More Indian food that I have destroyed: Baingan Bharta (and corrupted BB pasta)

I love Indian food (the authentic spicy type). Lets get that out there and make it clear.

But for some reason I don’t seem to have the same level of horror when I corrupt Indian food versus when I corrupt Chinese food. I seem perfectly happy to make “Indian pasta” but if feel like a total weirdo if someone tells me that a certain dish is “Chinese / Thai inspired” but is actually western. No, I don’t have an explanation. Yes, I am really very sorry.

With that in mind I was debating whether or not to post this recipe.

See, I have found that authentic baingan bharta tastes really good over pasta with a shake of parmesan cheese. This was a discovery made when trying to figure out what to do with my leftovers.

Please don’t judge me. The below is a recipe for a proper baingan bharta. If you want to corrupt it by putting it over pasta, at least do it with the leftovers rather than the fresh food. That way my conscience will remain clear.

Baingain BhartaCorrupted pasta version

Baingan Bharta (Roasted eggplant ..curry? Not really curry)

Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe

2 medium sized eggplants
2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
1 teasp  ginger, chopped
1 teasp cumin seeds
1/2 teasp garam masala
1/2 teasp chilli powder
Salt to taste

Note: I’m really lazy and didn’t skin my eggplants, if you are a proper maker of Indian food and not-lazy then you should remove the skin of your eggplant before mashing it into the tomato mixture in the pan.

  1. Turn your oven (200-220 degrees C) or grill. Prick the eggplants all over and rub with a little oil, then leave them roasting for half an hour to 40 minutes. You might need to turn them halfway.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan. Over medium heat, fry the cumin seeds until they dance a little. Add the onion, and fry until the onion goes soft. Then add the ginger and green chilli, and fry for a bit longer until that’s cooked too.
  3. Add the tomato and continue frying until the tomato softens.
  4. Chop up the eggplant (I don’t bother skinning it), and throw the whole thing in the pan. Stir and mash until everything is well incorporated.
  5. Add the garam masala, chilli powder, and salt to taste. Cook a little longer so spices incorporate, then you’re done!

Things I never thought I’d do: homemade museli

Never in my life did I think I’d ever bother making home made muesli. I don’t even like muesli, usually. Toasted is okay.

But this one day I ran out of breakfast cereal and gave it a go (having too much free time on my hands on that particular, unusual day. Let me say this is not a regular occurance). From that point it sort of escalated out of control and I have decided that the best way to manage the process is to just teach other people how to make their own muesli so I don’t have to do it.

My mother in particular (who doesn’t even cook, ever!) made approx 2 kilos of toasted trail mix using this method and proceeded to eat them in a week. She said it was okay because I said it was healthy (and by healthy, I meant low sugar/salt + copious amounts of oats…all of which I suspect were disregarded).

With less sugar, low salt, and much more oats (!) I guess it is pretty healthy. And not thaat hard.

Anyway, so here we go. Learn because I will only make it for you once. Or twice if you ask nicely. Or if you are planning to pay me.

*sniff* I feel so pro

Homemade toasted muesli

Adapted from various other sources on the web – there were quite a number, but special mention to the first one I found on My New Roots which provided inspiration. 

The proportions of everything are pretty fluid so change as you will. The picture above had hazelnuts, cinnamon, figs, and coconut mixed in.

2 cups rolled oats
2 tablesp honey
2 tablesp olive oil
A pinch of salt (optional)

A handful of nuts – I’ve tried hazelnut, almond, and macadamia so far.

A teaspoon of spice – I like cinnamon but anything goes. Ginger might be nice.

A handful of mix ins – I’ve tried desiccated coconut, raisins, dates, and figs to date.

Oven temperature: around 180 degrees

  1. Pour the honey into a large flat dish and melt in the oven while it is heating up. Once runny, remove from the oven and mix in the oil. If your honey is already runny then you can probably omit this step.
  2. Pour in the oats, salt, nuts, and spices and mix until well combined.
  3. Now you start your toasting: depending on how fast the mixture browns, I start by toasting it for 15 minutes and removing it to stir. I then toast for another 5-10 minutes and stir. For a large bowl you might do 15 minutes +2x 5-10 minutes
  4. Once the oats are nice and golden all over, throw in the mix ins. These go in late because they can dry out or burn easily. Stir in and toast for another 5 minutes.
  5. Wait until it cools thoroughly before storing in an airtight container.

More bribes for my brother: mac and cheese

I know it sounds like whenever I cook for my brother it is a bribe, this is really not true. No it isn’t. This time it was only part-bribe to let us play videogames when we visited his apartment, and part-thank you for letting us stay in said apartment.

A thank you that I hope lasted at least 4 days, as it was in danger of being finished within one sitting. Please don’t eat 500g of pasta in one sitting, it somehow seems a little scary. Imagine a pasta-monster, and by that I mean a human-sized macaroni with arms and legs. Scary, right? Don’t do it. Even though the mac and cheese is tasty enough to.

Anyway this was a pretty easy recipe which I later passed on to my bro (I was expecting it to be much harder!)

Pasta monster's lair

Easy Mac & Cheese

Adapted from the Kitchn

  • Note the basic ratio of milk to cheese is around 1:1.5 to 1:2, with a couple of tablespoons of flour (any type – corn or normal). 

A 500g bag of pasta – small shapes are better because they hold the sauce
1.5 cups milk
2 – 3 cups cheese – cubed is fine, or grated, it just needs to melt.
2 tablesp flour – corn or all purpose
0.5 – 1 teasp black pepper, to taste
Salt to taste
A dash of chilli flakes
Mix-ins:  see below. I used leeks and lamb sausage.

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Warm 1 cup milk over medium heat in a pot.
    Mix flour into the remaining ½ cup of milk
    When steam starts to rise from the hot milk in the pot, pour in the rest of the flour-milk mixture.
    Whisk / stir until it thickens to the consistency of cream / custard.
  3. Drop the heat to low.
    Stir in the cheese, pepper, salt, and chilli flakes. Mix until all the cheese is melted.
    Taste and season as needed.
  4. Turn off the heat and dump all the pasta + additional mix-ins into the pot.
    Stir well until the sauce coats the pasta.
    (Eating can start here J )
  5. Optional: Put into an oven proof dish and top with more cheese – parmesan works nicely.
    Put it in a toaster oven / oven at around 200 deg C for 20 minutes or so until the cheese topping crusts and browns.

Mix-ins:

In terms of mix-ins, I added the following:

  • Leeks
    • Wash leeks. Slice and fry in a little oil until soft and a little charred at the edges.
  • Lamb sausages
    • Fry lamb sausages and slice. Set aside.

You can really add anything you like though.

Precious, precious salmon head

Look at this beast! For $2! And possibly free in future! I think I’m switching fishmonger.

Can't believe people throw this away

For reference, that head is the size of my hand with all fingers outstretched. And it includes the bottom half of the salmon collar.

Mr Fishmonger says he will give me these for free if I am a regular (free!! free!! My Singaporean within rejoices, and I’m not even Singaporean). However, I can’t decide whether he is just bribing me to buy his other stuff with the offer of free fish head. But free fish head is free fish head. One doesn’t sniff at free fish head.

I feel a bit like a cat that someone has bribed to be friends with them using leftover dinner.

I wonder if he has other types of fish head too.

My mother thought I was depriving myself when I excitedly shared news of my purchase with her. She was all: “are you eating properly? Don’t starve yourself to save money!” She didn’t quite grasp that I specifically wanted the fish head, and asked 3 different fishmongers for it, simply because salmon head is awesome.

If you haven’t tried it, lock your squeamishness in a box and give it a go. It’s a really fatty part of the fish with lots of smooth flesh (much more moist than salmon steak), and crispy skin all over when done well.

We dumped the bones / fins in a slow cooker with some water, onions, salt, and pepper. There was so much fatty salmon goodness that the resulting stock tasted almost creamy.  Hello udon noodle soup. Another post, maybe.

The salmon head became this roasted amazingness you see below. Prompting a discussion of the merits of a simple dinner of a (whole) salmon head each, and rice. Looks like I need to get 2 salmon heads next time.

Salmon head in teriyaki sauce

Roasted Teriyaki Salmon Head 

Teriyaki sauce based on the one used by Just Bento, but with substitutions the sake.

Salmon head + collar
Salt

2 tablesp soya sauce
3 tablesp sushi vinegar
1 tablesp rice vinegar
1 tablesp sugar

  1. Wash the salmon head and collar, and rub with a little salt. Set aside for half an hour.
  2. Wipe the salmon with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Mix the sauces and sugar in a small bowl, and pour over salmon. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Roast in an oven for around 15 minutes or so at 220 degrees C, until the skin is a little charred on the edges and the fish is cooked through. If your salmon head is large, you may need to flip it over and cook for a further 5-10 minutes.

Cheesy Muffins with Balsamic Onions

Looks good yes? Nice pictures for once? I cleverly lost the recipe for these. Very well done, Lea.

Finally figured out how they do those paper wrappers

Ready to bake
Can you smell the cheesiness

I do this a lot, and recipe loss is probably the primary reason why I blog. This is the reason why I can write so much rubbish online – since I’m technically blogging to prevent recipe loss and don’t expect readers, any readers that do read are a bonus. Hence, I can write whatever garble I choose.

But, I had these pretty pictures and thought perhaps it might serve to remind myself to finally go look for the recipe again one of these days.

Will update when I find it.


Descent into auntie-food (like lotus stir-fry)

Lotus root as a bit of a bad rep sometimes as being very traditional, and boring, and possibly not-food (I know some people who refuse to eat the lotus in soups as it is considered not-food and therefore not-edible).

Yes, I did get funny looks when I very excitedly found an ugly  potato-root-looking thing in the market. Yes, it was an effort to persuade Bigfoot that I did in fact want to buy this rather expensive thing that looked a bit like a petrified hotdog bun. But it was worth it in the end.

I didn’t think it was ugly at all. Or even auntie-ish. In the end, you can’t beat simple, tasty, and most importantly quick food  after a long day.

I swear it tastes good

Lotus Stir-Fry

Adapted from Just Bento’s version.

1 lotus root, peeled and sliced
2-3 cm ginger, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic (depending on size), chopped
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped into approx 1cm lengths

chilli flakes or whole red chilli, to taste – I used around 1/2 teasp red chilli flakes
1 teasp brown suger
1 teasp rice / balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablesp sesame seeds
1.5 tablesp soya sauce
2 teasp sesame oil
white pepper to taste

  1. Slice lotus root and leave it in some slightly vinegared water while preparing the other ingredients.
  2. Fry ginger and garlic in oil until fragrant, over medium heat. Drain the lotus slices and add to the pain in a single layer, flipping as needed.
  3. Add chilli, spring onions, sesame seeds, pepper, soya sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, and vinegar. Cook until slightly caramelised.

A prettier pie than previously anticipated

Or is it a galette? I don’t know what the rules are for naming pies. It is in a pastry. Therefore, it is a pie. Feel free to elucidate if you know the pie-rules. Don’t report me to the pielice (get it, pie-lice/po-lice?) Let’s leave it on that terribly embarrassing note and proceed to the recipe, shall we?

This is a pretty flexible recipe. The only requirement is that the filling is dry and solid enough that it is able to stand by itself in the centre of the puff pastry and not leak out. And the smoked cheese really adds something. By adding something, I mean in the sense of fancy food bloggers “oh my goodness, it really adds a special something!!!” as opposed to the view that, of course, if you add cheese then you are adding ‘something’, i.e. cheese, to the pie.

I think this is one of the tastiest pies I’ve made so far, and it tasted awesome over the next 4 days as cold lunch. If you want to crisp up the pastry again, reheat it in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes.

Soon to be pie See ugly folding - but it didn't fall apart! Isn't it pretty

Seafood Leek Smoked Cheese Galette 

1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg
2 handfuls of grated smoked cheese – I only had enough for 1 handful, so I used a second handful of cheddar
1 handfuls mixed seafood
2 small fillets of fish
3 large leeks
1 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablesp sugar
1-2 teasp black pepper
A pinch of salt
A dash of chilli flakes

1 egg + a splash of milk for the eggwash

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C

  1. Slice the leeks and fry over medium heat with a little oil until soft. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar, and continue to heat until the leeks caramelise slightly on the edges.
  2. Mix the egg, cheese, leek, salt, pepper, and chilli flakes – reserve a couple of tablespoons of cheese for later. Add the mixed seafood.
  3. Place the puff pastry on a sheet of baking paper, and scoop the pie filling into the centre of the sheet of pastry. Leave around 2 inch clearance on each side of the filling.
  4. Cut the fillets into strips, and place on top of the filling, skin up (if the fillets have skin).
  5. Fold up the edges of the puff pastry into a pie shape, starting with one corner and working around until all sides are folded up. Take a look at the picture above for an idea of how to fold it up.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the assembled pie. Rub a little eggwash (egg mixed with milk) on the exposed puff pastry.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, until the pie is a nice golden colour.

Chocolate fondant cupcakes

I don’t know whether it’s anxiety, or some other first world disease that’s been plaguing me, but I’ve REALLY been on a roll this week with baking. I made a batch of red velvet earlier during the week, which was invariably well received. The thing about cupcakes is that it is a surefire way to please everyone and anyone at work. When one has chocolate cupcakes, the world is an exponentially happier place. It’s so cute. Anyway, the result of this free-floating mysterious need to wake up at six o’clock in the bloody morning was this: chocolate fondant cupcakes from none other than The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. ‘

This is a decadent, super rich chocolate combination. If you’ve been having a terrible day, I guarantee this is the panacea to your problems. Or, at least, it will kickstart a whole new set of problems such as guilt trips and overexercise. Fret not, fret not: it is well worth the guilt.

Some notes: I had to attempt this recipe twice. The first time was kind of a bust: the middle was a bit undercooked, the base was concave…?! Mrs Yeti remarked they tasted a bit like chocolate mooncakes. I don’t like mooncakes. So I added some sodium bicarbonate the second time around. It got better. I also didn’t add all the liquid mixture into the dry, as you will see later, as this made my batter far too runny the first time around. Maybe Singaporean eggs are too watery? I’m not entirely sure. That has been known to happen before, according to my grandma.

Also, I didn’t bother hollowing out the cupcakes and piping  the fondant into them. I tried it with one cupcake, but I found it very overwhelming (and I was also pretty tired by the time I got around to the second cupcake), so I spread the fondant over the tops and left it at that. Still delish.

Chocolate Fondant Cupcakes
from Cake Days: Recipes to Make Everyday Special by The Hummingbird Bakery

Sponge

80g unsalted butter, softened
280g caster sugar
200g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (this I added in, for added texture. Maybe my baking powder wasn’t great?)
2 large eggs
240ml whole milk

Fondant/Frosting

150g dark chocolate
150ml double cream

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases.
  2. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, set on a low speed, mix together the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Mix until the ingredients are sandy in consistency and no large lumps of butter remain.
  3. Place the eggs in a jug, then pour in the milk and mix together by hand. With the mixer on low speed, pour 3/4 of the milk and eggs into the dry ingredients. At this point, I had appx. 50ml leftover. I didn’t bother putting that in as I found the batter was of drop consistency at this point when everything was well mixed and even.
  4. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, and bake for 18-20 minutes or until well risen and springy to touch. Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool completely before making the frosting.
  5. Place the finely chopped chocolate in a bowl. Pour the cream into a saucepan and heat just to boiling point. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate has melted. Stir until it is smooth. If you are using dark bittersweet chocolate as I did, you might want to add 30g of icing sugar to balance the bitterness.
  6. Leave the fondant in the fridge (the book does not say this, but I did). When you are ready to frost your cupcakes a few hours later or in the morning, leave it to warm up to room temperature before spreading the generously over the tops of your beautiful cupcake sponges.
  7. Or, if you want, hollow out the center of each cake using a sharp knife, cutting out a piece about 2cm in diameter and 3cm long. Set the cut-out pieces to one side, then, using a teaspoon, fill the hollow of each cake half full with the chocolate cream filling. Place the cut-out pieces of sponge on top of the filling, like a lid, trimming the pieces to fit, if then top each cupcake with more chocolate cream and swirl it.

On the Clash of Cuisines

Bigfoot and I have this problem, in that he says all Chinese food is bland and I strongly, vehemently, and occasionally violently disagree with him. And I continue to politely suggest that his taste buds have been corrupted by a lifetime of curry powder and exposure to poor quality pork-free cantonese  food.

There is a whole world (of Chinese food) out there. And I will win this personal crusade. Bit by bit, fighting tooth and nail each step of the way.

After this meal, the score stood at 5,001:0 (me being the victor. Of course, I’m also the only one keeping score, but whatever).

Preconceptions vanquished

Szechuan Eggplant with Spicy Tauchu 

Adapted from Smokywok.

2 medium sized eggplants – cut into sticks
1 cm knob salted fish – chopped
5 (small) cloves garlic – chopped
Thumb sized knob of ginger – sliced
3 stalks spring onions – chopped into 1-2 inch lengths
2 red chilli – chopped
1 teasp szechuan peppers

2 tablesp spicy tauchu (bean paste)
2 tablesp soya sauce
1.5 tablesp sugar
2 tablesp chinese black vinegar
1/4 cup water

  1. Pre-cook the eggplant – either fry it for a couple of minutes in a wok, or toast it in the toaster oven for 5 minutes. I toasted mine.
  2. In a claypot (or a pot with a lid), fry with a little oil: salted fish, garlic, ginger, spring onions, chilli, and szechuan peppers.
  3. Throw in all the sauces and the pre-cooked eggplant. Stir it up and wait for the sauce to boil.
  4. Once the sauce boils, lower the heat to medium-low, and cover with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes or so, until the eggplant is cooked and the sauce is absorbed.

Lea’s Favourite Lala

Lala, I have missed you. Pipis (as they appear to be named here in Melbourne) are pretty similar. I do love my clammie types.

I was so excited that I didn’t take process shots. Oops. The process is pretty simple though.

Food like this needs no further introduction, though pretty pictures would probably endear it to more people. Without further delay, I present one of my favourite foods:

Oh lala I have missed you

Ginger & Spring Onion Lala (or Pipis)

Adapted from Rasa Malaysia’s ginger & spring onion crab.

600g lala / pipis
Thumb size knob of ginger
8 stalks spring onion
1 red chilli

1.5 tablesp oyster sauce
1/2 tablesp sesame oil
1/2 tablesp fish sauce
1/2 teasp sugar
1/2 teasp white pepper
1/4 cup water
1/2 teasp corn flour

  1. Clean your lala / pipis, if they aren’t already clean.
  2. Slice ginger into sticks. Chop the red chilli too. Finally, chop spring onion into 1-2 inch lengths, separating the white hard bits and the green bits.
  3. In a little oil, fry the ginger, chilli, and white parts of the spring onion until fragrant.
  4. Throw in everything else – sauce components, cornflour, green bits of the spring onion, and lala / pipis.
  5. Cover for 5-8 minutes with the heat on medium-high, until all the lala / pipis have opened.