Our Pandoro Party!

Kid Eating Pandoro

We’ve been eating a lot of panettone this year so I got a large pandoro this time. I love eating panettone and pandoro but I’m usually the only one who ends up finishing it. I can snack on it all night long – that’s how much I love the stuff.

Pandoro Verona

However, I opened a 1 kg pandoro last night and the kids loved it! smirk

Pandoro Mountain

There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between a pandoro and a panettone – even Jamie Oliver got it wrong. He referred to a pandoro as a panettone in his program “Jamie’s Cracking Christmas” and no one in the production crew thought to correct it. Panettone is from Milan and it’s a brioche like bread filled with pieces of fruit while pandoro is from Verona (popular in Venice too) and very distinctively shaped. There are six different types of Christmas cakes in Italy!

Pandoro Sugar

A pandoro is very different from a panettone – it’s a frustum shaped soft sponge like cake, very light, with a heaping of powdered icing sugar on top. There’s a packet of icing sugar included in the box for you to dust the top. You can either dump it right on top or roll the pandoro around it and I chose the former. The 8 pointed star of pandoro makes it look like a snow covered mountain!

Slicing Pandoro

The kids loved pulling pieces of the pandoro and eating it with the powdered vanilla icing sugar! :)

Pandoro Icing Sugar

It was a lot of fun and it’s delicious too! Some people don’t like the bits of fruit in panettone and I’ve seen pandoro grow in popularity this year – it’s plain, but that doesn’t mean it tastes simple. The texture of pandoro is softer than panettone and it’s great when you eat it with ice cream or gelato! It has a different texture altogether and it’s perfect for a Christmas centrepiece.

Pandoro Party

I think we ate 1/3 of the 1 kg pandoro within 30 minutes! It’s supposed to look like the Italian Alps during Christmas and it sure is a wonderful sight to behold! We’ll be getting another one next year, in addition to a pandolce (a Genova classic) or a panforte from Sienna.

The 4 hour Christmas Eve sale!

Donutes Bakery

I was at my local bakery in anticipation for their 4 hour Christmas Eve sale where *everything* is 50% off. It was crazy, there was a velvet rope at the front due to the large amount of people queuing up. I’m a member at Donutes so I got advance notice of this, but there’s no additional benefits for members at this sale (usually we get 5% off).

Donutes Xmas Promo

I think I waited 30 minutes just to get in – there was someone there for crowd control since there’s only a small amount of space inside so someone has to come out before another person is let in. Worse still is the people queuing for the entire family! I don’t know why they allow that, it makes the wait even longer than it should be.

Donutes Xmas Queue

Everyone got heaps of stuff since 50% off is a great deal and it applies to everything from drinks to cakes. Unfortunately, all of their cakes were sold out way before I came so I didn’t manage to get any of the large ones.

Donutes Xmas Bakery

I did get some gingerbread reindeer for the kids and also a panettone style cake they call “Fruity Christmas”.

Donutes Xmas Line

The queue at the cashier was insane as well but it was worth it coz for everything I got…

Donutes Xmas Bill

…the bill came up to only RM 30.30! :)

8 fun things we did for our Christmas Eve celebrations!

Christmas Photo 2014

It’s Christmas Eve today! We actually celebrated this year’s Christmas dinner earlier since the kids have tuition and other Christmas party commitments later in the week. Here’s 8 things we did this festive season:

1. Christmas crackers

Pulling Christmas Cracker

This was the first order of the night! We each had a Christmas cracker (the kids had two) and everyone pulled theirs with a partner.

Christmas Cracker Toys

I got a mini basketball game but the bigger one was looking at it with more than a little bit of envy. Haha. I could see it in her eyes but she was too polite to ask me for it so I exchanged mine with hers (a small deck of Mystery Calculator cards – the least popular one).

Christmas Crackers Kids

The smallest one got a purple hairband and a really cute pair of badminton rackets (complete with shuttlecock) which you can actually play with. The party favor my better half got was a pirate eyepiece. The biggest one also got a deck of cards – tiny ones but a complete 52 card deck. There were also selfie props in the box, which we used for our family Christmas photo.

2. Turkey dinner

Christmas Eve Turkey

I had roasted a turkey with cornbread stuffing and demi-glace earlier in the day and we all ate till we were fit to burst. It’s such a huge bird that I think I’ll be eating leftovers for at least a week!

Turkey Demi Glace

It’s all good though and the demi-glace was delicious!

3. Chocolate Monopoly

Chocolate Monopoly Kids

Dinner done, the kids couldn’t wait to break open the Chocolate Monopoly set so we all played a complete round. You’re actually supposed to eat the chocolates in the middle if you land on a particular color which is already taken but the kids unanimously decided to “keep the chocolate Monopoly pieces forever” so they can play with them next time.

Playing Chocolate Monopoly

I thought that was funny and adorable so that’s the way we played it. No one has ate even a single piece of the Chocolate Monopoly up to now. smirk

4. Eggnog

Borden Eggnog

I bought a quart of Borden Eggnog and doled it out while we were finishing the Chocolate Monopoly game. The bigger one liked it but no one else did except me – I *loved* it. Borden makes a really good eggnog – if you like *ultra thick* custard-like consistency. It’s like drinking crème caramel without the caramel.

It’s so thick you can hear the “glug glug glug” as it attempts to pour out:

The eggnog is more custard than liquid and spiced nicely with cinnamon too and it’s delicious when mixed with a little cognac (none for the kids, of course). Lovely stuff that you see on the shelves once a year.

5. Pandoro


We ate a lot of panettone last year and this year and we decided to get a 1 kg pandoro for Christmas Eve dinner instead. Pandoro is the speciality Christmas cake for Verona (it’s also popular in Venice) and tastes completely different from panettone (which is from Milan). There are actually six (!!!) different regional Christmas cakes in Italy.

Pandoro Classico

I thought I wanted to expose the kids to different foods and since we already ate panettone, it was pandoro for the after-dinner dessert. Pandoro is also a sweet leavened product that’s dusted with sugar and shaped like a frustum. I love pandoro, you can scoop out the middle and add gelato inside and it’s meant to look like an 8-sided snow mountain.

6. Christmas tree

Christmas Tree

I wanted to get a large real Christmas tree (it’s about RM 600) but my better half forbade it. The trees actually shed a lot of needles every day so it can be a chore to clean up after it. We settled for a fake miniature Christmas tree instead.

7. LEGO time


This was the part which the kids were most looking forward to. They have been huge fans of LEGO since the LEGO movie came out and we encouraged their creativity – it’s good for them. The collection that we’re getting for the kids is the LEGO CITY range and I bought them a large set with a large police set-up with boats.

Building LEGO

It basically involves a generic LEGO bad guy escaping with pilfered cash and jewels in a boat while the police goes after him. The amazing thing is that the boats actually float in water! We each assembled a section and I finished up the most difficult part where a thread had to be tied into a hook to attach to the LEGO police boat – it actually has working parts that moves to winch the boat up!

LEGO Floating Boats

We had a lot of quality time together with the kids on this one – various scenarios were enacted and played out. I role-played the lazy LEGO police who would not move out with the truck containing the boat until the kids got the police lingo right. Haha.

LEGO Working Winch

We actually have a new site dedicated to LEGO minis now, it’s primarily done by my awesome better half, who takes amazing posed photos with our growing collection of LEGO minifigures – the site is called tumblingminis.com

8. Family photo

Christmas Photo

This is our Christmas 2014 family photo! It was taken with the selfie props from the Christmas crackers and I thought it made for a nice photo. It serves as a digital Christmas card too – I sent it to my dad and my sister and they both loved it to bits.

Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us! May the festive season bring you joy, peace and love. :)

Roasting our Christmas turkey with corn bread stuffing and demi-glace

Christmas Turkey

I got a beast of a bird this year for the annual Christmas roast turkey dinner!

Huge Frozen Turkey

It’s a huge 6.5 kg (14 pound) young turkey for RM 192.71. This is over twice as big as the turkey we roasted last year. I was actually torn between getting this and a capon (castrated rooster) so I asked the kids what they wanted.

Turkey Breast

It was a resounding vote for turkey coz they liked the turkey that I roasted last year for Christmas. smirk

Turkey Cuts

There’s no shortages for non-halal turkey this year so that’s a good thing for us. I have no idea what makes a turkey halal or non-halal (probably due to the way it’s slaughtered) but this was a different brand called Norbest from the US and there were large signs warning of it’s haram (forbidden) status to Muslims which I always found a little strange since Christmas is a Christian (or at least secular) holiday.

Defrosting Turkey

I’ve actually cooked with this particular brand of turkey before and since I had just 24 hours to get it right, I used the Fast Defrost method by dunking the entire turkey into water and changing the water every 4 hours.

Trussed Turkey

It was what I did last year too but on a more urgent time scale since this was a heavier bird. Haha.

Cornbread Turkey Stuffing

We also got a pack of demi-glace and corn bread stuffing for a more expedient roast (plus, these two taste really good).

Chopping Vegetables

I chopped up a cup of yellow onions and celery

Onion Celery

…and sautéed them in butter,

Turkey Stuffing

…before adding it to the corn bread stuffing and gravy.

Giblets Bag

Next it was time to clean the bird, take out the bag of giblets (this is arguably where the old school gamer term gibs originated from for those of us who played shooters like Doom, Quake and Unreal back in the days) and pat it dry.

Stuffing Turkey

I stuffed the cavity of the turkey with my newly made corn bread stuffing mix and (with some difficulty) got it into the preheated oven at 200 Celsius.

Turkey Stuffed

I covered the turkey with aluminium foil and took it off after 3 ½ hours to brown the top and here’s what my turkey looks like after 4 hours!

Turkey Oven

This turkey has a built-in meat thermometer that pops out when it’s done, although we used our own to check too:

Turkey Pop Out Device

I started the demi-glace while the turkey was resting and it was lovely – this is restaurant quality demi-glace, RM 14.95 for ½ cup but it’s awesome! It has reduced white wine inside and you can add your own wine in lieu of water for a tastier demi-glace (make sure to cook off the raw alcohol).

Demi Glace

My better half and the kids loved it!

Carving Turkey

The young but large turkey was carved up according to everyone’s preference – the smallest one wanted a drum while I had an entire leg, the biggest one wanted the huge wing and my better half got a slice of prime breast meat.

Little Kid Eating Huge Turkey

Christmas dinner is always my responsibility and I’m glad we had so much fun with our celebrations – it took me quite a bit of planning and shopping to get enough activities to keep the kids entertained. There’s Christmas crackers, eggnog, presents, and more – Christmas is definitely not over yet!

Merry Christmas everyone! :)

12 things I bought for Christmas

1. Chocolate Monopoly

Chocolate Monopoly

This is an awesome find for RM 59.95! It’s a licensed Monopoly board game but all the cards, game pieces and property are replaced with chocolate pieces. The rules are somewhat similar but it’s of the spinner variety (there is no Monopoly money) so I thought it’ll be a great game for us to play with the kids on Christmas coz you can eat the chocolate pieces afterwards.

2. Christmas crackers

Tom Smith Selfie Christmas Crackers

An essential for the festive season, Christmas crackers are large pieces of cardboard with a snapper firecracker inside that explodes with a bang. The fun bit is that there’s miniature toys inside – usually tiny keepsakes that can range from a small compass to fart cushions. I bought a pack of six of the Tom Smith luxury version (RM 59.90) – one each for us and the kids plus two extra for my dear’s parents.

3. Snickers Slice n’ Share

Huge Snickers Slice Share

This is a *gigantic* bar of Snickers! It’s not pre-cut so it’s a solid block of candy that weighs 453.6 grams. You have to slice it into pieces yourself, thus the name. I’ve never seen this format before. I think it’s specially made for the 2014 festive season since it fits well with the large family dinner and sharing theme. This solid 1 pound (!!!) block of Snickers costs a staggering RM 68.95.

4. Porky Salt

Porky Salt

Haha! This is made by Garam Haram which literally translates to Forbidden Salt (and it rhymes too). It’s a play on the fact that pork is forbidden (haram) to Muslims and this is literally bacon infused salt. Porky Salt is a local artisanal product that’s just RM 15 and I can think of many ways to use it this Christmas dinner, whether we roast a traditional turkey like last year or go Asian.

5. Panettone


What is Christmas without panettone? This brioche like edible is a Christmas staple in Milan and I’ve only seen it suddenly appear on the market in the last few years. I went to an Italian restaurant and had a wonderful “tiramisu” made with panettone in 2012 and I thought it was lovely. We also bought one last year for our Christmas celebrations. It’s tastier than the rock solid fruitcake that we’re used to eating before panettone started to flood the market as an alternative.

6. Giant Juicy Fruit

Giant Chewing Gum

Yup, this classic by Wrigley’s is supersized for the holidays! smirk I loved chewing on these when I was in high school – so much so that my Physics teacher in Christchurch called me “Eater”. Needless to say, I wasn’t a model student but I quite liked that nickname. You can eat in most classes in New Zealand (they’re not as strict as over here) but that particular educator didn’t like anyone doing so.

7. Huge roll of Life Savers

Giant Lifesavers

This classic sweet has put on some weight for the festive season too. The plus sized roll of Lifesavers is now 30 times as large as a regular roll! I used to eat this in high school too, it was cheap and I’m particular to the Musk flavored ones but you can’t find that flavor outside of Australia and New Zealand for some reason. Musk is not a popular flavor except down under.

8. White Cheddar Popcorn

White Cheddar Popcorn

You know how some people decorate their Christmas trees with popcorn? Well, not us, we prefer to *eat* popcorn. Especially if it’s this expensive! This bag of savory popcorn costs RM 21.90 and it’s made in the US by Angie’s. This is the White Cheddar flavor and they use all natural organic ingredients. It also checks all the healthy tick-boxes by being gluten-free, low trans fat, and whole grain.

9. Crème Brûlée

Creme Brulee

I accidentally bought this RM 12.50 packet of crème brûlée, thinking it was crème caramel. I love the latter, have eaten heaps of them as a kid (my mom used to make them) but it seems like they dropped off the face of the Earth! Since the advent of crème brûlée, the preparation without the blow-torched hard crack top seems to have disappeared. It used to be served in coffee-shops and I’ve been missing crème caramel since.

10. Christmas hampers

Christmas Hampers

‘Tis the season to be giving! I bought a RM 280 Christmas hamper for my better half so we could open it on Christmas Eve. I was torn between the one inside the sleigh and the one that’s in a large tube wooden reusable box (there’s only a RM 20 price difference) and after much consideration, chose the former. The retail assistant told me they both contain the same thing, it’s the wooden sleigh that’s more expensive due to craftsmanship.

11. Valrhona chocolates


It hurts my brain to even see this. Haha! We had gotten Valrhona chocolates from France – they have really good single origin Grand Crus and it’s the chocolate of choice for many high end Parisian fine dining restaurants. It’s very expensive to source your own Grand Crus from small gourmet purveyors like what Michelin starred restaurants do so this is the next best thing. I found it while shopping at BIG in Publika – I didn’t even know Malaysia stocks this.

12. Eggnog


You can’t have Christmas without eggnog. I have tried making my own but it’s a time consuming process if you have a turkey and other sides to take care of and store bought tastes just as good. They even have eggnog with alcohol included (mixture of brandy, whisky and rum for 14.75% alcohol) for RM 85.90 for 1.75 litres but if you have your own spirits, you can just get the regular 1 quart (946 ml) Grade A Eggnog for RM 23.90 and add your own to taste.

Short mention:

Christmas Hamper Ling

I used my credit card to purchase this Christmas hamper that I got my better half. I wanted to get my dear something nice and this beautiful reindeer sleigh contains all her favorites – hot chocolate, cookies, Turkish Delight. There’s even some marshmallows for the kids and a stuffed toy that looks suspiciously like Olaf from Frozen. I’ve been using my Maybank credit card for *everything* since I can get my purchases for free with their I LOVE 100% Cashback campaign! Just spend with your Maybank cards from now until 31st January 2015 and get your expenses paid off!

Check it out – there’s nothing better than getting your festive season spending paid off with a 100% cashback to spread some festive cheer! :)

Our anniversary: Cardboard apartment, Christmas pudding, Murano glass charm

godiva craft apartment

My dear gave me a really *wonderful* present during our anniversary. It so happens that our anniversary also falls on Christmas so I had two gifts! She made this apartment out of craft paper and cardboard on a Godiva chocolate box base I had given her.

vows exchange

The entire creation is very intricate – there’s a lot of detail to everything, including a vow exchange, appropriately put inside a recycled Pandora charm box. <3 mailbox

It’s very beautiful and creative, and the Godiva box used as a base is a bit of an inside thing. She had given me the *cover* the previous month and now it’s a set with the *base*. I had originally given it to her as a trilogy of premium chocolates. Haha!

cardboard apartment

The gift is actually a MasterChef Australia dinner @ the apartment. Geddit? She got 4 x RM 50 worth of vouchers from winning a contest – thus, the apartment inside a cardboard apartment. :D The questionable thing about the vouchers it that they state that each one can be used on a per table, per meal basis. I thought that was a bit dodgy – this was the first prize of the contest!

christmas present

She had already known about the set dinner, it’s something we both like since we watched Season 5 together. She was prepared to pay the rest of the balance and use just a RM 50 voucher due to the rules but it turns out that the supervisor accepted all the vouchers, so that’s good.

chocolate covered pretzels

I also got a box of chocolate pretzels as a Christmas gift! :D

secret candy surprise

This is something that stems out of when she always used to cook for me. I’ll eat from her Tupperware boxes, wash them, and fill them with “secret candy surprises” so when she opens them, she’ll see her favorite candy as a gesture of thanks.

murano charm

I got her something that had always been missing from her Pandora bracelet, which is a Murano glass bead charm! She had originally mentioned that it seems a bit uncomfortable and clunky but I had seen her looking at it in the brochures so I got her a nice pink and purple one!

christmas anniversary

I also got a cute, red box to keep the charm inside. I found it while browsing through the Christmas stuff aisles and thought it would be nice to hide the charm in since I always seem to give her the same thing each anniversary. Heh. I also bought a tiny card to write a message to her.

christmas mini pudding

Pandora also sent me a RM 50 voucher for being a Pandora Club Member. Unfortunately, I had listed that I wanted to cash it in at Paradigm Mall instead of TCM and it expired on the 31st December 2013 so I didn’t get to use it at all!

pandora murano charm

I also got her another charm as a Christmas present – thus, this is the anniversary where she got two charms instead of one! I got her a Christmas tree charm so she’ll remember that this is our anniversary which coincided with Christmas! smirk

boiling christmas pudding

It was quite late when we did our gift exchange and I had bought a small Christmas pudding just for this dual-celebration.

christmas pudding

The mini pudding is quite nifty, you just need to dump the entire packaging into boiling water for 20 minutes! The wrapper is heatproof and it warms up the Christmas pudding nicely. It tastes good – there’s lots of brandy inside (thus the Tidak Halal sticker) and just the right portion for two.


We had it with a scoop of ice cream to end the night with. I’m lucky to have you dear! Thanks for the thoughtful and loving MasterChef dinner anniversary gift and the house which you built. *hugs*

Our MasterChef Australia 5-Course Dinner @ the apartment

masterchef australia dinner

A MasterChef dinner? I was puzzled when my dear gave me this as a very special and memorable Christmas present. I was curious about how you can have a MasterChef dinner in Malaysia and we arrived at the apartment @ the Curve after making reservations.

masterchef dinner malaysia

It turns out that there is a special, limited edition degustation menu from the judges and contestants of MasterChef Australia Season 5. This is totally legit, the recipes were licensed to the apartment and my better half had won RM 200 worth of vouchers so she treated me to this delicious dinner.

masterchef degustation menu

There are three (3) main courses to choose from – Stuffed Turkey with Pumpkin Puree (RM 128++) based on Samira El Khaffir’s Stuffed Chicken with Pumpkin Puree recipe, Seared Steak with Hollandaise Sauce, Roasted Pumpkin, Cauliflower & Pine Nut (RM 148++) by Michael Todd and Confit Salmon (RM 98++) by Samira – the contestant we both dislike immensely. Haha!



This was a duo of grilled cherry tomatoes with herbs on nachos. There’s only two on the plate (which is the standard plate the apartment uses for appetizers and thus a bit worn looking) which was a little bit weird, plating wise, coz you always put three (3) servings or another odd number. I only realized this when my better half told me about it. It’s a wonderful start though – this is a delicious complimentary starter from the chef.

Braised Lamb Shoulder Tostada (Andy Allen)

lamb shoulder tostada

We both loved this as well. My dear said the lamb didn’t have too much of a gamey taste so it suits her. I thought it was executed well and the lamb shoulder gave a nice texture to put on the tostada. It’s just a little too similar, texture-wise, to the amuse-bouche. I loved the juicy pomegranate seeds strewn throughout though – it was nice!

Carrot Liquid with a Hint of Blood Orange

carrot soup blood orange

The plating is well thought out – the blood orange comes in a shot glass so you can pour as much (or as little) as you want into the carrot soup. The soup has a very spicy end note though so my dear didn’t manage to finish hers. I loved mine though, I thought the acidity of the blood orange balances out the creaminess of the carrot soup.

Summer Peach Granita

summer peach granita

A wonderful interlude before the main course! The sorbet is in nicely large granulated form so it’s great as a palate cleanser before our mains arrived. There’s no attribution to this and the soup but I think I saw it in one of the MasterClass episodes from one of the judges – think it was Gary.

Main Course
Confit Salmon (Samira El Khaffir)

salmon confit

This is what my better half ordered. It’s the only one that she could have gone for considering she doesn’t like beef. I don’t like cooked salmon in general coz restaurants tend to overcook it but this one was done very nicely. It was cooked to perfection!

confit salmon

The entire salmon was nicely seasoned and pink and there’s none of the dryness that comes from overcooking this piece. I tend to prefer raw salmon sashimi but this changed my mind – it was juicy and tender, with all the natural taste of the salmon brought out.

Main Course
Stuffed Turkey with Pumpkin Puree (Samira El Khaffir)

samira turkey

I was torn between Michael Todd’s Seared Steak with Hollandaise Sauce, Roasted Pumpkin, Cauliflower & Pine Nut and this one and decided to go for the turkey since it’s Christmas. This recipe is based off of Samira’s Stuffed Chicken with Pumpkin Puree. It was quite an interesting dish as the Middle Eastern influence was *really* apparent in the dish.

rice stuffed turkey

The turkey is stuffed with a basmati rice and spice mix! That’s the most fusion stuffing I’ve ever come across and it kinda, sorta works. I can’t say I’ll give this 10/10, more like 7/10 – I enjoyed it but it wasn’t mind-blowing. There’s something to be said about eating a Middle Eastern inspired turkey and not all of it is good. smirk

Notes on service: The waiter took away her plate while I was still eating. She had finished her confit salmon but I was still halfway through my turkey. I thought that was quite rude – you never start clearing plates until everyone is done in the service industry. It’s a major service no-no.

feedback form

Also, he didn’t always serve the woman first, which is another service faux pas. However, the waiter was always polite and kept refilling our cold water so I mentioned this to the supervisor, Julito, who apologized profusely and gave me a feedback form to file my grievances.

masterchef vouchers

It seemed that they didn’t know this basic rule of etiquette about clearing dishes but the supervisor was professional throughout and the waiter was just plain ignorant so no harm done. The bill came up to RM 280++ so it was about RM 90 after the RM 200 vouchers was used.

Modern Baklava (Samira El Khaffir)

modern baklava

This is an absolutely wonderful end to the dinner! The baklava was *cloyingly sweet* but I mean that in the most complimentary way. There’s two sauces that comes with the dish – one is sweetened condensed milk based and the other something akin to caramelized sugar. It was decadent and delicious! We both polished our plates! Haha!

masterchef dinner us

Thanks for the thoughtful gift dear! We both enjoyed our MasterChef Australia Season 5 dinner with recipes from the judges and contestants and would go again, except that was the last week of the promotion. It’s a wonderful Christmas present coz we both went to Australia at the beginning of the year as our first trip overseas and we both watched MasterChef Australia Season 5 together. <3

Our Christmas / New Year Turkey, Brussels Sprout and Peach Trifle Dinner!

turkey trimmings

This is our first time cooking a turkey together for the parents and kids! I wanted to purchase one but I was told that turkeys were all sold out. Thus, I bought the sides so we can concentrate on roasting the turkey! I got Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts (RM 50) and a Strawberry & Peach Trifle (RM 100).

stuffing turkey

It came in two huge boxes (think that the bigger box originally was supposed to have a turkey inside but they ran out) that delighted the kids – especially the trifle.

plan b

I had slated it for pickup at 6 pm so we can have it just as our turkey has finished cooking, but it turned out that the process took longer than that. Haha!

The story of how we got the turkey:


It’s a rather funny anecdote that we’ll look back and laugh at. My dear bought me a MasterChef dinner as a Christmas present and I thought I’ll call ahead and book a turkey. I know it’s sold out, I had already gotten the sides, but I had a sneaky feeling that frozen turkeys are in short supply too.

turkey discussion

I was right.


I called BIG and asked if they had frozen turkeys and the guy said he’ll go and check. He said there’s one left and it’s about 3 kg. I told him I’ll take it and I’ll pick it up in about 2 hours time. He got my name and number and we went to Publika after dinner to get the elusive turkey.

fresh herbs

However, when I got there, I was told that the frozen turkeys were all sold out!


I think the dude was kinda sick of answering questions like these, there are signs saying so all over the place. Haha! I told him that I had called ahead just now and there was a definite thawing as he asked for my name…

turkey booking

…and sure enough, there’s a turkey booked under my name!

frozen turkey

I was quite pleased that they really did hold the turkey for me instead of putting it outside where anyone who’s faster can grab it. We’re both happy with the service (but not with the guy – you should always be jovial when asked a question, regardless of whether it’s the 1,000th time someone asked the very same question smirk).

turkey stuffing

I also bought the stuffing for the turkey and some other miscellaneous stuff. The turkey was RM 88.72 for a 3.18 kg bird and the total grocery bill came close to RM 300!

preparing turkey

It was just one day till dinner with the in-laws and the kids and the turkey was *still* frozen so we couldn’t brine the turkey. This is the most basic recipe but it turned out delicious! I just thawed the frozen turkey overnight and then put it in the fridge when it was fully thawed.

turkey oven

I chucked it into the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes before turning it around. It’s supposed to be a self-basting turkey but you do need to baste it every now and then. I used the simplest recipe to cook the turkey (from theKitchn.com).

basting turkey

I rubbed butter all over the turkey and stuffed two halved lemons into the cavity.

stuffing turkey last

I didn’t truss or stuff the turkey, just wrapped some bacon around the breast and put it in 2 cups of water and left it in the oven for as hot as it would go. It took us 3 ½ hours to cook the turkey!

carving turkey

Before the last 40 minutes, I prepared the stuffing using a gourmet stuffing blend hand packed from the Shropshire Spice Co in the UK. It’s an apple with cranberry and roast chestnut stuffing and I just needed to add 700 ml of water (for the 2 packs) and a huge pat of butter before, well, stuffing this Pink Lady apple based mix into the cavity.

inspecting trifle

It was a bit too much stuffing so I left some out so it looks like the turkey has laid some stuffing. Haha!

peach trifle

The turkey was rested for 20 minutes before serving.

roasted turkey

We had spaghetti with bacon (cooked by my dear) with the turkey and it tasted quite good! I still have leftover turkey, the kids loved it and the in-laws ate quite a fair bit too, so I reckon we did well with our turkey!

brussels sprouts

The Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts wasn’t that big of a hit but I thought it improved my view of Brussels sprouts. I didn’t really like it when I was in NZ and Australia due to the bitterness but it seems like the new genetically modified ones in the last decade are less bitter. It tastes quite good in fact!


The Strawberry & Peach Trifle was the true hero though – it tasted wonderful! I like the jelly-like cake bottom, and the peaches and cream in the middle and the strawberry topping cuts down on the sheer sweetness with some acidity. We finished that 1 kg trifle on the night itself!

turkey dinner

It was a good Christmas / New Year turkey dinner though – we had it on the weekend, which is neither Christmas or New Year but our own family get-together. We all had fun, the only thing that was missing was some Christmas crackers! :D

il panettoncino

(and we couldn’t even start eating the panettone or mince pies that we had so we saved it for this weekend)

Christmas Eve Dinner @ Senja, Saujana Hotel

christmas eve dinner

Senja is an Italian restaurant despite it’s Malay sounding name. The food is prepared by Chef Filippo Giunta, a friendly Sicilian which I got to meet later. It is best known for it’s homemade pasta and pizzas (they even have a firewood oven) and the ambiance – it’s built on stilts above a man-made lake and the view is quite pleasing.

senja saujana

I was there to check out their Christmas Eve Dinner. I haven’t been here for a while and I thought I’ll come and check out their new pasta machine. Thanks for the invite Azimy and Azirah and it’s a pleasure to meet you Karen!


The five course meal was preceded by their wonderful home-made bread, which I absolutely loved. It came with four different types of dip – the whole olives and sun-dried tomatoes being two of my favorite.

Schiuma di Papate con Capesante ed Aneto
Potato Mousse with Scallop and Dill Oil


This is the first course proper – the amouse-bouche. It’s a nicely cooked piece of scallop topped with black caviar with potato mousse and dill oil. I thought it’s a nice start for the Christmas Eve course.

Capaccio di Manzo con Rucola e Dressing al Parmigiano
Carpaccio of Black Angus with Rocket and Parmesan Dressing

black angus carpaccio

I really, really liked this. The circular tissue-thin Black Angus is aged well so you can taste the intense flavors in this apt appetizer. I wish I could have more of this. Perfectly dry-aged (I think, forgot to ask) beef.

chef filippa giunta

There are three main courses you can choose from:

Linguine con Funghi Selvatici e Tartufo
Homemade Linguine Pasta with Wild Mushrooms and Black Truffle

linguini black truffle

This would be my recommendation for the main course if you’re not one of those people who must have turkey on Christmas Eve. I’ve seen how they make their pasta in-house and the linguine is cooked to perfection – dictionary definition of “al dente”. I enjoyed the simplicity of the dish, spruced up by generous shavings of black truffle.

Salmone in Padella Sevito con Spinaci, Salsa Prosecco e Caviale Nero
Tasmanian Salmon served with Butter Spinach, Prosecco Sauce and Black Caviar


There’s nothing wrong with this dish, but it didn’t quite hit the spot for me. It’s a generous slice of salmon on top of spinach and it was the first main dish that I ate but I felt that the salmon overpowered all the other flavors in the dish and it was a tad overcooked but then again I won’t pretend to be a food critic. Heh. I just felt that the other two dishes were much better.

Petto di Tacchino con Mele Verdi, Funghi in Padella e Riduzione al Vino Porto
Stuffed Turkey Breast with Poached Granny Smith Apple, Cepes Mushroom and Port Wine Sauce


I really liked the crisp turkey skin and the juicy turkey meat. I loved the stuffing. It’s a classic Christmas dish that has everything done right including the apple cubes beneath the turkey that gives it a sweet dimension. Highly recommended, I would go for this or the pasta for the main course. Come to think of it, I’ll recommend this, coz you can have pasta any other time. ;)

Panettone Tradizionale con Crema di Mascarpone e Caffe
Traditional Panettone “Tiramisu” with Mascarpone and Coffee Cream

panettone tiramisu

This is hands down the best dessert I’ve had this month, or maybe even this quarter. I might even hazard to go “this year” due to this wonderful creation from Chef Filippo Giunta. It’s not a regular tiramisu made with Savoiardi – that has been made passé with this “tiramisu” made from Panettone. Just think of Savoiardi being substituted with Panettone Antica Ricetta and you’ll have an inkling of what this marvelous dessert tastes like.

It’s awesome – there’s no other word to describe it. The Mascarpone and coffee cream dominates the Panettone that has been rendered soft and yielding and the burst of fruitcake combined with the thick, cloying cream resulted in a truly fearsome dessert. It’s delicious! :D


This is the Panettone used for the Christmas Eve Dinner dessert at Senja. It’s the specialty Christmas cake of Milan which traces its roots to an ancient Franciscan cloister in Saronno. It’s orgasmic – there’s a bit of fruitcake to remind you of the festive season and I was very impressed by this dessert. The Mascarpone and coffee cream slathered on top of this Panettone “tiramisu” takes the cake (haha). I’ll go just for this dessert again!

christmas cookies

We also had mince pies, biscuits and gingerbread cookies after the meal and I was so enamored by the Panettone “tiramisu” that Chef Filippo Giunta came out with what the dome-shaped Christmas cake. The Christmas Eve Dinner at Senja, Saujana Hotel is priced from RM 160++ to RM 280++ with optional wine pairing.


They also have a New Year’s Eve set dinner priced at the same range where you can watch fireworks by the lake. Senja Restaurant is also starting a new tradition of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day brunches with buffet style antipasto and desserts from RM 90++. They can be reached at 03 7843 1234 for reservations. Oh, and they also sell that Panettone cake by itself but it won’t nearly be as good as the one made into “tiramisu”. Heh.

Presents for each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas!

christmas advent calendar

That’s the modern adaptation of the advent calendar and I think it’s a wonderful concept! It’s basically a countdown to Christmas and having small gifts for each days leading up to the final big present on Christmas Eve. You can make one that gives out:

ice cream

A nice bowl of ice cream on the first day


Tickets to the theatre for the second day


A nice dinner outside for the third day

theme park

A trip to a theme park for the fourth day

iberico ham

A nice leg of Iberico Ham for the fifth day

romantic hotel

A night’s stay at a romantic hotel for the sixth day


A day trip getting reacquainted with nature for the seventh day


Back to a nice parfait for dessert on the eighth day

…and so on up till the 24th day which would be Christmas Eve!

It’s a really fun way to get into the spirit of Christmas and get the holiday festivities going.

It’s also the time to get gifts for loved ones – your friends, family and maybe even yourself. ;)

ikea table

One of the pieces of furniture I kept when I moved to this studio is a small table I bought from IKEA that my friend Jamie kindly painted for me. It has since been sitting at a corner of my living room, accumulating all sorts of stuff (which I have unceremoniously dumped under to take this photo).

I moved into a fully furnished studio but you still need the little touches that will personalize it and make it truly your own.


Well, not the trippy stuff that Salvador Dali dreamt up (although tickets to see them would make a great addition to your own advent calendar). For more practical items (that is, things rooted in the real world) IKEA has introduced advent calendar to Malaysia – a tradition that is celebrated in a lot of Nordic countries like Sweden.

advent calendar

It has great bargains for the 24 days leading up to Christmas Eve – the awesome thing about The 2012 IKEA Advent Calendar is that you can see the deals that are coming up by hovering over the day. Keep in mind that the deal is only valid on that day itself so it’s a great way to buy gifts for loved ones at a good deal.

The best thing about the IKEA Advent Calendar is that you can actually peek at deals in advance so you’ll know what the promotions are on a certain date. The deals are really good too – you know that IKEA already operates at a low profit margin so that you can get quality products at the best deals ever.

trofast frame

I’m personally waiting for their TROFAST pine frame at RM 169 (discounted from RM 249) on the 23rd December. It’s actually categorized as toy storage for children but you can use it to store a wide variety of things – I’ve mentioned that my condo lacks space so all my stuff (various personal souvenirs from travels) can go right into this – it’s a great way to save space! :D

However, for this, some of the prices on furniture are marked down as much as RM 100 – like this queen size Sultan Tarsta mattress pad:

mattress share

…also if there’s something that catches your eye you can always hint to your friends by sharing the deal on your Facebook Wall. ;)

Here’s the link to The 2012 IKEA Advent Calendar so you can help ease your friends Christmas shopping. Heh.

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