Category Archives: Healthy Lifestyle and Diet

THAI FISH CAKE WRAP

fish cake wrap

If you’re at wits end about what to prepare for dinner, think wraps. It’s easy, convenient and best of all quick to prepare. Consisting of a handful of ingredients, mostly vegetables, this Thai Fish Wrap is a no brainer to prepare.

fish cake wrap 1_V2

 

Ingredients

1 cucumber, sliced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 red capsicum, chopped

Thai basil leaves

2 fish cakes, sliced

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

juice of half a lemon

tortilla wraps

Method

Mix cucumber, tomatoes, capsicum and basil leaves in a bowl. Add fish sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce and lemon juice to the vegetables and mix well.

Place the salad on tortilla wraps. Top it up with sliced fish cake. Wrap the tortilla tightly. Enjoy!

 

fish cake wrap 2_V2

Get ready for the refreshing taste of basil and the zesty tang of the salad dressing. The fish cake, of course, gives the palate an enriched meaty flavour. Enjoy!!!

SPECIAL FRIED SPRING ROLLS

pre fried spring rolls

special fried spring rolls

I’d like to share with you a special type of finger food I prepared last weekend. Mind you, it is filling and has so much zing that it can be eaten for lunch. 

Preparation for this finger food is simple but needs some planning and organisation. So, a trip to the local Asian grocery store is mandatory. I would recommend selecting the medium-sized skin as this is just the right size for the type of filling I’ll share in a while. Also, this recipe calls for Shitake mushrooms. Getting this is a no-brainer as they can be found at the local supermarkets. Why Shitake? I insist on using this variety because of its flavour. It’s tasty and meaty and will definitely give  your spring rolls a lot of zing. Oh, so here it is:

Special Fried Spring Rolls

spring roll ingredients

Ingredients

Spring roll skin

1 packet Shitake mushrooms, sliced

1 onion, sliced

4 red chilli, sliced

1 inch ginger, chopped

200g cooked prawns, sliced

half cup bean sprouts

vermicelli noodles, half a block

4 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. Kicap manis

2 tbsp. Hoisin sauce

pepper

cooking oil

cornflower and water mixture (to seal the skins)

special fried spring rolls

Method

  1. Slice the onion, Shitake mushrooms and red chillies.
  2. Peel and chop ginger.
  3. Boil water and pour over vermicelli noodles in a pot. Once soften, drain and leave it for a few minutes to dry. Pour soy sauce, kicap manis and hoisin sauce into the bowl of vermicelli and mix well. Leave the mixture till ready to use.
  4. Meanwhile, de-shell the cooked prawns , slice them and set aside.
  5. Heat oil in a pan and once hot, add the onions. Cook till transparent. Then add the mushrooms, chillies and ginger. Mix well and let the juice ooze from the mushrooms. Remove the ingredients and set aside to cool.
  6. Pull out two spring roll skins each and them on a big plate. Lay the cooled vermicelli on one side of the skin and spread it out.
  7. Add the mushroom mixture and then the sliced prawns.
  8. Top it up with the bean sprouts.
  9. Fold in the sides and roll the skin away from you. Ensure that each roll is tight.
  10. Seal the end of the skins with cornflour and water mixture.
  11. Prepare the rolls until all ingredients are used.
  12. Heat oil in a pan and once hot, fry the spring rolls till brown.
  13. Serve the spring rolls hot and enjoy it with sweet chili sauce.

spring roll filling

 

The special fried spring rolls keep longer pre-fried and in the freezer. They come in handy when unexpected guests arrive at your doorstep.  The skins aren’t suitable for baking. If you’re not a fan of fried food, use  short crust pastry instead. As an afterthought, the vermicelli needs something thick to coat it. Hence, I’ve used kicap manis and hoisin sauce as they not only coat the vermicelli well but also gives better flavour. The trick is to leave the soaked vermicelli longer so it soaks up the flavour of the sauces better. These are the best spring rolls ever, not found in restaurants.

STIR FRY MAGGI NOODLES WITH FISH

2-min-maggie-web-200x200 (1)

magii mee stir fry_v2

The next time you’ve contemplating which sort of noodles you should use in your stir fry dishes, don’t look too far. Open your kitchen cabinet and you’re bound to find a few packets of Maggi noodles. You may cringe at the thought of using Maggi noodles in your cooking. Shouldn’t we use healthier options? I hear you say. Well, what I’m trying to convey is the idea of using just the noodles and throwing out the sachets of condiments that accompany them.

Maggi noodles have got this slimy texture compared to its distant relative, the vermicelli or white flat noodles. Also, if you prefer thinner noodles, the humble Maggi is the one to use. Adding to this debate, Maggi noodles are tastier than the white ones and contain less oil and colouring compared to its cousin, the Hokkien noodles. Still unconvinced? Well, why not have a go at preparing this delicious dish. 

Ingredients 

2 Maggi noodle blocks

150g flat heads

bak choy  

1 packet sun dried tomatoes

tofu, diced

4 red chilies, sliced

bean sprouts

onion, sliced

Shitake mushrooms, sliced

1 cup frozen green peas

2 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tbsp soy sauce

cooking oil

pepper to taste

Method 1

  1. Pour boiling water over Maggi noodles in a pot. 
  2. Let it sit in boiling water for about 2 mins or till noodles are softened. 
  3. Drain noodles and set aside. 

Method 2

1. Heat oil in non-stick pan.

2. Fry tofu and fish separately till cooked. Remove from the pan and set aside. 

3. Heat oil in the same pan. 

4. Cook onions till soft. 

5. Add chilies and Shitake mushrooms till the juices ooze out. 

6. Then, add green peas, sun dried tomatoes, bean sprouts and bak choy. Stir fry the vegetables till cooked.  

7. Add oyster sauce and mix well. 

8. Add the fried tofu and fish including the oil that comes with them. 

9. Then add the noodles and mix the ingredients thoroughly taking care not to break the fish.  

10. Lastly, add soy sauce and season with pepper. Mix well. 

The outcome is predictably delicious. The Shitake mushrooms, fish and sun dried tomatoes take the dish to a whole new level. The Maggi noodles do not disappoint. The tip is not to overcook the noodles or they’ll end up being too soft in texture. So the next time you’ve craving for a special noodle dish, give the humble Maggi a go and take the dish to a whole new dimension. 

CREATIVE SUSHI FILLINGS

sushi

creative sushi filing

Sushi is regarded a healthy food as it is supposedly low in calories. The salmon and tuna slices, slivers of prawn and cucumber and slices of avocado and egg that fit snugly within sticky rice rolls are low in fats and high in nutrients. Sushi doesn’t need to contain raw fish. In fact, you can include anything you want in your sushi rolls. The key here is to imaginative and bold. 

Below are a few sushi filling ideas I’ve tried. They taste superb. 

creative sushi filling

Avocado and sliced fried egg

Avocado and peeled cooked prawns

Stir fried mushrooms and sliced fried egg

Cooked salmon chunks 

Stir fried mushrooms

Ingredients

150g mushrooms, sliced

1 tbsp pepper

oyster sauce

Method

  1. Heat oil in pan.

     2. Add mushrooms to the pan till cooked.

     3. Add oyster sauce and mix well. 

     4.  Sprinkle pepper to taste. 

     5. Drain excess juice before preparing sushi.

 

Cooked salmon chunks 

Ingredients

1 can salmon chunks

1 tsp chili flakes

pepper 

juice from 1/2 lemon 

Method

  1. Heat oil in a pan.
  2. Drain brine from can of salmon.
  3. Add salmon into the pan and cook well. 
  4. Add chili flakes, pepper and lemon juice and stir well. 
  5. Drain all excess liquid before preparing sushi. 

 

There you have it. Creative sushi fillings for an adventurous palate. The options are endless. Stir fried squids, scallops fried in butter, tempura prawns, spiced tofu, chicken slices, barbecued turkey slices……….I’ll leave it to your imagination. Haven’t I convinced you that sushi needn’t be traditional? 

SOAK IN THE ENERGY OF THE SUN TO BE MORE POSITIVE AND PRODUCTIVE

A_warm_minute (1)

balcony work

http://videohive.net/

Feeling down and unmotivated? Is winter making you feel less productive? This is the reason why. The area you work in lacks sunlight. Yes. It is true. If you’re not on top of things and feeling depressed, chances are, you’re working in the wrong part of the house. Ask yourself these questions: Is your home office dark and closed up? Are the curtains closed and obstructing the sunlight and view? If your answer is yes, then, you need to soak in the energy of the sun to be more positive and productive. Consider the tips below to energise yourself and change your state of mind.

  1. Soak in some sunlight

Work in the balcony or the backyard if such places are brighter and warmer due to more sunlight streaming in. If you work in a home office, draw the curtains to allow more sunlight to brighten the room. Sunlight helps to change your mood and mindset. Chances are you’ll be more productive and feel much better working when exposed to some natural light. Sunlight is indeed a natural source of energy that recharges your body and soul that are much needed for a positive mindset. Why do you think people feel lazy and unproductive when it’s gloomy and grey outside and are more active when the sun is shining brightly outside? The sun has got amazing energy that revitalises you inside out. So ensure that you have plenty of sunlight where you work. 

2. The pleasures of warmth

You work better when your home office is warm. This is because warmth brings comfort. Ensure that you have a heater or a fireplace near you. Warmth is inviting and comforting. You need it to stay productive. 

Van_Gogh_Twelve_Sunflowers

3. Yellow is gold

Painting a yellow accent on a wall will change the mood to any room. If your living room or work space is dull, try giving one part of the room a hint of yellow. Alternatively, introduce a vase of sunflowers or a painting that has predominant yellow colours to promote the flow of energy and the change of mindset. 

4. Reflect more light 

Use a long mirror to reflect and introduce light in the room. To do this, you need to position the mirror directly opposite a window. This helps to brighten your room and works as mood switcher. In no time, you’ll feel more energised and productive instead of feeling down and depressed. 

So, soak in the energy of the sun to be more positive and productive. Try one of or a combination of the above the next time you feel unproductive. Don’t take the sun’s rays for granted as it is the source of life and energy. Amazingly, it changes your mood and lifts up your spirits. Do share your stories about how the sun’s energy bring positivity to your mind and energises your body. 

SPECIAL AGLIO OLIO WITH A TWIST

San Remo Fettuccine Egg Noodle

special aglio olio

You’ll agree with me that aglio olio is a very simple, fuss-free dish. Though only a few ingredients are used, the taste is satisfying to the palette. I’ve reinvented the aglio olio to enhance its flavour and appearance. In this dish, I’ve added pine nuts for texture and some greens, soy and grated parmesan for flavour. There are so many egg pasta available in the market. For this dish, I’ve chosen to use San Remo Fettuccine Egg Noodle.  

Ingredients

1/2 packet fettuccine 

olive oil

1 onion, sliced

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

3 fresh tomatoes, sliced

100g fresh spinach

a handful of pine nuts

1 cup frozen peas

grated Parmesan

1 green chili, sliced

1 tbsp soy sauce

ground black pepper

Method

  1. Cook the fettuccine in salted, boiling water till el dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Roast pine nuts in a small and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a pan and fry the onions till caramelised. 
  4. Add garlic and mushrooms. Cook till mushrooms soften. 
  5. Add chilies, tomatoes, spinach and peas. Mix well. 
  6. Add fettuccine and season with Parmesan, black pepper and soy. Mix well. 
  7. Lastly, add the pine nuts. Mix the ingredients together to ensure they blend well. 
  8. Serve while its is hot and sprinkle some grated Parmesan for that added kick.

I use grated Parmesan from Pantalica Cheese company. Its grated cheese is flavoursome and makes good pasta topping or seasoning. The dash of soy enhances the flavour of the dish and adding some greens like spinach and peas transforms its appearance and improves its nutritious value. Bon appetite!

EGYPTIAN PHOOL DISH

Egyptian Phool

Egyptian Phool

 

I’ve been craving for Egyptian Phool, a spicy, hearty dish consisting of Fava beans and minced meat. Since I’m not sure if I can get Fava beans here in Australia, the next best option is to use red kidney beans. The dish is pretty straight forward but be prepared to do some blending. Thankfully my small blender works well. For this dish, I’ve tried to substitute meat with blended oyster mushrooms. Phool with meat seriously tastes better, for it gives that full-bodied flavour. For the beans, it’s best to use Foul Medammas or Fava Beans. If those aren’t available, the next best alternative is to use red kidney beans. They work just as well. 

Egyptian Phool_blended ingredients

Ingredients

2 cans of Foul Mademmas/Fava Beans/Red Kidney Beans

150g ground beef

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp coriander powder

2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp garam masala

1 can, diced tomatoes 

salt to taste

Blended

3/4 large red onion, sliced 

1cm ginger, sliced

6 cloves garlic, sliced

3-4 dried red chilies 

Egyptian Phool_beans and tomatoes

Accompaniment 

2 eggs, sunny side up

1/4 red onion, diced

2 green chilies, sliced

2 tomatoes, diced

2 calamansi limes, cut into wedges

 

Method 

  1. Blend onion, ginger, garlic and dried red chilies and set aside. 
  2. Blend beans with water separately and set aside. 
  3. Heat oil in a pan and cook ground beef. Once cooked, set aside.  
  4. Add oil to the same pan and fry the blended paste till fragrant. 
  5. Add cumin powder, coriander powder, ground black pepper and blend well. 
  6. Add in the blended beans and stir well. 
  7. Add salt to taste and mix well. 
  8. Add cooked ground beef into the mixture and stir well.
  9. Add canned diced tomatoes with liquid and stir mixture well. Add a bit more cumin powder, pepper and garam masala if needed. 
  10. Simmer the mixture on low heat for 20 more minutes or till it is reduced.
  11. Serve the dish in a bowl. Sprinkle diced green chilies, diced tomatoes, diced red onions and top up with sunny side egg. 
  12. Squeeze a wedge of calamansi lime and enjoy! 

Egyptian Phool

 

Phool accompaniment

 

This Egyptian Phool dish is suitable for lunch or dinner. Best served with sliced baguette. Scoop it, dunk it with baguette slices or enjoy the bean mixture from a spoon. It is a very filling and wholesome dish in any season. I won’t be surprised if everyone at the table goes for a second helping. So make sure there is plenty of extra phool.  This dish has been modified over time and place. Does anyone know what the original Egyptian Phool comprises of? Do share your knowledge on this phenomenal Egyptian dish. 

SPECIAL THAI PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE

Thai pineapple fried rice

Thai pineapple fried rice

 

When you have leftover canned pineapple and rice, what could you prepare? Fried rice, I hear you say. Well…why not transform ordinary fried rice into something special? Thai pineapple fried rice is the perfect answer. Throw in some prawns and voila! You have a dish to impress your guests. It’s not as difficult as you think. A short cut method and cooking trick is to use Thai red curry paste in a bottle. My favourite is Ayam brand which is not a challenge to find. Woolworths and Coles have them in stock.

Ingredients

leftover rice

6 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 onion, sliced

1 cm ginger, chopped

200g shelled prawns

1 red capsicum, diced

canned pineapples, diced

pineapple juice

2 tsp dried shrimp, made into a paste

2 tbsp. Thai red curry paste

2 tbsp. green peas

A handful of cashew nuts

pepper

cucumber for garnishing

Method

1. Put your pan to a high heat and add oil.

2. Fry prawns till cooked and put them aside.

3. Next, lightly fry the cashews and leave them aside.

4. Heat oil in a wok and fry onions, ginger and garlic.

5. Add pineapples and green peas and mix well.

6. Add in shrimp paste and Thai red curry paste and dilute the paste with pineapple juice from the can.

7. Add the rice and mix well.

8. Add cashews and mix them into the rice before serving.

9. Garnish rice with coriander and add cucumber on the side.  

There you have it – special fried rice. The pineapple, shrimp paste and Thai curry paste create an explosion of taste, transporting you to the land of smiles. The cashews introduce an interplay of texture and crunch while the cucumber as well as coriander provide a refreshing after taste and cools off the heat.

 

UDON NOODLES IN MUSHROOM SOUP

udon noodles

 

udon noodles in mushroom soup

 

The weather has been dreary since last week’s terrible storm. The drop in temperature has triggered my cravings for soupy dishes. Today seems like a suitable day to prepare soup noodles – comfort food in the middle of autumn. I’m tempted to prepare udon noodles in mushroom soup. For this dish, I need a medium-sized saucepan and a frying pan, one for the soup and the latter for light frying. Fresh seafood can be used in the dish but I choose to lightly fry fish balls instead. 

Ingredients

1 packet udon noodles

1 onion, sliced

1 inch ginger, chopped

5 cloves,garlic, chopped

1 green chilli, sliced

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

2 bak choy, sliced

100g cup mushrooms, sliced

1 packet shitake mushrooms, sliced

1/2 packet fish balls

250 g vegetable stock

 2 cups water

1/2 cube anchovy stock

pepper

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

cooking oil

For garnish 

fried shallots 

1 sprig spring onions, chopped

 

Method

Prior to soup preparation, soften udon noodles in boiling water. Drain noodles after 2-3 minutes. 

1. In a saucepan, heat oil and fry onions till soft and transparent. 

2. Add garlic, ginger and green chili and fry for a minute. 

3. Add mushrooms till they soften. Add 1/2 anchovy stock, crush it and mix it well. Add a little water. 

4. Let the ingredients simmer for another 3 mins. Cover saucepan with a lid. 

5. Once the mushroom juice has oozed out, add vegetable stock and water. 

6. Add pepper, dried chilli flakes and soy sauce for taste and mix well. 

7. Heat oil in a frying pan. Add thawed fish balls and fry them lightly. 

8. Remove the fish balls and leave aside. 

9. In the same pan, add chopped bak choy and oyster sauce. Mix well. 

10. Add pepper to taste. 

To serve

Place noodles in a bowl. Add bak choy and fish balls. Scoop up soup with a ladle and pour over the ingredients. Then, garnish with spring onions and fried shallots for added taste and texture. 

After thoughts

If you prefer to have additional protein in your dish, introducing hard boiled egg to the dish is an option. Add more chilli flakes or fresh red chillies for that added kick. Udon noodles work better in a stir fry dish as they cling well to the sauce used in cooking. However, when prepared in soup, the noodles may be a little bland. Hence to counteract this, the soup has to be spicy. Best served hot, this is one nutritious dish you should try in winter or on a damp, rainy day. 

EXOTIC SPINACH AND CHEESE PIE

exotic spinach and cheese pie

exotic spinach and cheese slice

I have tried my hands at baking spinach and cheese pie as well as triangles many times before. Just recently, I came to learn from a friend that adding tahini (sesame seed paste) would enhance the flavour of the pie. So a few days ago, I reinvented my spinach and cheese pie by adding tahini. I must say that adding the paste gave some depth to the flavour. Since tahini is used in Middle Eastern, Greek and Turkish cuisine, I have named the pie ‘Exotic Spinach and Cheese Pie’ in order not to confuse it with the standard pie. You may also be interested in trying out my Spinach and Three Cheeses Pie which is also special as the three kinds of cheeses create a complex cheesy flavour. As an after thought, adding some fish stock to the pie mixture would have enhanced the taste further. I have added this to the ingredients list for this recipe although I didn’t use it in my pie. 

Ingredients 

3 sheets filo pastry

1 onion, sliced

100g fresh spinach

1 packet, frozen spinach

10g margarine, melted

250g ricotta cheese

1/2 cup vintage cheddar cheese, grated 

2 eggs

3 tbsp tahini

3 tbsp fish stock

cooking oil

pepper 

1 tbsp chia seeds

Method

1. Grease casserole with melted margarine.

2. Heat oil in a pan and caramalise onions. 

3. Heat frozen spinach in a microwave. Set aside to cool. 

4. In a big bowl, mix both types of spinach, ricotta, grated cheddar and 1 whisked egg. Add tahini, fish stock and pepper to the mixture. 

5. Place 1 filo sheet at the bottom and sides of the casserole and spread the caramalised onions on it.

6. Pour the mixture from the bowl and even it out. 

7.  Add the last filo sheet on top and fold in the sides. 

8. Glaze the top with egg wash.

9. Sprinkle the top with chia seeds.

9. Bake the pie at 180 degrees for 50 mins. 

exotic spinach and cheese pie

I use Mainland Vintage cheddar for its sharp flavour. The ricotta will balance out the overall cheesy taste. For an added twist, I sprinkled chia seeds for added texture and of course to take advantage of its nutritional value. It’s best to let the pie cool after removing it from the oven before serving. It is quite an easy dish to prepare despite the grating of the cheddar. Enjoy!