Grilled Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad

Grilled Water Melon with Goat Cheese

Grilled Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad

The other day, while at the supermarket, I  bought a huge seedless watermelon and there was still a huge chunk lying in the refrigerator and I was wondering what to do with it.  I have come across some recipes for  watermelon salad with feta or goat cheese and figured that they would go very well together – imagine the sweetness of the watermelon and the saltines of the cheese – what a wonderful combination!

There are several ways to serve it – you could slice the watermelon, sprinkle some goat cheese and olive oil, add a dash of salt and pepper and I am sure this would make a simple and delicious salad.   However, just a couple of days ago I received an email from one of the food blogs I subscribe to (Taste)and they featured this delicious looking watermelon salad and I knew, with just one look, I had to have a go at it and fortunately I had most of the ingredients, except for the goat’s cheese which I picked up yesterday afternoon from the grocery store.

This grilled watermelon and goat cheese salad is really easy to prepare and so delicious.  We had it for lunch and it was really a very tasty, light dish.

INGREDIENTS

4 wedges seedless watermelon
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced, root end intact
Light spray olive oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup goat cheese (or feta cheese)
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, chopped

METHOD

  • Heat a griddle pan and spray a little olive oil and grill the watermelon wedges until charred on both sides
Grilled Water Melon

Grilled Watermelon

  • Next grill the sliced onion until charred on both sides as well
Char Grill the Onions

Char Grill the Onions

  • Mix the extra virgin oil and the red wine vinegar with a dash of pepper
  • Place the charred watermelon wedges and onion slices on the serving plate and sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts and pieces of goat cheese
  • Pour the vinegar/extra virgin oil dressing over and serve
Grilled Water Melon with Goat Cheese

Grilled Watermelon with Goat Cheese

While I was busy preparing this salad, my husband was hard at work painting my little “cart” where I store all my “props” for my food photography.   I love collecting unusual looking crockery, table napkins and spoons and all these are stored in two boxes which are easily accessible near my kitchen. 😀

My little cart

My little cart


Ayam Kapitan (Chicken in Spicy Coconut Gravy)

Ayam Kapitan (Chicken in Spicy Coconut Gravy)

Ayam Kapitan (Chicken in Spicy Coconut Gravy)

This chicken dish is truly mouth-watering and flavorful with its rich blend of spices.  There are many versions to this dish, but personally this is the best I have tried so far.  When cooking this dish, it is important to ensure that the spices are well fried until the oil seeps to the surface.

This recipe has been adapted from celebrity chef, Chef Wan’s cookbook called “Simply Sedap” meaning “Simply Delicious” in English.   I purchased this cookbook several years ago when I had hardly heard of Chef Wan, and it had been lying on the bookshelf for years.  I was just tidying up the shelf when I came across this cookbook and while flipping though the pages I was simply overwhelmed by all the beautiful photographs of the delicious food in this book.

The first recipe I prepared a couple of days ago was fried fish, again cooked in all these wonderful spices and the taste nearly blew my mind!  It was amazingly delicious and am going to give it another try soon.

For today I prepared “Ayam Kapitan” which is chicken in spicy coconut gravy for lunch.  I briefly skimmed through the ingredients for this dish and fortunately had all that was required lying in my refrigerator, so I decided I simply had to give it a try.  There was a little left over from lunch and we had it again for dinner and my husband commented that it tasted even better. 😀

INGREDIENTS

1 medium size chicken (cut into 12 pieces)
½ cup coconut milk
2 cups water
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
5 kaffir lime leaves
2 fresh red chilies, slit into two
4 tablespoons oil
Salt to taste
A handful coriander leaves for garnishing

The following ingredients are to be ground to a paste

2 medium size onions (sliced)
10 shallots
3 cloves garlic
½ inch galangal
½ inch ginger
½ inch fresh turmeric
6 pieces candle-nut
2 stalks lemon grass (finely slice the white part only)
4 tablespoons chili paste

METHOD 

  • Heat wok and add the oil
  • When the wok is smoking, turn down the heat and add the ground ingredients and stir fry until fragrant and the oil rises to the surface
  • Add the chicken pieces and mix well with the fried paste and let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Next add the coconut milk and water, tamarind paste, kaffir lime leaves, fresh chilies and salt to taste
  • Cover and let it simmer until the chicken is tender, add a little more water if it gets too dry
  • When done the gravy should be quite thick
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves
  • Serve with white rice
Ayam Kapitan (Chicken in Spicy Coconut Gravy)

Ayam Kapitan (Chicken in Spicy Coconut Gravy)


Nyonya Babi Assam (Pork cooked in Salted Beans and Tangy Tamarind Sauce)

Malacca (West Malaysia) with its main attractions like Fort A Formosa, St John’s Fort, St Peter’s Church and not forgetting Jonker Street and the charming Geographer Cafe, is well-known for its antique goods and of course their Peranakan/Nyonya cuisine.

During one of our trips there we stopped for lunch at a Peranakan restaurant and tried their Nyonya Babi Assam (Pork cooked in salted beans and tangy tamarind sauce) with a thick spicy gravy.  It was so good that I decided to give it a try.

Peranakan cooking is the result of blending Chinese ingredients with spices and cooking techniques used by the Malays/Indonesians and the food has a distinct spicy, tangy, aromatic flavor.

This recipe is adapted from Mrs Lee’s Cookbook

Nyonya Babi Assam

Nyonya Babi Assam

INGREDIENTS

600 grams of belly pork
2 tablespoons chili paste
1 tablespoon salted beans (taucheo)
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 lemongrass
570 ml of water
3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon sugar
salt to taste
Sliced green and red chilies garnishing

FOR THE PASTE

3 candlenuts
3 large green chilies
20 shallots
1 tablespoon prawn paste

METHOD

  1. Rinse the belly pork and cut into pieces (remove the fatty part, if you prefer).
  2. Pound the salted beans
  3. Prepare the tamarind paste by soaking it in about 3 tbsp. warm water and remove the pulp and the seeds (I prefer the bottled seedless kind)
  4. Grind the ingredients to a paste
  5. Heat wok over a high flame until it smokes.
  6. Stir fry the ground ingredients and the chili paste  and lemon grass until it is well cooked and fragrant.  If it is too dry you can add a little water to prevent it from burning.
  7. Add the salted bean paste and the pork and stir fry for a few minutes, again adding more water if it gets too dry.
  8. Add the tamarind mixture and bring to a boil and continue cooking until the water is reduced by half.
  9. Add sugar and salt to taste (mind you the bean paste is rather salty so you may wish to skip the salt unless its necessary).
  10. Garnish with sliced green and red chilies


Witches’ Fingers

Witches Fingers

Witches Fingers

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble ….”

I baked these witches’ fingers for a friends BBQ yesterday night and they were a hit!  They are quite easy to prepare.  The first batch did not turn out so well as the egg white brushed on with a little green coloring burnt and it looked very dark in the centre.

For the second batch I painted on some green coloring without the egg white and it didn’t look too good either.  The other thing I learnt is that they should be rolled into really scrawny fingers because they tend to expand when baked and the 1st batch looked more like fat toes than fingers! 😀

Well, I learned through trial and error and the last batch turned out great.  I rolled them really scrawny, added the green coloring to the dough while mixing and painted on some red colouring around the nails before popping them into the oven and they turned out quite well.    Oh! the other thing I forgot to mention, the almond essence was not added to the first two batches, but I added it to the final batch and they tasted really great.

INGREDIENTS

1 teaspoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon green food coloring
30 blanched almonds
2 large eggs (1 whole and 1 yolk only)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
5 tablespoons granulated brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees C
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside
  • In a bowl, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon green food coloring and salt
  • Beat until they are well combined, on medium speed
  • Add the eggs and beat until smooth, for about 2 minutes
  • Add the flour and mix on low-speed until well incorporated
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for about 20 minutes
  • Divide the dough into half, keep the remaining dough covered and wrapped in plastic and chill
  • Divide the first half into 15 pieces
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a ball and then roll the dough back and forth with your palms to form finger shapes, about 3 to 4 inches long
  • Using your finger, make dents in two places to form the knuckles.  Using the back of a small knife, score each knuckle lightly
  • Transfer fingers to the prepared baking sheets and continue with the remaining dough
  • Embed one blanched almond to form finger-nails and with a brush lightly paint on some red coloring to each nail
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes until done
  • Place on a wire rack to cool

 


Sambal Goreng Java (Prawn and Quail Eggs in Spicy Coconut Gravy)

Sambal Goreng Java

Sambal Goreng Java

One of my more memorable trips was to Indonesia during the Chinese New Year holidays a couple of years back.  We had a long weekend and made a short getaway to Jakarta to visit some friends and at the same time we spent a couple of days in Bandung, which is in the southeast of Jakarta.

Bandung is up in the mountains and surrounded by tea plantations and the temperature there is much cooler year round, which is a very pleasant change from the humidity in most of the Indonesian cities, and is a very popular weekend destination for the residents of Jakarta.

We headed for Bandung early in the morning, right after a quick breakfast.  Loaded with a box full of mandarin oranges to munch on the way, we packed our bags at the back of our “Kijang” (mini bus) and we were on our way.  As we drove up the mountain we made several stops at quaint little restaurants along the way and filled our tummies with the delicious Javanese food.   I love the blend of spices and I was thinking about our trip to Bandung and about all the delicious Javanese food we had there and I just had to try my hand at this delicious dish made of quail’s eggs and prawns, with a thick blend of spices cooked in rich coconut milk.

Found this Sanbal Goreng Java recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks (it has been been adapted from Mrs Lee’s Cookbook).

INGREDIENTS

15 small prawns
20 quails eggs
3 red chilies
3 green chilies (sliced diagonally)
6 shallots (sliced)
4 cloves garlic (sliced)
2 slices galangal
2 tablespoons chili paste (or more, if you prefer it very spicy)
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 packet coconut milk
1 cup water
Salt to taste

METHOD

  • Shell and de-vein the prawns and set them aside
  • Hard boil and peel the eggs
  • Slice the green chilies diagonally
  • Grind the red chilies, shallots, garlic and galangal to a paste
  • Heat oil in a wok over a high flame
  • Add the ground spices and chili paste and stir fry until the oil rises to the surface
  • Next add the prawns and stir fry until they are half-cooked then add the coconut milk mixed with 1 cup water
  • Lower the flame, add the eggs, sliced green chilies and salt and simmer until the gravy is thick
  • Serve with white rice

I was scrolling though my photographs taken during our trip to Bandung and thought I’d share a few of them.    One of the restaurants I loved very much was in a place called Kampung Daun (in English it means “Leaf Village”).

Kampung Daun is located in a small valley in the northern city of Bandung surrounded by a solid rock cliff.

While having lunch at one of their many gazebos, surrounded by rainforest, we could hear in the background the sounds of gurgling water from a stream and the mountain breeze softly playing with the bamboo leaves.

I just loved the beautiful and tranquil atmosphere of this traditional village – and it felt good being so close to nature.

On the way round the mountains there were several antique shops and we stopped by to pick up some old treasures.

We really had a good time there – great company, wonderfully cool weather, hunting for antiques and mostly sampling the delicious Javanese food.  Can’t wait to go back there again …  and soon I hope! 😀


Pilau Rice with Roasted Sliced Almonds

Pilau Rice with Roasted Sliced Almonds

Pilau Rice with Roasted Sliced Almonds

Basmati (or long grain rice) is popular for its flavor and its fragrance.  You can purchase the brown or white rice, but the brown variety has more flavor.  When cooked, the rice is lighter and more fluffy than standard white rice, and does not stick together.  Basmati rice is also used in cooking Biryani dishes.

I garnished this rice dish with roasted sliced almonds, but you can also use roasted cashew nuts as well, but since I had none available, I substituted it with almonds instead.  The rose water and ghee adds a very nice fragrance to this delicious and easy rice dish.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups Basmati rice – wash and drain
2 tablespoons ghee
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
4 cardamoms
1 thumb sized ginger
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
3 cups water
5 tablespoons evaporated milk
salt to taste
1 tablespoons rose-water
Sliced almonds (or cashew nuts) fried in ghee until they are light golden brown

Pilau Rice with Roasted Sliced Almonds

Pilau Rice with Roasted Sliced Almonds

METHOD

  • Heat the ghee and add the ingredients for frying together with the ginger/garlic paste – fry till fragrant
  • Add the yogurt, water, evaporated milk, salt and rose-water and bring to a boil
  • When the water boils add the rice and continue to boil
  • When the rice is drying, reduce heat and keep the pot covered and cook over low heat
  • Stir the rice, cover the pot and continue cooking for another 5 minutes
  • To serve sprinkle sliced almonds

Absolutely Delicious Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

I was flipping though one of my cookbooks a few days ago and came across this recipe.  I have never tried cooking butter chicken before, but I have had it several times while dining out and I simply love it.   It is a little time-consuming to prepare, but believe me it is worth all the effort.    It is really such a delicious dish and I was wondering what took me so long to actually try to make it myself – maybe it was because I felt it was a very complicated process.  Well, I finally got round to doing it and it really turned out amazingly good.   One thing’s for sure – I will now be whipping up this dish more frequently!  ;D

By the way this recipe has been adapted from Oli – Favourite Cuisine

INGREDIENTS

1 whole chicken

Ingredients A 

1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vinegar
80 grams yogurt
2 tablespoons mustard oil
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon pepper powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste
coriander leaves for garnishing

Ingredients B (for the sauce)
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, ground to a paste
4 medium tomatoes, pureed
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon yogurt
1/4 cup cream
50 grams candle-nut and cashew nut ground to a paste
1 cup water
salt to taste

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

METHOD

  • Skin the chicken and make small cuts on the fleshy parts
  • Mix Ingredients A into the chicken and roast in a pre-heated oven at 170o C for approximately 30 minutes until it is 3/4 roasted
  • Let it cool and remove the bones and cut the chicken into medium pieces
  • To make the sauce, heat butter in a pan and add all of Ingredients B
  • Let it simmer, stirring continuously until the spices are well cooked
  • Next add the roasted chicken pieces and continue to cook for about 2-3 minutes
  • Add more water if the gravy gets too thick
  • Pour a little cream before serving
  • Garnish with coriander leaves

Long Beans In Spicy Gravy

Long Beans in Spicy Gravy

Long Beans in Spicy Gravy

Long-beans one of my favorite vegetables.  I love the spiciness of this dish and blend of candlenuts, chilies, prawn paste and shallots which makes it very flavorful and it is so easy to prepare.

This vegetable dish goes very well with steamed white rice.

Here is another favorite recipe that has been adapted from Mrs Lee’s Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

300 grams long beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 packet coconut milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste

Grind to a paste

3 candlenuts
8 shallots
2 red chilies (or two tablespoons chili paste)
1/2 teaspoon belachan (prawn paste)

METHOD

  • Cut the long beans into 2.5 cm lengths and set aside
  • Peel and slice the shallots, and blend with the candlenuts, red chilies and prawn paste
  • Heat wok over high flame and add the oil
  • Next add the blended spices and stir fry for about 3 minutes or until the oil rises to the surface
  • Mix the coconut milk with 1 cup of water and add half the amount to the long beans and stir fry for a few minutes until the water evaporates and the beans are cooked but still a little crunchy
  • Add the remaining coconut milk, sugar and salt and let it simmer gently for another 2 minutes

Blue Skies

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see ………………… 😀

Took this photo on my way back from the grocery store this morning.  What a beautiful morning this is!  😀

Blue skies

Blue skies


Ayam Sambal (Chicken in thick spicy coconut gravy)

Chicken Sambal

Chicken Sambal

Recipe adapted from Mrs Lee’s Cookbook.

Easy to prepare, but requires the preparation of the blended spices, this recipe has been adapted from Mrs Lee’s Cookbook (which is one of my favorites).

There are a whole host of recipes found in this cookbook – recipes for soups, salads, vegetables, pickles, seafood, chicken, pork, beef, satay, one-dish meals, multiple-dish meals.

INGREDIENTS

1 whole chicken (skinned and cut into pieces)
1 thumb size galangal (lengkuas)
1 stalk lemon grass
300 grams grated coconut *
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Spices to be blended

6 slices ginger
20 shallots
6 cloves garlic
10 red chilies (or 3 tablespoons chili paste)
1 teaspoon prawn paste
1 teaspoon coriender powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder

METHOD

  • Boil 3 cups of water and add the chicken parts, cover and let it simmer gently
  • In the meantime, blend the spices and set aside
  • Heat oil in a wok and when it is hot add the blended spices, galangal and lemon grass and stir fry until aromatic and the oil rises to the surface
  • Next add the cooked chicken pieces, water, coconut milk, grated coconut*, sugar and salt to taste
  • Let it simmer gently until the gravy is thick and almost dry
  • Serve with white rice

* you can use fresh grated coconut, or the ready made bottled spicy sauteed grated coconut

Chicken Sambal2

Chicken Sambal2