Friday, November 30, 2007

Rosemary and Rock Salt Focaccia

Mui Fong bought a cookbook from Doulos the last time it docked here in KK. After she unwrapped and flipped through, she passed it to me and said ' Here, cook something from here and call me for dinner'. That's what sisters are for.

It is a book on whole foods for health and healing. I was not too keen on recipes from these because healthy usually means bland in my book. Anyway, it IS a cook book so I browsed through it and found this focaccia bread recipe which sound so very promising. I was absolutely amazed how well it turn out. That certainly taught me not to judge a book by it's cover.

Rosemary and Rock Salt Focaccia
300g bread flour (I used 1/3 wholemeal + 2/3 bread flour - makes it healthier still)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried yeast
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves only, chopped
10 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped - optional
1 tablespoon olive oil
~180ml water

I did 2x the recipe because I know the amount given is probably only enough for three in my family. Put all the above ingredients into a mixer with a dough attachment and mix for about 7-10 minutes (use those bread makers if you have one but just for the kneading and take the dough out to proof and shape). I then hand-kneaded the dough for another 5 minutes (an excuse to play with the dough) until it is smooth and shiny with a springy touch. That is one reason why I never get a bread maker, just can't resist the kneading - I actually find it therapeutic and a great way to give my biceps a work out!
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean dish cloth. Leave to rise for 30-45 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size.

Turn out dough and knead lightly again for 1-2 minutes. Roll out to an oval (or rectangular) shape about 1 1/2 cm thick. Place onto a greased baking tray, cover loosely and leave it for 25-30 minutes to rise again.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

For the topping
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons rock salt
1 sprig rosemary

Make indentations with fingers all over the top of dough. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil all over the top, then sprinkle with the rock salt and rosemary.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and spoon the rest of the remaining olive oil over the bread.
Loved the scent of rosemary and garlic mingling with the aroma of freshly baked bread that permeated through the whole house.

Eat it on its own or do like Leanne, dipped into olive oil+balsamic vinegar. It just occurred to me that this bread would be so good with the roast lamb plus the drippings and also the moussaka!! Must bookmark it with these recipes...


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bizjadi Av Centre, Segama

Over the weekend, a few of us ladies were to prepare lunch for a lecturer. TS brought along some gorgeous looking serving bowls and plates.
As usual, I droolz...
As always, I couldn't help but ask where she got them, expecting her to say 'Australia' as she frequently shuttles between here and Melbourne.
My glasses almost dropped when she said 'Segama'. What, Segama, KK? Yes.
But where, where in Segama? Apparently in a household electrical store very near Leton. Everyone in KK knows Leton, right?
OK, came Monday, headed downtown to Segama first thing in the morning. Not very familiar with this part of town and but I do know where Leton is and that helped.
Found an electrical store a few shops away. Before entering, just outside the store I saw laid out on the floor at the store's 'kaki lima' - sidewalk, in cardboard boxes, a whole arrays of the treasure I came looking for!! They were mostly white (great!) in all shapes and sizes (double great!!). They had to be examined one by one for flaws and cracks as I detected quite a few (not so great).
So, for the next half an hour or so, I was squatting in front of the shop rummaging through this pile of heaven (like a child in a toy store), good thing I wore pants. Managed to get a total of 23 pieces of assorted shapes and sizes. Christmas came early!!
For your convenience I noted down the name of the shop but I don't know how long the stock would last and it look like a one-off kind of sale. The pieces cost between Rm 2 to Rm 7 depending on the size. A steal.

My favourite. Two identical square plates in different sizes.

The long oval-shaped plate is about 30cm length and 15cm width. Prefect for a fish dish. The egg shaped and tear-drop bowls are so adorable I couldn't resist, I will find a use for them.

The wavy plate would be great for photo shoot, any food would look fantastic in it.

No, this is not another recipe. Just trying out the new dishes. A simple stir-fried veggie and a braised mushroom with rice wine. An ordinary meal served in extraordinary dishes - a feast for the eyes and of course, they tasted phenomenal too, seriously! ;=)


Monday, November 26, 2007

Pumpkin with Balsamic Glaze

I love pumpkin any way it is prepared - stewed, roasted, boiled or even raw but my family does not eat it unless it is totally unrecognisable either finely chopped up in bolognese sauce or totally drowned in lamb stew.
That was, until I stumbled upon this method of cooking that is so easy and ingeniously simple but oh soo soo delicious.
I must have seen this done on television probably with some other veggies (carrots?) but not quite sure on what program.
The natural sugar in the pumpkin caramelises beautifully when pan-fried so no sugar is required.

Pumpkin with Balsamic Glaze
300 g pumpkin, peeled and sliced (1 cm thick)
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan.

Place pumpkin in the pan in one layer; fry at medium heat until soft and golden brown on both sides.
Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the balsamic vinegar to deglaze for a minute.
Dish out; garnish with chopped parsley or coriander and serve.

They liked it so much that we even had it for breakfast. Served with eggs, crackers and fruits.


Friday, November 23, 2007


This is specially for those souls who dislike or maybe, just not too fond of eggplant. Try this and you might probably change your mind about this veggie. These were the last of the eggplants from Daniel and I saved the best for last.

5-6 eggplant

Cut into 1/2 cm thick rings. Place them in a colander, sprinkle with salt, mix well and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Drizzle oil on the eggplant slices. Heat a frying pan or a griddle, cook eggplant in batch until golden on both sides. Keep aside.
For the filling, I used a bolognese sauce and simple white sauce (like in a lasagne dish). Here is the recipe:

Bolognese sauce
500 minced beef
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 carrots - optional, chopped finely
100 g pumpkin - optional, chopped finely
1 big onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can peeled tomatoes (425 g)
4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup beef stock or water
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper

Heat oil in a pan; saute onion until fragrant; add garlic and oregano. Add beef, browned and add in all the rest of ingredients except salt and pepper. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for at least 45 minutes. The longer the sauce is cooked the better the flavour. Season with salt and pepper.

Medium-thick white sauce
4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
75 g unsalted butter
800 ml milk
grated nutmeg

Melt the butter in a saucepan. As soon as it melts, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the milk. Return to the heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, and continue stirring until the sauce begins to thicken - just creamy. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg
Preheat oven to 170 C.

To assemble the moussaka:

Place a layer of eggplant slices at the bottom of a oven-proof dish, then smooth a layer of tomatoes sauce follow by the white sauce. Repeat until all the eggplants are used up, end the layering with the white sauce and sprinkle some grated cheese (parmesan or chedder) over it.
Put into the oven on a baking tray (to catch any spillover) and bake for 45minutes.

It will be bubbling when it is done and if you have filled it up to the brim like I did you will be thankful for the baking tray.

Enjoy with a good solid wholemeal bread and a leafy salad (best without any dressing).

Have a good weekend!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lunch in Lintas Plaza

Haven't post about eating out for a while now. The reason is not that we haven't been eating out, it is more like we kept going back to the same few familiar, comfortable and favourite joints.
Last week we happened to be in this Lintas area came lunch time.
I wanted to have the wantan and dumplings soup in the 88 (or is it the 33?) shop but it was packed, so we ended up a few doors away and I was really glad because the food was surprisingly good in this rather unassuming shop.
Don't know the name the shop but it is next to the Kinabalu organic produce shop in Lintas Plaza.
Loved this dish of vermicelli fried with eggs and sayur manis (sabah veg). Garnished with roasted pork slices and a generous helping of crunchy ikan bilis. Prefectly done, neither too oily nor salty.
They also offer 'pan mian', hand-made noodles in a light soup which Bryan had. He liked it too but I didn't get a chance to take any pictures before he dug in and wolfed it down (he eats so fast!).

Special tea and coffee. The bottom layer is gula melaka (palm sugar) syrup, then come the milk and topped with tea or coffee with ice cubes. You could also opt to have leong fun (grass jelly) added which would most certainly raise it to the status of an ABC.

My so pretty almost too-good-to-be-drunk coffee.Very Delicious! Can never go wrong with this gula melaka/milk combo and with the addition of coffee...blisssss.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Vermicelli with minced sauce and Knife Skill

Vermicelli with minced sauce
200 g vermicelli, soaked in water and then blanched in hot water, drained and ready to serve
200 g pork or chicken meat, minced
4 dried mushrooms, prepared Chinese style
2 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 big onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups stock or water + 1 stock cube
salt and pepper
cucumber, julienned
tomatoes, sliced thinly

Marinate meat with sauces and sugar.

Heat oil in a frying pan. Saute onions until golden; add garlic and fry for a minute or so; add minced meat and stock; bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Slice mushrooms thinly and add into the minced meat, cook for a further 2-3 minutes. remove from heat.

To serve, place a serving of vermicelli in a bowl and spoon the minced sauce over it. Garnish with cucumber and tomatoes.

K has this fascination about the knife skills displayed by the many chefs he watched on the television food programmes. He aspires to emulate them and he reckons a good knife is the first step. Recently he bought a paring and a chef's knife during a Sydney trip.

First, cut cucumber into 4-5 cm length, then pare it thinly to the pith (and pop the pith into the mouth like K, no waste).

This is what you would end up with. Now pile two to three pieces on top of one another.

...and chop away. Practice-makes-prefect knife work!

K and Jo

Friday, November 16, 2007

Eggplant Japanese style

Yes, another eggplant dish. I know, I know this is not everyone favourite veggie but I do have a whole bag of them in the fridge, remember?

Anyway, watched channel 703 (what else?) late one night and saw this fastest talking and cooking Japanese lady in a program called Dosanko. She makes cooking look soooo easy. She did this marvelous eggplant dish that is so simple. Just a few and very easily available ingredients were used but the dish turned out so deliciously refreshing. Give it a try.

Eggplant Japanese Style
3-4 eggplants, trimmed and cut lengthwise into six
oil for deep frying

2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1-2 teaspoon mirin
2 tablespoon water
2 slices ginger, chopped
2 garlic, chopped
1 sprigs spring onions, chopped
1 chilli, seeded and chopped (not in the original recipe but added for a bit of heat and color)

Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl (taste and adjust amount of soy sauce and vinegar to suit your palate) and set aside.

Heat oil in pan and deep fry eggplant until just turn soft, lift out from oil before they turn golden. Do not over fried (according to the fast talking lady) or the skin of eggplant would be tough (very true, I almost always did overcooked the eggplants but not this time).

Arrange eggplants on a serving plate; pour the dressing over and serve. It is that simple.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Roast leg of lamb

We had a 'thank you' dinner last weekend for a few friends who, for the last few weeks had helped selflessly in a relocation programme despite their very busy work and home schedules. Due to their hard work and unwavering efforts the execution of the move was very successful given the very limited time frame. A job well done!! Thank you again!!

We decided to use this occasion as an excuse (not that we needed any) to kick start the year-end festivity. We always have either turkey or leg of lamb (very often, both) before the end of a year. We will have to reserve the turkey for Christmas or the clan in KL would stage a protest, so roast leg of lamb it is. Managed to get this beautiful leg...almost 4kg of it from Hong Seng, Damai.

This leg of lamb was marinated for two day (in the fridge) with the following:

'Never-failed' lamb marinade

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

a handful of mint leaves
2 bulbs garlic, peeled

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
juice from one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoon sugar

Rub salt and freshly ground black pepper all over lamb. Blitz the rest of ingredients in a blender. By now, the aroma from the herbs, lemon juice and balsamic should be enough to send one into a frenzy. Put marinade and lamb into a plastic bag if can find one big enough to accommodate the leg (which I can't) or just leave it in the roasting pan and cover with plastic. Make sure the lamb is well covered with the marinade (pricking the lamb all over with a fork helps too). Leave in the fridge for at least overnight.
Preheat oven to 200C. Remove lamb from the fridge 30 minutes before roasting, place in a roasting pan with the marinade and add 1 cup of water into pan. Pop it into the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 180C and continue roasting for about 2 hours (about 30 minutes per kg). If you have a meat thermometer inserted at the thickest part of leg, the reading for medium is 150F and for well done is 160F (had the roast well-done as not quite sure whether our guests will take to having pink flesh and oozing pink juice from the roast!). Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let roast stand for at least 10 minutes before carving.

Contrary to what cookbook said about never to have lamb well done because the flesh gets too dry, the well-done roast above was sooo tasty, tender and juicy. Managed one shot only before this whole lot and the next batch disappeared. Serve with simple salad or boiled veggie like broccoli, french beans and glazed carrots. Use the drippings from the roast for gravy - yummy!!

The many hands that made this move possible. TQVM!!

Sorry not many pictures, they all came out too fuzzy to post *red face* (failed the first 'under pressure' test in photo shooting). Once the guests started arriving there was just not much time to wield the camera and when there was, most of the pictures turned out blurry because always in a hurry and lighting always not adequate or right (excuses, excuses...).

K and Jo

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Elcerdo, the pig-out heaven

This post is specially dedicated to our pork-loving family and friends.
Also to cheer Mummy up. :)
(apologies to my non pork eating Muslim friends. Please still love me despite my disgusting porky-ness)

*warning. many pig pics ahead*

I have heard tons about Elcerdo.

Everyone raves about it.

But it was so hard to get around going there cos everyone says its only fun going if you have people to share the dishes with.

So the perfect opportunity came when we had 6 piglets lined up, all geared up for a night of fun and pork.

I'll let the pigs do the food talking.

*i might have gotten the names of some of the dishes all wrong. its been a month since, and my memory is all hazy. can only remember the very yummy taste of each dish*

1. Parma Ham

So so so so good, and a great start to the meal. The melon was fresh and juicy yet firm. Perfect with the ham. A must have.

2. Some very nice (free) soup.

Creamy and soooooooo delish. It was (i think) lentil-y and stuff. I was famished at that point, so gulped it down without really tasting it.

3. Deep fried bacon wrapped around some paste, served with onion rings, a salad and a (tartar-like) sauce.

THIS was a crunchy, juicy pleasure. I LOIKE. A LOT!

4. Deep fried goat cheese with caramelised apple

I hogged this dish. Loved it. And kept praying that the others would be too preoccupied with the other dishes to not realise I was eating their portion.


This item is not on the menu. It was recommended by Andreas, who took our orders, and oh-boy, I wanted to kiss him when I took my first bite!

This is my favourite dish, ever! You can taste the healthiness of a good pig with every bite. A well-fed and clean pig. The harmonious layers of fat and meat, with the delicate marinade (which lightly caramelised the skin), almost melted when it got to my mouth.


6. Sakura Ribs

These organic ribs were cooked in a sweetish sauce - kinda like honey mustard with a twist.

The ribs themselves were good, but i'd prefer a saltier sauce. Still very good though. recommended. :)

7. el cerdo's signature dish - the suckling pig

I'm a sucker for all sorts of suckling pigs, and was really looking forward to this dish. It was beautifully presented, and the best (gimmicky) part was them cutting it with a plate and letting someone from our table break the said plate into a bucket-full of broken plates. Brings luck, it seems.

Anyhoo, back to the dish itself.
I must say I was kinda disappointed. Much prefer the chinese-style roasted suck
ling pig.
This was a bit TOO fatty, and the meat itself tasted raw. Not in the sense that it wasn't cooked enough, but that it wasn't marinated or salted or anything.
Ah well, worth a try.

8. Chocolate Terrine

By dessert, I was sooooo full, I thought I would only be able to manage a spoonful. But the moist, beautiful texture of the chocolate terrine and the ice cream had me shoveling the entire plate into my stomach.

It was so good, i felt no guilt.

9. Assorted desserts

These were the desserts the rest had. I had a spoon of each, which I remember tasted quite good, except for the nasty raspberry sorbet with grappa (which the guy who ordered it loved).

The total damage: around RM1k. Inclusive of 2 bottles of RM230 wines (each) and 2 glasses of sherry.

Better reserve a table if you're planning to go. We went on a Wed nite, and it was absolutely packed!


Friday, November 9, 2007

Eggplants with pork

These eggplants are from Daniel's organic garden in Keningau. He applies a rather revolutionary method of organic farming using earthworm castings. Yeah, he rears earthworms just for their castings! Beside these gorgeous eggplants, he also grows beef-steak tomatoes and other leafy veggies.

What Are Worm Castings? You might asked...

Quoted from Kitsap E-Z Earth - 'Earthworm castings are the best soil for greenhouses or house plants, as well as gardening and farming. Earthworm castings will not burn even the most delicate plants and all nutrients are water-soluble, making it an immediate plant food. Earthworm castings, in addition to their use as a potting soil, can be used as a mulch so that the minerals leach directly into the ground when watered. The effects of earthworm castings used in any of these ways are immediately visible. They make plants grow fast and strong.
Castings contain slow release nutrients which are readily available to plants. Castings contain the plant nutrients which are secreted by the earthworms. They dissolve slowly rather than allowing intermediate nutrient leaching. The product has excellent soil structure, porosity, aeration and water retention capabilities. The product can insulate plant roots from extreme temperatures, reduce erosion and control weeds. It is odorless and consists of 100% recycled materials.'

Now we know...the wonders of nature...

Eggplant with pork
3-4 eggplants, halved lengthwise and cut into 2" length, pat dry with towel
200g pork, julienned or minced coarsely
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon corn flour
3 tablespoon black vinegar
2 tablespoon shaoxin wine
4 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 slices ginger, chopped
1 red chilli, sliced finely
oil for deep-fry

Marinate meat with light soy sauce and corn flour.
Deep-fry the eggplants in very hot oil. Drain and keep aside.
Leave 1 tablespoon oil in pan, fry the garlic, ginger and half the chopped chilli until fragrant; add the marinated meat. Fry until meat turn color.
Add vinegar, wine, water and sugar, lower heat and cook until sauce thickens.
Return fried eggplant to gravy, mix quickly and dish out.
Garnish with chopped spring onion, chilli and serve.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Pan-Fried Pork Chop With Mash

Iml wanted the recipe for this pan-fried pork chop. I get really thrilled when someone asked me for recipes. I am no cook, just love to cook, have no culinary training whatsoever and all the recipes I have come from family, friends, cookbooks and television food programmes.
When I am obsessed with one particular recipe I would cook it day after day until I am satisfied with the result and that's the time my family would find all kinds of excuses to eat out. Can't really blame them, who would want to eat the same food day after day.
This Kylie's recipe does not call for garlic but we love garlic and it does add a really nice aroma to the meat.
Do not overcook the meat or it will be dry and must be served hot. Here we have it with mashed potatoes that has a slight twist to it, a family favourite too.

Pan-Fried Pork Chop
Serve 4-6

8-10 pieces pork chop, about 2/3 cm thick, pounded thin with back of cleaver
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed coarsely
1 tablespoon corn starch
salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoon oil

Marinade meat with salt and pepper generously; add garlic, mix well and leave for about 30 minutes.
Mix in the cornstarch when ready to fry.
Heat a heavy based frying pan; add oil and fry pork chop in medium heat. Turn over when golden, about 3 minutes and cook the other side. As the chops are thin they cook fairly quickly.
Serve it on top of mashed potatoes, with deglazed gravy or not.
To deglaze, just add 1/2 cup of stock/balsamic vinegar or red wine to the frying pan that was used to fry the chops; scraping all the tasty bits from the pan and reduce the liquid until a saucy gravy is attained. Serve with the chops.

Mashed potatoes
1 kg potatoes (Idaho is good), peeled and cubed
1 cup chopped celery
~1 cup milk
1-2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Boil potatoes in salted boiling water until soft. Drain.
Add in butter, cheese and milk while potatoes still hot; mash and mix well.
Add in celery; salt and pepper to taste.

The celery is optional but it lends a refreshing bite to the otherwise ordinary mash. I first started adding veggies like onions, cilantro or celery disguised into the mash when the children were young and didn't like veggie much. I would chopped the veggie really fine then and mixed in well with the mash they love rendering it impossible for them to pick out the veggie from the mash. Now, I don't chop the celery that fine anymore because they like the crunch it gives in the mash.

Pork Chop served with mash and salad with balsamic dressing.

For salad, there is no rules, anything goes. Any fresh veggies like cherry tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, even fruits like apples, oranges, pears etc etc...
For the dressing, I mixed balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a squeeze of orange juice, some honey, if you like and salt and pepper to taste.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Braised red cabbage with green apples

What do you do with this vegetable beside making a salad out of it? Keshia and Bryan won't touch it raw so K got inspired after watching Kylie Kwong's 'Heart and Soul' and adapted this delicious recipe. Now the two love this dish. It is actually quite a meal on its own but with a growing (upwards and side ways) family we have to top it with some protein - a simple pan-fried pork chop, also from Kylie.

Braised Red Cabbage

500 red cabbage, finely sliced

2-3 green cooking apples, peeled, cored and julienned

1 bay leave

125 g bacon, cut into 2 cm

8 shallots, peeled and finely sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup red wine (K used rice wine)

4 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Heat oil in a frying pan. Add bacon, bay leave, shallots, garlic and half the salt, and saute over high heat until bacon is golden and crisp.

Add cabbage and saute for a further 3 minutes.

Add sugar; cook until the mixture starts to caramelise.

Add wine, vinegar, apple and the rest of the salt.

Lower heat and cook covered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until cabbage softened.

Serve hot with pork chops accompanied by mashed potatoes, crusty bread or rice.

Note: Apple can be substituted with raisins, just throw in a stick of cinnamon too.

K and Jo