Saturday, 26 February 2011

pear and ginger rice pudding

Time flies... where does it go? As we flit through the last few days of February, I attempted to slow the pace of life with a rustic vegan rice pudding that does double duty as breakfast and dessert. In this gentle dish, the amorous ginger leans in, and with its seductive heat, wins the heart of the pale, creamy and voluptuous pear.

Pears and ginger... a sensual match.

pear and ginger rice pudding (serves 4 - 6)

1/2 cup uncooked rice, rinsed and drained
2.5 cups soy milk (preferably organic)
1.5 cups water
1 piece (5cm / 2 inches) ginger, sliced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup raw sugar (more if you like it sweet)
soft ripe pears, sliced or cut into chunks, for topping

- Place rice, soy milk, water, sliced ginger and salt in a saucepan and bring to boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring.
- Cook for about 40 minutes, partially covered, checking and stirring at intervals until liquid is reduced and rice is thickened and tender. If it gets too dry, add in a little more water or soy milk.
- Add the sugar, and if you like, at this point you may also add in some pear. Bring mixture to boil again for 2 minutes, stirring, then remove from heat and let cool. Discard sliced ginger.
- You may serve this warm or cold. If you opt for the latter, like I did, cover and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.
- When ready to serve, spoon into bowls and top liberally with fresh pear. I thought a sprinkling of nuts such as almonds would also go well with this, but unfortunately I didn't have any!

an easy vegan pear and ginger rice pudding.

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Sunday, 20 February 2011

in praise of pork lard

Now I'd like to think my blog is pretty vegetarian-and-vegan-friendly, but sometimes, just sometimes, a meat-loving girl has got to pig out.

Literally.

In my last post I mentioned my parents have gone back to Malaysia after a lovely visit. In this post I will show you one of the wonderful things my mum prepared for me before she left.

Pork lard, glorious pork lard.

crispy pork lard - 猪油渣 (zhu you zha, chu yao cha)

My mum had bought some excessively fatty pork belly from the market, so she simmered the pieces of pork fat to render out the lard. This was skimmed out of the pot and then kept in the fridge where it soon solidified, and I've been using it instead of oil in stir-fries, even adding it to soups for some extra pizzazz. Delicious.

rendered pork lard, great for adding flavour to stir-fries and even soups, or for making pies and such.

After the rendering of the lard, of course, the pieces of pork fat were stir-fried vigorously over high heat until golden and crispy. I love these sprinkled liberally in noodle dishes. I'm also tremendously guilty of crunching on them just as a snack. Hey, it's not an everyday treat, and I don't get it in great quantities. Besides, as mum says, most of the fat had been rendered out already, so while it's probably not going to be the next craze in the health food industry, it isn't quite as unhealthy as you may think. So there.

But really, I shouldn't have to justify enjoying these delightful morsels. Look, here they are again, calling out to me...

another gratituous shot of the crispy pork lard crackling.

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Sunday, 13 February 2011

healthy banana matcha mint smoothie

matcha banana smoothie with a hint of mint

After spoiling me immensely for past couple of months or so, my parents are now back in Malaysia. It looks like I have to get back to the business of taking care of myself once more! On the bright side, I'm looking forward to cooking and blogging more actively again. However, I've engaged in so little productive activity over the past few weeks that I feel like I've lost my blogging mojo. All's not lost, though. What better way to get back into it than by making something supremely easy like a smoothie?

frozen banana chunks

I had a banana that I threw into the freezer awhile ago when it was getting very ripe, and I utilised it to form the base for this cold, yet comforting smoothie. The banana provided so much sweetness that sugar was made redundant. The earthy notes of matcha dug pleasantly into the senses, while the mint finished everything off with a light, refreshing tingle. Feel free to adjust the ingredients to suit your tastebuds.

making the smoothie

a cool, thick and healthy matcha banana mint smoothie for one

1 medium frozen ripe banana, roughly chopped (about 1 cup's worth)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon matcha (green tea powder)
6 mint leaves

Whiz everything together in a blender until smooth. Garnish with a tiny sprinkle of more matcha powder and a baby mint leaf.

banana matcha mint smoothie

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Monday, 7 February 2011

happy chinese new year!

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!

I have been so spoilt this year. It's been awhile since I've had so many loved ones with me during this all-important festive season. I have to confess, I hardly did any cooking over the past two weeks. I did do quite a bit of eating, though!

It is a tradition in our family to have an extravagant steamboat spread on the eve of Chinese New Year for our reunion dinner. As most of our relatives reside in Malaysia, our Australian celebrations are never nearly as huge, but we did really, really well this year.

On Wednesday, I left work a little early, met up with Simon in the city, and together we trammed our way to my uncle's house.

The first thing I saw when I got there was my sister hollowing out tofu and her husband stuffing them with minced meat. What a cute couple!

tofu stuffed with minced meat

I wandered off to the dining table to check out what else we would be tossing into the steamboat. Unsurprisingly, there were lots of seafood.

blue swimmer crab

sea cucumber

Lots and lots of seafood.

fish

prawns and fishballs

There was also chicken and pork.

chicken and pork

And of course, a variety of vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, mushrooms and more. As the night went by, the soup stock became more and more delicious.

the final remnants of our steamboat

I was incredibly full by the end of it. But I still had room for dessert. There's always room for dessert!

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to sample this grass jelly drink with lychees and longans. It was all gone by the time I thought about getting myself a bowl...

grass jelly drink with lychees and longans

Fortunately, that wasn't the only dessert option for the night - there was also water chestnut pudding that Simon bought from Breadtop, which happened to be very light and refreshing - just the thing after a big meal.

water chestnut pudding with osmanthus, from Breadtop

And that's all for now... my schedule's been a bit of a mess, but once I get back into my routine, I'll be flitting about the kitchen and posting up recipes again! Once again, I wish you all a happy new year!

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