RSSArchive for February, 2007

Air Supply Concert

This is a very old entry that I had kept. It’s not really about food but about one of our favourite singing duo — the Air Supply. The pictures I took came out so surprisingly well that I could not resist blogging about the concert. He he he … it does show our age, eh?

Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell came for a couple of days of performance in Vancouver sometime late last year. They performed in the Red Robinson Theatre in Coquitlam.

Red Robinson Theatre

Russell Hitchcock, the lead vocalist, does seem very much heavier and older than I had always pictured him to be. Still, he had not lost his high pitch voice. Some of our favourites were “Making Love Out of Nothing At All”, “Every Woman in The World”, “All Out of Love”, “Now and Forever”, “Just When I Thought I was Over You”, “Two Less Lonely People in The World” and “One More Chance”.

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It was disappointing that Graham Russell lost his voice, especially towards the end of the concert. He did apologize and explained that he caught something on the plane to Vancouver and it got progressively worse. What a bummer but everyone seems to understand. It’s a good thing that it was Russell Hitchcock did most of the singing.

Air Supply

It was one of the rare concerts that we were allowed to get up close and personal. Why, they even allow cameras! Suanne and I managed to get right up to the front. Everyone was swooning to the songs but I just took shots after shots … so much that Russell gave me a wicked stare!! :-)

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Suanne and I simply love their songs. We had a great time!

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Well, we just can’t resist not blogging about food, can we? Before the concert, we had a quick bite at the Metro Bistro in the Boulevard Casino located next to the Red Robinson. Suanne had … again … cheesecake.

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For me, I ordered the Fried Rice Noodles. It was not bad. You know how casino food always are — cheap and delicious.

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Hope you enjoy this blog for a change.

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Pineapple Fillings

Pineapple is native to Brazil and central America, but is now a favorite crop in tropical and subtropical climates. Pineapple is a good source of manganese, as well as containing significant amounts of Vitamin C and B1.

Pineapple makes an excellent marinade and tenderizer because it contains bromeline, an enzyme that digests protein. The enzyme also keeps gelatin from setting, so pineapple is not good for fruit jellies.

I love pineapple but I seldom buy a whole pineapple. This is because I’m intimidated by the task of cutting up a pineapple. There are lots of so called eyes on the pineapple which need to be removed.

I guessed the exporter of pineapples are aware of this and nowadays, you’ll find a little brochure attached with the pineapple illustrating how to cut up a pineapple.

First, you remove the top and bottom of the pineapple.

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Then, you stand the pineapple up on the flat bottom and cut the pineapple into quarters.

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Remove the core which is too fibrous to eat.

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Next, I divide the quarters into eights. A slimmer piece makes the removal of the skin easier. The last thing is to remove any remaining eyes on the pineapple.

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To make the pineapple filling, I used:

  • 2 pineapples
  • 180g rock sugar (I added more because the filling is very tangy)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Finely chop the pineapple in a food processor.

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Transfer the grated pineapples to a pot and add the rock sugar and cinnamon powder.

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Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until most of the liquid has evaporated.

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This is the most daunting part. It took me 3.5 to 4 hours to get the liquid evaporated. I was thinking if I drain the pineapple first to get rid of some of the juice, it will take me less time to cook it. But, on the other hand, I would want the pineapple filling to have a very concentrated flavour of pineapple by cooking off the liquid slowly. Well, is there a better way to do this? I wonder if this can be done in a slow cooker without the constant stirring.

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After almost 4 hours of cooking, I finally ended with a bowl of pineapple fillings for the Tangerine Cookies and Pineappple Tarts. No wonder those homemade Pineapple Tarts are so expensive. I used to buy them in Malaysia for Chinese New Year celebration. It is so labour intensive to produce.

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Tangerine Cookies

During Chinese New Year, tangerine is the official fruit. Every Chinese family will surely have tangerines. Tangerine in Cantonese is ‘kum’ which has the same pronunciation as gold in Cantonese. So, tangerine is an auspicious fruit during this festive season.

It is the Chinese customs to visit families and friends during the 15 days of Chinese New Year celebration. During such visits, the visitor will bring gifts which always include tangerines.

I saw this Tangerine Cookies in a recipe book which Ben brought back from Malaysia and its just perfect for Chinese New Year celebration. Unfortunately, the Tangerine Cookies did not turn out as pretty as those in the recipe book. I think its the temperature of the oven which caused the cookies to be slightly burn. Anyway, if you would like to try this recipe, I’ll recommend you lower the oven temperature.

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Since the first batch of the Tangerine Cookies did not turn out as I expected, I used the rest of the pastry to make Pineapple Tarts. Actually its more to a Thump Print Pineapple Cookies because I do not have a pineapple tart cutter.

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The Pineapple Tart turned out pretty good. Of course, I bake them in lower temperature that the recipe book recommended. I have always love the tartness of the pineapple in a slightly sweet pastry cookie.

Ingredients

  • Pineapple filling (I will blog about this tomorrow)
  • 300g plain flour
  • 50g custard powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk powder
  • 180g butter
  • 70g icing sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 beaten egg yolk
  • Cloves for decoration

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Kueh Bangkit

Kueh Bangkit is one of the traditional cookies served during Chinese New Year. It is a very light and fragrant cookie that melts in your mouth.

Traditionally, its made with a mold in the shape of little chick. I do not have such mold, so I tried to use my cookie press to make it.

Kueh Bangkit

I was successful with the cookie press for the first batch of the Kueh Bangkit and ran into difficulty with the second batch. The dough just wont come out from the press. So, for the rest of the dough, I just shaped the dough into long strips and cut them into 2 cms strips for baking.

Ingredients

  • 300g tapioca flour
  • 3-4 pieces pandan leaves (screwpine leaves)
  • 20g margarine, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 140g icing sugar
  • 120ml coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder (I substituted with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)

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Cheesecake

I made a Cheesecake for dessert for the Chinese New Year Hotpot gathering. I love cheesecake but I have never try making one myself until recently. This recipe is taken from Spices Corner with some minor adjustments to it. Thanks to Spices Corner for sharing the recipe. I made the adjustments because the cheesecake came out cracked the second time I made it.

Cheesecake

This cheesecake is a lighter version with the combination of cream cheese and sour cream. I glazed the cheesecake with apricot jam.

The photo below is my first attempt to make the cheesecake. It came out a bit too brown on top. I managed to get the right colour by covering the springform pan with a tin foil after 30 minutes of baking.

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Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 cup graham cookies crumb
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 3 teaspoons sugar

For the cheesecake:

  • 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs

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Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Chinese New Year Series: Asam Gai Choy

I made this Asam Gai Choy as a side dish for the Chinese New Year Hotpot gathering. My late mom always made Asam Gai Choy or Kiam Chai Boey after a festive celebration. This dish is made with leftovers from a large meal.

Asam Gai Choy is a sour and spicy dish. You can adjust the sourness and spiciness according to your preference. I love it very sour and spicy. This dish is great with steam rice and very appetizing.

Asam Gai Choy

There are only a few key ingredients for this stew.

  • Leftovers meat. Instead of leftovers meat, I used roasted pig feet. You can get this from Chinese BBQ store at a relatively cheap price, usually $1 to $1.50 per feet.

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  • Gai Choy or mustard greens. Gai Choy is a pungent green and is usually cooked for a long period with pork on bone to absorb the flavor form the meat. Mustard greens are extremely high in Vitamin A and K.
  • Gai Choy comes in 2 types, big leaves and small leaves, They taste the same. I would prefer the small leaves if I can get them, save time on tearing up the big leaves.

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  • Pickled mustard. This will gives the dish the required saltiness without any addition of salt.

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  • Asam pei or tamarind skin. It gives the dish the sourish flavour. You may substitute with tamarind paste if the skin is not available.

Asam Pei

  • Dried chilies. The chillies give the dish the spiciness.

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Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Chinese New Year Series: Caesar (a.k.a. Bloody Caesar)

If you are not Canadian, you probably have never heard of Caesar. Caesar, sometimes also known as Bloody Caesar, is a very Canadian cocktail. It is based off the popular Bloody Mary with a slight difference. Caesar is invented in Alberta. I have never known why this is called Caesar … anyone knows?

The primary ingredients of the cocktail is Vodka and Clamato.

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During the Chinese New Year gathering, I offered to be in charge of making the cocktail. It was an easy choice to decide on Caesar. Firstly, it is all Canadian and secondly the redness of the cocktail is just perfect for the occasion.

The color of the cocktail is Clamato, which is a blend of clam broth and tomato juice. It’s sounds like a weird combination but really, you taste more of the tomato juice than clam. Ironically, the biggest manufacturer of Clamato is Mott’s which is an American company. Another thingy you need is some Celery Salt Rimmer.

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The other ingredients are some Worcestershire Sauce and some Tabasco.

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Here is how I make it. I rim the glass with celery salt by first wetting the rim with a wedge of lime or lemon.

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And next, I rim it with celery salt like below.

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Some ice goes in first.

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Pour one shot of vodka … more if you like it.

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And fill the Clamato. Normally, 1 part of Vodka to 4 parts of Clamato.

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A few dashes of Tabasco for the spiciness and end with a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce.

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Lastly, garnish with a stalk of celery. In all accounts, it is a great drink. It leaves a very intense spiciness lingering in your mouth for a few minutes. There is no hint of sugary sweetness.

Next time you’re in Canada, order a Caesar for your drink. I think you will like it.

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Chinese New Year Series: Hotpot

Believe it or not, we virtually ate non-stop for 5 hours after the Yee Sang. I had never been so full for as long as I remember. We just ate and chatted … and ate and chatted. The primary dish is the hotpot. Because of the number of people there, we had two separate hotpots going.

Hotpot is also known as Da Been Lo or Sang Woh in Cantonese. The best time to enjoy this is during the colder winter months. That is why at this time of the year, some of the Chinese grocery stores have sections dedicated only to hotpot ingredients.

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Hotpot is supposed to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. It consists of a simmering pot of stock at the center of the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. It’s popular these days to use a double pot with a centre divider to have two types of broth — one a normal chicken/pork broth and the other the ultra spicy Thai tomyam broth.

Suanne and I were in charge of the “condiments” and sauces. We had once had hotpot in a restaurant in Richmond where they had available something like 15 sauces. So, we thought that we do the same too. Here is what Suanne prepared: green onions, ginger, cilantro, and three different types of chilli peppers.

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We went around the chinese grocery stores to scour for sauces. I think we got a dozen different ones. They include abalone sauce, hoisin sauce, minced garlic, crispy prawn chili sauce … and …

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… soya sauce, pickled chilli sauce, Thai chilli sauce, sesame sauce and satay sauce.

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The best sauce is still the Sah Cha sauce. This is a popular hotpot sauce originated from Taiwan which is also known as Barbecue sauce. These sauces are meant to be used as a dip and is not something you add to the hotpot.

I guess everyone just did not “get it” because the sauces and condiments went relatively untouched! Next time, I think I will do a demonstration first!

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There are also lots of meat balls of every kind … pork, beef, fish, prawns, squid and what nots. These are the only things that we can be sure the kids will eat. Polly and Vincent provided this, I believe.

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Prawns cooked very fast and adds a lot of flavor to the already flavorful broth. Yummy! Prawns with the shell on will impart more flavor. Double Yummy! Peeling the shells is half the fun when you are sitting around the table chatting. Nice touch, Janice and Bernie.

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Then there is the mix of seafoods … there are squids, mussels, and more prawns.

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Someone also brought more seafood but this time in skewers. What is wonderful about this is the pork skin. I love pork skin! Wai Bing and KC prepared this.

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Now, to make a balanced meal, we also had some “vegetables”. Lots of mushroom. I noticed that it was also relatively untouched. I guess most of us just did not “get it” — just like most did not “get” our sauces and condiments. I think Polly and Vincent brought this.

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This kam jum goo (enoki mushrooms) is more popular. There were several packets of it and we finished almost all of it. I am not sure who brought this.

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Bean curd stick was a bit too brittle. Should have gotten the fried ones which is more suitable for hotpot. I think this type is great for barley soup. Janice and Bernie brought this.

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There are also sliced meat. Sliced meat cooks faster than chunks of meat. For some reason, the meat is sliced too thin because we had difficulty separating them without tearing. Learned something new here. Contributed by Rachel and Joseph.

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Some Japanese tofu which came in tubes and sliced into coins. We had to be careful handling this as it is soft and could break up in the hotpot. This does not need much cooking. Very nice. Also brought by Rachel and Joseph.

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Eric always surprises us with a special dish. He made yong tau foo, Singapore style. It is a selection of food stuffed with fish paste. Eric uses tofu puff, eggplant, bitter gourd and green chilli peppers. Very nice.

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We had a great time. The kids too had a great time because they did not come to us asking “can we go home now?”. I came home and weighed myself — I was heavier by 1.5 kg with all the food. Sigh … it takes forever to shed off 1.5 kg.

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