Category Archives: Tips

Strong Bones 1

Everyone knows how important Calcium is for strong bones. A glass of milk or a slice of cheese a day, yada yada. You know the drill. But me being me, and holding true to this:

Kindly note that diets & low-fat whatevers are not in the menu.

do you actually think I’m gonna share about a boring ole glass of plain milk and a plastic-tasting slice of cheddar?

There are 1001 recipes that feature these calcium-laden ingredients, except that they’re presented in a slightly more appetising manner. I’ll be posting a couple in these series: Strong Bones.

Now, for the 1st instalment and going a little easy:

Flourless Cheese Fritters for a start?

1 cup grated Mild Cheddar

1/2 cup Breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Dried Chilli Flakes

1/2 tsp White Pepper

1/2 tsp Dried Oregano

1/2 beaten Egg (or less)

Olive oil

The preparation is pretty simple – Combine all the ingredients (cheese, breadcrumbs, paprika, chilli flakes, pepper & oregano) in a bowl. You could vary the herbs according to preference though.

Add just enough egg to glue these together. The mixture should be semi-dry, making it easier to fry.

Yes, you read right. FRY.

Whip out your non-stick weapons now, lovelies cos We be fryin cheeeeeeeeze!

Frying cheddar can be a little tricky, and it takes some care. Drizzle a little olive oil and heat the pan a little before dropping a tablespoon of cheese mixture each. The cheese will melt (ermz duh.), then it’ll turn slightly brown, and then it’ll almost immediately form a crust. Once you reach this stage, then flip it. Flipping it while all that yellow goo is melting spells disaster – speaking from experience of course!

I don’t know if this is of any consolation; but I made mine in one of those tiny frying pans that’s barely the size of an egg, you could easily hunt at Daiso that I’m sure you’d go “Awww so cute!! But who will buy and use that?” Lol, me? They’re certainly neat to have – holds all that misbehavin’ cheese in a perfect round form. Enjoy!

Till, the next instalment of Strong Bones!

P.S.: Fazdli, YES there’s more. Time to throw that healthy diet out the window!

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Filed under Cravings, Recipes, Snacks, Strong Bones, Tips

Parchment-baked Pasta

If there’s any staple food that deserves the title of Most Versatile, it would be pasta. C’mon, pasta types count to the hundreds and pasta dishes in the thousands. In fact, did you know that in the 1800, there are already 260 types of pasta? 211 years later, imagine the pasta population!

Whether it be sautéed, or in a soup, or served with stew, or baked in a tray, or fried in a frittata; one thing remains – it’s an all-time favourite that’s here to stay for another century. I’m an ardent fan of quick-fix pasta recipes, because when I crave for it, I just wanna whip it up in a jiffy to hush the aching crave.

That said, here’s a fuss-free, cook-while-you’re-busy-with-chores recipe that I’d like to share: Parchment-baked Linguine with Prawns.

This one serves 2 (or 1 of me), so do increase the proportions of you’re cooking for more:

Linguine

Salt & Black Pepper

1 tbsp Butter

1/2 diced Yellow Onion

4 crushed Garlic Cloves

10 shelled Prawns

1/4 cup Pasta Water*

1 tbsp dried Italian Herbs

1/2 cup canned Mushroom Soup mix

1 tsp grated Parmesan Cheese

1 tsp dried Oregano leaves

1) Bring a pot of liberally salt-&-peppered water to a boil and cook the linguine to al dente. Drain it and add a dollop of butter and toss it about to coat each strand.

Here are a few simple good-to-know tips about boiling pasta:

Bring the water to a rolling boil before sliding in the linguine. Putting it in while the water is still cold results in al dente cooked pasta on the outer layer, whereas the centre of the pasta is solid white. By the time you wait for the whole string to cook, the outer layer would have already been mush.

For string pastas, hold the bunch in the middle of your pot before letting them all disperse into the water. This ensures that it does not clump. If it does clump, just use a fork and swirl about in the water. Easy peasy!

Salting the water liberally adds taste to the otherwise bland linguine. Also, after draining your al dente pasta, keep aside about a cup or less of the pasta water* to thin your sauce. There’s really no magic in it; it had been claimed to thicken or add flavour to your sauce of choice but plainly put, it’s just handy to have rather than fetching a cup from your kettle.

2) In a cup, mix the italian herbs, mushroom soup mix and parmesan cheese with pasta water. Once it thickens, tumble the prawns, garlic and onion in the concoction. You might want to substitute prawns with calamari rings or cubed chicken, or all of it if you’d like. It’s really a one-size-fits-all type of recipe!

3) Lay a tray with parchment paper (also known as baking sheet). Plonk your pile of linguine and top it off with the marinated prawns and dust some dried oregano over it. Now, wrap the dish in the parchment paper like a tootsie roll. The aim is to ensure that they get maximum coverage, without having the insides unglamorously spilling out in the oven.

4) Bake it in the oven at 220°C for 15-20 minutes. Take extra care while eagerly opening up the sheet and take a whiff of all that goodness! Like a steam facial, only better. What cooking in the oven under wraps actually does is, it creates a sauna-like environment; you could say you have steamed’ your pasta dish, melted the onions and garlic down, whilst having all the wonderful flavours absorbed fully into the linguine. It works the same if you’d like to experiment with marinara sauce and with other pasta types.

5) Give it a little toss, and serve it hot. Quick, easy, and yet oddly satisfying!


This one’s perfect for lazy Sunday afternoons, or you could bookmark it as an iftar menu in the month of Ramadhan. Just pop it in the oven say, about 30 minutes before azan and voila, ready for chow down!

This post was written for Muzlimbuzz (Travel&Food):

Ramadan Recipe: Parchment-baked Linguine 

Muzlimbuzz is an e-magazine that caters to the modern, active, socially-engaged and spiritual Muslim. We aim to document and articulate the Muslim experience, particularly of those in Singapore and in the region.Apart from News and opinion pieces, we have daily columns that cover a wide array of topics from Health to Marriage, Spirituality to Technology, Travel & Photo Essays. In a nutshell, there’s bound to be something that would interest you here at Muzlimbuzz.

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Filed under Dinner, Iftar Recipe, Lunch, Muzlimbuzz, Recipes, Tips

Familiar Flavour

As a child, my brother and I frequented our granny’s place when both our parents headed off to their 9-to-5. Lunch & dinner were usually prepared lovingly by her and she never failed to note our favourites, cook them and watch us both lap up our plates with glee.

Apart from the simple but satisfying combination of rice-butter-sunny-side up-&-dark-soy-sauce (Still my ultimate fave!), I fondly remember her preparing Ayam Korma’ at least twice a week, because it was a familiar flavour that topped my favourites list. I was already a foodie back when I was 7 lol!

Now, each time I prepare this dish, my mind forms a vivid recollection of her feeding me amid my rambling about events in school. Oh alright, sentimental memories and granny stories aside; here are the ingredients you’ll need for Ayam Korma’ as prepared by the wise ole lady herself – I have em all at my fingertips cos it’s a household staple!

For Spices mix:

3 tsp Coriander Seeds

1 1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds

1 tsp White Peppercorn

1/2 Nutmeg

1 tbsp Korma’ spice powder

4 cloves Garlic (blend)

2 large Red Onions (blend)

2 stalks Lemongrass

1 inch Galangal

2 Kaffir Lime Leaves

1 Whole Chicken

1 cup (or less) Coconut Milk

For Garnish:

Coriander Leaves

Fried Shallots

Toast the 4 spices in a pan over a medium heat, to intensify the aroma. Roll them around so they don’t get burnt.

Here are some quick tips on dried spices:

When you’re cooking with spices like cumin, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and the likes, get the right proportions. Under-adding spices will result in a less aromatic dish, yet over-adding spices will overpower other ingredients and may even cause the dish to be bitter! Yikes!

Toasting spices helps to release their aroma. It is however, important to not burn it. Burning your spices too will result in a bitter dish, so do keep it under close watch.

In a mortar, grind the toasted spices with Korma’ spice powder. Once it’s well-grounded, mix it to the blended garlic cloves and onions. This fragrant mix is the foundation of the Ayam Korma’. Now, give yourself a pat on the back! =)

In a large pot, heat the oil before sautéeing the mixture. Pound the lemongrass stalks and galangal, and toss them into the pot. Remember the tip I mentioned in the Mee Bandung recipe? Ensure that you see the oil seeping through the spices, or “naik bau/terbit minyak” before proceeding to the next step. Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, your chicken is ready to dive right in! Rip the lime leaves and add it to the pot while you’re at it.

Here’s a useful rule that I abide by:

Avoid adding water when you add meat to sautéed spices. This will ensure that the meat will retain all the lovely flavours of your spice mix. Meat, especially beef and chicken, will release their juices into the spices as they cook, and forms the gravy. You’ll get tender meat and gravy that’s bursting with flavour and aroma, I promise!

Pour in half a cup of coconut milk, stir, cover the pot and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Intermittently add the rest of your coconut milk later. Give it a few minutes to simmer a little more. Once your poultry is cooked, sprinkle coriander leaves and fried shallots; cover the pot, get it off the fire and let it rest.

Serve with piping hot white rice, or if you can’t live a day without bread, why not? This is a great dish to serve during Aidilfitri too, alongside ketupat or lontong (traditional Malay rice cakes).

I wouldn’t say it’s a quick & easy recipe – let’s just say, you just have to constantly remind yourself that cooking is a labour of love (speaking from experience!). If you have a soft spot for familiar Malay home-cooked flavours, you’d know that Ayam Korma’ is undeniably good.

You’d also know that this recipe is definitely worth a try or two, yes?

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Filed under Dinner, Lunch, Recipes, Tips

Inexpensive Indulgence

Let me begin with a simple teatime treat that I religiously prepare every month – for the simple reason that there’s always bread leftover that’s near expiry and there aren’t that many stray birds to feed em to. The traditional Bread & Butter Pudding is an inexpensive excuse of creating an indulgent treat in less time than it takes to get dressed to head to the nearby cafe.

The recipe dates back to the Elizabethan era and was, in its previous life, called the Devonshire White Pot. It’s quite interesting to note that back then, recipes were written in paragraphs, with the ingredients and method included in the text – as shown in Hannah Woolley’s (1622 – 1675) book:

“Take two quarts of new Milk, a peny white Loaf sliced very thin, then make the Milk scalding hot, then put to it the Bread, and break it, and strain it through a Cullender, then put in four Eggs, a little Spice, Sugar, Raisins, and Currants, and a little Salt, and so bake it, but not too much, for then it will whey.”

I could never imagine how tough it would be, to decipher recipes if we had carried on in the same stanza-writing method. We’d probably be eating out more often, that’s for sure.

According to John Nott’s recipe in 1723, on the other hand, White Pot also called for bone-marrow in place of butter, or even to complement the butter in the recipe. Either way, there’s something so comforting yet divine about Bread & Butter Puddings.

Well no, I will be using neither butter nor bone marrow for this recipe. Instead, I’m opting for a crowd-pleaser:

Can never go wrong with Nutella – spread it on bread slices or on plain crackers or even in cup/cakes or even on its own (mm guilty pleasures!). Seriously, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Nutella. Mother of all bread spreads, this cocoa & hazelnut spread is definitely a winner for everyone in my family. Explains why it needs replenishing so often!

Here’s a little (unrelated) baking tip: to make good chocolate chip cookies, do include ground or chopped hazelnuts, because it gives a heavenly Nutella aftertaste. Try it!

5 slices Leftover White bread

5 generous tbsp Nutella spread

250ml Fresh milk

50ml Evaporated milk

1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence

2 tsp Hot Chocolate powder

2 tbsp Brown Sugar*

2 beaten Fresh Eggs

Butter for greasing

* you may substitute Brown Sugar with 1 1/2 tbsp White Sugar

Cut the crusts off of the white bread and spread 1 tbsp of Nutella on each slice. See what I mean by generous. Cut the bread into quarters. In a bowl, whisk milk, vanilla, hot chocolate powder and sugar. Add in the beaten eggs.

Grease a 7-inch round pyrex bowl or ramekin with butter. Line the bowl with bread, strain and pour in the whisked mixture. Place the bowl in a slightly bigger tray and fill the tray with water. For baking noobs, this method is called double-boiling; great for custards and puddings.

Bake at 180°C for 25 mins and another 15 mins at 150°C (this time, partially cover the bowl).

Now wait (im)patiently in front of the oven.

Touch the top of the pudding; crust should be crisp and when you press it down, it should be springy. Springy means it’s custard-like on the inside (read: perfecto). Scoop a portion onto a plate, or shamelessly indulge out of the bowl.

You might wanna add a good heaping of vanilla or chocolate ice-cream, and drizzle more Nutella over it.

Mmmm, somethin’ about indulging warm-served dessert with ice cream that make your toes curl!

This post was written for Muzlimbuzz (Travel&Food):

Recipe: Bread & Nutella Pudding

Muzlimbuzz is an e-magazine that caters to the modern, active, socially-engaged and spiritual Muslim. We aim to document and articulate the Muslim experience, particularly of those in Singapore and in the region. Apart from News and opinion pieces, we have daily columns that cover a wide array of topics from Health to Marriage, Spirituality to Technology, Travel & Photo Essays. In a nutshell, there’s bound to be something that would interest you here at Muzlimbuzz.

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Filed under Desserts, Facts, Muzlimbuzz, Recipes, Teatime, Tips