Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lunch-time Delight: Torta di Pasta

Okay, so I can't seem to stay away from my kitchen. Even my school semester, the kitchen calls me!!! In fact, I study and do my homework on the kitchen table (maybe I should stop that :P). Well, yesterday I finished classes at 10:40am and drove home for lunch. I'd been dying to try this recipe that I spotted on Everyday Italian (one of the best shows on the Food Network) during my trip summer trip to Fairmont... and it seemed simple enough for a lunch time treat. So I scrounged up all the necessities and prepared to make Giada's Torta di Pasta. And I'm so glad I did. I had never had pasta served this way before and neither had my parents. They came home from work while my torta was broiling, and said that the aroma in the kitchen was amazing. I never had much experience broiling, but it was actually pretty simple and the result was a nice fluffy torta with a beautiful, crunchy crust. The torta sliced into about 8 pieces (which I was definitely not going to eat by myself) two of which were enjoyed by my sisters, as an after school snack. They mentioned that it reminded them of a crustless-quiche, which I have to agree on. If I ever have leftover pasta, I will absolutely make this dish again.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Crispy Noodles

Okay, so the first few days of school weren't that demanding. Whew! That gave me some time to make dinner. Yay! I really enjoy the crispy noodles from Hon's, but it seems that whenever we go there it's not on the menu :( What's a girl to do? Make it herself, of course! I got the recipe from Singapore Cooking Vol. 2 by Mrs. Leong Yee Soo. The book is amazing, 26 years old but still aiding me in my quest to become a Nonya expert (I wish!). So, here's the recipe...

Crispy Noodles
Adapted from Mrs. Leong Yee Soo's Singapore Cooking

- 600g chicken, cut into cubes (recipe calls for prawns)
- 1/4 tsp salt (recipe calls for msg)
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 chicken cube
- 2 tbsp oil
- 200g dry egg noodles
- oil for frying
- 4 tbsp lard
- 6 slices ginger
- 1tsp pounded garlic
- 4 dry Chinese mushrooms (soaked/sliced)
- 285g Chinese mustard greens (cut into 3cm lengths)
- 455ml chicken stock

- 1 tbsp soya sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt (recipe calls for msg)
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 4 tbsp water + 2 tbsp cornstarch for thickening

1. Place chicken cubes in bowl and season with salt and minced ginger.

2. Prepare noodles by bringing 565ml of water to a boil with one chicken cube and 2 tbsp oil. Put in noodles and cook till noodles separate and become soft (approx. 3-4mins). Pour noodles in colander, immerse in cold water and drain immediately in a steel colander. Allow to cool and dry for 1/2 hour before frying.

3. Heat aluminum/iron wok till hot; pour in oil and heat until hot. Put in noodles, a little at a time according to the amount of oil in the pan. Fry till crispy and light brown. Scoop out with wire ladle on to absorbent paper. Keeps the noodles warm.

4. Heat iron wok till very hot. Heat 3 tbsp lard and fry ginger and garlic until brown. Add mushrooms and mustard stalks and fry. Add mustard leaves (I also add a variety of other vegetables to this dish), chicken stock and seasoning. Bring to a boil.

5. Arrange the chicken over the leaves, cover pan and cook over high heat for 5 minutes (until chicken is cooked). Remove lid, gradually pour in the thickening, stirring as you pour. Lower heat, wait for sauce to boil once again and add the last tbsp of lard. Transfer noodles to serving plate, pour sace over noodles. Serve hot.

My sisters quite enjoyed this special treat. When we eat this dish at Hon's we usually end up fighting for the crispy noodle, leaving the "soggy"-sauce-soaked noodles behind. But when I served it, I placed the sauce on the side. That way, they could control the soggy-ness of the noodles. Yum! Well, it seems the upcoming week is going to be a busy one for me. Don't think I'll plan on making anything. Bye for now!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lunch-time Delight: Curry Yaki-Udon

Ah, the school year is creeping nearer and nearer. I have just one more day of sweet freedom, before I'm forced back into a routine of late-nights, term papers and final exams. But before I am captured by the coming of my second university year, I had to prepare a little somethin' somethin' for the second to last lunch I'd be spending at home. Oh kitchen, I will miss thee... we had such a good time together during the long summer months. But sadly, we will be seeing less and less of each other. Can you believe that every Friday I'll be at MSA for my nursing clinical placement. Doesn't sound too bad eh? Except that it's from 7am to 7pm... gotta leave the house by 6:15am and won't be back until super late. URGH!!! Hopefully the hospital has decent food, since I'll be spending breakfast, lunch and dinner there :P Oh well, I guess nursing's all about the experience... I can't really complain.

Anywho, on to the special lunch I whipped up for myself. It was inspired by the trip to Bubble World I took with my sisters for Jackie's birthday outing. Click here to see the post. I guess I really liked their food, so I decided to make their Curry Yaki-Udon.

Curry Yaki-Udon

- 2 tbsp oil
- 3 cups cooked udon noodles
- 1 cup chopped mixed vegetables (fresh, is best)
- 3 tbsp curry powder (or more if you like it stronger)
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- salt and pepper, to taste
- chili powder/oil for spice (optional)

1. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan, over medium heat. Add in the cooked udon and fry until heated through.

2. Add in the vegetables (I used: onions, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini and cabbage) and continue to heat over medium, until the veggies are cooked but still brightly colored.

3. Add the curry powder and mix well. Slowly add in 1/2 of the stock and simmer the mixture for 1-2 minutes. If the noodles begin to dry up, add more chicken stock.

4. Add salt, pepper and chili (if using). Cover the dish and simmer over low heat for 2-3 minutes.

5. Remove from heat and serve.

This recipe was really just a mish mash of ingredients that I had on hand. No recipe or anything! And it actually turned out very tasty. I love experimenting in the kitchen and creating my own recipes, but I'll miss that excitement when I go back to school. *Sniff* I'll be back... don't worry!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Gerry's Gelati, Invermere BC

Ah... Invermere B.C., the biggest city around for miles when we went on our week-long, family trip to Fairmont Hot Springs. Wasn't much in the way of shopping, but the food was actually pretty good!

At first I was drawn to this humble looking place in search of something light to eat. From afar, the sign made me believe that all they sold was ice cream. But upon closer inspection the sign revealed that they also prepared paninis for lunch. I had never had a true panini from a shop before, mainly because I'd never found place that sold such a wide variety of exotic panini flavors, but Gerry's Paninis showed promise. I actually found it hard to choose just one sandwich, but settled on their Wildfire one. It consisted of spicy eggplant spread, capicola hm, banana peppers, provolone and tomato sauce.
Although it took quite a while to be pressed and grilled, it was worth the wait. The sandwich was perfectly crisp on the outside, and soft and cheesey on the inside. I'm glad I choose the panini over A&W, and I would do it again.

Lunch-time Delight: Couscous with Lemongrass Curry Sauce

Since my last lunch creation was super simple, I decided to try something a little different today. I had always been interested to know what couscous tasted like, and when I saw it in the bulk aisle of Superstore I decided that I would give it a shot. So I bought about 500g of the stuff and was on my way. Now all I had to do was determine what I would use this couscous for... hmmm, salad? soup? meat & veggie mix? After scanning the many couscous recipes on the internet I decided to go for a lemongrass curry sauce recipe. To add some life to the lemongrass sauce I decided to add in a 1/3 cup frozen mixed vegetables and a cooked/cubed potato. While reducing the sauce I noticed that it could have been a bit thicker in consistency. So I added 2 more tbsp of coconut milk and a bit of cornstarch.

Then it was on to the couscous! I placed 1 cup of couscous in a pot, add in 1 3/4 cup water and brought the mixture to a boil. Within a quick 5 minutes the couscous was done. I couldn't help sampling it before I added the lemongrass curry sauce... and it tasted much like cream of wheat. Perhaps the next time I cook couscous I'll eat it with some brown sugar and milk... yum.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Lunch-time Delight: Simple Spaghetti-Mushroom Casserole

Yesterday's lunch was just a simple casserole dish, made of ingredients I had left over from the nights before. I was all for relaxing, and was not about to prepare a very extravagant meal. Besides, it was just for my sisters and I... our parents had gone out to run some errands. I know it looks like a very messy casserole, but it tasted great. The recipe's really simple, so simple in fact that I didn't use a recipe! Let's see if I can remember how I made this...

Spaghetti-Mushroom Casserole
- 3/4 cup frozen veggies
- 2 1/2 cups cooked spaghetti
- 2 hot dogs, defrosted
- 1 can of condensed c.o. mushroom soup
- water
- 1 egg, beaten
- A handful of panko crumbs, a handful of grated parmesan cheese

1. Place frozen veggies in a small pot. Slice the hot dogs into bite sized pieces and add them as well.

2. Pour condensed soup into the pot with veggies and add 1/2 the suggested amount of water (could use milk instead). Simmer over medium heat.

3. Add in the cooked spaghetti and continue cooking until just heated through.

4. Pour into a casserole dish and add in the beaten egg. (Do this carefully, so as not to scramble the egg.) Stir.

5. Top casserole with a mixture of equal parts panko to equal parts paremsan cheese. Place in a 350F oven and bake for 15-20 minutes... or until the topping is nice and crunchy.

It turned out to be a very simple and tastey lunch, my sisters seemed to enjoy it anyways. They picked out all the hot dogs and ate them first... hehehe, they make me laugh.