Friday, 21 June 2013

Attempt #50: Best-ever fruit crumble…is in savouring it with family and friends

This attempt was more of an attempt to taste a JO recipe baked by a friend and her hubs. It was their 1st attempt at a JO dessert and while they felt that the crumble topping didn’t seem to be caramelizing as perfect as it should be, it was perfectly delicious to the rest of us. There are many variations of apple crumble but the best-est will be home made with love and served with friends.

A principal fruit of friendship, is the ease and discharge of the fulness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kinds do cause and induce. We know diseases of stoppings, and suffocations, are the most dangerous in the body; and it is not much otherwise in the mind; you may take sarza to open the liver, steel to open the spleen, flowers of sulphur for the lungs, castoreum for the brain; but no receipt openeth the heart, but a true friend; to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatsoever lieth upon the heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or confession
-          - Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Serves 6


·         For the crumble

  • 225 g plain flour
  • 90 g caster sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 115 g unsalted butter

·         For the filling

  • 100 g sugar
  • 100 ml water
  • 4 nice ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 5 pieces stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
  • juice and zest of plus extra for serving 1


Preheat your oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6.

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the sugar, salt and ginger.

Cut the cold butter into chunks and rub it into the flour mix with your hands until you get a mixture that looks a bit like fine breadcrumbs. This is the crumble topping.

To make the filling, boil the water and sugar together, then carefully drop in the pear chunks and simmer gently for a couple of minutes.

Add the chopped ginger and the lime zest and juice to the pan and stir. Spoon the mixture into one large ovenproof dish or four small ones.

Sprinkle the crumble topping over the top of the fruit, piling it high in the middle of the dish and leaving space at the edge for the caramel to bubble up.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the pears are cooked and bubbling and the crumble is golden on top. Serve with custard or a dollop of crème fraîche with lime zest grated over, if you like.

Tip: This crumble will work well with apples instead, if you prefer.

Attempt #49: Roast Lamb

My first attempt at man handling and cooking a leg of lamb! Although the recipe and method is pretty similar to the earlier roast chicken, the tricky part is in not over or under-cook the lamb.
The result:

The lamb was initially under-cooked when I first took it out from the oven. Hence, I pop the lamb back into the oven but the lamb became a tad over-cooked. It was not as tender as I hoped for.

  • 4.5 pounds leg of lamb
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme, rosemary, bay or sage, or a mixture

Attempt #48: A cracking burger

To quote Jamie, “there's nothing better than a homemade burger. They're easy to make and once you've mastered this tasty basic recipe, you can make it your own with different herbs, spices and toppings. The sky's the limit – that's why cooking is so exciting.”

Here’s my experience…
Yes, there’s nothing better than a homemade burger but only when you’ve ‘mastered the basic recipe’. Emphasis on the word ‘mastered’ J

It can be a little tricky to make a perfect looking burger.

The result:

While it does taste pretty decent, all my burgers were burnt or rather looked burnt and scrawny. I wonder how the burger joints make all their burgers look exactly the same??

Serves 6


  • 12 Jacob's cream crackers
  • 8 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 500 g quality minced pork
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 round lettuce
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 3-4 gherkins (or pickled cucumber)
  • 6 good-quality or fresh burger buns

·         Optional:

  • 6 slices Cheddar cheese, optional
  • 2 heaped tablespoons Dijon mustard, optional


To make your burger:

Wrap the crackers in a tea towel and smash up until fine, breaking up any big bits with your hands, and put them into a large bowl.
Finely chop the parsley, including the stalks. Add the parsley, mustard, if using, and minced beef to the bowl. Crack in the egg and add a good pinch of salt and pepper.
With clean hands, scrunch and mix everything up well. Divide into 6 and pat and mould each piece into a roundish shape about 2cm thick. Drizzle the burgers with oil, put on a plate, cover and place in the fridge until needed (this helps them to firm up).

To cook your burger:

Preheat a large griddle or frying pan for about 4 minutes on a high heat. Turn the heat down to medium.
Place the burgers on the griddle or in the pan and use a spatula to lightly press down on them, making sure the burger is in full contact. Cook them to your liking for 3 or 4 minutes on each side – you may need to cook them in two batches.

To serve your burger:

Wash and dry a few small lettuce leaves, tearing up the larger ones. Slice the tomatoes. Peel and finely slice the red onion. Slice the gherkins lengthways as finely as you can. Place all this on a platter and put in the middle of the table with plates, cutlery, ketchup and drinks.
Remove your burgers to another plate and carefully wipe your pan or griddle clean with kitchen paper. Halve your burger buns and lightly toast them on the griddle or in the pan. Also great with a chopped salad.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Attempt #47: Baked Cod with Avocado, Shrimp, Cream and Cheese

The combination of cod, prawn and avocado is already fantastic to begin with. The recipe calls for baking this mouth watering combination with cream and cheese.
The result:


It does look very appetizing. However, I find that the cream and cheese was just too strong for Cod. Cod by itself is already a very smooth, creamy fish and I feel that we should enjoy its natural flavour and texture without the zing and zang of all the cheese and cream.

Ingredients (Serve 2):

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 8oz cod fillets, skinned and pin boned

1 small handful of fresh basil, ripped

1 Avocado, peeled, pitted, halved and sliced

5 1/2 oz good peeled shrimp, cooked or uncooked

½ cup plus 2 tablespoon heavy cream

5 1/2 oz good Cheddar cheese



Preheat the oven to 425F. Rub a baking dish or roasting pan with a little olive oil, season the cod on both sides and palce in the dish. Sprinkle the fillets with the basil, avocado and shrimp. Drizzle over the cream and grate over the cheese. Cook at the top of the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Season to taste with dea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve simply with a green salad.

Attempt #46: Sesame Seed Toffee Snaps

Before attempting this recipe, I would not have known that making this sweet caramel munchy would be this simple.

However, while it may be simple, it can get a little tad tricky if this is your first attempt. The tricky part lies in the process of cooking the sugar syrup and the spreading of the sesame seed caramel.

The result:

Overall, pretty awesome munchy to go with ice-cream or hot chocolate or tea or coffee or pudding or just on its own. Pretty much anything. J

The nuttiness of the sesame seeds tames the sweetness a bit. Plus, by making this on our own, we can manage the amount of sugar being used.


1lb sugar

7oz pack of sesame seeds


Put your sugar and 8-10 tablespoons of water into a pan on medium heat. Sue a spoon to stir together - a few times until it comes to the boil and it will become a syrup. Carry on cooking until light golden (but dont stir too much or sugar crystal will form in your syrup.

When the syrup reaches a light golden color, pour in the sesame seeds. Swirl the pan around a bit so that the seeds get coated, but remember not to stir. Continue to cook until the color is dark golden. Immediately pour out onto a silpat (or a nonstick pan that has been oiled). Use a palette knife to spread it out until it is ~¼" in thickness...or even thinner, if you can. Let it sit and cool for ~15 minutes. Now you one big slab of brittle ready to break into shards and bits.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Attempt #45: Mango cooler

Alrighte! After attempting 3 different kind of beverages, I am getting the knack of it and it is kind of refreshingly fun! J

Here’s another creative way to make mango cooler. Try it!

The result:


Awesome way to use up those overripe mangoes. The lime added a tangy taste to the combination while the mint leaves provided that freshness that lingers in your mouth after the drink.

  • 2 large mangoes, as ripe as possible
  • 150 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 handful ice cubes
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves, plus extra to serve
  • brown sugar or honey, to taste


Remove the skin and cut the juicy flesh off the mangoes. Place the fruit in a blender or food processor, along with any juice left on the chopping board. Add the milk, lime juice and zest, ice and mint leaves and give it all a good whiz until smooth. Taste, and if you've got a sweet tooth, add a sprinkling of brown sugar or honey and give it another quick whiz. Chill in the fridge before serving, then garnish with a few mint leaves.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Attempt #44: Kiwi fruit, ginger & banana smoothie

I have been pretty busy with my other jobs, chores…you name it and whipping up new menu for the dinner table isn’t in the priority list at the moment. But interestingly, I just felt that I want to at least attempt something simple just to spice the dinner table up. And what can be simpler than attempting new beverages/ drinks recipes by Jamie Oliver!!
So, the next few attempts will be just around drinks! Pretty creative ideas from Jamie that we can use for that dinner parties or even among the family.

Smoothies are usually one of the best ways to consume those unfortunately sourish, riping fruits and in this case, the hairy Kiwi fruit.

The result:

The banana was simply a natural sweetener that balances those sourish Kiwi fruits. I did replaced milk with Soy Milk and it still taste wonderful! Although the consistency came out to be too thick for our liking so we had to add more water or soy milk after the blending.

Jamie's rendition:

  • 3 kiwi fruit
  • 4 tablespoons organic porridge oats
  • 1 banana
  • 8 ice cubes
  • 200 ml organic milk
  • 250 g organic fat-free natural yoghurt
  • ½ cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2-3 teaspoons honey, to taste

Top and tail the kiwi fruit and stand them on their ends. Slice the skin off in vertical strips with a sharp knife. Whiz the kiwi fruit with the remaining ingredients, apart from the honey, in a blender for 30 seconds and pour into 4 tall glasses. Sweeten with honey, if you like.

Attempt #43: Quick and Easy Flavoured Water – with Fresh Strawberries

Just water and add that 1-2 more ingredients to make that something ordinary becomes extraordinary.

The result:


The plain jug of water is now looks so much more sophisticated with that tinge of red floating around. Plus the strawberries sweetens the water in a sourish, sweet kind of way that quenches the thirst amazingly well and still provide that nice opening of appetite for dinner.



Ice cubes

1 Handful of Strawberries



Mash up a handful of strawberries or raspberries with a fork then add to the jug and stir through.
Jamie's rendition of the Easy Flavoured Water:

Attempt #42: Quick and Easy Flavoured Water – with Fresh Mint and Lime

I am going through this lazy strike of attempting new recipes for the past couple of days ….or has that been more than a week?? *Gosh*

Well, in my defence, I have been pretty busy with my other jobs, chores…you name it and whipping up new menu for the dinner table isn’t in the priority list at the moment. But interestingly, I just felt that I want to at least attempt something simple just to spice the dinner table up. And what can be simpler than attempting new beverages/ drinks recipes by Jamie Oliver!! J

So, the next few attempts will be just around drinks! Pretty creative ideas from Jamie that we can use for that dinner parties or even among the family.

The result:


Literally, in just a couple of minutes, a plain jug of water was turned into something much more exciting and refreshing! Plus mint leaves is packed with loads of health benefits that helps with digestion, nausea, headache and cough and help opens up congestion of the lungs.




I handful of Mint Leaves

1 Lime or Lemon 

Ice cubes


Scrunch a handful of fresh mint in your hands to get the flavour going then add that to the jug with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. If you're feeling a bit adventurous, add a few slices of cucumber too.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Attempt #41: Prawn & watermelon salad

Ahhh…. Just like eggs + bacon, pancakes + bananas and rum + coke, the combination of prawns + watermelons are also just meant to be. Safe recipe to attempt when having to bring a dish for those potluck dinners! J

The result:

Instead of baby spinach, I used ‘bayam’ (which is a different type of more popular known spinach in Malaysia) and I did blanch the ‘bayam’ first so that it is not so raw.

Jamie’s rendition:

Ingredients (serves 2)
zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 12 raw prawns, from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, peeled
  • 100 g unsalted cashews
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 small bunch mint
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 400 g watermelon, seeds removed, cut into chunks
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • sesame oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


Put the zest and juice of one of the limes in a bowl and toss the prawns in it. Leave to marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.

Heat a wok or frying pan, then add the cashews and heat until lightly toasted.

Add the sesame seeds for 30 seconds until they start to brown and pop, then remove all the nuts from the pan. Crush lightly with the bottom of a saucepan and place in a big mixing bowl.

Add the mint, chopped chilli, baby spinach, watermelon and spring onion to the mixing bowl and toss with the toasted nuts.

Add the prawns to the hot pan with a splash of sesame oil, season with salt and pepper and stir-fry lightly for a few minutes until cooked through.

Toss the cooked prawns with the other ingredients in the mixing bowl and season with lime juice, sesame oil, salt and pepper.

Tip: If you can't find cashews, unsalted peanuts will do instead

Attempt #40: Tagliatelle with asparagus, crispy pancetta & Parmesan

This recipe is certainly quick and easy as Jamie had introduced it in his website. While you can’t go wrong with this recipe as it is really so easy, I find it lacking in sufficient taste. It doesn’t call for garlic or onions and you have to solely rely on the quality of your olive oil, parmesan cheese in (which too much isn't that healthy) and the freshness of your pasta. In this case I can now understand why the recipe calls for FRESH egg tagliatelle pasta. Note the word FRESH. J

NOTE: Tagliatelle pastas are long, flat ribbons that are similar in shape to fettuccine and are typically about 6.5 mm to 10 mm (0.25 to 0.375 inch) wide. Tagliatelle pastas are usually made from egg and can be served with a variety of sauces, though the classic is a meat sauce or Bolognese sauce.

The result of my attempt as below:

Not a recipe that I will try again unless I am ill in bed and need a mild concoction of carbohydrate J

Jamie’s rendition:

Ingredients (Serves 4)
1 bunch asparagus
  • 12 thin slices higher-welfare pancetta, sliced into small strips
  • 500 g fresh egg tagliatelle
  • 40 g Parmesan, grated
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil


Snap the woody bottoms off the asparagus stalks and throw them away.

Cut off the top 4cm of each stalk, put to one side and finely chop the remaining stalks. Heat a wide frying pan and gently fry the chopped asparagus stalks in a little olive oil with the pancetta. When the asparagus softens slightly turn the heat off and mash them roughly with the back of a fork.

Cook the tagliatelle in plenty of boiling salted water, according to pack instructions. Add the asparagus tips for the last 2 minutes of cooking time.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking water, and toss with the mashed asparagus and pancetta.

Stir in most of the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. If needed loosen the pasta with a little of the cooking water. Serve with the last of the Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Tip: Cooking your asparagus with the pasta is a clever way to save on time and washing up.

Onions 101

Before I started my serial cooking attempts, I have never truly paid much attention to the different types and the price of onions. Usually, I just get the standard red medium sized onions that can be abundantly found in the local wet markets or most grocers / supermarkets here in KL.

However, with my Jamie O’s attempts and some of his recipes require yellow and white onions, I decided to google the difference between the red, yellow and white ones. And now I know! :)
Here's the low down on the different types of onions:
Yellow Onions
Yellow onions are the most popular cooking onions because they add excellent flavor to most stews, soups, and meat dishes. In fact, typically when a cooked recipe calls for onion, yellow onion is a safe way to go. Yellow onions have a yellow-brown papery skin on the outside and a white flesh.

Yellow onion has higher sulfur content which means it will make your eyes water faster. Because the yellow onion has such high sulfur content, it has a more pungent flavor and smell, which typically makes it too strong to eat raw unless there are other ingredients to counter-balance the flavor. Most people uses yellow onions in stews, soups, sautéed dishes, and shish kabobs as they have excellent flavor when cooked.

White Onions

White onions have an all-white skin and an all-white flesh. They have a slightly milder flavor than the yellow onion and are a great substitute if you’re in need of an onion flavor, but don’t want it to be too powerful. White onions are commonly used in Mexican cuisines.

Red Onions

You’re most likely to see red onions in non-cooked dishes, such as salads and sandwiches. Of the different colored onions, the red onion is the most mild, sweet onion. Red onions have the purplish-red skin which color is layered though it’s white flesh. Some don’t like to cook heated dishes with red onion because it doesn’t produce enough onion flavor to enhance the meal. (Cooking an onion diminishes its flavor, but increases the flavor of the food around it).

How to Pick a Good Onion

In general, when you’re choosing onions in the store, the best ones will be firm, have a crackly outer skin, and have a mild scent. If their scent is overwhelming it’s a good sign the onion is starting to spoil. Avoid onions with dark spots or mold as well unless you are going to use them right away. On another note, onions tend to store better in a slightly cooler, darker area, although the fridge is not recommended. The onion smell has a tendency to spoil the flavor of other foods in the fridge.

And if you need to chop an onion, this style of chopping an onion will help to reduce the ‘crying’ J  

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Attempt #39: Asian pinch salad

Prawns or shrimps… while I don’t really know the difference, I know that they taste great on absolutely anything and everything! J

This is one recipe that is definitely a keeper. Would definitely  make this again for future dinner parties as it is extremely easy and most ingredients are easily accessible.

The result:
I omitted chilies and rice noodles as I made this to go with rice. I am not a big fan of coriander either hence I didn’t add that into the dish. Even then, it tastes great! Simple, healthy and yummy.
Jamie's rendition below:



  • 24 frozen raw peeled jumbo king prawns, from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, defrosted
  • 1 pinch Chinese five spice
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • sesame oil
  • 50 g fine rice noodles
  • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 25 g sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1 small bunch fresh coriander, leaves picked
  • 2 round lettuces, outer leaves removed and discarded, inner leaves reserved


In a bowl, mix the raw prawns with the five-spice, ginger, lime zest and a splash of sesame oil, then leave to marinate.

Meanwhile, cook your rice noodles following pack instructions. Drain and toss in a little sesame oil. Allow them to cool then add the lime juice, chilli, sesame seeds and coriander leaves. Mix well.

Heat a frying pan or wok until really hot and stir-fry the marinated prawns for 2 or 3 minutes until cooked. Set aside.

To assemble your pinch salad, take a nice, cupped lettuce leaf and pile on a little of the noodle salad. Top with a couple of cooked prawns. Repeat until you have 12 little lettuce cups. To eat, pinch each cup together with your fingers and enjoy!