Dinner Party: summer rolls, snails, smoked trout, shrimp, lamb loin chops and potatoes

Had a dinner party for 9 people last weekend. Fine wine and dine with some fine people in my life 🙂

I’ve never had endives before. They are bitter in its raw form. For pairing I chose basil and tomato, just to play it safe. Who doesn’t like a classic combination? And because I had a mixed crowd of meat eaters, seafood eaters and a muslim, I had to come up with a combination appetizers to please the crowd. Hence there were a plate of basil tomato smoked trout on endive and a plate of basil tomato pancetta on endive. Besides those, I also threw in some mini vietnamese summer rolls in there to ‘borrow time’ (cooking main courses!). Earlier on that day, I came across some cute little snails on sale at H mart. I had to try them and make the dinner a little exotic AND of course I had 4 newcomers to my dinner party…so I felt like shocking them with some snails!

Main courses of the night were Malaysian/Singaporean (even this Malaysian is confused about the originality of this dish lah) chilli shrimps or other Chinese/Hongkongese call it ketchup shrimps. The other main course served was Grand Marnier rack of lamb cooked to medium raw…medium, in my twist of my own ‘angry sauce’. I grew up eating lamb with a hint of orange and I think they make a great combination as you know how gamey lamb could get. Orange mellows the lamb-yness down a notch.

Some people missed dessert. Nothing particularly special…just some oranges (duh!) and red bean mochi ice cream.



May 2, 2011



The Steak Stands Alone


I’ve had a well-marbled, naturally-raised strip steak almost two inches thick sitting in my fridge for close to a week.   Finally, the weather has decided to cooperate on an evening when I don’t have a prior commitment, so I was able to fire up the coals and “get my grill on” for the first time this year.

I prepped the steak by trimming the excess fat and rubbing it with olive oil, salt, fresh ground pepper, and a secret blend of over 40 powdered hot peppers.  Tastes in steak vary, and I usually go for medium-rare, but I opted for “extremely rare” because I could barely wait to taste it.  Plus, I was indulging the apex-predator/grilling-carnivore aspect of my nature, so it seemed appropriate that the meat be more than a little on the red side.  To add a little extra dash of savory goodness to the final presentation, I topped the finished steak with a dollop of black truffle butter.

20110418 003 300x225   The Steak Stands Alone

A steak this good deserves to stand proudly and confidently alone on the plate, as if defiantly declaring, “I don’t need any help to be delicious!”  Let it rest there for a few minutes to admire it, and to let the temperature even out.

I recommend enjoying it on its own and then squaring out the meal with sides only after the steak has received the respect it deserves.  A great side to consider as we enter the warm months is some zucchini or summer squash split lengthwise, drizzled with olive oil and pepper, then grilled alongside the steak.  I, however, just washed mine back with some beer.  Heavy Seas Märzen, in case you’re curious.

April 18, 2011


Sweet & Spicy Chicken Thighs

This spicy rub followed by a sweet honey and apple glaze is the perfect combination. The skin was just the right level of crispness and the chicken thigh was juicy and moist.  The sweetness of the honey/cider vinegar glaze hits your tounge first, followed by the spicy rub. It is an easy recipe to throw together with ingredients that are almost guaranteed to be in your pantry. It requires no marinating so it took all of 20 minutes from start to finish. Just the type of recipe I need for a last minute meal. I served it with a small side salad, as well as a lentil and kale sautee.

   Sweet & Spicy Chicken Thighs

   Sweet & Spicy Chicken Thighs

   Sweet & Spicy Chicken Thighs

   Sweet & Spicy Chicken Thighs

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Thighs

Servings: 4 chicken thighs

Serving Size: 1 chicken thigh

Nutrients per Serving: 110.9 calories; 3.3g fat; 57.3mg cholesterol; 657.0mg sodium; 251.3mg potassium; 7.6g carbohydrates; 14.3g protein

  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken thighs
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  1. Prepare a small cookie sheet by covering it with foil and spraying it lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Add chicken thighs to bowl and toss to coat them thoroughly.
  3. Turn broiler on.
  4. Place chicken on pan and broil chicken for 5 minutes on each side. Careful not to let cook any longer or dry rub will burn.
  5. Combine honey and cider vinegar in a bowl. Whisk together.
  6. Remove chicken from oven and brush honey/cider mixture on chicken.
  7. Broil 2-3 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush honey/cider mixture on the second side.
  8. Broil 2-3 minutes.
  9. Make a mini-slice in the under side of one piece of chicken to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked.


March 31, 2011
Food, Recipe


Main course for 1st al fresco dining 2011-rack of lamb

2011 03 18 19 05 32 90 300x168   Main course for 1st al fresco dining 2011 rack of lamb

Grand Marnier Glazed Rack of Lamb

main course for the evening was rack of lamb with the sauce recipe that shall be remained a secret. mash potatoes with caramelized red onions. robert mondavi’s napa valley cabernet sauvignon 2007 brought by the lovely lady.

March 24, 2011