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Peranakan chicken curry

Freezer-friendly dishes - Part 3.

Ingredients (serves 4 to 6):
4 cloves garlic, peeled
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
1 medium red onion, peeled
3 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
5 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
3 sprigs curry leaves
3 tbsp curry powder, mixed with 3 tbsp water to form a paste
1 chicken, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tomatoes, quartered
2 green chillies, halved

1. Finely chop the garlic, ginger and onion, then blend into a paste.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom saucepan and fry the paste with the cardamom seeds, star anise, cinnamon stick, and curry leaves till fragrant. Add the curry paste and fry for 3 minutes.
3. Remove the spice mix from the pan. Fry the chicken till it is brown and half-cooked.
4. Pour the spice mix back into the pan and coat the chicken well. When it starts to sizzle, add the yogurt, water, salt and pepper.
5. Let the curry simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes, lower the heat and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat, cool and freeze.
6. When reheating the curry, bring to a boil, add the tomatoes and green chillies and cook for 5 minutes. Serve with rice or bread.

If your curry is made with coconut milk instead of yogurt, you shouldn't freeze the dish.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Aug 2008)

Quiche lorraine

Freezer-friendly dishes - Part 2.

Ingredients (serves 4 to 6):
1 piece frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
1 tbsp butter
1 cup minced onion
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups thickened cream
1/2 tsp salt
Dash of black pepper
3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
5 slices of honeybaked ham, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 200 deg C. Roll the pastry to a 5mm thickness between two sheets of greaseproof paper to prevent the pastry from sticking to your work surface.
2. Drop the pastry into a 9-inch tart tin, covering the base and sides evenly.
3. Prick the dough with a fork, line with greaseproof paper and fill with red beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes.
4. Remove the red beans and greaseproof paper and bake the pastry till golden brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
5. Reduce oven to 150 deg C. Heat the butter in a shallow pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove and set aside.
6. Combine the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk until evenly blended. Stir in the cheese, ham and onions.
7. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 45 minutes. Leave to cool, then freeze it whole or in portions.

For a more savoury flavour, use crispy bacon in place of ham.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Aug 2008)

Beef semur

Prepare these freezer-friendly dishes beforehand and you can have a meal on the table in just minutes - perfect for busy workdays.

Freezer-friendly dishes - Part 1.

Ingredients (serves 6 to 8):
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large onions, quartered
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 kg beef flank, cut into chunks
4 tbsp black soya sauce
1 tsp salt
Dash of black pepper
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
4 star anise
10 cloves
4 cardamom pods
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tomatoes, quartered

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the onions and garlic and fry until lightly browned and fragrant.
2. Bring to high heat, brown the beef on all sides and add the black soya sauce, salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar.
3. Add the spices and mix well. Add enough water the cover the meat, then bring to a boil.
4. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add the carrots and potatoes and simmer for another hour.
5. Add the tomatoes and cook till soft, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat, leave to cool and freeze.
6. Reheat, then serve with rice and sambal belachan.

If your gravy is too thin, stir in a paste of 1 tbsp of cornflour and 1 tsp of water until it thickens. Do this just before serving.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Aug 2008)

Mango and strawberry cheesecake

This luscious no-bake dessert is a welcome treat anytime.

Ingredients (serves 6):
150g digestive biscuits, crushed
5 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp gelatine
4 tbsp warm water
250g Philadelphia cream cheese
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup thickened cream
1 mango, peeled
6 strawberries

1. Mix the biscuits and butter. Line the base and sides of a 6 inch square cake tin with cling wrap and press the mixture into the base. Place in the freezer.
2. Add the gelatine into the water (cool enough to stick your finger in for a few seconds without flinching). After 5 minutes, stir to dissolve the gelatine.
3. In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, lemon juice, gelatine mixture and sugar. Blend using an electric mixer till smooth.
4. Whip the cream till it forms soft peaks, then stir into the cream cheese mixture until smooth.
5. Remove the cake tin from the freezer. Pour the cream cheese mixture in, distributing it evenly. Smooth the top of the cake with the back of a spoon and refrigerate for at least an hour.
6. Cut the mango and strawberries into cubes. Remove the cake from the tin and top with the fruits.

To make chocolate cheesecake, use oreo cookies (without the creamy layer) instead of digestive biscuits for the base, and use vanilla extract instead of lemon juice. Top with chocolate curls.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Aug 2008)

Japanese-style stuffed portobello mushrooms

Mushrooms - Part 3.

Delightfully savoury and cheesy.

Ingredients (makes 6):
1 tbsp olive oil
100g silken tofu
4 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
1 tsp mirin
2 tbsp Shinsuichi miso (a light yellow miso paste)
6 prawns, shelled, boiled and diced
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1/4 cup panko (Japanese frying breadcrumbs)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 deg C. Brush a baking tray with olive oil.
2. Place the tofu in a bowl and break it up with a whisk. Add the mayonnaise, mirin and miso, stirring until you get a soft paste.
3. Add the prawns and 1/4 cup of the cheese to the paste. Spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps, packing it in tightly.
4. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the mushrooms, along with a teaspoon of panko over each mushroom.
5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until mushroom tops are golden and bubbling. Serve hot.

For a more substantial meal, add chopped ham or cooked pasta to the filling.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Sep 2008)

Steamed mushroom custard

Mushrooms - Part 2.

Smooth, silky and nutritious.

Ingredients (makes 6):
20g butter
1 tsp sesame oil
1 leek (white part only), thinly sliced
50g shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thinly
50g enoki mushrooms, stems removed and halved lengthwise
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dashi granules
4 eggs
3 egg yolks
185ml whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp mirin
2 tsp Japanese soya sauce
A pinch of ground white pepper
3 chives, halved

1. In a small frying pan, heat the butter and sesame oil over a medium flame. Add the leek and cook for 3 minutes or until soft.
2. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook for 6 minutes until wilted. Sprinkle the dashi in the pan and mix till dissolved.
3. Remove the pan from the flame and set aside to cool.
4. In a bowl, mix the eggs, egg yolks, cream, mirin, soya sauce, salt and white pepper.
5. Place the mushrooms in 6 ramekins and pour the egg mixture over the mushrooms. Steam for 10 minutes.
6. Garnish with chives and serve hot.

Substitute the dashi granules with a quarter cube of chicken stock.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Sep 2008)

Oriental mushroom pasta

From portobello to white, brown and golden, there's a variety of ways to enjoy this earthy fungi.

Store fresh mushrooms in a brown paper bag that's placed in a larger perforated plastic bag in the fridge - this lets them breathe and keeps them moist.

Mushrooms absorb odours so keep away from foods with strong aromas.

Buy mushrooms that are firm and dry, and that smell pleasant and earthy. Avoid those with pits or that feel slimy.

Mushrooms - Part 1.

A fusion of Italian and Asian flavours.

Ingredients (serves 2):
50g linguine
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 packet enoki mushrooms, stems removed
1 packet shimeiji mushrooms, stems removed
1 tbsp sake or white wine
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp light soya sauce
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 small tomato, chopped
1 tbsp English parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp chilli powder
A pinch of salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the linguine for 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil for 30 seconds. Add the garlic and fry till fragrant.
3. Add the mushrooms and fry till tender and wilted, about 7 minutes. Add the sake, mirin, light soya sauce and chicken stock.
4. When it starts to bubble, add the linguine and mix well.
5. Remove the pan from the flame and add the tomatoes and parsley.
6. Sprinkle chilli powder, salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

You can also add oyster and abalone mushrooms to the pasta, but avoid the less flavourful white and canned mushrooms.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Sep 2008)

Carrot cake

Ingredients (serves 6):
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 cup carrot, grated
1/2 cup orange rind, grated
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup almonds, chopped and toasted

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C. Grease and flour a loaf tin.
2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar. Whisk till light and fluffy.
3. Fold in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon powder.
4. Stir in the carrot, orange rind and vegetable oil, and add the almonds.
5. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for about 40 minutes. Then stick a toothpick into the centre - it will come out clean when it's ready.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Sep 2008)

Malay-style roast chicken

Fire up your tastebuds with the robust, tantalising flavours of this dish.

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 chicken, head and feet removed
5 dried red chillies, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled
1 thumb-sized piece galangal, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), bruised
1/4 cup coconut milk

1. Make cuts on the breasts and thighs of the chicken.
2. Grind or pound the chillies, coriander and cumin seeds, ginger, galangal, garlic, oil and soya sauce to a fine paste. Add the turmeric powder and salt. Mix well.
3. Rub marinade all over the chicken and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
4. Leave the lemongrass to steep in the coconut milk for 1 hour.
5. Pre-heat oven to 225 deg C. Lightly grease a roasting tin before putting the chicken in.
6. Baste the chicken with the lemongrass-infused coconut milk and roast for 1 1/2 hours, basting occasionally with the coconut milk.

For a more fiery flavour, use fresh red chillies rather than dried ones.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Sep 2008)

Bellini jelly

This elegant non-alcoholic cocktail makes the perfect after-dinner treat.

Ingredients (serves 4):
5 tsp Bake King gelatine powder
1/4 cup warm water
1 bottle peach flavoured Pink Dolphin (500ml)
3-4 Del Monte peach halves, diced

1. In a small bowl, add the gelatine powder to the warm water. Let it stand for 5 minutes, until the gelatine becomes spongy. Stir to dissolve.
2. Pour the Pink Dolphin drink into a small measuring jug and stir in the gelatine mixture.
3. Place half the peaches into 4 champagne glasses. Using a fine sieve, strain the Pink Dolphin mixture into the glasses until they are half filled.
4. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour, or until slightly firm.
5. In another bowl, mix the remaining peaches with the rest of the Pink Dolphin mixture and set aside at room temperature.
6. When the jelly in the fridge is firm, fill the glasses with the rest of the peaches. Refrigerate for another hour until firm. Serve chilled.

Serve the bellini straight from the fridge - the jelly turns watery when left at room temperature.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Sep 2008)

Thai beef and potato curry

Potato - Part 3.

A hale and hearty pot of goodness.

Ingredients (serves 4):
2 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup coconut cream
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground fennel
2 cups coconut milk
500g chunk tender beef, trimmed and cut into large cubes
1 tbsp sugar
2-3 tbsp fish sauce

For the curry paste:
8 dried chillies, soaked in hot water
4 shallots
3 cloves garlic
1 lemongrass stem, white part only, sliced
4cm piece of galangal

1. Blitz all the curry paste ingredients in a food processor to form a paste.
2. Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for about 10 minutes until they are firm to the touch. Drain and set aside.
3. In a saucepan, bring the coconut cream to a boil. Simmer for 10-12 minutes or until it "cracks" (when it separates and forms a layer of oil on the surface).
4. Add the curry paste and cook for 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in the coriander, cumin and fennel, and mix well.
5. Add the coconut milk, beef, sugar and fish sauce and simmer for 1 hour, or until the beef is tender. Add the potatoes and cook for another 10 minutes.
6. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Add a few fresh red chillies to the curry paste mix for a more intense flavour.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Mar 2008)

Vichyssoise (chilled leek and potato soup)

Potato - Part 2.

A rich and aromatic vegetable broth.

Ingredients (serves 4):
40g butter
2 leeks, white part only, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 litre chicken stock
1/4 cup whipping cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
A handful of chopped chives

1. In a pot, heat the butter and fry the leeks and onion over medium-low heat until very soft, about 20 minutes. Don't let them brown. Add the potatoes and salt, and stir for a minute.
2. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
3. Let the soup cool, then use a hand blender to puree till smooth, or pour into a blender.
4. Stir in the cream and mix well. Add nutmeg and pepper.
5. Chill for at least 4 hours. Sprinkle with chopped chives before serving.

Cook this the night before and serve it for dinner the next day. Add some cooked prawns if you like.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Mar 2008)

Aloo gobi (spicy potatoes and cauliflower)

Potato - Part 1.

Fire up your taste buds.

Ingredients (serves 4 to 6):
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 green chillies, sliced
5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely shredded
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
Salt to taste
300g new potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tsp garam masala
A bunch of coriander leaves

1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the cumin seeds for 30 seconds. Lower heat, add the chillies and ginger, and stir-fry until fragrant.
2. Add turmeric, ground coriander and salt. Stir to mix. Add the potatoes and cauliflower and stir to coat spices evenly.
3. Add a splash of water and cook over low heat until vegetables soften, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the pan gets dry, add a splash of water at a time.
4. Turn up the heat and gently toss the vegetables in the pan to dry off excess water.
5. Stir in the garam masala and serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves.

Leftover Aloo gobi makes for great samosa filling. Fold thawed popiah skin in half to make triangles, fill and deep-fry.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Mar 2008)

Crayfish risotto

Contrary to popular belief, making rosotto really is as simple as this.

Ingredients (serves 2):
10g dried porcini mushroom (available at Carrefour)
3 crayfish, cleaned, shelled and halved
60g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup Arborio rice
4 cups prawn stock, heated through
30g grated Parmesan cheese (plus slightly more to garnish)
Salt and pepper

1. Soak mushrooms in boiling water and set aside. Dice the flesh of 2 crayfish.
2. Heat the butter in a small pan, add the crayfish meat and crayfish halves and cook till it turns white, about 1 minute. Remove and set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the rice. Stir till the rice grains sound like glass beads clinking against one another.
4. Add the warmed prawn stock, one ladle at a time. Stirring constantly, allow the rice to absorb each ladleful of stock before adding the next. It should take about 20 minutes.
5. Strain the mushrooms with a fine sieve and discard the water.
6. Add the mushrooms, cheese and cooked crayfish to the risotto. Season to taste, and garnish with a crayfish half and more Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.

If you don't have prawn stock, mix 2 cups of bottled lobster bisque (available at Carrefour) with 2 cups of water.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Mar 2008)

Mango ice cream cake

A refreshing tea-time treat you can prepare in a jiffy.

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 box Sara Lee All Butter All Purpose Pound Cake
1 tub Dreyer's Toasted Almond ice cream
2 mangoes, skinned and sliced
2 tbsp orange marmalade
2 tbsp hot water

1. Cut out the base from the pound cake block with a cookie cutter.
2. Leave the cookie cutter intact and add the ice cream till it's just under the brim.
3. Add the mangoes, then remove the cookie cutter carefully to retain the shape of the cake.
4. To make the glaze, mix the orange marmalade and hot water in a small bowl until it is slightly diluted. Then brush on the top of the mango.
5. Leave in the freezer for at least 6 hours.

For a stronger mango flavour, add pureed mango to the ice cream.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Mar 2008)

Crab cakes with caramelised vinaigrette sauce

These baked crab cakes will be a hit at beach outings and dinner parties alike.

Ingredients (serves 4):
For crab cakes:
400g cooked crab meat
1 small carrot, parboiled and finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
A handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp powdered mustard
1 1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
3 tbsp panko flakes (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup olive oil

For the coating:
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup panko flakes

Vinaigrette sauce:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tbsp brown sugar

1. Mash the crab meat and remove excess water. Mix with the rest of the ingredients.
2. Roll small handfuls of the mixture into balls and flatten into patties.
3. Coat the crab cakes with flour, followed by egg and panko flakes.
4. Place the crab cakes on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Brush olive oil on crab cakes, then bake at 175 deg C for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
5. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan, then simmer on low heat until the sauce thickens. Drizzle over crab cakes just before serving.

Recipe source: Simply Her magazine (Mar 2008)