Friday, October 30, 2009

Nasi Goreng Kunyit - Turmeric Fried Rice

My closest friends are well aware that I am a yellow freak.

I love everything yellow.
I can't get enough of yellows...
- on me (if you saw me buying another yellow top...just let me, it's my thing. get over it)
- at home (I had my study room painted bright yellow. I accessorized other rooms with yellows, I buy yellow flowers...yellow, yellow, yellow!)
- on my food too (lemon, bananas, egg yolk, golden brown fried foods, yellow curries and spices...yum!)

However, I don't do saffron (hello, expensive)...but I love poor man's saffron, turmeric.

It turns everything gloriously golden and appetizing, and I love its mild fragrance and flavor, especially when paired with its good spice friends, cumin and corriander seeds.

Use the flavor combo for curries, meat or vegetable dishes...but when in doubt....make fried rice, just like what I did.

Fried rice has been my easy way out these days.
Dump any lean meat, vegetables, aromatics and spices, mix them together with tiniest bit of oil in a non stick pan, and I got myself a quick, easy, tasty, spicy, super satisfying, hearty and healthy dinner.

- 1 cup of rice (I use white and brown rice), cooked, refrigerated overnight
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cloves shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 or 2 red chilli, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped into small bits
- any lean meat, cut into bite sized chunks (I used boneless, skinless chicken breast, half a pound)
- salt, pepper, sugar, ground corriander seeds, ground cumin, turmeric powder, 1 tsp olive oil, a couple dashes of fish sauce

In a non stick pan, saute garlic, shallot, and chilli in that tiny bit of olive oil. Add bell pepper chunks, add chicken, add rice, season with all the spices, taste until you reach the desired flavor balance. You should taste the salt, and the fragrance of all the spices, the color of your fried rice should be beautifully golden.

That reminds me, I don't have a yellow hand bag.
Let's go shopping.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shake Shake Fanta Jelly - Loving My Jiggly Bits

I love my sodas. If it's up to me, I wanna be drinking sodas all the time.
No fancy couple-of-thousands-per-bottle wines for me, just gimme my fizzy-chemically-flavored-icy-cold-sugar-water....or in this case, jelly.

I've never been a fan of anything jiggly...especially if they're on my body. But I changed my mind after I tasted Japanese konyaku jelly, and this fanta jelly has quite a konyaku-jelliness to it.

Wait...Fanta? Jelly? Shake-shake? Wwww...what?

Yes, once they've done the Self Iced Coca Cola and Sprite, we were all kinda wondering what else you could do with carbonated drinks...and they came up with this.

Get them chilled, take 'em out of the fridge, shake 'em 10 times, and you'll end up with fanta jelly. Look at that evil slug of jelly pouring out of that cute lil' can. Yes, baby. That wasn't liquid, that's jelly! and they're still so amazingly fizzy!

Sounds mega brilliant, but, how did it taste?

Amazing! Refreshing, wonderfully chewy, it's more than a cold fizzy drink, it's a refreshing dessert!

Keep this in mind and go nuts next summer.
If Shake Shake Fanta Jelly isn't available in your area.....cry.
...or buy it off eBay ^_*

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Breakfast Food Photography - Need Help Selecting A Photo for Submission

I always ALWAYS have difficulties with selecting photographs to submit to events/competitions/blog postings.

I'll blame it on my trigger-happy-made-for-digital-photography fingers. I could easily take a hundred shots of one object from identical angle....sigh...thus, as expected, selecting a couple of pictures is a pain in the ass for me, not to mention, just one photograph.

I desperately need help T_T

These are pictures I shot for Still Life Fotografi group, and I can't decide which one to submit for the round up...

In this case, may I shift all the responsibilities to you? ^_^

The shot above is Working Breakfast #1
It's a coconut cream bun from local traditional bakery, simply placed on my laptop (laptop can act as a food heater too hehe), the lighting is from my living room window on the left, reflected with a white cardboard from the right. I was pretending to read the South China Morning Post online, although what I would really read should be Perez Hilton.
- Manual mode
- Aperture 3.5
- ISO 400
- Shutter speed 1/50

Working Breakfast #2
Focused more on the bun, got rid of the empty tea cup and milk bottle, replaced it with blue and white tea pot.
Same lighting and camera setup as the above shot.

TV Breakfast #1
I love eating in front of my TV. If I had my way, I'd eat all my meals while watching my favorite bad TV shows. I am trying a new setup with this shot. Back lit, no reflector, shot from further distance, same camera setup as the above.

TV Breakfast #2
Closer shot of the above setup.

TV Breakfast #3
I wanted to include a bit of my beloved TV in the shot.
Do you like the raggedy old folding stool?

Breakfast Table #1
Do I really have my breakfasts like this? Surely, no.
I've been really lazy with food styling these days, but it was weekend, so I gave it a bit more effort.
The lighting still came from living room windows, reflected from the left with white cardboard, and I've increased the aperture to 2.8.

Breakfast Table #2
A closer shot of the above setup, as I found the black chair pretty out of place :(

Breakfast Table #3
Frog eye view (is there such a view?) of the above setup. I can see the lid of my beloved blue thermos here ^_^ you like?

The photog
Just woke up, haven't had breakfast, haven't showered...(OK, stop there. Too much info!)

The height booster
Many of you must recognise the green stool. Obviously my 154cm height is not enough to take the shots.

Now, tell me, which shot is your favorite and why?

All shots taken with CANON EOS 400D with 50mm f/1.8 lens.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dark Chocolate Milk and Soy Milk

Another thing I love about Hong Kong.
People here love their chocolate rich and dark....and food manufacturers and marketers responded to customers' demands very well.

I am not a big plain milk drinker, and chocolate milk to me...well, most of them are just like sweetened milk with a tiny hint of chocolate, which is not enough. I love my chocolate to kick me hard in the butt. Super strong, almost bitter.

The first dark chocolate milk I noticed was this Deluxe Chocolate Low Fat Milk Drink from Kowloon Dairy. Love love loved it. Don't be fooled by its "low fat" label, it tastes fantastic. Rich, creamy, and super chocolatey. More brands came up with their versions of dark chocolate milk, but this one's my favorite so far.

Sooner of later...of course...Vitasoy must do their version of dark chocolate soy milk.

Unfortunately, despite the convincing packaging, it's not chocolatey enough. It is just a slightly better version of their previous chocolate soy milk. I hope they'll go darker. makes everything more bearable, doesn't it?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oven Baked Yoghurt Chicken Strips and Mushroom Balsamic Potatoes

What if you miss fried chickens so dearly, but not allowed to have some?
Oven bake them.

What if you love chicken legs so much, but not allowed to have some?
Tenderize, juicify, and flavor up those breasts.

Like how?

Marinate boneless, skinless chicken breasts in yoghurt (to tenderize) and some spices (to inject some flavors. I used garlic salt, sugar, paprika, dried oregano, black pepper, lemon zest, tiny wee bit of olive oil), refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. You don't even have to whack them flat (Who likes flat breasts? Well, I believe many people do. Wat?!! They were lying???!!!). They'll be amazingly tender.

Before serving, drench them in a mix of breadcrumbs, garlic salt, sugar, paprika, dried oregano, lemon zest, and black pepper. Preheat oven to 200C, lay chicken breast pieces on a baking tray brushed thinly with olive oil.

Bake until gloriously golden.
I served them with potato cubes and mushrooms cooked with balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, and dried oregano. Simply saute aromatics, add mushrooms, add potatoes, cook covered until tender and serve.

Squeeze some lemon juice on them..and oh my!
Flavorful, tender, juicy, tasty...everything I love on breasts.
These are super satisfying...
....but PS. It does not mean that I now don't want fried chicken legs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vegetarian Lunch at Po Lin Monastery

I love weekends.
(Who the heck doesn't? Oh, maybe those who have to work on weekends, and do not exactly enjoy their job).
It's when I can be lazy...
Do absolutely nothing...
..or everything.
Such as my last weekend's trip to the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery.

It's a place for worship...

...and when you're hungry from that hike up and down the stairs to the big Buddha...(not to mention bending over backwards trying to shoot good pictures), you can always go to...

Po Lin Monastery's Vegetarian Restaurant

On a perfect 26C, sunny autumn can dine outside and enjoy the scenery...

If you're an air-con fanatic, dine inside.

They started the meal with a soup of winter melon, vegetables and burdock. Very subtly flavored.

One of my favorite dishes of the day...sweet corn and green peas with tofu. Naturally yummy.

This one's baby bok choy, mushrooms, mock meat made of gluten and tofu, with creamy sesame sauce. Deliciously creamy.

Cucumber, celery, carrot, and yellow bell pepper with mock meat made of tofu. Taste absolutely fresh.

Crispy vegetarian rolls. I love anything deep fried, so this was one of the highest highlights of the day.

Fresh shitake on vegetables.

Every dish served taste really subtle, mostly with a shiny corn starch finish, with absolutely no hint of aromatics and spices. Apparently, anything that pleases the palate are forbidden in Buddhism. It's eat-to-live as oppose to live-to-eat, I guess? Can you imagine cooking without garlic, shallot, and all of the wonderful fragrance we normally use? Considering this fact, the dishes weren't as bad as I imagined them to be, they were even delicious, as we were super starved from all the hiking.

The whole experience isn't only about food.

Everything taught us something, including this napkin holder...

....and the toothpick holder....and if that's not enough...

A whole rack of free Buddhism books for you to take home.

As a human being in this vast universe...I feel curious to know what to people bring to the Gods, apart from the usual oranges, apples and pomelo combo...

the essentials...crackers!

and of course...CHOCOLATE!

The Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
Check out how to get there, etc here
Lunch costs HK$60 per person

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cutenesses at Ngong Ping Village

Truckloads of cutenesses at Ngong Ping Village.
I know I love touristy places for a reason....

I am mad about souvenirs...MAD!
This might not be something new, but when I saw them...I couldn't help but feel amazed by how cuteee these miniatures are. They have Hong Kong's most popular foods...claypot rice, sushi...look at those tiny shrimps, eggs, abalone!

Bowls and bowls of noodles, dumplings and desserts...and Hong Kong cubicle dwellers' staple and favorite midnight snack...cup noodles!

...dainty little mini dimsums!

...and macho men's Hong Kong style steak and mixed grills on hot plates, all sold with a piece of cafe/dimsum restaurant's bill. How cute!!!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I am a porcelain freak.
So imagine my reaction when I saw these...

...gorgeous teapots...delightful little darlings...I barely have space to store food, but I'll make room for you, my love.

Gorgeous teapots have to be with cute little tea cups (I am sure you can spot a shopaholic when you hear one).

...and these blue and white beauties...HK$100 (around USD13) for 3 pieces!!!
I'd feel sorry for myself if I didn't buy these...

This one is not totally irrelevant to food.
I bet this beautiful tea candle holder can make a simple dinner of instant noodles totally romantic!
...and naturally, everything will taste more delicious. logical of me...

Look at this little guy...doesn't he whet your appetite? Look at his gesture..."Eat, eat!" he says.

This baby is so adorable, I wanna feed him porcelain bone treats all day!

Help! I need rehab!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lean & Mean Chicken Mushroom Cakes with Mushroom Soy Sauce

Are you a breast person or a leg person?
I am totally a leg person.
I am not talking about chicken, I am talking about "chicks".
I always wanted a pair of long, slim, slender, and shapely legs in lieu of my short, stubby and chubby pair.

How about chickens? Am I into chicken breasts?
Absolutely not. I am still a leg person when it comes to chickens.
But I don't like them slender. I like them as chubby and as plump as they can be.

Sous chef, on the contrary, loves breasts (we're still talking about chickens, ya?), which is great for him as his recent diet requires everything lean and mean. This is why I've been touching and playing with one too many breasts these days.

I am not great at working with chicken breasts, it is challenging for me to make them wonderfully moist. So, these chicken cakes is definitely the easy way out for me.

Chicken and mushroom cakes
- half pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into a few parts)
- 1 clove of garlic
- a couple sprigs of corriander (or spring onion)
- 1 cup diced fresh shitake mushrooms
- 3 tbsp corn starch
- a dash of olive oil
- light soy, dark soy, oyster sauce, sugar, black pepper

Throw everything into a food processor, and pulse until well combined into a dough. Roll dough into small balls and flatten them, place them on a plate and refrigerate until you are ready to use them. To start using, pan fry with a bit of olive oil (since my pan is non stick, I used almost no oil), brown both sides. If you are worried that the chicken might still be raw, add half a cup of water and cover the pan to let them cook through. Set aside.

Mushroom Soy Sauce
- 2 cups of fresh shitake mushrooms (sliced thin)
- 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
- light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, black pepper, water, a bit of olive oil

Saute fresh shitake mushrooms in a bit of olive oil until wilted and a bit browned, add garlic, add sauces and a bit of water, adjust to achieve balance of salty and sweet. Add chicken cakes, mix well. Garnish with freshly chopped corriander and serve with steamed rice or noodles.

These were wonderful, but I am still a leg person.
No offense to chicken breasts, though. I think it's mainly because of my stocky legs.