Monday, 26 January 2009

Chinese New Year / Australia Day 2009

Yes, it was yummy!!!

I should realign this picture, but I don't have time. It's obvious KT enjoyed himself!

This is my first year and last year in Australia that the first day of Chinese New Year coincides with Australia Day. I was told by KT that this is a once in a hundred years occurrence.

Chinese New Year, Australia Day or not, a pharmacist works for bread and butter.

And Vegemite, of course.

Thank goodness I start an hour later today, that gives me some time to blog about my Chinese New Year cooking / eating dinner feast.

KT asked me to cooked loh hon chai ( a vegetarian dish) and a fish dish (fish in Chinese sounds the same as abundance).

I pestered my mother for a loh hon chai recipe, and tried it out yesterday night. Great success. :) KT was satisfied.

Fish dish? Oh, not so great success. I wanted to do a salt-crusted snapper, but the Donna Hay recipe turned out too salty. I have to look for a better recipe.

We had sambal prawn, too. Very great success. Spicy to the max. My nosed leaked like a burst pipe. So spicy that my stomach did acrobatics in the toilet, too. Not so appetising.

Chinese New Year morning? A staple - fried battered nian gao with sweet potato. Yummy. And the too salty fish? Fish porridge. Also yummy.


Tuesday, 13 January 2009


Surprisingly I was quite alert at work, considering my haphazard sleeping schedule.

I even bought all the ingredients to make lad nar before I went to work.

I was all set to cook.

Until I went home, that is.

I just wanted to rest and relax.

So I ordered Thai takeaway.

It fitted the occasion.

I reasoned that I needed to have the lad nar taste fresh in my mind before I experiment with the recipe.

OK, I was downright lazy. :P

With my takeaway lad nar tucked safely in my stomach, I crawled straight into bed. Unhealthy, I know. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhh!!! To think that my colleagues commented that I've lost weight, and now I fall back to my old stinking habits.

If that wasn't bad enough, I had to be woken up by KT to open the door for him at 3am.

Now, at this early hour of 6am Sydney EST time with daylight savings (that's 3am witching hour in Malaysia, when I would still have been nocturnal), I'm still awake!!!

This has to end. Tonight.


Monday, 12 January 2009

Back in Sydney

I arrived in Sydney on 11th January 2009 morning.

I slept until 5pm that day.

Cooked dinner, which my father can take credit for - "man fan" - rice in broth.

Simple but yummy:

  • Pre-cooked rice
  • 4 packets of bonito flakes
  • 1 large piece of konbu
  • 1 tablespoon Awase miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • Soy sauce - adjust to taste
  • Suki-yaki beef
  • Spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • Fried ikan bilis (the small variety - ngan yu chai)
  • Chopped spring onions
  • Fried garlic in oil
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh red chillies, or Japanese chilli flakes (ichimi togarashi)

  1. Boil bonito flakes and konbu for stock. Once the konbu softens, take it out, cut into strips, then throw them back into the stock. In this way, the konbu can also be eaten.
  2. When the liquid comes to a boil, turn down fire to a slow simmer, skim away foam at the surface.
  3. Stir in miso, mirin, and soy sauce to taste.
  4. Add in beef. Broth at this point is at a simmer so that beef is not overcooked.
  5. Add the eggs, stirring while adding to create egg strands in the broth.
  6. When the beef is just cooked, add in spinach.
  7. When the spinach is wilted, ladle broth over rice in a bowl, top with fried ikan bilis, chopped spring onion, fried garlic in oil, chillies or chilli flake, and black pepper.

Yes, I've been quite productive since I came back. That's because my sleeping pattern is off - I went to the bathroom at 5am and couldn't sleep ever since! I even had time to look up a recipe for lad nar. This web page is very informational, there is even a clip on how street vendors cook lad nar in Thailand! So tonight's menu is, yes! Lad Nar!

I really need to get some shut-eye before my gruelling 10-hour shift. Oh, no. :P


Monday, 5 January 2009

Obsession Continued

I told my X about my chocolate shortbread recipe so we decided to make a batch of it to try, and maybe make some for Chinese New Year, too.

I mentioned in my Obsession entry that I would try to add 200g of dark chocolate instead of just 150g. Not a good idea. With the temperature and cooking time, the shortbread turned out still soft at the bottom. Therefore, if I wanted to make it more rich in chocolate, I would either have to adjust the dark chocolate amount between 150g and 200g without altering the baking settings or adding more flour, or increase the cocoa amount. I think I would try adjusting the dark chocolate amount.

Instead of vanilla extract (which I couldn't find any in the cupboard), I added some Captain Morgan's Jamaican rum. I'm pleased with the result. When I get back to Sydney, I'll try the recipe with some Marsala wine. :P

The shortbread turned out chocolatey-rich, even though the bottom had a brownie-like texture. Yummy...

Once again, X said that she likes them and would be my loyal fan. :P

Stay tuned until I achieve the best chocolate shortbread recipe. :P


Sunday, 4 January 2009

More Counting

So my boss told me to start work on 12/01/2009. Happiness. I quickly booked a flight for the weekend. More happiness.

I finally finished the cushion cover I started making about a month ago.

The cushion cover - I made it!!!

I went for my dental check-up today. All's good in the dental department.

I also got some perspective. I'm going to take one step at a time. And hope for the best. :)


Mami's Birthday 19th December 2008

Other than the scrapbook, we also made a cake for Mami.
A few months ago, I bought "The Big Book of Chocolate" containing 365 recipes using chocolate. Yummy.
I brought the book with me during this trip home, thinking that there would definitely be an opportunity to try some of the recipes.
For Mami's birthday, we decided on the Mississippi mud cake.

Mississippi mud cake with ganache topping


For the cake:

200g butter, chopped, plus extra for greasing

100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

300g caster sugar

2 tablespoon whisky

150g plain flour

1 tablespoon self-raising flour

2 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 eggs lightly beaten

For the ganache:

175g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

25g butter

125mL double cream


  1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees C. Grease a 23 cm spring form tin, and line the base with baking paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, chocolate, sugar, whisky, and 150mL water together over a low heat until the chocolate has just melted. Pour the mixture into a clean bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Set the mixture aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. In a clean bowl, sift in the flours and cocoa powder together, then fold into the chocolate mixture with the eggs.
  4. Pour the cake mixture into the spring form tin.
  5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the skerwer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out slightly moist.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the ganache - in a small saucepan, combine all of the ingredients for the ganache. Over a low heart, stir with a metal spoon until the butter and chocolate have melted. Remove the pan from heat. Spread over the cake with a spatula.


1. The cake should be in the middle of the oven, make sure that the top doesn't

brown or crisp too much.

2. Check the cake at about 50 to 55 minutes, at about 60 minutes, the cake won't

be moist.

3. The ganache should be cooled until it is thick enough to be spread over the cake

without being too runny.

Advertising the cake

In another light

Mami with the cake

A piece for you?


We weren't sure how Mississippi mud cake was supposed to taste like, but to me, our version had the texture of mooncake with a rich chocolate taste. It could have been more moist, I think, which boiled down to the fact I left it in the oven for 60 minutes. On hindsight, I should have checked it at about 45 minutes, then take it out at 50 or 55 minutes. I could have also put a foil on top of the tin to prevent browning or crisping up of the top layer; the top layer cracked as a result of too intense heat, I think.

X, my youngest sister, claimed that she's a loyal fan of our cooking, and she ended up eating most of the cake, or so she claimed. :P


Friday, 2 January 2009

Counting Down the Days

My flight is at midnight, Tuesday, 6th of January 2009.

I have about three more days at home.

Then it's back to reality.

I'm hoping to extend my stay until next weekend.

So far, my boss hasn't replied me on when I need to start work...

I need to change my flight more than 48 hours before the scheduled time.



First Day of 2009 - on life and Swea'D

I'm camera shy!

She came into our lives on 26th April 1997. I was proud to claim to anyone who paid attention that I chose her. True to her nature, she was the nosy puppy that poked her face at us. I knew she was the one. Our very first pet dog.

We fought over what to name her. My father wanted to name her Dolly, as in the film "Hello, Dolly!". We quickly put a stop to that name coming to being. No, if we wanted to name our very first dog, it had to be a cool name. Way cooler than Dolly, the only Dolly I knew then was Dolly Parton.

C quickly decided on the name Sweet D, for Sweet Dog. At that time, we were in the Backstreet Boys craze, remember Howie D? I think he had Sweet D as one of his nicknames. Later on, my father spelt the name Swea'D. Much cooler.

Life doesn't get any better than eating!

Swea'D came to stay.

She was one cute puppy. A nosy parker, but a puppy could be forgiven for this seemingly harmless idiosyncrasy.

She was 6 weeks old when she came to stay.

She's 11 years old now, and she knows she owns the house.

OK, she co-owns it with my father, the only person she's afraid of.

She's slightly slow on the stairs these days, but at the mention of food, "Mam Mam!", her eyes light up and she even has a spring to her steps.

The only thing that gets her excited.

That, and the mention of my father's name, "Papa!". She knows then that something is going to happen (either a bath, or clipping her nails).

Same old Swea'D.

If only life revolves around food and eating, sleeping, and going for the 1's and 2's.

It's 2009, and I know everyone goes about making a list of resolutions for the new year.

I have one, too.

But it gets complicated.

I'm not getting younger, and it seems that there are so many things that I have not achieved in life.

So much so that I feel swamped, overwhelmed, snowed in.

"You know what I'm craving?

A little perspective.

That's it.

I'd like some fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective."

Some perspective to clear up my addled thoughts.


Thursday, 1 January 2009

Ang Koo 29th December 2008

The ang koo with the gaping hole fell on the floor, and the dog tried to grab it and eat it RAW. So we decided to steam it and give it to her (greedy Swea'D)

I don't know where we got this ang koo ge recipe from. The first we tried making it was about two years ago. We made it with local sweet potatoes with a vibrant orange colour.

This time around we had Japanese sweet potatoes with slightly yellow-tinged flesh. As a result, the ang koo ge didn't turn out red. :P

Ang Koo Ge Recipe

300g glutinous rice flour
150g sweet potato
100mL water
50mL vegetable oil
Filling - green bean paste, red bean paste, groundnut paste
Banana leaves, scalded in hot water, drip dry, cut into ang koo mould size, and oiled

1. Steam the sweet potato. Mash it to a smooth paste without adding water.

2. Put the glutinous rice flour into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the
flour. Add the mashed sweet potato and slowly rub it into the flour.

3. Add the water and oil slowly.

4. Knead into a pliable dough.

5. Wrap some filling with dough. Press into ang koo mould.

6. Grease the steaming tray. Place ang koo ge onto cut banana leaf.

7. Steam on high heat for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked (the ang koo becomes

1. The dough once kneaded should be shiny and smooth, and when rolled out
should not have cracks at the edges.

2. I prefer local sweet potatoes (with a more vibrant orange colour) to the
Japanese variety - more colour as well as taste is added to the ang koo dough

3. Use freshly steamed and mashed sweet potato - the moisture will help to bind
the dough better.

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