had a fun dinner get together among RI friends at peach garden @ metropolis on 26.5.2015. ^^
come to think of it, this was the 3rd time we had G20 dinners at peach garden in as many years. the most recent was at peach garden @ miramar on 30.6.2014, almost 1 year ago.
many of us had not been to metropolis. 1 who had been associated it with MOE as he is a professor at NUS. for another in a brokerage firm, it was CDP that came to mind.
i parked at the openair carpark before metropolis building, very well located next to the bus stop & MRT. there was a lift that took me to level 2 right by peach garden. 🙂
place was new so looked somewhat better than previously at novena & also at miramar. the ala carte buffet menu with 1 free for 3 paying is for steamboat, so we decided to take the ala carte menu instead.
we ordered the roast pork烧肉, a recommended dish. it was good, same standard as the usual places like crystal jade, imperial trasure, tunglok & canton paradise.
we were deciding between peking duck & roast duck. they were same price , i think S$56 for 1 duck. more went for roast duck, which was also my preference.
soon hock was S$9/100g. we had 12pax (+ one who came a bit later on), so we ordered a 1kg fish.
i always preferred steam for a very fresh live fish to deep-fried, which is like second best. soon hock was excellently done, very tender, smooth, tasty.
i was quite wary i.e. distrustful (& weary) of peach garden’s wasabi prawns. it once came with a ton of green wasabi mayo. but looking back at the 2013 photos actually it was not bad. anyhow we ordered the salted egg prawn, which was very good too, though not quite my favourite. 🙂
a friend ordered the claypot tofu with naibai 奶白. a simple dish but really quite well executed!^^
& we had the chinese cabbage (jinbai 津白i think) with enoki mushrooms. again a very simple dish & very tastefully (both sight & taste) done indeed! 🙂
egg white dried scallops fried rice is quite a standard dish in many good chinese restaurants. i used to love it a lot at imperial treasure nanbei, especially with the xo chilli sauce.
somehow this one didn’t wow, quite average to me, not much wok hae. i think i can do better than that myself. my favourite now is the spicy seafood fried rice at crystal jade la mian xiaolongbao.^^
a friend managed to reach when we were down to the second last dish, so he ordered a fried kuay teow. looked ok i guess, like the usual fare.
the sesame red bean pancake was another standard dish. it was done pretty nicely – look & certainly taste also.
the last item was the custard bun. pretty good but i kind of tired of them (like i was tired of the crispy charsiew bao at timhowan).
a very enjoyable dinner & evening with friends.
the price came to S$414 nett for 13pax after a 15% credit card discount=S$32nett. of course we did not order much food too. we did not order expensive ingredients so these were average dishes but very well executed. price was ok, about there i guess.
had a homecooked dinner for 22pax RI friends on 6.2.2015. 🙂
these group of friends were mostly of the committee that organised the recent RI reunion dinner on 22.12.2014 attended by 118 old schoolmates & 10 teachers. well done people!^^
i prepared 12 dishes including 2 desserts. & a friend brought shepherd’s pie & another brought cookies.
shepherd’s pie was very good. my daughter had some from the little leftover the next day & she thought the potatoes were moist & soft & the beef flavour was good.
maybe i should try making this too. shepherd’s pie is a great party food.
#1 my helper’s thai prawn tanhoon is usually a very appetising dish, spicy, tangy, tasty. this evening though it seemed to be a bit dry. about 1/4 was leftover (where usually it is finished). a friend (who comes for dinner regularly) later told me that some parts the taste was not quite the usual he had. not sure why, maybe the quantity was too much for the wok & the tanhoon was not mixed consistently.
#2 i did a Nobu miso cod. it can be pre cooked & served cold, and the miso firmed up the flaky texture of cod so it is easier to cut into small serving pieces.^^
#3 i did my usual poached chicken 白斩鸡. this is easy to prepare dish. on this day though, i was dreaming & removed the chicken after 10mins boiling (w/o poaching it for another 20mins) & placed in ice water. though i recovered by poaching it again for longer 25mins, the temperature change caused the parts near the bones to be red/pink when i deboned it later. so i had to poach the cut pieces another time. sian! haha!
i asked several friends afterwards & they all thought the chicken was alright (& well finished), i guess it was quite ok but the moist, glistening look (like the duck had in photos below) was gone & the meat would be less tasty.
#4 盐水鸭 spicy poached duck was a replacement dish (i went 3 times to get salmon belly for miso salmon but they were unavailable). this nanjing 盐水鸭 is a 风味鸭, a bit more exotic flavours with sichuan peppercorn chillies.
it is 1 of my favourites as it has less strong flavours c/w teochew braised duck 卤鸭 & is often served as a starter in taiwanese restaurants & in shanghai, nanjing etc, the 江南region.
#5 蒜泥白肉 spicy garlic pork had been a crowd favourite in my dinners (when i served chinese food). it was easy to make as i adapted the pot roast method (cold crockpot on low slow gentle braising). so i just needed to place the belly pork in a cold crockpot with water (added salt & sugar for brining) on low for 5hrs to temperature 79degC.^^
the only thing left to do was just to prepare the spicy sichuan sauce to drizzle over the pork & japanese cucumbers.
#6 my helper makes a very good spicy pork ribs, so that is a staple in my chinese dinners. one friend repeatedly proclaimed how much he liked the dish.^^
#7 my dry wok prawns combined pan-grilled bbq flavours with a baked-in-shell moist texture + the nice flavours of chilli padi & fish sauce infused under high wok temperature. always a popular dish.
#8 my helper’s sambal seabass, another bedrock of my chinese dinners, was almost cleaned up before my “professional photographers” had time to train their cameras.^^
#9 the spicy seafood fried rice was modelled after crystal jade lamian xialongbao’s. unable to match that, but it was pretty good with bismati long grain rice & nice sichuan peppercorn chilli flavours.
#10 my helper’s poached romaine lettuce with shitake is also a regular in my chinese dinners (usually she uses hk kailan but this time it was romaine lettuce just as good).^^
#11 everyone fell in love with the tofu cheese cake. maybe the trick was just to cut an ultra thin slice, so everyone thought it was so good & clamouring to have more. a friend had 3 helpings.^^
#12 one friend had a photo with him holding up the emptied tiramisu dish & biting the serving spoon (like nadal biting his grand slam champions trophy). i think tiramisu was just as well received but tofu cheesecake was a bit less common so everyone was intrigued by it.^^
a friend brought very nice cookies – almond, shortbread & mamor.
now i am thinking of trying almond & shortbread. mamor looked too exquisite & too high effort-to-results ratio for lazy & utilitarian me. told her if i want it, i will just invite her. haha!
another friend brought 6 bottles of wine & another the whole ice box with water & softdrinks.
there was also grapes. another friend packed a fruit basket for me so we were eating custard apples, mangosteens, chiku, guava, mango etc for the next several days.
& a friend brought some seaweed & almond biscuits.^^
it was really a fun, enjoyable & most satisfying get-together.
invited my regular group of RI friends (this time with spouses) for a homecooked dinner on 18.12.2014. we had 14pax = 5 couples + 4 guys. 🙂
i prepared mostly pre-cooked food that could be served buffet style, so we could all sit down & enjoy the food & conversation together. 🙂
planning was important. i intended several items which i cooked/made final preparations only when all the guests arrived – tagliata di manzo (angus striploin steak), dry wok prawns, pumpkin salad, fried rice.
in the end timing was quite well managed for dry wok prawns & fried rice. for the salad & the rockets/cherry tomatoes bed for tagliata di manzo, they were done too early & the rockets were soggy (unlike my recent lunch which the pumpkin salad & the rocket bed for tagliata di manzo were quite perfect).
this time it was a bit lacklustre. seasoning with sea salt, olive oil & balsamic were done too early. somehow pumpkin was not as sweet.
#4 teriyaki cod was good as cod goes. i made it very much less sweet & healthier (no sugar only mirin this time).
#6 tagliata di manzo (using angus striploin). the bed of rockets & cherry tomatoes were mixed too early so a bit soggy.
steak was medium rare & flavourful, but i was slightly distracted & the charring was somewhat insufficient to produce good enough mallard reaction. also the angus striploin, unlike ribeye, had a bit of tendon, not so ideal.
#7 spicy belly pork 蒜泥白肉 was simply wonderful. it was slow-braised using cold crockpot on low almost 6 hrs to 79degC. belly was very tender & the sichuan 麻辣 chilli mix was excellent. 🙂
#8 my dry wok prawns is of consistent good standard, charred & flavourful, taste of chilli padi & fish sauce.
my helper cooked the romaine lettuce, one of our favourite vegetable dish.
a friend brought a #11 chocolate ganache vanilla banana cake.
it was a lovely 2-layer vanilla cake with banana in between & covered with chocolate ganache – a really standout first attempt by him! 🙂
#12 my no-bake tiramisu is now another crowd favourite. it was 1 of the easiest dessert to make.
a friend brought a #13 healthy peanut candy (held together by maltose instead of unhealthy sugar), it was nice.
i had a #14 pumpkin cheese cake on standby. i sensed that the friends wanted to try, so it was served & we managed to finish 1/2 the cake. it was ok but not as good as the pumpkin cheese cake we had for our recent lunch which was really good.
had a very s satisfying homecooked dinner last evening on 3.10.2014. 🙂
while i really enjoy cooking for my family & friends even if there is considerable effort (& a close friend said exactly what it felt like – he really enjoyed it so he did not see it as effort), the point is how to plan the dishes & keep improving to manage the dinner smoothly & achieve best results with least effort. this is also part of the fun. 🙂
i decided to follow a friend’s lead to serve all dishes pre-cooked or served at the start buffet style instead of course by course (i enjoyed the delicious food at 4 of his makan sessions, most recently at a scrumptious homechef mooncake dinner on 8.9.2014).
it is quite important actually not to be disrupted from dinner conversation even though going into the kitchen to cook every course does have its own satisfaction. 🙂 i may even try that for my monterosso seafood risotto, lobster pasta. for king prawn ramen in golden sauce etc which are best served in individual portions, it seems best still to serve them course by course. so i do those for smaller sit down dinners. 🙂
#1 poached chicken – i brined in sugar & salt for 48hrs which made it tasty & moist & then 10mins simmered & 20-25mins poached, then cold water. this a crowd favourite with many supporters. 🙂
#2 braised pig trotters & #3 braised belly pork – i did them together using the cold crockpot method & set meat thermometer to 82degC. this would take about 5hrs, gentle slow & low temperature braising. i did this 1 day before. both were tender, gelatinous but still firm. i prefer this firmer texture.
#4 盐水鸭 – i applied a dry brine seasoning rub & put in chiller for for 48hrs (main condiment is sichuan spicy chilli sauce). cooking method same as poached chicken, but 15mins simmered & 30mins poached. duck was tender & tasty but i felt the 风味 taste was not pronouced enough like last time.
＃5 蒜泥白肉 – i got the pork a day before dinner so only brined 24hrs. used the same cold crockpot method to produce a very gentle braise using chicken stock from the poached chicken. this one again many supporters.
#6 6hr “sous vide” miso lamb shoulder – more or less perfected this dish. the miso tempered the strong gamey taste & 90degC was apparently the optimum temperature to break down collagen (tough connective tissues) to tasty gelatine, so a very tasty, tender dish. 🙂
1 friend said she especially liked the dish. another mentioned it was a bit sweet. i would probably reduce the sweetness in the miso marinade a bit.
#7 peanut carrots pig trotter soup – peanut porkrib soup is a common nice lie tong 例汤. i preferred to do my pig trotters w/o bones & the toe ends so i used those leftovers for the soup, which worked perfectly & added a gelatine texture to the soup. i added some carrots & also as the amount of soup was not enough for 15pax & i did not want to dilute the soup (better not enough soup than enough diluted soup), the chicken stock came to rescue. this i added & the soup tasted quite perfect for me. 🙂
so it was kind of a planned & orderly execution. braised pig trotters & belly pork i did 1 day before, and the leftover pig trotter bones & tips I made soup 1 day before. this freed up the crockpot for the 蒜泥白肉 on the day. chicken & duck were brined 48hrs before & an easy 10mins+20mins for chicken & 15mins+30mins for 1/2duck simmered + poached. miso lamb was marinated 3days before & just gone into oven for 6hrs on dinner day.
easy eh? 🙂
i cooked the rice in rice cooker in the morning (forgot to do day before), & i fried the rice with the sichuan spicy chilli early.
about 1 hr (530pm) before dinner at 630pm, i fried in butter the small prawns & squid. when 90% guests arrived, i heat the fried rice & seafood in the wok together, & i did the dry wok king prawns with ginger, garlic, chilli padi & fish sauce. so every dish was ready to serve together. 🙂
aunty bes did the #10 sambal seabass & #11 poached hk kailan with shitake. everyone loved the fish. 1 friend commented the kailan was so vibrant in colour. kailan was poached & usually looked greener.
1 friend would be celebrating her birthday few days later, so i asked another to bring a candle (i did not have one) & used the tofu cheese cake as the birthday cake. 🙂