Monday, May 31, 2010

I cooked: Roast Chicken

The key to cooking a good roast chicken is in the chicken itself. Always choose a good quality chicken, preferably free range or organic. You will be surprised how much better the meat tastes - much more succulent and juicy with a rich chicken flavour. (Mass produced chicken could be dry and tasteless.)

Homecooked roast chicken beats Kenny Roger's anyday.

Roast chicken
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves 4-5

1 free range chicken (approx. 2 kg)
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Olive oil
50g butter, softened at room temperature
Freshly ground salt and pepper

1.Preheat oven to 190°C.
2. Rinse the chicken, and dry it well with a kitchen towel.
3. Push the onion and garlic inside the chicken's cavity.
4. Place chicken in a roasting tray, then rub olive oil, salt and pepper all over.
5. Smear the butter over the top of the chicken, to give it a nice crispy skin.
6. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes per 500g plus an extra 10-20 minutes.
7. Baste at least twice during cooking to keep the chicken moist.
8. Remove the chicken from the oven, and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

9. Serve with mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables and gravy.

Use any leftover chicken and bones to make a delicious chicken & vegetable soup for the following day. Nothing goes to waste! :-)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Restoran Sate R&K, Seremban

This is my favorite place to go to for Satay in Seremban.

So how do you define a good stick of satay? For me, I prefer satay which are lean, marinated well and not overcooked. I cannot stand satay which have bits of fat on it, gives me the shivers just biting into it and definitely not charcoal black meat (some places overdo the cooking!).

The chicken (satay ayam) and beef (satay daging) satay here is extremely good. I would say the best time to come here is around 6.00 - 6.30pm, as the satays are hot off the coal so the meat is still succulent (I feel satay gets a bit dry when it's cold). Order some of the ketupat (rice cakes) too!

Another important factor is the spicy peanut sauce. The sauce here is thick and sweet, with a hint of chilli in it. And they are not stingy with it, we usually get a few bowls of sauce to dip our satay in.

Other than the satay here, I also like the fried rice (Nasi Goreng). There is a huge variety here, but my favorites are Nasi Goreng Paprik (served with an egg and side dish of chicken cooked in paprika), Nasi Goreng USA and Nasi Goreng Kampung.

Nasi Goreng Paprik

And not to be missed, the Seafood Tom Yum. Very appetizing and quite spicy, hot and sour broth with loads of prawns, mini squid rings, chicken and oyster mushrooms. Tom Yum-my, I like!

To take the heat off, a glass of ice lemon tea would do the trick!

Service: Good.

Price: I think the satays are priced at RM0.60 per stick. The price of fried rice ranges from RM4.00 - RM5.50. Very reasonable.

Location: Restoran Sate R&K , 312 Taman AST, Jalan Sg Ujong, 70200 Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.

Tel: 06-7672652 / 019-6204717

GPS coordinates: 2.724012, 101.930165

Directions: Exit Seremban toll, turn left, go straight past 3 traffic lights. Turn left into Taman AST (before reaching Hotel Seri Malaysia), and another left turn and the shop is at the far end.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I baked: Oat and raisin biscuits

Nothing can compare with a homemade biscuit for bringing a touch of pleasure to a coffee/tea break. These oaty, fruity biscuits are easy to make and make a healthy treat. These biscuits have a lovely chewy texture. Great for days when you need a little energy boost!

Oat and raisin biscuits
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Makes 20

8 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing
150g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
100g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
250g porridge oats
200g raisins

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Lightly grease 2 baking trays with a little butter and line with baking paper.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
4. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition, until thoroughly combined.
5. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into the creamed mixture and mix gently. Add the porridge oats and raisins and mix thoroughly.

6. Place spoonfuls of the mixture spaced well apart on the prepared baking trays to allow for expansion during cooking. Flatten them slightly with the back of a spoon.

7. Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes.

8. Remove the biscuits from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes on the baking trays. Carefully transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before serving.

9. Store the biscuits in an airtight container.


Friday, May 21, 2010

I cooked: Cheesy cottage pie

This classic English dish is made with beef mince, topped with mashed potatoes and cheese. I can see why it's one of Hubby's childhood favorites - Cheesy, rich and flavoursome plus it's really easy to make.

Cheesy cottage pie

Love the cheesy top!

Cheesy cottage pie
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves 4-5

400g minced beef
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
2 medium carrots
400g can tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
250ml beef stock
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground salt and pepper
5-6 tbsp of Parmesan cheese

For the mashed potatoes
4 large Russet potatoes
50g butter
1 tbsp milk
Freshly ground salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 190°C.

2. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion and carrots and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until soft.

3. Add the minced beef and cook till browned.

4. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, thyme, beef stock and Worchestershire sauce.

5. Simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain and mash (using a potato press) with some butter and milk. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Spoon the meat into a 24 cm ovenproof dish.

8. Top with the mashed potatoes and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Score the top with a fork.

9. Then, bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Foliage @ Mandarin Oriental Hotel, London

This will be my last London post!

With one day spare, what did we end up doing? Yup, we went on a "Canal Walk/Tour", to be precise we walked the whole length of Regent's Canal on a cold winter's morning (Doesn't sound very interesting right? But the walk turned out to be very pleasant).

Have you heard of Banksy? He's a famous graffiti artist in London - who in the world likes graffiti, I hear you ask? Well, actually Banksy has fans from the likes of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Christina Aguilera. And his work is no longer called graffiti, but "artwork".

After a while, it was quite an adventure trying to find Banksy's artwork along the canal.

We played 'see who can spot the graffiti first'

Banksy in the local papers

Some parts of the canal were actually quite picturesque

Ducks landing... they glided gracefully across the ice! Yes, the water in the canal was frozen solid!
And we spotted a fox frozen in the water!

Camden Market
Camden Lock

See this artwork below? Banksy altered the original work by some guy called King Robbo (which was untouched for 24 years!), and it started a graffiti war. We managed to take a picture of Banksy's work before King Robbo retaliated by spraying his name in 3ft letters on the workman. Never mess with another graffiti artist's work!
For lunch, we have booked a table at Foliage, a 1-Michelin star fine dining restaurant (which they have held an impressive eight consecutive years) in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. This restaurant wasn't actually at the top of my list, but when we walked past the hotel on the way to Harrods one day, I was wowed by its beauty and striking interior. Mandarin Oriental screams grandeur and sophiscation at the same time.
I loved the glittery Xmas decor!

The trendy Mandarin bar

Thousands of wine bottles on display on the striking glass walls

We had a great view of Hyde Park from our table.

Cute little reindeer ornaments

Following the orders of the man who designed the restaurant, Adam Tihany, a waiter is dispatched each morning into the park to gather leaves and then place one at each table setting underneath a glass plate in order to “bring the park into the restaurant”.
The food here definitely surpassed my expectations. One of our top two meals in London!
Warm bread with salted and unsalted butter

Delicious amuse bouche of salmon and potato fishcake with pickled cucumber and fried capers

I had to pay a £5 supplementary for my starter as it wasn't from the set lunch menu, but it was well worth it. Scallops with cep, turnip and walnuts and a sherry based sauce. The scallops were glazed on the outside but stayed tender and moist on the inside. A perfect starter indeed!

This didn't sound much on the menu, but Hubby was pleasantly surprised when he tasted his starter of Poached hen's egg with Jerusalem artichoke, ceps and crouton.
For the intermediates, I had the Sea bream with shellfish nage, clams and samphire. This is a very good fish dish, the sauce was extremely delicious with lots of fishy goodness - love the clams and samphire!

Apparently this is one of Foliage's signature dishes, Gnocchi with brocolli, stilton and mushrooms. The gnocchi was light and fluffy, they are truly delicious. And the presentation on the grey slate is very nice.

For my main course, I had Braised Ox Cheek with smoked mash, Bourguignon mushrooms and pickled pearl onions. I've eaten braised ox cheek 3 times in my life, and this is the best by far.

Hubby had the Lamb with salardaise potato, baby turnip and caramelised onions. The lamb was cooked to perfection.

For dessert, I had the Chocolate Brownie with candied fennel, beetroot and blood orange sorbet. The brownie would have been better with vanilla ice-cream (my personal preference). Sorry to say this, but I think the chocolate brownies that I make are much nicer.. :-P

Hubby's dessert description was quite vague on the menu, but it turned out to be quite a creative dessert - Banana with amaretto, sea salt caramel and beurre noisette (that is brown butter). Extremely rich and delicious.

Petit fours consist of freshly baked madeleines dusted with icing sugar - soft, light and airy with a crisp crust. And they smell wonderful!

After our lunch, we headed to Harrods, a place not to be missed whenever we visit London. Not sure why though, we always just window shop here.

The theme for Xmas 2009 in Harrods was The Wizard of Oz. Everything green.

I joined the crowd and took a picture of this 30million year rock

A visit to Harrods is not complete without a walk through the Food Hall... all that yummy food! Pity I've just eaten..

I regretted not buying one of these Dyson fans and bringing it home. If anyone sees it in Malaysia, please please please let me know where I can buy it.
We spotted so many pretty cakes on our way to the tube station.
Our last stop for the night, Covent Garden to watch some "live show".

Goodbye London. It has been a really memorable holiday. Thanks again Hubby for flying me there. And ooooh, I got to fly first class on Malaysia Airlines from London to KL (my first time, lucky me :-)). The lounge in Terminal 4 is spanking new, very chic with quite a decent buffet spread and free flow alcohol (champagne everybody!).

Verdict: Food at Foliage was excellent, however the dining experience was marred slightly by a group of very loud diners.

Service: The service was excellent. Hubby was extremely pleased that the sommelier poured him 3 glasses instead of only 2 he was supposed to get with his set lunch.

Price: Set lunch is a steal at £29 for 4 courses (without wine) and £37 for 4 courses plus 2 glasses wine.

Nearest tube: Knightsbridge

Note: Foliage has since closed in March 2o10 to make way for two new restaurants opening in Spring (Bar Boulud by the famous chef Daniel Boulud) and Fall (Dinner by Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck) of 2010. Should be interesting!
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