The dining table is the heart of a home

Friday, February 18, 2011

Salmon with pesto served on peas risotto

I made this for dinner few weeks ago. We just felt like having something not too heavy and healthy for dinner hence I made this. My family loved it, simple, easy and nutritious.

I just simply love foods that are healthy, delicious and easy to prepare. Especially for working moms or dads who are often caught up at work and got home a bit late, all of us need a few recipes up our sleeves that are quick and dinner will be ready in 30 mins. This is one of those recipes. Hope you like it too. Maybe you can share you easy simple recipes with me too. =)

Salmon with Pesto served on Peas Risotto

  • 4 pieces of 200 grams salmon fillets
  • Homemade pesto ( please click on the link for recipe)
  • 3 cups risotto rice
  • 6-7 cups chicken stock- keep warm in separate saucepan
  • One brown onion- chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic- chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas- thawed
  • 4 tablespoons dried mixed herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Make a few slits on the skin of the salmons. Season salmons well with salt and pepper and brush with some oil on both sides.
  2. Heat up your grill pan ( if you don't have grill pan, normal frying pan will do too) and put the salmons on the pan skin side down first.
  3. Once the skin becomes crispy, flip over to cook the flesh side of the salmon.
  4. Cook the salmons around 3-4 mins on each side. Make sure not to over cook. The flesh of the salmons should still be slightly pink on the inside.
  5. Once the salmons are ready, set aside.
  6. Keep the chicken stock gently simmering in a saucepan
  7. In another pan, heat up few tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is hot, put in the onion and garlic and saute for few minutes
  8. Add in the rice, stirring to coat the rice with the oil.
  9. Add a ladleful of stock and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue stirring and adding stock one ladleful at a time, waiting until the liquid is absorbed each time before adding more, until the rice is tender and creamy yet still a little al dente
  10. When the rice is almost cooked, add in peas, herbs and season with salt and pepper.
  11. Place rice on a plate, top with salmon and pesto.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chocolate Babka

I have been so busy at work that I have not been posting for almost one week now. Just started a new job and it's been quite busy but fun. Lots of learning and new experiences.

I made chocolate babka last Sunday for tea at home. I first had my Babka at a chocolate shop in melbourne call Max Brener. My neighbour then invited me over to her place few weeks ago and she bought chocolate babka from one of the bakeries around here, but it was made differently. The babka I know is always made into a big loaf or in roll form like cinnamon rolls. But the ones she bought was made into small little rolls and stick them together to make a round cake pan size chocolate babka. It was so delicious. Super duper chocolatey and yummy. Almost like chocolate croissant but with more chocolate punch in it. That started my venture into looking for chocolate babka recipe and I found it from smittenkitchen. But instead of making them into loaves form, I made them into small little rolls and sticked them together. It was delicious with lots of chocolate and looked cute too. All my guests loved them. It was so easy to serve, just cut the edges where the rolls stick together and serve individually. Hope you like it too.

I halved the recipe because it looked too much to do the whole recipe for me. Halving the recipe will be more than enough for 8-10 people.

Chocolate Babka
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees farenheit
  • 2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
  • 3 whole large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
  • 2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped*
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

1. Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

5. Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.

6. Generously butter a pyrex pie pan or round cake pan. Line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside.

Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.

7. Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal.

Cut rolls into small 3cm pieces and stick them to each other in prepared pan

8. Heat oven to 350 degrees farenheit / 180 degrees celcius. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.

9. Bake loaves until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees farenheit / 165 degrees celcius and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.

* After chopping the chocolate into moderately sized chunks, I used the food processor to pulse the rest of the chocolate in two batches to small bits. It saved a lot of time!

That was the tips and recipes from smitten kitchen, modified slightly by myself just with regards for the arrangement of the rolls.

Try and make it, you won't regret it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chinese Style Steamed Fish

My mother in law made a great steamed fish dish for our reunion dinner and I'm going to share it with you today.

Personally, I think Chinese language is a beautiful language. You can describe very complex emotions or situations in 4 very simple words or a simple phrase. If you watch chinese dramas, they often use phrases to describe feelings, emotions etc. It's difficult to understand sometimes but somehow the phrases can just translate the emotions in a very poetic and descriptive way.

There's a Chinese saying " nien nien you yu" which means prosperity/surpluses every year. The yu for this phrase is pronounced the same way as yu for fish. Hence, we often serve fish on special occasions or chinese new year which symbolizes prosperity for the coming year. It's a symbolic thing. But I'm not a supertitious person, I'm a believer that all blessings come from God. I just appreciate the beauty and complexity of Chinese language and its culture. However, I do believe that our tongue is powerful. Whatever comes out of it carries power. So instead of saying "I'm doomed" why don't we say "I'm blessed" or nien nien you yu instead....=)....there's nothing wrong with proclaiming good things for our life.

Happy Chinese New Year everyone. Wish all my readers prosperity and joy for the coming year.

Chinese Style Steamed Fish

  • 1 Barramundi weighing around 700 grams or any other fish will do too eg: snapper, tilapia
  • 1/4 cup julienned ginger
  • 1/2 cup sliced spring onion
  • chopped red chilli- optional
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons rock sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
  • 2 tablespoons shao tsing wine
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Extra 1/3 cup shao tsing wine for steaming
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  1. Put all ingredients for seasoning in a small saucepan except the extra shao tsing wine and oil. Boil all the seasoning ingredients until sugar is melted. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly
  2. Clean the fish and put on top of a plate. Put half of the julienned ginger and spring onion on top of the fish
  3. Pour the extra shao tsing wine on the fish and steam for 10 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
  4. After you finish steaming, pour away the water collected at the bottom of the plate
  5. Pour all of the seasoning mixture on top of the fish and top with the remaining half of the julienned ginger and spring onion
  6. Heat up oil and pour on top of the fish. Garnish with chopped red chillies
  7. Serve with rice

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Choon Kuen aka Chinese Meat Rolls

Gong Xi Fat Chai!!!!

Wishing all my readers and followers Happy Chinese New Year. May this coming year be filled with God's blessings and joy.

I love Chinese New Year. Not just for the food and angpao....but the family. I love having family reunion. Everyone gather together on this special occasion, catching up with one another and just enjoy each other's company.

Usually we have the big reunion dinner before the first day of Chinese New Year. But my wonderful family decided to wait for me to get back to Melbourne because I was posted to Ballarat and we had our reunion dinner yesterday. Of course, we also had the honour of having one of our beloved friend from Malaysia visiting us in Melbourne as well. It was such a wonderful time. We also celebrated my wonderful father in law's birthday. So many celebrations. We really enjoyed it.

The menu for our reunion dinner was:

Yee Sang

We just prepared the vegetables. My mother in law bought
the prepack from Malaysia. It came with all the condiments.
What a great idea. Tasted just like the ones from restaurants

Dried Oyster and Radish Soup ( sorry, brother in law forgot to take photos of these). But it was so good, prepared by my mom in law who is a great cook.

Chinese Style Steam Fish, again prepared by my mom in law. Very nice! Will share the recipe tomorrow so stay tuned.

Kau Yoke with Yam - typical Hakka Dish, collaboration of me and my mom in law

Choon Kuen aka Chinese Meat Rolls by yours truly....=)

My mom always makes Choon Kuen for Chinese New Year. I remember never getting enough of them. She only makes them once in a while and it's one of our family's favourite. The traditional way is to roll the meat mixture in bean curd sheets, steam them and then deep fry in hot oil Or steam the meat rolls ( without beancurd sheets) and coat in flour before deep frying. But I hate deep frying and decided to try the healthier option. I used the same recipe my mom gave me for the meat rolls, but instead of deep frying them I coated them with panko breadcrumbs and baked them. The result? FANTASTIC. I don't think I'll go back to deep frying option in the future. Very nice and crispy and the best part of it? Much healthier option for the family.

Choon Kuen / Chinese Meat Rolls
Ingredients for meat rolls:
  • 500 grams minced pork
  • 500 grams minced prawns
  • 1 small can water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced finely
  • 1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon five spice powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Plain flour
  • Panko breadcrumbs
Baking paper and aluminium foil for rolling.

  1. Place all the ingredients ( except the ones for coating) and seasonings together in a big bowl and mix well until the mixture becomes rather sticky
  2. Take a piece of baking paper around 25-30cm long. Take a portion of the meat mixture, place on top of baking paper and shape it into long cylinder of around 3-4cm diameter and 15cm long.
  3. Roll the meat mixture tightly with the baking paper. Tie the ends of the baking paper tightly.
  4. Then, take a piece of aluminium foil also around 25-30cm long and use it to roll the meat mixture that is already covered in baking paper.
  5. Repeat the same process for the remaining of the meat mixture. You should be able to make around 5-6 rolls
  6. Steam the rolls for around 30 minutes until cooked through.
  7. Take the rolls out of the steamer. Unwrap the rolls and let cool
  8. When you are ready to eat, place the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in 3 separate plates
  9. First coat the meat rolls in flour.
  10. Then dip in beaten eggs and lastly coat well with panko breadcrumbs.
  11. Spray the rolls with vegetable/ cooking oil
  12. Bake in preheated 220 degrees celcius oven for 30 minutes until the breadcrumbs become cripsy and golden
  13. Slice the meatrolls diagonally into 1cm thick pieces
  • To taste the seasoning of the meat rolls before steaming them, take a small portion and put in microwave for around 1-2 minutes. If not salty enough can add more salt.
Gong Xi Fat Chai
May this year be filled with joy and happiness.