Monday, May 3, 2010

How to Cook Perfect Fried Dumplings with Frozen Dumplings

What is wrong with frozen food?  According to me there is nothing wrong with frozen food.  It's convenient and keeps food from going off and its much healthier than takeaway.  I always have a few packets of these frozen dumplings in my freezer for snacking or emergency dinner.  

How to Clean your Water Kettle!

Do we ever open our water kettle to just have a look inside because we have nothing better to do...  

Well, on a bright and sunny day, I decided to look into my kettle.  I was disgusted to find this black mouldy looking ring had formed inside my kettle.  I had been boiling and drinking water from this kettle all this time and it had something growing inside.  Please readers do not be too disturbed by my ugly kettle because if you look inside your own kettle, you will probably find the same thing.  I don't know the reason behind it but thankfully I do have a solution.  

Monday, April 26, 2010

Japanese Night... OISHII!

Make your own sushi

YaY to theme parties!  Our theme parties usually consist of food, food and more food.  Tonight was no exception.  When Ms C* suggested Japanese Night, She smartly sold the idea to me by mentioning that it would be wonderful for my blog.  And yes indeed it was!  Now looking back at the photos, it makes my mouth water and my heart warm from remembering the happy memories.  I would say yes in a heart beat next time without a thought of my blog... because I truly had a wonderful time!

 There was alot of preparation because we wanted people to make their own sushi from the ingredients on the table.  So we provided every imaginable fillings that we could think of that was Japanese.  The girls went to buy the ingredients in the afternoon and I met up with them to prepare the filling.  It was a team effort which consisted of chopping, peeling, frying, and simmering.

Canton Noodle, Burwood and a not so good cafe

Before I start writing about the food, I am going to apologise to my dear friend Spud.  This horrible photos were taken before I had the photography lesson with you.  So please excuse the flash (because its a big no no) and kindly look beyond the flaws.

Canton Noodle is one of my family's favorite eatery.  It's great value for money, the serving is always huge and the taste is always pretty good.  Mr ITF and I met up with two of my high school friends, lady Gu Gu and Ms U for dinner.  

When you are seated, the waitress would usually put down several menus on the table.  Unless your familiar with this place, it would usually take you a good 10-15 minute to go through all the menus plus the menus that is stuck all over the walls.  We notice there was a new menu consisting of only set menus.  It was written in Chinese, so I asked the waitress if we could have an English menu.  Unfortunately they don't but fortunately we had one person who could read Chinese, which was Mr ITF.  So he translated the whole set menu for us!  Since we had only four people we choose the 4-people menu which cost a total of $88.80.  It consisted of a shallot and ginger crab, 8 pcs of curry puff or 8 pcs of vegetarian spring roll, three dishes of your choice from the set menu and rice.  We added noodles for our crab which was an extra $8.00.

Vegetarian Spring Rolls

I adore Spring Rolls especially vegetarian spring rolls.  So I picked the vegetarian spring rolls without a second thought at the puff pastry.  The spring rolls were really good except it was a tad oily and if they had drained it a bit longer, it would have been perfect.

Deep Fried Salt and Pepper Calamari 

I have always picked this dish when I come.  This dish have never disappointed us.  As you can see from the photo, the serving is huge and it is unbelievable value at just $12.80.  

Egg Plant and Pork Mince Hot Pot with Special Spicy Sauce

I realise the photo does not do any justice for this dish and it is 101% my fault.  It is a beautiful dish and you could end up having 2-3 bowls of rice because of the sauce.

Stir Fry Sin Qua (aka Luffa), Beef and Black Fungus

I love this because it is simple and healthy.  Its hard to recreate this dish at home because you need alot of wok power (i.e. strong fire and lots of tossing power).  The name Black Fungus sounds a bit wrong but it is really healthy for you and apparently lowers high blood pressure.

Ginger and Shallot Crab with Noodle Base

We always order our Ginger and Shallot Crab with noodle base.  The noodles soaks up the crab sauce and they complement each other so well.  

Monday, April 19, 2010

No Effort Dinner Parties! aka HOT POT or Korean BBQ!

How do you organise a dinner party without sweating it out in the kitchen all day long?  The answer is Hot Pot or Korean BBQ.  It is super easy to buy the ingredients and to prepare the materials.  It is also fun for the dinner guests as they get to cook and eat what they want.  Stop slaving away in the kitchen and try these out!

Korean BBQ

I love this pan to death.  I found it at a Korean grocery shop and I rave on about it to my friends.  Its non-stick and really easy to clean.   It's also great if your watching your weight, because the pan has been designed like the George Freeman Grill where it is slanted so the oil from the meat drips out. 

Korean Chilli BBQ marinade

Chilli BBQ marinade goes really well with chicken or pork.  I have tried it with beef but it doesn't taste as good as chicken or pork. 

Chicken marinated in the chilli BBQ sauce

Korean BBQ marinade

I have made Korean BBQ marinde from scratch and it taste very similar to the purchased ones but it does take effort and I am blogging about a no effort dinner party so I just bought the marinade.

Beef ribs marinated in the Korean BBQ sauce

YAY to sliced meat

Straw mushroom


Sesame Oil with salt flakes and black pepper

Chilli Bean Paste

I love using sesame oil with salt and pepper as a dipping sauce.  Just don't marinade the meat and cook it in the pan and dip it into the sesame oil.  It's my favourite way of having Korean BBQ.  Make sure you cook lots of rice for your guests and put it in the middle of the table.  Eat this like San Choy Bow by using the lettuce as a bowl and add rice, meat, straw mushroom and your favourite dipping sauce.  

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dear Readers, if you have been reading this blog, you would have notice an absence in new postings. It's not because my creative juices have stopped flowing but it's because of my dilemma of how I should prioritise my jobs. I teach, tutor and blog and each job requires a lot of preparation and planning. I am very passionate about all my jobs and I may have overworked myself in trying to perfect everything. I made the decision to give myself a break in blogging for two weeks. I want to sit back and reflect on why I started blogging in the first place. I never ever want to feel like this is a chore. In a week's time, I will start my hobby again and I hope when I come back, you will sense a refresh me!

Monday, March 29, 2010

I heart MKR and Veronica and Shadi!

I never like following the recipes rigorously step by step. It's not because I don't respect the chef who created the dish but it's much more interesting and fulfilling to add your own touch to the dish. Veronica and Shadi were recently featured on Better Homes and Garden and I fell in love with their grilled Mediterranean vegetable and haloumi salad. So I decided to recreate it with ITF own special touch. Another reason for tampering with the recipe is the fact that I didn't have the haloumi cheese, the red onion and the balsamic vinegar.  The dish turned out fine and I am sure Chef Veronica and Shadi would have been proud of my version.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Let's celebrate Multicultralism with food!

I love my job, my students are great and we celebrate our diverse range of multiculture all the time.  Today was another memorable day.  Students were asked to bring a dish from their own culture to share with their peers.  The students were all very generous and we had such a huge amount of food, I thought we had enough food to feed the whole school for 1 week!  The students and teachers were all very excited to taste the different dishes and I think I ended up filling up my plates 3 or 4 times. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

How an Ugly Toad turned into a Charming Prince

If you love anything pastry and anything steak, then you will love this combination of steak with puff pastry.  It's quick and easy to make and its one of my new favourite comfort food.  I came across this idea one night when I looked into my fridge to see what I was going to cook for dinner.  I had the steak and mushroom in the fridge and I could have simply cooked a steak with mushroom gravy but it seemed so boring and typical.  That's when I remembered I had a packet of leftover puff pastry in the fridge.  Perfect! And dinner will be ready in less than 20 minutes...

So why the silly title! Well, I was going to name it as simply 'Cheesy Steak with Puff Pastry', until this silly title came into my head while I was cooking this dish. Hopefully as you read along, you will agree with my thinking.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A weekend of Alice in Wonderland

As a Gen Y, I fit into the category of no money, no saving and no planning.  However with a bunch of my Gen Y friends, a few spare change, a wedding dress, a bit of planning and a whole bucket of imagination, we managed to transform our weekend  into a fantasy world of Alice in Wonderland. 

A special mention to Miss C*, who volunteered her place for our Alice in Wonderland Set.  She also assigned our characters and with the help of Mrs M* transformed the place into our fantasy world.
Anyone want tea?
Why the mosquito net?

A makeover for Mr Hose
Nothing was left untouched

Good work Mrs M*!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Massive Sushi and Guinness World Record

So why did I put Sushi and Guinness World Record in the same sentence. As you all know sushi is a delicacy from Japan, it's a little rectangular rice ball with some type of topping on top of the rice. You're meant to put the whole sushi into your mouth and savor the flavours of the rice and the topping. However at this particular restaurant, it is almost impossible to put the whole sushi into your mouth. Being the food nerd, I research the Guinness World Record to see if they have found the biggest sushi served at a restaurant. Unfortunately there wasn't such a title which made me sound like a complete loser.

Anyhow, you get the idea that this restaurant serves 'massive' sushi.  When I made the booking, I had to preorder as there was only one chef working tonight.  That was not a big problem for me, as I have eaten here numerous times and remember the menu front to back and back to front.

Salmon Sushi - $3.00 each

Lots of yellow grass and food @ Launceston, Tasmania Day 2

It's a beautiful day, and it was an exciting day for me because my friend left this day for me to take the girls out to eat the best of the best in Launceston. So after many nights (exaggerated a little bit) of research, I was disappointed to find nothing much. People don't seem to blog about the food in Launceston, they talk about the views, the water, the mountains and the fresh air but how about the food!
So with only one 'must go' restaurant, I started to panic about where I was going to take the girls for the rest of the day. The girls were kind, and suggested we go back to Charles St in Launceston because there was a lot of café on that street. So with my head down, we headed to Charles St and settle at a posh looking café named ELAIA.
Sometimes decisions are made so much easier when the place has been awarded numerous awards. In this case, ELAIA has been awarded ‘Best Café Award 2005 and 2006’, so we were confident we found the right place.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lots of yellow grass and food @ Launceston, Tasmania Day 1

The ticket was cheap, us girls were all kinda free.  So why not? was our motto.  However during our trip we had a lot more why yes moments.

Firstly, our friend missed the flight which is really no big deal unless our friend (who was left behind in Sydney) was the one who planned our whole trip and booked the tours. Lucky our friend managed to book a flight straight away and was able to meet up with us in 3 hours. So we arrived in Launceston, hungry and no idea where to head next. So we went to pick up our hired car which we have booked over the internet already. Disaster strikes again, Thirfty the company we went through apparently did not reserve a car for us. The worse thing was not the fact that we had no hired car but the lady looked at us four girls and suggested a solution, “We have a 3 seater, would you like to take it?” “Er, no thank you” was our reply. So we  desperately tried other companies and somehow we managed to book a car through Budget and everything seem to be back on schedule. Our friend kindly text us our first stop, which was Tantpourtant, a lovely little café in Launceston. When we arrived it was almost 4 o’clock, so they didn’t have much variety left and they were not able to provide salad with the pies. Nevertheless we settled for a mushroom + spinach pie and a smoked salmon pie.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tomato baked Pork with Rice

I love going to this particular restaurant in Parramatta for my serve of tomato baked Pork chop with rice. Unfortunately their pork is extremely fatty and thick with flour coating and so for health reasons I decided to try and cook this dish at home with healthier alternatives. I have tried to recreate this dish many times and it always seems to be missing something in flavour. I tried different types of tomato and I tried different types of tomato sauce but I never seem to be able to hit that right note of flavour. Until last week Mr ITF came across a friend who kindly told him what the secret ingredient was. Believe it or not, it is simply milk. It made a world of difference and the balance of tanginess and richness was just right.