Last day of CNY without him

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Today is the 15th day of CNY, also known as Chap Goh Mei, marks the end of the CNY celebration. When Grandpa was still alive, we made it a point to organise a family reunion dinner. Although my relatives residing in JB usually did not make a trip up to KL, those of us living nearby gathered for a feast. Our last Chap Goh Mei with Grandpa last year, just like in the old days; did not missed out the usual roasted pork, fish, Grandma's signature vegetarian dish & chicken.

This year is very much simplified - we went out to eat at a seafood restaurant instead. The dishes we ordered were simple just like a normal dinner with vegetables, fish & tofu. While we basked in the loud chatter & merriment from patrons at other tables, we looked at each other & smiled silently. We tried to strike a simple conversation in order to distract ourselves from wondering that something was amiss. Who wouldn't think of Grandpa when each table will have at least one elderly folk among the sea of younger family members?

The hour passed by & though it seemed like an ordinary dinner, it never was & will never be the same for any of our family dinner from now on. Dear Grandpa, we may no longer have the opportunity to share these moments together, here's hoping that things are equally great at where ever you are. Meanwhile, we ask for your blessings for a smooth year ahead - good fortune & great health.

British Food Fare

The British Food Fare class by At 19 Culinary Studio was postponed indefinitely a couple of months ago due to many last minute cancellations & I was the only student left. When the class was enlisted again, I immediately signed up for it. In this class, we learnt simple recipes which are classic staples served in British households - scotch egg, shepherd's pie & bread and butter pudding.

Chef Khai started the class with the first recipe, shepherd's pie. Those of you who have heard of this pie but wonders what goes into it, it's usually filled with minced beef or lamb. Of course, you can always substitute the filling with chicken if you are not fond of red meat. Firstly, we prepared the filling by sauteing the vegetables; adding in tomato coulis & brown stock, then combining the minced lamb into the pan to let it simmer until cooked & sauce thickened. The filling is left to cool aside.

Meanwhile, we boiled the potatoes which will be used to pipe onto the shepherd's pie. Once the potatoes have softened, we seasoned it with salt & pepper then sprinkle some nutmeg powder before mashing it. After the filling is cooled, we arranged a few aluminum foil tart tins on the baking tray & started scooping the filling into it. Then, we piped the mashed potato on top & bake it for 15 mins at 200°C.

While the pies gets cooked in the oven, we moved on to the next recipe - scotch egg. First, we blended the minced chicken with 1 tbsp of whipping cream & egg. Next, we added in coarse black pepper, cajun & salt to taste & kept aside. As for the eggs, we boiled them in a pot of boiling water sprinkled with some salt until they turned hard. When the eggs cooled, the shells were peeled off then wrapped with the prepared minced chicken individually to form a ball. Then, we dipped the eggs into a whisked egg in separate bowl before rolling into flour & bread crumbs. Each piece is then deep-fried until golden brown.

The last recipe was the bread & butter pudding, the easiest recipe out of the 3 dishes. First, we had to mix the milk, cream, eggs, vanilla essence & sugar together before adding in melted butter. Then, we needed to prepare caramel which will be the base of the pudding. The caramel consists of water & sugar boiled together in a pot with the ratio of 1:1. The caramel is ready once the water & sugar are combined. After that, we soaked slices of bread (leftover/slightly stale bread) into the milk & cream mixture prepared earlier for 10-15 mins. While waiting, the caramel is poured into a tin mould to cover the base. The soaked bread slices were then transferred to the tin mould. Finally, the pudding is sent to the oven to bake for 10 mins at 140°C.

Ta-da! There you have it, 3 simple less complicated dishes which are popular favourites in the UK. Yum~

Based on the given recipe, I find the bread & pudding a tad to sweet to my liking. It didn't taste as fantastic as the better ones I have tried. Nevertheless, it still tasted good & I wouldn't have done it any better than this prior to this class. More practice needed! Now I just need to get the oven installed & fire up.

CNY without him

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Today is the eve of Chinese New Year. Come tomorrow, it will be the Year of the Water Snake. But this time there would not be any celebration for us as we are still going through a mourning period based on Chinese Taoist customs. We didn't do much spring cleaning like we always did & any form of CNY decoration is not allowed.

We still had a reunion dinner among ourselves; but the dishes are only less elaborate. For the past 3 years, Grandpa was not fit to join us at the table during dinner but nevertheless, he was still aware & happily looked from afar seated at his favourite sofa. This year felt different without him around. Somehow, the dinner became a solemn event & a quiet one. I'd be lying that deep down, all of us didn't miss him a lot.

I supposed this is how it feels having to lose someone dear to you. More so when it's close to CNY when everything should be cheerful & prosperous has now become silent & lonely. Grandpa, though we're no longer celebrating with you, we hoped that you're also having a hearty meal "elsewhere". Don't worry about us. We'll continue taking care of Grandma as promised.