Broccoli Soup

When I was a kid, I never liked vegetables. I refused to eat any food containing vegetables. My mum always had a hard time feeding me vegetables, especially the leafy types; it seemed to stick in my throat, not going in or out. If I accidentally ate any (as mum hid it, i.e. in between chicken, or rice, etc) and I got to feel it in my mouth , I would pinch my skin at the throat area and drink water immediately. The whole idea was that the water would ease the swallowing process of the vegetables, down into my stomach without me having to chew it. Silly eh 😉

But all that has changed as I grow older. I think salads are beautiful with a fresh kind of look when they are well plated. And because of that, slowly, I started to learn to eat vegetables, yet very selectively! Moreover, my mum and her four other sisters are vegetarians. Not that she wants me to be a vegetarian, but I admire the way she accomodates veggies in her daily diet.

As I explored more on adding vegetables to my daily intake, I discovered the idea of turning them into drinks, or soup. I’ve never tried the drinks tho’, but soup, yes ! This way, its much more ‘edible’ to me, plus the fact that I can alter the taste too !

I came across a recipe for broccoli soup almost 10 years ago, when I was still new to cooking and eating vegetables. Back then, I cooked for the sake of adventure, new recipes and all that. However, I immediately fell in love with the broccoli soup on my very first sip and it has been my favourite ever since.

I have cooked this broccoli soup with many different ingredient combinations and happily settled with this one.

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Broccoli Soup

*****

50gm yellow onion (one medium size) - cubed
60gm leek (one stick) - white part only, sliced
200gm potato (two medium size) - cubed
500gm broccoli - cut into florets
Three cloves of garlic - roughly chopped
One Litre chicken or vegetable stock / water 
knob of butter
Cheddar cheese - grated
Salt & Pepper

*****

Melt butter in a medium heat pot.
Fry onion for two minutes.
Add in leeks, sauté for five minutes,
followed by garlic, fry until golden yellowish.
Toss in potatoes, cover pot and allow
to sweat for 5 minutes.
Pour in the stock or water, bring to the boil.
Once you see the boiling bubbles, bring down the heat, 
cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
Finally, add the broccoli, cook for two minutes, 
and turn off the heat - allow to cool.
*This is to preserve the green colour* 
**broccoli will get soft in the hot stock**
Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth.
Then, bring back to low heat and season well.
Stir in grated cheese until just melted and serve.
***The soup will get thicker as the cheese melts***

*****

Serving suggestion:

Reserve some broccoli florets for garnishing.
The cheddar cheese can be replaced with any 
of your favourites, i.e. Stilton, as the
original recipe called for.

*****

Storing suggestion: 

This recipe yields for 4 persons.
If you cannot finish it all in one go,  
it is suitable for freezing and keeps up to 3 months.
If so, after you blend it, do not bring
back to the heat and add the cheese.
Just leave to completely cool before transferring to 
a container.
Portion the soup for later use, 
makes life easier!

*****

p/s: This recipe is suitable for vegetarians too.
Use olive oil instead of butter, 
and skip the cheese. 

*****


When I first made this soup, I didn’t have a blender. So, I pushed it through a sieve. I tell you, it was a hard work ! Nevertheless, worth the effort 😉

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Bateaux Dubai

“The fondest memories are made when

gathered around the table..”

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There is no better way to celebrate a great friendship than making memories over good food, with a drink or two and lots of laughter along the way. And that sums up the evening I spent onboard the Bateaux Dubai for a dinner cruise last week, together with good friends who came for a holiday here in Dubai.

Bateaux Dubai and few other dinner cruise vessels are docked on the Dubai Creek in Diera, in one of the older parts of Dubai. From the outside, Bateaux Dubai doesn’t look as grand as some of the other dinner cruises that are heavily lit up with colourful lights on them. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical at first. Moreover, the darkness of the night, with only a small lamp post for light, didn’t impart any pleasure to my already poor eyesight.

However, upon arrival, we were greeted by the cruise stewards, followed by a confirmation of reservation, before they lead us to our table on a red carpet, all ready for a dinner cruise along Dubai Creek scheduled to begin at 8.30 pm.

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It was a jaw-dropping moment for me as I stepped on board. I was mesmerised by the the first glimpse of the interior decoration that is still heavily in Christmas mood. I bet, even without all that, it still looks as posh as a fine-dining restaurant !

Almost all the tables were fully occupied. Ours in particular was set next to a window; infact, the whole boat is enclosed by a full glassed wall and roof, complimenting the exclusive look to the whole interior and table settings. The ambiance was very inviting and warm, with soft soothing music being played in the background.

As we settled in our table,  welcome drinks and small canapés were served by a waiter who  introduced himself as our server for the cruise. The menu was explained to us in detail, as well as recommendations for the evening meal. On top of that, all tables are provided with a basket full of freshly baked breads with high quality spreadable butter. In between courses, we would walk around the outer deck, and were informed once our meals were ready.

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Shortly after leaving the dock, we were served with a cup of deliciously concentrated yet very creamy tomato soup. It was so so good, surely the next table could hear the uhh, ahh and hmmm sounds coming from our table ! Curious, I started to process every single piece of knowledge I have and methods I may have used in making tomato soup, to test and analyse what was served to us that night. The combination of silky texture and creaminess, with an equal balance between tartness and caramelised tomato flavours, was a pretty mind-blowing experience, reminding me of the tomato soup I had at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant few years ago.

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After the cup of tomato soup, the rest was also as good as it gets. I had a lobster and quinoa starter, which was so refreshing, and was served with a thin slice of celery, mashed avocado, caviar and drops of dressing.

Then, I had roasted beef Rossini that was cooked to perfection, and by that I mean MEDIUM and slightly pink in the middle. It was so delicious and palatable, served with a combination of truffle mash, mini vegetables, a few other items (I cannot remember) and a generous drizzle of thyme sauce.

I finished it all with tonka vanilla panna cotta, a scoop of raspberry sorbet, and a rhubarb compress. The tang from the raspberry and rhubarb balanced out the sweetness of the vanilla panna cotta, working very well for me, as I am not a fan of any dessert except for bread and butter pudding at Marco Pierre White’s restaurant.

Once we completed the whole evening, we were greeted by the head chef, who came on to say hello to each and everyone on board, and to have a little chat about meals and menus. Did I mention that they also offer a great vegetarian menu… just in case you are interested 🙂

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The entire two and a half hour dining experience was in a class of its own indeed. Although the view along the cruise was limited due to the darkness of the night, we still stepped out to the deck in between our meals, making enjoyable conversation under the moonlight with Dubai’s landmarks twinkling against the night sky. We clicked loads of photos for memories, having a great laugh in between, while all the time enjoying the winter breeze of the Arabian gulf as the boat wafted along Dubai Creek.

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A beautiful evening had by all, and we all agreed that it’s going to be so hard to top this one now !

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Scrambled Eggs

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Most nights when I’m not tired, I will be scrolling through scrumptious food photos on Pinterest or Instagram while lying in bed. Usually, I do this to study food styling, as well as methods and angles for food photography. I am always amazed by the creativity of food enthusiasts, and the photographers in capturing mouth-watering food images. At the same time, I get to learn more new recipes, or sometimes I can even be inspired in putting together new ingredients on a plate that results in great combinations of flavours. For instance, eggs for breakfast.

I am not a morning person, and therefore breakfast is not really a big deal for me. However, when I do wake up early, I fancy a nice breakfast to start the day, and eggs seem perfect to me.

There are so many ways to prepare eggs. Of them all,  I love creamy scrambled eggs. As far as I can remember, the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever had was at the Intercontinental Makkah, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was perfectly cooked, very creamy with a silky texture and seasoned exactly right. It was so good that to this very day, I have still not tasted scrambled eggs anywhere near as good as those.

Through experience, I have found that cooking scrambled eggs can be a bit tricky, especially in regulating the heat in the pan. If one is not careful enough, the eggs will become dry and overcooked, causing a thin layer to stick to the bottom of the pan. On the other hand, the scrambled eggs may become lumpy in a watery liquid. This liquid can be caused by adding salt before the cooking process. All of these effects are visually unappetising even before the tasting begins. And not to mention, cleaning the burnt layer from the bottom of the pan is a real kitchen nightmare!

So, here is my take on preparing scrambled eggs. It is not exactly the same as the version I had at the Intercontinental Makkah few years back, but I love it !

breakfast-1

 


Scrambled Eggs
 
*****
Three eggs - room temperature
Knob of butter
One tablespoon Mozzarella Cheese - grated
Two tablespoons cooking cream / double cream 
Salt & Pepper

*****

Whisk eggs in a bowl, then sieve.
Stir in cooking cream and whisk again.
*Vigorous whisking aerates the eggs, resulting in 
lighter and fluffier eggs*
In a cold pan, add the knob of butter and set on medium heat.
As the butter starts to melt, add the egg mixture to the pan 
and gently stir with spatula for one minute.
**Season egg mixture only after pouring into the pan. 
This is to avoid the colour changing and 
the eggs becoming dry and watery**
Then, take the pan off the heat for 15 seconds.
Next, bring the pan back to the heat and keep stirring for
30 seconds, and then off once more for another 15 seconds.
Again, bring back the pan to the heat, stir in grated cheese, 
continue stirring for 30 seconds, and remove from heat.
***I use Mozzarella for its mild and creamier taste***
Repeat these alternate on and off heat steps 
and keep stirring until you reach the desired consistency. 
Serve immediately.
-Keep in mind that the pan is still hot while its 
off the heat, and therefore, the eggs are still cooking.
You still need to be careful here, to prevent 
overcooking the eggs-

*The time interval is only for guidance, just for beginners. 
Once you get started on it, you can adjust
it accordingly*

*****

Serving suggestion : 

Breakfast should be as simple as possible, yet still giving 
us enough energy to kick start the day.
 Therefore, serve it with anything you like, 
or whatever you have available.
As for me, I love my scrambled eggs served with 
sautéed mushrooms and grilled tomatoes (as photograph)
and then I'm ready to face the World. 

*****


p/s: Hello 2017 ! Perhaps, less talking, more cooking ?

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Just so you know

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Early last year, when I registered to join a cooking school, I was planning to eventually get a job in a professional kitchen. At the same time, I also wanted to explore, in depth, Malaysian delicacies.

On paper, everything was perfect; to finish as one of the top three students, in one of the most prestigious French Culinary School branches here in Malaysia, was a dream come true for me. Soon after, I got the job I’d been dreaming about, only, not knowing that I had landed in a seriously problematic kitchen.

Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t being childish, but the kitchen was in a state of complete disaster. New chefs walked in and out before even finishing their first shift; that is how terrible it was. Too bad, I joined them too, after only two short months of working in my dream job. Sure, if I was still young and just starting my career, I would definitely keep at it, putting up with whatever I have to in order to get things done ! But I am not, and therefore I refused to stay any longer. Plus, I don’t really enjoy cooking for strangers anyway.

My friends laughed at me. They said I was being silly. My family was so confused to think that I left my steady job to be a chef and yet quit before I even got properly started.

I guess that two months in the kitchen was more than enough to scare me away from any commercial kitchens. I don’t think I want to do it again, not for now anyway. Then again, I truly cherish every second in those two months. I had a really great time in the kitchen, and learned a lot too, despite their internal problems at the time. Perhaps, I could say I had the time of my life !

Now that I don’t cook for living, rather more for fun, cooking remains my passion, as well as photography and travel, hence this blog to document my journey.

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eventually…

10th-dec2016

The sound of birds chirping outside my window, woke me up this morning. Finally, the weekend is here and I can truly enjoy it without any heavy feeling inside me.

I never thought I could, but to successfully accomplished my one and only mission for the year, or perhaps in a very long time, is surreal.

Two years ago, I bravely took a leap of faith and it’s been a really mad roller coaster ride ever since. At one stage, I hit a point where my dignity was running low, and my life was sinking into a dark hole.

I guess some failure in life is inevitable, so does midlife crisis .. but I’m not there yet !

I could have cried and felt sorry for myself, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Somewhere, from the midst of my chaotic mind, I picked myself up and readjusted my focus instead. I can’t even begin to describe how hard it was …

Now I get to put up my feet and cherish the few days left before the beginning of the New Year, that brings with it my new hope.

To say the least, I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel …

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