I lost my username and password so I couldn't post here for months! I'll try making up for it by posting a looooooong post.
Life has changed a lot. I am a full-time student with limited income now but that doesn't mean my meals have suffered!
The Dutchman's family celebrates Christmas (every occasion actually!) very simply. No presents and no turkey/ham/whatever. This year, we were asked to make a dish (or two) per couple. The Dutchman made witlof met ham en kaas (Belgian endive with ham and cheese) because I have never eaten that before and after some serious thinking (I wanted to make Malaysian grilled fish but everything was sold out), I made leeks with bacon and thyme. It was SO good. It's my favourite way to prepare vegetables like leeks and brussel sprouts now!
My camera charger mysteriously disappeared so I'm stuck with a dodgy mobile phone camera.
It is sooo easy, tastes good and makes cheap vegetables look pretty (not the case in this photo, this was the test run and I ran out of leeks).
Recipe (serves 2)
5-6 leeks (don't pick the huge ones. Those are old)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
small bunch thyme leaves
about 100 ml chicken stock
1-2 tbs butter
salt & pepper to taste
about 6 slices of gerookte ontbijtspek (sliced bacon)
Chop off the root and the tough green parts of the leeks. Peel off 2-3 outer layers so that only the tender parts remain. This is strangely thereaupetic. Chop leeks into 5 cm blocks.
Slice the unwanted green bits (sans the rotting ones!)
Put olive oil in pan, throw in the unwanted green bits, garlic, thyme and butter and saute until soft (7-10 minutes).
Then, put the contents into a small oven dish. Add the chicken stock and white wine. Arrange the leeks on top.
Turn on your oven and warm it to 200 degrees celsius. Cover your dish with bacon strips. Next comes the kind off weird part: lightly soak a baking paper and cover dish with it. Then, wrap the entire dish with aluminium foil.
You can leave the dish in the oven for about 35 minutes. Then, take off the foil and paper and leave it in for another 10+ minutes. The bacon will be crisp:D
Season the dish (if you want. IMHO it doesn't need to be seasoned). Remove bacon, chop it into bits and sprinkle it on top of the dish. Voila!
For Brussel sprouts, I use white onions (instead of the green parts), I fry the bacon (separately), lightly boil the brussel sprouts in water first (and finish off the remaining boiling in the sauce). Much easier, a lot less time and it still tastes good!
As mentioned, the Dutchman doesn't care for food. I couldn't understand this for a long time because food is central in Malaysian culture. People show their love through food. You might not see the older generation kiss or hug but you know they love each other when they cook dishes the other person likes.
I used to make elaborate dishes on special occasions for the Dutchman but he's a broodje kaas (plain cheese sandwich) sort of person so I don't bother anymore! Nothing makes him happier than stampot (potatoes mashed with certain kinds of vegetables and a smoked sausage). Expats find stampot dreary, tasteless and boring. I quite like it though.
Christmas EveI served Salmon Brioche with the above-mentioned leeks and caramelized carrots
Dessert was a trifle.
Riccardo celebrated Boxing Day with us. Riccardo is practically family. He comes here 2-3 times a week and we celebrate birthdays, Christmas, New Year's and even Chinese New Year together. I don't have to do anything when he comes. He's like a pet or a piece of furniture really. Sometimes, the Dutchman and the Italian will game together in the computer room. Sometimes, they will sit in front of the TV while I tap on my keyboard. Everytime he comes, he makes me coffee in my own home haha. He was the Dutchman's friend first but I think we have really grown to like each other and are very comfortable now.
The most popular thing to do for Christmas this year is 'gourmetten' which is basically grilling or frying something on a hot plate.
Fresh salad and the brussel sprouts above (had to finish the tiny bunch of thyme I bought for 2.99 euro!)
The best potato gratin I've ever tasted.
Gotta meet a friend for coffee. Ciao!