RASPBERRY MUFFINS

This is pretty easy to make. You can either use fresh or frozen berries. If you are using frozen berries, do not thaw them.   Take them out when needed.  If you are using fresh berries, try not to rinse them if they are not overly dirty (usually they are not) because raspberries are fragile and bruise easily.  Instead, use a brush (a clean watercolor paint brush will do) and brush off any traces of dirt and they are ready.  Before you start mixing your batter,  place 12 paper cups in your muffin tray.

raspberry

INGREDIENTS   (for 12 full big muffins)

250-gram butter softened

200-gram sugar

250-gram flour

2½  teaspoon baking powder, combine flour

4 eggs

About  1.5 dl (150ml) fresh milk

METHOD

1) Turn on your oven to 180C degrees.

2)    Beat butter and sugar until white. If you have a machine, use it for a faster and easier job. If you do not have a machine, beat with a hand whisk until white. This will take some time.

3)     Add eggs one at a time. After adding all 4 eggs don’t whisk anymore.

4)     Next, add half of the flour into batter. Whisk quickly.  Next step, add all the milk, whisk and finally rest of the flour.  Do not be attempted to beat further as this will produce tough muffins.

5)     Spoon the batter into the paper cups until ¾ cup full.

6)     Take your raspberries out from the fridge or freezer and sprinkle them all over your muffins.

7)     Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The baking time should be a guide only. You need to test the muffins a few minutes before the end of the baking time. Insert a bamboo skewer (those thin ones meant for BBQ are good)and check that no wet crumbs are clinging onto the skewer. When the skewer finally comes out clean, take the muffin tray out immediately. You may let them stay in the tray for 10 minutes before taking them out gently to rest on the cooling rack.

PUMPKIN AND RAISIN MUFFIN

This is a delicious muffin and the color is superb.  I love muffins best after they come out from the oven. If you are not eating them yet, please store them in an airtight container.  From my experience, the muffins are still good when they are stored in Tupperware and left at room temperature for up to 3 days in cold countries in Europe. In Asia, they can be stored in airtight container and left overnight at room temperature but not for another day. They should then go into the refrigerator but then, they will not taste as good due to a change in texture.

INGREDIENTS (for 6 big muffins)

  • 125-gram butter softened at room temperature
  • 125-gram sugar
  • 125-gram flour
  • 1 ½  teaspoon baking powder.  Mix this into flour.
  • 2 eggs
  • 60ml milk
  • 50 gram of very finely grated pumpkin
  • Sunflower seeds or sliced almond nuts

METHOD

  • Beat butter and sugar until white.
  • Add eggs one at a time. Stop whisking after adding all the eggs.
  • Add half the flour into butter, sugar and egg mixture. Give it a quick mix.
  • Add milk into the batter, whisk, then rest of flour. Another quick mix.
  • Add the grated pumpkin. Combine well.
  • Spoon into your muffin cups at ¾ full.
  • Scatter raisins over the top. It is up to you how much raisins you want in the muffins.
  • If you like, sprinkle sunflower seeds or sliced almond on top of raisins.
  • Bake at 175 to 180 Celsius degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • At 25 mins, test the muffins by inserting a wooden skewer in the middle. It should come out clean. If it doesn’t, continue baking and keep testing.

PASTA WITH SALMON IN TOMATO SAUCE

I have used pasta made from durum wheat semolina with squid ink. The squid ink is why it’s black. I use the brand Cara Nonna from Italy. Not only does this wonderful black pasta looks good, it is also smooth and tastes as good as it looks. If you cannot find black pasta, use spaghetti instead. Just remember that you should not overcook pasta.

Unlike beef or pork, fish does not offer much taste on its own.  This recipe is for those who love a rich tomato texture.

INGREDIENTS (2 to 3 persons)

  • 300g fresh salmon, pick the bones up if any
  • 4 pips garlic, chopped
  • 1 big onion, sliced
  • 2 fresh red tomatoes, cut into boats.
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes, about 400g to 450g
  • 150g button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 Tsp thyme and ½ Tsp basil
  • A few sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper

METHOD

  • Dice salmon into bite size.
  • In a pan, heat 1 tbsp cooking oil and 1 tbsp butter. Place garlic and onion into pan.
  • Sweat garlic and onion for approx. 1 min or until softened.
  • Add mushrooms, thyme, basil and pepper. Then add fresh tomatoes.
  • Saute for about 1 min, then pour the can of tomatoes into pan.
  • Let it boil. Season to taste with salt.

FOR THE PASTA

  • 120 to 150 gram pasta for 2 to 3 persons
  • After your sauce has been made and when you are ready to eat, boil pasta in hot water until cooked. Pasta is best boiled until al dente stage. That means the pasta is not too soft and you should be able to feel the firmness when you eat them. Keep testing during the last stage of cooking.
  • To serve, ladle the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with chopped parsley. The parsley not only makes the dish looks beautiful , it also lends a great taste to the dish.  Sometimes, when I run out of parsley, I use spring onion instead!

ACAR NYONYA

When I was a young girl, my grandmother used to make a special salad which is famously known as acar in Malaysia.  It is pickled vegetables mixed into a spicy peanut dressing.  The taste is hot, sweet and sour at the same time. Best eaten cold, it keeps several days in the refrigerator. My gran is no longer here and I have searched a long time for a recipe that taste similar to hers. Below is one recipe that come close. It is called the acar Nyonya. A lot of recipes called for vegetables to be dried under the sun for crunchiness but I found that they are still crunchy even though I did not run them.

acharnyonya

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise, run a knife along the centers and cut away the soft flesh of seedlings. When you have done that, cut each quarter into halves lengthwise and then into 4cm strips.
  • Half a cabbage. Wash and cut into rectangular squares, about 3cm x 2 cm
  • 1 carrot, sliced into 8 parts lengthwise, then cut into 4cm strips
  • A bunch of  french beans, cut into 4cm long strips
  • 2 or 3 red chilies, seeded and cut into rings
  • 100 grams roasted peanuts, pounded until sandy
  • 50g dried prawns, soaked and chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds

STEP 1  (for vegetables)

  • Make the cucumber crunchy by rubbing cucumber quarters with 1 tbsp salt. Leave in the fridge for about an hour.  Then squeeze out excess liquid.
  • While the cucumber is in the fridge, pound the roasted peanuts until they are sandy.  These are to be sprinkled on the car.
  • Boil water with salt.  Blanch the cabbage for 15 seconds then picks them up with a tong. Lightly squeeze out excess water.
  • Using the same pot of hot water, next blanch the carrots and French beans for 20 seconds. We want the veggies to retain a crunch, not soggy.   Drain. Store in the refrigerator until further use.

STEP 2  (for grinding)

You might want to use a food processor or a grinder to do this job.

    • 5 dried chilies
    • 5 fresh red chilies
    • 1 big French onion
    •  3 or 4 cloves garlic
    • 2cm fresh turmeric root (kunyit)  (if you do not have fresh turmeric root, replace with 2 tsp turmeric  powder)
    • 1 x 1-inch galangal
    • 1 x 1-inch toasted shrimp paste (belacan), roasted
    • 3 candlenuts (if you cannot find candlenut, replace with 3 almonds)
    • 1 stalk lemon grass

    STEP 3

    • Mix together 100ml white wine vinegar and 100ml water
    • Heat oil in a wok and fry the finely chopped dried prawns and grounded ingredients until fragrant.  Do this for a couple of minutes.  You will see a nice red paste forming.
    • Stir in 2 tbsp sugar and 1 Tsp salt.
    • Next, pour in the vinegar and water. Bring to a boil, the mixtures should be thick and not runny. Season to taste.
    • If you like it sourer, squeeze in lime juice.  Leave to cool completely before mixing with the vegetables.  Before serving, mix in peanuts and sesame seeds

PASTA WITH CHICKEN ALA CARBONARA

Ingredients (for 2 persons)

  • 150gram of your favorite dried pasta
  • 150g chicken fillet, chopped bite sized
  • 1 tbsp oil and a 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 3  pips garlic, finely chopped
  • Half an onion, chopped
  • Chopped handful of parsley and spring onion
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 50g parmesan cheese,  finely grated
  • Salt and  ground black pepper

Pasta-Chicken-Carbonara

METHOD

  1. Bring water to the boil in a large pot. Add a teaspoon of rough salt.
  2. When water is boiled, add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Al dente is the stage of doneness whereby your pasta feels firm to the break, with your fingers.  The consistency is tender but still firm to the bite. It shouldn’t be hard and should not be mushy either.
  3. When the pasta has reached al dente, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  4. Heat a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat, add the oil, butter, chopped garlic and onion and the chopped fillet. Saute until chicken is cooked. Add salt and pepper.
  5. Next, return the pasta to the pan and stir very thoroughly so that it is well heated. You may add a little water to lubricate the pasta if it appears to be dry.
  6. Take the pan off the heat.
  7. Lastly and very importantly, add the beaten eggs into the hot pasta, swiftly tossing everything to mix. Do not worry about raw eggs as the hot pasta will automatically warm the eggs into a creamy consistency.
  8. Garnish with the chopped parsley and spring onion. Serve immediately.

CHILLI CON CARNE

Chilli Con Carne is a classic dish but over time, different variations have surfaced. I think it’s great that people try to be creative.  There really is no right or wrong in cooking so long as you enjoy eating what you’ve cooked. Normally, chilli con Carne is cooked with kidney beans but personally, I like a softer been and what could be better than baked beans? So I opted to write this recipe with baked beans.

For me, the chocolate at the end of cooking is important.  I have made Chilli Con Carne with and without chocolate and clearly, the version with chocolate made a difference. Serve your Chilli Con Carne with cooked basmati rice or cous cous. Chopped onion and garlic.

Chilli-Con-Carne

Ingredients for 3 persons
  • 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter
  • Half of one big onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 pips garlic, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into squares (about ½ inch x ½ inch)
  • 6 or 7 fresh button mushrooms sliced thinly
  • 300-gram minced beef
  • 1 can of baked beans (about 200 grams)
  • About a pea-size of crushed stock cube – to enhance the flavour of the dish
  • 1  can of chopped tomato, about 440 gram
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 or 2 red chillies, thinly sliced (if you like a hotter meal, then add more chilli to taste)
  • ½  Tsp ground cumin
  • ½  Tsp ground coriander
  • ½ Tsp oregano
  • 1-inch stick of cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • about 20 gm dark chocolate
Method

Always measure and get all ingredients ready before cooking.

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a wok or a deep pan. Fry the onion and garlic until softened (but not browned).
  2. Lower heat. Add cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon and chilli. Quick sauté (about 15 to 20 seconds). Your pan will smell good now.
  3. Add the mince meat, turn the heat up and cook quickly until cooked and breaking down any chunks of meat with a wooden spoon. Then add salt, the mushrooms and bell pepper.
  4. Add the can of chopped tomatoes, stirring frequently.
  5. Crush the stock cube in and boil for 2-3 minutes. Do not put the lid on.
  6. Season well with salt and pepper.
  7. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add the beans.  Lastly, add tomato paste and stir.
  9. Cook for a further 5 minutes, uncovered, before removing from the heat, adding any extra seasoning if necessary.
  10. While the stew is still warm, drop the chocolate in to dissolve.  The chocolate is to enhance the flavour, do not overpower the dish with more chocolate than you need!! We are not making a chocolate sauce.
  11.  Serving method – rice or cous cous spooned onto the plate first then pile the chilli con carne on top.
  12. Garnish with chopped parsley.

CHINESE COLD NOODLE SALAD

A friend from who’s from Xian, China introduced me to this salad.  I have made an alteration to her recipe. I added a few more ingredients namely the meat and some salad leaves.  Instead of using Chinese black vinegar which gives the salad its primary taste and sharpness, I have chosen to use green limes. They are just as good and have not the aroma of the Chinese black vinegar, which for most,  is an acquired taste.  I have made this salad for both my Danish and Asian friends and they love it.  I am convinced that this salad goes well with most people.

Chinese-cold-noodle

INGREDIENTS FOR DRESSING (2 to 4 people)

  • About 2 x 2 inches of ginger, sliced very thinly
  • 5 or 6 pips garlic
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 2 tbps soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 red chilli, chopped finely
  • A handful of Chinese coriander leaves, chopped finely. You may omit this if you do not like the smell

METHOD

  • With 1 tbsp of cooking oil, sweat  ginger/garlic lightly for about 1 minute in a pan.  Pour into a bowl and add all the other ingredients and mix well.  That’s your dressing.

INGREDIENTS FOR SALAD

  • 200 gram of noodles cooked in hot water with some oil in. When noodles are cooked, blanch immediately in cold water.  Please do not overcook noodles as we do not want soggy noodles.  While the noodles are being cooked, always test by pinching with your fingers. You may use egg noodles, spinach noodles or thick flat rice noodles.
  • 1 big carrot, thinly shredded
  • About a handful of julienned celery, rinse with hot water but do it quickly to retain crispness
  • 200 grams bean sprouts, cleaned and tails picked then rinsed quickly with hot water
  • 2 or 3 stalks of spring onion, cut very thinly lengthwise about 2 inches (4 or 5 cm)
  • A handful of salad leaves, you may use romaine or iceberg. Use your hands to shred the leaves.
  • About 300 gram prime rump steak, rub with salt and pepper. Heat up your pan with half oil and half butter, seared the steak about half a minute on each side. It should achieve a cooked outer layer and pink in the middle. However, if you want a well done steak, please go ahead and seared for a longer time until done.  Slice paper thin, if you can.

OR

  • About 200 to 300 gram of bite size chicken fillet.  Marinate with teriyaki sauce for at least an hour, then saute them with oil.

TO ASSEMBLE THE SALAD

  • Place the salad leaves at the bottom.
  • Next, place noodles on top of salad leaves.
  • Next come carrot, celery, bean sprout and spring onion.
  • Top with meat.
  • Only pour the dressing on when you want to eat.
  • Everybody should participate in mixing the salad with their chopsticks.

BISCOTTI – Fruits and Nuts

Biscotti means twice-baked cookies. Normally, bicotti are baked until done then re-bake until crisp.  This recipe for biscotti is baked once and will achieve a crisp rim and soft texture.  After taking the logs out of the oven and resting about 10 minutes, transfer them to a cutting board. Cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices.  I like it this way.

If you prefer a whole crisp cookie, do put it back into the hot oven for a  good 6 minutes after cooling and cutting from the first bake.   Bake 3 minutes on one side, turn slices over and bake for another 3 minutes. Remove and let rest.  After completely cooled, store in airtight container and they will last for a month. Mine always run out after the first week. They are best eaten when dipped into a good cup of Kafe (Danish for coffee).

INGREDIENTS  (about 20 large size biscotti)

  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp veg oil
  • 150g sugar
  • 5 eggs  beaten lightly
  • coarsely grated zest 1lemon and 1 lime
  • 100gm raisins
  • 85gm dried orange peel
  • 50gm blanched almonds
  • 50gm hazel nuts or pistachio
  • some preserved red and green cherries
  • 1 ½  Tsp salt

METHOD

  1. Combine dry ingredients – flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder.
  2. Combine wet ingredients – beaten eggs, oil and almond extract.
  3. Mix lightly both dry and wet ingredients in a mixer or with your hands.
  4. Add the fruits and peels. Combine well.
  5. Your batter is likely to be sticky but not mushy. If you have a mushy batter , add 1 or 2 tbsp of flour until it reach a sticky consistency where it is not mushy but not clean to the touch either. You will find that bits of the dough is likely to cling onto your finger.
  6. Divide into 2 portions and shape them into 2 logs
  7. Bake about 30 mins at 180 to 190 degee Celsius

Cool 10 minutes and cut diagonally