An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

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


1 Comment

Meatless Monday: Chickpea Curry

IMG_3197

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!

IMG_3198

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.

IMG_3199

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!

IMG_3196


Leave a comment

Meatless Monday: Vegan Corn Soup

IMG_2689

This is a super easy one-pot dinner dish – such a hearty soup, made within minutes and cooked in a rice cooker (in lieu of a slow cooker). I swear, even the meat-eaters won’t feel too icky about this chunky vegan-friendly soup. Of course, the man featured above (aka my husband T) is a vegetarian BUT he is a non-salad-eating vegetarian so that should count for something right?

IMG_2691

Vegan Corn Soup
Serves 2 to 4. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 shallots (finely sliced)
2 garlic cloves (lightly smashed with the back of a knife)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon chili flakes (or paprika)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes (I used a fire-roasted one but any will do)
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (okay even if frozen)
1 lb carrots (about 3 cups chopped up)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dried basil for garnishing
IMG_3129
Method:
1. In a pot, put vegetable stock to boil. If you are using cube stock, use 1 cube and 3 cups of water.
2. In a pan, heat olive oil. Add shallots and garlic. Fry until lightly brown.
3. Add chopped carrots, browned shallots and garlic, canned tomatoes, chili flakes, salt, and ground ginger to the boiling vegetable stock.
4. Once carrots are tender, use an immersion blender (stick blender) or pour out into a food processor to blend.
5. Transfer into rice cooker to continue cooking. (I changed the setting to PORRIDGE on mine.)
6. Add corn and lemon juice into the soup (which is already in the rice cooker).
7. Cover to cook for 15 minutes or leave in rice cooker for as long as you need to keep it warm.
IMG_3130 IMG_3131
Upon ladling, I add dried basil for garnishing and served it with these easy to make French Bread Rolls to Die For (which were crusty on the outside and so fluffy on the inside). Also, there’s no shame in telling you that it’s so easy to cook that I basically did the prep work, then while waiting for the carrots to get tender, loaded the washing machine, then made the rest of the soup, left it in the rice cooker then went to watch TV. When the laundry was done, I loaded the dryer and went about making the bread and while waiting for the bread to rise (and the laundry to dry), watched more TV. And while the bread was baking, I watched more TV while folding laundry. I felt like a Super Susie Homemaker that day when my husband came home to freshly laundered clothes and a healthy dinner made from scratch even though I basically couch-potatoed it for most of the day. HAHAHA! Now on to create more meatless meals that take no time at all to make…
IMG_2690


2 Comments

Meatless Monday: Crusty Curry Puff

IMG_2761

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.

IMG_2762

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?


Leave a comment

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.

IMG_2097

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.

IMG_2099 IMG_2100

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


Leave a comment

Meatless Monday: Macaroni Soup

IMG_2481

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).

IMG_2482

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.


2 Comments

Meatless Monday: Easy Peasy Pilaf



IMG_1886

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!

IMG_1884

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)

IMG_1885

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!


Leave a comment

Meatless Monday: Pinterest Finds

Oh wow! It’s the last Monday of the year. Such an exciting 2013 it has been for me. Several years ago, I had a list called 35 by 35 – some outrageous or challenging things I wanted to do by the time I turned 35. I scrapped that list sometime last year and decided to yahoo it. I only managed to complete 1/3 of the list yet I’ve done more than I had set out to do. The essence of the list was to keep myself on my tippy toes, get healthier as well as break out of my comfort zone. Baby steps like exercising in a mixed gym, to running a public race (yes, I was embarrassed about sweating in public and being the last person), to eating healthier. Turning vegetarian was a surprise because I just wanted to consume less meat. Long story short, I’m still avoiding foods with faces and there are many things I enjoy eating. Other than the recipes inspired by family and friends, I’ve also gone on Pinterest for guidance on how to expand my meatless repertoire. So many delicious things to eat! Nibbly things, rich bakes, roasted noms… YUM!

Here are some of my favourites of these pins in the Very Vegetarian board:

  1. Honey Parmesan Roasted Brussel Sprouts
  2. Easy Egg Muffins
  3. How to Make a Rice Ball
  4. Mozzarella Stick Recipe
  5. Gnocchi Gratin with Gorgonzola Dolce
  6. Gabrielle’s Winter Tomato and Corn Soup

Happy holidays! Enjoy eating! And see you in 2014!


1 Comment

Meatless Monday: Creamy Carrot & Potato Soup

IMG_1632Most families I know have their own version of the ABC Soup (essentially carrot and potato in a clear broth that is so easy it’s like ABC). I usually cook mine with hearty chunks of carrots, potato, tomato and onions – sometimes, corn on a cob too. This is a variant that I came up with that is a cross between a creamy pumpkin soup and the ABC soup. (I even served it with my very first loaf of homemade bread on the day I made this!)

Is this fusion? Who cares! It’s vegetarian, it’s my original recipe and it’s so yummy! I think so anyway.

Creamy Carrot & Potato Soup

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

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic

4 small potatoes

1 medium-sized carrot

1/2 medium onion chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon meat curry powder

1/2 cube of vegetable stock

1 teaspoon rosemary (optional)

1/2 cup milk (I used evaporated milk)

3 cups water

IMG_1630

Method:

1. Cut carrot and 3 potatoes into smallish chunks. (The remaining potato chopped up and saved for later.)

2. Heat vegetable oil in a medium-sized pot to brown the garlic, followed by onions.

3. Add carrots and potatoes into the pot.

4. Pour water, meat curry powder, rosemary and vegetable stock cube  into the pot.

5. Turn to medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes and carrots turn somewhat soft. Don’t forget to stir constantly.

6. Puree mixture in a food processor or stick an immersion blender into pot. Then return pureed soup back into pot (if you’re using a food processor).

7. Add salt, milk and the remaining potato chunks, then simmer for another 10 minutes (stir constantly). If the soup is too thin, add a little more milk or some heavy cream or, boil it down to preferable viscosity.

8. Serve hot with ground black pepper to taste!

IMG_1629

IMG_1631

The floating bits of potato give the soup some bite. I do love a chunky soup like the New England Clam Chowder but since this soup is supposed to be CREAMY, it shall remain largely such.

20131118-203030.jpg


2 Comments

Meatless Monday: Savoury Meat-Free Muffins

IMG_1283This was an experiment that went right and I was really surprised. Not only was it easy and cheap to make, it was delicious, low-fat AND easy to pack for a lunchbox (or a picnic). The key thing here is a muffin pan – it helps shapes these savoury bites. I guess you could use your hands, roll them into a ball, then plonk them onto a flat baking sheet and hope they stay in shape while baking.

You can substitute any of the herbs and spices below with anything you have in the kitchen (even a simple salt and pepper mix will do). The herbs and spices* basically give the plain all-purpose flour some flavour. Add dried chili flakes if you want a bit of kick.

T thought they tasted like turkey stuffing and were very filling. He had 2 for dinner, followed by some home baked chocolate cake and ice cream. Then before we went to bed, he said he wished he had more of the muffins. Lucky for him, I had prepared some for his lunch the next day.IMG_1281IMG_1282

Savoury Meat-Free Muffins

Serves 4 – 6. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes.

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (or contents of 1 tin)

1 1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts (I bought 1 small tin of these)

1 cup flour

1 cup low fat shredded cheese

1 large egg

1 tablespoon dried basil*

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder*

1/2 tablespoon paprika*

1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary*

2 cups dried breadcrumbs (I bashed some saltines in a bowl with a ice cream scoop for this)

1/2 tablespoon of Olive Oil (or cooking spray to grease the pan)

Method:

1. Chop up mushrooms and water chestnuts as small as you can (do not blend in a food processor because you’ll lose some “bite”), then mix it up in a large bowl with the flour, egg, butter, shredded cheese, as well as all the herbs and spices.

2. Keep mixing the contents of the bowl until a ball forms.

3. Pour your breadcrumbs (or bash some saltines) in a separate bowl.

4. Split your wet mixture into 6 – 8 large balls to prepare for rolling in the breadcrumbs. (I used the ice cream scoop but you can do it in any way.)

5. Roll each ball thoroughly in the breadcrumbs then plonk every single one into an individually greased cup of the muffin pan.

6. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes in an oven preheated to 425degF.

7. Remove from oven and let cool.

I served mine with some tomato-based pasta sauce that I had prepared with sauteed onions and some additional herbs. You can eat it with ketchup or any of your favourite sauces.IMG_1284For T’s lunch, I packed 4 muffins and some sauce in separate containers for easy reheating at work. Make these muffin larger or smaller as you wish. They are savoury and satisfying!


5 Comments

Meatless Monday: Cauliflower Mash

20131031-151802.jpgMashed potatoes are great. T and I love potato almost everything – he more than I do. This recipe came about because I was trying to cook something that would keep for a while, is easy to make and lower in carbohydrates (we eat a lot of potato, rice and pasta as vegetarians and T doesn’t like vegetables in general).

This recipe is just a little healthier using cauliflower than potatoes because it is a tad lower in carbohydrates. This doesn’t mean you should eat heaps of it because it still has stuff like butter, milk and cheese in it. I like that you can make a huge batch, then serve it as a side dish over several days and it doesn’t lose flavour or go bad. Also, I got to use my new favourite kitchen appliance – the Cuisinart Immersion Hand Blender.

20131031-152019.jpgCauliflower Mash

Serves 4 to 6. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes.

1 medium head of Cauliflower

1 cup milk

1 cup shredded cheddar (you can use any cheese you like)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon butter

1 tablespoon dried basil

Method:

1. Chop up the cauliflower into florets and drop it into a pot of boiling water. Boil till the florets are soft enough to be pierced by a fork.

2. Pour out all the water and mix all the ingredients (except basil) in the same pot.

3. Use an immersion blender or a food processor to blend everything together.

4. Sprinkle dried basil as a garnish upon serving.

TAH DAH!! If you want to, you can make this recipe lower in fat by using skim milk or low fat cheese.