Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas 2010: Roast striploin with roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, carrots and brocolli

Now, for the main meal of the day, it had to be a roast. Turkey is a no-no since Hubby does not particularly like turkey. Chicken would be the easiest alternative but the last few times I made it in KL, I found the meat not as moist as I like it to be. So, it was between lamb and beef, and the final decision would be made once I had a look at what was available in the supermarket.

While we were browsing the meat section at Cold Storage, I spotted a striploin roll and was instantly drawn to it. But the price was surprisingly 3 times what we usually pay for our roasting joint! After a brief discussion with the butcher we deduced it was a different cut than our usual and since it was Christmas, we decided to splurge and get it anyway as a treat.

Roast striploin with roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, carrots and brocolli

The Christmas Menu that I created

The recommended cooking time on the packaging was 5 minutes per 100g of meat in a preheated oven at 180°C. And the result was a gorgeous medium rare beef. Instead of slicing it thinly like we usually do, we sliced the meat in 1/3 inch thickness. The extra we paid for the striploin was justified as I felt the meat was much more tender and also juicier.

Best of all, I had very satisfied dinner guests who couldn't stop gushing about the meal... what more could I ask for?

Our Christmas Dinner spread

Hubby carving the meat. I hoped the meat was cooked to medium rare doneness

Medium rare it was!

Roast potatoes (recipe here)

Steamed carrots and brocolli

I ♥ brussel sprouts but they're so expensive here in KL!

Our delicious roast dinner

What's Christmas without some champagne? A little Christmas "spirit"

My favorite bubbly, Moet & Chandon.

Santa wants a piece of the Moet action too

For my recipe on how to cook roast beef, click here.

We were hoping that there would be some leftovers so Hubby could make stovies the following day, but the beef was so good, it all ended up in our tummy! Btw, I will be posting the recipe for our Christmas dessert, tiramisu, in the New Year.

Thank you for following my blog and for all your encouraging comments throughout the year.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! See you in 2011. xoxo

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010 : Carrot and Coriander Soup

After a morning of opening presents, it was time to prepare lunch. The thing about Christmas day is that I want to put delicious food on the table but at the same time, enjoy the day just like everyone else and not stress about cooking.

The carrot and coriander soup was a breeze to make, and if you prefer, you can even make it the day before and just reheat it when you want to serve it. We enjoyed the creamy soup with some Lebanese flatbread and store-bought hummus dip (blended chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic) and sun dried tomatoes.

Smooth and delicious

Lebanese flat bread with sundried tomatoes and hummus

Carrot & Coriander Soup
Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped finely
450g carrots, sliced
1 potato, sliced
1 tsp ground coriander
1.2 litre vegetable or chicken stock
30g fresh coriander, finely chopped and some for garnishing (daun ketumbar)

1. Heat the oil in a pot, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes until softened. Then, add the potatoes and ground coriander and cook for a further minute.

2. Add the carrots and stock, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots have softened.

3. Let soup cool slightly before tipping into a food processor or blender. Blitz the soup with the fresh coriander until you get a smooth, creamy consistency. Do this in two batches.

4. Return to pot and reheat to serve. Garnish with a sprig of coriander.

You can also serve the soup with a ham, sundried tomato and cheese wrap.

*Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.

Christmas 2010: Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon & Mandarin Orange

This was our first Christmas in our new home, so I wanted to make sure that everything was perfect. From the decor to the presents to the food. In the UK, we usually sit down for a 3-course Christmas meal around dinnertime. However, we always felt like we were overeating and too stuffed by the end of the second course to tackle dessert.

For Christmas this year, I decided to space out 4 courses throughout the day rather than cooking and eating everything in one sitting. I knew that I wanted to eat smoked salmon on Christmas day, so I decided to incorporate this into our first course, Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Mandarin Oranges which I served for breakfast.

The idea of combining smoked salmon and mandarin oranges came from a Christmas cooking programme I watched in UK some years ago. The chef had thinly sliced some clementines and then arranged the smoked salmon on top. I couldn't find clementines, hence I substituted with mandarin oranges since they were in season as Chinese New Year is around the corner. (Clementines is a variety of mandarin orange)

For the scrambled eggs, beat 7 eggs with some cold milk, season with salt and pepper and cook in a pan with some butter until soft and fluffy. Peel 1 mandarin orange (including the white skin) and cut into small chunks. You will need 200g of smoked salmon for 4 people. I plated it two different ways; one is a more playful take with a flower inspired theme, whereby you cut the smoked salmon into thin strips, then roll to form a rose.

Since the smoked salmon was quite difficult to separate and hence I couldn't cut them all into straight strips, which left me with lots of ununiformed shapes so I had to revise my plating of the food. This look is slightly more refined. Do prepare and plate the mandarin oranges and smoked salmon before you start cooking your scrambled eggs. And to finish, garnish with some sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes.

We also enjoyed some Pandoro, an Italian Specialty Cake which is available for sale around Christmas time in supermarkets like Cold Storage. To be honest, I did not really like it at first, as the cake had the consistency of bread and was rather dry. But, this was quickly fixed with a layer of butter and the cake is actually quite nice with a cup of coffee or tea.

Now, a little break before we moved on to the second course served at lunch time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Seremban Makan Trip, Part 4: Chee cheong fun & wu tao ko

Man, I wish my metabolic rate would speed up 10 times after our duck feast in the morning. I should have taken it easy with the duck and left some space for curry laksa. The pain of not being able to indulge in a bowl of curry laksa this trip is really killing me. To make matters worse, mum declared that she had to run some errands just a few doors down from Asia Laksa. Can see, can't touch.

While we were waiting for the store to open, Baby C wandered off and returned with a packet of chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll) and wu tao ko (yam cake). The uncle selling these operates from the back of his motorbike and is parked in front of the book store a few doors down from Asia Laksa. I think he only sells here on Sundays, and on other days he will sell from other locations. We have bought from him several times in the past whenever we come here for curry laksa.

Chee cheong fun and wu tao ko with a dash of sesame seeds

Mummy, mummy, see what I got you!

A fantastic breakfast for RM2...

If you love chee cheong fun and yam cake, you have got to try this. If you don't love chee cheong fun and yam cake, you should still give this a try and you might find yourself converted. It is really good! I like how the chee cheong fun is really smooth and the two sauces (sweet and spicy chilli) just compliments it really well. I sometimes find the accompanying sweet sauce sickly sweet elsewhere, but this one was just right. Since we weren't eating it on the spot, the uncle kindly separated the sauces for us. The wu tao ko is one of the best I've ever eaten, the texture is really soft and smooth with a distinct taste of dried shrimp which makes it very flavourful. Most of the wu tao ko's you find nowadays are just floury and lacks the dried shrimp.This is the real deal. Who says you can't have a satisfying breakfast nowadays for RM2?

Price: RM0.50 per piece.

Location: Outside Book Store next to Restoran Asia, 364, Jalan Tok Ungku, 70100 Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. (opposite Pejabat Pos Rahang and a few shops away from Kong Guan)

GPS Coordinates: 2°42'8"N 101°57'14"E

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Seremban Makan Trip, Part 3: Wah Heng Roast Duck & Siew Yuk

The following morning, I was in a dilemma. What to eat for breakfast? It was a toss between roast duck or curry laksa. It was a tough decision, but in the end the roast duck prevailed.

Since moving to KL, we haven't found any roast duck to our liking, apart from Four Seasons in Empire Subang. So, I was craving for some good duck, so we headed to Wah Heng which serves the best roast duck in town in my opinion. Since I have blogged about this duck before, I will keep it short and you can read my previous blog here.

We ordered RM10 roast duck breast and RM10 siew yuk (roast pork) and I ate most of it. The roast duck here is nicely deboned so it makes eating a lot easier. Oh my God, I miss the roast duck here so much... with its glistening crispy skin and succulent meat, it's no wonder the duck here is one of our favorites. Although this is the best roast duck in Seremban, I think I have to present the best overall roast duck title to Four Seasons and this comes a close second.

We also love the siew yuk here, so flavourful and the crackling is just awesome.

We also ordered a wantan mee with sui gao (dumplings) from the noodle stall. I literally grew up eating these noodles. Springy and delicious and the sui gao had the lovely crunch from the yam beans (sengkuang).

Needless to say, I've put on some weight from the Seremban trip, but it was well worth it. If only I had more tummy space, I would have definitely tackled a bowl of curry laksa too!

If you ever find yourself in Seremban, do give the roast duck here a try. Do leave a comment if you prefer this over KL's version.

Opening times: 7am til 3pm. Closed on Mondays.

Price: Duck rice (RM4.00), chicken rice (RM3.50), char siew rice (RM3.80), siew yuk rice (RM3.80), whole roast duck (RM42.00), whole roast chicken (RM30.00)

Location: Kedai Nasi Ayam - Itik Wah Heng, Restoran Haup Huat, Jalan Tuanku Munawir, 70000 Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. (a few lanes away from Pasar Besar Seremban)

GPS coordinates: 2.728625, 101.936367

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. Hope you enjoy this special day with your loved ones.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Seremban Makan Trip, Part 2: Wedding Banquet @ Regent Restaurant

Wedding banquets are an important part of the married couple's wedding ceremony and for their families to celebrate and share their happiness with family and friends. We were recently invited to my cousin's wedding banquet at Regent Restaurant in Seremban. Although we had to make a special trip from KL, it was worth it as it is one of those rare ocassions when I get to meet and catch up with relatives which I do not see often. Of course, it is always a plus point if the food is good.

Of all the restaurants in Seremban, I feel that Regent Restaurant serves the best tasting food for wedding banquets. It always amazes me how they manage to serve consistently good food as a lot of restaurants fail when it comes to catering for big crowds. Last year in December, we attended a cousin's wedding at "MK" Restaurant and the food was pretty appalling, not to mention the horrible ambience. At least at Regent, even with Karaoke going on in the background, you can still chat to your neighbour without having to shout.

Regent Restaurant is also great for family dinners (see my previous blog here) but try to avoid coming here on weekends unless you can get a private room because the restaurant can get really busy. This is as good as fine Chinese cuisine gets in Seremban.

There is a significance to everything served in a Chinese wedding banquet, from the type of dishes down to the number of dishes. Most wedding banquets would serve 8 or 9 dishes, whereby 8 dishes signifies prosperity and 9 dishes for everlasting. That evening, we were served a total of 9 dishes.

We started off with the Five Hot & Cold Combination, which is a very common appetizer in wedding banquets. This dish consisted of scallops with sugar snap peas, deep fried pork balls with cheese filling and almond coating, deep fried pork wrapped in fu chuk (beancurd), steamed pork balls and honey BBQ ribs. We enjoyed everything except for the ribs as I found the meat slightly tough.

Braised sharkfin's soup with crabmeat is also commonly served as it symbolises wealth for the newly-weds.

There will usually be a fish dish, either steamed or deep fried as fish symbolises abundance (yu). The Steamed Pomfret with Superior Soy Sauce was fresh and delicious.

"Yes! My favorite fish!"

I had mixed feelings about the Roasted Duck and Salad Chicken combination. I loved the roast duck as the meat was succulent with a crispy skin but I felt the batter in which the chicken was coated was too thick. This dish represents the bride, the "Phoenix" which is the female aspect in the marriage.

I do not usually like eating prawns at wedding banquets as I dislike getting my hands dirty. However, if someone offers to peel them for me, I can eat 2 or 3 or even 4. The Western Style Prawns were very fresh and sweet. This dish represents the groom, the "Dragon" which is the male aspect in the marriage. Therefore having chicken and prawn dishes represents balance in the new relationship for the couple.

The Stir Fried Assorted Vegetables was a popular dish at our table as most of my fellow diners are "choi wong" (veggie lovers). Lift the thin fu chuk layer and we found mushrooms, sweetcorn, quail eggs and carrots underneath.

The Hong Kong Style Mix Rice was fragrant and flavourful, whereby the rice is cooked with lap cheong (Chinese waxed sausage), char siew (BBQ pork) and mushrooms.

We were served two varieties of sweet biscuits, one is somewhat like the tambun biscuit (same crust but with a smooth pandan/egg yolk filling) and the other was a 3-layer soft cake topped with coconut.

And finally, we were served a cold dessert, the Sweetened Honey Dew Sago. Sweet desserts and biscuits symbolises a sweet, happy marriage for the couple.

If you're looking for a more affordable place to have dinner in Seremban, try TC Keong Restaurant. It is my favourite dai chow place in Seremban, and is highly recommended. If we were in Seremban for a wee bit longer, we would have definitely paid a visit there. Damn, I really miss the stir fried beef with oyster sauce and deep fried fish.

Our heartiest congratulations to the newly-weds. Wishing you both a long and lasting marriage.

Location: Regent Restaurant (Seremban) Sdn Bhd, 2390 - 2395 Taman Labu Utama, Jalan Sungai Ujong, 70200 Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.

Tel: 606-7639909

GPS Coordinates: 2.719639, 101.920896

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dongzhi Festival & Tong Yuen (Glutinous Rice Ball)

Dongzhi Festival, also known as the Winter Solstice Festival is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and East Asians. Traditionally, this is the time for the family to get together and make tong yuen or tangyuen (glutinous rice balls). For the Chinese, tong yuen symbolises reunion.

As a child, I enjoyed making tong yuen with my brother. It was like playing with Play-Doh, so sometimes we would make funny shapes out of the dough. Nowadays, we no longer make our own tong yuen but instead we would buy frozen ready-made ones from the supermarket for convenience sake. A few years down the line when Baby C is a little older, I would definitely make tong yuen together with her as I personally feel that the process of making tong yuen will encourage family bonding. I have a feeling that she would love it, just like I did when I was younger.

The brand of tong yuen we usually buy is KG Pastry, which happens to be Halal. Some come with peanut, red bean or black sesame paste filling. We bought 2 types of tong yuen this year, one with peanut filling and one plain. My personal favourite is the tong yuen with peanut filling. KG Pastry also do a giant sized one, but I feel the proportion of filling to dough is not balanced. Baby C liked the plain ones as they are colourful.

KG Pastry mini glutinous rice ball with peanut filling

KG Pastry Mini Rainbow Rice Ball (plain)

We made a sweet soup with pandan leaves, and gula melaka (palm sugar). You can also add some old ginger slices for a more fiery and spicy soup. When the soup comes to a boil, pop the tong yuen in and once they float to the top, they're ready for consumption. Baby C certainly enjoyed helping us pop the tong yuen into the pot.

Pop in the pot, not in the mouth

So easy, so yummy...

If you would like to try your hand in making your own tong yuen, you can try the recipe from this site.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Seremban Makan Trip, Part 1: Haji Shariff Cendol

Last weekend, we had to make a trip back to Seremban for a cousin's wedding. Even before the day arrived, I have already made a long list of things I wanted to eat when we were there... however, the question was, would I be able to eat everything I wanted in 24 hours?

The first thing I wanted to eat and cross off my list when we arrived in Seremban was a bowl of cendol as the weather was sweltering that afternoon. Cendol is a cold dessert consisting of shaved ice, coconut milk, worm-like green jelly, and gula melaka (palm sugar). The best place for cendol in Seremban in my opinion is Haji Shariff Cendol.

Awesome cendol pulut

The cendol stall was once operated from a pushcart opposite the A&W's in Seremban near the Lake Gardens. I still remember frequenting the stall back then. Now, it occupies a corner restaurant on Jalan Yam Tuan. The building is pretty hard to miss since it is painted green, just like the colour of cendol! Not only is the building green, the floor tiles, wall tiles, tables, chairs, signage and even the worker's outfits are green. The restaurant is very clean, hygienic and airy, so that scores extra points from me as well.

There are 6 types of cendol served here; cendol biasa (normal), cendol pulut (glutinous rice), cendol kacang (red bean), cendol jagung (sweet corn), cendol campur (assorted), and cendol bandung. The cendol here is generously topped with the topping of your choice and served in a double layer stainless steel bowl to keep it cold.

The service here is very efficient, so you will get served in a matter of minutes after sitting down. It was immensely satisfying as I took my first sip of the cendol and greedily finished my first bowl. The cendol was refreshing and an excellent thirst quencher. It was so good that I had to order another bowl to satisfy my cendol cravings. My favourite here is the cendol pulut, I find the glutinous rice (pulut) very fragrant, wonderfully sticky and delicious. It has a very nice bite and adds texture to the cendol.

Cendol and pulut, a delightful combination

One thing to note about the cendol here is that it is all natural and no artificial colouring is added. The colour comes from the pandan leaves, which explains why the cendol here is very light green in colour.

My mum likes the cendol campur, which is a mixture of cendol, sweet corn, red bean and pulut. A little bit of everything!

Other than cendol, you can also get ABC, rojak and rojak mee. I have heard that the rojak here is pretty good, but I had to leave tummy space for the wedding banquet I was attending that evening.

This dude is the only guy (other than the owner) who works behind the counter. He churns out bowls and bowls of cendol at a very efficient speed.

This dude is the owner of the place. They have an automated ice shaver here to keep up with the cendol orders.

See what I mean about everything being green?

The price list

Parking is a breeze here, with an abundance of spaces adjacent to the building. This parking space (known as "Sam Kok Tei" or Triangle Square) is transformed into an open-air hawker centre in the evenings from 5pm onwards. There are quite a lot of interesting hawker fare here, so it is worth paying a visit if it's your cup of tea.

Price: Reasonable.

Location: Haji Shariff Cendol & Catering Sdn Bhd, 44 Jalan Yam Tuan, 70000 Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.

Tel: 016-612 8505

GPS Coordinates: 2.726635, 101.940081
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