Foodiva's Kitchen: October 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

5-Star Makeover - Spicy Quiche with Easy Oats Crust and Bilimbi

Its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That's the only lasting thing you can create.
~ Chuck Palahniuk

I'm very disorganized this month that I'm late for the 5-Star Makeover Challenge hosted by Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro, of Lazaro Cooks!. Our challenge was to take tailgate party food and turn it deliciously gourmet.

The only problem was, I had never tailgated before so I had no idea what people ate at these sorts of parties. A few turns at Google later, I gathered that tailgating involved a lot of grilling (preferably meat) and consuming plenty of ahem, beverages. Basically it's a social event that often takes place at stadium or arena parking lots before major team sports matches or even concerts. Something that almost never happens in Asia, I imagine. Or maybe I was never invited to one :-(.

Don't get me wrong. We do barbeques at home very well -  for new years, birthdays, to celebrate achievements and so on. So for this tailgate party, I'm thinking of the same food that we would prepare and eat for our own version of tailgating a.k.a. barbeque parties here, and what better to make than quiche? Admittedly, it's hard to think of quiche and gourmet in the same frame of mind but I made this an appetizer-styled quiche so I'm hoping that makes it more gourmet-ish.   

By the time I finished assembling this dish, it looked more appropriate for a bridal shower than for a tailgating party. The flower-like bilimbi I used as a topping probably had a lot to do with it, but those actually had a specific purpose. You see, while the quiche looked quite delicate on the outside, I really packed it with spices on the inside. I used my favorite oats crust infused with crushed Nigella seeds, cumin and coriander and at the base of the crust, I sneaked in a (small) dollop of my homemade hot sauce. A really hot sauce made out of Scotch Bonnets, Thai chillies and apple! You will feel the punchy heat - and all your pores opening - soon after the second bite, promise. What fun is a tailgating party if you can't sweat a little, right?

Oh, the extremely acidic bilimbi works to offset the heat, so they're not just there to look pretty!

Do head over here to view the round-up of this Makeover Challenge.

Spicy Quiche with Easy Oats Crust and Bilimbi
Makes: 6 muffin-sized quiches
1 teaspoon Nigella seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1teaspoon coriander seeds
1 cup organic rolled oats
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

3-4 teaspoons extra hot sauce (I used this Scotch-Bonnet and Thai chilli one)
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1/3 cup grated Dutch-aged Gouda cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 bilimbis, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Dry roast Nigella, cumin and coriander seeds in a pan over medium heat until fragrant - about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and grind coarsely using a mortar and pestle or in a grinder.
2. Put ground spices in a bowl and add oats, flour, grapeseed oil, salt and pepper and mix until the oil is absorbed evenly into the oats. Add water and stir evenly until the mixture becomes sticky when you pinch a little between your fingertips.
3. Brush 6 muffin cups lightly with grapeseed oil. Scoop about two tablespoons of the spiced oats mixture into each muffin cup. With your fingertips, press the mixture into the base and sides of the cup. The edges won't be even, so don't worry about it. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. In the meantime, make the filling. Simply mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stil until well combined.
4. Remove the oats crusts and pour in the filling mixture into each crust until very near the top (I used 1/3 cup). Bake at 180C/350F for 20 minutes or until filling just starts to set on top.
5. Remove the muffin cups from the oven and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes. Before turning out, run a knife around the crust to release any bits sticking to the cup. Tip the muffin tray onto another tray and transfer upright to a serving platter. If not served immediately, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Friday, October 28, 2011

French Fridays With Dorie - Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good

Dorie wasn't kidding when she said this recipe was good. It was SO good... I made it twice in one week! Admittedly, I used Kabocha squash instead of pumpkin, and it was only teeny-weeny that I can finish the whole thing in one sitting. In Around My French Table, Dorie had likened this dish to an arts and craft project and it's really up to our own creativity what we want to stuff into the pumpkin (I'll just call it this because 'stuffed squash' just doesn't sound as aesthetic and welcoming, don't you think?).

Well, I made this the very day I picked the pumpkins from my mother's farm...I couldn't wait to stuff them with everything good! Or rather, everything I had in the kitchen that seemed good and tempting and more importantly, got along well together flavor-wise. There was actually a lot more that I wanted to insert in that hollowed out pumpkin, but the hole just wasn't big enough. Darn you, Kabocha....err, I mean, tiny pumpkin!

So these were my stuffing ingredients - very tender sweet corn and long beans (from the same farm), cooked rice, carrots, apple slices, mature cheddar and heavy cream. I decided to forego the meaty bits and it still tasted great, the very sweet pumpkin flesh contrasting rather nicely with the savory filling.

As you can see, I seemed to have overstuffed the small cavity (and I also couldn't fathom how the apples should fit in there) but after 'squashing' (haha...private giggle here) everything down with the pumpkin lid and baking it, the filling sunk way down and actually looked quite presentable. The baked pumpkin smelled utterly wonderful and this dish really did its title justice. I'm tempted to make it a third time this week, but I fear my fellow home-dwellers may consider hiring a new short order cook to replace me instead!

Anyway, I felt so excited about this recipe that I even had my friend Kate make it and she too was in awe of how good it tasted. I'm hoping my fellow Doristas feel the same way! You can check out their stuffed pumpkins (or squashes) here.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Scotch Bonnet-Thai Chilli Apple Hot Sauce

I went vegetable picking at my mother's farm last weekend and came back with plenty of organically grown goodies, including these super sweat-inducing Scotch Bonnets and Thai Chillies. I decided to brave it up and make a hot sauce from them - a REALLY hot sauce! You can cut down the heat by discarding half the seeds or deseeding completely (wimp!) but I left all the seeds in. And added an apple for texture. Whoooah mamma! That's all I can say :-).

A lot of sputtering and gasping for air was involved in the making of this hot sauce, but you may be pleased to know that no long-term damage was caused. At least, I hope not.

Scotch Bonnet-Thai Chilli Apple Hot Sauce

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
18 fresh Scotch Bonnet peppers, sliced and seeded
6 fresh red Thai chillies, sliced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup onion, diced
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced
1 lime, juiced

1. In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine oil, peppers, garlic, onion, and salt; cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Pour in water and apples, and cook for 20 minutes or until the ingredients are soft. Stir frequently. The mixture should reduce down a bit. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn or dry out too much. When it starts to look like it might dry out, add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra water.
3. Remove from the heat, stir in vinegar, sugar and lime and allow to cool.
4. Meanwhile take your glass jars/bottles and sterilize by either boiling in water or heating in the oven for 5 minutes.
5. Transfer the mixture to a blender, and puree until smooth. Add the sauce to your sterilized jars, seal and allow to cool completely. Keep refrigerated.

Leave some of some or all the seeds in for a spicier sauce. Replace the Scotch Bonnets with habaneros or jalapenos for a "milder" sauce or if Scotch Bonnets are not available in your area. Use peppers of the same color to keep the sauce a consistent color.

Once opened store the sauce in the refrigerator. The sauce should keep for several months unopened and at least 12 weeks once opened and refrigerated.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ginseng Leaf Salad with Pomegranate, Orange and Green Thai Mango

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. 
 ~ Mirabel Osler

My mother is the most gifted gardener I know. For as long as I can remember, she never possessed the best-looking nails because of all the muck she plays around with everyday, but as a positive spin-off of that, we always had really nice gardens wherever we lived. Even when there was no garden, like the house we had in Central London where there was only a rooftop area for some pots of greenery...well, she managed to landscape that area to make it pretty somehow. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - Pissaladière

I made this at the last minute as the thought of pizza or pissaladière, as the French say, didn't quite appeal to me on a Friday when we were supposed to hone in on our French cooking skills. The odds were stacked against this dish coming into being - I had no anchovies in my kitchen, nor did I have black olives (or any olives, for that matter). You know me by now, I wasn't going to go out shopping for any extra ingredients to comply with a recipe....if I could use whatever I had at home, I would. In this case, I did.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autumnal Baking Challenge - Pomegranate, Fig and Pistachio Tart in a Chocolate Stripe Crust

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.
~ Stanley Horowitz

Where I reside now, there are no seasons and only two types of weather - sunny and often thunderstorm-like rain. But I do remember autumns spent in Europe and North America when I studied and worked there. Cardigan-weather, we used to call it. It must've been my favorite season out of the four, with the bearable coolness in the air and the messy, leaf-kicking path to school, Uni., office, etc. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Secret Recipe Club - Snickers Coffee Cheesecake Brownies

Childhood smells of perfume and brownies.
~ David Leavitt

After a two-month break from the Secret Recipe Club, I'm back with a delicious bake attributed to Frugal Antics of the Harried Homemaker, the blog of which I was assigned. Kristen, the blog owner is a fantastic mother of 5 and an even more amazing cook, as evidenced by the wide-ranging recipes on her blog. She comes from a long line of women who ran restaurants, catered, taught other people how to cook, and Kristen is no different. What I find as equally fascinating as her recipes are her Saturday Stories series, depicting multigenerational tales of her family, her childhood as well as her own Rainbow Family, as she calls it. I really can't imagine there'd be many people who haven't already come across Kristen and her blog, but in case you've been living under a rock lately, I highly recommend that you leg it over there for some fabulous food gems!

Friday, October 14, 2011

French Fridays With Dorie - Wholewheat Blini with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche

A Zen blessing at mealtime:
"In this plate of food, I see the entire universe
supporting my existence."

It's official - I like my blinis with crisp, burnt edges. Well, it's either that or admitting that I really suck at cooking blinis. Or pancakes, for that matter. What I liked about this week's recipe on French Fridays with Dorie, Blini with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche, is that it was easy to assemble, with very minimal cooking.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dragonfruit Striped Ravioli

Everybody should have his personal sounds to listen for - sounds that will make him exhilarated and alive or quiet and calm.
~ Andre Kostelanetz

Among the few things in life I find relaxing to do is making pasta. The others are swimming (in the ocean), ogling at the stars on a clear evening and creating something beautiful, be it food, jewelry or paintings. 

Okay enough of that, back to the pasta. When I first posted about my quirky dish for the 5-Star Makeover Challenge, a number of readers commented on the striped ravioli I made using dragonfruit and some even asked how I did it. Well, I promised to show you and *ta-daah*'s a video of my hands doing all the work. Once I can afford the hair and make-up guy, you'll get to see me from the neck up, I promise. For now, you can admire my cool T-shirt that looks as if a massive bearded guy is about to devour the ravioli!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Muffin Monday - Basil Lime Olive Oil Muffins

I'm back on the Muffin Monday wagon this week, and what a delicious and healthy recipe we were given to try out. Our host,  An of Baker Street provided one of Giada De Laurentiis's recipes to make Olive Oil Muffins. As much as I think butter rules when it comes to baking in general, olive and coconut oils do come in as equal seconds.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Crazy Cooking Challenge - Dark Chocolate and Mint Chip Cookies and Other Stuff

Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.
~ Barbara Jordan


I've decided to give up my usual French Fridays slot to take part in the Crazy Cooking Challenge hosted by Tina of Mom's Crazy Cooking  The challenge is to pick a blog (a non-celebrity one), choose a recipe from that blog that fits the criteria of a featured food item chosen each month, and then make/bake and post about it. The posts are put up on the same day at the same time, like today (see the blog hop linky below). And then of course, because we're nice people, we let the blog owner know that we've picked their recipe. And as long as we haven't majorly messed up their creation, they should be delighted that their recipe was highlighted. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Beautiful Mess - Chocolate-filled Brioche Rolls, YBR and Awards

On, there are so many lives. How we wish we could live them concurrently instead of one by one by one. We could select the best pieces of each, stringing them together like a strand of pearls. But that's not how it works. A human life is a beautiful mess.
~ Gabrielle Zevin, Elsewhere

I was supposed to do a pasta post today, but I've done a bread one instead. It's the first day of the week and truthfully speaking, I think I'm experiencing the Monday blues. Just home alone by myself. Yep, the boredom can get pretty stressful. 

So a bit of kneading therapy was required today. I tossed away the pasta idea and replaced it with this slice-pinch-squeeze brioche one. Oh, and I made a video for it, my very first one. Okay, a pretty crappy one too since I'm the most technologically-challenged person living in this house. But it was a giggle to do, and relieved the boredom of the day somewhat.
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