Sunday, September 14, 2008

Weekend pumpkin cookin

Its pumpkin season once again. Its funny how I've only ate pumpkin once in my 23 years of life while I was home. May be mum didn't really know how to cook it or what to cook with it?

Any ways, I rediscover the taste of pumpkin just these few years from friends and cooking mags. I even ate weird looking pumpkin custard - which is a Thai dessert and its delicious. Made pumpkin soup and pumpkin curry several times - my "guinea pig" (that's JP) seems to like it.

So now I'm a bit more "daring" (che-wah!! kekakeka....). I used pumpkin for our weekend! Made pumpkin and chicken pie for Saturday dinner and pumpkin and fish lasagna for Sunday. For the 1st dish - nothing weird about it as its a pie - normal-lar! 2nd dish is lasagna!! The favourite dish of Garfield!! And its made with FISH.... I know some people may think; YUCKY! but to tell you the truth its not bad if you season the fish fillets properly.

Not meaning to be selfish, here's the recipe to those wanting to try it. Its from Betty Bossi, a Swiss cooking mag.

Pumpkin & fish lasagna with tomato salad with balsamic & basil dressing

This is Owen's portion.

Mise-en-place & prep time: about 20 mins.
Cooking time: 30 mins
For a 3 liter lasagna or a square oven prof dish.

Light Béchamel sauce
600 ml cold milk
3 tbsp flour
3/4 tsp salt
pepper and nutmeg powder to taste

700 g pumpkin, grated
400g fish fillets, sliced into 1cm thick
1/2 bouquet of marjoram
1 tbsp salt
pepper to taste

12 pcs of lasagna sheets
70g Parmesan cheese

  1. Pre-heat oven at 200°C. Well grease the lasagna dish. Pour milk into a saucepan, stir in the flour, salt and nutmeg powder. Keep stirring until mixture to just a boil, then remove from heat.

  2. Mix very carefully all the ingredients for the sauce, making sure that the fish fillets are not broken.

  3. "Pile" up lasagna by alternating 5 to 6 tbsp of Béchamel sauce, 3 pcs of lasagna sheets, follow by the sauce/fish & pumpkin mixture. Repeat the process till the last of mixture and lasagna sheets are used up. Sprinkle Parmesan and pop it into the oven for 30 mins. When cooking time is up, remove from the oven and let it "rest" for 5 mins.

I actually like this recipe but JP finds that the fish smells. So perhaps next time I'll use minced pork instead and I'll even add in onions, some chopped potatoes, some chili powder and bay leaf to "spice" it up. I really like this version of Béchamel sauce. But still I enjoy using sour cream instead. As for lasagna sheets, I've always use the quick non-pre-cook type like the ones from Barilla. Fresh is great but then again, unless I live in Italy where there's an all traditional Italian pasta shop in every street corner OR have time to make my own, I'll continue to use the cheats way!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Weekend neighbourhood BBQ

Yesterday we had a neighbourhood BBQ just down stairs for our apartment block. We had our 1st BBQ last year when we moved in here. It was a great get together party.

As its a pot luck party, minus the BBQ meats/seafood/veggies (you bring your own for the grill); I brought orange fried rice as a side dish and green tea cake for dessert. Found green tea cake recipe here. Orange fried rice recipe here. A tip: after pouring the orange juice into the rice, mix really, really well. Then dish out but stand in serving dish for about 10 mins so that the rice soak in the juice. OR you can do what I normally do; pop the dish in warm oven for 15 min. For the cake: you've got to try their cheese frosting! I think the cake without the frosting taste ok but with is BEST!! Its not too sweet as frosting but of course depending on how a sweet tooth a person can be!

The martian like coloured cake mixture....

The cakes, decorated "sloppy" style!

For this BBQ get together, the concierge of our building told everyone that the main entrance, the garage door and the side entrance has to remained shut and locked at all times. I think its due to the recent break into the cellar between Tuesday evening and Wednesday. I heard from neighbours that the cellar (each family has their own "box") was broken into sometime back. And what thy took? Bottles/crates of expensive and rare wines!! I was like WTF?!?! Alcohol? As we don't drink wine that much (may be 3 or 4 times a year), our "box I guess will be safe from wine robbers!! hehehehehe... But still I do feel bad for the owner of the box that was broken into. I can still remember when my aunt (who lives in Germany) told me normally break-ins, and petty thefts are on their "high season" as the months draw closer to Christmas and New Year. Better to safe than sorry right?

So back to the BBQ! Last year, Owen was still so little to join in the fun - this year he ran with older kids! We get to stay on a little bit longer as well this time - at least till dessert! The last time was a "touch and go" thingy - we spoke, we ate and we left. All done within means of 2 hours!! The ang mohs seem to like my fried rice and cake. Well, we're the ONLY Asian family here, so have to make something different mar... heheheehee.... Too bad that that I don't know how to make mooncakes for this coming Mid-Autumn festival! But then again moon cakes are so mar fun/troublesome to make ALONE!