Lamb Biryani

Due to his busy schedule, hubby seldom goes into our kitchen stadium these days. Busy with work and business school, he has now even lost touch with the arrangement in the kitchen! I mean, being the (self-confessed) organizing junkie I am, it is NOT possible for you to get lost in my kitchen...all the spice containers are labeled, items in the drawer arranged in appropriate drawer organizers etc...etc. Yeah, but then again, my hubby just likes calling out to me to ask for something that can be as close to him as right in front of his eyes! :)

Aaanyhoo, despite calling me a thousand time to the kitchen to find the utensils and ingredients he needed, hubby managed to create a wonderful dish using his favorite meat - lamb. So yeah, he may have forgotten where I keep the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks, but he has not lost his magic touch every time he indulges in some culinary therapy!

Lamb Biryani (Hyderabadi Style)....our Jr.'s favorite, too!


Hashed Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Coconut Flakes

I’ve got to admit that the only reason I brought home the pack of brussel sprouts from the grocery store was to experience first-hand how bad those things really are! What can I say…years of reading blogs and magazines and books mentioning how yucky they taste and even watching ads and movies that show how people (adults and kids, alike) find ways of hiding the brussel sprouts on their plates, I was very sure that the pack of broussel sprouts was going to be money down the drain. Little did I realize I was in for a pleasant surprise :)

Since I have never cooked or tasted these cute-looking vegetable, I confided in my buddy Google to give me ideas and tips on how to prepare a brussel sprouts dish. As usual, I found more than what I was looking for (cheers to the army of brussel sprouts’ lovers out there!) and settled for a recipe that required almost no effort. Well based on most of the articles I read, the key to cooking these miniature cabbages was to not overcook them and as a novice with brussel sprouts, I took in that repeated tip readily.

Out of the many cooking ways that were suggested, I chose to sauté my sprouts and I think the thing that made my dish good was the way I selected to cut ‘em sprouts – by hashing them! So I hashed those babies and sautéed them with olive oil, chopped onions and garlic, some red pepper flakes and salt to taste…all along keeping in mind not to overcook them.

And here is my own twist to the recipe: I added a couple of spoonfuls of coconut flakes that I had dry-roasted at the beginning to the sautéed brussel sprouts and mama mia…simply loved the dish! (The taste was pretty similar to the regular cabbage.)

This is a classic example of how a person should not take in everything he/she sees and hears without finding out the truth for his/herself. Hmmm….cooking can be enlightening at times :D

Orchard Chicken Salad Sandwich

I believe in this special notion about making sandwiches…from a single-filling sandwich (strawberry jam sandwich) to a multi-filling sandwich (the anything-goes-in sandwich!), anyone is capable of creating their own signature sandwich.

I know many eateries have taken sandwiches to a whole new level but the fact is, it cannot get simpler than it already is…choice of ingredients for filling stuffed (overloaded, mostly!) between two parts of bread! Some people prefer to focus on the type of bread that holds together all that filling and others fancy focusing on the inside :) Whatever the choices, once put together, a sandwich can be as satisfying as you wish it to be.

This time around for me, I wanted my sandwich filling to be something refreshingly satisfying. So I first made the Orchard Chicken Salad, inspired by a salad dish I had ordered in a restaurant some time back. I mix some cut pieces of fresh grapes, green apples and pears with coarsely chopped chunks of roasted chicken breast. I then add some low fat Miracle Whip, mustard cream, ground pepper and a drizzle of fresh lemon juice to the chicken and fruits mix and gently stir to get all the ingredients fully incorporated.

That’s the salad…light meal on its own or here, the filling for my dinner sandwich. Taking a bite off my Orchard Chicken Salad sandwich - generously spread filling on lightly toasted Oatnut bread (bread with oats and crunchy hazelnuts), made me a very happy girl :)

As a filling breakfast, a hearty lunch, a light dinner or a simple supper, sandwiches are my all-time favorite meal!


Yaki-Soba (Stir-Fried Noodles) with Grilled Lamb

I make sure to always replenish the supply of fresh soba (fresh noodles, more commonly known as mee kuning in Malaysia) in my fridge. Unlike the dried varieties of noodles (including the various pastas) that requires cooking the noodles prior to the cooking process, fresh soba is ready to use…from the fridge straight to the pan!

If you are a lover of noodles (doesn’t matter which types…flat, thin, broad, fine, fresh and dried), you know that there are no limits in trying to create a delicious dish. You can combine just about anything (edible!) with your noodles to please your palate.

Hailing from Malaysia, noodles have always been a big part of my diet. This is not the case with my hubby. So when we first got married and I stocked up our fridge/pantry with all the various noodles available, hubby was a little skeptical – “please don’t bore me with noodles!” Now it’s a different story altogether; he wants noodles for dinner at least twice a week! Little junior is a fan of noodles too…

We bought some boneless lamb steaks the other day for lamb curry (to be posted later). I kept a slice of the steak for this dish: I seasoned the lamb simply with salt and pepper and grilled it and later cut it into slices.

Alongside, I stir-fried my soba with garlic, onion, red pepper flakes (for the added oomph) and some seasonings. When the noodles were ready, I added the grilled lamb slices and stirred on to make sure the noodles and the lamb slices are fully combined – so that the juices of the tender lamb infuse the soba.

Get creative with your noodles and ‘hear’ your belly smile!

Rojak Mamak (Pasembur)

As a colloquial expression, the word rojak is used in Malaysia to describe an assorted mix of something or even someone….we sometimes jokingly say that a person is a rojak if he/she comes from a mixed-parentage! Now that is funny especially since rojak literally refers to a delectable dish (known to originate from Indonesia)!

For the global foodies, rojak is simply a plate of salad (consisting of fruits and vegetables, eggs and fish cakes and sometimes tossed noodles along with many other choices) that is specifically dressed with yummy peanut sauce. You get a dish of rojak when an assortment of ingredients are assembled on a plate and topped with spoonfuls (not just spritzs!) of the creamy peanut dressing.

Actually, there is a wide variety of rojak available according to regions in Malaysia; the type of rojak that I prepared earlier today is also known as pasembur. Here are some of the ingredients I piled up on my plate of homemade rojak: crunchy fritters (prepared separately), fried tofu, seasoned and boiled potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, coarsely shredded cucumber and jicama, a handful of bean sprouts.

I prepared the spicy and sweet peanut sauce after reading a couple of recipes online, more eager to learn some tips and shortcuts :) I remember once watching Rachel Ray preparing this peanut sauce using crunchy peanut butter, a couple of dashes of soy sauce, spicy mustard and maple syrup. I think that would work too but I made my rojak sauce from scratch. Roasting the peanuts and then pounding them gives the sauce a rather distinct flavor.

As satisfying as any homemade dish can be but not enough to satiate my yearning for the rojak served at the mamak stall in Taman Shamelin, Cheras!


Homemade Sloppy Joe with Oven-Crisped Garlic Bread

This recipe was inspired by Chef Bobby Flay, just so you know. I actually got some ground turkey this time to make some meatballs when I happen to watch Throwdown with Bobby Flay featuring the all-American sloppy joe.

Although I have never cooked it previously or even ordered this sandwich in restaurants, I was tempted to try out because I already have all the ingredients needed at home and to be more exact, Chef Flay made it look super simple! After trying out, I know now it is really the case…

The ground turkey is cooked in rich tomato sauce (I used diced fresh tomatoes and some tomato paste), with diced onions, green peppers, celery and spices (cumin, ground black pepper, chili powder) and a pinch or two of brown sugar with salt to taste.

As usual, I modified the featured recipe by adding less brown sugar and a little more chili powder to suit our taste.

Another thing different is that I served my sloppy joe on garlic bread which I toasted till crispy in the oven. Originally the sloppy joe is served on soft buns so that the gravy will be absorbed by the bun but I wanted something to hold the content better.

A rather interesting take on the regular bread-with-meat meal…just don’t complain about the sloppiness when eating – the name should have given you an idea :)
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