Not so bad at all…

I don’t bake…but the other day, I thought I would give it a try.

If you remember, I got this from Annie-Q…

Panetonne from Annie -Q

…a long long time ago but we never got round to eating it so when the expiry date approached, I quickly put it in the fridge. Somebody told me that it would be nice to use it to make bread pudding and we were planning to do that during the March school holidays but we never did. Then I saw this recipe that looked simple enough so I decided to give it a try.

The panettone turned out to be something like the Gardenia butterscotch bread…

Panettone

…that is very popular among many, just a lot more fragrant and nicer.

I cut away the crust and cut the rest of it into bits as instructed in the recipe…

Panettone bits

…and I placed them in a baking tin that I had lined with paper and greased using butter.

Then I melted 1½ pints of vanilla ice cream and whipped it together with 4 eggs, half a cup of sugar (the recipe says 1) and three-quarters cup of water…

Ice cream & other ingredients

…until there were no more lumps of ice cream and then I poured that into the tin…

Into the tin

The recipe also said that I should let it stand for 15 minutes, pressing to submerge the panettone bits in the whipped cream.

I did not want it to be too thick in case it would get burnt on top and would not be cooked inside so I made two…

Two bread puddings

…thinner pieces and put them into the oven once it was hot enough (250°C) to bake for half an hour.

True enough, it turned out a bit scorched on top…

Bread pudding 1

…but thankfully, it did not taste burnt and inside, it  was cooked right through…

Bread pudding 2

…so it was all right. It tasted great – very nice and fragrant but unfortunately, it was a little too sweet for my liking. Maybe the panettone was sweet in itself and I should have left out the sugar altogether.

Ah well!!! I guess I deserve a pat on the back – it was not great but it was not so bad, not bad at all. Hehehehehe!!!!

Incidentally, I just collected this from the POSLAJU office here yesterday. They delivered the parcel to my house on Monday but I was out for lunch. My cousin from Melbourne, Australia is currently in Johore/Singapore visiting her in-laws there and she went through all that trouble to bring some of the stuff over all the way from Down Under to send to me …

Goodies from SL

…plus some goodies from here as well, thank you so very much to her. Gosh!!! The jelly powder smells so so so nice that I was completely overwhelmed when I opened the parcel. Now that the school holidays are coming, no prize for guessing what Melissa and I will be making – our own jelly pisang

Payung jelly pisang
*Archive photo*

…Yum! Yummmm!!!

Wants for dinner…

Melissa came home on Friday last week for the weekend and she wanted the Indonesian pecel lele (RM5.50)…

Pecel lele

…for dinner so when the sun went down…

Sunset at Bandong

…there we were at this place again…

Penyet Bandong

…so she could have what she was craving for.

I also had the same as I also love the deep-fried keli (catfish) and the sambal (chili dip) is really nice and goes absolutely well with the fish and the raw vegetables and we all love the rice, wrapped in banana leaf…

Rice in  banana leaf

…which has that special fragrance of its own.

My missus had their ayam penyet (RM6.50)…

Ayam penyet

…as she is not fond of the fish (nor duck and a lot of other things).

I also ordered the ikan bakar (grilled fish) from a stall nearby…

Ikan bakar

…to share as I have heard some people raving about how nice the grilled fish from the stalls at Bandong is. Well, it  was good – a big slice of ikan parek (stingray) and the sambal was good too but I wouldn’t say it is the best that I have had. I had something much better in Penang and I miss the Portuguese grilled fish at the food court at Mid Valley in KL. That one was absolutely awesome! This did not come cheap either – RM17.00 for that…and since it did not get us jumping up and down with delight, I guess I would not order that the next time around.

Of course we would be back here again…

Umbrellas at Bandong

…for the pecel lele and the ayam penyet and the very nice satay that we did not order that night and perhaps, we could also try some more of the many things available here.

Jack…

I really wonder why they chose this name…

Jack Pork 1
*Gee! They sure need to give the place a new coat of paint!*

Maybe one of the bosses goes by that name…or maybe it is because it rhymes with jackpot so who knows, some may believe that eating here may bring them a windfall…

Jack Pork 2
*I love the use of the pig’s snout for the letter O in the name.*

…but somehow, it comes across to me as something not very accurately pronounced – “Kinamor tiok jackpork lou wor!” (Tonight will strike the jackpot!) Anyway, in the words of Shakespeare, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name will smell as sweet.”

For the uninitiated, this used to be the very nice breakfast place in town but it seems that the place was not doing too well and they have decided to change the concept in the hope that things will get better. The decor is almost the same as before…

Jack Pork 3

…but I thought it was rather dim then and now it is even dimmer – not good for photographs using a simple digicam like mine.

We dropped by for lunch on Saturday and it seems that you get a free drink with your order at this time of day (11.30 a.m. – 2.00 p.m.)…

Jack Pork - free drink

…and also later in the night, at around past 10.p.m. and if you add RM5.00, you can change your free drink for a beer instead. 10 o’ clock??? I will be on a slow boat to China already by that time. Hehehehehehe!!!!

Of course, I simply HAD to try their signature pork ribs (RM24.00)…

Jack Pork - pork ribs 1

…and it sure was HUGE! It was served on a chopping board lined with a banana leaf…and it occupied around half of the board so you can imagine the size of the slab of meat…

Jack Pork - pork ribs 2

…though it did not seem all that big in the photographs. In fact, the guy there was telling us that they would suggest to customers that they should order one to share by two or three as it might be a bit too much for one to handle.

When I posted something on this on Facebook, somebody commented that it tasted Foochow but I did not think so. I guess it did not have much of those herbs that you find a lot of in western cuisine, if at all, but no, it was not anything like the ribs at the char siew stalls – it had its own taste, bursting with flavours, almost fall-of-the bone tender and it went absolutely well with the mustard – something I do not usually fancy but I simply loved the two together. I certainly would want to order that again the next time I drop by, that’s for sure…and I was amazed at how they had a bottle of the “classic yellow mustard” on every table. I know it is not all that easy to get that in town and it definitely does not come cheap – I think at other places, if they give you that or when you ask for it, you would probably get a spoonful in a little saucer.

My girl had their pork chop (RM18.00)…

Jack Pork - pork chop 1

…with their special BBQ sauce and it tasted fine – not like any that I had had before but I did not think that it came anywhere near the ribs, tastewise. For one thing, if you compare the two, you do not get all that much meat…

Jack Pork - pork chop 2

…and for an extra RM6.00, you can get at least three times as much when you go for the ribs.

My missus had the red wine pork (RM9.80)…

Jack Pork - red wine pork 1

…which came with rice and preserved vegetables by the side and a bowl of complimentary soup (which, unfortunately, was quite tasteless). Initially when she ordered that, I thought it would be something western served with red wine sauce but no, it turned out to be pork cooked Foochow style with ang chao (the residue one gets when making the traditional Foochow red wine)…

Jack Pork - red wine pork 2

All this while, I had yet to come across any in town that was nicer than my missus’ own version of this, be it with pork or chicken…and finally, we’ve found one that is just as nice or perhaps, even nicer. Even my missus herself had to concede that they did it very very well and she certainly enjoyed what she had a lot.

It seems that they have retained some of the items on the menu that they had at the former breakfast place as according to them, there are always people around here who would go for such stuff and would ask for them time and again. Right now, they are still working on the menu – adding new things that they hope will work and removing some that do not seem all that popular. I hope it will not be a case of history repeating itself though – when they were running the breakfast palace, they had a few things that I really liked a lot but on subsequent visits, they were no longer on the menu…and they said they were not doing too well and so they had them removed. Tsk! Tsk!

Well, it was indeed a delightful lunch that we had that day and you can be sure that we would be going back there again to try some of the other things they have on their menu. A Heart Attack Burger, anyone?…Come, let’s go!

Grandpa…

My ex-student, Andrew, who happens to be my godson too, lives in Christchurch, New Zealand with his wife, Michelle…and they have been blessed with a little girl, Ashley. Now, wait a minute! If Andrew is my godson, then Ashley would be god-granddaughter, right? Hey!!! That means I’m a grandpa, albeit a god-grandpa. Gee!!! Ain’t that nice? Hehehehehe!!!

Anyway, they came back to Sibu on holiday and to spend time with Andrew’s parents here, and one morning, I did manage to take them out for a dim sum breakfast here and of course, since they live so far away and will not get to eat anything local all that often, I had to order a plate of our Sibu Foochow-style fried noodles for them to enjoy…

Good Happiness Foochow fried noodles

…and yes, theirs was, indeed, very very nice.

We also had the lau sar pao

Good Happiness - lau sar pao

– the salted egg custard bun and as you can see, they really do it perfectly well here. Oopsss!!! I should have used a new plate having made a mess of the one I was using while enjoying the yummy noodles.

We also had their char siew pao and their har kao (prawn dumplings)…

Good Happiness - har kao

– I ordered two storeys/baskets of the latter as the ones here are pretty good. Other than those, we also had their three-flavour siew mai, a set of three dumplings all done differently, and their xiao lung pao

Good Happiness - xiao long pao

…which did not look all that nice but they were nice even for someone like me. I am not a fan of those as I don’t really care for the ginger soup in them but these were not as strong on the ginger, I thought, and I actually enjoyed it.

The chee cheong fan, with char siew, was great but I did not like how it was served – like this…

Good Happiness - chee cheong fan

Usually, it would be served without the sauce and upon placing it on the table, they would cut it up and pour the sauce there and then. Luckily, it did not affect the taste all that much and I thought it was fine as well. Even the third yam puff…

Good Happiness - yam puffs

…on the plate that obviously was a failed attempt in the process of frying it was nice. If you observe carefully, the one at the back did not have that fibrous characteristic of the exterior of a nicely-done yam puff.

All in all, we had eight items, seven with an extra serving of the har kao, plus one big pot of Chinese tea and to my surprise, it was so very cheap…

Good Happiness

I bet there is no way anyone can get what we had for less than NZ$20.00 in New Zealand…and with the delightful company, needless to say, I truly enjoyed the breakfast and had a delightful time – I certainly hope the feeling’s mutual.

And I must say thanks to you, Andrew, and Michelle for the gifts you brought back all the way from New Zealand…

From NZ

…despite having to endure the hassle of travelling with a nine-month-old kid. That certainly is so nice of you two and really thoughtful indeed – truly, I am very much obliged.

Didn’t work out, did it?…

I still had half a packet of minced beef left after cooking this dish earlier so I decided to make some pies…and I guess the easiest would be to come out with some cottage pies for which I would only need to make some mashed potatoes and use for the cover…

Cottage pie 1

I just boiled some potatoes and removed the skin before adding some cheese…

Mashed potatoes 1

…and mashing them…

Mashed potatoes 2

…till the texture was fine enough for my liking. Normally, I would add some milk to make it creamier but for some reason or other, I decided not to that day and I did not add a bit of butter as well…for the simple reason that there wasn’t any in the house and I did not want to use our olive oil margarine instead as it would not have that same fragrance.

For the filling, I fried one Bombay onion, finely chopped, in a bit of oil before adding the beef, straw mushrooms (canned), sliced and daun sup (Chinese celery), chopped. I added some pepper…and thinking that I wanted a stronger beef flavour and a darker colour, I added a spoonful of Bovril. Now, THAT was a grave mistake! Anyway, once it  was cooked, I dished everything out and put the filling in the aluminium foil pie cups for baking…

Pie filling

I thought it tasted all right at the time.

Then I covered all of them with the mashed potatoes and used a fork to pierce holes to enable the air to escape when baking. Once ready…

Cottage pie 2

…I placed all of them on a tray and put them in the oven to bake…

Cottage pie 3

…till they had turned a nice golden colour.

The mashed potato cover was all right – very nicely done but the filling…

Cottage pie 4

…did not taste quite right. I thought I could smell the Bovril while the pies were baking in the oven…and it turned out that it was so overpowering that it drowned out everything else – there was no trace of the taste of beef, no hint of the  celery nor the onion – just Bovril. In fact, it came across to me like one of those Chinese pastries with their meat filling cooked in dark soy sauce, lots of it.

Perhaps if I had cooked the beef for the filling the same way I had cooked half of it earlier, it would be a whole lot nicer. Oh yes, it was edible all right…and it did not taste too bad but I was disappointed that it did not turn out as nice as I was hoping it would.

Touch…

We may go and grab a bite to eat at a coffee shop – we order something, get served, eat and leave. If it is nice, we may come back again but it is usually very impersonal – I don’t know you, you don’t know me. If the food is really good, we may go back again and after a few visits, the people may be more familiar with us and may start to smile or greet or even carry on some small talk with us and sometimes, we may not even need to order – they know exactly what we want. Now that we have moved to a whole new level and are getting a bit more personal than before, we may feel more comfortable going there and would go again and again and again.

I cannot understand how people are willing to go and queue under the hot sun (or in the rain) to go and buy something and then stand or squat around to eat. That is so ridiculous, if you ask me – adding insult to injury…and at times, they will scold you even if you ask one question too many! More often than not, what they sell is grossly over-rated. Ok, it’s good but nothing can be that good as to subject oneself to such humiliation and utter disrespect. Maybe it’s this thing about young people today – they see it as a whole package and think it is a whole lot of fun. Going through the motions and getting to eat what everyone else is praising to the skies give them a sense of achievement, sort of.

Likewise in the cafés and restaurants, I do not mind paying a bit more for a nicer ambiance and better, friendlier service. Some places have nice decor, service is good but on the whole, they are cold and impersonal. I may want to go again if the food is really that good but I think I would prefer going some place that makes me feel like home, warm and welcomed. But of course, what is good for the goose may not be the same for the gander! Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion on these things.

I do not usually expect freebies and discounts but I would appreciate it if, on their own initiative, they would round up the figure and waive the small change in the total. Like the other day, at this place, the total came up to RM27.30…and I forked out RM27.00 exactly. No, that was no good – I had to come out with the 30 sen, no matter what…and in the  end, I gave them RM50.00 and they paid me back RM22.70. Ok, business is business but it is just a matter of 30 sen and a little gesture like that would go a long way in building some kind of goodwill and rapport with the customers and that would in some way make them feel like coming back for more.

Another thing would be the importance of seeing to the customers’ needs. I guess the Foochow mee sua here is very popular – I have been here four times wanting to have that and three times, they were “out of chicken” – that was what they said! Of course, like me, most people would order something else instead even though it might be something that they did not really want…

Noodle House laksa 1

…and in my case, I had their laksa (RM8.80) that I had a long time ago and I did not like it but I heard a lot of people saying it was good so I decided to give it another try…since they did not have any mee sua.

Ok, to be fair, they never state that theirs is Sarawak or Kuching laksa so the fact that theirs is different is their prerogative…and yes, I would say, I thought it was quite nice and I would not mind having it again sometimes for a change…

Noodle House laksa 2

…but I would not want to drag anybody here and get them to order that and telling them – that’s our Sarawak laksa! That’s what Kuching laksa is like! Not at all!!!

I dropped by that morning with my ex-student, Daniel, who was home from Aberdeen for a one-week break and he wanted mee sua and since it  was not avaialble, in the end, he went for their lor mee (RM5.90)…

Noodle House lor mee

…but he did not say a thing so I would not know whether he thought it was any good or not…unlike in the case of their fried kompia with stuffed with stewed pork belly (RM4.80, RM1.60 each now!!!)…

Fried kompia, pork belly

He tried one and he said it was very good but he was too full to have any more – no prize for guessing who finished the other two now! Hehehehehe!!!!

I really cannot see why they cannot prepare more chicken soup in anticipation of the numerous orders for their mee sua. I mean if it had happened once or twice, it may be excusable but three is definitely once too many. Somehow or other, it came across to me like they were stalling for time – ok, no more…so order something else and when everything else is sold out, then we will start stocking up on what is finished, and you can have mee sua again then.

I know places too where they will give you a little bit extra or make yours a little bit more special than the rest…and they will come around to mingle just to say hello, how are you and hope that the food is satisfactory – all that kind of small talk but not for so long that it would distract you from the enjoyment of your meal. I think in the Bible, there is a story of two sisters, Martha and Mary, and the message there is along this same line – sometimes, the best food is not what is the most important, what may be a lot crucial as well would be that special personal touch…

If you can’t beat them…

…join them, they always say…and ever since the success of the instant Sibu kampua, there have been many others that have jumped on the bandwagon. Some are more expensive, others are more or less the same price and whether any of them are good or not, I wouldn’t know – I don’t think I would bother to go and try any of them unless someone tells me of one that is very much nicer.

Likewise, the Penang white curry instant noodles have taken the world by storm and is currently No. 1 in this blog, edging last year’s winners to No. 2 and No. 3 respectively. Of course, others have come out with their own of the same and I did hear of a brand that is better but no, I haven’t tried it yet. Correct me, if I am wrong, but one thing that I know about Penang curry mee is that it is usually served white like this…

Penang curry mee 1

…hence the name but once you’ve mixed the sambal (chili paste) with everything that’s in the bowl, it will be like any other curry mee in colour…

Penang curry mee 2

…but of course, the taste may differ from place to place and even in Penang itself, there may be some stalls or shops that are a lot better than others, exactly the same thing with our kampua noodles in Sibu.

However, as far as I know, there is Kuching laksa, named after its place of origin, which is also called Sarawak laksa…but never in my entire life have I ever heard of Sarawak white laksa

Lee Fah Sarawak white laksa 1

– the Sarawak White Rajahs, yes…but not this and I really do not see how it should be thus called by mere virtue of the fact that now, they have included a sachet of santan (coconut milk) powder in each packet…

Sachets inside

I used to buy this a long long time ago when they had bihun in the packets – which is actually what you would get if you order Kuching or Sarawak laksa anywhere in the city or the state but for reasons known only to them, they stopped producing that, only the ones with mee/noodles…and I stopped buying it since.

I would give them due credit for the fact that their laksa does have the fragrance and taste of the real thing and I do know of people like my cousins in Kuching who would put aside the mee for use for something else at a later date and use their own bihun instead…and of course, like me, they would add their own condiments and garnishing…

Lee Fah Sarawak white laksa 2

…to come out with something that is more or less like the real thing without having to drive out for a bowl at the shops.

No, I did not buy any to try though I did see it in the shop, not when the price has almost doubled…from RM3.50 for to RM6.90 for a pack of 5. I am sure that little sachet of santan powder does not merit such an astronomical jump and as a matter of fact, I still would not think it is really worth that much even if they had added a sachet of sambal belacan and one of calamansi lime juice as well which are things that you simply cannot do without if you’re having Sarawak laksa – it’s the whole complete package.

However, my missus came home with a pack one fine day so since I had it at hand, I thought I might as well cook it and eat…

Lee Fah Sarawak white laksa 2

Yes, the taste and fragrance are still there. Yes, it is very nice with all the stuff that I added. Yes, if you’re wondering what Sarawak laksa is like, this will give you a pretty good idea…but no, at that price, you can be sure that you will not catch me buying and eating it again, not unless they review the price and bring it down to something a lot more reasonable.

Little too early…

It was a little too early but never mind. We did not have a choice as my missus’ birthday around a week ago was on a weekday and Melissa would not be around to celebrate…and since we had to send her back to her school on Sunday, we dropped by here for something a little special for lunch on Saturday. Sometime ago, I took my cousin from Kuching to this place for dinner, she had the black pomfret so this time around, I decided to try their tenggiri (mackerel), RM15.90…

Cafe  Ind - ikan penyet, tenggiri

That certainly was a huge slice of the fish and on the whole, it was all right – you can’t expect much from fried fish, can you? As long as it is fresh and nice, it’s fine…but I did feel they could have done a better job with the sambal belacan dip that came with it. For one thing, it  was not spicy at all so I can’t say that I really enjoyed it all that much.

Melissa wanted the seafood curry with rice (RM15.50)…

Cafe Ind - seafood curry & rice

that the mum had once and instead of serving it on the plate beside the rice, they have it in a bowl now…which was perfectly o.k. as far as we were concerned but we did think the colour looked a little bit nicer the last time around. Never mind, at least, it still tasted great and actually there was quite a lot in the bowl – probably more than before and I wonder if that was the explanation for a 50 sen hike in the price.

Against my “wise” advice, my missus insisted on having their nasi uduk (RM13.50)…

Cafe Ind - nasi uduk

– the Indonesian version of the nasi lemak. I’ve tried it before and I did not think it was anything to shout about and my…my, that chicken drumstick sure looked miserable.

On the whole, I would say that it wasn’t too bad, our lunch that day…and the bill came up to RM56.50, inclusive of drinks but the boss was kind enough to waive the 50 sen.

That night, for dinner, I cooked some chicken soup with ginger and traditional Foochow red wine so that we could have the longevity birthday noodles – our mee sua

STP's mee sua in chicken soup

…and I also boiled some eggs to go with that and for dessert, we had this very nice baked New York cheese cake from the bakery round the corner from my house…

BreadSense New York cheese cake

Then on the morning of the day in question, I was pretty sure nobody wanted mee sua in chicken soup all over again so I fried this dish of seafood mee sua

STP's seafood mee sua

…and we had that first thing in the morning but of course, Melissa was not around already by then.

I know that certainly wasn’t much of a celebration, more symbolic or a token celebration than anything else but at least, something is better than nothing and we all got to celebrate it in our own small and simple way together…

Somewhere in between…

In an earlier post, I mentioned that my cousin-in-law gave me some kway teow (flat rice noodles) to bring home from Miri, theirs being thinner and narrower and not like the ones we have in Sibu.

Now, this was what I managed to dish out the other day…

STP's char kway teow 1

…using the aforementioned kway teow.

To cook this, I had to go and get some prawns and since I could not get any cockles, I settled for a bit of sotong (squid) instead…

CKT ingredients

…and I also prepared some garlic, finely chopped, chilies, pounded and spring onions, cut into bits…plus soy sauce, a bit of sugar and eggs.

I mixed the kway teow with the soy sauce, sugar, pounded chili and spring onions…

CKT step 1

…and in a bit of oil, I fried the chopped garlic till golden brown…

CKT step 2

…after which I added the prawns…

CKT step 3

…and the sotong

CKT step 4

…and fried them till well-cooked.

Next, I put in the kway teow, pre-mixed with some of the ingredients…

CKT step 5

…and fried it well before adding the eggs and the taugeh. One should not put in the bean sprouts too early so that they will not be overcooked – this way, they would still be nice and crunchy.

Once done, I dished out the fried kway teow

STP's char kway teow 2

…and served.

The texture wasn’t exactly the same as the kway teow in the peninsula – I did not think it was as smooth nor as fine but it certainly was not as hard and coarse as the Sibu ones – so let’s just say that it was somewhere in between the two…

Used to do it too…

Nope, my mum never cooked this or not that I can remember…but I do recall my missus cooking ground beef this way…

Minced beef & potatoes 1

It is very simple really and all you need is half a pack of ground or minced beef from the frozen section in the supermarket, one Bombay onion chopped into small bits and a couple of potatoes cut into small cubes. I would use a few slices of ginger as well – I usually do it when cooking meat so as to remove or tone down the smell of the meat…

Ingredients

Marinate the meat with soy sauce and pepper…

Marinating

…and a sprinkling of sugar. Of course, you may choose to use your own alternatives if you wish, for instance, Lea & Perrins and you may want to add those herbs that they use in western cooking – that’s all up to you.

First, you fry the ginger in a bit of oil…

Ginger

…till brown. Once done, I would remove the slices and throw them away as I do not fancy biting into them when eating.

Then, in goes the chopped onion…

Onion

– fry till fragrant soft before putting in the potatoes…

Potatoes

and keep frying till you think they are more or less cooked already.

Lastly, you can add the meat…

Meat

…add salt and seasoning according to taste and keep frying till it’s well done before dishing it out and serving…

Minced meat and potatoes

This goes well with rice and would be ideal as pie stuffing too. I had it with cream crackers and it tasted really very nice and I am sure it would be great for stuffing croissants or even our local Foochow kompia as well.

That day, I also cooked this dish of baby corn with some leftover beef sausages that I had in the freezer…

Fried baby corn with sausages

…and just to share, this was the salted fish fried rice that I cooked for breakfast one morning…

Salted fish fried rice with cincaluk dip

It went so absolutely well with the cincaluk dip that I kept going on and on and did not feel like I ever wanted to stop!

So, how are things at  your end? Been cooking lately?