Thursday, January 27, 2011

Baked Cannellini Beans In Tomatoes

This is a very comforting home-styled Baked Cannellini Beans In Tomatoes. A perfect meat-free dish that’s packed with plenty of nutritional benefits. Cannellini beans are high in fiber, low fat, and contains magnesium, iron, protein, and folate. If you can’t get cannellini beans, then, you may consider to substitute with other white beans, such as Great Northern or Navy bean. Enjoy this great tasting fresh baked beans with your favorite bread. My pick is a couple of sliced toasty baguette.

Recipe adapted from Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros (pg 48)

Baked Cannellini Beans In Tomatoes


500 g (1 lb 2 oz) Dried Cannellini Beans, soaked overnight (in cold water)
1 Sage Sprig
1 Bay Leaf
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium Red Onion, finely diced
3 Tbsp Chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 ½ tsp Smoked Sweet Paprika Powder
1 Can (28 oz/1 lb 12 oz/794 g) Diced Tomatoes
3 Tbsp Tomato Paste
Sea Salt to taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper


Put the beans in a large pan, cover with plenty of cold water and bring to the boil. Skim the surface, lower the heat and add the sage sprig and bay leaf. If the bay leaf is fresh, add it towards the end of cooking. High simmer for about an hour, uncovered, topping up with hot water if it seems necessary. Add about a tsp of salt towards the end.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C/Gas Mark 4.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish over medium heat. Sauté the onion for a few minutes until it is golden and a bit sticky. Add parsley, cook for a few minutes and then stir in the garlic and paprika. When you can smell the garlic, add tomatoes, tomato paste, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until they melt into a sauce. From time to time stir and squash them with your wooden spoon. Season the mixture well with salt and pepper.

Drain the beans and add to the casserole with 3 cups (750 ml) of hot water. Bring to a fast boil and boil for a few minutes. Put the dish, uncovered, in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until it looks golden on the top. It’s not necessary to stir, but check a couple of times that nothing is sticking. Turn down the heat to 300˚F/150˚C/Gas 2, add a little hot water if it looks dry and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more. Taste and season with salt, put the lid back on and turn off the oven. Leave the beans in the oven to cool down a bit before serving.

Serves 8

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Egg Muffin Sandwiches With Crispy Bacon Strips

I made some Egg Muffin Sandwiches for breakfast last weekend. My kids woke up craving for some and I wasn't bothered to head over to the nearest McDonalds, in the cold and wet weather, to do a Egg McMuffins and Hash Browns takeaway. Anyway, no “recipe” needed here, just assemble the fried egg and cheese on a lightly toasted muffin. Then, toast the assembled sandwich again in a Panini grill or on a hot griddle until the cheese melts. I prefer to serve this breakfast sandwich with some crispy bacon strips, tastes great! I have also included an easy method for cooking crispy bacon in your oven here. Try it.

Egg Muffin Sandwiches With Crispy Bacon Strips


English Muffins
Fried Eggs
Cheddar Cheese
Crispy Bacon


Crispy Bacon: Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a large baking pan with tin foil. Place a wire rack on top of the prepared pan. Arrange bacon slices in a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes, flip over, and continue to bake for another 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp. Transfer bacon strips to a plate lined with paper towel. Serve warm.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken

I think Vietnamese food is just awesome. So, today, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite, this fantastic Vietnamese inspired Grilled Lemongrass Chicken. I love the simple taste of the charcoal smoked grilled chicken, infused with the aromatic flavor from the lemongrass. The grilled chicken bites are best enjoyed with lots of crisp lettuce leaves, mint leaves, Asian basil, shredded cucumber, carrots, and Vietnamese dipping sauce. Just ensure you have plenty of napkins as this is a fun DIY hands-on meal. Grab a cold beer or a glass of wine and enjoy!

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken


4 (850 g) Chicken Breast, lightly pounded and cubed (about ¾ inch)
4 Stalks Lemongrass, minced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 (60 g) Shallots, minced
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce

2 tsp Chili Flakes

3 Tbsp Fish Sauce

1 tsp Sea Salt
3 Tbsp Peanut Oil

20 Bamboo Skewers, soaked in the water for 1 hour
 or metal skewers
Peanut or Vegetable Oil
Lettuce Leaves
Mint Leaves
Asian Basil
Cucumber, shredded
Carrots, shredded

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
6 Thai Chilies, chopped
6 Tbsp Sugar
1 Clove Garlic, chopped
3 Tbsp Lime Juice
6 – 8 Tbsp Fish Sauce
¾ to 1 Cup of Warm Water
Some shredded carrots


Combine the chicken, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, sugar, oyster sauce, chili flakes, fish sauce, oil, and sea salt in a bowl. Refrigerate the chicken mixture for about 3 hours.

Light up the charcoal or prepare the gas grill for direct cooking over medium heat.

Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto each skewer. Grill and baste with additional oil until the chicken is fully cooked. Serve warm with lettuce leaves, Asian basil, mint leaves, cucumber, carrots, and Vietnamese dipping sauce.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spicy Garlic Hot Wings

Besides the baked Tex-Mex potatoes, another yummy snack that I made this weekend was this Spicy Garlic Hot Wings. Instead of deep-frying, just bake the seasoned chicken wings in the oven until golden brown. This way, you can still enjoy watching your game, with minimal disruption, and you don't have to work the wings in-front of your deep fryer or stove either. :-) The crispy baked chicken wings are then tossed with buttery hot sauce and some crunchy fried garlic bits. Simply irresistible!

Spicy Garlic Hot Wings


12 Chicken Wings, tips removed
Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
All-Purpose Flour (about 1/4 Cup)
3 to 4 Tbsp Canola Oil
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 tsp White Vinegar
6 Tbsp Hot Sauce
1 ½ Tbsp Fried Garlic, lightly crushed
1 Scallion, chopped


Preheat oven to 400˚F. Lightly oil a baking pan with canola oil.

Cut the wings in half, and season with salt and pepper.

Coat the wings the flour and shake off the excess. Arrange the wings in the pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Using a tong, turn the chicken over, and bake for another 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the vinegar and hot sauce. Stir to blend. Toss the baked chicken wings into the sauce with some fried garlic bits. Place the wings on a serving plate and pour any extra sauce over the wings and sprinkle with chopped scallions. Serve immediately.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Baked Tex-Mex Potato With Pico De Gallo

This was a pretty busy sports weekend. We had the football AFC & NFC divisional playoffs earlier, and the first major tennis Grand Slam got started for the new year, the Australian Open. Naturally, I knew that I was going to be glued to the television and so, I decided to bake this Baked Tex-Mex Potato With Pico De Gallo in advance. This is a really scrumptious snack that you can prepare well ahead, the potatoes and the salsa, with ample time to spare before intending to serve. Just pop the layered cheese potatoes in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve with lots of refreshing salsa and you have an addictive baked cheese potatoes ready to be enjoyed!

Baked Tex-Mex Potato With Pico De Gallo


About 900 g Roasted Potatoes (I used small tricolor potatoes)(click here for the recipe, quartered the potato and omit the rosemary)
200 g Tex-Mex Cheese (combination of Jalapeno Jack, Cheddar, and Mozzarella cheese)
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2 Scallions, chopped
Pico De Gallo-Mexican Salsa (click here for the recipe)


Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Lightly grease 4 small or 1 large shallow baking dishes with olive oil. Layer the potatoes in the baking dish followed by the cheese, sea salt, and black pepper. Repeat another layer.

Bake the potatoes in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted. Remove from the oven, and top with chopped scallions. Serve the potatoes with Pico De Gallo.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cowboy Cookies

I picked up a new baking book, Baked Explorations, this past weekend. While browsing through the recipes, the one that instantly caught my attention was this, Cowboy Cookies! Right then, I knew I had to get around to bake some for my kids. :-) So, here it is. Most cookies recipe usually includes oatmeal, chocolate chips, walnuts or pecans. However, this recipe also called for some espresso and crunchy pretzels to be added! If you are baking these for your younger kids, you may opt to omit it. I just thought the espresso added a nice twist to perk-up these cowboy cookies! Try it.

Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito (pg 91)

Cowboy Cookies


1 ¾ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Sea Salt
2 Cups Rolled Oats
14 Tbsp (1 ¾ sticks) Unsalted Butter, cool but not cold, cut into 1-inch cubes
¾ Cup Granulated Sugar (I used ¼ cup)
1 Cup Firmly Packed Dark Brown Sugar (I used ¾ Cup)
1 Large Egg
1 Large Egg Yolk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Instant Espresso Powder
2 Cups Semisweet Chocolate Chunks (about 12 ounces)
¾ Cup Thin Salty Pretzels (about 1 ½ ounces), broken into tiny pieces but not crushed into dust


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the oats and stir to combine.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and egg yolk, beating until the mixture looks light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the vanilla, and beat for 5 seconds. Dissolve the espresso powder in ¼ cup hot water and add it to the bowl, mixing until combined.

Add half of the dry ingredients and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold in the chocolate chunks and ½ cup of the pretzel pieces.

Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to scoop out dough in 2 tablespoon-size balls (or use a tablespoon measure) and place the dough balls onto the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup pretzel pieces over the dough balls. Use the palm of your hand to press the dough down lightly; don’t smash the cookie-you just want to slightly flatten the ball and push the pretzel pieces into the dough.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown or just start to darken.

Set the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies on the rack to cool completely. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Makes about 36 to 40 cookies

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mini Scallion Puffs

This is my version of the popular Chinese scallion pancake, the modern and simplified way. Instead of the traditional flour dough, these Mini Scallion Puffs were made with store-bought puff pastry. Put a generous sprinkling of scallions and sea salt on the pastry and then baked in the oven until golden light brown. These mini puffs will turn out tasty, crunchy, and makes a great in-between meal snack.

Mini Scallion Puffs


1 Sheet (250 g) Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
4 to 5 Stalks Scallions, finely sliced
Sesame or Peanut Oil
Sea Salt

Dipping Sauce
3 ½ Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Black Vinegar
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Chili Flakes
1 Scallion, thinly sliced

3-½ inch Cookie Cutter


Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, unfold the puff pastry and cut into circle with a cookie cutter. You will have about 18 pieces. Work with one piece at a time and brush the surface with sesame or peanut oil and sprinkle with scallions and sea salt.

Starting with the edge closest to you and roll up the dough. Then roll it up again from one end like a snail and flatten the roll with your palm. Repeat with the remaining pastry, oil, scallions, and sea salt.

Bake for about 8 to 9 minutes, turn the pastry over, and continue to bake for another 5 minutes, or until golden light brown in color.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving with dipping sauce, if desired.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate

Do have a go at making these Hazelnut Dark Chocolate treats at home. It’s an easy and fantastic recipe from Tessa Kiros’s Apples For Jam cookbook. If you love Ferrero Rocher, you should like this recipe as it’s just dark chocolate and hazelnut basically. Anyway, to make this delicious treat, you just need chocolate wafer or biscuits, roasted hazelnuts, chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella), and dark chocolate. Try it.

Recipe adapted from Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros (pg319)

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate (Hazelnut Chocolate Balls)


16 Pieces Loacker Hazelnut Bite Size Wafer Cookies
250 g Roasted Peeled Hazelnuts, chopped quite finely
About 180 to 200 g Nutella Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
250 g Dark Chocolate


Crumble the cookies into a bowl and the hazelnuts and about two-thirds of the hazelnut spread to start with. Mix together until it all looks a bit like mud cake. Try rolling a small portion into a ball, if it breaks up; mix in more chocolate hazelnut chocolate spread until it will hold a shape. If the weather is hot, put the mixture into the fridge for a while before rolling.

Line a tray or large flat plate with foil. Roll slightly heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture between your cool palms into compact little balls. Put them on the tray and into the fridge for an hour or so to firm up.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the top bowl. Remove from the heat and let the chocolate cool for a few minutes. Drop the balls in one by one, turning them around so that they are completely covered. Return them to the tray, where they will flatten a bit on the bottom. Let them set completely, even in the fridge for the first half an hour or so if the weather’s hot. Bring them out to room temperature and store in a tin in a cool dark place (or in the fridge in hot weather). They will keep for a couple of weeks.

Makes about 35

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dan Dan Mien (Noodle)

This is my favorite version of the popular Dan Dan Mien. It’s a classic Sichuan spicy noodle that makes a perfect winter time meal! This common street food is usually prepared with pork or beef; but, I decided to use chicken instead which tastes just as delicious. Just make sure you mix all the ingredients well to ensure the spicy, salty, sweet, and nutty flavors of the meat and sauce are meshed to the delicious noodles. Add some garnishing on top before serving and you have a hearty bowl of noodles. Enjoy! :)

UPDATED: December 28th 2013
This is an updated post with a new video cooking guide.

Dan Dan Mien( Noodle)


450 g Dried Wheat Noodles, cooked according to manufacturer instructions
Baby Bok Choy, blanched (optional)
Fresh Coriander Leaves, chopped (optional)
Chinese Celery, chopped (optional)

Meat Topping
380 to 400 g Ground Chicken Breast/Pork/Beef
3 to 4 Tbsp Peanut Oil
1 tsp Sichuan Peppercorn
100 g Preserved Vegetables (Sichuanese Ya Cai or Tianjin)(I used Tianjin preserved vegetables from Sumiyacai brand)
½ tsp Ground White Pepper
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce

1 Tbsp Peanut Oil
1 tsp Sichuan Peppercorn
3 Cloves Garlic, chopped (about 1 Tbsp)
½ inch Ginger, finely chopped (about 1 Tbsp)
4 Stalks Scallions (Green Onions/Spring Onions) white part only, chopped (reserved the green part for sprinkling)
2 ½ Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
5 Tbsp Chili Oil with sediment
2 ½ Tbsp Sesame Paste


Heat a wok or skillet over high heat and add the peanut oil. Add the peppercorns and stir-fry until fragrant and mix in the preserved vegetables. Stir-fry the mixture for about 15 seconds. Then add in the ground chicken and continue to fry until the chicken is cooked. Add the white pepper, soy sauce, and dark soy sauce. Stir-fry the meat mixture until browned and crisp. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a wok or saucepan over high heat, add peanut oil and mix in the peppercorns. Stir-fry until fragrant and add garlic, ginger, and scallions and stir-fry for about 30 to 40 seconds. Reduce the heat to low, mix in the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, chili oil, and sesame paste and simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve the noodle: Divide the noodles among 4 to 6 bowls, add the sauce, meat mixture and mix together. Top with vegetables, chopped scallions, or coriander, Chinese celery and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cinnamon With Apple Pull-Apart Bread-Monkey Bread

If you love the sweet smell of cinnamon baked goods, do try baking this Cinnamon With Apple Pull-Apart Bread (or aka. Monkey Bread). I will admit that I have a real weakness for any cinnamon baked goodies and when the craving hit me over the recent holidays, the monkey got me into the kitchen to bake this bread! :-) Honestly, I am not sure where it got that nickname; but, this bread is really delicious. The bread is soft, gooey, sweet, and with the baked apple and cinnamon aromatic flavors, you will need to restrain yourself from going for the second or third portion! Anyway, please note that I opted to use store-bought chilled biscuit dough here, instead of making the dough from scratch. If you prefer to make the bread from scratch, then do check out My Kitchen Snippets blog for the recipe. Happy baking!

Cinnamon With Apple Pull-Apart Bread-Monkey Bread


2 Cans (340G X 2) Pillsbury Country Biscuits
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
2 to 2 ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 Stick (1/2 cup) Unsalted Butter
¾ Cup Brown Sugar

Bundt pan, coated with butter


Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Mix together the granulated sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

Separate the dough and cut each into quarters. Toss the dough and apple with cinnamon sugar. Layer the dough in the pan, scatters some diced apple and continue to do so until all the dough and apple are used up.

In a small saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar. Then pour the mixture over the dough. Bake for about 30 or until golden brown in color. Cool on rack for about 10 minutes and then invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm.

Serves 6 to 8

Monday, January 3, 2011

Loh Han Guo or Siraitia Grosvenorii With Dried Longan Drink

Well, after all the recent boozing, I had to start the New Year with getting hydrated, in a healthy way. So, I decided to boil a pot of Loh Han Guo or Siraitia Grosvenorri With Dried Longan Drink yesterday. I can hear you saying now, “what???”. :-) Well, Siraitia Grosvenorri is grown primarily in the Southwestern Chinese province of Guangxi and in Thailand. The plant’s prized sweet fruits are used mainly for medicinal purposes and as a sweetener. It’s generally sold in dried form and used in herbal health teas or soups, which are widely enjoyed in South East Asia. Some of it’s medicinal benefits include alleviating respiratory problems, sore throats, and reputedly, it’s claimed by some to aid longevity too. Not sure about the last claim though. :-) Anyway, when boiled together with dried longan and rock or palm sugar, you have a really healthy and delicious dried longan drink. Here is a picture of the dried fruit and drink, which can be served cold or warm. Available at any Chinese medicinal shops in your area or if you’re around the North Shore area, get it at the Osaka/T&T supermarket.

Loh Han Guo or Siraitia Grosvenorii With Dried Longan Drink


8 Cups of Water
4 Pandanus/Screwpine Leaves, washed and knotted (optional)
1 Lor Han Guo/Siraitia Grosvenorii, halved
100 g Good Quality Dried Longan
Rock Sugar or Palm Sugar to taste


Bring the water to a boil with Pandanus leaves (if using), for about 5 minutes.

Add Loh Han Guo and dried longan. Bring it to a boil and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Season with sugar and discard the Pandanus leaves and Loh Han Guo. Serve the sweet drink cold or warm.

Serves 4