26 August 2010

Pasta Bolognese

Feeling hungry already? Here’s the recipe, have a go at it!

Alesia’s Pasta Bolognese

Initially I was supposed to post the recipe yesterday but I realized I have a few picture folders for this recipe so I spent the day editing the pictures. I have tons of photos of this pasta recipe that I just have to dedicate one post only for the pictures. A first yummy pictorial blog post here at Alesia The Home Cook! Just so you know a true Bolognese sauce actually has very little tomato but since my husband loves tomato and he likes his pasta to be drenched with a lot of tomato sauce, I made a slight tweak to the good ole Bolognese recipe.  I like my Bolognese to have lots of carrots, celery and onions as they bring a nice hint of sweetness to the sauce plus Ashley loves pasta so I want her to have her vegetables without realizing it. The post of me being sneaky with her pasta sauce based on this recipe would be up soon.
Because I’m such a lazy cook smiley-tongue-out I usually make a huge batch and freeze the sauce in individual portions for days I don’t feel like cooking but want a hearty meal. And this is one of the best make-ahead-freeze meals because you don’t have to spend so much time cooking over the stove, just sauté the ingredients and leave the sauce to simmer for hours. And you’ll have a delicious sauce which is great for any kind of pasta and if you like, over a plate of hot steaming white rice.

(Serves 6)  
You Need
Olive oil
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, minced*
8 tomatoes, chopped
1 small carrot, diced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 can (227grams) tomato puree
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper to season
3 cups of water or chicken stock
250g of spaghetti
3 litres of water
Freshly grated cheese or cheese powder  

How To

1. Cook the pasta in a pot, according to the packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion with garlic until they turn translucent and soft.
3. Now add in the meat and crumble into the onions and fry until it turns white (no more red bits)
4. Add in the carrot and celery, give it a quick stir before adding in the chopped tomatoes and the tomato puree (Half way cooking I realized I ran out of tomato puree in my pantry so I substitute using a bottled pasta sauce which is why I didn’t use dried herbs – basil and oregano – because it’s already added into the bottled pasta sauce. But if you are using tomato puree , remember to add in 1 tsp of dried basil and oregano)
5. Pour in the water/chicken stock. Throw in the bay leaves. Mix well and let it to simmer for at least an hour without the lid on. Once the liquid has reduced to about 1/3 put a lid on and continue to let it simmer for a further 1 hour. Remove the bay leaves.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Serve over pasta with freshly grated cheese and enjoy! happy0024 

Cooking Tutorials
How To



* You can use minced beef, pork or have a mixture of both (pork + chicken)

19 August 2010

Kangkung Belacan (Stir-fried Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste)

You may have noticed that I hardly well more like never posted any seafood recipes (aside from fish) and it’s only because I used to have a severe allergy towards shellfish. Ahhh I can already hear the sympathetic comments ‘ Aww you miss out on the best dishes ever; butter prawns, sweet & sour crabs, fried calamari’ or ‘tsk tsk you don’t know what you’re missing girl’ . Actually I’ve been having this since young and I tried a few dishes mostly by accidents so I think I can live by and not have seafood for the rest of my life unless I get super ‘wai sek’ (gluttonous in Cantonese) and decided to risk my life by having a bite or two. It used to be quite bad that I can’t even have the dishes even when seafood’s not the main ingredient, like stir-fried vegetables with prawns. I’ll get severe allergy reaction from just eating the vegetables. Only recent years I’m able to have belacan without breaking in hives or suffocating. Yeap it’s that serious! So enough of my allergy and more on this wonderful signature dish of Malaysia. 

My granma used to tell me this is a poor man dish because these vegetables it doesn’t grow on lands but in water usually found at swamps back in the olden days. And in order to cover the bitter taste of the vegetables the wives would stir fry with belacan and chilli paste. And belacan as you may know it’s made from preserving small shrimps with salt and then later dried under the sun for days. Fishermen created this acquired tasting ingredient because back in the days the fishmonger would usually not buy the small shrimps from the fishermen’s catch so in order not to throw them away, they decided to preserve the shrimps and eventually the women has found many delicious ways in using this. My granma used to make her own belacan when they were still staying in a kampung, I used to wrinkle my nose to the horrid smell (I told you it’s an acquired taste!) only to slowly discover this wonderful piece of fermented shrimps when I started learning how to cook.

(Serves 4)
You Need 
800grams kangkung (about 2 bunches)
about a cup of dried shrimp  
1 onion, sliced 
4-5 tablespoons of chilli paste 
Oil for frying
salt and sugar to taste 

How To 
1. Wash the kangkung and cut into 5cm lengths. 
2. Soak the shrimps and pound coarsely or mince using a knife. 
3. Heat up the wok and stir fry the shrimps without oil until it’s lightly toasted. Dish and set aside. 
4. Using the same wok, heat the oil, saute the onions and add in the chilli paste. Stir fry for a few minutes before adding in the toasted shrimps and fry until fragrant. 
5. Add in the kangkung, cover the wok with a lid for 1-2 minutes (the kangkung will wilt slightly) and mix well. 
6. Season with salt and sugar. Careful with the salt though because the dried shrimps are quite salty. 
7. Serve and enjoy! happy0024 

Cooking tutorials 
How To 
You can substitute the kangkung with other types of vegetables like okras, brinjals, yam bean leaves, long beans.

06 August 2010

Friendship Cake

A yummy cake that you couldn't have enough of it!

You need
1 cup greetings
1/2 cup smiles
3 large  hugs
2/3 cup love
1 teaspoon sympathy
2 cups hospitality

How to
1. Cream greeting and smiles thoroughly.
2. Add hugs separately.
3. Slowly stir in love.
4. Stir sympathy and hospitality and fold in carefully.
5. Bake in warm heart.
6. Serve often
Note : Picture taken from http://www.supercoloring.com/pages/hapilly-ever-after/