Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Curried Baby Shark Fillet on Bed of Potato Cake

I am so stressed - and just came back from a super duper holiday in Phuket too!

One more boss added to our structure - means one thing : do more reports... Actually, am stressed out thinking about Claudia having to be spayed this Friday. My fault. Should have done it earlier instead of now that she is 5 years old. Every year when she goes for her annual vaccination, the vet would say "spay". I would say "I will think about it and arrange a time when I can stay at home with her after surgery".

Five years came and went... and she hasn't been spayed yet. Time flies! Now, I am as worried as any mom would be for her baby....

Anyway.... my baby will be fine.

I have been cooking but have been very lazy in posting stuffs... esp. since the earthquake in Taiwan causing the net to go all unstable a couple of weeks back.

Anyway, I liked what I made for dinner tonight and decided to blog about it so that I will remember in the future.

Curried Baby Shark Fillet on Bed of Potato Cake

Proudly made impromptu when I got back from work...

2 baby shark fillet (size of half a fist each - mine were about 125gms each)
2 shallots - sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic - chopped finely
1 red chilli - sliced thinly
2 tbsp curry powder (for fish)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/2 tsp sea salt (crushed)
1 lime

1 large potato (Peeled and "sliced" with peeler)
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp corn oil

Broccoli (size of a fist) - cut into florets
1 tsp EVOO
a pinch of salt

Method :

1. Preheat oven to 200 deg C
2. Pour 2 tbsp EVOO onto baking dish. Sprinkle salt on the oil.
3. Rub fish with curry powder and then coat with oil/salt on the baking dish before placing them on the dish.
4. Sprinkle chopped garlic, sliced shallots and chilli evenly onto fish. Set aside.
5. Place broccoli, 1 tsp EVOO and sprinkle a pinch of salt onto a dish.
6. Place sliced potato carefully onto a separate dish.
7. Place broccoli and potato into a steamer and steam at high for 10-15 mins. Leave aside. Make sure potato strips are just sticky but not totally cooked that they are too soft to handle.
8. Heat 1/2 tbsp corn oil in a non-stick pan. Medium heat. Lay strips of 1/2 of the steamed potatoes to form a cake of about 10cm X 10cm approximately. Sprinkle 1/4 tbsp Parmesan on top of potatoes. When slightly browned at the bottom, flip over carefully. Sprinkle 1/4 of Parmesan on the new side. When bottom is golden brown, flip one more time so that both sides of the potato cake are browned evenly.
9. While cooking the first potato cake, place fish into oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of fish.
10. Repeat step 8. with remaining potato strips.
11. Place 1 pottao cake on a plate. Place fish on top of potato. And broccoli florets randomly. Squeeze some fresh lime juice over each fish while hot.
12. Serve hot.

Phuket 28 - 31 January 2007

Barry and I had a blast of a holiday in Phuket... it was the first visit for me and I totally loved it.

This sunset at Andaman Sea greeted us when we arrived Phuket.
This near cloudless (see one tiny puff on the right hand corner) blue sky greeted us the next day and for the 3 days we were there.... so calm and peaceful...
Endless beach - 8km I was told.... we got burnt just walking on the beach - I am now actually as dark as 97% pure chocolate and more....
We so love the sun and sea!

Barry & I hanging out (literally!) on the beach at night after dinner....
Another one of our night time after dinner activities... fooling around at the hammocks at the hotel.... Earlier during the day, Barry took pictures of me sleeping in one of them - totally zonked out.
We stayed at Sheraton Grande Laguna, Bangtao Bay which proved to be a good choice (after having spent 1 day in Patong, I have to say that I prefer to be away from the hustle and bustle of the perennial party place, Patong).

Pool area - Sheraton
Part of the pool that encircles the hotel buildings at Sheraton
Lots of these flowers (also white ones!) and FROGS in the pond at the hotel
Welcome to Patong - nice for me for a day trip... too many people... we got a 1mx1m abstract painting for our living room! Uber cool!
It was truly an awesome much-needed holiday for us. We love Tum’s excellent superSHIOK green curry (I drool at the thought of the seafood version) at the beach, the BEACH!! (every inch of the burnt and itching skin after is worth it), the sunset, traipsing all over Patong looking for best RM-BAHT exchange rate in town, the painting shopping and the haggling, the near-daily massages (BAHT500 for 2 hours of oil massage - bliss!!!), those stray dogs on the beach with amazing coat and skin (so glad to see that they are loved by the visitors), the do-nothing-but-just-flip days, Burger King burgers with BACON, the beautiful pool at hotel, the free-with-every-meal juicy and as-sweet-as-me watermelon and pineapple and so much more!
And I so love how little clothes we brought - and yet still too much!

Hotel room balcony - happy campers
We will be back for sure!

Singapore 25 - 26 January 2007

My boss from Europe came to KL - and as always, we visited Petronas Twin Towers again cos he is so impressed with them. I am too, especially at night when the lights come on. Can someone tell me how to make vertical pictures stay vertical? This is such a pain.

Back to food - After KL, I went to Singapore with him for meeting with my other colleagues in Asia-Pacific region.

We went for Chinese dinner at Crystal Jade, Takashimaya. No pictures as I was totally not in the mood having to explain a lot of budget figures during meeting earlier.... So, I drowned myself silly with Moet et Chandon champagne and kept quiet throughout dinner to let my brain recover.

I was, however, in better spirits the next day and we went to Gordon Grill at Goodwood Park Hotel which was a stone's throw from our office.

They were having mix-and-match set lunch. 4-course lunch at SGD55++ while the 3-course goes for SGD45++. Of course, being the pig I am, I went for the max.

Best thing about this is you get to try a variety - example, if you go for the 4-course set, you get to choose max. 3 types of appetiser, max. 3 types of soup, 1 type of main dish and max. 2 types of dessert.

As I just love foie gras, I choose just 1 type of appetiser - foie gras. So, the whole plate is just that.....

My immediate boss, on the other hand, went for 3 types of appetiser. He had crayfish, scallop and brandade.
I was a bit more adventurous at the 2nd course - soup. So, I ordered lobster bisque, mushroom mousse and chicken soup with truffles... And I like them all!
For main, I felt like kicking myself for ordering salmon with pappardelle pasta - common and the pasta tasted like cardboard. Apparently, the steaks were much better. They bring you slabs of them and let you choose the cuts you want. Oh well, next time then.
Irene's choice of dessert - chocolate creme brulee topped with pistachio and corn ice-cream in some milky stuff. I forget stuffs when I don't write them down...
My choice for dessert - chocolate creme brulee (they either forgot the pistachios or the waiter ate them on the way to my table) and poached pear with pear mousse.
Sharon's choice of dessert - 1 full portion of chocolate creme brulee - my advice : if you do not want to order a variety, make sure you know for sure that you will like whatever you choose. She didn't finish hers - too sweet when taken in high dosages.

So, if you like freshness and variety and a quiet, classy place to have business luncheon in Singapore, Gordon Grill is a great choice.

As usual, I make my way back by catching the dinner time flight - so, no proper dinner. For me, it's either to enjoy another great meal or be home earlier by 4 hours - naturally, I choose the latter. Always.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Lamb and Potato Curry Mini Pies

I cooked too much lamb and potato curry and having the same curry two days in a row is not so interesting for a person who doesn't like leftovers.
What better way to finish it up other than making curry puffs, samosas or pies? None.
So, I got busy and made a batch of shortcrust pastry to make mini pies just because I had this mental image of how cute they look.
Normally, I don't really measure when I cook - making pastry is no exception for me. I used 2 cups plain flour with a pinch of salt and 1/2 slab of 250gm chilled salted butter. Some ice water to bind the pastry dough.
There was very minimal rolling and handling and I made sure I keep the unused portion chilled in the fridge.
The end products were eggwashed before baking at preheated 190 deg C oven for 22 to 25 mins. These pies can be kept frozen - I don't freeze my stuffs for more than 2 weeks though.
Great for those need-a-snack-days!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies

This one has a long name..... and rightfully so since it is both a brownie and a cheesecake.

I browsed online to find a dessert recipe which requires 4 oz (about 125gms) of cream cheese which I have left from making frosting for the Christmas carrot cake. I found this interesting Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies recipe. Best yet, I have nearly all the ingredients required.
I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive initially about this recipe as some of the reviews were negative. Like top of cake was burnt and the bottom was gooey.... Anyway, all fears were brushed aside as I told myself that I am quite the pro at baking very liquid-y cake batters and they turned out just fine, so far. Yup, some self-praising here....

This recipe is a bit more complicated than the usual brownies recipes. It is, after all, a 2-in-1 cake. As I have only 1/4 of the cream cheese required, I had to scale down the brownies portion by 1/2 and the cream cheese part by 1/4. Might as well since too much cheese is not exactly healthy.

Other modifications :
1. Used butter instead of shortening
2. Added 2 tsp of cocoa powder (I like a bit of colour to keep to the brownie name - otherwise it would be a blondie). It turned out to be a good decision as the contrasting colours add interest to the cake.
3. Used milk chocolate chips and reduced the amount of white sugar
4. Used toasted chopped walnuts instead of pecans
5. Prepared the chesecake portion first before the brownies. Whenever I bake, I have this mental image of the baking soda reacting fast with the liquids and such... and if I do not put it soon enough into the oven, the cake will not rise. A novice baker's phobia, I guess....

My modified recipe as follows :

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 eggs (works out fine as 1/2 is used for the cheesecake portion)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

1/2 (of 8 ounce) packages cream cheese
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 7x10 inch pan (I used a glass dish of this size from Ikea).

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the cream cheese and 2 tbsp white sugar. Mix in 1/2 of an egg and set aside. Make sure it is smooth and creamy.

3. In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and the 1/4 cup white sugar. Beat in the 1 and 1/2 eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine and sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; blend into the sugar mixture. Mixture is creamy and smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Spread 1/2 of chocolate chip dough in bottom of the prepared pan. Pour cream cheese batter on top of dough. Sprinkle with walnuts. Drop pieces of the remaining chocolate chip batter over filling. Don't worry if there are gaps; the batter will spread. (It does spread, contrary to some of the negative comments).

5. Bake for 45 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned on the top. Let the brownies cool in the pan before cutting into bars.

As my pan is a bit bigger than and the cheesecake portion is only half of what it should be, the final cake height is 1.5 inch which is alright by me. And I forgot about the walnuts until after I have poured the top layer of brownie onto the cheesecake mixture. That's why the walnuts are so obvious on the cake. Turned out to be a good accident though....
This is a very delicious brownie (best eaten the next day - moist!) and looks handsome sliced...... To add to its decadence, enjoy with a giant scoop of vanilla ice-cream drizzled with rich, warm chocolate sauce, some tangy gooseberries or luscious strawberries.

As one reviewer aptly put : Death by Chocolate and Cheesecake!

New Year Celebration

We (Elsa, her bro Kyle, Sai, Beth, Mike Z, Mike Owen, Ruben, Lisa song, Augusta, Chris, new lecturer Nancy, Mark Shim, Dian, Barry and I) had New Year's eve dinner at a Mediterranean resto, Basque Lane at Mont Kiara. It was organised by Elsa.

Will post more pictures soon..... I was enjoying myself silly catching up with friends that I didn't really bother with the pictures. Will get more pics from Elsa.
Toast to the new year! You can tell we had lots of wine.....
Barry and me..... we have this tradition to herald in the new year when the clock strikes 12am ... won't tell what exactly but it includes me wishing him Happy Birthday first before Happy New Year....

Going back to food, I opted for tapas instead of their buffet. And it proved to be a good choice. Barry had the lamb rack. Apparently not that good and more fat on lamb than meat.

Mushroom soup - The picture doesn't show the yumminess but it is very tasty with fresh mushrooms and the right level of creaminess - neither too thick nor too runny
Tomato bruschetta
Chicken liver pate - No gamey smell and very fresh - Excellent as it was beyond my expections. One note is that bread is also fresh and delicious here
Lamb skewers
Chilli prawns - Gambas a la plancha - if you're not used to spice, don't order this.
Pesto prawns for Barry - with fresh basil. Pretty unexpected.
Barry blowing out the candles on his birthday cake

And best of all, he got his NFL football as his birthday gift that night. I do not know how but Mark, Dian and Tim miraculously arranged for this - can't get this here nor in Canada... apparently, Canadian football and American football are different.
You can tell that many share his joy of a newfound ball - L to R : Chris, Mike Owen, Barry

We had a great time in the company of friends!

Lindsay Street, Winnipeg

Jerry (Barry's dad) sent us some pictures of his home and it's surrounding area taken on 31 Dec to show the thick snow (10 cm or more, I think).

Check this out..... see the difference between Dec and Oct pictures?

Car Park Area
October 2006
December 2006
Front of Home
October 2006
December 2006

Street in Front of Home
October 2006 2006
December 2006
Pictures are so postcard like..I just couldn't resist posting them all here....

This is what Christmas should be like!!!! Don't get me wrong, I know the meaning of Christmas... it's not snow, sleigh and santa....

But snow just looks so awesome in pictures! But I wouln't want to be in the snow for too long... they say it's warm for this time of the year at minus 5 deg C in Winnipeg...I say Brrr....Brrr...Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr.....

Hot chocolate and Hotshots please!