29 July 2009

Vanilla Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream... is a lot of fun (usually).. and does seem to taste a lot better than the frozen stuff from your local deli. This recipe from David Lebovitz is definitely one of the better ones I've tried out. The resulting ice cream is rich in vanilla and very creamy. Just try to forget you have to use 2 cups of pure cream ... :)

Vanilla Ice Cream
recipe adapted from David Lebovitz's Book ~ The Perfect Scoop

  • 1 cup full cream milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (split lengthwise into two, seeds scraped out)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 cups pure cream (separated into 2x 1 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

--- Ice for an 'ice bath'

  1. Warm the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds out with the tip of a paring knife and set aside. Add the bean pod to the milk. Continue to simmer on the lowest heat setting.

  2. In a separate mixing bowl, pour 1 cup of the pure cream and add the vanilla bean seeds into the cream. Whisk the cream a couple of times to break up the seeds and place into an ice bath, then set aside.

  3. Once the sugar has melted, add in the remaining 1 cup of pure cream, continue to stir to combine the cream and milk. Then cover and remove from heat and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 mins.

  4. Stir together the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add some of the warmed milk, stirring constantly as you pour. Pour the warmed yolks and milk mixture back into the saucepan.

  5. Cooking over a low heat, stir constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Strain the custard into the pure cream with vanilla seeds that was set aside previously in the ice bath.

  6. Rinse the vanilla bean and put it back into the custard and cream to continue steeping.

  7. Add vanilla extract, and keep on stirring the mixture over the ice bath until it has cooled.

  8. Once the mixture has cooled completely, cover with glad wrap and place into the refrigerator. David Lebovitz recommends to leave this as long as possible (ie. overnight). I usually leave it until I'm ready for it to be placed into the ice cream maker. (ie. when I feel like wanting to eat ice cream).

  9. When it has chilled thoroughly, remove the vanilla bean and freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.

Makes about 1 litre of ice cream.

25 July 2009

Thai Red Curry

I'm not a big fan of using pre-made pastes or sauces. Firstly, because of the presence of preservatives and additional colourings usually found in these pre-made sauces. Secondly, because of the amount of MSG present.

MSG = Monosodium Glutamate => very dry mouth => red skin rash => :((((

Making Thai red curry from scratch isn't actually that time consuming. The paste base can actually be done beforehand and kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. The red curry paste can be paired with beef, chicken, most seafoods and vegetables. You can use a pestle mortar to make the paste, but I take it as a sign for me to put my Magimix food processor to good use.

Red Curry Base Spice Paste:

  • 5 dried red chillies
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 5 shallots (Try to get the small redish\purple coloured shallots)
  • 1 thumbsize piece galangal (thinly sliced)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (use the bottom 10cm, inner white part - smashed, then thinly sliced)
  • zest of 1 lime (grated)
  • 3 Coriander stalks (bottom ~5cm of stalks)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon cardamon seeds (seeds removed from husks)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon white peppercorns (black peppercorns can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon Shrimp paste (Thai version preferred)

Over a hot pan, lightly toss and toast together the coriander seeds, cardamon, cumin and peppercorns until the aroma is released. This step also helps to bring out the flavours in the spices.

Pour all the ingredients into the food processor and pulse until everything has broken down and blended together. This should make enough base paste for about 5-6 serves. With about 2 tablespoons used per red curry. When using the spice paste, just fry in equal amount of peanut oil to release the flavour.

It does look like a lot of difference spices and ingredients are being used. But once you are able to source all the ingredients, the cooking part is actually quite easy. Thai curry is different to cooking other curries, where you don't actually need to simmer the curry over a long period of time (atleast I don't find that I need to).

I still like to add more fresh lemongrass, shallots and galangal to the curry on top of the spice paste. I also find that with my red curry, I usually end up with a curry that has a lot more vegetables present than meat. I also tend to like eating the vegetables more as it tends to absorb the flavours of the spice and curry sauce better.

Red Curry Chicken with Mix Vegetables

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 3 shallots (chopped into quarters)
  • 3 whole dried chillies (optional - use less if you prefer a milder curry)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (thinly sliced diagonally)
  • 1 thumbsize galangal (thinly sliced)
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves (torn in half)
  • Mix vegetables - see section below...
  • sawtooth coriander (if substituting with chinese coriander add this around the end)
  • 500g coconut milk
  • 300g chicken thigh meat (skin removed, sliced into strips)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • juice 1 lime (kaffir lime preferred)

Mix vegetables - I usually add in a selection of the following (about a handful each):

  • canned longan fruit <-- used to enhance the sweetness in the curry
  • Thai green round eggplant (preferred, but purple eggplant can be substituted)
  • Okra (a.k.a Ladies fingers)
  • canned bamboo shoots
  • fresh oyster mushrooms
  • zucchini (sliced in chunks)

This list is a guide only, you can use any types of vegetables that you may have available. The veggies in the list are also what I've found to soak up the curry sauce better.

The canned longan fruit is easily sourced from any supermarket. Try to get the non-sweetened syrup version. The sweetness in the longan fruit actually helps soften the hotness of the chilli in the curry.


  1. In a medium-hot wok, add peanut oil then the two tablespoons of the previously prepared red curry spice mix. Fry the spice paste for a couple of seconds, then add in the chopped shallots, dry chilli, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves.
  2. Add in the mixed vegetables & sawtooth coriander. Stirfry the veggies around with the spice paste and the other fresh spices for about a minute. The veggies are added in earlier to try to soften them first, as they do require to be cooked longer than the chicken.
  3. Pour in the coconut milk. Stir the contents around, making sure the coconut milk has combined with the spice paste. Bring up the heat until the coconut milk starts to simmer.
  4. Add in the chicken strips. Season with fish sauce and the palm sugar. Keep the curry on a slow simmer. Keep stirring the curry around, make sure the chicken pieces has cooked.
  5. Squeeze in the juice of one lime.
  6. Taste the curry, if its not salty enough, add in more fish sauce. If its not sour enough then add in more lime juice. If its too sour, then add in more palm sugar.
  7. Let simmer for a couple more minutes then serve with some steam rice.


  • If using Okra (Ladies fingers), make sure they have cooked thoroughly.
  • Sawtooth coriander is a Thai style herb. Chinese coriander can be used instead. Put these in at the end, if you are using chinese coriander.

21 July 2009

Steam Scallops with Garlic & Glass Noodles

Glass noodles .. vermicelli noodles or green bean thread noodles is what I've heard these noodles been called before. They can be found in most Asian grocery stores and are really easy to prepare. All you have to do is to soak the dried noodles in some cold water until they soften and turn kinda limp when you try to pick them up with chopsticks. This should take about 8-10 mins.

In my last few posts, I did mention I was trying to get my hands on some fresh scallops still on the shell. Well, it took a trip to the Fish Market in Sydney to be able to source some. And at $1.50 each, they weren't exactly too expensive.

I also tried a different take on the fresh garlic this time. Instead of adding light soy sauce to the garlic in the beginning, I decided to just drizzle the light soy over the scallops after steaming but before the hot oil went on.

Steam Scallops with Garlic & Glass Noodles

  • 1/2 dozen fresh scallops on shell (quickly rinse through water to ensure there's no sand)
  • 1 packet Glass Noodles (soaked in cold water for about 8-10 mins)
  • 6 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • freshly grounded salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

While the noodles are soaking, place the chopped up garlic into a china bowl (or something that is not reactive to hot oil). Add sugar and a couple of grinds of salt to the garlic, and mix it together with a spoon. Heat up the oil in a separate saucepan until its starts to steam. Pour the hot oil onto the garlic mixture. This should immediate cook the garlic. This part is really done to make sure the garlic is cooked, as the time required to be able to steam the scallops is not enough to make sure the garlic is cooked also. And I don't think anyone wants to have a mouthful of raw garlic...

Bring water in a wok to boil to be used as a steamer.

Arrange scallops on a plate to place into the steamer. Drain the glass noodles, then split them between the scallops. Arrange it so the glass noodle covers the raw scallops. Spoon a teaspoon of the garlic on top of the noodles. Once the water has boiled, place the plate of scallops into the wok to steam on medium heat. Turn the heat off after 3 mins, and leave the lid of the wok off. Sprinkle the following toppings onto the scallops (all except for the oil).


  • 1 stalk chinese green onion (thinly sliced diagonally)
  • 12 coriander leaves (handpicked)
  • light soy sauce - enough for drizzling over the scallops
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Doing the same as before, heat the oil until you can see steam coming off the saucepan. Carefully drizzle the oil over the green onion slices and coriander leaves. The heat from the oil should immediately cook the greens and release the fragrance from these herbs.

Serve immediately.

  • I tried omitting the last drizzle of heated oil, but it just doesn't taste the same. After all, Chinese food is supposed to be rather oily.... :)

19 July 2009

Mussels in White Wine Bacon & Cream

One of the things I miss the most from Perth since I've been living in Sydney, is the lack of restaurants that serve mussels. In Perth, most Italian restaurants have it on their menu permanently, with tomato based chilli mussels being the most popular. Since I was at the fish market today picking up some scallops, I saw some pre-packaged fresh mussels (which states that its been cleaned and debearded) for $6.99 a kilo. I've never used packaged mussels before. For $6.99 .. I thought ... well why not ??

They tasted the same as the last time when I had used fresh mussels, in fact I think I had less mussels left over that didn't open properly. And lets not forget the fact that I didn't have to spend 30mins++ over the sink scrubbing barnacles off the shells and debearding the mussels.

Mussels in White Wine with Bacon & Cream
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 cloves garlic (mashed)
  • 1 onion (sliced thinly)
  • 2 slices bacon (sliced about 1cm wide)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1kg black mussels (scrubbed, debearded)
  • 150ml cream
  • 2 green onions (sliced)
  • juice of 1 small lemon

Heat olive oil in a wok then melt the butter in the oil. Add garlic, onions then the sliced bacon to the wok. Saute until the onions start to soften. Add thyme and season well with freshly grounded salt & pepper. Pour in the white wine and let it simmer for about 3-5mins to boil off the alcohol and to reduce the liquid.

Add in washed mussels. And cover the wok with a lid and let the mussels steam on medium-low heat for about 3 minutes.

Once the mussels start to open, take the lid off and pour in the cream and green onions, then continue to stir the contents around and let the sauce cover the mussels. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the mussels, give it a couple of stirs to make sure everything is combined then serve immediately with some bread to soak up all the broth. :)

18 July 2009

Steamed Oysters with Fresh Garlic

Lately, I've been craving for steamed scallops..like the ones they serve in Cantonese restaurants. For today it was enough for me to head to the fishmongers straight after work to try and pickup some scallops. Unfortunately they didn't have any. The only scallops they had were already shelled and look somewhat greyish. I decided to give those a pass. I really needed them to be ...

a) fresh, and
b) still attached to one of the shells
c) definitely not have a dull greyish tint !!!

The reason for the shell, is that I wanted to use the shell as a plate to cradle the garlic sauce and glass noodles.

I still really wanted to test out my fresh garlic sauce, so I opted for some pacific oysters instead. Although with the size of the oyster shells (and the pacific ones were the largest available already), I couldn't use the glass noodles. I guess I will just have to save them for next time... :)

Steamed Oysters with Fresh Garlic
As found in many good chinese restaurants, however this recipe is my own

  • 1 dozen fresh oysters
  • coriander (leaves only - 1 per oyster)
  • spring onion (thinly sliced diagonally)
Fresh Garlic Sauce:

  • 6 large cloves garlic (chopped finely - roughly about 1 per two oysters)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and more for later
Mince\chop garlic finely, place into a bowl add soy sauce then mix in the white sugar. Heat up the oil in a clean saucepan. When the oil is really hot, pour the oil over the garlic mixture. This process should cook the garlic instantly. Try to have the saucepan facing away from you when doing this.

Bring some water in a wok to boil with a steaming rack. This will be used as the steamer.

Prepare the oysters on a plate. Spoon about a tablespoon of garlic mixture on top of each oyster. Try to leave the oil behind and scoop out the garlic and soy sauce mix only.

Once the water starts to boil, place the plate of oysters into the wok. Steam for about 4 minutes on medium-high heat.

Place a leaf of coriander on each oyster then top with spring onions. Heat some more oil in the saucepan used before. When the oil is really hot, pour the oil over the oysters. This should sizzle and cook the coriander leaf and spring onions.

Serve immediately

Even though I had to substitute with Oysters, it did turn out quite well and was very yummy. I must try and source out some scallops with shells and try this again with glass noodles.. :)

17 July 2009

Stir Fry Raw Glutinous Rice

There are many ways of cooking glutinous rice. My grandma prefers to just steam the rice raw in a wok then stir fried along with the other ingredients. The last time I was back home in Perth, one of my aunts turned up to a BBQ with a rice cooker packed full of what she called 'stir fried raw glutinous rice'... (btw..the rice cooker at BBQ is an asian thing). She said that she soaked the rice overnight, then just stir fried it along with the other ingredients.. no steaming required. So I tried this method tonight... And it turned out alright. The rice I think turned out more fragrant this way. Hummm...Wondering if I should tell my Gran that I think Aunty's recipe is better than hers.. ?! I think not. Anyways, here is the recipe...

Stir Fried Raw Glutinous Rice - 生炒糥米飯
recipe & method originally from my Aunt

  • 3 cups white glutinous rice (washed 3-4 times, then soaked overnight)
  • 30g dried shrimp (rinsed, soaked in water, chopped - reserve water)
  • 8 medium dried Chinese mushrooms(rinsed, soaked in water, diced - reserve water)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger (smashed)
  • 2 teaspoon chinese rice wine
  • 2 wind-dried Chinese pork sausage (washed, skin removed, halved lengthwise then diced)
  • 1 wind-dried Chinese duck-liver sausage (washed, skin removed, halved lengthwise then diced)
  • 7cm piece of chinese waxed meat (washed, diced)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 4 to 6 scallions (cut into small rounds, white and green parts separated)
  • small bunch coriander leaves, torn up

Heat the peanut oil in a wok add ginger piece, fry until fragrant. Add chinese sausages and meat, mushrooms and then shrimps. Pour in the chinese wine, then sprinkle in about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Fry for a couple of minutes then set aside.

Pour glutinous rice into the wok and stir fry. After a couple of minutes, add back in the ingredients previously set aside. Continue to stir well for another 10-15 mins. This part is where all the reserved 'soaking water' comes in. The rice will get drier as the frying goes on. When it does, add in a bit of the reserved water. Continue to stir the rice about, as it soaks up the water. This part is a bit like making risotto. Once the rice has turned translucent and has 'cooked'.. (you can taste it at this point in time, and it should be a bit chewy). Add in the dark soy sauce and salt to taste. Remove from heat. Mix in the white parts of the scallions. Discard ginger piece.

If the rice is still a bit hard, place into a rice cooker on 'keep warm' setting and cook for 30 mins. I find that placing the glutinous rice into the rice cooking on 'keep warm' setting allows it to stay moist until I have to serve it.

Before serving, mix in the green scallions, and sprinkle on top with coriander leaves and if desired, top with some fried egg and a dash of white pepper powder.

08 July 2009

Double Skin Milk Pudding

I remember there is a Tong-Sui place in Hong Kong famous for their Double Skinned Milk Puddings. Apparently they only use fresh milk from Australia. I remember thinking when I first walked into the shop that .. "Now.. why would I want to try this milk thingy in Hong Kong thats imported from Australia...especially when I'm from Australia....???!?!?".

After the 1st spoon, I was hooked. It was sooo good... :) It was like a very very light and delicate panna cotta. Only probably a lot more healthier since it uses a lot less sugar and calls for milk instead of cream.

Now that I'm back in Australia, we don't have any Cantonese dessert places over here that makes such delicacies. So continuing on with my Chinese dessert experimenting phase. After a couple of goggling attempts for a recipe written in english (I can't read much chinese and definitely can't type any of it), combined with a couple of failed attempts, I finally managed to come up with a somewhat full-proof recipe. It actually turned out to be quite simple. The ratio that seems to work well for me comes to about 1 rice bowl of full cream milk to 1 egg white to 2 teaspoons of white sugar.

Double Skin Milk Pudding - 雙皮奶

with help from this recipe

Ingredients (for 1 bowl):

  • 1 rice bowl of full cream milk (filled to about 1cm from the rim)
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 egg white (beaten till it smooth and white)

Pour the milk into small saucepan, add sugar and bring slowly to a simmer over low heat. Remove from heat as the milk starts to bubble. Do not over boil. Pour the hot milk into the individual rice bowl(s). Try to remove any foam on the top as this hinders the skin being able to be formed properly. Leave to cool for about 10mins.

When a skin has formed on the surface of each bowl of the cooling milk, use a chopstick or fork to lift up a corner of the skin just enough to gently pour the milk out of each rice bowl into a larger bowl. Leave the skin that is now at the bottom of each individual bowl behind.

Beat the egg white until it starts to turns white. Then combine this with the milk that is left cooling in the large bowl. Strain the mixture through a sieve at least twice to remove any lumps and excess foam. Scrape off any bubbles that form at the top.

Place a steamer rack in a wok and add enough water so it just touches the rack. Bring the water to boil. The wok will be used as a steamer.

Pour the milk back into the individual bowls. The skin will float to the top. Cover each bowl with a layer of glad wrap. Place the bowls of milk on top of a rack in the wok, then cover and steam for 10 minutes over medium heat.

The resulting double skinned milk is pure white, creamy and is very smooth and mildly sweet. As the milk starts to cool again, a second layer of tasty skin is formed, sticking to the edges of the bowl. Hence the 'double skin' name.. :)


  • When simmering the milk with the sugar, try not to stir the mixture, as this seems to break down the ability of the milk to form the 1st layer of skin.
  • Egg whites only need to be lightly beaten -- we are not making meringues ! So be careful to not over do it. Otherwise you will have a lot of 'bubbles' when you combine the milk with the egg whites.
I did have to try this a couple of times before it turned out alright. If anyone does try out this recipe, pls let me know if it turns out ok... :)

06 July 2009

Tong But Luk - Glutinous Rice Candy

My Aunt made this dessert for us when I was back home the last time. I've had this dessert before, as it is available in most dessert shops in Hong Kong. It usually is made with some glutinous rice balls (Tong Yuen) topped with some peanuts, sesame seeds and shredded coconut. As my Aunt taught me how to make this dessert, she said that originally it wasn't made with glutinous rice balls. She thinks that the Tong Yuen were only used instead as a matter of convenience, since it would be readily available and used in other desserts. The 'Tong But Luk' that she used to eat, was made by steaming a glutinous rice and coconut milk into a 'rice cake' and then using the cut up pieces of rice cake to dip in the coconut\peanut\sesame seed mix.

Tong But Luk - 糖不甩 (The chinese name for it that I managed to find via google)
Recipe passed to me from my Aunt

  • 400ml unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar

In a bowl, combine glutinous rice flour with coconut milk and sugar together.

Using a wok as a steamer, bring water to boil.

Use a layer of glad wrap to line a shallow dish, place rice flour mixture into dish and steam for 8-10 mins in the steamer at medium-high heat. You should be able to stick a knife into the middle of the rice cake and the knife should come out clean.

In a separate bowl, mixed together:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts (smashed in a pestle mortar)
  • 1/4 cup shredded desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds

Remove the dish from the wok and using the glad wrap lift up the rice cake and flip into a surface that has been layered with glad wrap.

Cut into cube sized pieces. You do have to work quickly before the cake cools down.

Toss cubes in the peanut, sesame and coconut mixture. Serve immediately.

  • The use of the glad wrap is to make it easier to move the mixture around and so it wont stick to the steaming dish or the cutting board
  • use a plastic knife to cut up the glutinous cake to avoid the rice cake sticking to the knife

03 July 2009

Butternut Pumpkin Souffle

I had some left over butternut pumpkin from last night's roast in the fridge. Instead of heating up the roast pumpkin and having it again for dinner tonight, I tried to make something different with it. I'm kinda in a savoury Souffle phase at the moment. So I had a go at making a butternut pumpkin souffle. I based my recipe along a cheese souffle recipe that I'm pretty accustomed to, but substituting the cheese with the pumpkin. The results turned out quite tasty and the souffle was very fluffy. Although next time I might try roasting the pumpkins with some honey to help add a bit of sweetness.

Butternut Pumpkin Souffle
An Astrogirl recipe

Preparing the Ramekins

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 ramekins (single serve)
  • Parmesan cheese (crumbled\grated)

Butter generously the inside of four ramekins with the softened butter. Divide the grated Parmesan among the ramekins and rotate them so the butter catches the cheese. Tap out any excess. Place ramekins into the fridge until ready to be used.

In a saucepan combine together:

  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk

Cook Roux for about 1 min, then take saucepan off the heat and mix in:

  • 4 egg yokes (whites to be used later)

Base Flavored Mixture
In a food processor, blend together, then add into the Roux:

  • 500g roasted butternut squash flesh (if not using leftovers, then just roast in oven for 1hr at 180C, then scoop out the flesh).
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 handful of fresh sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper

Egg Whites
In a clean glass bowl, beat the following together till soft peaks form:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt

Preheat an oven to 180°C.

Mix a quarter of the egg whites in with the butternut pumpkin mixture in the saucepan. Then gently fold in butternut pumpkin mixture into the remaining egg whites in the glass bowl with a spatula.

Divide the souffle mixture into the 4 ramekin, about 3/4 full. Place the souffle on a baking tray then place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove and serve immediately.

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