"Food is life. Life is food. If you don't like my approach, you are welcome to go down to McDonald's" (Keith Floyd)

"If you tried to give rock'n roll another name...you might call it Chuck Berry" (John Lennon)

"All books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened" (Ernest Hemingway)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Macaroni casserole - my life time favorite


My today's cooking is my lifetime favorite food, already from my childhood. 'Makaroonilaatikko' (Macaroni Casserole). I always remember times when my mother cooked it at home back in Finland and that day was like 'A Christmas' for me. But, I have to tell the story from my Primary School times. I was about 10-12 years old. In Finland, the government has provided free warm food in the schools, I think so already about 50 years. It is something unique, what actually is done only in Finland and Sweden, I am not so sure about Norway and Denmark, anyway, it is more or less only in the Nordic countries. Ok, but that was not my main story....In the Primary School, I had a classmate, 'Virtanen' (not his real surname, because of I have decided that in this blog I do not publish anybody's names). Very small and skinny fellow, he was the smallest guy in the class, looked like 2 years younger than the others. But.....he was CRAZY for the Macaroni Casserole. Our teacher had a special rule on that day when Macaroni Casserole was in the day's menu. Before we left to have a lunch to the dining hall, teacher chose 2 guys and gave them special 'mission' : "You two are today responsible to bring 'Virtanen' back from the dining hall, take care he is not late from next lessons. If nothing else does not help, carry him back!" This 'Virtanen' was really something to this dish. I do not even today, 30 years+ later understand, what kind of digestion system he had! I can honestly say, he ate 3 to 5 times more than anyone else. The smallest person in the class and never gain wait...;-) He was really A Mr. Makaroonilaatikko! I have never met him after my Primary School times and have no idea where/what he is doing nowadays.....but, if you Mr. 'Virtanen' happened to read this, I wish your love to Macaroni Casserole still continues. It is such a good dish. Keep it going!

My recipe : (these quantities were more than the pot in pictures took, so I actually cooked also another smaller one)
- Minced beef, ~300 grams
- Minced pork, ~300 grams
- Normal macaroni, ~500 grams
- 1 big onion
- Some spring onion
- Concentrated chicken stock
- Oyster sauce
- White or black pepper powder
- Tabasco (or chili sauce)
- Milk (1 litre) and cream (2 decilitre)
- 4 eggs
- Cheese
Mix minced beef and pork together (I know in Finland you can buy ready mixed in the supermarket, but in Singapore not, they sell it only separately) and spice it with concentrated chicken stock, oyster sauce, pepper powder and a bit Tabasco. Do not use salt, becauce of all the spices already include it. Leave it for 15-20 minutes to absorb. Boil the macaronis about 75% cooked. Peel onion and spring onion and start fry them, after for a while add the already spiced minced beef/pork into the frying pan and let the meat cook to half brownish. Mix the spiced meat/onion 'sauce' with half boiled macaroni and place it to the oiled pan. Mix eggs, milk and cream. Pour it into the pan, so it will almost cover the macaroni/meat 'sauce'. Some shred cheese on the top and into the oven, 200'C about one hour. I'll promise it will melt in your mouth after it. And 'Virtanen' would eat it definitely all!

And music today. This dish is in my opinion very traditional Finnish food. But....macaroni goes to Italy...pasta overall is my favorite thing as well. Italy is country with the very long history. Somehow, even I am travelling a lot, I have never been in Italy. My wife has always wanted to go to Rome and same time to Vatican...one day I will make her wish true! So, music......it must be this tonight.....

Enjoy, my friends


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chicken Rice a'la Shorestone...

Hi again !

I had last night again a quite 'nervous' cooking. I decided to cook Chicken Rice...the world's most eaten dish...and people here in Asia are very particular about the taste of it. Anyway, I took the risk, everything or nothing, that has been my life style also already many years. I had my wife and also my brother in law with his wife as a jury. Truly Asians all of them. Like I said, I was nervous and sweating...;) But, I can say already in this part of story...I survived!

What do you need :
- One whole chicken (I used the frozen one from supermarket, 1100 grams and how strange it may sound, I am in Singapore and chicken was imported from Brazil...quite a long 'fly' for poor chicken..:) )
- Ginger
- 1 onion
- Garlic
- Spring onion
- Soya sauce
- Sesame oil
- Chicken stock (either cubes or liquid one)
Peel the ginger, onion, garlic and spring onion. Wash the chicken. Insert all ingredients into the chicken and add some soya sauce and sesame oil. Boil the the water, which is spiced with chicken stock. When water is boiling, bring the heat down, that boiling will stop. Put the chicken with ingredients inside to the hot water, breast side down and some spring onions to the water. The main thing for this dish is : DO NOT BOIL THE CHICKEN. Keep it in the almost boiling water about an hour with pot cover on. Couple of times stir a water a bit, but do not harm the chicken. After about an hour, take a chicken carefully out from the pot and cut it to nice pieces. I must say, that in this part I needed my brother in law's wife help to cut it. I did not have any experience how to cut the chicken...:) Use the boiling liquid for cooking of rice and use it also as a side dish, 'soup'. serve the rice and chicken with fresh tomatoes and cucumber (unfortunately, I did not have it) and chicken rice chili sauce. This dish is perfect man..I promise!

And music...For me Chicken Rice is A Chinese dish, all though it is eaten in many other countries as well and it has many different varieties. My first touch to the Chinese culture was in 1995, just before I came to Singapore. I was in my first trip to United States and I visited Chinatown in San Francisco. There started my lifetime love for Chinese food. So, music...my friends if you'll go to SF remember flowers....;) Enjoy!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tiikerikakku (Tiger Cake)...in Singapura (Lion City)

Hello !

Today was a baking time. My children, especially daughter love baking. She always ask..."Daddy can we make the Tiger cake?" In the afternoon I made her wish true and we started baking. Maybe the look of the cake is not perfect, that's mainly due to our poor grill oven. But taste.....I guarantee, it is perfect!

Tiger cake in Singapura. To my , especially others than Singaporean friends, Singapura is Malay language and means Lion (singa) City (pura). English version came later, when the British colonial took over the island, they changed it to Singapore. History tells that hundreds of years ago Prince, Sang Nila Utama, from Palembang, Indonesia (1299-1347) had seen a lion in Singapore island when he arrived here and that's why he named the place to Singapura. Who knows has here been lions about 700 years ago...but today's fact is saying..no. Most likely it has been a tiger. Right or wrong, I can't prove it. But, coming back to tiger, those definitely have been in Singapore and still there are tigers in Malaysia peninsula. There is also a legend that Singapore's last tiger was shot under the Raffles Hotel billiard room pool table on August 13 1902. True or not...;) Tiger is anyway everywhere in Singapura...Tiger plaster, Tiger oil, Tiger cream, Tiger soya sauce...and can't forget..Tiger Beer!

Back to baking. There are several varieties of the recipes of Tiger cake (Tiikerikakku) my one as follows (my cooking mold is quite a big and that's why a large amounts) :
- 400 grams butter
- 5dl fine sugar
- 8 dl plain flour
- 6 eggs
- vanilla sugar
- baking powder
- 2dl cream
- cocoa powder
- bread crumbs
Melt the butter and let it cool. Mix the cool melted butter with sugar and whisk it to the foam. Add in the eggs, one by one, and all time mixing the paste. After it add in flour, cream and baking powder (1 tbl). Mixed it well. After it take 1/3 of the paste to the different bowl and put in some cocoa powder to make it ....'chocolate'. Add also some vanilla sugar to the rest of the paste. Oil the cooking mold with butter and protect it with bread crumbs. Then place the both pastes to the mold in layers. Finally mix it with a fork to make it look like marble finish......Into the oven and cook it 160-180'C about an hour. At least kids will love it, I promise!

And...what comes to the music...and overall about tiger...yes, to my mind is also coming 'a quite famous' golf player and his personal life problems. I know there are certain kind of taunts about it. But for me he is still the best golf player in the world...others have long way to catch him. What he has done or is doing in his personal life, is not my business. He has proved, that he is still a human. Everyone make mistakes in their life, despite of they have 1 dollar or millions of dollars in their bank account...;)
However, for 'Tiikerikakku' there is in my opinion only one song...enjoy!

Remember eat, my friends, that keeps you on the track...!