Thursday, September 20, 2007

Last batch of mooncake photos

Well, my friend Wai Quan lent me her EOS 350D so that I can take it to Hanoi, while waiting for my own 350D to be fixed. Boy, I have been having so much withdrawal for not having my dslr with me, felt so handicapped and disturbed. I felt like my heart and soul is back now haha....But her camera has got some firmware problems, it doesn't shoot in RAW mode and there are no White Balance settings and color tone. Still better than my point and shoot though. At least I've got the lenses and exposure to play with.

Don't think I'm making anymore mooncakes before Mid-autumn festival as I'm leaving for my long-awaited vacation in Hanoi tomorrow. Well my hotel room has got free internet access so I am gonna take lots of pictures there and hopefully upload some of the food photos from there.

I'm typing this from a cafe not far from my client's office, while waiting for my interpreting project to start in an hour's time or so. My internet connection at home is dead at the moment (Apparently I forgot to pay the bill and they have temporarily suspended me, how cruel! What's life (and work) without the internet man!!!) So I'm just quickly uploading all the images while I have access to the internet.

The next post will be from Hanoi I hope...the purpose of the trip is to take lots (and lots and lots) of photos (scenery, people and of course food!), do some shopping for props (key objective hehe) and eat! And by the way, my lighting set is coming sooooooooon and I am so damn happy....finally able to set up my food photography studio!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stuffed squids with minced pork

Mom made these for lunch today but I borrowed them to photograph :P. Tasted pretty yummy but what missing is the "character" in the taste of the pork. Would have tasted better if she added chopped coriander (cilantro) into the minced pork and not just chopped carrot only. The coriander will significantly bring out the flavour, I tried chewing the coriander used for garnishing together with the squid and minced pork...really tasted better!

More mooncakes

Made a new batch of mooncakes today. Everything went fine until the last step! My mooncakes were burnt! *cry* I left them in the oven after I turned off the electricity, so that the egg yolks would be thoroughly cooked by the remaining heat in the oven. But when I took them out 15 minutes later, they were slightly burnt! I cut one, took photos and tasted it...The burnt taste lingered in my mouth :-(

Anyway, the lotus paste didn't turn out that much smoother, though there was a little improvement. In fact, the earlier batch tasted better after 2 days because I could taste the true flavour of the lotus seeds and the skin was not burnt, and was less sweet as well. After 2 days the skin became softer as well, so they actually tasted quite good now.

This batch will have to wait for another day or two for them to mature but I doubt the burnt taste (and smell) will go away! Nevermind...big lesson learnt. My friend Sing Teck said I should keep trying...well it will have to wait till next year then, as mooncake festival only comes once a year (and I'm leaving for holidays in Hanoi soon, and spending mooncake festival there)!

Monday, September 17, 2007


These are the inaugural batch of mooncakes I have ever made in my entire life. Lots of work, and I was a bit disappointed with the outcome. The recipe was adapted from The Star Online (Kuali) and I took the shortcut way, maybe that's why the final products were a disaster! The skin was a bit too hard, and the paste was a bit too soft and coarse. I was a bit upset over the results but I'm making a new batch today using a new recipe, so hopefully they will turn out better.

I'm still sufferring from serious withdrawal of not having a dslr camera with me, feel so handicapped and depressed! I have to borrow my friend's Canon EOS 350D to Hanoi but hers doesn't have the RAW format and the white balance setting...apparently problem with the firmware and no one realised for a year until I took at look at it the other day!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Parting dinner for my project manager: Chilled shrimp, avocado and cucumber salad, chili crab, and stir-fry eggplant

My project manager Sam is going on leave for 3 months to Europe tomorrow...lucky him. Well I am a bit jealous but no worries, I'm hopefully going there myself next year if I can manage to save enough money hehe...

HOWEVER, the dinner was not purposely cooked for him. I was just supposed to make chili crabs (using the swimmer crabs that I bought at the market in my hometown this morning) to eat with buns but he called before I reached home from the night market and sort of invited himself over. I thought...oh well...since he adores crabs, might as well just make a proper dinner for him with a few special dishes or I won't be seeing him for the next 3 months. So in the end it turned out to be a "parting dinner" (is there a better word to use for this?) for him instead.

The menu:

Starter: chilled shrimp, avocado and cucumber salad
Mains: Chili crab, eggplant stir fried with yellow capsicum, dried shrimp and miso
Dessert: Leftover plum genoese with vanilla ice cream

Will just post the pictures first then the recipes later...too tired after a long day driving back from my hometown Teluk Intan to celebrate my grandpa's 93th birthday...

Bon voyage Sam and have a safe trip! Don't forget my caviar and valrhona chocolate!!! *evil grin*

Note: The pictures were taken using a Nikon Coolpix L3 point and shoot so please bear with the quality of the photos!

Chilled shrimp, avocado and cucumber salad

Ingredients (serves 6):
6 medium shrimp, steamed and diced (about 1 cm)
1 Japanese cucumber (use a peeler to create 6 long strips of cucumber, the remaining diced to the size of the shrimp, after removing the seeds)
1 avocado (diced to the size of the shrimp)
2 sprigs of dill, for garnishing

For dressing:
1 tbsp of mayonnaise
1 tbsp of sour cream
3 cloves of garlic, pound into paste using a pestle and mortar with 1/4 tsp of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tbsp of lemon juice
1 tsp of chopped dill

1. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing, mix well and leave aside.
2. Mix the dressing into the diced shrimp, cucumber and avocado.
3. Form 6 circles using the long strip of cucumber. Fill in the mixture of (2) into the circle.
4. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 - 45 minutes.
5. Garnish with dill before serving.

Recipe for chili crab can be found here.
To thicken the sauce for the chili crab, I've added an egg (whisk before adding in) to the sauce and fry for one or two minutes before turning off the flame.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Plum Genoese

Again, from the cookbook...all the last few cakes were baked using recipes from the same cookbook. The cake didn't turn out the way I expected..a bit hard (but maybe that's what it should taste like in the first place?). However, it tasted better when I ate with vanilla ice cream hehe...(but what doesn't taste good with ice cream right? ;))

Shooting with a point-and-shoot is a big challenge....I can adjust the WB and exposure on the point-and-shoot but I can't shoot in RAW mode, so that's a handicap for me. Lighting is still a problem, so I guess I will just have to live with the lighting insufficiency (or shoot with day light) until I get my Lowel Tota pak

So bear with my sometimes-good(when shot in day light)-sometimes-bad (when shot using my 250W tungsten light) until I get my EOS350D back or the arrival of the Tota pak (another month to arrive!).

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Whipped almond cake with chocolate sauce topping

Okay, baking mood again. Baked this for my client but the bad news EOS 350D been sent back to the shop to service the sensor and solve a problem. So I shot this using my Nikon digital point-and-shoot on the tripod, the results were better than I expected :P. This cake uses the same recipe as my mango mousse whipped almond cake but this time I topped it with chocolate sauce (it was supposed to be ganache but because the heavy cream in the fridge has gone bad, I used milk instead :-( ).

When I am writing this, I only have 20 minutes to shower and eat before I see my client for my interpreting project...So please bear with the grammar or spelling errors if there are any! Will correct later!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Fried shrimp and turnip wanton

These were supposed to be made last Friday, when I cooked dinner at my friend's house. But due to the limitation of time (the kids were starving cuz I arrived 1 hour late) so I had to scrap the idea off.

Over the weekend I went shopping for props (again! I know I know...can't help my addiction!) and the ceramic bowl and the small bamboo steamer were specially bought to photograph the wantons. I also asked for a piece of banana leave from the restaurant that I went to have banana leaf rice with my friend yesterday.

I initially wanted to fry the wantons yesterday evening but I was just too tired and lazy. So here they are...hope you love the pictures! They tasted just as good as they looked. I only made a dozen of them, ate two, dad finished 8 of them, and poor mom only had the two last ones!



20 pieces of wonton skin (round, the bigger size ones)
5 medium sized shrimp, shelled, deveined and cut into small cubes
Quarter of a small Chinese turnip (sengkuang), diced into small cubes, about 0.5 cm
6 or 7 stalks of Chinese chives, leave the top part of the leaves to tie the wonton (lightly boil in hot water), the rest chopped roughly
2 sprigs of coriander leaves, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, crushed and chopped
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of groundnut oil (for frying the wonton filling)
1 cup of groundnut oil (for deep frying the wonton)

1. Heat up a pan or wok, put in the 1 tbsp of groundnut oil then the garlic, followed by the Chinese turnip, shrimps, chopped chives and coriander.
2. Season with the soy sauce and cook till tender and sauce reduced. Dish out and leave to cool.
3. Put half a teaspoon of the turnip and shrimp into the centre of the wonton skin, fold and tie with the lightly boiled chinese chives.
4. Heat up a small pot with 1 cup of groundnut oil until the oil is really hot. Put in the wonton and fry till golden.
5. Drain off the oil from the wonton by using kitchen paper towels and serve with sweet chili sauce if desired.