What I Cooked Today Series (Special Post)- 2013 Mid Autumn Festival

IMG_0043

INTRODUCTION

I have not forgotten about this series –  “What I Cooked Today Series”! I have discontinued for a while because I am a vegetarian and the dishes were usually cooked by my mother in law who is visiting me. Therefore, I can’t claim the credit of the dishes cooked if I posted it.

Well this series will be starting soon in one two weeks time after end of my vegetarian diet. This year, I have calculated wrongly about the starting date of my diet, therefore, I am having slightly more than 2 months of vegetarian diet and it was pointed out by my neighbour when I keep on rejecting her meat dishes. She asked curiously why the diet is so long this year, she said it cannot be ! I asked my wife to recalculate again and yes, we are wrong as both of us are not that concern about anniversary dates.

IMG_6665

Yesterday is the Mid Autumn Festival, one of the very big festivals for the Chinese worldwide. Even People’s Republic of China’s government have declared this day as a holiday in recent years. Usually, in big festivals, family gathering and get together is very important.

I only confirmed to invite my nephew’s family for dinner yesterday morning and I told them that I would only cooked what I have at home. As they are my very close relatives, I need not really concerned about what I should cooked as he have been staying with me for the past few years. I did not have the time to plan for the meal as I have to take care of the kids and I have to rush out my report for Eight Treasure Porridge.

IMG_6658

I only started cooking at 4.00 pm in the afternoon. I looked at the fridge, I have some tofu, one pumpkin, one luffa, some chicken fillets, some asparaguses, minced meats, chicken thighs, drumsticks and fish fillets.

What influenced my dish menu last night was what I perceived what my family members like to have. I know anything soft and silky will be welcomed by them, so tofu and pumpkins would be good choices.

While the family always have bitter gourd with minced meat, but luffa with minced meat is something new to them. In addition, my kids loved luffa so luffa with minced meat was in the menu.

Preparing these two dishes had resulted some mesh pumpkins, minced meat and tofu left, therefore, I have decided to turn these 3 ingredients into  a dish.


PORK STUFFED LUFFA (丝瓜酿肉碎)

IMG_6694

This is a dish adapted from pork stuffed bitter gourd (苦瓜酿肉碎). The luffa was first de-skinned, and cut into 2 cm chunks. Make a hole in the centre and set aside. Minced pork were marinated for about 10 minutes with sesame oil, corn flour, light soya sauce, flavour enhancers, sugar, pepper, chopped coriander leaves and chopped winter vegetables. Stuff the minced pork into the hole of the luffa chunks, placed it in a serving plate nicely and put a goof berry on top of minced meat for garnishing. Before steaming, put some water in the plate of the meat stuffed luffa. (A bit of water is important as it will speed up the process of cooking the luffa. The luffa will be “water bathed” causing it easier to get cooked). Steamed for about 20 minutes or until your luffa is soft.  More juices will be secreted out and these gravy was very tasty as it was essentially a meat and vegetable broth.  You can put some corn starch to thicken this juices if desirable.

IMG_6663


TOFUS SAIL IN PUMPKIN SEA (豆腐金瓜海)

IMG_6696

I have to admit that I do not know how to name this dish. Since it looks like a seas of mashed pumpkins, I  named this as “tofu sail pumpkin seas”. Firstly, I cut opened a pumpkin, de-seeded and steamed the pumpkin until the pumpkin was soft. I then scratched out the pumpkin flesh, put some sesame oils, salt, mushroom concentrate, mixed well and let the mashed pumpkin to cool.

Two packets of tofu’s were cut into 8 pieces and arrange in a serving plate. I used a teaspoon to make a hole on the tofu, put some mashed pumpkins to cover the hole. Use the remaining pumpkin to put beside the tofu and steamed for about 10 minutes. Surprisingly, the tofu and pumpkins really blends well.

 IMG_6655


MINCED PORK FRIED WITH MASHED PUMPKINS AND TOFUS (山寨蟹粉豆腐)

IMG_6676

From the above two dishes, I have some mashed pumpkin left , some tofu left (from making a hole in the tofu cubes), some minced meat left (as I have prepared one package of minced meat for the luffa dish, therefore, I still have about half of the minced meat left). With these 3 ingredients, I have decided to mash the tofu and fried these 3 ingredients together.

I first stir fried some spring onion (white part) in a frying pan of hot oil until aromatic, followed by the minced meat and once the meat was 50% cooked, add the mesh pumpkin and mesh tofu. Stir fried for another 2-3 minutes, add white pepper, sugar, light soya sauce and salt and it become a rather presentable dish..like the famous Shanghai dish, “Tofu With Hairy Crab Roe”. Therefore I have named this dish in Mandarin the “Fake Tofu With Hairy Crab Roe”.

The dish was very tasty and smooth, it is well liked by the kids because of the aromatic spring onions.  I have placed the cooked dish in the empty shell of the pumpkin for serving.

IMG_6672


BLANCHED ASPARAGUS WITH CHICKEN FILLETS (芦笋鸡柳)

IMG_6651

This is really an easy dish.

Asparagus were de-skinned (depends on whether it is too mature or not) and cut into same length. Chicken fillet were first cut into the desired sizes, marinated with sesame oil, pepper and light soya sauce for about 10 minutes,

Have a pot of boiling hot water, drizzle a few drops of cooking oil and pinches of salt. Get ready a serving plate and put some oyster sauce on the plate.  Blanched the asparagus in the hot boiling water for 3 minutes and dip in icy cold cooked water.

Place these asparagus neatly in the serving plate on top of the oyster sauce. Coated the chicken fillet with some corn flours and blanched the chicken fillets in the hot boiling water for about 5 minutes. Scoop out and placed on top of the blanched asparagus. Sprinkled some fried shallots on top of the chicken and the dish was done.

This was definitely an easy and healthier dish as it involved no frying like the traditional method. Though I did not taste the asparagus but I can tell you that it was sweet as all the juices were being sealed inside the asparagus via blanching method of cooking.

IMG_6653


CENTURY EGGS WITH PICKLED GINGER (皮蛋酸姜)

IMG_6685

This dish was usually treated an appetizer in Chinese full course dinners and did not really need any preparation. As I have quite a lot of pickled ginger left from my demonstration in Guaishushu’s Page, therefore, I have decided to prepare this dish as an appetizer. You may want to learn about how to prepare the pickled gingers HERE.


POMELO (柚子/文旦)

IMG_6681

When I was young, we did not celebrate Moon Cake Festivals with pomelo.

However, in recent years, it seemed that it is very common that pomelo became one of the festival fruit  during the  Moon Cake Festivals. I checked the internet, pomelo have the syllables as “have kids” (有子)in Mandarin, therefore, having pomelo means that it will bring you luck in conceiving a kid. Well, definitely not for me.

It is my usual way to de-skin my pomelo like what is in the picture to make it easier for my kids to eat. Therefore, all my kids loves to eat pomelo as they do not need to peel the internal white membranes separating the lobes in the fruit. They have been pampered, Unlike me, I never like to eat pomelo when I was young because of the difficulty to peel of the internal white membranes.


GREEN DATES (甜枣)

IMG_6683

This is nothing to do with this festival. I just spotted in the supermarket a few days ago and I really love these green dates. I always called it mini apples. In my humble opinion, it taste like apples and is a one bite size. I am able to finish one box within a day. I don’t know but I do believe it is a very healthy snack, much healthy than any carbohydrates and sugar loaded snacks. Yesterday, it was served together with pomelo after dinner.


MOONCAKES (月饼)

IMG_6708

I have a few boxes of moon cakes and I have decided to  serve a durian moon cake that my nephew gave me from the international “Three” Seasons Hotel.  However, I am rather disappointed with the moon cakes. Put in bluntly, it is just pure durian flesh wrapped in snow skin. When you eat the moon cakes, it is very soft and just like when one is eating fresh durian (though it don’t taste that fresh any more after so many days).

It was definitely not cheap and my nephew told me even after discount, one small moon cake cost SGD 12. I honestly believed that should I received the moon cake earlier, I will be able to replicate the moon cake  .. and how much is one durian is this season? May be 3 durians for SGD 10?  Well the one below is equally disappointing as they have incorporate orange flavour in the lotus seeds fillings.

IMG_6710

Lastly, I hoped that you like my cooking adventures today and unlike previous festivals, I have cooked something very simple. In other festivals, majority were meat dishes and I managed to locate an old picture in my Facebook to share with you. This was taken by one of my nieces in 2012 to celebrate Chap Goh Me (元宵)during Chinese New Year.

427389_2585942612116_677084321_n

Have a nice day and cheers.

IMG_6692

Don’t “Gaduh” over “Gado Gado”–Indonesian One Dish Salad, Gado Gado

Processed with Moldiv

INTRODUCTION

I used to travel a lot when I am in the corporate world. Most of the time, I need to travel and stay in the hotel by myself and at times, the trips will stretch to weeks or months. I still remember my 2 years secondment to Hong Kong and Shanghai, more than 80% of my stay was in the hotel. Room services was very common and cafes at the hotel become my “dining hall”. During these times, one of my favourite order was the “look-alike” home cooked was gado gado since the food was served with peanut aka satay sauce. Of course, other favourites in the hotel will include Singapore Hainanese Chicken rice and Singapore Fried Bee Hoon (新洲炒米粉)。

IMG_6144

That is how I first got in touch with gado gado. Gado gado in essence is Indonesian’s salad with peanut sauce. However, unlike Western salad, it is a one pot dish, meaning one can have gado gado as the main meal.

Processed with Moldiv

Gado gado in Indonesia means plural for “mixing” action and it shall not be confused with “gaduh gaduh” in Malaysia which means heated arguments.

Processed with Moldiv

There are a few versions of Gado gado in Indonesia depending on which part of Indonesia you are in and this version is called “Gado Gado Siram” which was what I usually have in hotels and Indonesian Restaurants. Essentially, vegetables were cooked separately, put together in one plate and add some peanut sauce were poured on top, mixed and served.

IMG_6167



PREPARING OF PEANUT SUACE (Serving of about 5-6 adults) 

What is required

IMG_6103

Ingredients A

  • 50 grams of chilli powder (or dry chilli)

  • 100 grams of garlics

  • 40 grams of galangal (blue ginger)

  • 40 grams of lemon grass

  • 1 tablespoon of cumin powder

  • 1 tablespoon of coriander powder

(You can either use the powder form of the above ingredients or use its original form of raw ingredients)

Ingredients B

  • 500 grams of peanuts (coarsely ground)

  • 10 tablespoons of castor sugar or gula melaka (coconut palm sugar)

  • 5 tablespoons of cooking oils

  • Pinches of salt

  • Pinches of turmeric powder (optional)

  • 3 big tablespoons of tamarind paste (assam)

  • 5 cups of water

IMG_6160



Steps of Preparation

IMG_6108

  • Use a food processor to blend all the ingredients (except powder ingredients) in “A” until fine. Alternatively, you can use a mortar and pestle to pound the non-powder ingredients until fine as in the picture. 

IMG_6120

  • In  a big frying pan, add the cooking oil and stir fried the ingredients as in A until fragrance. Add in tamarind, water and remaining ingredients B (coarsely chopped peanut, sugar, salt) and bring to boil.

IMG_6126

  • Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens and oil start to appear on top of the peanut sauce. Off the heat and stir in pinches of turmeric powder (optional) and add some hot water if the peanut sauce is too thick. Set aside for later use.

Processed with Moldiv



PREPARING THE SIDE INGREDIENTS

No quantities will be stated here as it is very much depends on your personal preferences.  Most ingredients are substitutable except the most common and must have are long beans, fried tau kwa). I did not prepare all the ingredients as I am having it by myself  and I will not be able to  finish if I used all the ingredients. However, I will list out the other side ingredients.

IMG_6142

  • Peanut sauce (as mentioned above)

  • Some long beans (cut into 4-5 cm) – blanched

  • Some bean sprouts – blanched

  • Some kangkong (convolvulus) – blanched

  • Some hard boiled eggs – cut into half

  • Some taukwa – deep fried and cut into slices – See below

  • Some cucumbers _ julienned into small chunks

  • Some lettuce – chopped

  • Some Empiring/Melinjo crackers (Indonesian padi oats crackers)-optional

Not in the pictures above

  • Some cabbages – blanched

  • Some potatoes – boiled and cut into cubes

  • Some lontong (rice cakes) – cut into small pieces

  • Some prawn crackers  (keropok udang)

  • Some tempeh (soya bean cakes) – cut into small pieces – optional

  • Fried Shallot.

IMG_6155

Deep Frying the Taukwa

IMG_6115

  • Marinate the taukwa (drier version of bean curd) with some salt, white pepper and coriander sauces. Deep fried under medium heat until the skin is crispy yet the inside is soft. Cut into small pieces and set aside for future use.

Blanching The Vegetables

IMG_6132

  • In a wok or frying pan, put some water, drizzles of oil and some salt and bring the water to boil. Add in beansprouts, green beans and kangkong (convolvulus) in this order. Take out and set aside for later use.

 


ASSEMBLING THE INGREDIENTS AND SERVINGS

IMG_6151

  • Arrange the lettuce on the serving plate and place all blanched vegetables , taukwa, eggs on top of it.

IMG_6153

  • Pour the warm peanut sauce over and garnish with Melinjo or prawn crackers and additional fried shallots, if desired.

IMG_6162



CONCLUSION

  • This is a rather simple dish to prepare except a bit laborious. However, it is a healthy dish as it is packed with vegetables and I like to eat it as a one dish meal.

Processed with Moldiv

  • Only pour sauce over the vegetables before serving otherwise, the peanut sauce may become watery due to the water excreted from the vegetables. If the sauce is too thick, add in some hot water and heat it up. Warm sauce is always preferred. For left over sauces, you can freeze it and used for other noodles dish (Satay Bee Hoon) or as dips for Satay.

Processed with Moldiv

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

Processed with Moldiv


IMG_6149

Processed with Moldiv

Can I Have A Moon Cake That Is Not Round? Hmmm.. Try Short Crust Pastry Moon Cake

11885290_10207658698688332_2796177264155540397_n

Chinese Mooncake Festival or Mid Autumn Festival is arriving soon on 19-9-2013 (or Chinese Lunar Calendar August 15) and I think most bloggers will blog about moon cakes. There are many many moon cake recipes in the internet and there is no way for me to blog something that I am rather unfamiliar due to my poor shaping skills of moon cakes .

IMG_4661

This year I have a few attempts to shape the moon cake but not really successful. It cracked terribly and I have told members in my Facebook Group“Food Bloggers and Foodies United” that I am not going to issue a post on moon cake I totally do not have any confidence to share with readers about the making of moon cakes.

The next day after I issued the post, one of my relatives gave us a pack of moon cake from Kluang, Johor Malaysia. In the box, it was written clearly Shanghai Moon Cake, and what shocked me is that the shape is elongated and some called it a mouse shape.

IMG_4724

Sorry for my limited knowledge, I never seen Shanghai moon cake in this shape. I posted in my timeline and asked my friends what is that. Surprisingly a number of friends from Southern Peninsular Malaysia knew about this shop and ever tasted this special moon cake before.

IMG_4597

The next day, I cut it and ate a slice, I felt that the taste was very familiar. It resembles the short crust biscuits with the normal moon cake fillings. Therefore, I told my friends that I wanted to pursue another baking adventure based on what I tasted and I wanted to try to “reproduce” the moon cake that I received.

11916091_10207658698968339_6903056831277868030_n

That morning, there is no body in my house except myself. I just simply pick a short crust pastry recipe and start my adventures. Actually, the short crust pastry resembles the pineapples tart pastry. However, in this illustration, I made a mistake by including sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in the dough. I shouldn’t need to include this as the fillings will expand when heated and the baking soda make the crack bigger that I do not want to see.

Putting that aside,  I would say that this pastry, or pardon me formally called it “SHORT CRUST PASTRY MOONCAKE” , is definitely worth trying. The soft filling blends extremely well with the melt in the mouth pastry wrapping it. Unlike other moon cake,  it is buttery in flavour and that make me wanted to share with readers this “funny” pastry aims at those who are adventurous to try out new ideas.

IMG_4744

But I have to highlight that, it is just like any pastry, it can’t keep for long. It is best to consume it within two to three days of making it. The wet fillings will make the short crust slightly soggy if you do not consume on time. Well, that is my frankest opinion and I do hope that readers have some confidences on me by baking this short crust pastry moon cake and share with me if it is up to your expectations.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

IMG_4723

  • 80 grams of salted butter, cut into cubes and keep in fridge waiting for later use.

  • 2 eggs lightly beaten

  • 400 grams of self raising flour (sifted)

  • 80 grams of sugar powder

  • 600 grams of moon cake fillings of your choice (in this illustration, I have used both the green tea paste and red bean paste).

IMG_4728


STEPS OF PREPARATION

Pre Preparation

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree.

  • Get ready a baking tray with a piece of baking sheet.

  • Divide the moon cake fillings into 3 portions and roll it into an cylindrical shape of about 6 inches long.

IMG_4560

  • In a big mixing bowl, put in your sifted self raising flour, sugar powder. Add the butter cubes from the fridge. Use finger tips to lightly rub the butter until butter and flour are well mixed resembling crumbs. Rubbing should be light and fast. This resembles the preparation of scones and your can refer HERE.

IMG_4565

  • Make a whole in the centre put in the beaten eggs.

  • Use a fork or a knife to slightly mix the batter. Once the eggs and the flour have form a dough, transfer the dough to a table and knead for 1-2 minutes to ensure it is well mixed.

IMG_4570

  • Divide the dough into 3 portions. In my illustration, my dough weighed about 220 grams per portion.

  • Use a rolling pin to roll the dough in a floured surface into rectangular shape of about 10 inches x 5 inches.

  • Place your moon cake filling on top of the pastry, close the longer ends and roll follow the shape of the fillings.

  • Close the other two ends and ensure the edges are closed.

  • You can reshape to any shape that you want. However, I have opted to use the shape as shown above. Alternative shape is round shape. However, round shape is difficult for serving. So I opted for the oblong shape.

IMG_4747

  • Place the dough in the baking tray. Use a sharp knife to lightly cut lines on top of the dough.

  • Have the first egg wash and send to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

  • After 15 minutes, take out and have a second egg wash. Baked for another minutes 10 and the moon cake is done.

  • For egg wash, hand beaten 1 egg yolks and add 2 big table spoons of water and 2 drops of oil. Sift and put in a container. Use a brush to lightly brush the dough.

IMG_4749


CONCLUSION

This is another way of serving the moon cake though traditionally, moon cake must be round resemble the moon. Whether this can be called moon cake or other name is up the discretion of the readers.

This moon cake was prepared using short crust pastries and the buttery taste of the pastry is totally different from traditional moon cake but it blends well with the traditional moon cake fillings. It is good to be served as a tea time snack item.

11904098_10207658698808335_6416241774365891405_n

I hope you enjoy my baking adventures for making this special shape moon cake inspired from the famous Kluang moon cake shop in Malaysia.

This recipe was included in Page 15-17 of the “Easy Mooncake Recipes E-book”. For more mooncake recipes, you can have a copy of Easy mooncake recipes  – A step by step guide” that was packed with 20 recipes, 45 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD4.00. The recipes covered various recipes from durian mooncake, traditional baked mooncake and also the less common Teochew mooncake . You can purchase by clicking the link above.You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at kengls@singnet.com.sg and separate arrangement can be made.

cover-mooncake

Hope you like the post today and do join me in the baking adventures. Bake one for yourself and tell me if it suits your taste buds. Have a nice day and cheers


 IMG_4752IMG_4738