Thursday, 27 December 2012

Harry Potter Museum

Harry Potter museum was opened sometime this year in May and though we had a chance to visit it in October, we had to pass on it. And then James and his girls (our guests during Christmas) wanted to visit it, and we managed to get tickets for it.

The museum is set in the grounds of Leavesden studio in Watford. This is a  unique walking tour and showcases the sets, costumes and secrets behind the show. It takes about 3 hours to view the exhibits and wonder round the museum!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

We had a family of 5 come stay with us from Christmas eve to 30 Jan. It was really nice having them around.
We went for Christmas mass this morning then came back and rested for a bit and then had to start preparing for dinner.

Something was wrong with me this morning, not feeling too well, but as they say, the show must go on.....

As we are not too keen on Turkey, tonight's dinner menu will be:
Roast pork (sio bak)
Roast beef
Roast potatoes
with side vegetables
Desserts: Mango and passion fruit trifle and agar2 gula melaka

Saturday, 22 December 2012


There are so many versions of rendang and mine is kind of a shortened or easier version. I have used curry powder whereas purists may want to use star anise, cumin, coriander, etc. But for me, even with this easier version, it still tastes just as good. Oh yes, if you are worried about cholesterol from the coconut milk, you can even use light evaporated milk and it tastes just as good as the coconut milk version!


(Spice paste - rempah)
1 big onion
1 inch galangal
1 inch ginger
3 cloves garlic
4 candlenuts
3 stalks lemon grass (white part only)
10 dried chillies (soaked)

700 gms stewing beef cut into cubes
2 stalks lemongrass - white part only (bash the thick part with cleaver or mortar)
400 ml coconut milk or
evaporated milk
1 - 2 tbsp curry powder *
3 kaffir lime leaves (cut into small strips)
3 tbsp dessicated coconut (dry fried to light brown)

1 tsp sugar

1. Combine all the spice paste ingredients and blend into a fine paste. Set aside
2.  Heat a saucepan till hot and add oil, then add the blended paste ingredients and fry for a few minutes until  
fragrant. Add curry powder and mix well and then add the cubed beef and fry till beef is browned.
3. Add coconut milk or evaporated milk and bring to the boil. Add bashed lemongrass. Once mixture has come to the boil, cover with lid and simmer for about half and hour.
4. After half an hour, add in the fried coconut, sliced kaffir lime leaves, seasoning and cover again and simmer till beef is tender.
5. Once beef is almost ready, if gravy has not thickened, remove lid and simmer till gravy is thickened.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Satay Babi

Have promised a fellow blogger that I would post this recipe and this has been ages ago. So sorry but as the saying goes, better late than never. So here goes.

Although the name is Satay Babi, it is unlike the satay that you know, I suppose you could put the pork pieces on a skewer and grill them, but this is how my mum does it and trust me, it is good!

Ingredients: spice paste (rempah)
(A) - grind or blend till fine
3 or 4 stalks lemon grass
4 red chillies
5 dried chillies
4 candlenuts
1 inch belachan
1 large onion or 10 - 15 shallots
500 - 700 gms belly or shoulder pork (cut into  1 cm thick slices)
Coconut milk 200 ml


1. Marinate the pork with the spice paste (rempah) for 30 mins or longer.
2. Heat saucepan till hot and add oil. Add pork mixture and stir till pork is browned.
3. Add coconut milk and simmer, stirring occasionally, making sure that the pork does not stick to the bottom.
4. If it gets dry add a tad more coconut milk and cook till meat is soft.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Kuih Sarlat

hmm... so many of my cyber friends have been making kuih sarlat and so have I, just that I do a little cheating with the help of my microwave.

Have been meaning to post this recipe ages ago, but with work and holidays and what else, just did not get down to it. Then I promised some ladies (we were meeting for dinner) that I would make some, so took the opportunity to take some pictures and refresh my memory on how to make it. hehe

This is actually my mum's recipe but being me and being lazy, here is my method - using the microwave!


Bottom Layer
2 cups glutinous rice
400 ml coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp cooking oil

Custard Layer
3 eggs
4 tbsp rice flour
150 sugar
400 ml coconut milk
1 tbsp plain flour


1. Soak the glutinous rice overnight.
2. Drain the rain in a colander and put rice in a pyrex bowl or microwavable bowl. Add the rest of the of ingredients for the bottom layer and stir well.
3. Microwave in bursts of 5 mins. After every 5 mins, take out and stir. This should take about 15 mins, depending on your MW power.
4. Whilst rice is cooking, prepare the ingredients for the custard layer. Break the eggs in a bowl and add the dry ingredients. Use a whisk to mix until there are no lumps. Finally, add in the coconut milk. Put aside.
5. Once liquid has evaporated and absorbed by the rice (taste to see that the rice is soft), if not, add a bit more coconut milk. (but I am very sure that the rice should be soft)
6. Add in blue colouring or bunga telang water (optional)
7. Press the rice down firmly (so that it does not break upon cutting)

8. Pour in the custard mixture on top of the rice and microwave again in bursts of 10 mins. After about 15 - 20 mins, it should look like this. The centre is still soft. You can either continue to mw until it is all cooked or what I do is to put the container into a steamer and steam for the next 10 mins. Don't worry if the mixture looks gnarly.

9. After 10 - 15 mins, put a skewer to make sure the custard is cooked. Turn the fire off and remove from pan. Cover with a cloth until it is cool.
10. Upon cooling the custard will smoothen out!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Char Siew

This is my mum's version of Char Siew and as everyone knows - mum's cooking is always the best!
My mum is a fantastic cook and somewhere, somehow, along the way, I managed to pick up some of her skills!

I've cooked char siew with Shoulder Pork and Pork Belly and I would say that I prefer Pork Belly as it has more fats, hence, in my opinion - shiok! For the more health conscious of you out there, you can use shoulder pork - nothing wrong with that!

Out of interest, I have trolled the net to see what other recipes there are for char siews and they are mind boggling. But there is one that says to add hoisin sauce to the marinade and one day I will try this and see if it makes a difference, but today, here is my mum's recipe.

The recipe is very similar to her honey pork - link here:
Only difference is that the pork is being sliced first whereas for the char siew, the pork is being cooked whole!


1 kg Belly pork strips
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp honey or Maltose
2 tbsp Oyster sauce
1 tbsp Sesame oil
2 tbsp Chinese wine (Optional)1 tbsp oil
300 ml water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place everything in frypan or wok and bring to boil.
2. Once the gravy has come up to the boil, turn fire down to low and simmer for about 45 mins to an hour, turning the meat over once or twice.
3. If the gravy has boiled down and meat has not softened, add a bit more water.
4. When pork is soft enough, remove from sauce and place under grill 220 deg for about 5 mins or so to char the meat, turning over once to get both sides nicely charred
5. In the meantime, cook down the sauce and leave aside.
6. Once meat is charred, brush with honey and cut into slices.
7. When ready to serve, pour some of the sauce over the meat.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Tokyo, Nikko, Mt Fuji, Hakone, Takayama, Shirakawa ko, Kanazawa and Kyoto - 8 - 14 October

This is the 2nd half or 2nd week of our holiday in Japan. After our free and easy holiday in Hokkaido, we are going on a week long package tour of the main sights on Honshu island.

Arrived at Haneda airport at around 3+ and there was a taxi waiting to take us to Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku. Checked into our room and relaxed for a bit and then had to go down to meet with Mr and Mrs Kunimatsu - my ex boss from JTB Singapore (the first company I worked for when I got back from Japan in 1986) - a little diversion here - I gave birth to my daughter in December 1986 and in January 1987 went for an interview and got the job, JTB Singapore opened in March 1987 with the 2 of us (Kunimatsu san and myself), and as they say, the rest is history.

So they came to take us to one of the oldest sukiyaki restaurants in Tokyo. The restaurant started at around 1880 or something. The main branch is at Akasaka, but since we were staying in Shinjuku, went to Times Square which was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. So many changes in Tokyo! Our first course was a mixed appetiser. Second appetiser was roast beef sushi. Then came the chawan mushi with Matsutake. And the main course was of course the sukiyaki and my oh my, the meat is full of marbling and is so tender it melts in your mouth. Am still dreaming of the taste!

Monday we had a half day Tokyo sightseeing tour with Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower and Asakusa. They dropped us off at Tokyo station and we had to find our own way back to Shinjuku. Got on the Chuo line and it was an express to Shinjuku. Magic! hehe Walked back to the hotel where Kunimatsu san was waiting for us at the hotel to take us to lunch.

View from Tokyo Tower

View from glass viewing platform

 View from Glass viewing platform

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower

Walked back to Shinjuku to have lunch in another old establishment, this time a tempura restaurant. It was a Monday and a PH at that and even though there were no office workers queing for lunch, it was still busy and there was a queque outside the shop. Kunimatsu san pointed out that there was another tempura shop just diagonally opposite from this one but it was quiet! So this must be good then, to have a queue! So anyways, we waited for about 15 mins and then got our seat at the counter. The tempura was really good, as they fry and serve only when you have finished your food, so the pictures shown are very lonely, as you dont see the whole picture!

Queue  outside the tempura restaurant

Dessert - Tempura ice cream!

Lunch done, went back to hotel. While Pat rested in the room, I still had things to do. As I told him to pack for a week and a bit, I had to go look for a coin laundry place to wash our clothes. Luckily, there was one which was about a 10 - 15 mins walk from the hotel. Yen 400 for wash and and Yen 400 for tumble dry. Put my clothes in the wash and then asked them to put it in the tumble dryer and I would collect it later on in the night. Already sat there for half an hour for the wash and could not bear the thought of sitting another half an hour waiting for the clothes to dry, besides, all the dryers were in use!

Walked to Shinjuku, trying to find my way to Odakyu department store, but only found Keio department store. Went down to the supermarket section looking for food for dinner as we were still full up from lunch. If you do get a chance to go to Tokyo or any busy city in Japan, go to the supermarket at around dinner time and you will understand what I am trying to say. It is so busy with shoppers and they have such a huge range of food, that you are so confused as to what to buy! Decided to go and look for Odakyu  department store and this time found it. Shinjuku station is so huge and they have so many restaurants and shops there as well. Got to the supermarket and got some food, except I cant remember now what I bought and then had to find my way out again! After our little dinner in the hotel room, Pat and I took a walk back to collect our clothes.

Next few days were coach/trains trips to Mt Fuji, Hakone, Takayama, Shiragawako, Kanazawa and Kyoto.
I shall let the pictures do the talking.

Mt Fuji in the distance

Hakone Lunch

Little autumnal colour

Another view of Mt Fuji in the distance from Lake Ashi

Nikko waterfall

Lunch in Nikko


Kenraku koen

Sunset in Kanazawa