Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Back To Basic Beef, Tofu & Veggie Combo

Why do things have to be so complicated? It was me an my newly adventurous ass. While you could read all about the good things in my previous post, here are the challenges of a typical day:

- 18:00 speeding off work, got to the nearest train station and boarded the train just right before the door closes, managed to get the last available seat on the train ^_^

- The train would speed off, just missing all the throwing-their-bodies-into-the-departing-train peak hour crowd and the peaceful absence of perverts trying to rub their hands on bootie/boobies

- Reached the market by 18:30, where all the freshest produce and handmade noodles I needed were still amazingly available, magically on sale! All the market dominatrix were either not there or smiling lovingly at me, giving me practical cooking tips and wonderful dinner ideas; vendors were wonderfully friendly, offering me bunches of fresh corriander and red chilli for free (oh my!)

- Reached my flat and the lift was on ground floor, eagerly awaiting me, got to my floor and my neighbor's dog for once would wag his tail in a friendly manner to welcome me back, instead of the normal agressive & violent barks (doesn't he sniff that I am totally a dog person? Or he was just too excited to see me?)

The rice starts cooking at 18:45, no finger was wounded in the preparation of cooking, stove operated smoothly, no sauce was spilled, no pieces of finely chopped garlic fell and got stuck somewhere at the corner, I got the taste right at the first seasoning, all elements of the dishes arranged themselves beautifully on the plate, down to the last piece of garnish..

- The food shots were all at the right angle, got the perfect shot before the fifth take, just as the rice cooker beeps signalling dinner is ready by 19:30

- Sous chef and I inhaled our dinner (yes we do, I personally think any food being chewed more than 3 times became tasteless hihik, not the healthiest thing in the world, I try my best to slow down) and finished dinner before 19:45

- We'd have time digesting dinner while watching Discovery Travel & Living Channel and they are showing Jamie at home (& it is NOT a rerun, yay!) before attending 21:00 body combat class...

- ...where I felt extra energetic: jumping, punching, kicking, kneeing, elbowing, ab crunching and push upping gloriously all the way through the end of the class, and the instructor praising me ever so publicly, endlessly telling me how well I've done..

- and I went home 10 lbs lighter and stayed that way as I didn't get tempted into eating the whole tub of Dreyer's chocolate cake ice cream kept in my freezer


There's hope to achieve all of the above doing this
Back to Basics Dinner of Beef, Tofu and Veggie

- half pound thinly sliced beef (the one normally used for sukiyaki)
- 2 cloves of garlic, 3 cloves of shallot, crushed
- 3 heads of small napa lettuce, sliced into chunks
- 2 tomatoes, each sliced into 8 parts
- 1 or 2 soft tofu, cut into big chunks
- salt, pepper, sugar, a little olive oil

Saute garlic and shallot, throw in all the veggie, add some water, bring to boil, add seasoning, before serving, add tofu and beef, serve with white rice or add noodles. Easy eh?...but in real life...things are different...


- 18:00 while trying to speed off work, that guy from that department just stopped by and went on and on and on unstoppably about...everything in general and nothing in particular while I kept staring at the clock, mumbling impolite answers

- Got to the nearest train station and just missed the train (!!!)

- The train would open and close its doors for more than 3 times in each station as the throwing-their-bodies-into-the-departing-train-peak-hour crowd tried desperately to board the train, and there were perverts drooling on bootie/boobies

- Reached the market late, where all the freshest produce I needed were either gone, or I was left with the seriously damaged yet overpriced ones! All the market dominatrix cut queues, tried to pay the HK$50 using 50cents coins and made rude comments about my choices. I somehow left only with HK$500 note and pissed the vendors into charging me HK$2 for a bunch of spring onions (oh no!)

- Reached my flat and the lift was on the highest floor, with no sign of going down soon, I got to my floor and my neighbor's dog barks with extra violence, his owner shot me a dirty look as if I've violated her

- By 19:00 I realised that the rice cooker's power wasn't plugged, no rice was gonna be cooked anytime soon.

- Due to my blond ambition to produce a complicated dinner, nails got cut, fingers got injured in the preparation, stove failed to turn on, hot water got spilled...into the pieces of finely chopped aromatics. Couldn't get the taste right even after adding seasoning for the 10th of time, all elements of the dishes look so disgustingly weird on the plate. Put up the wrong background color for the pic and it's too late to change, so I'd have to live with it

- Most shots were blurred and I could not find a nice angle, hot steam kept blowing into my camera lens, finally gave up trying to get a pretty shot, and I still need to wait for that late rice (@#$@#!$#@!!!!)

- Sous chef and I extra speedily inhaled our dinner but still finished dinner wayyy after 20:00

- Thus did NOT have enough time digesting dinner, the Discovery Travel & Living Channel was showing yet another boring rerun, we either had to cancel attending 21:00 body combat class, or still attending and

- ...I felt extra sluggish, kept yawning in class and was not up to jumps, my favorite instructor went on a super long holiday and got replaced by someone who utterly sucksssss and kept calling me lazy in front of everyone

- and I went home feeling none the lighter, needed to cheer myself up by polishing off that tube of ice cream T_T

So...yes, it is good to know when to get back to basics sometimes, I might still be able to make it to that class and prevent a major nervous break down^_^

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ebony & Ivory Banana Baked Goodies


Q: Why two different kinds of banana baked goods?
Bullshit A: There are two sides on every coin, there's good and there's evil, there are plusses and there are minuses...yada yada yada...blablabla...(absolute rubbish LOL)
Real A: My oven capacity only allows me 1 batch of 6 servings at a time, and I have 10 small emperor bananas (1 batch requires 5) *_^

Q: Why Ebony and Ivory?
A: Because I was being a smart ass, thinking that combining all my favorite ingredients, peanut butter, nutella, chocolate chips and bananas, which resulted in the Ebony version would be pure genius, and...nope! All the additional ingredients overpowered the poor banana. We still kinda like 'em, though. Loved the touch of peanut butter and they were still moist, just don't bite into any choco chips, or that would be all you can taste.

The "less is more" version turned to be this perfect pale shade of Ivory, soft, moist, and very banana-ey. I am not taking sides here, but the crowd (i.e: a handful of people) loved the Ivory more

Q: Why "Baked Goodies"?
A: The last time I tried calling something "muffins", they turned out to be a "cake". I was contemplating calling the ebony ones "bread" but I am not even sure what "bread" or "cake" is, and for once I didn't feel like looking it up. So, guys, tell me know what they are from the recipe....I was THIS close to calling them banana thingy


- 1 cup self raising flour, sifted
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp peanut butter, melted, 1 tbsp nutella
- 1 tbsp oil (mine is olive & canola mix)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 handful of semi sweet chocolate chips
- 5 small emperor bananas, roughly mashed

Preheat oven 175C. Mix flour, sugar and salt in 1 bowl, mix the rest of ingredients in another bowl, make a well in the middle of flour, add the liquid ingredients, mix well. Brush cake mold with oil (I was using rectangular aluminium disposable mold, this was before I got my muffin tray), pour mixture into mold (3/4 full), bake for 25-30 minutes of until toothpick inserted into the "thingy" comes out clean.

Baking Blooper #1
I missed out 1 MAJOR ingredient here, guess what was it and win a little something?...^_^

- 1 cup self raising flour, sifted
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup tbsp oil (mine is olive & canola mix)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
- 5 small emperor bananas, roughly mashed

I made these the same way as the ebony version, just using different mold (I finally bought me a little muffin tray! YAYYYY!!!) with muffin paper cups

Baking Blooper #2
Those who watches "Top Chef Season 1" might remember that in one of the challenges, Miguel confused salt for sugar...I watched that episode NOT thinking "This could happen to the best of us" but bitchily thought "How could THAT happen?!! I bet that won't happen to me". Yeah yeah, I should've kept my arrogant little mouth shut, cos doing this Ivory version, I too pulled a Miguel and had to throw a batch of flour. LOL! Luckily I realized it before mixing all the ingredients or going ahead baking it....or my sous chef's family would have to nod and smile their way pretending that the super salty banana thingy was tasty! LOL

I am submitting this for the Banana Bread Bake Off at Not Quite Nigella

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cellophane Noodles with Mushroom Fritters & Say EEEE!

A recent comment from Tigerfish hit me in the head (in a very good way ^_^). I realised that lately I've been trying (maybe a little to hard?) to cook more challenging things, which required more effort. A simple stir fry with classic ingredients does not satisfy me anymore, I wanted MORE, MORE & MORE!...which I believe is a somehow good thing, as it unleashed the little adventurous bitch in me, and cured my:

1. Bake-O-Phobia
The idea of baking, especially baking, used to scare the heck outta me! I could feel the oven staring at me icily as I walk back and forth past it, it demanded me not to grill another batch of meat, its authoritative glance ordered me to get over myself and at least try baking something sweet, for the title of my blog's sake!!! Finally I did my first attempt of baked goodies! Gosh! The closest I got to baking anything before was to take the elevator to a nearest bakery, buy the damn thing and eat it faster than the time required to measure a cup of self raising flour HAHA!
2. Home-Sick-O'xicosis
I always think Indonesian cooking is as easy as Calculus in my university days (hope you got my hint ^_*...I failed Calculus miserably by getting 4 out of 10 in first year of uni. If you didn't get the hint = I thought it is SUPER HARD hehe). So, I used to only "cook" Indonesian food out of instant spice packets, which wasn't bad, but certainly could not compare to doing things from scratch. I braved myself dicing, chopping, pounding, & grinding the raw ingredients and the dish ended up pretty close to Mbak Yem's version, yay!
3. Boring-ausea
I am a 9-6, routine-loving, boring gal, who hates change, and I love eating the same thing again, and again, and again...the idea of eating bbq pork rice daily for one whole straight month (or more) does not daunt me the slightest. But I bet you guys would throw up reading the same blog post about bbq pork rice daily...so I set a new challenge for myself: never to bore myself, my sous chef, and my fellow bloggers. Although my "experiments" might not end up great, as some things sound good in my head, but might taste like a pair of facebook's raggedy old boots on my plate, but I will try my very best NOT to make you think "Oh gawd, if I see another _ _ _ _ _ _*insert your choice of something booooring here*, I'll go & bury my head in my toilet bowl throwing up".

I can't believe I 've already been blabbering so long and haven't even talked about the challenges of being newly adventurously complicated yet???!!! OK, to be continued in my next post then...

Now let me bore you and the Presto Pasta Night gang with my last night's experiment...hehe
Cellophane Noodles with Mushroom Fritters (Soun Goreng & Bakwan Jamur)

Cellophane Noodles (Soun Goreng)
(serves 4)
- 4 packs of cellophane noodles , soak in water to soften
- 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
- 5 cloves of thinly sliced shallot
- 2 red chilli, core and seeds removed, sliced thinly
- a few sprigs of corriander, finely chopped
- a handful of dried shrimps (optional), you can use fresh shrimps instead
- 2 heads of small napa cabbage, thinly sliced (you can also use beansprouts)
- olive oil, kecap manis, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce

Saute aromatics, add napa cabbage, add noodles, add seasonings, garnish with corriander, serve with...

Mushroom Fritters (Bakwan Jamur)
- about 0.5 lb fresh straw mushrooms (Chou Gu /草菇) or you can use white button mushrooms
- 1 small clove of finely chopped garlic
- 1 small red chilli, core and seeds removed, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp dried shrimps (optional or use fresh shrimps instead)

- 1 egg
- 4 tbsp corn starch, 3 tbsp plain flour (you can use self raising flour if you want it fluffy)
- 1/2 tbsp salt, 1/4 tbsp sugar, a bit of white pepper

Wash mushrooms, chop into small pieces, soak in hot water for 3 minutes, drain, set aside to remove most water. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix well, scoop 1 tbsp of mixture into hot oil (if you are not using self raising flour, you do not need so much oil) fry 1-2 minutes each side until golden brown, serve. You can reheat these bad boys in the oven and eat em as snacks.

Millions of thanks to Taste Memory whose gorgeous blog I newly discovered but inspired me aplenty :) I am so honored to have been given this award...tonight is the night of celebration! Woohoo!

Now, passing on this award is not an easy task (another SUPER HARD mission). There are just soo many fab bloggers out there! After thinking real hard (which you might notice from how late I posted this today), I've decided to pass the award to the following bloggers, who continue to amaze me daily:
Kevin from Closet Cooking> his ecclectic & creative cooking, topped off with beautifully styled food photographs have me oohhh-ing and aaaah-ing every day. Is there anything you cannot do, Kevin?
Daphne from More than Words> I love her innovative savoury baked or layered creations, she totally sees my visions, she gets my inspirations, our taste just clicked!
Peter from Kalofagas> His blog opened my eyes to a whole new world of rustic gastronomical pleasures, namely Greek food at its very best!
Tigerfish from Teczcape> I love reading her episodes of food adventure, her Chinese touch, her one pot dinners and her recent comment which made me realise that I have improved so much, but I should not forget to get back to basic and keep things simple sometimes
Mba Retno from Kedai Hamburg> Her expertise on Indonesian food guided me to brave the exotic world of Indonesian cooking, not from packets

If you're bored now...get a copy of sudoku or Nintendo DS LOL

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Anything but Corny: Crispy Chicken with Corn & Tofu in Coconut Milk

I've tweaked Hong Kong's classic corn sauce (consists of corn kernels, eggs and corn starch) previously by adding garlic and cream. Now I wanna tweak it some more and South-East-Asian-ize it by adding coconut milk instead of cream, and fool myself into thinking that I am eating healthy food (despite the cholesterol from coconut milk) by adding pieces of tofu LOL! To top it off, while others garnish their beautiful dishes with chopped fresh corriander or parsley, and I've decided to garnish mine with pieces of crispy chicken! HAHA!

(serves 4)
- 3 boneless chicken thigh fillet, remove excess fat
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of shallot, finely chopped
- a bit of ginger, crushed
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 can of sweet corn cream style (I use del monte)
- 3-4 tbsp of coconut milk (can be replaced with cream/milk or omit it for a healthier version)
- 1 piece of tofu, diced
- salt, pepper, sugar
- olive oil, a bit of butter

Boil chicken with (optional) a clove of garlic, 2 cloves of shallot, a bit of ginger, until the meat is thoroughly cooked, drain, set aside to remove excess water. You can keep the stock for later use. Season chicken with salt pepper, sugar, in a hot pan, heat up a bit of oil with a bit of butter, and brown the chicken's skin, set aside on kitchen towel to remove excess oil, cut into bite sized chunks if you want. Remove excess oil from the pan, leave a bit to get the sauce going. Saute garlic, ginger, shallot, add corn, add tofu, add salt, pepper, sugar to adjust taste, add coconut milk, add beaten egg, stir about for a bit, turn the heat off, pour over chicken.

Healthier alternatives
- Skip browning chicken skin
- Use skinless boneless chicken breast fillet instead
- Just saute chicken meat before adding corn (pale & clammy chicken skin just doesn't do it for me, I'd choose skinless chicken meat for this option)
- Garnish with chopped fresh corriander (I was out of fresh corriander, sob sob)
- Skip coconut milk/cream/opt for low fat milk
- Skip eggs
- Skip chicken and add more tofu for a vegetarian option
- No, skipping a meal is not hot! Just don't!

Now...while you guys are enjoying your healthier alternatives, let me look at my "garnish" once again, up close and personal *grin*

You might also like my Golden Fish Nuggets with Creamy Corn Sauce

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sambal Goreng Jipang (Indonesian Spicy Chayote in Coconut Milk) & Cute Name Cards

A comment on a blog which pissed me off (thus should not be mentioned here) has made me realised that despite so many Indonesian food bloggers I've found on the net, there are still soooo many people who haven't been introduced to Indonesian food.

I am happy to learn that many of us embrace different food culture with great appreciation and interest. On the other hand, I am so amazed to find that some are arrogant enough to pretend that they know everything about a specific culture's food, learning only from briefly skimming the top search result from wikipedia (Sambal Goreng Jipang = hot sauce Japanese style??!!!! WTFFF????!!!!), dig a little deeper, please! And some are even more arrogant plus ignorant enough just to dismiss other culture's food entirely. I hope I will never be the latter two.

Sorry for venting my frustration here...:p but blog venting is proven cheap, effective and productive, plus I still have to wait for my bonus for a major retail or travel therapy later ;)

So here's my take on the controversial Sambal Goreng Jipang (Indonesian Spicy Chayote in Coconut Milk)

(serves 4)
- 4 fillets of fish of your choice, slice to chunky pieces
- lime juice, corn starch
- a handful of dried ebi (tiny shrimps). Find this in your Asian/Chinese grocery shop
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of shallot, thinly sliced
- A small piece of ginger, crushed
- 3 large red chillies, thinly sliced (remove seeds if you don't like it hot, use small chillies if you want it even hotter)
- half cup of coconut milk
- 4 small chayote fruit (peel skin off, remove seed, slice to about 3 mm thick, wash)
- a few pieces of beancurd puff (you can replace with firm white tofu, slice to small pieces)
- salt, pepper, sugar, water, olive oil
- A bunch of corriander, chopped

Marinate fish with salt, pepper, lime juice, a bit of corn starch. Heat pan, heat a bit of olive oil, add some dried ebi, pan fry fish fillets until the meat is throughly cooked, set aside. Wipe pan with paper towel, add 1-2 tbsp olive oil, saute the rest of the dried ebi, add garlic, shallot, ginger, chilli, add chayote pieces, cook until softened, add beancurd puff, add coconut milk, adjust taste by adding salt, pepper, sugar when necessary, cook until the chayote pieces are soft enough for you, add chopped corriander, serve with steamed rice.

It may not be totally authentic, but the result is close enough to the classic version normally cooked by my nanny, Mbak Yem. More importantly, it is NOT "hot sauce Japanese style" ;)

Now...what's up with the cute name cards?

Currently, there are a few important cards in my life:
- My HKID card: we use this to breeze through HK immigration electronically-how cool is that! and I will be fined HK$1000 (around US$128) if I got caught roaming around Hong Kong without it
- My Octopus card: we use this to pay for public transport and it is accepted as a form of payment in shops all over Hong Kong
- My California fitness membership card: without which I could not eat like there's no tomorrow and still get my butt in shape as well as dancing, kicking and punching my anger away (waaaattchaaa!!!)
- My ATM card: without which I would be either spending my days queueing in the bank or on the streets begging for food

Wait a minute! How about my credit card? Hehe...I hardly use it...I am suchhhh a good girlllll (pppsssst...not really, I use my ATM card to pay for my shopping sprees LOL)

Recently, I received a package from Foodbuzz and saw this cute yet mysterious little box:

I was so excited to see what's inside...and I found these!

How cute?!! and what's even cuter is....at the back of these adorable mini cards...

I saw my name, my blog name with blog url on it! It's a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher card, how cuteeeeeee, "Hi, MEEEE!!!" I guess all of fellow Foodbuzz Featured Publishers must have gotten the same thing, but this is the first time I have suchhhh adorable name cards!! So pardon me for getting over-excited :) Yayyy!!!

(hidden agenda to my boss: let's face it, my work business card is not sexy enough) LOL

Now....I am thinking to use this to pay for my next overspending spree...(to the shop sales lady: Whatt???!! What do you mean not accepted? Here, take my library card instead. Still not accepted? How about my business card? My organ donation card?...)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bitter is The Mighty Melon

- Name: "The Mighty" Bitter Melon
(born Momordica Charantia - Let's face it, who's gonna remember THAT? Not sexy)
- Costume: Wrinkly warty pebbly green costume when young, with patches of warm yellow when older (no cape)
- Family background/problems: (who doesn't have one these days?) deep down, always envies his popular relatives: squash, watermelon & cucumber
- Physical appearance: a bit chubby on top, but slim at the bottom, looks intimidating, scary, even

- Character: as the name suggested, he is BITTER. It makes him a less popular super hero, compared to...let's say...Banana the Sweet. But once you get to know him...he is too a sweet and caring super hero. He is more powerful when young, turns even more bitter when he gets older
- Inner beauty: juicy, colorful flesh, fluffy cottony pith, seeds which get vibrant red & sweet as he gets older

- Super hero powers:
1.Fights the scariest of scary chronic diseases
> Reduces blood sugar, improves one's body's capabilities to produce insulin, thus fights DIABETES
> A potent inhibitor of HIV activity & AIDS virus without the toxic effects
> Its crude extract carries anti-cancer properties
2. Fights viral infections
3. Improves digestion
4. A good source of iron, calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin B

- Wow factor: WOW WOW WOW!

Learn to love The Mighty Bitter Melon, try this:
Beef and Bitter Melon Stir Fry with Black Beans
(serves 4)
- 2 bitter melons
- HK$30 beef (about 1.5 lbs)
- 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 red chillies, finaly chopped
- 1-2 tbsp fermented black beans
- 2 tsp corn starch (1 for marinate, 1 for sauce thickening)
- soy sauce, sugar, chicken stock (natural/powder/cubes: optional), sesame oil (optional), salt, pepper, olive oil

Handling Bitter Melon
- Wash the outer part
- Cut in half
- Scoop out the pith and seeds using a spoon (unless you want to use them for salad or other things)
- Do not remove skin
- For stir frying, slice 'em thinly (around 3 mm)
- Pour salt over them, leave it for around 5-10 minutes
- Using a strainer, drain the bitter juice

Marinate beef in soy sauce, sugar, a bit of olive oil/sesame oil, 1 tbsp corn starch. In a hot wok with a bit of olive oil, saute some garlic and chilli, add the bitter melon slices, add some black beans until the bitter melon softened a bit, set aside. Don't wash your wok, just clean it briefly with a paper towel, add a bit of olive oil, saute the remaining of garlic and chilli, add beef, add more black beans, saute until almost done, add the bitter melon, adjust taste by adding soy sauce/sugar/pepper/chicken stock when necessary. If you'd like to thicken the sauce, mix 1 tsp corn starch with 3 tbsp cold water add a dash of sesame oil, make a well in the middle of wok, pour the corn starch mix, stir well, serve with steamed rice.

Now I can say I had dinner with a super hero last night, with a pinch of bitterness ^_^
How about you?

This will be shared with the
Weekend Herb Blogging Crowd, hosted by Coffee & Vanilla this week.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sweet Potato, Coconut Milk & Palm Sugar Muffin (Muffin Kolak Ubi)

Finally! I've baked something out of these adorable little sweet potatoes! I've always been a big fan of sweet potatoes.

However, growing up in Indonesia, my family tried to brainwash me with the phrase "gendheng mangan telo".
Loosely translated or misinterpreted:
- If you're stupid, you'll always eat sweet potato or
- You ARE stupid, therefore you eat sweet potatoes or
- Since you eat sweet potatoes, you must be stupid or

- Eat sweet potatoes, you stupid! or...all of the above
Sometimes, when you want to call someone stupid, you can just say "TELO!" (it's Javanese, pronounced as: tay-law!)

Basically, sweet potatoes are considered the food for the poor, as it was cheap. Little did they know that now there are premium Japanese sweet potatoes sold in luxury supermarkets such as SOGO LOL!

So when I came across this bag of little cutie pies, I just grab 'em. They are HK$10 a bag. I always wanted to bake something, so I turned the classic Indonesian Kolak Ubi/Kolak Telo (Sweet potatoes in Coconut Milk & Palm Sugar) dessert recipe into muffins. Wait a minute. Why is my muffin this shape? Yep! I don't have a cupcake/muffin tray yet (I plan to get one soon) ^_^ hihihi

Fresh from the oven!

See the bits of chewy sweet potatoes all over hehehe

- 1 bag of small Japanese sweet potatoes (roughly mashed: yielded about 1.5 cups)
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- approx 5 tbsp palm sugar (I used 3 pieces of solid palm sugar)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup melted butter
- 2 cups self raising flour (or 2 cups flour & 2 tsp baking powder)
- 1 egg, beaten
- a couple of pandan leaves (optional)

Peel skin off the sweet potatoes, cut into small pieces, wash until the water runs clear, boil until soft, mash with fork/spoon or throw into food processor, leave some lumps for texture. Preheat oven 175C. Over hot water, heat up coconut milk, mix the palm sugar, and pandan leaves until the palm sugar's dissolved, remove pandan leaves. Mix beaten eggs, melted butter, and coconut milk, mix well. Sift self raising flour, add granulated sugar and salt, mix, create a well in the middle, pour the liquid in, add the mashed sweet potatoes, mix well with a whisk. Butter muffin tray (or I used aluminium cake mold), pour the batter up to 3/4 full, bake for around 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes clean.

Enjoy it with a cup of hot jasmine tea ^_^

Friday, April 18, 2008

Parsley Crusted Pork Chops & A New Header

Some of you guys noticed my new blog header :)
Millions of thanks to my baby sister, who did a faaaabulous job on the header, I love love love it. But, a perfectionist that she is, she is farrrrr from happy with it, and it is a work in progress, so this is just phase 1, you will see it change soon :p

Phase 1
I wanted something that's very me.
A bit of vintage feel, a bit cute, a bit Chinese, a bit Indonesian.
The super gorgeous and slim Chinese girl is obviously NOT ME, she is from an "old" beer poster I got from Temple St for HK$10 :). Since I ain't no beer girl, I wanted to have my favorite Indonesian sauce, Kecap Manis ABC (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) and my favorite Indonesian drink, Teh Botol Sosro (Indonesian sweetened tea) instead of beer on the header. When it comes to these two items, I am a loyal to the point of fanatic consumer, any other brand just won't do.

I am more than happy to promote things that I love, but after speaking to my lawyer (oh how cool does that sound.."my lawyer", actually he is a legal counsel in the company where I work, who is a dear friend ^_^ thanks tete!), copyright infringement is no fun, so we will remove the two particular logo/brand name soon T_T sob sob...

I also fancy having some batik pattern somewhere, maybe as a background, or as the pattern of the girl's dress...let's see how it goes ;)

I posted the header as soon as I got it, even though the size did not fit, and my sis went ballistic, and said something that's so true but I chose to ignore HAHAHA:
baby sis designer: "Overstreched image (pecah) is SO NOT SEXY!!! Please do not post!"
me: "How do you expect me to go back to plain text after posting the so not sexy but I love it header? It's likehaving to go back to sitting in economy class after flying business class"
her: ... (gave up)...

The designer won't show up until she's happy with the final result hehehe...

Now the food...I have lots of leftover cherry tomatoes, and tomatoes and pork are good friends who haven't seen each other for a while in my kitchen. So here comes the rendezvous:

- boneless pork chops (allow 1 for each person), cut into big pieces
- breadcrumbs, parsley flakes, salt, black pepper, sugar, lime juice, chicken stock (home made/powder/cube)
- finely chopped garlic (4 cloves)
- half chinese pound of kale (wash and cut into 3, cut thick stems into halves)
- 1 pack of mushrooms (cut into two or four parts, depending on how big the mushrooms are)
- cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
- olive oil, teeny bit of butter

Bruise pork chop pieces and marinate with a bit of lime juice while preparing everything else. Heat up a bit of olive oil, add 1 teaspoon butter, prepare breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, parsley flakes on a plate, roll pork chops into it and pan fry until golden, set aside on kitchen towel. Saute garlic with olive oil, add cherry tomatoes and mushrooms, add kale, cook until kale's soft enough for your taste, add seasonings, serve with the chops.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another Splurge: Yellow Rice Lunch Set at Cinta J

One occasional splurge is OK, and now another splurge....I hope I won't be a splurge-a-holic ^_^

A good friend of mine, Sir A, wanted to try Indonesian yellow rice. The best place to go for one is Cinta J Filipino-Thai-Indonesian Restaurant. So, we set a date, where we, the stingy dinner-leftover-lunch-box club members, finally go for this HK$55 per person lunch set.

The lunch set is quite a spread (see the details of each set below). Each item is yummy, and very authentic.

If you're in Hong Kong and would like to try this lunch set, book a table in advance. The place is always full at lunch time these days.

...and yes, you guessed it right, it would be hard to stay awake after such a satisfying lunch *yawn*

Cinta J Restaurant & Bar
Tel:2529 6622
Malaysia Bldg, near the junction between Jaffe Rd & Fenwick Rd
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Hearty & Spicy Eggplant Dinner & Snack Shot News

I need fibre! If there's one thing I miss about my hyperthyroidism, it's gotta be my used to be super high metabolism rate. After they removed most of my thyroid gland, the teeny tiny bit of the remaining gland, which had been under the influence of 3 year long medication, is now as highly effective as doing nothing in the office. So, my current metabolism rate is as high as that of a huge piece of rock, which is pretty much standstill. That explains why I desperately need fibre, and eggplant is my choice for a tasty answer.

I love how eggplant absorbs any seasonings we put.

I didn't want to do a classic Chinese spicy eggplant with minced pork, as my sous chef threatened to purchase 1 jar of instant seasoning, and I don't feel like sharing recipes which came from a jar :p So here comes my version of Hearty & Spicy Eggplants (recipe below).

The Snack Shot#2 News
THIS MADE MY DAY! Michelle of Greedy Gourmet told me that I won the overall photography part of Snack Shot #2: Leek!
YAY! YAY! YAY! I've never won any contest since my junior high writing competition about Ibu Kartini (Indonesia's national hero for women's education), and that was a longgggggggggggg time ago! This calls for another major splurge on food ^_^...

Thank you, everybody, for giving me this super cute badge!

My post for Snack Shot#2: Leek> Licky Leek Spring Rolls

See you all at Snack Shot #3: Muffin! Can't wait to drool over and gobble down your yummy muffin posts!

A Hearty & Spicy Eggplant Dinner Recipe

(serves 4)
- 2 long eggplants, peel skin off, cut into long chunks
- 1.5-2 lbs ground beef (depends how meaty you want it to be, I like mine very meaty hehe)
- 4 red chilli, core and seed removed, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, 5 cloves of shallot, finely chopped
- a bunch of fresh corriander, finely chopped
- a bit of ginger, crushed
- 1 small tomato, chopped/smush
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste, 1 tbsp palm sugar, soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, pepper
- olive oil, a bit of corn starch dissolved in water for thickening

Saute aromatics, add beef, add pieces of eggplants, cook until eggplants a bit softened, add spices/seasonings, thicken sauce, cook until eggplant pieces are soft enough for your taste (ehm I like them a bit mushy hihhi), serve with steamed white rice.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

*Splurge & Indulge: Steak & Tortellini in Creamy Mushroom Sauce

To know me is to love me? Below are the 3 levels:
1. Those who doesn't know me think I am cheerful, friendly and funny
2. Those who know me well can't stand me
3. Those who know me best can't live without me

My point is, people from level 2 and 3 know how thrifty (correction: stingy?) I am, and many associate this to my Chinese-Javanese origin. I was called Japit (Jawa sipit or Jawa pelit) = Small-eyed Javanese or Stingy Javanese.

How thrifty? How stingy? Get ready for some hard core mathematical experience (here's a link to
google currency converter):

- When I was studying in Australia, I bought AUD40 SECOND HAND MATTRESS (how could I???!!! many people are still condemning my stupid decision hehe, but hey! Lucky I didn't get anything off that mattress eh?)
- When I first moved to Hong Kong, my daily lunch was 2 slices of bread, each slice folded to form a sandwich with either strawberry jam/nutella filling or tuna which costs about HKD2 per lunch. Buying a HKD9.90 rice box was considered a major splurge back then
- Nowadays, my dinner & lunch budget is a total of HKD40 (2 meals for 2 people = HKD10 per meal per person)

Despite my Scrooge-yness (yep that is not even a word), I am willing to splurge from time to time on good stuff. This time, I've decided to splurge on a meal for a special occasion ^_*

I've been longing for a decent steak for a while...and as much as I love Hong Kong's version of steak (meat-tenderiser-MSG-laden-less-than-1-cm -thick slab of meat) served at most local coffee shops, I miss a thick steak, tender and juicy inside, crusty and almost crispy outside. Normally I pair steak with fries, roasted or mashed potatoes, but this time I want some pasta with creamy mushroom sauce, plus a serving of broccoli with roasted tomatoes. YUM.

A meal for a special occasion or what? Hehehehe
*Guess the special occasion*

The Splurge
The plump button mushrooms for my creamy mushroom sauce :) (HK$23 per pack)

The ricotta and parmigiano reggiano tortellini (HK$41 per pack) wayyyy over my normal HK$6.90 per pack pasta budget hehe, I'd better not screw this up

But look at these...how could I resist?...

The Australian Angus Rib-Eye Steak (HK$59 per 100 gr = HK$312 for 2!!!!!!)

Additional Ingredients
- Cherry tomatoes (HK$6 for half pound)
- 2 Broccoli (HK$7.90 for two)
- 4 cloves of garlic and 2 cloves of shallot, finely chopped
- Olive oil, butter
- Sea salt, white pepper, black pepper, sugar, chicken stock cube/powder

The Steak
Season steak with salt and black pepper, then pan fry in very hot oil with a bit of butter for about 2 minutes each side, try not to always flip

The Pasta
Boil the pasta according to the direction in the package

The Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Saute finely chopped garlic and shallots in a bit of olive oil and 3 teaspoon butter, add chopped mushrooms until slightly brown, add chicken stock powder, salt, pepper, sugar, add cream, add a bit of juice from the steak, pour over pasta, veggie and steak

The Veggie
Boil pieces of broccoli in water with salt, for about 3 minutes, drain and pour into iced water. Slice cherry tomatoes into halves, dump into oven with olive oil, butter and some salt until slightly golden.

It was a splurge, but totally worth it! Now, back to normal budget.

Check out more pasta recipes at Presto Pasta Night! :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Silk Squash & Lean Pork in XO Sauce

Wow. I never thought that the Loofah we use in our bathroom was originally this silky soft sponge-like textured vegetable fruit, Silk Squash aka Chinese Okra. They are widely used in Hong Kong (si gwar) and Indonesia (gambas) for stir frying, I love their natural sweetness and lovely texture. I just learnt that they are low in calorie and high in Vitamin C, plus, I got 2 big ones for just HK$9. They got pretty much all I need for my daily dose of veggie :)

Using a peeler, peel off the rough dark green skin. I like them quite clean, but some people like to leave some rough skin for more crunch. I like them rough only in the shower ^_^ On my plate, I want them soft and silky ^_*

Cut them in an angle, handle with care as they are delicate.
You can stir fry these with any meat you like, or even on its own, this time, I use lean pork and Chinese Spicy XO sauce.

- HK$30 lean pork meat, sliced for stir frying (around 1+ pound)
- 2 silk squash
- 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
- a bit of ginger, crushed
- spring onion, chop into 5 cm long pieces
- XO sauce, fish sauce, pepper, soy sauce, oyster sauce, corn starch, olive oil, sugar

Marinate slices of pork in 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp XO sauce, fish sauce, pepper, soy sauce, oyster sauce, 1 teaspoon of corn starch, 1 teaspoon sugar. In a hot wok, heat a bit of oil, saute some garlic and ginger, add silk squash until half cooked, set aside. In the same wok (don't wash), add a bit more oil, add the remaining of garlic and ginger, add pork, saute until almost cooked, add the silk squash, adjust taste if necessary, serve with steamed rice.

Sharing this with the Weekend Herb Blogging crowd, hosted this week by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook, created by Kalyn

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Southern Weekend

It's been a while since I left my neighborhood of comfort (my place is just too convenient, I could have anything within walking distance, thus I don't get out of the office-grocer-home-gym-home-office ritual). One fine weekend, finally, my sous chef successfully dragged my lazy ass all the way to the Southern end of Hong Kong, The South Horizon and Ap Lei Chau district.
After surviving the 1 hour bus ride, replenishment was needed to walk down the whole 28 floors of window shopping at Horizon Plaza (my new retail therapy = window shopping). Tried these tasty cheese balls from KFC. Yum!

Lovely view from the bus ride to and from South Horizon, you can see the famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant there (I'll need a tele lens and a new camera for a closer shot hehe leaning wayy outside the bus = not possible, air conditioned bus = windows can't be opened, not to mention....suicidall...suicidalll...)

View from South Horizon residential complex, walking down to Horizon Plaza at Lee Wing St. Start from the top, walk your way down...mid way, on 11/F, I found this delightful little cup cake shop, Babycakes perfect for some sugar refill.

The decor is really cuter than pie, with a cluster of toys for kids to go crazy (imagine your 2-3 year olds high on SUGAR) while parents treat themselves to little cups of espresso (to deal with kids' sugar rush later)

Staying true to my blogname, ordered 1 Mocha & 1 Chocolate ^_^ although there are many other mouth watering kinds of cupcakes. They were truly yummy, or I would have been tempted to change my blog name to MeatyCheesy-Rita

One of my favorite window shopping spots: Shambala. A hugeeee shop full of Indian goodies

Another favorite drool-worthy spots: Tequila Kola. The best shop styling I've seen in Hong Kong.