Wednesday, July 25, 2007

POTTERing around

I guess I don't need to say much as enough has been said in the world wide web, newspapers etc. Potter here, Potter there, Potter everywhere.

Just like the average kiasu (translated to: scared to lose) Malaysian, I got caught up in the hype. Honestly, I knew the book was coming out in July a long time ago (who can ignore the buntings and posters in major bookstores enticing you to actually PRE-ORDER), but I wasn't really that bothered... until the last few days to the world wide release.

Good grief.

I don't know what came over me but i just couldn't wait. EVERYone was talking about it - the internet was full of stories covering this last book - Rowling's comments, reader's comments, online bookstores 'accidentally' releasing the books, spoilers, etc.. I actually searched and scanned through papers and the internet to read more! Advertising even in the last few days sure builds up the hype that's one thing i gotta say. The big, mean hypermarts even jumped in, taking advantage of the situation and knocking down the price to RM69.90 vs the recommended retail price of RM109.90. Hey! Even the first few Harry Potter books were going for as low as RM19.90! I bought them at double the price!! Grrrrr. So the 4 major bookstore chains is Malaysia made a stand.
Price drama aside, its pretty obvious I spent the whole Sunday at home trying to finish the book. Its a massive 607 pages.... I managed to finish 500+ by end of the day, packed it to work the next day and read before 9am (ahem) and continued during lunch (ahem - i work seriously during my working hours) then rushed home and finished the rest. Some ppl I know finished the whole book in 5 hours straight. Jeepers. Can a person actually do that? Maybe they did speed reading.. or just jumped to the last 100 pages.
After finishing the book, I must say that I actually experienced a feeling of err... emptiness? sadness? I don't know what you call it. No don't worry, the ending isnt sad. It's just that I've been reading Potter all thru the 7 books and i think the story is pretty amazing. Now, just like that, snap! it's ended. Booo hoooo :(
I've really enjoyed reading all the 7 books. What a journey. There's nothing quite like having a good read and getting lost in the story for a bit (not escapism here). It's just like a good movie, where in those few precious hours, I actually felt like I was standing right there, being part of a great story unfolding.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Good old Minced Pork, Potatoes & Mushrooms

Whoopsie, haven't had much time to plan my cooking for the week... So ended up cooking regular dishes... nothing unique or new. But sometimes, we just wanna have good old tried and tested recipes yeah? :)
This is one of my favourite dishes. Easy to cook, using very common ingredients. I like pork, potatoes and oyster mushrooms so I just throw them all together in this dish *grin*. I'm pretty sure there are many better or correct ways to cook this style but this is my style!

Minced pork - not very healthy coz you don't really know what goes into the mince but oh well.. Add salt, pepper, sesame oil and some cornstarch. Leave for about 5-10 minutes. Slice up potatoes and lightly stir fry until edges are slightly browned. Set aside. Use the oil and stir fry some garlic, then add the pork. Break them up into pieces. Add oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, water and some cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Add oyster mushrooms and the potatoes. Simmer for a bit until potatoes are soft.
Yum when eaten with rice :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lemon-Butter Garlic Sauce

After the previous disastrous attempt with pork Chinese style, I needed to build my confidence back before I totally give up on cooking :P. I ear-marked or more accurately, web-marked this site last weekend to try with the salmon steak in my freezer. Looked pretty easy and I was keen to try different sauces for my favourite fish :)

Doesnt the sauce sound simply divine in its simplicity?

I got it from Elise Simply Recipes - one of the new sites I added to my favourites list. Its a great sauce to accompany your favourite seafood.

- 1/2 cup clam juice (goodness wat's this? I used Know chicken cubes hee hee)
- 1/2 cup dry sherry (er, i omitted this but i read that it should be ok to substitute with white wine)
- 1/2 cup whole milk (this i have!)
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic ( i used a lot more )
- 1 Tbsp minced shallots (this too)
- 1/2 bay leaf (Substituted with dried Parsley)

- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp flour

- 3/4 pounds unsalted butter

- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Me being me after coming back from work and starving, didnt follow the measurements. Just went by ear. I guess when it comes to cooking, the exact measurements arent really that necessary to follow. I usually just taste and go along. Mentally converting cup measurements to gms and mls just puts me off - arrggghhh no figures without calculators or my excel please! haha ( I dont have a proper cup measurer yet..)

Reduce first 6 ingredients and cook on medium heat. In another pan, prepare the roux.
(I'm learning a new word everytime I blog. Before you pronounce it in your head as it spells, stop! Its pronounced as 'rue'. Roux is apparently the basis of 3 of the MOTHER sauces in French classical cooking. Wow, my hubby better appreciate this sauce. High class stuff going on here. hee hee)
Sorry back to where I was. How to prepare the basis of a Mother French sauce! Heat 1 Tbsp butter in a saucepan on medium heat until foamy. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with metal whisk until well combined. Be careful not to brown/burn the mixture.
Add reduced mixture to the roux, stir quickly to incorporate. This was fun. As Elise said, the roux bubbled up at this point. Continue adding and whisking to incorporate.
Lower heat. Whisk in the last batch of butter, add lemon juice, salt and pepper

For the salmon, I just rubbed it with a bit of pepper and salt, wrapped in aluminium foil and popped it into a preheated oven for 10 mins.

Rating: 7.5/10 from me! I'll be trying out with sherry if it isnt too expensive in the near future :)

Lots of leftover. Hubby doesnt quite appreciate salmon goodness knows why, so I'm having his share for lunch tomorrow.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Whole Pot of Pork

down the drain...

boo hoo... i was so optimistic that my Char Yoke dish would come out okay. My mother-in-law bought the right cut of pork for me, dried black fungus plus the reddish bean sauce. Everyone has been telling me its easy to make, I dont even need to do slow braising.

Never has anything turned out so horrendously wrong wrong wrong. Then again, I fare pretty badly when it comes to Chinese dishes. Sigh... totally demotivated. I don't know what went wrong but the whole thing came out so salty! I only seasoned the meat with a bit of pepper and salt. And just a teaspoon or less into the entire pot but when i tasted it - it was horrible! I pushed the panic button and kept adding hot water. Wrong move! The whole thing still came out salty and tasteless. Gross.... URgh.

Thank god MIL had extra briyani and kurma or hubby and I would have starved to death tonight.

No photos this round. Just can't bring myself to deceive myself even though I'm pretty sure /i could hv taken some pretty good shots.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ratha Chicken Curry

I'm sure many of you have heard of this place. Whenever hubby and I are free or if i havent exceeded my petrol allowance (heh) or if it gets really hot, we'll take a drive up to Gohtong Jaya for the cool air AND for Ratha's famous chicken curry.

Ratha curry style is thin and soupy but it packs a WALLOP! Every spoonful is flavourful and spicy (and slightly on the salty side), and it goes great with rice or roti canai. Hubby will keep scooping the curry and we end up fighting for the last few spoonfuls! If we could lick the bowl dry, i think we would! haha! The chicken meat is pretty tender but this varies, we've found it to be dry sometimes.

The chicken curry costs ~ RM3.80 per piece and it comes with lots and lots of gravy as they know ppl love to flood their food with it :) They are also famous for Fish Head curry but hubby and I find it just so-so.

Ratha's original branch is in Raub old town.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Broccoli, Asparagus & Pork Pasta

Weekends are way to short. I wish we only had to work 4 days instead of 5. Those who work 6-day weeks, that's really really sad.. To me, relaxing is having an ENTIRE day, all 24 hours of it with absolutely nothing to do except eat, sleep, maybe try out a new recipe, watch my favourite series and read blogs. Heh. It would be so productive.

Today is horrible, dreaded Monday, which explains how I started the way I did. Thank goodness its almost over. Once you get through Mondays, you look forward to Wednesdays and then the week really starts to look BRIGHTER. That's how i get through my weeks... every week. Don't get me wrong. I like my job but it takes up 10-12 hrs of my day and that's a lot of time to do something you gotta do. But, a job's a job and it brings in the dough for me to do the things I wanna do so o-k-a-y.... I shall bear with it.. for the next 25 years... urgh.

Onwards to more cheerful topics! I can proudly say I whipped up my very own pasta dish this time round! Totally originaI. I bought a bunch of asparagus the other day. This is an interesting veg. Did you know an asparagus spear can grow up to 10 inches in 24 hours? WOW! I'll bet lotsa ppl would wanna learn its growth secret. hee hee.

Tips on picking asparagus - the larger the diameter, the more tender it is. Go for those with firm spears and compact tips.

I had brocolli in my fridge and a can of luncheon meat (very useful - a must in every kitchen). Heated up some olive oil, pan fried the luncheon meat till just slightly burnt at the sides. Set aside. In the same pan, saute the asparagus and broccoli for a few mins. Add in the luncheon meat, a dash of sea salt and pepper. Cook pasta till al dente in a pot of boiling water with salt. Toss together and Voila! A perfectly healthy meal.

Verdict: 7/10! Luncheon meat tastes better than bacon or ham any day!