Saturday, December 30, 2006

Company Annual Dinner - Song of India

Our company annual dinner was held at Song of India, Singapore.... the appetiser was enough to make me full... don't know why not much appetite... perhaps too many dishes with gravy (I don't like gravy soaked rice)....perhaps too much champagne....

Song of India
33 Scotts Road, Singapore 228226


It was a very busy Christmas for me this year. We hosted a Christmas eve turkey dinner. Of course, I didn't roast the turkey - it's too big a task for a novice cook who has too small an oven.
Barry and friends at our Christmas eve dinner - he was trying to be funny when I was snapping pictures

We got our turkey from Las Carretas again as we have always done the past 3 years. This year, we got their biggest turkey since I was the first caller - a 4 kg bird!
The STAR of Christmas eve dinner - The TURKEY!

Dinner spread - Apart from turkey (with chestnut stuffing, giblet gravy and cranberry sauce), I made roast potatoes, spinach and artichoke dip, mango and avocado salad, chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, chocolate dipped strawberries and cherries and party nuts (with sea salt, maple syrup, brown sugar and chili flakes)
Some of the Christmas gifts More Christmas goodies - Levi's Jeans The picture above is of the gifts I received from my little nephews and nieces - I am blessed with a great family. Four of my nieces came over on Christmas day and we spent our day at the pool and ate turkey sandwiches (what else?), cookies, Chachos, walnuts and almonds, carrot cake and chocolate dipped strawberries and cherries from the Christmas eve dinner.

I had a great time cooking and baking for Christmas - and so much joy in the company of family and friends.
And we have just received news of Oscar and Shannon's engagement - CONGRATULATIONS!!! I get very excited about news of engagements and weddings and new babies....


Christmas came and went... more posting on pre-Christmas and Christmas later.

I just have to post this.... Oh my! These Rugelach are delicious! I was inspired by Cream Puffs in Venice and Bakingsheet, SOLD! I JUST had to make these on my day off.

I browsed a bit for more recipes just to have a better idea of what it really is and what I did was to take the pastry recipe from Allrecipes (no egg washing though; just pressed in some brown sugar before baking) and the filling recipe from Cream Puffs in Venice (omitted the water as I mixed everything together and spread on pastry instead of spreading the jam first - yup, I am not very patient).

The reason for modifying from 2 recipes is because I made roast potatoes for Christmas and have sour cream left in the fridge - perfect to use it up and I skipped the raisin filling simply because I don't like raisins.

So, the recipe I have used is as follows :

Pastry :

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup salted butter
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup white sugar

Filling (mix all till well blended) :

1 cup walnuts, finely ground (I chopped them very finely with knife as not too keen to clean the electric mill just for this - and then I toasted them a bit as I was worried about "raw" walnuts taste)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soft brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup apricot jam (I used Dalfour)

Method :

1. Cut cold butter and cream cheese into cubes.
2. In food processor pulse flour, salt, butter or margarine, cream cheese and sour cream until crumbly.
3. Shape crumbly mixture into four equal disks...wrap each disk and chill 2 hours or up to 2 days.
4. Roll each disk into a 10 inch round keeping other disks chilled until ready to roll them. I rolled the dough on top of lightly floured 10 inch round cutting board for control of shape.
5. Sprinkle round with sugar/nut filling mixture but I have decided to leave a 1 inch diameter from the centre point to avoid "overfilling". With chefs knife or pizza cutter, cut each round into 12 wedges. Roll wedges from wide to narrow, you will end up with point on outside of cookie.
6. Place on ungreased baking sheets, point down. (I ran out of Glad bake sheets from baking tons of chocolate chip cookies over Christmas and used lightly floured aluminium foil)
7. Press soft brown sugar on every rugelach and chill rugelach 20 minutes before baking.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
9. After rugelach are chilled, bake them in the center rack of your oven 25 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on wire racks.

Rugelach all ready to be baked
Rugelach being cooled on wire rack
Close-up of rugelach on wire rack

They were gone once pictures were taken. That tells you how good they are. Thanks to Cream Puffs in Venice, Bakingsheet and Allrecipes!

P/S : I made a little batch again with Nutella spread and 4 Hershey's chocolate chip in each rugelach. And they are just amazing!

They do look like chocolate filled mini croissants!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kerabu Mee Hoon and Glutinuos Rice Balls

Just had a lovely kerabu mee hoon (rice vermicelli salad - not great a translation but I guess, suffice) from May, who runs the cafe at my office building. Sweet of her to have her staff brought up to my office.

It was simply delicious with the right tang from lime juice and flavour from dried shrimps, bunga kantan, fried and raw shallots and scallion (spring onion). The green cili padi and red chilli provided the "kick"!

Oh my! Out of this world!! Am drooling even till now! See the pic? Spells healthy AND yummy!

Addition :

The next day, May sent me some glutinuous rice balls (tang yuan) to mark Winter Solstice (Dong Zhi)

Lovely hue aren't they? Tastes delicious with the right "bite". Not too soft nor hard. And best of all, the soup is not too sweet.

I am truly blessed!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Scruffy Puppy

Where's my momma?

This is Claudia when I am away from home - she gets all scruffy and messy cos she gets tons of play and pats from Papa.

But still, sad eyes.....

Sunday, December 10, 2006

CLINIQUE Full Potential Lips - Plump & Shine Lip Gloss

Bought a tube of Clinique's Full Potential Lips Lip Gloss - colour is Mimosa.

The first time I used it - Barry said "Oh wow! Glossy lips" when he kissed me goodbye in the am.... Yup, it lives up to its promise to make your lips shine.... and plumps them up.... quite a lot like a collagen boost, which it incidentally contains.

Best of all, it is VERY moisturising... this effect lasts whole day! Fine lines and flakiness are minimised and actually, the dryness (hence, flakiness) is eliminated over time. You may experience a slight tingle when you use it.

I like this... very little is required as it is thicker than the usual gloss.... and colour is sheer, at least the one I bought... Use it over your favourite lippy for intensity or on its own for a natural, lush kissable look.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Singapore 6-8 Dec 2006

Glad to be home from Singapore. Flight was delayed about 35mins and MAS did not announce nor even apologise... as usual...

I was there for OSEA2006 Gas Recovery Conference and stayed at Conrad Centennial Singapore at Suntec. It was my first time there and I must say that service is top there. Staff were friendly and went the extra mile. On top of that, I was pleasantly surprised with a box of chocolates and a Christmas bear in the room.. Usually, it's just the fruit basket for business hotels unless one booked for honeymoon package and such.. And I love the rubber ducky in the bathroom.. I am such a kid...

Rubber Ducky
Little Touches...

6/12/2006 Lunch - Golden Peony Restaurant

I arrived just in time for lunch... decided to just eat at the hotel instead of looking around for food as I was extremely hungry. I went to Golden Peony Chinese Restaurant. They were full and I had to make do with a table outside.

Golden Peony proved to be an excellent choice as food was very delicious and their dim sum had a unique twist to them. Also, impeccable service - fearing I was going to be bored waiting for foof to arrive, the service stff offered me magazines to read - and those that I like too!
Scallop and Shrimp Dumpling - chock full of crab roe on a huge scallop which was seated on "inari"/Japanese tofu filled with sharksfin
Radish Cake - soft, fluffy and fragrant - portion is big though
The ever popular "har gow" or prawn dumpling - with diced kai lan - the kai lan added the right crunchiness to the otherwise firm shrimps
"Har gow" exposed
Deep Fried Shrimp, Rock Melon and Banana Combo... Juicy delight! Batter was light and not oily - Perfect!
Deep Fried Shrimp, Rock melon and Banana exposed
Sharksfin Dumpling Soup... Soups are always a welcome for hungry stomachs
Sharksfin Dumpling Soup exposed
Dessert - Soup of aloe vera cubes with diced mango, strawberry and sweet basil seeds - camomile jelly and a tiny glass of calamansi juice were given with compliments to refresh and cleanse the palate before dessert

6/12/2006 Dinner - Crystal Jade Jiang Nian Restaurant, Takashimaya

I went with my 2 other colleagues from Singapore and we just allowed the "captain" to suggest... very knowledgeable about the menu and we were pleased with his choices.
Flat Glass Noodles with Crabmeat - such silky smooth noodles with plenty of fresh crabmeat! Truly a welcome for crab lovers.
Shrimps strifried with salted egg yolk - the custardy salty egg yolk balances the sweetness of the shrimps
Bacon with Baby Chinese Lettuce - the gravy flavoured by the combo of heavy bacon and delicate lettuce taste was amazing!

"3-cup Chicken" - I think the "3-cup" represents the equal amount of sesame oil, soya sauce and rice wine. The rest are bell peppers, potatoes, onions, ginger, garlic etc. - Delicious - taste like homemade soya sauce chicken with the rice wine adding a hint of fragrance - best to go with white rice, in my opinion. Simplicity at its best!
Half of a hairy crab which I shared with Sharon - did I say that I love crab roe? Such creamy and juicy flesh.... Mmmmm....
Dessert - Egg white puff filled with red bean - didn't quite enjoy it as it has an "egg-y" taste and I happen to not like eggs so much. The rest loved these though
Shanghai pancake - these are very well-made. Not oily and the skin was just right - not overtly thick like most
My favourite!! Glutinous rice balls with black sesame paste in ginger soup...

7/12/2006 Lunch - Renn Thai restaurant at Suntec Mall
Very poor service (due to lunch crowd but still... they should have thought about this point) but food was better than average. Crabmeat in shell was sold out - have to try some time.... Tom yam goong! SHIOK!!!
Green mango salad
I forgot to take pics of phad thai and stuffed chicken wings!

7/12/2006 Dinner - The Wine Company at Evan

Went to The Wine Company at the suggestion of my boss since our agent from Taiwan was also in Singapore.

Cod in soya and mirin sauce - it would have been a great dinner of the fish was fresh
Grilled salmon steak
Sampler Platter - smoked salmon, samosa, some beef thingy, liver pate with black peppercorns - I didn't try the beef and samosa and the liver pate was not so fresh

The greatest boo-boo was when they brought us our main course and the platter later.. we had no choice but to eat our mains first since they were hot dishes... and when we were done, we were not enthusiastic at all with the appetiser.

Also, staff were nowhere to be seen when needed. Service has to be improved. Menu was limited.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Elsa and Beth organised a wine & cheese party tonight... we had loads of cheese and wine and fun...
Baked Feta with Garlic by Elsa
Baked Brie with Brown Sugar and Walnuts by BethFruit Cheese

Cheddar CheeseCrackers and BreadsticksDessert... I don't think it has cheese.. Lol!

As usual, everybody brought something... apart from the above, there were Port Salut, Havarti, Kalamata Olives, loads of fruits too! Inspired by California Kitchen, Tony Roma's and Milestone's dips (cos both Barry & I love them!!!), I made warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip... it was my first time and thankfully, it turned out fine... So, all the cheese AND the artichoke did not go to waste.... Phew!

1 can 390gm Epicure artichoke hearts in salt water (rinse with water, drained and chopped finely)
1 can 383gm Del Monte spinach leaf in salt water (rinse with water, squeeze out water and slightly chopped)
1/2 cup Philadelphia cream cheese (mashed)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
1 cup Lady's Choice mayonnaise "Western Style"
1 onion (chopped finely)
3 cloves garlic (chopped finely)
2 sourdough bread or pumpernickel (I used Hiestand's frozen pumpernickel) - Can somebody tell me why is it SO difficult to get sourdough bread (and even pumpernickel) in Malaysia?

1. Preheat oven to 180 to 190 deg C.
2. Cut the top of bread so that you have a bread "lid". Hollow the bread and set the bread which have been taken out beside the hollowed out bread.
3. Mix the artichoke hearts, spinach, cheese, mayonnaise, garlic and onion well.
4. Fill the hollow with cheese mixture. Close with the "lid".
5. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Do take out the bread pieces at the side about 1 minutes into baking so that they would not be burnt.
6. Serve with the cut pieces of bread.

Yield : Enough dip for 2 breads. It's a lot of dip!!!

Spinach & Artichoke Dip in Pumpernickel Bread (It looks really green in this pic.... Vegetables, anyone?)