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!

Amuse-bouche

amuse-bouche

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.

Appetizer
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!

Soup
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.

Sorbet
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.

Dessert
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:

box

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.

chestnuts

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!

stuffing

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!

trifle

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!

bread

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

scallops

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

salmon

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

turkey

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

panettone

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.

wine

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.

Turkey stew with quail eggs, Portobello mushrooms and apples

stew start

The turkey stew is made with half a savory sauce base and half apple juice. It sounds a little weird and we did this as an experiment of sorts but it worked out really well. The stew takes a lot of time to cook (3 hours approximate) but we also made BBQ pork ribs. The hearty stew is served with slices of French loaf topped with Mozzarella cheese slices seared in olive oil.

You will need:

ingredients

  • Turkey drumstick
  • Pork ribs
  • Quail eggs
  • La MASIA extra virgin olive oil
  • Coat & Cook Honey and Soy Sauce marinate
  • Heinz BIG N CHUNKY Stew
  • PEEL FRESH apple juice
  • Mozzarella cheese block
  • BBQ sauce
  • Potatoes
  • Baby carrots
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Onions and garlic
  • Apple
  • French loaf

turkey drum size

Turkey drumsticks are huge – check out the sheer size of it.

turkey drum slice

The turkey drumstick will be the stock of the stew but we wanted the meat as well so we sliced the turkey drumstick with a knife, going sideways as to maximize the return on investment on this bird.

sliced turkey

Mmm…

apple

We started off by preparing the ingredients for the stew. Chop up the onions, garlic, potatoes and apples. The last two should be cubed and diced respectively. Put the baby carrots into the plate as well.

pre stew

Next up, fry the onions and garlic in olive oil…

fry turkey

…and put in the slices of turkey to sear it for the stew.

stew base

Open the can of stew base and dump it into a suitable sized pot. DO NOT ADD WATER.

stew progress

Throw in the rest of the ingredients except the quail eggs and Portobello mushrooms.

quail eggs boil

Boil 6 of the quail eggs (reserve the rest for the stew) and peel it.

turkey drum

You can also throw in the pasta at this time for the two birds with one stone thing (pardon the lame pun).

add apple juice

Pour in the apple juice in lieu of water – trust me on this. Add about 500 ml or so.

turkey stew

Chuck in all the rest of the ingredients and let the stew…well, stew for 2 hours.

Here’s the video!

marinade

This is where you cook the pork ribs. Marinate the pork ribs with Coat & Cook Honey and Soy Sauce and let it sit for a while.

fry pork ribs

Use olive oil to fry some onions and garlic and put in the pork ribs.

pork ribs done

You don’t want to overcook the porcine goodness so flip every now and then and add BBQ sauce before serving.

thicken stew

After 2 hours (do check on the stew from time to time and remember to turn the heat down) put in a few slices of bread to thicken up the stew.

quail eggs crack

Add BBQ sauce and crack in the quail eggs…

mushrooms

…and the Portobello mushrooms.

stewing

Let it stew (you guessed it) for 30 more minutes with the lid on.

Crack the rest of the quail eggs in at this point. High cholesterol but adds a lot to the taste!

bread stew

Chop up the French loaf to go with the stew and heat it with cheese slices on top of olive oil until the Mozzarella cheese melts.

melted french loaf cheese

Cook some pasta to garnish in the middle of the French loaf with melted cheese…

serving

…and serve with the turkey stew with quail eggs, Portobello mushrooms and apples.

stew end

I’m telling you, it tastes DIVINE. It might be a bit sour but it’ll be nothing a bit of BBQ sauce can’t fix and the medley of sour, sweet and savory notes is something to experience. The stew is thick and full of turkey with quail egg and apple surprises!

Turkey, anyone? (or the great Christmas prank)

There’s this thing about two of our office lines – one of them
apparently belonged to a pharmacy before and the other one to a
supermarket. Usually, we just tell them it’s the wrong number and that
is that.

Well, today one of them called to the line that used to belong to
the supermarket. Penny answered it the first time and said they had the
wrong number. It rang again two seconds later (the guy probably thought
he misdialed) and I decided to pick it up.

Now, the thing is, I didn’t know whether this was the previous guy
who thought he had the supermarket or a caller to our company. It was
50/50 either way. But I thought, what the heck, we’re in a holiday
mood, let’s have a bit of fun. ;)

I picked the phone up…and I said:

Me: Hello, (*beep*) Supermarket.
Caller: Hello. Is this the supermarket?
Me: Yes, it is. How can I be of service?

(My coworkers were all laughing in the front office)

Caller: I’m looking for a turkey, does your supermarket carry them.
Me: Yes, we carry 2 kg turkeys, all frozen.

(The laughter gets louder at this point, now this is just egging me on ;))

Caller: Hmm…2 kg is a little too small. Don’t you have any larger ones? Like 5 kg turkeys?
Me: Unfortunately, we only have 2 kg frozen turkeys at this time…but we can order a 5 kg frozen turkey for you by 12 o clock.
Caller: That’s a little late for a frozen turkey…
Me: Not to worry, we can thaw it out and have it ready by 12 o clock for you. Can you leave your name and number please?

(This is the coup de grace – everyone was laughing so hard and I’m barely able to suppress the laughter that’s bursting out from me at this point)

Caller: My name is Mr. Mo. My number is xxxxxx.
Me: Thank you for shopping with us. We’ll get your turkey ready by then Mr. Mo.

I quickly hanged up before I succumbed to all that pent up laughter…it was unbearable! :)

We need a 5 kg thawed turkey ready for Mr. Mo by 12 pm…except, he thought he ordered with the supermarket. Haha!

Mr. Mo! I’m sorry for the prank. I couldn’t help it. It was just too funny. Hahaha!

Merry Christmas everyone! :)

What is a Germ Bra?

Not surprisingly, Brazil won 1-0 against Turkey
[fifaworldcup.com] in this match. I hear the Asian Handicap betting odds for this match is a one
goal advantage to Turkey, so that means no one is hauling home any cash tonight. Of course that
means no one is winning any money as well, so it all works out. A very remarkable game was
played by Brazil, with the winning goal made by Ronaldo. The Hasan Sas antics towards the end of
the match displays very poor sportsmanship though. I think he was pissed coz he alleged one of
the Brazilians pushed him, but the referee didn’t do anything. As the Brazilian took the corner,
Sas tackled him in a way that makes it seem like he was out to get the player instead of the
ball. Naughty, but understandable. Must be pretty frustrating to lose in the semis. I’m looking
forward to the Germ Bra final. Or is it Bra Germ?

On another note, I finally had one of those Spicy McChicken Delight burgers today. It’s okay,
tastes like a Zinger. The McDonald’s fries here sucks compared to Aussie McDonald’s fries
though.

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