An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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Meatless Monday: Chickpea Curry

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So I was hankering for some old fashion Singaporean street snacks in a paper cone just the other day… Growing up in Singapore, the Kachang Puteh man was a staple on street corners, even game arcades and most often at the cinema. If you were to ask me, it’d be very difficult to pick between having some tasty kachang puteh and some buttery popcorn – as a child of multi-cultural Singapore, I’d say I want both and all at once if possible. My favourite kachang puteh variety would be the steamed chickpeas (followed by the peanuts a close second) and this brings us to the perfect segue (or so I say), to today’s recipe – the chickpea curry.

T shared the original recipe with me and asked if I could make it. Chickpeas are great for vegetarians because they are high in protein, allowing us to take a break from eggs and tofu. I tinkered with it a little and what I’m sharing below is what we had for dinner. This curry I made has a little kick but is not too spicy. I’ll definitely be making it again soon!

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Chickpea Curry

Serves 2 to 4. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes

2 medium potatoes (peeled and cubed)

1 cup cauliflower florets (about 1/2 a small head cut up)

1/2 cup carrots peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion (diced)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons (meat) curry powder

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5oz)

1 1/2 cup coconut milk

1 can chickpea (rinsed and drained)

2 tablespoons butter (Optional)

Method:

1. Put peeled and cubed potatoes and chopped carrots in a covered pot of water and bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Add cauliflower florets to the pot and turn down the heat for 5 minutes.

2. In a pot or pan, heat cooking oil. Brown the onions and garlic.

3. Add curry powder, garam masala, cumin, salt and ground ginger to the oil and stir for about 1 min.

4. Add diced tomatoes, coconut milk, butter and chickpeas into the browned spices. Stir over medium high heat.

5. Add potatoes, carrots and cauliflower last.

6. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat.

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Mmmm… super yum! Served with steamed basmati rice and some crispy papadum! Protein, fiber and carbs all rolled in one meal!

ps. I bought 5 tins of Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) for 88c each! HOW CHEAP IS THAT?!??!?! Can’t wait to cook this again… YUM!

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Mount Everest India’s Cuisine (Las Vegas)

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First off, when we saw the name we thought it should be Nepalese food instead of Indian but I guess both cuisines are very similar so it could work too. Who cares what the name is? This place is a keeper!! YUM! Non-pretentious, yummy and affordable!

The first Indian place T and I went to in Las Vegas is an Indian buffet place called India Masala. I had a crazy craving for spicy food and we happened to drive past. For just under US$40 for both of us, we ate till we were so full and I was excited to know that there was good Indian food here. And ever since, we’ve been on a hunt! Mount Everest is our 2nd and so far, the best (there’s a 3rd which I will talk about in another post soon).

Credit goes to our friend May Leng who said she’s always wanted to visit this place but never did. She suspected it might be good because there were usually Indians outside – an indication of authenticity, if you know what I mean.

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For US$48 (including taxes), we had Paneer Tikka, Malai Kofta, Channa Masala, Garlic Naan, Onion Kulcha, Samosas and a Mango Lassi (just me). The basmati rice came free (I say this because it apparently isn’t always the case.) It was so good that we were talking about it even days after this meal. The portions were pretty decent. T and I ended up doggy-bagging some of it! And guess what? It’s even more delicious the next day!

Authentic Indian cuisine, affordable prices, decent portions and good service – great casual dining experience.

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Highly recommended. Will definitely go back again soon!! 4.5/5*

Mount Everest India’s Cuisine

3641 W Sahara Avenue

Las Vegas, NV 89102

Ph: 702-892-0950


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Meatless Monday: Crusty Curry Puff

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I recall trying to explain what curry puffs (or specifically the Malay epok epok we were eating) were to the members of MUTEMATH less than a year ago. When I said they were savoury Southeast Asian empanadas, Roy Mitchell, their bassist immediately got it. He said they were very similar to what he makes at home. Paul Meany, their lead vocalist though, got a little shock when he bit into one because he was expecting them to be sweet, not savoury. Those ones we ate had a dry curried potato filling AND this is exactly what I am sharing today – Malay-style epok epok. The crispy, blistered crust… oh my gawd! I am salivating as I write this.

I have to qualify and say that the crust recipe is not mine. I’d like to thank my friend Syahan for sharing it with me. I failed once before using her recipe to success! My recipe for the filling however, is mine, and super simple as always with my style.

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Vegetarian Curry Potato Filling for Epok Epok

Makes filling for 24. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes.

1 big onion diced (you should get about 1 1/2 cups worth)

4 big potatoes (you should get about 5 – 6 cups worth after dicing)

1 tin of Carrot & Sweet Peas (Or you can dice 1 1/2 cups worth from scratch)

3 hard boiled eggs (slivered into 24 pieces)

2 tablespoon cooking oil

2 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon sugar

Method:

1. Boil potatoes until they are soft, then peel and dice into as small as you can get them.

2. Fry onions in cooking oil until slightly translucent, add carrots, peas and potatoes into the pan and continue stirring for about 2 minutes.

3. Add curry powder, salt and sugar into the frying pan.

4. Cook till the mixture is slightly mushy. (see the before and after effect in the photo above.

5. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the filling into each flattened dough then add a sliver of egg. Do this 24 times till all your dough is used up. You might have some filling left. Eat it on its own. OMG yum!

See the recipe below for dough and cooking each epok epok.

This is copied directly from Syahan and I didn’t alter a word:

Epok Epok Dough

500 gm plain flour

3 tablespoon butter / margarine

40 ml cooking oil

200 ml warm water

1/2 tsp salt to taste

1. Melt butter / margarine in cooking oil. Till all melt and combined. Set aside to cool slightly only.

2. Add hot oil and melted butter into flour and stir using wooden spoon. Be careful oil mixture can be hot here.

3. Slowly add water bit by bit to knead dough till non sticky consistency and soft dough. Do not have to add all the water if you have reached the consistency.

4. Leave dough to rest for 20minutes.

5. Weigh each dough to 20 gm and shape into balls.

6. When ready, flatten dough will rolling pin (to thickness of your preference. Not too thin nor thick.)

7. Add filling and fold the sides. Or use the back of a fork to close the sides.

8. Deep fry into hot oil.

I have no weighing scale so instead, I used 4 cups of all purpose flour and 3 tablespoons of cooking oil. It worked for me! Also, instead of weighing each dough to 20gm, I spilt them into 24 equal (sorta) balls. How I ended up with 24 was divide the entire ball into 3 equally big ones, then split each big ball into 2 and then the 2 medium balls into 4 each. So, try my method if you don’t have a kitchen scale.

Instead of using a fork to close the package, I folded the circular pastry in half and then tried to crimp it by pinching/folding. Try it either way! As you can see, I’m not very good at it either. But it does the job of sealing the puff and keeping the filling in.

Mmmmm… Sometimes I dip it in sweet Thai chili sauce and it’s such a perfect match!

Do you like epok epok or the Old Chang Kee type of curry puffs?


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Meatless Monday: Banana Cream Pie

20140127-103129.jpgThis is not my recipe but it’s definitely meatless! And hey, vegetarians love sweets too! I’m sharing this recipe because it’s delicious and this is what I served up for my first Vegas Christmas at home just about a month ago! T and I first made this together during our “mini-moon”. It was delicious and it was surprisingly easy to make.

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The Banana Cream Pie recipe came from Lynn Cole’s Facebook post –> HERE and I’ve used a store-bought Graham Pie Crust for both times I made it.

Banana Cream Pie

1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
3 cups whole milk
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 bananas

Directions:

  1. If using graham crust, brush with egg white and bake at 350 for 6 minutes or until golden.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the milk.
  3. In a glass bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt; gradually stir in the hot milk. stirring constantly, cook until thickened.
  4. In a small bowl, have the 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten, ready; stir a small amount of the hot mixture into beaten yolks; when thoroughly combined, stir yolks into hot mixture.
  5. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  6. Remove from heat and blend in the butter and vanilla.
  7. Let sit 10 minutes.
  8. When ready to pour, slice bananas and scatter in pie shell; pour warm mixture over bananas.
  9. Let cool.
  10. Top with sweetened whipped cream and toasted coconut.
  11. Refrigerate 4 hours before serving.

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I skipped the bit with the toasted coconut (because I don’t like coconut) but it still tastes great! 


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Meatless Monday: Braised Tofu & Eggs

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Hello! I hope some of you have tried my recipes! Please tell me if you do and if you have ways of improving them.

This is a modified recipe that I used a long time ago to make braised pork belly in Soy Sauce (Tau Yew Bak). I no longer eat pork but still crave that slightly caramelly taste of this sauce. Today’s recipe is essentially Vegetarian Tau Yew Bak or Tau Yew Bak no Bak. Heehee… *Tau Yew is soy sauce. Bak refers to flesh or meat (in this instance, pork).

This braising method is easy and fuss free. I’m using dark soy sauce because it produces a darker sauce though milder in taste (less salty) compared to light soy. But otherwise it’s about the same as regular soy sauce. If you don’t have dark soy, regular soy will do too. Add a total of 5 tablespoons of light soy instead. It’ll be equally salty but lighter in colour.

What I like about this modified recipe is that, it’s fast and easy to make, yet still satisfies my craving. I love braise sauces over plain steamed rice – my kind of comfort food.IMG_2531

Braised Tofu & Eggs (Vegetarian Tau Yew Bak)

Serves 2 -4. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes.

3 cups water

4 hard boiled eggs

4 garlic cloves (smashed with the back of a knife to release flavour)

4 tbsp dark soy sauce

3 tbsp light soy sauce

3 tbsp brown sugar

Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 block of tofu (cut into small rectangular pieces)

1 stick of cinnamon

2 star anise

3 cloves

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Method:

1. Heat up a pot with 3 cups of water and bring to boil then lower heat.

2. Add tofu, garlic, soy sauces, brown sugar, soy sauce, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Then stir  gently to mix everything.

3. Bring to a boil then add peeled hard boiled eggs.

4. Lower the heat to medium and braise for 15 minutes.

5. Turn the heat to lowest for another 25 – 30 minutes.

6. Serve with steamed rice.

And there you have it – vegetarian tau yew bak aka braised tofu and eggs!


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Meatless Monday: Macaroni Soup

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Most families I know in Singapore have their own version of this dish. Like chicken soup or plain rice porridge, a shredded chicken macaroni in clear broth usually does the trick for a convalescing person. I have enjoyed many a bowl of this delicious and comforting pasta soup while growing up and while I no longer eat chicken, I still find it so good on its own. The best part is, you can make it in less than 30 minutes. I took about 20 minutes because that’s how long it took for my pasta to turn al dente.IMG_2483When I have children, this will be among the top 10 things I’d cook for them, especially since I can throw in any nutritious and seasonal vegetable for cheap. My favourites are still carrot (because it’s a bright orange and so sweet) and cabbage (cheap and long-lasting).

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Macaroni Soup

Serves 2 to 4. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes

2 cups macaroni (or any kind of pasta)

2 cups chopped vegetables (I used carrots & cabbage but frozen peas would do the trick too)

1 cube of vegetable stock

2 cloves of garlic (peeled and lightly smashed with a knife to release flavour)

5 cups of water

2 small shallots sliced thinly

4 tablespoons cooking oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Method:

1. Pour water into pot and throw in a stock cube. Turn heat on high till water boils.

2. Once stock cube has fully dissolved, throw in vegetables, macaroni and smashed garlic cloves. Turn heat down to medium.

3. Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a pan or wok on high. Add thinly sliced shallots and turn heat down to medium low. (This is for the shallot oil used as a condiment but CLICK HERE for a proper recipe.)

4. Stir soup every so often and check to see if macaroni has turned al dente. Turn fire off.

5. When shallots start to brown at the edges, turn heat off as the shallots will continue turning into a crisp quickly.

6. Dish out macaroni and serve with 2 teaspoons of shallot oil as garnish.

OMG so yum! The dish is easy and versatile.

You can use any kind of pasta. Instead of macaroni, I used a mixture of mezzi rigatoni and tri-coloured penne because I had opened boxes. My favourite though, are elbow macaroni followed by farfalle. And you can also use any kind of veggies on hand – potato and carrots; cabbage and carrots; frozen mixed veggies; snow peas and corn etc. Also, add tofu cubes or any other ingredients on hand. So versatile!

The ratio I always use is 1 cup of uncooked pasta for 1 adult person (because it doubles in size) and 1 cup of chopped vegetables if it’s a side dish. So double or triple the recipe depending on how much you want to eat! This recipe is enough for T and I but would serve 4 if you eat like my mother and sisters – if you know what I mean.


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Meatless Monday: Easy Peasy Pilaf



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What in the world is Pilaf? Does it sound fancy to you? Don’t worry!

It’s simply rice cooked in a seasoned broth and there are many variations throughout the Middle East, South Asia, East Africa and many other places. This is my version – fast, cheap, easy and flavourful!

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Easy Peasy Pilaf 

Serves 3 to 4. Prep Time: 2 mins. Cooking Time: 20 mins.

2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 cups water and 1 cube veg stock)

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup long grain rice (I used Basmati)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 cup of diced tomatoes (I used ready diced ones in a can)

1/2 teaspoon powdered nutmeg (optional)

1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon (optional)

5 cloves (optional)

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Method:

1. Heat up a pan and melt the butter.

2. Brown the rice in the melted butter. Stir occasionally. Cook for 5 minutes.

3. Turn heat up high.

4. Add garlic,  paprika, chili powder, powdered nutmeg, powdered cinnamon, cloves and diced tomatoes.

5. Turn heat down to medium-high when it starts to bubble.

6. Stir occasionally. Cook for about 10 – 15 minutes until rice has softened and all fluids absorbed.

7. Serve!

This dish is great served cold as leftovers the next day too.

I served mine with Gardein’s Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips – one of T’s favourite flavours of soy meats (we stock up when we find a good price with additional coupon savings). You can eat this Pilaf alone, or with side dishes – everything from some pan-fried tofu, eggs over easy or just lightly buttered greens!