Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Simple Home Cooked Meal

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

Ever since I came back from Penang, I have been craving a simple home cooked meal. I have also told myself that I should cook and eat at home more instead of going out to eat so often.

A) It's much healthier and more nutritious.
B) It's easier to lose weight-yes, I put on weight in Malaysia. I'd to be insane not to eat my fill while I was home.
C) I can save more money.

The only obstacle: My laziness

I used to love cooking and it used to relax me after a long day but since starting work in the ER, I have been working wonky shifts and feeling jet lagged 24/7. How to cook like that? By the time I come home, I am completely whacked. Mentally and physically. The bf will attest to that.

Now, I only cook on my days off.....when the 'jet lag' wears off. Those days are few and far in between, I can tell you.

A few days ago, I was inspired to make this simple but wholesome meal by RasaMalaysia's post on making egg omelette's. I decided to kick my basic "tua liap chang nui"(onion omelette) up a notch by adding luxurious lump crab meat and scallions. The seasoning for the egg batter was shamelessly copied from RasaMalaysia's blog. The results, delish!!!

As you can see, the dish had very little egg and LOTS of liao (fillings)

Crab, Scallion and Onion Omelette

It really tastes better than it looks here. I just need to work on my macro photography skills.

To accompany the egg dish, I also made butter-garlic stir fried broccoli and black soy sauce minced pork.

Butter-Garlic Stir Fried Broccoli

This recipe, I got from my beloved god-sister and it really kicks ass! Ok, hers is much better but I think I didn't do too badly for my first attempt. I just need to not overcook the broccoli. Me likes it cruncy!!!

Black Soy Sauce Minced Pork

This is one of my favorite childhood dishes. I remember my grandmother cooking this dish and after she had plated the meat, she'd scoop out 2-3 cups of cooked white rice from the rice cooker and "fry" the rice in the recently vacated wok so that the sticky sauce clung to the white rice and flavored it. My brother and I would fight for the pleasure to eat the scrumptious "brown rice". Waste not, want not, after all. Unfortunately, the rice was not cooked by the time my meat dish was done so I had to "sacrifice" the sauce to the garburator.

The bf had never eaten the dish-ever! I couldn't believe it. Next time, I'd even fry the rice for you, baby.

A simple Chinese home cooked meal. Kinda took me home AND down memory lane. Can you think of a dish that takes you back to your childhood?

Monday, February 19, 2007



Wishing everybody a Happy Chinese New Year. May your cup overfloweth with prosperity, good health, happiness and may your bowl always be filled with delicious morsels of food.

I wish I was home in Penang like RasaMalaysia. I have made up my mind to go home for Chinese New Year next year. I can't believe that I have not been home for CNY for the past 6 years :(

Mom and dad, I miss you lots.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Cheesecake Factory

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

The bf and I braved the bitter cold and ventured newly renovated Bayshore Mall (intended to rival MayfairMall) yesterday, having decided to have brunch an early dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. It was 4:30pm and thankfully, almost empty. The Cheesecake Factory (TCF) is a very popular place to eat and there is usually a 30-45 minute wait during lunch and dinnertime. We were lucky to just hit the period in between and was shown to a table by a very gracious hostess right away.

Hypoglycemic to the point of fainting, I was tempted to order everything on the menu but my last thread of sanity reeled me back. We intended to go shopping afterwards and then spend a cozy few hours at Barnes and Nobles, my favorite bookstore so we did not want any leftovers to cart around. Hence, no appetizers.

The wind chill was reported to be -31oF and so we needed to warm up fast. Naturally, the bf has a mojito (a cocktail made with rum, mint and traditionally, sugar cane juice).

Because I am useless when it comes to drinking am allergic to alcohol, I settled on a pot of nice black English Breakfast tea, with a spot of milk (yes, yes, how very British, we colonized, remember?)

Our server, Nicole brought some freshly baked bread which TCF is famous for and we dug in with great gusto. To my disappointment, the normally chewy and flavorful breads were rather dry and hard. Nicole explained that they were probably baked for too long and offered to get us a new batch that the kitchen made. Not wanting to spoil our appetites, we declined

Shortly thereafter, the entrees arrived. I had ordered Renee’s Special, consisting of
one-half of a chicken salad sandwich, a cup of wild mushroom soup and a small green salad with balsamic vinaigrette. The hearty mushroom soup really hit the spot and helped the thawing process. I found the sandwich bread a little too greasy for my taste but I have no complaints about the chicken salad filling. They did not skimp on the chicken meat and the dressing was delightful. The salad was a welcome side dish after consuming all that buttery, creamy, high caloric foods.

The bf had Cajun Chicken Littles, a huge platter that came heaped with mashed potatoes, corn, and pieces of boneless chicken breasts, breaded, seasoned and then deep fried.

When the waitress, Nicole picked up this plate in the kitchen, SHE complained that the portion of chicken pieces were smaller than usual and made the kitchen fry up an extra portion of chicken! This is what I call customer service. Have you even heard of such a thing in Malaysia? As a customer, I wouldn’t even DARE complain for fear or retribution (eg spit in food or worse. Go watch “Waiting” if you don’t believe me) and here is a waitress, championing our cause. We were honestly floored. Believe me, she got a good tip.

This is the extra portion of fried chicken that our dedicated waitress scored for us.

After such a fantastic meal, we thought, what the heck, we have leftovers anyway so let's order dessert to go and we can have supper later. The bf had his predictable carrot cake while I went with the raspberry-lemon cheesecake. Due to the huge bag of food that we had walking out of The Cheesecake Factory, we had no choice but to leave the food in the car before hitting the shops. I don’t know about the bf but I was warmed by the good service and wonderful dining experience that we had.

Kudos to Nicole and the Cheesecake Factory!

The Cheesecake Factory
Bayshore Mall,
5799 N. Bayshore Dr. #L100,
Glendale, WI 53217
(414) 906-8550

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Padang Brown Hawker Food

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

I was feeling rather guilty by the lack of new posts on my blog when everyone knows damn well that I ate like a pig in Malaysia and Indonesia. I have been working nights for the past week and a half (which is good because it eliminates the need to acclimatize back to US time=no jet lag) and am truly exhausted. However, out of guilt and my innate eagerness to please emerges this post that I hope will make all of you salivate...and for those of you who can, head out to Padang Brown for some yummy afternoon snacks.

This particular trip to Padang Brown was brought on by intense hunger, having skipped lunch for a family photo shoot (needed all the help I could get to look thin not look fat). So it was at 4:30pm when I could not take it anymore and begged my dad to accompany me for some light makan. This was done with the full knowledge that we had a dinner plans for a full 8 course Chinese dinner at CRC Restaurant. I know, I am such a pig.

The food "court" consists of about 8 hawker stalls selling a variety of street foods and several metal tables with metal stools. The system goes like this: You go to a stall, tell the hawker what you want (e.g ang tau seng, mai ang tau), where you're sitting and then go back to your table to wait while your food is prepared and brought to you. You then pay the hawker. The process can be repeated at other stalls while you wait for your order to arrive.

We first stopped at a Dim Sum stall. It's not your typical dim sum place where the little dumplings are steamed in wooden baskets and then the cart is wheeled to you for perusal.

We're eating street food here, so the dim sum are dumped willy-nilly in a large metal steamer and portioned out per customer order. Nevertheless, it does not detract from the taste, nor even the aesthetics. I mean, it still looks BEAUTIFUL to me.

Clockwise from top: Fishball, squid-ball, siew mai and har gow. Accompanying the tasty morsels is chilli sauce and sweet sauce (tee cheow).

We also ordered the famous Padang Brown mamak-style popiah. Popiah is a variation of the many types of springrolls found in Asia. This stall used to be run by an old man whom I was informed passed away last year. His daughter in law has taken over the business but she has made no changes to the recipe so the taste of the popiah remains as delicious as ever.

She starts preparing my order by laying down a piece of popiah skin on the wooden board, then smearing it with fragrant date sauce as a base before laying down a trimmed piece of lettuce. Then,2 heaping spoonfuls of stewed filling made with jicama, tiny shrimp, long beans, shallots and garlic are added on top of the lettuce leaf. Next, blanched beansprouts (tauge) and cooked tofu is added to the top and the popiah is rolled up. Finally, she cuts it into bite sized portions and tops the whole dish with more date sauce and gravy from the filling.

I was so starved when this baby arrived that I accidentally ate one before remembering to take a picture. Doesn't that look absolutely scrumptious? I am salivating at the recollection of savoring it.

Then we topped off our gastronomic adventure by ordering some Malay-style prawn fritters, called cucur udang, with an extra order of deep-fried (read unhealthy) beancurd, fishcake, which came accompanied by slices of raw cucumber (in attempt to neutralize the deep frying?)

The uncle, spurred into action by the presence of my camera sportingly demonstrated how the prawn fritters are made.

Basically, blanched beansprouts and pre-cooked small shrimp are placed in a small, shallow, metal ladle and then white colored batter is spooned onto the ladle. The while ladle is slowly lowered into a pot of boiling oil and the cooking process detaches the fritter from the ladle. The fritter is then turned so it cooks evenly into a golden brown color and is fished out and set to drain on a wire rack.

When semi cooled, the fritter is cut up into pieces by the uncle's wife and served with a kickass garlic based, sweet chili sauce.

Here's a closer look below.

Mmmmm........brings back all kinds of fond memories. They say that a family that eats together stays together, don't they?

I am still wondering how my light afternoon snack, intended to tide me over until dinner evolved into an eating spree. Thanks dad, for sacrificing your stomach space to accompany me on this eating session :) We still did good during dinner, didn't we?

How Sinful Are You?

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

I found this cute sin-meter on sweetcontemplations' blog. Decided to give it a whirl. This is how sinful I am. It kinda figures, huh? What's yours?

Your Deadly Sins
Gluttony: 60%
Envy: 20%
Greed: 20%
Lust: 0%
Pride: 0%
Sloth: 0%
Wrath: 0%
Chance You'll Go to Hell: 14%
You'll die from a diabetic coma.