Let Try Something New–Red Dragon Fruits Pie Bar And Blueberry Pie Bar

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UPDATED POST ON 5-12-2014

Saw some blueberry in the supermarket and I have decided to update this post with some new pictures. Decided to prepare blueberry pie pars.. I have always loved pie bars especially its crumbly top.. Unlike normal pie, pie bars have more short crust pastry than its fillings. If you like short crust pastry of any sort, you shall try this..No major changes in the recipe, just torn down the sugar content to suit Asian taste buds..Changes are highlighted in red.

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INTRODUCTION

I have been challenged that most of my recipes that I have written are very “colourful”. If you think that I like permitted food colouring, that is not entirely true. You may have seen a few post that uses food colouring, but that essentially was because I am doing it more for illustration and picture taking purposes. If you read my post on Rainbow Loaf, you will understand how I justified the usage of permitted food colouring and struggling whether such a post should be issued. While I don’t encourage the use of food colouring, but we have to be realistic in our daily lives. I strongly believed the usage of permitted food colouring are all over the food outlets. What about Angkukueh? Do you think all mango puddings are consistently as yellow as what you saw every time your bought it? How about various type of tapioca pearls, milk teas, pasta sauces or even moon cakes? Well that is up to individual and I tend to choose to believe that NOT all the green colour in the Pandan Kaya or Kueh Srimuka/Salat that are sold in eating outlets  are all from the Pandanus leaves….

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This post is  using a natural colour. A colour that I am very hesitant to touch. I even hate it when it stained my cloth! It is one of the very strong natural colour – Purplish Red dragon fruits. There is an influx of purplish red dragon fruits in Singapore supermarkets in current year. Though I do not really like to touch the colour by itself, but I do believed it will help to create a visual effect in pastry’s presentation.

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In last week’s marketing, these dragon fruits were on sale and I managed to get 2 big red dragon fruits for S$2.50.. I think that it is a deal and I think I should made use of its natural colour to make some pastries. Then it reminded me of some blueberries pie bar that I read while browsing the internet. therefore, I have decided to use these dragon fruits to prepare some dragon fruits pie bars..

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Pie bar is a type of short crust pastry usually loaded with seasonal fruits and served as desserts. Fruits that are usually used include strawberries, blueberries and blackberries.

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WHAT IS NEEDED

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Pie Pastry for crust and toppings

  • 400 grams of plain flour

  • 330 grams of butter (cold and cut into cubes)

  • 300200) grams of sugar

  • Pinches of salt

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Dragon Fruit Fillings

  • 4 eggs (about 200 grams)

  • 400 (250 ) grams of sugar

  • 100 grams of plain flour

  • 150 grams of sour cream or whipped cream

  • Pinches of salt

  • 200 grams of dragon fruit (meshed) or mashed blueberries

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Meshing Of Dragon Fruits

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  • Use some kitchen utensils or sharp objects such as forks or knifes or potatoes mashers to mesh the dragon fruits.

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Preparing the short crust pastry

  • Get ready a baking tray of 12” x 15” baking tray.

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius

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  • In the big mixing bowl, put cold cut butter, flour and sugar. Use finger tips to rub the butter and flours mixtures together until resemble some crumbs.

  • Divide the crumbs into two portion, one for the bottom layer and another portion for the toppings.

  • Press half of the pastry against the bottoms of the baking tray. Use a fork to make a few holes in the pastry and set aside for later use. 

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Preparing the fillings

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  • In another mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and cream together. Add flour and followed by mesh dragon fruits and mixed well.


Assembling And Baking The Pastry

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  • Pour the dragon fruits fillings on top of the pastry. Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture evenly over the fillings.

  • Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes at 180 degree Celsius.

  • Cool at least one hour before cutting your desired sizes.

  • Best served with some whipped creams, ice creams, additional fresh fruits or on its own.

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CONCLUSION

  • It is a dessert that is not that tough to prepare. I believed it is still relatively uncommon in Singapore and Malaysia. For a person with sweet tooth like me, I definitely wouldn’t object such a treat. The crispy and crunchy toppings resembles a bit of the biscuits with some mild fruity flavour of the red dragon fruits.

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  • I have hold up this post for one day as I am unsure about the colour combination and the acceptability of this desserts in this area of the world. When I posted up to one international communities in Google Plus, I was being encourage to proceed with the post as the pie bars looks appetizing.. Thanks to those members who have encouraged me to have this post.

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  • I have quite a number of posts in the past one month, this is due to the assistance from my mother in law who is visiting me and able to help me to “nag” my kids performs some household chores. In addition, Singapore was having a school holiday last week.  In the next few days, as my mother in law will be back to her home town, I will have to slow down my posting as I need my energies to nag and cooked for normal household meals. She has been a great helper in the house and I really appreciate and thankful for her presence and I know I am going to miss her like her grandsons and grand daughters…

Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 26 November 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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Eating “Rat’s Shit”? You AreTotally Gross! –Vegetarian Fried “Beethyemak” Rice Noodles

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INTRODUCTION

Beethyemak (“米大目”) is the name stated in the package of rice noodles that I bought from the supermarket. It is also called “Loh Su Fun” (“老鼠粉”) in Cantonese literally translated as  “Rats flour” …In my Chawan dialects group, it was called “ngiao chu sia” (”老鼠屎“) literally translated as “Rat’s shit”. My mother in law who is a Teochew, called it “ngiao chi ni” (“老鼠奶“) literally translated as “Rat’s milk”..

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If you ask me what is the English translation? I will just translated it into a type of rice noodles taken in different form of the shape of disgusting “worms”. Apparently, it was shaped liked a “rat” .. Does it? I don’t know! I looked for some write up for this noodle dish and I managed to get a Chinese description in http://www.baike.com , the Chinese equivalent of Wikipedia. What is written is:

“米苔目是闽南语,又叫米筛目,漳州龙海特色小吃,是用米和番薯粉做成的。制作米苔目的工序颇为复杂:先要将米浸泡磨成米浆,然后放进布袋加压脱水成“饭脆”,将“饭脆”加入番薯粉,揉搓成饭团,再把饭团做成细条状,放到锅里煮熟捞起后用冷水冲洗,使之滑嫩。米苔目加入糖水、刨冰,可以做成冰凉可口的甜品,咸吃则可以用乌醋拌食或放入柴鱼熬煮成汤,再加入爆香的作料;像河粉一般热炒的米苔目很有嚼劲。 米苔目现在是闽南地区以及台湾著名的美食。” (Source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/68002.htm)

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I have used Google Translation to translate and this is what I got:

“Mitai Mu is the Taiwanese language, called m mesh , Zhangzhou Longhai snacks, with rice and sweet potato flour made. Making process is quite complex Mitai Mu: Soak the rice milled rice milk first and then put into a pressure dewatering bag “rice crispy”, the “rice crispy” adding sweet potato powder , rub into balls , then made ​​into balls thin strips, into the pot boiled picked up after the rinse with cold water to make it smooth and delicate. Mi Taimu added sugar , ice, can be made ​​into delicious cold desserts , salty food, you can use the black vinegar mixed with food or put dried fish boiled into soup, then add the spices until fragrant; like rice noodles stir-fried rice general moss mesh very chewy. Mitai Mu is now southern region as well as Taiwan ‘s famous cuisine.”

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Well, if readers can understand, it is best. However, if you can’t, I think that is unfair to you and I will try my best to translate for you.

“ Beethyemak is the name in Mingnan (Fujian or Hokkien) and the “thye” can also be translated or treated as “sift” in Hokkien. It is a famous snack in Longhai County, Zhangzhou (People’s Republic of China) and it is made of rice and sweet potatoes flour. The manufacturing process is rather complicated. Firstly, the rice grain have to be soaked and ground into rice batter, These are then put in a bag made from cloth. A heavy object is then placed on top of the rice batter to exert pressure and squeeze out the water making it to become a drier batter. Sweet potatoes flour are then added and mixed well. It is then made into long stripes by pouring the batter into the hot water. When cooked , the noodles are immediately dip in cold water such that the texture will be smooth and springy. To serve as a dessert, syrups and crushed ices were added to beethyemak . For savoury dishes, beethyemak can be stir mixed with black vinegar。 It can also be cooked with Bonito broth, and garnished with aromatic deep fried garlics or shallots. It can also be stir fried like Horfun (Kway Tiao) and both noodles have almost similar textures. Beethyemak is now a famous cuisine in the Mingnan (Fujian) area and Taiwan.”

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I have been eating this noodle dish since I was young. Because of the name “Rat’s shit”, psychologically, I do not really like it. In addition, when I was young in Kuching, Sarawak, the Beethyemak is mostly made from pure rice flour. The texture is rather coarse and tasteless. It is not until when I came to Singapore that I started to like Beethyemak. The Beethyemak in Singapore is more springy and if properly cooked, it taste better than rice vermicelli or Kway Tiao (another flat type of rice noodles). 

This noodle is not easy to prepare as compare to rice vermicelli or Kway Tiao. You can either cook it in soupy version or stir fry it.

For stir frying, if you want to maintain the shape, the oil for frying will have to be quite a lot. Otherwise it will stick to your frying pan making it hard to fry. The purpose of this post is to illustrate how to stir fry this noodle dish, the ingredients can be anything from prawns to meat to the vegetables of your choice.

Again, as I am still on my vegetarian diet, this dish will be a vegetarian version. But remember, you can always add meats, prawns, fish cakes etc. of your choice. In addition, you can always used the same method to fry rice vermicelli and Kway Tiao or Horfun.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

There will be no quantity stated here and you have full flexibility to change the ingredients. This illustration is the vegetarian version and please add in any other ingredients that you like.

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  • Some cabbage cut in slices

  • Some black fungus – soaked and cut into small slices

  • Some tofu puff – cut into small square cubes

  • 1 package of Beethyemak rice noodles (about 500 grams – servings of 4-5 adults)

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  • Some eggs, lightly beaten

  • Some celery – cut into small cubes

  • Some mock meat – cut into strips

  • Some dried mushrooms – soaked and cut into strips

  • Some shredded gingers and/or shallots and/or garlics

  • Condiments of your choices – light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, flavour enhancer like mushroom concentrate, white pepper, salt)


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Put one to two tablespoons of cooking oil in the frying pan. Add in shredded gingers and mushrooms (non vegetarian version can put in shredded shallots and garlics) and stir fried under high heat until the fragrance starts to spread.

  • Add in cabbage, stir fry for one minute and follow by celery, mock meat, tofu puffs, black fungus, stir fry until well mixed. Add in half a cup of water (estimate) and let it cooked for one – two minutes.

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The above garnishes of spring onion for picture taking purposes, Religion vegetarian cannot have spring onion in the dish.

Note

  • The purpose of adding the water is to soften and cook the vegetables. Remember, unlike stir frying rice vermicelli, the water has to be minimal as the noodles are rather wet and will not be able to absorb any more water.

  • If your are frying with meat, meat will be the first item to be stir fried followed by hard vegetables (carrots, cabbage, celery etc.), leafy vegetables and tomatoes in this order.

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  • Add in the noodles and stir fry until well mixed. Add in dark soya sauce, light soya sauce, pepper, salt and flavour enhancer. Stir fry until well mixed. Add in beaten eggs and fry until all the noodles were coated with the eggs.

Note:

  • In this illustration, I have purposely used this method of adding the eggs to the noodles. The purpose is to let the eggs coating the noodles. If you do not like the moist soft egg coated noodles, you can prepare the omelette and cut it into strips. You can refer to Vegetarian Tom Yam Bee Hoon for making of omelette strips. The difference is this way of frying noodles will result in moister noodles.

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  • Add in tomatoes and and stir fry for another minutes before scoop out to the plate for serving. Best serve hot with your preferences of garnishes such as coriander leaves, freshly cut chilli or Chinese celery leaves.


CONCLUSION

This noodle dish looks easy to prepare but in fact, it need some practise. The challenges is to ensure the noodles are well coated with eggs and not stick to each other or soggy. To get this texture, the following points have to be taken into considerations:

  • The heat has to be high heat throughout the stir frying. Therefore action have to be fast. If you can’t handle, this, you have to use at least medium heat. High heat is required to ensure that all the fragrances of gingers/shallots/garlics mix well with the noodles and any moisture or water contents dries up quickly. With this, there is less chance for the noodles to get soggy.

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  • There is always a trade off between the look of your final cooked noodles and the amount of cooking oil used. You have to chose whether you want to have a healthier dish (using less oil) but an uglier dish (may be a bit out of shape as some of the noodles may stick to your frying pan). If you want to have an impressive non stick noodles, you will have to use quite a lot of oil to achieve that effect.

  • Unlike fried rice vermicelli and Kway Tiao, the water used for simmering the vegetables or side ingredients cannot be too much, otherwise, your noodles will be soggy and stick to the frying pan. If you have accidentally added too much water, you would rather let the water dry up first (meaning cook a bit longer) rather than having some soggy noodles.

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  • If you do not like moist egg coated noodles, you can use egg omelette strips.

  • All side ingredients in this illustrations are optional and substitutable. Please use what you like to fry the noodles. I have raid my fridge to come out with this and is a vegetarian version. Otherwise, I would have added pork belly meat, prawns and even some dry shrimps. So, use whatever that your family likes to cook the noodle dish.

  • Though all ingredients appeared to be optional, however, the selections will usually based on the colour of the side ingredients and a good combination of colour will make the dish looks appetizing. I usually used tomatoes or carrots for orange, chillies for red colour, choy shym or leafy vegetable for green, dried mushrooms or black fungus for black,  and corns or eggs for yellow colour. This minute detail of colour combination will make this simple dish becoming a presentable dish.

  • Remember that this method of cooking is equally applicable to fried yellow noodles, rice vermicelli, Kway Tiao, Pad Thai and etc..

Hope you like the post today and have a nice day ahead. Cheers.

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Agar Agar is not the same as Agak Agak… Agar Agar is Red Algae !!

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INTRODUCTION

Agar Agar is a Malay word for red algae, apparently it has been accepted as an English word. It is hard for a lay man like me to explain agar agar, so  as usual, I will quote Wikipedia’s explanation of agar agar for reader’s understanding.

Per Wikipedia:

“The word “agar” comes from agar-agar, the Malay name for red algae (Gigartina, Gracilaria) from which the jelly is produced. It is also known as kanten, China grass, Japanese isinglass, Ceylon moss or Jaffna moss. 

Agar-agar is a natural vegetable gelatin counterpart. White and semi-translucent, it is sold in packages as washed and dried strips or in powdered form. It can be used to make jellies, puddings, and custards. For making jelly, it is boiled in water until the solids dissolve. Sweetener, flavouring, colouring, fruit or vegetables are then added and the liquid is poured into moulds to be served as desserts and vegetable aspics, or incorporated with other desserts, such as a jelly layer in a cake. “ (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agar)

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Agar agar is one type of traditional dessert commonly found in Singapore and Malaysia. It is easy to prepare and is a common item being served during Chinese New Year and other festivals. To make it requires no complicated kitchen utensils, just need to boil and mould. Traditionally, households used dried agar agar as shown in this illustration as the raw ingredient. However, in recent years, most households have started to use agar agar powder instead of dried agar agar.

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Traditionally, due to the lack of weighing scales, sophisticated kitchen utensils and written recipes, housewives usually prepare agar agar based on words of mouth using common kitchen items such as cups as the unit of measurement.

I was told that previously, the recipe is 1 cup of soaked agar agar will requires 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. I liked this type of simple ratio recipe, however, when I tried out, it just turned out to be extremely sweet and tough.

Well, that type of recipe may not be acceptable nowadays since we have so many resources available. In olden days, the challenge to make a good agar agar is to get hold of the correct ratio of water to agar agar. The end product shall be slightly chewy and not to soft like the current jelly. In order to achieve such texture, housewives some times dried their agar agar under the sun. They believed that the less water content in the agar agar, the better it is. In fact, some house hold cut it into one bite size, dried it under the sun until it is very chewy, store in a container and eat it as a snacks or sweets!

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In recent years. preparation of agar agar is not entirely based on texture since all ingredients can be measure rather accurately. It is rather easy but the challenge had shifted to the colour combination and moulding. If you have the relevant mould, you can create your own design based on your creativities. One of the most trendy agar agar moulding will be agar agar moon cake where the agar agar were mould into a moon cake shape. Inside the agar agar moon cake, there is a yellow colour balls resembling the egg yolk.

Again that is deal with planning, making and moulding. It can be rather stressful if there are no prior planning on the colour selection and mould selection. Of course, it can be as simple as just a single colour one flat piece of agar agar. The taste will definitely be the same but of course it is less impressive to your guest.

This illustration will only provide you with the simplest layered agar agar procedures. You can chose your own colour and shape of your mould. I have use some heart shape mould and the colour is purely selected for this illustration only. At home, we will not go until this extent and usually have one to two colours plus 2-3 layers of agar agars.

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NATURAL COLOUR SELECTION

There are a lot of natural colour available and you can totally throw away the artificial colouring, if you wish. Suggested colours are:

  • White and milky – condense milk, coconut milk, fresh milk
  • Chocolate – instant coffee paste, chocolate  paste or powder
  • Red colour – red colour dragon fruits paste
  • Yellow – mango paste
  • Green – pandanus paste
  • Violet or blue – pea flowers
  • Purple –black currant drink
  • Red – strawberry paste
  • Dots in the agar agar –  dragon fruits

Besides the above colours, many varieties of cut fruits can also be included. For example, yam cubes with coconut milk is a good combination. Coffee with milk is another welcoming combination to make into agar agar. Canned Longan or lychee with black currant flavoured agar agar is also a presentable dessert. All this is very much depend on reader’s creativities to prepare one that is acceptable to the guest or family members.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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I have intentionally left out the quantities as it is best that you follow the instruction on the the package of agar agar that you bought. Be it dried agar agar strips as shown above or agar agar powders, they will have detail instructions on the quantity of water required. It is best that you follow these instruction as every brands of agar agar will requires different liquid to reach the desired textures.

  • 1 package of agar agar strip (about 38g)
  • Some water (refer package)

  • Some sugar (refer package)

  • Some permitted food colouring of your choice or the type of natural colouring ingredients as mentioned above.

  • Some moulds of your preference

  • Few leaves of Pandanus leaves – bundled (optional)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the dried agar agar by soaking in clean water for 1-2 minutes.

  • In a pot, put in the water as stated in the package and add dried agar agar. Use medium heat to bring the water to boil. Continue stirring until all the agar agar are dissolved.

  • Add in the required sugar into the agar agar solution and stirred until dissolve. Turn the heat to the minimal. You just need the heat to prevent the agar agar from solidifying while you do the layering. Alternatively, you can put your agar agar in a big basin of hot water.

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  • Take out some container of your choice, add in your preferred colouring and  pour into the mould.

  • Once done, put it in the freezer or chiller or under the fan and once it is set on the top, you can pour the second layer. How long will it take will depends on your room temperature, the concentration of your agar agar and the types of you container. For my today’s illustration, it is rather fast because the container is very small and my agar agar is quite concentrated.

  • Repeat the same for different layers until all the agar agar were used up.

  • Put in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from the mould, cut into your desired size and shape and put in your preferred serving plate.
  • Best served cold as a dessert.

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CONCLUSIONS

This is extremely simple. It is best that you based on what is stated in the package label to prepare the agar agar. Different brands will have different instructions.

Though this illustration is using traditional dried agar agar, you can use agar agar powder instead. The price for both dried agar agar and agar agar powder is rather economical and in my humble opinion, it is still a good choice of snacks or desserts. Variations are many and you have full flexibility to choose your desired flavour, colour and moulding. You guest will surely be impressed by your creativities.

Try this traditional Asian dessert and I am sure you wouldn’t regret preparing it. Hope you like the post today. Have a nice day and cheers.

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Don’t Sandwich Me, I Can’t Breathe … Baked Hasselback Potatoes With Bacon And Mozzarella Cheeses..

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INTRODUCTION

I remembered that  immediately when I read the recipe Easy Bacon Potatoes published by Ms. Paula Jones’s,  I immediately shared in my Google Plus timeline and promised wanted to try out the recipe.

Yesterday, when I needed to prepare a lunch in a rush, I suddenly thought of this recipe but was unable to locate it. I searched high and low but in vain.

Therefore, based on my recollections, I just “anyhow” put together bacon and potatoes and this is what I have prepared.

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Taste is superb but sizes and some of the ingredients were totally different from Ms. Paula Jones recipes from www.callmepmc.com. Hers’ definitely look more appetizing but too sad, I only managed to find out the recipe when I am searching to credit her recipe while writing this report.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED?

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  • 10 small washed baby potatoes

  • 4 thin pieces of bacon cut into small rectangular shape

  • 1 teaspoon of general Italian herbs for Italian cooking (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon of soft butter

  • 1 teaspoon of salts

  • 1 cup full of mozzarella or cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese

  • 2 large tablespoons of mayonnaise or sour cream (optional)

  • 2 slices of breakfast cheese (optional)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash your baby potatoes. Slightly cut off one side so that the potato can stand on its own.

  • Use a sharp knife to slice open the potato with about 0.5 cm thick towards the direction of the bottom but do not slice through.

  • Rub with salt, butter and Italian herbs (optional). Set aside for next steps.

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  • Slice the bacons into thin strips and place it in between the spaces between the cut potatoes.

  • Place the potatoes in low casserole dish or baking tin.

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  • Baked in the oven at 180 degree Celsius for at least 30 minutes.

  • Take out and sprinkled with mozzarella or cheddar cheese and baked for 10 –15 minutes or until the cheese had melted.

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  • Preferably served hot with generous amount of sour cream or moderate amount of mayonnaise or toppings of your choice. Plain serving is acceptable if preferred.

  • This is good to go with any Western set meals and as an alternative for baked potato skins, mash potatoes, potato chips or any other carbohydrate loaded meal items.

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VARIATIONS

  • If you runs out of time, you can always sliced it directly instead followed what I described above. You can refer to Ms Paula Jone’s version here.

  • All ingredients mentioned above are mostly substitutable to suit your family taste buds. If you are health conscious, you can lower the usage of mayonnaise or go for low fat mayonnaise dressing. Alternatively, you can also consider replacing the bacons with chicken frank or even fresh meat slices (for steamboat) if you preferred. If you preferred fresh Western herbs, you can put in dill, basil, rosemary and etc.….Full flexibility is the key and I encouraged readers to think out of the box and made one that suits your family’s taste buds.

  • Instead of putting mozzarella cheese, you can also substitute with breakfast cheese slice. As I have run out of mozzarella cheese, I decided to place a slice of breakfast cheese and it tasted equally well.

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CONCLUSION

This dish is simple though the process is a bit laborious. However, you can always cut through the potatoes if you run out of time. It is a good choice as a party “snack” (depending on your size), a side meal and some simple home gatherings. It is a comfort  food and the combination of bacon, cheese with potatoes runs well beyond your visual expectations. The taste is just superb. Try and let me know.

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Hope you like the post today and have a nice day. Cheers.

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  GUAI SHU SHU | Guai Shu Shu is a “shu shu” that is “guai“….


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 20 November 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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What I “Ate” Today (家常便饭系列)…. 17 August 2013- Special

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You may be surprised about this title! In fact, the title is not correct either. What I am going to post is not “what I cooked today” or “what I ate today”. It was a gathering at one of my relative’s house and she had cooked some Chinese dishes that are not common among Fujian or Guangdong Province.

My relative is from Jiangxi Province and therefore the food that she cooked were rather different! As you all know, Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese are descendants of immigrants mainly from the South Eastern Coastal Fujian and Guangdong Province.


JIANGXI CUISINES

Per Wikipedia:

Jiangxi (Chinese: 江西; pinyin: Jiāngxī; Wade–Giles: Chiang-hsi; Postal map spelling: Kiangsi, Gan: Kongsi) is a province in the People’s Republic of China, located in the southeast of the country. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south and east, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to the northwest. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiangxi)

As compared to Nanyang Chinese (Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese), in a household meal, they are more dishes but with a smaller portion. For us, we will usually serve 3 dishes and 1 soup, for them the dishes can be as many as 6-12 dishes. Today, the host is kind enough to cook us 7 dishes (excluding desserts and sweet soups). Jiangxi dishes were rather spicy (chilli hot) and as my kids were having meals with us, for some dishes, they have to prepare both the spicy and non spicy version.

Note than I am currently on a vegetarian  diet and since I did not told them in advance, I have taken my meals before joining them.  Therefore, I did not join them for meals.


SPICY AND SOUR SHREDDED POTATOES (酸辣土豆丝)

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Yes, this is my favourite. Potatoes were julienned into thin strips. There were then soaked in cold water until all the starch were gone. This will make the potatoes “crunchy” and water have to be changed regularly. Look at the thin strips, these were all manually done. They were then stir fried with spring onions, black vinegars and chilli. This is something that I have yet to share the cooking illustrations with readers but I can assure you it is something simple yet the taste is superb. Kids are fighting for this.


BRAISED BEEF (酱牛肉)

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I do not know if there is any translation of this dish. It is basically beef braised in dark soya sauce (and herbs and spices). It was then air dried. If it was kiln dried, it will become smoked beef. This is a form of meat preservation that can be commonly found in many parts of China. My relatives have prepared these meat in China and brought it over.

I still remembered  when I was stationed in Changchun, China about 10 years ago, one of the past time is to buy some braised chicken drumsticks and ate it in the hotel. It is delicious and thinking about it make me drooling. Depending on the regions, the preservations can be sugar based or salt based.


TOMATOES FRIED WITH EGGS (番茄炒蛋)

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A common household dish in China. Besides stir frying, another way of cooking this combination is making it into a soup.

Tomato is not a common vegetable in my  traditional house cooking. Tomatoes are considered vegetables imported from other countries (though this may not be true any more). This is evidenced in its Chinese name literately translated as Western Persimmon (西红柿)or Foreign brinjal (番茄)。In Hokkien dialects, it was called Caucasian Brinjal (angmokio)!  Therefore, my mom seldom cooked tomatoes in the house.

As my girl is a tomato fanatic, this will definitely her top choice. However, as my boy is tomato phobia, this is definitely a good dish to make my boy eating tomato.  Though he is a tomato phobia but he is an egg fanatic. I usually requested that if he wanted to eat 2 tablespoons of eggs, he will need to finish 1 tablespoon of tomatoes. Haha


STEAMED CHINESE SAUSAGE WITH CHINESE BLACK FERMENTED BEANS (腊肠蒸豆豉)

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The Chinese sausages were prepared by my relatives in China and brought it over. You can hardly find any fats in the Chinese sausages. Before I am on my vegetarian diet, I have tried the sausages before and it is delicious.

The Chinese sausages were cut into slices, steamed with Chinese black fermented beans and chopped garlics. May be after my vegetarian diets end, I shall cook this. Good thing about having this post is that it can remind me of what I should cooked when I run out of ideas.


PIGTAILS PORK BELLIES SOUP (猪尾猪肚汤)

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I never have this combination before, pork bellies plus pigtails. The reason is because both meats have different cooking times. You know pork bellies are rather difficult to cook until soft. So, it is not easy to cook this soup. Even if you used pressure cooker, both items will have to be cooked separately. There is no vegetables or white peppers. It is pure meat broth!

If you ask me whether it is yummy or not, of course, I can’t tell you directly because I did not taste it. However, from my years of cooking experience, I can tell you that it is a good soup because the soup had turn milky meaning all the gelatine from the meat have been dissolved in the soup/broth.

Don’t believe me, freeze it and you will see that it become jellish and you can use a knife to cut it into small pieces. Teochew dialect group also have a dish that after braising certain meat for a long time, they cut the meat into very small pieces, freeze the broth and become a jelly. The jelly was then cut into small pieces and served as cold dish (猪头粽)


STIR FRIED CHINESE WATER CRESS (清炒西洋菜)

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I remembered when I told my mother in law and wife to stir fry water cress previously, they are against it as they always used water cress to cook soup. It is generally true that most Chinese dialect groups like to boil soup with this vegetable. However, when I travelled to China, I always have stir fried water cress in restaurants. Usually, this vegetable were stir fried using garlic without any other ingredients.

Try and tell me whether it is nice or not! Remember that you have to stir fry the vegetables using high heat, otherwise, it may be bitter.


STEAMED KUDZU FLOUR COATED PORK WITH PUMPKIN (南瓜米粉肉)

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When I asked for the name of the dish, I was told  “namguamifenrou”. However, I can’t find any rice vermicelli or Beehoon. Later she explained the 米粉 is not rice vermicelli, it means “rice flour”. Though the name is called rice flour, the coating of the meat can be any types of flour. It can be corn flour, sweet potato flour, potato flour and etc.…But today the flour that she used is kudzu flour (葛根粉). Again this is brought from Jiangxi and she disclosed that this was made from wild kudzu roots.

Kudzu has many health benefits and among them are relief symptoms of postmenopausal women, reducing alcohol intake, alleviating cluster headaches, managed metabolic syndromes etc. etc. etc. In Singapore, we do have a type of Chinese instant flu medicine called Kudzu soup (葛根汤) that you consumed when you have a fever and it is believed that it will help to reduce your body temperature. You may want to know more about kudzu from here.

Coming back to the dish. Meat were seasoned and coated with kudzu flour. The meat was then placed on top of the pumpkins and steamed under high heat until the pumpkins were soft. The purpose of the flour is to retain the meat juiciness in the process of steaming. Any meat juices that escaped will dripped into the pumpkins those flavoured the pumpkins.

Lastly, I want to convey my sincere thanks to my relatives who cooked us a sumptuous meal and we really appreciate that.

Hope you like the post today and I find this post is meaningful to share with readers about other different types of Chinese cuisines.

Have a nice day and cheers.

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 11-8-2013

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On 7 August 2013, white rice served with :

1.      Braised Bitter Gourd With Chinese Mustard                                                 苦瓜焖苦瓜

2.     Salted Turnip Omelette                                                                                    菜脯蛋饼

3.     Vegetarian Winter Melon Soup                                                                       素冬瓜汤

First of all, I have to be frank that I will be a vegetarian (by religion) for a period of about 1.5 months and being the only member in the family, I am pretty easy going with my meals. Since my relatives are in my house, they can cook what they like and I usually give them the free hand so that I can concentrate on my other food posts.

However, when I have things to share, I will post here and there summarizing what I have made the last few days. As mentioned before, short recipes will be captured in Guaishushu’s Facebook Page, therefore, I will let you know the dishes published and if you are interested, you can go there for some pictorial illustration. Liking the Page (not the individual posts) will ensure that you will be briefed of all future recipes when Guaishushu issue a pictorial illustration.



Salted Turnip Omelette (菜脯蛋饼)

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This is a very common Chinese household dish especially for the Hokkien and the Teochew dialects. It is basically preserved turnips (either sweet or salty) fried with eggs. When I was young, we used to have this dish with white porridge as its very tasty. Previously, this dish was considered as a commoner’s dish because eggs and preserved turnip or radish are two of the cheapest cooking ingredients. It is tasty and a slice of  egg omelette with a bowl of white rice or porridge can be a meal for the poorer families. However, time have changed, this traditional dish has become so well known that it started to appear in the restaurant menu especially Minan/Hokkien/Taiwan restaurant and Teochew porridge restaurant. Preparation is simple and you may want refer here for detail pictorial illustration.



Braised Bitter Gourd with Chinese Mustard (苦菜焖苦瓜)  

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This is a vegetable dish “invented” by myself many years ago. Initially, it was just bitter gourd and subsequently, as per my wife’s request, Chinese mustard was added. Both Chinese mustard and bitter gourd were very bitter and if you are a bitter taste lover, you will like it definitely. At times, I have added a can of canned button mushrooms and my kids will eat together with us. This is one way of letting them getting used to the taste of bitter gourd and Chinese mustard.

Both these vegetables were beneficial to the body as per Traditional Chinese Medicine, these are “cooling” vegetables that will help to release the “heat” on your body. For those who are not familiar with TCM, body that have too much “heat “ will have lots of symptoms that can range from loss of voice, acnes in your face, sore throat etc. and you have to have food that are “cooling” in nature to balance your Yin and Yang.

My mother in law is very particular about vegetable combination in a meal and she will casually remarked “we have some “heat” prone vegetable today and today we shall have some cooling vegetables.. So under her, her vegetable choices will take into consideration this factor plus “colour” of the vegetable (green vs. white vs. colourful), leafy vs beans….. Most of time, I “failed” her test under her supervision but I am learning from her gradually as this takes time!


Vegetarian Winter Melon Soup (素冬瓜汤)

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Nothing much to say about this dish as it is just another version of winter melon soup without pork ribs. As there is no meat broth, I have use more sweet dates and add in some vegetarian bean curd sheets. My boy did not complain about no meat and my girls, who is soup fanatic, will definitely say nice especially winter melon is one of her favourites.



Banana Cake (香蕉蛋糕)

Beside the savoury dishes, my baking adventures continue. I have made a banana cake using two ripe bananas. Taste is fabulous and texture is superb (soft and moist). Uniqueness about this cake is that it is prepared using a food processor rather than the normal mixer. No creaming of butter, just mixed and blend, a batter will come out that give a delicious butter cake. Cake preparation timing is less than 20 minutes. This is a comfort food that is suitable for those who want a simple way of cake making.

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In between these few days, I have prepared many cakes and savory dishes and among them were:

Oven baked honey tempeh and Sweet and Spicy Tempeh



Vegetable Fritters or Bakwan Sayuran

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Grapefruit Chiffon Cake with Grapefruit Citrus Glaze

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Bubur Cha Cha (Sweet Soup) 

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers

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Easy Peasy Barley Bean Curd Sheets Sweet Soup (腐竹薏米甜汤)

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INTRODUCTION

This will be a straight forward short post.

A light, sweet and smooth desserts that will made me hard to resist whenever this dessert was served. It is a flexible dessert and if you wish, you can add in additional ingredients such as gingko nuts or lotus seeds. However, I have opt to use peanuts as I have never like the taste of gingko nuts. The peanuts blends equally well in the soup and in fact, in my humble opinion is a much better combination. The use of pressure cooker had reduce the time of preparation considerably.


 

WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 1/2 cup of peanuts
  • 6 pandanus leaves tied in a bunch
  • 1 packet (rather standard size) of dried bean curd sheets specially for desserts purposes.
  • 1 cup of rock sugar or granulated sugar
  • 8 cups of water

 

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the pandanus leaves and tie into a bundle. Set aside for later use.
  • Wash the peanuts and barley thoroughly and put in a pressure cooker and boiled for 25 minutes.
  • Release the pressure and put in the bean curd sheets, rock sugar and candied winter melons and boiled for another 10 minutes.
  • Release the pressure and preferably served hot or chilled.

Variations

Variations can include addition of gingko nuts, lotus seeds and jujubes.  Beaten eggs can also be added to thicken the sweet soup.

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CONCLUSION

  • This is a traditional Chinese desserts that I can never resists. It is easy to cook especially with the pressure cooker. It is a very light dessert, smooth, sweet and suitable for almost all occasion. Barley is researched to have the  capabilities of reducing lower cholesterol levels. Chinese believed that the sweet soup will be good and nutritional to the complexion and skin conditions. It is also believed that pregnant women who have taken this dessert regularly will give birth to a fair and chubby baby.
  • Try to make this simple desserts for your family. Remember that you can always tailor this to suit your taste buds and if you like Gingko nuts, go ahead as gingko nuts is beneficial to you brain and improved your memory.

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Hope you like the simple post today and have a nice day ahead.

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