27 September 2010

Pictorial Tutorial in making Kourabiethes

As promised, since some of you have voted for me , Efxaristo! here is the pictorial tutorial for the Kourabiethes. You can get the recipe here
The ingredients     How To
Step1-1Step2-2 Step3-3Step4-4WM1-02Mommy dearest!Step5-5WM-24WM-25    

Celebrating my little win with Kourabiethes

Yes I’ve made it to the second round of Project Food Blog! And it’s all thanks to you, yes you who voted for me. No words can described how happy (and surprised) I was when I saw the tiny trophy on my profile, especially when I woke up at 3.30 in the morning to use the toilet and as always a habit to check for any new updates on my laptop, to see that I’m still in the run to be the next Food Blog Star! It took all my willpower not to go wooooottttt since both of my darlings were still in slumber land. So once again thank you so so much for voting for me! Also special thanks to the judges who actually took their time to read my post! Golly imagine having Dana Cowin ( Editor-in-Chief of FOOD & WINE Magazine ) Nancy Silverton (Founder La Brea Bakery, Co-owner Mozza ) and Pim Techamuanvivit  (Author of ChezPim.com and The Foodie Handbook) reading your blog!

Then after all the excitement starts to die a bit I started to feel nervous because, 1) I was going back to my parents place which is 2 hours drive from my house for the weekend and 2) I’m supposed to prepare for the second challenge: The Classics , to pick an ethnic classic that is outside my comfort zone or are not as familiar with and submit over the weekend! Somehow I had the impression we would only need to work on the next challenge when the week starts and not over the weekend. I did think of a few dishes for this challenge but it would need me to be at my own workplace with my own cooking equipments, so with a few hours to spare I started to look around for an exotic dish I can do at my parents place and also using ingredients that are readily accessible as well because Malacca is pretty limited when it comes to exotic ingredients. So in the end I settled for a dessert, a Greek dessert to be precise called Kourabiethes (sugared almond shortbread cookies). Why Greek you ask? Well I think it’s a sign because for the past few weeks we (read Ashley) have been watching Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief non-stop everyday and also I’ve always been fascinated by the Greek mythology and of course the all famous blue domes against white background. Having never been to the country or eaten any Greek cuisine before I have no idea how this dessert taste like but from what I’ve read and seen on the internet is enough to convince myself to try making it.
So after looking at the recipes, I packed the ingredients I have here to bring back to my parent’s place and during the journey I kept thinking how I should go about on this challenge, should I go all documentary or should I just go with the flow while injecting myself in the post. Especially when we are required to write a compelling post on how we came about to choosing the dish we are making. Well continue reading and see which I’ve decided on yea (evil I know tempting you to read on).

From what I read, Kourabiethes pronounced koo-rah-bee-YEH-thess are usually found during celebrations in Greek and of course it fits right, me advancing to the next round is indeed a celebration and I always feel extra good whenever we go back to my parents place and with all my uncles being back as well it’s definitely a call for celebrations! As I read further, I find interesting enough it’s one of the few desserts usually served during The Great Lent, like how dates are associated with Puasa. How they come about to creating this dish, I’m not sure but to me it looks like snow-peaked mountains, don’t you think? So anyway I was just having loads of fun catching up with my family that I only started making this on the day we were to drive back! How typical of me, leaving things to the last minute (I’m actually writing this with less than 4 hours left!). But I didn’t feel panicky at all, to my great surprise because I’m always over the edge whenever time is running short, instead I had fun making this with my mom, sis and of course my lil sous chef.
Although I did feel slightly out of place because I almost never cook whenever I’m back at their place, my mom would always make our favourite dishes so I supposed it’s fulfils the criteria of  are not as familiar with and the fact that I’m a baking goddess in baking, yeap till today I’m still trying to figure out why my cake is always dense at the bottom or the fact that this is my first cookie-making in years!
My daddy and granny giving their approvals (my granny is pretty fussy when it comes to food!)

Anyway, lets go back to the recipe (THE recipe that will determine if I could be one of the lucky 200 bloggers left to stand a chance in being the next Food Blog Star ), ladies and gentlemen, I present you the recipe for this wonderful melt-in-your-mouth cookies which is now one of my favourite things to make.

(Yields about 3 dozen)
You Need
(Adapted from About.com)

1 cup (2 sticks butter/250g) unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted, ground almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (I substituted  the brandy usually called for in most recipes)
Confectioners' sugar

How To
1. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light (pale yellow in color)  and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix the flour and ground almond together.
2. Add flour mixture a little at a time, and then work well wit your hands.
3. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
4. Shape the cookies into small rounded balls and flatten lightly or you can also roll out pieces of dough to the thickness you want and use a cookie cutter

5. Bake on ungreased lined with parchment paper trays at 350°F (175°C) for 20-30 minutes but do check at the 20 minute because the cookies is cooked when the bottoms turn light golden.

6. Remove from oven, while still hot, and sift confectioner's sugar over them. Don’t skimp on the sugar, it’s meant to cover the cookies in glorious mounds of powdered sugar.

By the way, I’m holding each and everyone of you hostage if you wish to check out the pictorial tutorials until you vote for me. No I’m serious, like dead serious grin_smiley . Oh just watch out for the next post.

Voting opens 6AM Pacific Time September 27th through 6PM Pacific Time September 30th.

20 September 2010

The Voting Is Now Open

Hey everyone, the voting is finally open! And I'm so excited about it, because I'm also revealing a brand new look for the blog! Hope you guys love it, it was an impromptu decision as I want to create a more friendly site for everyone to enjoy my blog even more :)So remember to click here to vote for me. Voting ends 6PM Pacific Time September 23rd.You would need to sign up with FoodBuzz only for the voting purpose but I promise it won't be a hassle. Only 400 out of 652 food bloggers will advance so remember to vote vote vote for me ya! Much love!

How To Vote for Me 
Click on the link here http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/1/view/473 and you’ll come to this page shown in the picture below. Click on the heart shape. You would be prompted to join FoodBuzz, it’s a simple procedure and fret not, they won’t spam your inbox. That's it, you cast your vote, I'd be in the running to be the next food blog star and a step closer to my dream; my own catering business! And all you need to do is just click and vote! a

18 September 2010

Project Food Blog : Challenge # 1 (Ready, Set, Blog!)

When I first received an email from FoodBuzz that they are going to have a contest Project Food Blog for their Featured Publishers I signed up immediately without much hesitation even though I didn’t have the slightest clue of what we are supposed to do. But the idea of being featured on their site, one of the largest food lovers community ever plus the moolah would have made anyone sign up faster than they can say ‘Salmon Quiche!’. So when they finally posted the list of challenges that awaits us, I was feeling extremely worried and I was even thinking of not joining after all. But life’s short and I should try everything in life right, so for the past few weeks I have been thinking of what to write and as always with just two days left to the end of the first challenge of the  contest  I start to feel panicky because I still have no idea what to write urm blog about. Especially when it’s something simple like creating a blog post that defines me as a food blogger and makes it clear why I think I have what it takes to be the next food blog star. But I guess as always when in doubt just be myself and write whatever that comes through my mind. 

So here it goes when I quit my job as a recruitment consultant to be a full time stay at home mommy, it never crossed my mind that I’ll take up blogging but after Ashley turned 1 and well during the time I was doing some soul searching, to find the old Alesia and not just Alesia, the mommy ,I found again my long lost love; cooking while surfing the TV channels absentmindedly and came upon a cooking show.  I gingerly picked up the spatula and work my long forgotten magic touch with the wok, first it was just the dishes my mom would make and the ones I’m most comfortable cooking (Read:poison free, edible dishes) like these
(From the top : stir-fried French beans, Lotus Root and Peanut Soup, Chicken in Oyster Sauce)

ah yes, the days before I learned more about food photography or even the art of taking pictures and of course the days before the birth the almighty tool; a DSLR camera. Then the creative Aquarian in me starts to show herself by creating dishes such as these
(From the top : Cod Fish with Mushroom Cream Sauce, Fried Pasta Chow Mein Style and Chickpeas Salad)
Yea I know the cod fish looks preeeettty appetizing alright. Anyway then I was beginning to figure out the functions of a point n shoot camera and was again trying to be artistic and featured Ashley for the very first time.
Aww see how cute she was, and that reminds me how time flies! She has more hair now. :D I soon remember how therapeutic it is to prepare the ingredients, cooking the dishes and of course seeing how my loved ones enjoys the food I’ve made. Sometimes they even ate the ones that made me go ‘hmm I hope it taste ok’. So it was no surprise I started showcasing the food pictures on my Facebook profile, and when the hubs bought the SLR camera it just fueled my curiosity with food photography. No surprise the pictures turned out way nicer and I was hooked!
From not so appetizing pictures to drool-worthy pictures like these

Of course it was nice to receive praises and compliments and gradually the praises turned into requests for recipes which was quite difficult for me because I’m a all-throw-inside-the-pot person and I sure don’t measure my ingredients but it’s a challenge which I won’t back away! After much persuasion, I decided to come up with a blog to share all my recipes in one place with my friends and family. It was one of many achievements to come later because for one I was a business student who knows nothing about CSS, HTML, Javascript and yet here I am creating a blog (okaaay, I used a template free design but hey at least I did some tinkering to the original CSS sheet) and two, I didn’t know I had it in me, blogging and certainly I didn’t expect to last this long.

And naturally, once I start to have the hang of all this, I even had this wildest dream that I’ll be like Bree Van de Kamp of Desperate Housewives owning my own catering business. Of course it was a struggle initially because I don’t see myself as a good writer, or a food critic, or even a good food stylist. I find it extremely hard to even write a proper blog post. How am I supposed to put what I’ve cooked into words that people would understand or even make it sounds interesting and able to reach out to others. But I guess I must be doing something right after all, with 60 posts later, 752 fans and counting! a spot at the well known food porn sites (opps!) (foodgawker and Tastespotting) here I am drafting my first ever challenge in the world of culinary.

As I looked back the past year, I would never thought I can come this far as a food blogger, heck even as a blogger itself seeing that it was never my choice of life’s career :D. So do I think I have what it takes to be the next food blog star, yes reasons being I am willing to learn, I can take whatever challenges life throws at me (remember when I took part  in a beauty pagent like contest for mommies a couple months back?It was hmm challenging indeed to strut on the runaway and get everyone to vote for me), I’ve done so much in the span of one year for someone who had no clue whatsoever about blogging, but the most important reason it’s that I would go all out especially when it comes to cooking for my loved ones even though it means having to stay up more than 2 nights just so I can give the best birthday party a toddler could ever asked for. Come on, the first thing people look for when they attend a party isn’t the decorations or if there’s a clown it’s always the FOOD!

So to each and everyone who has been encouraging me to keep on doing what I love most, remember to vote for me yea! I so want to win the prize money so that I can start my own catering service :)


14 September 2010

Lamb Patty with Cheddar Mash and Honey Mustard Sauce

Inspired by the rare occasion of fine dining we had for our anniversary celebrations I decided to replicate the experience but using only the everyday ingredients well except for the lamb patties. And would you believe me if I were to tell you this was just my lunch? With Ashley happily having her afternoon nap and all the chores done, I wanted to give myself a nice treat, nice food treat. So while rummaging through the fridge and pantry I found lamb patties, some Cheddar and potatoes voila! I got myself a delish dish that looks oh so gourmet but simple to make. And I suppose if you want to make your lamb/pork/chicken/turkey/tofu patties, you can hmmm maybe I should make this again soon.
(Serves 1) 
You Need
1 lamb patty (or any patties of your choice)
3 white button mushrooms, brushed and sliced thinly
1 russet potato, skin peeled and cubed
3-4 tablespoons of milk
2 cubes of butter
1/2 cup of grated Cheddar
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
olive oil
salt & black pepper to taste.

How To
1. Cook the potatoes until tender, add in the milk, butter. Mash well before adding in the Cheddar, season with salt and pepper. (Cheddar has a sharp taste so go lightly with the salt ya). Set aside.
2. If you have a griddle, grill the patty and set aside, but if you are like me who use a non-stick pan, pan fry the patty. Using the same pan sauté the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.
3. To make the sauce, simply mix well the honey, Dijon mustard along with the olive oil.

To Assemble 
Place the patty on the plate, follow by the mash and top it off with the mushrooms. Drizzle the honey mustard sauce over and serve.

Now you can have fine dining like food from the comfort of your home.

08 September 2010

Curry Chicken (Kari Ayam)

I used to feel intimidated to cook curries only because I’ve seen how my mom used to make them. You need to slave over the stove cooking the rempah (chilli & spice paste) till it’s fragrant before adding in the chicken and coconut milk. Then you need to keep a close watch ,stirring the curry making sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom. And I honestly think a good curry is hard to master let alone a yummy great one! So it took me years before I have the courage to make some on my own, well and also when you miss your mom’s curry and the ones sold outside just doesn’t cut it.

So one day over the phone, I asked her for the recipe and typically it goes like this tumbuk(pound) all the ingredients, masak (cook) the rempah until wangi (fragrant) and then add in the chicken and curry powder, and santan (coconut milk) along with the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork. She make it sounds so easy!But truthfully it actually is, once you have the hang out of it. I’m beginning to enjoy cooking curries these days, it’s very therapeutic; the smell the aroma of the spices wafting from the stove and filling up the kitchen. This recipe has been tweaked from another curry dish I have on my blog and to my readers in Melbourne who asked for the recipe, here you go!

(Serves 4-6)  
You Need
1.5 kg of chicken, cut into bite sized pieces 
3–4 potatoes, cut into medium size cubes 
3–4 tablespoons of oil 
2 cups of santan (thick coconut milk or you may substitute with full cream milk) 
1 litre of water 
Spices (A) – ground :
5 shallots
5 onions
4 candlenuts (you may substitute this with macadamia nuts)
3 tablespoons chilli paste (you may omit with 5 tablespoons of meat curry powder this if you can’t get chilli paste)
2½ tablespoons meat curry powder
Spices (B):
4cm piece cinnamon stick
3 star anise
8 cloves
1 stalk of curry leaves
12-15 cardamom pods
* for the spices you don’t have to get exactly the amount stated here, it’s merely an estimation
salt and sugar to season 

Chilli Paste
200 grams dried chillies, soaked in hot water for an hour
100gram red chillies seeded   

How To
1. Heat cooking oil in wok or heavy based pot.
2. Add in spices (B), stir fry constantly at low heat till fragrant
3. Add in Spices (A) and continue frying until the oil rises.
4. Add in the chicken along with the potatoes and mix well until meat is coated with spices.
5. Stir in thin coconut milk and let it simmer until the meat’s tender and potatoes are soft. It would take about an hour and remember to stir occasionally
6. Pour in thick coconut milk, bring to a boil.
7. Serve and enjoy!

Cooking Tutorials
Santan (Coconut Milk)   How To

Pounded/Blended onions
Candlenut should be added in when you sauté the rempah but like always I forgotten about it until I realized something is missing!       

To make chilli paste.
Blend the chillies until smooth, and this would make about a jar. The chilli paste can be used for dishes like Sambal Ikan Bilis, Kangkung Belacan or any dishes that calls for chilli paste. Now you don’t have to get those store brought ones, I never thought making my own chilli paste would be this easy!