Monday, September 18, 2006

Family bonding

Coming from a family of chefs, you probably wouldn't be surprised that in our spare time, we like to cook. So thats what we did on the weekend:

Rice noodles (Hor Fun)

First the coating

Then the ingredients with a bit of wok action

Followed by yummmmmmminess!

And I can't have rice noodles without some century egg congee to mix with!

I like fire........ make yummy roasted marinated capsicums!

Salmon puff pie (Recipe courtesy of DMM)

All of that seems quite ordinary aye? True.....thats probably a normal lunch/dinner cooking thing that most families do on a weekend.....but what about mooncakes? Yep! That's right! Its that time of the year to start making mooncakes, and let me tell you something, we make the BEST 5-yun mooncakes (The nutty one). Not the crappy ones you get at the shops with a BIT of nuts and alot of fillers. No......ours is 99% nuts.....I know....because I spent 2 hours HAND CHOPPING over 3kg of nuts to make the first batch of fillings. And no I couldn't use a magic mix, or beat it with a rolling pin, it had to be hand chopped...otherwise it'll ruin the texture. So here is a few pics.......not too many so we don't give away our family secret recipe ;)

One down......

Another 98 to go.......

The little babies baking in the oven

The almost finished product!

I say almost finished because you cannot eat these for a few can, but it won't taste as nice. And it won't look as pretty. I might post a few more once they're ready...or maybe not. Maybe I'll spend my time eating them instead. :D

Birthdays, birthdays, birthdays

September is really busy in our family. In September we have Father's day, my Mum's birthday, my Dad's birthday, my little cousin's birthday, and most importantly, My birthday. (We have 3 birthdays in the space of 5 days). And within the next week or so, we'll know if I'll have a little nephew/niece that might have their birthday in September as well! (Quite possibly the same day as me). So to uncomplicate things, we usually celebrate my dad, my little cousin and my birthday all in one go. We were originally going to go Encasa, but with the torrential rain that was pouring down last week, we opted to go to the King Crab House around the corner instead.

Cold platter of jelly fish, bbq pork, cold cuts of pork and duck

Sharkfin Soup

Crispy skin quail

House speciality mud crab

Steamed barramundi

Sea cucumber and veggies

Abalone, mushrooms and veggies

Sweet and sour pork

Mandatory salt and pepper calamari

Fried Rice

Complimentary Red Bean Soup

Fruit and biccies (Fruit display was designed by my bored nephews)

Birthday cake - One candle for each birthday boy/girl

We first dined at this restaurant about 5 years ago. We didn't enjoy the meal and haven't been back since. Recently my sister went as a part of a work function and said it had improved so we decided to give it another chance. Some of the dishes were quite nice. The fried quail was crispy and not too fatty. The meat was a bit tough, but still quite tasty. The sharkfin soup was nice, but it was ashame that they didn't bring out the vinegar until almost everyone had finished their soup. The crab was a bit too sweet, and because they didn't bring out the rice til the very end, there was nothing to mop up the sauce with and nothing to help dilute the sweetness. The one dish which I truely did not like was the sea cucumber with veggies. As you can see in the photo, there was more soup than there was veggies. It was as if they had forgotten to thicken the sauce and just poured a ladel of soup into the dish.

Now that the food part is out of the way, lets talk about the service. Or lack of. The cold platter came out before the soup, which is fine, but they didn't bother giving us any bowls. So we proceeded to grab the soup bowls off the table which means when the soup came out, they would need to lay the bowls out again. The soup bowls were not cleared when we had finished so everyone ended up with 2 bowls and 2 plates since the crab was served next. That I could still put up with. What I couldn't put up with was at the end of the meal, when they had taken all the dishes away, they neglected to collect the dirty bowls. Because we had such a big table, we tried helping by piling all the dirty bowls and plates onto the lazy susan so save them walking circles around us. Not only was there dirty bowls and plates, but also chopsticks, cutlery, cups and even dirty napkins piled onto the table.

They bring out the dessert (and no clean plates) and didn't bother collecting any of the dirty plates. Their red bean soup was actually REALLY sweet so most of us didn't eat it and placed it back on the lazy susan for them to collect. Out they come with the cake. The guy takes one look at the table and said "Oh, let me clean it up a bit first". He uses one hand and shoves all the dirty plates and napkins to one side of the table, plonks the cake down and walks off. No plates, no forks, no knife and a table full of crap. We ended up having to help ourselves to the cutlery etc. And what really really irked me was that the restaurant wasn't busy. When I was working in the restaurant, I used to waitress up to 8 tables, do the take away orders, phone orders AND cook. There was about 6 tables in the whole restaurant, and 4 waiters/waitresses. I would hardly call that run off their feet.

Oh, and to top it off, they gave us the wrong bill. Instead of the $300, they tried to charge us $550. They also charged us $10 for a jug of coke that barely filled 4 tumblers.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Food food food!

I've been neglecting the culinary side of me lately. So on Saturday (after my near death experiece which I will not discuss about because I worry for the safety of my life), I went to Flemington Paddy's Markets with my parents. Its been awhile since we've been because we keep stocking up and we never finish the food on time. Since it was pouring rain, we were hoping that it would be less crowded. Well we were wrong. Anyway, we did get quite a few good buys:

Mini pineapples - 3 for $2

These pineapples were so cute! They're no bigger than those novelty footballs/stressball things they sell for charity. And its soooooooo sweet! And cute! Did I mention they were cute?

Yellow capsicums - $2/kg

Chinese Radish - $1 a bunch

For some reason, my dad was really happy to see these split chinese radishes. He reckons they taste better than the normal ones. We have yet to cook them so I don't know if its true or not. Only taste will tell......

Pearl Mushrooms and abalone mushrooms - $6 for 2 packs

Fresh babycorn
The marked price is $5 a box, each box comes with 16 little trays. I thought it was a great deal, but what I think and what my mum think is quite different. Even at $5, she likes to bargain (Now you know where I get it from). She offered the guy $4 for the box, the gave a bark of laughter into her face, waved her away, turned his back and grabbed a box lying at the back of his stand. He lifted the lid and showed us that there was 1 1/2 trays missing from the box, threw it ontop of another box and said $5. I thought he said he'll sell the incomplete box to us for $4, but he was offering us the incomplete box and ANOTHER full box for $5! Thats $2.50 a box with 16 little trays! Talk about a bargain! And I thought the guy was going to tell us off for offering him $4. I guess it never hurts to ask hey?

I picked up a few other ingredients along the way for a bit of a cookoff by myself:

Chicken Sausage rolls

MmmMmm more innards....

MMmmmMmm They were YUM!!! The sausages were just cooked to perfection, still nice and juicy and the pastry was soft and flakey. Served with a bit of tomato/chilli chutney it'll be perfect! If I wasn't so hungry, I probably would've whipped up a batch. Maybe next time. Until then, good old ketchup will do.

Mix mushroom and salami pasta

Tom Yum Noodle Soup

This was my first attempt at Tom Yum Goong and I've bastardised it already. I grabbed a nice bunch of Kaffir lime leaves whilst I was at the markets and thought I should put it too good use since its $6/100g ($60/kg!!!!!!!!!!!!) We had alot of leftover mussels so I thought I'd throw that in. And since we have so much baby corn, I thought I'd throw some in to. But I think the one thing that everyone is screaming about is "OMG!! YOU CAN'T PUT TOMATO IN A TOM YUM GOONG!!! BLASPHEMY!!!". Well, I did. And some restaurants serve them that way as well. But next time I think I'll leave them out, and the corn, and the mussels and produce a pure Tom Yum Goong. It turned out quite well even though I was missing 1 key ingredient and had to substitute, and I also ran outta lime. I need alot more lime. I loveeeeeee my Tom Yum Goong soooo sour your saliva glands go into overtime! MmmMmm YUM!!

I've also been categorising all the recipes I've collected over time, and found one that Moishii sent me on 23rd November 2004 (Yes I've kept the email!) on how to make dolmades (Vine leaves). Moishii's mum makes THE BEST VINE LEAVE EVER! And so I had asked for the recipe and he emailed it to me. So I went out and got myself a pack of vine leaves which had been preserved since I couldn't find any fresh ones. Obviously my first question was how do I treat the preserved ones compared to the fresh ones. I gave Moishii a call who managed to get him mummy on the other end. Then there was this whole big translation session. Everything was going well until I said ".....and then I'll fry it all up....."

Moishii: "Fry what?? What are you frying?? Theres no frying!!"
Oishii: "Your recipe said to fry up the onions and the garlic......."
M: "Theres no garlic!!!"
M: "THERES NO GARLIC!!! Read me the recipe!"
O: "500g of cooked rice......holy crap thats 1/2kg of cooked rice!!"
O: "YOUR RECIPE SAYS TO USE COOKED RICE!!! It also says parsley....."

And this went on and on with all the ingredients he listed. I finally got an updated ingredients list from his mummy. He basically gave me a crap recipe which was completely fake! Half of the ingredients he sent me I don't need! Most of the instructions it gives are completely wrong! Who the hell gives me a fake recipe!! And even when he did give me his mum's recipe, I suspected there was something wrong with it. Either he's a bad translater (Which is entirely possible) or his mum was withholding a key ingredient, just like in Everybody loves Raymond. But I come from a long generation of cooks, and I can wing it if I need to.

I call this "Dolmades - Moishii's Mum's Style, as interpreted by SoRMuiJAi". So here goes:

The filling - This is what caused the whole fuss!

Preparing for the rolling

Looking good so far.....

My first completed vine leaf!

One down.....

Only 12754 more to go......

Moishii neglected to give me a few vital points, such as how long to cook them for!!!!!! Anyway, I winged it, and it tasted good!!! It's been 24hours, and there is no sign of food poisoning! The rice was a bit too cooked (No thanks to some people), and its not quite tomatoey enough. The reason Moishii's Mum makes the best Dolmades ever, is because she makes it really tomatoey, unlike all the others out there. I know where I went wrong, and I am definately going to make another batch soon. I've passed a box on to Moishii, so he can pass it on to his Mummy. Lets see what she thinks hey? I think its a good effort for a first attempt! Hmmmm I'm so having a Turkish cookout soon! I'm going to make some Kofte!!

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Comfort food

Its rainy, its windy and its cold. So what does a girl cook when she's hungry, tired and cold? Something comforting and easy to make with minimal effort? Bangers and Mash.


And just to make it sound posh, its Continental sausages on a bed of Garlic mash served with a side of sugar snap peas and a caramelised onion gravy.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Spice I am revisited

Its been a good few weeks since our first visit to Spice I am. I think it's taken that long for the burning to go away and the sensation return to my tastebuds. So I do what any sane person does, go back for a second helping.

After learning from our first experience, we decided to head to the Triple Ace Bar for a few drinks beforehand. Once we were sufficiently liquored up, we stumbled over to Spice I am only to find the place packed to the seams. I left my mobile number with the friendly waitress, stumbled back across the road for another drink. Less than 5mins later, my Oompa-Loompa ringtone goes off, before I could even say "Hello" Cookiez had already started sculling her drinking. I quickly down mine, grabbed my bags and attempted the inebriated high heels tottle across the street.

We're promptly seated (Thank goodness because I think I was walking slanted) with plates, cutlery and a big bottle of water was plonked down for our using. We decided to try some new dishes:

Mieng Kuay Teow - $6.90
Sliced Pork, bean sprouts, mint, wrapped with flat rice noodles

For entree, we opted for the Mieng Kuay Teow which consists of pork, bean sprouts, mints all rolled in fresh sheets of rice noodles. It comes with a VERY garlicky and sour sauce. The roll on its own is quite bland and it really needs the sauce to jazz it up. The crunchy bean sprouts and the soft silky rice noodles offers a refreshing contrast. Maybe because I am expecting a Yum Cha style cheong fun with soft innards, instead I was greeted by a cool refreshing crunch of sprouts. The dish is nice, but not worth the $6.90. Not if I can get a plate with 3 strips of Cheong Fun for under $5 at Yum Cha.

Nam Tok - $10.90
Chargrilled Beef salad hot and spicy with chilli powder and ground roast rice

You would think after last time's salad I would learn my lesson......well, you see, I'm a slow learner. I KNOW I should've asked for mild.......but.......well......I don't know. I didn't. So I suffered. I was just grateful that I was semi tanked up before arriving and had partially numbed my tongue before eating. I'm pretty sure the salad was nice and sour. I love my salads sour. The tang lightens up any meal and enables me to consume more. However, I spent most of the time focusing on the burn. I was a tad confused after the 2nd bite and though someone had shoved a red hot poker into my mouth. MILD DAMNIT!! Why did I forget that keyword when I was ordering! *Sigh* The salad was still good, although I still prefer their Nam Khao Tod if it didn't burn my tongue off. I stharted thu sthpeak thlike thith half way thruuu the dith cos my thongue wath sthwollen.

Basil Crispy Chicken - $13.90

This was the dish of the night. The Chicken wasn't exactly CRISPY, but it was deep fried and then cooked in a slight sweet, slighty spicy and slightly salt sticky sauce all topped with crunchy fried holy basil. The spiciness on this dish did not hit a 35 on a scale of 10, meaning I could enjoy this dish without a fire extinguisher. The serving was a bit small for the price we paid, but it made it all the more more-ish. I must try this dish again when I'm sober and have complete use of my taste buds, but I'm afraid it might be a bit salty considering it tasted sufficiently salted even with my numb tongue. Nevertheless, it was yummmmmmmmm!

Spice I am
90 Wentworth Ave
Surry Hills