Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ha Ha Ha~ Merry Christmas~!

So how was Christmas, guys? 
Well my Christmas was crazy as I've had a super busy schedule preparing dinners on both 23rd and 24th, which is also the Christmas eve. The Christmas eve dinner was particularly special because it was the first X'mas party Deardo and I hosted in our new home. We invited all my aunties and cousins and Deardo's parent. No turkey, but whole loads of other food for a total of 12 persons! Thank god for Vivian who came earlier to help out! Phew~!
Tried to be organised with list of food to make and timeline but still screwed-up sometimes. :p
Here's a look at out dining table with all the dishes and pretty Christmas deco! :)
Spot my tiny Christmas tree! 
Should I say Vivian and I cooked up a storm in the kitchen? LOL!
Seafood Voulavent! 
Potato and Mushroom Pie
Oven Roast Chicken.
Plan B Inspired Meat Ball Pasta Sauce. Recipe here. 
Everybody's favourite of the night - Chorizo Sausage with Chick Peas. Recipe here
Some Stir-fry Baby French Beans, Cherry Tomatoes and Mushrooms. 
Macaroons from Chef Karam!!! Yumzzz...
I've finally tried making Voulavent and it was not hard at all! I will share the recipe very soon! So stay tuned! 
Deardo also didn't want to miss the chance to show off his signature Aglio Olio and they were gone in less than 10 minutes!
Deardo's Aglio Olio! 
Love how my family members stayed so crazy like they are even when meeting Deardo's parent for the first time! Pretty sure they had great fun joking around and having (should be) nice food! :) 
I super love this photo of 2e, Uncle Mike, 4e, 3e and Uncle Thong! 
Even Deardo's parent were having fun that night! :)
Group picture of us having tea/coffee/beer/wine, minus Vivian the photographer! 
I was quite exhausted after cooking and cleaning the house whole day long but I truly enjoyed looking at them enjoying the food and the party! I must say I'm very proud of being part of the family which is cool and crazy plus loving at the same time! I mean, not many families are like us, we get together every now and then for meals or even for badminton. We joke, laugh and tease each other like nobody's business... It certainly takes a very strong bond and very open-minded family members to have such cool relationship with our aunties and cousins! 
Vivian likes to stick with me!
Deardo and I forced to make some funny poses...
Well this was supposed to be James Bond and the girls... :p
So yes, I had a great Christmas celebration! Not sure if I'm going to throw another party like this any soon but I think I need some massage very badly now! Any recommendations?
As I will be super busy again the coming weekend, allow me to wish you guys in advanced...
HAPPY NEW YEAR GUYS!!! Oh and yes, it should be a super good one since end of the world NEVER happened! :D

Friday, December 21, 2012

Plan B Inspired Meat Balls Pasta

Deardo and I love Plan B a lot and one of our recent favourites is their Moroccan Lamb Meat Balls Pasta. After a few times trying the dish, I've decided to try to make it at home, based on whatever I can taste from the dish at the restaurant. So far I've tried to make it with minced chicken and minced pork and photos below show the one that I've used minced chicken.

What you need:
Spaghetti, Tomato basil garlic paste, chopped garlic, chopped onions, minced (pork, chicken, beef or lamb), cumin, eggplant cut into rectangular shapes, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, bits of cornflour, coarse black pepper, pepper, soya sauce and salt to taste.

What you need to do:
(Meat Balls)
1. Mix the onion with the minced meat, add in pepper, black pepper and soya sauce (or salt) and stir evenly.
2. Add in some cornflour to soften the meat and to make it easier for you to roll into balls.
3. Roll into balls with both palms. Size of the meat balls is up to your own preference.
4. Now heat up a pan with some oil, then pan fry the meat balls until they are cooked. Removed and set aside on a sheet of kitchen paper.

1. You can use the same pan, heat it up with some oil, then put the eggplant in and pan fry them till they turn soft. This might take some time, perhaps about 15 minutes. 
2. Now add in the cherry tomatoes and continue to cook.
3. Until the tomatoes also turn soft, remove all the vegetables and set aside. 

(The Tomato Paste)
1. Heat up the pan with some oil, simmer the chopped garlic till they turn a little brownish.
2. Add in the cumin and continue to stir. You should be able to smell the nice fragrant from the cumin by now. In my opinion, cumin is the most important ingredient used in this dish.  
3. Now pour in generous amount of the tomato paste. Dump the fresh basil leaves in as well. 
4. Now add in the meat balls and allow the paste to boil.
5. Now add in the vegetables and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
6. Add in some salt and black pepper to taste and your paste is done. You can either add the parboiled spaghetti in to cook for a while or simply just pour the paste over the cooked spaghetti to serve. I also recently found they sprinkle some white sesame on top of the dish, so you can try that too!

The spaghetti is unique in a way that it has all the nutrition you need in a dish, both meat and vegetables. The cumin also made the dish smells and tastes very interestingly yummy! :)
My experience tells me that minced chicken isn't a good choice for the dish. The texture made it too hard to roll it into balls and taste wise also very so-so. Minced pork was way better. I'm trying to get minced lamb to make this dish for one of our Christmas dinner and I do believe that it should taste better!
Are you still thinking of what to cook for Christmas? This might be a good idea, hey?


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our 1st X'mas Tree & My X'mas Wish List

Jingle bell~ Jingle bell~ Jingle all the way~!
Me and ma colleagues having fun with the jingle bell... Or is that what you call it? 
While I've never really celebrated Christmas in my entire life, I've always love the celebration and the songs! I mean the celebration and the music always make you feel warm and lovey dovey, don't you think so? And love it or hate it, Christmas songs are definitely nicer than CNY songs!
This year, despite the fact that people are saying the end of the world is coming before you can even think of celebrating Christmas, I'm already full-on with the Christmas mood! Okay, I know it could be simply because we are in a new house that we are super gungho about things, but well whatever lar, we have set up a Christmas tree in our house! Our first one together as a couple for Deardo and I and the very first Christmas tree of my life! Woot~!
The technical part for Deardo to take care of...
It took us less than 30 minutes to set up and decorating the tree and I had great fun decorating the tree! Oh I know how hard it would be to dismantle them but let's just keep that till later! :p The tree and most of the bells came from Deardo's parent but I also bought extra stuff to make the tree a bit more fashionable! :p
Aesthetic part is surely for Ms. Shirlexia to handle...
And ta da... (with hands waving at the side of the tree)
Top: with lights in the living room, bottom: without the lights in the living room 
I just couldn't stop admiring and smiling looking at the tree that at one point Deardo thought I've gone insane! It really feels more like home that every night when we got home there it is, the Christmas tree with LED lights blinking all over! :D
Decoration for the dining table too!
I actually bought a smaller Christmas tree for our dining table because again, out of gungho-ness of being in a new house, we have invited two gangs of family members to our house for Christmas dinners. Note: it's dinner(S) not dinner okay? I feel exhausted just by thinking about it but I know this will only happen maybe like, this year? Cos new house mah... Sure more excited to hold parties all that, right?

My Little X'mas Wish List
1) More time so that I can complete my work in the office
2) More time so that I can have time to plan for our Christmas dinners!
3) More time so that I can properly plan and practice for my emcee job at Sin Fei (my lovely cousin sister)'s wedding on Dec 31! Aaarrrhhh... Excited yet no time to do anything yet!!!
4) More time so that I can rest properly

... Looks like I'm seeking for more time and if it is not too much, end of the world better not come because I NEED MORE TIME!!! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Week in Russia - Moscow

Hi guys!
As it is December, events are fortunately lesser at work but I'm still super busy with other stuff and yes Christmas and New Year are actually driving me crazy because I have loads of X'mas parties to do and weddings to attend! Phew~!

Anywayz, I know if I don't blog about my Russia trip now, it will never come. LOL!
Me and the reporters at the Amsterdam Airport which is super-duperly amazing! It's like a shopping mall!
So, I went to Russia with our design and architecture students on a study trip and although I was quite reluctant at first but now I can tell you, I DID NOT  REGRET IT AT ALL!!! Well it is however a guided tour and it's very much focused on buildings and stuff which is probably not a biggest problem because I think that's the best thing Russia can offer!
Alright let's cut the crap, here we go with some cool places and stuff in Moscow!

The VERY famous St. Basil Cathedral
Located right outside the also very iconic structure in Russia, the Kremlin Wall, St. Basil Cathedral is a place where it is absolutely unforgivable to miss in Moscow. A lot of us call it the 'colourful onions' and we might even thought that it is a mosque but to tell you the truth, all churches in Russia look like mosque! Only difference is that you will always find a cross on the top of the dome.
Wow~Wow~! I've been there! The St. Basil Cathedral!!! 
St. Basil is simply the one place that I wanted to see so badly and when I was there I was like WOW~!!! It was truly jaw-dropping although it actually looks much smaller than what I've expected. I love the colours used and seriously I never knew it is such an old building cos the colours just made it looks damn modern! Plus, when we were there it was snowing! So I went to one of the most amazing buildings in the world to experience the first snow of my life! How cool is that?
We also went into the cathedral but it wasn't interesting at all lar.
Students showing off their sketches which they had to do under the cold weather!!!
Despite the beauty of the cathedral, according to the tour guide, there is a sad myth that said the king who asked to build the church, Ivan the terrible has blinded the two architects who designed the church so that they can't go on and build another similarly amazing building! So cruel!!! :S

Around the Red Square
The square outside the Kremlin Wall is named the Red Square. It has St. Basil, the Moscow State Historical Museum and the amazing-looking departmental store - GUM.
Hi! Welcome to the Red Square! :)
We didn't go into the museum but we were in GUM most of the time because it was just too cold to be hanging around at the Red Square!
Russia isn't known for its shopping and honestly GUM only sells branded stuff that you and me would rather fly to Paris from Russia to buy cos they are just too expensive! Our tour guide has once told us that somebody has asked her are the numbers on the price tags really price of the garment or is it a phone number! LOL!
Part of the quite huge GUM Departmental Store. 
But GUM is still breath-taking in its own way, the architecture and the interior's way! I myself am more amazed by the interior cos it just doesn't look like a shopping mall, it looks like you are walking on a street maybe in Amsterdam or in New York! Love their X'mas deco too! :)
You can see how they pay attention even on the interior of a shopping mall!

The Kremlin
If you have watch the Ghost Protocol, the building that they blew up in Moscow is the Kremlin. It is basically more like Putrajaya in Malaysia where the government offices are located at. From the outside, it definitely looks much cooler than Putrajaya, mainly because of the beautifully structured Kremlin Wall and the towers.
It is however not so interesting inside - just some buildings where the President works and some six or seven cathedrals included in the area.
Tony, the Dean of the School of Architecture, Building and Design, outside the Kremlin Wall.
Love this picture! 
The big ass cannon that was not used at all! 
By then, I was quite already sick of cathedrals... :p

Novedevichy Convent and the beautiful park
That's the convent behind me! 
The Novedevichy Convent is most probably the most famous nunnery in Moscow. Unfortunately (er... Perhaps fortunately cos I needed a break so badly from churches man) we didn't really go into the building but spent some really cool time strolling around the park right outside the nunnery.
Some ducks that were some present from some kings or something at the park and we had cute kids as our model! 
Romantic photo of me and Tony... LOL! 
I love that park! It feels like walking in the Central Park in New York, and I mean walking in the winter! We were literally shivering but hey I really enjoyed it!!! It's quite a romantic place to hang-out too! *wink~*

The Metro Station Tour
I think Russians are probably born to make almost everything into arts or they are just too filthy rich! Seriously making all train stations into art pieces is such a crazy job to do! And talk about the money spent! Phew~!
Train stations like no other! Our students were so amazed the tried every way to snap photos of them!
We took the train tour downtown and made a few stops in several stations that are extremely unique with its design. We, coming from Asian countries which only want the train to come fast and don't give a shit about how the station looks like were seriously stunned to see all these interior design! It feels like we are in a church, a museum or sometimes palace! I mean you even have chandeliers hanging in the train station! That's freaking crazy!
Well if I have the money and time, I think I would like to go to all stations and see all of their design!

Other interesting places we went...
I was quite glad that the tour package include a lunch at Hard Rock Cafe Moscow! Although I'm not an avid fan of Hard Rock Cafe but it's still fun to visit it in some countries like Russia! I mean tell me if  you own a Hard Rock Cafe Moscow's t-shirt! Nah right? And I have it now and it is super duper cool-looking!
Hard Rock Cafe's t-shirt, exclusively from Moscow with St. Basil on it! Woot~!
And it might be the only place where all the servers can speak perfect American-sounding English and you actually feel like you are at home!
I've been to Hard Rock Moscow!!! :D
Somewhere in the city of Moscow, there is this super tall and grand-looking building which is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office. I couldn't help but sharing this cos it just looks damn amazing!
I think this looks like some buildings in Harry Porter.
Part of the trip is to fulfill the CSR element besides just the learning experience. We originally wanted to visit an orphanage until they refused us because of some issues. We did however made a short visit at a house for the elderly people where our students said hi and sang Rasa Sayang to them.
Rasa Sayang eh~~~ From Malaysia to Russia!

Group pic! Without me! :(
I can see from those aunties and uncle's faces that they were very glad to see us and to be entertained by a Malaysian song. They kept asking for the meaning of the song! LOL! Anyway, even though I was just there to capture the visit, I still in a way felt so good that we've done something quite meaningful! :)

Oh, look at me and one of the students with the souvenir who bought!
Russian army hat yaw~!

The food...
There isn't much to talk about food in Russia mainly because we had to go Halal as we have some Muslim students in the group. So yea, not even chicken or beef... BORING...Zzzzz...
First meal we had in Moscow was nice cos I seriously didn't know we will be eating fish for the rest of the trip! But the rice with some herbs I haven't figured out what was it was super nice!
Breakfast buffet at our hotel was awesome though! Some of the food looks like they are fine-dining dishes. And guess what pianist playing music for you when you have breaky!  Cool right?
More to come...
Moscow was okay. St. Basil was amazing and unforgettable but what I did not expect was to arrive in another city which is even more interesting and in which I'm madly in love with - St. Petersburg.
To arrive in St. Petersburg, we had to take an 8-hour night train in a squeezy small cubicle in the train...
Pathetic space in the train cubicle! 
Quite hard for us to move around, quite hard to sleep but phew~ What an experience! :D

So St. Petersburg experience next!
More photos of my Moscow trip here!