Friday, November 9, 2012

Cabbage & Straw Mushroom Stir Fry

Very often, I try to make sure we have some vegetables in our meal. Sometimes, it's incorporated in the meat dish, other times it's a simple vegetable stir fry. 

Here's a recipe for a easy cabbage stir fry. If you are not a big fan of mushrooms, feel free to omit it. 

*Serves 3-4


  • 1/2 Small Cabbage (About 9 Oz), Shredded
  • 4 Oz Canned Straw Mushrooms, Quartered
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Shallot, Minced
  • 2 Tsp Oyster Sauce
  • 2 Tsp Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Water
In a wok, heat oil over medium high heat. Stir fry garlic and shallot until slightly brown. Add mushroom and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add cabbage and oyster sauce. Stir fry for about 1 minute, add water and let cabbage cook until tender. Serve immediately with warm rice.


Simply June 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sweet Crust Pastry - A Paula Deen Recipe

I recently found an easy sweet crust pastry as a base for fruit tarts. This awesome recipe by Paula Deen is super easy and delicious! With only 3 ingredients and less than 30 minutes, I was able to make delicious pastry crust. All I needed to do after that is fill it with pastry cream, or in my case instant jello pudding and some fruits. 

The crust recipe is for a 12" tart pan. If you're using smaller/different tart pans like I did, you will have some leftovers dough for perhaps individual tart pans.

Let your imagination and your creativity run wild. Adorn the tart with your favorite fruits or seasonal fruit. I like the look of berries on the fruit, and the slight tartness from the berries compliment well with the sweet vanilla pudding. Here's the recipe for the sweet crust pastry only. I'll include a complete recipe for a fresh fruit tart in another post. Paula Deen's original fruit tart recipe (where I abstracted the crust recipe from) can be found HERE.

*For a 12" inch tart pan

  • 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1-1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1-1/2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, Softened & Sliced
Preheat oven to 350F.  In a food processor, combine powdered sugar, flour and butter and process until the mixture forms a ball. With your fingers, press the dough into a 12" tart pan with a removable bottom, taking care to push the crust into the indentations in the sides. Pat until the crust is even. Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly browned. Set aside to cool and fill with your choice of cream and fruits.

June's Notes: Alternatively, you can just use your hands to mix the powdered sugar, flour and butter. That's what I did since my food processor wasn't big enough to process the dough. It works perfectly, and I've already used the recipe 2 separate times and have gotten rave reviews on them =)

Simply June 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Trader Joe's Mushroom and Herb Risotto

I'm super happy that there's a Trader Joe's very near me. I'm a fan of Trader Joe's prepared food and produce and found that the items are not quite reasonably priced. In fact some items at Trader Joe's are cheaper than the other grocery store I frequent. So, I buy few things that I know is cheap (or delicious) at TJ, and others at the other place.  I love their selection of international cuisine some pretty good, and some just ok.

Anyway, being a sucker for Italian food and mushrooms, I had to get this box of Mushroom & Herb Risotto I saw at TJ @ $1.99. Everything is prepackaged (rice and seasoning) and all I needed to do is add the oil and water. I had expected the rice to be par boiled for shorter cooking time, but it's not. So, the cooking time took a bit longer than I expected for this risotto. There were good amount of dried mushrooms, but of course like all pre-packaged food... the picture on the box is always better than the end result! And in this case, it's quite true... even though there were lots of dried mushrooms, the picture on the box looked more tempting.

I cooked the risotto per the instruction on the box but added a splash of wine and some chicken broth to cook the risotto. I forgot, but I think I might have to add a little more water than instructed to get the risotto in the consistency I wanted. And I couldn't help but finish it off with a drizzle of truffle oil. The taste of the risotto before my addition of truffle oil was pretty good; not too salty and had good amount of seasoning for a $2 product. At least this TJ product was better than my recent mushroom & herb risotto purchase which cost me about $3 and tasted very odd. I think I would get this again in the's the perfect serving for 2 people!

PS: This is my personal review and I'm not affiliated with Trader Joe's for this product review.

Simply June 

Friday, November 2, 2012

MIL's Garlic & Goji Chicken

When my MIL was here, she cooked up this delicious chinese style braised chicken with spices, garlic and goji berries. I've never had this before and thought it was really good and the big plus; very easy to cook. I don't have her exact recipe but I knew what went into that pot of braised chicken.  So, a couple weeks after the inlaws flew back home, I decided to replicate her dish.

In this recipe, I added a little more goji berries (wolf berries) than my MIL did...since the Chinese believe that Goji Berries are good for you. I found a link here that gives you the benefits of these red berries. Here's the recipe to this very simple Garlic & Goji Chicken dish.

*Serves 3-4


  • 4 Chicken Thighs, Cut into 3-4 pieces
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Rice Wine
  • 2 Tbsp (dried) Goji Berries/Wolfberries
  • 8 Cloves Garlic, Skin on & smashed
  • 2-3 Inch Cinnamon Stick
  • 4 Star Anise
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 Tbsp Oil
In a medium pot, heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat. Add garlic, star anise and cinnamon stick and stir fry until fragrant. Add chicken, turn heat to medium high and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add soy sauce, rice wine, goji berries and water. Reduce heat to medium. Cover the chicken and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the "white scum" and as much oil layer as possible. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes. The chicken will be very tender by then.

Serve immediately with some steamed white rice.

Simply June 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Ideas

Last Halloween, we were invited to a friend's super awesome Halloween Party. It's the only time of the year we get to play dress up and not look silly! It was unfortunate that we had a freak snowstorm that very night that caused power outages for many residential areas in MA, and we were one of them. Anyway, since we were already prepared for the party, we braved the storm (this wasn't our smartest move) drove ever to slowly and carefully to our friend's place. Branches and power lines were down in some parts of town; it was surely spooky. We didn't stay too long as the snow was coming down heavier, so we practically dropped off the food, hung around for a couple minutes and sneaked out to make the hellish drive back home.

This was what I made for the party. Ideas are not mine; it's all thanks to the world of googling. For appetizers, I made "Spider Eggs". It's basically your regular deviled eggs, topped with cut up black olives.

And for dessert, I made "Witches Fingers". Thanks to chocolate mold I got from Michael's, some Wilton candy melts and pretzel sticks. I think these witches fingers looked creepy. =)

What are your plans for this Halloween? 

Simply June 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Must Love SPAM - Hawaiian Inspired Loco Moco, My Version

I've never had Loco Moco until I moved to California. And in the 5 months, we've been here... I've eaten/tasted it 3 times and fairly enjoyed it. The first time I tasted it was at a Japanese restaurant in LA, when the husband ordered a Hamburg Curry Loco Moco Style. It thought it was a weird name and dish...but it was interestingly good.  A couple weeks after that, we scored tickets to the LA Food and Wine festival and one of the best dishes I ate was Sam Choy's Loco Moco. Honestly, I did not know what I ate (at first) but I knew it was SOOOO GOOD.. my friends agreed with me too.... That Loco Moco, came with fried rice, delicious hamburger patty, sunny side up egg with luscious runny yolk and to die to sauce. We tried to go for seconds, and they ran out already. Boo! If only Mr. Sam has a restaurant in the LA area! Anyway, the third time I tried some Loco Moco was at a Hawaiian food chain restaurant; L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. That one looked a bit greasy and tasted ok.

If you are new to Loco Moco, I guess it's basically, rice with burger patties, sunny side up eggs and gravy. It's sort of a Hawaiian comfort food. Not sure what Loco Moco meant, but  don't mind eating more Loco Mocos!

Anyway, with a package of ground pork in the freezer and some SPAM meat (get over it, I love SPAM!) in the fridge, I decided to make my own version of loco moco. There weren't enough SPAM for me to just pan fry it for the husband and I, so I decided to incorporate it into the burger patties. If I had more SPAM, I would have added more. Lol!

Here's my version of Loco Moco... don't be afraid of SPAM!  The recipe is just for the burger patty and gravy. Prepare about 5 servings of steamed white rice and sunny side up eggs (1 or 2  eggs per serving) to go with the burger and gravy! Can't get more Hawaiian that this, Spam & Loco Moco! All I need is my hula skirt and ukelele!

*Makes 10 patties (5 servings)

Spam Burger Patties Ingredients
  • 1 lb Ground Pork (not too lean)
  • 3-4 Oz Spam, Finely Chopped
  • 1 Stalk Green Onion, Finely Chopped
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, Grated
  • 2 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Oil
Gravy Ingredients
  • 3/4 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Stock (or More if needed )
  • 4 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tsp Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Ketchup
  • Ground Pepper
Mix all the ingredients except the oil in a bowl. Divide the mixture into about 10 portions and shape them into a ball then slightly flatten them in a 2" diameter disc, keeping the edges smooth. Make a little dent in the middle of the patties so that the burgers will cook evenly.

Heat 1-1/2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Once oil is hot, place the burger patties onto the pan and let the patties cook for about 3-4 minutes then flip to continue cooking the other side for another 3-4 minutes or until patties are brown and cooked through. The patties should feel somewhat firm when done. Remove the patties and set aside. Do not discard the oil/drippings as you'll use it for the gravy. 

Sieve the oil/drippings into a sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour and stir to let mixture combine. Then whisk in 3/4 Cup of chicken stock, soy sauce, ketchup and sugar. Whisk and let the gravy simmer over medium heat. If the gravy is too thick, add a little more chicken stock or water. Ground some black pepper and the sauce is ready.

Assemble your Loco Moco
Prepare 5 servings of steamed white rice and 5 (or 10) sunny side up eggs. Place 2 spam burger patties and desired amount of eggs on each serving of rice. Drizzle with the gravy and enjoy immediately!


Simply June 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2 Rotis for Lunch

Frozen roti canai/ roti pratha is probably one of the easiest Malaysian food I can get in the US and I'm very thankful for that. I can't imagine myself trying to make roti canai; twirling and tossing the dough (almost like making a pizza I guess) and make a couple Malaysian pancake/crepe just to satisfy cravings. So, I'm very thankful to be able to get them at most Asian grocery stores and even Trader Joe's; just look for them at the frozen food sections. Some brands are no doubt better than others. Trader Joe's roti pratha are pre-cooked and not as flaky as I liked it to be......but it's inexpensive and is the most convenient option for me.. I can just walk down the street to get it. I think my favorite is Kawan brand, which comes in 5 frozen (flatten) dough that you need to cook until golden brown and will give you a nice crisp flaky delicious  result. No oil required to cooked these roti canais since they are already laden with grease.

Anyway, I "made" lunch one day and decided to fry up some Roti Canai. I was craving for some smoke salmon cream cheese with bread, and decided to spread it over roti canai instead. It was a pretty delicious choice for my limited pantry. I like this combination! I wonder what it would taste if I added some smoked salmon over the cheese? Mmmmm....

After I devoured my "entree", I decided to make dessert; Roti Kaya. No rocket science to making this, just again cook the roti canai/roti pratha per instruction and spread a thin layer of kaya (coconut egg jam). I could make my own kaya if I wanted, but since I had a store bought one in the pantry, I used that instead....and voila, dessert!

Have fun trying!

Simply June 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Curried Pumpkin Soup

I bought a can of pureed pumpkin from the grocery store recently to make Pumpkin Cake but then, I had a craving for some kind of curried pumpkin soup and decided to forgo the idea of making a pumpkin cake. I can just head to the store to get another can of pumpkin or perhaps try to use the squash my neighbor gave me and tweak the pumpkin cake recipe instead!

Anyway, armed with a can of pumpkin puree and a hungry tummy....I whipped up some spiced pumpkin soup. Of course fresh garlic and onion would taste better but I used garlic and onion powder instead as I did not want to make a big mess in the kitchen, and use my kitchen blender to puree my soup.  I used some (no salt/sodium) chicken broth in the soup but if you want to make the soup vegetarian friendly, use vegetable broth/stock. For this recipe, I used a Jamaican style curry powder and added some ground cumin. I'm sure any style (mild?) of curry powder will work with this recipe as well.

*Serves 2-3

  • 1 15 Oz Can Pumpkin
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
  • 1-1/2 Tsp Curry Powder
  • 1-1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1-1/3 Cup Chicken Broth 
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream (Plus more, if desired)
  • Salt (Season to taste)
  • Ground black pepper (Optional, season to taste)
In a saucepan over medium heat, add butter, curry powder, ground cumin, garlic powder and heat until spices are fragrant. Then stir in flour and mix well. Then pour in chicken stock and coconut milk and let the mixture simmer. Stir in pumpkin and let mixture simmer. Finally stir in cream, season to taste and serve! If you find the soup too thick for your preference, dilute the soup with optional 1-2 tbsp of heavy cream.

Simply June 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Baking Ingredient Substitution

I'm not sure about you, but there are times when I want to bake something and realized that I'm short of a certain ingredient......and I'm too lazy to head out to the store to get that missing ingredient. Or sometimes, I do not want to get a big bag of a certain ingredient only to use a little bit of it in the recipe. Or you just can't seem to find that ingredient at your local store and you just need to try out that recipe!!  Well, I often find myself in those situation and often turn to googling to see what substitutions can I do so that I can satisfy my urge to bake.

Anyway, I found this useful link for baking ingredient substitution recently on Joy Of Baking and thought it would be great to share it! Hope this link will be helpful to you too!

Have fun baking!

PS: I'm not affiliated with Joy of Baking, just merely sharing a useful link to fellow readers!

Simply June 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Avocado Egg Salad

I've not been a big fan of avocado (or tomatoes) and will never eat it as is like some of my friends would. A couple months ago I fell in love with a sandwich combination at my previous work place. I forgot how I came across the combination of avocado in my chicken salad sandwich (with either croissant or baguette, extra mayo, bacon, provolone cheese and lettuce..and toasted!); perhaps it was one of the specials they had one day... or.. I saw someone ordering that combination. Since the first time I had it, it had been my go to option for sandwiches and it's the only way I'll eat avocados!

For the reason of being not a big fan of avocados, I don't buy them. However, I found one in my fridge the other day; leftover from when the husband's family was visiting. I think my SIL got some to feed her kids. I used a bit of it as a condiment for my pork burger and it was surely a delicious combination! I guess from now on, I will eat more avocados..... only if they were snuck into my sandwiches/burgers.

With almost one avocado left (since I only used a small slice for my burger), I decided to make some healthy(?) salad out of one of the half I cut into. I kept the other half for another use, another day. Combining a hard boiled egg and some artificial crab meat with the avocado, this is my attempt to eat a little healthy! Just to make things a little easier, I doubled my original recipe! Here's the recipe.

*Serves 2

  • 1 Ripe Avocado, Cut into Cubes (Refer HERE)
  • 2 Hard Boiled Eggs, Peeled and Chopped
  • 3-4 Oz Artificial Crab Meat (Chunk Style), Chopped
  • 4 Tsp Ranch Dressing
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Basil Leaf, Julienned 
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper (To Taste)
In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients except basil, salt and black pepper. When all the ingredients are mixed well, toss in basil leaf, pinch of salt and ground pepper. Refrigerate before serving or serve immediately!


June's Notes: Save the shell of the avocado, and you can use it as a serving "bowl".

Simply June 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Crepe

I love crepe but I've never made them before. I would usually get a dessert crepe or a savory one if I see it on the menu. With a pint of fresh strawberry in the fridge, I decided to look up a crepe recipe online and make some for breakfast. I went with a basic crepe recipe I found on all and added some strawberry jam, fresh strawberries and kept it simple. 

The crepe recipe was very easy and turn out pretty good. I had a little hard time trying to mix the batter, so maybe next time I'll blend all the ingredients in a blender. I used a crepe pan I had gotten as a X'mas present and it gave me perfectly cooked crepes. The combination of strawberry jam and fresh strawberries were just perfect; light, simple and not overly sweet. Here's the recipe for Fresh Stawberry Crepe, with the basic crepe recipe adapted from all

*Makes 6-8 crepes

  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Large Eggs, Lightly Beaten
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Melted Butter
  • Oil for cooking crepe
  • 2 Tsp Sugar
  • 10-12 Fresh Strawberries, Quartered 
  • Strawberry Jam
In a large mixing bowl, which together the loud and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter and beat until smooth. Sieve the mixture to remove lumps and set aside.

In another bowl, add sugar to the strawberries and let the berries macerate. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of batter for each crepe. Tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the batter coasts the surface evenly.

Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottle is light brown. Loosen with a spatula. Turn and cook the other side for a couple seconds.

Spread a thin layer of strawberry jam onto the crepes, and fold them into quarters. Arrange them onto the plates and top with the fresh strawberries. Enjoy immediately!

Simply June 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Baked Eggs & Roti Canai = Pretty Awesome Combination!

I was in the mood for baked eggs a couple days ago after I saw a recipe from a cookbook I bought from Williams Sonoma. I made a couple changes to the recipe including adding more eggs coz I used a pretty huge ramekin. Those extra eggs was probably one of the mistake of the day, as it took longer to bake. I got impatient (mistake number 2) and hungry (since Hubby's simple 3 eggs sunny side up was already done), and decided to pull the eggs out of the oven. The eggs were quite uncooked overall, so I decided to stick them in the microwave (mistake number 3). I forgot how long I stuck it in for (probably a couple seconds), but it was a couple second too long for the fragile eggs. My baked eggs were very over done. I was anticipating luscious runny yolks, and was left staring at overly done yolks and a extremely messy looking ramekin. The baked eggs were still good..... but it was not what I had anticipated good. I ate it all up anyway as I liked the different elements I pulled together.

With this runny yolk craving that I've been having, I decided to make bake eggs again. Learning from the mistakes I made a few days ago, I scaled down a little by using 2 eggs instead of one, waited patiently and let the oven work it's magic. This time, I got delicious runny eggs and absolute satisfaction. The baked eggs was delicious! As I don't have bread at home, I decided to reheat a frozen roti canai/roti prata and dip my "roti" into the runny yolk, catching pieces of spinach and sausages in between dips. Mmmm..... this combination is pretty awesome!!! I paired my lunch with a Vietnamese Ice Coffee and for a couple seconds, it felt like I was transported to somewhere exotic and not my living room. You could certainly pair with with some toast, baguettes or whatever bread you have!

Here's the recipe for baked eggs, adapted from Georgeann Brennan's Brunch cookbook with my changes.

*Serves 2

  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 Fresh Bratwurst (or fresh sausage of choice), casing removed
  • 2 Cups Fresh (Young) Spinach Leaves, Packed
  • 2 Tsp Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tsp Oil
  • 1-1/2 Tsp Butter
  • Ground Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 (4 oz) ramekins with butter. Prepare a ice bath; bowl of cold water with ice. Boil a pot of water and once the water starts to boil, add spinach leaves. Blanch the leaves for about 1 minute and quickly remove and place into the ice bath for about 1 minute. Remove blanched spinach leaves from ice bath, squeeze the spinach firmly to remove water. Coarsely chop the spinach and divide the chop spinach into the 2 ramekins. Spread the chop spinach evenly. 

Heat 1 Tsp of oil in the frying pan over medium heat. Add the fresh bratwurst and cook it while breaking it into pieces. Continue to cook the bratwurst until they are slightly brown. Remove cooked bratwurst and evenly divide them into the ramekins over the chopped spinach. 

Break 2 eggs into each ramekin and drizzle with 1 tsp of heavy cream each. Place ramekins onto a baking sheet and bake the eggs for about 15-17 minutes or until the egg whites are firm and the egg yolks are still runny. Remove the ramekins from the oven, crack some black pepper onto the eggs and serve immediately with your favorite toast.


Simply June 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Challenge: Chocolate Marble Pound Cake

The husband loves marble cake. One day after a visit to Starbucks and looking at their array of cakes, I found myself being challenged by the husband to make chocolate marble cake. Maybe it was due to my big mouth to declare that, marble cake is easy to make! Anyway, I'm not complaining as I love challenges and I love baking! After googling for some recipes, I decided to go with one from Food & Wine. I've used their recipe in the past and have always had excellent success with them. One of the recipes that I've tried is my very well liked tiramisu; which gained approvals from many friends. Some of my toughest critiques include my husband (he doesn't sugar coat things and tell me straight if something is good or bad....I choose to ignore if I disagree!), an Italian couple and a French guy. You know it's good when the Italian and the French (who's very picky with their desserts) tells you so! =)

Anyway, back to the chocolate marble cake recipe..... the cake took a little longer than I expected to cook through... I blame this on my crappy oven (I miss the oven at my old place).  The husband thought it lacked something, but couldn't tell me what it was...I suspect he did it on purpose so that I'll bake more to "improve"! Maybe we need to get Starbuck's cake and compare side by side. Although it's not as light as Starbuck's marble pound cake,  I thought the flavors were pretty good and rich. I would continue to use this recipe, but maybe substituting regular all purpose flour with cake flour might give the cake a little lift. I used heavy cream in the recipe, but next time milk might be a better choice. The original recipe uses a food processor; I used the good old hand mixer. Lots of possibilities for the next time I use this recipe.

Until then, here's the recipe for a chocolate marble pound cake adapted directly from Food & Wine. Original recipe is HERE. This is great breakfast item with coffee or afternoon snack with your favorite tea! And why bake one for your neighbor or friends?

*Makes a 8" x 4" loaf

  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Butter, Softened
  • 3 Tbsp Butter Melted
  • 2 Tsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (Dutch Process)
  • 1-1/3 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • Vegetable Oil Cooking Spray
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray an 8" x 4" loaf pan with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. Spray the paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In another medium bowl, combine the melted butter with cocoa until smooth. 

With a stand or hand mixer, combine the softened butter with granulated sugar at medium speed. Add eggs and vanilla and combine until well mixed. Lower down the speed, and gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the heavy cream and combine until smooth. Transfer 1 cup of the batter to the bowl with the cocoa mixture and stir until smooth. 

Spoon half of the remaining batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Spread the chocolate batter in the pan, then cover with the remaining plain batter. Using a table knife, cut 5 swirls in the batter. Bake the pound cake for 25 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325F and bake for another 25 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Let the pound cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unfold and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Cut into slices and serve! Enjoy!

Simply June 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pork Burger Tuesdays & a Mini Pork Burger Recipe

A friend of mine is always excited come Tuesday as it's her Pork Burger Tuesday and I can always see her excitement through her FB post every Tuesday or even the night before. To be honest, I'm jealous that I'm thousand of miles away and is not able to try this spectacular pork burger which I suspect is only sold once a week at a night market or something.

Pork burger is not something that you can get very easily at restaurants even in the US; unlike hamburgers. So, I decided to satisfy my curiosity, subdue my jealousy and make my own version of pork burger. I had just chopped up some pork to make my own ground pork so I'm all set with the main ingredient. Making my own ground pork is not something I do often, but the 2 grocery stores nearest to me do not have them. Well, one of them do have ground pork but it's extra lean ground pork which I've tried in the past and did not appreciate the leanness and thought it lacked flavors. With the pork at the grocery store going on sale, I decided to grab a package and chopped them up to make my own ground pork! Anyway, rummaging through the fridge and the pantry to see what I can do; I decided to make cute mini pork burgers. I didn't have any mini burger buns, so I cut out some english muffins and improvised. I found a bag of baby spinach and avocado (love avocados in sandwiches!!) in the fridge, and added those as condiments to my burger. A slice of tomato for color (not a big fan of raw tomato but it gives great color to food...) and voila; a pretty delicious mini pork burger! Here's the recipe!

*Makes 2 mini burgers

  • 1/2 Cup Ground Pork
  • 1/2 Small Yellow Onion, Chopped ( About 3 Tbsp)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped (About 2 Tsp)
  • 1/8 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/8 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 Tsp Salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin 
  • 1 Stalk Green Onions, Chopped
  • 2 Slider Buns / Mini Burger Buns, Toasted
  • 2 Tbsp Oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp Butter (Optional)
  • Spinach Leaves (Condiments for burger, optional)
  • Sliced Tomatoes (Condiments for burger, optional)
  • Thinly Sliced Avocado (Condiments for burger, optional)

Heat about 1 tbsp of boil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Sautee chopped onions until soft, then add chop garlic. Continue sautéing until the onions are brown. Transfer entire mixture into a bowl and add the ground pork, black pepper, garlic powder, salt, cumin and green onions. Combine the mixture and ensure that the ingredients are well mixed. Divide the pork mixture into 2 and shape them into a ball. Then slightly flatten them into a disc (roughly the size of your buns), keeping the edges smooth. Make a little dent in the middle of the burger patties so that the burgers cook evenly.

Heat remaining 1 tbsp of oil and the optional 1/2 Tbsp of butter in the same pan over medium heat. Once oil is hot, place the patties onto the frying pan and let the patties cook for about 3 minutes then flip to continue cooking the other side for another 3 minutes or until the patties are brown and are cooked through. The patties should feel somewhat firm when done.

Sandwich the patties with the toasted mini burger buns and accompany with the optional condiments. Serve immediately!

June's Comments: Some chopped fried bacon in the burger patties would also be yummilicious! Bacon makes everything better!!

Simply June 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Anacapa Island

Being in California, we're blessed with beautiful sceneries and attractions not too far from us. There's always something to do, somewhere. With the inlaws in town, the husband decided to visit Anacapa Island. Thankfully, the harbor for us to take the ferry is just less than an hour from us. There's only one way to get to the island; via ferry which is only operated by Island Packers. They are the only licensed ferry operator (as well as some other water sports) for the Channel Islands. Ticket cost us $56 for round trip to and from the Island. Senior citizens get a little bit of discounts. There's only one pick up time for both to and from the island; so you have to be punctual or you'll miss the boat!

The boat ride departed from the Oxnard harbor at around 9.30am and it took a little over an hour to get to Anacapa Island. To prepare ourselves from getting motion sickness, we took some ginger pills (a more natural alternative) and had some delicious chewy ginger candy. We had a pretty heavy marine layer that morning, and apparently that's a good thing, as it kept the waves down, hence a smooth boat ride. Yay! We kept our eyes wide open hoping to spot some dolphins or whales, but did not manage to see any on our way to the island. As a consolation, we were rewarded by the view of the beautiful ocean and as we approach the island; views of the beautiful island.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the park ranger and a volunteer and were given some introduction about the island including what not to do. To help keep the island in pristine condition, visitors must bring out whatever trash they brought in. No pets allowed as well. This is pretty much a back to basics island where there're minimal pit toilets (no flush toilets) and no water available. So, you must bring enough drinking water for your own. If you're camping, you have to bring everything in and out of the island. No campfires allowed, so forget about brining fire wood. As you can swim/snorkel/kayak around the island, bringing those water sport equipments would be a fun way to explore the island.

The island itself is bare... you don't have much shade to hide from the scorching heat. The view from the tiny island is spectacular! The walk is quite easy.... especially for someone like me...who don't like extreme hikes.

Every part of the island offers different views. As we brought our own food to the island, we sat at benches provided to enjoy a bite and take in the beautiful scenery. There're plenty of sea lions around the island, just keep your ears open and it you hear "barks" nearby, chances are there are sea lions at the bottom of the cliffs. If you do want to look down, BE CAREFUL!! These cliffs are very dangerous and can crumble anytime. The cliffs are high so a fall can be deadly!! 

The view from Inspiration Point; inspiring indeed! So breathtaking!

Views of the lighthouse on Anacapa Island.

We are pretty much done with the island at about 1.30pm as it was getting too hot. We gathered near the information centre where's there's some shade and waited for time to head to the dock. I secretly wished they come and pick us up sooner. At 3pm, we gathered at the dock to take the only boat back to Oxnard. During the boat ride back, the captain brought us around the Arch Rock and also got us a closer views of the sea lions. We were also praying real hard to be able to catch a glimpse of dolphins and whales but after more than an hour of "eye-straining" we were left a little disappointed again. Catching a glimpse of these mammals would have made the boat ride so worth it!! It was still overall a good trip away from civilization and to be able to enjoy mother nature.

So, what are you waiting for? Plan a day trip to Anacapa Island. Don't forget to pack some lunch and plenty of water to hydrate! And take your trash home with you!

Simply June 

Friday, September 28, 2012

California : Discount Coupons!

The husband and I are always on the lookout for coupons and promo codes and such to save some money on our purchases. We don't go overly crazy and don't really do coupon clippings for groceries. However, with tons of family in town any savings that we can get is definitely helpful especially when you have a ton of places to visit! Entrance fees for theme parks and museums can add up quickly when you have a big party so every little savings we can get sure does help!

Since the husband was unable to score discount tickets from work (they ran out..=() , I decided to do some googling and stumbled upon this site: They seem to have some decent deals on some famous attractions in CA.

I hope you'll find something that you need. I've already printed some to use for our next outing! =). By the way, if you're a AAA member, don't forget to bring the card out and don't be shy to ask if they give you AAA member discount. Doesn't hurt to ask! =) The extra couple bucks that we save will mean a couple extra bucks for some nice cold treats in the hot afternoons!

PS: I'm not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this post. Just merely sharing some money saving tips and coupons whenever I see them! I heart deals! 

Simply June 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fried Belacan Chicken

I've always relied on instant belacan mix like the ones from Hup Loong and I've never made belacan chicken from scratch until recently. With a bottle of roasted belacan powder in my pantry, I was itching to fry up some belacan chicken. Oh my poor neighbors! Even though we live in a single family house, I think the whole neighborhood was probably overwhelmed by that yummy pungent fishy smell that Malaysians love.....and westerners probably loathe. The smell of belacan can be quite strong especially if you're not familiar with it and it probably didn't help my poor neighbors when I turn on the kitchen vent to circulate the air from the kitchen out into the open! No wonder my neighbors always have their windows and doors closed, and their AC turned on all the time... Hah!

Anyway, with the inlaws in town, I've been cringing on what to cook! It's hard when you need to cook for 2 more people.....and these few days with more family members visiting..... this means cooking for 6 adults in the house. Having to cook for a party seems so much easier! Cooking for the inlaws is giving me slight grief as I want to impress them and want to cook something that they will enjoy eating whole heartedly! There're so many stuff that I want to try to make but this means risking feeding my inlaws something that's not up to my expectation.... in a not so good way. They are not very picky... but I guess I just want the meal to be perfect.. or close to perfect!

Anyway, after a bit of googling around to get a rough idea on what to do... I told my MIL, I'll be cooking Belacan chicken for dinner...... tomorrow! Today.. I'm just going to prep and marinate. I want to marinate the chicken in some fragrant belacan powder overnight to ensure that the belacan goodness gets into every nook and cranny of the chicken! The result was pretty good! Chicken was light and slightly crisp and very very belacan-y (Yes, that's a word!) with very subtle hint of spiciness. The inlaws gave 2 thumbs up and the family devoured the whole plate of fried chicken rather quickly. Who doesn't like fried chicken????? Here's the recipe... and a little piece of advice..... if you live in an apartment and want to be in good terms with your neighbors.........don't cook this dish... or make sure everyone on the floor is out and away... and have the air freshener handy! =p

  • 4 Chicken Thighs (Deboned and Cut into 4 pieces)
  • 1 Tbsp Rice Wine
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Dark (Sweet) Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp Roasted Belacan Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper 
  • 1 Egg, Beaten
  • Oil (For Deep Frying)
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Green Onion (Optional Garnish)
In a bowl, add all in the ingredients except the oil for deep frying and green onions. Let the chicken marinate overnight for flavor to infuse.

When ready for cooking, heat enough oil for deep frying over medium heat. Once oil is hot, place a few pieces of the marinated chicken into the oil to deep fry. Do not overcrowd the pan, and turn the chicken occasionally. Fry until chicken is golden brown and place on a paper towel to soak excess oil. Serve with you favorite stir fry vegetables and warm rice!


Simply June 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Samgyetang (Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup)

Ever since the husband tasted Samgyetang in Korea a couple years ago, he fell in love with this hot nutritious soup. According to the husband, Koreans will drink this soup in the summer to replace the nutrients lost.  He talks about it constantly and is always tempted to order it at Korean restaurants whenever he sees it on the menu. However, due to many other delicious Korean dishes on the menu.. he never really got a chance to order them. He decided to look up the recipe and hey why not make it at home. The recipe seems easy enough and we can get all the ingredients at the local Korean grocery stores. We've made this soup a couple times, and the last after we move to Thousand Oaks. As we happen to have a stash of fresh ginseng in the fridge from our recent Asian grocery store raid and with the inlaws in town... it was a perfect time to make this dish and for the inlaws to taste their son's favorite dish. All we needed to get was cornish hen from the grocery store which was just around the corner. This dish was "In-Law" approved! =)

For this batch of Samgyetang, we cooked in a small traditional Korean clay pot (in fact, I think my clay pots is a size too small.. =P) . If you do not have the claypot, a regular small pot will work just fine. We used Mangchi's recipe this time. On out previous attempts, we used some fresh chestnuts but didn't think that those make too much of a difference in the taste of the soup. Here's the recipe by Mangchi with just a bit of tweaking in the amount of certain ingredients used. Check out her site for an excellent video on the recipe.

*Serves 1-2

  • 1 Cornish Hen
  • 1/4 Cup Korean Sweet Rice
  • 6-8 Cloves of Garlic
  • 6 Jujubes / Dried (Chinese) Red Dates
  • 2 Small Ginseng Root
  • 1 Stalk Green Onion, Chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • Equal parts of salt and grounded white pepper (for dipping)
Soak the sweet rice in water for about 1 hour. Place 1-2 tbsp of kosher salt on the cornish hen and rub the outer skin for a couple seconds, then rinse the salt off with cold running water. Stuff the cornish hen, by placing half of the jujubes, garlic and ginseng first. Then all of the soaked sweet rice. Continue with the remaining ginseng, jujubes and garlic. You can use a toothpick to partially close the cavity so that the stuffing remain inside. 

Place the stuff chicken in a pot.  If you cannot fit all the jujube, garlic, ginseng in the chicken, you can place it in the pot later.  Pour just enough water into the pot to cover the cornish hen, cover the pot and let it boil for 20 minutes over high heat. When it starts boiling, skim off the white foam and fat that rises to the top. Pour in more water if needed to ensure that the cornish hen is slightly submerged in water. Boil for 40 minutes over medium heat. Once it's cooked properly, the cornish hen can be easily pulled apart with chopsticks. 

Serve with the salt and pepper dipping condiment.


June's Notes: If you don't like the traditional salt and pepper condiment for dipping, feel free to use some soy sauce. As the pot I used was a little too small for the cornish hen, I needed to flip the chicken every now and then to let it cook properly. This soup does not need additional seasoning; the garlic, and the sweetness from the jujube, chicken and rice flavors the broth perfectly. But if you like sodium in your broth, a little dash of salt would be ok.

Simply June 

Friday, September 7, 2012


Woots! The Sambal Okra / Lady Fingers that I submitted to tastespotting is accepted and is currently posted on their site! *Smiles*.  I wasn't entire confident about the picture (but I love the color) and wasn't sure if they were going to say yes to it.... until I saw it this morning! =) ..

Here are my other pictures that have been posted in the past:

And here are the others that have been rejected for various reasons....unfortunately, one of them is my favorite picture... I guess, my photography skill is not up to par. Time to practice more!

Simply June 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sambal Lady Fingers

The MIL and I were discussing what vegetable dish to make for dinner. After going through the vegetables I had in my fridge, we decided to cook okra / lady fingers. I usually cook my okra/lady fingers the only way I know it's fish curry.  MIL was thinking about a stir fry... However, we ended up making the sambal okra / lady fingers after seeing a mouthwatering picture of sambal lady fingers in one of my nonya cookbook. We used that picture and recipe as an inspiration to make this dish!

My MIL was kind enough to cook us a big batch of "Dried Shrimp Sambal" or more fondly known in Hokkien as "Sambal Hae Bee. We used that as part of the ingredients for this recipe; instead of using regular dried shrimp. So, if you happen to have some delicious homemade (or store-bought) "sambal hae bee", give this recipe a try!!!  Mixing all the ingredients needed for the sambal, I couldn't wait to dig in... The sambal tasted sooo good!!!! The amount of sugar and lime in the recipe is totally up to your personal preference. The hint of minced kaffir lime leaves and roasted belacan powder gives it a nice aroma. The spicy, sweet, sour and fragrant sambal reminded me of tom yam! I had plenty of rice that day... and happily cleaned the plate of leftover sambal. It's so addictive and appetizing, I could eat another plate of it! Here's the recipe..... I hope you like it as much as I do! Nom..Nom..Nom..!

  • 15-16 Lady Fingers / Okra, Top and Tip Trimmed
  • 2 Tsp Oil 
Sauce Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp Sambal Oelek
  • 2 Tsp Belacan Powder
  • 3 Tbsp Homemade Dried Shrimp Sambal 
  • Juice from 1 Lime
  • 3-4 Kaffir Lime Leaves, Finely Minced
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 3-4 Tsp Sugar (Adjust accordingly)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Tsp Fried Shallots (Optional) 

In a wok, heat some water over medium high heat and place a rack in the wok. Arrange the okra/lady fingers in a single layer in a shallow bowl and drizzle with some oil. Once, the water in the wok starts to boil, place the bowl of okra / lady fingers and cover the wok. Let the okra / lady fingers steam for about 5-7 minutes until tender. The okra / lady finger will turn a darker shade of green.

While the okra / lady fingers are steaming, mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Adjust the sugar and lime accordingly to get your preferred level of sourness and sweetness. I like my "sambal" to be a little sour, so I use about 3-4 tsp of sugar to mix with the juice from the huge lime I used.

Once the okra / lady fingers are cooked, pour the sambal mixture onto the steamed okra / lady fingers. For optimum flavor, gently cut a small vertical slid in the middle of steamed okra, gently pry it open with a small teaspoon and stuff some of the sambal into the okra / lady fingers. Pour remaining extra samba over the okra / lady fingers and sprinkle with optional fried shallots. Serve with plenty of warm white rice!!Enjoy!

June's Notes: If you do not have "sambal hae bee" at home, I think you could probably use some toasted chopped dried shrimp. The flavors might not be as intense, but shouldn't be too bad. I'll have to try this version and let you know the results! =)
Looking at the picture of sambal lady fingers again, make me really hungry!!! Maybe I'll make another batch today.....Slurp! 

Simply June 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken

Do you know that Kung Pao chicken has some black vinegar in the sauce? Maybe you already do... but I never knew.  I was craving for some kung pao chicken and decided to google for some recipes to refer to. After googling around, I noticed a common ingredient in the recipe that I never expected, Chinese Black Vinegar. As I happen to have a bottle of ChinKiang Black Vinegar handy, this dish was  just perfect to try out. Plus, I have a stash of sichuan peppercorn and I was dying to use it somewhere.

Using this recipe by Terri of A Daily Obsession and this recipe by Bee Yinn or Rasa Malaysia as references, I proudly cooked up a pretty yummy Kung Pao chicken for the husband and I! I made it a second time this week with a slight change, and preferred the version I made the first time. Here's the recipe I made the first time and enjoyed it very much. The use of yellow pepper in the recipe is totally optional........ again, I like the pop of color it gives the dish!

*Serves 3-4


  • 4 Pieces Boneless & Skinless Chicken Thighs, Cut into Bite Size Pieces
  • 6-8 Pieces Dried Chili, Cut into Half and Deseeded ( Keep some seeds for spicier chicken)
  • 3 Inch Ginger, Cut & Smashed
  • 2 -3 Cloves Garlic, Smashed
  • 1 Stalk Green Onion, Cut into 1 Inch
  • 2-3 Tsp Sichuan Peppercorns
  • 1/2 Yellow Pepper (Optional)
  • 2-3 Tbsp Roasted Peanuts
  • 1/2 Cup Oil

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 Tsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tsp Rice Wine
  • 1 Tsp Dark Sweet Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Corn Starch

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Chin Kiang Black Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Sweet Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tsp Sugar
  • 4 Tsp Corn Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 2 Tbsp Water

Mix the marinade ingredients with the chicken and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Mix all the ingredients in the sauce and set aside.  Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat. Fry the marinated chicken until slightly golden brown and remove the chicken and set aside. Remove the oil from the pan and keep only about 2 tbsp of oil.

Stir fry dried chili, ginger and garlic until fragrant. Then stir in cooked chicken, options yellow pepper,  and sichuan peppercorn. Next pour in the sauce mixture and stir fry until the sauce thickens. Add green onions, roasted peanuts and transfer dish to a plate. Serve immediately with warm rice. Enjoy!

Simply June 
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