Saturday, 28 February 2009

Lasagne - The way I made it

Yesterday, we made lasagne. Yes, the classic Italian dish made with layers of pasta, tomato sauce and cheese. It turned out alright, considering this is my first attempt at making one from scratch. As usual, I didn't follow any recipe and just used whatever I had in the fridge and store cupboard.

Preparation time: 30 mins

Cooking time: 1 hour

500g on minced beef
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
A can of chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoon of dried Basil leaves
2 tablespoon of Oregano
A dash of red wine
1 tablespoon of Bertolli Olivio spread (margarine made with olive oil)
3 tablespoon of olive oil

50g of plain flour
150ml of milk
50ml of white wine
1 tub of ricotta cheese
50g of cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon of dried parsley
Salt, sugar and pepper (adjust accordingly to suit your taste)
Lasagne sheets
Some pasta to cover the gap (The sheets were not big enough to cover the dish)

How I did it:
  • To make the bolognese sauce, firstly heat the olive oil in the frying pan. Finely dice the onion and fry it until it turns slightly brown. Add in some garlic as well. Add in the mince and mix it together with the onion. Add in your chopped tomato, basil and oregano leaves. Add in 2 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoon of salt and pepper to suit your taste. Let it simmer for about 15 mins or so. Pour in a dash of red wine. Turn off the heat and let it rest.

  • To make the white sauce, heat a pan with a teaspoon of olive oil and some margarine(I use Bertolli margarine because I forgot to defrost the butter from the freezer). Add in your milk, dried parsley and garlic and bring it to a boil. Add in the flour after the milk start simmering to thicken the sauce. Add some salt to give it some taste. Add in your white wine after that. Turn of the heat and continue stirring to remove the lumps caused by the flour. Add the cheddar cheese now and continue stirring. After 3-5 minutes, add in the ricotta cheese. Continue stirring to blend in the cheese.
  • Preheat your oven at 200°C. Now you can start your layering process. Pour a little olive oil at the bottom of the ovenproof dish. I added a layer of white sauce at the bottom before putting my first layer of pasta. Arrange the pasta so that it covers the entire surface of the dish. Pour in the white sauce to cover the pasta sheet. Add the bolognese sauce to cover the white sauce. Repeat the same process until the dish is nearly full. The final layer should be covered with white sauce only. I ran out of white sauce so my top was a little too dry (That is the problem when you don't follow recipe). Note to self, add more milk and flour the next time I do this.

  • Cover your dish with an aluminium foil and pop it in the oven for 40 mins. Take the lasagne out and remove the aluminium foil. Pop it back in the oven for another 5 to 10 mins to get the nice golden colour at the top. There you go, my first home-made lasagne. DONE!
    As usual, Steph was
    very complimentary about my dish. I felt that it was ok. I had limited ingredients to work with so it was average for me. It would taste a lot better if I had some extra cheese sauce for the top and grated Parmesan between each layer.

    Will try to improvise next time by using coconut milk to give it an extra richness and definitely using butter instead of margarine.


Thursday, 26 February 2009

HAIL LIVERPOOL !! ......... chelsea too

Yesterday was a good day for me. why? Coz Liverpool had a stunning victory over Real Madrid in the Bernabeu camp itself! How cool is that. Their performance can be quite teruk if you look at the games they played in the premier league for the past few weeks, but Liverpool record in the European Cup has always been quite good. Happy for Adrian that Chelsea won too. Well, I hope both teams don't have to fight one another, or not I am pretty sure Liverpool will beat Chelsea this time 'round!! Sorry ah-boy.

Dinner was quite simple (I guess you know why) as I'm the one who prepare them. Adrian wasn't feeling too well yesterday, so I thought I'll prepare dinner. Dinner was the leftover tomyam soup, steam eggs, and brocolli fried with tuna.
It was my first attempt in cooking steamed eggs. We used:
2 eggs, one cup of stock/broth water, 1 salted egg and crabsticks, a bit of soya sauce and pepper and spring onions for garnishing.

Basically, I just chucked whatever stuff I have in the fridge. We ran out of pork meat, or not I would love to put in some minced pork. After putting all the ingredients together, we had a little too much to fit into a bowl so we split them into 2 and put them into the steamer.

It was my first time cooking broccoli with tuna too. Just heat it with some butter and put the tuna in when the broccoli is cooked. Simple yet delicious! I read that high intake of broccoli can reduce the chances of prostate cancer. So to all the men out there, do take more of these! Or woman, do cook more of these vege for your other half.

Here you go, my ridiculously simple dish. I doubt I'll ever have the chance to prepare this dish back home in Msia. My granny is a wonderful cook and I would prefer to give her the chance to show off her skills.


Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Relearning the English language

I'm now in the UK (approximately 10,000 km away from Malaysia). When I first got here, I thought my English was of 'average' standard and Malaysia being an ex-British colony, I spoke fluent 'British' English. However, with the influence of Manglish and American sitcoms, my English is no where near 'British English'. I had a few embarrasing moments during some of my daily conversations with people here. On one occasion, I was working on a project that involved the disposal of a business producing bread. As you would expect, they had flour mills to store the main ingredient for bread making.

Me: I'm happy to look at the flour mills operation
Colleague: Can you pronounce 'flour' again?
Me: f-l-a-r. .....
Colleague: Dude, it is pronounced 'flower'
Me: What??? That is the first time I heard it pronounced that way

So I looked up the dictionary to check how it was pronounce to prove that what I was taught the right pronunciation in Malaysia was correct. This is what the dictionary showed - flouuhr, flou-er (Source:

Another one was 'handphone'.
Me: What is your handphone number?
Colleague: What is a 'handphone'?
Me: Mobile phones, your Nokias and Sony Ericssons.
Colleague: That must be what Malaysians called it.
Me: I guess so (*confused look)

Again with the trusty, I typed in 'handphone'. Result - Redirected to another website selling phones. That has never happened before. So I tried another dictionary website - Result - Hand phone is not available in the general English dictionary and thesaurus. Mental note, never use the word handphone again in the UK.

A few more that I can remember are:
Chips = French fries
Crisp = Potato chips
Datakey = Pendrive
Photocopy = Photostat
Stamp = Chop

I bet if I travel around Europe and even the UK, I would encounter many more varieties of English. Since my work, involves presenting my work in 'British English' I fear one day my reports will be given back to me with hundreds of question marks and scribbles asking me to explain what I'm trying to say. My writing would have a combination of British, American and Malaysian English. I've now signed up for an English course to 'relearn' my English. My company provides this training for free so hopefully, my 'English' will improve after a couple of months.

Everyday is a struggle not to use phrases that I love:
"Can ar"
"Where got"


Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Baby, I love my Tomyam soup

Last weekend, Adrian and I went to an oriental grocery store. It is a huge storehouse and I am very impressed with the varieties they have there, and even more impressed with the price. Most items are priced at least 3 to 5x of the price if I were to buy the same item in Msia. Anyway I am very happy with my purchase, bought salted eggs, japanese tofu, dried beancurd, tomyam paste and some noodles.

Out of guilt and love, I told Adrian y'day that I will make dinner, it was him who usually does the cooking. He has done so many gorgeous food since I came over, so I thought I will do it this time. Me being myself, did the easy way. I used the tomyam paste to boil the soup, and threw in some crabsticks, chicken slices, smoked haddock, ladyfingers, and spring onions. The final verdict - awesome. It smells so good that my housemate came to the kitchen and see what I'm up to :) Well I guess, all my 'hardwork and effort' was worthwhile since Adrian had a second helping.

Instant tomyam paste (₤1.55)

My magic concoction

I'm a good cook after all... haha.


Happy Pancake Day!

Most Malaysians probably have no idea what we are talking about unless you are a Christian in certain parts of the world that celebrates this day. In the UK, today is Shrove Tuesday and is celebrated each year on different dates depending on when Easter falls. It is the day before Lent. There is a tradition, whereby pancakes are made and eaten on this particular day. I'm not being religious or anything but since Steph and I love eating pancakes, I decided to wake up extra early today (7am to be exact) to make a batch of pancakes for breakfast and lunch. Actually I was really looking forward to doing this so I didn't feel any tiredness at all. All I wanted to do was make some pancakes. :) I wish I felt the same way about going to work...
Pancakes are very simple to make with very basic ingredients comprising flour, egg, milk, salt and sugar. I'm not going to bother with the 'how to' make a pancake because you can easily get the recipe from various websites. Being adventurous, there were 4 different types of pancakes; the standard version - syrup with butter; banana and Nutella; a version of 'Apam Balik' made with Chunky peanut butter and sugar; a savoury pancake with minced chicken and mushroom as filling. As usual, Steph (the avid photographer) has captured some of the delicious pancakes for your viewing pleasure. We had so many batches of pancakes and they were all so delicious.

Tossing the pancake (the fun bit!!!)

A standard tin can (with bottom removed) to make mini pancakes

Pancakes with butter and syrup (IMO, the best combination)

the traditional with syrup and butter

banana and Nutella

My version of 'Apam Balik'

with minced chicken and mushroom

There you go, our first Pancake Day in the UK. I've been told by Steph to start remembering the stuff I put in my food and post the recipes. That request has been noted and I will make an effort the next time round.


P/s: I really miss Paddington House of Pancakes at the Curve. My next recipe will probably be pancake burgers with chips.

Monday, 23 February 2009

A new Blog is born

Hello friends! We thought it would be a good idea to start documenting our life in the UK. We decided to share our experiences here with our family and friends. We both come from Malaysia and having educated and worked in Malaysia all this while, living in a foreign place is truly a new and exciting (scary as well) journey for both of us.

Also, we want to show case Adrian's new found hobby - cooking and trying out new recipes. Below are some of the foodie pics taken over the last couple of months. Adrian has promised to keep his recipes 'fresh' by not repeating the same recipes for the rest of 2009.

Meatballs spaghetti

Roast pork noodles

Cheese baked fusilli

Bread and butter pudding

Ikan bakar

English breakfast

Steak and beer pie

Salmon sushi

Reggae chicken wing

Bak kut teh

Pork with stuffings

Popiah (Homemade skin)

Pepper stuffed with couscous

Red wine Mee Suah

Beef steak

Chicken and chickpeas spaghetti

Blackberry muffins

Fish and chips

Stick with us as we blog more. Tomorrow - 'Pancake Day'
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