Friday, December 21, 2012

Quay Po was very "saucy" yesterday


The meaning of “saucy” is "impertinent in an entertaining way; impossible to repress or control". Will you be surprised if I tell you that President Abraham Lincoln had used the perogative word “saucy” and had written out his true feelings about a lady visitor in a short note to himself? This note now belongs to the Library of Congress.  Interesting ha?

My use of the word in today's title is really just a bit word play as I worked in the kitchen making a big batch of cranberry sauce to go with my Quay Lo's roast turkey for Christmas. What lady doesn't enjoy being a little "saucy" now and then even if it only means you made "sauce"? 


As promised in my post on our Thanksgiving celebration last month, today I am sharing the simple recipe of my homemade cranberry sauce. Once you taste this homemade cranberry sauce, you will never want a store bought one. It is full of flavor, compliments fowl, lamb, or pork and is super easy to make. Even though I add a citrus note (well, maybe "chord" is a better word than "note") to the preserve this sauce is more simple in flavor than a chutney as it strikes a balance between tart, sour, and sweet. Perfect!

QPC homemade cranberry sauce
   
  
Ingredients:
(A)
24 oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp allspice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
2 cinnamon stick
(B)
1 cup orange juice
1 tbs orange zest
1 tbs lemon zest

Method
Place ingredients (A) in a medium pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and let it cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has reduced, stirring occasionally. Add in ingrdients (B) and mix well and turn of heat. Let it cool to room temperature. Remove cinnamon stick and serve.

Note:  Cranberry sauce can be made days ahead and serve cold or brought to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to prepare and roast a turkey with all the trimmings


Hi everyone, Quay Lo here. When it comes to making turkey for the holidays Quay Po surrenders her apron to me. She takes it back again when it comes to preparing the many other dishes we serve, especially the pies.

I’ll start with a promise. If you follow the recipes below you will make a perfect turkey, perfect gravy, and a perfect side dish called “dressing” not to be confused with “stuffing” which I will explain below.  In my family Thanksgiving and Christmas were crowned by the dinner at which the turkey was featured. It was highly anticipated and with all of the various recipes for ways to use the left overs we ate turkey for a week beyond the holidays as well. Those were my favorite two weeks of the year. The smell of sage and roasting bird in the house is enough to almost bring tears to my eyes (or was that the onions I’ve just chopped?)   
Let’s start with preparing the turkey. If you want a moist, savory roast turkey, marinating the whole bird in a brine solution for several hours before the roasting will provide the best results. Since most turkeys come frozen in the market, we’ll start about 3 days before the big event by placing the frozen turkey in the regular side of the refrigerator to allow it to thaw slowly. Another solution that will make more room in the fridge is to simply put the turkey in an ice chest, and cover with ice. This keeps big bird safely out of the way, as long as you don’t have a very clever dog.  
                    
The TURKEY



About 16 hours before you are ready to pop the bird in the oven, we are going to prep it with a soak in a brine solution. You will need a large, deep soup pot with a lid or a bucket that can be covered and is large enough for the whole bird plus the brine solution.

Brine Ingredients
  • 12 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped candied ginger
  • Herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, 2 bay leafs) any mix ratios, up to one cup.
  • Black pepper
  • 6 cups ice or one block of ice

Instructions 10 -14 lb turkey
  1. In a pot larger than the turkey simmer 6-8 cups of  water and add salt, sugar, and candied ginger. Stir until dissolved.
  2. Stir in 6 cups cold water, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, herbs and 4-6 cups of ice cubes.
  3. Remove giblets and neck from the thawed bird’s cavity. Rinse the outside and inside of the turkey under a cold faucet. Completely submerge the turkey in brine solution without the turkey rubbing the sides. Cover with a lid. Marinate for 12 hours for a small turkey (8-10 lbs), 16 hours for a 12 – 16 lb. and a full 24 hours for a bigger bird. You can wrap wet towels around the pot and keep it inside an air conditioned room as long as you replenish the ice before you sleep. Overnight it should be fine, just pack it full with ice before retiring and again in the morning.
  4. Pre heat your oven to 165ᴼC (325ᴼF). Rinse turkey inside and out thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels. Chop some herbs, (sage, rosemary, and thyme) and add them, and some black pepper, to a ½ cup of butter and rub every part of the turkey. The herbs and butter will eventually join the natural juices at the bottom of the baking pan and become the basis for your flavorful gravy. Place a whole orange or a lemon, halved, plus four stalks of celery halved, fresh herbs (not chopped), and 3 large carrots split length wise and halved, inside the cavity of the bird.
  5. Place a rack inside a large roasting pan. Place the prepared bird on the rack, breast side up. Place a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast, taking care not to touch a bone. The thermometer should read 74ᴼC or 164ᴼ F to be done and still moist. (It will continue to cook a bit as it rests out of the oven and that is fine, it is in the calculation) A 12 pound turkey should take about 3 hours or a little over to reach the desired temperature. Be sure to monitor for surface doneness. Most often, the turkey will get a nice golden brown on the surface but still require some baking time. If your bird gets that lovely lacquered appearance, but still needs time, just baste it again then lay a piece of aluminum foil, with the shiny side out, on top and loosely formed over the bird, and let it continue until the temperature is reached.
  6. Remove and discard the aromatics in the cavity, place the turkey on a platter and cover with aluminum foil (shiny side facing the bird this time) and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before carving. Do NOT discard the roasting pan drippings. While your bird rests, move on to make the gravy. You are going to perform wizardry with the pan drippings.

Notes:
Most stores sell heavy gage aluminum foil roasting pans during the holidays and they work just fine. Place the bird on a small rack set inside the pan.

Throughout the baking process, baste the turkey every twenty minutes or so, drawing from the juices collected in the pan. If the turkey gets a nice golden brown but the thermometer suggests there is still more baking time required, lay a sheet of aluminum foil, with the shiny side facing outward, over the turkey and continue baking until done. Be sure to monitor this closely as it can happen
We’ve had better luck with smaller birds in the 12 – 14 lb range. Much larger turkeys tend to be more tough and sinewy. If you need more meat,  just bake a second turkey the day before and warm up the pre-sliced meat in an oven or microwave before serving.

THE GRAVY
  • 24 ounces chicken broth
  • 8 ounces red wine
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme or rosemary
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
  1. After you remove the turkey from the roasting pan and set aside to rest, leave the drippings from the turkey in the pan and place the roasting pan over medium heat. If you’ve used a temporary aluminum foil pan transfer the contents into a large frying pan. Heat up the drippings, then transfer to a quart size, heat resistant measuring cup or a jar. Allow it to sit for 5 -8 minutes to allow the fat to separate and to rise to the top.
  2. Return 2/3 cup of the fat to the roasting pan and place over medium-high heat. Skim any remaining fat from the pan drippings liquid and save while discarding the excess fat.
  3. With the fat heated up in the pan, add the flour and whisk to combine into a roux. Cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture starts to thicken and becomes smooth and brown, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Once this happens, gradually add the reserved liquid back to the pan and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add 1 cup of red wine and 3 cups of chicken stock, all at once. Whisk to combine, continuing to scrape the bottom of the pan until all of the bits have come loose and you have reached your desired consistency, approximately 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Season the finished gravy with salt and pepper but be sure to taste before that.


THE CORNBREAD, SAGE 
AND  SAUSAGE DRESSING

There are two terms used to describe this favorite side dish; “dressing” or “stuffing”. In general it is called stuffing if, in fact, you cook it inside the turkey’s chest and stomach cavity along with the turkey. The resulting combo can be delicious as the seasoning of both the bird and the stuffing co-mingle along with the roasting juices absorbed by the stuffing.  However, I don’t recommend this approach for a couple of reasons. One is that the pan juices are not going be as generous for gravy making because the stuffing absorbs much of it.  Secondly, it takes longer for the stuffing to reach a safe 165ᴼ. In the meantime, the turkey itself risks becoming considerably overdone.  That would be tragic in my humble opinion given all of the effort to brine the turkey for exactly the opposite. Besides, no one wants to try to eat a “tough old bird”. So let’s talk “dressing” which is named that simply because it is specifically designed to accompany and complement the turkey, carrying it savory notes into a carbohydrate side dish. (Not that we need one as typically there will be mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, and hot dinner rolls also served. I once heard it said that Thanksgiving and Christmas were holidays invented so that Americans could eat four or five kinds of starchy dishes at one meal.

So while I would concede that the following recipe may be easily sacrificed by families here in Asia, I must also stipulate that if I am cooking, I will make it every time. The fact is that two days later, when half a pan of dressing is in the fridge and you need something right then, the dressing will taste like it has transformed into something far more exquisite than you imagined.

Ingredients
  • 3 cups cubed dry bread
  • 3 cups cubed or crumbled cornbread
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1  cup chopped celery
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 6  tablespoons melted butter
  • 500g pork sausage, crumbled
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2  eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon each dried sage and poultry seasoning
  • ½  teaspoon seasoned salt

Note: Serves 8, double recipe if you are feeding more people and if you want some generous leftovers. Hint: You DO!
PREHEAT oven to 375°F (190ᴼC).

Directions:
  1. Grease with butter or olive oil, a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
  2. COMBINE bread and cornbread in large bowl, set aside.
  3. COOK onion, celery, and 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened. Add crumbled sausage; continue cooking, stirring frequently, until sausage is half done.
  4. STIR sausage mixture into cornbread and bread bread cubes.
  5. Stir in remaining ingredients; mix well.
  6. BAKE 40 to 45 minutes until lightly browned.
  7. If there is still some time to go to finish the baking and the top is already golden brown, just lay a piece of aluminum foil over the pan with the reflective side out.
Note: Sausage is a matter of taste and tradition. We’ve tried making our own by chopping a pound of pork shoulder and adding a bit of red cayenne pepper, 2 tbs of chopped sage, salt, and pepper. This carries the sage flavor profile all the way through the meal, which I am fond of. However, we have also tried purchased chorizo, removed from the skin, and cooked in the manner prescribed above. This gives the dish a definite spicy boost and works in contrast to the sage in the turkey which can be equally pleasant. Someday I want to try merguez sausage, the quite spicy lamb sausage thought to originate in Morocco.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Eat right and be healthy


Last Tuesday, I attended a cooking demo that was featured as “Celebrating with Organics this Christmas Season”. It was held in The Pantry at Jaya Grocers, Empire Subang with Ozganics founder Anni Brownjohns. When I got the invitation from Chef Ryan, I extended the invitation to my friends but only Yen of "Eat Your Heart Out", Esther of "The Fuss Free Chef", Sonia of "Nasi Lemak Lover", Ping of "Ping's Pickings", Shannon of "Just as Delish" could join me because it was a working day for the others. We all enjoyed Anni's cooking demo and a delicious healthy 3 course lunch.

Like others, I used to think that organic food might be  bland and tasteless. Nothing could be more mistaken as the food we saw and tasted from the  Ozganics range of products was bright and tasty. Anni change my view of organic food.  


She whipped up three dishes of gourmet quality. These were;

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Some of the ingredients used

The main ingredients for soup

Chef Ryan Khang assisting Anni in preparing the soup

Beautiful golden brown diced organic pumpkin 


Chef Loke assistang in serving us the soup

Recipe:

Ingredients:
1 tbs olive oil
1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
1.2 kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded, diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 jar OZGANICS Thai Red Curry Simmer sauce
squeeze of lime juice
Finely diced coriander for garnish

Method:
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion in oil, stirring for 5 mins or until golden. Add pumpkin and stir to coat and saute until slightly browing. Add stock and simmer for 20 mins or until pumpkin is soft. Use a hand blender to puree until smooth. Stir in Ozganics Thai Red Curry Simmer Sauce and add lime juice to taste. Garnish with some coriander and serve hot.

Moroccan Chicken with lemon and olives

Anni and Chef Ryan busy preparing the ingredients


It was served with quinoa

This dish goes very well with bread too and here are the loaf of bread that was made by Chef Ryan Khang, the head of the Nourish Team.

Multi-grain wheat bread by Chef Ryan

And
Watermelon and Feta salad


Anni showed us that it was easy and simple to eat right and be healthy with her Ozganics range of products that emphasize pure, organic ingredients and great tastes. 




I believe working couples will find them especially convenient to get a healthy meal ready with no hassle after a hard days work. The above products are available at all Jaya Grocers outlets.

For those who wants to know more Ozganics range of products, you may want to visit http://www.ozganics.com.au. There are delicious recipes there as well. 

If you are interested in attending the cooking demonstration and learn some healthy Christmas dishes from Anni, you may contact the Nourish team at 016-2001806 or via email at nourish.enquiry@gmail.com




Thursday, November 29, 2012

Belated Thanksgiving, no senior moment


My good friend, Diana, shared a video with me and it is so hilarious (but true) that I have to share with you all, especially with friends that are around my age.

I had a good laugh watching the video and I believe you would too. Be patient with the first two minutes.After seeing the video this is what I wrote to my friend Diana.

“Good morning. What a hilarious video to wake up to and thanks for a good laugh. Jokes aside, there were so many things she mentioned that I have done before and I am only 57. Just a few days ago, I was clicking and clicking my car remote in front of a white car and wondering why I can't open the door. I said out loud to myself in a VERY irritating voice, "What's WRONG with this stupid remote?" Then I heard a man's voice behind me and said, "Aunty, I think you got the wrong car." Then I heard, "toot toot" and the car door was opened. I am sure you can imagine the rest of the story yourself. LOL! Oh Lord, where can I find a Home Instead Senior Care in Malaysia?”

Before I let you all go, I would like to share with you our Belated Thanksgiving Dinner with our good friends, John & Diana Ishii last Saturday. Oh, it is not that we forgot that the actual date for Thanksgiving was the Thursday before, no senior moment on this one. We had to defer our dinner two days due to the water service at our house being off for eight hours on Thanksgiving day. 

Quay Po had a tsunami in the kitchen before Quay Lo cooked up a tornado and the result was all these dishes we enjoyed and would like to share with you virtually.


A welcome drink prepared by my Quay Lo
Cranberry Martini to start the evening

Perfectly roasted turkey by my Quay Lo. I will get my Quay Lo
to share this recipe with you in another post.



It is a neccessity to have cranberry sauce to go with the roast turkey. 
Homemade cranberry sauce made by Quay Po.
I will share the recipe with you in another post.

Stuffing made by my Quay Lo - This stuffing is SUPER delicious and 
I will ask my Quay Lo to share the recipe with you all in another post.
This photo does not do justice to the dish because it was taken with my iPhone.

Brussels Sprouts with hazel nuts -This is a recipe from 
my friend, Wendy of Table for Two or More. 
Sorry for the low quality of the picture. 
Photo was taken with my iPhone.
Click on the photo to get the recipe

My Quay Lo hand carried this bottle of wine back from the U.S.
and kept it in our small wine chiller  for 9 years
He shared it with us ... Awesome!

Apple tarte tartin made by Quay Po. Please click 
on the either photos to get the recipe.



Triple Chocolate Brownies made by Quay Po. The best brownies recipe which
I will share with you in another post.

We had so much fun and laughter. Another fond memory for us to look back to in the years to come.  I give thanks for  whatever I have, and also what I have not, for we need the latter, so we will not take the former for granted. I also give thanks for having all of you riding along with me on my culinary adventures and all your tips, and help along the way. Stay tuned for my Quay Lo's recipes on roast turkey and the stuffing. If you make it for Christmas, you will surely WOW your guests. 








Monday, November 26, 2012

Up close with Anna Olson


Both my Quay Lo and I love to watch Anna Olson’s shows on Asian Food Channel.  Her recipes are simple and easy to follow yet yield beautiful bakes. I never thought I would see her show live! My thanks to Asian Food Channel for bringing her to Kuala Lumpur.



Anna Olson is a  professionally trained pastry chef with over fifteen years of experience in the culinary field. She has, or has had, her own cooking shows such as "Bake with Anna Olson", "Sugar" and "Fresh with Anna Olson".  All her shows have been aired on the Asian Food Channel. 

I was the first person arrived at the event because I remembered the time wrong. It was 2.30pm and not 2.00pm. 


It was a blessing in disguise because I got myself a seat in the front row very near to the demo counter. So, I could see Anna more clearly. LOL!


Before Anna's arrival at the demo room, I met her husband, Michael Olson. 


He is a big guy like my Quay Lo and he too has that million dollar smile. Michael was busy getting everything ready for Anna's demo. When Anna finally arrives, she was briefed by by him. This is truly a husband and wife team.


Finally, after a long wait, the emcee, Will Quah announced the arrival of Anna Olson and gave us an introduction. 


By sheer coincidence Will is a friend of my son's and they have performed on stage together. Will is well known in the local entertainment scene as a fluent emcee. So I was happy to say hello and grab a shot with him.

After the introduction, the demo started and the first thing Anna made was Tourtiere.

Cooking the filling for tourtiere

Rolling out the pie crust

Placing the crust into the pie tin and put in the filling

The final product
  
Each of us get to taste one of the mini tourtieres.
 I did not eat mine but brought it home for my Quay Lo to taste.

Tourtiere's (pronounced tor tee ays) are savoury pies made with spiced meat, including beef, lamb, and pork (in other venues),  especially in French Quebec Canada, where they are popular as a snack around the Christmas holidays.

Next, Anna went on to make pumpkin crème brulee tarts.






I would like to thank Lach of  Alice George Communication for the invitation to the Anna Olson baking demo, and a very BIG thank you to my friend Evelyn of Missyblurkit for passing my contact to Lach. I enjoyed the chance to see one of my inspirations up close.

I am not sure if I can share with you the recipes but once I get the green light to do so, I will. I would especially like to try making the pumpkin creme brulee for Christmas. Pumpkin is not particularly at the top of my favorites list, but in this recipe I think I could be pursuaded.

For now how about making the traditional creme brulee instead.

Please click on the picture to get the recipe




Thursday, November 22, 2012

US Potatoes Dinner


Since my Quay Lo and I came together, potatoes are available in our home at all times. There are many dishes I have made with potatoes as an ingredient. As you might expect, these have been either an appetizer or more commonly as a side dish to the main course.  So when I received an invitation to attend a private dinner at the Le Meridian hosted by the United States Potato Board (USPB) last Friday, I accepted, wondering how would it be possible to make an event out of this standard workhorse of carbohydrates that, along with bread, mark a distinction between our household's two food cultures.  Little did I imagine that I was setting off to rediscover an ingredient of seemingly boundless variability and culinary application.


The meal was prepared Le Meridian’s Executive Chef Antoine Rodriguez.


When the guests arrived at the dinner, we were greeted with a room decorated with a large variety of potatoes on display and, though I understood that this root vegetable came in multiple variations, it was still very impressive to see them all together. Based on that alone, I sensed that my regard for the lowly potato had been raised a notch or two. To a cook, whose culinary background had little to do with potatoes, except for an occasional treat of french fries, just walking into the room was an eye opener. 





I would never have thought of using potatos as the center piece of a table setting. "What a great idea" I thought, and "isn't this fun, I am seeing something new to me"!

Before the presentation and cooking demostration started, we were served with potato canapés.

Vichyssoises, best described as a cold potato soup, and 
featuring 3 varieties of U.S. potatos

U.S. Blue Purple potato dumpling filled with spicy
coconut and prawns

US Round Red Potato case with chicken
rendang in this delightful fusion of East & West

US Potato Chawanmushi

Mr. Chris Rittgers the US Agricultural Trade Attaché  gave a welcome speech..

followed by a presentation by Mr. Eddie, a local representative for the sponsor, about the different varieties of U.S. potatos, the history and growing characteristics, the nutritional values, and how the potato became a mainstay crop in the U.S.


This was an informative part of the evening. I was surprised. I mean, after all, if someone suggested that you spend your Friday evening learning about U.S. potatos, would you even consider it? I was glad I had done so. Mr. Eddy had lots of observations to share. For example, we learned that 40% of the utilization of U.S. potato production is for frozen potato products.


After the Eddie’s presentation, Miss Carina Lipold, Health and Wellness Expert spoke about the nutritional values of potatoes.


Not surprisingly, the potato is a power pack of admirable nutritional value.




I was surprised, however, that 100 gms of white potato has a lower kcal value as compared to pasta, rice, or banana.

Next was the cooking demo by Chef Antoine Rodrigues which we were all eager for. 



Chef showed us how he made these yummilicious appetizers from potatoes.

US Russet potato and US Blue Purple potato cake with Garlic and Chives Cream Sauce

Roasted US fingerling potato, Provencal fresh herbs, garlic, chili flake, olive oil


and

US Yukon Gold potato and cheese croquette with Chili
tomato smoked dip

After the cooking demonstration dinner was served:

Chunky long white US potato & clam chowder served with sweet corn, grated cheddar cheese and ciabatta bread crouton



Seared sea scallop, truffle mashed US Round Red potato with parmesan wafer

US Red potato cheese cake and US Blue purple potato chips with  compressed turkey terrine served with cranberry jelly, “jus tranche”


US Russet potato chocolate cake

If you are interested to find out more about U.S. potatoes you might want to visit the United States Potato Board website. 


I would like to thank my friend Shannon of Just as Delish for passing my contact to Jay Mee of EverQuest Sdn. Bhd. so they could send me the invitation. A big Thank You to USPB and Jay Mee for having me and giving me an opportunity to learn so much more about potatoes. Now, I feel I could come up with lots of new delicious and healthy dishes with all kinds of potatoes as an ingredient. 

I will share with you all the recipes of the above dishes in my next post. Stay tuned!