Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chinese New Year Mini Reunion Dinner

I have a backlog of entries that I better get moving on or else they'll be sitting in draft form in the edit box. It was just my laziness kicking in plus I wanted to savour my yummy noodles as the front photo for a while more. You know, I had leftovers which I ate slowly and boy, it tastes good even for leftovers. I added loads of the alfafa sprouts which was so yummy with it.

More on what else we ate that night during Chinese New Year eve, I made something I have been meaning to try out - beef rolls with enoki mushrooms. Not very traditional I know but it was something I adapted from my Yummy Yummy magazine. Originally for bacon, I replaced the same with thinly sliced sirloin slices which have been prepared for sukiyaki. You can easily get these from the Japanese supermarkets like Jusco or Isetan. Very simple - just wrap them over the enoki mushroom bundles and pan fry them to be just cooked. Not long as you don't want your beef to be tough. There's also a yummy sauce to go with this which I have not added to the dish above yet but it brings all the flavours together. Very nice stuff and something so simple, I will make it again.

I had to have the obligatory steamed fish for dinner even though Splashie Boy hates fish with bones because of it's significance for Chinese New Year - Nian Nian You Yu which means every year have fish. Hence I bought a teeny weeny white pomfret to steam with spring onions and ginger slices. A little soya sauce was then added with fried garlic oil to the steamed fish and served.

This was a hit with Splashie Boy - prawns with broccolli. The broccoli was just boiled with a dash of oil, sugar and salt to maintain it's green colour. Prawns were marinated in soya sauce, white pepper and sesame oil. It was then tossed with beaten egg white and corn flour before I pan fried them. After I drained the oil from them, I cooked a sauce from chicken stock and poured it over the prawns which were nice and crunchy.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

IMBB 22 - Cold Marinated Angelhair Pasta with Abalone

I love noodles so when I saw Cooking with Amy's IMBB's announcement, I was ecstatic. However with the Chinese New Year celebrations falling on the same weekend, I knew I had little time to produce an extensive noodley menu since I would have one million last minute things to complete before the festive season starts.

I decided then to incorporate part of my IMBB entry into the mini reunion dinner I had with Splashie Boy on Chinese New Year eve. (My family is rarely ever in town during Chinese New Year and we always have reunion dinner in advance i.e. last Saturday) Since Chinese New Year is all about the little luxuries you have once a year, we decided abalone was the way to go since it meant "Pao Yue" in Cantonese which means guaranteed abundance. It must have worked because after buying our can of abalone last weekend, we received a gift of two more abalone cans from my sister. Now I really have an abundance of abalone at home.

I reproduced Jimmy Chok's Cold Marinated Angelhair Pasta with Abalone from his Simple cookbook. Believe me, Jimmy Chok's recipes are just as simple as the title of his cookbook. Not only are they easy to make, they are stunning to look at too. The original recipe uses daikon cress and tobiko but I have improvised it to suit what we have in the local markets. Daikon cress is replaced with alfafa sprouts while ebiko was used instead since tobiko is difficult to obtain. Although the recipe asks for Australian abalone which is the top grade variety, I have used New Zealand's abalone instead which is slightly cheaper.

How was the taste? Excellent! Splashie Boy loved it that he had seconds and I was surprised how nice the combination was after I mixed it as everything went well together. Give it a try and serve it in martini glasses as it will definitely wow your guests!

Cold Marinated Angelhair Pasta with Abalone (Serves One)

100 grams angelhair pasta, cooked in salted water
10 ml canola oil
10 grams Japanese mayonnaise
20 ml mirin
Salt to taste
Black ground pepper to taste
20 grams tobiko
80 grams abalone, thinly sliced
Daikon cress
Chopped spring onion

Marinate cooked angelhair pasta with mirin, canola oil and Japanese mayonnaise. Do this preferably one day in advance so the flavours will be fully absorbed. Season the pasta with salt and pepper to taste when ready to serve. Mix the tobiko and arrange on plate with sliced abalone. Garnish with spring onion and daikon cress to serve.

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Updated: The IMBB Round-Up is up and running on Cooking with Amy. Do visit all the yummy and fantastic noodley entries.

Gong Xi Fa Chai

Gong Xi Fa Chai (Happy New Year) to everyone.

Hope the Year of the Dog brings you lots of luck and prosperity.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Weekend Cat Blogging (WCB) 34

Face off between Ally Cat and I

Hi everyone!

I am so annoyed with my sister, Ally Cat. She took my favourite spot inside the empty mandarin orange box which I had told her earlier it is mine. It's not as though it's the only one as Mum brought back two boxes for us. Anyway, I was nice to her, I gave her a nasty stare only but since Mum was around I didn't attack or snarl at her. Sorry for being such a grouch this morning but sometimes, a kitty must protect her territory. By the way, Kiri my great pal is sure enjoying himself in a roadtrip this long weekend. Can't wait to see his photos when he comes back.

Entries from my friends are coming in already so please visit them to see their cute pictures and adorable antics.
  1. Say hi to Sophe Oki, Lomax and Mance from Cracker Jack'd. They're so adorable that I can understand why Aunty Kathy is so proud of them.
  2. Gigolo Kitty continues the Snowy White and the Seven Stalkers story where Snowy White is forced to join the gym.
  3. Lulu the dog has a sweet little kitty nicknamed Willow as her bed buddy in Why Travel to France?
  4. Awwww, Honey the sweetie pie is now all grown up at ten months old in Anne's Food.
  5. The kitties in Look Hunny, I Cooked are so peaceful in their tall perches. I must take Auntie Catesa's advice and share with my sister next time Mum brings home a new toy.
  6. Tasha, the sleepy kitty from A Few of my Favourite Things is back in WCB. Welcome back to Bella, Tasha and Auntie Cin, glad to see you.
  7. Happy Birthday to Morganna, Barbara's daughter from Tigers & Strawberries. She's having a Chinese dim sum feast for her birthday (I wish I could be there!) and hugging Lennier who looks so happy.
  8. Maruschka from Rosa's Yummy Yums is waiting to be fed. I know that feeling as sometimes I use that stare at Mum to will her to move and fill my cat bowl with food.
  9. Dutchie & Mao love their baskets which have a great view of the world in Kross-Eyed Kitty. I want some of that too!
  10. Doc the cat has got a side-job, he is the official proofreader of Kiplog's posts. I hope the job pays well in terms of yummy food and more pats from the master.
  11. Bow down to Princess Louise, the great kitty from Stalking the Waiter. If not, she may give you the evil eye.
  12. Molly Doodlebug is a good kitty this weekend over at Farmgirl Fare. I wonder what mischief she has planned for the coming week.
  13. Aggie is tubsitting over at Kayak Soup. I reckon it's because it's nice and cooling to sit in there? Sometimes I also jump into the tub with Mum before she switches on the shower.
  14. Max shows off his whiskers in passionatenonchalance.
  15. Kitty Bojangles has a moment of peace from Whiskey the cat in Just Braise. Happy Birthday Auntie Stacey - Mum was drooling over the Chocolate Coconut Fudge Cupcakes you baked.
  16. Le Gros Noir from Lali et Cie gets no sleep as Lali's little girl loves to play with him.
  17. Lucky the Cat gets a bath with his mummy in These Days in French Life.
  18. Kashim and Othello, those adorable kitties play at their scratch posts at Paulchens Foodblog?!
  19. Bussi enjoys her weekend by getting her priorities right at Basic Juice. I love the sequence of photos as that's exactly what I do too when I find a nice sunbeam at home.
  20. We have Stella and Buddy wandering outside plus a bonus picture of Stella looking cute as a pie hiding in a bag over at The Poor Cracklins.
  21. Widget and Max fight it out for the new kitty condo at Peanut Butter and Purple Onions. Hmmmm, I wonder if Mum can build me one too. Must go and bug her now with some pleading looks.
  22. Xannon the black kitty joins us from Texas at Heather's Space. He looks so like the other black kitten we have at the other house, so sweet.
  23. Samantha has a nice red ribbon that she loves to play with at the Websorceress Cooks. It looks really fun, let me bug Mum for a ribbon too.
  24. Luke's curling up with Elmo the cookie monster at Sweetnicks.

    Lotsa love, meow kisses and hugs

    Boo the cat

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Sugar High (Low) Friday # 15 - Tangerine Crush

This month, Becks & Posh challenged us to make a lovely dessert which is low fat and less sugar. It's an excellent idea after all the excesses from the end of year partying and before more binging starts with Chinese New Year feasts.

When I started out thinking what I wanted to do, I knew I did not want to use honey (did it before for another SHF event) and I ain't no fan of artificial sugar substitutes so my choices were limited. Eventually I decided to just go with the flow and make a simple dessert with the mountain of tangerines I have at home since it's Chinese New Year.

The dessert was inspired by Donna Hay who has excellent ideas of freezing yoghurts or sorbets in fruit cups and slicing them. However, when I looked at the recipes, they still had quite a bit of fat or sugar syrup to make the sorbets hence I only used the fruit cup idea. From my experience, I note that once you freeze or refrigerate any dessert, you don't really taste the amount of sugar in it hence I decided no additional sugar will be added since the tangerine would be sweet enough.

I experimented with my tangerines and carefully managed to dig the segments out without breaking the skin. Quite a difficult task to do as the tangerine skin is pretty thin. Then I pureed the segments and sieved them to omit any large bits. This was placed in the freezer overnight together with my tangerine cups. The next day, I used a fork to scrape up the ice. It's essential that you fluff them up as you want them light. I then packed them lightly in my frozen tangerine cups. They looked good but lacked ooopmh!

A quick run through the fridge revealed a bunch of mint leaves left over from my
Donna Day event so I made mint ice cubes. They're really simple, just pluck mint leaves and put them in the ice cube tray and pour water on them. Leave in the freezer and you'll get lovely green mint ice cubes. I used them as a base in a transparent glass cup to place my tangerine crush on top. A very quick photo shoot was done as the ice was melting in our hot tropical weather. After all that hard work, I had a few cups of the crush to cool down and they were so refreshing in the hot weather. If you have loads of tangerines or mandarin oranges, do try this at home as it's great refresher especially in the hot weather we will get this Chinese New Year. Just remember to eat it quickly as it melts super fast in our weather.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Weekend Cat Blogging (WCB) 34 Announcement

Hello everyone

This weekend, my pal Kiri and his family are all going away for the long Australia Day break so I'm hosting Weekend Cat Blogging. Send us your permalinks of my friends and I'll put them up. You can email us at Mum's email: boo_liciouskl@yahoo.com or leave us the links at the comment sections: Haloscan for non-bloggers and Blogger for those registered on blogger. Hope to see all of you.

Lotsa love, meow kisses and hugs

Boo the cat

Ice Kacang @ SS2, Petaling Jaya

Last weekend was just shop! shop! shop! We weren't joining the crowd at the malls who were Chinese New Year shopping but searching for lights to brighten up the new house. With the festive season approaching, the light shops were having discounts hence we decided to get them early. It was a pretty good day and for once, Splashie Boy and I agreed on one light (he hates the ones I like and vice versa).

Our shopping trip brought us to SS2 and we were walking all over the place hopping from the light shops which are scattered around the square. We walked past the Wai Sik Kai (Gluttons Lane in Chinese) and decided to take a break to have Ice Kacang (RM2). This is one of the places that serve their Ice Kacang in a tall glass. You can also opt to have it in a bowl if you prefer.

Splashie Boy could not resist playing with the ice kacang and made a replica of the KLCC towers complete with a skybridge. Now all I need is Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery to swing around the skybridge and I can have my own
Entrapment movie.

There is lots of ingredients in this Ice Kacang especially red beans. Besides the beans, you can see bits of black grass jelly cubes and corn in the glass. You are given a straw and a long spoon to eat your Ice Kacang which comes with gula melaka (palm sugar in Malay) and evaporated milk.

Stall No. 41
Wai Sik Kai, SS2, Petaling Jaya
Opened during the evenings
(To access this place, enter from the Hong Leong Bank Berhad/MJ Cafe side, the stall is the first one on your right hand side)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from the restaurant for writing this review.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Teluk Pulai Bak Kut Teh @ Klang

Yesterday was one of the rare occasions we had Bak Kut Teh all the way in Klang. I have heard about this particular shop from my mother for a while as she raves about it. Even my cousins whom she has brought there to try this place out rave about it. It was my dad's favourite place for Bak Kut Teh too which he visited often to savour the soup.

Initially I was confused, the card she gave me said Teluk Pulai Bak Kut Teh which sounded exactly like the one Robyn from EatingAsia visited recently but after carefully searching through the Net, I found out this was a different restaurant completely. I finally got a detailed write up plus map that pointed me to it's direction from the Sun's website. By the way, if any of the Sun's writers or editors are reading this, your website is godsent as it's excellent guide to finding places. Keep up the great work. This place is really simple to find and the best thing about it is it's pretty near too as you don't need to drive all the way to the Klang city centre.

This is the kettle you find peppered around the restaurant which you use to make Chinese Tea. Whenever you eat Bak Kut Teh, one must always have Chinese Tea to go with it as it helps clear the oil you consume from the Bak Kut Teh. You can either choose from the restaurant's tea leaves selection or bring your own tea leaves. We brought our tea leaves as my aunt is pretty fussy about the tea she drinks - it has to be "poh lay" which is a red tea. This is the same tea leaves we also buy for the house which we usually buy in a compressed round form. The Chinese believe that old people should only drink red tea since it's aged unlike green tea.

Since I was sitting next to the kettle plus I am the youngest, I was in charge of the tea pot. Tea cups and deep bowled metal dishes will be given to you. You will need to heat up the tea pot first by warming it with hot water. You then pour the hot water out to the metal bowls with the tea cups inside to sterilise them. Only then you can add your tea leaves. I usually pour the first pot out and serve only the second brewed pot. An additional tea pot can be requested for you to pour out the brewed tea as it's not good to let the tea leaves stew for too long especially when you are eating. The person who is in charge of the tea pot must always constantly look out for the others' tea cups and top them up with hot tea when they're empty.

Essential for Bak Kut Teh, yau char kwais which is deep fried dough that soak up the Bak Kut Teh soup nicely.

The Bak Kut Teh is served in a claypot that is added with the pre-made soup from bones and meat that has herbs and spices like cinnamon, star anise and cloves. The ingredients are then added in according to your liking and boiled over a stove before serving. Some items will be pre-prepared and added to the soup to heat up.

This is our claypot of bak kut teh. We ordered the pork intestines, stomatch, sea cucumber, mushrooms, chicken leg plus "chi wan" which is the pork tendon. Usually the order will come with a mixture of pork ribs, pork belly, tau foo pok (Tofu puffs) which costs about RM7.50 per pax. Anything else is additional and will be charged accordingly. I accidentally scooped up the pork intestines when I was rushing to take the picture - see the layers they stuff inside it, it's only nice with lots of layers. The soup is nice and flavourful - deep dark brown that went down really well.

Pretty satisfying stuff and make sure you drink lots of Chinese Tea after consuming all that Bak Kut Teh as it relieves the thirstiness plus breaks up those oil particles within your body. There's no MSG in the soup as I was not too thirsty after eating that meal. If you want to visit them for the Chinese New Year period, they are closed for a few days, so it's best to call ahead to check their opening times.

Teluk Pulai Bak Kut Teh
32, Jalan Batai Laut 5,
Kawasan 16, Taman Intan,
41300 Klang

Tel: 03 - 3344 5196
Opening hours: 7 am to 3 pm..

(To get there take the Federal Highway, after the Taman Rasna toll gate, keep left and turn left when you see the sign saying Jalan Batu Tiga Lama. You will reach the traffic light and see the shophouses from the road. To get to the shop, turn right at the traffic light and take the immediate right, drive straight down the road and turn right but keep going straight until you reach the end of the road. You will see a Maybank in front (at the ING building), take a left and drive down the road and then another left - the shophouse is at the corner. Alternatively, you can make a U-Turn at the first traffic light and take the immediate left and arrive at the shophouse. I'm not too sure if that's illegal though so if there is a no U-Turn sign at the traffic light, please take the longer route to avoid a fine and breaking any traffic rules.)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from the restaurant for writing this review.

This post is dedicated to my second uncle who passed away yesterday after eating his last meal of Bak Kut Teh with us. May he rest in peace.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hay Hay! It's Donna Day - Macaroons

It's Donna Hay time again and Glutton Rabbit from Pearl of the Orient is hosting this month's event which features macaroons. These macaroons are so simple to whip up and versatile as you can change them to suit your mood or event.

I experimented with the macaroons, making half portions to test different varieties. My first attempt was to incorporate local flavours - gula melaka (palm sugar in Malay) and pandan. I grated the gula melaka and mixed it with the dessicated coconut plus a dash of pandan juice extracted from pandan leaves. The gula melaka made my coconut mixture brown hence my macaroons looked toasted. I felt the flavours were lacking in that combination hence I set out to make my second batch.

This time round, I was inspired by Coconut Saras from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet whereby coconut macaroons get filled with a chocolate ganache and topped with a chocolate coating. Sounded good but I did not have any heavy cream in the fridge to made the ganache. Hence I made my own version by just pouring melted chocolate leftover from my chocolate eclairs into indents I have made in my macaroons. I popped them in the fridge and we ate them the next day. They tasted really good especially after I left it thaw slightly for five minutes as the chocolate center bit added a nice kick to the chewy coconut.

I was still not satisfied hence I flicked through my Donna Hay magazines and then inspiration struck, how about a mandarin orange version specially for the upcoming Chinese New Year? The more I thought of it, I got excited as I ran through the ideas - mandarin orange peel in my macaroons sounds a bit ordinary, whipped cream does not sound special but mandarin orange curd as a topping will definitely jazz it all up, should I sandwich it just like how they make french macaroons and etc.

I finally settled on what I wanted to do, something simple to follow Donna Hay's philosophy and recipes hence I made mandarin orange curd from her lemon curd recipe and topped it with a mandarin orange segment and a mint leaf painted with egg white and sprinkled with sugar. The whole thing looked fantastic after I assembled it and it was super easy to whip it all up. I got the thumbs up from Splashie Boy who demolished all the macaroons I made (only about six to seven of them since I made a half batch). Personally, I felt the curd could have been more tangy as the mandarin oranges were sweet so adjust them according to whether you prefer your curd sweet or tangy.

Here's how you can recreate this at home for Chinese New Year if you want a spectacular looking dessert:

Sugared Mint Leaf (inspired from this month's Flavours)

Mint leaves
Egg white
Fine caster sugar

Pick the mint leaves that do not have any marks or black spots. Wipe them with a wet cloth gently to avoid them breaking. Using a small brush, paint it with egg white. Sprinkle the fine sugar on top of it or you can dip the brush and paint it on. If you opt for the second option, be warned to do the sugar bit after you have painted all your leaves first with egg white as the sugar will stick to your brush. Leave it to air dry for 45 minutes.

Mandarin Orange Macaroons (Adapted from the original recipe)

2 cups dessicated coconut
1/2 cup sugar * I reduced this to about 1/4 cup as I did not want it too sweet
2 egg whites (Use large eggs)
1 ½ tablespoon shredded mandarin orange zest

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the coconut, sugar, egg whites and zest in a bowl and mix to combine. Wet your hands and roll the mixture into balls. Place on a lined and greased baking tray, flatten slightly and cook for 15 minutes or until light golden. Leave the macaroons to cool in the baking tray when you remove it from the oven. If you remove it immediately, the macaroons will stick to the paper.

Mandarin Orange Curd (from Donna Hay)

180 grams butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup strained mandarin orange juice
3 large eggs

Place butter, sugar and mandarin orange juice in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs. Stir over low heat continously for 8-10 minutes or until thickened. Make sure eggs are at room temperature to prevent curdling. If the curd does curdle, press through the sieve and return to saucepan. Stir continously to prevent it from catching on the bottom until thickened. You can store the leftover curd in the fridge.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Malaysian Food Finds @ 23 January, 2006

Lots of fantastic food plus Chinese New Year ones to get us in the mood....

Chinese New Year

Have you gotten ready for Chinese New Year? If not, what are you waiting for as it's just round the corner. Have you made your
peanut cookies? Don't worry, Lilian from Malaysia Best has a simple step by step recipe for you to try out. She also has a great idea for unconventional reunion dinner - steamboat that sounds fantastic.

Malaysia Best's Peanut Cookies

Foodcrazee wowed us all with his detailed explaination on all the ingredients on Yee Sang. Amazing stuff and thanks for the great effort you put in gathering the information. EatingAsia also gets into the Chinese New Year mood with their goodies from kind friends. I can't wait to see the demonstration on how they make waxed meats as that will be one of the kind.

Besides the goodies, don't forget to decorate the house with Chinese New Year decorations. Wu Ching from the Journal of the Whills gave us a peek into how the Australian Vietnamese celebrates the festive season and it looks really nice. For some lion dance action, check Month of May who brings us the wooden house in KLCC and the lion dance performance.

Kitchen Stories

You can always count on Lilian from Malaysia Best for innovative recipes and she has Crispy Surimi and Seafood Springrolls that will satisfy any tummy. Bujang Lapuk Abroad finds pork chop and apple sauce to be a weird combination but I love it - reminds me of Colliseum Cafe's roast pork with apple sauce. Alicia from Some1's Voice Out There made her version of baked tiger prawns with cheese that sounds really simple to make.

Shawn of Away from Home is back at the stove, cooking up Kampung Fried Rice from his family's recipe. If that's not your thing, how about peppered steak and bake mushrooms? I'll take some as I love mushrooms. Babe in the City made Roast Chicken with vegetables for her cute son who demolished the whole chicken thigh by himself. Elb's hovel of thoughts made salt crusted baked duck breast that looks fantastic. Amazing how a little salt can help crisp up that skin. The northern rabbit is busy with work but she made time to cook up this jiffy tom yam fried rice. Greenapple from My felicity corner makes Japchae, something new to me which looks easy to cook up.

Elb's Hovel of Thoughts' Salt Crusted Baked Duck

Fatboybakes from
Have Your Cake and Eat It Too has been steadily filling up tummies with his delicious sounding Rugelach. If you want something tangy, how about the Lemon Delicious Pudding that is simple to make? Just Heavenly went macaroon crazy for Hay! Hay! It's Donna Day and made three versions: chocolate macaroons, cherry macaroons and cinnamon honey macaroons. Swee also made a yummy Temptation Oreo Cheesecake that will definitely make Rachel of Tham Jiak's friend really happy as he loves cheesecakes. If you are feeling lazy to bake the cheesecake, try Leng Mou's student cheesecake that is so simple to make with a few ingredients.

Eats around the city

Wingz from
Everibodi Lafu Rojaks highly recommends us to Paradisso Italiano in Taman Danau Desa. Even the kid gave it thumbs up. KY Speaks introduces us to Nong and Jimmy Thai BBQ Seafood where food is cheap and good! I've heard rave reviews of this place before and after looking at KY's pictures, I am dying to go try them. He also brings us Braised Duck Rice from PJ State - it's been years since I ate at that place, it still looks great. Alicia from Some1's Voice Out There also ate a similar braised duck. Shaolin Tiger gave the thumbs down to the Curry Laksa from Uncle Lim's Kopitiam in Ikano Power Centre. Julie the biscuit is back with Kluang Station Kopitiam review.

KY Speaks' Nong & Jimmy Seafood Pictures

Noodles and gravy to me are a match made in heaven as I love them both. EatingAsia introduces us to Jalan Alor's Beef Noodles that has me drooling over. They also enjoyed the addictive but healing Bak Kut Teh in Klang and Kuantan. Wyejon from Wantan Productions reviews Kong Kee in Puchong and found it pretty good. He also mentions that Puchong is a terrible place for food - bit sad as there are loads of Chinese eateries there. Aprilcherrie is famous - she's in a restaurant's website for a review she wrote. I like how this restaurant, Umai-Ya seems to be aware of bloggers review of their food. She also eats at Sushi King which is having a special scallop promotion. Babe in the City introduces us to Char Kuay Teow from Tengkat Tungshin that looks sinfully good. Pam from Foodyumz ate at May Xichuan in Damansara Perdana as the food is so good there.

Duck seems to be the thing last week and Good Food....Good Life! talks about his experience with a crisp roast duck from Loong Foong in Paramount. He also recommends us a pork noodle stall in Subang Jaya. If he adds the address, I can visit the place as it sounds good. Makan Kings eats Beard Papa's cream puffs and found it just a bit dry but the cream to be heavenly. Sixthseal tried out the new Burger King Greek Lamb burger and loved it. Looks like I should make a trip to my nearby Burger King for a taste of it.

Eats far away from the city

KampungboyCitygal has the Citygal posting last week with Kampungboy back in his hometown and she brings us Ipoh eats at Koh Samui and Old Town Kopitiam. I wonder if this is the same Old Town Kopitiam that has sprouted like mushrooms after a heavy rainfall all over the Klang Valley. After visiting Ipoh, do pop over to Cameron Highlands for a spot of tea and clean air far far away from the city as recommended by Good Food...Good Life!

If you are visiting Sibu,
Robin has this little food guide for you to try out all their must haves. The special three layer Teh C Peng looks really good.

Robin's Three Layer Teh C Peng

Sixthseal brings us Japanese food in Kuching - everything looks fantastic and now my tummy is rumbling for some of that yummy food too. The Makan Kings are back after a long holiday and they bring us Taiwan eats from the markets. Feast your eyes on the goodies. He also ate at the famous Ting Tai Fong which just did not impress him much. For something nearer, how about indulging in noodles from Thailand, one of my favourite cities? EatingAsia introduces us to Kanom Jeen and Kanom Chine, favourite spots of her's for those Thai noodles that always hit the right spot. Sigh! How I wish I was back in Thailand.

* I have borrowed the pictures from the respective blogs. If you object to this, please drop me a comment and I will remove it.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Weekend Cat Blogging (WCB) 33

Licky lick! I must get myself cleaned up for Weekend Cat Blogging.

For more kitty adventures, do visit Clare at eat stuff. I heard Kiri will be in his super sexy sailor suit this weekend.

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Blog Party # 6 - The Retro Party

I have been seriously slacking in the cooking department this year! Think I better get back into the groove of cooking plus baking or else, my lazybone will take over. I missed last month's Blog Party but decided that I'm not missing it this month.

Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness, the hostess with the mostest is throwing THE Retro Party which features food from the 40s and the 60s. I'm not too sure about the 40s and the 50s but I still have old cookbooks from the 60s courtesy from my mother. Flicking through the Woman's Own Book of Cake Decorating and Cake Making published in 1966, I spied cute little cream puffs that were in the vogue then. I originally wanted to make my puffs in swan shapes but they looked a bit complicated for a beginner like me. Instead, I settled for chocolate eclairs which I mini sized for the party so they are easy to pop into your mouth in two bites.

Here's my platter of food and drink for the party. The drink is a bit of a dud as I reckon nothing goes better with sweet stuff but just a cup of hot tea. I served it in these teeny weeny old tea cups my mother has that must have came from the 1960s. I actually have a soft spot for old plates and am always on the look out for nice pieces in antique shops or junk shops. So far, I have yet to find anything nice but my favourites are the ones which come with a blue and white country scene from Britain.

A close up of my yummy chocolate eclairs. The top bit is not smooth as I used Valrhona Caraibe with chopped hazelnuts. The eclair shells are crispy and nice but I was dissapointed with my pastry cream. Guess I should have used vanilla beans to flavour the cream but I didn't have any in stock when I decided to make this. I will definitely make the eclairs again as they were really simple to make. On the pastry cream, I reckon I need to experiment with different fillings and various cookbooks to get them right. The eclair receipe came from Wicked Sweet Indulgences from the Australian Women's Weekly cookbook series.

Choux Pastry

20 grams butter
60 ml water
35 grams plain flour
1 egg

Preheat oven to 220C. Lightly grease oven trays. Combine butter and water in small saucepan, bring to the boil. Add sifted flour and beat with wooden spoon over heat until mixture comes away from the sides of the saucepan and forms a smooth ball.

Transfer mixture to a small bowl, beat in egg with electric mixer until mixture becomes glossy. Spoon mixture into pastry bag filled with 1cm plain tube. Pipe 5cm lengths of the choux pastry mixture 3 cm apart onto prepared trays.Bake in oven 220c for 7 minutes. Reduce heat to 180c and bake for further 10 minutes or until eclairs are lightly brown and crisp. Carefully cut eclairs in half and remove any uncooked portion. Bake further for 5 minutes or until eclairs are dried out. Cool to room temperature. You can pipe the cream and smooth the top with melted dark chocolate.

Pastry Cream

250 ml milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split
3 egg yolks
75 grams sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour

Heat milk with vanilla beans to infuse milk. Bring to the boil and discard vanilla bean. Beat egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in small bowl till thick. With the motor running, gradually beat in the milk. Return custard to saucepan and heat until it thickens, constantly stirring it to prevent burns.

Update: Stephanie has posted the round-up, do hop over there and savour some lovely party treats from all over the world.

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Chinese New Year @ SS2, PJ - Part 2

I better continue part two today so all of you can go shopping this weekend. I'm sorry I forgot to mention that these stalls are usually in the morning. Be warned that it will be chaotic this weekend as it's the last weekend to shop before Chinese New Year. I have also covered some shops around the Sea Park market area which is pretty good for decorations and plants. Incidentally when I was around the SS2 market, I got mistaken for the TV3 (a local television channel) camera crew by the traders. It's not the first time as during Ramadan bazaar, I was asked if I was from Astro, the satellite television channel.

This adorable figurine caught my eye when I was walking around the shops near the Sea Park Market. I love that cheeky little grin as he holds the enormous gold ingot signifying lotsa wealth and prosperity. The shop is called Sam Trading and they also sell sewing stuff like buttons, cross stitch threads and etc.

Even the shop selling prayer items at the back of Sam Trading is selling Chinese New Year decorations. The shop is festively decorated with these mini lion heads that will really look good in front of anyone's house.

Sam Trading has a wide range of lanterns - large or teeny weeny ones. You can also get hanging decorations here and auspicious writings to paste at your door to welcome luck and prosperity.

If paper lanterns are not your thing, you can string these teeny weeny gold and red lanterns on top of your doorway. This is from the same stall that sells the hanging dog decorations along SS2 just in front of Restaurant MJ.

I went overboard a bit with the flowers and plants but I can't help it as everything looks so pretty. Every Chinese New Year, we get plants brought in from Holland like this particular one they grew from a bulb.

I like these tiny purple flowers which remind just a bit of the morning glory. Sorry, I'm not a plant expert as I really can't identify what is it's botanical name.

These are azaleas, another popular plant for Chinese New Year. You can get them in shades of bright pink and red. They make excellent gifts as they look so festive. Sadly the flowers always seem to last only for the Chinese New Year period.

Chrysanthemums are always a good choice as they last for a long time. This sea of yellow and brown flowers are from a florist near Seapark Market next to the shop selling prayer material.

Remember I mentioned the chilli plants? I found them at the same Seapark florist and they look so beautiful especially the purple ones.

This is another plant with amazing colourful fruits that is also used for decorations.

I'm not too sure what's the name of these flowers but I know they're from Holland. Usually I get plants from Sungai Buloh as they have huge variety but I notice that you don't really need to travel so far as the selections in town are pretty good too.

Here's a close up on the kumquat tree. Just remember to water these plants as they tend to wither in the dry and hot Chinese New Year season.

I found this at the SS2 market - little birds which you can place or stick on your Chinese New Year plants.

Don't they look great? You can further decorate your plants by tying tiny red ribbons to give it additional colour.

I have these at home, chocolate gold coins which I use as decorations. They look great especially when there are loads of them piled on top of a platter.

These rattan baskets can be used as decorations or to keep mandarin oranges. This stall in SS2 sells various sizes with different colours.

I have rambled enough about inedible stuff - on to Chinese New Year goodies. Leeks (swan in Chinese) from China are in season. Do grab some and they are excellent as part of your reunion dinner fried with Chinese waxed sausages. Not only do they taste great, their Chinese name means to count which can be interpreted as having money or wealth to count.

I mentioned nga ku/chi ku or
arrowhead a few times and this is what they look like. It's a type of water chesnut that goes well with the waxed meats or just stir fried with vegetables. Nowadays people also slice them and deep fry them to make excellent crisps for snacks. If I am not mistaken, you can also put them in water for a few days and they will grow green shoots. This is only available during the Chinese New Year period and is said to be a symbol of the continuation of male descendants in a family.

On the eve of Chinese New Year, families will gather for a feast known as the reunion dinner. A large variety of dishes are served which are once a year delicacies and have prosperous meanings. These dried Chinese mushrooms don't really have any meaning but they complement items like the sea cucumber which do. Sea cucumber is known as hoi sum which means happy feelings and is braised with the Chinese mushrooms to absorb it's flavours. Usually the dish is also served with broccoli which signifies unity.

Another must have delicacy during Chinese New Year is abalone (pao yue in Chinese) that means guaranteed abundance. We don't get fresh ones hence we rely on canned abalone that can cost up to RM100 to RM200 per tin for the good brands. The favoured brand is the one with a wheel motif. Since it's expensive to eat real abalone, they also produce fish meat shaped in abalone or you can opt for abalone shaped mushrooms.

These are dried oysters (hoe see in Chinese) that means glad tidings. It's usually cooked with fatt choy - black hair moss only found in China's desert that means prosperity vegetable. Sometimes it's served with lettuce (sang choy in Chinese) which means to spring, youth, vitality and renewal.

Besides the candy tray, you can also add other snacks that taste great like these cashew nuts. These ones are still raw which you need to deep fry in hot oil to make them crunchy.

Usually ground nuts are a popular snack during Chinese New Year but you can also get pistachios in certain households. These pistachios are packed specially for the New Year with the festive red paper.

Hope you have enjoyed the walkabout and happy shopping this weekend!

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Chinese New Year @ SS2, PJ - Part 1

The morning market in SS2 has always been great with Chinese New Year items but this year SS2 Cares, a charity organisation has added more stalls with a special Chinese New Year street carnival that will run till January 27th. It's so bustling with goodies that I have had to split it into two parts or else lots of computers will crash with the amount of pictures I have.

Let's start off with the ESSENTIAL for Chinese New Year i.e the kam or mandarin oranges that everyone must have at home. This picture features the tinier versions known as tangerines which is now very popular and a must for my family as we love them. Even before the new year starts, I have eaten loads of this as they're really sweet this year.

These are the honey mandarins or honey pon kams as their skin is all puffy making them sweeter than the normal mandarins. They all come packed in plastic bags and in paper carton boxes which you need to remove when you get home or else your kam will go bad. I usually chuck them in my fridge as I love them cold. This year we have been told by our regular fruit seller not to buy them too early as the first few batches are sour. We'll probably get ours nearer to the new year as my mother usually gives them as gifts to the relatives.

Every day I have a favourite picture from my Chinese New Year walkabouts and this is the one for me. I love the effect of the rows and rows of these nian gao in the traditional banana leaves. For us we usually eat them on the fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year but some eat them on the first day of New Year for breakfast. This sticky cake is a must as an offering to the Kitchen God as it's meant to keep his mouth all glued up so he can't report any family misdeeds when he makes his yearly report card.

Pomelos are also a must in Chinese New Year. I love the sweet sacs and you can even find them lurking in your plate of yee sang.

These are known as fatt choy pumpkins and not meant for dinner! Instead they are used for offerings to the ancestors and gods during prayers.

Chinese New Year just won't be the same without cookies and there are so many to choose from. You'll see these red topped plastic containers filled with goodies everywhere whether it's in the market or your local hawker stall and even the laundry. There are so many varieties: almond cookies, pineapple tarts, little puffs with fillings inside, butter cookies, nga ku (arrowhead) chips, dragon cookies and etc.

Pineapple tarts come in a few shapes, the usual tart form or this popular way where the piped pastry encloses the jam within. Usually the jam is bought ready made from the bake shop to save time as making the jam can be tedious since it needs constant stirring.

I have to plug these amazing looking pineapple balls. Her approach is so unusual that they will make excellent gifts as she has painted them till they look like mini pineapples with a clove stem and bits of green plastic as their leaves. The lady who sells them says the jam inside is a bit tangy unlike the overly sweet jam you get. They're selling for RM15 each and can be found at this stall that sells cookies just opposite a stall which sells flowers. You will have to walk in from the McDonalds' side for the fastest way to this stall which is after the fish stalls.

Something unusual that you don't see all the time - seaweed crunchies. I wonder how they taste like?

There are always new varieties and this one to me is a winner - deep fried lotus root sliced thinly. I had a bit of it and I liked it. Too bad this was just a trial pack and they weren't selling this. Hopefully with the positive feedback given, they'll start producing some next year. Incidentally, did you know even making Chinese New Year cookies have certain taboos or traditions? It seems once you start making them, you must continue to make them each year or else some bad luck will befall the family. You only don't make them if you're in mourning for a loved one.

You can get your New Year clothes at the market at extremely reasonable prices. I love the kids' clothes and you can deck your kid in these adorable looking dresses that even comes with a matching bag. There are also mini cheongsams for kids which came in baby pink.

This really amazed me - they were selling Korean outfits with the Chicken Little picture at the side pocket! I know the influence of Korean outfits is from Malaysia's craze for the Jewel in the Palace series but I honestly don't know how Chicken Little got involved.

It's the Year of the Dog so there are loads of doggie novelties to decorate your house with. According to Chinese beliefs, the dog is said to represent future prosperity and bring luck. I love this particular doggie novelty - the Zhao Cai Gou in mandarin which means Wealth Dog as he carries a banner in his paws with the words Zhao Cai Jin Biao which means ushering in wealth and prosperity. It's a take of the famous Wealth Cat which you see everywhere near cash tills in restaurants and businesses. The paw will rotate up and down to wave in lots of wealth and prosperity in towards your business.

If that's not your thing, you can opt for a doggie figurine where they feature them on top of pots of gold coins and gold ingots which will bring you lots of prosperity for the new year.

There are also hanging decorations with dog motifs. Some feature even famous cartoon dogs like Snoopy, Goofy and the 101 dalmatians from Disney.

If you don't want the paper ones, you can go for these spray painted gold ones which has different kinds of dogs. Besides this one, there was even a greyhound one.

I liked this colourful dog decoration and this particular one looks more like a mythical dog with wings on it's back. Sorry for the very short write up as I'm rushing a bit today, will try and post part two soon which features flowers and traditional foods.

SS2 Cares Chinese New Year Street Festival
Along Jalan SS2/62, just next to the Wai Sik Kai (Gluttons Lane)
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