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Turkey for Christmas

November 24th, 2016

It is Christmas Eve and the turkey is all ready for the oven.

Well, not really. I am only roasting it on Christmas Day. But I shall share some pics I took while seasoning the bird.

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The red dot is the timer. Hmmm…fire80, someone who commented :

still… upside down how to see the thing pop-up.. or down as the case may be?

Well, fire80 got a point. I am going to place my turkey breastside down in a pan and not a rack as there is not enough space for a rack. I suppose I have to keep checking the pop-up towards the end. Hehehe, it is not a cracker so the turkey won’t explode if the popper is pressed down, I suppose.

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I was told to prick the skin. It was errm…very nice to stab the big bird.

As can be seen from the first pic, I only season the turkey with salt, pepper and XO brandy. I had purposely hide the brand of the XO. Wouldn’t want to promote any brand.

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I had fun taking this photo using sports action programme and multi-shots. I wanted to capture the XO flowing down. It is not easy to hold a heavy camera in one hand and an expensive bottle of XO on the other hand. Then, I had to use telephoto to capture the macro shots.

Hahaha, I hope this turkey felt appreciated for all the attention I gave to it. It is even much more photographed than Miss Turkey! (I know, lame joke.)

BTW, can anyone tell me is that plastic holder meant to be thrown away? It held together the turkey while in its packaging. I am going to throw it away because it is made of plastic. Now, do I have to tie the legs? Where do I buy the strings? Sigh…so many questions, so little time to Google to find out.

How to roast chicken, turkey or leg of lamb

November 18th, 2016

Many people feel intimidated with the thought of roasting and struggling with a large turkey, leg of lamb or a huge chicken. The thought of burning or under-cooking the poultry or meat is definitely very worrying for those who have not attempted roasting before. However, there is always a first time.

Start with a smaller bird.

Make sure your oven is big enough for it.

Here are the simple basic steps to remember. You may not want to be too engrossed with all those recipe books out there because they can be very confusing. Trust your instinct.

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STEP ONE – SEASON OVERNIGHT

The key to any good roasted or grilled meat or poultry is the seasoning time. It actually doesn’t really matter what you use to season but rather how long. I have made very nice roasted turkey for Christmas using only brandy, salt and pepper. Season and leave it overnight in the fridge. Wrap or keep it in a casserole, leave at the normal fridge, not the freezer. Time it right, take your bird/meat out at least 3 hours before you want to roast it. This way, it won’t be too cold inside. Anyway, if you have seasoned well with salt, the meat will not go bad in three hours.

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STEP TWO – CHECK AND PROTECT

Aluminium foil is essential to make sure that you get a perfectly roasted chicken or turkey. Cover the part nearest to the heating element. I roast my chicken/turkey breast side up. So, I shield it with a piece of aluminium foil. You can see the chicken breast is not burn but it has been cooked. If any part of the poultry is turning too brown, just tear off another piece of foil and cover up that part. It is a chore, I know but it is worth it.

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STEP THREE – TEST

Normally, a huge bird will take at least 2 hours of roasting at 180 deg celcius. I normally use 180 deg celcius because my oven has a rotating thingie so I don’t need 200 deg celcius (usual recommended temperature). To check if the chicken is cooked, just insert a skewers or chopstick into the thickest part of the meat. The thigh usually takes the longest time to cook. If you stab that sharp skewer in and clear juices flow out, the meat is cooked. If you see blood, you will need another 30 minutes at least. If you have a microwave cum normal grill, this will not happen.

Here’s how I roast my chicken/turkey:

1st 10 minutes – Grill + microwave (remember, no aluminium foil or it will cause spark)

next 1 hr 30 minutes – Baking temperature at 180 deg celcius with aluminium foil

last 20 minutes – Grill or crank up the temperature to 200 deg celcius to brown the parts that are not browned yet.

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STEP FOUR – BASTING

Pardon if the sauce looks obscene. LOL. I wanted to spread it across and now, it does look like a male’s organ. Hahaha. Don’t apply too much sauces during the roasting process because they tend to burn. When you are sure your meat is cooked, then, only splatter them. I used teriyaki sauce. Anything like honey and butter will give that nice sheen to your meat.

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STEP FIVE – BROWNING

After covering the bird with your choice of sauce, put it back to the oven for a quick browning.

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STEP SIX – ENJOY

I have seasoned the chicken well and my children don’t even want to pour the gravy I made with the roasting juice. The meat is good as it is. With the slow roasting time, the meat is really tender and good to eat.

In short, if you have taken time to fuss over the roast, the dish will turn out great. No doubt you may need to open and close the oven, take the chicken out to baste and etc, the effort is well worth it. A homemade roast chicken is way better than those you can get cheaply from the supermarkets’ deli.

I hope these few steps will help you to roast a turkey for Christmas.

Recipe : Almond cookies for Chinese New Year

February 3rd, 2008

I have wanted to try making almond cookies for a long time and finally made it. I bought some almonds yesterday and roasted them in the oven for about 20 minutes at 180 deg. celcius. To make sure that your almonds are crunchy and fragrant, try them as you roast. You may get sore-throat though. Cool and then grind the almonds with a food processor till they are fine. If you like your cookie to melt in the mouth, grind it till really powdery fine.

I know I should blanch it in hot water and rub off the brown skin but I was too lazy. 😛

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Here’s the quantity I used. I am writing this down just in case I forgot the measurements I used. So, this is just a rough and hastily written post.

RECIPE : Almond cookies

400 grams almonds – roast and grind till fine and powdery

400 grams wheat flour

350 grams castor sugar

pinch of salt

100 grams cold butter, cut into cubes

About 1 cup corn oil – You need to adjust quantity, i.e. use just enough to bind the above

1 egg white, beaten for glazing

Method :

Mix flour, sugar and pinch of salt in a big mixing bowl. Put in butter cubes and rub with fingers until they resemble bread crumbs. Put in ground almond and mix well. Pour corn oil and knead. Use the oil sparingly and just enough to bind them. Keep kneading because you want the sugar to melt. Otherwise, you will have a horrible crunch of sugar in your cookie.

Once they can be form into balls, you know you have used enough oil. Leave the mixture to stand for a while.

chinese new new year almond cookies

Just roll the mixture into tiny marble size balls. Use something to give it an indent. As you can see, I use the back of a pen, washed clean of course.

My little boy has so much fun helping me to mix the flour, rub the butter and making the indent. In fact, this little five years old boy did almost all the steps because I was busy cooking dinner. The flour flew everywhere, on his body, on the flour and table. But who cares as long as he is happy playing with it.

chinese new new year almond cookies

I only managed to get two jars of the cookies. Maybe half a jar have gone into everyone’s stomach. The cookie is really crunch and nice.

Try it, it is really easy and quick.

Uncle Chow Kopitiam – Cameron Highlands

July 21st, 2011

I find Cameron Highlands awfully chilly during my last trip. It is a wonderful feeling to be up there in the highlands, breathing out ‘smoke’ as my little boy called it.

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We were feeling a little peckish mid morning and went hunting for Uncle Chow Kopitiam. We have seen the sign several times but haven’t seen the kopitiam before. Since we were staying at Tanah Rata, we followed the signboard and stumbled upon the tiny kopitiam nestled amongst some residential flats.

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Uncle Chow himself greeted us and suggested we sat inside the Grade ‘A’ (for cleanliness) kopitiam. But no….these town folks want to enjoy the breezy cold air. Two minutes later, we have to admit it is too cold to be outside.

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(scones and jam)

I immediately love the place because it is so homely and serves homecooked foods. Mrs. Chow chatted with my hubby and we learned that they have grown up children and they were from KL. Mrs Chow said they enjoy the weather in Cameron Highlands and she loves to cook, hence, opening the kopitiam.

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I saw rows of mouthwatering nyonya kuehs, bubur cha cha, gandum and wish we were hungrier to enjoy them. However, we only manage to eat the few items from the menu.

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The special item for the day is the ‘Dan Dan’ or steamed egg. I wasn’t sure what dan dan is and when I saw the green thing on the egg, I thought it is some salty chawan mushi. It turns out to be sweet egg custard and the green leaves are actually very fragrant pandan. Delicious.

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The Hokkien Prawn Mee my hubby ordered is huge and all of us enjoyed the steaming hot prawn stock noodle. I must say it is certainly nicer than those from Old Town or George Town and other kopikat kopitiam.

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Meanwhile, my other sons ordered the butter kaya toast. The bread is fresh and traditional. The kaya is homemade by Mrs Chow herself.

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The little boy ordered a plate of baked beans and eggs.

So, if you are in Cameron Highlands and want some scones, tea but at the same time, wish to have some local foods, visit Uncle Chow. It is somewhere near the Convent School, behind the Tourist Information Centre. There is a block of shophouse and you should be able to see the Uncle Chow signboard but you need to drive a bit further into the residential area to find the kopitiam.

Uncle Chow Kopitiam
Unit C2-G-01, Block C2, Taman Royal Lily,
39000, Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands.
Tel: 012- 205 2778 (Uncle Chow)

The lure of Pangkor and its seafood

July 20th, 2011

Being an islander, it is hard to impress me. I like islands in Thailand because they are rustic. However, there isn’t much to see here because Langkawi is basically booze and chocolates. Perhentian and Redang getting too expensive to pay for the kampung feel. Tioman is too far away for Penangites.

So, there is only Pangkor left for me. However, it doesn’t impress me much. So much so that we have not been to Pangkor for over a decade. Sadly, the rustic feel is lost. There are no tiny lanes and attap houses to give the fishing village scene.

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This is what is left of it. Now, the island has been developed with tacky structures including several storey high 1Malaysia structure.

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I love this sort of houses, not brick, cold, uninspiring budget hotels and shophouses that filled the roads.

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I googled for seafood in Pangkor and was delighted to find this place which was mentioned by the Lonely Planet.

Sin Nam Huat Seafood Restaurant is located at 51 Jln Besar Pangkor Town. Anyway, it is not difficult to locate any shop in Pangkor because it is basically a tiny island.

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Foursquare tips said the fried noodle is good. So, we ordered a plate and I must say it is not bad as there is no yellow noodle smell of ammonia. It doesn’t reek of lard too.

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The other dish we ordered is the ching tong lala or clear soup lala. The lalas are awfully tiny so it is quite a chore to pick the flesh from the shells. So, kinda disappointing.

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My children loves mantis prawns so we have this dish. I ordered butter prawns for the adults but unfortunately, the boss mistook our order and I ended up with no prawns.

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The orh chien was recommended to us but being a Penangite, I am not used to eating it this way. I like my Penang orh chien better. I feel there is too much egg and not enough sticky chewy tapioca flour part. However, the oysters are fresh.

The other dish we ordered was the koo-lou yoke. This place serves pork, btw. We also asked for deep fried fishes (suah chooi) but they don’t have them either.

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After the above meal, I didn’t feel full. So, this kueh seller by the roadside caught our eyes and we made a reverse and got down to buy some kuehs.

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The pink colour teochew chai kuey which is filled with chives is nice. I love it!

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However, this green abok-abok sago is nothing like our Penang one. We also bought some kueh talam but that turned out rather bland.

So, if you ask me, maybe I will return to Pangkor in another 10 years. 🙂

The foods on my table

June 15th, 2011

Durian season is here and our family traditional way of enjoying these king of fruits is to eat them with hot white rice, granulated sugar and a splash of fresh coconut milk.

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Hubby said the durians are not that expensive this year. He bought several brands like Khun Poh, Hor lor, lipan and cheh-kark (green shell), if I am not mistaken.

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The granulated sugar crystal, can you see them? We like granulated sugar as there is the ‘krak, krak’ sound when we savour the hot white rice, with creamy coconut milk (which has been added with a pinch of salt) and the heavenly durians.

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When we were in Cameron Highlands last weekend, we bought a habanero chilli plant. It is like one of the hottest chillies around, hotter than our cili padi, so it seems.

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I have an extra ear of corn and made cucur jagung, Malay style. My son added in one tiny habanero and now, eating the cucur is a torture.

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Fortunately, we have panna cotta which my son made with fresh vanilla beans I bought from Bali. The creamy panna cotta soothes the burning tongue.

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When we were in Cameron Highlands, we didn’t manage to buy any strawberry because the fruits were plucked and delivered to the stalls at 9 am. We left early. So, today we got to make do with strawberries bought from Mount Erskine market.

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The strawberries sauce on top of the panna cotta.

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And here’s a bunch of gummy sweets which is on the dinner table so I take a photo too. I am pretty free, you see. All I do is to take pictures and eat, no work required, except for the mixing of the cucur jagung.