Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Apple Crumble

Lately I was craving for Apple Crumble and finally I baked not 1 but 3 today. As usual, I made the dough and filling a day earlier. It is not a tedious job for this recipe but still, I spent at least an hour just to peel the apple, core it, chop it and then cook it in the pot. The hard work was accomplished yesterday and so this morning, I reaped my rewards. Got up in the morning, rolled the dough out, stuffed in the apple filling ,topped it with the cumble and off to the oven it went. By 8.35am, the pie was done, just in time to have it for breakfast. I gave a pan to my colleagues to share, gave another pan to my cousin and reserved the last pan for myself and hubby. It would be great to eat it with vanilla ice crean and that's was what some of us did. The office pan was wiped clean in the morning itself while my own was gone by 8pm.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Roast chicken with lemon & roast potatoes

I had wanted to try my hands out on one of Jamie Oliver’s roast chicken recipe and I finally got around to do it. I trust Jamie’s recipe will be good enough but again I did the unthinkable which is to modify it by adding additional spices and ingredients that I favored. I shared the chicken dish with 2 of my colleauges but of course, this dish was done in the first place with hubby in mind. One hell of a lucky man, he is. Here’s the recipe and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.

Ingredients :
• 4 chicken thighs, whole leg
• sea salt and ground black pepper
• 10 mid size potatoes, peeled
• 1 lemon, quartered
• 1 whole bulb of garlic, broken into cloves
• some fresh thyme
 • olive oil
• some fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
• roasted garlic powder and onion powder
• red and green capsicum
• 1 large onion, cut into rings
 • 2 carrots, cut cubes
• 8 tomatoes, halved
• optional: 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

Method :
 1. Rub chicken with a generous amount of salt , black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme and rosemary one day earlier.
2. Preheat oven to 190C for 15 mins.
3. Bring a large pan of salted water to boil. Cut potatoes into golf-ball-sized and put them into boiling water together with cloves of garlic and lemon. Cook for about 12 mins or so.
 4. Heat pan with some olive oil in it. Drain potatoes, lemon and garlic and toss them in the pan . Saute them till golden brown. Remove and set aside.
 5. Turn the halved tomatoes faced down on the pan and let it grill till slightly brown. Set aside.
6. Meanwhile, turn the tray of chicken into the preheated oven and roast for 40 mins.
7. When timer is left with 20 mins, remove tray from oven to toss in the carrot, potatoes, lemon, garlic cloves, tomatoes and capsicum into the tray. Spread it evenly and do not let it cover the chicken so that the chicken will turn golden brown under the heat. If using bacon, lay the bacon on the vegetable spread.
8. Turn the tray back into the oven and let it roast till timer ends.

 The aromatic smell of roasted chicken filled the entire kitchen in no time. Hope you have a great time digging into the juicy meat.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Last Minute Fried Noodles

Last Saturday, we were lying comfortably on our couch, watching the locally produced movie: Woohoo (Da Re Zi). When it was close to dinner time, we were too lazy drive out aimlessly to look for food. So I came up with the suggestion to fry a super fast noodle for dinner and hubby couldn’t agree more. Since it was a sudden decision, I rummaged my fridge and found sufficient ingredients to start my simple and easy "last minute" Fried Noodles. Here’s the recipe I would like to share for those of you who are in a hurry to fix a quick meal . Enjoy ! Ingredients : Carrot (cut strips) Lettuce Chopped garlic Big onions, sliced Mince pork (or any meat available in your fridge) – marinate with sesame oil, pepper & soy sauce Fishcake (I happen to have some leftover) Tomatoes (quartered) 2 packet Maggi noodles Dried chili Flakes or powder (omit if this dish is meant for kids) Seasonings : 2 tbsp dark soy sauce 1/2 tsp of Maggi Cukup Rasa (or any seasoning cube available in your fridge) 5 tbsp of hot water Method : 1. Boil a pot of water , add in Maggi noodles and turn off the fire immediately. Stir noodles for a while. Drain and soak the noodles with a little cold water to prevent noodles from sticking. 2. Heat oil, fry garlic till fragrant and dish out a portion. With the remaining in the wok, add in mince pork(if any) and fry for another 2 mins. 3. Add in fishcake , stir for another 2 – 3 minutes then add in carrot. Continue to stir fry for 1 minute. 4. Drain water from the noodles and add into the wok. Stir and pour in seasonings. 5. Add in remaining fried garlic and stir fry for another 1 – 2 minutes. Add in chili flakes if desired. You’re done ! Well… it’s simple and fast, isn’t it? And remember, the ingredients can be anything in your fridge which you deem can be added into the noodles.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pad Thai Recipe

Last Wednesday, I took a day off just to clear my leave and in a way, I could relax and make dinner. Our dinner has been salad for as long as I could remember but since it's a day off for me, I've decided to clear the Pad Thai stocks which has been sitting in my larder for quite a while. It tasted fantastic when I ate it hot but I can't say the same for the next day. I have made some modification to the original recipe which I got from joythaifood.com and importfood.com . Here's the recipe that I would like to share : Ingredients : 8 big prawns (shelled but leave the tail on) 2 handful of rice stick noodles (Pad Thai) 3/4 cup diced firm tofu (tau kwa) 1/4 cup salted minced radish (chai po) 3 tbsp. water 1/4 cup fresh chives, cut into one inch long pieces (cut some 3 inch long for garnishing) 1 cup bean sprouts 1 tbsp. sliced red onion 2 tbsp. minced garlic 1 tsp. dried red chili powder 2 tbsp. roasted peanut (crushed) 1 tsp. sugar Fishcake & chicken or pork (optional) Oil for frying Pad Thai Sauce: 1/2 cup palm sugar/ or castor sugar 1/3 cup good quality fish sauce (nampla sauce) 1/2 cup vinegar 1 cup tamarind juice Method: 1. Rinse minced radish several times under cold water. Drain it. 2. Soak the rice stick noodles in hot water for 10 – 15 minutes. Leave in cold water after that to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other. 3. Heat oil. Fry some garlic, then add in radish. Fry till color change and add in a little sugar. Set aside. 4. Heat oil. Fry some garlic, then add in the prawns and cook till done. Set aside. 5. Heat oil and add in the remaining garlic and onions. Sautee for while. Then add fishcake/meat , sauté for a while and then add in tofu. After a while, add in rice noodles. 6. Stir fry the rice noodles for about 5 – 6 minutes, add in water, then add in the prepared Pad Thai Sauce. Taste it and add additional fish sauce or sugar or tamarind according to your own taste. Sprinkle in the dried red chilli powder . Add more if you prefer spicy. 7. Add in the radish and prawns which you have earlier on set aside. 8. Stir for another 1 – 3 minutes and add a little water if it’s too dry. 9. Just before you dish out the noodles, add in beansprouts (leave some for garnishing) and 1 inch long chives. Stir for a while and you’re done. Turn the fire off, transfer the noodles in a nice plate and garnish it with peanut, the 3 inch long chives, beansprout and slice fresh lime. Here are some pictures of the ingredients I used, plus a packet of Instant Pad Thai noodle boxkit. Million of thanks to Piyanard my Thai colleague, for getting me the shown ingredients and subsequently refused my money after that.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Easy Step by Step DSLR Camera Buying Guide

Recently, when I was doing my window shopping at major shopping centers in Klang Valley, I have discovered that a lot of people are using Digital Single Reflex Lenses (DSLR) camera rather than compact camera. DSLR camera is becoming more and more common and I believed this phenomenon is mainly due to the fact that price has come down tremendously for past 3 years. This luxury and expensive DSLR camera in the past could only be afford by professionals, it has now become affordable to us, hobbyist.

Many of my friends are aware that I am very into photography now (or rather photography equipments) so they will seek my opinion before they actually make a purchase in Digital SLR camera. I have been repeatedly talking about what to consider when buying DSLR camera to my friends so I think it is high time now to compile my thoughts and opinions and pen them all down into this “Easy Step By Step Buying Guide” to share with everyone here. This Guide is mainly aimed for those newcomers or beginners who wanted to make their first purchase. Experts out there like you, won’t be needing this not so in-depth buying guide, don’t cha? So let’s get started.

Step 1 – Budget Your Purchase
Not long ago (almost come to 20 years … hahaha…), in my first lesson of Economy Class, my lecturer told me that ‘resources is finite but human needs is infinite’ so if money to you is not a problem, you can skip this step and advance to step 2 or even step 3. It is good to have a budget in mind when you are planning to buy something. Market is now flooded with different brands and models which makes it even tougher for us to decide. Furthermore, there is a high possibility of us being influenced by many of those not-so-accurate information from commercial advertisement.
So having a budget can actually narrow down your choice and you can concentrate on smaller scope in your search. Just to give you a rough guide, DSLR camera for entry level for beginner will cost around RM 2,000-00 whereas Mid Range for enthusiast will cost around RM 6000-00 and professional range always will cost more than RM 10,000-00.

Step 2 – Decide on Brand
I don’t want to start a brand war here by naming which brand is better than others or else I will be condemned and attacked by those brands die hard fans out there. As we all know, in the market now, just to name a few, we have brands like Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax and Sony. To me, I really don’t have preference over any brand. My opinion is to follow the mainstream, that means go for major brand like Canon and Nikon and you won’t go wrong.
The reason behind is that both Canon and Nikon has an established camera system with wide variety range of lenses and accessories for your selection. Buying a camera is not just the camera alone, you need to own the complete camera system and accessories such as lenses, flashgun, tele-converter, remote control cord, etc. So, go for either these two brands as they are come with easily available original as well as third party lenses and accessories.
Anyway, of course it is still your choice to opt for other brands but don’t say I never warn you. Don’t listen to those ‘know nuts’ sales person (sorry but no offense) who tells you which brand of camera produces sharper or softer image or which brand has a higher saturated image, bla-bla-bla… People who tell you this practically have no or minimal knowledge in digital photography. Like it or not, when you venture into digital photography, you must at least learn some basic post processing skills eg. cropping, sharpening your image, increase saturation of your photo etc. by using Photoshop or other photo editing software. I will share with you some of the simple digital darkroom skills that I have learned, in my future post.

Step 3 – Choosing Which Model to Buy
By now, with your budget constraint and brand preference, you should be left with only a handful of choice. Congratulations! You are one step closer to own your first DSLR camera. Excited isn’t? Choosing which model to buy is rather complicated because different models come with different specifications, functions and features. DSLR camera is also a type of electronic gadget that’s why you should choose the latest model closest to your budget. That’s it, it’s just that simple. Latest model always come with latest technology and new functions as well as additional features and also it will last you at least one or two years before the replacement model comes in.
Nowadays, DSLR camera has the capability to capture high definition video but is this important to you? My DSLR camera able to capture video but I have never use this feature. The whole idea to buy a DSLR camera is for you to capture good and high quality photos, right? If you are interested in video, I would suggest you to buy a cheaper Video Camcorder which does a better job and is easier to operate compare to a DSLR camera.

Step 4 – Survey for Pricing After you have decided which model to buy, next question that pops up is, where to buy? For a start, I suggest you check the selling price online. Online camera shops like Shashinki, Yamiya or even Ebay provide us a guide in pricing but of course their price will always be higher. However if you happen to bump into one which is very low in price, do you dare to make your purchase online? With the information gathered online, you can now start your weekend shopping. Don’t go to those camera shops in shopping centers that cater for tourists (sorry, can’t name names here). I don’t think they can offer you any good deals. Just try your luck in Sungai Wang, Lowyat Plaza or Pertama Complex and nego for the best deal you want. Just don’t forget to get some freebies from them like UV filter for your lenses, memory card, screen protector, camera bag and cleaning tools. Don’t accept their cheapo tripod should they offer you. It is better to ask for a discount instead because the given tripod may be good for nothing.

Step 5 – Make Your Purchase
I can just stop at Step 4 because I believe adults like us will know what to do after this. I just added this Step 5 simply because I wanted to and because I just don’t like to stop at Step 4, don’t you get it?
Some of you may ask me, why have I not mention anything about mega pixel and size of the camera sensors, full frame or APS-C sensor, white balance control, sensor noise, sensitivity, dynamic range, etc. Should we consider all these before making our purchase? All these come with a price. Rule of thumb is, the higher the price of the camera, the better they are and this is true for most cases but of course not all the time. If you have no idea about what I have just mentioned, it simply means they are not important to you, right?

Very soon by now, you will be a happy man or woman lying at home comfortably on your sofa, playing your newly purchase gadget. Welcome to the world of rich man’s hobby, get ready to burn a big hole in your pocket and seeing red in your bank account book. Good luck!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

7 Things you MUST DO in Bangkok

We were back in Bangkok sometime in early Feb, almost a year of hiatus from the last visit. Bangkok remains as our favorite haunt for a number of reasons. Let’s just put it that we have our own enjoyable itinerary lined up. And for this, we concluded of 7 things you MUST do when visiting Bangkok :
1. Visit Jatujak market This is a weekend market and was boasted as the market where prices are relatively cheaper than other night markets. You can get almost anything under the sky in this market. You name it, they have it all here. It can take an entire day for you to cover the entire market but one rarely achieve this due to the stuffy and humid condition.

2. Visit Platinum Mall (every girls’ delight) I think most guys will disagree vehemently on this nomination but hey, this place is absolutely fabulous because it is a wholesaler place, a place where you get clothes, shoes, accessories, ornaments bla.. bla.. bla.. everything at wholesale price. Just when you thought this is getting better, you are then asked to purchase a certain qty in order to enjoy the shocking wholesale price. I am capable of losing myself in the frenzy of clothes searching . The wholesale price will make you gape and increase your tempo of flipping the clothes to look for the desirable design. Trust me, just allot more time here. 3. Induge in body massage and foot reflexiology Need I say much?? No one, I repeat, no one in this world doesn’t enjoy a good massage on the back or a therapeutic foot massage. The best part is you are able to enjoy a good 1 hour of traditional Thai Body massage for as low as RM16. Yes, no kidding. The foot massage either cost the same or somewhat lower. Hubby and I parted our money willingly on this heavenly “indulgence”.

4. Order Tomyam Gung and Pad Thai in every meal It doesn’t matter which stall you order your Tomyam Gung from or which restaurant clinch your Pad Thai order. Just order and eat them. In Bangkok, you get the most authentic and the best tomyam soup (in our opinion) but beware, they have both the clear soup type as well as the red soup. Make sure you order the one you intended to. Pad Thai is an infamous stir fried noodle dish made from rice noodles with ingredients including egg, peanuts, shallots, sprouts, tofu, and a choice of meat. The fish sauce is a major seasoning in this dish and the overall taste? Well.. it’s spicy, sweet, sour and salty. All in one. A lip smacking dish one mustn’t missed.
5. Drink RM2 coconut drink & orange juice Everywhere you walk in the bustling streets of Bangkok, you will stumble upon carts after carts where the pullers are selling either freshly squeeze local tangerine or coconut. It is extremely refreshing to drown down your throat with a cool natural drink. The price is standard, only at RM2. It is a healthy substitute to the much loved fizzy drink and by that, we meant Coke. So, gulp down as much coconut and orange drink as you can while there.

6. Eat everything mango The Thai mangoes are juicy, sweet and humongous. We didn’t eat anything ‘mango’ during our last trip so we made a point to do it this time. That lead us to this dessert shop called Mango Tango, located in one of the narrower lanes in Sukhumvit Street in downtown. The outlet offers all varieties of mango desert and naturally, we went for the well known Sticky rice mango desert. It was ..oh.. so.. awesome! Two thumbs up for it but they could’ve make the serving bigger. Next on our list is Mango Pudding. Just try out all kinds of mango dessert shown on the menu and you won’t be disappointed. 7. Get some foodstuffs in the supermarket Our favorite supermarket is none other than the one located in Siam Paragon. If you are a fan of the spicy tomyam flavor, grab as many different tomyam cup noodles you can. Somehow, the tomyam made in Thailand, tastes differently. And if you love snacking, buy Lays Potato chips because they are just so darn cheap here compared to KL.

We stuffed in as many packets of Lays as our luggage bag could accommodate. Well, having listed down ‘our’ 7 things, we realize we should touch on a few other pointers :
1. Avoid asking taxi driver to recommend local restaurants The biggest mistake you can commit in Bangkok (besides the ‘sinful’ illegal haunts) is to ask suggestions from the taxi or tuk tuk driver on places to eat because the answer they gonna give you is “Sum Bhum”. This restaurant is a throat cutting place. During our trip to Bangkok a year ago, we naively sought suggestion from the taxi driver, thinking that he will surely recommend some nice places that charge reasonably. We specifically asked for cheap and affordable yet delicious food and he drove us to this restaurant called Sum Bhum. The moment we alighted from the cab, we started to have a bad premonition. There were no local patrons we noted and the fresh seafood were unreasonably priced. We were ushered to a dainty table and were given menus instantly. One look at the price in the menu will send anyone running helter skelter. We did exactly that.

2. Get a new hairdo or haircut or a hair makeover. This came into suggestion because we have a friend with us who never fail to get a haircut every time he visits Bangkok. We guess the salons in Bangkok are generally more comfy and perhaps the Thais hair stylist there are more stylish than those in KL. Well..all we can say is, to each its own.

Penned by Rachel