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rachel2

Hong Kong

about me:

I cook, and then I eat. Sometimes I get paid - but in those cases I generally don't get to eat.

Wasabi-Infused Salmon Tartare

Wasabi-Infused Salmon Tartare

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A friend of mine had this dish in a restaurant in Singapore about a year or two ago, and never stopped raving about it. I never really understood what she was squealing about, since it just sounded to me like salmon sashimi with the shoyu and wasabi, only chopped up. Anyhow, when I had her over for a dinner party, I decided to try and do the dish for her.. a tricky thing to replicate since I've never tasted the dish that she so loved, but I figured it couldn't be that hard. I still don't really know if this is exactly what she was looking for, but hey - at least she liked it. :) Some notes: Having a cookie-cutter or some other round thing (like an egg-ring or something) would help with the presentation a lot. Also, be generous with the caviar! (Serves 4 as a starter)

Minced Pork and Long Beans Stir Fry

Minced Pork and Long Beans Stir Fry

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This is one of those dishes that my mom always used to cook at home - I never really knew what went into it, but after having moved out, I suddenly craved for it one day and decided to try to replicate it. I think I did an alright job. :) Try it for yourself! Notes: Depending on the brand of salted soya beans you buy (you can also use the un-crushed kind if that's all you can find - just give it a bit of a mash with a fork before adding it in), you might want to try using a tad less salty seasoning. Also, you can actually use whatever oil you want - just try to avoid olive oil 'cos the heat will be fairly high, and you also want to use an oil that doesn't have a distinctive taste. (Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are, and goes awesomely with steamed jasmine rice.)

Laksa Pesto

Laksa Pesto

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I've tried a couple of variations of this dish in restaurants and in a friend's place, so decided to try making my own version. I didn't exactly measure out all the ingredients, but I've tried to include rough guidelines, so please feel free to tweak it to your liking. Any suggestions are welcome. Due to the amount of savoury seasoning I include, what I suggest is that you try making the pesto first (perhaps with reduced amounts of the seasoning), then taste it and add extra seasoning/salt if you feel it's lacking. Laksa leaves have a pretty strong aroma, but I think the flavour is fairly delicate so don't be shocked if it looks like there are a lot of leaves! If you have extra, just use them all! Also, I recently made this with home made egg tagliatelle which I think goes awesomely with this dish as the sauce is fairly simple and dry - and it really sucks up all the flavour. (Serves 4 people with healthy appetites)

Prosciutto Melts

Prosciutto Melts

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More from the crostini family! Some people find the taste of goats cheese a bit strong (it's fairly similar to blue cheese), so if you're making this for people who don't like it that much, feel free to substitute a milder tasting cheese. I personally think the strength of the flavour of the cheese cuts through the saltiness of the prosciutto very well, but that's just me. :p (Makes 30)

Matcha Madeleines

Matcha Madeleines

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I'm really more of a coffee drinker than a tea drinker, but the one type of tea I really love is matcha - a type of Japanese green tea. Matcha suits many desserts, and I've been experimenting with matcha madeleines (the recipe here), as well as matcha tiramisu - which I recently tried in a restaurant and am attempting to replicate. These are super easy to make, and need to be refrigerated overnight so they're great for making ahead (my favourite!), and just take a short while in the oven before they're ready, piping hot, for everyone to tuck into. (Makes about 15-20)

Peach and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad

Peach and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad

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This salad is dead easy to make, and looks super gorgeous too. I still find it a bit strange, putting fruit in salads, but hey - if it works, I'm sure not gonna argue.

Homemade Ginger Tea

Homemade Ginger Tea

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Ginger tea is a lovely, yummy drink that's purportedly got medicinal purposes as well, such as removing wind and... well a whole lot more, I just don't know what. Anyway, to cut a rambly story short, it's good for you, AND tastes good to boot! :)

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

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A close friend of mine had a birthday pot-luck do, and since it sounded like everyone had the "proper" food covered, I offered to make the birthday cake. She jumped at the offer and begged me to make strawberry shortcake, which is her favourite, so how could I say no, right? Strawberry shortcake is usually done with scone-like biscuits, cream and fresh strawberries, but since it was going to be a birthday cake, I wanted to jazz it up a little. I decided to go with a fairly simple, but light and fluffy butter cake, which I would layer with vanilla crème chantilly and strawberries macerated in some sort of liquor (I picked an orangey one). Anyway it turned out well, so I decided to put it up here. :)

Croque Salmon

Croque Salmon

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This is a great breakfast, snack, or light lunch sandwich. It's based on the popular croque monsieur but done with smoked salmon instead. Feel free to swap the salmon for some other cured meat and substitute appropriate herbs/spices in the cheese mix as well. The only important thing to note is that the gruyere has to be VERY finely grated, so unless you're using a very fine grater (e.g. a fine microplane), finely chop the cheese again after it's been shredded.

Cheaterbug Tiramisu

Cheaterbug Tiramisu

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This is a great way to throw together a dessert that tastes and looks great, and literally from start to finish takes about 5 minutes. Unless you're super slow with the ice-cream scoop. It's my cheat-version of tiramisu, and since I first made the real kind of tiramisu and fell in love with sponge fingers, I always made sure to have them around the house. (Serves 4)

Chorizo Carbonara

Chorizo Carbonara

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While all of us surely love our lobster ravioli, truffle oil, shavings of truffles encased in sheets of freshly made pasta, foie terrines, and other fussy dishes, sometimes it's hard to beat a well made, silken, custardy carbonara. The problem is, many restaurants don't seem to be able to put out a halfway decent one! Either the noodles are overcooked, the bacon's too salty, or the eggs have scrambled. Which means that whenever I want this, I tend to make it on my own. So I'm lucky that it's so ridiculously simple to make. The basic "formula" for this is 100g of dried pasta, 1 egg yolk, 50mils of cream, and 20-30g of parmesan. And while the meat in question is usually thickly sliced bacon lardons, I'm using some chorizo here that I got from a recent trip to Barcelona, which is an intensely smoky, flavourful and fragrant dry cured sausage, to give it a slightly Spanish twist. What I love about chorizo is that the smoked paprika used in seasoning the sausage bleeds red into the oil that's rendered out as you heat it, which in turn imparts a deep orange hue to the sauce. Of course, if you don't have chorizo, bacon will do great (that's the classic way after all), otherwise another twist I love is using meatballs made from sausagemeat (a herby, garlicky one works best for me) which you sauté with the bacon until its fully cooked before adding the noodles in. I hope you try it and love it as much as I do, 'cos that'll mean you never have to face another sad restaurant-style excuse of a carbonara again. Oh and by the way, do yourself a favour and leave out those frozen peas ;)

Crème Anglaise

Crème Anglaise

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Vanilla custard. I could probably eat this with anything! Most recipes I looked at usually asked for 1 tsp of vanilla extract (never use essence in this!), but I think using a vanilla pod just gives it a fragrance that you can't get with bottled flavourings, and also the little specks of vanilla seeds scattered throughout the custard make me happy. (Makes about 1½ cups.)

Burger Condiments

Burger Condiments

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These two go awesomely with burgers. They're not difficult to make at all (it's just a bit tiring to whisk the sabayon), but really make a world of difference. Both recipes make enough for the amount of burgers in my recipe. Each burger can be topped with about a tablespoon of each (but don't be too greedy or it'll slush about and be too messy).

Risotto alla Milanese

Risotto alla Milanese

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Note: Risotto alla Milanese should either be taken on its own, or with Osso Bucco, according to strict Italian culinary rules. :p

Crème Brulée

Crème Brulée

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Crème brulée is one of those dishes I love doing, since it's so much fun to crank on your blowtorch and start flaming away at the sugar crust in front of your guests. Yet it's super simple to prepare, and can be done in advance - so all you need to do when your guests arrive is grab it out of the fridge, sprinkle on the sugar, and start flaming away! (Makes 8 small ramekins worth)

Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese

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Mac & cheese is probably one of the more artery-clogging comfort foods, and it's also widely available in the boxed/instant variety. However, it's really easy to make on your own, and that also gives you the opportunity to bump the recipe up a notch. This version (as you can see in the picture), is really tending towards a ham and cheese gratin, but hey. I like mac & cheese and that's what I'm calling it. (Makes 6 small servings - i.e. it'll probably serve 2 people for a rich, yet smallish lunch, and give you some leftovers for in the middle of the night.)

Osso Bucco

Osso Bucco

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Osso Bucco is a supremely luxurious dish that's rather impressive to serve: firstly, since it LOOKS so cool with the bone sticking out and all, and secondly, 'cos it's deeeelish. Like most of the things I choose to serve at dinner parties, it's another very easy to prep and ignore it till it's time to serve type of dish, which makes it perfectly paired with Risotto alla Milanese, since no one wants to have to be slaving over two things just before dinner starts. (Serves 4, very generously.)

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

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Tiramisu is probably my favourite dessert, and it's ridiculously easy to make. Seriously. A nice way to posh it up is to bake sponge cake and use that instead of sponge fingers, and then make it really neatly in a round or square cake tin, then slice it up, but I like it this way. More rustic. :) This recipe made 10 ramekins worth, so it'll serve 10 as a really small dessert, or probably make 4-6 generous helpings.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Orange Frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes with Orange Frosting

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I think what everyone loves most about cupcakes is the frosting, and I'm no exception. However, because frostings are usually sooo sweet, I prefer to have a very mild tasting cake base. The base I've used here is a very simple vanilla-infused sponge, and I think it goes really well with the slightly tangy orange frosting, which was a nice change from the usual lemony icings. (Makes about 36 medium cupcakes, and there should be enough frosting to generously frost all of them.)

Sticky Date Toffee Pudding

Sticky Date Toffee Pudding

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I don't actually know anyone who doesn't like sticky date toffee pudding, with the exception of one friend who likes the flavour and texture, just finds the sort you get in restaurants far too sweet for her liking. I made these last night for dessert, and served with a slightly less sweet Crème Anglaise (I reduced the amount of sugar to 2 heaped tbsp), even she was converted. Alternatively, it's also great served with Vanilla Ice Cream, which is - after all - frozen vanilla custard. This recipe makes about 10 small ramekins worth, which in my opinion is the perfect size for them. Any larger and I think you'd find me plastered on the wall from all the sugar!

Rhubarb Tartlets

Rhubarb Tartlets

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I love rhubarb. I think it's got a great tangy flavour, has such an interesting texture - crisp and crunch when it's raw and so delightfully soft and almost molten when cooked. Anyway, in case you needed any extra reason.. it's PINK! :D I made this tart for dinner tonight 'cos I was at the supermarket picking up some rhubarb to make jam, and then suddenly realised I needed a dessert for a dinner party. It was ridiculously easy to throw together, and tasted awesome. If you don't like rhubarb, however, feel free to use something else on the top like macerated or fresh sliced strawberries, or any other fruit you can think of! You might want to swap out the ginger though and pair the fruit with a frangipane-based crumble filling that is spiced with something a little more appropriate.

Duck and Orange Forks

Duck and Orange Forks

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Easy dish that looks and tastes great, and is awesome either as an appetizer or at cocktail parties. (Makes about 10-12 forks.)

Roast Beef Crostini

Roast Beef Crostini

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This is another, slightly posher, variation of crostini toppings. It's super easy to make since there's hardly any prep time for the individual ingredients, but tastes and looks rather impressive. (Makes 30)

Feel Good Lasagne

Feel Good Lasagne

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My mom always used to make lasagne at home on special-ish occasions, like someone's birthday party, and because of that it's always been a sort of feel-good dish for me. I used to watch her make it, and if I was good she'd allow me to stir the beef-and-tomato mixture, or dunk in the dried herbs. I had a bit of a craving for lasagne today, so took a trip down to the supermarket and decided to whip up a batch a la Rachel. :) Serves 4-6, depending on how greedy you are. I ate about a quarter then had to lie down 'cos I was soooo stuffed. Note: My oven temperature was a liiiittle bit too high for the batch I made in the picture, hence the cheese was rather brown. It was still really nice and crusty though, thankfully it didn't burn and get ruined! I have lowered the temperature in the following recipe accordingly.

Coconut & Malibu Rice Pudding with Mango

Coconut & Malibu Rice Pudding with Mango

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I ate something like this (essentially a poshed-up version of the popular Thai dessert, Mango Sticky Rice) in a restaurant at Banyan Tree Bangkok a couple of years ago, and tried to go back for it last year. To my horror, it was taken off the menu. I finally got down to trying to recreate it on my own, and I think it's turned out pretty well! The recipe begins in a risotto style, but after which I revert to normal pudding-cooking, since when I tried to make this risotto style it didn't quite taste as good. It is, however, a very rich dessert, so I've made up this recipe for 5 small portions. If you're a huge fan of rich, coconutty desserts, please serve more, by all means.

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