Tuesday, 30 September 2008

World Food Day Event


To commemorate World Food Day, my dear friend Valli of More than Burnt Toast is holding a cyber event. This is what she says in her own words:


To highlight World Food Day in my own small way I am holding a World Food Day event with the help of my good blogging friend and adopted sister Ivy of Kopiaste. We are bringing the world a little closer together with us blogging on opposite sides of the world...Ivy in Athens, Greece and me from British Columbia, Canada. Ivy was kind enough to accept my invitation to raise awareness through this event. The blogging community spans the globe so I would like you to submit a recipe which represents your country that would feed at least 6 people. You can send something that is a family favourite or a regional favourite that uses local and perhaps seasonal ingredients.


We could then lay each dish back to back and have enough food to feed everyone on our street. If more people joined we could feed everyone in our city...our country...the world...you get the picture!!! A conga line of international dishes to feed the world!!!!


Now what I was supposed to do is to prepare a dish that represents my country. There are far, far too many dishes that represent Malaysia so I thought I would cheat a little and feature two dishes that I Didnt make but have posted about before that are truly Malaysian. Then I would ALSO feature a very Malaysian dish that I DID make (and also posted about before).

So here are my THREE featured Malaysian Dishes:

1. What I think is the National Food of Malaysia. Something that almost everyone eats at all times throughout the day. Its cheap and simple and would definitely be a dish that is cheap enough to feed hungry mouths. Perhaps the UN should consider this as a tasty dish to feed the less priviliged? I am talking about none other than Nasi Lemak




2. Next up is Malaysia's favourite and famous Barbecued Meat on skewers. This is another dish that is considered our National Dish so what better choice for World Food Day than

Satay



3. Finally, my homemade dish which is as Malaysian as you can get. Featured in Malay cuisine, Chinese cuisine and even sometimes in Indian cuisine - so how much more Malaysian can you get? The delicious and easy to make Kangkung Belacan. The recipe can be found at the link.



There are far too many poor people with little or no food in the world while those of us that have access to proper food sometimes over indulge and waste food. It is shocking to know that some people live on less than US1 a day! Sad but true.

For more shocking news, look at some of these stats listed at globalissues.org

  • Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than US$2.50 a day

  • At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day

  • Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen

  • There are about 2.2 billion children in the world of which 1 billion live in poverty - thats every second child


Pretty damned shocking if you ask me. So while we enjoy our food and indulge ourselves ever so often, think of the less fortunate and do what you can, no matter how small to help.

As the song by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure goes...


There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears




As a final note, to all my Muslim friends and readers, Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (Eid Mubarak)


Note: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has celebrated World Food Day each year on October 16 since 1945. The theme for this years conference is "World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy."


Saturday, 27 September 2008

James Bond - Bake another Cracker





PG
The following story is Rated PG - Parental Guidance is Suggested.
Some material may not be suitable for Children, Prudes or Fuddy-Duddies.
[With Apologies to Ian Fleming]



“Bond, there’s this cracker called a Lavash.”

“What’s that, M?”

“Ahh Bond. If you only spent as much time watching what you eat instead of spending so much time in the company of those exotic women. Speaking of spending, you’ve almost blown the MI6 budget too.”

“It’s not my fault, M, about the women. They just throw themselves at me. Tell me more about this Lavash thing.”

“It’s never your fault Bond... You see, our sources tell us that the 'Thunderballers' are trying to monopolise making Lavash. If that happens, it can only spell doom. We've considered annihilating the 'Thunderballers' but I had a better idea. Tell you what. Why don’t you try making this Lavash. There’s nothing like hands on experience to fully master something. So run along now and try and make this.”

Sighing, he closed the door and dusted his suit. He glanced at the orders in his hand, reading it again to make sure. Indeed, he had been entrusted to make a cracker called Lavash. It didn’t matter that he had never heard of a Lavash before nor did it matter that he had never seen nor tasted one before. It was his duty to make this cracker or at the very least, attempt to make it. After all, he was the MI6’s finest. He was Bond. James Bond.

Bond looked over at the sleeping form of the lovely woman beside him. His hand hovered above her naked thigh as he briefly considered having his way with her again. He shook his head, as if to clear the filthy thoughts running through his mind. He smiled quietly to himself as he slowly climbed out of bed, careful not to wake her. Duty called and the time for pleasure could wait.

He quickly washed up and winked at the dashing reflection in the mirror. He lifted his thumb out to a 90 degree angle and raised his forefinger, making the shape of a gun. As he pulled the ‘gun’ to his chest, he whispered to his reflection: “Double O – Seven. Licence to Bake”

Bond padded downstairs and into the quiet kitchen. He measured out the flour, adding in the yeast, sugar, salt and oil into a bowl. He mixed it all together and then dumped the lot into the new multi gadget that Q had made for him. He turned it on and marvelled at how the machine seemed to stir everything together nicely into a doughy mass.

For good measure, Bond used his hands - which were more accustomed to twisting necks, breaking bones and of course teasing beautiful women - to knead the dough further. His eyebrows raised as he realised this was actually quite fulfilling in its’ own way. There was something quite pure about this, something magical in working the dough to its correct texture and suppleness.

It was time now to let the dough rest and ferment. Bond placed the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. He washed his hands and patted them dry just in time as the beautiful woman he had spent the night with glided down the stairs and embraced him from behind. Bond turned, pulling her close to him and began nibbling on her ear.

“Sorry Luv, no time for that now.” She laughed, almost mockingly.

“But I’ve got 90 minutes to kill.” Bond said. “That’s more than enough time, even for me…”

She giggled as Bond smiled his most charming smile at her. His smile thinned immediately when she said. “I’d love to James darling, but I promised Mother I’d take her shopping.”

Bond watched her shapely form walk out the door with more than a tinge of regret. Still, he thought, it was for the better to have less distractions as he tried to serve Queen and Country and possibly the rest of the world too.

The 90 minutes passed by quicker than he expected. Of course, naughty thoughts of his latest conquest helped pass the time as well as the thought of being able to save the world. Sometimes, Bond wasnt quite sure which he enjoyed more. The naughty conquests or saving the world. Tough choice really...

He checked the recipe again. He needed to roll the dough out to a paper thin consistency. Bond took out his gold encrusted rolling pin that Q had provided as well with the warning to be gentle as it held an explosive device inside. Bond proceeded to roll out the dough and was kind of surprised at how well it rolled out. He managed to get it super thin and it was then time to transfer it to a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. He used a pizza cutter to make neat squares on the dough.

Bond seasoned half of the Lavash with paprika and the rest with Garlic Herb Salt. It cooked beautifully and became golden in the stipulated time. Nothing like a good set of instructions Bond thought to himself as he pulled the tray out of the oven. He felt a sense of pride as he realised he had actually completed the challenge and in the process probably saved the world.




Bond quickly checked his assignment sheet and a low growl emanated from deep within him as he realised he also needed to prepare a vegan dip.

"Egad and Curses!" He exclaimed. "I overlooked this one didn't I!"

Bond quickly surveyed his fridge and a cunning plan conjured itself in his well trained MI6 mind. He smiled to himself as he thought that his recipe reminded him of that cute Mexican girl South of the border as well as that lovely Indian lass from South India. There certainly was something to be said about girls from the South!

This is what he did:

Dip
Spicy Garlic Tomato Chutney
2 large tomatoes - diced
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
2 red chillies
Salt
Pepper

Grind Onion, garlic and chillies together to form a paste. Fry with a little oil till cooked through. Add in diced tomatoes and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve Chilled.



Quickly before the scheduled arrival of M and Q, Bond broke off a piece of the Lavash and dipped it into his chutney.

"Well done, Bond." He said aloud, to no one in particular.

*****

So much for the James Bond story and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! I enjoyed this challenge immensely too.

The verdict?
My daughter liked the crackers while my son thought it was "Hmmm..quite nice Dads." The Lovely Wife thought they were pretty amazing. She even liked my Chutney although she made it a point to mention that her Salsa would have gone down better with the Lavash. She also remarked that these crackers would be a good dish to make as a starter to completely amaze people with. I mean, who would think that I would make home made crackers huh?




That was exactly what was going through my mind. Just over a year ago, I would never, ever have considered making homemade crackers. Now? Well now I'm a Daring Baker and I've learnt, just like Bond, to Never Say Never Again! So excuse me while I relax with a Martini - shaken and not stirred!

Thanks to Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl for hosting this months challenge.


This is the recipe.


RECIPE - Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

Here's a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids...It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)...

The key to a crisp lavash,...is to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Toppings
You may use your choice of topping/dip/salsa/relish/spread for your lavash crackers as long as it is vegan and gluten free.



Friday, 26 September 2008

10 years Ago I said "I Do"...

Yes, that's right. 10 years ago today, The Lovely Wife and I tied the knot, said I do, got married. You get the picture and speaking of pictures...

This is one of our Wedding Pictures....


And this is us 10 years later, with our two darlings!


(Actual date of this picture is 21 June 2006 - not quite 10 years later but close enough!)

So Happy Anniversary to me and the Lovely Wife!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Roasted Fennel Chicken with Creamy Fennel Tri-Mushroom Sauce



The ingredients for this months edition of the Royal Foodie Joust were chosen by Protos of Souvlaki for the soul who won the previous months joust.

The brainchild of Jenn, the Leftover Queen, the Joust is a monthly event that is getting bigger and better and above all is a lot of fun.

These are the three ingredients:
Fennel (whole, ground, seeds)
Dairy (in any form)
Parsley

I must admit that it took me awhile to figure out something that would combine Fennel and Dairy. I use fennel seeds a lot in my curries and almost considered just making a curry but decided to try something new.




So after thinking about it for a while, I decided to make a Roast Chicken seasoned generously with Fennel and then pair that with a creamy Fennel tinged Mushroom sauce. It turned out super and the slightly sweetish aniseed taste of fennel complemented the chicken and mushrooms very well.

This is what I did:

Roasted Fennel Chicken

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1 tbsp Fennel Seeds
1 tsp whole black pepper
2 gloves garlic
1 inch ginger
1 tsp Olive Oil
Salt
Parsley

Method
Clean and Wash the chicken and then pat dry with paper towels. Grind the fennel, pepper, garlic, ginger and oil together to form a rough paste. Combine with the salt and then rub insides and out of chicken with mixture. Roast at 190C for about 1 hour. Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Garnish with parsley

Creamy Fennel Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients
250g mushrooms (I used a selection of Portobello, Swiss Brown and Button)
2 tsp fennel
3 tsp Oregano
6 cloves garlic
150ml milk
Black Pepper
Salt
2 tsp corn flour
Parsley

Method
Slice mushrooms thinly. Sautee the garlic with black pepper. Add in oregano and fennel and mix together. Fry till fragrant. Add in the mushrooms and cook till tender and juices come out. Add in milk and season with salt. Add in a little corn flour mixed with water and then mix well till mixture is thickened. Garnish with parsely



This dish was a hit with the Lovely Wife and the Kids. My daughter, in particular, liked the creamy mushroom sauce paired with the chicken. I was rather pleased myself with how well this turned out and will definitely make it again. The best part about this dish is you can also make the chicken on its own without the sauce.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Malaysia's National Dish - Nasi Lemak


Without a doubt, Malaysia's National Dish would be Nasi Lemak. This would translate literally into "Fatty Rice". Lemak means 'fat' but in this context it actually refers to the 'richness' of the rice as it is cooked in coconut milk this giving it a special flavour.

Nasi Lemak is usually a breakfast meal although now it has also become an all-day, anytime kind of dish. In my younger days, after a heavy night of partying (read drinking) with my friends, we would all adjourn to the all night roadside stalls for a welcome plate of Nasi Lemak.



There are various types of Nasi Lemak with the most basic being rice cooked in coconut milk and a knotted screwpine leave for added fragrance, fried Ikan Bilis (small anchovies), cucumber slices, , roasted peanuts and half a hard boiled egg. This will be serve with a lovely sambal (hot spicy chili paste).

Sometimes, different meats such as chicken, squid, beef and even prawns are added to make a more substantial dish. Some hotels and restaurants serve Nasi Lemak as well nowadays but of course those have some meat and vegetables added and the servings are much larger. The best kind of Nasi Lemak though is the kind sold at roadside stalls where it is more often than not wrapped in banana leaf and then covered in newspaper or brown paper. Of course this must be eaten with the obligatory plastic spoon!


I'm going to leave the rest of this post as a photo essay of a trip we took recently to the Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur where the kids had a lot of fun and where we all enjoyed Nasi Lemak for brunch!



Open the package to reveal the rice and sambal inside. Note that the sambal is also placed on a banana leaf for more flavour!



Egg, Anchovies and nuts all mixed with the sambal



Another angle of the delicious Nasi Lemak



Can you feel his anticipation??



I"m hungry Mummy! I can't wait!



Nasi Lemak can be a little spicy on the taste buds... Nothing a good glug of water wont fix!



All finished....


Enough with the photos Dads! I want to go play!

And while we are on the topic of Malaysia, this is our National Flower - Bunga Raya or more commonly known as the Hibiscus.



Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Fettucine Piccante con Salame ed il Fungo



Quite a mouthful isn't it! Yet something that would look pretty impressive on a menu. For those of you that don't speak Italian, Fettucine Piccante con Salame ed il Fungo translates to Spicy Fettucine with Salami and Mushrooms. Incidentally I don't speak Italian either but the magic of the internet allows me to search for translations and then pretend to be a master linguist. Rather cunning even if I do say so myself!

I always enjoy a spicy pasta and there is nothing better to make a spicy pasta than with hot salami! I had already decided I wanted to make a spicy pasta with hot salami for dinner one Saturday not too long ago. What needed to be done though was to get the right kind of Hot Salami.



The Lovely Wife, the Kids and I all took a trip to a newly opened supermarket not too far from our home. They have a nice Deli with loads of sausages and different kinds of Salami. They were very helpful and more than willing to let us try all the different kinds of salami and we finally settled on a rather spicy Salami - I think it was SPicy Hungarian although I cant quite remember which one we finally settled on!

This is what I did:

Ingredients
4 cloves garlic
1 Capsicum (I used Orange as it lends a slightly sweeter taste)
200g Hot Salami
200g Button Mushrooms
100g cherry tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
chilli flakes (to taste)

Method
Chop garlic and sautee with oregano and chilli flakes. Add in sliced mushrooms and cook till soft. Add in the hot salami and cook well. Meanwhile cut the capsicums in large squares and add to the mix. Cook until just tender but still slightly crunchy. Halve the cherry tomatoes and toss together in the hot mixture until the juices start to come out but the tomatoes still hold their shape.
Cook pasta of your choice and mix together with the ingredients till nicely coated. Season with salt and pepper



The kids and the Lovely Wife really enjoyed this. The salami was even spicier after it was cooked but thats what made this a real treat! A nice green salad helped to soothe the spiciness and add some roughage and vitamins to the meal too!

This is my entry to Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted this time by my lovely friends - the mother and daughter team of Giz and Psychgrad over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen

Monday, 15 September 2008

Have you ever seen a rabbit wear glasses?



See, among my immediate family, meaning my two brothers, my mom and my dad, I am the only one that doesnt wear glasses (or spectacles). There's a reason for that too. You see, when I was young, I made sure I ate all my carrots. Don't believe me? Well, I ask you then - have you ever seen a rabbit that wears glasses??

That's the story I tell my kids anyway. It's not that there is ever any issue in getting them to eat their carrots, or any other vegetable for that matter. It just makes an interesting tale to tell around the dinner table - and one extra reason for them to eat more carrots!



Do carrots really help your vision? According to studies, carrots are rich in beta-carotene. The body converts this to vitamin A which is a crucial nutrient for maintaining proper eyesight. Having said that however, if your vision is already bad, eating carrots or increasing your intake of Vitamin A wont help in any way. So it appears that Vitamin A helps in maintaining good eyesight - not improving it.

Anyway, enough about eyesight. This simple carrot dish is lovely as a side dish and is often made by the Lovely Wife to supplement a curry or other meat dish. This is what she does:

Ingredients
4 carrots
1 big onion
1 clove garlic
1 tsp mustard seeds
handful curry leave
1-2 tbsp chilli flakes

Method
Pare and Grate Carrots. Fry mustard seeds followed by onions and garlic. Then add in the curry leaves. Mix well. Add in the carrots and stir fry till slightly soft. Add in the chilli flakes and continue to mix well. Season with salt.





The only little difficult part in this recipe is the paring and grating - otherwise it is so simple, even a 5 year old could make it! Its really quite delicious too and brings out the natural sweetness of the carrots.


Thursday, 11 September 2008

Daily Tiffin - Are you picky about what your kids eat?

Its time for yet another article on the Daily Tiffin. Last time I talked about raising a picky eater.

This time, I address yet another 'controversial' topic by asking Are you picky about what your kids eat?

If this interests you, please check out the article. The link is above!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Bean (Curd + Sprouts) = Taufoo and Taugeh, and I can prove it mathematically!



Sorry for trying to be clever but I couldn't resist this! See, the equation Bean(Curd + sprouts) when simplified would give you Beancurd + Beansprouts and this is exactly what this simple dish is. In Malaysia, we refer to Beancurd as Taufoo (Tofu) while bean sprouts are known as Taugeh. So, this lovely dish is simply Taufoo and Taugeh! See? Proven mathematically too!




The Lovely Wife likes to make this dish and the kids and I love to eat it! It is superb with rice, especially as a side dish. The beauty of this dish, aside from how simple it is to cook, is the fact that it goes well with any sort of cuisine. It goes well as an accompaniment to a curry as well as Chinese food.

This is what she does:

Ingredients:

200g Bean sprouts
3 squares bean curd
1 red chilli (seeded)
handful of curry leaves
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce

Method
Chop onions, garlic and chilli. Sautee together with curry leaves in a little oil. Cube the beancurd and add to the pan, stirring well to cook through. Add the bean sprouts together with the oyster sauce and a little water if needed. Stir fry quickly. Season with a little salt and pepper if needed.



Could something so simple be so tasty? You better believe it. This is also a great vegetarian recipe too!

Monday, 8 September 2008

Entertaining 101 - a beginners guide



Entertaining can take various forms and function. It can range from a casual tea for two to a more elaborate sit down dinner with a few friends or move completely to the other end of the spectrum by hosting a full blown dinner party. Or maybe just skip the dinner and just have a party – you know, move the furniture out of the way, fill the bathtub with ice and cans of beer and turn the stereo way up loud and invite practically everyone you know!

Sorry, that was just a little trip down memory lane for me. Yes, truth be told, I used to host these kind of parties when I was in University. 3 times a year for four years! Those parties were legendary. It was cheap too as we only used to provide some bags of chips, maybe a case or two of beer and everything else was strictly BYO (Bring Your Own – normally booze but includes whatever it is you want to drink/eat).

Those days are long gone now and entertaining today for me usually involves dinner or lunch for a few friends – usually not more than 6 people in total. Why 6? I suppose the size of my dining table has something to do with it! Also, 6 people really only means there are 4 guests as the other two are the hosts, so it becomes very cozy and you can take your time in the kitchen while the guests can sit down and enjoy each other’s company. It’s even better when the friends are really close friends as then everyone can just mingle about in the kitchen, peek under the pan covers and even help themselves to drinks!

When it comes to the menu, I like to keep it simple. Usually a starter, maybe a salad, something nice for the main meal and then dessert. Most of the time The Lovely Wife and I do all the cooking but it really doesn’t have to be that way. To me, there is really nothing wrong with getting take-away or doing a mix of bought food and home cooked food. You don’t need to serve anything complicated either. Do what you feel is right and don’t stress yourself out unnecessarily.

Ultimately what is important when you entertain is that you and your guests enjoy yourselves. And that is why the key to having a good dinner party is not really in what you serve or how pretty your bowls are. What is really important is the company!

I remember going out for dinner once with a bunch of friends to a really nice restaurant. One of our friends had brought along another friend who did nothing but complain about everything the whole night, so much so that none of us enjoyed ourselves and although the food was really good, to this day the only memory we have of that night was how that particularly irritating person ruined everything for us!

So if you are planning on entertaining, I would offer these simple tips. Keep it simple, keep it fun and above all get your guest list right! If you have the money though, some fireworks are always a great idea!!

Friday, 5 September 2008

A little Game called Omnivore's Hundred

I've seen this little 'game' on Jenn's blog and more recently on Valli's blog so I thought I would join in the fun and play too!

Basically it's a list created by Andrew from Very Good Taste, of 100 things he thinks “every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life.” This is what he says:


The Omnivore’s Hundred



"Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.


Here’s what I want you to do:


1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/ linking to your results. "

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho (we just call it Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup!)
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower dry curry!!)
15. Hot dog from a street cart (in LA and also from Ramly Burger carts!)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle (a tiny bit scattered in a main dish in a fancy restaurant)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns (what we call Char Siew Pau - my son's favourite too!)
20. Pistachio ice cream (not a great fan though..)
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut (had the REAL stuff in Munchen)
35. Root beer float (that's what A&W is for)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (one of lifes great pleasures!!)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat (I make the stuff!)
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal (I dont call it Phaal but since Wiki says its a fiery South Indian curry, then its part of my diet!)
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu - nope, never had pufferfish
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (But of COURSE! Its the King of the Fruits and as Malaysian as anything!)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (in Bak Kut Teh!)
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini (Caviar yes, not sure about blini)
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake


57% - sounds like most of my exam results!! Considering though that a lot of the stuff isnt easily available in this part of the world, I think I aced this!!

And I'm also kind of proud that I didnt cross anything off the list.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Aren't Apricots just lovely...



The apricot is a wonderful fruit! When I was a student, I used to enjoy a bottle of fresh apricot juice with my lunch. It wasn’t called Apricot juice but rather Apricot Nectar. I think the reason for that is that juice doesn't quite do justice to Apricots. Nectar is more accurate because the juice of the fruit is so luscious. Better than drinking the juice though, is to sink your teeth into the delicious fruit.

It doenst stop there thought. Apricots are great to use in cooking! To most people, if you think of using fruits in cooking, images of desserts come to mind. No doubt apricots are lovely in desserts but they can be used in main meals as well. And not just as a garnish! Try mixing it in salads, or perhaps toss in a few apricots together with some vegetables and roast them, flavour a chicken stew with apricots or why not make an apricot sauce as a marinade? Let your imagination flow and use apricots – as well as other fruits – in your cooking. There’s nothing quite like it!




The only problem I have with Apricots is that they are so darned expensive. Even the dried variety is expensive over here in Malaysia. I've use Apricots in my cooking and these are two original recipes that I have made that feature Apricots.

Chicken with Apricots
Apricot Walnut Cheesecake

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