$41.40, RT LGB to PDX for 35 Hours

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I had to skip out early on cousin A's bridal shower because I was going up to Portland again.

For $41.40 round-trip!

After taxes!

$41.40, RT LGB to PDX for 35 Hours 1

Jet Blue Cheeps LGB to PDX, $10 each way, plus taxes.

Sure I was only going to be home for 35 hours. But did you not see that my round-trip plane ticket was only $41.40?!

Even though my parents were coming down a few days later for cousin A's wedding, it was too good of a deal to pass up. The minute I saw the price, I started furiously typing so I could book it before the deal disappeared, while simultaneously text messaging oldest nephew and dad's friend's daughter to tell them about it. They were too late though.

Surely you'd pay that for two of your momma's homecooked meals?

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On Vietnamese First Birthday Traditions Again

On Vietnamese First Birthday Traditions Again 1

Gah! Isn't she just the cutest?

My parents came down for my niece's first birthday and my mom had her suitcases packed with pre-made frozen homemade puff pastry dough and filling for banh pate so (Vietnamese meat-filled pastries) and pre-made frozen banh bot loc (Vietnamese tapioca dumplings with pork, shrimp, and bamboo shoots). Since it was our niece's first birthday, lil' sis and I got a little fancy with our food contributions too.

I had less than two hours' sleep before I was up at 6 a.m. to finish my labor-intensive project. Then I had to go to work for a few hours so I left my mom, with help from lil' sis and oldest nephew, to make the banh pate so.

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I'm Coming Home

I'm coming home
I'm coming home
tell the World I'm coming home...

Can't get the J. Cole song out of my head. Like the Brady Bunch song while I was hiking, its subliminal message forced me to title this post as such. Also, why does "world" need to be capitalized in the lyrics?

1 I'm Coming Home 1

My car had been making grinding noises every time I turned for months now so I wanted to take it home for my dad to fix. It's also been a while since I've been home and I missed Oregon. Sure there was the brief trip because of the $41.40 plane ticket to Portland last November, but prior to that I hadn't been home since Christmas 2009 (which I still haven't blogged yet, nor September 2009 neither). Even though my parents were just here for my niece's first birthday, it was the only time Gourmet Pigs was free to drive with me. I worked late the night before so I had to get up at 4 a.m. to do laundry, pack, and make a batch of Tuong Ot Xa (Vietnamese Lemongrass Chili Sauce) for my parents. Can't bring them on the plane anymore unless I'm checking luggage, and you know that rarely happens anymore either.

After a late start, we finally started driving at 6:45 a.m. It was gonna be a long day.

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Nai Xao Xa Cuon Banh Trang (Vietnamese Sauteed Lemongrass Venison Rice Paper Rolls)

10 Thit Nai Xao Xa Cuon Banh Trang (Vietnamese Sauteed Lemongrass Venison Rice Paper Rolls) 1

I've mentioned before that when I'm home, I try not to eat out for dinner, but save it for spending time with my parents. And so after a long day of chasing waterfalls in the drizzle and a late afternoon snack of pie, we sat down to Nai Xao Xa (Vietnamese Sauteed Venison with Lemongrass) to cook at the table and to wrap with rice paper. The venison was shot by my dad. The wine was made by my mom from blackberries she picked in the hiking trails around the neighborhood.

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Macaroni and Cheese with Beef and Tomatoes

This one's quick and easy. I accidentally poured a little too much milk into the mashed potatoes that I was making for the English Cottage Pie so I ended up with a milky, starchy mess. I scooped out the potatoes with a slotted spoon and set the mashed potatoes aside to thicken, boiled three more potatoes to correct my error, then turned the soupy milk into macaroni and cheese with beef and tomatoes.

I meant to do that all along. Uh huh.

Macaroni and Cheese with Beef and Tomatoes 1

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Extraordinary Desserts - San Diego (Little Italy)

Since I brought dinner, I asked lil' sis where she was going to take me for dessert. :P

Extraordinary Desserts - San Diego (Little Italy) 1

She suggested Extraordinary Desserts. And after looking at their website, I started whining,

"When are we gonna go get dessert?"

"When are we gonna go get dessert?"

"When are we gonna go get dessert?"

Oooh! What desserts indeed!

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Images at War's End: Refugee & Marine Images from Col Waterhouse Collection & Marine Staff Photographs from Camp Pendleton Archives - Camp Pendleton

After making a quick breakfast of Feta Cheeseburgers to a wide-eyed oldest nephew who was excited at the prospect of anyone cooking for him, I headed off to Camp Pendleton, the reason why I went down to San Diego in the first place.

I had a later shift at work that day and had been meaning to check out the "Images at War's End: Refugee and Marine Images from the Col. Waterhouse Collection and Marine Staff Photographs from Camp Pendleton Archives" exhibit before it closes at the end of this month.

Images at War's End - Camp Pendleton 1

Camp Pendleton might not mean much to you unless you're military or Vietnamese-American, in which case, I suggest reading my post on Little Saigon and Vietnamese American history first to get you acquainted.

On April 28, 1975, General Paul Graham was told that Camp Pendleton was one of four military bases in the United States that would receive and house refugees from Vietnam. The other bases were Fort Chaffee, Arkansas; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; and Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. The refugees were then dispersed across the country, into every state and as many as 813 zip codes.

In 36 hours, the marines worked around the clock to build eight tent cities and to provide water, food, clothing, medicine, electricity, power, and security for the first 18,000 refugees. By October, Camp Pendleton had been home to more than 36,000 refugees.

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Chocolate Cambridge Cream


3 vanilla pods
200ml milk
375ml double cream
8 large egg yolks, preferably organic
70g caster sugar
1 heaped teaspoon cocoa powder
100g good-quality chocolate, bashed up finely
Extra sugar, for caramelizing


  1. Run a knife along the length of the vanilla pods, scraping out the seeds, and then chop up the pods. Put the seeds and pods in to a thick-bottomed pan with the milk and cream. Simmer slowly for 5 minutes for the flavor to infuse.
  2. In a bowl that will fit into the top of the pan, but not fall into the pan, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cocoa powder for a minute. Still slowly whisking, add the vanilla flavor milk and cream and keep whisking until well mixed.
  3. Add 2.5cm of hot water to the dirty pan bring to a simmer and put the bowl on top of the pan. Cook the custard slowly over the simmering water for 5 minutes, stirring often until it coats the back of the spoon.
  4. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a clean container. Discard the vanilla pods.
  5. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F).
  6. Put 4 ovenproof serving dishes in a high-sided roasting tray. Divide the chocolate between them and shake flat. Carefully divide the custard mix between the dishes; making sure the chocolate isn't disturbed. Fill the tray with water until it is halfway up the sides of the dishes.
  7. Cook in the preheated oven for around 30-45 minutes until slightly wobbly in the middle. Allow to cool, then sprinkle with some sugar, and caramelize with a blowtorch.

Chocolate Fridge Cake


150 g digestive biscuits
100 g pecans
100 g pistachio nuts
10 glace cherries
2 ready made meringue nests, crumbled into small pieces
150 g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
200 g good quality chocolate
Cocoa powder, for dusting


  1. Break the biscuits into small pieces directly into a large bowl. Add the pecans, pistachio nuts, cherries and bits of meringue. Put the rest of the ingredients, except the cocoa powder, into a bowl and put over a pan of simmering water on low heat to melt.
  2. Mix the ingredients together and place in the container which acts as your mold. To help with turning out, line a 30x20 cm container with cling film, first leaving plenty of extra film at the edges to fold over the top.
  3. Leave in the refrigerator to firm up then turn out and cut into chunky slices. This cake can be kept in an airtight container and actually improves after a couple of days.

Portuguese Chocolate Tarts


150 gram slab puff pastry
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons caster sugar (superfine sugar)
Pinch allspice
A couple pinches cinnamon
1 orange, zested

160ml double cream (heavy cream)
2 level tablespoons caster sugar
The smallest pinch salt
½ stick butter, softened
225g best-quality baking chocolate, broken up
50ml milk
Cocoa powder, for dusting


  1. Dust a surface with flour and roll out your pastry to a bit bigger than an 20x30cm sheet of paper. Brush with the egg yolk and scatter the rest of the ingredients over, being subtle with the allspice and cinnamon. Roll the pastry up tightly like a Swiss roll to make a long sausage shape. With a knife, cut across the sausage into 2.5cm pieces. Take 8 pieces aside, and freeze the rest of the pastry for a rainy day.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
  3. Turn all the pieces of pastry swirl-side up and flatten them slightly. Dust the surface of your pastry with flour, then roll each piece out into a thin circle (around the size of a teacup saucer). If you don't have proper pastry molds at home, grease and flour the outsides of 8 glass tumblers. Then, place a circle of pastry on top of each tumbler, pleating, pinching and hugging the pastry around them.
  4. Place the tumblers on a baking tray, pastry at the top, and put in the preheated oven until crisp and golden, around 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and, while still hot, take a tea towel and pat the slightly raised top of the pastry back down on to the flat bottom of the tumbler, giving you a flat base again. Allow to cool, and carefully remove the pastry cases from around the tumblers.
  5. To fill your pastry cases with the chocolate filling: Place the double cream, sugar, and pinch of salt in a pan and bring to the boil. As soon as the mixture has boiled, remove from the heat, and add the butter and chocolate. Stir until it has completely melted. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, stirring in the cold milk until smooth and shiny. Sometimes this mixture looks like it has split. Allow the mixture to cool down a bit more, and whisk in a little extra cold milk until smooth. Scrape all the mixture into the cooked pastry shells. Shake to even it out and allow to cool for around 1-2 hours, until it is at room temperature. Dust with the cocoa powder. Ultimately the pastry should be short and crisp and the filling should be smooth and should cut like butter.

Chocolate and Banana Mousse


250g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped into even-sized pieces
2 ripe bananas
2 eggs, separated
1 cup (250ml) cream
2 tbsp toasted flaked almonds


  1. Place four 1 cup (250ml) ramekins in the freezer to chill until needed. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then remove from the heat. Sit the bowl over the saucepan, making sure the base of the bowl does not sit in the water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted, then remove from the saucepan and keep stirring until the chocolate has cooled slightly but not set.
  2. Put the bananas in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher until they are smooth and lump free. Lightly beat the egg yolks, then add to the banana mixture. Stir in the melted chocolate and mix together well. Pour the cream into a bowl and beat with electric beaters or a whisk until soft peaks form, then fold into the chocolate and banana mixture.
  3. Using electric beaters, whisk the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form. Fold half the egg whites into the mousse with a metal spoon, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined.
  4. Spoon the mousse into the chilled ramekins and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with almonds and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Stinging Nettle Soup

Monday, September 26, 2011
Stinging Nettle Soup 1

I'm trying to be better about posting my seasonal recipes before the season disappears. And seeing stinging nettles growing in the wild at Latourell Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon reminded me that I needed to blog this recipe.

The first time I heard of stinging nettles was in Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, "The Wild Swans," about 11 brothers who turned into swans at night, and their sister who wove shirts out of nettles to remove the enchantment to change them back. Such devotion. Reading the story as a child, I could only imagine the sores and welts she suffered while weaving the stems into cloth. But actually experiencing the sting myself as an adult was enough to make me permanently wary of this plant. I brushed against a nettle once when I was in Scotland years ago and it caused my skin to sting, and itch, and swell with red dots.

Last month at the Farmers' Market - Alhambra, despite the conspicuous sign that said "Don't Touch," my masochism, or perhaps my insatiable curiosity, lured me toward the bunch of stinging nettles.

"If I can't touch, how will I prepare them for eating?"

"Good question," chuckled the farmer.

So I decided to err on the safe side and didn't purchase any that first week. The following week, the stinging nettles beckoned me forth again with their "Don't Touch" sign. Oh, alright, I reasoned. I'll simply use tongs and scissors and won't touch the nettles at all.

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Stinging Nettle Tea

Stinging Nettle Tea 1

After going through all that trouble of plucking stinging nettles, I wanted more than just one recipe out of it. So I set aside some of the leaves and brewed them to make tea.

Stinging nettle tea tasted like any other herbal tea, maybe with a slight vegetal taste. Not something I would crave unless I was in the mood for feeling healthy.

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On Zucchini Bread and the Summer After Graduation

Zucchini Bread 1

During my senior year of college, one of my friends finished her classes early so she just worked that spring until graduation. She lived in my apartment building and, with a little more time on her hands, spent an afternoon baking.

Would I like a flourless chocolate cake with raspberry coulis?

What about zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting?

Yes and yes!

Actually, my memory insists that she showed up at my door with a plate of three or four goodies, but I can't remember what the others were now. The zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting though? I kinda remember asking for an additional slice.

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Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum - Albuquerque - New Mexico

After lunch at Sadie's of New Mexico - Albuquerque, we headed to the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. Ha. Say that three times fast.

2 Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum - Albuquerque - New Mexico 1

I had originally wanted to visit the Turquoise Museum, but it was closed on Sundays. Man, we were just getting no luck that day. Nonetheless, the balloon museum was quite quirky and enjoyable, with plenty of hot air balloons and factoids.

After this visit, I totally want to make it back some day for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

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Shiprock - New Mexico

4 Shiprock - New Mexico 1

The first time I heard about Shiprock, the 27 million-year-old erosional core of an extinct volcano that the Navajo called Tse' Bit'a'i' or "winged rock," was in "Only You" by Elizabeth Lowell. Actually, upon rereading the book, she didn't specifically mention Shiprock, but rather that they traveled through an area with rock formations, one of which resembled a ship.

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Ted's Taco - Mancos - Colorado

7 Ted's Taco - Mancos - Colorado 1

For breakfast the next day, we took the Enchanted Mesa Motel owners' advice and headed to Ted's Taco, a stand located next to Log Cabin Liquor, for Navajo frybread.

Best. Frybread. Ever.

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Brown Rice Adai

After reading about all the benefits of brown rice lately, I picked a pack of brown rice during one of our weekly grocery shopping. As usual it was ignored in my kitchen. I have hoarded a lots of stuff similar to this - oat bran, wheat bran, steel cut oats, flax seed, flax seed meal, almond butter, chia seeds are some of them. I get all these healthy ingredients when I read all the health benefits, try them in any one recipe and then just hoard them. I was trying to clean my kitchen, fridge and freezer and I was just amazed to look at the huge list of ingredients I have stashed in there. In an attempt to finish up all those ingredients, I started with this brown rice adai. Any suggestions for dishes made with the above ingredients are welcome!!

The brown rice adai sure turned out delicious and it made a great weeknight meal. I soaked the pulses and rice in the afternoon and the adais were whipped up in a matter of minutes. I used sprouted moong dal which I had on hand. This can be replaced with regular moong dal or any other beans. There is no need to ferment the batter. The adai can be made immediately after grinding. I served them along with some onion chutney.

Brown rice - 1 cup
Toor dal - 1/2 cup
Sprouted moong - 1/2 cup
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Coriander leaves
Asafoetida/Hing - 1/2 teaspoon
Ginger - 1/2 inch
Dried red chillies - 2
Few curry leaves
Salt to taste

Soak the pulses and the brown rice together for atleast 2-3 hours.

Drain the water. Combine together all the ingredients in a blender and grind to a smooth batter. Add little water if required. the batter should be of pourable consistency.

To make the adai, heat a dosa pan, and add a ladle of batter in the center and then spread in circles with the help of the back of the ladle as you would make dosas.

Drizzle a teaspoon of oil. After a minute, flip the adai and allow the other side to cook. Remove from the pan and serve the crispy adais with a chutney of your choice.

Sending this to WWC Brown rice for Dinner hosted by Siri.

Superfood Smoothie - A perfect quick breakfast!

No time for breakfast?

Even if you are rushed in the morning to get to work or school, you still got time to refuel yourselves and break your fast with this quick smoothie. Breakfast eaters think and perform better. if you are someone who does not have time for breakfast, or are just lazy to make a hearty breakfast, go for this smoothie. It has the heartiness of acai berry juice which is called a superfood, bananas, oatmeal, antioxidant rich berries and yogurt.

The recipe for this smoothie is very forgiving. I picked up the acai berry juice at Costco and found this recipe in the bottle. The juice can be replaced with any other fruit juices like orange juice, apple juice etc. Any type of berries - blueberries, strawberries, raspberries can be added. I just added low fat strawberry yogurt since that is what I had in hand. It can be substituted with any greek yogurt or just plain buttermilk.

It does not take more than two minutes to make this super healthy smoothie. Just add all ingredients in your blender. Give a few pulses, pour into a tall glass and enjoy!

Ingredients (Makes 2 servings)
Acai berry juice - 1 cup
Frozen berries - 1/2 cup
Banana - 1
Any yogurt variety - 1/2 cup
Flax seeds - 1 tablespoon
Quick cooking oats - 1 cup

Add all the above ingredients in the blender. If not using frozen berries, you could add a couple of ice cubes if you like your smoothie to be cold. Pulse for about 30 seconds. If you find the smoothie very thick, add a little water.

Pour into a glass and enjoy a hearty and filling breakfast!

Sending this chilled smoothie to Fun n Sun event

Eggless banana walnut muffin and a product review

Bananas and walnuts make a great combination. They taste great when baked together. I always look out for quick bread recipes to have along with our evening tea and this recipe from Raks definitely suited my needs. It tasted delicious and it is eggless! The muffins turned out soft and moist with a bite and crunch from the walnuts.

I received a pack of Xylitol for a product review and I substituted xylitol instead of sugar in the recipe and we loved the taste. We definitely did not miss the sugar. Dont get fooled by the name Xylitol. It is NOT a chemical based sweetener. It is a 100% natural sweetener. It is an all natural sugarless sweetener from birch trees. It has the same sweetness and consistency as sugar. However it has 40% fewer calories, 75% fewer carbs, and is safe for diabetics. It is a perfect alternative to artificial sweeteners while avoiding regular sugar as well.

Now on to the recipe..

Banana - 2 ripe ones
Maida/All purpose flour - 3/4 cup
Walnut - 1/4 cup chopped
Xyitol or Sugar - 1/2 cup
Oil - 1/4 cup
Baking soda - 1/2 teaspoon
Baking powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Vanilla essence - 1/2 teaspoon

  • Preheat oven to 375 degree F.
  • Peel and mash the bananas well into a smooth paste. Add all the oil, vanilla essence and the xylitol/sugar and mix well.
  • In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda and baking powder.
  • Slowly add in the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix just until blended. Do not overmix, this might make the muffins hard and dense.
  • Add the walnuts and stir them in to the batter.
  • Line the muffin pan with muffin liners and grease them with non-stick spray if desired.
  • Pour the batter to 3/4th the level. The batter rises and yields a good muffin top. Top off with a few walnut pieces.
  • Bake at 350 degree F for about 28 to 30 minutes.
  • Serve warm with butter or just by itself! Also makes a quick breakfast!
Sending this to Show me Your Muffin hosted here at Dil Se..

Desi Omelette

Anyone who has travelled by trains in India, must have come across this omelette made with onions and tastes great even if it is not that warm. they are great during trips and picnics. They taste great all by themselves or wrapped between toast and served as a sandwich. Makes a filling and nutritious breakfast or even as a quick snack. The omelette can be tweaked several ways by adding your favorite veggies, herbs and cheese. I kept it simple this time and just added onions and green chillies. This is exactly not a recipe and the quantities if the ingredients can be varied according to ones likings.

Ingredients (serves 1)
Eggs - 2
Milk - 1 teaspoon
Onion - 3 tablespoons finely chopped
Green chilly - 1 finely sliced
Butter/oil - 1 teaspoon
Salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, break the eggs and add the milk. Using a whisk or a fork, beat the eggs and milk until it turns frothy.

Heat a skillet, add the butter or drizzle some oil.

Add the chopped onions and green chillies. Saute for a minute until it turns soft. Spread the onion-chilli mixture evenly on the skillet.

 Now pour the egg-milk mixture into the skillet. Take the skillet in your hand and give a quick swirl, so that the egg forms a nice round omelette.

Cook for about a minute and flip the omelette using a spatula. Cook the other side for one more minute and season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm. if you are planning to pack this for a picnic, wrap the omelette immediately using aluminum foil and serve with some bread as a sandwich. You could also spice up the omelette sandwich with some ketchup or hot sauce.

Variations: Various vegetables like mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, bell peppers, tomatoes, chopped ginger, chopped cilantro, dill, thyme, oregano, grated cheese etc.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#6

Also sending this to Quick and Easy Recipe Mela.

Cucumber Sandwich with basil-mint-cilantro chutney

Picnic food would be incomplete without sandwiches. And cold sandwiches to cool you down would be the best. This sandwich is made with cucumbers and smeared with some cream cheese and basil-coriander-mint chutney. It is very simple to make and can be made ahead and left to chill in the refrigerator till you enjoy them. Make these sandwiches along with other delicious and simple to make picnic food like desi omelet, kale chips, 10 minute banana bread, marble cake, falafel-pita sandwich and wash them all down with this gorgeous blueberry lemonade.

For the blogging marathon, I was paired with Harini and I had to make something from her blog based on the picnic theme. I chose this basil-mint-cilantro chutney and made simple cucumber sandwiches with the chutney. The chutney paired the cucumbers really well and made a great evening snack. This can also be packed as lunches for kids. I made the chutney with my homegrown basil and cilantro harvested fresh from my garden!

Ingredients for the Chutney
Recipe Source: Tamalapaku

Basil - 1 cup
Mint - 1/2 cup
Cilantro/Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup
Tamarind paste - 1 teaspoon
Green chillies - 2
Oil - 1 teaspoon
For the seasoning - Mustard seeds(1 tspn), urad dal(1 tspn), channa dal(1 tspn), red chillies(1), hing(1 pinch)
Salt to taste

In a small pan heat the oil and do the seasoning with the mustard seeds, urad dal, channa dal, red chillies and hing. Once the dal turns brown in color, add the basil, cilantro and mint. Saute for a minute until the leaves wilt.

Allow it to cool and blend it together with the tamarind paste, green chillies and salt without adding any water.

To assemble the sandwiches
Cut the edges of the bread and slice them into triangles. Smear some cream cheese/butter on both sides, followed by 1/2 a teaspoon of the prepared chutney on each slice. Place 3 or 4 sliced cucumber rounds and place another slice of bread on top to make a sandwich.
Sending these sandwiches to Sandwich Mela and to the Giveaway by Ruchika Cooks

Phad Thai

(Stir-fried Rice Noodles)

Serves 4


250g dried thick rice stick noodles
2 tbsp oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp chopped red chilli
200g chicken thigh fillets, thinly sliced
100g raw prawn meat, roughly chopped
100g fried tofu, cut into thin strips
75g garlic chives, chopped
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp soft brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup (90g) bean sprouts
¼ cup (40g) roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped

  1. Soak the rice stick noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes, or until they are soft. Drain and set aside.Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, red chilli and chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the prawn meat and stir-fry for another 3 minutes. Toss the tofu, garlic chives and rice sticks into the wok, cover and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and eggs to the wok and toss well with tongs or 2 wooden spoons until the egg is set. Divide the noodles among 4 serving bowls, sprinkle with the bean sprouts and peanuts and serve immediately.

Tom Kha Gai

(Chicken and Coconut Soup)

Serves 4


2 cups (500ml) coconut milk
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
5cm piece of fresh galangal, peeled and sliced
3 chicken breast fillets, cut into bite-size pieces
1-2 tsp finely chopped red chillies
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp soft brown sugar
½ cup (15g) fresh coriander leaves
fresh coriander leaves, to garnish


  1. Combine the coconut milk, stock and galangal in a pan, bring to the boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and chilli to the pan and simmer for 8 minutes.
  3. Stir in the fish sauce and brown sugar. Add the coriander leaves and serve the soup immediately, garnished with the remaining coriander leaves.

Tod Man Pla

(Thai Fish Cakes)

Serves 4-6


500g firm white fish fillets
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
1 tbsp chopped fresh Asian basil
2 tbsp red curry paste
100g green beans, very finely sliced
2 sprong onions, finely chopped
oil, for shallow-frying

Cucumber Dipping Sauce:
1 Lebanese cucumber, finely chopped
3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander


  1. Place the fish in a food processor and process for 20 seconds, or until smooth. Add the lime leaves, basil and curry paste and process for 10 seconds.
  2. Transfer the fish mixture to a large bowl, add the green beans and spring onion and mix well. Using wet hands, form two rounded tablespoons of the mixture at a time into flattish patties.
  3. To make the cucumber dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook 4 fish cakes at a time until they are golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Thai-style Snapper with a Sweet Chilli Glaze

Serves 4-6


2 whole snapper (about 1kg each)
1 stalk lemon grass, bruised with the side of a knife
6 kaffir lime leaves, torn roughly in half
¼ bunch (25g) fresh coriander, roots removed
peanut oil, for deep-frying

½ cup (125ml) fish sauce
juice of 2 limes

Sweet Chilli Glaze:
1 tsp shrimp paste
1 cup (180g) grated palm sugar
1 stalk lemon grass, bruised with the side of a knife
5cm piece galangal, cut in half
4 small red chillies, finely sliced
finely grated rind and juice of 2 limes


  1. Wash the fish and pat dry with paper towels, including inside the cavities. Fill the cavity of the first fish with half the lemon grass, lime leaves and coriander. Repeat with the second fish and secure both cavities with a skewer.
  2. To make the marinade, combine the fish sauce and lime juice, pour over the fish and marinate for about 2 hours, turning the fish after an hour. Drain and pat dry.
  3. To make the sweet chilli glaze, roast the shrimp paste by frying in a little oil or wrapping in aluminium foil and grilling for 2 minutes each side. Place in a pan and add the sugar, lemon grass, galangal, red chilli, lime rind and juice and ¾ cup (185ml) water. Heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove the galangal and lemon grass and keep the syrup warm.
  4. Heat the oil in a wok or deep-fryer. Fry each fish for 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden.
  5. Drizzle the fish with the glaze and serve.

Thai Beef Salad

Serves 4


500g sirloin steak
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp olive oil
125g thin egg noodles
125g green beans, trimmed and blanched
½ English cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced
3 small red chilli peppers, seeded and sliced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp fresh mint leaves
1 cup (125g) fresh bean sprouts or mung beans, rinsed
1 cup (125g) unsalted roasted peanuts

2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar


  • Place steak in glass or ceramic bowl. Combine soy sauce, garlic and rice wine, pour over steak and turn to coat with marinade. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes. Drain steak and pat dry with paper towels.
  • In a frying pan over high heat, warm oil. When hot, add steak and cook until light brown on outside and rare on inside, about 2 minutes on each side. Allow steak to cool, then thinly slice across grain and set aside.
  • Cook noodles as directed on package. Drain and allow to cool.
  • In bowl, combine steak, noodles, green beans, cucumber, chilli peppers, cilantro, mint, bean sprouts ot mung beans and peanuts.
  • To make dressing, place lime juice, fish sauce, garlic and palm or brown sugar into jar with screw top. Shake well and set aside.
  • Add dressing to salad, toss gently and serve.

Thai Basil Chicken

Serves 4


150g cellophane noodles or rice vermicelli
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp scallions, finely chopped
500g skinless chicken breast fillets, sliced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small red chilli pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red capsicum, seeded and sliced
1 red onion, sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp water
2 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
½ cup (15g) freah basil leaves


  • Soak noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes; drain. In bowl, combine fish sauce, rice wine, 2 cloves garlic and scallions. Add chicken and stir to coat with marinade. Cover and allow to marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour. Drain.
  • In wok or frying pan over medium-high heat, warm oil. Add remaining 3 cloves garlic and chilli pepper. Cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add chicken and cook until tender, 4-5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stir in capsicum, onion, noodles, soy sauce, water and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles are heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil.
  • Spoon into individual bowls and serve immediately.

Malay Chicken Rice


1 (1.25kg) chicken
2-3 fragrant screwpine leaves, tie into knot
1 pc (size of walnut) ginger, bruise
1 tsp salt
sufficient water to cover chicken

For rubbing on cooked chicken:
2 cloves garlic, grind fine
1 pc (size of walnut) ginger, grind fine
Add 1 tsp turmeric powder to above paste
salt to taste
1½ tsp honey

For garnishing:
lettuce leaves
slices of cucumber and tomato
fried shallot

For rice:
500g rice, wash and drain
2 shallots, chop fine
2 cloves garlic, chop fine
1½ tbsp sesame oil
2 fragrant screwpine leaves, tie into knot

For soup:
chicken stock
chicken feet and gizzard
1 stalk Chinese celery, chop
2 stalks spring onion, chop
salt to taste
fried shallots, for garnishing

For chilli sauce:
15 dried chillies, soak
10 red chillies
2 cloves garlic
½ cup water
Put the above chillies, garlic and water in liquidiser and grind fine
½ cup water
2 tbsp brown sugar
salt to taste
juice of 3 limes


Cooking chicken:
Put water, salt, screwpine leaves and ginger in a deep pot and bring to the boil. When boiling, add chicken and boil for 10 minutes. Remove chicken and put on dish.
Keep stock aside for cooking rice and for soup.
Rub ginger-garlic paste and salt over chicken while still hot.
Next, rub honey over it.
Heat oil for deep frying in wok. Add chicken and reduce heat to medium. Fry till brown.

Cooking rice:
Heat oil, add chopped shallots and garlic. When fragrant, add rice. Fry for 5 minutes, coating the rice grains with oil. Put rice into pot, add 2½ cups chicken stock and cook.

Cooking soup:
Re-boil left over chicken stock with chicken feet and gizzard. When boiling, add celery and spring onion. Add seasoning. Before serving, remove chicken feet and gizzard and garnish with chopped shallots.

Cooking chilli sauce:
Put ground ingredients in saucepan, add water, brown sugar and salt. Cook till thick. Remove from heat and add lime juice.

To serve:
Chop chicken into pieces. Arrange on a bed of lettuce. Garnish with cucumber and tomato slices.
Sprinkle fried shallot over rice. Serve individual bowls of soup.

Korean Beef Rolls

Serves 4


vegetable oil for deep-frying, plus 1 tbsp
105g cellophane noodles or rice vermicelli
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 small red chilli pepper, seeded and chopped
375g lean ground beef
¼ cup (30g) chopped scallions
2 tsp Asian sesame oil
150g firm tofu, finely chopped
12 butter lettuce leaves, trimmed
12 scallions, blanched (optional)
Thai sweet chilli sauce for serving


  • Heat vegetable oil in wok or frying pan until it reaches 190°C (375°F) on deep-frying thermometer or until small bread cube dropped in oil sizzles and turns golden. Working in small batches, add noodles and fry until crisp, about 30 seconds. Using slotted spoon, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  • In wok or frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Add garlic, ginger and chilli pepper and stir-fry until aromatic, approximately 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook, stirring, until meat changes colour, 3-4 minutes. Stir in chopped scallions, sesame oil and tofu and cook 1 minute.
  • Place lettuce leaf on wok surface. Spoon small amount of crisp noodles and beef mixture on leaf. Roll up; tie with blanched scallion if desired. Repeat with remaining lettuce leaves.
  • Divide rolls among individual plates, placing them seam side down, and accompany with Thai sweet chilli sauce. The ingredients can be served in separate bowls, and guest can assemble their own rolls.

Nasi Goreng Cina

Serves 4


2 cups (300g) rice, washed, drained & cooked
3 tbsp oil
10 shallots, sliced
180g chicken, sliced thinly
60g ham, sliced in strips
125g green peas
- 1 tsp chilli sauce
- 5 dsp light soya sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato sauce
salt & pepper to taste
60g spring onions, sliced
2 eggs, made into omelette, rolled & shredded


  1. Loosen rice grains with a fork. Keep aside.
  2. Heat oil and fry shallots till golden brown. Add the meats, stirrring 2 minutes on high heat. Reduce heat. Add sauce mixture, rice and peas. Mix well. Season to taste. Continue stirring till well fried.
  3. Remove from heat. Garnish with remaining ingredients and serve hot.

Monthly Mingle - Scintillating Salads

Friday, September 2, 2011
This is a Monthly Mingle and I invite you all to take part in this mingle by sending in your salad entries. Yes! The theme for this mingle is Scintillating Salads!

Salads are versatile and makes a great start to any meal - incorporating all the goodness and freshness from the freshest ingredients available on the planet. Salads can be served as any part of the meal - appetizer salads, side salads, main course salads, dessert salads etc.

Salad is any of a wide variety of dishes including vegetable salads; salads of legumes, grains, pasta; mixed salads incorporating meat, poultry, seafood; and fruit salads. Green salads include leaf lettuce and leafy vegetables with a sauce and dressing. Other salads are based on pasta, noodles or gelatin. Most salads are traditionally served cold, although some, such as south German potato salad, are served warm.

With umpteen number of options and varieties of salads available, adorn your thinking hats and blog about your favorite salad and send it to the mingle this month!

Here are a few guidelines for the event:
  1. Create a dish that fits the "Scintillating Salads" theme.
  2. Post about it in your blog from now until September 30, 2011 (entries must be in English)
  3. Your creation should be prepared for the current Monthly Mingle theme and shared with a maximum of 2 other blog events.
  4. Please provide a link to this post and the official Monthly Mingle page.
  5. Once you have posted the dish, please send the following details to divyablogs[AT]gmail.com on or before September 30, 2011.
Now, go start tossing your favorite salads!! Here are some salad ideas!

Lemony Little Hearts Biscuits

Little Hearts biscuit was my favorite..I saw this recipe in a cookbook I borrowed from my local library..These biscuits are flaky and crispy,sweety as well as salty..The biscuits I made were not very similar to the little heart biscuits yet they tasted too good..This recipe is a keeper and I will be making this again..It is too simple and takes a matter of minutes to make these when you have puff pastry in hand.The photos were taken in a hurry so they are not too good..So bear with me.

Here is the recipe.
Puff pastry - 2 sheets
Sugar - 3 tablespoons
Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
Cinnamon powder - 2 teaspoons
Lemon zest - 2 teaspoons
Thaw the puf pastry according to the manufacturers directions..
Mix the sugar,cinnamon powder and lemn zest together in a bowl and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the puff pastry..With the help of a rolling pin press the mixture onto the pastry and roll it out a little..

Now start from the longer end of the pastry,roll it towards the centre until you reach the middle.Do the same from the other side..Now cut the pastry perpendicularly into small strips of about 1/2 inch thick..Rol it again in the sugar mixture.
Place them in baking sheets and bake for about 7 to 9 minutes until they start turning brown.Take care not to burn them because they burn too quickly..
Store them in airtight containers(if at all anything is leftover!)
Am sending this to AFAM: Lemon and also to Sunday Snacks:Bake it

Burger Buns

I love burgers and I have tried making burger patties at home..This was the first time I tried my hand in making the burger buns at home..They were too easy to make and we had it as a burger and also with jam..They came out soft and fluffy..Here is the recipe..

Ingredients (Makes 9 tp 10 buns)
1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110degreeF)
2 envelopes  Active Dry Yeast or 4 teaspoons
3/4 cup warm milk (100 to 110degree F)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1-1/2 tablespoons Minced Onions (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
4-3/4 to 5-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
Minced Onions or Poppy Seed, optional
Dissolve the yeast in warm water..Add warm milk, sugar, butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons minced onions (if desired), salt, and 2 cups flour and mix well..Stir in 2 eggs and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled..
Punch dough down. Remove dough to lightly floured surface; divide into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into smooth ball. Place on large greased baking sheet. Flatten balls to 4-inch rounds; cover. Let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 20 to 40 minutes..

Lightly beat remaining egg; brush on rolls. If desired, sprinkle with minced onions or poppy seed. Bake at 400oF for 10 to 15 minutes or until done. Remove from baking sheet; let cool on wire rack.

Sending this to Bread Baking Day #12 Small breads hosted by Aparna..

Check out my recipe for bean Burger patties

Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter and Life This Week: August 22, 1938

Thursday, September 1, 2011
Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter, Perfect Steamed Broccoli, Carottes étuvées au beurre
Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter is served on a bed of buttered rice with Perfect Steamed Broccoli and
Carottes étuvées au beurre.*

This salmon dish is quick, simple and tasty.  The only advanced preparation required is to make the lemon-dill butter, which comes together in no time and freezes firm in about 20 minutes.  You'll want to check your salmon a couple of minutes early, just to make sure it doesn't overcook.  Few things are worse than overcooked fish!  Serve salmon on a bed of buttered rice.

One last thing--this recipe makes enough butter for 8 people.  Just keep the leftovers in the freezer for a quick salmon dinner whenever you want!

Salmon With Lemon-Dill Butter

Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter
Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter on buttered rice with chilled Chardonnay and a green salad with Walnut Vinaigrette--it's best made with sea salt

TV Dinner (Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter)
We ate this meal while watching Gunga Din last night on TCM!

Edited 8/25/11: This post is now linked to Fat Tuesday Forager Festival at Real Food Forager.


Fred Astaire - Ginger Rogers - Life Magazine 1938
"Astaire and Rogers Do the Yam"

Since we really ate salmon while watching Gunga Din, I suppose that's the real movie tie-in, but the movie in Life this week is the Astaire-Rogers flick Carefree. I tried desperately to somehow connect my Scottish salmon to Carefree. Here goes: psychoanalyst Astaire gets his patient (Ginger Rogers) to eat an awful lot of seafood in an attempt to induce dreaming. And, Astaire dances and drives (golf balls, that is) to Irving Berlin's "Since They Turned 'Loch Lomond' Into Swing."

Carefree is the Astaire-Rogers film that doesn't really fit in with the others. First off, it's the only one that doesn't take place in the realm of showbiz. Yes, Ginger Rogers plays Amanda Cooper, a radio personality, but Fred Astaire plays a doctor, Tony Flagg. Secondly, it's Amanda who chases Tony in this film. Thirdly, Carefree comes off more as a screwball comedy (it even co-stars Ralph Bellamy) than a musical. It's rather an oddball in the Astaire-Rogers canon, but it's fun to watch nevertheless. Plus, it has a lot of scenes in a very "1930s Connecticut"-style country club. I love all the stone walls and big fireplaces.  Lower your expectations slightly: Carefree doesn't quite stand up to the earlier Astaire-Rogers films (although I definitely prefer it to The Barkleys of Broadway) or to the other RKO screwball comedies (like Bringing Up Baby, released earlier the same year).  However, it's better than most of the films that have come out in the last few years (in my humble opinion!) and you should be able to rent it, which is cheaper than going out to see a movie.  Win-win!

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers in "Carefree", 1938
Dancing the Yam at the country club

Carefree-The Yam-Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers
More Yam-dancing

*I've used the recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

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