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Monday, 17 June 2019

Food Prep & Freezing

I recently realised that food prep and freezing has many advantages.  It's a safe way of preserving food for consumption later and it saves you a lot of cooking time too.  And I learned that from phonghong bakes & cooks.

When life gets hectic and you're hard pressed for time to get a home-cooked meal on the table, it's wonderful to be able to reach out into the freezer and instantly reheat (steam, microwave or bake) something in a jiffy that you can eat in a matter of minutes.  Most  food can be reheated by steaming directly from their frozen state while some can be defrosted and reheated in the microwave oven.  But baked or grilled food is best thawed and reheated in the toaster oven (or oven).

If you intend to embark on this food prep and freezing thingy, you have to (first of all) invest in freezer-friendly storage containers.  Well, I don't mind at all since I love to collect (more like hoard) containers of any kind.

You can always buy a few first and then, over time, gradually add on to your collection.  I did that and I think I have a pretty sizeable collection for now...for my needs..though not quite nearly as many as phonghong has (hehe!)...but then she preps for two, I usually prep for one! ;)

Now that I have a good stock of containers, I better put these containers to good use and do some food prep and freezing with them.  But, of course, not everything taste great frozen and then defrosted, some will obviously be better than others.  Over time, by trial and error, I was able to pick out the ones which fared better frozen and eliminate those that weren't as successful.

#1 - Meat (Chicken)


One of the most ideal meat to cook and freeze is chicken.  The meat holds up immensely well frozen and doesn't lose its flavour or texture when defrosted and reheated.  I usually braise it with ginger, mushrooms or potatoes.

#1.1 - Braised Chicken with Ginger



#1.2 - Braised Chicken with Mushrooms



#1.3 - Oyster Sauce Chicken with Potatoes
 
The only thing you have to remember when dealing with potatoes is to undercook them as they become even softer when reheated from a frozen state.

#2 - Meat (Pork)


The other meat that's great for freezing is pork...especially if it's minced where it'll taste good even if they're not eaten in a super tender state.

#2.1 - Sweet & Sour Pork Meatballs


(for recipe, click here)

#2.2 - Luncheon Meat with Potato, Egg & Green Beans


(for recipe, click here)

#3 - Meat (Beef)

I won't choose dishes like stir-fry beef (or pork) for freezing coz this is best eaten when the meat is tender to the bite.  Those that require the meat to be minced or in sauces are more suitable for freezing.

#3.1 - Minced Beef Bolognese

Tomato-based pasta sauces (with either minced pork, beef or chicken) are really good for freezing.  All that's needed is to boil up some pasta and you can have spaghetti bolognese, pronto (for recipe, click here).

#4 - Vegetables

I initially thought that vegetables wouldn't be ideal as I felt they won't stand up to freezing and reheating.  How wrong I was.  I was most impressed at how well some of them took to freezing.

#4.1 Stir-Fry Green Beans with Minced Pork


(for recipe, click here)

#4.2 - Potatoes with Mushrooms, Beancurd Puffs & Onions



#4.3 - Fried Turnip with Shredded Carrot & Dried Cuttlefish


This dish is extremely ideal for food prep as their flavours get even better after being kept (for recipe, click here).

#4.4  Sauteed Eggplant with Minced Pork



#4.5 - Wong Nga Pak (Chinese Cabbage) Stir-Fry

The key thing to remember is to choose vegetables that taste good when eaten in a soft state (like the selections above) and not vegetables that need to be eaten with a crunch.

#4.6 - Stir-Fry Yin Choy with Garlic


I actually thought green leafy vegetables weren't a suitable candidate for freezing until I tried it once with yin choy.  We know that green vegetables tend to turn yellow if covered right after cooking while they're still hot.  So, make sure they're cooled before covering and storing in the freezer.


I was amazed at the results of my experimentation with yin choy.  The first photo (on the left) showed the vegetables in their frozen state.  The upper right hand photo was after thawing...still green.  The lower right hand photo was after reheating...and amazingly it still retains its vibrant green colour!  The conclusion is...if you can do it with yin choy, you can pretty much do it with any green leafy vegetable but choose only those which taste good eaten soft.

#4.7 - Roasted Broccoli, Cauliflower & Capsicum


Any vegetables (or potatoes) that are roasted or baked is totally perfect for freezing as well.  Great as a salad on its own or as a side vegetable with a protein (for recipe, click here).

#4.8 - Roasted Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes


Any kind of potatoes is welcomed as a side dish (for recipe, click here).

#4.9 - Cottage Pie


I reheat baked and grilled food by thawing them first before reheating them in my toaster oven (for recipe, click here).

#5 - Egg

#5.1 - Fried Omelette with Minced Pork & Scallions


Eggs (especially omelettes) keep very well frozen.  You can make your omelette with any filling you like.  Simply defrost and stick it into the toaster oven to reheat.

#6 - Soups


Soups are good for freezing too, after all, we make broth and freeze them all the time for use in our cooking.  If I had to freeze clear soups (especially when there are leftovers), I'd choose those vegetables which can withstand freezing and become softer like radish, salted vegetable or lotus root.

#6.1 - Vegetables & Tomato Soup

And I love to store frozen soups in my freezer as they come in real handy when I want something warm on a cold, rainy evening (for recipe, click here).

#7 - Rice

I keep leftover plain rice in the freezer, so, in the same context, any kind of cooked rice is also desirable for freezing.

#7.1 - Fried Rice



#7.2 - Claypot Chicken Rice


Whether self-cooked or otherwise...hehe!

So, thanks to phonghongbakes & cooks for inspiring me to do food prep and freezing, I now do this quite frequently.  Though what you can have may be somewhat limited (as not all food is tasty when thawed and reheated), there are still some good choices available if you make your selections wisely.  For even more ideas on food prep, you can refer to her blog posts here, here, here, herehere and here.

I think meat dishes work best when prepped for freezing.  I wouldn't recommend seafood for freezing though I've not attempted it myself.  You can try but I prefer to eat fish, prawns and squid when they're freshly cooked.

The next time you cook, you might want to make extra for freezing.  It's great to be able to rummage through your freezer and have something that you can reheat at a moment's notice.  I find it really convenient on days when I'm too lazy to cook or don't wish to go out and eat.  There's nothing better than having dinner on speed-dial, don't you think? ^_~

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Dean & Deluca @ Pavilion

Ever since my maiden visit to Dean & Deluca @ Pavilion for breakfast, I've been back numerous times as it has become a current favourite place of mine for beautifully cooked poached eggs.

Their poached eggs are always perfectly done (at least the times when I had it) and complemented by a terrific hollandaise sauce.  If you love poached eggs as much as I do, you've got to give these ones a try...seriously! ;)  And my sisters-in-law did when I brought them here...they went for the poached eggs which I highly recommended.

When I see grinders (not shakers!) of black pepper and salt on the table, I'm always happy....and here, it's no ordinary sea salt but (the more atasHimalayan pink salt some more...kekeke! ;)  Freshly grounded pepper (from whole peppercorns) tastes so much more fragrant.  The place starts me off on a good note for my upcoming lunch already.

Each time I'm here, I'm always tempted to order the poached eggs time and time again but I think it's high time I give their other dishes a chance.  I decided to order the Seared Norwegian Salmon Fillet @ RM35 instead.  The salmon fillet was cooked just right, with a nice sear on the outside and revealing a juicy, tender fillet on the inside.  And for once, I didn't miss not having a crispy skin! :P

The salmon was served sitting on a bed of quinoa and spinach.  The first time I had quinoa, I can't say I was a fan of the bland taste and texture but my fears were unfounded as these ones turned out delicious.  Maybe it's because this one was cooked with spinach which gave it much more flavour.  I think I've a newfound fondness for quinoa.  The fresh tomato salsa (of chopped tomatoes, onions and parsley) was equally appetising to freshen up my palate.

This dish will appeal to those seeking a light, fresh, subtle-tasting dish with a host of healthy benefits at the same time.  I'd gladly order this again. ^o^

Next was a pasta dish chosen by my nephew, the Dean & Deluca's Signature Meatball @ RM30 in a tomato-based sauce served with parmesan shavings.  It came with three very substantially-sized beef meatballs making it a very filling dish.  I enjoyed the texture of their fresh, house-made pasta tossed in a lovely, light tomato sauce.  Choices include tagliolini or fettuccini as your pasta of choice (I'm assuming this is tagliolini which looks somewhat like spaghetti, only flatter and not as rod-shaped).

But the meatballs were very beefy...and the pasta very cheesy, not necessarily two things I'd love together in a sentence, but well suited for those who enjoy such flavours.

Another pasta dish, the Carbonara @ RM28 with beef bacon, mushrooms and grated parmesan was the choice of my niece.  It was both creamy and cheesy but not to the point of cloying.  Again, freshly made pasta is the way to go...so much better than dried pasta anytime.

I was fond of the good quality beef bacon and juicy button mushrooms which freshened up the plate from all that creaminess.  Yeah, I would have appreciated some fresh greens (perhaps arugula) to add a touch of lightness to the dish.

My sister-in-law got herself a piece of Carrot Cake for dessert from the cake counter.  I'm not much of a carrot cake fan (and the cream cheese frosting looked a bit over-chilled to me) but she said it was nice.

My Personal Opinion

Apart from their freshly cooked house-made pastas (way to go!), they have a variety of other options like sandwiches, burgers, quiche, soups, salads and more main courses of beef, chicken, fish and prawns to tickle your fancy! ;)

Though the pastas wouldn't be my personal choices, they certainly would be for people who like cheesy carbonaras and beefy marinaras.  I've got my eyes set on the other aglio olio pasta on the menu though.

Whether it's for beautifully cooked poached eggs in the mornings...or a more substantial main course (like salmon) for lunch or dinner, it's all good...and the prices are pretty friendly too! ^.^

Dean & Deluca
C3.10.02 Level 3
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2110 0140

Monday, 10 June 2019

#ewew cooks Eggy Rice

One Pot Wonders are a blessing when it comes to whipping up something fast and easy for the dinner table. It can be cooked in a jiffy and involves the littlest of work in terms of prepping and washing.

After all, you just need to put everything inside a pot (in this case, your rice cooker) and wait for it to finish cooking.  And one such dish is this Eggy Rice, among the simplest of all one pot wonders, which I fall back on often when I've no time I'm too lazy to prepare a proper dinner.

You start by putting 1 cup of washed, uncooked rice to boil.  You'll need to reduce the amount of water you normally would use for the rice to cook but you'll still need a fair amount of it, otherwise the rice will not cook all the way through.

The reason for reducing the amount of water is obviously because of the extra liquid content the two beaten eggs will provide to the rice.  Add the eggs (that have been well seasoned with salt, white pepper and a little soy) as soon as you see the water has almost been absorbed fully by the rice.

Give it a good stir and let it cook a bit longer (at least a further 10 minutes) under 'keep warm' function until the egg is cooked.  If you like your rice slightly drier, keep it in the rice cooker for even longer.

Once cooked, they can be eaten just like that.  But you can bring it up a notch by adding pork lard crisps. But, let's be honest, most of us won't have crispy chee yau char at our disposal or be willing to make it at home.  So, fried shallots and shallot oil (or fried garlic and garlic oil) will have to do.

I always have fried shallots on hand as it's something I can't do without in my kitchen (that and fried garlic).  I use them to cook dishes or as toppings for the dishes I cooked. ^_~

Adding the fried shallots together with a few drizzles of shallot oil will amp up the flavours of the Eggy Rice even more.  Sprinkle in some chopped spring onions for a splash of colour and freshness right at the end.


Stir that through and it's ready to be served :)

Sprinkle a bit more fried shallots (it wouldn't hurt) and chopped spring onions over the top for presentation.

Note that the Eggy Rice will be a tad softer than the norm (but not too mushy or wet) because of the extra liquid provided by the eggs.  It can't be helped as you can't reduce the water content too much when boiling the rice, otherwise the rice grains won't be cooked fully.

The benefit of cooking this Eggy Rice is that all you'll need to cook is one additional dish (instead of the usual three) to eat with your rice.

I like to pair it with a simple fried fish, in this case a white pomfret topped with crispy garlic bits in a light soy and garlic oil sauce.....

.....or a simple stir-fry of fresh, firm-to-the-bite prawns with crunchy-to-the-bite green beans.

Or how about some soy braised egg and tofu?  Ok, ok, I didn't cook this one...it was bought earlier in the day (kekeke!) but it does go great with the Eggy Rice.

If you don't mind softer textured rice, then this Eggy Rice is perfect for a spur of the moment cooking that'll be a shoo-in for a quick and simple dinner...and well-received by the young ones especially when it's topped with a few slices of fried luncheon meat! ^o^

Rice, eggs, shallots (or garlic) and a can of luncheon meat are staples you'll find in most kitchens...something you can turn to on a rainy day when you can't go out for dinner or have nothing to cook.

Serves 2 (as a light dinner)

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