All posts by michtsang

Seafood Chowder


I learnt this easy seafood chowder from watching Masterchef Australia. Fleur Sullivan, the chef, is from NZ!

This seafood chowder is made with roux, a mixture of flour and butter. I’ve modified this recipe a bit to reduce the amount of butter to make it lighter. You can pretty much add any seafood in as you like, using any in season, fresh produce you can find locally. Choose a firm type of fish, like Hapuka, which is a grouper in NZ. You can also use little neck clams, scallops or mussels.

Ingredients
150g butter
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
150g plain flour
100ml white wine
140g tomato paste (equivalent to 1 tub of tomato paste)
2 litres seafood* or fish stock, warmed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
Celery stalk, 10cm piece
1 stalk fresh thyme
300g Harpuka or Basa, diced
20 prawns, shelled and deveined
2 squid tube, cleaned and scored, cut int strips

*The seafood stock is one I’ve made earlier with the heads of scampi heads boiled down with “the holy trinity” vege trio – onions, carrots and celery (Mirepoix in French). This vegetable mix is a very common starter for soups and stews. They are usually finely diced and then sautéed in oil or butter.

Instructions

In a large heavy based saucepan melt butter and add diced vegetables. Sweat for a few minutes but do not allow to colour.

Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes or until mixture has a sandy texture.

Slowly pour in the wine and tomato paste and bring together as it thickens to remove all the lumps.

Add the warmed stock slowly, stirring continuously, and drop in the herbs and spices.

Allow the chowder to come to the boil, and stir to keep the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add all the fish and shellfish and simmer until the shells begin to open and the fish is cooked through.

Serve with sourdough or ciabatta.

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad


I LOVE Vietnamese food. I can’t seem to get enough of it. On our last Christmas trip to Hong Kong we went for Vietnamese lunches for not once, not twice, but at least four times (mum correct me if I am wrong but that is all the photos are showing.) I’ve got to do something about that – make it at home!. This here is admittedly a summer dish – light and refreshing is what it is, so it wasn’t particularly fitting for a cold autumn dinner. It didn’t stop us from eating it all though, as it was so delicious!

The ingredients you need are relatively simple:

Ingredients

300g Rump or Sirloin beef, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, juliened
1 cup of bean sprouts
a handful of mint leaves
1/4 cup crushed roasted peanuts
1/3 red capsicum, sliced
1 sping onion, juliened
2 stalks of lemon grass, whites only
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp corn flour

Sauce

4 tbsp Fish sauce
4 tbsp palm sugar, shaved
2 tbsp shao xhing wine (or sherry)
juice of 2 limes

Instructions

Marinate the beef with the lemon grass, fish sauce and corn flour for 30 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and place the rice noodles in. Cook for 3-5 minutes, check to make sure they are cooked (and not over! Cooking times will vary with different brands, so always test it.) Drain and rinse in cool water. Drain again and set aside.

Heat the wok and add about 1 tbsp oil. Quickly stir fry the beef until it has just cooked (about 1 minute). Remove from pan and set aside.

Mix the bean sprouts, cucumber, spring onions and capsicum in a bowl.

Using tongs, pick up some rice noodles and place them on the bottom of a bowl or the centre of a plate. Place a handful of the vegetables on top, add some beef slices, some freshly torn mint leaves and a sprinkle of crushed peanuts.

Place the sauce in small bowls for each person to pour over the noodles.

Easy peasy! Are you making this today?

Prawn cocktail


Upon realizing J is not allergic to prawns, this dish has appeared on our dinner menu at least once a week. Why? It is quick, completes in under 10 minutes, can be made in advance and is delicious.

Good quality prawns were hard to find in New Zealand many moons ago, and you’ll have to pay a premium for them. In the last few years, the market has opened up and it is now very easy to buy good quality and affordable prawns even in the supermarket.

All you need here are the prawns, some ice, and thousand island dressing. For this dish, I prefer using the frozen, shelled but uncooked ones. It offers an easy start for my dish and saves me time. Flavour wise, it does not make a significant difference. It does however make a huge difference in cost when compared to fresh prawns!

It can be served as an appetizer, or like any Asian meals, as part of a wider array of dishes shared amongst the diners. This is a dish S and I had many years ago at a restaurant, when we were still dating. In the end we decided that we didn’t need to order that from a restaurant when we can easily do it ourselves ( yes indeed this is one even S can achieve !!!)

Ingredients
300g Prawns, shelled, uncooked
1 cup of ice
3 tbsp thousand island dressing

Instructions
Defrost the prawns by rinsing them in water, leave it to drain in a colander.

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Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water with 1 tsp of salt and add the prawns in.

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Once the prawns has changed to a pink colour, leave it to cook for a further 30 seconds. Then, strain it and put it in a bowl with the ice. This stops them from over cooking and retains a nice crunch when you bite into it.

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Mix the prawns with the ice and leave it to cool.

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J likes to stir them from time to time.

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Drain the water off and dry the prawns by lightly patting them with a paper towel.
Add the thousand island dressing in, mix to coat evenly.

Refrigerate until service time. Just like macarons, they taste better the next day – but who can wait that long?

Hazelnut cocoa nibs cookies


Today J helped me with some freezer cookie dough. These are the ones I always have in the freezer, to be whipped out in a second when cookies are called for in short notice.

You can replace the hazelnuts with other nuts you like: pistachios, macadamias or cashews.

Ingredients
1 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup valrhona cocoa powder
2 tbsp Frangelico (hazelnut liquor)

Method

Combine the butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer, and beat on high for 1 minute until it is smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and frangelico liquor.

Beat in the chopped hazelnuts and cocoa nibs.

Add all the flour and cocoa powder in. Beat on low speed until the flour mixture is well incorporated.

Scoop half of this dough and place onto cling film. Roll into a log and freeze for at least 2 hours before slicing. You can keep this for up to 3 months. Scoop the rest of the dough onto another piece of cling film to form a second log.

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like so…

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celcius.

Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough into 0.5cm thick slices.

Place cookies on baking paper-lined cookie sheets.

Bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven and let them rest on the sheets for about 1-2 minutes further before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Easiest sugar cookies


I love getting maximum yield out of minimal efforts. The fact that a single batch of cookie dough produces a large amount of little bites that will last our family for a while (er, like 2 weeks) gives me great satisfaction. These are very cute too as gifts at children’s parties.

Ingredients

1 cup (250g) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups plain flour (or 2 3/4 cups plain flour and 1/4 cup cocoa powder if you want chocolate ones)
2.5 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar until creamy. Add egg, vanilla extract and beat till combined. Add flour (and cocoa powder if using) and baking powder, mix to combine. Roll dough into a smooth rectangular shape, and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Taking a third of the dough, roll it out on a floured board to a 0.4mm thickness. Using cookie cutters to cut shapes out as desired. Here J is using some Klio ones. Press the cookie cutter down onto your dough to cut out the shape of the cookie.

See the little stick on the centre of the cutter? It has a spring mechanism and when depressed, will imprint some additional patterns on your cookie.

See how J pushes the stick to help get the dough out of the cookie cutter.

Carefully peel the dough off the cutter.

There you have it! Gather scraps, re-roll and recut until you’ve used up the dough.

Bake at 175 degrees C for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

How cute are they!