Friday, 25 July 2008


I long for,

Familiar faces, familiar voices, familiar sights, familiar sounds,
The best fish porridge in the world,
The smell of Swea'D,
The giggling in a dim room,
Dark room and glow-in-the-dark butterflies,
Sleeping side-by-side,
Garden full of plants,
The Yamaha in the living room,
Late night ghost movies,
Dinner at a favourite restaurant,
Chinese New Year,
Birthday celebrations,
The hugs, kisses,
The encouragement,
The warmth,
The love


Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Art of Chocolate Soufflé

I have heard of the story of Soufflé. Temperamental concoction of egg whites, but oh-so-delightful to the palate. How could I resist trying out the recipe in Australia Vogue Entertaining + Travel (April / May 2008)? I could not. I was in the mood for a challenge.

Soft butter, to grease
75g caster sugar
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
4 eggs, at room temperature, separated

The ingredients were simple enough. Nothing exotic or intimidating. I have seen recipes calling for Dutch cocoa or dark couverture chocolate. Where do you suppose I could get Dutch cocoa from? The Netherlands? Even though Sydney is truly a cosmopolitan city, I doubt our friendly Coles' or Woolworths' stock Dutch cocoa. Try SELECTED delis. Never mind.

Back to the Soufflé project.

Step 1: Grease and coat the insides and rims of four ramekins with a generous amount of butter, then caster sugar. I remember what Matthew McConaughey said in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days". "Frosting". So the insides of the ramekins looked like they've been frosted. Beautiful. Put the ramekins on a baking tray. Done.

Step 2: Preheat oven at 200 degrees Celcius. KT was using the oven to toast the garlic bread whilst I whisked the egg whites. Done.

Step 3: Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler. Whisk in the 4 egg yolks one by one. Remove mixture from heat. Done. The mixture looked good enough for me to stick my finger in it for a taste, but I resisted the urge and risk of Salmonella poisoning.

Step 4: Whisk egg whites to soft peaks with an electric mixer. Electric mixer?!! I resorted to physical violence with my trusty stainless steel, manually operated balloon whisk. After much huffing and puffing, the soft peaks deigned to form.

Step 5: Whisk a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen up the mixture. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the remaining egg whites until just incorporated. I interpreted that as to handle the Soufflé mixture with the same care as you would a priceless antique. Done.

Step 6: Divide mixture among ramekins, then bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until risen. 10 minutes later, I reckoned they were done.

Comments on this recipe:
I could have whisked the egg whites more. I read other recipes on the Internet, and those recipes called for stiff peaks as opposed to soft, drooping peaks. Some recipes also suggested the use of a "binding agent" e.g. cream of Tartar or a pinch of salt to help stabilise the soft peaks, then to add sugar to the egg white mixture prior to whisking to form stiff peaks.

Some recipes also suggested to add butter and/or heavy cream and/or sugar to the chocolate mixture, perhaps to produce a more rich Soufflé. I wonder if the addition of such heavy ingredients would impede the rising of the Soufflé, hence needing the egg whites to be whisked until stiff peaks are formed.

All the recipes I searched on the Internet suggested longer cooking times, some as long as 26 minutes. A vast difference from the 8 to 10 minutes I operated on. The end-result should be a outer crust, yet still "jiggly" Soufflé core. Hmm...

The only way of mastering the Art is more research, practice, and trial and error.

Until the next practice session, I bid the Soufflé au revoir.


Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Dearest Papa

Dearest Papa,

Thank you for always being by our side, guiding us through good and bad times with your 'seng mok'-ness.

Thank you for being understanding and patient with us, even when we try your patience, and, most of the time, it's difficult to understand us.

Thank you for taking care of us, cooking us the 'best fish porridge in the world' and cleaning up the mess after us dirty piggies.

Thank you for the family trips, getting us together as a family to see the world.

Thank you for showing us the world and how you see the world, so that on our own two feet, we know how to face the world.

Thank you for sending us out into the world, yet letting us know that home is where we can always return to.

Most of all,

Thank you for being the best Papa in the world, and the best man, too, for we know, that in this world, there is no better Papa than you.


Sunday, 6 July 2008

We past the point of no return when we showed our tickets to the usher. As I sat down on my seat, my heart skipped a few beats.

I have listened to recordings of the Phantom of the Opera musical countless times during my first and second years in Sydney, so much so that I could memorise each and every word, both dialogue and songs. When the film version came out in 2004, I was ecstatic. The ultimate dream was to see the musical for myself, and my dream came true when KT said that he bought tickets for the 5th of July!

The lights went off. The theatre plunged into darkness. A single strike of the gavel transported me into musical nostalgia. For the first time I was able to piece together sound with sight. The stage setting did not leave me wanting, and each scene left with me a curious sensation that the Phantom did not only lurk on the stage, but also in the theatre. I found myself looking for the hiding Phantom in each scene!

The ending moved me to tears. The Phantom of the Opera is a tale of yearning of love unrequited. The part where the Phantom waled out "You alone can make my song take flight, it's over now, the music of the night" wrenched my heart.

The cast was brilliant, in that each person gave a unique interpretation of his/her character that made the character more believable. I loved it that Christine part sobbed part sang to convey frustation and helplessness. I loved it that Raoul was portrayed as the knight in shining armour, with a hint of simple-mindedness about him. I loved the dramatic Carlotta and Piangi, although I hoped that Carlotta could have been more dramatic. :P I loved the pairing of André and Firmin lending comic relief to the musical.

Needless to say, it was the Angel of Music who was the shining star. His expression when Christine kissed him at the ending was priceless, comical even.

I'd love to see the Phantom of the Opera again!


Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Red Herring News

Frankly, I am sick of following the sham they call news in Malaysia. Not too long ago, we were astounded by the news of soaring fuel prices, price increases in groceries and what-have-yous, and now this red herring - bad history repeating itself.

Politics is not a profession one would want to get involved in if one aspires to go down the straight and narrow. With the way things are going, it's utterly disgusting.

There are more vital issues to address in Malaysia, such as national security, rise in cost of living against income, issues that would make Malaysians proud to be Malaysians, and yet these are downplayed by the PG rating. Power-Greedy.

If the so-called leaders do not put our best interests at heart, what hope do we have for our nation?

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