Banana and apple bread

Adapted from taste.com.au. Substitute apple (preferably stewed beforehand) for the desiccated coconut and raspberries. I got lazy and used apple from a jar (specifically, SPC’s apple with rhubarb, cinnamon and vanilla infused syrup). Super quick and easy, and tasty!

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Scallops with XO sauce vermicelli

The importance of frugality

We began exploring the virtues of frugality yesterday. Today, the journey continues with….STICKY DATE PUDDING!

This has to be the easiest dessert to make, ever. It also has to be the most delicious and humble dessert, ever. Drizzle some [pour on heaps] butterscotch sauce, pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds and away you go. Soft, tender and warm, look at it swimming in the velvety sauce!

It may be cheap to make, but the sticky date pudding definitely does not skimp on the taste.

Sticky date pudding, take 1

Sticky date pudding, take 2

Being frugal

Nothing is certain but death and taxes. Add to that, bills. Lots of bills at the same time (funny how all good things come at once). Desperate times call for desperate measures, it’s time for some penny-pinching and belt-tightening. This is all for the greater good, so that I can heedlessly spend up on lavish shopping trips in Dubai and keep my savings at a respectable level for future contingencies.

So how does one embark on frugal living? Well, one can easily start with some thrifty dinner ideas such as a simple yet delicious pumpkin soup. We topped it off with some bacon and egg sandwich – not exactly the most frugal thing, but everything were already in the fridge/pantry.

It also helps when the boy eats everything and anything you make. Bless him and bless my (soon-to-have) Chanel.

Cooking the pumpkin soup

Awesomeness

Heart-attack cookies

If there ever was a competition for the number of ingredients you can cram into a single cookie, then this cookie would win hands down. There’s no boundary when it comes to this little cookie. It stares down gluttony and puts greed back into its place. Forget modesty, this is a glitzy cabaret at the Moulin Rouge. It is the Rolls-Royce of the flat, baked treats. Forget the Impreza R, this is the 2011 WRX STI that’s yet to be released.

They say that too many cooks spoil the broth, but things go beautifully together here. But if you are a cookie purist, look away now.

So what’s in it? Dark chocolate, white chocolate, pecans, walnuts and raisins. Phew. Guaranteed to give you a heart attack, the good kind.

Life’s little indulgences

Prawn and dill on chilli pasta...with a glass of crisp sauv blanc

Chicken karaage

So I’m nursing this annoying flu. I never get sick. Ever. Even in this freezing Canberra winter, I only remember being sick once before. Is it the lack of exercise? Is it a new strand of mutant flu germs? One thing is for sure – I hate being sick at home and feeling useless.

One thing is great though, I have a lot of time to think about what to make for dinner. Yes, dinner is cooked without fail in this household. Cooked by me that is. I had a sudden craving for fried chicken, and particularly chicken karaage. It’s such an easy dish to make but you really need to plan ahead. I say that because when I make chicken karaage, it involves an all-day defrosting marathon and marinating it for at least two hours. Anyway, I digress – here is the recipe that I use. The measurements are kinda not exact and therefore call for discretion and judgment…

Chicken karaage

  • 500 grams chicken breast – cut into bite sized pieces, but not too small
  • a chunk of ginger, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (sweet Japanese sake used for cooking, you can also use sake but I’d suggest adding a little bit sugar if you do)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • vegetable or canola oil for frying
  • corn starch / corn flour

Combine chicken, ginger, mirin, soy sauce and salt. Marinate for at least two hours in the fridge or overnight.

Coat the chicken pieces in corn starch (it’s a fine white powder, not corn mill). Heat enough oil in a wok or cast iron pot to deep fry the chicken. Test the oil with a little piece of bread, the bread will brown easily if the oil is ready. Shake off excess corn starch, put the chicken pieces in the wok. Wait til they float to the top and take them out.

Return the chicken pieces to the oil and fry until golden and cooked. Why fry it twice? This will ensure that the chicken is crispy and remains crispy for longer.

Drain. Serve with Japanese mayo (this is absolutely essential) and a slice of lemon if you want. I don’t bother with the lemon but instead stuffs a piece that’s drenched in mayo into my mouth straight away.

Mmmmmmm yum.