Friday, August 31, 2007

Fried rice with chinese sausage

More addiction to food photography. My friend said "You're not addicted to food photography, you're addicted to praises!" Well said, but not fully true. Praises means photos look good, photos look good means improvement. So its improvement I am after, and who knows, I may turn out to be one of the most creative and best food photographers in Malaysia. Am I nuts, ridiculously ambitious or what???

Well....aim for the sky, at least you'll fall on the trees. Good to be ambitious, at least there's a target to achieve and a goal to move towards to. I may not get there, but at least I've given my best, and I will have no regrets.

So here it lunch today, left over rice from dinner yesterday, fried with Chinese sausage, diced carrots, fresh shiitake mushrooms, egg, garlic and spring onions. Simple but yummy!

Recipe (serves 2 persons):

2 bowls of rice
1 piece of chinese sausage, sliced thinly
2 inch of carrot, diced
5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, quartered
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 sprig of spring onion
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp of groundnut oil
1 tbsp of soy sauce

1. Heat up a pan/wok and pour in the oil, put the garlic, followed by the chinese sausage and carrot dices, fry lightly. Add the mushrooms and fry for another minute before adding the whisked egg.
3. Fry for about 2 minutes before adding the soy sauce. Stir evenly.
2. Put in the rice, stir and fry until even. Serve with chopped chili, garlic in soy sauce if desired.

Fresh berries and whipped cream sponge layers

Was in the baking mood again, and picked another recipe from the same book that I used to make the whipped almond cake with mango mousse. This recipe is a lot easier (requires less time too, about 3 hours in total to bake and decorate), but the taste result was not as good as I anticipated, the sponge layer was a bit too hard and tough and I couldn't find kirsch and potato flour, so I had to adapt the recipe to what I could find. The photos look really good though, the berries turned out looking real juicy.

I've got the hang of whipping cream and whisking egg whites, so I think these are the biggest lessons I learned in this and last baking endeavours. So they are not that difficult after all! Just need practice (and practice, and practice....) was very difficult to cut the cake as there were lots of berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries) in between the layers (soaked in whipped cream). It is a very expensive cake to make (just the berries themselves cost me RM 40! (about USD 13))

I chose this cake to bake because I wanted to shoot a vibrant-looking and colourful cake, the pictures turn out very well but I don't think I'll ever make this for someone's birthday or to sell it as I really don't know how it can be cut and served! I had so much trouble trying to cut a wedge and the tower tumbled right after I put the wedge on the plate! Oh well....

Monday, August 27, 2007

More obsession with food photography

Oh dear...I must be addicted to food photography. I find myself constantly looking for food in and outside the house to shoot. Everytime I go to the supermarket, market or the night market, I'm always thinking of what to buy or cook to shoot. Came across these great looking small mandarin oranges at the night market yesterday, just simply couldn't resist buying them to shoot! Also bought 10 anjou pears so that I can bake them again to shoot the baked pears with vanilla ice cream photos, if I find time that is...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Whipped almond cake layered with mango mousse

I was in a baking mood on Friday so I thought yesterday (Saturday) would be a good day to dedicate to baking. I wanted to make mango mousse cake but while going through my cake recipe books, I couldn't find one, so I adapted from a recipe that uses wine for the mousse filling and changed it to mango puree. I used fresh imported mango from Taiwan, and pureed the mango flesh with thickened cream.

It was the most labourius cake I've ever baked in my entire life. Baking itself took me 3 hours to complete, and chilling and decorating another 4 hours. But it was worth the effort I guess. The whipped cream went really well, I always have had phobia whipping cream to get them white, light and fluffy. This time around I used thickened cream (friend's suggestion) and whipped manually instead of using the mixer, and made sure everything used was icy cold. The end results turned out really well for the whipped cream.

As I am writing now, the cake is still not cut yet, waiting for my friend Sam to come over so that we could cut together and then take a sliced photo!

Anyway, posting the photos of the whole cake first, but will be back later with the sliced photo. I personally think that the cake looks really good, don't you agree? ;) (Looks like it walked out from a recipe book and waiting to be devoured on the computer screen hehe :P )

I feel like my photography skills have improved tremendously too, compared to my initial experience with the 350D. And I have a better understanding about lighting and polarizer filters now, thanks to my friend Sing Tek!

When Sam arrived, I quickly sliced the cake and took the photos. Lighting was not that good but I didn't bother because I couldn't wait to taste the cake! It tasted sooooooooooooo good, worth every single effort. The mango mousse was so light and creamy, and the flourless whipped almond cake was fantastic, light and not too sweet. The only shortcoming was not enough mango taste in the mousse, next time I will use one whole mango instead of half. The sliced photos (though difficult to get a clean cut):

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Baked pears with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream

This dessert was served after the seared scallop dish, and it's very easy to make. The picture here looks ugly, but it tasted superb! The combination of the soft pear, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream melting in your mouth is truly sublime!

Initially I wanted to find a recipe on the internet or go through my recipe books for a baked pears recipe but none seemed appealing or easy enough for me, so I created one myself.



4 Anjou pears, skin peeled, leave the stalk intact

1/2 tsp of cinammon powder
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tbsp of honey
100g of dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (at least 70% cocoa solids, in my case I used Lindt)
1/3 cup of thick cream
vanilla ice-cream


1. Heat up oven at 180 C for about 20 minutes.

2. In the mean time, peel and prepare the pears. Mix the cinnammon powder with the honey and vanilla extract and rub all over the peeled pears using both hands.

3. Wrap the pears with aluminium foil thoroughly and stand them on a casserole before putting them into the oven. Bake for 30 - 45 minutes, until pears soften (use a fork to prick to make sure they are thoroughly soft and baked) and the flavours absorbed into them.

4. While waiting for the pears to be ready, melt the chocolate by putting it in a heat proof bowl over a small pot of water. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.

5. Remove the pears from the oven and aluminium foil, pour the chocolate sauce over the pears and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

The following are pictures from other better attempts of shooting:

Seared scallops with garlic mashed potato and butterred asparagus

Made this for dinner on Thursday, August 23 for a shoot. Lighting was still a problem, but the dish tasted not too bad, except the gravy was a little too salty. This was served together with some rocket, cherry tomato, radish with white wine vinaigrette dressing, and sauteed button mushroom.

Recipe as follows, in order of preparation (serves 4 persons):

Garlic mashed potato

3 Russett potatoes, scrub and cut into halves
full medium pot of water, about 1 litre
pinch of salt
4 cloves of garlic, roast in oven for about 10 minutes with 180 C
50 g of normal butter (not unsalted)
1/3 cup of cream (or milk)
salt and ground black pepper to taste


1. Boil the water with the pinch of salt and put in the halved potatoes, boil till tender and soft (prick using fork), pour the water away, leave to cool and peel off the skin. Put the peeled potatoes back into the pot, put the butter into the pot and cover for 5 minutes until the butter has melted.
2.Remove the skin of the roasted garlic, put them with the salt and ground black pepper into the pot with the potatoes and mash using a potato masher.
3. Add cream or milk and stir until you get a good consistency.

Seared scallops


12 Frozen giant scallops thawed and dried with kitchen towels (if you can find fresh ones, that's even better), marinated with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, chopped fresh oregano and 1 tsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp heap of plain flour mixed in 3/4 cup of water (to make gravy)
pinch of salt and grounded black pepper to taste

1. Heat pan till hot and pour in the olive oil, when the oil is hot enough, put in the scallops, sear on each side till golden brown, dish out on paper towels to drain the oil away. Leave aside.
2. Put the pan back onto the stove and heat up, mix the plain flour with the 3/4 cup of water and pour it in. Simmer for about 2 minutes, add salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Butterred asparagus

16 stalks of asparagus (shoot only)
1 tbsp of butter


1. Heat up butter in a separate pan, and put in the asparagus, stir and cook lightly for about 2 minutes, dish aside.

Procedure to assemble:
1. Put the mashed potato on the base then the scallops, pour the gravy over and finally topped with the asparagus.

Durian and mangosteen feast

Last Saturday (August 18, 2007) my family and I were invited to a durian feast organised by my kitchen cabinet builder, Signature Kitchen. So my parents, my friend/project manager Sam and I charged to the venue and attacked the durians like there was no tomorrow. Okay, maybe not me, as I was still sufferring from a coarse voice and cough so I did not dare to gobble down so many seeds as the Chinese say that durians are "heaty" for the body. I set my limit to only 5 seeds but in the end eaten 7 of them haha. Another reason was that I had to interpret for a conference after the durian feast so I couldn't risk losing my voice nor let my cough interrupt my voice while interpreting.

There were free flow durians served together with mangosteens. The durians were of first grade but we could only eat so much. Sam was the happiest among all, seemed like he was the one that enjoyed the session most and I actually did a rough count of how many seeds he ate....close to 20! Salute to you dude!

We left with a full tummy and a nauseous feeling...from durian overdose. But surely satisfied and hope to go back next year!

Friday, August 17, 2007

More food photos

These are the types of food that I eat when I am sick .... (still coughing badly and haven't regained my voice :-( I talk for a living remember...being an interpreter, so no voice, no money!) Yesterday's breakfast: Blueberries, cherries, strawberry with yogurt and muesli. And beetroot, cucumber and carrot juice. Yesterday's lunch: Fish and minced pork porridge. Lunch today: Bitter melon and pork spare ribs stew.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Just in the mood to shoot blueberries after looking at some nice food photos on flickr. Picture quality has improved, as I shot them using natural light, and some of them shot outside in the porch even!

Panfried salmon and cucumber cubes salad

Here's a simple dish that I made to photograph: Panfried salmon and cucumber cubes salad.


1. 100 g of salmon (sashimi grade), cut into small cubes measuring about 1 cm.
2. 1 Japanese cucumber, use a vegetable peeler to slice lengthwise, producing long thin strips, then cut half of the cucumber into cubes measuring about 0.5 cm.
3. half onion, cut into cubes of the size of the cucumber cubes.
4. 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
5. 1 tsp. of balsamic vinegar
6. Two stalks of coriander (cilantro) leaves.
7. a few thinly sliced carrot, shredded thinly.
8. Salt and pepper to taste.
9. For dressing: Mix 1 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.
1. Heat up olive oil in a pan, put in the onions followed by the salmon and cucumber cubes.
2. Fry the salmon for about 5 minutes, or until cooked.
3. Pour in the 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar and add salt and pepper.
4. Arrange the thinly peeled cucumber strip into a circle, dish the salmon from the pan into the circle.
5. Garnish with the coriander leaves and thinly shredded carrot.
6. Pour the dressing outside of the circle.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Photo shooting mood

Had the urge to shoot yesterday and today. I stole some food from mom's cooking and shot the stirfry chicken with ginger and onion from yesterday's lunch, and chinese cabbage, carrot, tomato and pork bone clear soup from today's lunch. I made a simple dish called panfried salmon and cucumber cubes salad and shot it in the late afternoon today.

Am still not that satisfied with the colours but I think my food photos have better composition now.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cream of pumpkin and carrot soup with garlic and parsley butter toast

Okay, here's the recipe for the pumpkin and carrot soup that I made the other day. I made again today for my friend from the leftover of the pumpkin from that day.

Ingredients (serves 2 - 3 persons):

1. Quarter of a pumpkin (small).
2. 1 stick of carrot (preferably organic, as it gives you more intense carrot taste)
3. 1 cup of water
4. salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5. 2 pieces of white bread, crust trimmed and cut into 3 long pieces
6. 2 stalks of Italian parsley, chopped finely
7. 2 cloves of garlic (crushed finely)
8. 1 tbsp of butter
9. 1 tbsp of thickened cream
10. few chive leaves, chopped


1. Cut the pumpkin and carrot into 1 cm thick pieces and steam for about 30 minutes or until soft and mushy, turn off the fire.
2. Melt butter in a small pot and add the garlic, remove from heat then add the chopped parsley. Pour into a small bowl.
3. Let the garlic butter mixture to cool and spread on the white bread pieces.
4. Toast in the oven (180 C) for about 10 minutes.
5. While waiting for the toast to be ready, put steamed pumpkin and carrot into blender and add the water to blend till smooth.
6. Heat up a small pot and put in a small cube of butter, when it has melted, pour the pumpkin/carrot mixture into the pot and boil for about 5 minutes and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
7. Pour the soup into bowls, pour the cream gently over the surface of the soup, sprinkle with the chopped chives, and serve hot with the garlic and parsley butter toast.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sardine rolls

Was not feeling well when I made and shot these. So I ended up baking only 6 of these, just enough to shoot haha. It was supposed to be meant for a demo for the sales guy who distributes Lowel Light in Malaysia but didn't end up shooting using that. This picture here is shot using my old set up before he came, as he was one hour late due to a car accident. Pastry a bit too thick but I was too sick (scorching sorethroat and fever) to bother about it haha...I didn't taste any of them because I could not even swallow. But my friends said they tasted okay...

The second picture was taken next to the window and did not use any reflectors so that's why you can see the harsh shadows. Oh well...learning learning....

Monday, August 06, 2007

Shooting for my photo portfolio was the BIG day I have been waiting for...My friend Sing Teck came over to teach me how to set my EOS 350D properly to get rid of the "green tinge" that annoyed me for so so so long, and's gone now! He set up the proper white balance for me, and also the white balance shift/bkt setting...and no more green tinge now! So it was a great start to create photo portfolio for my new webpage so that I can start offerring food photography services!

But I still couldn't get the "warm" food photos that I've always wanted...and he told me it's the lighting...So I have to set up a lightbox next, for soft lighting effects! was a long day today, I've planned for 5 different dishes (not including dessert) but only managed to cook 4. It was a long tiring day of cooking and shooting, so I decided to cut it short. But the best part was, we get to eat what I cooked! The pumpkin and carrot soup was fantastic, so was the claypot chicken rice. The seared scallops tasted really juicy and sweet, but unfortunately the mashed avocado was a bit bland...

The photos consist of (click on images for high-res pictures):

1. Stewed pork ribs with carrot and potatoes (from lunch, mom cooked but I took photos)
2. Stir-fry paku-pakis (edible wild ferns) with sambal.
3. Pumpkin and carrot soup served with garlic and parsley toast (really yummy, will share recipe later but not sure when haha...been too lazy lately)
4. Seared scallop with mashed avocado
5. Claypot chicken rice (but cooked in rice cooker)
6. Baked cheesecake
7. Bowl of cherries, strawberries and blueberries.