1. Starter: Baozi or Pau – Malaysian vegetable steam bun

There are 2 parts to this recipe -(a) the outer casing or steam bun dough and (b) the vegetable filling.

 

(a) Steam bun dough recipe

Source: http://cheah2009.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/steamed-bun-pau.html

Changes: 

1. I didn’t have access to “pau” flour so I used standard flour and this meant the buns weren’t as white as they are when you buy them. But hey, they are home-made and delicious.

2. I didn’t use the meat filling – being vegetarian and all…

3. I didn’t have a steamer so I improvised (Picture 5 below). I filled 1/3 rd of a large lidded wok with water. I then placed a small metal (heat-proof cup or ramekin will work too) upturned inside the wok as a stand. This was followed by the placement of the steaming bowl from my pressure cooker on top of the upturned cup. The steam buns went into this steaming bowl and I covered the wok with a lid so as to not let the steam escape. Each pair of steam buns took 17 minutes to cook to perfection. Check that the filling is warm before eating.

4. I made really huge (gargantuan) steam buns and we only had one each as a starter. Perhaps making smaller and more delicate ones will be the way to go (Pictures 1-4 below).

5. Finally, I skipped the bit where it said to let the steam buns rise after placing the filling inside them. It worked just fine!

6. These can be kept uncooked in the fridge overnight and steamed the next day for brunch.

7. We had them with some dark soy sauce and the combination was quite good – or so we thought (Picture 6 below)

 

(b) The curried vegetable filling

Source : http://3hungrytummies.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/curry-puff-malaysian-monday-48.html

Changes:

1. I left the chicken and eggs out.

2. I used runner beans (finely chopped) instead of peas.

3. I used Indian curry powder (Sabzi masala) instead of Malaysian meat curry powder.

4. I used Kashmiri chilli powder (lovely red colour and not as spicy) to spice the dish

4. I used coconut cream (3 tbps) instead of coconut milk.

5. I made the filling on Christmas eve and left it overnight in the fridge. The consistency was perfect for filling the next day.

Steps to making vegetable steam buns
Steps to making vegetable steam buns

Caponata – Italian sweet and sour eggplant

My very first real job was in a small student town in the North Island of New Zealand (NZ) called Palmerston North. The reason it is called Palmerston North is because there is a town called “Palmerston” in the South Island of New Zealand. Full marks for imagination I suppose.

If one wasn’t a student or had a partner/family/pet in this little town, it could get terribly boring. Given I was flush with cash for the first time in my life (not really, but it felt like it), I signed up to as many activities as I could after my work day. Running, swimming, salsa, ceramic painting and so on. Just so happened, 2 other friends of mine, finding themselves in a similar situation as I did, signed up to an “Italian cooking class”. I took cooking classes to be a slight on my ability as a self-made home chef so I shunned them. I could follow recipes well enough on my own!

As fate would have it, one of the two friends couldn’t take the small town politics any more and went back to BIG Auckland (population 1.5 million, largest town in NZ). One of her leaving gifts to me was her place in the cooking class. I smiled and accepted gracefully as that’s all I could do. I went to the first one with great apprehension but to my surprise, I loved it. Our cooking teacher would give us a list of ingredients for the following class. We bought them and then got given recipes for a 3-course meal. We had two hours to cook this 3-course meal and then we’d sit together and have dinner with the teacher. One of the evenings, we even had an olive-oil tasting session. After attending this class, my image of cooking classes changed completely. I’m going to a wine-tasting class soon and will report back.

The friend who remained in Palmerston North was from Germany and was on an exchange programme.  So before she went back, she scanned all the recipes from the class and mailed it to not just herself but to me too! I have the entire collection and I printed some of my favourites for my cooking album. The tiramisu recipe earlier on this blog is one of hers. This Caponata recipe is another.

Our teacher told us that Caponata is originally a Sicilian recipe but had spread throughout Italy taking many forms. While it is usually served as a “Contorno” or vegetable side dish, I have always eaten it as a main. It goes with pasta, with pita bread and more recently as I discovered, as a pizza topping.

Hope you try it and like it!

Caponata, ready to eat…

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Summer holiday series: 2. Red capsicum/pepper and tomato dip

Cooking is my favourite form of relaxation. It makes me really really happy and completely relieves all my daily stresses. When on holiday, it’s even better as I have all the time in the world to plan, shop, prepare and present food and share it with those dear to me. This holiday has been no different. As I mentioned before, I’m joint queen of a rather wonderful kitchen with all modern appliances, cool pull-out drawers and cookbooks to last me a lifetime. Given these luxuries, I’ve been spending a fair bit of time in the kitchen. Not to mention, it is the coolest (temperature wise) part of the house.

Last time I told you about a Hurry Burry Curry. That was dinner for four one evening. The next evening, I thought we’d have something more fancy. Some sort of self-inmposed challenge with French food being so pretty and tasty. One thing that French food is frequently not and my food almost always is, is vegetarian! The menu on this fine summer evening ended up being a 3-course meal with the following items accompanied by a lovely bottle of Malbec that my partner’s dad had bought earlier in the week.

Starter: Red capsicum and tomato dip with Walnut bread
Main: Summer spaghetti with zucchini and cherry tomatoes
Dessert: Peaches and nectarines baked with a macaroon topping

I will share these recipes with you over the next 3 posts. Hope you try them and like them!

This recipe is a Donna Hay classic from a magazine published many years ago. I’ve made some modifications to it – some out of necessity and some out of curiosity. The walnut bread that we had with the dip was from the local village bakery.

Red capsicum and tomato chunky dip

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Sanjeev Kapoor’s Dum Aloo Amritsari

THIS IS NOT MY OWN RECIPE !!

Source: http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/dum-aloo-amritsari.aspx

Aloo’ means potatoes in Hindi. ‘Dum’ means strength or pressure and in this context, it means that the potatoes are cooked with a lid covering them so they are under pressure due to the build up of steam. The pressure is important as it helps the potatoes soak up the flavours of the sauce they are in. ‘Amritsari’ implies that it came from the city of Amritsar in the state of Punjab.

This potato dish was a novelty when I was a child and I always imagined only special people in the restaurant could make it because my mum never did. My dad who worked in Calcutta, West Bengal when he was younger would rave about ‘Dum Aloo’ or ‘Aloo dum’ but I never got to taste it until I was an adult. All I knew was that you had to use whole baby potatoes to make it and that it was awesome.

In my early teens when mum would let me tinker in the kitchen, I’d attempt to make what I imagined dum aloo should be like. Of course, I only used the simplest of ingredients (onions, tomatoes, potatoes and garam masala +coriander for garnish) back then and mum had to help me fry the potatoes. I like this grown-ups recipe better with a lot more spice and a partiality towards chilli and I try not to fry the potatoes because they can be quite oily.

Sanjeev Kapoor's Dum Aloo Amritsari

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