Saturday, 25 August 2007

Sydney Business trip - Part 1

This is the first week of Sydney. Weather is a rollercoaster. We came with the idea that the weather is cool with a high of 21 degrees. But, to our great disappointment, it rained the whole Sunday we were here. We stayed at Shangrila, located at The Rocks. Unduanted by the rain, we walked at The Rocks Markets with our huge Shangrila umbrellas! Sad... cos we had took the midnight flight from SG to SYD with hopes of spending the day shopping in the malls and the Paddy's.
Well this week has been madness... the weather, the workload, the drives from hotel to the office... we spent 2-3 hours on the roads each day, depending on which of the 2 offices we go, and for the past 5 working days, we went to each office on alternate days. I had to recap the route every day! Even my colleague who's the driver says she has to reset her memory every day... urghhh...
But... admist all the complaints... there are some nice things that happened.... :)

Skyline of Sydney from my bedroom
Chocolates and fruits... ;)

The ground coffee, camomile tea and even fat free chocolate! Heaven

Welcome tea! Served from the traditional teapot!

Who says I can't eat mooncake in AU's restuarant? This is the chocolate 'mooncake' I had for dessert in one of the famous restaurants along Darling Harbour 'Meat & Wine Co.'
Friday night TV dinner. Bought it at one the bistros along George St. So sick of eating late every night. Managed to be back before 830pm on Friday... Went to 'ta-bao' dinner, and realised what a big difference is the price. Same food, dine-in was A$16.50, but takeaway was only A$10! Spent the night with Bridget Jones sequel on Channel 10. Bliss...

I got presents from the hotel! Not surprised, cos the last time I stayed here, I got a bottle of wine and cheese platter aa a welcome gift. This time I got a bottle of wine on Thursday, minus the cheese platter... weird I thought... But in Friday, I saw another bottle of wine plus the cheese platter...hahaha... shiok... save $$ on liquor.

This thing here is called 'Emperor Cream Puff'. I chanced aross it this afternoon at Chinatown. Saw people queuing for it, Asians and locals. Initially wanted just 2 to have a try but at only A$1 for 5, I ended up taking 5...hee. Also bcos the wait is pretty long, so might as well. Quite stupid to queue 15 mins for 2 cab laden sweets... :p Verdict: Worth queuing for. Eat it when its piping hot, my tongue got scalded! But it's worth it. The custard oozing out from the little cake... yummy

Did I tell you that Spore will have a chocolate drought soon? That's why I am buying so much!!! HAHA, I did a stock count of the chocs I bought over this week... horrible, from Timtam which is only A$1.99, Nestle Club Noir of A$1.49, Nestle Club blocks of A$2.49, Haigh's dark chocolate coated coffee beans and Darrell Lea's Rocky Road... wow... chocolate overload. I also manage to get my hands on 100% unsweetened chocolate and cocoa nibs over an online AU website. Enough, think I need to get an empty carton box to keep all these.

Beautiful sunset... taken from my bedroom window with my hp camera. Weekend is the only time to be here during sunset.

Well, this weekend will be loaded with lots of work documentation... its almost 6pm now... another 6 hrs of work before I hit the bed... :(

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Gochujang Bulgogi (Korean Spicy Pork)

After looking at Little Corner of Mine's entry on Dak Gochujang Bulgogi, I decided to give it a try, since I had the Gochujang sitting in my cabinet for a month. The recipe can be found on Cooking Ninja.
The entire plate of Bulgogi was polished off by W and I...hee.
W said that the authentic taste can never be recreated outside Korea. He said in Korea, the meat is dry during cooking... I don't understand how its being done. Oh well, he has been to Korea upteem times and every time he comes back with extra 'baggage' on his tummy! haha. Can't beat the real McCoy, I guess.
Anyway, this recipe is definitely a keeper. I made some modifications from the recipe in Cooking Ninja.

300-350g of pork. I use collar side
1 small/ medium carrot, shredded
1 onion (I used the red one instead of white), sliced
3 cloves of garllc, minced.

2-3 tbsp of Gochujang (I added 2 first for marinate, as I am not sure of the spicyness. Only added the 3rd when the cooking was almost done)
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of clear honey
1 tbsp of dark soya sauce
1 tsp of salt

These are all marinated for a day, or overnight if preferred. At the time of frying, I started off with dry frying some sesame seeds. When its all fragrant and the wok is hot, I added the pork in. No oil or water is added throughout the process. The meat will exude water during the frying. Taste for the spicyness and add more Gochujang according to your preference.Its better to add less first, at least can still rectify if its too bland.. :P

Verdict: Very easy to do. No messiness with oil and its very easy to clean up. We ate it with local lettuce, so no need to cook rice as well. And we were stuffed after that meal... ;)

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Mushrooms in Red Wine Reduction

W was down with viral fever since he came back and I was busy taking care of him that I had no time to update my blog. Finally, he's much better now...which also means I can cook dishes other than steam fish and steam pork...haha
Actually, while he was sick, I also made this mushroom dish. I was watching Nigella Lawson on Travel and Discovery where she made a pasta dish with mushrooms. I am not a fan of pasta, so I only recalled the front part...(selective memory, i say ;) W loved it, as mushrooms are his favorite. Although he was so sick, he could still taste the wine in it...haha

1. 400-500g of mushrooms (portobello, brown button, white button) I won't use shitake for this, cos the flavour and texture with shitake don't gel with the other type of mushrooms.
2. Bunch of fresh coriander or basil
3. 1 cup of red wine
4. 4 cloves of garlic, minced
5. salt and pepper to taste
6. A knob of butter

How to:
1. In a deep saucepan, add the butter with a little olive oil. This is to prevent the butter from burning.
2. When the butter has melted, add the minced garlic. Fry for about a min till the fragrance is released.
3. Add the chopped mushrooms. Stir around and let the mushrooms 'sweat'. Cover with lid.The mushrooms will release water.
4. Remove the lid after 2-3 mins. Add the coriander/ basil and stir. Add the red wine and cover with lid.
5. Remove the lid after 5 mins and access if the reduction is sufficient to your preference.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve immediately with rice or crusty bread.

Note: As I mentioned before in my earlier post, do not wash the mushrooms. Just wipe the caps with a damp kitchen towel. Rinsing the mushrooms will result in water absorption by the mushrooms.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Checkerboard Cookies

The OK ones...

The 'Not-so Nice' ones

My first attempt in making Checkerboard Cookies. I read the recipe for at least 5 times before i decided to do it. I got this recipe in Joy of Baking. I did this cookie in 2 parts. The moulding and shaping is done on a separate day, stored in the freezer till last night. I have never measured dough so precisely in my life. I literally took the Ikea measuring tape and marked on my baking paper all the measurements. And yes, although the recipe just mentioned rolling out the dough on the baking paper, I suggest you place a cling wrap over the dough. As the dough is quite soft, it tends to stick to the rolling pin, unless u flour it real well. For convenience sake, I covered it with cling wrap and roll it. The dough will be smooth and the rolling pin won't be dirty...hahaha, less washing for me... :P

I was fresh from my shower and the Thai lesson last night, with all the Thai words still ringing in my head. Since W is coming back today, I decided to bake the cookies last night so that I can bring to the airport today to welcome him... ;)

According to the recipe, the baking temp is 180 degrees and about 5-7 mins. But, somehow my oven took much longer, maybe because mine is a 3-in-1 oven, with the convection oven baking rack which is lower. So I ended up baking it at 190 degrees for 10 mins. Those 'failed' ones are those at the end of the roll. For one reason or another, they decided to crack and the checkerboard gave way... though I tried to fix it back, but don't think I was successful...haha

But overall, I loved the taste! The addition of orange zest made a big difference, with the combination of pure vanilla essence which I got from Cold Storage. Its alot of work with the measuring, cutting and stacking...but...Nice... hope W will love it later.

Thai Lesson 1

My first Thai lesson! Was I excited. The 3 hour class was definitely not easy. Our teacher, Kruu Chutima is a soft spoken lady but teaches at quite a fast pace. Really have to be attentive in order to catch what she says.
Felt like I was back in kindergarten when I was tracing the dotted lines, trying to write numbers in thai. All these symbols look like the treble clefs in the music sheets... I was so obsessed with them that I was still practicing on my notebook at 130am! hahaha... hope this passion lasts.... hee...:P

A total of 10 lessons, but I will missing 2 becos of my business trip in August...sigh... have to depend on my brother to take good notes for me. Apparently at the end of the course, there's a test! Includes both writing and speaking... Oh my god... I better study hard and take notes....

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Mushrooms & B'fast

Ever since my Indonesia trip, I found a new item for my daily breakfast... Mushrooms! Actually, I have been eating them, but not on a regular basis. Time from time, when I forgot to replenish my yogurt, I will grill some mushrooms for provided I have the time in the morning to do so... :P

What about bread then? The forever staple food on earth? To be very honest, I LOVED my bread, especially those freshly baked ones from the old confectionaries. If anyone is a bread lover, please please visit the confectionary at Jalan Leban. They only open at night from 630pm onwards, and they close on Friday. Their bread is not just a staple but an ultimate comfort food that satisfy not just your stomach but your soul as well. The uncle will always baked some 'Roti Kok' (Toasted bread with sugar and butter) and offer to his customers. I always feel very happy when I patronise their shop after work.

BUT, but... my stomach can't take alot of yeast and refined flour... tends to get bloated easily... so 'bo pian' (no choice), have to limit my refined carb intake and switch to something else. Mushrooms appeared to be a wise choice. ;)

Just get those fresh mushrooms in the Supermarkets (NTUC, Cold Storage). You will be spoilt for choice on the variety: White Button, Brown Button, Portobello whatever you can find on the shelves.

How To:
1. Don't wash the mushrooms! If you wash them, the mushrooms will absorb the water and lose their own flovour.
2. Get a damp kitchen towel and wipe the mushroom caps. Remove the stalks. I don't take them. There are some recipes that uses these stalks though.
3. Put them on the aluminium foil and place on the baking rack.
4. Sprinkle dried herbs or fresh herbs if you have on. I use oregano and basil.
5. Grounded black pepper if you like.
6. Lastly, a sprinkle of olive oil. If you like them to be more frangrant, replace oil with a knob of butter.
7. Put it in the grill for 8-9 mins, depending on your oven and your preference on the mushroom texture.

Note: They shrink after they are cooked. So, while they looked big when they are raw, you might want to grill a few more... just in case ;) they disappear pretty fast!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Imperial Osmanthus Kueh (Gui Hua Gao)

This is what happens when W is not around. Can't cook, so I ended up doing cookies and other sweet stuff. Was down throughput the weekend due to a bad cold and sore throat. Accumulated from the lack of sleep and stress in Indonesia. What a waste of my weekend! Should seek compensation from my boss... :P

Finally felt better last night, and I need to feel better, cos I won't want to miss my yoga lesson tomorrow. Already missed one on Monday due to my cold... urghhh... Anyway, I made this osmanthus kueh to bring to the office today, as all my dept colleagues are back from their business trips. This dessert is known for its 'cooling' effect, which some of us need pretty desperately...*wink*.

The recipe is obtained from the Imperial Kitchen forum. The recipe is provided with courtesy from Karlskrona. Hope you folks like it! ;)

Note: The kueh just need to be steamed for about 15 mins, till transparent. Then let it cool in the container, and park it into the fridge overnight. Any moulding or shaping can be done the next day. When the kueh is cold, its easier to cut the shapes with your moulds.