ready. Let the soup 'rest' for 20 minutes before serving. I find this intensifies the taste!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Black Sesame with Milk

This is yet another recipe I picked up from TV. You see, you can learn from TV if you choose your TV programmes well.

Black sesame with milk is a drink recommended for people who are constipated.

Black sesame seeds are used to tonify yin, jing and blood and most importantly, moisten the intestines. Hence its usefulness in helping to move the bowels. (It's associated with Kidney and Liver meridians.)

Other than that, Chinese love the black sesame because it can keep your hair glossy and black. A sweet, thick dessert made from ground black sesame seeds is often served in good Chinese restaurants. In fact, black sesame seeds are good for improving memory and preventing Alzheimers.

Here's how you can prepare this beverage:

Warm up some 400 cc of fresh milk.
Add 1 teaspoon of black sesame seed powder.
Mix well. Add honey to taste. Also if you wish, you can add in some medlar seeds (pre-soaked in hot water to soften).
Drink warm.