Our Christmas Feast for 2014

Last year, we ate from lunch until dinner. This year…

We did the same.

The mains:

Clockwise from top left (sorry, I don’t know the fancy names for them):

  • Brussel sprouts
  • Roast ham
  • Fusion salad
  • Mushroom pate
  • Seafood salad
  • Roast beef
  • roast chicken with carrots and potatoes
  • Broccoli and corn

The desserts:

Clockwise from top right:

  • Trifle
  • Christmas celebration cake
  • Chocolate log cake – to die for

See also:

An Easy Dinner Banquet

My first ever dinner party for the extended family where I cooked every dish. I know this is probably the most awful picture ever but it’s the only one I managed to get because I was just relieved to have everything done in time that I forgot to take individual photos of the dishes. And since it is also the only piece of evidence I have that I actually pulled this off (without starving everyone or sending anyone home hungry – I think), I have to post it:

My first dinner for the extended family...

What was on the menu:

Broccoli and Japanese Tofu in Egg Sauce

Broccoli and Tofu in Egg Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 roll of Japanese tofu, sliced
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder, MSG-free
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • dash of pepper
  • 100ml water

Method:

  • prepare the sauce – place all ingredients, except broccoli and tofu into a bowl and stir
  • soak the broccoli in the sauce
  • decorate a deep dish with the broccoli and tofu and pour the sauce over
  • steam for 8 minutes
  • serve

Happy Mother’s Day 2014!

Happy mother's Day

Because all our special occasions are always about food, feast your eyes…

Mother's Day Luncheon

For our Mother’s Day Luncheon, we had…

  • Organic tropical fruit platter
  • Crepe with vanilla cream cheese filling, ripe mangoes and berries
  • Rocket, parmesan and beef carpaccio with balsamic reduction
  • Soft scrambled eggs
  • Crusty French bread
  • Smoked ocean trout with onions and cucumber
  • Ham and cheese sandwiches
  • Honey-banana cheesecake with almond muesli topping

Honey banana cheesecake

Home-Made Pizza!

The boys really love their pizza. Given the divergent nature of their food interests, pizza is a convenient meal option when we want something that will please them both. Since we’re trying to eat “a little healthier”, the next step forward was to make our own pizzas instead of relying on Pizza Hut.

The problem with anything home-made that you’ve never made before (except for a very long time ago in home economics) is having to find that perfect recipe that will live up to the family’s expectations. This can be surprisingly difficult when they have already been conditioned to prefer the store-bought flavours. Sometimes we need to experiment with different recipes before we find a mix that will agree with the boys. And since we only like recipes that are “quick and easy” to make, it doesn’t really give us a lot to work with.

Home made pizza

Introducing the “lazy pizza dough” recipe from Smitten Kitchen

This recipe is a real gem of a find so make sure you bookmark it! It is really easy to make and it can be prepared the night before or even a few days in advanced if you really want. I reckon you’ll be hard pressed to find a pizza recipe that is easier to make than this. It is also modifiable so you can make wholewheat and gluten-free pizza bases with this recipe. The cooked texture is a perfect cross between the breaded base and the thin-crust pizza – check it out in the photo below…

Homemade Pizza

For the toppings, you can follow the Margherita recipe from Smitten Kitchen, or you choose your own. The best part about home-made pizza is that you can make toppings to suit everyone’s taste buds. The ones featured in the first photo above are Margherita and Pepperoni. I probably should add that Pepperoni pizzas are a bit tricky because they are very dependent on the pepperoni you use. Get the wrong one and it will ruin your pizza.

Hokkien New Year Celebrations – Bai Ti Kong

Although I’m not a believer in this stuff, I think it is important for my boys to learn and understand their own culture. They may or may not choose to follow it, but they should know about it because it is a part of their heritage and history.

About Bai Ti Kong

Pai Ti Kong is celebrated on the 9th day of the first month of Lunar calendar. It is a festival of particular significant to Hokkien people (subgroup of Chinese) because it is the birthday of the Jade Emperor (Thien Kong) who protected the Hokkien people from being massacred. The Hokkien people were saved by hiding in a sugarcane plantation (believed to be provided by the Jade Emperor) on the 8th – 9th days of Lunar New Year. As thanksgiving to the Jade Emperor, the Hokkien people offer prayers to him on the 9th day.

The Story of Bai Ti Kong

“…during the 16th century. It was a time when ships abound and there were pirates operating on the east coast of China. On a Chinese New Year during that era, the pirates were raiding the east coast of Fujian Province. These pirates invaded the east coast from all direction and killed everybody who they came across.

The inhabitants felt so hopeless and were just about to give up, when suddenly, a sugarcane farm suddenly appeared in front of them. They were all saved by keeping themselves hidden in the sugarcane farm. That day was the 9th of the first lunar month. Again, the survivors believed that this was because they had help from the Jade Emperor. In order to present their faithfulness to the Jade Emperor, the Hokkiens started the practice of celebrating on the 9th day of the first lunar month with sugarcane.” – The Daily Brunei Resources

G1 made the following video to tell the story of Bai Ti Kong:

Celebrating Bai Ti Kong

For us, the prayers begin at midnight after the 8th day of Chinese New Year. I have heard other houses beginning the evening’s festivities with lion dances much earlier. Before that, we spend the day preparing the offering food – usually Mi Ku, fruits, “bee koh” rice pudding, ang ku, nian gao “new year cake”, and other stuff I don’t know the names of.

Pai Ti Kong

An altar table covered with a red table cloth and the food is laid out as an offering to the Jade Emperor. Of particular significance is the pair of sugar cane stalks that are attached to the altar. I have always believed this was because the Hokkiens hid in a sugar cane plantation to avoid the massacre but apparently the word for sugar cane is a close homonym to the word for “thank you” in Hokkien.

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Also particularly relevant are the piles of gold paper folded into the old-style shape of money that are burnt as a thanksgiving offering to the Jade Emperor.

Pai Ti Kong

After everything has been burnt, the ceremony is concluded with fireworks to scare away evil spirits.