Wednesday, 25 March 2009

a delightful surprise

Got back home late yesterday night from London. A very tiring trip all thanks to the London crappy traffic. (We spent couple of days in London as Adrian has training there.) The London traffic is just plain stupid, they like to have roadworks at peak hours, placing hundred and hundreds of cones closing most of the lanes and only allowing one pathetic lane for cars , and having traffic diversion all the time... kononnya for road maintenance, how inconsiderate! I think 75% of our driving journey, we have come across road diversion. So, a normal 1hour journey from London turned into almost 2 hours for us to get back home. And this time, we noticed that the roadworks guys were just sitting in the truck watching TV!!! All that for the massive jam! What the **TUT***!! I have to agree simply with many of my friends here complaining that London is really a 3rd world country. So much inefficiencies with their transport system, postal services, government services, bla bla... sound familiar?

Anyway, when we got home I was treated to a lovely surprise!! A friend of mine sent me some pineapple tarts all the way from Spore!! nyam nyam... not any ordinary tarts, it's Bengawan Solo weh! Maybe nextime can send me some layered cakes since they are the most popular cakes being sold in BS. hahaha! Thanks friend, very thoughtful of you. Chomping onto those right now.. they are yummy! I suspect these little cookies will not last till the weekend.


Saturday, 21 March 2009

Hello Spring!

The weather has been lovely the past few days, we have plenty of sunshine in the UK. Leaves are budding everywhere, spring spring is finally here! It is my first time experiencing Spring time, and was so excited when I see buds shooting out from the once dead branches. Managed to capture some pretty pictures.

The most amazing sights will be the daffodils. Most trees are still leafless but the daffodils are growing like mushrooms. They seem to be sprouting everywhere... by the roadside, field, by the lake, even our house backyard. And they come in assorted colours and type too. I only managed to capture the yellow ones. I read that daffodils are the first sign of Spring. Winter is finally gone!! finger cross.
Took the shot below outside Adrian's office. Can you spot the daffodils?

- steph

Ezy meals

Some of the simpler meals which we've cook this week -

1. Leek, potato and bacon bake - Slice the potatoes and boil it in chicken stocks, meanwhile fry the leeks and the bacons. Layer up the potatoes and leeks, then scatter the bacon over the top. Pour some of the leftover stocks into the dish. This is really a quick and easy meal, took me 30mins to prepared this before popping into the oven. Taste lovely, would be better if there were more bacon. Will probably stuff some chicken in there the next time.

2. Super spicy olio spaghetti - This is even easier to prepare. Boil the pasta and while waiting for the pasta to cook, on another pan fry some garlic, seafood, then throw in some spices and of course a handsome amount of chilli flakes. Add in the spaghetti and it is ready to be served. The secret to this dish is good quality extra virgin oil which is basically the flavour of the dish.3. 'Chicken' chickpea spaghetti - We bought a few packets of Quorn, which is a type of mycoprotein food instead of the real chicken meat. This Quorn product is made of some type of fungus and is high in protein. Good option for those who are trying to cut down on meat. It taste really good, and we have some Quorn minced beef and Quorn grilled vegetables sitting in the freezer! The Quorn chicken was cooked with chickpeas and mixed salad. Add the spaghetti in to the mixture and you have a nice healthy dish.

- steph

Friday, 20 March 2009

Chelsea draws Liverpool in the Champions League Q-final

To be honest, this is probably the worst draw for Chelsea because of Liverpool's track record in the CL. 5 seasons in a row these two teams meet in the CL. What is the probability of that. Lets just hope that Hiddink has a strategy to get us into the semi-finals. The other problem is that Barcelona or Bayern Munich are waiting for us there. Too many hurdles man. Drogba has found his goal-scoring form at the right time in the season and the midfield dynamo, Essien is back. Fingers and toes crossed we can lift the trophy this year.
United on the other hand has got such an easy path to the final. They are in a half with the likes of Porto, Villarreal and Arsenal.
Villarreal v Arsenal
Manchester United v FC Porto
Liverpool v Chelsea
Barcelona v Bayern Munich

Steph vs Adrian

It's Liverpool against Chelsea in the quarter-final of the champions league. Argh! I am a supporter of Liverpool and Adrian supports Chelsea. How la? I guess we have to behave and compromise when we watch the game on tv. That means no over shouting or over reaction... or not we might be getting on each other nerves. NO FUN!!!

Full quarter-final draw:

Villarreal v Arsenal
Man Utd v Porto
Barcelona v Bayern Munich
Liverpool v Chelsea

Full semi-final draw:

Man Utd or Porto v Villarreal or Arsenal
Barcelona or Bayern Munich v Liverpool or Chelsea


Wednesday, 18 March 2009


No, not some collaterised loan obligation... Yesterday we had baked chicken, not the normal kind of chicken grilled marinated with brown sauce or whatever sauce.. er, Adrian been experimenting again, and this time he risked our lovely Chicken drumsticks (which I wanted to used it for my more ordinary dish) which he stuffed with smashed hardboil salted Duck egg with Curry Leaves and top it with a mixture of Oats and (chicken) egg and curry powder. There, thats my CDCLO!! What sort of combination is that?! I wonder any of you will eat that if you only hear / read about it without any graphic.
after half an hour in the oven, here is the result ...

Any takers now? Pretty fusion huh, it was yummy !!

Along with the abnormal CDCLO dish or whatever you want to name it, we had the 'extra spicy fermented tofu' (fuyu) stir-fry vege. He underestimated the spiciness of the chilli powder (again) and threw in more than enough into the vege dish despite the words being obvioulsy stated on the packaging - 'EXTRA HOT CHILLI POWDER'. It was so hot, that we gotta rinse some portion with water.

And we had something very random and spontaneous for dessert, shall I call it CBM - chocolate Baileys mousse? whatever la, as long as this 'tam chiak poh' loves it.


Monday, 16 March 2009

Charsiew bun and pastry

Last weekend, we made Charsiew pastry (Char Siew Soh) and the weekend just passed we made Char Siew bun. I was contemplating on posting these two recipes on separate blog entries but decided to put them together since the fillings were the same. Both the recipes were successful and we manage to make enough to satisfy our appetites. I must say both the pastry and the bun was not easy to make. Both required significant amount of time to prepare.

Char Siew filling
Minced Char Siew
2 tablespoon of corn flour (mixed with half a cup of water)
1 big onion (diced)
1 tablespoon of LKK Oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of LKK HoiSin Sauce
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
A few dash of pepper

How I did it:

Firstly, fry the onion until is starts turning brown. Then add in the rest of the ingredients and mix for another 10 mins or so. That would be the filling for your bun and pastry.

Pastry dough
Plain flour
Ready made puff pastry dough
1 egg

How I did it:
As you can see I have not put in any measurement for the flour and water as I was freestyling. I don't have a weighing scale at home. I guess I understand the basic of baking and adding stuff together until it feels right is the way I go about doing things. I made the 'normal' dough on my own and bought the puff pastry. The last time I tried making puff pastry, it took me 2 hours at least. I had to combine the puff pasty with the normal dough because using pure puff pastry will be too flaky and using pure 'normal' dough will be hard. For the normal dough, firstly put in the flour and margarine into a mixing bowl and mix them together. I added a bit of water at a time into the mixture until a soft and elastic dough is formed. Once the dough is formed, leave it in the fridge for about 30 minutes to rest. Once that is done, divide the dough into 4 portions. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Place the puff pastry dough on top of the normal dough. The ratio for the normal dough to puff pastry is 2 to 1. Wrap the normal dough around the puff pastry dough until it forms a ball. Roll out the combined dough. Cut out a rectangular shape with a butter knife and put a tablespoon of Char Siew filling into the centre of the dough. Fold up the side and make sure they are properly sealed. Glaze the dough with egg wash. Place it in the oven for approximately 30 mins at 200 degrees Celcius. DONE!

Our first try to see which shape looks the nicest.

The result of our first try

We went for the 'sui kau' shape in the end

Char Siew Bun
Bread flour
4 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoon of milk powder
1 and half teaspoon of yeast
1 egg
50g of butter
120 ml of water

How I did it:
Add some water into the yeast. Leave it aside and the yeast will start 'frothing'. After 5 minutes, add in all the ingredients except for the butter. Knead the dough until it becomes elastic and non-sticky. Initially it will be very sticky but as you continue kneading, gluten will be formed. You can add a little bit of flour as you knead to quicken the process. The kneading process probably took approximately 20-30 minutes. It was so tiring and my arms were sore after that. I nearly gave up because I kept telling Steph that my dough is still very sticky. I lost track of the amount of flour I added. Add in the melted butter after 15 minutes. After a long and tiring process, the dough was formed. Cover the dough with a cling film and let the dough prove for 2 hours in a warm place. I place mine in an oven because the house was pretty chilly. After proving, the dough should double in size. Give the dough a few more rounds of kneading. Divide the dough into little mini balls. Flatten your dough with your fingers and place your Char Siew filling in it. Bring the edges towards the center to seal the dough around the filling. Place the seam side down on the baking tray. Let the dough sit for another 10 mins or so and you can see it grow a little again. Place the doughs into the oven for 20 minutes at 220 degrees Celcius. Once ready, brush the top of the buns with some melted margarine or butter to give it a nice glossy shine.



Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Marley & Me - a must watch

Me and Adrian went to watch Marley & Me last week. (Adrian adores Jennifer Aniston) Well, I taught it would be another romantic comedy film .. unexpectedly it is not. I simply love the movie. A real story written by John Grogan, Marley & Me is a story of the young couple John himself and his wife and their 'super active and adorable' dog Marley who taught them what really matters in life. The movie speaks of unexpected challenges that everyone faces in adulthood, responsibility as a husband, wife and parents... unconditional love, sacrifices, issues and how one can balance what's important in life. The story sort of prepared me and Adrian of what to expect as we move on in life as a couple and taught us great values. Just incredibly meaningful and it is soooo touching at the finale. Please just go watch it!!

- Steph

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Char siew

Char Siew (Chinese BBQ pork) is one of my favourite meat dish. If I have Chicken rice back home, I would always order Char Siew with it. I rarely order just chicken with my rice. If I have dim sum, my must have would be Char Siew Pau or Char Siew Soh. When my Dad buys dim sum for breakfast he will always gets me Char Siew Pau when the rest of the family will have their Big Pau or Loh Mai Kai. Since I can't get my usual fix of good Char Siew in Luton, I decided to learn how to make them. First time I did it, I used chicken and it turned out alright (see previous post). This time I did the 'real' thing by using pork. I guess the other difference was I used HoiSin sauce this time instead of the LKK Char Siew sauce. Both tasted good but you can't beat pork when it comes to taste. I made quite a bit of Char Siew this time because I wanted to make Char Siew Soh as well. Will post the Char Siew Soh on my next blog entry.

1 kg of pork (Belly or shoulder)
4 tablespoon of Hoisin sauce
2 tablespoon of light soy sauce
2 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
5 tablespooon of sugar
1 tablespoon of five spice powder
A few dash of pepper
1 tablespoon of ground ginger powder
Fried garlic
Other ingredients
ShaoXing wine

How I did it:
1. Marinade the pork with all the ingredients stated in the 'Marinade'. Add about 50ml of water and give it a good mix to make sure every piece of pork is coated. I left it over night to make sure all the wonderful flavour is absorbed by the pork. I guess you could get away with 2-3 hours of marination.

2. Place the pork on a baking tray (lined with aluminium foil) and cover it with another foil. Pop it in the oven for 15 mins at 200 degrees Celcius. Remove the top foil and dip every piece of pork into the excess marinade. Pop it back to the oven again (this time without the foil) for another 15 minutes. Remove the pork and dip it in the marinade again. Pop it back in the oven again. While the pork is cooking in the oven, pour some ShaoXing wine and 2 tablespoon of honey into the excess marinade. Heat up the marinade until it starts to bubble. Continue to reduce the marinade with low heat until it becomes quite thick. Take out the pork and coat the pork again and put it back in the oven. I turned the heat up to 220 degrees Celcius. The Char Siew will be ready when the pork is slightly charred. Your pork should now look like a Char Siew. If you have extra marinade just use it as Char Siew sauce for dipping or just pour it over your Char Siew.

We had wantan noodles to complement the delicious Char Siew. It looks pretty authentic ya. I must say, Steph has really captured the essence of my cooking. Just blogging about this dish makes my mouth water. I wish I had made more. As promised, I can't repeat any of my recipe for the rest of the year .....Argh.....what a stupid promise since I can't enjoy this for another year.

Muah Chee

My memory of Muah Chee always brings me back to Gurney Drive in Penang. My Dad will stop the car by the roadside and we will run/ walk briskly to the muah chee store in the center of the 'food court'. Sometimes we are disappointed when it is closed but most of the time we will get what we want. Some people go to Penang for their Char Kuey Teow or Asam Laksa but my 'MUST HAVE' will be the Muah Chee. Yes, you can get Muah Chee in most pasar malams but the one in Gurney Drive is just so much better.

Recently I was reading a food blog (Rasa Malaysia) and saw Muah Chee on it. Straight away, the saliva glands in my mouth went into overdrive and I told Steph that I want to make this. Look around websites in UK to see if I can get glutinous rice flour but none of the major supermarkets carry them. So off we went to the local Asian store....YES! they had plenty in stock. Bought my packet of glutinous rice flour(choice between Thailand and China but went for Thailand since I lost a bit of confidence in China-made stuff). I was happily walking back home and suggested to Steph that we should make it straight away. However, I was still recovering from my cough so I can't really eat peanut yet. I will give my body another few days to recover. I even bought a bottle of Pei Pa Ko from the Asian store to speed up the process...hahahaha.

Muah Chee is made of glutinous rice flour and mixed with water, sugar and cooking oil. Very simple ingredients. The Rasa Malaysia recipe used tapioca flour in the mix but I went with corn flour since I didn't buy any tapioca flour. I didn't follow the recipe's measurement (the rebel in me). I just add flour and water until I got the right consistency. It was very watery initially so I just kept adding flour until it became a dough. Steam the dough in a steamer for a good 15 to 20 minutes. Let the dough cool before cutting it up and tossing it in the peanut mixture.

For the peanut coating, we bought peanuts and crush them manually with a glass bottle. Steph did the hard work on that while I was preparing the dough. We pop the ground nuts in the oven for 10 mins to roast the nuts a bit. Once the nuts were cooled, we added sugar in it.

For the added taste, I made some fried onion to sprinkle on top. As usual, I wouldn't just accept the traditional Muah Chee
without adding my own twist on it. I added a teaspoon of melted peanut butter on it. It just made the Muah Chee taste even better. I honestly think that my Muah Chee is better than the pasar malams but I still can't beat the Gurney Drive Muah Chee.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Oi Apam, Balik!!

Woke up in the morning, and the first sentence popping out from my mouth is.. "What are we having for breakfast?" Soon, this will be a typical morning habit. I look forward to Saturday and Sunday coz there'll always be nice morning meals to look forward to, coming from a 'tam chiak poh' (greedy girl). This morning we made.. I mean Adrian made 'apam balik' - the thin version kind, the more of a crispy crepe/pancake type.
Some call it Ban Chien Kueh, some call it 'Tai Gau-Meen'. This kuehs are favourite pasar malam food. Still remembered Adrian and I and another couple -Tim and Janet used to head to the pasar malam in SS4 for dinner before our bowling session in Tropicana. How I miss those days.
For the batter, we used flour, a pinch of baking powder, milk and an egg. After preparing the batter, pour a little to the pan and quickly spread it across the pan evenly. Oh, before pouring the batter, rub some butter/margarine unto the pan.
For the filling, we sprinkle some sugar, then add a generous amount of crunchy peanut butter and creamy corn. Leave it to cook for awhile, then fold the pancake into a half and leave to cool. Voila!I suppose you can put any sweet fillings like red beans, sweet coconut, nutella, chocolate, kaya to your apam balik.

The final product. You can just stand in awe admiring the beauty of the scene when the peanut butter and corn ooze out of the apam balik. Amazing start to a day. And we made extra to keep for snacks later. Yummmmiehh!!

Also , I am looking forward to dinner tonight. Adrian will be making his char siew. The pork has been marinated since last night and is sitting in the fridge right now *drools*

- Steph

Friday, 6 March 2009

what a Feast!

Our dinner yesterday was superb. We had 3 different type of unique dishes and even our rice has its own speciality too. Not to mention that all the dishes were our first attempt.

First dish - "Giant meat(flat)balls with baked beans". You can refer to the previous post on how we did this.

Second dish - "Fried japanese tofu with minced pork". This is a simple recipe which I learnt from my granny. She cooked this quite frequently back home. First, deep fry the tofu till golden brown, remove and set aside. Mixed minced pork with a little corn starch, soy sauce, white pepper. Then, cook the minced meat with the mushrooms and carrots, throw in some corn starch to thicken the gravy.

Third dish - "Leek and Chinese sausage stir fry". This is my favourite! First steam the sausages after slicing them. For the leek, stir fry until it is cook, and once ready, mix in the sausages.

Accompanied by - "Ginger rice". Add some ginger, spring onions and 2 table spoons of margerine into the rice when it is just about to boil. We added chicken stocks to give it abit more taste as well.

It was a good dinner, and despite eating more than usual, we still have plenty of leftovers!! We ate this for our dinner today too (but instead of rice, we had it with wantan noodles). I wonder what Adrian will cook next. I admit that I've put on some weight since I came over, because he is always experimenting with food.

Well, I guess we make a good combination, he loves to cook and.... ME love to eat! kekeke

- Steph

Meatball with baked beans

Last night, we cooked three Chinese dishes for dinner. Never done that many dishes at once before and it was interesting how Steph and I managed to prepare it in less than an hour. Basically, we had meatball with baked beans, leek with Chinese sausage and Japanese tofu with mince pork. Steph cooked the Japanese tofu with mince pork and I cooked the other 2 dishes. Husband and wife team! :)

The meatball with baked beans is how my Dad usually cooks baked beans at home. Obviously, it taste different but he gave me the idea for it. Thanks Dad. Mine had a hint of ginger in it so tasted different from home.

Meatball with baked beans
150g of minced pork
1 egg
Chopped ginger (About a tablespoon)
1 toasted bread
Spring onion
Soy saunce
Oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoon of Corn flour
Baked beans

How I did it:

  1. In a bowl, mix the minced pork, egg, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, pepper and ginger together. Leave it for 15 mins. Make some breadcrumbs from the toasted bread (I used a grater since I haven't bought my food processor yet). Mix the breadcrumbs into the mixture and add in the corn flour.

  2. Shape the mixture into meatballs and fry them in a pan till they are brown on each side. Remove them from the heat. Warm up the baked beans in the same pan and put back the meatballs when the baked beans starts bubbling. Cover the meatballs with the baked beans sauce. DONE!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

the accidental sticky baked beans rice

This is what I just had for lunch.. and I called it the accidental 'sticky baked beans rice'.

Why accidental? Wanted to cook fried rice, and I threw in the dumplings we had from the lamb stew. I thought the dumplings will be nice to go with the fried rice because of its chewiness. Never thought the very solid dumplings will dissolved and the flour and stuffing from the dumplings made my rice stick together... it actually looks like 'lo mai kai' (the genuine sticky rice). And I threw in a whole lot of those giant dumplings into my fried rice. Hence, I ended up having a whole slab or chunk of rice all sticking together in the wok. For a moment, I wanted to make cheesy baked rice, (trying to salvage my dish), but can't be bothered to bake them as I am already very hungry. So as usual, easy easy, just to cheer up the dish a little, I cooked baked beans with eggs. I love baked beans, and hence by adding them to my dish, will make my rice more appealing.. well, at least to me.

So, lesson learnt, do not assume that anything can goes into the fried rice... although most of us would agree that we tend to use whatever leftover dishes including the rice itself!! (fried rice a.k.a. what's left over from dinner). Anyway, I love my sticky baked beans rice, and thanks to God for His grace on my lunch.

- Steph

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Lamb, Leek and Carrot Stew with Dumplings

A couple of days ago, Steph bought some leek from the supermarket. I have never cooked leek before but I enjoy eating it. So was thinking of what to do with it. Opened my fridge, and was looking at my available ingredients. So I put a few ingredients together to create my Lamb, Leek and Carrot Stew. The dumplings was an add on because there wasn't much carbs in this dish. The first time I had dumplings was in Wigan and I was trying to recreate the taste from memory. In my opinion, it was a nice winter dish since it is sinful and warm.

Lamb, leek and carrot
4 lamb chops
1 carrot
1 leek
Beef stock
A bottle of beer
Olive oil
Salt, sugar and pepper (adjust to suit your taste)

100g of plain flour
25g of stuffing mix
1 tablespoon of baking powder
Grated cheddar cheese
A pinch of salt

How I did it:
1. Season the lamb chops with some salt and leave it in the fridge for an hour. After an hour, pan fry the lamb chops (3-4 minutes on each side). I learn this technique from some cooking program. This apparently seals the juices in the meat before cooking it in the oven. Remove the lamb and let it rest in the baking dish. Drizzle some olive oil over it.

2. Using the juice from the lamb, fry your leek and carrots. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and continue to fry the veg for a good 5 to 8 minutes. Add a little salt, sugar and pepper for taste.

3. The secret ingredient = BEER. I used Kronenberg 1664. It is a French beer and is one of my favourite beer in the UK. The cup beside the beer bottle is the beef stock (they come in cubes) which has been mixed with half a cup of boiling water

4. Place the veg on top of the lamb. Pour in the beef stock and beer and make sure all the veg are covered. Cover the dish with foil and pop it in the oven for an hour at 200 degrees Celsius.

5. Dumplings:
Firstly mix the stuffing mix with some hot water. In a separate bowl, mix the plain flour, salt, baking powder, grated cheese and butter together. Once it looks like crumbles, add a bit of cold water to make it into a dough. Add in your stuffing mix. The dough will get softer after adding in the stuffing because of the water content in the stuffing so don't add too much cold water to your flour mix.

6. After an hour, remove the dish from the oven. Spoon a tablespoon of the dough into the stew. My dumplings were a little too soft (too much water). Pop it back in the oven for another 25-30 mins at 175 degrees Celsius. This time, you don't need the foil.

7. The finish product!

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