Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Contributors Wanted! MyMyCityCuisine.org-A Traveler's Guide to Local Cuisine

I received an exciting email last week about this Wiki project that I think it's another brilliant addition to our knowledge in our diversity culinary world. The MyCityCuisine.org website is built collaboratively, through the spirit of sharing knowledge, by food lovers from around the world.

Do you know what is Kakigōri? Andouillette or Figuette?

"MyCityCuisine is a wiki project. Its goal is to help travelers discover the local food from around the world. Food has always been an integral part of the local culture so, naturally, tasting local food is often high on most traveler's to-do lists. However, until now, there was no single comprehensive source providing this particular information for cities around the world.

Have you ever wonder what are those items (probably intangible handwriting and if you're lucky with worn out photos of the dishes!) in the menu when you travelled to a foreign country and you knew the best culinary experiences would be where and what the locals eat?

"What should I order?", an inevitable question faced by all travelers sitting in a restaurant, in a foreign country. MyCityCuisine is a project to create a free, reliable and up-to-date guide to the most original and tasty local foods from different countries of the world. This is an open project, so we encourage everyone to contribute to it."

To achieve the aim as great resource for travellers, this project needs lots of contributors! If you have lots of energy with lots of ideas and willing to share a fraction of your time and knowledge of the Culinary World, please channel them into MyCityCuisine.org. Find out how you can make a difference to help to fill this void.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Chilli

I'm celebrating year 2011 with warm and hearthy soup for the coming cold wintery days that caught us by surprise with sudden snowfall on 26, November, 2010! It was expected to be colder and harsher winter in the EU but the sudden snow fall on that day caused much inconveniences and traffic woes that lasted for more than a week! The freezing gloomy days ahead called out for comfort food desperately! All I could think of was a hearty, filling and delicious meal where everyone can dug in as much as they like to their heart's content :-D So, the family agreed on... soup. Not just any soup but Pumpkin Soup with a little twist in the finalé.

This soup is one of my family's favourite whenever we can find quality pumpkins in season and one thing for sure they keep longer unrefrigerated unlike other types of squashes or marrows of the same genus. My favourite choices are butternut and kabocha. It's an easy recipe that is suitable for vegetarian as well. You can also omit the crème fraîche and it tasted just as creamy but a little of it goes a long way. In my family, there is no compromising of replacing crème fraîche with other sort of cream replacement! Only thing permitted is evaporated milk for coconut milk and that IF I don't have any in the pantry :-P

In this recipe, I tried roasting the butternut chunks instead of cooking them straight in the pot like I usually did (and like most soup recipes I tried before). I must say that roasting brings out the sweetness in butternut squash and gave this soup a velvety texture with nuttiness flavour I loved so much. I definitely roast my pumpkin in future not only for soup but in purée for pies and desserts! To round it up... I added some chopped chillies to boost my immune system! Actually, I was craving for something really hot with lots of spiciness and only Kimchi came to my mind but I didn't want the whole apartment screamed to open the windows and doors for fresh air with minus degree and snowed outside! Well, I have to settle for plain chillies :-P

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Chilli
Serves 4-6 portions

1 butternut squash , ± 800 g - 1kg, peeled and deseeded
30 ml Olive Oil
15 g Butter
2 Yellow Onions - medium size, diced
1 clove Garlic, thinly sliced
2 Red Chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
850 ml Vegetable stock/Chicken Stock (boiled hot)
60 ml Crème Fraîche, plus more to serve

1. Heat oven to 200 ºC/180 C fan.
2. Cut the squash into 4 cm cubes, then toss in a large roasting pan with half the olive oil. Roast for 30 mins, turning once during cooking, until golden and soft.
3. While the squash cooks, melt the butter with the remaining oil in a large pot, then add the onions, garlic and ¾ of the chilli. Cover and cook on a very low heat for 15-20 mins until the onions are completely soft.
4. Tip the squash into the pan, add the stock and crème fraîche, then whizz with a stick blender until smooth. Reheat gently and season to taste. Serve the soup in bowls with crème fraîche and garnish with remaining chopped chilli.

If you feel fresh chilli is too strong, you can use chilli flakes instead.
*For Non-vegetarian version, you can add in some chopped Chorizo (my favourite is 'Extra Spicy' ) and omit the chillies if you want :-) If you use chopped Chorizo and add it in Step 3, beware your soup will have a layer of reddish chilli oil. What I did was sautéd the Chorizo separately and drizzle some on the soup just before serving.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Grilled Masala Prawns With Pineapple-Mint Raita

You love pineapples? I sure do... especially the sweet varieties and living in Tropical climate sure do have the best advantages to savour such juicy delicacies. It's one of my country’s oldest agro-based export-oriented industries and so popular that there is a Pineapple Muzeum to honor this humble fruit! You can view some footage of the Pineapple Muzeum (Muzium Nanas, loated in Pontian, Johor) and in Hawaii, a footage of how the pineapples are grown, harvest and processed :-)

For more information about pineapple, you can read them in my country's local Pineapple industry (look for the Pineapple Info/History on the right column) with with some recipes and the origin of Pineapple/Ananas.

Lately, I was craving for sweet pineapples and bought a large Josephine Pineapple from a local farmer's market. I used it up for cooking Pineapple Fish Curry and left with a quarter portion. As we all knew, pineapples not just great on its own but when pairing with seafood, meat, BBQ and even in curries, the tastes are heavenly! Besides adding sweetness to the food, it also adds tanginess and tenderized tough meat! Oh... beware if you try to use the juice as toner for face, it's very 'sharp' and may cause dryness and tightness on skin surface :-) I remembered once I was scolded by my mom because the pineapple juice dropped on the wooden flooring and left opaque blotches! :-P

So, here's a recipe of how I used up the last portion of Josephine Pineapple :-D Enjoy!

Grilled Masala Prawns With Pineapple-Mint Raita
Serves 2-4

20 Large Fresh Prawns
Red or Green Capsicums-seeded & cut to bite size wedges
Green Chillies to taste
3-4 Tbl Oil

For Mustard Masala:
1 Tbl Ground Mustard Seeds ( I used freshly grounded Black Mustard Seeds)
1 Tbl Pounded Ginger
1 Tbl Pounded Garlic2 tsp Honey
1 tsp Salt
¾ tsp Ground Cumin
¾ tsp Ground Tumeric

For Pineapple-Mint Raita:
200 g Plain Natural Yoghurt-unsweetened
100 g Finely diced ripe Pineapple
2-3 Tbl finely chopped fresh Mint leaves
¼ tsp Ground Black Pepper
Small pinch of salt

Extra Mint

1. Remove heads and shells from prawns but leave the tails on. Devein the prawns.
2. Mix all the Masala ingredients together n a large bowl. Add prawns, stir and rub to coat prawns with the mix..Cover and allow to marinade in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Make raita just before serving: combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
4. Thread the prawns onto the satay sticks, alternating them with capsicum wedges or Green chillies. Brush lightly with oil and grill until cooked through and lightly charred at the edges. Cook about 2-3 minutes each side, turning once.
5. Serve prawns hot, garnished with mint leaves and with raita on the side.

You can use ready grounded Mustard Seeds powder sold at Indian grocers or make your own by slow toasting mustard seeds until its fragrant and pops up. Let the grains cool down before grounding. Used according to the recipe and keep the rest in air tight container for next usage.

If you can't find black or yellow Mustard Seeds, you can use prepared bottled Wholegrain Mustard but adjust accordingly to your taste.


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