Sunday, March 11, 2012

Vegetable Lasagna with sweet potato and ricotta cheese

Sometimes I like to take a break from eating meat and go vegetarian for a meal or two. Tonight I've tried to make a vegetable lasagna and one of the key to this recipe is to make sure the juice from the vegetables is not running out into the pasta. This recipe is actually copied from Donna Hays cookbook. It uses sweet potatoes in this recipe and it is super healthy and not heavy at all! I had two big pieces tonight and I could eat another one!
This recipe has been proportioned to make a three layer lasagna for an A4 paper size baking tray. This serves 9 large pieces.


Ingredients:
10 sheets of lasagna pasta
4 tomatoes (sliced)
2 sweet potatoes (sliced)
2 carrots (sliced)
1 egg plant (sliced)
1 cup of mushrooms (sliced)
salt
black pepper
olive oil

Cheese filling:
fresh basil (coarsely chopped)
fresh parsley(coarsely chopped)
450g ricotta cheese (low fat)
2 cups of mozzarella cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk

Method:
  • First put the sweet potatoes in tin foil, sprinkle on some salt and wrap it up before putting in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes on 200C. Sweet potatoes need more time to cook so it goes in the oven first.
  • Lay all the sliced eggplant, mushroom, carrots, and tomato on a baking tray. Sprinkle generous amount of salt and pepper and olive oil, then cover the tray with a tin foil before placing the tray in the oven to bake for about 25 minutes. (salt is used here to draw out the moisture from the vegetables)
  • While the vegetables are roasting in the oven, prepare the cheese filling. Combine egg, ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella, parsley, and basil with a spoon and set aside in the fridge.
  • Next is to cook the lasagna sheets in salted boiling water (it's better to undercook the pasta as it will go in the oven for more cooking)
  • Remove the roasted sweet potatoes and the rest of the vegetables from the oven. Line the lasagna baking tray with cooked lasagna pasta sheets, then spoon half of the roasted vegetables on the sheet, then top with half of the ricotta cheese fillings. Repeat another layer. Last layer should be lasagna pasta and then top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella.
  • Cover the lasagna tray with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes at 200C. Remove the tin foil and turn the oven to high grill for about 5 minutes so that the cheese will burn a little.













Sunday, February 26, 2012

Butter Cake (牛油蛋糕)- (forget Sara Lee!!)


Upon a friend's request, I found a butter cake recipe from someone's blog but I made some small changes to the recipe and experimented it tonight! To my surprise, it worked! It's actually really easy to make, so don't ever buy those frozen Sara Lee cakes again! This one tastes 100x better and has a cake crust that Sara Lee can't do!








Ingredients:
4 eggs
200g butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar
4 tbsp milk
pinch of salt

Method:
  • Separate egg yolks and egg whites in separate bowls. Beat egg whites until soft peaks are formed and set aside.
  • Beat butter, egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl with electric mixer until creamy and add vanilla extract and pinch of salt.
  • While beating the egg batter, slowly add flour and milk until all the flour has been added (the batter will be quite dense and heavy).
  • Add the egg whites last and slowly beat into the egg batter (do not mix too long though)
  • Pour the batter into a greased pan and bake at 160C for 1 hour or until the middle of cake is thoroughly cooked (test it by sticking a knife or skewer to the middle of cake)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Moist Carrot Bread

I'm always hungry after workout from my yoga classes and I need something healthy and quick to boost my energy and fill my stomach. I love carrot cake but it's so hard to find a coffee shop that makes good carrot cake without the sugar and the fat. If you like carrot cake and want to be health conscious, you must try the below recipe which I came up and they came out really delicious! I'm not a fan of cream cheese frosting so I'm not going to put it on my recipe.




Ingredients:
2 large eggs
2.5 cups of grated carrots
Zest of one lemon
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup buttermilk or homo milk
1/2 stick butter (room temperature)
2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method:
  • Mix eggs, butter, sugar, apple sauce, lemon zest, grated carrots.
  • Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg into the wet mixture
  • Mix by hand until you cannot see any white flour and mix in buttermilk and continue mixing until the mixture is similar to cake batter consistency (not too runny)
  • Add in the walnuts last and pour the batter into a baking tray or loaf pan. Bake for 30-40 mins at 180C.

Mom's best dumpling 餃子 (northern style)


Seriously, no one can beat my mom's dumplings! They are so good and the pictures are proofs! I can eat at least 15 of them each time and I'm never tired of them! They are super healthy and filling, consisting of minced pork, wax beans, ginger, cilandro and a dried salty vegetable (津菜) made from the root of choy sum.

First, finely dice the ginger, cilandro stems, and the beans. Then mix them into the minced pork (1 pound) with an egg and add 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Beat the mixture with chopsticks until it becomes sticky and binded together. For the dumpling wraps, my mom buys them fresh from the wet market and if you want to keep them in the fridge for a few days, make sure you have some dry paper towel and keep them in a zip lock bag to prevent drying.

Now, here's the fun part!! I love doing this with my mom as we always compete on who has the best looking dumplings! The pictures below are simple illustrations on how to wrap dumplings properly (takes some practicing but don't worry if you can't make them look the same as they will still taste good)!! Place the wrap on your palm, wet the edge with water, put a small portion of the meat mixture in the middle then fold the edge over to touch in the middle, but do not press all the edges. Put your finger in between the edge and press the excess over and repeat this like below.

Boil the dumplings in a pot of hot water until the dumplings pop up to the surface, and then you can serve them with chicken broth or dip them in vinegar, soy sauce and chili sauce! If you have left overs, reheat them in a frying pan to make pot stickers! They are soooooo good!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lemon Orange & Cranberry Muffins


Muffins are the most simple and delicious baked goods that anyone can make! The key to making muffins is to separate the wet and dry ingredients first. Always add the dry to wet and not to overmix.

Dry ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour (or self-raising flour)
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of dried cranberries
pinch of salt

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/4 stick of butter (room temperature)
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (olive oil or almond oil can be substitutes)
1 tablespoon of Lemon zest
3 tablespoons of orange marmalade (i.e. orange jam)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (or whole milk)

Method:
1) Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl.
2) Mix the wet ingredients with a hand mixer in a second bowl.
3) Add the dry ingredients into the wet bowl by hand in a folding motion until the consistency of the batter is somewhat like thick porridge. (If the batter is too runny, add more flour to make it thicker).
4) Pour batter into muffin tray. Garnish top of muffins with a thin slice of lemon.
5) Preheat oven to 190C and bake muffins for 20mins until top is brown.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Mom's Secret Shanghainese Vegetable Rice 上海菜飯

My Mom is Shanghainese and she's been cooking since she was 12, but she never writes her recipes down so I thought it's time for me to take notes on my family recipes which I hope will be passed on for generations!

I don't normally eat white rice on its own unless it's fried and has lots of soy sauce to go with it. I think Shanghainese Vegetable Rice is healthy, full of flavour, and with a little bit of Chinese Chili Sauce, I can easily eat two bowls! Some people prefer to use the chinese ham 金華火腿, my family is very health conscious so we use bacon/pancetta (see picture 1) instead, which is just as good!

This is easy and quick to make, the cooking time is just as long as a rice cooker takes to cook the rice. But the timing and the steps are the key to this recipe. First, the water in the rice must be less than what regular rice cooker needs. Second, the Pak Choy must not be overcooked (see picture 2) and third, it's important that vegetable and ham is not mixed into the rice too early, otherwise the rice will not be cooked thoroughly or the vegetable will be too overcooked/soggy (see picture 3).

1) 2)3)

Shanghainese Vegetable Rice

This is one of most popular Shanghainese dishes. Rice is ...

See Shanghainese Vegetable Rice on Key Ingredient.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sweet Potato and Ginger Muffins

After making banana chocolate muffins recently, I wanted to try different ingredients for muffins, and not the typical chocolate chip or blueberry. I always like to use what I have at home, rather than going out to the grocery store and add things in my kitchen that will only be used once. So, this time I found some Japanese sweet potatos (mom just bought them from Sogo) which she originally wanted to make Sweet Potato with Ginger Soup 蕃薯糖水. Apparently this is Mr. Li Ka Shing's favourite chinese dessert every night! (If you really want to know :P)

I actually found a lot of muffin recipes with sweet potatos and I picked one that was healthy (no butter in the recipe), easy to make and used the same baking concept as my other muffin recipes. I thought sweet potato may be too starchy for muffins, but I was quite pleasantly surprised by the result! I added a bit of nut and oat cereal to add a crunchy texture, but I think chopped almonds or pecans will be better (unfortunately I didn't have any at home). For ginger, I used crystallized ginger extracted from a sweet ginger tea in sugar syrup (see pictures) that you can normally find in a chinese grocery store. I don't think raw ginger would work in this recipe.

My mom (my QC) gave me the thumbs-up for these muffins! They have a very similar taste to a baked sweet potato, soft, not too sweet, and the ginger is a good compliment that is refreshing to the palette.

Sweet Potato and Ginger Muffins

Healthy, low fat muffins with sweet potato and a light ...

See Sweet Potato and Ginger Muffins on Key Ingredient.