Monday, October 31, 2011

Tricks for Treats


She has to do tricks to get her treats. 
Have a good Halloween fun!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Somebody Knows I’m a Serviette Fetish (not that kind of fetish!)





Isn't it beautiful? Tracey gave me this pack of serviettes when we were over for dinner at her place. Funny thing is that I also brought along a pack of serviettes for her but the one she gave me is much prettier.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beef Tataki and Asparagus with Egg Sauce



We had a Japanese feast at our friends’ on Saturday. Both Marcus and Tracy are avid cook and they have whipped up a lot of fabulous food for us over the years we have known them. Tracey is also very wicked with her puddings.

The recipes below have been kindly supplied by Tracey (she is a MasterChef material, this girl).

Beef Tataki
400g Beef Eye Fillet
Salt & Pepper
Vegetable Oil
1 spring onion
Heat a little oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat.  Season the beef with salt and pepper and cook, searing all sides of the beef (about 1 minute each turn), until well browned all over, then plunge into iced water to stop the cooking process.  Remove from water and pat dry with a clean tea towel.  The beef should be very rare.
Wrap the beef in cling film and put in the freezer for about 1 hour (this helps with cutting the beef). When you are ready to serve, slice the meat very thinly, then lay the slices onto a serving plate. (They used mandolin slicer when we were there  – such a good idea)
Serve with Ponzu  (Soy and Citrus Sauce) and sprinkle with spring onion.

Egg Sauce
3 egg yolks
60ml Japanese Rice Vinegar (could also use regular white wine vinegar)
1 Tablespoon Mirin 
2 teaspoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons Dashi (or water)
Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk to combine well.  Sit the pan over a low heat and stir the sauce constantly for 3-4 minutes, or until smooth and thickened.  Remove from the heat.  Chill.  Serve chilled with cooked, chilled asparagus.

We had stuffed ourselves senseless that evening – as before the above mains, we also had three other finger food dishes. Notice the serviettes? Lovely, aren't they?

Note: Dashi is Japanese soup stock – but basically you can use any stock. Ponzu, Mirin and rice vinegar can be easily bought from Asian groceries or International food isle in your local supermarkets. We bought ours (except Ponzu) from Countdown & New World. If you cannot find Mirin, you can use half-half sake and sugar (or even white wine and sugar). If you cannot find Ponzu, you can make your own using one part soy sauce (preferably Japanese), one part rice vinegar and lemon juice. You can add a bit of Mirin if you like. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sheene - again





This girl looked like she wanted to eat me on my first day at home in Bangkok. After a few days of being bribed with food we have become fast friends.  She loves NZ made doggy treats – Beef Spare Ribs. 

 
 


 I'm a good girl, aren't I? Perhaps I can have some more of those yummy things. Yes?



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Floating Market in Amphawa (Part Trois) or Refreshing Ice Shave





This is one of the many interesting shops at Amphawa Floating Market and although they are not in the boat but on the bank, they are definitely part of the market. They sell ice shave here which is a very good idea for refreshment for sweating visitors. They have all sort of flavours on offer but the most interesting one is Vodka-lemonade. I didn’t try it so could not tell how it tasted like. This Vodka-lemonade ice shave  seems to be their most  pricey one at 40 Baht (NZD1.60) a pop while the other flavours sell for 15 Baht so it might contain a few drops of Vodka!

I have been thinking quite hard whether I should blog about the places I visited while I was in Thailand in September now that 1/3 of the country is flooded. I have decided I will go ahead with the pictures and materials. A lot of these places might not be the same for a wee while but I have a very pleasant memory of  my visit this time and it should be preserved in my blog.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Snacking Thai-style



Bangkok is quite well-known for its (congested) traffics. The entrepreneurial Thais started selling their ware at intersections ages ago from newspapers to flower garlands.


 


When I was in Bangkok this time we found several vendors selling Thai Banana Fritters or Kluay Khaek at the intersection on Sri Ayudhya and Kampangpetch Roads. They were thin and crispy with sesame seeds and coconut in the batter. We bought one bag (10 Baht each or about NZ$0.40) on the way to our Yum-Char lunch at Bangkok Kitchen and two on the way back home. They were delish. I have never tried making this at home but you can follow Shesimmers’ recipe here.


Note: As I am writing this – three weeks after I left Thailand, floods are threatening Bangkok on many fronts. It looks like the city will not escape some damage this time as we have had too much rain and water from the north. I just hope that the floods will not be severe and will not be long.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tropical Frangipani (ลีลาวดี)


 I bought this frangipani as a house warming gift for my brother 3 years ago. It was a few years old back then.


 


It has grown bigger over the years into substantilal size.

In Thailand they are evergreen and in bloom almost all year round although they can shed some leaves at times, they do not go bare like when they are in New Zealand in which they deem deciduous. When this one is in full bloom, it can be a bit intoxicating.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Floating Market in Amphawa (Part II)





Samut Songkram is renowned for its steamed salted mackerels. 

 
 


This stall owner in Amphawa captured the essence of the province on his T-shirts. 


 

I also bought one for Bob. The caption is along the line of the home of frowning broken neck mackerels (does not sound appealing in English) which implies roughly that the fish is so big it cannot get into the basket with its head totally intact (ouch!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Excusez- Moi


Excusez- moi, my name is Bonnie not Bunny, OK?
(Tu es tres mignon, ma Cherie....)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Somnuek’s Seafood Restaurant



 


On the way to Amphawa Floating Market, we had lunch at Somnuek’s in Samut Songkram.  It’s an old, Thai-Chinese restaurant famous for its seafood dishes.


 


This is the best dish I had in Thailand this time: Stir-fried Razor Clams with (loads of) chillies & green pepper corns. 


 


Such a feast (anti-clockwise from top left): Stir-fried Razor Clams, Flash-fried Prawns with Garlic, Coriander and Pepper, Crab Fried Rice, Tom-yum Koong (Hot & Sour Prawn soup), Plain Fried Rice with Garlic & Salt. The Tom-yum was laced with Evaporated milk (likely Carnation’s) – I would have used coconut cream.


 


Sweet and juicy watermelon was complimentary from Somnuek to finish off the meal.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Floating Market in Amphawa (Part Uno)



 

 
My brother took our mother and I to Amphawa (pronounce: um-pa-wa)Floating Market on the first Saturday I was in Thailand. Amphawa is in Samut Songkram, the coastal province about two hours west of Bangkok. It is an afternoon market so you don’t have to get up too early to be there.



It is one of Thailand’s tourist attractions and frequented by a lot of Thais both locals and out-of -towners.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

No Yeast Pizzas


 
 
Bob does not eat many carbs these days but I crave pizzas from time to time. So pizzas are often on the menu when I have lunch with my girl friends or when Bob is out for his poker night.

When I spent my time studying in the US, I had a lot of pizzas back then. Our favourite joints were God Father’s and Pizza Hut’s. I was so obsessed with Pizza Hut’s personal pan pizzas that we had them everyday for lunch when I made a road trip to Las Vegas with my friend Kiat Lan during our Spring break. We had them in Armarillo, we had them in Flagstaff, we had them in Grand Canyon, and etc. That was before we arrived in Las Vegas and just hit the town for ‘all you can eat’ buffets. We divorced pizzas unceremoniously in Vegas.

We bought a special package that included room and one show. When we checked in at the hotel, we were asked for our IDs to prove that we were over 21. I have loved Vegas ever since!


Come back to pizzas after a detour to Las Vegas - I like crispy base and no yeast pizza dough seems to be perfect for this if I am to make pizzas myself, that is. I have used this Speedy Margherita Pizza recipe for pizza base and sauce from New Zealand House & Garden Magazine (July 2010 issue) but reduced salt for the base to half teaspoon. I also add pepperoni, thinly sliced Chorizo, bacon and basil leaves before the pizza going in the oven. For the sauce, I use canned Diced Tomatoes when fresh hot house tomatoes are still quite expensive.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Siamese Tabby



He is one of my Auntie’s cats. Thai cats are quite small and he is no exception. I don’t see many tabby cats in Thailand and this one very much reminded me of Pipi when I saw him for the first time. Thais in general are superstitious and some like to name their cats to represent wealth and good luck such as Money Bag or Golden Necklace for examples. This one is Mr. Asset.



Waiting to be patted.

Disclaimer: He’s not a Pedigree Siamese Cat. He’s just a tabby in Thailand or former Siam so it’s a tongue in cheek heading:)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dragon Fruit




This strange fruit is called Dragon Fruit. The plant is related to Cactus in Hylocereanae genus. It first came to Vietnam from its origin in Central America with the French Missionary in the early 20th century. In Thailand, they call it Dragon’s Jewel. These fruits are very popular for celebrations such as birthday, new home, wedding and etc.



There are many varieties and red flesh is sweeter than the white one. This one is of white flesh variety which is more common and the fruit as a whole is more beautiful with bright pink petal-like skin with green tips. Although they are considered very good for your health with low calories, anti-oxidant property, high in Vitamin C, and so on, I am not very keen. I think it is too bland, not really sour nor sweet. For me, I’d rather use them for decoration the same way I do flower arrangements!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It wasn’t me






Looking at the camera at 9 months old.


Looking at the camera at 2 years old. Bonnie, why is the carpet dirty?


It wasn’t me. It’s the cat!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

767




I travelled alone quite a lot when I was young(er) and single. The first time I flew on my own was when I went to America to study in my 20’s.
After quitting my office job 10 years ago, I still often fly back to Bangkok to visit my parents on my own.
My best travelling companions have always been some good books. When I flew to Thailand this time I travelled with my kindle loaded with several books.


On the way to Thailand, I had to transit in Sydney. Qantas normally fly Airbus 330-200 on this route but they had some issues with the plane on the day I flew so they had to use Boeing 767 instead. It’s my first time on 767. For Sydney –Bangkok route I was on 747 Longreach.
It was also my first time in 10 years flying with Qantas. On-board services were excellent both ways. I was lucky that Mark (he’s Kiwi from Torbay), one of the dedicated ‘Premier Class’ flight attendants was on both flights (Sydney – Bangkok and Bangkok – Sydney, 3 weeks apart) and I was very well looked after. Thank you, Mark, for making my flights very pleasant.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Stuffed Omelette – Thai-ish


This dish goes well with Thai spicy soup and curry – it will soothe your tongue from the heat. The original recipe (my grand aunt’s) calls for crushed peanuts in the filling but I have to use pine nuts instead as I have to improvise and adapt for someone with food allergy – you know who.

Please feel free to use peanuts if you do not have any issues with them.

Ingredients
For Filling
150 grams pork mince
1 Tbsp finely chopped red shallots (or red onion if shallots are too difficult to come by)
1-2 coriander roots (if your green grocer cuts the roots off just use the stems, 3 or 4 will do), mince
1-2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts or peanuts (salted ones are fine, just reduce salt when seasoning)
2 Tsp soy sauce
½ Tsp sugar
Salt & white pepper to taste
For omelette
3 eggs, beaten
A few dashes of fish sauce
White pepper
A few coriander leaves to garnish

Method
Heat the oil in the wok, fry shallot, coriander root, white pepper until fragrant. Add pork, fry until cooked. Add soy sauce and sugar, stir well then add pine nuts or peanuts. Taste before adjusting the seasoning. Set aside.
Season the eggs with fish sauce and pepper (don’t be too heavy handed, the star of the show is the filling). Clean the wok or pan - 26 cm or bigger and non stick will work best. Grease it with canola oil, use kitchen paper towel to wipe away excess oil and set on medium high heat. When the wok/pan is hot, add half the egg mixture into the pan, tilt the pan quickly until the base is covered (like crepe). Place half of the filling in the centre. At this point the edge of the omelette will start to peel away from the pan. Using the spatula to fold in four sides - one by one like an envelope to secure the filling. Flip over and cook a little bit further. Remove from the pan and place on the plate, garnish with coriander leaves.

This portion is enough to make 2 omelettes. Serve with rice and spicy soup or curry.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cloud Glass for October 2011



For October, my cloud glass on show has been changed from Blue to Green.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

My Kindle





This is my Kindle. Bob gave me this one for my birthday this year along with its cover in red leather.



The cover is very neat with built-in reading light.



My one has keyboard with ink display - very easy to read as you can adjust the font size. When it is not in use, it has random picture of great writers and etc. on the screen. When I took this picture, it's Agatha Christie on the screen. It travels with me quite a bit – and has been proved to be a very good companion on the plane. The only downside is that you have to switch it off before taking off and landing as it deems electronic device.