Friday 26th Sep '08

After a really really trying day at work today, I gratefully headed over to Marissa's place to unwind with a drink.

Pimms with lemonade
sundried tomatoes, Persian fetta & Sakatas

Once Teresa got home from work, we got ready and headed out to Burswood. We had been trying to make a reservation for dinner at the Atrium but they were fully booked. We thought we'd go and see if they had any cancellations or perhaps kept some tables aside for 'walk-ins'. No luck! We went to Alure instead.

Our entrees:

Marissa - King prawn ravioli, champagne, ginger bisque

Teresa - Seared tuna fish, crushed chive potato, black olive puree, soused baby carrot, red radish

Myself - Salad of Pemberton marron, soft quail egg, lobster emulsion, cos spears

The colours in Teresa's dish are absolutely gorgeous! It's a pity that the lights were so dim that we couldn't actually see the colours until I took a photo of it. I like to be able to see what I'm eating to appreciate the presentation of my food. Otherwise why bother with the presentation?

My salad was delicious! It really was pretty much a caesar salad but the marron in it just gave it that touch of gourmet. It's given me inspiration to make a salad with my lobster leftovers next time. It would be perfect for the upcoming warmer weather.

Our mains:

Marissa & Teresa - Amelia Park best end lamb, herb crust, braised neck, tomato tart, glazed root vegetables

Myself - Red emperor in pancetta, risotto of vongole, shallots, parsley, aromatic lemon jus

Marissa and Teresa's lamb looked soooo succulent. I was rather disappointed with my dish. The fish and pancetta were cooked really well. The risotta was a huge let down though. I had probably three pieces of clam meat throughout it and the flavour was just wrong. All I could taste was citrus flavours and when Marissa had a try, she said she could taste lemongrass and didn't like it either. I was expecting a creamy risotto but this one was rather watery. Sort of like eating watery rice porridge. Not happy Jan!

For dessert, we all had the same thing.

Passionfruit tart
Strawberries and Cream cocktail

The cocktail was a huge disappointment. My first sip reminded me of a strawberry flavoured medicine my mum used to give me when I was young. It was drinkable, but we were all wishing we had ordered what we had last time - the chocolate martini. They made Teresa's too strong so we asked them to make her the chocolate martini as a replacement.

Overall, the service wasn't as good as it's been when we've eaten there previously. The lighting was far too dim. We still had a good time but I suppose we weren't really satisfied because we really had wanted to have dinner at the Atrium.

Back at Marissa's place, Teresa made us a pot of soup as we were all in the mood for some.

Chicken & Corn Soup

We started to watch a movie on TV but I just couldn't keep my eyes open and we all went to bed.

Thursday 25th Sep '08

For dinner tonight, I was invited over to Ling and Shallen's place for...


We haven't had these together since we were back in uni.

Shallen made two bowls of pork mince - one without coriander for Meng, and one with coriander for the rest of us.

Other things we were supplied with to create our dinner:

Stirfry Chinese Vegetables
Egg Omelette
Grated fresh Carrot
Peeled cooked Prawns
Soy Sauce & Chilli

It was ironic that no one brought any chillies when last time we got together for dinner, everyone brought their own supply.

The trick with these Vietnamese spring rolls is that you don't oversoak the rice paper in the hot water too long or it gets too soft and tears. You may think that your rice paper needs more soaking but if you leave it on your plate, the water will become absorbed and the rice paper softens up very quickly. If it hasn't softened enough, you can always redip it in the water.

Ling 'washing' his rice paper sheet

My first roll

My second or third roll...I can't remember! I think I had about four in total.

Ling's first roll

Most messy person - Meng
He ended up having to eat his rolls with a spoon.

Most cleanest person - Kong
Up until his last roll where he had a 'happy ending'.

We worked off the dinner playing the Wii. Nice night guys!

Wednesday 24th Sep '08

After work today I headed over to Marissa's and we drove to Westfield Carousel to have some reflexology done at Health Point. I really wanted my back, shoulders and feet done but there wasn't enough time so I decided that my feet needed the attention more. Marissa had her back and shoulders done.

While the lady was working away at my feet, I flipped through a '101 cocktail foods' book. Some interesting ideas in there...none of which I now remember. Goldfish memory.

After our pampering session, we went to get some scones from Coles and took them to Marissa's parents' place to have afternoon tea. Alas! The time was 5:40pm and we had a dinner reservation at Alure in a couple of hours. Not to mention we were a bit late for afternoon tea.

At Marissa's parents' place, I went outside to check out their garden. I love how they have so much space to plant their crops. Yes - crops. They grow enough of things that they are actually crops!

Their broccolini are huge!! More than three times the size of mine. It's a pity they haven't been eating the foliage. You can see one of their chooks in the background.

Mr Pelle amongst his fennel, garlic and beans. He was digging up some fennel for me to take home.

I absolutely love how this lettuce has just sprung up amidst the grass in their back yard lawn.

We eventually went inside and had the scones with jam and cream and a cup of tea.

Some lovely photos of my scones!

We decided not to go to Burswood tonight and instead joined Marissa's parents for dinner. Mrs Pelle had made some pasta. How could I refuse!?

Pasta with Tuna & Peas


All in all an absolutely great night. I love having dinner with the Pelle's. Marissa's parents are gorgeous and we always have a good laugh. It's something I miss in my family. I don't think there will ever be a time when my parents can sit together with us to enjoy a meal in peace and joviality. It makes me sad to think about it but that's just how it is.

Tuesday 23rd Sep '08

Tonight is a cooking first for me! I bought some Antonio's Filo Pastry from the shops and although it's not the first time I've used filo pastry, it's the first time I've used filo pastry that hasn't been frozen. I've seen them use this brand of filo pastry all the time on 'Ready Steady Cook' and have been keen to find some to try. I was pretty surprised it's available in Perth! I'm going to make some chicken filo parcels for dinner.

For the filling...

  1. Fry garlic, celery, leek and sage leaves in some olive oil.
  2. Add a dash of white wine and some Vegeta stock powder.
  3. Once vegetables are softened, add some butter and plain flour.
  4. Cook for a few minutes until mixture has thickened.

Preparing the filo pastry...

1. Use four sheets for each parcel. Brush butter on the second sheet.

2. Place the mixture on the top layer.

3. Roll up pastry and fold ends under. Use some butter to help secure the pastry.

4. Brush top of parcels with butter.
5. Bake in oven until pastry has turned a golden brown colour.

For a side, I panfried some green beans and the rest of the enoki mushrooms I didn't use last night in some butter. I served the parcel with some of Teresa's sweet chilli sauce.

Verdict: Delicious!

Monday 22nd Sep '08

Tonight's dinner...

I cut some potatoes into smaller than usual pieces so that they would take less time to cook in the oven. I drizzled some olive oil and threw some fresh thyme and oregano from my herb garden over them. They get baked in the oven wrapped in foil.

Sirloin with Garlic, Chilli & Thyme
Baked Thyme & Oregano Potatoes
Broccolini & Enoki Mushrooms

I sauteed the broccolini - fresh from my garden!! - and enoki mushrooms in the pan juices remaining from the steak and some butter.

Before bed, I made a pot of black tea and added some fresh mint from my garden. Mint is great as a digestive.

Sunday 21st Sep '08

Going to work after having had only three hours of interrupted sleep is NO FUN. However, that's exactly what I did today. So much for the 'not too late' night I was supposed to have last night. We just had too much fun at karaoke and time always flies when you're having a good time.

I have discovered the yummiest instant miso soup! I've tried afew instant forms years ago and they tasted like crap so I've been very weary of instant miso since then. I finally decided to seek out a miso soup that would be good enough to have a place in my locker at work. I found it! It's a Japanese brand miso soup paste - Hikari. The seaweed rehydrates and tastes as if it were fresh from the sea!

The drive home was quite pleasant and relaxing. I managed to catch this nice shot while on Albany Highway.

Back at home, I checked on my plants and was met with a few pleasant surprises. The little mignonette lettuces I grew from seeds have been struggling since I put them outside but today I was greeted by little tiny flourishing seedlings (top left). I've finally got a strawberry that's growing into a regular shape. My spinach seems to have shaken its stunted phase and is now starting to grow. My mixed lettuces are massive! I'll have to start picking them soon.

Tonight I was cooking clams.

Garlic Bamboo Clams

  1. Melt butter in pan and sautee chopped garlic and onion.
  2. Add some white wine.
  3. Add clams and cook with the pan covered until the clams are cooked.
  4. Serve with deep fried shallots.

The deep fried shallots really went well with this dish. It complimented the salty taste of the clams and gave it multiple dimensions in texture. By that, I mean it gave the dish a bit of crunch!

Clam & Lobster Spaghetti

  1. Sautee some chopped garlic, sliced onion and chilli flakes in some olive oil.
  2. Add white wine, sliced zucchini and chopped anchovies.
  3. Melt some butter and throw in clams and shredded lobster meat.
  4. Toss through al dente spaghetti and serve.

I used the leftover half lobster that I had from a few nights ago to make this pasta. Adding the anchovies gives the dish a really delicious flavour. The clams I used were juicy and succulent! I will definitely be buying these again.

For supper, I was going to make a clam chowder, but didn't have time to thaw anymore clams so it ended up just being a potato chowder.

Potato Chowder

  1. Fry roughly chopped garlic and onion in some olive oil.
  2. Add some chopped celery and diced potato and fry for a few minutes.
  3. Add a small amount of chicken/vegetable stock and fry until potato has softened.
  4. Blend/puree soup and return to the pot to heat up.
  5. Serve with deep fried shallots and fresh chives.

This soup was absolutely delicious!! I didn't want to make too much but had enough for a bowl for supper and a bowl for breakfast tomorrow.

Saturday 20th Sep '08

I had lunch in the garden today to escape the hectic rush in the lab. I couldn't help but notice these gorgeous flowers growing on the side of the gazebo I was sitting in.

Tonight we celebrated Ivy's birthday by going out to dinner. We went to Regal on Roe on Roe Street, Northbridge. It was great to catch up with some friends I haven't seen for a while as we're all busy with work.

Kai Lan
Crispy Pork
Pepper Beef
Sizzling Egg Tofu
Crispy Skin Chicken
Yam Duck
Steamed Tooth Fish

Watermelon, Strawberries & Coconut Jelly
Ivy's birthday cake

Jasmine tea

After dinner, we walked to Utopia on James Street for karaoke. We had to wait for the people to vacate the room we had booked for 9pm. I was getting really annoyed at the people smoking right outside the place and the doors were open so I could feel my clothes and hair just absorbing the stench. Aargh!

Ben and his moraccas