Sunday, 27 December 2009

and the rest....

Christmas' Eve
I had 14 friends over for dinner and cooking for a crowd can be tricky. It's all about time management to get all the food ready at the same time.
For the past four years, I always have the Christmas turkey on Christmas' Eve. I usually buy the turkey few days before, but my fridge isn't big enough, so I went shopping for fresh turkey early in the morning. And guess what? I was too late. There was no whole fresh turkey left. I decided to get two extra large chicken instead (they're from the same poultry family, right?), and they actually looked like two small turkeys. To be honest, it was a better idea than having one big turkey. With two chickens, I have more cuts to share, more wings, legs, thighs and breast meat.
I roasted the chicken with herb butter, maple syrup and white wine for two hours and the result: super juicy chicken. Oh it was good. The only bad thing was my carving skill. We had the chicken with my country dressing, cranberry sauce and potato gratin. Store-bought New York style cheesecake for dessert.
Played charades and had so much fun.

Christmas Day
I wasn't very happy that day, because my friends came late. I'm just annoyed with people who aren't punctual. I told myself to calm down and after few drinks, I did.
We opened our presents and I'm so pleased with mine. One of my presents is Jamie Oliver's granite pestle and mortar. Yay!
For dinner I made roast leg of lamb with aubergines and onions. If you have Jamie's My Guide to Making You a Better Cook-book, turn to page 168 and you can see the lamb. It was beautiful, but then I have to destroy it with my bad carving. Despite of that the meat was nice and tender and juicy. The aubergine, onion and tomato sauce was very nice as well.
The lamb was served with Jamie's favourite coleslaw (with mayonnaise I made from scratch), and potatoes. Dessert was fifteen chocolate brownies. Yum!
The rest of the evening was spent watching the new TV show, Glee (my favourite programme at the moment), and lots of vodka shots and baileys.

Boxing Day
Woke up at about nine-ish and I went to town for a little bit to check the boxing day sale and I bought the complete series of friends.
I went to the Stadium of Light in the afternoon for the boxing day match. I don't have a lot of knowledge about football, but I do enjoy watching it live. My friend, Julia and Mark invited me to the match and we had lunch at the stadium. I've been to this event few times now and I always had great times. I met some great people (Sunderland legends, current players, etc) and made some new friends.
Food wise, I had the pate to start, roasted duck with plum sauce for the main, which was nice but a little overdone for my liking, and sticky toffee pudding. yuuummmm... and had quite a lot to drink as well. I felt really guilty for not going to the gym.
The match itself was good, Sunderland scored first and it wasn't until the last 15 minutes when Everton scored theirs. I hate that. Come on Sunderland! or should I say ha'way the lads! :)
After the match I met up with some friends and watched Sherlock Holmes.

I went to church in the morning. Got home and started taking off some of the Christmas decorations. I'm gonna start a little bit of packing tonight as well for my London/Oxford trip next week for the New Year.
Made myself all day breakfast salad for lunch. I'm so impressed with my poached egg. My poached egg normally looks like a watery mess, but today it was perfect.
I'm going to a friend's house later and we're gonna watch some more Glee! Good times!

Day 118, Recipe 51

Have a very Happy Christmas and joyful New Year!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Seasonal dinner #1

went really well. I had a great time cooking for some wonderful friends. And once again, I managed to almost stuffed my guests to death.

To start I made some finger food that consisted of brushetta with curried chicken and mango, goat's cheese and smoked salmon, and goat's cheese with onion marmalade. I also made my favourite cheesey garlic bread. I topped a generous amount of mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan cheese on the bread and then baked in the oven until all the cheeses has melted.

For the first course, I made fifteen Christmas salad which was easy enough to assemble at last minute; and it looked and tasted beautiful. Crunchy radicchio, peppery rocket and cool mint leaves, dressed with lemon dressing, and then wrapped in smoky prosciutto, on top of creamy buffalo mozzarella, and a scatter of sweet clementines, salty and rich parmesan shavings and sweet balsamic vinegar. It's Christmas on a plate.

For main, we had roasted chicken breasts wrapped in pancetta with leeks and thyme, and a side dish of creamy butternut squash. Yum!

Dessert was extra special. We had my orange panettone bread and butter pudding. This is definitely my favourite winter dessert. It's very comforting and it takes hardly any work to make which is a bonus for the hectic season. And to me, the scent of oranges just says Christmas all over. The pudding was served with lightly whipped orange cream. Heaven...

Tonight is another party with friends, I've done most of the cooking preparations and I'm ready for some more fun!

Sunday, 20 December 2009


Christmas is exciting, with all the lights and decorations, the carols, Christmas TV shows, and most importantly, the seasonal food and drinks. At the same time however, Christmas can be the most stressful time of the year, with all the shopping, queuing in the shops, and don’t even get me started on the wrapping the presents. And it gives me great pleasure to announce that I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping (two more presents to be exact) and also the wrapping! YAY!

Next week I’m hosting three dinner parties in a row and as crazy as it sounds, I cannot wait! The dishes are all planned and I love feeding people (just about any time, really) especially at this time. The thing about Christmas food is, they have to be familiar, nothing overtly complicated, and most importantly, comforting.

And don’t worry, I have not forgotten about the project. I’ll be serving some recipes from the book this Christmas, like fifteen Christmas salad and fifteen chocolate brownies; the best roast turkey – Christmas or any time for Christmas Eve; and I have also decided to have roast leg of lamb with aubergines and onions on Christmas day.

This year, I have also been making edible presents. I have made few jars of vanilla sugar to share with some dear friends and I’ll be making few batches of Jamie’s best shortbread in the world in the next couple of days.

All very exciting...

I had spaghetti with olives and salad with Jamie’s Sicilian dressing for lunch; old-school pork chops with apples and sage for dinner; and mulled cider with lemon and orange to keep me warm. Good times!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

last night

my appetite's back! Yay!

I had some friends over for dinner and we had my white bean, garlic and thyme soup with white pizza; penne with roasted Mediterranean vegetables; and orange panettone bread and butter pudding. YUM!

Great food and great company. I think that's the secret to a great night.

Thanks friends.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

London trip: taste of Christmas

When people go on holiday, some like to engage in cultural activities, some like to visit famous landmarks, but for me, holiday is all about the food. I like to visit museums and historical sites, but with all that sightseeing and walking, I do get hungry and I need to eat.

I always have a great time in London. There are many excitements to see and loads of places to eat. I went with some friends the past weekend and it’s no exception this time, we had a great time. The first night was celebrated at Maze for some cocktails. I had the espresso martini, orange daiquiri and my favourite, mojito. The last time I was in London, the whole place was booked by the casts of Sister Act – the musical, so I was thrilled to be able to go in this time.

Saturday was the day: ‘taste of Christmas’ – food festival. But before we went there, we had breakfast at the Hummingbird Bakery. My friends and I, we all love Hummingbird Bakery. The cupcakes, cakes and pies are all beautiful and scrumptious. I had a cup of cappuccino and a slice of apple pie. Yum!

We arrived at ExCel London for the festival at around lunchtime. There were hundreds of food stands and restaurants in the arena and I imagine this is what heaven would look like. We went from one stand to another, getting all the free samples, beers, champagnes, cheeses, chutneys, chocolates, liquors, spirits, etc. After wandering around, we had to eat, and this is what we had among the four of us (name of dish – name of restaurant):
Dines ham hock with colcannon and parsley sauce – St Pancras Grand

Free-range duck egg with A. Romani Italian truffle – Dolada

Seafood biriyani, white fish, scallops, tiger prawns, squid, cucumber & black pepper raita – Thrishna

Roast Duke of Berkshire pork belly, sweet potato & fenugreek mash with green pepper relish – Modern Pantry

Spiced Hungarian beef goulash with potato dumplings – Baltic

Bentley’s fish pie – Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill

Maldon rock oysters - Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill

Japanese beef roll with yakitori sauce – Sumosan

Christmas pudding ‘cigar’ with cinnamon sugar and mince pie ice cream – Menu

Beef rendang with rice – Awana

Out all of the dishes I had there, the best was probably wild mushroom fettuccine with black truffle, from L’Anima. I’d happily have that anytime.

The highlight for the day was probably meeting Anthony Worrall Thompson. I like him on TV, but he’s more entertaining in person. I arrived just in time for his book signing session and I also had a photograph taken with him. I attended the ‘taste of France’ workshop with him and he was awesome. He made chicken liver pate brulee, monkfish bourguinon and chocolate rosemary custard. Too bad we weren’t allowed to taste the food because he only made a portion for two, and there were about thirty people in the audience.

Before we left, we had some gelato the famous Italian ice-cream for dessert. I had a scoop of tiramisu and a scoop of hazelnut gelato. The perfect way to end the day.

Oh and, like other holidays, you have to get some souvenirs and I did. I bought a jar of chilli jam that will be great with leftover turkey; a jar of almond pesto; and onion marmalade, perfect for snacking with sharp cheeses or I sometimes like to put it on home-made burgers, just like caramelised onions.

We went around for a little walk at Oxford Street to see the Christmas lights and to burn some of the calories we had throughout the day. We got back to the hotel early with a bucket of KFC (to replace the calories that’s been burned) and we watched the X-Factor semi final (Yes, a little sad but true and I don’t care because I love the show).

The next day, we had Sunday roast at Bumpkin at South Kensington. It’s one of my favourite places to eat in London. The restaurant has this countryside feel and it’s just nice, even though I’m a city boy at heart. I had the Leg of Elwy Valley Welsh lamb, studded with rosemary and garlic, mint sauce, served with red wine gravy, roast potatoes, cauliflower and cheddar cheese sauce, seasonal root vegetables and greens. It was good, as always.

And no London trip is complete without a second stop at Hummingbird Bakery. My friend is a hummingbird bakery addict and she needed to get her supply of cupcakes.

I have had a great weekend away, but I'm glad to be back home. :)

Thursday, 3 December 2009


I just don’t understand people who throw away leftovers. I love leftovers! Especially at this time of the year. Whenever I invite friends over for supper, I make sure I plan enough to have some leftovers. Let’s say if I have four friends coming, I normally plan the menu for six. I can create a whole different menu just from leftovers. And this new menu will take half of the effort because most of the ingredients are already done. Leftover roast turkey dinner can be transformed into so many delicious treats. I can make my Christmas Panini that is my version of classic Italian grilled sandwich with turkey, stuffing, melting cheese and cranberry sauce. Yum!

Adding sliced smoked salmon, spring onion, egg and flour to some extra mashed potatoes is the ingredients for my potato pancakes; perfect for a light supper with side salad.

And my favourite, leftovers roast beef, which I rarely have; can be made into one of my favourite food, Philly cheese steak sandwich. Slice a soft roll length way, spread with a little butter on both sides, and then lay the sliced steak on one side of the bread. Generously sprinkle some cheddar cheese on the steak and top with the other bread. Wrap the sandwich with foil and put in the hot oven for few minutes until all the cheese has melted. Serve with chips and mustard. Ah... Just writing about it makes me hungry.

I’m going down to London tomorrow for a long weekend to go to a food festival. It’s probably the equivalent of Glastonbury for foodie. Instead of having rock stars on the stage, you have celebrity chefs talking to you. I know, I know, how geeky. I just can’t help it. I’ve planned my day for cooking class, chocolate, wine and champagne workshops. I can’t wait. I’ll tell you all about it later.

And I’ve been informed that I have new readers to the blog for which I’m very grateful. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy writing about my passion for food, cooking and eating.

Day 94, recipe 42