Archives for May 2011

Best kitchen helper ever, the Ikea’s Stralande!

Ikea's Stralande A while back, I talked about a rather expensive onion chopper that I saw in Parkson. A friend commented that she uses a chopper bought from Ikea, and told me to look out for it.

Off I went to the Land of Giant Swedish Furniture Mall in search of this Stralande chopper. There it was, in its gleaming white plastic beauty screaming, take me home for RM30! How could anyone ignore its dulcet persuasions?

My gawd, chopping garlic and onions isn’t a chore any more! I find that by using this, I also tend to throw in more garlic than needed. It’s great because I LOVE garlic in my food. But I HATE having to deal with chopping or mincing garlic. With this IKEA Stralande, I can stop hating and start loving! 😀

Today I’m going to try and persuade you to get your own Ikea Stralande. How? By showing you how easy it is to use this chopper and to get lots and lots of chopped stuff in less than a minute!

First peel off the skin and ugly bits off your garlic or onions. For onions, you can’t throw the whole thing into the chopper. You have to chop it to smaller bits. If you don’t understand why, you soon will.

Putting in garlic

Put in your cloves of garlic, screw the top of the lid back on then press press press to chop!

Pressing chopper down

A few presses will do. If you want really finely minced stuff, press it down a few more times. Then you will get chopped garlic, voila!

Finely chopped garlic

Best RM30 I ever spent. This is not an Ikea advertorial. I wish it was 🙁

Boulangère Potatoes – third time’s a charm!

Boulangère potatoes. From what I gathered, at the end of a long day of baking, the French bakers would place their potatoes into the oven to cook while the oven cools down. I never had it before but the many sources I referred to described it as thus: a thinly sliced bed of potatoes with onions and black pepper, the bottom half simmered in stock to produce soft, tender potatoes and the top half roasted to a slight golden crisp.

Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? If I remember correctly, I wanted to make potatoes that wasn’t heavy, as in creamy stuff. I had to make this 3 times because obviously the first 2 were miserable flops. Bloody hell, right?? I’m not even a huge fan of potatoes!! So the 1st time I wanted to eat potatoes. The 2nd and 3rd times, I just wanted to get the darn thing right.

So here I document my attempts + failures + success + thoughts at making Boulangère potatoes.

Boulangère Potatoes  - Ingredients

– 3 or 4 potatoes, depending on how large your tray is. I used Russet potatoes.
– 1 large onion. Or 2 medium onions. Or 3 small onions. Har har har.
– Stock: either vegetable, chicken or beef. I used 1 cube = 500ml
– Butter, enough to grease and some bits to fleck on later.
– Flat/ Italian parsley. You can skip this if you want.
– Black pepper and if your stock’s not salted, salt.

Things to do:
– Roughly chop up your onion(s). Zwilling knives chop the best onions!
– Roughly chop up parsley. Or don’t if you don’t have parsley.
– Slice potatoes VERY thinly. As thin as you can get without hurting yourself.
– Pre-heat oven about 15 mins at 180C.

Boulangère Potatoes - Methods

1 – Grease your tray/ pan. I think it helps?

2 – Arrange your potatoes! This is the fun part. Lay your potatoes slice by slice to make a thin bed. Then sprinkle onions and black pepper on top of the layer. If your stock isn’t salted, add some salt. If you have parsley, go ahead and sprinkle also. Then lay on another layer of the thinly sliced potatoes, repeat onions + black pepper etc. Then another, then another until everything’s used up.

3 – Pour in your stock. Then throw flecks of butter on top. Or chunks, if you’re lazy like me. Ok here are some things that I learned from the 3 attempts:
: If you use cubes, make sure you add adequate water to the stock. My stock cube ratio is, 1 cube = 500ml water. In my 2nd attempt, I was overconfident and wasn’t thinking; I added 1 cube with about 250ml water. Smart right? (not). It was way too salty, had to throw everything away.
: I think for 4 potatoes, about 400ml stock should do it. This should produce a crispier top.

4 – Cover the top with foil. Toss it into the preheated oven. Turn knobs to: top+bottom heat, 180C, 40mins. Then go read a book or something. After 40mins, remove the foil and throw it away. Switch knobs to: top heat, 180C, 20mins.

Here’s what you SHOULDN’T do: Misread instructions. My eyes skipped over the part where it says to remove the foil at some point. Well, you learn from my mistake, yah? Here’s what it looks like after 60mins covered in foil:

Boulangère Potatoes - almost

Pretty lame, right? I was crestfallen, wondering why the heck it turned out like that when I did everything according to instructions! …. until AD pointed to me the part where it says, REMOVE FOIL. Yeah, skipped that one. So here’s what happened after I stuck it back to the oven, foil removed, grill setting, 20 mins:

Boulangère Potatoes - 2nd bake

A lot better. Looked a mess, I know. But at least now I know how it’s supposed to look + taste. And this was my 3rd (finally successful) attempt!

Boulangère Potatoes - 3rd try

Kah kah kah, I’m damn proud of it okay. Soft at the bottom, slightly hard at the top. Basic Boulangère potatoes, yay!

So the tips here: very thinly sliced potatoes, stock to cover 2/3 or 3/5 of the potatoes, read instructions properly.

Opus Bistro @ Bangsar + MilkADeal’s RM25 for yummylicious pasta with wine

Thanks to MilkADeal and Nuffnang, I was at Opus Bistro, Bangsar last week to sample some of their signature dishes. It was like an extravagant food tasting version of MilkADeal’s partnership with Opus Bistro this week, the RM25 instead of RM74 for a Main Pasta + Wine / Fruit Juice / Soft Drink.

As I do not own a canggih camera, forgive these dark, grainy photos. By the way, I’m open to any sponsorship of a Canon S95. Really one.

Anyway you can pretend that the photos were artistic in some really imaginary way. Whatever, I was trying to get as much as light as possible (we were in the private dining area where it was crazily cosy with nice ambiance but had inadequate lighting for my ciplak camera). Then we came to desserts and Kerol remembered that her HTC Desire has a powerful torchlight function. Such is life.

For starters we had arancini which was done quite nicely, and the seafood antipasti platter (RM45): grilled scallops and prawns, fresh clams in white wine sauce, calamari ripieni. Absolutely yum! Each morsel was equally excellent, my favourite was the calamari because I’m partial to them. Don’t really know how the chef does it but the texture of the squid was perfect.

Opus Bistro - seafood antipasti platter
Seafood antipasti platter

Next up: the pastas, yay! I love pastas.

Spaghetti alla Opus (RM36). Mixed seafood in tomato and white wine sauce. OH MAI GOD WAS THIS GOOD OR WHAT??? It was like witchery, I couldn’t stop from getting more of this delicious sauce. The pasta was cooked al dente, the dish just flavourful and the seafood fresh. Apparently this one put Opus Bistro on the map and it’s still one of their best-sellers. I can see why!

I’m actually going to buy a few of the MAD/Opus vouchers just to eat this on the cheap 😉

Opus Bistro - spaghetti alla opus
Spaghetti alla Opus

Linguine aglio olio with smoked duck (RM32). Light and simple, it’s one of the co-owners’ favourite dish. I don’t quite fancy smoked duck but I’ve to agree that it’s a hearty dish.

Opus Bistro - linguini aglio olio with smoked duck
Linguine aglio olio with smoked duck

Spinach Ravioli in gorgonzola sauce (RM36) with roasted pine nuts. Seems that both their ravioli options are vegetarian-friendly (if cheese is vegetarian?). If you like creamy stuff, you’d enjoy the rich creamy sauce but not in a jelak way. Gosh, you do have to be somewhat Malaysian to understand my blog, don’t you?

Opus Bistro - spinach ravioli in gorgonzola sauce
Spinach Ravioli in gorgonzola sauce

Other than pasta, we sampled their grilled lamb shank: very tender, juicy and meaty. And also Opus’ famous roasted cod with choice of white wine sauce or lemon caper sauce (RM58). Beautiful piece of cod, roasted so perfectly with a slightly charred outside. Pick it apart with a fork and the flaky meat comes tumbling after, so tender and almost melts in your mouth. Delicious. Take the white wine sauce, it goes better with the fish.

Opus Bistro - Roasted Cod with White Wine Sauce
I want to marry this cod

For desserts, we had tiramisu (RM16) and chocolate desire (RM20). The tiramisu had a bit of rum and it wasn’t too sweet, which was nice. The older I get, the less tolerant I am of really sweet stuff. Maybe I don’t deserve so much desserts any more 🙁

Opus Bistro - Tiramisu
Chef’s special tiramisu

Opus Bistro’s version of the chocolate molten cake was pretty good. Some nice almost-burnt crisp to the outside, the warm cake goes down well with the cold, creamy ice-cream. I just had a molten chocolate cake served cold to me last weekend elsewhere, so I can appreciate the quality that is served at Opus.

Opus Bistro - Molten chocolate cake
Chocolate desire, aka chocolate molten cake with ice cream

So having tried some pastas at Opus Bistro, I’d definitely recommend the MilkADeal deal. RM25 for any main pasta (except the ones with lobster and foie gras for obvious reasons), plus a glass of house pouring wine or fruit juice/ soft drink for the non-drinkers. The house wine was pretty solid also. I say go for the wine. Even if you don’t drink wine, pass your glass to your partner and pay for your own drink. Smart leh.

Do check the T&C on the MAD deal page here. Only thing I’m a bit sien is the maximum of 4 redemptions per reservation. There goes my planned big family gathering all eating cheap pastas at Opus, heh 😉

Other than that, it’s a pretty good deal. If you’ve not been to Opus Bistro (or any of its sister outlets on Bangkung Row), it’s a good chance to try out the food there. Go get your awesome deals at MAD!

Opus Bistro
67, Jalan Bangkung, Bukit Bandaraya,
59100 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +603-2092 4088