Thursday, October 30, 2014

Simple Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe

You know, growing up in a small town, the first cream soup we had is always the classic mushroom soup. And by 'classic' in a Malaysian term, that means canned Campbell Mushrooms Soup which Mamo would make for us on certain Western dinner nights. As kids, we loved those canned soup and thought that was the best thing that has ever happen to the world of food!!!

And then we grew up, like real fast and realised eh, Mushroom Soup out there aren't like that! And because of that, I've always wanted to make the real Cream of Mushroom Soup for my family to try, not only because I want to try, but also because it's actually pretty easy to make!

Finally, during my last trip back, I managed to do that with whatever ingredients I can find in Taiping!

So here's what you need: 
Butter, chopped onions and garlic, 3-5 types of fresh mushrooms of your choice (I used Shitake, white button and grey oyster mushrooms) roughly cut, 5-6 pieces of dried bay leaves, chicken broth (I made mine with chicken carcass of course), cooking cream, salt and black pepper to taste and parsley for garnishing

What to do:
1) In a large pan/pot, melt some butter.
2) Then add in the onion and garlic and simmer until they are soft/lightly brownish.
3) Dump all the mushrooms in and fry them for a little while.
4) Add in the bay leaves and continue stirring.
5) Now add in the broth and let them boil till at least your mushrooms are cooked.
6) Turn off the fire and remove the bay leaves from the dish. Let the mushroom + broth cool a little, maybe about 15 minutes.
7) Transfer the mixture into a blender, batch by batch. and blend according to your liking, if you like the mushroom pieces to be chunky make sure to not blend them for too long. Normally for me, it only takes 6-10 seconds.
8) Pour the blended mixture back to a pot, heat up, add cream, salt and pepper to taste.

Of course, you are done! Garnish with some dried parsley and a bit of cream and you are ready to go!
The mushrooms soup turn out to be thick, slightly chunky and has this sweet broth and nice fragrance from the bay leaves and butter. Super yummy, especially when you have it go with bread! Obviously, it is way better than any canned mushroom soup! I'm gonna make this more often!!! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Carbonara Pasta To-Die-For @ BreadFruits Fruit & Bakery, Sri Hartamas

I have a lot of food reviews kept under my list in which I have visited way before my Santorini trip so I thought it should be Ok to take a break, or two, from my trip's entries to post some of these up.
Be prepared to wait for your table!
So first up, BreadFruits, a bakery cafe that also sells fresh fruits in Sri Hartamas. It is definitely one of those brunch places that takes some time to get yourself a table so be there earlier or wait in the line.
The cafe prides itself in serving fresh produce, homemade stuff and free-range eggs. Of course, I think they also pride themselves as a non-halal cafe serving Chorizo (my favourite sausage yet) in stead of some random sausages in their breakfast set.
I was quite excited to try out their food and here are what we had...
Antipasto Breakfast Platter, RM26.80
We shared the Antipasto Breakfast Platter which comes with a variety of cold cuts, Chorizo sausage, cheese, bread, half-boiled eggs and a side of greens. Pretty satisfying if you love cold cuts and cheese!
Stirfry Up with Choice of Bacon, RM23.90. Additional sausage RM8.
Brunch Pasta with 7 Min Egg, RM17.80.
We chose our Stirfry Up with Bacon, but asked to add a sausage (additional RM8) too. It was not too bad a breakfast set I shall say, especially the fluffy scrambled eggs and the bread. The star though, is definitely the Brunch Pasta with 7 Minutes Egg. Linguine done al dente, with loads of bacon pieces, cherry tomatoes and mushroom plus some greens, the dish comes in a very light Carbonara sauce, so light you wouldn't believe you're eating Carbonara Sauce. You can get the extra creaminess from the half-boiled egg of course, which makes the dish all the more interesting and unique! In my personal opinion, that is, hands-down the best Carbonara Pasta I've ever had so far! 
Coffee, tea and fresh orange juice come with the breakfasts.
Although I wanted to give their honey based drinks a try, we were already stuffed with a lot of free drinks that comes with the breakfast. So maybe next time. :)
Together with service charge, we paid RM84.05, which is actually quite reasonable still. I wouldn't really complain too judging from the quality of the food, it's quite worth the money. Deinitely going back for more! :)

No.17, Jalan 26/70A,
Desa Sri Hartmas,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-62010090

Friday, October 24, 2014

Expecting the Unexpected

Late period, swollen and painful boobs. I knew something fishy is happening, so off we got a cheap pregnancy test kit from the pharmacy and did the test.

Turned out positive, I ran to him and showed him the result proudly. We were both overjoyed, hugged and had tears of joy!

Well, that's pretty much how almost all pregnancy stories started.

Nope, not ours.

When the test turned out positive, I was in disbelief  and very much in denial. A visit to the doctor later confirmed that I'm pregnant, of course, with both of us taking the news as a surprise, more than anything else. Our reaction was so different that the doctor actually thought we aren't married... LOL~!

Don't get us wrong, we plan to have kids, just that we didn't see it coming so soon. I mean, we have only been married for less than a year! Both of us have some plans both together and individually, e.g. more holidays, investing in a house, buying some stuff for ourselves which you know, may be impossible when you have a kid running in your house, juicing all the money out of your wallet, plus, the freedom and time you ought to have. Plus, we were leaving for our long-waited honeymoon in Santorini!!!

I remember crying discussing this with Deardo. Deardo as the not-so-emotional one of us two, told me hey, some people tried, tried and tried and couldn't even conceive, we are lucky to strike a baby so soon you know! Of course, by now I've accepted the fact that God wants to bless us with this gift and we should be very happy about it. In fact, the first time we saw our baby through the Ultrasound moving his/her hands like he/she was waving at us we already went all crazy and teary!

So here's a happy announcement from Deardo and I - We are expecting a baby! 

I'm not announcing this at 3 months only because of any superstitious but because I was freaking worry that the baby wouldn't survive in my tummy. I mean, I slipped walking at the Acropolis, tripped and almost fell walking on the street of Santorini and once in our Villa's stairs... Oh yes, that's how clumsy I am! So we finally went for a check-up and are so relief that the baby is still there alive despite staying in a clumsy mummy's womb! Phew~!
I slipped (luckily) on my knees while walking at the Acropolis...
So anyway, it wasn't make in Santorini. In fact, travelling with a baby inside me made the trip a little less fun. I struggled to walk too much, struggled to finish almost every meal and it was (and still) killing me that I can't drink coffee/tea and alcohol during my trip! And poor Deardo had to carry all the luggage all by himself throughout the journey. The consolation prize here is that this little fellar is such a lucky fellar, having traveled to Europe already at such a young age! LOL!
Nope, I didn't finish those big portion of pasta that's for sure! 
Deardo being a responsible daddy already during our trip! :p
Because this was an unplanned pregnancy, I'm still not armed with enough knowledge, dos and don'ts, etc about it. So your advises and experience sharing are very much welcomed! :)

And to my future son/daughter, if you have a chance to read this, you mustn't feel unwanted because mummy was just being her own drama queen self and possibly going through some hormonal changes too. Mummy sure loves you a lot and can't wait to hold you in my arms already! *muaks muaks~*

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Noming in Athens

When it comes to food, I personally think the Greeks have more to offer compared to a typical European country. Most probably because of their location, their food have a Mediterranean influence rather than very typical European cuisines, which is to me a very big plus point cos boy I love some spices and stuff in my food!
So during our short stay in Athens, we tried quite a lot of stuff. Obviously not all are perfect to my Asian taste buds but I'm gonna share with you some that I really like and would recommend you to try out if you are heading to Athens! :)

Lithos Restaurant
Just about a stone throw away from the apartment we stayed in Psiri, Lithos looks more like a humble but happening restaurant in the neighbourhood. We had our first dinner in Greece there and are very happy with our choice, which was based on Tripadvisor's recommendation.
Still very jealous of cold countries that you can dine outside without screaming of heat and mozzies.
First of all, I must point out that their service is of top notch - very friendly, professional and observant. As do quite a lot of other restaurants we went to in Greece, which is why I keep on saying Greeks are not that bad after all!!! :)
We were feeling really hungry after a post-long flight nap, so here are the starters:
Grilled Vegetables with Cheese, 6 Euro.
Calamari, 7 Euro.
The Grilled Vegetables wasn't too bad, but I would really prefer the vegetables to be a bit more cooked. As for the Calamari, although not looking very appealing, was simply one of the best Calamari I've ever tried in my life. Super fresh, juicy yet crispy on the outside! Yummeeeeyyyy!!! Ah yes, Greeks don't eat Calamari with any sauce so we had to get use to it too.
Grilled Fish, 15 Euro.
Grilled Lamb Shank, 13 Euro.
Complimentary fresh fruits! 
Our mains were pretty awesome too. The Grilled Fish (Dorato fish if I get the spelling right) was a whole medium size fish grilled with just salt, pepper and lemon with whole loads of chopped parsley, rounded up with sweet corns and snow peas. The fish has its original freshness, yet not fishy at all. And those (a little unusual to Asians) sides of corn and snow peas went pretty well with the fish! The Lamb Shank too was super tender and doesn't have the stinky smell that normally comes with lamb, at all! All I wished was to have a little greens and the dish would be perfectly perfect! :)
Together with a bottle of water (1.50 Euro), the bill came up to 42.50 Euro, which is still pretty affordable considering there were seafood and lamb on the table.

Lithos Restaurant
Aisopou 17,
Psiri Monastiraki,
Athens, Greece

Metro Cafe, Monastiraki Square
The next morning, we had breakfast at Metro Cafe, a cafe that is very easy to locate right at the Monastiraki Square. We picked the cafe very randomly, mostly because it was already opened quite early in the morning.
Spot the Metro Cafe just right at the left side of the picture. 
It is a very pleasant cafe to hang-out at in the morning, very quiet with a nice view of the square where people are busy either getting to the Metro or to the Acropolis.
So here are our lovely breakfast...
Breakfast Set.
Club Sandwich. 
The breakfast set I had was not too bad, especially the bacon! But the Club Sandwich was the bomb! I seriously have not tried any better Club Sandwich than this one here! And it's not even at a famous cafes/bakeries but a random cafes in Athens! Fine, I've not been too many countries yet but so far this is the best! Fresh and yummy bacon slices, lettuce and Greece's famous tomato tucked in an amazingly thin and crispy breads, the sandwich screams awesomeness! What I also truly enjoyed was the tomato sauce that came with it, they were superbly yummy and thick, nothing like what we have in Malaysia! I'm assuming that must be a locally made ketchup, since Greek tomatoes are so sweet and delicious. :) Anyway, that sandwich is definitely to-die-for!!!
I ended up eating more of the sandwich than the breakfast set. :p
I lost the receipt so I only can tell you with an orange juice and a cappuccino, the breakfast cost us 18 Euro.

Metro Cafe
5, Monastiraki Square,
Athens, Greece

Nom Cheap in Athens
I did some research and I know the cheapest meal you can get in Santorini is a Souvlaki, a Greek version of Kebab. It is considered cheap in Santorini at 2.5 Euro but oh boy in Athen it is only 2.1 Euro!
The shop looks just like a typical Kebab shop, like those in Australia!
So Deardo and I shared one as supper the first night and I was in lurrrrveeee... Unlike the Kebabs we have here, the pita bread is a bit thicker and smaller, almost like a Naan. Then the filling is either pork /chicken/beef or mix, then with Tzatziki (Greek yoghurt with cucumber), some tomato salsa, onions and fries. It smells and tastes awesome! Pork slices were so thin and tender while the mixture of Tzatziki and salsa gives your taste bud a twist of cool sensation!  And at less than RM10, I bet it is cheaper than any commercialised Kebabs selling in KL, which always come with lousy dressing like mayo or Thousand Island! Euw!
So yummy and tummy-filling yet so affordable! 
We liked it so much we had it again for dinner the next day, only this time, without the fries cos we just didn't like them getting soggy and all.
Blending in with the locals who also love eating their Souvlaki sitting at the Monastiraki Square.
Where did we get ours? Right across the street at Monastiraki Square, with a Greek name of course so I can't tell you exactly what's the name of the shop, but trust me, it's easy to locate! :)

And then as we were walking back to the apartment, we walked past this small shop where there were so many people so we got all curious. So apparently apart from Souvlaki, the shop sells hot dogs and the cheapest one is 1 Euro! Say what? Something cheaper than a 2.1 Euro Souvlaki???
Seriously, who say Europe is expensive when you can have a hotdog at 1 Euro? 
Well turned out its just a plan hot dog with pork sausage, mustard and tomato sauce but I thought I can just share with you guys just in case you are going to be eating cheap in your Athens trip. I'm sorry I didn't snap a picture of the shop though cos it was too dark anyway but it is also across the street at the Monastiraki Square, if you can find the street that has another exit of the Metro station then you will find the shop! :)

That's all for Athens, next up will be Santorini babey! Stay tuned! *wink~*

Note: Names of dishes and prices of each dish may differ since I only have receipts that are written all in Greek wordings.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pit Stop in Athens

Time to start sharing some bits and pieces of our Greek trip! 

So since there aren't direct flight to Santorini, we arrived in Athens, the capital city of Greece, or a city I recognise by one event - the Olympic Games. We spent only about 1 1/2 days (almost one day only actually if you minus the time we slept after the long and tiring flight) in the city before heading for Santorini and this shall be an entry to sum up our trip in the city (I'm putting food and accommodation in another posts).

Since we arrived waaaaayyyy before our check-in time, we hung-out at a cafe about a block down the road.
Two Malaysians strangers enjoying the European cafe experience by the street. 
Athens welcomed us with a very nice weather - sunny with a little wind, just how I'd like it to be! And it was perfect to sit down outside a cafe enjoying your food and a cuppa while observing how the neighbourhood interact. 
View right in front of us.
Ham & Cheese Toast, glorious toast!!! 
For some reasons, I always love breads in Europe (and normally I hate breads). So throughout the whole trip I've enjoyed so much of breads and toasts and am really missing them! Somehow they are just super yummy I just couldn't resist them!!! :p

The Acropolis
The apartment we stayed is about 15-20 minutes walk to reach the main entrance of the majestic Acropolis. I'm sure you want to know more about the place so here you go.
Deardo all excited to get to the Acropolis! 
Cos it's an European door you can't find here? LOL!
Before it all get dirty!
Little did we know that is NOT ALL. More hiking are required and I must said I weren't prepared at all for that! To make things worse, it was a scorching hot day at about 34c with not much trees to shade ourselves! Got all sun burnt and slipped on the rocky roads too because I didn't wear a better walking shoe. And definitely too many tourists it kinda 'potong steam' a bit. And I'm sorry to say Asians are the ones who are freaking loud and noisy, yes I'm particularly talking about the Chinese and the Koreans... ==||| Why must they yell when the person they are talking to was just standing 1cm away from them? Why?
First up, the Theatre of Dionysus, which is still a functional theatre every summer where singers and musicians would perform sold-out concerts here. 
Waaaaay too many people!!! :S
Well, I was pretty exhausted that day hiking up the hill under the hot sun, but the truth is those pieces of rocks still looks pretty magical when they are right in front of you! And whenever I see old architecture, I always imagine how the people in the olden days manage to build them without any technology. The beautiful ruins of Parthenon especially makes me wonder how did those people move all these rocks up the hill when there weren't any helicopters or trailers?
It was very funny we got a tourist coming up to us to ask where did we get our monopod from! LOL!
No pictures are without people walking around because there were just too many people!!!
A beautiful view of the city of Athens from the top of the hill. No fancy high rises, just a humble landscape.
The Olympic Stadium
We then visited some other historical sites which as you know are also ruins of certain buildings, except for...
Olympic Stadium yo! 
Ta da...
The Olympic stadium where the first Greek Olympic Games and the first ever ‘international' Olympic Games were held! Due to hot weather/exhaustion/hunger, we didn't enter the stadium. 

Mount Lycabettus 
Our taxi driver took this awkward photo. LOL!
We had a quick stop too at Mount Lucabettus before lunch. The hill is the highest point in the city so there we went for another city view. 

While generally we both feel food in Greece, especially Athens are pretty reasonable, we got conned to eat some really expensive lunch (taxi driver lar, who else) and so we decided to take a Metro back to our apartment. It was a challenge finding out where to go, how to buy a tickets etc because the Metro station itself looks completely different and oh gosh, we don't read Greek! But it was worth a ride! Only 1.20 Euro! 
Only one English sentence on the ticket, spot it if you can! 
The station which was next to an Olympic 2004 stadium. 
Nope, not very hi-tech Metro, but that's how the Greeks roll babey!

Monastiraki Square
If you ever wonder where we get off and walk back to our apartment, it's Monastiraki, a place where we walked past every single day to get to food and also en route the the Acropolis. 
Stalls at the square brighten up the entire place.
I'm not kidding, that's how big and red their tomatoes are! And they are sweet~!!!
It's apparently a very touristy place but I love that place a lot! It is so happening, has so many things to eat and drink it's just such a colourful place to be! 
Monastiraki Square at night is so beautiful and happening! 
So yea our trip was about go out, eat, go back have an afternoon/evening nap and go out again. Hence I look like I just woke up cos I did just wake up! :p
Random people just dancing their way at the square!
Watch out for my later entry when I talk about food at Monastiraki! 

Some Random Street Shots
Since besides Greece, I've only been to Russia, I don't know if the streets in Athens looks the same as other European countries. Most part of it don't look like cities in Russia that's for sure. Some buildings are very well-managed, some are quite run-down. 
One thing for sure though, Graffiti is a huge huge culture there. Some Graffiti arts actually make the places look a bit scary I must admit. But throughout our stay and visit in the city of Athens, we didn't encounter any unfriendly people or pick-pockets or anything like that.

It's really funny cos people have warned us Greeks are very unfriendly people and the taxi driver from the airport has warned us about pick-pockets and drug addicts especially near where we were staying but turned out we find everything great in Athens! People there are quite friendly, F&B outlets have staff who are really professional... I mean here and there there were some rotten eggs but overall they are great people I must say! 

In fact I was a bit overwhelmed that I told Deardo we should have stayed longer in the city (if only Athens has more than ruins and churches to offer lar)! 
I wonder if the Friends logo is copy-righted? 
I mean, my point here is, don't listen to people who have never been to a place and get stress out about it, go there and experience it for yourself! Many times the city and its people will surprise you! :) 

Okay guys, stay tuned for more! *wink~*