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When things go wrong…

…it’s best not to panic. Just carry on and do the best one can in the situation in the hope that to some extent, everything will turn out all right in the end.

I wanted to make some quiches for my girl when she came home for the weekend and no, I did not have any particular one in mind. I thought I could just play it by ear, you see – after all, I am hopeless at following any tried and tested recipes, a sure one-way ticket to disaster. So, I went and bought some ingredients that I felt I would need and got down to work hoping to give her a pleasant surprise…

Q1

I sieved the flour and rubbed in the butter but somehow or other, I did not quite get the usual breadcrumb-like result when I did that in the past. To my horror, I realised that for the 1kg of flour in the box that I had bought, I would need 500 gm of butter and that block that I used was only 250 gm. Oh dear! There was still some butter in the fridge, more than half a block so I quickly added that in. It did look like there was quite enough but I was not too sure. That was why I decided to just try using less than half of it…and leave out the ham that I had bought – it would be such a waste to throw that away if things did not turn out all right and it sure did not come cheap.

I fried some chopped Bombay onions in a bit of oil, threw in some oyster mushrooms, cut into bits and pieces, and tomato too and a bit of chopped Chinese celery and I added some salt and pepper to that. Once the filling was done, I put that aside to cool while I rolled out the pastry and lined the cups that I usually use to make pies. In went the filling with a lot of grated cheddar cheese and some smoked cheddar cheese that I had cut into small bits as well. After that, I poured in some of the milk and egg mix that I had prepared and once done, I put everything into the oven to bake…

The fragrance filled the whole house and I thought it was going to be really great! Unfortunately, it was a little bit burnt at the sides…

Q2

…but I did not think it was the pastry. It looked like the milk and egg mix that had overflowed, probably because I had poured in a little bit too much.

I tried one as soon as they were ready, piping hot from the oven, and it certainly looked like other than those dark bits by the side, the rest was perfectly unscathed…

Q3

On the whole, it tasted really great…

Q4

…but I did not quite like the bits of Chinese celery when I bit into them.

The pastry turned out just right – nice and crumbly, not hard at all, so that meant I would be able to use the rest of it that I had stuffed into the freezer in the meantime…and the ham that I had bought too but I think I would just use them to bake some pies – I reckon I would do a much better job at making those instead. Luckily, I did not simply give up and assume that it would not turn out good and just throw the whole lot away…

Tell me how you like it…

In a recent post, I shared a photograph of the traditional way of boiling water and brewing coffee and tea in the old school coffee shops – over a hot charcoal stove…

Old-school charcoal stive
*Archive photo*

…and I remember seeing them toasting bread on it  as well. They would get it all burnt and then they would use a knife to scrape off the black surfaces on both sides before generously applying one slice of butter, not unlike those cheese slices that we can get at the supermarket these days, and of course, their own-made kaya (coconut jam) after that.

I don’t know how to make kaya but when I was teaching in Kanowit, 1978 to 1982, I saw the lady at this coffee shop…

Old coffee shop
*Archive photo*

…double-boiling and stirring it continuously. It certainly looked very tedious so of course, I would not want to give it  a try, no, thank  you. The lady had passed away and the son and daughter-in-law are running the shop now. I am not too sure whether they still make their own kaya or not but somewhere along the line, in most, if not all coffee shops, the butter and the kaya were sidelined and all you will get will be just Planta and Yeo’s.

I do know of this place in town that uses Golden Churn…

Butter
*Archive photo*

…though but see! I told you they would just use the canned kaya these days and this particular brand.

Of course I do not have a charcoal stove at home and I would not bother to use this

BBQ stove
*Archive photo*

…either as it would be quite a hassle to get the charcoal burning and there would be all that smoke and it can get rather messy as well. Ummmm…if you’re curious, no…I have not got that thing assembled yet. Hehehehehehe!!!!

Yes, I have a toaster that is over 30 years old and it still works perfectly but I find that by the time the toast gets dark enough, it would be crusty inside out so I prefer to toast my slices of bread on a pan, flipping regularly till I get them nicely browned on both sides. That way, the surfaces would be crusty and inside, it would still be soft like fresh un-toasted bread. Of course, I would apply a generous layer of butter on it and also kaya

My kaya toast & half-cooked eggs breakfast

I do think the made-in-Singapore Glory brand Hainanese kaya (with honey) is very nice and a welcome change from their pandan one which is good as well…and to go with my kaya toast, I would insist on half-cooked eggs, the way I like them – the egg white hard and the yolk still runny.

Come, tell me how you like it…

Doin’ what she likes…

My daughter loves potatoes in any form, even those deep-fried French fries…but she prefers the chunkier ones though. Seeing how she enjoyed the mashed potatoes here, we let her take with her to her jungle school what the boss tapao-ed for us to take home and she finished all of that as well.

Well, I saw some potatoes lying around the house so I thought I could do something with those for her to enjoy when she came back for the weekend and also to bring back to eat sometime in the week ahead.

I boiled 2 eggs and mashed them with some cheddar cheese (4 slices), shredded…

Eggs & cheese

…and I also added a tomato, seeds removed and cut into fine bits…

Tomato

I peeled the potatoes, cut them into cubes and boiled till soft…

Potatoes

…and I mixed everything together…

Tossed

I used what was left of the coleslaw dressing that I found in the fridge and I added a bit of mustard which my missus had mixed with balsamic vinegar and a pinch of cinnamon…and I mixed that with what was in the bowl…

Add dressing...

I also sprinkled a bit of this…

...and spice

…that I got from my god-son/ex-student, Andrew, who was home not too long ago from Christchurch, New Zealand. I tried a bit and seeing that it tasted really good I added a little bit more and tossed the whole thing thoroughly before putting it in the fridge to chill…

Ready to chill

We had some for dinner that night…

STP's potato salad with egg & tomato

…and seeing that my girl enjoyed it, no prize for guessing where the other tub went to.

Standing tall…

I have a curry leaf plant growing in one corner of my garden…

Curry leaf plant 1
*Archive photo*

I have to keep pruning it regularly as it gets terribly overgrown. In fact, it is more a tree now than just a plant or shrub. What I do not like is how the branches keep growing through the fence into my neighbours’ garden. I keep telling them that they may just help themselves to the leaves as and when they need them but still, I don’t feel comfortable with the intrusion.

However, there were a few branches that I had a problem with. Once I took the meat cleaver from the kitchen and asked my gardener to help trim the plant and it came back totally out of shape. My missus bought a saw from the shop and it was not very good either – sawing one branch would wear me out completely and I would just give up in the end. Well, my friend, Philip, who is currently home from the US, gave me a made-in-Germany saw. He enjoys going into those old shops and would pick up stuff from the good ol’ days and he bought a few of the saws among a whole lot of other hidden treasures that he could find…and he gave me one of them. Thank you so much, Philip – that sure was a life saver!

The saw was so so good that without much effort, I was able to prune the whole tree…

Curry leaf plant 2

…leaving behind just one branch so we would have some curry leaves for our own use as and when needed. Don’t worry! The branches may be hard to cut but they are very flexible so I can just bend it down easily to get the leaves and once I let go, it will go back to its upright position once again. I think, from now on, I will let the branches that are higher up grow while I keep trimming the lower ones – the ones that would protrude into the neighbours’ yard.

And talking about curry, remember the made-in-Sibu instant noodles that I blogged about the other day? This is another flavour

Daddy Mee - curry flavour

…that is available – curry…but with the horrendous hot weather that we’re experiencing at the moment, I don’t really care for anything served in piping hot soup. That was why the other day, I decided to have it dry.

I think I blogged about it before but anyway, there are two sachets inside…

Mee Daddy curry - sachets

- one with the curry seasoning and the other with the chili oil. I emptied both onto a plate and added a teaspoon of onion oil – oil that I have used to fry some sliced shallots for extra fragrance. I only used half the packet of the seasoning though – if you use all of it, it will be too salty. You may keep the remaining half to season whatever you may be cooking in future – fried rice or something.

After boiling the noodles till soft, I drained away all the water and tossed them with the aforementioned ingredients…

Mee Daddy - curry

…and served them, garnished with some chopped spring onions.

I had an egg half-boiled/cooked the other day so this time, I decided to have it fried…

Old-school fried egg

…the old school way.

I love that golden fringe and the yolk runny like this…

Runny yolk

…and I’m sure many of you do too!

Desperately…

I have been hunting for some really good, super-lemak nasi lemak in town but so far, I have yet to come across one that meets my standard. That left me with no choice but to try and cook my own. These were the ingredients I used…

Nasi lemak ingredients

…a bit of ginger, bruised, one stalk of serai (lemon grass), bruised also at the end and several leaves of pandan, knotted.

After washing 2½ cups of rice thoroughly, I added a can of santan (coconut milk) but that was not enough for the amount of rice I was cooking so I added a bit of water…

Nasi lemak ready to cook

…and threw in the aforementioned ingredients plus a pinch of salt and left it to cook. I don’t know if it’s my around-25-year-old rice cooker that was the problem but I had to stir it regularly to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. That was all right and I managed to get it done in the end.

I did not bother to cook the sambal or the other condiments to go with it. Instead, I just served it with some leftover sambal nenas (pineapple) and acar (pickle) and I fried some fish as well plus some sambal belacan that I had in the fridge

Nasi lemak 1

Unfortunately, it failed to meet my expectations. No, it just was not lemak enough. In fact, it was more or less like all those than I can get outside, nothing more and nothing less….and like all those outside, with all those things that I had to go with it…

Nasi lemak 2

…it sure made a very nice meal. Now where did I go wrong? Was it because I used canned santan instead of the freshly-squeezed one…or was it because I diluted it with water? At this point in time, I really do not know but I think I will give it another shot soon and hopefully, it will work out…somehow.

Gosh!!! It is really so very hot around here these days and one thing that we would do to cool down (inside) in such weather would be to cook some let tao th’ng (green bean soup). I think they call it bubur kacang hijau (green bean porridge) in Malay, if I am not wrong. Usually when my missus cooks it, she will drain it and everybody would enjoy it as when chilled, it does make a very nice refreshing drink…but it is such a waste of the beans which would end up being thrown away. Well, that day, I decided to do something with them. I added some water, evaporated milk and several scoops of pandan-flavoured kaya/coconut jam (Glory Brand) and brought it to boil…

Let tao dessert

Hey!!! It tasted really great especially when served cold. I must say that I enjoyed it a lot…and rest assured that when I cook some let tao th’ng again, I would surely use the beans for this very nice dessert…and maybe I would add some sago pearls as well next time.

Moving on from there, I am glad that I finally managed to use up all the not-very-nice made-in-China noodles that I bought in Miri. This time around, I fried them with sambal belacan plus some tauhu pok (fried bean curd) and tomato wedges…and garnish with spring onions…

Belcan fried noodles

…and some kacang tumbuk like what they do with Thai pineapple fried rice. I thought it was really very nice and the best thing about it was that the belacan was able to drown out the not-very-pleasant smell of the noodles and with the flavours of everything added, it sure was something I would not mind having again.

Maybe I can do the same with the (very much cheaper) dried egg noodles that we can get around here. Wanna have some? Come, come! Come on over and I’ll have that ready in a jiffy! Hehehehehehe!!!!

Homegrown…

This is made in Sibu…

Sibu's own Daddy Mee

- Daddy Mee…and this is their mi goreng (fried noodles)…or instant noodles with the taste of fried noodles. My favourite has always been the one from Indonesia and I personally feel that when they broke away and Malaysia started making its own, the only thing that was near identical would be the wrapper or the packaging. It was almost the same but somehow, I did not think it was as good. That was exactly how I felt about this one when I tried it a long long time ago and that is why I have never bought it again and stuck steadfastly to its chicken or curry flavours – those two,  I would say, are pretty good.

Well, this came free with the pack of 5 (curry flavour) that I bought sometime ago and since I had that at hand, I thought I might as well give it another try. For a start, the wrapper now is certainly much nicer than what it looked like when it first hit the market way back then. There are four sachets inside the packet…

Daddy mi goreng sachets

- the onion oil, the conjoined sachet of the seasoning and the chili powder and another sachet of the soy sauce so what I did was to empty all of them onto a plate, cook the noodles and toss them altogether well before garnishing it with some fried shallots and chopped spring onions…

Daddy mee goreng - cooked

I have not had the others for a while now so I cannot say that I can make a fair comparison but I honestly thought that what I had that morning when I cooked this was pretty good, not bad at all.

This was free but if you were to buy a pack of 5 for around RM3.50, that would mean that this would cost only 70 sen. Of course, some of you may feel that this would not be substantial enough to get you through the morning so what you can easily do is to boil an egg the way you like it to go with the noodles. That morning, I chose to have one half-boiled/cooked…

With one half-boiled egg

…with the yolk still soft and runny and the white already hard. I love it this way with a dash of dark soy sauce…

...with soy sauce

…and that was enough to last me till lunch.

So, let’s say the egg is around 30 sen each, the whole breakfast will cost only RM1.00…or if you prefer some meat to go with it, you can fork out a ringgit for a few pieces of char siew perhaps. It sure beats eating in the shops where it is much more expensive on all counts and what you get may not necessarily be nicer at times. What do you think?

Back here again…

We went back here again for lunch sometime last week when Melissa was still home for the mid-year school holidays as she wanted to try the chao chai hung ngang

1-O-1 chao chai hung ngang

…that ah^kam_koko’ had earlier and we thought it was really good. For the uninitiated, this is actually the big bihun that is called hung ngang in Foochow served in fish (or chicken) soup cooked with chao chai (preserved vegetables) and a whole lot of ginger and whatever else and traditional Foochow red wine. They do it very well here – something like what we would cook ourselves at home, not some watered-own version of the soup.

Of course she could not finish the HUGE serving (RM10.00), maybe just half of it…and that is exactly why I feel they should serve it in smaller portions at half the price, or slightly more…like what my missus had – their Foochow style fried noodles, wet/with sauce…

1-O-1 Foochow fried noodles

The portion is just right for one person and of course, when you order something a lot cheaper, you will not get a lot of ingredients other than those few bits of green vegetables and one miserable piece of meat. This tasted really good too though…and I wouldn’t mind asking for that the next time around but perhaps, I will request for the special like the tomato kway teow (RM10.00)…

1-O-1 tomato kaway teow

…that I had.

I asked the guy what the special would include and he said seafood so I was somewhat disappointed that all I got was a few chunks of fish…or so I thought but as I was eating, I came across a few slices of liver..

Liver

- no, that’s not seafood but I love liver! Anything that is not good for me is always nice! As they say, forbidden fruit is sweeter, right or not? Hehehehehehe!!!!

Eventually, I came across a few prawns as well…

Prawns

…and that was about it. I was hoping there would be sotong (squid) as well but no, I did not find any.

On the whole, it tasted o.k. – I would prefer it with less cornflour starch so the sauce/gravy isn’t so thick but on the whole, it was all right. The serving was big too, almost as big as the chao chai hung ngang but I was able to manage quite well – for me, it was not a problem at all.

We didn’t cook lunch at home that day but for dinner, we had this roasted chicken thigh with baby potatoes…

Roast chicken & baby potatoes

…and Melissa tried to replicate the creamy spinach pasta

Melissa's creamy spinach pasta

…that we had several days before. I am not sure if they were the same or not – I can’t exactly recall what the other one tasted like, just that it was nice…and this one was nice too…but there was a lot of the spinach sauce so we just drowned the spaghetti with it instead of letting it go to waste.

With the chicken and the potatoes, I would say that was indeed a delightful home-cooked dinner for the three of us…