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Preview: Little Gingko Nut

Little Gingko Nut



Too hungry for my own good



Updated: 2014-10-07T12:02:43.152+08:00

 



Great minds think... Blueberries...

2007-10-23T22:38:26.674+08:00

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Like two cogs in the same wheel, C and I go out and buy another tub of yogurt and a box of blueberries each within a day of each other... the yoghurt of course goes quickly and that leaves us with 2 boxes of fresh blueberries in the fridge for a couple of weeks...

To inaugurate a sexy new member to the kitchen...

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... together with a new cookbook, Baking - from your home to mine (or was it the other way around?) by Dorie Greenspan.... I made a cake which had two elements I've always wanted to use - blueberries and crumble.

I'm not sure if it's because I adapted the measurements from US (to metric) and got the proportions wrong, but the dough felt a little funny - a bit too thick and stiff, coming together in a ball, much like bread dough... so I added some more buttermilk than asked for to thin it out... I was all prepared for things to go awry so was pleasantly surprised when it turned out pretty moist anyway. I suppose it must be one of those cakes that is supposed to be more dry and less like sponge...

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Just add ice-cream and it's even better...

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Cake aside, the new toy was EXCELLENT!!!!!

Look forward to using it again soon...



Good to be back

2006-12-07T12:48:04.130+08:00

11 months is a long time to be away. Blogging is like an addiction that you want to keep secret. At times it's hard to stop... you obsessive log in to see if any one left a comment... or blog about any old thing you make, even if it's just a good cup of Milo.

But it's something that you can set aside for a long while and while looking back at past entries, wonder how you found the time before!

The cooking has not stopped but the writing had for a while. We switched roles the last few months since our godma moved away. So went the weekly Friday family dinners at Pokfulam and good chatter way into the weekends. Now that my niece is doing a term here on an exchange program, it's family dinner at our place most of the time.

It feels like a role reversal but is suppose we should always pass on the generosity that we have enjoyed for so long from others.

Just pictures of our last family dinner...

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Old School Remi-MINCE-sing

2006-11-27T23:16:48.577+08:00

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Shepherd's Pie. It's as old school as rock [hard] buns and chicken stew. Every girl I know who grew up in Asia would have some vague memory of making at least one of the 'trinity' of the home economics system.

Of course it was much simpler then. Left over mince pork with frozen carrots, peas and corn, topped with mashed potato. I remember how it was touted as a nutritious meal though the idea of eating that much potato was still a bit foreign for my fiercely Chinese stomach.

What a difference 20 years, and maybe a couple of dozen diet trends, can make! Sure shepherd's pie won't make it pass the low-carbs requirements. And frozen vegetables isn't as fashionable as they used to be in the 80s. But there's still something to be said about tucking into a hearty meal of bubbling beef stew oozing through a soft but lightly crusted layer of good old mashed potato.

The pie before baking...

I'm not a fancy cook. While I would like my food to look as nice and sound as exotic, they often are neither. But give me a messy familiar dish any day... I'm still an old fashion girl at heart.

BTW, I realise that it's cottage pie and not shepherd's pie that I made (since the former is made of beef and the latter of lamb). Cooking the way I always do, I ended up with 2 pies, with an extra tupperware portion for E to bring to school.

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Recipe taken from Nigella Lawson's Feast.



Deck the halls

2006-01-14T10:20:53.476+08:00

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Seasons are a changing. When I left Hong Kong last week, it was 20 degrees and this week, coming back from Bangkok (which is cooler and wetter, but still hot) it was 10 degrees.. But I love it... If I ever leave Hong Kong, autumn and winter weather would be what I miss the most.

Light cool weather... winter coats (yes, yes.. it's not that cold but that's no excuse not to keep extra warm!), colourful scarves and sweaters.. and just the elaborate layering everytime we go out.. it's nice that we do so much to face cool weather.. and well worth it.. nothing better than cold air hitting your cheeks while you feel warm and comfy underneath your winter layers...

This year flatmate, C, got a real tree for the house since her family's coming over. Since I was in BKK, I offered to buy all the ornaments since it's probably cheaper. Going for a gold theme...

I'm usually bad at planning stuff like that.. so as usual C had to check to be doubly sure..

C: "so what did you get?"
Me: "balls"
C: "what do you mean, what colour?"
Me: "gold ones, small"
C: "how many?"
Me: "four"
C: "you mean four packs?"
Me: "no, four balls"
C: "how small is small??"
Me: "like Thai green limes"
C: "you bought four tiny balls??? what were you thinking?? the tree is 7 feet tall!!"
Me: "should I buy another pack?"

So anyway, I went back and bought four to five times the amount that I got...

We put the tree together tonight before C left for her trip... Secretly, I think it's so she can make sure that the tree looks good (I'm not good with asesthetics either!) it was great! had to break a few stems to secure the ornaments but nothing beats that piney smell of pine and the stick residue that stays on your fingers

Step 1: Get tall tree

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Step 2: Put balls on tree

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Step 3: More balls please

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Step 4: Place star on tree

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Step 5: Turn on lights

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!



Cooking with relative ease

2006-01-09T00:04:22.920+08:00

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My niece came to visit, with my aunts and other older niece. Since summer sales in Hong Kong started, we've seen more visitors to our house than in the last 6 months. I'll like to think they're here cos they've not seen me in ages, but who am I kidding...

Guests at our house is always a source of great joy to both C and I cos we'll have someone, besides each other, to get feedback on our pet obsessions. She'll ask if they thought our house is nice and I'll keep asking if they liked my cooking. Considering how expensive hotels are in Hong Kong, we consider it a small price to pay for a roof over their heads when they're holidaying!

Besides shopping, they've just been eating a lot. So it was quite a relief to have a home cooked meal last night. The big mess you see up there is my niece and I cooked up for dinner last night - aglio olio topped with grilled cajun turkey. It's a recipe that I got from my last guest, A, who cooked it for me while she was here.

Simple, fast and delicious.

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Cajun Turkey
2 turkey fillets (is that what you call them?)
chilli flakes, to taste
crushed garlic, 2cloves
salt or soya sauce, to taste
olive oil, enough to coat

Marinate the fillets in the ingredients above for at least 30 minutes.
Heat up a griddle pan till hot
Place fillets on the pan for 2 minutes on each side
Remove and cut

Aglio Olio

Ingredients:
5-6 cloves of garlic, cut into slivers
7-8 shiitake mushrooms, cut into slivers
2-3 small chillis , chopped into small bits
1 packet of bacon, chopped into small chunks
Handful of cherry tomatos, cut into thin slices
Spaghetti enough for three
2-3 stalks of coriander, chopped into small bits
Olive oil

Cook the spaghetti
Heat a pan up, add the bacon in and fry it in its own fats (I use less fatty bacon so had to add some olive oil in)
Remove the bacon when slightly browned and strain on a piece of kitchen towel
Drain out excess bacon fats and add some olive oil in the pan
Fry the garlic till fragrant and add the mushroom. Fry till slightly crisp
Add the chilli and spaghetti and mix well. Add more oil if it's too dry - spaghetti should be lightly coated with oil
Toast in the tomatos and coriander last and mix well
Serve with grilled turkey and salad

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It's been a long work week for me too. Ended up having to make 2 conference calls to Texas after dinner and finished work at around 10.30. It just felt like I still hadn't shaken off work and was just not ready to go to bed. So got my niece out of bed (poor thing, had to catch a flight the next day too.. but the cake had to baked!)

So I rehashed the old recipe here

Brought it to the team the next day and J declared it "chiu kap hao sek"! (super delicious in cantonese)



Guest Chef In the House

2007-01-30T20:25:41.098+08:00

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It's summer sale season in HK and my good friend, A, came to stay and of course, shop. She was nice enough to cook dinner for us on Friday and we invited J to come for a much overdue first visit.

Boy did A cook up a storm. A cooks like me.. we both use tons of plates and dishes in preparation and never clean up till the end. So by the end of cooking a four course meal, we had lots plates, woks, pans and knives to clean. But since A was head chef, I was kitchen cleaner for the day. Wasn't too bad... didn't break anything...

She made kungpao chicken which J declared to be "HK restaurant standard" and also the chap chai dish below.

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My contribution for the night was simple chilli prawn.

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But A topped it off with a really rich chocolate cake.. which was really heavenly...

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Recipes for the dishes below:

Kungpao chicken

2-3 chicken fillets, chunks
2 tbsp vegetable oil
10 dried chilli, cut in thirds
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
handful of cashew nuts (unsalted, roasted)
6 slices ginger
3 spring onions, chopped

Marinade:
1 tbsp wine
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp seasame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cornflour

Sauce:
3 tbsp sweet thick soy sauce
1 tsp vinegar
1 tbsp wine
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cornflour dissolved in 1/4 cup water

1. Place chicken in marinade for 15 mins
2. Combine sauce ingredients
3. Fry chicken with some ginger slices till browned
4. Heat oil in wok till hot, add cut chillis and allow them to scorch for 30-60 secs
5. Add onions, cashew nuts, and finally add chicken
6. Add sauce, stir to mix and serve

Chap Chai (cantonese/teochew style)

Half cabbage, cut in large sections
Fresh mushrooms, assorted, halved
Any assortment of vegetables you may like
Vermicelli, soaked in hot water
2 Garlic, chopped
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt

1. Heat up oil and add garlic
2. add cabbage, followed by all other vegetables and vermicelli
3. Add salt and some water for gravy.
4. leave to simmer longer if you prefer vegetables to be softer



What to eat to beat the heat II

2005-07-10T09:40:41.000+08:00

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It's been blowing hot and cold in Hong Kong over the last few weeks. After a depressing two weeks of downpour which even caused a flood on our little road on the hill, we had a week of brilliant sunshine and now, rain again. This has really just been too confusing for my body. It's either wet or hot outside, but once indoors, it's just humid, stuffy and warm. That's summer heat for you.

C's got it way worse cos of her sinus. If it's going to be hotter the next day, she gets the sniffles; if it's going to pour the next morning, her nose just runs. She's like a walking meterology report, with high degree of accuracy too! We just always check with her before we go out to see if we need to bring an umbrella.

Anyway, it's time to beat the summer heatiness again. This time with a luohan drink.

It's really a pretty fascinating fruit. Luohan guo is so named as it grows well in Guilin where many arhats (luohans) go for their temple retreats - they were purportedly the first to use the fruit for its medicinal purposes. The fruits were reported to be frequently used as the main ingredient in cooling drinks (that is, drinks consumed to counteract hot weather, fever, or disorders described in the tradition as warm or hot in nature). It's believed to do anything from relieving sunstroke, moistening the lungs, eliminating phlegm, stopping cough, and promoting bowel movements.

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It's a strange looking fruit which looks even stranger on the inside. But it's got an incredible sweetness to it that it lends to any drink made with it as an ingredient. (luohan guo is also now also used as an artificial sweetener)

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Luohan Guo Drink

2 luohan guo
handful of dates*
handful of wolfsberry*
2-3 sticks of sugared winter melon
1.5 litres of water

* use red dates and wolfsberry sparingly as they are heaty in nature

1. Crack open the luohan guos and dig out the insides.
2. Boil the insides, with dates and wolfsberry for around an hour
3. Serve (the drink is naturally sweet, but you may add the winter melon sticks for extra depth if you like)

It's a lovely drink. And apparently very good for you too according to Eu Yan Sang as it "influences the lung and spleen channels. Moistens the lungs and dissolves nodules. Commonly used to treat hacking cough and phlegm nodules in the neck."



Seasons a changing

2005-06-23T00:06:56.713+08:00

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Spotted these at the checkout counter while at super market:

Me: you know it's summer when the lychee flavoured condoms hit the supermarkets...

(snigger..)

C: yeah... what do you think were the winter flavours?

Me: kumquat lemon...

C: ginger....

Me: steamed milk!!!

(all seasonal drinks that are pushed in Hong Kong in winter...)

They should really look at segmentation and consider premium flavours such as bird's nest and hasma for those who are willing to pay more... (i know this isn't really food related... but what the heck...)



Postcards from Nepal

2005-05-25T22:44:45.450+08:00

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Zipped off to Kathmandu last week on a rather last minute trip/assignment and have a bunch of photographs (and gastro-enteritis) to show for it!

It was an eventful trip even before I touched down. The plane had to circle for 45 minutes while been surrounded on all sides by lightning flashes. It was amazing to watch until the nepali girl next to me turned and asked, "um.. isn't this... dangerous?" (followed by nervous laughter from the both of us) She was great fun though and I called her up a few days later to help me translate the interviews we had.

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Couldn't resist admiring the cakes at the numerous german bakeries around. They were of course too sweet and creamy for words, but real candy for the eye. I miss those old fashion cakes where there's real cake inside and not fussy mouse or precious wafer-thin sponge layers.

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Fresh juicy carrots are sold on the streets by farmers in summer as thirst quenchers. And if you look carefully at the weeds growing at the side... wild hemp, just growing off the streets. My friend, W, said that if he had known this while he was younger, he would have upped and moved here years ago...

Here are some pictures from the trip:

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I... make... BREAD!!!

2005-05-16T09:56:43.360+08:00

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I feel like Tom Hanks in 'Castaway' when he finally gets the fire going. "I... MAKE.... FIRRREEE!!!" A real 'who the man' moment, except in my case, it's really more like "WHO THE BAKER??" hahhahahha... (bear with me, please.. hehe..)

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I know that it's only plain white loaf bread I made but bread making is a real extravagant way to spend time in Asia (I was at it till 2 am last night) since you could always pop by the supermarket just 5 minutes away and get a loaf for less than 10 HK dollars.

However, the store bought bread you get in Hong Kong doesn't quite taste like Gardenia brand breads that I'm used to. The Garden brand bread has this weird rancid milk aftertaste.. smells weird, tastes weird, even feels weirdly damp... Other brands like Maxim's are much better but they always seem to run out of them quick (probably cos no one else wants to end up with the Garden ones either) It was the same in Shanghai as well. I just ended up not eating bread for a year or so.

Since I'm probably not going to do this often.. (there is a lot of waiting involved, though, steps are few and quite straightforward), I'm just going to keep more pictures for remembrance.

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The texture on the crust is really quite intriguing. What I'll probably do differently, if I make it again, is to have the dough ready and bake it the morning I intend to eat it.. The crust does get a little stiff when you keep it overnight. But nothing hard to manage.. I just don't like crust.

All this effort though.. simply so that we can enjoy toast with the lovely Yakun Kaya that we got from our friends a week ago. Yummy.... well worth it!

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I used this recipe from Nigella Lawson:

500g bread flour
2tsp salt
20g unsalted butter, softened
2tsp caster sugar
7g (1 sachets) easyblend/instant yeast (NOT dry-active)
300ml lukewarm water

(1) Pop the flour in the microwave for 20 sec. Mix the salt with the flour and rub in the butter gently until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar and yeast well.

(2) Make a well in the flour and pour in approx 3/4 of the warm water. Using a wooden spoon, start mixing in the flour. Add the rest of the water if necessary.

(3) I gave up at this stage and used my hands and kneaded for approx 5 minutes. The dough will feel firmer, very smooth and pliable. If it's too sticky, use more flour.. Return the dough to the mixing bowl (wash it out and lightly oil), cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for about one hour until doubled in size.

(4) Punch down into the dough and knead for a short while and fashion into a roll to be put into the loaf. Cover with warm tea towel or clingfilm for 30 mins. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 230 C.

(5) When the dough has risen to almost double the size, dust some flour over the top and pop it in for 30-35 mins.

(6) Remove when ready and let cool.



I stand aloaf

2005-05-12T09:03:38.490+08:00

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And C (flatmatie and best friend) finally gets her chocolate pound cake...

heheh.. sorry for always getting distracted and emerging from the kitchen with anything BUT chocolate pound cake (even though I always say that's what I'm making when I first step in)

I have to stop being so self-congratulatory.. (maybe after this entry!!) but it really tastes quite good! hahah...

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Chocolate Pound Cake
modified from a great blog, a spoonful of sugar
which was in turn modified from "Chocolate and The Art of Low-Fat Desserts"

125g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 tbsp coffee powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g yoghurt
100g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar

Position the rack in lower-third of oven and preheat to 180 C.

Combine and sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, powder and salt. Set aside. Whisk the whole eggs with the egg whites in a small bowl. Set aside. Dissolve the espresso powder in 1 1/2 tbsp warm water and combine with the vanilla and yoghurt in a small bowl.

Beat the butter, adding sugar gradually. Gradually pour eggs into sugar mixture.

Pour in half the dry mixture, and gradually dribble in half of the yoghurt mixture. Use a wooden spoon and fold in the rest of the dry mixture and yoghurt mixture

Scrape batter into the pan and smooth the top as necessary. Bake loaf for 45-50 mins, or until cake starts to shrink from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out barely clean. Do not overbake.



What to eat to beat the heat

2005-05-12T00:07:43.123+08:00

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It's almost summer... It's the time when I get sore throats, breakouts, and when I always seem to bite myself on the lip 'by accident'. All signs of 'heatiness' - not just on the outside, but on the inside too. Or simply put, an imbalance in the body, probably as we adjust to change of seasons.

How do you know if you're 'heaty'? I'm not sure of the scientific signs, but anecdotally, I generally fall sick more easily and react adversely to food that are fried or inherently heaty by nature such as chocolate, lychee et.. (this doesn't help.. i know..)

Ayurvedic and chinese traditional medicine outlooks seem to be on the same page on this:

"summer's heat symptoms are usually caused by loss of fluid, inappropriate diet, and insufficient nutrient intake due to lack of appetite, which lead to imbalance and disrupts metabolism. Symptoms include thirst, fever, burning sensation, irritability, heaviness of the head and/or body, vertigo, nausea, stuffiness, abdominal distention, general weakness, scanty urination (????)and profuse sweating."

I don't take it lightly cos I really do believe that long-term effects will "lead to the depletion of the body's abilities to fight off infection when the seasons change." Turning 30 has just made me less open to making assumptions to my body!

Avoid coffee, cereals, root vegetables, sweets, fried foods, spicy foods, red meats and heavy gravies. Avoid frying, baking and roast-ing, try steaming, boiling or stir-frying foods. What's the best thing to eat at this time? Lots of melons, curds (like below), fresh fruits, cucumbers, water-based herbal drinks

By all counts, drinks are the fastest and easiest way of combating and beating the heat (in every sense of the word):

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Sugar Cane and Carrot Drink (Cooling)

1 carrot
400 g sugar cane
5-6 water chestnuts
Something called imperatae that you can see in the foreground of the picture above
(I don't really know what this root is, it's optional)
1.25 litre of water
Rock sugar to taste

Put all the ingredients into boiling hot water
Simmer for 2 hours and add rock sugar to taste
It should be a fairly clear, light brown and sweet smelling drink (mine looks dark as I added brown sugar)

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Hot food for a cold day

2005-05-11T21:01:28.723+08:00

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It's been pouring since Sunday. With any luck, we might get a typhoon 8 signal sooner than July!!!! Which just means a free day huddled at home with company and home cooked meals.. sounds like a great plan. (I obviously don't work in retail!)

Anyway, cold and wet days like these cry out for comfort food. And nothing brings more comfort than hot and sour sichuan soup and steaming hot claypot rice.

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The best part of claypot rice (a rather ubiquitous dish in HK) is of course the end - scrapping off the burnt rice bits off the bottom of the pot. A nice toasted crunchiness that adds special bite to this dish. They even have a special name for that part of the dish. It's called guoba in mandarin (literally, pot scar). I've even seen some Chinese restaurants feature guoba dishes, making full use of the roasted flavour in soup and gravy based dish offsprings. It's really a little known delicacy.

I can just see my mum screaming, "DON"T EAT THE BLACK BITS!!! WILL GET CANCER!!!".. and dig in anyway!

As for sichuan hot and sour soup, it's one of those things that you'd think is a lot of work to make but is really quite easy to whisk out. And it's totally customisable to your 'texture' preference: If you like a 'crunchy' soup, use carrots, bamboo shoots, beans sprout, preserved vegetable, black fungus, green peas etc..., for a more smooth soup, use soft bean curd, eggs, shredded chicken, mushrooms etc..

Plus it's the perfect dish for pack rats like Tara and myself, who hoard all sorts of food bits and ends as it calls for just a small helping of everything.

The recipes are pretty long and I wish I knew how to post them in a different window... Will do this later...



Zhuang Nai - Playing with your food

2005-05-11T21:03:54.230+08:00

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When I first moved to Hong Kong, desserts were the first things that I got hooked on. There was one dessert, however, that I avoided like a plague - the horrible sounding 'steamed milk'. You'd know when you pass a store selling steamed milk - it usually has a picture of a cow on the sign board, and its windows are filled by rows and rows of chinese bowls.

The menu usually consists of steamed milk with various combinations like chocolate, egg etc... They even have special orders for steamed milk with shuang pi (as in double skin). I mean, to pay for the horrible layer that you get from leaving hot milk to cool, and, pay more to get 2 of those layers!!???!?? the whole concept was just too weird for me, to be honest.

But we were persuaded to give it a try, by a priest, of all people, who swore by it...(ahem... figuratively speaking of course!) We plodded through the tiny alleys of Mongkok to find this hole in the wall shop, I entered somewhat grudgingly.. and emerged A CONVERT! It's a taste that grows on you but what's amazing is how it's made... this shop in particular uses buffalo milk (which I think is thinner) and the lady poured the milk into a bowl and within a minute, it turned from liquid to a soft curd. It was like magic! Of course, like moths to a flame, we ordered more to see her do it again and again (much to her delight... she's a real street magician, this one)

Now we make it at home! It's really a whole load of fun making it.

Steamed milk is also called zhuang nai (or literally, knocked up milk!!) and you'll see why when you see the recipe:

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What you need:

- 2 pots with handles (only one needs to be heated over a fire so you can use a plastic container for the other... just as long as they both have handles for maneuvering)
- One old ginger, grated (this tends to be more fibrous, as opposed to a young fresh ginger)
- 1 teaspoons of caster sugar
- 1 glass of fresh milk

(1) Squeeze the juice out of the grated ginger and put 2-5 tablespoons in a boil, depending on how much you like ginger
(2) Heat the milk in one pot till you see smoke rising (do not let it boil)
(3) Quickly stir in sugar to taste (it's meant to be lightly sweetened, so if you're using low fat milk, you can use less sugar)
(4) Here's where you'll need both hands... pour the hot milk from one pot to another for a total of 10 times
(5) Pour it into the bowl with ginger juice... then wait 2-3 minutes for the magic to begin...The milk should curdle nicely

It's a lovely quick dessert to make at home.. It's got a lovely light gingery taste to it and it's much softer than the beancurd dessert (dou hwei) you get. I've put in a table spoon of chocolate into it when heated and it's my favourite version (funnily enough, the chocolate version tastes even better with ginger). Most of all... everyone goes..."wahhhh...." when they see the curd form.. entertainment AND dessert.. what more can you ask for???

There's a scientific explanation to why the milk does this which I'll post when I find it again.

In the meantime, try it! Knock yourself out!!



Making a Fashion Statement

2005-05-05T23:57:06.800+08:00

This is soooooo..... embarrassing!!

Just came back from a client meeting and realised that I had been wearing two obviously different earrings on each ear!

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It's no wonder that he was looking at me strangely at points during our discussion (especially when I flipped my hair back...) This was on top of getting lost while finding the office....

Sent the following note to the client:

By the way, I’ve just returned to the office where it was promptly pointed out that I was wearing two obviously different earrings on each ear! (I’m embarrassed.. But it was nice of you not to laugh...) Rest assured, while sense of direction and fashion may be slightly impaired, consulting skills have not been in any way compromised!

He sportingly wrote back:

When you've been working with a target consumer aged 12-22yrs for the last 15+ years, where it's all about mixing and nothing matching...  i just assumed you were in tune with fashion....

This ranks as one of the more embarrassing client moments.. even worse than the time I put my hand into my jacket pocket to get my name card holder out and whipped out a half eaten bar of chocolate that I had forgotten about...

Sigh....And it had to be a fashion brand I was talking to today! It figures...

I'm going to redeem myself by cooking a nice dinner...



Pretty please....

2005-05-03T22:13:35.343+08:00

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Other people cook too you know ma...

See the cake that my friend A made...



Berry Nice!

2005-05-03T22:08:25.960+08:00

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Came back from meeting at Kowloon Bay and realised that I had promised to bring dessert tonight and forgot all about it... So went to supermarket quickly to see what I could get and managed to get some berries and mascorpone cheese.

I used a Nigella Lawson recipe for black and white berry tart and substituted the toppings. I also didn't have digestives so I used my fave Waitrose Stem Ginger Cookies as a base instead, reducing the amount of butter used as these cookies were quite rich anyway. I also used half portion of mascorpone.. well.. cos, I just couldn't imagine eating that much cream after steam boat dinner. Didn't have a pie tray.. so used the old springform cake tray...

So basically, I've changed the recipe quite a bit.. does it mean it's mine now? I own it? is this how it works!?!?!? Yey!!

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Anyway, so here's the recipe as per A's request (to have recipes posted as well):

For the base:
250 g ginger biscuits, roughly broken up
50g butter, melted (if using digestives, 75 g)
cake or flan tin

For filling/topping:
1 large egg, separated
75 g caster sugar
250 g mascarpone (original asked for 500g)
squeeze of lime
Mixed berries (as much as you want)

Blitz the biscuits to crumbs and add melted butter. Tip over into tin and press with fingers onto the base and up the sides
Put in the fridge while you get the filling done
Whisk egg white until stiff and set aside, Beat the yolk with sugar till thick and pale (it'll take a while but persist)
Add mascarpone and beat till smooth. Then add the lime
Fold in the egg while and smooth the mixture into the tin
Arrange the toppings loosely on top.

Done!

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Guess who came for dinner last night

2006-01-12T08:38:44.613+08:00

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We had dinner with Anthony Bourdain! Well... not alone of course.. (but who cares about the the other 100 people in the room!) I won't go into details of how we managed to bag tickets for the evening. But the atmosphere was pretty electric... it certainly had a superstar feel to it all.

I'm really amazed at how celebrity chefs have become a sudden and huge phenomenon. (In fact, my friend, SL, is writing a doctoral thesis on the same subject matter). Unlike chefs like Wolfgang Puck, celebrity chefs are less likely to be the French bloke who speaks in a quaint accent and more likely to be the cool dude on the bike you least expect to be working in a kitchen. In other words, they make cuisine and pastry look cool.

There's a sense of 'voyeurism' as well as behind this obsession. We tune into cooking programs as much to find out who they're hanging out with, what their wife and kids look like and what they're up to lately, as to find out recipes. Celebrity chefs are not just great cooks, but also great writers, poets, musicians etc.. in short, they are reality TV, gossip magazines and talkshow combined. Now do we need any persuasion????!!

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Anyway, this was my big bonus from the evening - a free cookbook by Anthony Bourdain which I may not have paid for (french cooking? I don't know...) It's also autographed!

He's really a very funny guy. Quite a lot of good quotes from him.

On bad food experiences: "Everything the lonely planet says not to eat, I've eaten.. and never gotten sick from it.. The only place where I've actually eaten something and thrown up is the land of my ancestors, France"

On what he won't eat: "If you're smaller than me, slower than me, stupider than me... I'll say "run"... pass the salt man..."

On his new show: "It's features me eating too much, drinking too much, smoking too much, behaving really badly and having a really good time."

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But we're not really the big fan. T is... C and I are just props! Later, after the event, he dropped by our table and we were chatting. It was funny.. he said that there are times when he's asked by a bloke - who's not sure who he is - for his autograph. He pens: 'The best sex I've ever had....' and he signs off: Jamie Oliver...

Hhaha... anyway, it went on for a while longer and we were just too tired to hang and left...

I told C, "I can't believe we were just shooting the breeze with Anthony Bourdain".... maybe I'm a fan after all.



Chocolate Chip cookies

2005-04-21T15:24:53.350+08:00

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I made chocolate chip cookies last night...

Easy peasy... didn't even have to use the mixer at all...

it's a case of baking envy... It all started when Big J told me that she made chocolate chip cookies over the weekend... she was so inspired with how easy it was to make the banana bread that she went to mini's house and whipped up what was (in her words) even better than famous amos cookies...

Suffering from mild case of kiasu-ism, I wanted to make it a little more complex:

C: How come you don't make something like choc chip cookies?

Me: ok! I make!... how about I make chocolate chip peanut butter cookies?

(mind zooms in on the half finished jar of peanut butter in the fridge)

C: .... why must you make it so complicated?? can't you just make chocolate chip cookies???

Me: ok! how about I make chocolate chip cookies and then also a coca cola cake?

C: ... (ignores me...)

So it's plain chocolate chip cookies....The first batch turned out real nice...

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I took a call when I was baking the second batch.. so it turned out a little burnt..

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that's only from leaving it in for an extra minute longer! I tell you... that's why I love cuisine over baking... can I ever be this precise!?!???!



Up to my ears with orange and plum muffins

2005-04-22T09:34:07.246+08:00

I'm never going to bake when I've got no friends in town... the joy of baking is in the giving... cos otherwise, you have to eat it all by yourself!

C's out of town, and both Jases are busy... so I ended up eating one muffin a day - FOR A WEEK!!!

The only reason why I didn't have to stretch it over the next weekend was because I fortuitously gave away 2 muffins each to the ah soks guarding our building in the morning before I left for meetings... hehehe... He's already seeing the gas man up to our doorstep and brings our letters to our front door even though we have a mail box -- cos we made him coffee one cold winter afternoon... (and I buy him a dan tat (custard pie) or po lo bao (pineapple bun) whenever I come back early from afternoon meetings, now and then)... maybe now he'll make sure they take off their shoes and call me miss before they step into my house!

I baked them in two batches on two mornings... Anyway, true to form, I've got so many things in the fridge, eaten to half portion.. like 2 plums.. half a cabbage... 2 straw mushrooms etc... I decided to use up the plums and cut them into the second batch.. quite nice!

I used Nigella Lawson's recipe for orange muffins and added a two tablespoons of pomelo honey (as in the syrup for the drink)... very nice!

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... and here's an aerial view:

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Cupcake or brownie - you decide

2005-04-22T00:15:16.276+08:00

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I set out to make chocolate cupcakes with a cream cheese topping this weekend...

But guess what turned up? brownies!!!!!

How did it happen??? I really don't know...

I followed a recipe that I found here to the T. But it looks nothing like what it's supposed to turn out...

Sent flatmate a SMS: do you and your friends want to come back for dessert? I accidentally made brownies!

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Verdict: Very chocolatey.. very rich.. great with a scoop of haagen dazs ice-cream..

I'm unfortunately not a chocolate fan so this takes a bit too thick and rich for me... I'll have to find a way to give them away... again...



First baking success

2005-04-21T15:56:37.666+08:00

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I struck gold with this simple banana bread recipe from Nigella Lawson. As she puts it, it's the best recipe to start with for first time bakers. And she's right!

I've not had a lot of success baking before this. I always know way before I put the goods in the oven that something's not right... but I just don't know what.. the consistency just isn't right...

I finally figured it out - it's precision... The big difference? A weighing scale... It's like an epiphany! I always thought you know how to bake or don't.. but I stand corrected. No agak-agak (guessing), just measure, measure, measure... !

The best part in making this cake is waiting for the bananas to ripen. It just takes a couple of days for the yellow beauties to mature into great smelling brown skinned babies. The smell is so strong that I worry that they'll just burst out of their skins. I put them in the rice container to help speed up the ripening process. (it literally cuts the time required by half,

I wish I took a picture of the loaf. I've already baked this 2 more times.. each time it tastes a little different, mostly due to the different degree of ripeness of the bananas. One time, it tasted like Kuih Pisang that you get from the Malay kuih store.

Very nice!



Lunch In - Teriyaki Chicken

2006-04-02T22:12:16.623+08:00

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Had to use up the two fillets in the fridge.. so I marinated them in my own version of teriyaki sauce and then put them on a hot griddle pan..

It turned out really well.. I also had vegetables left over from the weekend dinner we made for T and family. So I made a salad.

Anyway, think I should just cook lunch and eat it rather than take pictures of them.. My nanny told my niece the other day that she wondered if I ever get any work done?

I can just imagine her saying in Teochew: LENG AH.... JOR NI BOR JOR KANG, DIANG DIANG ZI JIAK???? (translation: Leng ah? how come never work, always cooking????)

OK, Ma... not that I don't work.. but everyday must eat right? Just making sure that I eat good and nice food lor... Cannot everytime eat mieh pieh kiam chye (porridge with preserved vegetables) right? Otherwise very sian right???

anyways, I don't cook that often, every time I cook, I eat that for 2 or 3 meals.... And I only bake at night or weekends...



Lunch Special - Nasi Goreng

2005-04-21T16:35:00.596+08:00

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Chilli paste is the most essential thing to have.. You can do so much with it... fry it with prawns to make sambal prawns, or fry it with meats and add a bit of ketcup and water, or coconut milk to get curry.

Fry it with rice and you get... nasi goreng!

I didn't have much left in the fridge besides a few mushrooms, a slice of ham and some prawns from the night before. So I fried some hae bee (dried shrimp - which I always have grounded and frozen in my fridge) added in the sliced mushrooms, ham and just mixed.. a bit of fish sauce was all it required...

after I finished with the nasi goreng, I realised that I had half a bag of spinach leafs. Too late to add to the wok, so I just put it in the microwave for a minute and topped it onto the fried rice..

Nice... if I may say so myself!

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Choc Pudding

2005-04-21T16:10:04.833+08:00

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I baked the first cake in my oven today!

Was watching Jamie Oliver's Dinners on TV over the weekend (the Firemen episode) and since J and J are flying in for a weekend break, I decided that I'd make it for supper when they get in.

It looks great.. but it didn't taste very good... hahaha... If it looks dry, it's because it was...

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I don't know.. I think Jamie Oliver's probably a great chef, but when it comes to baking.. he seems to let a few things slip...