Thursday, January 27, 2011

Coming Soon

Howdy ya'll,

Stay posted for the coming weekend. I'll be posting a traditional Malay vegetable dish simmered in coconut milk, how to make fast tomato sauce that's fit for pastas and pizza toppings!, full proof pizza dough mix and C.I.B's first Know your Umami Agent #1

So, do keep yourself tuned into C.I.B, happy weekend!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Beef Soup

Malaysia being a multi racial country, it has multiple cultures intertwined into one another - even soups has its own variations. This particular recipe is a Malay style beef soup. I would make this when its rainy outside or when I'm in need for comfort food - and in need of a quick solution as a pick-me up meal.

This recipe makes up to 10 servings in a huge bowl. You can keep this in your fridge for a good one and a half week. If frozen it can last up to a month. Best to prepare over the weekend.

Total cost: MYR 10 - 13                  
Preparation and cooking time: 45 - 60 minutes.
Work load: If you have a slow cooker, you can just leave it on and by the time you come home, its ready to be served. 
Serves: more than 4.


300 g beef
1/2 cup of shallots
5 garlic cloves
1 carrot
2 potatoes - peeled, best to use Indian potatoes, holds better in the soup
2 small cinnamon sticks (1 inch)
4 cardamom seeds
1 tsp black whole pepper corns
1 star anise
1 inch of ginger
2 stalks of scallion chopped
2 tbsp beef or chicken granules
1 liter of water

Prepare your meat as mention in the post here and cut them into 1 inch pieces, bite size. This will ensure the meat cook through. Best cuts for this soup would be tenderloin and rump. Best if you can keep a bit of the fat on the meat - gives a richer taste to the soup.

Next, pulse your shallots and garlic. Traditionally, a mortar would have been used to do this, saving time, you can use a blender to do this for you. This too can be done a day before or you can also pulse this in batches then freeze it. It is good to last for a week.

Add about 2 tbsp of oil into your pot, once the oil is heated - gently saute the onions and dried spices with the ginger till fragrant. You should use old ginger for this recipe as it has a much stronger taste compared to fresh young ginger. Make sure you do not burn the onions, or else it will make your soup bitter. Once you catch that fragrant smell - put in your beef and saute for about a minute, just to lightly brown the meat. Pour in the water and scallions into your pot now let it boil. 

Always put your carrots and potatoes later, you do not want your vegetables to get all mushy. It has to be soft enough to the bite but not mushy. To know if your potatoes and carrots are ready, after 20 minutes pick one of each and poke it with a fork. If it slides into the vegetables easily, they are cooked. 

For seasoning, add the granules, salt and sugar adjusting to your taste. Serve with rice, coriander leaves and sprinkles of fried shallots. The soup tends to be more saltier the longer you keep it, you can add water to the batch as you heat it up. 

Glossary: (English = Malay)
tenderloin, rump : batang pinang

Monday, January 10, 2011

What is C.I.B.?

I started this blog called Cooking in Batches after I started making packed lunch for both me and my husband. Its been a good 2 years now that we've started this habit and its been a good practice. Between being a wife, a daughter, a student and working, like any other person with a busy schedule - time is of the essence and not-eating-out is an option we have put for ourselves.

So, I started making notes and did a bit of reading on what I can make that saves time - that's good, wholesome and healthy for the body - yet at the same time easy on my pockets. So, I have a whole book of fast - meals made in batches that can be kept in the freezer for weeks/months and fridge - at least for the week. 

This blog hopes to share with you all there is to know about how to save by making meals in batches and to share neat tips and tricks around the kitchen. Since I am writing all the way from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, my notes for prices will be mainly in Malaysian Ringgit (MYR), you can roughly gauge the damage on groceries based on your local market prices. 

What are the advantages of eating at home?

Eating at home gives you the chance to save a bit of money, being able to prepare healthy wholesome meals, know what you actually put in your meals and most importantly - being at work most of your time, this is the best time of the day to unwind and be with the family or people you love.

Sometimes, I stay home and try to prepare new things I have never tried before, challenge myself at making as simple as pizza dough or see what I can make with the tools and ingredients I have in my kitchen.... You'd be surprised to find out that - at the end of the process, you've actually accomplish a whole lot more than just a meal, you have just thought yourself to be more focus, resourceful, creative and you have just accomplish one thing in your day - that you thought you could never do, and this in return makes you feel good about yourself.

I know, making time in your busy schedule is something we tend to put last in our list of things to do, but trust me, being able to make your own meals - actually saves you more time than you thought. If you are new in the kitchen - don't worry, there is no right or wrong to cooking, its all about experimenting. Trial and error. Start with the little things and move on to bigger dishes. Give it a try.

In support of the local market and good home cooked meals!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Making Gyoza Skins

When cooking in batches, its always good to make dishes that can either be eaten as a meal on its on or prepared as a side dish to your mains. It is also good to consider making something that you can freeze in batches!

One of my favourite things to make that I can freeze and eat it with soup, rice and noodles - would be gyoza or potstickers also plainly known as 'dumplings'. Gyoza was popularised in Japan during World War II, during the Chinese invasion in 1930. It incorporates ingredients that are usually minced and all of it just mixed in together. 

Other than the filling, the skin of the gyoza is just as important. Making the skin too thick, you create a rather doughy dumpling. You can easily find the gyoza skins ready made in supermarkets, but the whole point of this excercise is to practice making things from scratch to make your pockets fuller at the same time keeping your tummy filled!

This recipe comes up to less then MYR 2.00 you can make batches and batches to keep. Your gyoza skins kept in the fridge could last up to a month. But it is best to fill your gyoza's up immediately if you can.

What you need:

Option A
2 cups of all purpose flour
a pinch of salt
hot water (enough to hold the dough together)

Option B
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 cup of rice flour
a pinch of salt
hot water (enough to hold the dough together)

I've used both the mix, the all purpose flour makes the dough a bit heavier, were as the rice flour mix makes the skin much more lighter and when crispier when fried.

Mix all the above in a bowl till it forms a soft dough. Leave to rest for about an hour. After an hour punch the dough a bit more to let out the air. Make sure you cover the dough with a damp towel to avoid it from drying up. When ready, make equal part dough balls - as big as a tennis ball. Then roll it out to a 1 inch log and cut them into 1 inch sized cubes.

To make perfect circles, I use this egg shaper. To know if you got the right thickness, the skin should be thin enough to let light shine through the dough like the photo below. At the end - you'll have a stack of gyoza skins, which you should wrap with a plastic wrap. Make sure to dust each layer with a bit of flour to prevent it from sticking to each other.

Prepping your meat - Beef

Prepping your beef is essential in any cooking, especially when getting them from the wet market. Usually, washing them off with just water doesn't really washes out the gamey smell of the meat. 

One trick my mum taught me, was to dust the meat with all purpose flour, dump it into some water and after a minute drain the water - rinse the meat thoroughly. I guarantee you, the gamey smell will wash right off the meat. You can use this on venison and chicken. 

After you've done this you can store your meat in portions to be ready for you to whip up your meals. You can store you meat up to 5 - 6 months.