Tuesday, 29 July 2014

American Potato Salad

American Potato Salad

It's summer and it's barbecue time. That means potato salads are very much in demand in our household nowadays. This one that I adapted from Cook's Illustrated's The New Best Recipe cookbook is like any ordinary potato salad except it's made so much better with the addition of vinegar while the potatoes are still warm. It permeates the starchy potatoes and gives it so much more flavour. If you leave it in the fridge for a few hours before serving the flavour improves further.

American Potato Salad

1 kg  salad or waxy potatoes (Charlotte, Jersey, etc.) - scrubbed clean
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 medium hard boiled eggs - peeled and diced
1 celery rib - minced
2 Tbsp minced red onion
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp minced fresh parsley leaves
  1. Put potatoes in a pot and add enough water to cover up to 1-inch above the potatoes.
  2. Bring to boil; turn down heat and simmer potatoes until done (a knife poked in the middle would easily pierce all the way through). This would take around 15-20 minutes for small potatoes and 25-30 minutes for medium ones.
  3. Drain and leave to cool just enough to peel and cut into large chunks.
  4. Toss in vinegar, salt , pepper. It is important to add in the vinegar while the potatoes are very warm so that it will absorb it well.
  5. Cover and cool completely (about 20 minutes). You may put this in the fridge while cooling.
  6. Add all other ingredients, toss to mix well, and season more with salt and ground black pepper if needed.
  7. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for next day serving.

Monday, 14 July 2014



Bibimbap-alula she's my baby ...

This is the longest recipe I've ever typed in this blog. I never knew something so homely can involve a lot of work! But I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the eating so much more. I've heared about this intriguing dish from American friends and family and in a lot of food magazines. So it was a delight to find out that this was our next task in the Daring Kitchen.

The July Daring Cooks' Challenge took us to Korea, where Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado taught us to make bibimbap. This colorful rice dish can be customized to meet any taste, and is as much fun to eat as it is to say!

The traditional Dolsot Bibimbap involves a heated stone bowl which my kitchen definitely do not have. So the alternative is use warmed bowls which was quite sufficient as evident in the recipe that I adapted from Bon Apetit. I did not do the crunchy rice step because we're definitely not fans of tutong. My husband and I really enjoyed eating this sort of Korean hot salad and I was pleasantly surprised with the gochujang (Korean chili paste). It's not as scorchingly spicy hot as I imagined it would be. For me, the best part of this is the bulgogi. It's the one thing that I would definitely keep making over and over again. But with everything else considered I think it will take quite sometime before I make all of these again. There's just a lot of little things to do including a lot of washing up!

Bibimbap ingredients

Home-style Bibimbap

Marinate the bulgogi and prepare all the rest of the listed ingredients listed here.
Then proceed to the assembly section.

1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/3 cup finely grated Asian pear with juices (about 1 pear)
2 green onions - thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves - minced
1 Tbsp demerara or brown sugar
2 tsp grated ginger
500 g  very thinly sliced boneless beef (rib-eye steak or short ribs)
  • Mix all ingredients, except the beef, in a bowl until combined.
  • Marinate beef in the mixture for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Sesame Oil Mix:
6 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Combine all to mix and set aside.

Sesame Bean Sprouts:
6 cups of bean spouts
gochugaru or ground chili
1 Tbsp sesame oil mix
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
  2. Add the bean sprouts and bring it back to boil.
  3. Once it boils again, remove and drain. Plunge in cold water to stop cooking.
  4. Drain well and let drip for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a bowl or contained and sprinkle the sesame oil mix and gochugaru; toss to coat.

Sesame Carrots:
4 medium carrots - juliened into matchstick size
1 Tbsp sesame oil mix
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add in the sesame oil mix and carrots.
  • Cook while stirring occasionally until just tender (about 3-4 minutes).

Soy-Glazed Shiitake Mushrooms:
3 cups of dried shiitake mushrooms
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp demerara or brown sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp toasted sesame seed
freshly ground black pepper
  • Put the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat medium-low and simmer until mushrooms are softened and all liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes).
    If the liquid is drying out but the mushrooms are not yet done, add a few tablespoons of water and continue cooking.
  • Cool the mushrooms a little. Remove stems then slice thinly.
  • Transfer to a bowl then add in the sesame seed and black pepper. Toss to mix.

Garlicky Spinach:
500 g  fresh spinach
2 Tbsp sesame oil mix
2 garlic cloves - minced
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp distilled white or rice vinegar
  1. Cook the spinach in a pot of boiling water.
  2. Once it boils again, remove and drain.
  3. Plunge into cold water to stop the cooking.
  4. Drain well and squeeze out excess water.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  6. Add sesame oil mix and saute the garlic until fragrant.
  7. Add the soy sauce and vinegar. Stir to mix.
  8. Add the cooked spinach and stir to mix. Separate the spinach as much as you can while mixing. Cook just enough to combine it well (about 1-2 minutes).

Sauteed Courgette:
1 medium courgette - julienned into matchstick size
1 Tbsp sesame oil mix
gochugaru or ground chili
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add sesame oil mix and courgette.
  • Cook, while stirring occasionally, until just tender (about 3-4 minutes). Season with gochugaru.

Green Onion Slaw:
2 bunches green onions - julienned into 3-inch lengths
1 Tbsp sesame oil mix
1 Tbsp distilled white or rice vinegar
gochugaru or ground chili
  • Place green onions in a bowl of ice-cold water (to crisp).
  • Just before serving, combined sesame oil mix and vinegar in a bowl.
  • Drain and pat dry the green onions then add in the vinegar mix. Toss to coat.

30 g  wakame (dried seaweed)
  • Cover wakame with boiling water and let sit until softened (about 10 minutes).
  • Drain, squeeze out excess water, and coarsely chop.

Gochujang-Date Sauce:
5 Medjool dates - pitted
1 cup gojuchang (hot pepper paste)
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • Put the dates in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, and soak until softened (about 15 minutes).
  • Drain and transfer dates in a food processor with the gochujang and sesame oil.
  • Puree until smooth. Set aside.

500 g  [2 1/2 cups] sushi rice
3 cups water
  • Wash and rinse rice until the water runs clear.
  • Add in 3 cups of water and bring to boil on high heat.
  • Once it boils, reduce heat to lowest and simmer until all the water has evaporated (about 15-20 minutes).
  • Turn off heat and let sit for 10-15 minutes.


4 big ceramic bowls - warmed
Cooked rice
cooking oil
4 fried eggs - sunny side up
kimchi (optional)
vegetable mix-ins prepared in advance - Sesame Bean Sprouts, Sesame Carrots, Garlicky Spinach, Soy-Glazed Mushrooms, Sauteed Courgette, Green Onion Slaw, Wakame, Gochujang-Date Sauce
  • Heat 1/2 Tbsp cooking oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan (preferably non-stick).
  • Cook the bulgogi in batches, turning once until cooked through and browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Divide rice among the bowls.
  • Put one fried egg in the middle on top of the rice.
  • Arrange the bulgogi and the prepared vegetables and sauce around it.
  • Serve with kimchi (optional).

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Lemon Fudge Bars

Fudgy Lemon Bar

Well well well, looks like the recipe I've been tweaking for the last 4 years has finally made it to this blog. It's not that bad really. I probably tried this once a year so that makes them about 4 tries. The original recipe that I adapted came from a cookbook called Brownies & Bars by Liz Franklin. I'm a sucker for gorgeous pictures of food and the accompanying photos of it makes it really look so scrumptious. That's the main reason why I didn't give up on it besides the fact the I wanted a dessert that's not plain vanilla nor chocolate flavoured.

I determined early on that it needed a lot of tweaks. For one, the pan size was too small. Then the cooking time is way too short. Maybe even the temperature needs tweaking. Other than that the recipe stands as it is. I really prefer this over the Lemon Bars where the filling can be quite cloyingly rich. This one is just right making it very moreish.

Fudgy Lemon Bar

Lemon Fudge Bars

*Shortbread base:
200 g  [1 1/3 cups] plain flour
100 g  [1/2 cup + 1/3 cup] cornflour (cornstarch)
100 g  [1/2 cup] caster sugar (superfine)
200 g  [3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp] butter - softened to room temperature

*Lemon Fudge Filling:
4 eggs
600 ml  [2 cups + 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp] double cream (heavy cream)
300 g  [1 1/2 cups] caster sugar (superfine)
100 g  [2/3 cup] plain flour
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons) - strained
zest of three lemons (optional)

*For shortbread base:
  1. Mix the plain flour and cornflour in a bowl.
  2. Cut in the butter into the mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the sugar and knead the mixture together to form a smooth, soft dough.
  4. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

*For filling and to assemble:
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Remove dough from fridge and roll out or pat level into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden in colour.
  4. While the base is baking, mix the eggs, cream, and sugar together.
  5. Add the lemon juice and zest (if using) and whisk until smooth.
  6. Add the flour a little at a time while whisking and mix until well combined.
  7. Once the base is done baking, pull out the oven rack with the baking pan halfway and immediately pour the lemon-cream mixture on it.
  8. Push the baking pan back in the oven and continue baking for about 45-50 minutes or until the topping is set.
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.