Tuesday, 21 April 2009

?????!!! ?!!

Liverpool drew Arsenal 4-4, so dissapointed with Liverpool's performance. They were too caught up in attacking.. and no one seems to know how to defend. Title hope? Forget about it already. End of story.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Chinese macaroni

The other day we had macaroni miso soup for dinner. This came straight from a packet (instant). Strange how Italian has started to influence our Asian food. I love macaroni soup because there are so tasty and easy to prepare. Just throw in whatever stuff you have in the fridge and you'll have your warm hearty comfort food. I always prefer using macaroni to instant noodles whenever I have the crave for some soupy meals. I just love the texture of those little macaroni.
We also had red bean soup with glutinous rice balls for dessert. Red bean is more commonly known as adzuki beans in the UK. We will usually have this once a fortnight. Adrian haven't perfected the glutinous rice ball because it wasn't chewy enough.
- Steph

Sunday, 19 April 2009

oh happy day and 6-layer baked aubergine pasta

Today has been a fantastic day - good weather, good food, good company and good news. We went to St Albans, a nearby town to celebrate a friend's baby girl full moon. They served really good food, roasted duck, stewed lamb, pork leg stew, carrot cakes, etc. I can't stop eating seriously. Finally my guilt kicks in after I finished 2 big slices of carrot cake and learnt that Adrian only took a bite. Hmm... need to think of a way to make him eat more so that I wouldnt feel bad everytime I eat.

Y'day Adrian cooked pasta using aubergines for dinner. First he pan fried the aubergine and arrange them at the bottom of the baking dish. For the sauce, he used double cream and chopped tomatoes.

After that, he split a quarter pounder burger into smaller pieces and arrange them on top of the aubergine. He sprinkle a bit of paprika on top to give a slight kick.Next, the penne and loads of chunky garlic and pour some sauce over it. A final layer of aubergine with abit of butter and finally top it up with lotsa cheese.
Baked for about 15 mins and voila.. the 6-layer baked aubergine pasta. Really good.

Oh, almost forgot, I am so happy that Manchester United lost, they are out of the FA Cup! What a day.

- Steph

Saturday, 18 April 2009

curry & naan

Adrian decided to cook curry for lunch. And this is very simple to cook coz we did the shortcut way. We used half a packet of Deli Chef curry, I brought so many instant Deli Chef curry sauce packet from Msia - there are chicken curry, fish curry, rendang, green curry... my mum bought all these from Cosway for me. Thanks mum. I LOVE CURRY!! and this Deli Chef curry sauce comes in paste form and I personally think it tastes much better than the other pre packet sauce in powder form. It has a very strong and rich flavour.. very spicy too. We just add-in onions, potatoes, chicken, curry leaves, and finally coconut milk.

We decided to eat the chicken curry with naan - Indian style. So we bought a packet of garlic and coriander naan from the supermarket. The naan is huge and smells good too. So yummy.. my mouth still waters everytime I look at the picture.

As I am blogging this Adrian is cooking something new for dinner tonight, smells good from here. Oh no, I hope this is not another kilo to my weight *sweat*


Friday, 17 April 2009

Herbie affairs

We had Emperor Chicken couple of days ago. This dish originated long ago in China, the story begins when a starving, homeless beggar in rural China who stole a chicken from someone’s yard. That person killed it, built a fire and prepared the chicken for cooking. Suddenly, the emperor's guards came along with the emperor and his entourage, and in a panic to hide the chicken this person covered it with mud and threw it into the fire. Attracted by the aroma of the baked chicken, the Emperor stops and dines with the beggar, demanding to know how this food was created, and such a delicious meal. As the story goes, this emperor had such fancy and admiration for this humble dish that he made it his favorite dish in his palace. So with some herbal concoction this dish has become the Emperor's Chicken.

I used a packet of Emperor Chicken herbs & spices mix, you can easilly get this from any supermarket. One can choose to either steam or roast it. I decided to do the original - steam it.

First, apply the herbs and spices mix onto the skin and inside of chicken, massaging the chicken at the same time. Wrap the chicken in the plastic wrapper, followed by aluminium foil provided in the package mix. Place the wrapped chicken on a steaming dish. Steam the chicken for 2 hours over low heat.
I used the left over chicken for herbal soup the next day, just add in water & let it boil. It tasted like those herbal chicken soup which has been simmered for hours!

I love chinese herbs (most of them anyway). I am the type who happily breathe in the pleasant tonicky aroma whenever I walk pass chinese medicine shop. Thanks to my granny and mummy, when I came to the UK, I brought along some chinese herbs with me, only the common ones which can be used easilly:-

1. Red dates / Hong Zao - strengthen the functions of heart and lung, as well as nourish the stomach and spleen. Contains lots of Vitamin C. Ocassionally used this to boil soup together with Tong Sum.

2. Wolfberries / Gou Xi- high in antioxidants, good for improving eyesight and eyestrain. Also for soup and my steammed herbal chicken. This little berries are really sweet, we put them into our porridge to give it some sweetness. Can also put them into boiling water and drink it pure.

3. Tong Sum / Dang Shen - for lung and spleen, improve one’s 'chi' and stamina, good for those always feeling tired. It's a root similar to that of the ginseng family and is regard as the poor man's ginseng as it is cheap yet full of amazing properties. Love using this for our soup and herbal chicken. Throw some into a boiling water together with red dates and you have your tong sum red dates tea.

4. Bai Xian - Commonly used to treat cough with lots of white mucus that is difficult to dislodge. Use this for soup and cooking.

5. Pao Shen / american ginseng - tonic for the whole body, and believed to cure lethargy, arthritis, impotence, senility, diabetes, bla bla bla (the list goes on, there are tonnes of goodness in those roots) and also is one of the most effective anti-aging supplements. Good yeah? Since this stuff is quite expensive, I usually boil it under low heat overnight and drink it in the morning.

6. Cane root and arrow root - this one is prepacked with some other herbs in there. Just some sweet herbal drinks, has yet to boil it.

7. Ju Hua / Chrysanthemum - Mentioned this because it is a type of herbs as well. haha.

8. Snow fungus - Good quality snow fungus has a pale and yellowish-white color. Ladies, drink more of this as it is believed to promote healthy skin and good complexion. I love to boil this with red dates as sweet dessert. I'm boiling this today.

9. Pre packaged herbs - there are probably 6 types of herbs in there. Quite cheap, bought this for rm3 per pack. Will use it to make herbal chicken soup one day.

So, do I sound like an old ahma who is expert in chinese herbs? No way, I only know a handful of these, the rest I went to Eu Yan Sang's website to check out the name. Hahaha. By the way, I found out that there is a type of herb which shares the same name with me - the Stephania Root (Hanfang Ji), good for bladder, intestines.. cool huh.

Well, here is my herbie collection. I know these are nothing compared to most households back in Malaysia, but I'm already worried whether we will be able to finish them. Adrian doesn't touch these stuff for his cooking. It's me who has been using them constantly because I usually cook chinese food and I love drinking soup.
Hmmm, maybe I could try growing some ginseng in my backyard since my spring onions arent growing as well as I hope it would be (Nothing came out! Maybe the worms ate all the seeds?).
I wonder whether they have those prepack 'grow your own ginseng root'. Just stick the baby roots to the ground and let it grow? That would be easy...

- Steph

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Tower Bridge

2 weeks ago I met up with a friend in London city for lunch. After that I went over to Adrian's London office which is near the Tower Bridge area to meet up with him after work and proceed to dinner together with a friend of his. I was sitting outside his office and came to realise that his office has an excellent view of River Thames and also the major landmarks nearby.

The building on the left below is Adrian's office. In front of his office is the belfast naval ship.
Across the river, there is the Tower of London, another major tourist attraction. Romantic right? What a nice place to pak-toh after work.
Check out the Gherkin ....er, there that condom shape building hiding behind.
And situated upstream of the Thames is the famous London Bridge! Magnificent isn't it. Nah, that's not London Bridge. Picture below is London Bridge... abit boh-syiok right? I was conned like most of the people. I'd always thought that the famous London Bridge would be huge, majestic not a plain simple ordinary looking bridge. Well to give you all abit of history - the very first London Bridge was built over a thousand years ago, while the Romans were in control of London , and it was made of wood. When London was raided by the Danes, they sailed upriver and attached ropes to the wooden struts and then rowed downstream with all their might and managed to pull the bridge down. This is thought to be the origin of the old nursery rhyme "London Bridge is Falling Down". Anyway, this one here is a completely new bridge, which was located slightly downstream from Tower Bridge. So back to Tower Bridge, this bridge is located next to the Tower of London, and hence its name. Built in the 19th century, this bridge is on a level with the streets with a double draw bridge that could be raised to let ships pass up and down the river and lowered to let vehicles pass to and from across the waterway. The bridge is regularly opened to allow the passage of tall ships.
We were lucky to be able to see the bridge being raised to allow tall ship passing through it. There was once when we were stuck on the bridge itself when the arms were raised. It was simply awesome being on the bridge seeing the road infront of you being lifted up.
At night, the view is even better.
So incredible is the Tower Bridge that the big Blue Whale wouldn't want to miss it too. hahaha!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Our garden

The weather has been very lovely. Went to the garden today and was surprised to find so many flowers growing in our backyard.

Cherry Blossom

The cherry blossom trees are in full bloom during the arrival of spring. This is my favourite plant and one of the most beautiful sights to behold. Back home in Malaysia, we always put up fake cherry blossom in our house as Chinese New Year decorations. This is my first time seeing a real Cherry Blossom and I'm thankful that we have one in our very own backyard! Cool right? Actually, it's the neighbour's tree but the branches grow above and into our garden.
Young green leaves can be seen growing from some of the branches. I wish those beautiful sakuras can last longer.
Another Cherry Blossom nearby. There are plenty of these here. What a sight!

To top it up, we have a nice deck whick extend from our living room into the garden. Love to just sit outside basking in the spring sun just enjoying the view while having a cup of hot coffee.

Cant wait to have a barbeque in the garden someday.

- Steph

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

banner changed

We decided to change our banner to represent each seasonal change! Got this idea when we were snapping pictures of flowers in the park. The last banner was a picture of falling snow taken at our backyard during the winter season. The current picture was taken when we were lazying in a park near our neighbourhood during the last weekend. I'm so happy and glad that spring is here. Bring on the hot weather.

Happy Spring!

Easter weekend

Easter break is over! Back to work! In the UK, Easter weekend is a 4 days break cause we celebrate Good Friday and Easter Monday. There are 8 public holidays in UK compared to approximately 13 in Malaysia (state dependant). In the UK kids get Easter eggs (made with Chocolate) on Easter.

Why do we eat easter eggs at Easter?
For Christians, Easter eggs symbolise new life. They believe that, through his resurrection, Jesus defeated death and sin and offers people the promise of eternal life if they follow his teachings. This is why there is a tradition for Christians to be baptised at Easter, which celebrates new life in God.
However, the festival of Easter stretches back to pre-Christian times, too. It gets its name and some symbols, including the Easter Bunny, from the Pagan Spring Equinox festival, which is a celebration of Spring and also of new life.

Weather wise, it was horrible. I think it rained 3 out of the 4 days. So we were indoor most of the time. SO what do you do when you are indoor? COOK of course. Below are some of the dishes we had (some for the first time) over the long weekend. Steph is probably a lot heavier now compared to last Thursday. Well, somebody has to help me finish all my yummilicious dishes.

Roast chicken with stuffing

and the damage done by the both of us.

Fish fingers salads
English breakfast
Curry flavoured mee hoon Fruit jello

Custard flavoured buns

Salmon spaghetti in tomato cream

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