Saturday, January 15, 2011

Christmas and New Year's 2010

Hey guys,

Guess what! I'm writing this blog post on the plane from Melbourne - Singapore cause once again, I've left updating to the very last minute. Anyway, here's a snapshot of some gastronomically enticing food from the last 3 weeks of December 2010! (See how I tried to sound smart there? Fail whaleeeee...)

1. Christmas Dinner(s) 2010
(i) Family Christmas Dinner on 22nd Dec
Just want to say that I was very excited and slightly anxious about roasting a turkey for the first time. Ask anyone, the mighty bird is one of the hardest meat to cook.

After much, MUCH research for the best recipes online and watching countless video demonstrations, I am very confident to say that Jamie Oliver's Perfect Turkey Recipe is the best (if not, one of the top) recipes out there!

Recipe can be found here, as well as a video of Jamie-O demonstrating and explaining how it's done.

I really loved it because every step and ingredient has been carefully thought out and contributes to the perfectly moist and flavourful turkey.

Whether I did perfect it the way he did, that's another matter. All I know is that we were very satisfied and there's always room for improvement. Heck, now I can't wait for next Christmas so I can roast another turkey again.

I roasted my first turkey at the age of 20, hope to continuously improve for years (and decades) to come! =)

Mango Lassi: Delicious to drink! Tip: Replace cream with Greek Yoghurt!

English Trifle with Summer Berries: Not the best at dessert but tasted alright =]

Try hard haha... We all live and learn right? ;)

Reaaally loved the stuffing. Next year, will try replacing dried apricots with chestnuts to see how they taste

Jamie prefers to stuff the turkey in between the skin and breast to help it cook more evenly. Smart!

Another trick was to microwave an orange for 30sec (till its piping hot on the inside), brutally stab all over and to stuff it in the cavity.

What this does is that it slowly starts steaming the turkey from the inside (which again cooks it more evenly) and also releases a more "Christmas-ey" flavour from the orange into the bird. Again, SMART!

Enjoying every minute of it! =)

Jamie Oliver's Christmas Turkey: Good, moist and flavourful. Happy

Carving a turkey was really really tricky as well. Luckily Mr H. was there to help me out

Turkey with Cranberry Sauce and Gravy, Sweet Potato Mash and Garden Salad with Citrus Dressing: Happy with simple dinner menu, less is more

First Christmas in Melbourne

Family's the best.... =)))

(ii) Friends Christmas Dinner on 25th Dec

Garden Salad with Citrus Dressing: Simple and good, prepared by Sis

Mashed Potato with Truffle Oil: Why not? Haven't used my oil in a while

Sis's signature Pesto Pasta with Prosciutto, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Spinach and Mushroom: Tried a different pesto from the usual, still good

Winston's Garlic and Rosemary Roast Lamb: Surprisingly the BEST roast lamb I've ever made yet! So happy with the flavour

However, I've decided to try and continue to tweak and improve the recipe to hopefully increase the cooking time by 45min (just so I get more gravy). Will post the recipe once I'm more confident with what I want to achieve =)

Crissspy skin and juicy/tender meat. Joy =)

Christmas Dinner 2010

Jelly Oranges: Made this just for my "Breakfast Buddy" lol

Recipe adapted from Hunger Hunger, except I always use 4tbsp per litre of liquid. Adjust to your liking

Maggie Beer's Christmas Pudding: Not normally a fan of this dessert, but quite liked it

Sincerely, the Chua's + Su's + Kel Tay hahaha...

2. Out and About

(i) Lunch at Sapa Hills, Footscray

Char-grilled pork with Rice Vermicilli: Vietnamese cuisine makes one of the best barbequed meats -- YUM!

Beef Combination Pho: Okay, nothing fantastic

Signature Quails: Again, I prefer my meat char-grilled at Vietnamese restaurants, especially quail

Located on Hopkins Street, one of the busier restaurants in the area

(ii) Lunch at the Boathouse Restaurant, Fairfield

Grilled Mix Platter: Overpriced, slightly salty

Beef Burger: Average but still enjoyed it

Food wasn't fantastic, but I still wouldn't mind going back here. Crazy beautiful place for lunch and to spend the day =)

(iii) Lunch at Simply Spanish, South Melbourne Market

Big Pan Paella's

Scallops with Herbs, Chilli and Oil Tapas: Overcooked scallops but BEAUTIFUL oil

Spanish Meatballs and Chickpeas Tapas: Slightly dry but still liked it. Good meat and veg combo

Mixed Meat and Seafood Paella: Just okay. Without it we wouldn't have been full from lunch anyway

(iv) Gelati Shop, Williamstown

Gianduia and Malaga Gelati: EXCELLENT. Really smooth and has good natural taste. Very authentic.

I had a good impression of the place when I found out they had my two favourite flavours (and in Italian!) -- Gianduia (which is basically hazelnut chocolate) and Malaga (Rum and Raisin)

Like I said, don't know the name cause it doesn't really seem like they have one. Here's the signboard anyway. Located along the Strand (opposite the jetty). Really liked it

(v) Desserts from The French Lettuce, Nicholson Street

Pear and Sticky Date Pudding: Passable, though I always prefer this dessert warm. My friend, Winnie, makes EXCELLENT S.D.P.s...

The Famous Vanilla Slice: Voted Melbourne's Best Vanilla Slice, I can see why. Light puff pastry with smooth, creamy custard filling. Nice

(vi) Dinner at First Taste Restaurant, Boxhill

"Lo Pian Hai Di Ye Tang" aka "Shell meat with Sea Coconut Slices Herbal Soup" (Direct Translation LOL): Really nice and warm, great!

"Xian Yu Rou Bing Sa Bao Fan" aka "Salted Fish with Pork Patty Claypot Rice": By far my favourite dish there!

"Sui Jiao Shang Hai Mian Xian" aka "Prawn Dumplings with Shanghai Noodles": One of the very few places that I order noodles in Melbourne. REALLY tasty and delicious, love it!

Durian Dessert: Not as rich in flavour as before, but still a good dessert to order

(vii) Sushi Hiro, Freshwater Place

Soft-Shelled Crab Roll: My FAVOURITE place to eat this in Melbourne. Why? Cause it's tasty and they have more crab than rice. Truly believe one of the better sushi shops in our city

3. Home-cooked Meals
(i) Food by Mum:

Deep-Fried Mackarel with Soy Sauce: Always love (any) fish cooked this way at home

Steamed Chinese Cabbage with Dried Scallops: Another childhood favourite dish

So glad I finally learned this when Mum was here

Moreton Baybugs with Ginger, Scallion and Capsicum: So FRIGGIN' delicious!! I do love eating the bugs more than lobster tails cause they're so fleshy and not as easily overcooked

Again, I still think that it's always better to STIR-FRY crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters because the shells always add an excellent and distinct taste to the dish.

It is a waste to just bake it and not allow the flavours to be released

Steamed Herbal Chicken: Another dish that we LOVED eating growing up. So glad to finally learn this too!

(ii) Seafood Galore from Springvale Market (cooked by Mum):
Went there on a sunny afternoon, went nuts when we reached the seafood section. SO much variety and WAYYY cheaper (and fresher, I might add!) than Victoria Market!

Where else can you get LIVE moving/breathing Abalone and Pipi eh? Boy, did Mum enjoy herself or what ;)

Pomfret one of my favourite fishes since I was young!

Deep-fried Pomfret with Sambal Belachan: YUMMEH!


Stir-fried Scallops with Celery: Always loved scallops fried with veg

Lobster Tail that costs $58 per kg here but $70 per kg in Vic Mark *GASP*

Lobster Yee Mien: I believe that this is one of the better ways of cooking lobster Chinese style. Delicious!

Sea Cucumber

Stewed Sea Cucumber with Mushroom and Chicken: Sooo friggin' tasty! Seriously, this photo doesn't do it justice. Mum reckons Sea Cucumber here is way better (and cheaper) than Malaysia

Banana Prawns (always the cheapest one at the market)

Penang Hokkien (or Har) Mee: Good way to eat your prawns when you have heaps to cook

Prawn Noodles in Home-made Carrot Tomato Soup: Light, healthy, refreshing

Wild Barramundi

Deep-fried Barramundi: Half eaten by Sis before I took a pik lol

LIVE pipis. Photo a bit blur cause they were alive and moving!

Stir-fried Ginger and Scallion Pipis: So yummy, tastes just like the restaurant

LIVE abalone WAHHHH!!! So huge and fleshy (about the size of your palm) and only costed us 6 for $20.

Not expensive at all! You won't see me eating canned abalone for a while, fresh all the way!

Lightly Poached Abalone in Tonic Chicken Soup: FANTASTIC way of preparing live abalone! The soup was light to not overpower, but carry the sweet, sweet taste of the tender abalone meat =)

(iii) Food by Sis:

Guacamole Bruschetta: So tasty and easy to make

Home-made Bi Bim Bap with Pork Belly Slices: SO surprisingly quick and easy to make and DELICIOUS! Will definitely make this again. Nice simple lunch

(iv) Food by me:

Pan-fried Blue Eye Fillet with Garlic and Herbs: Have concluded that this is now my favourite fish in the market

Pan-fried Barramundi with Mixed Herbs: Most beautiful looking piece of fish I have ever cooked. Crispy fish skin with moist flesh ftw

Beer-Battered Prawns: So light and crunchy! Again, recipe from Hunger Hunger

Malaysian Banana Pancakes with Lemon Coconut Curd: Looks SO much better than my first attempt, but tastes just as good!

Recipe by Raspberri Cupcakes as seen on Rasa Malaysia

"Siew Yoke" aka "Crispy Skin Pork": My 5th time making this dish and much better than the past few attempts.

For some reason I just can't seem to get it to be just as PERFECT as it was on my first attempt!! Sooo frustrating and I'm still trying to figure out why hmmm... I'll tell you so once I figure it out so you can learn from my mistakes

Still tasted really good but will need to figure out why the skin at the centre won't crackle as much as the sides (not the first time this has happened!)
Anyway, recipe from one of my FAVOURITE food blogs out there: Almost Bourdain

Next update will be from Singapore. Really enjoyed my last trip there and can't wait for all the AWESOME food I will be eating while I'm there!

So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get back to my in-flight movie. Hope you kids are having a blast wherever you are!

Wince =)


Jane Kaylor said...

Thanks for the recipe!!! Love it. Fresh or frozen local abalone is cheaper but will never give the same taste, flavor and texture as canned abalone. I love the flavor and taste of canned abalone and one day I want to eat abalone like 'abalone kings' do: braised in sauce and served whole, like a steak, washed down with a good white wine. Cut with a knife and fork of course. Meantime, it's still cheaper to slice abalone thinly and share with the family. I love this dish. It's such a special treat

Winston said...

Hey Jane, thanks so much for your comment. And what you said about eating like abalone king sounds EPIC. I hope you get to try that one day, or maybe you have already lol. Yeah you're most welcome, having live abalone from time to time ain't that bad either eh ;).

Good change from usual dinner table food. Guess we'll just have to save the canned abalone for special occasions then. A dish mum likes to make on CNY eve steamed (good) chicken sandwiched with canned abalone pieces and ham. Do share how you like to prepare your abalone. Hope you're having more awesome food wherever you are! =)

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