Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fresh Spinach Pasta (Pasta Verde)

A refresh post from my previous one. Newly updated to bring you a better recipe. Enjoy!

"Verde" means green in Italian/Spanish, and Pasta Verde simply translate as green pasta. And The green here comes from Popeye's favorite vegetable, spinach. :) I don't exactly remember how many times, but I do remember it's more then my fingers plus my toes combined together. I'm talking about the number of times I've made fresh pasta at home. I believe anyone whom had tried it and tasted it before will know why go through the hassle to make it your own. It's different from your grocery bought, packaged fresh noodles. Making it at home is the real deal, it's doesn't get fresher then that, trust me. And the tender noodles tossed in your favorite sauce or gravy will totally knock your socks off, guaranteed.

Here I made a version of Garlic Lemon Cream Sauce tossed with the Pasta Verde. With crab meat and pan seared Salmon steak...a wonderful complete meal. Well your vegetables are already in the pasta haha! :P

Look on to see how I did it:

Ingredients for Fresh Spinach Pasta: (enough for 2-3 adults)
3/4 package fresh spinach, using leaves only, wash and rinse dry.
-after I cooked it, it yields about 80g
180g all purpose flour (plus more for dusting and shaping)
1 large eggs

Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce
3 garlic minced
3 tbsp unsalted butter
juice of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp all purpose flour
300ml milk + 100ml heavy cooking cream
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tsp sugar

1 salmon steak, seasoned with salt and pepper and sauteed till golden brown.

Method:
  • In a large saute pan, heat it up 1 tbsp of water, add in the spinach leaves and saute for a couple minutes. It will slowly wilt down. Remove from pan and let cool. Squeeze out the excess liquid and weigh out about 80g of it and set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, add in the flour, the egg and the spinach. (Note that I doubled my recipe this there are two eggs in the picture) 
  • Mix well until it comes together. Place it on a lightly floured work surface and knead it to form a soft dough. Might be a little sticky, add a little flour and knead till not sticky.
  • Cover the dough in a moist towel and let rest for 10 minutes before shaping it. If you have a pasta maker, it'll be a good time to bring it out and set it up right now. Else a lightly floured work surface and a trusty rolling pin will do too.
  • Divide the dough into 4 smaller equal portions. Take a portion, lightly dust it with flour and let it pass through the pasta roller at the highest number, meaning thickest.
  • Gradually decrease the number knob to 1 or 2 depending the kind of pasta you want to make and let the pasta roll through a couple times on each number. It will come out into a nice smooth sheet of pasta.
  • Carefully placed the pasta sheets on a lightly floured baking tray and cover with moist towel. Repeat with the rest of the pasta dough portions till all has been rolled out.
  • At this point, get ready a pot of boiling water going at medium high heat. Then change the pasta maker setting so that it will turn the roller on for cutting it into the shape you want. This time I am making linguine. If you do not have the pasta maker, just use a pizza cutter or a knife to slice the sheets into thin strips.
  • Meanwhile, heat up a tsp of olive oil and place the minced garlic in. Saute till lightly browned and fragrant. Add in 3 tbsp of butter and cook till just melted.
  • Add in the 1 tbsp of flour and quickly stir in to cook the flour. Once thicken, add in the milk and cream mixture, lemon juice and lower the fire to smallest. 
  • Stirring constantly till the sauce is smooth. Add in the lemon zest, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir well till everything is well combined. Set aside.
  • Boil the pasta in the water for a few minutes, I would say 3 to 4 minutes since fresh pasta cooks really fast. Scoop it out and toss it in the lemon garlic sauce sauce and add the crab meat..

The pasta is really smooth and delicious. If you are not really a fan of spinach, you can simply omit the vegetables and make plain egg pasta. Reduce the flour to 150g instead. But I am always try to find ways to incorporate more greens into my kids menu, so this is one of the most effective "camouflage" method, lol! Of course the kids knew about the vegetables been made into the pasta, but they didn't taste it, so it's all good. ;P 

 Below is an old picture of my previous post which I made the spinach pasta into sheets and using them as lasagna pasta. Cool right! I should do that again soon. :9


Again, I felt that it's a much better choose over the box version. But of course, the box pasta always comes in handy when you are on the run. ;) Enough said, I do hope you all will try making fresh pasta at home, it's truly a gourmet meal you can share with you love ones. But do note that you should get your sauces ready first before making the fresh pasta. Once the pasta is made, you just have to toss the noodles in your favorite sauce, simple as that. Enjoy everyone!



Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tau Suan (豆爽) -Split Pea Dessert Soup

Tau Suan is probably one of those desserts that I would cook regularly for my family to enjoy over the weekend. It's funny how I would still Google or dig through my cookbooks for this recipe especially I cook it rather often. Guess there's way too many good recipes to register in this brain of mine. :P So blog post it is then! Just a simple short one that I can refer to every time. ;) An essential recipe that every Chinese family should know how to make. ;)

Really no rocket science here. It is probably as easy as boiling red bean and green bean soup. But if you take that extra step of soaking and steaming the split beans, you will definitely be rewarded with a tastier bowl of tau suan. Let's now take a closer look at the recipe and steps involved:

Ingredients for Tau Suan (豆爽) -Split Pea Dessert Soup (Serves 4-5pax)
250g dried split pea
1.8Liters water
180-200g caster sugar
2 - 3 spears of pandan leaves
50g chestnut flour/powder (You can sub with corn flour or sweet potato flour)

  • Place the dried split peas in a large bowl, rinse it once and drain the yellowish water away. Then soak it with more fresh water for a good 2-3 hours.
 
  • After soaking, drain the water away. Prepare a steaming pot. Place the soaked split beans into a bowl and a knotted pandan leaf. Place the bowl in the steamer and steam for 25-30 minutes till soft.

  • In the meantime, prepare a pot, add in the water, sugar and the other knotted pandan leaf. Bring it to a boil and stir till the sugar dissolves. Off the fire.
  • Mix the chestnut flour with 1/2 cup of water till combined. Add this mixture to the sugar water in the pot.

  •  Stir well till the two mixtures are well combines. On the fire to medium and bring to a gently boil. At this point, add in the steamed split beans.
  •  Again stir well to combine and the soup will slowly thickens up. Taste it to see if you need more sugar or more water to dilute it. And you're done!
 A bowl of tau suan is NEVER complete with out some crunchy fried dough (油条) :9 I actually blogged and posted Ham Chee Peng before! The dough for you tiao and ham chee peng are pretty much the same, so feel free to hop over to my Ham Chee Peng recipe to try it out. ;)

 For this time, I bought some freshly fried you tiao to go with my tau suan  (豆爽). :9 Don't tell me you don't crave for this dessert some times...I've never met a person that dislikes it!

A comforting bowl of tau suan dessert, so much love and yumminess haha! Do try it out...it is really so easy to make too. ;)

Happy cooking!



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Beef Chuck and Oxtail Stew

It almost seems like cooking and eating stew at home has been getting more popular recently in Singapore. Well I don't mean Asian style pork belly stew, but more like those westernized versions like one pot chicken casserole or stew, beef stew. I guess as people get more exposures to different cuisines through TV programs or dinning out, they tend to be more adventurous. :) Well, no harm trying something new right? Plus you've got to try to know if you like it. And ever since I started making beef stew at home, it was no turning back. :) My kids LOVE it. And hence a bi-weekly affair of whipping up this dish for them to enjoy. :9
I have to say this dish takes just as much work as cooking chicken stew. But the cooking duration is definitely longer because beef needs more time to cook down to be more tender. No doubt the more patient you are, the better the result will be at the end.

This time round I chose beef chuck and oxtail stew since I want variety, and not all chuck or all tail. If you are not a oxtail person, by all means, use only beef tenderloin or beef chuck or chuck roast. :) And if you have a trusty cast-iron pot, things will be more awesome haha! Stewing the meat in the cast iron pot allows the heat to spread more evenly and also retaining the heat better.

Ingredients for Beef Chuck and Oxtail Stew (serves 4)

200g beef chuck meat
400-500g oxtail (you can replace this with ~300g of chuck roast meat)
1 large onion, chopped
1 red carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
200g cremini / button mushrooms
1 tbsp butter
1 can tomato in sauce (Optional, I didn't add in the end)
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 cube Japanese Beef stew flavoring
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
300ml beef stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp sugar
  • In a large pot, add 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium low fire and add the rinsed oxtail. Season the oxtail in the pot with salt and pepper. Cook on all sides to make sure it is browned evenly.
 
  • Half way cooking the oxtail, you can add in the beef chucks, which also needs to be seasoned. 
 
  • Cook both the roast chuck and the oxtail to golden brown. Remove and place the meat on a plate for use later.
  • Add in the chopped onions and garlic mince plus the butter.


  • Cook the onion and garlic in the melted butter, and scrapping the brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Those are the good stuff that will flavor your dish!

  •  Continue to cook till the onions is soft and translucent. Next you add in the potatoes, carrot and mushroom. Give it a quick stir for a minute, then add in ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Again mix well. Lastly add in the Japanese Beef Stew cube. I find adding this will really enhance the flavor alot. You can opt not to use this and just add that can tomato instead but use 100ml less beef stock.

  •  Next add in the beef stock and bring it to a boil. Add the beef chucks and oxtail back into the pot. Season with salt, pepper and sugar.


  •  Let the pot stew at low fire for a good 1 to 1.5hour till the meat is soft. Once the stew is ready, the meat should be tender soft. Stew longer if you prefer even softer meat...some people can stew for 2 hours. :P
The deep rich colour of the gravy is so alluring haha! You can serve this with toasty baguette or just plain old steam rice is also great.


Under sunlight the stew colour looks kind of different... but still yummeh! :9 It is such a treat to eat this every time...but I don't think it is exactly healthy to eat this too often either haha!

Anyway, hope you guys will like my recipe. Do drop me a message / comment if you have any questions! 

Have a good weekend all!



Thursday, March 5, 2015

Taro cum Sweet Potato Glutinous Balls with Glutinous rice Cakes (年糕芋头番薯蛋)

I almost couldn't believe that Chinese New Year has already come to an end. Seems like it swoop pass so fast, I nearly had time to enjoy it. Doesn't it always. ;P Anyways, I am still glad that I did manage to catch up with family and friends which is what matters to me the most (besides eating the goodies of course haha!)

Since today is the last day of Chinese new year, also know as 元宵节. So traditionally people would have sweet glutinous rice dumplings. However since I still have a homemade Glutinous rice cake untouched in the fridge, that kind of made me think twice about boiling another big pot of glutinous sweet dumplings :P. And just so happened I met up with some fabulous food bloggers over the weekend, then Annie and Meg started talking about this Fried Nian Gao Ball recipe from Annie. :9 I was sold! It's almost like "一箭双雕"! I can use up the rice cake and make sweet glutinous balls dessert for元宵节! Sweet indeed haha! So here it is : Taro cum Sweet Potato Glutinous Balls with Glutinous rice Cakes (年糕芋头番薯蛋), or Fried Nian Gao Balls haha :D

 Looking at that crispy skin just makes my mouth water. :9 Although making this can be a little tedious, but I reckon the final result is so worth the effort (and calories). Since I made Sweet Potato Balls before, so I used my own recipe for that. But do head over to Annie's blog to check out her recipe as well for reference. ;)

For Glutinous Rice Cake recipe (年糕/Nian Gao) recipe, please refer to here. :)

Ingredients for Glutinous Balls with Glutinous rice Cakes (年糕芋头番薯蛋)
400g Glutinous Rice Cake (年糕) , chilled and harden
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
Sweet Potato Dough
225g peeled and steamed purple sweet potatoes
80g glutinous rice flour
50g rice flour
20g corn flour
60g caster sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
a couple tbsp water as per needed if dough is too dry
Vegetable oil for frying
  • In a large mixing bowl, mash the still warm sweet potatoes together with the sugar. Add in the both the rice flour, corn flour and mix well. Knead everything together until it comes together to form a soft pliable dough. 
  • If the dough is too wet, add a little bit more rice flour, if it is too dry, add a tablespoon of warm water. It shouldn't be sticky.
 
Taro Dough
225g peeled and steamed yam / taro
80g glutinous rice flour
50g rice flour
20g corn flour
60g caster sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
a couple tbsp water as per needed if dough is too dry
Vegetable oil for frying
  • In a large mixing bowl, mash the still warm sweet potatoes together with the sugar. Add in the rice flour, cake flour and corn flour and mix well. Knead everything together until it comes together to form a soft pliable dough. 
  • If the dough is too wet, add a little bit more rice flour, if it is too dry, add a tablespoon of warm water. It shouldn't be sticky.
  •  Next you cube the harden glutinous rice cakes, about 1 cm by 1 cm.
  • Pinch about 1 heaping teaspoon amount each of the sweet potato and yam dough, press them side by side to make into a flat dough. 

  • Place a square glutinous rice cake in the middle. Seal it up and roll round
The duo colour and flavor is just a brilliant idea! So nice isn't it. :)
  • Repeat this step till all the dough has been used up.
  • Now let's get frying! Heat up the 2 cups of vegetable oil in a heavy duty pot over medium low fire. Gently place the rolled dough balls into the heated oil.
 
  • Fried it till light golden brown on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels. Fry them in small batches and dont over crowd them as they tend to stick together. Repeat till all the dough balls has been fried.
  •  DO NOT over fried these till dark brown because if you want to keep and reheat to serve again, you will need to re-fry these babies again. But it will be so yummy served crispy, not soggy soft skin. :P
Yes, I always do my QC when I am cooking haha! Looks pretty good I have to say. :9 Notice the two different colours of the dough, so nice right?
And a nice dessert like this definitely needs a sweet tea to go with it. So I brewed some Chinese sweet tea; Red Date, Longan Ginger tea (红枣龙眼姜茶).

Ingredients for Red Date, Longan Ginger tea (红枣龙眼姜茶) -Serves 4
500 ml water
15g red dates, cut halve
15g dried longan ( 桂圆)
3 slices of fresh ginger
3 tbsp sugar 
  • Rinse the red dates and dried longan . Place them in a small pot together with the water and ginger slices. Start boiling it over medium fire.
 
  • Once the water starts to boil, turn it down to a simmer. Let it simmer for a good 15 mins then add in the sugar.
 
  • Stir it so that the sugar melts in the mixture. Remove from fire and let it sip for 10 minutes before serving it. I love this drink!
I love that slight hint of spiciness from the ginger in that sweet drink. Plus ginger helps remove "wind" in the body, it's good for you! I shall brew this tea more often and chill it in the fridge. I am very sure it taste just as awesome when served cold. :9
One more close up of these delicious treats...just in case you are not convinced yet haha!
A nice afternoon tea like this would be great isn't it. :) Especially when you get to use up that glutinous rice cake that has been sitting around in the house for the past 15 days or more haha. ;D Do try it out and let me know how it turn out! Enjoy!