Thursday, July 30, 2009

Leftover Ham & Cheese Failure Pizza

There a pack of ham and a pack of cheddar cheese in my fridge.
Athena left the pack of beautiful ham when she made a refreshing appetizer of sweet melon and ham.

Seeing those two ingredients, I planned to just scatter them on pieces of fluffy bread and eat them as they were, and sing unto them, their glory (or something to that effect). Unfortunately, I had to have a pair of itchy hands who always wanted to try making my own pizza crust. I think you could probably smell a disaster coming your way.

I searched for a pizza crust recipe that sounds as doable as "pizza crust recipe for idiots" and found something that looked manageable.

Clearly, I overestimated myself.

Knowing me, it was probably not the recipe's problem, it should've been me.

The crust turned rock hard, you could hear us trying to bite into it.
Crackling doesn't even begin to describe how hard it was.
It was harder that sous chef's stubborn head, and was even harder than my feet's callouses.

Either my instant yeast wasn't bubbly enough or I must have overbaked my pizza as I waited for it to turn golden brown (it never did)....whatever happened, I shall try again with another recipe and try to do better at following directions. Meanwhile, let me put pizza hut on speed dial.

Pssst, the crust turned so hard...the phrase "between rock and a hard place", from now on shall be changed to "between rock and rita's pizza crust".

Monday, July 27, 2009

Iced Oolong Tea - Summer Perfection

This was my last minute submission to July's Still Life Fotografi club event.

Why so last minute?
I was down and out.
I had no idea whatsoever.
I was not inspired.
Something had been bothering me, I had been upset, putting on a (in Chinese) "black face" or "long face" for a while. Trust me, it ain't pretty.

I had hoped that some beautiful shots for this photography club assignment would've cheered me up. I attempted to take some pictures of bottled vitamin C drinks...and the results were...

...let's say they made my face a few kilometers longer, even darker than midnight.

That's that, I gave up (my body doesn't really have any cells of persistence, I reckon) I thought I wasn't gonna prepare anything to submit anymore. But on Saturday morning, looking forward to prepare food for a party I was hosting, an idea suddenly hit me.

Hey. I don't have to be too ambitious...I don't need to make any fancy drinks...I don't have to try styling my drinks to appear cute and adorable (I suck at cute food styling).
Why not try something natural?
What I do love to drink to cool myself down in these scorching hot summer days?
Fancy cocktails? Pretty sodas? Avant garde looking dessert drinks?
Not really.
All I wanted was a glass of unsweetened tea, icy cold, with ice cubes....just like how I used to have it back home in Indonesia, sipped right in front of my dangerously overheated laptop, in a hot summer afternoon, fingers typing furiously...chatting, browsing for recipes, and gawking at food (or some hot guys) pictures.

Nothing's more perfect and thirst quenching.

Now, photographically....
The picture was taken with my Canon EOS400D camera, Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens, Aperture priority mode, f stop bracketed from 3.5-4.5, ISO100, with natural back light coming from my living room windows. This time I didn't do any studio set up, it was taken as if I would have enjoyed the drink, just placing the drinks on my old Chinese computer desk. The "glass" used is my favorite, it is originally a container of Chinese rice wine, and the bottle of oolong tea is something which can be easily purchased from any convenience shops/supermarkets here.

A handy tip I learnt from the club: to get those nice little bubble of sweats from the cold drinks on the glass, put the glass in your freezer for a while before taking pictures (thanks, Shinta, it works!)

After seeing the photo results, my face was no longer long nor dark. ^_^ Cheers!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Easy Tofu Puffs with Two Color Peppers in Oyster Sauce

Minimum ingredients, maximum flavors.

I am never the minimalist. When doing a "simple" stir fry, I probably dump in all the sauces I have in my kitchen into the dish...

Light soy? Yes!
Dark soy? OK, I needed some color...
Shaoxing wine? I love the fragrance!
Oyster sauce? What's not to love?
Kecap manis? Sure! I gotta remember my Indonesian heritage
Sambal ABC? Bring it on!
Gotta have some heat!
Ketchup? What the heck, why not? Could always use a touch of tang...
Mayo? Damn! This jar is empty!

...something like that.

But this time, I don't know if it was the heat...or waking on the wrong side of the bed....or drank the wrong medicine...I didn't try to empty my fridge into the pan...

Tofu Puffs with Two Color Peppers in Oyster Sauce

Tofu puffs
They are my ultimate meat replacement. Whenever I needed a filling, satisfying side dish, and there should not be any more meat in the already super carnivorous menu, tofu puffs always came to my rescue. They are readily available here, super cheap (HK$5 for a HUGE bag from Yu Kee), could be served soft or crispy, wonderful things could be stuffed into them, and they absorb flavors like there's no tomorrow! Look out for these babies in your next trip to Asian grocery shops.

- approximately 8 tofu puffs (halved, allowing the inner part to absorb flavors)
- red and yellow peppers, one of each, remove seeds and core, cut into bite sized chunks
- olive oil, oyster sauce, a bit of water

Saute peppers in hot olive oil, add tofu puffs, add oyster sauce, add a bit of water, mix well, cook through.
Serve as a side of meat dishes, or as one of your vegetarian dishes selection.

Remind me to buy a replacement for that empty jar of mayo...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Japanese Beef and Vegetable Curry - Being A Copycat

Sous chef is quite a copycat.


I bet you guys must have cute nicknames for each other. When I created one, it will be copied immediately, and SC will instantly forget that the name was my idea. He'd soon think that he'd created it. But, these days, his creativity has gone through the roof. He gives me different nicknames almost every day, I am confused which names refer to thing is for sure, though...all of them pretty much means "fatty" (Sigh. I guess I deserve this)

Being a normal guy, contrary to most people's belief that he is a metrosexual and shopaholic, he absolutely loathes shopping and is hardly interested in fashion. I could have been persuading him to buy certain things for the longest time, the answer is always NO. However, if some cute guys at work wore something that looks good, he will rush to the store and try to find a cheap copy of it (how annoying?).

These days, it gets even worse. SC likes to copy a friend of mine, cute couple Athena and Joe.
When Joe showed up wearing a hat, SC wants a hat too. He is rather obsessed with this, although he probably wouldn't want to admit it....and when he saw Athena made a gorgeous looking Japanese curry, as expected, he asked me to make the same too!

To make me feel better, I'll call it being inspired rather than copying. ^_*

Japanese and Vegetable Beef Curry

(serves 4 with rice)
- 1 box of Japanese curry seasoning (Athena recommended S&B brand, I bought mine at Jusco $10 shop)
- 2 carrots (I skipped potatoes as I already have rice as carb)
- 1 large onion, chopped into large chunks
- 1 green pepper (I want the color)
- 4 chicken franks, chopped (I need to make this dish enough for 4 meals)
- 0.5 lbs beef cubes (you can replace with other protein, such as chicken, pork, fish, etc)
- olive oil, water
- optional: fish sauce, ground paprika, black pepper

First, saute beef cubes and chicken franks in hot olive oil until the beef changed color but not exactly cooked through, set aside. I did this because I didn't want to overcook the beef cubes and I want some color on the chicken franks.

Saute onion and peppers until fragrant, add carrots, add water (the amount of water should be written on the curry seasoning box, but naturally, I didn't follow, I just added enough to cover the vegetables). Bring to boil and cook until the carrot starts to soften.

Meanwhile, prepare curry seasoning blocks...

There were 6 blocks in the box, add four and keep two to add at the last step. This prevents the curry for being too thick too soon.

Mix well, make sure the curry blocks are dissolved, the curry will soon thicken.

Once the curry is thickened, add beef cubes and chicken franks...

...then add the last two blocks of curry seasoning. Mix well.

The curry is pretty much done, taste to check if any flavor's missing. Japanese curry isn't exactly my favorite, because of its sweetness and the way it is thickened using starch. Thus, I added some fish sauce for a bit of saltiness and tang, as well as ground paprika and black pepper for the extra kick of spiciness.

I served mine with a mix of red, brown and white rice.

How come my curry doesn't look as pretty as Athena's? T_T

I bet it's because I need to get the same cute little pink Le Creusset pot...YEAH! (It's my turn to be a copycat)
*SC is yelling...NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!*

Friday, July 17, 2009

White Wine, Sprite & Lemon Grilled Chicken

I seem to have a thing for eating my drinks...

which can be seen from my previous posts:
Ginger Cola Grilled Chicken Wings
Spam & Shrimps Virgin Colada

I haven't been adventurous enough to try incorporating coffee and chocolate in savoury dishes, maybe because I didn't wanna risk any single cell of chocolate and coffee goodness for my bound-to-fail experiments. Seeing them go to waste would make me totally heartbroken, worse than the sadness I felt when I broke up with my first boyfriend.

The idea of this dish started when I saw a bottle of chilled white wine, a sprite and a pack of chicken leg fillet (an aftermath from my last
party). My hands itched to put them together. Plus, I didn't have other ingredients to work with the chicken, and the expiry date of the chicken is creeping closer. So I had to act fast.

White Wine, Sprite & Lemon Grilled Chicken

(serves two)
- 2 boneless chicken thigh fillet, halved
- white wine
- sprite
- lemon zest, lemon juice (1 tbsp)
- white pepper
- salt (1 tsp)
- honey (1 tsp)

In a baking dish/pan, lay chicken thigh fillet, skin up. Pour sprite and white wine (50-50 mix) up to the level right it covers the chicken. Add salt, pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice, mix well, marinate chicken fillet for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 220C, slather honey over chicken skin, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and grill chicken (with the marinating liquid, make sure the liquid doesn't cover chicken skin), until the skin turned golden brown. Serve with carb of your choice (rice, potatoes, pasta), and use some of the delicious juices from the grill as well.

Plus, I love the fact that eating my drinks won't give me a hangover....^_^

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Red and Brown Fried Rice with Chicken Franks

Initially, I typed "Easy" as the first word on the title of this post, but eventually changed my mind and deleted it.

To me, cooking a tasty fried rice is not at all easy. It's a gadzillion lightyears away from easy.

One of the biggest failures I had in the past was...not getting the rice right. I often ended up with fried rice which clumped together, their bond tighter than that of a stamp and an envelope, and mushier than most love declarations...

I've followed all the tips, including refrigerating the cooked rice overnight...and still, most of the time, I couldn't get it right.

Slowly, I've learnt more about fried rice and improved bit by bit.

New things I've learnt:
Greed isn't good
It is easier to handle a smaller batch than what I normally do...struggling to stir a heaping large batch of fried rice, sweat dripping into frying pan (it has similar effect to MSG/vinegar? Doesn't it?), ended up with a super sore right arm and unevenly flavored fried rice (A said tasty, B said salty, C said underseasoned)

Grain is great

Brown and red rice separate themselves well, like they're biggest enemies. The texture's wonderfully chewy, plus, they're healthy! I tried using them for fried rice...and my humbly simple chicken frank fried rice turned out fabulous!

Red and Brown Fried Rice with Chicken Franks

- 1 cup of mixed rice (red and brown rice), cooked the night before, cooled down and refrigerate overnight
- 3 pieces of chicken franks or sausage of your choice, cut into 2-3 mm pieces
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of shallot, thinly sliced
- 3 small red chilli, thinly sliced (reduce/add or remove seeds to adjust level of heat)
- soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, ketchup, pepper, olive oil

In a bit of hot oil, brown the chicken frank pieces, then set aside. Saute garlic, shallot and chilli until fragrant, add chicken franks back, add rice bit by bit, mixing while adding, season with soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, ketchup and pepper, serve hot.

The fried rice made quite a satisfying weekend lunch. Spicy, tasty, chewy...
If only I could get my lazy ass to fry two would've been perfect!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Athena's Bday Party - How to Host A Bitching Party?

You're not having a dejavu, there was really another party at my place, and the title of my post doesn't mean that I am good at hosting party (this was only my second time), it's a question, not a statement. Please share your party tips, pretty please?...

I remember my first time attending a "casual" dinner at my friend's place, in Singapore. I typed casual between quotation marks, as to me, it was really a stunning dinner. She was serving simple and delicious home cooked meal of tomato soup and lasagna, but the table was beautifully set, decorated with gorgeous flowers and candles.

Did I learn from that experience? Ehm, judging from how my party spread looked like (disposable plates and cups? Really?)...gosh, I still have a lot to learn.

What did I do prior to the party?
Is my place normally that pristine and immaculate? Do I always have fresh flowers at home? Of course NOT!
Not really, so here are the things that I do when preparing for a party:
- A week before: thought about the menu (Order in? Take away? Home cooking? What style? Western? Asian? Indonesian? Chinese? Who doesn't eat what? Are the guests big eaters/dieters?) Any other activities to be done after dinner? Xbox? DVD? Games?
- A couple of days before: menu should be pretty much decided, create a list of ingredients to purchase)
- The day before: purchase ingredients and prep or cook dishes which can be prepared in advance, tidy up my mountain-high piles of dirty laundry, collect and throw SC's game weekly magazines from every room, stash any messy tidbits into empty drawers
- The morning and afternoon before: roughly dust visible places, clean floor, and prohibit SC to throw more dirty laundry everywhere, arrange flowers into various vases and station them several rooms
- One hour before the party: start cooking rice, and prepare all ingredients for dishes, ready to fire up, and prepare to heat up dishes which had been cook the day before

What did I serve this time? Just simple dishes I knew I could handle.

Italian Herbs and Lemon Zest Grilled Chicken Wings

- I prepared about 2-3 pieces of wings per person
- Italian mixed herbs (rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage)
- Zest of 1 lemon, juice of 1 lemon
- Salt, black pepper, olive oil

The day before the party, I defrosted the wings by quick boiling it (dip them into boiling water until the skin changed color, but not necessarily cooked through), drain and pat dry, coat wings with all ingredients, store in fridge. You can opt to skip the quick boiling.
On the day of the party, preheat oven to 220C, grill wings until the skin turned golden brown.

Corn Kernels with Bacon and Sausages

- 1 large can of corn kernels
- 3 slices of bacon, cut into small chunks
- 3 chicken franks, cut into 2-3 mm thick chunks (or any other sausages of your choice)
- 2 pork and herb sausages, cut into bite sized chunks
- black pepper

Defrost sausages and bacon since the night before, if necessary. About one - 2 hours before the party (or the day before, if you didn't need to defrost anything), slice bacon and sausages, then keep in the fridge before cooking. When ready to cook, heat up frying pan, add bacon and sausages (with no oil), cook until golden. Meanwhile, open the can of corn kernels and drain. Once the bacon and sausages are nicely browned, add corn kernels, cook until a bit charred, add black pepper. No other seasoning necessary, all the ingredients are already very flavorful.

Initially, I planned to add raisins to this dish, which will add another dimension of flavor, but I...forgot. Opps, maybe next time.

Grilled Chicken, Pineapple and Red Pepper in Coconut Milk

- 3 pieces of chicken upper thigh fillet
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 can (around 200ml coconut milk)
- 1 small fresh pineapple, or 1 can of pineapple chunks
- salt, black pepper, fish sauce, sugar

In the afternoon, or 1 hour before dinner starts, start preparing the ingredients, all the slicing and dicing. When it is time to serve, heat up frying pan (with no oil), season chicken fillet with salt, black pepper and olive oil, and grill skin down until you get some color. Flip once, cook until you get some colorage, set aside and slice into bite sized chunks. Saute garlic and onion, add chicken pieces, add pineapple (without the syrup if you are using canned pineapple), add coconut milk, and use some of the syrup of the canned pineapple (if using), season with salt, pepper, sugar, fish sauce and serve.

Beef Brisket Stewed in Red Wine

The birthday girl wanted to try this dish, so I did another encore of Beef and Red Wine combo. This time using brisket. I cooked this dish the night before, to get the beef to be more flavorful the day I served it.

Sauteed Black Pepper Mushrooms

- Mixed mushrooms
- Butter and olive oil
- salt and black pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Saute garlic in olive oil and butter, add mushrooms until they turn golden and slightly charred, season with salt and lots of black pepper. It was really that simple.

Poison of the Day:
Mandarin Orange, White Wine and 7Up Drink

I should've named the drink with something catchy like sex on the beach or screaming orgasm, but my creativity veins are blocked today (this is Monday!) I just called it what it is.
Suggestions please....^_^

- 1 small can of mandarin orange sections in syrup
- white wine
- sprite/7up/soda water

Fill a jug with the mandarin orange sections, including the syrup, add ice, fill up to 2/3 with chilled white wine, top it off with sprite/7up/soda water, stir and serve.

The birthday cake's from a bakery called Zoe, it's very chocolatey, rich, and satiny smooth delicious! Served with cups hot of earl grey tea.

Capturing Joe's cute gestures and expressions such as this one? Priceless!

The perfect party souvenir: Polaroid pictures!
Useful tips:
- If we're anything other than svelte, hide behind those who are ^_^
- If you wanna appear more fair skinned, move to the front
- If you wanna appear ridiculous, do my pose

A birthday isn't a birthday without some gift giving action. The gift which shocked Joe to the core...original soundtrack of Boys over Flowers and SS501 album (birthday girl's current favorites).

Guess what he was thinking when he saw the CDs?

Check out birthday girl's blog post to find out what her husband said about her outfit, at Athena's Little C9 (in Chinese).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Duck & Red Wine - The Double Sequels

Making a sequel of something fantastic is surely challenging.
It kinda reminded me of how I recently fell asleep watching Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, despite loving the first one and losing interest in Gossip Girl Season 2, despite going crazy over the first season. Gosh, I wish I could do a legendary sequel, just like the Dark Knight (sequel to Batman Begins).

Sigh...*pressure pressure*

After doing a fantastic Bebek Kalasan, what else I could do with the rest of my duck?

I remember seeing an episode of Martha Stewart's TV show, where the guest chef did something with duck and red wine...his duck legs looked fantastic, they glued me to my morning TV and I ended up arriving late for work. However, I also remember it for being rather labor intensive...with multiple steps and long period of marinating and braising. So, I decided not to do his recipe, but simply do an encore of my previous beef and red wine, I bet the flavors used on the beef would work well with duck too.

So there you go, double sequels!
Duck and Red Wine

(adapted from
- duck breast, halved (mine with bones, or half a duck, or duck breast fillet)
- 4 cloves of garlic (peeled, crushed)
- 1 whole onion (cut into large chunks)
- 2 sticks of celery (cut 1 cm thick pieces)
- 1 carrot (cut into 1 cm thick pieces)
- thyme (I used dry)
- 3 bay leaves (I used dry)
- chicken stock (I used powdered version, 2 tsp)
- red wine (the recipe called for 1 whole bottle, but I used just 1-2 cups)
- bacon (I skipped this, cos I didn't have any, but it's still delicious)
- olive oil, hot water (just enough to cover everything), salt (1 tsp), black pepper, sugar (2 tsp)

While preparing the ingredients, I browned the skin of the duck breast pieces. Lightly season the skin with salt and black pepper, then lay them skin down on a frying pan, no oil necessary, until golden brown, set aside. Keep the duck oil if you wanna use it for other purposes later.

Once the rest of the ingredients are ready, saute garlic and onion in olive oil, add duck, I kept the skin side up so it won't get soaked so much, add carrot and celery pieces, add seasoning, stock and wine, cook until meat is tender (again I cheated by using pressure cooker for 20 minutes ^_^).

Once done, crisp skin by quick grilling under high heat (I used 220C oven, in an oven proof bowl lined with foil), include a bit of juices to keep the duck meat moist.

To serve, you can slice the duck breast into thick chunks, but nothing beats gnawing on the tender bits of meat between the bones.

It was quite a successful sequel, but to me, Dark Knight is still one of the best sequels ever. Maybe I should eat this sequel while watching it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Indonesian Grilled Duck in Coconut Water and Spices - Bebek Kalasan

I've learnt a very important shopping lesson - the hard way:

That's right! Bold, italic, all caps!

I've always wanted to cook the perfect duck. Thus, I was always looking out for good duck deals, and I thought I saw one at Park'nShop's frozen meat section. US premium frozen duckling, ready to cook, and the price label said HK$24.90!!!

WOW! I had to look at the price label a few times! Normally, ducks at local frozen meat shops are sold at HK$39.90, I couldn't believe it! I just had to have it! I don't care if I couldn't find any ways to cook it, for HK$24.90, I could afford a failure, or so I thought.

I have a bad habit of not paying attention to prices at supermarket check outs (very bad habit) and hardly ever even look at the receipt. I knew I was buying quite a few items, but I was shocked by the total amount I had to pay. Wayyy more than what I expected. I checked the receipt, and found out that the duck costs me more than HK$120! Uh oh! They must have overcharged me, or displayed the wrong label. I was gonna go back to the cashier and ask. SC saved me from embarrassment by pointing out that the duck was sold at HK$24.90 PER 100 GRAMS, not for HK$24.90 for one whole duck!

Sigh...then and there, I felt burdened. HK$120 dramatically exceeded what I normally spend for meat, except for special occasions where I would buy pricey steaks. For HK$120, there's no way I could fail the duck. I'd better cook the duck's ass off and make sure it turned out bloody delicious....or so I hoped.

Indonesian Grilled Duck in Coconut Water and Spices - Bebek Kalasan

How the heck I should cook the duck? SC repeatedly reminded me (not gently) that I should NOT fail the duck. *Pressure pressure pressure*

I shouldn't cook the duck Chinese roast style, because you can get a Chinese style perfectly roasted duck here for just HK$88 (sobbing violently)...there's no way I could master that, in my home kitchen, at my first try. No. Freaking. Way.

So I was thinking...something Indonesian, something I haven't tried and I've missed for a long time. Bingo! Kalasan style!
- half a duck (I used the legs and wings only, I wanted to try the other half in another style - making the most of it)
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 6 cloves of shallot, peeled
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- coconut water (not coconut milk, it's the juice that comes out of the coconut) from 1-2 coconut (about 2 cups)
- 1 piece of palm sugar, dissolved in a bit of hot water
- salt, white pepper, olive oil

If you have a food processor, pulse garlic and shallot until fine. If not, use mortar and pestle, or simply finely chop them. Saute garlic and shallot in olive oil, add duck, add coconut water, add lemongrass, palm sugar syrup and season with salt and pepper. Add more hot water if you can't cover most parts of the duck. Cook until the juice is reduced and duck meat's tender. I used a pressure cooker and cooked the duck for 20 minutes. Once done, you can let it marinate or immediately grill/deep fry to brown the skin.

If you wanna grill it (like I did, as I hate hate HATE deep frying), preheat oven to 220C. Place duck in a non stick baking pan and add a bit of the juices to keep the duck moist. Grill until golden brown.

If you wanna deep fry it, drain the duck, pat dry and deep fry until golden brown.

You can also brown the duck skin before cooking in coconut water, simply season with salt and pepper. After cooking, simply throw into oven for a few minutes to crisp the skin.

Fragrant, flavorful, with a subtle sweetness to it. Taste great with rice, especially with a killer chilli paste. This recipe can also be done with chicken. I used fresh coconut water, but if you can find the canned/boxed version, give it a go.

What did I do with the other half of the duck?
I didn't do a duck sashimi, that's for sure.
Stay tuned to find out ^_^

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Spicy Tomato Chilli Paste - Sambal Tomat Sedep

There is a misconception about how Hongkongers inability to handle heat.
I wasn't talking about the balmy 30something degree weather, nor the heat radiating from Megan Fox' luscious lips. I meant chilli heat. Hot! Spicy, spicy.

Is it really a misconception? Do most Hongkongers eat spicy food? I felt that way, as most of my local friends are able to nonchalantly chew on raw chillies and slather their food with chilli sauce/chilli oil, even when I was already panting, sweating, crying, pleading for more iced water. There's one thing I noticed though. They would drown their wontons/noodles/meat in chilli sauce, but they hardly use any chilli condiment with rice.

Hah! This is where I see my niche. Being Indonesian, I love chilli condiments with my rice, especially Indonesian ones. The condiments do not need to go with any entree, it can be considered the star of the meal. I could probably finish a bucket of rice with a serving of tasty chilli sauce, and I definitely plan to influence the heck outta my friends. They'd better be eating rice with chilli by the time I am done with them.

What type of chilli goodness would be suitable for this dominatrix mission? One of the candidates is...

Spicy Tomato Chilli Paste - Sambal Tomat Sedep

- 1 head of garlic, peeled
- 8 cloves of shallot, peeled
- 10 small red chillies (remove seeds if you want it mild, or use large chillies)
- 2 tomatoes, cut into 8 sections each
- 1 candle nut
- 2 tsp ground corriander seeds
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- a dash of white pepper
- a dash of fish sauce
- olive oil

Throw everything into a food processor, pulse until you end up with chunky pieces (I pulsed mine too much). If you are not using a food processor, finely chop garlic, thinly slice shallot, chop chillies and chop tomatoes into chunky pieces. Heat a bit of oil in a pan, saute the mixture until the liquid evaporates and it formed a paste, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Since it is a condiment, the flavors should be strong enough, it is ok to be a little on the salty side.

The plan for domination didn't go well, I shall try another time (never give up!).
Meanwhile, maybe I should also start to influence my friends to try another Indonesian habit, eating carb with another carb (rice with noodles, noodles with congee, rice with potatoes, etc)...*multitasking fever*

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chocolate & Hungry Monkey Sherbet

Have you tried living near your parents?

OK, we all love our parents very much, but I am sure that some of us have experienced the usual...
- non stop nagging
- unsolicited advice
- meddling
- surprise visits, just in time when your flat is at its dirtiest and messiest state
we know that all of the above came outta love, but sometimes it could be a bit...ehm...too much, no?

However, it's not all bad...there are so many perks of living near the parents, such as...
- asking them to receive deliveries for us when we're at work
- food
- more food
- and we shall never go out of food

SC's parents live nearby and they have easy access to my flat. Thus, sometimes when I get home, I'd find some surprises, such as...
- a container of frozen curry beef shin in my freezer
- a bowl of jellyfish salad in my fridge
- a plate of fresh fruits on my kitchen counter
Sweet, right?

Indeed. This is also why I try to reciprocate, by trying to make them some delicious treats whenever possible. SC's mom loves loves loves chocolate (but then again, who doesn't?), so when I saw David Lebovitz' Chocolate Sherbet, I knew it would be the perfect treat for SC's mom.

Although the recipe sounds so easy, but knowing my inability to follow recipes properly, I fully expected a failure, and in case the said failure did happen, I'd just go for plan B, which was to bring a bottle of red wine over when showing up for dinner ^_^'

So, I gave it a go.

Look at the way I gave my sherbet an ice bath, it looked rather dangerous, didn't it? I should've put more ice and less water.

Amazingly, successfully followed a recipe this time! Yay! The chocolate sherbet turned out excellent! It was really rich, chocolatey and light at the same time. It quenches my thirst for chocolate, yet still refreshing enough for summer.

Visit David's blog for the recipe, find out how to make ice cream without a machine, and you'll also learn the differences between sorbet, sherbet and ice cream.

It was so good, SC's mom agreed to keep the whole container.
It was so good, I had to make another batch and decided to improvise by adding a couple of bananas SC's mom left on my kitchen counter the other day.

Hungry Monkey Sherbet

I simply added a couple of mashed bananas into the original recipe. Bananas and chocolate, they couldn't go wrong, could they?

Although I still prefer the original all chocolate version, this hungry monkey wasn't too bad at all.
At least I wasn't making another banana cake...yet again :p
There's a danger to this experiment.
It made me wanna buy an ice cream maker.
Hello, more ice cream, good bye kitchen space and waist line.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Party Gone Awry

In life, things don't always go according to our plans. This includes a party at my place yesterday.
What happened, or more importantly, what did not happen?

Let's get back to that later. At least the food did happen. Thank God.

I've done just three simple dishes, which were planned, mainly based on which appliances will be used to cook them, so that they could be executed simultaneously. Since one of my guests doesn't eat beef and sous chef is not into chicken, I mainly used pork. You can replace the piggy with something else.

In My Oven
Grilled Pork Neck with Satay Sauce


- 7 pieces of pork neck fillet (they shrink a lot, so it's better to buy more)
- 4 shallot, sliced thinly
- dark soy sauce
- fish sauce
- kecap manis (the dominant flavor)
- lemon zest
- 1 tsp ground corriander seed
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ground nutmeg (quite a lot of it)
- olive oil

Poke pork neck fillet all over with fork, marinate pork neck fillet for a few hours, or overnight.
To grill, preheat oven to 200C/400F, lightly grease baking sheet lined with aluminium foil (I wasn't planning to scrub anything after the party), lay marinated pork neck fillet in 1 layer, grill until golden brown, baste with marinate when necessary.

Satay Sauce
- Store bought satay sauce
- Freshly chopped corriander leaves
- Fish sauce
- Freshly chopped chilli
- lemon juice, lemon zest

Mix everything together and serve.
This dish can be prepared ahead of time as it reheats well. Simply nuke it before serving.

In My Pressure Cooker
Bakuteh (Pork Stewed in Chinese Spices)

- 1 kg pork shin mixed with pork bone, cut into large chunks
- 4 cloves of garlic
- dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, salt, sugar, white pepper, olive oil, hot water
- bakuteh spice pack (I used Klang Bakuteh spice pack)
- 1 cup fried tofu puffs
- 3 heads of wawa veggie

In the pressure cooker, saute garlic with olive oil, add pork, add dark soy, light soy, add hot water according to spice pack instruction, add salt, sugar, pepper, cook in pressure cooker for 25 minutes. Release pressure, add tofu puffs and vegetable, taste and adjust seasonings when necessary. If you don't have a pressure cooker, bring to boil and simmer for at least 1 hour or until the meat turned falling-off-the-bone tender.

On My Saute Pan
Pineapple and Minced Pork White Curry

- 1 lb of minced meat
- 1 fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
- 200 ml coconut milk
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 4 cloves of shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised and chopped into 5 cm pieces
- 1 tsp ground corriander seed
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- salt, sugar, white pepper
- chicken stock (optional)
- freshly chopped corriander and crispy fried shallot for garnish (optional)

Saute garlic, shallot and corriander, add minced meat, cook until the color changed, add pineapple, add spices and seasonings, add coconut milk, bring to boil, garnish, serve.

In My Rice Cooker
Shallot and Garlic Chicken Mixed Rice
- 3 cups of white and brown rice (50-50 mix)
- 200 ml chicken stock
- water, olive oil
- white pepper
- crispy shallot and fried garlic
Throw everything into rice cooker, mix well, add water up to the level indicated on the rice cooker, cook until done.

The dinner didn't look so much like a failure, eh? So, what happened?

The Plan
1. Touring my flat
2. Make Up & Hair Party (Athena to practice her excellent make up skills on us girls, ehm and maybe boys, Carrie to demonstrate her hair styling technique)
3. A gossiping session brief discussion on our current favorite show and stars
4. XBox 360 Party (for the boys)
5. Food and portrait photo taking session
6. Dinner
Sounds like a productive yet fun party, right?

Obviously, the whole plan didn't get executed (or I wouldn't have mentioned it). So what went down in the end?
The Reality
1. The flat tour happened
2. Sous chef showed everyone a gossip magazine stating that a certain pretty celebrity who allegedly had plastic surgeries (as if it is something so surprising), triggering a debate between him and Athena
3. Soon after the girls' arrival in the afternoon, I showed them a couple of video clips and a show of a Korean Idol, Kim Hyun Joong (Dunno who the heck he is? Check his hotness out on Athena's blog), which led to....

...hours after hours of gawking at the said idol, while gossiping making meaningful comments on the celebrity gossip magazine articles. Mind you, we are all very well trained at multitasking.
4. Due to unforeseen circumstances (the large TV being occupied by idol's show), the video games could not possibly happen
5. Food and portrait photo taking...

...luckily, we really did a bit of those. Check out the portrait I did for Joe & Athena in her blog. They're so cute and chic, good enough to eat!
6. Dinner went as planned, although I felt so sorry for not making any dessert for my

What's for dessert? Thank goodness Athena brought these very delicious...
Macarons from Sift

Chocolate, caramel, rose, vanilla, coffee, raspberry, lemon, pistachio....take your pick! We munched on these babies while sipping cups of earl grey and peppermint tea...and believe it or was close to midnight, we had to work the next day and we were still gawking at the idol's show like a bunch of teenage girls.

Screw the plan. We (girls) enjoyed the party very much, although...
Sorry about the video games, guys...better luck next time!