Friday, June 28, 2013

A tale of Jamie Oliver food processor & Laksa

Since I started serious cooking I've been a very adventurous home cook, I like to try out new recipes from different cultures, taste how different their food is different from our local delicacies; the texture, taste, fragrance.  Its a wonder how one type of food can be cooked in so many different ways, each with its unique taste.

The DinoFamily's mortar
However, there are some dishes that I really really like to try my hands on but was put off by the hours of hard work needed.

Some needed to gather ingredients that takes time to gather and the others requires me to spend at least an hour squatting over the mortar pounding away.  Though the idea of having a fit fab arms without fluttery butterfly arms, this mama's old back & shoulder will definitely protest fiercely for days after that.

So when I was presented with the food processor co-designed with Jamie Oliver I was squealing like a school girl eager to try it out but there are just too many recipe that I wanted to do.  Finally, after weeks of contemplating (ya, I kept it in the box for that long) I decided to make laksa spice paste as laksa is one of my favourite local food.  I managed to find a real simple laksa spice paste recipe and set out to gather the ingredients.

The ingredients for the spice paste

Part 1
Ingredients for Spice paste
* 3 long stalks of lemon grass, tender hearts minced
* 4 red chilli with stem & seeds removed (if you like spice, keep some of the seeds or you can use chilli padi for more spice)
* 4 slices galangal (or fresh ginger)
* 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
* 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
* 3 shallots, peeled and chopped
* 3 large cloves garlic
* 4 tablespoons peanut oil
* 1/4 cup fresh laksa leaves, chopped
* 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 1/4 cup tamarind or assam paste

The first time I turned the knob to work the food processor, I got such a shock that I immediately turn it off!  The sound was foreign to me but the image I see in the bowl was too amazing that I couldn't believe my eyes!  Ok, look... this is from a home cook who has NEVER use a food processor before so pardon the ignorance.  The second time I turned the knob I let it run for a few seconds each time, mesmerized by sound and beautiful image while my ingredients are being chopped up into tiny pieces in seconds.

The food processor in action!

Method to make Spice Paste
1. Put lemongrass, red chillies, galangal, ginger, shrimp paste, shallots, garlic and peanut oil to a blender or food processor.
2. Pulse until well combined.
3. Blend in the laksa leaves, turmeric, sugar and tamarind, pulse until it has made a paste. 

My laksa spice paste

Part 2
Ingredients for Broth
* 2 tablespoons peanut oil
* Spice paste from recipe above
* 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
* 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
* 1/4 cup sweet Thai basil, chopped
* 1/4 cup fish sauce
* 200ml coconut milk, shake can before opening

Oh my! Look at the broth!

Methods for Broth
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Stir spice paste into oil and heat for a few minutes or until fragrance.  Add chicken stock and bring it to a boil.  Turn down the heat to low and add in basil and fish sauce, let it simmer gently.
2. In another pot cook the noodles in boiling water until tender.
3. When the noodles are ready to be served, stir the coconut milk into the hot broth.
4. Place noodles in a large bowl with chicken or shrimp and pour broth around noodles.

The final touches
* Some vermicelli noodles, yellow noodles, thin or thick rice noodles.
* Some cooked cubed chicken, cooked shrimp, tau pok, cockles, fishcakes, beansprouts  or any thing that you fancy in your laksa.
* Garnishes of your choice.

Ta-dah~ Laksa - DinoFamily version~ I can't help it if I am feeling proud with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Laksa - DinoFamily version

I adore my latest favourite kitchen gadget, the Philips | Jamie Oliver food processor which is sturdy as an oak tree and cuts like ninja in lightning speed!  On top of that it's suction feet are easy to release so if I need to move it there is no need for me to wrestle with it or use my fingernails to pry it loose from the kitchen table top.  Best of all it chops, slices, shreds, grinds, purees, juice, beats cake batter and egg whites, kneads bread dough, and grinds meats and vegetables easily!

Marilyn Monroe says "Give a girl the right shoes & she can conquer the world.", I say give me the Philips | Jamie Oliver food processor and I can conquer the gourmet world, just like Jamie Oliver!

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Keep life simple with the PHILIPS | Jamie Oliver range which includes a food processor (S$268), handblender (S$128) and blender (S$108). Available at leading electronics and departmental stores.

Disclaimer : I received a Jamie Oliver food processor from Philips for purposes of this review, all opinions are 100% based on my experience as a first time user of food processor.  All photos in this review are taken by me painstakingly so they belongs to me. *I know my laksa photos looks delicious but donch you dare steal it!*
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This linky is for anything that is FOOD related. It could be a restaurant you visited recently, meals you cook with your family or for your family or recipes you wish to share with every one.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

I'm no masks hoarder

Last week, when Singapore was hit real bad by the haze, every one went into panic, me included which is unusual coz the haze is a yearly recurring "problem" and I have sort of got used to it.  This year it took a turn to the worst when 3 hourly PSI hit a record high of 400!

When PSI hit over 200 I searched fanatically for masks, not the surgical masks but the N95 masks, there were no stock.  So I turned to the local online marketshop Qoo10sg and was happy to be able to place order for some N95 masks, arriving some time this week.  However the situation did not improve, it became worst with PSI hitting 300, thank goodness Catherine is able to give me x10 N95 masks.  In the mean time I searched online again and was able find some one selling N95 masks, I bought 2 boxes, intending to distribute them amongst the siblings who were not able to get hold of the masks and perhaps some friends if needed.  Then I went ahead to order some more boxes for the office, one of my boss and also helped some friends to get the masks as they were unable to get them in the pharmacies or supermarket.

Well, initially when I ordered the masks online, I wanted to be prepared as DinoBoy and his cousin Megan has sensitive air ways, and Mum is not feeling that great so they are my main concerns.  These masks would have been sufficient to be distributed amongst the family but the sudden turn of the situation made me scramble to get MORE masks there and then for fear of their health instead of waiting patiently for order to arrive this week.  I am really not trying to create panic or start the boarding trend with all the masks buying, it really IS a timing issue.

Anyway, we were really glad to have those N95 masks to use when we were going out last Friday with the PSI at 400, the air was so heavy that we were choking and couldn't breath properly, the N95 masks did help us breathe easier.

Us in our N95 mask, DinoBoy with a swollen left eye, a result of an allergy reaction to the haze.

O-kay... so I have 3 boxes of N95 masks in my house and 6 more boxes (3 adults and 3 kids size) on the way to me, that means I will have 180pcs of N95 masks by the end of this week.  *sigh*  I'm no masks hoarder or hoarder of any kind, you may see me as being kia see (scared to die) thus stocking them up but I am truly not, I am just bad in estimating the quantity needed plus I am a worrywart, I worry that my family or friends may need them and can't get them thus I bought a few "just in case" boxes.  But with the weather turning better over the weekend, now I started to feel that the masks are an eye sore to me, its time I put them in the store room before I start blaming myself for spending so much money on them.  So if you need any N95 masks in future, drop me a mail and see if I have any on hand or not.

Last but not least, here is an infograph on the correct way to wear a N95 mask.  Also PLEASE strap the 2 bands on instead of only the top band.  The purpose of wearing a N95 mask is to cover your nose and mouth tightly to prevent yourself from breathing in any particles in the air.  By strapping on only the top band the mask is still loose at the bottom thus particles can still enter into the mask which you will breath in. 

Infographs taken from Health Promotion Board facebook page

Friday, June 21, 2013

Photography through the eyes of a 7 Year Old

We visited Gardens by the Bay last weekend, I decided to let DinoBoy handle my Canon IXUS camera again after banning him from using it for 3 years. He is nearly 7 years old, I think he is old enough to handle a camera with care this time.  He took 273 photos and 3 short videos in 4 hours, some of the photos were bombed otherwise it will be a beautiful photo.  He was busy as a bee, zipping here n there without waiting for me to take photos.  I've picked out a few photos taken by DinoBoy to show off (unedited photos) to the world. 

I especially like these photos; the vibrant color, the subject that stood out and the overall feel of the photos.  They looks like they were taken by a pro don't they?  Ok, who am I kidding hahahaha~  but does not hurt anyone for me to think that way. 

DinoBoy tried to take photos of himself, and I dare say he did a good job!  He simply flip the camera around to aim at himself n press the shutter button!  These are the only 3 photos he took, not bad eh?

When I scroll through all 273 photographs, I am amazed to see the different world both me and DinoBoy saw in the Garden.  His perception and angel of a beautiful subject from his view standing at his height (I have no idea how tall he is), totally different from mine. Of course he still does not know how to handle the camera other then point & shoot in the P mode but I think he will improve as he goes along.  I shall let him have the camera to take more photos now.  

Foodie Fridays - Baked Tuna Pasta

In my quest to cook for the family I got myself a book; alright a few books, where they teach me how to whip up a meal fast AND easy.  Then I saw this - Baked Tuna Pasta, looks easy and the best part is, it takes 30 mins to prepare!  What's not to love about this dish?  Nothing!  Except that your child does not like shell pasta and declared that he prefer the "spiral spiral one".

Anyway this particular little boy still gives this mama the thumbs up.  Never mind that its not his favourite shell pasta or that its too watery, he licked his plate within minutes.

I have to remember to drain the shell pasta really really well, the water that was trapped in the shell pasta makes it wet, thus the watery effect.  I did not put in a lot of cheese as I was not sure how DinoBoy like his pasta to be made since he was always choosing pasta with cream or tomato sauce from the restaurant's menu.

1st attempt on 8 May 2013

The next time I make this dish, yupe you guessed it, I used the "spiral spiral one" aka fusilli pasta with the left over shell pasta.  I drained the pasta well, load a whole packet of the cheese into it and is very satisfied with the end result.  The pasta is dry and cheesy, it look beautiful~  I was very happy with myself, of course I get the thumbs up from the boy again with a huge smile as its the "spiral spiral pasta"!

2nd attempt on 5 June 2013

* 200g pasta shells
* 300g can condensed cream of mushroom soup
* 120ml milk
* 200g can tuna in brine, drained and flaked
* 200g can sweetcorn, drained and rinsed
* 1 onion
* 1 red pepper, cored and finely chopped
* 4 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
* pinch of chilli powder (optional)
* 115g Cheddar cheese or Cheshire cheese, grated
* salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over a high heat.  Add the pasta, stir and cook for 2 minutes less than the time specified on the packet.
2. Preheat oven to 220deg (425F/Gas 7) and grease a 1.5 litre ovenproof serving dish.
3. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
4. Heat the mushroom soup and milk over a low heat in a pot.  Add the tuna, sweetcorn, onion, pepper, parsley, chilli powder if using and half of the cheese and stir.
5. Once the soup is heated, stir in the cooked pasta.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Transfer the mixture into the prepared ovenproof serving dish and smooth the top.
7. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
8. Place the ovenproof serving dish in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Serve hot, straight from the dish.

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This linky is for anything that is FOOD related. It could be a restaurant you visited recently, meals you cook with your family or for your family or recipes you wish to share with every one.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mega Fun at The Megabugs Return!

Do you know why dragonflies obelisk?  Do you know what is the Monarch butterfly famous for? Do you know the lifespan of a centipede?

I do not know the answers to the above questions but a visit to The Megabugs Return! exhibition at the Singapore Science Centre gave me all the answers.

Before we enter the exhibit there is a corner where they show some beautiful insect inspired wearable art by Raffles Girl's school, they even made Barbie doll version too!

DinoBoy initially felt overwhelmed when he saw the bugs in million times bigger then usual but after a while he got over it and joined the other kids to follow the knowledgeable guide Mr Foo to learn more about these interesting insects.

Here are some of the giant animatronic bugs.  Psst!  There are 2 exhibits that are factually-wrong, try to spot them when you are there!

There were even live hissing cockroaches (I did not take a photo of the hissing cockroaches coz they creeps me out, hissing or not)  and stick insects in the exhibits.  Guess what? We were lucky to see a mating in process.

DinoBoy was given a trail booklet to complete during the tour but he was more interested in listening to Mr Foo and running around looking at the exhibits then doing it.  It is an informative booklet with some facts about bugs, fun questions to do and even some crafts to do too.  I strongly suggest that you get your child to finish the booklet during the exhibition as they can easily find the answers right away.

The Megabugs Return! exhibition is now on till 18 August 2013, catch the bugs before they fly away!

Disclaimer : We were invited to Singapore Science Centre to experience the bugs adventure at The Megabugs Return!  All photos are taken by me and opinions are based on our visit to the great exhibition.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

We are hit by the haze again!

Every year around this time of the year our country will be hit by the dreadful haze caused by the fire in our neighbour country Sumatra.  This year the dreadful haze is back, with a vengeance! it started last week as reported in our local news and the wind did not blow the haze out of our country, it stayed till today.

According to our Ministry of Health "The health effects of haze are mainly caused by the irritant effects of fine dust particles on the nose, throat, airways, skin and eyes. The health effects of haze will depend on its severity as measured by the Pollutants Standards Index (PSI). There is also individual variation regarding the ability to tolerate air pollution. Most people would at most experience sneezing, running nose, eye irritation, dry throat and dry cough from the pollutants."

The Pollutants Standards Index or PSI was really bad today, hitting at 102 at one point during the day.  I could hardly breathe when I stepped out of the office, I was worried about DinoBoy as he has sensitive air way and the bad quality air will cause him to cough n sneeze non stop.  I couldn't wait to fetch him from school and hide him inside our room with the AC blasting.

DinoPapa was home and he had the air purifier & ionizer blasting, when I reached home I quickly take out our brand new diffuser, filled it with water, add in purification essential oil and switched it on.  When diffused, purification essential oil helps to purify and cleanse the air from environmental impurities including cigarette smoke and other disagreeable odors. With these 2 devices working, the air in the living room soon feels lighter and smells nicer.  Our lungs do not feel so tight and uncomfortable as earlier.

Our trusty air purifier with ionizer function

Brand new diffuser at work

When I left the office earlier I head off to the supermarket to grab a beautiful papaya as they are rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C that help in boosting the body’s immunity.  Better to make sure our body is in good condition and is not affected by the haze.

As I am writing this post, it was reported that the PSI is at 152, the highest level since Oct 2006!

 Photo Credit : Jennifer Lee 
Photo taken from Channel News Asia facebook page

Take precautions against this dreadful haze.  Wear a mask; the normal ones or N95 if you need to, avoid going out door unless necessary.  Keep the kids, the elderly and those with lung or heart disease at home as they are more vulnerable and easily affected by the haze.  Consult a doctor immediately if you feel really unwell and have difficulty in breathing. 

Be safe be healthy every one!  We are going to sleep in our room with the AC and the air purifier blasting throughout the night.

*** Inserted on 18 June 2013 ***

You can check the 3-hour PSI Readings at National Environment Agency here.

Infograph taken from Singapore General Hospital facebook page

*** Inserted on 19 June 2013 ***

Infograph taken from Singapore General Hospital facebook page