Cajun style Pork Chops, Cauliflower Steak and Green Peas

Once in a while, I get inspired to do something creative. And when I say creative, it could just mean a good presentation and the cooking part could be the easiest task. This was one of those days. I visualized this meal before I started making it and glad that the outcome was exactly how I imagined it to be. The plus is that, it tastes just as divine. Though I’m hardly the pork chops person, I’m glad my husband enjoyed this thoroughly.

The pork chops for this dish is crumbed like they do it in Chinese restaurants in Malaysia. I was reminded of it when I watched Nigella making pork chops like this. I twisted her recipe a little by using cajun bread crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs. The cajun style bread crumbs is filled with herbs and spices that works so well.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pork tenderloin cutlets
  • 1 egg
  • cajun bread crumbs
  • 2 cauliflower steaks (you can only get 2 steaks max from 1 whole cauliflower)
  • Green peas
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped fine

Method:

  1. Caramelize the cauliflower with olive oil and salt till both sides are cooked. 
  2. Beat an egg with salt and pepper, dunk your pork cutlets into the egg batter before rolling it on the bread crumbs. Fry the pork chops till both sides are pretty and bronze
  3. Boil the peas in a pot till its cooked.
  4. For the gravy; using the same pan that you cooked the pork chops, add more olive oil and saute the  garlic before adding in the cream. Turn off the flame before the cream starts boiling. You can add some butter if you like.
  5. Final step, plate up

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Perfect Tuna Cutlets

The trick to getting the cutlets crispy on the outside and soft inside shall be revealed…

In fact, I can say it in a few words. You cannot have too damp of a filling. When your filling is soggy, the cutlet loses its shape when you fry as it soaks up too much oil – resulting in mushed cutlets. Keep the filling as dry as possible. Especially the mashed potatoes and the tuna has to be drained well from the can. Also, the exterior needs to be crisp when fried. A good bread crumb would do the trick. If you don’d have bread crumbs, you can always blitz cream cracker biscuits or even oats/cornflakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of tuna in water (large) – flakes if you want this easier
  • 2 medium sized potato skin removed (or 3 if potatoes are small)
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 green/red chili diced (without seeds)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg white
  • salt to taste
  • Bread crumbs

Method:

  1. Boil the potato in a pot till it’s ready to mash. Drain the potatoes thoroughly before mashing it. 
  2. Add drained tuna into mashed potatoes. Together with chili powder, turmeric and salt. I would taste for salt at this point rather than later but that’s just me.
  3. Add in the onions, chili and egg yolk. Using your hand (which is the best), mash all the ingredients together. If you just had your nails manicured and don’t want it to stain then maybe get someone else to do it or use plastic gloves. Nothing like using the hands to integrate the potatoes and tuna.                                                                                                                                                            Image
  4. Make the cutlets into bite size balls. You can make them flat or rounded (like I did)
  5. Next, coat the cutlets in egg whites before coating them in bread crumbs
  6. Fry the cutlets in a pan with oil that reaches at least half the cutlet’s height. Fry till it’s bronzed on all sides evenly.

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* This should give you at least 15~20 cutlets. Depending on the amount of potato you used and cutlet size. Usually eaten as a side dish for rice & curry. But I understand if you have the tendency to pop it into your mouth while it’s still hot from the pan *winks*

What can you do with Garlic Chives? – The yummiest stir fry!!

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I always had my reservations, don’t ask me why, when it came to garlic chives. I never knew how it would taste and was a little skeptic on how to cook it. I put aside my reservations and am extremely happy that I discovered that garlic chives is not only so yummy, it has officially become my favourite stalk *winks*

Before I started cooking, I kept getting this amazing whiff from the freshly chopped chives. It was making me a little impatient as I wanted to cook and eat the chives so bad!! Anyway, you should not use the very end of the chives. I got rid of the last 3 inches of it which were the least green portion of the chives. Still not sure what I was going to do, I decided to peep into my refrigerator and found regular firm tofu and minced chicken. And I thought…hmm…this could work and I wasn’t wrong. The outcome was phenomenal!! Here is the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 3 firm regular tofu cut into 8 cubes/each
  • 1 bunch of garlic chives cut into 2.5 inches lengths
  • 200 grams of minced chicken (I’m guessing any meat you have in hand should do the trick)
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced thin
  • 3 tbsp of thick soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • Soy sauce to taste

Method:

  1. I wanted the tofu to be hard and less flimsy when I stir fry. So, I pre-fried them in a pan turning them around each side till they had a nice golden hue on all sides. Once done, I kept aside
  2. Next, I started to saute the garlic in a wok with some oil, before throwing in the minced chicken. Once the chicken was cooked, I splashed in the thick soy sauce, oyster sauce and salty soy sauce and gave it a good stir.
  3. I threw in the chives and tofu into the wok and made sure the sauce was evenly coated on all the tofu cubes. I hardly took 15 minutes to make this dish. (Not to mention I was very impatient at this point)

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This dish is best served with hot and steaming cup of rice. It’s gorgeous!

Image* This should serve 3~4 pax

Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie

Since I am always on a diet, It’s only natural that I venture into cooking some diet food without sacrificing too much on the flavour. And this one is my husband’s favourite. Well, I know what you are thinking, how in the world is sheperd’s pie a diet meal? Well, if you substitute the lamb for a more leaner minced meat like turkey perhaps? And substitute the potatoes for mashed cauliflower instead. Now, isn’t that guilt free? Trust me, it tastes pretty darn good too. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself!

You can make this vegetarian by replacing the meat with mushrooms and kidney beans. I’ve tried that and it works just as well.

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Ingredients:

  • 500 g of minced turkey (if you’re not on a diet, hey! you can use lamb you know. Chicken tastes pretty good too)
  • 5~6 cloves of garlic chopped fine
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cups of mushrooms chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped fine
  • 1 red chili chopped fine (optional)
  • 1 can of pasta sauce (my personal fav is the Woolworth’s Arrabiatta sauce)
  • Ground Cayenne pepper for heat
  • Salt
  • 1 whole cauliflower (you can use most of the stalk too) chopped
  • Grated cheddar cheese for topping
  • Italian herbs and parsley

Method:

  1. Boil your cauliflower in a pot with as little water as possible. Once cauliflower is super soft and easy to mash, drain out the water completely before mashing the cauliflower with a masher and add a little salt to taste. Do not use food processor as it will make the cauliflower too mush and soggy. If you feel the cauliflower is has too much water, use a cheese cloth to squeeze out the excess water
  2. In a separate pan, saute the garlic and onions before adding in the minced meat, peppers and mushrooms. Once the meat is cooked, add the pasta sauce, cayenne pepper and italian herbs and parsley. You can turn of the heat now.
  3. On a casserole dish (or if you like, in ramekins) spoon in your filling to 3/4 of the dish’s height.
  4. Top the pie with the mashed cauliflower and then top it with a good layer of grated cheddar cheese.
  5. Now bake your shepherd’s pie in the oven at 180 deg C for 20~25 mins till the cheese is nice and brown. Serve while it’s still hot. Yum!

Tips: If your filling is watery, you will get a soggy pie. So always make sure the filling is not runny. And the cauliflower should be drained really well. It’s hard though since baking releases more moisture from the sauce and cauliflower. But do try your best. 

Quick, Easy & Delicious South Indian Sambar (Dhal Curry)

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Being born Sri Lankan, did not expose me much to sambar since sambar is not on the menu. However, being in Malaysia exposed me to other Indian food and sambar is a staple side dish for banana leaf rice (yum) or thosai. My personal favourite is with rawa thosai as shown in the picture. My mother tried making the sambar on several occasions and sadly for her, it didn’t turn out very well. I don’t blame her since she has been cooking Sri Lankan dishes all her life.

Lucky for me, marrying into a Malayalee family imparted me with a few good recipes and one of them is the sambar (dhal curry). I never knew how simple it was to cook this up till I actually tried it myself. Okay, maybe I modified this recipe a little and it’s not entirely the Malayalee fashion but it’s just as good or better than restaurant standards. First and foremost, you will need the split Toor Dhal (yellowish) and sambar powder (preferably Baba’s) which you can get in any Indian groceries. Once you have this two basic ingredients, you can cook up a sambar in no time. The vegetables that go in doesn’t have to be as per recipe. You can tweak it with whatever vegetable you have in hand. There was a one time that I made a pumpkin sambar since I ran out of carrots and potatoes. Let me tell you, the pumpkin sambar was out of this world. So, don’t be too rigid with recipes, alright?

Ingredients:

  • 1~2 cups of split Toor Dhal
  • 2 shallots diced
  • 1 green chili halved and seeds removed
  • 2 large potatoes cut into quarters
  • 1 regular carrot sliced slightly thick (1.5~2cm thickness)
  • 1 white carrot sliced the same way
  • 2 drumsticks cut into 3~4 inches length
  • 3 tbsp of sambar powder
  • 3 tbsp of grated coconut (ground very fine) – optional
  • 1 tsp of tamarind paste (you can add more if you like it more sour)
  • Salt to taste

Special for tempering:

  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4~5 curry leaves
  • 3 dried chilis
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • If are making sambar with brinjal or okra, instead of putting it in the sambar, you can fry it together with the tempering ingredients and dump into sambar in the end. 

Method:

  1. Firstly, rince the dhal thoroughly and then boiling it in a pot under a medium flame with double the amount of water. Boil the dhal till it’s soft to mash with your fingers.
  2. Most of the water would have evaporated. If you still have some water left, you can chose to keep this or just pour out the excess water.
  3. Add more water till it’s triple the amount of dhal. Dump in all your onions, chili, vegetables and sambar powder into the sambar. Let this cook till you have cooked your vegetables through. Good idea to check the potato as it usually takes the longest. You want your potato to be soft and easy to mash so that when you eat, it just melts in your mouth.
  4. Once your sambar is cooked, add salt, tamarind and coconut. If you feel your sambar is not thick enough, add more sambar powder. And if it’s too thick, add more water. Let the sambar simmer for another minute or two and then you can turn off the flame.
  5. Assuming you are an excellent multi-tasker, while your sambar is cooking, you can fry all the tempering ingredients in a another pan till the onions are caramelized. If you are frying brinjal or okra with this, start frying the vegetable first before adding the tempering ingredients as the vegetables take a while to cook.
  6. After your sambar is done, add the tempered ingredients into it. And walla! Sambar is done. I’re sure if you make a dilute version of this, you can turn it into a soup!

Flat Rice Noodles in Egg Gravy (Char Hor Fun or Kong Fu Char)

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My buddies Hana and Su will attest to how madly in love I am over this dish. I’d at least order this in a restaurant for lunch at least once a week. Sometimes I have it 2 days in a row. I never got tired of it. And probably never ever will. How could I?? The eggy gravy is the most lustrous liquid that slides through the tip of the tongue and bursts into million explosions on my taste buds.

Anyway, that was when I was still back in Malaysia. Since then, it has been a little bit of a challenge finding my char hor fun here in Western Australia. Although there are a few decent Chinese/Malaysian restaurants around but the few that I tried didn’t succeed in pleasuring my taste buds. So here I am, with my wok and chopsticks…ready to plate up another one of my favourite dishes. Bring it on!

 Ingredients:

  •  1 packet of flat rice noodles or fresh hor fun
  • 12~15 prawns shells removed and deveined (you can leave the tail tip on)
  • 12~15 rings of squids
  • 4~5 fish cakes thinly sliced
  • 8~10 4cm chicken slices (If you like pork or beef, feel free to replace with your meat of choice. My husband says hor fun is not hor fun without pork *rolls eyes*)
  • 1 whole of garlic finely chopped (You can use just half actually…but I love garlic so much!)
  • 4 stalks of choy sum (or sawi) cut to 4cm lengths
  • ½ a carrot sliced thin (1cm thickness)
  • 1 cup of cabbage (no bigger than a 2x2cm squares)
  • 2~3 tbsp of corn flour (diluted in very little water)
  • 3 tbsp stir fry sauce or oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp fish oil
  • 3 tbsp thick soy sauce
  • Soy sauce for taste
  • Ground white pepper for taste
  • 3 eggs

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My sauces…

Method:

  1. First, to prepare the noodles, rinse the noodles in water. If the noodles appear to be clung together, it’s a good idea to use boiling water to separate them. Do not try to break it up yourself as it will break into crumbly pieces.
  2. Use 1 clove of chopped garlic to flavour some oil on the pan. Stir fry the noodles in the oil with thick soy sauce and salty soy sauce. Once noodles is cooked, keep aside Image
  3. On a different wok, heat some oil and stir fry the balance of the chopped garlic, meat, prawns, squids and fish cake. Once the seafood is cooked, add in the carrots cabbage and add 3 (medium sized) bowls of water.
  4. Add the stir fry or oyster sauce and fish oil into this gravy till the vegetables are nicely cooked. Add the the choy sum and cook a for another minute
  5. Stir in the diluted corn flour to thicken the gravy. You only need the gravy to be slightly thickened. Add salt and white pepper for taste
  6. Break in 3 eggs into the gravy and stirring the gravy as you added the eggs. Turn off the flame immediately and now the gravy will be a thick eggy liquid
  7. Plate the earlier prepared noodles on a deep set plate and top it with generous ladleful of egg gravy like in the first picture. If you like extra spice, serve with chopped chilies (chili padi) in soy sauce.

Ceylonese style Brinjal Mash (Kathrikka Paal Kadaiyal)

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You cannot go wrong with brinjal. Be it fried, curried or baked. It’s amazingly super yummy vegetable. I love it. I love it on pizzas and even as a dip. This recipe is super easy and super yummy too. It’s something my mother used to make and whenever I miss her, I make this dish. It’s a great side kick for my earlier post on Prawn Curry or with chicken curry too. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 4~5 cloves of garlic
  • ½ an onion chopped
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1~2 round brinjal or if you are using the slightly thinner oblong ones, use 3~4 pieces – skin removed and diced into cubes
  • 1 green chili halved and seeds removed (I happen to run out of it, so I used red ones)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 4~5 curry leaves
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Heat a good pot with oil. Fry in the mustard seeds, garlic and onions. Once onions have softened, add in the chili and brinjal. Immediately add 1 cup of water to the pot and close the lid for the brinjal to cook Image
  2. The brinjal will start to soften and turn brownish. Make sure you do not let the pot to burn without water by stirring the pot every few minutes and adding 1 tbsp water each time (if required). You don’t want too much water in it as we don’t want this turning into a runny mash
  3. Once the brinjal is cooked, add turmeric, coconut milk and mash the brinjal with a masher
  4. As the brinjal takes in more heat, add a little evaporated milk just enough to silken it. Continue this process until the brinjal is nice and mashed. Add curry leaves and salt to taste. Few more stirs in the pot and you’re done.

Authentic Ceylonese-Sri Lankan Prawn Curry

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This is my mother’s specialty and thankfully, I have inherited her tiny gift of making the best curry of all time – Prawn Curry! Every time I think about this curry, I salivate. It’s thick, it’s creamy, it’s sour and it’s spicy. The combination of different tastes just works so perfectly well together, I cannot tell you how much I just want to drink it on its own. I have by the way!

Oddly though, this is also the easiest curry to make with hardly any additional spices required apart from curry powder. It’s best to serve this curry with steamed rice, lightly cooked vegetables, maybe a nice masala fried fish and cucumber/onion raita or just plain ol’ yogurt. Or you can also have this with freshly made egg thosai. It’s yum yum yummmm… Do try this recipe and you will thank me for it 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp oil of your choice
  • 15~20 prawns shells removed and deveined
  • 1 whole of garlic chopped
  • 1 large onion halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 green chili, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 tomato diced into cubes
  • 4 tbsp of curry powder
  • 1 tbsp of chili powder (optional)
  • 1 can of coconut milk. (If you are using freshly squeezed coconut milk, I say about 1~1 ½ cups. Also, if you are skimming on coconut milk, use 1 cup of evaporated milk instead)
  • 1~2 tbsp of tamarin puree
  • 5~8 curry leaves
  • 3 eggs scrambled and fried till fluffy (Optional, or you can also substitute the fried eggs to boiled eggs as it is equally rewarding. I usually use 1 egg/person)
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a pot and start frying the garlic and then adding the onions
  2. Once onions has softened, add in the prawns, tomato and green chili. Cook till prawns turns  lush and pink
  3. Add 2 cups of water, the curry powder and chili powder into the pot. Let this come to a boil
  4. Once the curry is somewhat done, add in the coconut milk, tamarind paste, curry leaves and let the whole thing come to a boil again. If you feel your curry isn’t thick enough, you can add a little bit more of curry powder and evaporated milk
  5. All in all, it will not take you more than 20mins to cook this curry. Add salt to taste and the pre-fried eggs (or boiled ones) into the curry just before turning off the flame.
  6. The final and most important step of all, flood your plate with curry over a serving of steamed rice and shovel it into your mouth.

*This recipe should serve 3~4 people (Not applicable if all of them want to drink the curry though)

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Saturday Morning Breakfast

Don’t hate me for this but once a week, I pamper myself with some delicious pancakes topped with maple syrup and fruits…you know, the works. And if the mood calls for it, I sometimes enjoy eating the pancakes with peanut butter and butter like how you would eat waffles. Aaahhh…soft and hot pancakes on a cold morning is something quite poetic.

In case you are waiting for me to share the recipe for this one, sorry to disappoint you. This is made straight out of a bottle called Green’s pancake shake. Very seldom things out of a can and packets impresses me. But this bottle of ready made pancake mix is simply yummylicious. So, why go through all the trouble of beating an egg and sifting flour to get the similar results? Haha…

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Good Saturday morning everyone!

Mushroom & Bacon Mini Tarts

Trust me, this is easy peasy. I do cheat a little. Because I use ready made puff pastry sheets. But really, it does save me a LOT of time. And in the end of the day, it’s how it tastes that really counts, doesn’t it?

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You’re welcome to substitute the bacon with minced chicken or even make it without meat if you’d like that. It really is a matter of personal preference. Feel free to tweak the recipe as you like. Before you get started make sure you have a non stick muffin pan. I used a 7 x 2.5cm cup size to make this. Personally I feel if the tart is any smaller, you will not be able to savour the filling just as much. And if it’s any bigger than this, it’s no longer a “mini”. Having said that, I’m not going to judge if you make it any bigger or smaller. Maybe, bigger is better? You tell me, ok?

Ingredients:

  • 2~3 puff pastry sheets (1 sheet typically can make 9 tarts for a 2.5cm cup size)
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 whole garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 cups of diced mushrooms
  • 1~2 cups of diced bacon (or any meat of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup of cream (if you want to skim on the cream, you can also use evaporated milk – I did!)
  • 2 tsp of italian mixed herbs (dried)
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper (optional)
  • Grated cheddar cheese (as topping)

Method:

  1. Cut your pastry sheets into 9 squares (it’s ok if your squares are not perfect. I doubt anyone would notice)
  2. Grease your muffin pan before carefully placing your squared sheets into it and lightly molding it into a cup. The corners of the squares will be slightly out of the pan. If the corners are touching the adjacent tart, it means your squares are too big for the pan -resize!
  3. Heat oil in the pan and start by adding garlic and fry till it’s a light golden shade. Add the mushrooms and bacon till they’re almost cooked. Add the cream, salt, mixed herbs and pepper (optional). Turn off the flame as soon as your cream starts to simmer and set your pan aside
  4. In a separate bowl, beat your eggs with salt. The amount of salt you add should be slightly lesser than how much you would normally season it.  Once it’s beaten, add in your creamy mushrooms and bacon into this bowl and mix it well
  5. Probably a good time to turn on the oven now and preheat it at 200 degC
  6. Scoop your creamy eggy mixture into each cup, filling it only almost full this is because filling does rise when you bake. Lastly, top the filling with grated cheddar cheese.
  7. Once you’re done, bake your tarts at 180 degC for 25~30mins till your tarts turn golden brown (or when your kitchen is filled with the baked cheese scent). You can serve the tarts for tea as it is, or with a side of salad as an entree for dinner.

This recipe should give you at least 22~24 tarts