AFC GRILLED : Chef Sean Connolly

An evening of good food.

Lap Cheong Watermelon Bites

An asian take on watermelon bites!

Baked Fish with Kiwi in Sweet and Sour Sauce

Add a twist to sweet and sour fish!

Semperit Pandan Cookies

Cute cookies for the festive season!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cauliflower Pumpkin Curry


Frequent rains and gloomy clouds, the days have been really chilly at my summery corner of the world. I would never have turned down an ice cream treat, but ...brrr!

These are days I cuddle up with hot tea, chocolates and meals that bring warmth to the body, like curry.

Curry has been playing on my mind. I was on my sofa nicely tucked under a blanket. I hadn't really wanted to do anything but I had to eat. Heh! So, off I went to see what was in my fridge. And that's how I landed myself with a cauliflower curry.

I had both cauliflower and pumpkin to clear off. I got into the groove once the cutting and chopping started. An hour later, my curry dish was ready and I was gleefully scooping huge spoonfuls onto my plate of rice. This, to me, is comfort food!   

Cauliflower Pumpkin Curry

Here's how I made this.

Cauliflower Pumpkin Curry
- 3 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 cup cubed pumpkin
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 3 star anise
- 3 dried bay leaves

Mix together into wet curry paste
- 2½ tbsp curry powder
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- 2 tbsp dried red chilli paste
Note: Add a bit of water to the curry paste, if too dry.

- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- Salt to taste and pinch of white pepper
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh coriander

1) Heat oil in pan. Saute onion and garlic until lightly browned. Add curry paste, bay leaves and star anise. Stir-fry until paste is a darker shade of red or until oil separates.

2) Add pumpkin and cauliflower. Pour the coconut milk in. Season with salt and pepper, and stir until all the ingredients are well coated.

3) Add water. Simmer covered on lower heat until pumpkin is smashed and the cauliflower is cooked.

4) Switch the heat off. Stir fresh coriander in and serve!

1) Ingredients 2) Sauteing onion and garlic.
3) Adding in the spices and curry paste.

1) Adding pumpkin and cauliflower into the mix. 2) Mixing the coconut milk in.
3) Add water and cook until pumpkin is smashed.

There you have it, served with fresh coriander.

Cauliflower Pumpkin Curry with Fresh Coriander

It's great with rice and oh-so-perfect with roti.

Cauliflower Pumpkin Curry ..dig in!

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Tree Cut-Out Cookies


It's almost Christmas, and we're at the peak of joy and togetherness. This is halfway into the holiday season. Hardworking loved ones are having their much-needed break. Everyone's relaxed. It's a nice feeling. Now, imagine if there were week long holidays every month of the year! I guess we'd all be smiling from ear to ear.

I did hint in my previous post that I had baked Christmas Tree cookies. I'm finally unveiling it today. This is a Nigella Lawson recipe. I chose it because it was simple.

My strategy has always been not to make complicated food on days I have much to do and this happens often during the holidays. There's extra housecleaning, the kind that happens seasonally, and lots of outings ...lots!

Additionally, if I decide to organise a party, I'd rather catch up with people than try to wow them with something elaborate on the dinner table ..unless I have help, of course and if it's an event where everyone chips in. Otherwise, it's always quick and easy food for me during the festive period and more difficult ones, after!

So this is it - an easy one, but no less pretty. Click here for the ingredients and how-to on 'Cut-Out Cookies'.

Christmas Tree Cut-Out Cookies

These cookies are sweet enough on its own but this is meant to be a festive treat. Therefore, the little extra icing, I think, wouldn't hurt.

1) Creaming butter and sugar together. 2) The egg and vanilla is added.
3) Dry ingredients consisting of flour, baking powder and salt. 4) Combining wet and dry ingredients.

1) My cookie dough. 2) Form a flat disk, wrap and refrigerate!
3) Work on a floured surface. 4) Roll out to just under a quarter inch thick. Cut into shapes.

My baking experience - 8 minutes flat at 175C, no more. The cookies are ready when the edges begin to brown.

Off the cookie dough goes in the oven on a lined baking tray.

Isn't it a beauty?

Begin icing once the cookies are cool. I tinged a third of the icing with a bit of red and the rest with green. Use a teaspoon to drizzle the green icing back and forth across the cookie from top to bottom. Lastly, dot with pink icing.

Drizzling the green icing across and dotting the light pink on!

My Christmas cookies are ready

The back of the cookie

Storing tips - Stack the cookies with a piece of baking paper placed in between each layer. This prevents the cookies from sticking to each other.

Christmas Tree cookies on the third day!

I think it makes a nice gift.


This blog post is linked to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organised by these wonderful people - Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Eggless Honey Walnut Cake


'Tis the season to be jolly. That's how it feels to be in the kitchen these days, brimming with life and hums of holiday tunes. No sooner had I finished baking Christmas Tree cookies, I was already scouring my books and the web for another recipe to try.

But boohoo, I ran out of eggs! Hence, my first attempt at an eggless cake recipe. What do you think? 

Eggless Honey Walnut Cake

It turned out great. Taste-wise, no less delicious and it was very moist. It's day two and the cakes are still good, left outside at room temperature in a container.

A Slice Of Eggless Honey Walnut Cake

This is a recipe I adapted from Taste Goblet - Eggless  Maple Pecan Cake. I changed some of the ingredients and, always wanting a shortcut, the steps differ too.

Eggless Honey Walnut Cake
- 1½ cups cake flour
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 tbsp caster sugar
- ½ cup roughly crushed walnuts
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp Tasmanian pure leatherwood honey
- ½ cup milk + juice of 2 calamansi lime (mix together)
- A little butter for greasing the baking tin

1) Sift cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into a bowl.

2) Add walnuts and caster sugar. Stir to combine.

3) Push the mixed flour aside to make a hole in the center. Pour oil, milk-lime mixture and honey into the hole. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together until just combined.

4) I use a baking tin with 8-rectangular holes. Grease six of the moulds with butter. Then, fill with batter until ¾ full.

5) Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170C for 15minutes. Reduce to 165C for a further 5 minutes. Total bake time : 20 minutes. Use a skewer to check - if the skewer comes out clean, the cake is done.

This baking time and temp works best for my oven. Do a bake test (of 1 piece) to find out what works best for you.

6) Allow the cakes to cool in tin for about ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. The cakes should slide out of the mould with a little tap. Let it cool completely before decorating.

7) For a Christmassy feel, I dusted the cakes with icing sugar and sprinkled some white and gold sugar pearls over.

The cake is sweet enough on its own. Frosting is not a must.

1) Pure leatherwood honey 2) Add sugar and nuts to the flour mix
3) Combine all the dry ingredients. 4) Add the wet ingredients and combine

1) Pour batter into baking tin 2) The cake rises
3) Bake until nicely browned 4) Test with skewer and remove from oven

Let The Mini Cakes Cool!

No Greaseproof Paper Required!
Individual cake mould size : About 2x3 inches each

Well, that's that. I'm off to enjoy another slice! Happy Holidays, everyone ♥

Eggless Honey Walnut Cake


This blog post is linked to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organised by these wonderful people - Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Food Decoration : Spring Onion Curls (Flower)


It is 'scallion' to some and 'spring onion' to another, depending where you're from. For us, it's called the spring onion or daun bawang (onion leaf) in Malay.

I often use spring onions as a garnishing food item or bake them into savoury treats. The ones I eat are grown from red onions and is harvested fresh from my balcony garden. It's something I plant because I find it therapeutic to do so and pretty to look at.

This is one of my favourite ways to decorate home-cooked meals. It's easy and uncomplicated. A little snip here and there and the spring onion curls into a delicate flower decoration that can be used on top of pies, thick soups, or sprinkled abundantly over any dish of your preference.

The steps. Take a fresh stalk. Rinse under cool water.

Fresh Spring Onions

Cut the spring onion into 1.5-inch pieces . With a small scissor (or knife), make a cut along the length of the piece, about 1-inch from one end of the stalk. Make another cut and another, until several thin strips have been made (at the same length). Depending on the size of the stalk, I make between 5-8 small cuts.

Be careful not to slice or tear it all the way down.

Making a cut into the Spring Onion

 It should look like this.

Make several strips at the tip!

The strips will start to curl. If not, dip in cool water or rinse lightly under cool tap water. It will curl into these beautiful looking flowers.

Spring Onion Flower Curls

Now, you can decorate your dish! Some examples for an idea.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Beetroot and Parsley Cookies


The scene is magical in our large shopping malls. Lights of gold and colourful baubles decorate tall trees. Joyful Christmas songs fill the air. I hear a happy lift in people's chatter. Wide smiles grace glowing faces.

Well, my kitchen feels magical too. At this time of year, I attempt to bake festive treats and it will have nothing to do with chocolate chip cookies! Chocolate chip cookies are what I call 'staple food' in the sweet treats department. Therefore, a festive cookie needs to be something else.    

I try to be different about it, of course. That's how beetroot and parsley made its way into this cookie. The other reason was because I had parsley growing in my garden and I felt that it needed to go somewhere. Haha, I know.

The end result of these adventures, although often pleasing, is no reflection of work in between, which is sometimes laden with dramatic moments of 'why-is-this-happening-to-me'.

Beetroot and Parsley Cookies

As I rolled this cookie dough into shape, I consoled myself with an, "It's going to be alright, Hun. You've got this! "

This cookie dough is soft and a little sticky. It requires refrigeration for easy handling. As the weather was humid, I had to work quickly and was constantly on my feet, putting the dough in and out of the refrigerator, because I was baking in batches.

It's a recipe I adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly Cookies book, which was originally for choc and cranberry checkerboards. I did away with four of the ingredients and a couple of steps, then added what I thought should be in there.

Anyway, off one went into the oven. A test. It turned out really great. So, I proceeded to bake the entire batch.

Beetroot and Parsley Cookies Fresh Out Of The Oven!
Beetroot and Parsley Cookies (About 30 pcs)

- 200g softened butter
- ¾ cup caster sugar
- ½ tsp artificial vanilla flavour (bottled liquid)
- 1 egg
- 2 cups plain flour (sift)
- 1 tsp finely chopped beetroot
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley (curly-leaf)


1) Using an electric mixer, beat all these ingredients together - butter, sugar, vanilla and egg, until light and fluffy.

2) Stir half the flour in. Keep stirring until all of it has been incorporated into the batter. Then, stir the other half in.

3) Divide the dough into half. Add parsley into one, and beetroot into the other. Knead until it is evenly spread.

4) Transfer this onto baking paper. Fold the baking paper up and shape the dough into a long bar. Then, refrigerate covered in the same baking paper until it's easy to slice - about 45 minutes for me.

5) Work quickly, slice the chilled bar lengthways. I did this on a cutting board lined with baking paper. Clean the knife after every slice. This is NOT the fun part.

The dough was a little sticky so I shaped it using the baking paper it was already in.

Do the checkerboard design - Slice 6 thin strips from each bar. Stack 3 from each together in alternate layers to make a bar. Then, give the whole 'thing' a little twist and gently press and roll to combine, making it into a round bar (like in the pictures). Do the same for the the remainder of the strips...or do something else.

Then, wrap it up again and chill until it's easy to manage again. Now you will have two round bars of pretty pink and green dough in a distorted checkerboard design.

6) Line the tray with baking paper. Take one of the now combined dough out of the fridge. Cut into just under 1 cm slices and arrange on the tray for baking. The cookie will spread a little, so give it some space.

7) Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170C for about 10 minutes (or until the edges brown a little). Let it stand on the baking tray for about 5 minutes before transferring onto wire racks to cool.

This temp and timing suits my oven best. Always do the bake test!

Continue doing 6) and 7) until all the dough is finished.

How-to 1 to 3 in pictures with Red Beetroot and Green Parsley

1) Take the chilled dough out. 2) Slice lengthways and arrange in alternate flavours.
3) Chill again, then slice. 4) Place on baking paper and bake!

1) The cookie begins to spread in the oven. 2) The edges are brown, it's done!
3) The back of my cookie. 4) The pretty pastel front!

Texture-wise, this is neither crunchy nor soft, something in-between. It smells like vanilla - devoid of parsley scent.

Beetroot and Parsley Cookies Cooling On The Wire Rack

This is sweet but not overly. I packed 10 pieces for my guy to bring to the office. He came home empty handed with an uh-oh for eating too much. Yep, he rated this as one of the best cookies I've ever made. I had to laugh. I guess all the work was worth it after all!

One Beetroot and Parsley Cookie

Biting into a Beetroot and Parsley Cookie!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Coconut Prawn Curry

Home cooking as it is - I can pick up a cookery book intending to follow a recipe to the dot, but very much end up with something completely different when I'm done.

For me, it's a tug of war between buying too many little ingredients and using what I already have on hand. Most times, I go with the latter and get a feel of what the taste buds are telling me for the day. Sensible me!

This dish is a modified version of Chef Wan's Otak-Otak Makanan Laut (Seafood Otak-Otak) which I picked out from the recipe book 400 Resipi Terbaik Chef Wan. Chef Wan is the Food Ambassador of Malaysia. He is an amazing source of inspiration to me when it comes to cooking local food. A ton of spices, ingredients .... he doesn't cut corners! There are no shortcuts in his recipes.There are, however, in mine.

In short, I had set out to emulate a great Chef but ended up being 'just plain old me' - the home cook who's cautious about having too many food ingredients lying around. I say haha to that!

So, this is my version of a spicy coconut delight.

Coconut Prawn Curry

It's strongly flavoured. I say this because the tom yum paste that I have used for this recipe is packed with taste. Best eaten with plain rice!

Coconut Prawn Curry
- 1 young coconut (clean, save the coconut water and spoon out flesh, keep aside)
- 320g medium prawns (cleaned)
- 15 to 20 sweet basil leaves (chopped)
- 3 dried kaffir lime leaves (leaf stems removed, crushed)
- 1 limau nipis/key lime
- 1 red chilli (sliced)
- 1 tbsp blended dried red chilli
- 1 tbsp tom yum paste or to taste (bottled variety)
- 1 tbsp curry powder (mix a bit of water in, into a thick paste)
- 1 tsp kerisik (toasted coconut paste)
- ¼ tsp brown sugar
- 1 to 2 tbsp cooking oil
- Water, if necessary

1) Heat oil in pan. Saute tom yum paste. Once browned, add curry powder and blended chilli. Stir quickly.

2) Add toasted coconut paste, sweet basil and kaffir lime leaves. Squeeze lime juice in and add brown sugar. Stir well, allow it to cook for a bit. Then, add coconut water. (Add water only if you want more gravy or find the flavour too strong.)

3) When the water begins to simmer, stir the prawns and red chilli into the mix.

4) Once the prawns are cooked, switch the heat off and gently stir the coconut flesh in.

1) Gathering the ingredients. 2) Spooning out the coconut flesh.
3) Yummy coconut flesh that's begging to be eaten.
4) Deveined prawns, with head and tail left on.

1) Saute tom yum paste. 2) Added the flavouring, now for the prawns.
3) Adding the chilli. 4) After everything is cooked, stir the coconut flesh in.

I served this in the coconut shell but could not fit it all in. The remainder went directly onto my plate of rice!

Coconut Prawn Curry And Rice!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Shiitake Mushroom Salad


Christmas is just over a month away. Is anyone else feeling the joyous mood that comes with? I'm looking forward to munching festive cookies and cakes ..and oh, the creative food decorations. 'Tis the season sweet-toothed souls have been waiting for!

This post isn't about a sugary treat, unfortunately. It's got to do with dried shiitake mushrooms. Usually, I'd put these into a braised soy sauce dish. This time, however, it's going into a healthy salad.

Shiitake Mushroom and Roasted Chilli in a Salad

Two medium bowls, for this portion.

Shiitake Mushroom Salad

- 5 rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms (stems removed, sliced thinly)
- 1 medium-large red onion (sliced)
- 8 to 10 baby butterhead lettuce leaves (tear/cut into smaller pieces)
- 1 red chilli (halved)
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1½ tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 to 2 tbsp cooking oil

1) Brush red chilli with cooking oil and roast in the oven until lightly charred, about 10 minutes at 180C. Let it cool, then gently slice it into thin strips.

2) Toast sesame seeds in the oven or on the stove in a pan, until lightly browned. Set aside for later use. 

3) Heat oil in pan. Saute onions until lightly browned.

4) Add rehydrated mushrooms and oyster sauce. Stir until cooked, making sure that all the ingredients are well coated with the sauce. Then, set aside and let it cool a little.

5) Except for the sesame seeds, place all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Toss to combine.

6) Serve sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds on top.

Top, left to right: Preparing the ingredients. Roasted chilli.
Bottom, left to right : Saute onions, mushroom with oyster sauce. To assemble. 

Ready to toss!

The smoky taste from the roasted chilli was really something I looked forward to in each bite. Aah, but I do love chilli in a lot of my cooking. Oyster sauce is always flavourful so eating it with fresh greens makes this a good match.

Sauteed Shiitake Mushroom Salad


Friday, October 31, 2014

Oven-Baked Maltose Pork Ribs


Maltose. Sticky, syrupy and it looks like honey.

It was an old store. Sacks of rice were piled high on one side. The floor was plain grey cement that had gone dark from years of use. Curiosity brought me to a corner where the shelves held containers and plastic bags of food items that were rarely seen in modern supermarkets. A small layer of dust coated the top. It was here that I stumbled across this little tub of sticky sweetness that was maltose.

I had no idea what it was for, but that's why a smartphone is always a handy thing to have around. Meat roasts came up plenty. When husband noticed several 'char siew ' recipes displayed, he promptly insisted that we should get this.

I reached out for one. He grabbed a second one and justified the purchase by saying that we may not be passing through this neighbourhood again for some time. For me, this enthusiasm translates to, "Let's have maltose-roasted meat every week! "

A couple of days of 'research' later, I narrowed my choices down to this recipe by WokkingMum and adapted it to suit my palate. It turned out really yummy.

Oven-Baked Maltose Pork Ribs

Oven-Baked Maltose Pork Ribs

- 315g pork soft ribs
- 1 tbsp chinese cooking wine
- 1 tbsp chili sauce (sweetish spicy, like Kimball Chilli Sauce)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce (sweetish, salty)
- 1 tbsp maltose (I used a solid small spoon to twirl it out)
- ¼ cup hot water

1) Mix maltose and hot water together. Stir until maltose syrup is easy to handle. Let it cool.

2) Mix pork ribs with cooking wine, chilli sauce, soy sauce and maltose (from 1) together. Cover and leave it to marinate for two hours in the refrigerator (don't freeze it).

2) Take it out from the fridge and stir it up. Line baking tray with foil. Line the pork ribs in a row (meaty part down) and drizzle some of the marinade over. Keep aside a little marinade for later.

3) Bake at 180C in a pre-heated oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

At the 30th minute, it begins to sizzle. Flip the pork over on the 40th minute and baste with juices from the tray and brush on the remaining marinade. Bake for another 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

4) Remove from oven. Some gravy would have accumulated in the baking tray. Plate the pork ribs. Drizzle or brush the gravy over.

1) Slice pork ribs.
2) Add soy sauce, chilli sauce and cooking wine.
3) Pour maltose in.
4) Marinate for 2 hours.

1) Line the pork ribs in a baking tray. Drizzle marinade over.
2) Bake at 180C.
3) Turn ribs over.
4) Bake until brown and beautiful.

Taste-wise, this is what I would describe as something pleasantly sweet and savoury. It's not spicy even though I added chilli sauce into the mix because I used a mild variety.

Oven-Baked Maltose Pork Ribs

Best enjoyed with fluffy white rice or on its own.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cabbage And Carrot Curry


The turmeric way.

Turmeric is a rhizome that looks like a ginger. They are, in fact, from the same family. It has a deep orange-yellow colour. I use gloves when working with fresh turmeric because it leaves a stain on the hands.

Why am I talking about turmeric today? I lean towards curry powder, blended red chilli and coriander powder when making curry paste. This is one version of curry that I wanted to explore. I went all turmeric this time. Turmeric powder, that is.

Cabbage and carrot? That's what I have left in the fridge. I've made it a habit to clear off whatever I have on hand. I was really tempted to add prawns into this dish, but reassured myself, "Next time."

Cabbage And Carrot Curry

It turned out quite yummy and now, I have a new recipe under my belt!

This is how I did it. I would describe this as mildly sour, savory curry. Best paired with white rice.

Cabbage And Carrot Curry
- 1 large carrot (cut into chunks)
- 2 medium potatoes (cut into chunks)
- ½ large onion (chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 1 to 2 dried asam keping depending how sour you want this
(aka asam gelugor, sometimes labelled 'dried tamarind slices')
- 1½ cup sliced cabbage
- ¼ cup chopped fresh coriander
- 1 cup chicken stock or use a pinch of chicken stock granules
- 4 to 6 cups water
- 6 dried cloves

Add some water, mix together into a wet paste:
- 3 tbsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp curry powder

- 1½ tbsp dried red chili paste
- Cooking oil
- Salt to taste

1) Heat cooking oil in pan. Saute onion and garlic for a minute or so.
2) Add cloves. Add turmeric/curry paste. Stir-fry until golden brown.
3) Add chili paste and tamarind slices. Mix well.
4) Then, stir in carrots, potatoes and fresh coriander. Mix to coat all the ingredients.
5) Add chicken stock (or granules) along with 4 cups water. Lower the heat and cook covered until carrots and potatoes are tender enough to bite into.
6) Remove cover. Remove tamarind slices (the curry should taste sour enough by now).
7) Add more water (only if there's not enough gravy). Stir the cabbage in and season with salt. Increase the heat and cook uncovered until cabbage is done.

From top-left, clockwise: Stir-fry all the ingredients except the cabbage. Add chicken stock.
Add water and cook covered. Finally, add the cabbage.

Cabbage And Carrot Curry

The one thing I love about home cooking is that it's a very flexible affair. I dish out whatever I want depending on the ingredients I have with me at the time of cooking, making many variations to recipes along the way.

What do you love about home cooking?


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