Monday, 31 December 2012

Food Review: Rakuzen, Oasis Square, PJ

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One of our favourite Japanese restaurant, Rakuzen, has just opened a branch in Oasis Square, Ara Damansara - just 1 minute drive away from our house.  Its first day of business was on Christmas day, and tonight, being Sunday night, the place was already more than half full.  Word spread fast where good eating places are concerned.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Tonjiru - Japanese Pork Miso Soup

Hi folks, I'm back from our short family getaway to our Southern neighbour, Singapore.  We spent 5 nights there, had lots of yummy food and soaked up the Christmas festivities in perfect weather (cloudy and cool days with no rain). 

Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Menu: Dessert - Browned Butter Brownies with Baileys

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I called these the 4B Brownies because there are 4 Bs in the description - Browned Butter Brownies with Baileys.  If you love brownies that are super fudgey and moist, then you are gonna SWOON over these babies.  They are superb!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas Menu: Main - Herb and Lemon Roast Chicken Legs

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My family is not a big fan of turkey meat as we find it rather tough and dry.  We much prefer chicken, lamb, beef or pork. 

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas Menu : Entree - Roast Pumpkin Fries with Herb Yogurt Dip

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This is a very easy starter to prepare.  Pumpkin fries is a much better alternative to potato fries as they have more nutrients than the good ol spud (and a lower carbo index too). 

Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas Menu: Soup - Jamie Oliver's Mushroom Soup

Picture taken from the website

It's just 8 more days to Christmas! On one hand, I'm excited and looking forward it, but on the other hand I can't help feeling wistful and a bit reflective that it's another year drawing to a close. Now where did I put that list of resolutions for 2012?! :P

Nevertheless, I will always remember 2012 as the year where this blog began :) It has truly been an enjoyable experience - a new passion, new hobby, new friends, and LOTS of new recipes.

Bring on 2013!
To round off this year on a festive note, I will share some ideas for a Christmas meal that is easy and delicious.  It is a 4 course meal and a drink at the end.  Some of the food can also be prepared in stages beforehand, so you can plan and spread out the work and leave the final stages just prior to the actual mealtime. This means you will actually be able to sit down and enjoy the meal with your family and guests without feeling (AND looking) like a stressed out/frazzled cook!

Christmas Menu: Soup - Jamie Oliver's Mushroom Soup

When we were young, mushroom soup means Campbell.  And honestly, I love it.  Back then, to us kids campbell mushroom soup was an occassional treat when the family goes out for a Western meal.

Fast forward to current times, the good ol mushroom soup has evolved into a glamorous, hoity toity item on the menu called wild mushroom soup.  Order it at some fancy restaurant and expect it to be cooked with dried porcini and Mascarpone cheese, served with crostini (what is that?!).  Our humble canned shroom soup has certainly gone high class.

If you are making it at home, the beauty is you have the liberty to pick and choose the ingredients that go into your soup.  I love all the different varieties of mushroom available, and for this soup, I like to use Swiss brown and white button mushrooms, and a few packs of those beautiful Japanese hokto brown and white straw mushrooms. 

I served the soup with some homemade toasted cranberry bread

Christmas Menu: Dish #1 - Jamie Oliver's Mushroom Soup
Source:  Jamie Oliver "the real mushroom soup", with adjustments

  • 450g of mushrooms, roughly chopped or sliced (mix of white and brown button mushrooms and hokto straw mushrooms).
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 pip of garlic, minced
  • 1 small russet potato, roughly choped
  • 600ml water
  • 200ml full cream milk
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • Pinch of lemon zest
  • Truffle oil
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
  • Generous dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Heat some olive oil and gently fry the onion and garlic until fragrant.  Add the potato pieces and water.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 10-20min until the potatoes are softened. 

2.  Add the mushrooms, half of the chopped thyme, chicken stock powder and bring to another boil.  Let simmer for 10min.

3.  Use a handblender and blitz into a rough textured soup.  Add the cream and season with rock salt and pepper. 

4.  Pour into serving bowls or soup plates, drizzle a circle of truffle oil on top and sprinkle with lemon zest and the remaining chopped thyme.  Serve immediately.

If mushroom soup is not a favourite at home, how about a hearty bowl of creamy leek and potato soup?

Click HERE for the recipe.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lemon Glaze

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This is a no-frills, comfy cake that's perfect for a lazy afternoon tea, as a simple dessert or to bring to an informal gathering of friends or family.  Totally understated. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Scrambled Eggs with Chinese Sausages and Onion

This is really a no-brainer recipe.  I am pretty sure every Chinese home will have this on the dinner menu once in a while.  It is a flavourful, comforting, quick and easy dish that embodies the simplicity of typical Chinese home cook food.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Soy Sauce Chicken (Si Yau Kai) - the full monty version

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Soy Sauce Chicken.  Sounds so....uninspiring, doesn't it.  However, do not be fooled by its humble and ho hum description.  It is one of the most famous, well loved cantonese dishes, and certainly one of my family's all time favourites.  Many families have their own variation to cooking this, and the recipe passed down from generation to generation.  The cooking process is actually very easy, but it needs some delicate handling and time.  And some mean chopping at the end. 

The key to a beautiful plate of si yau kai is to GENTLY poach the chicken in the sauce until it is cooked.  No boiling, no pan searing, not even braising.  Just the gentlest of simmering, almost imperceptibly.  This will leave the chicken skin intact, taut and glistening.  If the skin breaks, you have boiled it too much.  This will result in a more "tense" or compact meat texture.

Since soy sauce is the primary flavouring ingredient to this dish, it is important to use a good quality brand.  The good thing is, all those precious extra sauce will not go to waste, the tradition is to "roll" it for the next round of cooking, either to make pork belly or trotter stew, or as a sauce for dry noodles.  Many of the commercially bottled chicken marinade is made from a similar process of chook poaching.  

This recipe is the full monty version, ie the ingredients include spices and aromatics.  I also have a seriously short cut version (2 ingredients only!, which believe me or not, tastes awesome too), but I encourage you to try this full monty version first, at least you know how the authentic method works and tastes. This recipe is more or less how it is being done by restaurants that pride themselves on their soy sauce chicken dish (give or take a few variations proprietary to individual eateries).

Soy Sauce Chicken (Si Yau Kai) - the full monty version

  • 3 Chicken legs/maryland*, about 800g 
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 100ml good quality light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 500ml water
  • 60g rock sugar
  • 5 fat cloves of garlic
  • 2 stalks spring onion, cut into 2 inch strips
  • 2 inch ginger, smashed
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 1.5inch)
  • 10 white peppercorns
  • 1 large piece of dried orange peel
  • 1 small liquorice stick ("ganchao")

*Feel free to use a whole chicken, but I use chicken legs because I don't have a deep stockpot high enough to soak (and float) an entire chicken.

1. Leave the chicken skin on.  Rinse and pat dry with kitchen towel.

2. Using a heavy based stainless steel pot or non stick pot, heat the oils and gently fry the aromatics until fragrant.  Pour all the liquid seasonings and bring to a boil.  Turn down the fire and let the sauce simmer gently for about 10min.

3.  Add the chicken legs, make sure the sauce completely covers the chicken.  If there is not enough liquid, add more water.  You can adjust the taste later.  Let it simmer as gently as possible for about 40min. 

4.  Remove the chicken and test for doneness. Let it rest for about 15min.  In the meantime, adjust the taste of the gravy.  Add more soy sauce if necessary.  It should be quite salty, with a tinge of sweetness and fruity aftertaste.

Use a pair of plastic tongs to turn the chicken and also to
remove it from the pot when done.

The chicken skin is taut and glistening, and has soaked up all the
flavours from the sauce mixture.
5.  Now comes the chopping part.  To minimise the splatter, place a aluminium foil stand around your chopping board.   Place the chicken leg on the chopping board, and use swift, single motions to chop through the meat and bones. Use a reasonably heavy cleaver or chopper so you can make clean chops.   Try not to break up the meat or caused the bones to disintegrate into splinters when chopping.


6.  I like to serve this with hot steam rice, some fresh chilli sambal, some additional sauce on the side, and a plate of chilled cucumbers and tomatoes.

Drizzle some additional sauce mixture onto the chicken and serve warm
 Oh yes, before I forget.  So what do we do with the extra leftover sauce?

Make a quick and yummy roast pork trotter with mee suah

Visit your market pork seller, and get some freshly roasted pork trotters - they are absolutely yummy for braising dishes.  Boil the leftover sauce and add in the pork trotters and gently stew for about 20min. 


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Hotel Review: Hatten Hotel, Melaka

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Hi folks, here's the first post for our new category on Hotel Reviews.  Since hubby and I love to travel, I thought it would be fun to post on some of the hotels that we have stayed in.  I am sure we all like to find out about good (and not-so-good) hotels from those who have actually stayed there, information which would definitely come in handy when planning our holiday accomodation. 


Hatten is Melaka's newest hotel.  We recently had our cell group retreat here, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  The hotel is so new that construction is actually still ongoing - it is about 90% completed.  

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Going organic with Ozganics

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Last week I had the opportunity to attend a media preview for Ozganics, a leading food developer and manufacturer of organic condiments and sauces based in NSW, Australia.  The session included a cooking demo by the founder herself, Anni Brownjohn.