Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Day Dinner

In the past, I would cook up a storm for friends during our Christmas Day gathering.  It is fun and relaxing if planned properly but of course, the aftermath of washing up and finishing the leftover is another matter altogether.  I would usually do a roast, usually chicken or sometimes pork ribs, and it gives me joy to see all friends gather on a table over a round of home cooked meals. 

There´s only two of us in our family as you know.  As a young couple, there are advantages to it and at times too, disadvantage for example during festive occasion where I wanna put my domestic goddess-wannabe desire into practise. This year, I settle for something totally easy of the pack. But it was a yummy dinner neitherless.

We started our dinner with a glass each of Vodka Martini. Hub asked me to guess what the combination is but I failed to recognise the hint of Vodka. Hehe lou kung, more Vodka in please ...

We skipped appetiser and had main course instead.  We had Duck in Orange Sauce which is french inspired. The orangey, sweety sauce complimented the tender duck breast really well. It was really yummy.  I serve them with baby carrots smeared in thyme butter - something I learned from Jamie Oliver´s Christmas Edition program.  Thyme in butter indeed taste great together.  The pear thingy you see here is actually mashed up potato with bread crust outer.  We both loveee this as well. 

Desert is courtesy of Paula and Paddy whom gave us this authentic Fruit Cake all the way from England when they came to visit. They were indeed rich and full of whiskey taste, and deeply flavoured.  Not to mention sweet too so thankfully, I manage to get a tip from Paula just before consumption and she´d reminded me to enjoy them with fresh cream.  Hubby said that the cake was so rich that having the accompanying cream felt like it was diet cream!

So, that´s our dinner on Christmas Day :-)

Saturday, 25 December 2010

This Year´s Christmas Gifts!

I totally did not expect anything from hubby because he had just a month ago got me something nice and I remembered our conversation of me letting him know not to get me anything anymore for Christmas because soon around end January, we will be flying off to the other side of the world for a long, long holiday. 

But he insisted that it is tradition and it is nice to keep them.  So here are my gifts from him in addition to all the little-little surprises he inserted into our Advent Calendar leading to Christmas Eve itself ...

He extended our Urban Nature range to include coffee cups and saucer now. Not only that, he also extended my Thomas Sabo Charm collection too ...

That happened in the morning yesterday.

And by end of yesterday evening, I came home feeling so overwhelmed because my inlaws surprised us (me rather, because I found out that my hubby conspired with my inlaws to get us these) and guess what it is ...

IT is sexy ...

IT pursss like a kitten ...

IT can move really fast ..

IT make a man love you more ... (if you use them properly)











They got us a KITCHEN AID ... no joke.  My inlaws seems to be spoiling us more and more each day.  The first year was a WMF Fondue Set with cash, followed by Bread Machine with Balloon Ride Experience and now this! 

Also ... not just any range but the best which is Artisan.  The Artisan is suppose to be the most powerful model of the lot consuming 300 watts of energy together with many other features BUT I have no idea what yet (hehe) so I´ve got to do more reading soon.  Hubby knows me really well.  It is white in colour, came with the possibility to extend the accessories further but at this moment, I can´t think of anything else we need in our kitchen except for an Egg Boiler and Rice Cooker but I don´t think Kitchen Aid accessories can handle that.

I have already put the machine in good use this afternoon by whipping up a batch of Blueberries Cupcakes and found out that this machine is indeed sturdy and performs like what you see on TV.  I had a lot of things running thru my tiny head which I wanna make but we will be heading to the mountains for our annual Silvester Holiday for a week so Kitchen Aid has got to wait a little while more yeah ...

Our Christmas Eve

We started our Christmas Eve with a heavy crepe breakfast accompanied with yummy french inspired topping ala Nutella and english inspired Lemon Curd.  Coffee was also extra special for me.  I had a cup of Lebkuchen flavoured coffee which tasted so-so ...

The crepe also went really well with some local salamis and Emmentaler. The grapes were unfortunately not too sweet as it is not in season but its nice to have some fruits blend into our diet for breakfast.  After breakfast, we heard some metal stuff dropping onto our front door. One of my stammtisch girls (also hubby´s friend) decided to play Santa by giving us a nice surprise.  We bought these little liquor holder during our recent Stammtischfarht outing and S decided to put our identity to it, of which I did not expect it to be so soon! I hung them onto our new Christmas tree for that little sparkle ...

Celebration starts around coffee time downstairs.  Although theres only 4 of us - me, hubby, my mother in law and father in law, we had a great time chatting and sharing stories. Like the previous year, my MIL prefers catching up with each other instead of slaving in the kitchen so what you see here are mostly bought. But she did spent time decking the home with all things Christmasy thought with the kitchen´s dining table all arranged in fine porcelain.

We had a six assortment cake from Bofrost for coffee time.  Although it is frozen stuff, they tasted like they were made fresh.  The quality were indeed better than the highest range frozen goods you get from the supermarket, so we were naturally very please with each piece we ate.  In the cake variety were Blackforest, Chocolate, Hazelnut, Apricot, Rasberry and Mandarin Orange flavour.

Decaffeinated for me, thank you.  I have not been holding my caffeine well lately.

And some liquor in between. These were gifts from us, which we brough back from Salzburg few months ago.

My slice of Blackforest Cake. Oh did you know that Alsace in France is fame for Black Forest Cake too? Yeap, its true but do not expect any cherries in them!

MIL loves a good bottle of sparkle during special occassion so we naturally had them after coffee session.

Christmas Gift Exchange followed.  All I can say is, I am one lucky girl to be married into this family. Both my hubby and his parents tries their best to really know me and it is all reflected in their gift gesture.

A short break follows before I head upstairs to prepare salad for our dinner in an hours time!  And I was still full from coffee break.  Haha.  Here´s another tradition for you to take a peek at.  A lot of homes here prepare plates of Christmas cookies, sweets, chocolates and such for giftaway when someone comes for a visit. Two of the plates you see here was for me and hub each, and the other two is for hub´s brother and his girlfriend whom will be visiting tomorrow.  All I can say is, theres a whole lot of sweet stuff going on during Christmas ...

My salad was an easy one.  It is inspired by Caesar Salad but with a twist of Joghurt dressing and nuts thrown in to give it a little crunch.  The rest such as salad leaves, bacon bits, crouton and cheese cubes remains the same.

Here´s our simple dinner of Ragout Fin in Puff Pastry Cup, Rosti Potatoes and Caesar Salad.

Dessert (sweet again!) was Chocolate Ice Cream with Spice in Pear Shape.

We stayed a while more before calling it a night upstairs. 

How was your Christmas Eve?

Monday, 20 December 2010

Latte Macchitto with Firenza Nuss Torte

As of late, I have been indulging myself with a nice hot cuppa of either coffee, chocolate or tea in the afternoon. But the ones that I always turn back to again and again is my favourite Lavazza Dulce (Mild) coffee pad which after brewing, I would generously top them up with Caramel Flavoured Monin Syrup and then sprinkle with some cacao powder. I picked up a simple 1.69 Euro cake from the supermarket isle last week too but with very low expectation because you know, that is like the price of a slice of cake. But I am pleasantly surprise sometimes what gem have I stumble upon, again.

My Stammtisch Weihnachtsfarht

Every year, the girls in my Stammtisch group will get together for a Christmas Celebration. Last year, two girls were assigned to organise the outing.  We had a nice Christmas Market Visit session, followed by Bowling, dinner and then gift exchange session. This year, me and another girl was assigned the duty as an organisor. I am not familiar yet with what´s nice to do and what´s not so nice to do on this special day but I am thankful to be paired with someone knowledgeable.

Our plan was rather simple. Head to the nearest Christmas Market after breakfast, walk around a bit before heading off to another town for highlight of the day.  It was last Saturday and as you´ve probably read in news, Europe is again undersiege by heavy snow and dipping weather temperature.  We managed to do a little shopping here and there, sipped the customary Glühwein (Mulled Wine) and did a couple coffee break stop to warm ourself up.  Dülmen, the chosen town, although had only a small size Christmas Market, we were happy nevertheless because last weekend was the last weekend before Christmas comes therefor the traffic had been horrible.  We get to sip in the Christmas air and importantly, spent time with each other.

And of course, nothing is left simple :-P  Each of us were assigned a Sash ala Ms. Universe to wear so that it is easy for us to look out for each other incase we get lost.  Hehe.  I cannot recall how many passerby  stop me to ask if we are indeed in some contest thingy or something.  The girls were also given our group´s motto test or Christmas Quizzes to do. The winner walks home with a little something.

My co-organiser suggested us to have our Christmas Get Together evening in this famous brewery call Stephanus Brauhaus.  Although its officially a brewery, it is also ran as a restaurant with a traditional stone oven installed in one corner of their room.  A lot of programs are offered by this establishment but we were there for their famous "Brau- & Backspaß" program priced at 19.80 Euro per person.  With the package, we get a knowledge of baking from a very experience baker inclusive of hands on session (the doughs are pre-prepared though), bring home a load of bread each, enjoy the ones we made ourself, do a short tour of the brewery, enjoy two varieties of beer produced here and of course, dinner.

I have to mention this ... my partner is crime not only sew each and everyone of us a sash, she made us a baking apron too! And customised with our name as well ... awwwww

The gift exchange for this year is kinda special too.  Apart from going out to buy gifts valued at so and so for one of the member, we have to `DO IT YOURSELF` this year.  It was amazing to know that each and every one of the members in my Stammtisch group are talented individual.  Someone made a calendar, someone made a handbag from Felt material, someone made a decorative plate, someone cross-stiched an entire tablecloth!, someone knitted a pair of neck warmer and hat, another girl knitted a gorgeous neck warmer, someone made Almond Liquor and baked some cookies (the liquor is damn, damnnn yummy and we are all awaiting her recipe!), and someone received a jar of hand peeling cream, roasted nuts, cookies, homemade liquor, chocolates and even a certificate to claim a homemade cake anytime she wants.  That last one is for me and I am surely a happy girl.  And what did I do?  Well .. I can only manage a necklace after realising that I´ve lost my painting skill.

Christmas is in 4 days time ... and I truly am in the mood ...

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Seafood Paella Dinner

I told ya I´ve had enough of Asian food for a while so here´s to something Spanish last night! Spot the chunks of seafood pieces.  I was in heaven :-)  Tonight, I am thinking of Linquine ala Puttanesca ...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Authentic Chinese Food in Panda Restaurant, Stadtlohn

Alas, after 2 years 4 months of eating Vietnamese style chinese food in where I live, we finally discovered an authentic chinese restaurant located just 10km away.  The occassion was our Part 2 Mandarin course wrap up session and we took the opportunity to go eat and at the same time practise our Mandarin! Our teacher was surely proud that night because all of us passed with flying colour :-)

And again, Springroll made her appearance! Haha!

But it was soon forgiven or forgotten when our shared platter of food arrive.  This is my first time dining communal style in a chinese restaurant in Germany :-P

The wok hei was evident the moment the waitress layed the food on the table.  Their Kung-Po Chicken were superb.  So were their Black Pepper Pork Fillet.  If you wanna know if the cook hiding behind the kitchen is indeed a chinese, you can judge by the way how the vegetables are cooked. They are flavourful, cooked and yet crunchy to the bite.  I was having a hard time concentrating when our mandarin teacher whom were seated next to me started biting on her vegetables.

Ahhh ... it surely had been a while since I last heard those crunching sound!

We ordered two varieties of the platter to share.  We made it interesting by switching the platter half way.  Share, share ... a concept which my german hubby finds amusing.  Their Roast Chicken and Roast Duck were simply different from the ones I usually eat in the so-call Chinese Restaurant near our place.  These were fragrant from inside out and I do detect five spice powder too! How is that for credit?  Now that we discovered this place ... we (me and my mandarin teacher) made a pact to return for their 12.00 Euro per person buffet.  We both totally agree that it is worth the 10km drive so I am really looking forward to it!  As for our dinner here, we each paid not more than 15.00 Euro per person inclusive of drinks, tax etc.

Another gem found in Germany.  Superb.   :-)

p/s : I think I am going to lay off Asian Food for a while after eating them 4 straight days in a row. Though tasty, I am one of those that needs variety to survive so tonight, I am making something German where else, tomorrow will be either French or Italian Night!

Chowtime in Münster Christmas Market

We visited Münster Christmas Market the following day which was Saturday. 

One of my favourite snack in German Christmas Market or Kirmes is Champignon but this time round, I gave it a miss because, I spotted a very special stall.  It is an old looking stall with lots of chopped wood used as decoration but what attracted me most were the piping hot bread-like pieces coming out from their stone oven.  The bread is apparently called Flammkuchen but as I know it in many parts of Germany, it comes with onion, cream and lots of bacon bits.  This one however came in either choices of Potatoes & Cheese or Brocolli and Bacon. The sourdough bread looked interesting too and so we ordered two pieces to be shared among four of us. We all loved it.

Christmas Market is fame for their Glühwein (Mulled Wine) so naturally we had some.

Dinner was back to Asian because we knew that both the VM family member love Asian food.

That´s my Peking Soup, whatever that means .. it is a sweet and sour concoction!

Sometimes I cringe whenever I notice Springroll written in each and every Asian stall, cafe, restaurant menu over here.  It is so misleading that all asians eat nothing but Springroll for appetiser in Asia.  Taste wise ... not bad.

We ordered their set which came with choices of appetiser, a main course selection and a non-alcoholic drink. This is Chicken ala Shanghai Style.

This is hubby´s Chicken ala Indonesian Style.

And finally, my Fish ala Thai Style. 

All and all, we paid no more than 9.00 Euro per person for the whole set inclusive of tax and also rounded off the figure to include a bit of tip - of which both my guest whom live in Netherland shock head in disbelieve because they have to apparently pay more than double to eat out in Netherland!  Ah yeah ...well, this is Germany, or at least the area where I live in but again Munster is a big city.  For a reasonable price, you get pretty good stuff and in general, if you don´t meet that expectation, than adios, sayonara and pray that you will stay in business for long. The people here in general are demanding liddat,don´t accept crap and this rule don´t apply to just dining out.  Sometimes I wonder if that is a good thing?

But what I really like about this cafe is apart from getting reasonable priced food, the level of service rendered is attentive and efficient. The cafe is modern, bright and clean (no red lantern and fish tank, thank you!), CLEAN toilet (I cannot stress that enough) and nice ambience music instead of typical chinese new year kind of music.  If you are in Münster, check out Asian Bar for that great offering.  And oh btw, it is managed by Vietnamese so their Phö is the authentic kind.

When Msians Get Together, They Eat

Keeping this post short.

This happened last Friday when we hosted VM´s family at our place.  Since Christmas was near and another girl from Msia was eager to meet the madam of VM family, I invited T family to join in.  Both the Madam of the household plus myself are Malaysian so naturally, we centrered our food theme around Malaysian food.  The monsieur of the family and the kids all has no say.  Haha.
The only thing unMalaysian were the tidbits and little bites on the coffee table.  They were Mini Stollens from Dresden, Aachener Kräuter Printen, Nigella Lawson´s Chocolate Pistachio Fudge and another local German Christmas Goodies.

We had fresh popiah the fusion way.

Angela´s Bak Kut Teh was a killer. Tasted just like the ones we get from home.

CL saved us some pieces of Ayam Masak Merah to try.  It was good.  A lot of hardwork went into preparation of this dish.

I made Japanese Tempura in pretext that we need vegetables in our meal.

Angela slaved herself for us with not just her 2 hours Bak Kut Teh effort,but also a freshly made Log Cake.

Plus Kuih Talam which her hub has to drive all the way across the border for some ingredient.

Aint that a big feast for 6 adults and 2 kids? Needless to say, we were STUFFED to the brim but I am sure any of us will be glad to repeat such a gathering one more time.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

St Nikolaus Day ...

My in-laws will drop some gifts at the front of our Staircase every year during St Nikolaus Day.  This year, we are trying to surprise her back.  Well .. who says Nikolaus only visits children of the house?

The jar were bought where else the rest were sourced from our herited Christmas decor box! Btw, the xmas tree decor piece is older than hubby and the leaves are from the garden. What do you think?

Another great news ... I am waiting to get intouch with my sister back home. Today is the day where she will be having a c-section to deliver her 3rd kid to the world. It will be her first son ... our first nephew but what coincidence that her first daughter was born on 5th December too, and her second daughter is on the 6th December!