Kitchen Hack: storing tomato paste

Tomato paste is often called for in recipes, but usually the amount required is less than the can they come in. The way to prevent wastage is to freeze the unused portion. I got this idea from a forum posting, whereby someone suggested using cling wrap to apportion the paste before freezing. This way, you can easily apply them in the future.

Well, I improvised on the idea by using this plastic storage box usually used for storing tiny knick knacks like nails and needles. You can easily find such a storage box in those shops selling hardware and household items. I used to store minced ginger this way too.

The yellowish stuff on the upper right are chicken/pork stock. I drop one of these when stir frying vegetables.

Kitchen Hack: spiced up ice cream

We all know branded ice cream can cost a lot of money. While it’s true that the texture is superior, given the small quantity, they are anything but value for money.

If you or your kids love ice cream, you can create your own special flavoured ice cream by spicing up plain old vanilla ice cream. Despite seemingly uninteresting, vanilla ice cream is usually the base upon which other flavours of ice cream are built upon, and it is perhaps the least artificial tasting, compared to, say, strawberry flavoured ice cream.

The possibilities are limitless – you can mix nuts, crispies, fruits, jam, sweets and so on with vanilla ice cream to create something tantalizing. And you don’t need to buy very expensive vanilla ice cream. I got my 1.5 litre tub for S$4.50, and it works great. By the way, I dislike the Magnolia branded one, it is too sweet, seems to melt too easily and makes you really thirsty, as if it had MSG added.

I have tried adding honey with rice crispies (inspired by hokey pokey), raisins, Ritz crackers, white chocolate and even black sesame paste with success. Kids loved it. This is a very good way of finishing up those leftover items that are not so interesting on their own.

Amazon product recommendation – bread knife

I bought the Update International (KP-05) 9″ German Steel Offset Bread Knife for slicing bread (obviously). If you used a chopper knife, you’ll end up squashing the bread. I haven’t used any other bread knife before, so i don’t know how this particular one from Update International compares with other brands and makes, but it works very well for me.

If you read the reviews in the Amazon product page, you’ll notice that some of the reviews tell you that this knife not only slices bread, but also many other things. How true it is. Continue reading Amazon product recommendation – bread knife

Amazon product recommendation – Lodge pan scraper

This was one of those suggested items that appeared when i was browsing on Amazon. I was skeptical, but the price was just right to make up the minimum total amount required for free shipping on Amazon, so I went ahead and ordered one, since, for some time, I have been frustrated with cleaning the post-cooking residue stuck on a pan.

The reviews for the pan scraper on Amazon are stellar, and turns out, they are true! It is strong and durable enough to remove the residue without damaging the pan. Being flat and even, it removes more residue than a sponge does in a single pass. You’ll still need to use some form of sponge to clean spots you’ll inevitably miss, but still, this pan scraper is much quicker and easier in removing the bulk of the residue.

I don’t use the scraper on a non-stick pan, even though it is stated to be safe to do so, but otherwise, it is a liberating feeling to be able to scrape my cast iron or stainless steel pans as hard as I want to. It has become an indispensable part of my kitchen arsenal, and I wholeheartedly recommend that you get one of these!

Great for scraping the residue left on the side of the pot after cooking broth. You won't miss anything like you always do with a sponge!
Great for scraping the residue left on the side of the pot after cooking broth. You won’t miss anything like you always do with a sponge!

Kitchen Hack: salted egg yolk everything

You don’t live on this planet if you didn’t notice the latest craze on using salted egg yolk in all kinds of food. Yes, even McDonald’s outed a salted egg yolk chicken burger. Did you ever wonder how they source for the salted egg yolk? Well, i’m no F&B industry expert, and i’m only speculating, that most of what is claimed to be salted egg yolk is salted chicken egg yolk. You say, what?! Isn’t salted egg yolk supposed to be duck egg yolk? That is wishful thinking. Nobody will be able to stomach the price of duck egg yolk. You will likely find true salted duck egg yolk dishes only at some Tze Char (all-round Chinese cooking) stalls or restaurants. Continue reading Kitchen Hack: salted egg yolk everything

Kitchen Hack: Canned all purpose cream

Singapore is probably one of the few places in the world where 99% of the food and produce are imported. Because of this, chilled dairy products are prohibitively expensive. This must be one of the reasons why cream is seldom used for cooking here, besides the fact that Asian food, which generally does not make use of cream, is the mainstay here.

I used to have to think twice about buying thickened or whipping cream, and often just use milk in recipes that call for cream, until i stumbled on the canned all purpose cream. In canned form, it can be stored without refrigeration. It is also much cheaper than chilled cream of course. Nevermind if it contains thickeners, it seems a good idea for me to stock a few cans of these at home. If you Google for it, you will find this product available under a few different brands.

Kitchen Hack: Frozen seared steak

Chanced upon this article and decided to give it a try. The recipe calls for freezing the steak and searing the steak while it is in the frozen state. I think this is especially appropriate in my case, because the steak i used is frozen steak to begin with!

The recipe suggests using a heavy bottomed pot (a pressure cooker would be appropriate) to press the piece of steak down while searing to get an even sear. I was lazy and didn’t try, but anyway, what i think i would do the next time is to apply the torch to char the steak. Searing really doesn’t give the steak enough boost in taste. Continue reading Kitchen Hack: Frozen seared steak

Kitchen Hack: Sous Vide derived soup base

I made an interesting discovery while experimenting with Sous Vide – the by-product from Sous Vide, consisting of cooked juices from meat, makes for a great soup base. It is like prized concentrated double boiled soup, having been cooked with the meat for the 3 to 12 hours usually involved in Sous Vide. It may be a little murky, and it may not be possible to strain it until it becomes entirely clear, but i don’t mind the appearance at all.

I doubt many people do home-made stock. The long hours of boiling puts me off. I don’t like store bought stock either, they invariably contain MSG. Well, with Sous Vide, you get really tasty broth as a by product. The quantity is small, but enough to enhance soup meant for 2 or 3. I collect and refrigerate the gelatinous goodies to make soup for noodles. Continue reading Kitchen Hack: Sous Vide derived soup base