Tuesday, 28 December 2010

My Favourite Fried Mee Hoon

*entered in restrospect - my dinner on Monday 27th December*

Restaurant food, gourmet food, coffeshop food, they are all nice but nothing beats a simple homemade food.

A very short post to introduce one of my favourite dishes made by my housemate.

The chinese style fried mee hoon (thin noodles or rice vermicelli) with pancake-style fried eggs.

The mee hoon was fried with marinated chicken pieces, spring onions, garlic, soya sauce and sesame oil. Then garnished with slices of pancake style fried eggs and deep fried shallots and garlic. HHHmmmm...I could smell the nice aroma from my room even before dinner was served! A very tasty dish indeed! So tasty that I didn't need to add any other sauces, but tomato ketchup does enhance the dish.

Verdict - 10 out of 10 for homemade meal!

PS: There were mushrooms in the dish, apparently I missed it out on my list of ingredients haha!

My First Turkey Attempt!

Turkey Crown with Citrus Herb Butter

This was my very first attempt at cooking a turkey and it was fun making it!

We could finally get the car out and drove to Tesco for food shopping hence decided to have a turkey meal on a 'post-boxing-day' day.

After browsing through quite a few different recipes from delicious.magazines website, I decided to use the method of two different recipes to cook my turkey.

Ingredients for turkey meal

We bought a 2.3kg Bernard Matthews turkey crown from Tesco and defrosted it overnight (at least 6-7 hours).

The turkey crown was placed on a board and I used my hand to lift up the skin so that I can spread my herb  butter in between.

Thyme, Rosemary and zest of one orange was mixed into softened unsalted butter to make the herb butter.

Herb butter ready to be rubbed onto the turkey crown.

Herb butter rubbed evenly under the skin of the turkey crown.

 Turkey crown was transferred onto a roasting tin and seasoned with salt and pepper. One table spoon of sunflower oil was rubbed evenly onto the turkey and it is now ready to be roasted.

The turkey covered with kitchen foil before putting into the oven.

Turkey roasted in the pre-heated oven at 190 degree C for one and a half hour. The nice aroma of citrus and herbs filled the entire kitchen as the turkey was roasting in the oven.

Runny honey was brushed onto the chipolatas then streaky bacon was wrapped around the chipolatas. The prepared chipolatas were placed on a oven-proof dish then put into the fridge ready for roasting later.

Chipolata (very thin sausage) wrapped in streaky bacon

 I used King Edwards potatoes for my roast potatoes as they produce roast potatoes which are crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside - perfect roast potatoes!

King Edwards Potatoes
 The potatoes were peeled then cut into evenly-sized pieces. The potatoes were boiled and drained then tossed in the corlander to roughen the sides.

Boiling potatoes
 After roasting for 1 and 1/2 hours, the turkey was removed from the oven and uncovered. I then used the juice from the roast turkey to baste the turkey. The boiled potatoes were then added around the turkey and put into the oven to roast at 200 degree C for 30 minutes.
Turkey and potatoes
 After 30 minutes, the turkey crown was transferred from the tin onto a board then covered with foil and left to rest for around 30 minutes.

Roat Turkey crown
 The bacon wrapped chipolatas were added into the roasting tin together with the potatoes then roasted for a further 30 minutes. I then boiled some frozen mixed vegetable and made chicken gravy to go with the turkey.

The turkey meal is ready! HHHmmm...... the nice aroma from the herbs and the roasted potatoes is just irresistable!

Turkey ready for carving

Roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings

Turkey meal

Chipolatas wrapped in streaky bacon
My plate of turkey meal

With gravy
The turkey meat was infused with flavours from the herbed butter with a citrusy twist to it. Turkey meat, as usual, was a little bit dry but the gravy made up for it (I added a little lemon juice and thyme to liven up the gravy). The Yorkshire pudding was nice and crunchy while the roasted potatoes were well seasoned and fluffy with some crunch to it.

Oh...and I almost forgotten to mention the apple and fig chutney we bought to accompany the turkey slices. Yummy!

Of course, every christmas meal must end with a nice dessert. We had an Italian must-have christmas pudding - Panettone. 

With chocolate chips

Aerial view

Served with honeycomb ice cream

The 'luxury' panettone from Tesco, was rather nice. Light texture as a good panettone should be. I particularly liked the chocolate chips added into the panettone.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

A Merry Christmas and a joyous festive season to everyone! This is the season to be jolly and  be blessed as we celebrate the arrival of Jesus to this world we live in 2010 years ago.

This year, the UK has been covered in white by massive amount of snow, with temperature dipping way below 0 degree Celcisus! However, the food must go on!

Family and friends gather during Christmas to fellowship, and of course, there always is food involved in my household.

Christmas eve, nice to have steaming hot steamboat with lots of ingredients on a cold winter night. Steamboat, something I have introduced in a previous post, is basically a pot of soup (comes in different flavours) where you put any raw food in to cook. It is amazing as we can put ANY ingredients to our liking. Seafood, poultry, vegetable, noodles, whatever you fancy boiling in nice soup, you can put it in the pot! The best thing is that it can be used as an activity where everyone joins in and have fun!

Because we are having steamboat at home, we used our rice cooker as the pot as we need the soup to be constantly boiling. This time, we used chicken stock to make the soup and soya sauce and oyster sauce to go with the cooked food.

Sauce and soup base

Hotdogs, mushrooms and bacon

Marinated diced pork and chicken

The ingredients and the makeshift steamboat pot

Chinese leaves

Egg noodles

Food cooking!

Homemade steamboat

Christmas day. As the roads were treacherous for driving and my car was stuck in inches thick snow, we couldn't do much food shopping. Hence we got what we could to make a nice christmas meal.

We managed to get roast pork with sausage and sage stuffings from Tesco. Surprisingly it tasted quite good and was well balanced with flavours. I have used some chopped carrots, roast potatoes and some yorkshire puddings to serve with the roast pork.

The skin of the pork was supposed to have become nice crispy crackling after many hours of roasting, but ours didn't turn out crispy and stayed soft. So we left the skin out and made it a healthier version of roast pork. The pork meat was juicy and succulent and cooked sage leaves made the stuffings really delicious.

I have to say that my roast potatoes turned out alright. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just as it should be! I learnt this little trick of roasting potatoes from a show I recently discovered - Jimmy's Food Factory. The potatoes were peeled and then chopped into equally sized cubes then boiled in hot water for about 6 minutes. Then the potatoes were drained and tossed in the corlander to roughen up the edges. Boiling the potatoes leaves a starchy outer layer and by tossing them we create rough edges which will give the potatoes a nice crisp when roasted.

Roast pork with stuffings

Roast dinner served

with gravy
Overall, a really nice christmas meal.

Again, a very nice christmas to you all and get ready for Boxing Day shopping tomorrow!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Michelle's Birthday @ The Chandlery Restaurant

*entered in retrospect*

09 December 2010

Fine dining at The Chandlery Restaurant. This was our second visit to the lovely restaurant and this time it was to celebrate Michelle's birthday. The restaurant is a 19th century converted ships chandlery, family-run business. It has a modern decor mixed with some original fixtures, hence it looks modern but at the same time gives it a homely atmosphere. A very comfortable and inviting place to have a meal. To me, good service is as important as the food being delicious. The service provided at this restaurant is certainly professional but yet friendly.

The menu that changes weekly

Basket of bread slices
The complimentary basket of bread was soft and tasty, half of them had olive bits. The bread came with a home-made tomato based sauce with lots of herbs. A nice way to start the evening meal.

Seared Scallops and Braised Belly Pork
The starter was absolutely delicious and mouth-watering! Three huge scallops seared to perfection. You can taste the thick and juicy meat of the very fresh scallops well seasoned and seared but not over-cooked. All seafood in the restaurant is delivered fresh daily. The braised belly pork compliments the scallops very well with its layers of fat and lean meat. The smoked garlic, crackling and home-made sauce enhances the entire starter into the next level of cullinary excellence.

After enjoying the very lush starter, we waited for our main courses with anticipation.

Duo of Brecon Venison
The Duo of Brecon Venison was cooked pink and served with roast loin and shoulder gratin, butternut squash and spinach. The venison was from Brecon, a picturisque small town toward Mid-Wales. The meat was sweet and juicy with a very nice sauce to bring the flavours out. The venison meat well coupled with the gratin. The gratin offers many layers of flavours and different textures from potatoes, loin and shoulder meat.

Roast Saddle of Welsh Lamb
Wales is a country famous for its lamb and Welsh lamb "is regarded by many as the best tasting lamb in the world." Therefore, one should always try lamb when visiting Wales. The restaurant sources its lamb from the district of Monmouthshire "due to lush lowland pasture helping them take on a distinctive fresh, sweet and succulent taste". (as stated in the menu)
The lamb was served with crisp sweetbread and truffled mash potato. The lamb was cooked very well and slightly pink. True to it's word, the lamb tasted exactly as the menu has introduced it - sweet, succulent and fresh! Sauce, is an important part of fine dining, and the sauce in this dish is well balanced in flavour and taste that it enhances the sweetness and freshness of the lamb. The grilled small onion, the bed of spinach and the crisp sweetbread all complimented each other and the lamb very well. The chef really took care of very single detail of the dish. The truffled mash was very smooth and silky and ooze of truffle taste.

Real Chips

Even the side dish of this restaurant is so good that I have to give it a mention. The home made chips side dish is one of the best bowl of chips I have eaten in Wales. Very crispy on the outside and very smooth and soft on the inside.

The Chandlery Restaurant, excellent service, bringing fine dining into a homely atmosphere. I highly recommend this place for any gathering if you like good food!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Work Christmas Do at TGIF

*entered in retrospect*

08 December 2010

TGIF - An american style restaurant. We decided to have our work's christmas do here because not only their food is reasonably price, also because the food is fantastically delicious!

They sat us down at a nicely decorated table with helium-filled ballons, crackers, confetti, and even a plate decorated in christmas features (see photo).

The christmas menu offers signature TGIF dishes. For £19.99 only we get a 3 course meal, well worth our money!

Jack Daniel's Sesame Chicken Strips

To start, we ordered the Bruschetta and Jack Daniel's Sesame Chicken Strip.

The bruschetta was made of "freshly toasted garlic ciabatta bread heaped with diced tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with Regato cheese." The bread, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, looks wonderfully delicious. Flavours well balanced with sweetness from tomatoes, sourness from balsamic vinegar with a tang from the fresh basil.

The Jack Daniel's Sesame Chicken Strips is a must-have starter! Chicken breasts coated in brown panko breadcrumbs and toasted sesame seeds, then seasoned with chilli flakes deep fried and tossed in the famous Jack Daniel's sauce. The chicken strips were crunchy to bite on and the meat was very juicy. Dipping the chicken strips into Jack Daniel's sauce was just perfect! Jack Daniel's sauce is perfect for marinating meat to be grilled or BBQed and it is also very popular as a diping sauce.

On to the main courses, we have Jack Daniel's Ribs, Jack Daniel's Shrimps and New York Strip Steak. As you may have guessed, all marinated, grilled and/or served with Jack Daniel's sauce.

New York Strip Steak
The New York Strip Steak - Medium to well-done. The steak was 21 day aged sirloin steak served with Jack Daniel's sauce on the side. At a glance, the steak look dry and a bit too well-done as we can see burnts along the outer edges of the steak. The person who ordered this dish quite liked it, and there was no complaints. So I would say that this dish is passable.

Jack Daniel's Shrimps
Jack Daniel's Shrimps - "Crispy, plump, Cajun-battered shrimps served with ready for dipping Jack Daniel's Sweet 'n' smoky glaze. The shrimps deep-fried in batter looks crunchy and juicy at the same time. Again, dipping in the sauce lifts up the whole dish and makes it even better!

Jack Daniel's Ribs
The highlight of the evening, was of course the very famous Jack Daniel's Ribs. "A full rack of baby pork ribs. Seasoned with Cajun spices then fire-grilled and glazed with Jack Daniel's sauce. Served with Cajun-battered onion rings and crispy fries". True to every single word as described on the menu! The pork rib was very well seasoned and was full of flavour. It has a very nice sweet taste from the Jack Daniel's sauce, and at the same time has a distinct chargrill and BBQ taste which makes it extra-ordinarily delicious! The meat was so tender and well cooked that you can just pull it off the bones by cutting it lightly with a knife. This dish is a must have when you visit TGIF. It is so fantastic that I had to post the next photo up to prove it...

Of course...there will always be room for dessert.

We had the Chocolate Brownie Temptation, Mocha Mud Pie and Tennesse Toffee Pie.
Tennesse Toffee Pie
The toffee pie was made of layers including toffee flavoured mousse, biscuit base with chocolate with caramel flavour sauces and honeycomb pieces. This piece is good but too sweet for my taste.
Chocolate Brownie Temptation
The warm glooey brownie with hot fudge topping is a must have for chocolate lovers. The layer of melted chocolate sauce on top of warm, nicely baked brownie, is the absolute comfort food. A nice way to finish a meal.
Mocha Mud Pie
The Mocha Mud pie is a little bit more sophisticated. Made of "lusciously light chocolate mousse and coffee ice cream, layered on delicious chocolate biscuits and finely crushed Orea cookie biscuits Drizzled with chocolate flavoured fudge sauce". Served chilled. Is a lighter dessert compared to the brownie, but equally delicious if you like a bit of coffee tang to your dessert. The different ingredients stacked on top of each other give a layered texture and taste to the dessert. Yummy!

Verdict - 10/10 for American cuisine!