Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas!

Stress is building up as in-laws arrive today. On the menu for Christmas is a three bird roast: pheasant, chicken and duck.

With friends such as brussel sprouts (courtesy of Orangette's recipe), roasted veg, stuffing with chestnuts, cranberry sauce with port, and the boy's special mashed potatoes.

No baking. Bought all the puddings I need.

Wish me luck.

And lots of it....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I am cursed!!

Woke up at 6am this morning and couldn't sleep despite the tiredness.

Get intense craving for chocolate cake.

Find next best thing, brownie mix. Betty Crocker.

Can't possibly screw that up.

Mix water, egg, oil and packet, put in oven, wait 25 mins.

Take pan out, manage to slip, try to rescue with BARE HAND, glass pan cracks, end up with glass all over the floor.

Boy wakes up 30 mins later to find me in foetal position on sofa, sucking burnt finger, vacuum cleaner taken out, pan of glass brownies all over floor of kitchen.

Cue 1 hour later. Picking out bits of un-glassified brownie to nibble on while boy heroically deals with the mess.

Sadly this is a true story.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Marmite products

Its no secret that Umami and I love Marmite.

We love it on toast and we love it in congee.

But what about crisps (chips to us North Americans) and cheese?

Apparently the English are just as passionate about this yeasty, salty spread because they use it to flavor not only rice crackers and breadsticks but also these new finds:

Walkers' Marmite crisps and cheddar.

Of course I couldn't resist buying them.

And how were they? The crisps were very nice although more subtle than I would have liked.

The cheese was very salty and flavorful, a nice savory snack for the middle of the afternoon when the craving for something intensely salty hits.

For me, of course, it is always followed by something intensely chocolatey!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Da Cheweeeeee..... oh.

I am the most unaccomplished baker I know.

However, I have spirit. Or at least greed.

I came across Alton Brown's simply named, The Chewy.

This of course, refers to the chocolate chip cookie.

I looooove chocolate chip cookies and preferably, ones that are chewy and not just crunchy all the way through. I sometimes even under cook my cookies, pancakes, etc. just slightly to get that chewy texture. Doesn't always work and as I'm the only person I know who does not like raw cookie dough (yeah, yeah, so sue me), it doesn't always succeed.

In any case, getting into the holiday spirit and all that kind of nonsense, I decided to go for it. Also, it would mask the stench of microwave popcorn before my in-laws arrived.

So I followed the recipe (Susan, are you proud of me) and made the cookies.

Here's how it looked like right before I chilled the dough:

And here's what it looked like cooked as per instructions (175 for 14 mins, checking and turning sheet after 5 mins) and after only 11 minutes:

And here's what happened after I lowered the temp to 150 and cooked for only 12 minutes.

Yup, the instructions didn't work for me.

But even though the second and subsequent batches looked better, it still wasn't chewy. It was still a bit dry and tough. Did I overwork the dough? Should I not have used the hand mixer to mix the dough? Or was it my big chocolate chunks?

In any case, I would not repeat again, just wasn't that good. Now somebody please send me a fail proof cookie recipe!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Michelin Results - Hong Kong

Thanks to my ... ahem... sources, I have the results from the first Michelin Guide in Hong Kong:

Three Stars ***

- Lung King Heen

Two Stars **

- Amber

- Bo Innovation

- Caprice

- L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

- Summer Palace

- Tang Palace

One Star *

- Fook Lam Moon

- Forum

- Hutong

- Lei Garden (IFC and Tsim Sha Tsui)

- Ming Court

- Petrus

- Regal Palace

- Pierre

- Shanghai Garden

- Golden Leaf

- The Square

- Tim's Kitchen

- Yung Kee

I've tried to link most of the ones who have their own website.

Well.... What do you all think? A lot of hotel restaurants, non?


Here's a link to an article, and discussions on Chowhound.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Crabby Patties

So, long time no good food.

Sadly, its been a bit of a drought for me too. I've not been inspired much and not had much of an appetite for anything interesting. It's one of the annoying things of being out of work. You feel like you should save money and subsequently eat at home much more often. And as I've said before, I am NOT a cook. I'm an eater.

I have, however, last week, made a huge pot of Ginger Vinegar Pig's Trotters to bring to two friends who have recently given birth to adorable baby girls and even given a taster to a friend who has never had them but come to love them, much to my surprise and delight!

Last week, I was in Weymouth. Yes, I didn't know where that was either but it's where the boy is working at the moment during the week and I thought I'd tag along. It's interesting. But this review is timely, seeing as Weymouth has just completed the sailing venue for the 2012 Olympics on time and on budget!

While the boy spends his time working, I've spent my time exploring the town. Which took about 1 hour. Hmmm, it wasn't going to work out. I've looked in a lot of closed little shop and cafe windows and thought about how fun it could be in season. Teeming with senior citizens, it has been an experience to say the least. I even went to Poole to find some excitement only to find it mostly shut as well.

In an effort to keep my interest, the boy discovered that the Crab House Cafe was within distance and we went to have a look on the Monday we arrived only to find that it was only open Wednesday through to Sunday. We returned on Wednesday with low expectations.

However, inside was a cosy little restaurant with about a dozen tables and we were one of three occupied tables that night. Although I was a bit concerned of the lack of custom, my fears were assauged as soon as I glanced at the bright-eyed, impossibly fresh seafood, caught earlier that day which was laid out by the open plan kitchen.

When we looked at the menu, printed daily mind you, the boy bemoaned the fact that it was only open during the days he wasn't in the city. I must admit his love of fish is directly proportional to my opposition to cooking it and having the smell linger in the flat. The deprived boy began immediately with 1/2 a dozen oysters, which he slurped down without a word to his colleague and myself, as well as a cod and skate (....) which was prepared much like coronation chicken (curry, mayo and raisins) and was a bit too strong for my taste, overwhelming the delicate flavor of the fish.

His colleague and myself both had the Thai fish cakes, which were perfectly crispy on the outside while being moist on the inside. I would say they are more like French quenelles or croquettes. But then again, I have an aversion to putting the "Thai" label on anything prepared with lemongrass. It also came with sweet Thai chili sauce which went well but a squeeze of lemon would have been just as nice.

For a main, the boy smartly chose the fish pan, which came with 5 varieties of fish (clockwise from top): John Dory (St. Pierre in French), skate, grey mullet, cod and one other fish whose name escapes me. It was a fairly large portion but the boy managed to finish it.

His colleague had the grey mullet, which looked good, with nice crispy skin on the top.

I opted for the "crab to crack". Although I was given the choice of the spicy Chinese crab or the plain, I opted for the plain. I was dubious about the spices that were going to be used and I did want to taste the crab unmasked by sauces. I was given a "kit" which included a bib (this was definitely useful), a small hammer, crab crackers, a crab pick and a little wooden cutting board. Then the gigantic crab came out. This was completely unlike the much smaller crabs I was used to back home. This was a big'un, cooked, cooked and then cut up for me to dissect.

I looked at the roe..... gosh, it was drippy, rich and unctuous. It was also a male and came with just a touch of the gooey bits that I so love in hairy crabs. It was meaty and sweet but not as sweet as the smaller crabs but oh, so satisfying. The roe was delicious. It was a little hard to get into the meat and the use of the hammer was definitely needed. by the end I really needed a full bath to rid myself of crab shell still clinging to my hair.

I ate and ate and ate.... in fact, this is the ONLY time I was too full to eat the lower legs. Usually I hate to waste crab and eat everything but this time, I was full of crab and the boy and his colleague had been waiting at least 40 minutes for me to finish so I gave up the lower legs and called it quits.

Sadly the pictures didn't turn out so well as I only had my camera phone. I would show you the roe but it looks like a blurry over-exposed mess!

Definitely worth going to (if you're in the area... maybe to attend or see the Olympic sailing competition in 2012) and the warm welcome was a real bonus.

Crab House Cafe
The Fleet Oyster Farm
Ferrymans Way
Portland Rd, Wyke Regis
Tel: 01305 788867