Sunday, October 19, 2008

Soba Buckwheat Noodles

I love the earthy colour of soba. Made from buckwheat flour, its a healthy alternative to normal noodles. Contrary to its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat! According to Wikipedia, the name buckwheat or beechwheat comes from its triangular seeds which resemble the seeds of the beech nut and the fact that it is used very much like wheat.

I roughly know buckwheat has plenty of healthy benefits. A quick research proved this. Several interesting links The World's Healthiest Foods, BBC News.

I couldnt resist buying a pack of organic soba made from buckwheat when I was at Cold Storage. It looked sooo healthy, and I felt immediately healthier after buying it. Ha.

I've eaten cold soba and soba in hot soups at japanese restaurants but havent tried it dry. So I'm breaking the rules (or so I think la). Anyhoo, I threw together a simple dish and was plenty pleased with the results. Must be some inner talent. Finally!

Shredded some carrots finely, chopped up some garlic and sliced up some leek, celery and some cabbage into thin strips. Everything cut and ready, I cooked the soba first according to instructions. Lo and behold that was when I realised hey! this is from China!! Good grief, anyway it isnt white in colour so it shouldnt need to have melamime. But my mind started to imagine stuff and the noodles started to look like strips of cardboard or wood shavings pressed together. HEEELLPP!

oh what the heck. My stomach is growling and I already cut up everything. If its cardboard or wood, it should be pretty neutral to my system so let's continue.

Saute the garlic then add in the leek and celery. Cook till fragrant and slightly soft. Add the carrots and cabbage. Cover and let it cook for a bit. Onwards to the soba, cook it just like pasta, in salted boiling water for about 5-8 mins or until soft. Drain, rinse in cold water then put it into the wok with the veggies and mix em up well.

Add salt to taste and some organic mushroom powder if you have some. Tadah! I love the texture and the taste of the buckwheat soba. Really, you don't need to load it with too many ingredients, just simple veggies to subtly enhance its already distinctive taste.

Go over to Simply Recipes or 101 Cookbooks for more simple recipes on buckwheat soba noodles. Enjoy!

Bellaroma Cafe, Damansara Perdana

Another Saturday, and the hunt for good food is on! I've been having cravings for good Italian food for too long.

Throughout weekdays, I mentally make plans to cook during the weekend. Must eat healthy. Must not spend on extravagant food outside. Must explore more recipes.

Sat morning - off to the market, buying all sorts of stuff that (I think) I need.

Sat afternoon - sleepy... need rest.

Sat evening - Hey! let's go out and call so and so!

I dont know how Hubs bears with me. I know I would strangle myself.

Anyhoo, so yea, I didnt cook and we ended up in Bellaroma. Check out their website. Menu and prices are listed.

As neither of us dined here before, we decided to order Chef recommendations. First up. Appetizers.
Italian Crostini with spinach and ricotta. Topped with Parmesan. Pretty good. But I can never get over how much we have to pay for just 4 mini slices of bread. Not at Bellaroma in particular but in almost all Italian restaurants.

Next, the Mediterranean pizza. Roasted capsicums, olives and feta cheese. Tasty and I love their pizza dough! (sorry for the dark pictures, lighting wasnt good and the only functions I know are whether to have the flash on or off :P)

We also had the Lamb Pizza which came with generous, succulent pieces of lamb, all nice and juicy with crumblings of feta cheese. I would have preferred more rosemary though to cut through the general saltiness of the toppings.

The mushroom and blue cheese pizza was also delicious.

Yes and yet another pizza we tried was the Mafia. This was also savoury and delicious. Beef sausage, olives, onions and quail eggs. How can that combination not make your mouth water?

I think what I like best in Bellaroma is the refreshing combination of ingredients used as pizza toppings. They are like a breath of fresh air and everything just reads off deliciously from the menu. You picture it in your mind while ordering and wait for it patiently. They don't disappoint.

The pizzas stole the limelight, the pastas dimmed in comparison. They were ok but I think pretty standard. We badly wanted to try the pot roasted let of lamb pasta unfortunately it sold out.

Hop over there for good pizzas at affordable prices.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Corn & Wintermelon Soup

I've been cooking almost everyday last week. MY and I were on a 'diet feast!' Talk about oxymorons...

I'll post the whole diet programme one day when we go thru it again coz Hubs took the camera while he was away so I couldnt snap any pics of all my lovely meals :( Boo.

The diet programme allows us to have limitless amounts of vegetable soup to help us through. So we cracked our brains to come up with different types of soups so we wouldnt get bored. Plus its best to work with different vegetables so we don't miss out on a balanced meal.

The soups were the hilight of our grey gloomy days - Nothing beats slurping a hearty, hot bowl of soup when the main meals of the day were just cold fruits or banana & milk.. Man, after this diet, you'll realise how much we rely on food to keep us happy.

Anyway, 2 keeper soups from our brainstorming.

1. Corn & Wintermelon Soup. (I'll post the next one soon)

Beautiful isnt it?
Aren't soups just the best? basically you don't really need to measure your ingredients. So for lazy people, this is great! You can just about dump anything in. You can't go wrong as long as you have the basic ingredients - tomatoes, carrots, onions. Yesiree.

So anyway, this is what I put into this soup- Carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic, corn, wintermelon, red dates AND my secret mushroom powder and some onion salt. heh heh not so secret anymore. (you can get mushroom powder from organic shops). Of course, don't forget to season with the usual normal salt and pepper.

Boil boil boil

I've never cooked with wintermelon before this. Some people say to remove the skin, some people say not too. So anyway, because I dont trust the growers and didnt want to clog up my body with pesticides, I removed the skin. Of course remove the seeds to la.

I like to chop up my ingredients into big irregular chunks. Makes the soup look more homecooked and there's more 'solids' to bite into.

What's your favourite soup? :) Do share!