28 December 2016

Festive Gatherings 2016

Wow, it's nearly the end of the year and it has been pretty exciting for me the past week with festive celebrations and all! There were two festive gatherings at my place on Friday and Sunday (for my hb's colleagues and my Sec Sch/JC friends respectively), two cake orders for a twin's birthday celebration and treats for my son's Christmas celebration in school. Don't ask me why everything had to happen in this particular week, it just happened.

Since I don't have a helper, to pull off this feat, I had to plan my schedule carefully and time my purchases meticulously due to limited fridge capacity. That said, there were incidences where I forgot to buy certain items and had to make unnecessary trips to the supermarket or the places I went ran out of stock/didn't carry certain stock and I had to think of alternatives or make additional trips. Oh well.

Basically, I literally camped in my kitchen starting from Monday, all the way till Sunday, except when making countless purchasing trips to and fro the supermarkets and markets near my place! *PHEW*

Anyways, I'm kinda proud of myself for pulling it off altogether, baking/cooking up a storm on my own within a limited time frame. There were frustrating and challenging moments but I quite enjoyed the whole process and experience at the end of the day.

Here's sharing the menus for the two gatherings at my place and some of the recipes.

Festive Gathering 1 (Friday, 23 Dec 2016) - for hb's colleagues, preparing for about 18-19 pax.

  1. Nachos (Tostitos Scoops) with fresh salsa and avocado yogurt dips
  2. Veggie sticks with garlic mayo dip
  3. Pan-fried HK-style radish cake
  4. Cheddar sausage (Johnsonville)
  5. Kong Bak Bao (braised pork belly with ho hup bao)
  6. Vegetarian spring roll
  7. Potato curry samosa
  8. Tempura mushroom
  9. Fried beehoon with canned stewed pork
  10. Chicken curry (Prima premix)
  11. Bake Cheese Tart
  12. Sticky date toffee pudding

Nachos (Tostitos Scoops) with fresh salsa and avocado yogurt dips

Made this appetiser back in July and it was very well-received, so decided to make it again. I don't really like nachos chips, except for Tostitos Scoops which I feel was "lighter" then the usual ones. Instead of store-bought salsa sauce which tasted quite overwhelming on the palate (personally), I prefer making my own fresh salsa. Couldn't find jalapeno in the supermarkets and made do with chili padi which worked out ok fortunately. In addition to salsa, I also made a creamy and tangy avocado yogurt dip.
Once again, a popular item among guests.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2016/07/grazing-platter-tomato-salsa-and.html

Veggie sticks with garlic mayo dip
Also made this appetiser before and usually well-received. The trio of cucumber, carrot and celery is very refreshing, especially with the homemade garlic mayo dip which is slightly tangy and complemented the sweetness and crunchiness of the veggies well.
Similarly, a popular item among guests.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2009/01/veggie-sticks-dips.html

Vegetarian spring roll, potato curry samosa, tempura mushroom
As there's an Indian guest who's vegetarian, I prepared a few vegetarian items after discussing with the hb. Spring roll and samosa are usually popular during parties, so decided to try it. Initially thought of getting those frozen ready-made ones from the supermarket, but the stubborn cook in me decided to make it myself! And surprisingly, both spring roll and potato curry samosa were not difficult to make at all! I made the spring rolls on Monday and potato curry samosa on Tuesday, and freeze them. The tempura mushroom was quite last minute, made on the day itself using a tempura premix.
These items should preferably be eaten while hot and crispy; the samosa stayed crispy for a longer time, but spring roll and tempura mushroom turned soft after a while. Got to think of a way to retain their crispiness.
Recipes for spring roll and samosa will be posted when I have time.

Pan-fried HK-style radish cake, Cheddar sausage (Johnsonville)
The HK-style radish cake is usually my must-make for gatherings/parties as it can be prepared in advance, stored in fridge or freezer and pan-fried very quickly.
Tasted nice even when cold, well-received among guests.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2011/07/hong-kong-style-pan-fried-radish-cake.html

The Johnsonville cheddar sausage is my family's absolute favourite sausage, it's not cheap at $9.95 per pack of six but tasted so cheesy and salty and yummy! I used my air-fryer to fry the whole sausage then sliced into sections. The first item to be gone!

Fried beehoon with canned stewed pork
Another popular party food, I like to fry my beehoon with canned stewed pork with lots of shredded cabbage and carrot. The beehoon will soaked up all the sauce from the stewed pork and taste really flavourful!
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2007/04/quick-easy-meals-ii-fried-beehoon.html

Chicken curry (Prima premix)
My hb insisted on curry, because he claimed that what's beehoon without curry? I don't have time to cook curry from scratch, and anyways, my family's favourite curry is the Prima premix one, so I stuck to this all the time. For the chicken, I always insist on using kampung chicken bought from the wet market, as the chicken texture is more chewy. For potato, I normally buy the "Holland" one, also better texture for cooking curry. I will usually cut the chicken and potato into bite-size pieces, easier for guests to eat.

These 2 items proved to be popular and all gone as well.

Kong Bak Bao (braised pork belly with ho hup bao)
Highlight of the menu! I don't usually cook this as this has to be prepared 2 days in advance and very tedious. But this item is always requested so I have to oblige :)
Day 1, blanch the pork belly, pan-fry on all sides, cut into slices and marinate overnight.
Day 2, steam the marinated pork belly in a wok for 2hrs. After cool down slightly, transfer to cast iron pot, cover and let flavours develop overnight.
Day 3, reheat in the morning, and reheat just before serving.
I prefer to steam the pork belly instead of cooking it over stove, as I feel that the natural juices from the pork get locked in, the meat gets tender evenly and stays intact.
Limited edition item (about 24 pieces), all gone in a jiffy!
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2014/09/pork-belly-bun-aff-singapore-sep-2014.html

Bake Cheese Tart, Sticky date toffee pudding
Since Bake Cheese Tart is the "in" dessert this year, and also my signature dessert, I had to bake it right :)
For this batch, I used my Part III recipe, and yielded 16 medium size and 41 petite ones (of which I gave 24 to my son's Christmas party in school).
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2016/07/hokkaido-bake-cheese-tart-iii.html

And since it's Christmas season, I baked the Sticky date toffee pudding cake, a cake which is very tender and moist and not too sweet. Not sharing recipe here yet, as it was from a past baking class. I do sell this cake though, for those keen to order.

While the desserts were well-received, there were some leftovers, probably because everyone was too full from the main dishes (and 4 guests didn't turn up last minute).


Festive Gathering 2 (Sunday, 25 Dec 2016) - for my JC/Sec Sch long time friends, preparing for about 19 adults and 15 kids.

This was an even bigger crowd than the previous gathering!
Had planned to BBQ some food items in order to ease the workload in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it started raining in the late afternoon and we had to forgo the BBQ last minute :( Had to scramble to cook up the BBQ food items using oven, stove and air-fryer. Luckily my friends came over my place earlier to help out.

  1. Nachos (Tostitos Scoops) with fresh salsa and avocado yogurt dips
  2. Quinoa salad
  3. Kong Bak Bao (braised pork belly with ho hup bao)
  4. Salmon croquettes
  5. Mac & Cheese
  6. Fried beehoon with canned stewed pork
  7. Bake Cheese Tart
  8. Sticky date toffee pudding
  9. Oven-baked/air-fried --- chicken wings, stuffed portobello mushroom, satay, otah otah, taiwan sausage, cheese sausage, sambal sotong

Nachos (Tostitos Scoops) with fresh salsa and avocado yogurt dips
Since this is very popular, it's a keeper! Had to make fresh batch because the fresh salsa and avocado dips don't keep well.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2016/07/grazing-platter-tomato-salsa-and.html

Quinoa salad
This is a very refreshing salad which is healthy yet yummy, suitable for vegetarians! Made using mixed salad greens, quinoa, sweet & crunchy peppers (orange, yellow, red, green), carrot, olives, dried cranberries, dried raisins and a dressing of lemon juice, maple syrup, paprika and a pinch of salt.

Taiwan sausage, cheddar sausage
These were meant for the BBQ. Air-fryer to the rescue, 180 degree celsius for about 10 mins.

Salmon croquettes
This is my son's absolute favourite food, and it's also where I hid vegetables because he hates them. What's inside? Salmon, potato, cauliflower, carrot, baby oats, shredded cheese and a small cube of cream cheese in the middle. Coated with breadcrumbs and pan-fried.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2015/03/salmon-potato-cheese-croquette.html

Fried beehoon with canned stewed pork
Party staple which is a keeper. Wanted to make some curry to go with it (as the hb said so), but couldn't find kampung chichen leg/thigh meat. No kampung chicken, no curry.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2007/04/quick-easy-meals-ii-fried-beehoon.html

Mac & cheese
This was made for the kids. A kids-friendly milk and cheese sauce which is less salty. Basically heat up some milk, add a bit of flour to thicken, then add shredded cheese. Stir-fry some onion, mushroom, corn kernels and sweet peas, mix with cooked pasta and milk/cheese sauce, mix well to serve. Didn't make enough sauce and the pasta dried up a bit. Must make more sauce next time.

Portobello mushroom, sambal sotong, satay
These were meant to be barbecued. In the end, the satay went into the oven, whereas the sotong and mushroom went into the air-fryer. The satay was storebought, the sotong was from our last fishing trip in Malaysia (sambal storebought), portobello mushroom was actually last minute addition as I had a packet of mushroom in the fridge. Simply minced the stems, combine with some shredded cheese, stuff into the underside of the mushroom caps, sprinkle with some mixed herbs and air-fry.
Turned out very well in the end and all were wiped out quickly.

Chicken wings, Kong Bak Bao (braised pork belly with ho hup bao)
Likewise, the chicken wings were meant to be barbecued. Bought fresh kampung ones from the wet market and marinated them overnight. Baked half batch in the oven and the other half, I coated them with tapioca starch (taiwanese brand) and pan-fried them, followed by air-fried. Luckily both turned out ok, especially the fried version which was very well-received.

For the pork belly, made a bigger batch then the previous gathering, about 32 pieces, likewise all gone!
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2014/09/pork-belly-bun-aff-singapore-sep-2014.html

Bake Cheese Tart, Sticky date toffee pudding
To keep things simple, made the same desserts which proved to be popular.
For this batch of cheese tarts, I used my Part IV recipe, and yielded 18 medium size and 18 petite ones.
Recipe: http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2016/10/hokkaido-bake-cheese-tart-iv.html

After the party on Sunday, and after washing/cleaning up the kitchen, I was totally knocked out until today!
Would I do it again? I would say, probably. It was challenging yet fulfilling, to see friends and guests enjoying the feast; it gave me a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, I mean hardly would I have the chance to whip up a feast during normal days right? Looking forward to the next feast soon!

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