Monday, September 27, 2010

A hint of Edinburgh and jom masak II: Mutton Lasagna

Oh well, I decide to kill time with blogging in this cold morning. It is drizzling now outside the hotel and Princes Street is not as busy as it was yesterday. I am very lucky because the view from my room is breathtaking, and that there are many outlets for me to do my mini shopping along Princes Street. I'm so excited :)
Edinburgh Castle on the distant hill. And this Gothic structure is the Scott Monument, dedicated to the Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott

The left-side view of my window: Looking toward North Bridge and Balmoral Hotel

Okay, let's get on with our lasagna! Fellas, this recipe is simple yet tasty, and I'm sure you can do it too!

This recipe is for 4 - 6 persons. So if you're making it for a smaller number of people, you can just decrease the measurements, but you know, it's always good to cook a little bit more, in case someone wants second or third helping :D

Alright. The things you will need:

Lasagna sheets of course! I bought the one that didn't need pre-cooking.

Oh yeah, don't forget to preheat the oven.

For the minced mutton gravy:
1. 300 grams of minced mutton (yeah, you can definitely use meat too, it's just that it is easier to get halal mutton here in Reading)
2. 1 can of sliced button mushrooms
3. 500 g of lasagna sauce (I use Dolmio's, but yeah, any lasagna sauce will do)
4. Salt, sugar and pepper to taste (white or black, up to you. I like both :D)
5. A hint of oregano
6. 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Here's how I do it:
Heat the olive oil into the pan. Then put in the minced mutton and let it fry for about 4-5 minutes, or until all the parts have turned brown. After that, pour in the lasagna sauce and stir well to get the mutton to blend well with it. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes, and then put in the mushrooms. Add in salt, sugar and pepper until the taste meets your expectations.

My gravy looked like this! I love the colour

Ok. Now, the white sauce:
1. 50 grams of butter
2. 3 tablespoons of flour (if you want the sauce to be thicker, you can use more flour)
3. 500 ml of fresh milk
4. Chopped cheddar cheese (amount up to your liking)
5. Salt and sugar to taste

As usual, heat up the pan and put in the butter. When the butter has melted, put in the flour, half tablespoon at a time. Stir well before adding more flour. After that, pour in the fresh milk, and mix it well with the flour and butter. Add in the chopped cheddar. Stir until the cheese has completely dissolved in the mixture. Add in sugar and salt to your preferred taste.

Mine was made to be a bit thick.. and I put in half block of the cheddar

Now, let's begin layering the lasagna. First, spread the gravy evenly in the baking tin. The place the first layer of lasagna sheets on top of it. Spread again the gravy, and add the white sauce on top of the gravy before covering with the lasagna sheets. Repeat the process until the gravy is all used up. After placing the last layer of lasagna sheets, spread the top with the white sauce.

 Just like this

Now it's ready to go into the oven. 170-180 degrees Celsius, 40-50 minutes. I prefer slow, not-too-high-temperature cooking. So I tend to lower the heat a bit toward the final 10 minutes of the cooking to 160 degrees and add in extra 5 minutes.

And so, voila! The lasagna! Nyum2~ tastes better than the lasagna of Suria KLCC level 2 food court

Sian sayang.. I spoilt his healthy eating habit! Sorry sayang.. seronok ada kawan nak teman makan.. so comes the appetite :D

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Jom masak: Rendang daging!!

Some friends (and at times some busybodies too..) asked me what do I do at home when hubby's off to work. Well, I would say my life so far has been really great and I am well-occupied. Cooking, cleaning the house, doing daily shopping, browsing for new recipes, doing the laundry, quality times with hubby, etc. So far, every weekend is spent traveling around. Not too much of shopping activities as yet (so perhaps, some acquaintances can forget the idea of asking me to get them something from the factory outlet. I rather fill my luggage with my stuff) As much as I do miss the office, I don't really feel like going back either. Oh well, good times always fly fast.

Speaking of cooking, I made this rendang 2 days ago, after badly craving for something spicy and has a hint of 'raya' (oops.. please don't misconstrue the word 'craving' yah.. I just cooked it because I love rendang)

What was special about this rendang is that I made the kerisik and the chiili paste myself. And best of all, the rendang received a mark of 9/10 from my hubby :D Of course I was excited about it, because his tastebuds are hard to please! Oh, that 1 mark deduction was because the rendang was a bit hot. Hubby doesn't really like his meals to taste hot, unless they are sambal.

Ok so, let me walk you through..

The chilli paste

To make the chilli paste less hot, discard all the chilli seeds by cutting the chillies. Soaking the chillies (which are already being cut) in water may help to get rid of the seeds, in case you don't really wanna get rid of seeds from the chillies one by one.

Then, boil the chillies until they appear softened. Don't forget to add in a bit of salt into the water. You can stir once in a while (well, there's no restrictions to do so!) Then, when you're done boiling, let them cool off for a while. Place them in the blender and add in water and 3-4 tablespoons of cooking oil before blending. The cooking oil will help to smoothen the texture of the chilli paste.

There you go, the finely-blended chilli paste

Ok, let's move on to the next one


I didn't have the slightest idea that morning that I would be making the kerisik myself. I told myself that if I were to look high and low, I would probably find it. But I guess I didn't look as thorough as I should, or maybe because it was just not there. Luckily I managed to find dessicated coconut. So here goes..

Pour in the dessicated coconut onto a pan. No oil necessary. Just the dessicated coconut. Heat it until the dessicated coconut becomes more brownish from time to time. Near-to-dark-brown is just fine.

Mine turned out like this. I wanted it to be dark brown so that my rendang will turn out darker :)

Next, blend the brown dessicated coconut with 3 tablespoon of cooking oil. No water needed. Well, yeah it's kinda difficult to blend without water. But, yeah, just try to do it anyway.

So this was my kerisik outcome. Yeah, a little coarse, just the way I wanted it to be :)

Okay, so now it's time to make rendang!!

Well, these are basically all the things you need :)

The back row: Cooking oil, cumin powder (jintan manis), coriander (ketumbar), nutmeg powder (serbuk buah pala), fennel seed (jintan putih), salt;
In the bowls: tamarind juice, chilli paste, blended ingredients (1 large onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 inch of ginger, 1 inch of galangal, 3 stalks of lemongrass, 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder) Remember the blended ingredients are estimations for 300 grams of meat. If your meat weighs more, then you may need to double the numbers. Still, it depends on your taste of rendang. I mean like how you expect it to be;
3/4 Can of Carnation evaporated milk (to replace coconut milk), 300 grams of meat, palm sugar (Gula Melaka), kaffir lime leaf and of course, cinnamon, star anise, cardamon and cloves. I call them 'the four friends'.

Right, so we are ready to start cooking our rendang!

Heat the pan. Pour in the cooking oil and wait for it to get heated up. Then pour in the blended ingredients and the four friends into the pan. Stir well and until the oil emerges on top of the ingredients, then put in the chilli paste. Stir thoroughly and again, wait until the oil emerges.

Then pour in half can of the evaporated milk. Stir well, then put the meat in the mixture. Let it cook until the gravy looks thick enough.

It will look something like this

If the gravy is getting thicker and the meat is not yet well-cooked, feel free to add in water in the amount that you feel is good enough to get the meat to tender. Remember to cook on medium heat.

Figure the tenderness of the meat every 15 minutes.. because then the meat is almost okay, then only you can pour in the tamarind juice (well, my grandma said that pouring in the tamarind juice too early will result in the meat hard to be tendered). Also, add in the remaining evaporated milk, kaffir lime leaf , palm sugar and all the spices. Add to your own taste ya. I love the nutmeg powder. And the palm sugar will help to darken the rendang. Stir the gravy well.

The final ingredient to be added in after the gravy has thicken again  is the kerisik. Mix it into the gravy well. Don't forget to put in salt to taste.

So, this was my end-product (well, I cooked it further until it became dry and thicker.. dah malas nak take pictures..) I was glad that that hubby enjoyed it :)

 My rendang!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Selamat Hari Raya

I guess it's still not too late to wish everyone Selamat Hari Raya :)

Can't believe Syawal has entered its 1 week mark. How time flies. Our exhaustion of the first 3 days of raya has not ended yet, and we are already embarking on a new journey today to Bournemouth for 3 days.

Thanks to the friends here in the UK, our raya was really enjoyable. The excitement started as early as the night before raya, in which as soon as my hubby arrived home from the office on late Thursday, we packed our stuff and left for London, heading for his friend, Faizal's apartment in Elephant and Castle. To our surprise, he and his friends prepared all sorts of raya cuisine: rendang, ayam masak merah, nasi impit, you name it! And the best of all, I feel one of my goals here would soon be achieved: making new friends :)

Here are a few pics of our jalan-jalan raya :)

 The masterpiece dishes by Pecok & Co.

The ladies.. waiting for Isyak prayers and Syawal takbir

 A few of us :) credits to Syina for the pic

Bermaaf-maafan with hubby in front of Malaysia High Commission.. :D

After that, we made our way to Malaysia House.. for Raya Open House!

We made ourselves comfy on the grass to feast on the goooodd food :)

Hubby and I made our way back to Elephant and Castle after the open house, while the rest of the group continued their raya agenda. Commuting even around London can really take its toll on the feet.. getting on the buses and tube trains.. huh. The next day, we left London and headed for Brighton to visit our friends, Doub and Diyana, his wife.

Doub fetched us at the station, and drove us to his place at Brighton Marina. It was such a scenic place. Very different from Reading obviously. Its sandy + rocky beaches and pretty town caught us enchanted. Doub and Diyana received three other guests that weekend: Renuka with her hubby Sachin, and Sachin's French colleague, Emily. We stayed there for a night, and both of them took us around Brighton. It was really fun!

The view of private boats from the apartment balcony

Doub was really busy in the kitchen

.. and when the food was ready, Diyana was the most accommodating hostess!

Nasi lemak!! Memang sedap. Kudos the the host and hostess :)

We were brought sightseeing around Brighton, including the beach, Brighton Pier and Royal Pavilion. On that very weekend, Food and Drink Festival was held at the town center, so there were lots of stalls selling all kinds of yummy food like cupcakes, muffins, jams, cheese, you name it. 

 Brighton was jam-packed when we were here.. I guess people loved the beach and the sun

Before we called it a day, we dropped by at this interesting restaurant called Bill's (take a look at the background of the picture, those bottles are food products made by Bill's!) Well, there's Bill's in Reading too, but we prefer to have home-cooked meal everyday.. I love surprising my hubby with my cooking whenever he gets back from work :)

Three couples: myself, Diyana, Doub, Renuka, Sachin and my hubby :)

Not long after we had our lunch back at the apartment, we bid Doub and Diyana goodbye and headed home to Reading.

It was really tiring, yet it was fun! More pics will be uploaded in Facebook soon. Oh, my hubby said he will do it. 

Ahem.. a hint of us at Bournemouth :D

Well, it doesn't say much about Bournemouth.. but it's really beautiful here. Really.

Ooh, and also, happy celebrating Hari Malaysia yah.. :)