Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bento #216 101030

This pink oink-oink bento box was quite deep, thus I was able to place the food higher. Again, some baby potato salad made its appearance on the left corner. Then some persimmon and tomato wedges arranged in between slices of kyuri for some colour colour contrast. Lastly, a golden kiwifruit half took up the remaining space.

The top white tray in the same shape was filled with more fruits on the left smaller area. Can you spot the "mushrooms" made using dates and capped with canned longan? Weather had been quite wet and damp, thus the mushrooms were able to thrive. Two strawberries from the last of the lot before I get new supplies. More scrambled eggs with black pepper, this seems to be my fall-back bento item when in a rush.

Bento #215 101030

I just varied the cooking style for the egg in this bento, which was scrambled. Then cut some bananas into chunks and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar in the star-cup, a container of sauce and finally 3 wedges of tomato as I ran out of cherry tomatoes.

Thankfully I remembered to poke in a blue triple-heart pick to liven this bento a bit.

Bento #214 101030

Woke up late, thus was rushing for this. A haphazardly assembled bento with omelette, a cup of persimmon wedges and a lone strawberry in the paper cup, some potato chips in the other corner and lastly, a container of sauce to complete this.

My mind was drawing a blank, thus I even forgot about any foodpicks to spice things up.

Bento #213 101029

A two-tier bento in which I placed some boiled baby potatoes topped with some mayo plus a sprinkle of black pepper, followed by some baby carrots and scrambled eggs.

Some fruits to fiber in the other tier were four strawberry halves with half a golden kiwi in the middle punctuated with a butterfly pick. One piece of cling peach fits snugly into the remaining space.

Bento #212 101029

Finished off the paus bought from here, one piece each of char siew pau and black sesame pau.

On the sides were fruits as usual, half a kiwi and 2 strawberries. In the middle of these two was a container of canned longan stuffed with baby carrot, don't the "multi-eyed monster" look scary?
Decoration wise was just an oink-oink food pick on the char siew pau denoting the 'flavour' and in matching colour to the laptop lunch box.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Recipe: Easy Tomato Pasta Sauce

I bookmarked this recipe when I saw MyCuppaTales posted it in her blog. I was sold when I read her third paragraph about how her skepticism changed to beyond expectation after she had tried this pasta sauce using only 3 ingredients. The magical three were Canned Whole Tomatoes, butter and onion. Even more appealing was that one just need to simmer all the three items together till thick, it took me about 30 minutes only.

There was no need to melt the butter and brown the onion before pouring in the can of whole tomatoes. It's that easy, don't believe me, try it out for yourself.

1 can whole tomato
5 tbsp butter *I used EVOO instead*
1 onion - quartered
1/2 bulb garlic - crushed but with peel intact

Served over a plate of al-dente pasta with some Ikea meat balls, that's one quick weekday dinner idea to consider. With some grated cheese, mix everything together before tucking in your fork.

The brand of Canned Whole Tomatoes I used - Tesco Choice's Cherry Tomatoes in Rich Tomato Juice. Price circa RM4.++.
Thanks Javapot for kind sharing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fondant 2D Lion

A friend asked me how I did one of the cupcake toppers which I shared with her, and I said I will try my best to come up with a tutorial with the balance of my coloured fondant. Sorry to keep you waiting (you know who you are), I just downloaded the images so here you go.

The tools needed:
Large scallop-edged round cutter
Smooth round cutter (1cm smaller in diameter than the above)
Rolling pin
Plastic butter knife *from McD's Hot Cakes set*
Brown fondant - for lion's mane
Yellow fondant - for lion's face
White fondant - for lion's eyes and nose
Black colour edible marker
2 tiny chocolate chips

Step 1/ Roll out the brown fondant to 3mm thickness and cut out a piece using the large scallop-
edged round cutter. I coloured the Pettinice White Fondant with a little bit of Pettinice Chocolate Fondant to get brown fondant. Alternatively, one can use brown gel colouring to get the desired shade.
Step 2/ Roll out the yellow fondant to 3mm thickness and cut out a piece using the smaller smooth round cutter. This will be the face for the lion.
Step 3/ Roll two tiny pieces of white fondant to make the eye-ball, then use the pointy end of a chocolate chip to push into each to form the eye. I personally find this method easier than handling tiny weeny pieces of black fondant for the cornea. Choice is yours whichever method suits best.
Step 4/ Cut out a small triangular piece of white fondant for the nose.
Step 5/ Stick both the eyes and nose onto the yellow piece of fondant with a little dab of water.

Step 6/ Centre the yellow piece of fondant onto the brown fondant, and stick them together using you guessed it - a little dab of water.
Step 7/ Using the blunt side of the plastic butter knife, make indentations on the brown fondant to form the mane.

Step 8/ Using black edible marker, paint the nose black, dot both sides of cheek and draw a curvy W like photo show.

There you go, a friendly 2D Lion cupcake topper in 8 easy steps with minimal tools.

JJ Swiss Rolls from Ipoh 2

This is the sequel to my previous post, to read more, click here. Now the outlet at the one I visited is no longer operational as JJ Swiss rolls have moved to a new shop of their own, which is just a couple of steps away from D'Mouth Restaurant. Look at the bright emerald green building - this is the spanking new place that made choosing the swiss rolls easier because now customers can just pick the flavours they want from the row of fridges and proceed to the counter to pay. This means we (read: me) can take our own sweet time to decide without hogging up the queue.

I managed to pick up 3 boxes of JJ's swiss rolls, totalling 5 flavours because 2 of the boxes had mixed flavours. From top, it was Durian and Cempedak, then Coffee Walnut and Chocolate Hazelnut and lastly, Fresh Yam.

I managed to get 5 slices out of each half of swiss roll, and 10 out of the Fresh Yam Swiss Roll. Verdict is that I personally like the Cempedak (3 o'clock position in the photo) best eventhough Durian (9 o'clock position in the photo) came close behind. They could have done more with the Durian filling for this swiss roll. The Coffee Walnut (12 o'clock position in the photo) was as good as the Chocolate Hazelnut (centre of the photo). As for the yam, I won't be buying again because it was nothing special apart from the dots of yam seen on the swiss roll (6 o'clock position in the photo). I like the visual, wonder how it was done.

In my opinion, those with nuts were worth the $ as there were really lots of chunky nuts in both the Coffee and Chocolate Swiss Rolls.

Ipoh Meal 3 - Dinner

Our day-trip coming to an end, we bade farewell to Ipoh after dinner at Chatter Kopitiam. Though we were still full from the cheesecakes at Secret Recipe, knowing how tired we would be when we reached home since we had a full day outside, it was better to eat before we leave Ipoh so that we won't be grouchy, hungry and exhausted all at the same time.

So we chose Chatter Kopitiam as the place for dinner out of the many eateries at Kinta City. We could have ventured across the street to the new place called De Garden to check out our options, but shall save that for another day.

Chatter Kopitiam serves those modern kopitiam fare, so first thing would be to check out their coffee. This Iced Kopi C was disappointing, so diluted and at RM2.60, I can easily get 2 glasses of the same drink with better quality back home.

However, their Nasi Lemak Beef Rendang was good. At least it helped to neutralise our grouse from the cuppa above. The rice was fragrant, how a plate of nasi lemak should taste like. Served with the usual condiments of ikan bilis, kacang, sambal and cucumber with some papadam, this was worth RM7.80. The beef was full of spice and quite tender, and the bull's eye on top of the pile of rice makes it so appealing to the eyes.

This RM6.00 Curry Chicken Rice was on par with the Nasi Lemak Beef Rendang. As the rice used was Nasi Lemak, it was quite similar to the above, just with a different type of meat sans the various side dishes.

With 5% service charge, we paid RM17.20 for our last meal in Ipoh that day. Cheaper than dining at Old Town Kopitiam or Pappa Rich for that matter, just for comparison.

Ipoh Meal 2 - Tea

Stuffed to the brim from the earlier Yoke Fook Moon dim sum, we had to find ways to dispense some energy, so naturally, mall-crawling was the right activity for it. Opted to go to Kinta City this time and here, the anchor tenant was Jaya Jusco. From what I understand, this particular Jaya Jusco's groceries department has a section allocated to fresh produce from Cameron Highlands, so I was curious to check out the selection. However, I didn't buy much since it was a Thursday and we are rarely home on weekends anyway, so how fresh can the vege be if I were to buy them and store it in the fridge till the following week. It was an eye-opening experience, and lucky Ipohans get such fresh produce from the highlands.

After walking, dh needed his java fix, and being a weekday at 3-6pm, Secret Recipe has the Buy 1 piece of cake, get a free coffee/tea promotion, so we rested our tired legs there and enjoyed these

Banana Baked Cheese - with banana pulp filling as garnishing lines, we can taste a mixture of banana, almond flakes and peach in between the layers of baked cheese atop a cake-based cheesecake. This is a NEW item at SR.

Caramel CheeseCake - quite fragrant with the strong aroma of burnt sugar, and slightly sweeter than the Banana Baked Cheese.

With our body battery re-charged, we finished checking out the mall in time for dinner before we hit the road for our 1.25 hours journey drive back home.

Ipoh Meal 1 - Brunch

Initial plan was to have dim sum for breakfast at Ming Court, but we woke up late, thus it became our brunch instead. Then as luck would have it, it was closed for the day as Thursday is their rest day. Luckily we were on the "Dim Sum Street of Ipoh" as along Jalan Leong Sin Nam, there were a few other outlets, namely the big name of Foh San in this impressive 3-storey brand new building which spells newly-renovated to me. Ming Court is just directly opposite Foh San, by the way.
Not sure why they are also closed for today when their off-day is suppossedly to be Tuesdays, so we went to Yoke Fook Moon instead, which was just a few doors away. This restaurant was fully air-conditioned, so it was a welcome respite for us from the heat as we were there half an hour before noon. Place was packed but being a weekday, finding a table wasn't tough luck, a little wait of 10 minutes suffice. We saw lots of patron sharing a big table, so I guess that's how it goes in this place.
Har gow was good, with crunchy prawns in the thin almost translucent skin. I like the greenish bits of chinese parsley, helps take away the fishyness in this dish. Can't recall the individual price of items but it's from RM3.00 onwards. Slightly upmarket to what we normally have back home, but good food comes with a price, right?

And then we tried their Lor Mai Kai, which was equally good as the glutinuous rice is cooked with some fragrance from cooking wine. We detest how some places sell their lor mai kai with semi-cooked rice, oh, that's yucky.

This plate of Yong Tau Foo with bean paste sauce was excellent, and without a word, the brinjal was our favourite. The other 2 pieces were green chilli and red chilli.
While waiting for a vacant table, we were eyeing other table's food to see what's good to order, since it's our maiden visit to Yoke Fook Moon and we saw almost every table ordered their Wu Kok, which means it must be good. We had to wait a long time for this because the kitchen was in the process of making a new batch, but good that we wait because then, we get crispy Wu Kok just out from the wok. The skin made of yam was crispy, paired well with the char siew filling made up of meat, ham, onion and peas. We heart this very much.

This other fried dish we ordered was so-so only, eventhough there was century egg within. I think it might be because it was not hot when served, so not as tasty.

I can only remember the price of this Beef Balls because it was made-to-order, and the waitress came to us with a pictorial guide on the menu. Good to be eaten with the sliced ginger and black vinegar dip at RM4.20. Not many places offer Beef Balls, and I'm glad we managed to try it here.

Siew Mai, the other must have at dim sum was mediocre, but the following photo of Har Mai, we like. We got chunks of prawns as we bite into the Har Mai, and it was sweeter and juicier.

Hong Kong Style Chee Cheong Fun was silky with a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds and shallot crisp. We like the addition of sesame seeds because in Penang, only shallot crisp is used.

Wanted to order the Peanut Paste as dessert as I had eyed that in their menu board, but dessert for the day was some other item. Another time then, so we had their silky Egg Tarts...

...and Muar Chee filled with Black Sesame Paste. See the black sesame paste oozing out? It was yummy if not for the fact that we ordered this way too early, so by the time we got down to it at the end of the meal, the paste had sort of harden due to the cool air-conditioned.

All in all, it was a scrumptious dim sum meal in Ipoh, which we paid RM50+ for 2 pax plus some take-away paus.

Bento #211 101028

Since I went to market two days ago, I had some new items in my fridge which normally don't make an appearance in our household. Namely quail's egg. The health freak (a.k.a. dh) doesn't touch it since it's high cholestrol, so I followed suit. However, seeing those Japanese moms fixing fanciful kyaraben with it, I gave in and bought 10 pieces just for the fun of it. It's RM1.60 for that, and I had to be so careful not to break them as they were so light-weight. But still, no matter how delicate I was with the transportation, one cracked. So I hard-boiled all and stored them in the fridge with shell intact, just need to peel when needed as they last longer this way without turning bad because the shell acts as a protection. If peeled, there will be a slimy film coating after a day or two of storage despite in the refrigerator, so it's wasted.

Again, I dug out the cavities in the bread for the 3 blind mice. Bread roll filling was the same as that of Bento #209, egg. Rat ears done with baby carrots, eyes with nori, whiskers with fried raw spaghetti strips and nose with a flag pick without the flag.
In the other small container were strawberries and golden kiwi fruit. I intentionally left the red silicon casing empty so that I can put the mice in it before stacking the bento box.
Total time spent approximately 23 minutes because of the minute detailing and nori cutouts.

Bento #210 101028

With almost half a pack of the sausage bun left, which was 3 pieces, I decided make them into this 8-petal flower. Concept is almost similar to that of "Caterpillar", just arranged differently. I used this big square bento box that was able to hold all the 9 pieces together just nice. Facial expression of Missy Flower done using 2 tiny chocolate chips as eyes, kani stick cutout as rosy cheeks and nori for the smile.

I had this with a hot cuppa, so eventhough it might not look like a lot, this is quite filling as there were cheese, lettuce, tomato and japanese cucumber sandwiched between the bread.
A slightly more elaborate bento that of course, required more time, say circa 25 minutes.

Bento #209 101028

An egg roll oblong bun "decorated" with a bloody-monster-eye in line with Halloween in a few days time. The eye socket was made using a red cherry tomato which was hollowed out. This was then stuffed with a bread ball which was just bits and pieces of bread compacted together to form the eyeball to fit into the cavity. The cornea was none other than the tip of kyuri, and the blood veins drawn using edible marker.

One thing good about digging out a cavity in the bread roll is that the decoration fits snugly in it and there's no need to secure it with spaghetti strip. There was no way for the decoration to move about during transportation as once put in place, I can't even remove it without damage should I decide to change the position whatsoever, it is that tight a fit.

Top left in the upright muffin liner were some potato wedges, then a container of sauce to go wih that and the bread. Three wedges of persimmon 'holding hands' together to keep the solo strawberry company.
I took about 15 minutes to assemble this.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Recipe: Chicken Chop with Onion Rings in Special Sauce

This was supposed to be a dish for our dinner but in the end, I turned it into a Western Food meal instead because I can't think of another dish to prepare. Dh don't take much of stir-fried vegetables as he prefers his greens to be crunchy. However with our stove at home, I can't get the vegetables to cook without getting limp unlike those commercial stove with big flames. So it's either blanched or steamed veg for us, or easiest - a salad. Just cut and serve, how convenient.

Well, like I said, since this was a chicken dish, it errs on the salty side. Overall it was awesome, but I will reduce the salt portion be it in the chicken marinade or the accompanying sauce for next time. I had to modify the sauce a tad as it was way too salty by adding 2 extra tablespoons of water to dilute it, but it was too watered down so a tablespoon of honey did the trick of thickening the sauce and balancing the flavour.

Worth special mention is the onion rings which were superb, and it was so easy to do only. Definitely going to make use of the onion rings in other recipes.

(Adapted from page 16)
2 chicken thighs - deboned
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Waugh's curry powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 egg
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp corn flour

1 onion - cut into 3 thick rings
1/2 egg
1/2 tsp salt

Corn flour for dredging

2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp chili sauce
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Waugh's curry powder
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp light soya sauce
5 tbsp water
1tbsp honey

1/ Marinate chicken for 30 minutes, then coat with corn flour and deep-fry in hot oil until golden brown.
2/ Dip oinion rings in egg and salt mixture, then coat with corn flour and deep-fry in hot oil until golden.
3/ Leave 1 tbsp of oil in work, pour in sauce ingredients and cook until thick.
4/ Arrange onion rings on top of chicken, then pour sauce over just before serving.

As seen freom the photo, I served this with garlic steamed rice and salad for our complete meal at home. The garlic steamed rice was my first trial, just add 3 cloves of raw garlic with peel on into the rice before steaming. Once rice is cooked, the garlic is soft as well. Either mash the garlic and mix together with the rice to serve, or serve the garlic whole with the rice.

Bento #208 101027

An aerial view of what's in today's bento box.

A close-up here, there was an omelette roll with tomato sauce and some black peppper resting on the oblong bun. Potato chips and a tiny weeny little box of sauce, a lone strawberry and half a persimmon.

This didn't take long other than the time it took me to decide what to place in this bento box and how to position them.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Roasted Brinjals with Peanut Butter Dressing

I tried this dish again, but now, I changed the way of cooking to roasting instead because I find the previous version too wet to our liking. This was way better as the fragrance of brinjal was more prominent also. However, I forgot to take in the factor that this will be drier, so the salt content of the peanut butter dressing needs to be reduced. I think 1 tbsp of light soya sauce would be just right.

2 brinjals - washed and cut into half to get 2 cylinders, then half again length-wise to get a total of 4 pieces from each brinjal
1 tbsp olive oil

4.5 tbsp peanut butter (equivalent to 100g) *I used Skippy's Chunky style peanut butter*
1.5 tbsp light soya sauce *I used Lee Kum Kee's Select brand*
3 tbsp hot water *I added this to get a smooth consistency for the dressing*
1.5 tsp sesame oil
1/ Drizzle olive oil over brinjals and roast at 180 degree Celcius for 25 minutes in ovenette till cooked, then serve with peanut butter dressing on the side.

Good Food at Bravo Italiana

Finally stepped foot here at this Italian Restaurant at Krystal Point. Been wanting to try it, but each time we ended up at the mall, we were just too lazy to leave the place to make our way here so most of the time, meals were done within the confines of the shopping mall. Despite the limited choices.

The set lunch menu looks interesting, but then we got attracted to their Baked Mussels. At RM23.00 for a dozen of mussels of this size, it was simply irressitable. The tomato-based gravy was so yummy, we licked the plate dry, no joke. The mussels were juicy and done just right, I'm not over-rating it.

The Sicilian Pizza that came next was also superb. On the thin crust were pepperoni, olives, green capsicum and red onion rings. The tomato puree sauce was worth mentioning, and we concurred that if their sauce is good, definitely their Margherita Pizza is worth a shot. We already have that in mind for next time, there goes my waistline. This was RM31.00 by the way.

Wanted to try their RM12.90 Tiramisu, but they ran out, so next best alternative was this Mango Pie of RM8.90. Keep the Tiramisu for next visit together with the Margherita Pizza then. This was average only, the thick layer of cream is not my cup of tea.

Plus a cup of Lavazza Cappuccino which was not photoed, total came up to RM78.35 after +10% for service charge. Ambience is good also, and nice deco which I was not in the mood to take more pictures.

Bento #207 101025

The last of the JJ Swiss Rolls lot was in this bento...ah, finally managed to clear the 'stock'. With the height of this bento box, I was able to slot in the swiss roll slices just tall and nice. And then there is the smiley food pick for some beauty.

On the left side, from top to bottom were grapes, yellow cherry tomatoes and strawberries, separated from the different flavours of swiss rolls using green lettuce.

Addiction to Kim Gary

Not my addiction, but my other half's. Don't know why he is not able to get enough of this Hong Kong food restaurant. If not for my objection, he can dine at this place two days in a row or twice in a week, but I shook him off the idea. No matter how good is the food, I still can get too much of going to the same place, which in the end, might turn me off. So got to pace ourselves when it comes to visiting Kim Gary.

But we got a good deal this month, with 50% discount being my birthday month. So clever idea is to go for the most expensive item since the price is slashed to half, which we did just that with this RM29.90 Flaming Combination Pork Ribs on Hot Plate. That is not the actual name on the menu, but it goes something like that as I can't remember word for word of the long name. Not to mention the most confusing menu system of Kim Gary. The ordering chit came in such a thick folder that we normally skip that and let the waiter/waitress do the honour. Just point to the item we want and they shall happily tick it against the different colour-coded form. Afterall, they know best which page it is. This came as a set with drinks and I braved myself to pick their Bitter Gourd juice. Good choice, it was not bitter at all. I can tell they used some pineapple when blending this thirst-quenching juice. The rest of the items in the set were soup and garlic bread.

3 different types of meat was done was well, and as usual the pork chop was very tender. The wings was freshly done and was still hot when served, ain't too bad. As for the ribs, quite good also but would have been better with a better cut because I got the ribs attached to the back bone, so it was quite difficult to knife through.

Dh's Steak Curry Baked Rice with Coconut Milk Sauce, with the rice served separately. Initially we thought we ordered the all-in baked rice but was greeted with this instead. Ok lah, too hungry so tucked in happily. Glad we tried the Coconut Milk sauce because it was not as spicy.

Dent to the pocket = RM27.35. Damage to the diet = uncountable :(

Bento #206 101025

This was a light snack bento of JJ Swiss Rolls. I combined 4 quarters of the four flavours still remaining in my fridge as I need to finish them fast. It was recommended to consume them within 3 days since no preservatives was used in these yummy rolls, but we were out the whole of Sunday, thus no choice but extended the consumption period. Still tasted as good.

3 skewers of golden kiwi with red cherry tomatoes on the jumbo music picks courtesy of BentoFun. Thanks Angeleyes :)