Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Perfect Mash

Do you make a list when you go grocery shopping? Conversation in the car:
Hubs: Did you make a list?
Me: (realised sumthing and felt guilty) Errr yeah.
Hubs: Good.
Me: its at home....

Sometimes i think its better to shop WITHOUT a list. I mean its so boring when you have a list and u just walk down the aisles, put the stuff into the trolley and methodically strike it off your list. BORING....

I say where's the creativity in that? Its so much MORE fun to go shopping WITHOUT knowing what to get. Then when you see something (let's say an onion), you mentally start creating ways to cook it! Salads or soups or fried onion rings. Its endless!

Only problem is then i wouldnt be able to decide and in the end i'd just get all the ingredients for all the possible ways i'd cook it.


So today, I saw a potato and decided to make the perfect mash.

I'd say if this is the source of carbo in your meal, it should be a medium to large potato per person.

Potatoes (I read Yukon Gold potatoes make the perfect mash! Couldnt find it here though - the usuals are just Russets and Holland potatoes)
Garlic (this is a great tip I read about!)
Heavy/whipping cream
A dollop of Djon mustard
Salt & Pepper

Clean potatoes and boil them. Add several cloves of garlic here. Boil till the potatoes are soft (~15mins). Drain and peel them. Now, mash them up together with the garlic! ooohhhh yummy!

Heat up the cream with butter. Add in to the mashed potatoes a little at a time, continue mashing them until you get a nice creamy texture. Add mustard, mayo and season with salt and pepper.

Served this with Italian sausages and a simple salad.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wat's in store for 2008?

I have a dream.

Not anything like Martin Luther King's but one that will test every ounce of patience in my Hubby, one that will require him to summon will power beyond what he was ever capable of to smile instead of frown, to give a deserved (even if underserved) pat on the back, to nod vigourously with approval after every bite that will hopefully be swallowed and not quietly hidden and poured into the sink.

what drama.

Actually I just want to learn to cook a new dish every week lah. I have not improved or tried anything remotely new in the cooking category. :( So this year, I declare to be more disciplined. A new dish every week. 52 new dishes. With a 20% rate of success (anything less and I shall be depressed), I should be able to learn 10 new dishes and stop feeding my family with the same old mouldy stuff.

So here's my list! Its not exhaustive - just a coupla recipes I like, basic ones that I should know etc. Any other suggestions?

The Soup Category
I love soups! Healthy (er, then again not always) and filling. 1-bowl meals that can be cooked in advance and heated up to eat any time when hungry.
Creamy Broccoli Soup
Creamy Mushroom Soup
Cream of Cauliflower Soup - (hmm not sure bout this tho, i mean Hubs already has unbearable gas problems... )
Cream of Asparagus Soup

The Baking Category
Look out waistlines!
Cream Cheese Chocolate Brownies
Carrot Cake
Hummingbird Cake
Still trying out variations to get the best Moist Chocolate Cake. (If all else fails, I recently discovered that The Ampang Grocer stores Ghirardelli Cake Mixes hurrah!)
Poppy Seed Cake
Banana Bread/Cake
Peanut Butter Cookies
Apple Pie/ Apple Crumble

I got this great nonya recipe book as a gift. Hurray! More stuff to experiment with!
- Asam Laksa (urrgghh recipe looks like a lot of work but I guess I must learn to cook this in my life time)
- Nonya Fried Rice
- Tau Eu Bak (Soy Sauce Pork)
- Nonya Fried Chicky
- Kari Kapitan (Kapitan Chicken Curry)
- Popiah Chee! ( this will be a great finger food to bring to Pot Lucks!)

- Spaghetti with a mushroom cream sauce
- Spaghetti alle Vongole (spaghetti with clams)
- Spaghetti with Italian sausages - tomato based sauce
- Must try to a make a Lasagne!
- Must try to make my own pizza - dough plus toppings
- Grandmother's Pie ( apparently one of the most popular and delicious desserts in the Italian repertoire)
- Tiramisu
- Chocolate Truffles

- A Good Roast Chicken
- A Good Pork Chop - maybe I'll try one version marinate with Guinness Malta.. mm hmmm

I don't really like to mess around seafood (i like to eat them, not cook) coz most of them are smelly stuff before cooked... Hmm... only if i come across a must-try recipe..

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A banana in Taiwan

Oh man, I was not looking forward to this working trip. Usually I'd be full of glee, having the chance to be away from gruelling days stuck facing 4 walls but
7 days in a Mandarin speaking land + me, a Chinese who cannot even utter a single word of Mandarin except Ni hao and Xie xie = tremendous, unspeakable boredom.
Now that its over and I'm back in good old Msia, i think it was actually a pretty enjoyable trip. My coliks, the suppliers, the presentation of new products were exciting! And I picked up plenty of Mandarin words heh!
Anyway, as with all of my posts, the topic is on FOOD! First up, we made a trip to Miao Li, and had lunch. And it was full of l-e-m-o-n-g-r-a-s-s. For me, being a product person, lemongrass always equals insect repellant. Blurghh. Lemongrass is not a herb that's commonly used in Taiwanese cooking but this supplier had a thing for it.

Lemongrass juice. I felt I was downing a bottle of insect repellant. My coliks loved it though - said it was very refreshing.

Next was better, a plateful of colourful fresh taufus, vegetables, fishballs and meatballs. Taiwanese seem to love freshly cut capsicums.

There was a special sauce prepared to go with the steamboat. Yeap. Its blended lemongrass leaves with a dark sauce. Hmmm this was ok.

You wouldnt be able to guess what this is.

Salt baked fish! And true to the day's theme, it was stuffed with lemongrass! Arrrgghhhhhh

Taiwanese food is always packed beautifully. We had packed lunch boxes on one of the days. They use coloured rubber bands and tied them around the boxes to form patterns.

Woo hoo! not like our regular economy rice pack eh? Pan fried salmon and roasted chicken drumstick, tempura sweet potato and a big juicy prawn... mm mmm. Lots of colourful side dishes too :)

On one of the nights, we went to a shop that was famous in Tainan. For cooking minced meat in a pot that is n-e-v-e-r washed. See the man scooping from that pot over there?

ewwww... I'm not sure what the speciality is but i gather from the conversation that the pot will keep the fragrance of the meat and the dish gets tastier the longer the pot is used.

This is the bowl of noodles with meat from the old unwashed pot. Till date, that pot has held out for 5 years without a wash.

The helpings are small too and people would usually order several bowls. As the Chinese say, One bowl, one mouthful.

There were other pretty unique dishes in this shop too. These are slices of fish eggs served with cuts of white radish. The fish eggs were tasty and pretty strong but it was balanced by the slight bitter taste of the radish.

Slices of fish skin. Another unique Taiwanese dish. Deliciously smooth and went well with the sweet dark sauce.

They also served it in soup with ginger .. yummy.. light and refreshing.

Friday, January 04, 2008


To my friends who enjoy a glass of wine...and to those who don't.

Ben Franklin said:"In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria"

In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. coli) - bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop.

However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum,whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.

Remember: Water = Poop, Wine = Health

Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk silly, than to drink water and be full of crap.