WHAT’S COOKING DURING LOCKDOWN? |10 MEALS I PREPARED DURING MCO

I know it’s a little late coming up with this post as the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) is already in effect, whereby dining in ...

I know it’s a little late coming up with this post as the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) is already in effect, whereby dining in restaurants are allowed… with conditions. Being in the healthcare industry, CMCO did not really affect me much because I still have to go to work after all.

However, the loosening of the movement restriction order is not happening in Sabah, which means, more recipes to experiment on!


I have been wanting to try many new recipes even way before the commencement of the MCO mainly because the food in Sabah sucks (#sorrynotsorry) and eating out isn’t very budget friendly as everything here is pretty much expensive.

With the Internet, everyone definitely can cook. I am very grateful of the presence of food blogs and their generosity of sharing their recipes and culinary experiences in which I draw inspiration from.
Here’s a list of my top dishes I prepared, with links to recipes attached at the end of each post!




1.  CREAMY PENNE CARBONARA WITH BACON

When it comes to home cooked pasta, mom will always whip up a dish of spaghetti using Prego’s pasta sauce. That’s because my family is too oriental and we rarely have authentic (or close to authentic) western cuisines. So, I always want to try making a real pasta dish without using ready-to-eat sauce, at least. Once, I tried making Bolognese using minced beef, tomato puree, herbs, spices, and cheese, and I don’t think I will go back to canned sauce.

I know the authentic and traditional carbonara only uses four main ingredients:  egg, hard cheese (Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano), cured pork (guanciale or pancetta), and black pepper. It’s near to impossible to get most of the above ingredients in Malaysia. So, it’s time to tweak the traditional recipe just a little.


I found the creamy carbonara recipe on Jo Cooks. The traditional one does not have any cream, but I’d love to have my pasta to be creamy and moist. I substituted pancetta with smoked pork bacon, and I used parmesan cheese only. As for the cream, Anchor Culinary Cream works wonders. It’s like a miracle cream for cooking rookies. Definitely stabilizes well when heated and reheated.






2. PUMPKIN PASTA

I got inspired to make pumpkin pasta after a success on the creamy pumpkin soup dish by RecipeTin Eats and also partly inspired by a café which I used to visit often back in the old days in Sitiawan which serves a decent plate of pumpkin spaghetti. Growing up Asian, the only pumpkin soup I usually had was boiled with carrots, tomatoes, and red dates. It is truly my comfort food. But I’d really like to try the creamy type.



The recipe is super easy to follow. It will be really great if I have a hand blender. I mashed the pumpkin into puree instead.


To make the Pumpkin Pasta sauce, I adapted from the soup recipe and tweaked the ratio of broth to cream. I eyeballed the ratio...applying the concept of lesser broth, more cream. Again, the Anchor Culinary Cream did its magic. Add the pasta cooked al dente when the sauce thickens. Don’t forget to add a cup of pasta reserve water and toss the pasta with the sauce. Top with Parmesan Cheese and it’s ready to serve.





3. CHICKEN FAJITAS WITH TORTILLA WRAPS AND SALSA SAUCE

Watching too much of Money Heist and Elite has got me so into Spanish. Chicken Fajitas is a Tex-Mex cuisine, so I guess that’s close. It’s an effortless dish, yet so flavourful. Got some tortilla wraps, chicken breasts, and colourful bell peppers, and you’re pretty much ready to go. The essential taste comes from the spices that made up the Fajita seasoning. Thus, it’s important to marinate the meat sufficiently.



I followed the recipe from Downshiftology here: https://downshiftology.com/recipes/chicken-fajitas/

This dish goes best with salsa sauce or guacamole. I have some extra tomato puree from making shashuka the night before. So I thought I’ll just whip up a salsa sauce. I added some finely chopped tomatoes to the puree so that it’ll create some texture for the sauce.

You may use canned diced tomatoes, as the recipe suggested. I substituted jalapenos with our local chillis. It works well for me, because I do not prefer it to be too spicy. It’ll be perfect to just dump everything inside the food processor, but I do not have one…so I manually chopped everything finely. That turns out fine too!






4.  ALOO GOBI AND CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA     
      
      My Indian food cravings started to kick in after the second week of MCO. It was also my first time cooking Indian cuisine! I was kinda nervous, afraid that I’ll mess it up.  My first try on Aloo Gobi was at Tandoor Grill, a restaurant in Ipoh serving Northern Indian cuisine. It made me eat cauliflower in a different way!

      I actually researched a few recipes and this website provides very informative and detailed steps with pictures! Definitely need it for an Indian cooking newbie. It also suggested to fry the cauliflower and potatoes to avoid them from turning soggy. I decided to steam them for a while before frying. It definitely reduces cooking time and I prefer it to be more tender because, oh well…braces problems.


             Link to Aloo Gobi recipe: https://www.cookwithmanali.com/aloo-gobi/

       TBH, I am not very sure if I have ever tried Chicken Tikka Masala. I remember that it definitely   looks red. But I don’t remember how it tastes like. I picked Chicken Tikka Masala to pair with my   vegetable dish because the recipe suggested boneless and skinless chicken meat cut into bite-sized,   which I have plenty in my freezer (braces problems).



        This tomato based curry recipe from Cafe Delites was so much easier compared to the rest. I picked   chicken breasts instead of thighs and they work just as well. Also, I substituted heavy cream with   evaporated milk, because I was trying to cut down on creamy food for a while. 

Link to Chicken Tikka Masala recipe: https://cafedelites.com/chicken-tikka-masala/

       Overall, Indian cooking was very tiring. The preparation work was tedious although the ingredients   are very easy to obtain. Gotta appreciate Indian restaurants more from now on. 





5.  SAMBAL PETAI WITH SHRIMPS

I am a petai lover. No shame in that. Petai, notoriously known as stink beans, is my comfort food. Whenever I return to my home in Ipoh, mom will always cook my favourite dish of Sambal Petai with Shrimps.  It’s best to make your own sambal, but unfortunately, I do not have a food processor or even a pestle and mortar. So I got a readymade sambal paste and it turned out to be great!

I did not follow any recipes online as I was inspired by my mom’s cooking, so I just cooked it based on memory. Fry the garlic, shallots, and anchovies on medium heat until they crackle, then add the sambal paste before adding the petai and lastly, the prawns.


Best serve with a bowl of warm rice with cucumbers on the side. Or you may add another dish of steamed eggplant with fried garlic and shallots to neutralize the pungent odour of petai.





6. PORK DUMPLINGS WITH CHILLI OIL NOODLES

After cooking western for almost a week, I decided to go back to my roots- Chinese food. I always love dumplings because they are so fun to eat. So, I decided to make them. But I was not very adventurous enough to make the skin as well. The recipe from Woks of Life is really easy and helpful. The website itself is my guide to Chinese cooking. 

You may get dumpling wrappers from the store. The ingredients are really simple to get. I used napa cabbage although I prefer Chinese chives but it was out of stock. Dumpling wrapping is really fun though. Reminded me of the scene in Crazy Rich Asians. You may steam, pan fry, or boil the dumplings, depending on your preference. I like the fried version because I like how the crispy dumpling skin meets the spicy dipping sauce




Dumplings are actually side dishes yet they are as laborious as making an entré. So I decided to pair it with a simple main dish. For this dish, I was inspired with Shaanxi Biang Biang noodles. Again, I’m not very ambitious in making noodles from scratch. I found a similar looking flat noodles as a substitute. I only followed the preparation of the chilli oil sauce section of the recipe only using Lee Kum Kee Chiu Chow Chilli Oil.







7. GUACAMOLE TOAST
      
     I used to hate avocados. Avocados are my childhood trauma. Maybe because I was fed with a slice ofn raw avocado and I could not accept the taste. Now, I decided to give avocado another try.  
    
                  
    I found this guacamole recipe very helpful! It gives you many options on how would you like your
    guacamole prepared. Those ripened avos are really buttery. What I love about them is that they can last
    me till past lunch time if I had them for breakfast! Definitely helpful whenever I am on lunch duty. I
    added mashed hard boiled eggs as well for the toast spread. 


   




8. SKILLET PEPPERONI & BACON TORTILLA PIZZA

    No oven? No problem! Who says you can’t have pizzas without an oven. Oh well, sometimes you just
    have to make do with what we have. I have some balance of tortilla wraps from the chicken fajitas, so
    I thought of using them as the base for my pizza. 
   
    TBH, I felt pretty skeptical the recipe and also worried of how would it turn out. Maybe because very 
    little recipes use only skillet to cook the pizza. Tortilla sheets are pretty thin and you might want to be 
    careful not to burn them and not to overload them with a plethora of toppings.
    
    As for the toppings, I pan fried some pepperonis and pork bacons. I spread the tomato puree on the 
    tortilla wrap before arranging the pepperonis and pork bacons on it before topping with mozzarella
    and some parmesan cheese.


    As suggested by the recipe, I turned off the heat after the edges begin to brown and covered the pan to 
    retain the heat, so that the cheese will melt. I guess this kinda mimicks the function of an oven. I am
    so  pleased and surprised at how well it turn out to be!   







9. BROCCOLI MAC N CHEESE

I made Broccoli Cheddar soup last Christmas and they are such a great combination. This time I would like to try them as Mac n Cheese. This dish is surprisingly easy to make! I guess maybe because there are so many instant Mac n Cheese on the market.
  


I followed Damn Delicious’s recipe. I used macaroni instead of pasta shells. As for the half and half, I used milk and added more butter and I skipped the mustard. Instead, I used paprika to add a more edgy and spicy flavor. It’s better to use freshly grated cheddar cheese so it melts better.






10. SALTED EGG YOLK PASTA WITH SHRIMPS

I have some salted eggs left in my fridge and I did not know what to do with them. Perhaps because there are so many salted egg dishes to choose from! Salted egg yolk is an ingredient that is rising in popularity. We can see them in chips, pastries, pizzas, and even ice cream! I was craving for pasta and I wonder how salted eggs will get along with them. This is definitely a fusion dish of Asian and Italian.


I followed Marigold’s, a local dairy brand, recipe. And surprisingly, it turn out great! Because I don’t normally follow recipe suggestions for brand products. I wish I had more salted egg yolks because the sauce is just too delicious!




  

That was a wrap of the top 10 highlighted dishes I cooked during MCO.  I guess we became professional chefs after discovering our latent culinary skills during this lockdown period.







Till then, stay safe & stay home!



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1 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing...At least I know what to cook next

    ReplyDelete