Mac & Cheese

For me, it’s important to obtain good quality cheese and pasta when cooking Mac & Cheese because these two are the heroes of the dish. I enjoy Barilla’s pasta more than San Remo’s as Barilla’s pasta has nice bitey texture and shorter cooking time. As for the cheese, I used Bega’s vintage cheddar and Mainland’s Gruyere. This recipe by Neil Perry calls for the addition of smoked paprika and Dijon mustard into the cream mixture. The flavor is rather interesting and all of them goes hand in hand together. I usually give it a generous sprinkle of breadcrumbs over the top and slowly grill it for better crunch and fragrance. I can assure you that you’ll be sticking to this recipe after you try it as it’s so easy, quick, and most importantly, DELICIOUS. I was pleasantly surprised at how light this dish is despite the amount of cream and cheese used in this recipe. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

IMG_6418These are what you need. Missing breadcrumbs as I forgot to take it out from the cabinet.

IMG_6449Yum yum…

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Super Creamy Dark Chocolate Ice-Cream With Roasted Slivered Almonds

I have been dying to try my ice-cream bowl which I got it free when I purchased the Breville stand mixer. Before that, I need to decide on the type; ice-cream, gelato, sorbet or granita. According to Breville’s booklet,  ice-cream has the highest percentage of  fat among them. It consists of a combination of milk, cream, sugar and eggs. There are also ice-cream recipes that do not require any eggs. Gelato is a milk based ice that is lower in fat compared to French and American-style ice-cream and are usually flavored with fresh fruits, syrups or coffee. Sorbet is a frozen dessert typically flavored with fruit while granita is an ice-based dessert. It took me forever to decide on both the type and flavor because being an ice-cream freak, I love almost every flavor that are out there. After a long long thought, I finally settled on dark chocolate ice-cream, a classic flavor.

I was busy with my work yesterday and I have to use up my opened bottle of cream ASAP. Mr. D kindly offered to help me to prepare the ice-cream mixture. Making your own ice-cream is not difficult at all especially when you have an ice-cream maker. It’s superbly fun and rewarding (in terms of taste). I am extremely delighted with the end result. Our homemade ice-cream is super creamy and I love the crunchy bits of roasted almonds in the ice-cream. The dark chocolate flavor is so intense that it feels like chocolate fireworks explosions in your mouth. This easily beats any ice-cream sold in the supermarkets.

IMG_6342Chopped dark chocolate

IMG_6368Roasted almonds

17Such great fun churning your own ice-cream!

IMG_6454Tadaa…Yippie!  \(^ ^)/

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Claypot-less Chicken Rice

Are you a fan of claypot chicken rice? I know I AM! For those of you who have no idea what it is, allow me to enlighten you. 🙂 Basically, it is a combination of marinated chicken pieces, shitake mushrooms, and rice cooked in a claypot over high flames and right before it is served, an egg is cracked over the rice and sprinkled with salted fish. I’m feeling hungry already by just describing it. Haha, greedy me! 😛

Claypot chicken rice is easily obtainable anywhere in Penang, Malaysia. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Australia especially in Geelong. But that won’t stop me from enjoying my favorite food. If I crave it, cook it I shall!

Cooking the dish in a claypot will produce a layer of crispy bits at the bottom of the pan and this gives the dish a great charred flavor. This charred flavor together with the egg and fragrant salted fish are just amazing! (Mmm!~~ ) Sadly, I do not have a claypot so I’ll just have to make do with what I’ve got, a microwavable pot or a rice cooker. Although cooking it this way does not give you the amazing crispy charred bits, it still taste delicious especially when serving with good quality salted fish. This dish is a great one pot dish for those lazy days as it is very simple to cook. It is important to get the right balance of saltiness in this dish. After some trial and error, this is the final recipe that I’m happy with.

15Salted fish brought in from Penang by Mr. D’s mom. Salted fish sold in asian groceries stores in Melbourne is super expensive and not as fresh looking as the ones back home. 

IMG_6315Soaked shitake musrooms. Do not throw away the soaking liquid as it is used to enhance the rice flavor.

IMG_6335Golden brown salted fish.

IMG_6334Make sure to stir fry the rice and all of the ingredients evenly in the wok before transferring to the rice cooker or microwavable pot.

IMG_6339Itadakimasu! 🙂

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Creamy Mushroom Soup & Pan-Fried Chicken

Last week, Coles had specials on mushrooms. The timing was perfect as I had plan to cook my own creamy mushroom soup. However, I didn’t have the chance to cook it until tonight as it was pretty hot for the past whole week. There’s no air-conditioner in our house and we only have a tower fan to keep ourselves cool. Drinking hot soup on a hot day in our hot house is definitely a big NO NO. Tonight is good as the temperature is slowly going down.

Actually, I tried making my own mushroom soup once, last year, but didn’t like the consistency of the soup because I didn’t blend them at the end. I did not have a stick blender or a food processor at that time. We bought a stick blender at the beginning of this year so time to re-visit my creamy mushroom soup. This time, I added dried porcini mushrooms to give the soup a stronger earthy flavor and it really worked wonders. The aroma was absolutely fantastic. Dried porcini mushrooms are not cheap though, $5.89 for 20g but you only need a small amount for the soup. Having soup alone could not satisfy our large capacity tummies so I did a quick pan-fried chicken to go with the soup.

IMG_6305Wonderful stuff.

IMG_6306I need to improve on my food presentation skills.

IMG_6308Pan fried chicken inspired by Jamie Oliver.

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Lemon Yogurt Cupcake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Mr. D and I love lemony desserts. One day I was searching for new recipes to try and came across lemon yogurt cake. We haven’t eaten yogurt cake before. So, I decided to try baking it and put a cupcake spin to it. I must say it tasted divine as it’s so moist, light and lemony. If you do not like frosting on your cake, you can eat it plain. I definitely love it with cream cheese frosting. They go extremely well together!

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Out Goes The Old, In Comes The New

This is my little faithful helper, Khind which I bought when I first started working in 2007. For a RM79 stand mixer, I was surprised that it actually lasted for 5 years. Since a year ago, it started to show signs of fatigue as the motor is getting too weak to do any decent mixing/creaming and it took really long to achieve the desired end result. So, it’s a valid excuse for me to get a new one. Yay!

Mr. D and I were discussing what brand and model to get. Of course KitchenAid is the first name that came into my mind. Well, actually I was very adamant on getting it and was planning to get it shipped from US. However, it didn’t go as planned. Mr. D researched a few models from Sunbeam, Breville, Kenwood and compared their specs. Interestingly enough, he found that KitchenAid stand mixer has the lowest mixing power, only 300 watts. I was actually surprised when he told me that. So, in the end after much deliberations, we opted for Breville’s BEM410R model, sleek & sexy red. We were lucky as Harris Scarfe had a sale on that day and we bought it (including a bonus ice-cream bowl) for $264. Happy me!

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So, what about you? How do you go about choosing your kitchen appliances? Do you look for the specs or the brands?