Sunday, 30 October 2011

KueyTeow in Chicken Gravy

KueyTeow in Chicken Gravy

Dried flat rice noodle stick, soak in cold water until softened and drained.
dark soy sauce
light soy sauce
sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cubed

1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp dark  soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp shaoxing wine (optional)

black pepper

3 spring onions, sliced

baby corns, sliced
broccolini, sliced
1 tbsp corn starch, diluted in 2 tbsp water
1 cup water

In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, black pepper, rice wine together. Mix in the chicken and marinate for 20 minutes or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat a wok over high heat. Add a little cooking oil, swirling to coat the wok. Add in the rice noodles along with the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and the sesame oil. Once cooked, remove from wok and set aside.

Into the same wok, add the marinated chicken and cook until almost cooked through.
Add in the spring onions, broccolini and baby corns, stir fry for 1 minute.
Mix in 1 cup of water (or chicken stock) and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add in the corn starch mixture and stir until gravy thickened.
Pour gravy over noodles and serve immediately.

This is what happens when MrD gets his hand on the camera....

Saturday, 29 October 2011



My mom isn't writing the article for today because I'm here to tell you about a Halloween event that happened last night. SO MUCH FUN, it was ridiculous. I dressed up as a black cat, along with some of my friends, mostly because I already had the cat ears and it was easy. And partly because I like cats.

The party was amazing; everyone was all dressed up and dancing, and there was pizza and chips, and it was basically a really fun night! I don't really know what else to talk about, so I guess this is the perfect time to post some pictures:

  One of my favorite girls in the world, I'm not even joking.

Favorite group picture of the night! Okay, it was the only group picture of the night, but it's still my favorite.

If you asked me, I'd say that night was certainly memorable and I honestly wouldn't have changed anything about it.

Halloween 2011 <3

Friday, 28 October 2011

Trick or Treat

Stingy Jack

I love Halloween simply because it's an occasion for me to get creative.
And it is also the time when we get to meet our neighbours when their children come-a-calling for the all important treats.

It's been quite awhile since my last pumpkin carving endeavour. I think the last Jack I made was back when we were in Wassenaar.
Every year, the American School in the Hague organised a fabulous trick-or-treat evening out for their school kids; complete with maps and routes to take.  Elsa and her friends had so much fun (as did I). It didn't take long for the Dutch kids to join in and they were the most polite trick-or-treaters ever!

Okay, now back to my pumpkin....
I decided not to go traditional with my Jack O'Lantern.
I chose to let my creative juice flow and go freehand!

Ta daa!!
Meet Labu (that's pumpkin in Malaysian language)

People have been making jack-o'-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o'lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o'-lanterns.

Taken from

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Spicy Couscous with Roasted Vegetables

Spicy Couscous with Roasted Vegetables

2 small sweet red and orange peppers, diced
1 small courgette, diced
1 small onion, sliced
Olive oil, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups couscous
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon, grated zest and juice

Preheat oven to 180C.

Place cut vegetables on a baking sheet and drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place in oven and roast for about 10 minutes.

Place couscous in a heat proof bowl and stir in all the spices. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil and pour over the couscous making sure it covers the couscous mixture completely. Cover with a plate or plastic wrap and leave for 5 to 10 minutes or until all the stock is absorbed.
Stir in the herbs, olive oil, grated lemon zest and juice. Fluff the couscous with a fork and toss with roasted vegetables.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Moroccan Chicken Stew

Moroccan Chicken Stew

       6 skinless chicken thighs
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves minced
1 onion peeled and finely sliced
300 ml unsweetened apple juice
1 homemade preserved lemon, rinsed thoroghly in cold water and quartered
175g green olives pitted
120g drained canned chickpeas
75g raisins
300ml vegetable stock
handful of chopped fresh coriander

Pat dry the chicken pieces.
Combine all the spices in a large bowl, then add the chicken pieces to coat well with the spice mixture. Let the chicken marinate for  at least 1 hour in the spices.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat.
Add the chicken pieces and cook for 7 minutes, or until browned on all sides.
Lower the heat to medium low, then add the garlic and onion. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Add the apple juice, lemons, olives, chickpeas, raisins and stock. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for an additional 35-45 minutes, stirring regularly, until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

Mix in the chopped coriander and serve immediately.
Serve with spicy couscous or rice.

My Naughty Tortie

Lolita Tortilla became part of our family on a rainy Sunday afternoon of June 19th 2011.
Her original name was Tara but I decided against keeping that name as it doesn't really suit her temperament. 
You see, she's a bit of a diva with an attitude to boot.

Name : Lolita Tortilla the Naughty Tortie
Breed : Domestic Long Hair - Cross
Colour : Tortoiseshell - Tabby
Sex : Female
Age : 7 years

She was rescued by the Scottish SPCA in Edinburgh on the 15th March 2011.
When found, she had a bad wound and abscess on her left cheek and had to be treated with antibiotics.
From Edinburgh ARRC, she was transferred to Aberdeenshire ARRC on the 25th May 2011, it was there that her luck changed for the better....
she found her forever home!

So far, Lolly managed to kill half a dozen of rabbits and quite a number of field mice.
She never ate any of them... just left them in front of our garden door as "gifts".

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tbsp double cream
small handful fresh coriander leaves, to garnish

Heat the oil in a large pan.
Add squash and onion, cover and gently fry for 10 minutes until softened and slightly coloured.
Add cumin and garlic and fry for 1 minute.
Pour in stock and bring to boil, the simmer for 15 minutes until squash is tender.

Blend until completely smooth and return to the pan to reheat. Check seasoning.

Serve garnished with a swirl of cream and some fresh coriander.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Middle Eastern Spicy Tomato Salsa

Salata Hara
Middle Eastern Spicy Tomato Salsa

4  fresh red tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh coriander
Juice of half a lemon
fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon mild sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2  teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
a pinch of ground cloves, nutmeg, ground cinnamon and ground cardamom
salt and black pepper, to taste

 In a food processor add all the ingredients and blend well.

My Garden Updates - Autumn

The weather turned British on us.

Fortunately, I was able to take several shots of the garden before the strong wind blew away all the leaves off the trees and shrubs.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Spicy Almond Roast Chicken

Has this ever happened to you...

You went through the recipes... found the two that you like, both happened to be on the same page... decided to do one over the other (since you're missing one ingredient or two in the other recipe, duh!)... halfway through, you forgot which recipe you're doing and mixed all the ingredients up.... gasp...

Confused?? Well, that's me in a nutshell.

What I ended up with was a fusion of two recipes which the family uncritically lapped up with relish... if only they knew...

Spicy Almond Roast Chicken

6 pcs skinless chicken thighs

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2 tbsp grated fresh coconut
2 oz almond meal
1 tbsp honey
finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp sour cream
salt and pepper

Peel and crush the garlic and add to all the other spice and herbs.
Stir in the sour cream, lemon rind and juice and honey
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Drop the chicken portions into the sour cream mixture and turn the chicken pieces in the mixture until they are thoroughly coated. Leave the marinate in a cool place for at least 30 minutes, or overnight if possible.

Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a roasting pan and bake at 180C for about 25 - 30 minutes.


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Leith Hall and Garden

Rumour has it, a ghost walks the hallways of Leith Halls... no chance of bumping into one as the house is closed to the public.

Built around a courtyard, this house was the home of the Leith family from 1650 until the mid-20th century.

The ghosts of Leith Hall

He was thought to be the fourth Laird John Leith who was killed on Christmas Day in 1763 in Aberdeen at Archie Campbell's Tavern (Archibald Campbell Vitner, Castle Street) in the Castlegate during a drunken quarrel in which he was shot in the head. Though he was shot in the head at the tavern on the 21 December 1763 he did not die straight away. He was severely wounded and found in the Castlegate and taken to a nearby house where he died several days later, on Xmas Day. It is thought he quarrelled with Abernethy of Mayen and was either shot in the forehead during the quarrel or during a duel. Lord Forbes was present during the quarrel and could not get the two men to make peace. He left the tavern and did not witness the shooting. The Laird's widow, Harriot Leith sued Abernethy for murder but he fled the country and did not stand trial for a further five years. Murder was never proven and Abernethy fined 150 pounds.

In her book A Strange and Seeing Time, author, Elizabeth Byrd, wrote about the ghost of a Victorian lady in the Leith bedroom who was seen during the day. Footsteps were heard coming from the third floor, though no-one else was in the building. These sounded like a child or a puppy shuffling or scampering along. Doors would slam shut, even on summer days with no wind.

Elizabeth Byrd and her husband also witnessed poltergeist ghosts activity at Leith Hall such as a sherry bottle flying from a hall table and smashing on the floor, a tall standing lamp crashing to the floor in the study and a heavy metal pot cover which was hung on a hook over the stove clattering to the kitchen floor.

At times Elizabeth Byrd felt watched and that there were others sharing a room with her, though no-one was there. She especially felt intrusive in the master bedroom of the second floor. Her guests would often remark about the big bed in the room as having a presence and being terrified of passing it as they made their way to the toilet. This included the actress Isabel Beggs who visited with her husband the film producer Graham Stewart. Another family friend, airline hostess Mary Poulton, would not pass the bed because it made her fearful. Even her husband, Barrie Gaunt, was frightened of this bed and room. He said it was full of threat and had an overpowering presence.

There was a painting at Leith Hall of Joseph, Mary and a donkey. The picture was called Flight Into Egypt. When Elizabeth Byrd looked at the picture she would see a massive black bearded man in the painting, but no-one else could see it. Even when she pointed out the mysterious figure nobody could see it in the painting.

- excerpt taken from

 The extensive walled garden features wide herbaceous borders and has a fine collection of alpines and primulas.

From the top of the garden there are spectacular views of the surrounding hills.