have you ever had this nagging feeling of what to cook whenever a festive season is around the corner? what mood do i want to create? i want it to be different but not too overwhelming for my guests....who am i inviting? what is the occasion? are they adults or children? big eaters or mousy eaters? well there is room for everyone... read on.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bah Kut Teh Strikes Again!

Lately, I have been extremely fond of Bah Kut Teh. Maybe because it is simple to make and need no cooking experience at all. I have tried many types of BKT herbs from the chinese medical halls to the pre-packed packets on the supermarket shelves. All have their own speciality tastes but so far, I find this one very authentic indeed.
First of all, it consists of 2 packets of dried herbal spice mix and 1 packet of dark colored soya sauce-like substance. Aha! that sauce-like substance it the secret! and it is MSG free. Superb! I really have a distinct dislike towards MSG, just can't stand that stuff. The address on the box says, the 'One Fine Shop' is located at 79, Jalan SS25/32, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. Tel : (03) 7729 4771. Please don't get me wrong, they did not pay me to sell their products but I must take a trip there to purchase the BKT soup mix for myself. This is solely for self gratification only.
To cook is so simple, just open the box and put the 2 packet of herbal spice mix (uncut) into 1600ml of boiling water and dunk in 2 bulbs of garlic with the bottom sliced off (for a better aroma and the garlic will not melt into the soup). Simmer for 1/2 hour.
Wash the meat and boil it for 8 minutes in a pot of boiling water (to rid the meat of impurities), I especially like offals but I decided to stay with the spare ribs (500 gms) and a 400 gm piece of pork shoulder (uncut) this time round. Put them in the simmering soup for 1 hour.
At the same time, cut open 1 packet of tofu puffs and cut them into halves, blanche them it boiling water for 5 minutes and dunk them into the simmering soup.
Open 1 can of large button mushrooms, rinse them and put them into the simmering soup about 10 minutes before we put in the special sauce. This sauce is added 5 minutes before the dish is ready to be served. This one pot dish goes very well with steamy hot fluffly rice and some blanched leafy vegetables with garlic oil and a drizzle of light soya sauce.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Smoked Oyster Fried Rice

Every housewhole would have their own favourite style of frying rice. I accidentally stumbled upon a can of S&W fancy whole smoked oysters in my larder and huge bowl of left-over plain rice in the fridge. Put them together and what have you got? Bippity Boppity fried rice!
1 can of S&W fancy whole smoked oysters 10 prawns (peeled and deveined) 3 black chinese mushrooms (sliced thinly) some leafy choy sum (short sprigs)
some long beans (diced)
1 egg
sesame oil
2 shallots (chopped)
2 clove garlic (chopped)
Seasoning :- dark soya sauce light soya sauce
salt and pepper
3 bird eye chilis (sliced) 2 large red chilis (sliced)
light soya sauce
Drizzle a wok with olive oil and sesame oil, throw in the chopped garlic and shallots, then add black mushrooms, oysters and prawns. Sautee till fragrant, beat in an egg and add in the vegetables and rice. Drizzle in all the seasoning and fry.
As for the sliced chilis, just add light soya sauce and eat as a tastebud appetiser.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sticky Chili Pork Ribs

I once tasted a very well roasted pork ribs while vacationing in Sydney, Australia and it tasted so good, I couldn't resist and asked for the recipe from the proprietor. Surprisingly, he recited the recipe to me and I tried it at home and it tasted almost like the real deal. Maybe the difference lies in the piece of ribs itself. Australia has really fresh produce, from vegetables to all sorts of meat, even the spices are excellent. No wonder Kylie Kwong always insist on the freshest of everything, lucky her.
1 kg of baby pork ribs (soft ribs) - washed, pat dry and uncut.
Marinate with;
5 Tbsp sweet chili sauce (I use Lingam's - not very spicy)
3 Tbsp honey
a dash of dark soya sauce
ginger juice (2")
2 Tbsp apple cider (Braggs)
sea salt and black pepper
a dash Lea & Perrin sauce
1 Tbsp custard powder
Pre-heat oven at 200 degree celcius. Drizzle some olive oil on the ribs, put 2 small cubes of butter on top and pop it into the oven. Roast the ribs for 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of the ribs, basking it with its own drippings every 20 minutes. Turn down the heat after 20 minutes.
Leave ribs to cool for 15 minutes before cutting them into sticks. If serving adults only, add a few dashes of brandy, left-over red wine or even Jack Daniel.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter Sunday

As a matter of sequence of events, the passover dinner is followed closely by Good Friday, which by right is called God's Friday. This is the day that Jesus was crucified on the cross where he shed his blood to cleanse us of our sins, even before we were born. I am actually totally blown away by the fact that who on earth or in heaven would died for us? Who are we anyway? 'For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten son, whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life'. John 3:16. That is how much God loves us. Good Friday is a day to bring to remembrance of this day.
On the 3rd day Jesus rose to heaven and is seated on the right hand of God the Father. Mark 16:19. This is the ressurection of Christ, the son of the living God! we greet this day with feasting and triumphant celebration for God has overcome death and is alive in us today. Romans 3:23-24, 'for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus'.
Many celebrate Easter just like any other festivals but for me personally, would like to make this day a memorable one for my family. I choose lamb because of the term 'sacrificial lamb'. People then expected a messiah or saviour to come with a loud bang just like our super heroes saving the world but none knew Jesus choose the come in total humility, as a lamb of God.
Easter is in Spring where spring lamb is in abundance. Tender and succulent meat slightly lower in fats makes a wonderful grill or roast. Lamb cutlets is my choice of the day served with a ragout of portobello and white country mushrooms, fresh crispy curly salad, french loaf and a glass of full-bodied red wine.
This photo shot on the right is spring lamb cutlets, I hunted all round, from Mr Ho's fine food shop to the cold storage supermarket, nobody seem to have spring lamb instead only New Zealand or Australian lamb cutlets were on sale. So, let's just make do with these cuts I have bought (below).
I guess it's almost there but slightly heavier on the fats and may taste different.
The marinate for the cutlets are kept plain and simple with some sea salt straight from the mill, organic black peppercorns which I just purchased a week ago, drizzle of some olive oil and sprigs of fresh rosemary herbs. Heat oven at 210 degree celsius and roast the lamb cutlets for 30 - 40 minutes uncovered. This is to allow all the fats to melt away from the cutlets and the blend of fats, butter and olive oil will flavour the cutlets as it cooks. Take the cutlets out of the roasting pan with a pair of tongs. Cutlets should be crispy and very aromatic when done.
As for the mushrooms, a ragout seems fine. Cut portobello into small uneven chunks with a paring knife, do the same with the white mushrooms, heat a saucepan and drizzle olive oil and a small cube of butter (butter on its own burns easily). Chop some garlic and sautee in the saucepan. Throw in the mushroom chunks and stir until its juices comes out. Add 1 tsp balsamic vinegar and season with sea salt. Serve on a bed crispy curly salad.
Dessert is some crackling top cupcakes with fresh strawberry jam oozing out (named blood of christ) and chocolate cupcakes covered with icing sugar which I nicknamed them Mt Sinai.
Butter a loaf of french bread and throw it into the oven just 10 minutes before the lamb is done. You will then get a wonderful flavourful crispy loaf. Open a bottle of red wine and ........
A simple Easter dinner is served!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Passover Dinner

People around the world celebrate Christmas, believers and non-believers enjoy this festive season alike. There are many more christian celebrations besides christmas and this weekend is one of them. It is my heart's desire to share a little about this weekend's christian celebration with all my faithful bloggers. As widely celebrated like any festivals eg. Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, Deepavali etc, this weekend starts with the 'Passover Dinner' which is a requirement for the Jewish people (Ex 12:14) and we believe that Jesus observed the feast in what we know as the 'Last Supper'. As Christians and people of the new covenant in Christ, we have no obligation to observe this Old Testament feast. However, this feast is significant to our understanding of God's redemptive purposes (1 Cor 10:11). The proceedings of this symbolic dinner is outlined as follows; 2 candles are lighted at the start to remind us that we are not here to feast but to observe and remember what Jesus has done for us. To get our hearts ready to celebrate and tell the story of deliverance, freedom and redemption.
In the days preceeding the Passover, it is tradition to clean the house thoroughly and the evening before the passover all trace of leaven/yeast is removed from the house. In removing the leaven, we symbolize our willingness to obey God in preparation for celebrating the deliverance He has already brought to his people. This meal has no leaven, it signifies the attitude of penitence, the willingness to remove any corrupting influence in our lives and submit to God in obedience. We are suppose to search for any hidden sins in our hearts that might prevent us from celebrating the joy of this festival.
God gave promises of freedom to His people with 4 cups from the fruit of the vine (wine) to celebrate what we call God's promises to Israel and to us. In the 4 cups we drink, celebrates the 4 'I will' promises of God; Freedom, Deliverance, Redemption and Thanksgiving.
Food on the dinner plate are as follows;
Matzah - unleaven bread reminds them (the Israelites) of the haste in which they left Egypt.
Maror - a bitter herb usually horseradish reminds them that they were servants to slavery.
Karpas - a sprig of vegetable (parsley or celery) dipped in salt water symbolises the coming of spring which brings hope and the salt water are the tears they cried in Egypt.
Charoset - is a sweet desssert made from apple, nuts, spices and wine has the appearance of straw in remembrance of the mortar used to build ther treasure cities for pharoah. It is a symbol of hope of freedom that enabled their ancestors to withstand the bitter slavery.
Zeroa - the shankbone remind them that there has to be blood sacrificed to save their lives.
Our Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, Holy is your name! Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, adn forgive us our trepasses, as we forgive those who trepass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Semi-Soupy 'Bah Kut Teh'

When we speak of bah kut teh, a delicious pot of porky herbal soup comes immediately to mind. The herbs used to make the soup has its own medical values not to mention sumptous to gobble down. It was only recently, I realised that there is another way to cook bah kut teh. This style is more gravy like instead of soupy. Both ways appeal to me just as well. I would like to post this gravy like bah kut teh cos I believe not many people have tried it this way. It's slightly more complicated then the soupy one but worth a try for all the die-hard 'Bah Kut Teh Fans' out there!

1 packet of claypot brand herb and spices mix 15 black chinese mushrooms (presoaked in hot water and stems removed, drained) 1 packet of brown top shimeji mushrooms (roots trimmed and washed lightly) 1 can of baby corn (optional)

2 rack of baby pork ribs (approx. 500 gm each) 1 whole pork shoulder including the fats and skin

tofu puffs (cut in half, boiled in hot water and drained) Marinate the pork with the below:- dark soya sauce light soya sauce oyster sauce brown sugar sea salt and pepper cornflour

Boil 1 litre of water in a huge claypot together with the herb and spices mix, 2 bulbs of garlic (sliced at the bottom) and a portion of the above marinate. Simmer the pot for 40 minutes on low heat. Heat the wok and drizzle with olive oil. Throw in some crushed garlic cloves and drained chinese mushrooms. Sautee till fragrant and sear the pork one by one. Careful not the burn, adding a little stock from the huge claypot if needed. Put the pork shoulder, ribs and chinese mushrooms into the claypot to simmer for 1 hour. Turning the meat and stirring the pot from time to time. When the soup is slightly thicker off the heat, put in the tofu puffs and let it sit until ready to eat. Take out the pork and cut into bite size pieces and place them on a serving dish. (I just served it straight from the claypot) Bring the gravy to boil again and add the shimeji mushrooms and baby corn. Stir 30 seconds, pour over the cut pork and to serve. This recipe serves 6 persons.
To compliment the aromatic bah kut teh, I served it with plenty of blanche crispy iceberg lettuce drizzled with garlic oil, light soya sauce and pepper. Not to forget a pot of hot oolong tea served in those tiny teapot and cups to wash down all the grease. Take note : - Do not take a medical examination (blood test) after this meal. Your cholestral will definitely be pretty top notch!
Careful what recipes you follow from now on cos I am on a weight gain project!

Monday, April 10, 2006

One pot dinner

Well, well, isn't it pouring again. With this kind of weather, I just like to take it slow and easy. Maybe that's why I have a fairly large pantry. In fact, if space permit, I would prefer to have a walk-in pantry just like the one Nigella Lawson owns. Dream on, baby! What goes well with pouring rain would probably be a one pot of hot steaming stew. Tonite, I will be making a simple garlic sausage hot pot. Recipe as follows :- 3 garlic sausages (cut into 3 pieces each and peel off the skin) 200 gm minced beef (marinated with Lea & Perrin sauce, salt and pepper) 2 chopped garlic 2 peeled tomatoes (leftovers from pizza making) 2 Tbsp tomato sauce 1 can button mushrooms 1/2 can baby corn Sautee garlic and minced beef in a saucepan drizzled with olive oil. Add in the sausages, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Bring to simmer for 8 minutes. Put in the mushrooms and baby corn and simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Served with bread or plain pasta and a glass of red wine.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Time For Some Fresh Air

Having spent so much time doing so many things day in day out. Ha! finally got some time to ourselves, just my family and I. My better half thought we should go to the KLCC Aquaria, then wander around aimlessly to see what we want to eat. This actually sounded great! Took some shots of the fishes there but one really caught my attention, it's a catfish and they called it by a strange name... I can't really remember what but I swear it was a Patin fish! My favourite steam fish actually. Then to my horror! one of them was even bigger then my dog! Ekkk! Overall I suppose the Aquaria is ok, not grand but I thought the under water tunnel was kinda short.
Anyway, we adjourned over to KLCC to hunt for lunch. Ended up at Chilis .... Here are some shots of what we had and I though it was quite good. The first photo is a dish of flavoured rice served with some crunchy fat shrimps, grilled chicken and steamed mixed vegetables. It's kind of a mixture of tastes and textures all together. Pretty flavourful and colourful, eh?
I had a ranch beef burger, just wanted a juicy burger with fattenning fries cos I just lost some precious weight. If I loose anymore I'll probably look like these fries with skin and that ain't nice.
My daughter got to eat free and she choose a pizza (just as I expected, since I already have the fries). It's a simple pizza but has a country flair to it. It's just a thick pizza base with peeled tomatoes and lots of cheese on top.
I like Chilis cos they have this free flow of fruit juices and a warm family ambience to it.
This post is slightly out of my usual league, a slight divertion can definitely add some spice to my cooking, not to mention ignite some inspiration and creativity along the way. I always believe that we can never learn or see enough, life is full of experiences that can either make us or break us. Well, I wish my culinary journey with you would be an unforgettable and fulfilling one.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Cereal, Nuts and Chocolate Cookies

With this kind of gloomy weather, it's hard to keep awake. Got myself busy with a batch of cookies. I didn't know what cookies until I checked my pantry. Obviously, there were some walnuts, cereal and some leftover rum and raisins chocolate in the fridge. Let's see the recipe below:- 280 gm all purpose flour (seived) 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp sea salt 1 small teacup of cereal 250 gm butter
2 Tbsp golden treacle 35 gm brown sugar 30 gm caster sugar 1 egg 1/2 tsp vanilla essence (the real thing so much better) 30 gm chopped walnuts some leftover chocolate bars (crushed) Put flour, baking powder, sea salt and sugars together. Beat soft butter with sugars till creamy add golden treacle, egg, vanilla and the above flour mixture a scoop at a time. Next add in all the rest that I have not mentioned and scoop out batter with a spoon. Ball up the scoop and press it flat on the baking sheet with a floured fork. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree celsius for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack and it becomes crispy.
This recipe can be modified by using other fillers like raisins, cranberries, rolled oats, hershey's chocolate kisses, currants, lemon peel, orange flavoured chocolate bar etc... Baking is all about creativity and feeding the sweet tooth people. As for me, 2 pieces of cookies and a glass of milk will be satisfying enough for me, nothing more.

A 5 Minute Stir-Fry Lunch

Today is a kinda strange day, didn't know what I wanted for lunch. Maybe it's the weather, so gloomy and wet. This kind of weather makes my mind wander, how wonderful to be eating steamboat with family or friends. Yea, dream on ... it's Friday and almost all of them are at work, if not they will be busy with their children. I suppose a normal thing to do is to dig my fridge for some fresh food then maybe bake something, anything.
1 small tray of stir-fry beef cuts some organic baby kailan (trimmed off roots and cut into small portions - takes 1 minute) Marinate the beef cuts with dark soya sauce, oyster sauce, garlic oil, brown sugar, freshly ground black pepper, cornflour and sea salt. (2 minutes) Heat wok, drizzle olive oil and stir-fry beef for 1 minute, put in the kailan and stir for another minute. Add a little hot water and it's all done. That's all for lunch today, only 5 minutes.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Simply Pizza

There is something about kids this generation, a common link! When they don't wanna eat, just mention pizza or french fries, they say they're starving!!!! Strange but it's tested to the core. Well, it's one of those days none of the kids wanna eat my food and this is so dissapointing. Trying not to show that I am stressed, I drove out to my neighbourhood bake shop to grab some pizza base. Managed to get a couple of thin pizza base. Armed with some BBQ pork sausages I bought from Tesco's Deli...'something', a home made pizza is fast appearing.
Spread some butter 1 Tbsp tomato sauce Crush a skinless tomato (from the can) 1 BBQ pork sausage (cut in rings) a dash of oregano cheddar cheese (gives pizza the taste) mozzarella (tastless just stringy when baked) Put all the above onto the pizza base, working upwards from the butter to the cheeses Place pizza in to the oven preheated at 180 degree celcius. Bake for 10 minutes. Pizza comes out with crispy crusty base and stringy slurpy cheeses. Whalla! pizza up for grabs.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jing Du Spare Ribs

Hi everyone! I was blogging and found this interesting dish on Jingle's Kitchen blog. Sure is one great looking spare rib!. I am used to grilling and roasting ribs but this dish is relatively new to me. I have eaten it in many chinese restaurants but preparing it never met up to their standard. The spare ribs usually turn out to be dry or hard or even non-glossy! This recipe seems to have all that 'thingi' that makes a good spare rib dish! This recipe is taken from Jingle's Kitchen Blog except for the baby cucumbers cos I have not a leaf of lettuce in sight in my kitchen. So, here goes....
Ingredients: 1 kg of pork ribs (small pork ribs) Seasoning 1 tbsp of light soya sauce 1 tbsp of ginger juice (1-thumb size) 1/2 tsp 5-spice powder 1 egg 3 tbsp of cornflour 3 tbsp of custard powder Gravy 5 tbsp of water 2 tbsp of tomato sauce 2 tbsp of A1 sauce or HP sauce 1 tbsp of oyster sauce 1 tbsp of chilli sauce 1 tbsp of sugar 1 tbsp of plum sauce 1 tsp of sesame sauce 1/2 tbsp of cornflour 1/2 tbsp chinese wine Vegetable Baby cucumbers heads and tails sliced and rubbed, then halfed.
Method 1. Cut the pork rib into about 1 1/2 inches long. Do not wash the pork rib too long, if water get inside the marinate sauce will not be absorbed. 2. Season the pork rib with the seasoning, mix them thoroughly and season for 1 hour. 3. Prepare gravy, mix all together and put into a bowl set aside. 4. Heat 2 bowl of oil, must see bubble then put in the seasoned pork ribs and fry high fire then reduce to medium fire until it cooked, use a wooden chopstick to poke the meat, if it is soft, tat means its had been cooked. then can scoop up and set aside. 5. Leave abt 2 tbsp of oil in the wok, put 1/2 tbsp chinese wine, then pour in the gravy to cook, until bubble, put in the fried pork rib to stir evenly, once you see shiny, off fire. 6. Scoop out the ribs leaving some gravy in the wok and throw in those crunchy baby cucumbers and stir a while, then serve.

Monday, April 03, 2006

More Kiddies Snacks

A couple of weeks earlier, I posted a recipe for muffins. Last nite, I whipped up another of that recipe for the kids to take to school today. Anyway, I just changed the filling to peanut butter. I planned to mash 2 bananas in but as usual I forgot! so I guess it's just peanut butter. I put a teaspoon of skippy's creamy peanut butter into each muffin core to minimise the mess when they eat but I must say 2 teaspoons tastes much better. This time the muffins look soooo cute and tiny!
Tiny muffins makes real good picnic and children's party food. The fillings can be either savoury or sweet. With a little colored decorations on them, they are transformed to a totally different level of the food chain.

Here's a photo shot of a close up of the peanut butter in the muffin. I just couldn't resist when it came out straight from the oven, coffee no coffee waiting, I whollop 2!

Sambal Belacan Fish

This is another of my growing up food. Remember my food caterer? Well, this dish came to mind when I saw some fresh kembung fish on sale just now. I usually prefer to use smaller size fish for this dish cos I like the crispy crunchy corners and fins of the fish after frying and lotsa sambal belacan on the insides. I asked my daily mobile market guy to slice 2 deep slits right beside the back bone of the fish for sambal filling and to also gut the fish. Some people prefer to leave it ungutted so that when they slit the fish, they go way in and stuff the sambal filling into the fish stomach or gut area. As for me, I want it gutted, more crunchy corners the better! 5 medium size kembung fish Ingredients to be blended or pounded. 5 cloves garlic 5 shallots 3 fresh large red chilies 5-6 bird-eye chilies 1" toasted belacan 4 Tbsp dried shrimps a little assam water (optional) 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour a little water Add some olive oil and stir-fry all the blended ingredients till fragrant. Take out to cool. Pat dry the fish and season with some sea salt. Fill the fish cavity with pre-cooked sambal belacan filling, including the gutted stomach. Press firmly so that the filling will not fall out when handled. This is the part I clearly remember my caterer doing, mix some all-purpose flour with water and stir into a white starchy paste. Place the paste on top of the sambal filling on the back of the fish. This acts like a glue to prevent the yummy sambal belacan from falling out onto the pan while frying. Fry fish not too many at a time with enough heat. Too low heat will not give you a delicious crispy fish. Some would prefer not the glue the fish with flour paste so that the red hot sambal can be seen ozzing out. Either way, it is still delicious!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Instant Lunch

Lately, I have been pretty occupied with house keeping cos I suddenly noticed that my walk-in closet is rapidly turning into a walk-in jumble sale booth if I don't get rid of some old stuffs and shopping isn't fun when your sub-conscious mind tells you that there is no place for new things anymore. So, clearing, packing, delivering has been pretty much what I was doing all week. I guess I finally have a little time on my hands to put up an instant post.
While I was growing up in Penang, fresh food was abundance but I constantly find myself digging my mom's pantry for a packet of instant curry maggi mee. Strange! what msg can do to a person. I am a sucker for maggi mee especially the curry and assam flavoured ones. I guess now you know distinctively which era I am from. Since I had no time to think of what to cook for lunch today, I settled for a heart-warming bowl of modified instant curry mee. Here is how it looks like. I am sure I don't need to teach you food junkies out there how this is cooked! ha! ha! ha!
Notice the chili anchovies? It's actually the left-overs of my ikan bilis cuttlefish sambal from my earlier post.
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I'm Audrey from Somewhere in my kitchen, Malaysia.

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