Sunday, December 30, 2007

Almost the New Year

Wow, the past weeks have been extremely hectic! Both with planning and going for get-togethers with our families, coliks and church frens.

Don't you just love this time of the year? Everyone's in a holiday mood (read: daydreaming during work), traffic is clear in the mornings, shoppings malls with beautiful christmas decorations, grocery stores filled with chirstmassy puddings, cakes, gingerbread men, the list goes on!

Of couse, these are not the true meaning of Christmas but I'm glad to see that people relate Christmas as a time of giving and sharing :)

I had grand plans of baking brownies and giving them away as gifts. Grand plans they were but when the time came, I was just too exhausted. Sigh. Well, I hope I'll be able to do it next year *wink.

We just hosted a farewell dinner for E & J yesterday. I spent, oh ok, WE (hubs and I) spent the whole day cleaning and cooking. Boy! I really underestimated the number of people who would turn up. AND, most people came on time!

Anyway, I've blogged about most of the food I prepared in the farewell dinner but here's something refreshing after stuffing ourselves silly with rendang and pulut.

A Colourful Salad
Cherry tomatoes
Salad leaves
Pine nuts (toasted)
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice

Salads are fun! As long as you have a good mixture of colours and fresh ingredients, you won't go wrong! For my version, start with salting the tomatoes. I read that this will bring out its flavour. Just halve them, rub with salt and leave for about 20 mins. Mix everything together and serve chilled.

And here's another pix for E & J. No goodbyes but a happy see-you-soon wave from Mr. Frumps and us! We're planning a holiday in Kuantan right this moment! Heh :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mushroom Caviar!

No this is not something the beluga fish layed after eating mushrooms - that is if fish ever knew how to enjoy this delicious fungi.
I was looking for different ways to cook mushrooms besides the usual olive oil and garlic combo. Found this recipe from Simply Recipes here. and was pretty impressed with the term Mushroom Caviar. Go to this site for the full recipe. For my lazy version:

White button mushrooms - or your preferred choice
White wine
Olive oil
lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste
Wheat crackers

I omited sour cream as its not a usual ingredient in my fridge, shallots as I don't quite like onions, (gimme more garlic any time!) as well as pine nuts simply becoz i forgot! arrggghh i have a whole tub in my fridge and they'll just dry up before i ever remember to use them. sigh.

Anyway, heat up the butter and saute the mushrooms till tender. Add garlic, salt and pepper. saute for another 5 mins. Stir in the white wine and cook for another minute. Squeeze the lemon juice when it has cooled down.

Its suppose to be served chilled but being a typical Malaysian, I couldnt bring myself to eat cold food. Unfortunately after I was done taking more than a dozen pics, the mushrooms were already cold.

I spread the 'caviar' onto the wheat crackers, munch munch... and thought... Hmmm a lot of improvement needed. I don't know why but it doesnt taste as good as I thought it would. Perhaps its the wine that I used or because I used white button mushrooms? (I usually prefer Shitake).. hmmm

I'll have to try again with Shitke and maybe some oyster mushrooms.. Any ideas?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

crabs, Crabs & more CRABS!

Go fly kite! In Malaysia, that has a pretty nasty meaning... so practice care when you want to invite ppl to go fly kites here.

I laughed when I saw my CG leader's sms- lets go fly kites! Haha. On one of the Saturday's back, our cell group organised an outing to fly kites somewhere around Kepong area. (The park is situated on the left side of MRR2, headed towards Bandar Sri Damansara or Manjalara). Flying a kite requires lots of patience. I saw a girl pulling and running in circles trying to get her kite to fly higher. Then she just collapsed in a heap of laughter coz she realised how ridiculous she must have looked. And she saw me laughing at her too.

You'll see all sorts of kites there, from the big flashy ones to the tiny humble kites that somehow seem able to do a better job. As soon as you hit a certain height, it will be quite steady and you won't have to keep pulling and nudging your kite to catch the wind. Hmm.. an interesting hobby which i may consider in future :)

Anyway, the highlight of the day (for me) was dinner! I didnt know my CG leader had booked dinner at a seafood restaurant. Woo hoo! i have not had crabs in agesss..

De Foodland in Bandar Sri Manjalara, Not a new place, just that i have not been there. When you have been deprived of these tasty morsels... the place I believe, may not matter so much. Just as long as I get to crab and claw my way into its flesh.

Creamy butter crab (one of the recommended choices). The sauce was really good though some of us felt the crab wasn't really fresh as the meat was too soft and not firm and succulent.

Pepper salt crab. Now this is what i'm talking about. Sweet juicy crab meat flavoured just right with 2 simple seasonings. This. was. good.

Crab with salted egg yolk. My all time favourite style. Also one of the recommended choices here. Talk about cholesterol - this is THE works.
Not bad as well but I had a better version at Tak Fook (yet to blog about this place).

Pork ribs with Guinnesss stout. Swoooonnnn. So absolutely delicious! What a winning combo! I am going to search for the recipe and try cooking it one day!

Meal was FOC as my CG leaders paid for 'em. Thanks E & J! Prices here are slightly expensive and helpings are not very large though.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Kung Fu Chao at Alexis

My idea of unwinding is either to glue my eyes to the laptop and watch movies or to have a satisfying meal at a place with good ambience. After our US trip, Hubs and I have been on a more watchful mode and are trying not to spend too much on meals. When i was not paying for my own home and bills (ie staying with parents) I didnt think much of forking out RM50 for a good meal. Well, things are different now ...

However, the past few weeks at work have been horribly hectic and stressful. Our company had a recent restructuring exercise and I ended up with double my current portfolio. So all i remember from the past few weeks were running up and down, solving issues, understanding the flow of the new products, meeting up with even more suppliers and basically just moving along from one day to the other without really knowing wat went on. Who wants to work like that?

Anyway, complaining about work is something everyone will have a say on. This blog is meant to be an account of my happier times so i shan't rant here.

Hubs ended up as runner up for one of his company's presentation 'competitions' (?) so he got rewarded and what better way to spend that money than on his wife? muahaha.

So here's how we ended up at Alexis and broke our solemn vow of spending less on food.

Truffle pappardelle with cep. Tastes like Kung fu chao. hmmm I havent tried this sort of pasta before. Pappardelle reminds me of kuey tiow. Flat ribbons of pasta -smooth but they all kinda stuck together in clumps. The truffles were deliciously juicy and i think they were soaked in wine and the light cream sauce complemented the pasta well.

Hubs had a simple linguini with pesto. Tasty and well done.

Dessert - For me, Alexis's classic cake, the Tiramisu (RM12). I love Alexis's version of it. The best! Sponge cake generously soaked in liquor, cheese filling was delicious and had lots of chocolate rolls in it and the cake was topped with crunchy bits of toasted nuts and glass candies.

Hubs had a brownie which came nice and warm with lots of fudge and a dollop of ice cream. (RM12)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ham or Eggs?

Think about it.
Chicken or pig... Are you only just involved or are you committed?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Food Republic, Pavillion


Finally I am well enough to go out for a proper dinner! After my bout of food poisoning, I came down with the dreaded flu, sore throat and fever. I must have lost almost 2 kgs (er... whee?)

I read from Boolicious's blog that the food court at Pavillion was open for business and from her reviews, the food variety and quality there sounded promising. So off we went. After walking around, we decided to go to Thye Hong. There was a short queue, people were waiting for the batch of oyster omelletes to finish cooking.

We ordered the fried prawn noodles (RM 7) which was pretty tasty. According to Hubs, the prawns were fresh and juicy.

I ordered the oyster omellete (RM7). Well, it was not bad, though it cannot be compared with Penang's omelletes at macAllister road. (which were chockful with oysters and gooey and fragrant). The omellete was quite plain (I don't think there were any oysters in the omellete itself) but it was topped with (few) lightly fried, juicy and sweet oysters. It would have been much better if they were more generous with the oysters. However, the chilli was pretty good and went well with the dish.

Update: I forgot to mention that we also bought John King's egg tarts and chicken pie plus Movenpick ice cream! After all, an oily, starch-rich dinner should be finished with a good dessert! In case you're thinking wah! wat gluttons!, we had the tarts at home ok, and that's almost a full hour after our dinner heh. lalala.

Anyhoo, you can choose the tarts with cookie crust or pastry crust. We got the pastry ones and I like it! the custard was eggy, soft and smooth. I just warmed up the chicken pie - QUICK!, Hubs isnt home yet from church so I shall have it all to myself muahahahaah!

Hmm, what a let down. It isnt that good. The filling is quite salty and there isnt much buttery taste from the pastry. Sigh. Looks like the DBKL will have some to eat when he gets home after all...

Hubs and I found out about Movenpick ice cream during our hol at Pangkor Laut Resort. We loved the chocolate ice cream so much - lusciously smooth with just the right amount of chocolate taste, and not overwhelmingly sweet. Our meals at the resort were unlimited (package price) so we had lots of the ice cream. The other flavours were just so-so. So when I saw Movenpick at the lower ground floor of Pavillion I went like YAY!

UNFORTUNATELY, as you can see from the picture, the RM5.90 scoop of ice cream is so miserably small even though it tastes just as good. Sigh, that sure took half the enthusiasm and enjoyment away...

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Soothing Cup of Tea

to let out the gas...

I had another food poisoning attack. This usually happens to me twice a year and at very unfortunate timings. Nothing depresses me more than not being able to eat what i want to eat, when i want to eat. I was slumped over the toilet bowl at my office (its not the cleanest of toilets, my office is in a public building) on a Friday evening! Imagine starting off your weekend this way!
Liquids were spewing out of almost every possible part of my body. I was weak from all the internal twisting and cramping.
I got a jab to stop the bursting dam but it didnt help much with the gas the next day. Believe me, you do not want to mix diarrhoea with gas. You'd better be walking around with adult diapers.
So, i made myself a cup of ginger tea, and old Chinese method of getting rid of gas. Just slice up some old ginger, boil them and add brown sugar to taste. Ahhh.. comfort at last.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pricey Pine nuts

I've been experimenting with a new ingredient - pine nuts! I remember having tapas at Sentidos, Star Hill where they served spinach with pine nuts. I thought it was really good! Little did I know that these tiny little nuts were so expensive. I bought a small 150g jar and that cost me RM14.99!

Pine nuts are used in pasta's, desserts, salads and yes, there even is pine nut coffee! I've already tried a pasta recipe with pine nuts but that will be in another post.

Yesterday I cooked up Spinaci con Pinoli e Passerine - sounds classy ya? haha, its actually a very simple dish, basically Spinach with Pine Nuts and Raisins. Got the recipe from Epicurious.

Spinach - Baby ones would be better, mine were slightly old and stringy already
Olive oil
Onions - minced
Pine nuts - lightly toasted.
Raisins - soak in hot water till they are plump
Salt & pepper

I had a disaster while toasting pine nuts for my earlier pasta dish. I thought I'd just sprinkle some olive oil on it and pop it in the oven. There they were, roasting happily and in a blink of an eye, they became totally brown and started burning! I saved them in the nick of time though now you wouldnt say they were 'lightly' toasted anymore. For how to toast pine nuts the PROPER way:
"Take a dry non-stick pan. Put the pine nuts in it (use no oil) and turn the heat to medium. Shake the pan every 30 seconds and toss the pine nuts. When they are lightly browned, turn the heat off."

Back to the recipe.

Wash the spinach well and remove the stems. Place in a large pan with only the rinsing water clinging to the leaves. Cook over medium heat, turning until wilted. Set aside. Add the olive oil to the now-empty pan and place over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until tender. Add the spinach, raisins, and pine nuts and sauté briefly to warm through. Season with salt and pepper.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

The 4th of November

Another year down, another year wiser. Yesterday was Hub's birthday. A quiet affair. We just went about our usual routine and I think sometimes, routines are fun! we haven't had a normal routine-y weekend in ages! We went to church, ate at our favourite breakfast kopitiam, did grocery shopping and watched House Season 4!

House-isms (memorable quips) that me and Hubs laughed over like crazy:
"Great. The only way he could turn down any more cheeks is by pulling down his pants.”
"Luckily violence isn’t the last resort. Extortion is. Go ahead. Extort her.”
“Would you condemn this woman to a life where people look at her face when they talk to her?”


ok, on to Hub's birthday. Hub's colleague from Dallas bought him something for me to try! Woo hoo! Ghirardelli Instant brownie mix! We both absolutely luuurve Ghirardelli chocolates. So its just perfect! Baked it for Hub's birthday.

All I had to do was add water, vegetable oil and an egg.. haha. Even I couldnt mess that up! It baked beautifully. Add a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Spring Cleaning

my kitchen...

i discovered

- my onions have green stalks growing out of them - is this spring onion then?

- a whole legion of evil weevils have taken over my rice bag - i can't see my rice anymore, just powdery white dusk. everywhere

- i have half a block of parmesan cheese in my fridge that's expired

- i have pork ribs in the freezer, dry and frozen to their bones

- a steam and stew sauce that has expired

- 3 bottles of unopened Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce and i only feed a family of 2. I dont know if they will end up as expired stocks next year.

- thickened cream that I bought when i got excited after reading through delicious dessert recipes. excitement died down too fast and cream is now 2 weeks to expiry.

So. Lesson learnt.
Plan meals ahead and shop with a shopping list - memory doesnt get better with age.
Buy less, go eat out more often.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Confusion over Cream

I have so many delicious, cream based sauces and soups that I've been dying to try but almost all of the recipes required heavy cream. I've been searching high and low at our local supermarkets, hypermarts, Cold Storage and even places like Hock Choon for it but all I've ever seen were President's Light Cream, various whipping creams, heavy whipping creams, buttermilk, sour creams etc at the dairy section.

Finally, I decided to look it up in the world wide web of knowledge (heh)

Lo and behold (if i got it right, please correct me if I'm not!)

Heavy cream = Heavy Whipping Cream! link here and here.

Boy oh boy. Isnt there an international standard for labelling food stuff? Why the difference in naming a product? Poor, uninformed people like me wouldnt know ya? And to think, I have been avoiding making all the yummy, creamy recipes everytime I see Heavy cream in its list of ingredients.

But of course, heavy cream has a much higher fat content than light cream. Hence it gives sauces a richer, creamier taste and doesnt break down like light cream when heated. Some say light cream is not suitable for heated sauces but I've used it plenty in my Shell Pasta with Zucchini Swirls in Cream and it comes out delish every time! So I guess its up to every individual.

I can't wait to try a mushroom soup recipe this weekend. Probly use half whipping cream and half light cream to be a little 'healthier'. Heh

Shoot - camera's with Hubs. arrgghhh Won't be able to take a pix... hmm

Sunday, October 21, 2007

San Francisco (Part 3)

The Golden Gate bridge - one of San Francisco's top attractions. The weather was holding up ok on the day we went. Skies were slightly dark and cloudy but there wasn't any fog so we could see the bridge clearly in all its splendour.
We walked along the whole bridge and back - i think we took almost an hour plus coz of constant stopping to oohh and ahhh and take photos. The colour of the bridge is actually called "International Orange". Why wasn't it painted gold? Read here.
Heh. One thing that caught our attention:

My goodness! do people think its romantic to jump off this bridge? oh man, there must have been quite a number of people doing this else the authorities wouldnt have put up these signs.

At the other end of the bridge - Sausalito, looks beautiful but we didnt manage to explore it. I'm sure there are lots of beautiful places in the outskirts of San Fran. So many places to go still...

Food again! If you ever visit San Fran, head over to Mama's for a sumptious brekkie. Loads of reviews on this place. I read that people would line up as early as 7.30am (shop opens at 8). Sure enough, there was a line already when we arrived at 7.45am. Wow, people were still yawning but when good food beckons, its no trouble to wake up earlier and join the queue yea?

I'm somewhere in the line

Mama's is located on Washington Square, North Beach. We walked here from The Crookedest St (ie. Lombard St). The thing I like about San Fran is all the restaurants and tourist spots are within walking distance! What more with lovely cool weather, you can just walk on and on :) Ok. back to food. The Omelettes here are good and... Super Large. I can't imagine finishing it by myself. Good thing Hubs, the walking DBKL wiped my leftovers clean. (even though he had his OWN omelette) The omelette was stuffed with tomatoes, bacon, sausages and wat not. Yum! Mama's also serves French toast, cakes, muffins etc - I wish i had several stomachs so I could try everything! Cost-wise - not cheap for us Malaysians. The omellette costs USD 9 ++ excluding tax and tips.. Eating in San Fran is an expensive business. But we wanted to enjoy ourselves, after all, we came all the way here. :)

Food again haha. Dinner at Lori's Diner. Its a classic, All American Diner. I like the decor and ambience - Rock and roll musci, neon lights.. Makes me feel like i'm in the set of Grease or America in its 1950s. Food here is only so-so. Portions were surprisingly modest. I thought it would be large. If anything, dine here for the ambience only.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

San Francisco (Part 2)

Do you know i get a little stressed out every time I try to complete my travel blogs? Do any of you guys experience this? I'm pressed for time and yet I know that with every day/hour/minute that I delay my posts, I'll end up forgetting all the tiny but precious details that made my holiday Great.

Most of the time I just rush out the post and blog out everything in one mouthful (or post-ful) Sigh. I should be more disciplined. Wow - even a hobby that was suppose to be destressing - needs discipline. Gosh and Good Grief.

I need another break. Heh.

Anyway, while Hubs was going on and on about the chocolate shop, I was going on and on about this - The CROOKEDEST street in the WORLD. isnt this something better to harp on? I dunno why I was so excited about it and just kept saying - we gotta go to the CROOKEDEST St. in the world ok? CROOKEDEST St. Heh, i think i just liked saying it to irritate Hubs. Say it! You'll go on and on. After all, its the CROOKEDEST St !

ok ok. Before I irritate you all to bits. Look at it! Isnt it just so crooked? People would either ride in cabs or drive down the road themselves. Its a one way road, 40 degrees slope with 8 switchbacks - and its very well maintained by the people staying along it.

Will you look at the size of these strawberries?? ! DOUBLE the size of those we get at hypermarkets in Msia. And yes, they cost double if not triple too. Me being the typical tourist just couldnt resist and bought them by some fresh fruit stalls at Fisherman's Wharf. Reeaal Smart. The upside, they were the sweetest ever strawberries I've ever tasted. This was one of the moments that made my holiday Great. Sinking my teeth into humongous, sticky sweet strawberries.

Next, not so sweet a sight. Smelly, noisy sea lions that fight over drying space. Yep. Its a competitive world out there. Even for sea lions. Its kinda fun just standing there watching these great big sausages with fins. if ever a wet one lies on top of or takes up the space of a dry one, there'll be a great big honking or barking or whatever you call the sound sea lions make, and lots of pushing and shoving.

Hey! Don't you dare take up my space in the sun. I darn well need to get a good dry off before I get wet again. Eh?

Or that's what I imagine they would be saying. These sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf came here following the 1989 quake. Read more here or below:

View of Fisherman's Wharf - colourful and just fun to walk around and soak in the touristy atmosphere.

Must try here: Clam Chowder. The best place to have it is at Pier Market. Lots of shops sell it here, some claim to be the "original'. But the nice lady at the information center told us we should have it at Pier Market. We nodded our heads like enthusiatic tourists with a nugget of wisdom and headed there. Hubs was as usual in his "not hungry" mode. yea right. I never get fooled. Anyway! doesnt the pix just makes you drool? :)

EXCELLENT stuff. The steaming hot chowder was creamy and had that delightfully sweet taste of clams - not fishy at all, had lots of clam bits and crab bits too. mmmMMM served in a sourdough bread that was nice and chewy - great to dip into the soup.

Every last bit of chowder scrapped off!

Friday, October 12, 2007

San Francisco!

Whoopsie - I have not been blogging for ages! Apologies to the few people who frequent my blog haha (my parents and a handful of friends :P). I had the unexpected chance to go to the US as my hubby had to go there for work so we thought, hey - accomodation's gonna be free for 2 weeks so why not? I had my visa done and before i knew it, we were off on our first trip to this great country.
We stoppped over at San Francisco. At first we were torn between LA or San Fran. Lots of ppl told us to go to the latter as it would be more scenic. (besides, my hubby wouldnt be able to stand outdoor themepark rides. scares the daylights outta him heh heh *shhhh) So San Fran it was! And we didnt regret it ONE BIT!

I can say that to date, this is one of the most beautiful cities I've been too. hmmm i've been to Paris, Rome and several asian cities but the charm that enveloped San Fran just really got me. This city is a mix of beautiful quaint buildings, stretches of roads that roll up and down, dotted with lush greenery, covered by clear blue skies and surrounded by great food!

Of course we sat on the famous trams of San Francisco. You can see the Alcatraz at the background below.

Hubby was talking about this chocolate shop located at the end of the touristy Fisherman's Wharf non stop since he read about it. So obviously that was the first place we hit to keep him quiet or I'd never hear the end of it. There we are - Ghirardelli Square. Finally I had some peace.

hooray for someone!

We ordered the 'must order items' like the World Famous Hot Fudge Sundae and Decadent Drinking Chocolate. Yummers! It was sooo c-h-o-k-a-l-a-t-e-y !!! not your regular chocolate that just tastes sweet. Every drop of that thick, gooey, fudgey chocolate is HEAVEN! and The Drink was so rich, creamy and smooth - *drooollll* If ever there was a sundae and drink of the gods, these would be it.

We walked along the wharf area and stopped for dinner to sample their fresh dungeness crab. This was a let down though. the crab portion was small, flesh was dry and almost non-existent. So no pic for it here. Ha. But here is a pix of a wannabe dungeness crab.

So ends the first day of our stay - More coming up!