Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mom's Curry Puffs

The end product : Curry Puffs. Best served with a cup of coffee
  I gotta hand it to my mom. She just loves to spend her entire time in the kitchen, making some delicious food for us to eat. She could just stand there for hours for preparation & cooking but later on, she'll feel the tiredness taking its toll on her. We were all going for dinner in my in law's place and she thought perhaps it might be a good idea to make some curry puffs to bring along. Afterall, there'll be more people to share and that means, her time and energy will be well worth it. So early Sunday morning, I skipped jogging and helped mom to prepare the ingredients.

A sneak peak of the filling
  They turned out beautifully. I especially like the filing mom made. The pastry was crunchy , not too oily but of course, if you leave it for 5 hours later, the pastry will go kinda soft. What we usually do is pop it into an oven toaster and cover the top with a piece of aluminium foil. The skin will turn out crispy again. As usual, mom's recipe is always based on 'estimation' but from what she told me, I reckon it would be something like this recipe from Rasa Malaysia but I made some slight modification, based on how I saw mom preparing it. Enjoy !  
Part of the ingredients to prepare the curry puff


5 tablespoons oil
1 big onions (finely chopped)
8 small onions (finely chopped)
1 large carrot (diced)

2 teaspoons meat or chicken curry powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
200g  of finely diced chicken breast meat
2 large potatoes (boiled and finely diced) 
Potatoes boiled and diced.
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt 
Ready to be mixed with water and butter
500g plain flour
150g  margarine
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon of salt 
The yummy puff filling

Make the filling first. Heat oil and fry onion gently until golden brown. Add the curry powder, chili, turmeric and fry gently. Add the chicken, potatoes, sugar, pepper, salt and cook for 5 minutes. Mix well and leave aside to cool.
Frying the curry puffs 4 at a time in the wok

To make pastry, mix flour with margarine, water, salt, and knead well. Let it rest for 1/2 hour. Cut the dough into circles (3 in) in diameter. Fold pastry over to make a half circle and crimp at edges. Deep fry in hot oil until golden.

All nicely wrapped, ready to be fried.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chai Tau Kueh II (Fried Carrot Cake)

During mom's recent stay at my place, she made quite a number of delicacies. One of them was my all time favorite Chai Tau Kueh. We actually bought radish and the rice flour and mom made the carrot cake from scratch. For the first time, she used my i-chef steamer pot to steam the cake and thereafter, she gave 2 thumbs up for this pot of mine. Money well spent, I supposed. I tried getting the recipe from mom but unfortunately for her, everything is 'agak-agak' (estimate). She bought a medium size radish and that should go with 1 packet of rice flour. The previous rounds that she made in KL, we all detected a weird note and that weird taste actually came from the four. It seems that any kueh that is made with rice flour tends to have this strange taste. So this time, we bought the rice flour in Singapore and true enough, the weird awful smell did not appear in our carrot cake. Mom fried it the way I like it too : crips at all sides and cake is not largely cut.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Legend Water Chalet & Water Homes

We have been reminiscing our stay in Avillion up to this day.  I fell in love with the concept so much so that I pestered hubby to make a trip to Matta fair (last year) to buy another voucher for the water chalet. We were greeted by the people from Legend Water Chalet/Homes and we thought why not try them out since we've been to Avillion before. We got a great deal from them and finally last weekend, we found time to go there.

Why we like it :
  1. The bathtub is huge , spacious and in a triangular shape and I like this design rather than the long boring type.
  2.  As I'm staying in the water chalet, they don't come with a small mini pool attached to the room. However on the floor of my room, a small part of the flooring was transparent where you can actually view the sea beneath.
  3. There is this spatial open air standing shower as well.
  4. The sophisticated zen inspired decor provides a perfect environment for couples retreat.
  5. The tv is the modern slim type, facing  the bed but it could be hidden by pulling the wooden doors out from the side of the cabinet.
  6. The little balcony comes with 2 reclining chairs. I was able to do some reading there with the cool breeze billowing.
  7. There are many activities you can join in Legend such as bicycle riding, archery, KMX , ping pong, snake ladder (not the board games type) etc. However they don't come free. You gotta pay for the activities.
  8. The Sompoton spa located in the 2nd floor is a fantastic option if you are willing to splurge for a relaxing massage/spa in a very comfortable ambience.
  9. A few seafood restaurants are located just a stone's throw away from this hotel.

Why we don't like it :
  1. The pool is a tad too small for me. Finally there is a chance for me to swim laps after laps but I couldn't achieve that with the size of this pool.
  2. Those who book with water chalet are not allow to use the pool in the water homes which is way bigger and with better design.
  3. The breakfast is a bit of a disappointment. They didn't have many choice for one to choose and they didn't taste that spectacular either, at least not to me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Glutinuous Rice Ball (Tang Yuan)

I totally forgot all about this dessert which we made on the 15th day of chinese new year. Mom said if we were to really follow the chinese tradition, we best make this simple dessert and everyone just need to take one or two of the tang yuan (if you dislike the dessert). And with that, hubby just took 1 miserable pathetic piece of ball to show his cooperation. It's good I have red coloring in my baking box and thus we were able to have at least an auspicious color for the occasion. Bascially, the dessert requires just water, ginger (we threw in lots), sugar (we used molasses, thus the dark color), pandan leaves and the glutinuous rice ball.

Method :
1. Boil water with ginger and pandan leaves for at least 20 mins.
2. Turn fire to medium heat and add in the glutinuous rice balls.
3. When the balls surface up in the water, it means they are cooked. Then add in the sugar/molasses. Stir well and it's ready to be served.

My cooking tips : To make the rice ball, you knead the rice flour with water and roll into balls. Before you cook in the water, chill the balls in the fridge for about half an hour. This will prevent the balls from cracking too much in the boiling water.

Monday, March 7, 2011

101 Essential DSLR Photography Tips: F8 and Be There

I have stop taking photos since I came back from my Hanoi Trip. Somehow I realized the more I know about the theory of photography, the less I am able to compose or capture a frame. I am totally lost…

Everyday I crave to have new lenses, more advance body, searching for the best setting for my camera and shooting. But the more I do, the more I am lost and confused. Today, in my quest to find more rules and guidelines, I came across this simple rule…


At first, I was thinking using aperture F8 as the optimum aperture to shoot all of my photos. As I know F8 is a nice aperture with decent depth of field that makes your subject likely to be in focus and F8 is also the sweet spot of most lenses that ensure the sharpness of your photos. But wait a second, while I am right about this Aperture F8, this rule has further meanings…

The rule has two parts : ‘F8’ and ‘Be There’. The essence of this rule is ‘Be There’. It is not about having the most advance DSLR camera body, or the most expensive lenses, or knowing all the theories, the guidelines and the rules of photography. The point is you must ‘Be There’ and it is just as simple as that. Being at the right place, at the right time and clicking your shutter! Don't worry too much about the camera setting like ISO, white balance, etc. or the type of lenses you are using. Just get out there and shoot. Photography requires lots of practice and practice will surely make you photo perfect or perhaps nearly perfect.

A picture speaks a thousand words but photography can be as simple as this four words; 'F8 and Be There'. Many of us may not know who Allen Hopkins is but his quote ‘F8 and be there’ has made a huge impact on me. If you are a photo ethusiast, don’t just sit in front of your TV or hook to your computer all day long. Be there! Take your DSLR camera, regardless rain or shine, night or day and there’s always a moment out there worth to capture.

F8 and BE THERE!

I was not using F8 but I was certainly 'Be There' to capture this lovely moment 
(Nikkor 18-200mm, 1/1000sec, f/5.6, ISO 200)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pandan Chiffon Cake

Given a choice, I would opt to bake an orange chiffon instead of a pandan because the latter will require me to make a trip to the morning market to get the freshly grated coconut. In addition to that, I need to blend the pandan leaves into concentrated juice to be added into the batter. With mom and dad around, I thought this is a good time to venture into pandan chiffon. Afterall, I now have additional 2 mouths to help me to finish the cake. This recipe was given to my by cousin Fern. It was actually taken from Amy Beh (I found out much later) and when I first tasted, oh .. I was totally blown over. The soft, fluffy and airy texture got me totally hooked to it. I could even 'tear' the cake with its soft texture. For my attempt this time, I think I should leave it longer in the oven for another 10 mins.

By the next evening, the cake was almost gone, thanks for mom's support. I think it'll be a long time from now for me to bake yet another pandan chiffon and that's largely because the only time I get to buy fresh coconut is either on a Saturday or on the day I take a day off from work.

Ingredients :
6 egg whites
125g castor sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
6 egg yolks
100g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
5 tbsp corn oil
2 tbsp pandan juice
100ml thick coconut milk (squeezed from 1/2 a grated coconut)
140g self-raising flour, sift

Pandan juice:
5-6 pandan leaves, cut into small pieces
3-4 tbsp water

Method :
To obtain pandan juice, put pandan leaves and water in an electric blender and blend to a fine pulp. Strain the juice and measure out two tablespoonfuls for use.

Preheat oven to 180ÂșC. Whisk egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in an electric mixer until just stiff.

Whisk egg yolks, sugar and vanilla essence until light and creamy. Add in corn oil, pandan juice and thick coconut milk. Mix well.

Stir in sifted flour and fold in carefully and gently to mix.

Pour egg yolk mixture lightly into the egg white mixture. Mix evenly with a metal spoon or a plastic spatula.

Pour batter into an ungreased 22cm tube pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until cake is well browned and firm to the touch.

Remove cake from oven. Invert pan immediately. Leave to cool, then remove cake from pan with the help of a thin-bladed knife.

My cooking tips : Do not overbeat the egg whites otherwise cake will not be soft and fully. Use the freshest egg possible.