31 December 2011

SUCCESS! Lemon Curd!

I made lemon curd and it didn't fail like last time (A sour experience that I would like to pretend did not exist)!! I followed the recipe from The Really Good Life, a blog I found today when I was searching for "savoury food". I might have mentioned this before, but I've been preferring savoury food over sweet food for the past semester. Though, I suppose I'm (almost) always in the mood for lemon curd!! :D

Her site is pretty neat, by the way.

Since I had 75 g of butter, I made less lemon curd, which is alright because I don't want to have leftover lemon curd when I leave for Penn again (because if/when I come back during Spring break, it will still be in the fridge). So, nearly direct from The Really Good Life, scaled down, with my own verbose comments (for my own future reference, so I won't worry about the ratios being incorrect/stuff not thickening):

Makes about...800 g

2 lemons
2 eggs
75 g butter cut into smallish chunks
120 g sugar
2-3 tsp cornflour aka cornstarch

1. Grate off lemon peel. Highly difficult for me because my grater is quite blunt.
2. Squeeze juice!! Mix sugar and vanilla with the juice! It's fine if the sugar doesn't dissolve.
3. Stick eggs in a saucepan and mix eggs with a spoon (I lack a whisk...) or fork, and add in butter.
4. I was really cautious and had everything on low heat. I vigorously mixed the egg/butter mixture on low heat for about a minute, and saw that the butter had started to melt slightly, so I took the pan off the heat, and poured in the lemon/sugar/vanilla mixture. I kept stirring vigorously, and added 1 tsp of cornflour. Then I put the pan back on the stove on LOW heat and kept stirring.
5. Two minutes later (still vigorously stirring because I was so scared that the eggs were going to become scrambled), the mixture was still thin, like the consistency of milk. So I threw in another tsp of cornflour, cranked up the heat to MEDIUM and kept stirring.
6. Two minutes later, the mixture was still the consistency of milk! I threw in another tsp of cornflour, and wondered whether this would be a good rice topping as opposed to actual lemon curd.
7. By then, I was stirring once every 5 seconds (as opposed to 5 stirs/second).
8. SUDDENLY, THE MILK-THIN LIQUID STARTED TO THICKEN! I increased my stirring speed to 2 stirs/second, and the liquid became the consistency of ketchup, and then applesauce, and then light pancake batter. I turned off the heat and stirred for another 5 minutes or so (when I took these pictures).
9. Pour into jars. Cool. Refrigerate. Consume within 2 days (not necessarily, but that's what happens because I love food...)

Not on my non-existent list of New Year Resolutions, but lemon curd is a pretty sweet ending to 2011. Have a meaningful 2012, dear readers (the 0 to 2 of you).

30 December 2011

Soybean Curry!

Some oil or butter
1 small diced red onion
1 cut tomato
1 tbsp curry powder
Dried coriander
50 ml milk
Chili flakes/powder (or real chilies, which I don't have)

1. Stick everything in a pot and let simmer for some 20 minutes, until the soybeans are cooked.

29 December 2011

International Dinner

I never got around to posting about my dorm house's International Dinner! Oh No! So here are some pictures. I was near the mid/end of the line, so a lot of the food was undergoing peristalsis, digestion, or absorption.
 Balsamic strawberries, vegetable dumpling, an olive bread thingy, crepes, and a cheese bread.

28 December 2011

Risotto (from Year 10)

So I decided to fashion my plate of risotto into something like this. Obviously the kitchen needs better lighting...

In year 10, I made risotto in Food Tech. It's pretty ironic that I now want a career in something food-related; Food Tech was an elective that I chose slightly grudgingly; at that time, I honestly would've preferred Textiles Tech/fashion design stuff. Alas! 2 months into Food Tech and we moved from HK to the US... but within those   2 months, I did make risotto and since then, I haven't had plenty of delicious risotto, only because I don't understand how restaurants can make a fresh batch of risotto in 20 minutes. Risotto takes a full hour to make, and more if you're more patient and want softer rice. The one made by me, my GA and my dorm friends was really gooey and delicious, though but that was just mushroom. The one I made today had milk, celery, peppers, cauliflower, and firm tofu. A delicious meal...

The recipe came from some cookbook, but I used the modified version that I created in year 10 for my class. Actually, I adapted that too because we didn't have vegetable stock cubes or tomatoes. Although this recipe apparently serves 4-6, it really serves 6 in my family.

Ingredients for risotto for ~6 people
50 g butter
1 red onion
2 garlic bulbs (less if you don't like garlic)
1 tsp dried basil (or a lot of fresh basil, but it's winter now :( )

A bunch of vegetables and/or animal pieces. I used: 
1 green pepper
1/3 of a giant head of cauliflower
4 stalks of celery
150 g firm tofu

400 g Arborio rice
1 L water
1 packet vegetable soup mix or vegetable stock cube or just plain ol' vegetable stock
700 ml milk

50-150 g of Cheddar and/or Parmesan cheese (however much you like)

METHOD --takes about an hour
1. Chop up everything. I don't like grating cheese so I cubed the cheese.
2. Throw butter, onion, garlic, and basil in a huge pan and let it sizzle for a bit. SMELLS SO GOOD!!
3. Throw in vegetables and rice but not tofu yet. Unless you really want to. Note the small grains of rice.

 4. Mix water, stock cube/vegetable soup mix with milk and pour in ~250 ml. Stir occasionally. Bring to a boil and keep it on medium-medium-low heat.
 5. After a while, that liquid will b absorbed by the rice! The rice will get poofier! Add in another ~250 ml of liquid. The mixture should remain bubbly.
 6. Let rice soak up liquid. Stir occasionally. Add ~250 ml of liquid. Keep going!!
(I have flash on all my pictures because my kitchen has bad lighting. The image below is the pot without flash). You can see the texture better, but everything is all grainy looking. Haha, of course, due to the rice (a grain...get it? ha...)
 7. Last ~250 ml of liquid! I love how the rice just...soaks it all up! After adding the last bit of liquid, add in the tofu and cheese.

8. When your last liquid is nearly all absorbed and looks something like the image below, you're done! This was about an hour after I had started with the onions. The rice should be soft, there should be really gooey thick sauce, and the kitchen and upstairs should smell savoury.
In addition I got my sister to eat green peppers (which she dislikes for some reason) by telling her that it was celery.

27 December 2011

Boiled Dumplings

Delicious savoury food!! For some reason, I've been consistently craving savoury food throughout the last quarter of the year. Today my mum made egg and carrot filling for dumplings!! My sister and I filled the dumplings with the filling. Actually, my sister made one dumpling and I made the rest. Her dumpling looks like a bag (it's the second one to from the left in the image below). We had some dumpling skins left over, and my sister cut tiny holes out of one of them and made a "snowflake" design.
 I'm not sure how to make boiled dumplings look appetizing. So here they are, dripping with soy sauce, like mini brains dripping with blood... well, not really.
 SO DELICIOUS. Reminds me of childhood. Of being 5 years old and helping my mum make dumplings from scratch...and not being able to crimp the tops correctly...

25 December 2011

Rocky Road Cookies

Apparently, there are different versions of the "Rocky Road" flavour. Therefore, I don't think it's wrong calling these leftover-Halloween-candy-pieces cookies "Rocky Road" cookies. They have oatmeal, marshmallows, peanut M&Ms, rock-shaped chocolate with realistic rock-like sugar coating (I used to pass by a chocolatier at Penrith Plaza when  I was younger, in Australia, and they used to have golden and silver beads/sprinkles/candy balls on display. I don't remember if they had rock-like coating chocolate, though), one peanut butter bunny from April, 3 malt balls, and milk chocolate chunks.
My sister and I made half a batch of cookies using a recipe from a brand-name sponsored recipe book. Why did I buy a recipe book full of food company advertising? ...This was 4 years ago (wow...that long?) and I was in NY and the Strand was having a sale (closing sale?) and I got a thick hardcover recipe book for $1 with pages after pages of shiny, colourful pictures of scrumptious desserts!! So, I did it for the pictures.
Come on, why else -apart from the images- do recipe books sell nowadays, with millions of equally fancy (or, even better...like the recipes I have, which have comments on better technique and economical energy usage?) recipes online?

Half the batch ended up providing us with 31 cookies. Yummy.
By the way, the Australian version of "Rocky Road" is evidently superior to the American version (in my opinion, drawn from experience). According to Wikipedia (I know, not a completely correct source), the American version is just marshmallow, nuts, and milk chocolate--that is true. The Australian definition, however, includes things such as COCONUT, TURKISH DELIGHT and jelly!--that is true also.

24 December 2011

Fake Mousse

Half-melted ice cream refrozen for a few hours or so makes 2 layers. One layer is chocolate mousse, and the other is sorta chocolate flavoured snow cone. No kidding. I suppose the water (being more dense than fat) sinks down, while the fat stays at the top. The water freezes because it's 0 degrees. The fat, however, is solid at room temperature (saturated!) so it makes this creamy mousse thingy...

23 December 2011

Cupcake & Notes

A few things...
0. Penn has decided that they'll email about food events literally 4 hours before the event occurs. However, because I have my sources, I know about free food events months in advance. Not that it makes much of a difference... so Penn had a "Winterfest" thing wherein they gave out waffles, candy, ice cream, marshmallows, and nuts (run by SPEC). Although I have no right to criticise, they really should consider a better setup. Why bump all the tables next to the walls? Why not have people line up on BOTH SIDES of the table to obtain food? This would - what do you know?! - shorten the line by 50%!!

Got my waffle and ice cream.

1. TJ gave me a cupcake from the dining halls. I'm surprised Penn Dining made desserts that are really pretty-- I mean, look at the squiggly peppermint candy! It tasted like a normal cupcake. But it's pretty.

2. Applesauce tastes like chunky ketchup. I am not kidding. It's sour... it's sweet... it's ketchupy.

3. Another Penn event was Amy Gutmann's "Holiday" study break/party. I didn't bring my camera, which was rather stupid. The place was classic-game themed. Obtained lots of smoked cheese. TJ and I were about half an hour early for it, and I did it at the expense of studying for organic chemistry (haha...terrible class...), although in retrospect, I actually don't think that my grades were negatively affected.

4. We all know that my college house should've won the Power Down Challenge. Since the authorities say that we didn't win, we had a party anyway, and we raffled off a Kindle, scooters, water bottles, rechargeable batteries, and a recycling bin. Twenty pizzas.

5. I'm home. I open the fridge. What I see resembles what I saw when I opened the fridge when I came back at Thanksgiving...

6. JM, GM and I ran to Starbucks and they got the Caramel Apple Spice, which was basically creamy apple cider. I didn't try it though. I got a Green Tea Frappuccino. In the winter? I know right...reminds me of the time JM and I ran to Colaco's Creamery, got ice cream, and walked back home in the snow eating it. I've been wanting to try it for the past year, but I never got around to it...not really sure why. In any case, we walked back in the chilly weather while I was slurping on layers of fat and sugar (no picture of it though) -- it was a beautiful minty green colour, and it tasted like vanilla ice cream. Nothing bittery/tea-like about it. I suppose the colour made up for it though.

22 December 2011

Fritatta Thing!!

I can write about food now for a month (before school gets hectic again)!! TJ and I made some sorta frittata thing with broccoli and a LOT of smoked cheese and garlic. We also put in uncooked spaghetti, which was a good idea for the parts of the pasta that were smothered in egg/broccoli/water/cheese mixture, but was otherwise crunchy. The original disposable aluminium container had a hole in it, and in the oven, egg mixture started dripping out :( So I had to switch pans).

01 December 2011

Thanksgiving Lunch

Shoot (the turkeys). I'm a week behind in posting...while everyone else is posting about Christmas and other festivities, I'm still writing about last Thursday, Thanksgiving. I should've posted this 168 hours ago, since it happened that long ago.

I woke up from my 12-hour slumber (from midnight to noon...and let me tell you, that was roughly how much sleep I'd gotten in the past 3 days added together) to my mum telling me that we were leaving in 10 minutes.

"10 minutes?! Where are we going?"
"HM's family* invited us for lunch at a Chinese restaurant."

HM is my sister's friend, and is currently my sister's age.

So I lounge around, brush my teeth, and instead of having some toast (or congee, because that's no doubt what my mum would've made. Actually, that's what I had on Saturday and Sunday morning), I clamber into the car and feel content that I'm eating a full-out Chinese set meal for my Thanksgiving breakfast/lunch/dinner.

So, I've never had a legitimate American Thanksgiving dinner before, with family. No one in my extended family celebrates Thanksgiving since they're all in China (except for one cousin in Australia). Another year passes, and I've still yet to have a traditional "Amercian Thanksgiving". Actually, my brother and I went to my friend PL's church's Thanksgiving party in 2003, but I don't remember much at all (did I even eat much? Probably not...). Either way, like I said last year, I'm supposed to be thankful all the time,  not just one day in the year (on which we, as a family, argue, anyway).
 Since my parents ordered some set lunch (with a lot of dishes...), while we spent some 20 minutes waiting for the food, the kids (HM, HM's cousins & my sister) got impatient, so we ordered some dimsum. Delicious glutinous rice ball with peanut filling and coconut!! Delicious egg tart!! The kids devoured the spring rolls. My sister noticeably ate food with more zeal...I guess it's because that's what the other kids were doing. "Peer pressure", says my brother.

Note that I have two chopsticks initially, but in the egg tart picture I only have one chopstick. My other one rolled onto the floor :(
This restaurant likes to garish its plates with wafer-thin orange slices and cucumber slices. Here is a plate of  jellyfish, ham, and ...
"Hmm what's that?" - my brother.
"Squid." - I say.
"No it's not. Mum, what's that?" (getting my mum to eat more food)
"I don't know."
"Dad, what's that?"
"I don't know -- let me ask -- what's this?"
"It's squid." -- Waiter.

I was right all along and all I had to do was glance at the slices of white and orange.
 Fried glutinous rice with red bean paste and sesame!!
Still one chopstick.
 Note garnish.
 This one had cucumber garnish, and it was delicious!! The cashews were great, and the white cubes are water chestnut.
Note that I now have two chopsticks. Funnily enough, one of HM's cousins also lost a chopstick. They were trying to shoot a chopstick at a plate using a piece of elastic.
 Mushroom and vegetables. That spongy stuff is also apparently a sort of fungus. It was great.
 My brother ate lobster. I never knew that they gave mini 3-pronged forks with the lobster.
 A chicken (with head). My mentor told me today that she has a Korean friend who used a chicken for Thanksgiving instead of a turkey, which is pretty funny. However, by this time, there was so much food that no one actually ate the chicken.
 Note food. The noodles with mushrooms were nice.

China Gourmet
482 Eagle Rock Ave.
West Orange, NJ 07052