30 June 2009

Shanghainese Veggie Rice

A one-pot-contains-all meal. I usually make this for dinner, when I can't be bothered making a separate veggie or meat dish. I think the first time I tried this was when I was in Hong Kong on holiday. The waitress asked me if I would like plain rice or 'Choi-Fan' with my order. I opted for the later and was nicely surprised. The vegetable rice was so tasty. Instead of being a side dish for my main, it became the star.

Shanghainese Vegetable Rice
First tasted in Hong Kong - recipe by Astrogirl
  • 2 cups of white rice
  • 1 cup clear chicken broth
  • pinch of salt
  • cooking oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped finely)
  • 4 slices of salted pork (optional - sliced thinly - from asian grocery)
  • 3 bunches of small bak choi (roughly chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon of chinese wine
  • couple of dashes of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce

Wash the rice until the water runs clear, add 1 can of chicken broth and a pinch of salt to the washed rice and set rice cooker to start. 5 mins before the rice has finished cooking, add some cooking oil to a pan, once it has heated up add garlic then salted pork (if using) and then the chopped up small bak choi. Once the veggies starts to cook, add sesame oil and soy sauce.

By this time the rice cooker would have finished. Pour the contents of the pan into the rice cooker and mix everything all around.

Put the lid back on the rice cooker and let sit on 'standby' for another 45 mins.

Serve alone or with other meat veggie dishes.


  • The 'choi-fan' I tried in Hong Kong although tasty was actually quite oily. I try to use about a teaspoon of oil, just enough to get the garlic flavors going in the beginning.

23 June 2009

Steamed Tofu & Chicken Mushroom Sauce

Today was one of those days where I go and open my fridge, stare at it for a couple of minutes, contemplating what I have to make for dinner.

I pulled out the following:
  • 1/2 pack of tofu (still edible)
  • partially defrosted chicken thigh pieces
  • button mushrooms (about a handful)
  • spring onions & coriander
  • 1/2 onion (nicely wrapped up in some Glad wrap ?!?)

I managed to pull away one full piece of chicken thigh. The rest was still a bit too much fused together with ice that I decided to throw it back into the fridge and let it continue with its defrosting process.

Combine this with some chopped garlic, some spring onions and coriander and we'll have enough to make this steamed tofu dish.

Firstly mince up the chicken, then marinate the chicken mince with:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of corn flour (can substitute with potato starch)
  • 1 teaspoon of chinese cooking wine
  • Couple of dashes of sesame oil

Let sit for about 15-20 mins. While this is resting, bring a Wok full of water to boil, and place a steel rack in the water so that a plate can rest on top of it. The water should not be touching the plate. Place the tofu in the place and use some Glad wrap (cling film) to cover the plate, then place on top of rack for steaming. Cover with a lid.

This way, the condensation of water that catches on the lid wont fall back into the plate with the tofu. Otherwise, at the end of the steaming process, you'll have a very watery plate of tofu.

Steam for about 5 mins on medium-high heat. Once this has finished, remove the plate from the Wok, remove Glad wrap and set aside.

Chop onions and slice mushrooms. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a pan and add garlic, then onions then mushrooms. Once everything starts to soften a bit, add in the chicken mince.

Once the chicken has cooked, add in about 1/4 cup of water and then the spring onions. The water with the corn flour previously used to marinate the chicken will turn into a sauce. Add a bit more corn flour if the sauce seems a bit too thin.

Pour this on top of the tofu. Sprinkle with some additional thinly sliced spring onions and coriander (if you have it) if desired. Serve immediately with some steam rice.

16 June 2009

Soy Sauce Braised Chicken Wings

This is a very easy dish to make. And does not require any marinating at all. The important thing to remember is add each ingredient separately, adding the next after the one before has been absorbed. This dish is a favourite in my family. I would always end up eating more than 1 bowl of rice if there are these chicken wings on the table.

Soy Sauce Braised Chicken Wings
Original recipe passed to me from my grandma

  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • 2 pieces of thumbsized ginger (smashed)
  • 1 kg of chicken wings (drumlet and winglet separated, tips discarded)
  • 1 tablespoon of chinese rice wine (Shaoxing preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • enough water to cover to cover the chicken wings
  • salt to taste (if required)
Heat oil in a large saucepan, add in the ginger and saute around for about 30 secs until you start to smell the fragrance of the ginger.

Add in chicken wings, turning the pieces around until the skin becomes opaque.

Add in the rice wine and continue to cook until the wine is absorbed. Pour in the dark & light soy, oyster sauce and sugar. Keep moving the chicken wings around the saucepan, making sure each piece is coated in the sauce.

Add in enough water to cover up to 3/4 of the wings, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover with the lid and let simmer. Taste the braising liquid. Add salt or sugar to taste.

Braise for about 1 hr, or until the end of the bones start to be exposed. The meat should be able to fall off easily. Occasionally check the chicken wings, if it becomes too dry, then add more water.

The sauce should be slightly thick. Serve with some plain steamed rice. Enjoy :)

08 June 2009

Eggs Benedict

Its a public holiday in Sydney today. Which means.. A) We get to sleep in... and.. B) I actually get to spend sometime in the kitchen (on a weekday) to make some breakfast brunch.

I had quite a bit of sauce left over from the eggs florentine recipe I made yesterday afternoon. Since I don't want to let it go to waste, I wanted to make brunch with the leftover sauce. So I went for the next closest thing... Eggs Benedict. But substituting the traditional Hollandaise sauce with the mornay sauce I had left over. Is it still called Eggs Benedict if you don't have it with Hollandaise sauce ?! Not too sure about that one. Anyone ?

Anyways, here's the recipe for my non-so-traditional take on eggs benedict.

Eggs Benedict a La Astrogirl
(with spanich & béchamel mornay sauce)

  • 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 2 large pieces of lightly buttered bread (toasted)
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 batch of warm mornay sauce (originally hollandaise sauce)
  • 1 bunch of boiled spinach (optional - i had some leftover from yesterday)

  1. Bring a medium-size pan with water (about 3 inches) to the boil and add the vinegar & salt. Break the eggs into separate small bowls.
  2. Gently slide in the eggs from the bowl into the water. Place a lid on top of the pan and turn the heat off. Leave lid on for about 2-3 minutes. The eggs will set into a neat round shape. Remove with a slotted spoon. Hold the spoon above the pan for a couple of seconds to let any water clinging to the egg drain off.

  3. Butter the toast, place two slices of bacon on top, add boiled spinach, then top with two eggs. Spoon over the remaining sauce and serve at once.

07 June 2009

Oeufs Mollets Florentine

While googling around for a eggs florentine recipe online to make for brunch today, I stumbled across this.. It was basically a soft-boiled eggs florentine. Or an eggs benedict but with spinach instead of ham.

The recipe calls for a Bechamel cross Mornay sauce with Spinach and Soft-boiled eggs to about 5 mins topped with breadcrumbs then finished off under a hot grill in the oven.

The recipe looked rather complicated for the desired output... hey.. its just eggs with spinach !! e.g. For the spinach alone, it asks for it to be boiled, drained, cooled, squeezed, and then sautéed.. **ahem... ???!?!?

After reading through the recipe, the key to success was about timing and getting the eggs right. Remember.. soft-boiled eyes.. not hard boiled eggs.

This is the order I found it easier to tackle this recipe:
  1. Spinach: Boil water in saucepan, add spinach and let boil for about 1 min. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Season with a sprinkle of salt. (I went for the boiled only option).

  2. Butter the gratin dish

  3. Bring water to boil in saucepan: just use the saucepan you boiled the spinach in.

  4. Sauce: make a roux, add milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg & djion mustard. Then cream & egg yoke. Then lastly the cheese.

  5. Slowly drop eggs into simmering water: keep eggs in slow boiling water on a medium-heat for 5 mins. Remove from heat. Run eggs through cold tap water. Peel.

  6. Assemble gratin dish: Place spinach, then eggs, then pour sauce on top. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and some cheese. Dot with some butter and place under a hot grill for about 3 mins. Or until cheese has melted.

Oeufs Mollets Florentine
Adapted from Whisk: a food blog


  • 3 eggs (or about 2 eggs per person)
  • Salt
  • 2 bunches of spinach (or use 1 bunch per person)

Mornay sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard (my addition - original recipe doesn't call for this)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup of cheese (grated)


  • butter for dotting
  • cheese (grated)
  • Breadcrumbs

Serve with some hot toast. Enjoy :)

01 June 2009

Molten Chocolate Baby Cakes

The thing I've made most often with my muffin baking tray is not muffins. Its these Molten chocolate baby cakes. This recipe is from Nigella's book - How to be a domestic goddess and can also be found on her website here. These baby cakes are really easy to make and they taste .... well... like rich molten chocolate. :)

Molten Chocolate Baby Cakes
Originated from Nigella Lawson's recipe
  • 6 individual pudding moulds, buttered (I used a muffin tray)
  • baking parchment
  • 50g soft unsalted butter (plus more for greasing)
  • 350g best dark chocolate (I used 70% dark Lindt Chocolate)
  • 150g white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 50g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Butter the muffin tray and trace the bottom of the muffin tray onto the parchment and cut out the circles and press into the bottom of the buttered moulds.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Set aside and let it cool slightly.

Beat the sugar and butter together, until its gone lighter in colour. Gradually beat in the eggs and salt, then add the vanilla and then the flour.

Gradually fold in the chocolate until its all combined. Divide the batter between the 6 moulds and place in oven for about 10 mins. As soon as you take them out of the oven, run a knife around the outsides of the cakes, then tip out the babycakes and place into small plates or shallow bowls. Best served with vanilla ice cream and a cup of hot tea.

These babycakes can be made in advanced and the batter kept in the fridge. If you are making these in advance and using cold batter, leave in the oven for an extra 2 mins. Enjoy :)

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