04 April 2007

Surprise Surprise

Ever since Fel and I made the commitment to True Yoga for 7 months, we (sort of) vowed to attend yoga classes as regularly as possible, at least 3 times a week. While there were the highly intensive weeks of daily yoga classes (after which I promptly fell ill for an entire week), there were also weeks where we hardly went for a single class because we kept taking turns to be occupied after work. Still, we both never thought we'd keep up this active lifestyle (in fact I daresay that we are more active now than in Uni) once we started work, so it's really pleasantly surprising.

We also never thought that we'd still see so much of each other after returning from Warwick. I thought I would have to travel to her hometown in Jakarta, in order to see her again. Or perhaps wait for her occasional visits to Singapore. But the one thing I definitely thought I'd NEVER ever do with her again, is to cook with her.

Imagine my shock and horror when she requested to come over my place on Sunday to use my oven. Use my OVEN? I could not believe my ears, did I hear her right?

She explained that she needed to bake cookies for her new colleagues, for reasons I have no liberty to share with everyone. So of course, I did the friendly thing and welcomed her into my home, offering all my tools and 'facilities'.

It was tremendously amusing watching her muddle around with the electric mixer, misunderstanding the recipe, clumsily measuring out the ingredients, moaning about having to sift ('Is it reaaaaally necessary??') the flour and baking powder, and then sighing before she even started any mixing.

Somehow though, she made it through the entire batch of cookies. She must have gone through about 6 or 7 batches of 15 minutes each. Of course, the cookies started out really small and oddly shaped. With each batch, the cookies were more refined and smooth. But they also got visibly bigger, in Fel's attempt to finish the cookie batter quickly.

While she busied herself in the kitchen, I was just a step away roasting peppers and tomatoes for a salad, and making onion relish for dinner. Dinner was decided upon when I was at the butchers at Chip Bee Gardens. While I was tempted by the various steaks, I thought the onion relish I had in mind would go best with thick, juicy burgers.

As usual, and in order to speed things up, I exploited the fundamental carnal connection between men and meat, and got my brother to help out with making the burgers. Before that, he successfully made a batch of one of his favourite dips - Tomato and Chilli Jam (Peter Gordon, from The Cook's Book). Coincidentally, it was also a suitable accompaniment to burgers. So the three of us were cramped in the kitchen, excusing and apologising our way around each other.

Just before dinner (finally) started and everyone tucked in ferociously, I tossed the roasted peppers and tomatoes in olive oil and added them to crunchy greens then sandwiched the many beef patties in a Walnut and Onion Ciabatta. The onion relish, generously ladled over the beef patties, quickly depleted. Truth be told, I had intended to distribute the onion relish to my colleagues as little random gifts. But seeing how my whole family - Fel included- seemed to relish (heh heh) the relish, I decided to keep it for our personal consumption.

I would just have to find another day to go through another 3 kg batch of onions, peeling, slicing and caramelising. It is not something I mind though, as I found it incredibly satisfying watching the turgid green-tinged rings soften into translucency, then slowly caramelising into a deep brown hue. All done within my grenadine-stained, heavy duty oval Staub cocotte, the onions initially filled the entire pot then eventually reduced to less than a third of its volume.

Perhaps because we only managed to get dinner ready by the time it was supposed to be supper, my brother was still in search of something to munch on after the burger and salad. So imagine his delight when I told him that Fel had very generously left a cookie jar of her chocolate chip cookies behind for our enjoyment. Recipe for another day!

Onion Relish
From Donna Hay's 30th Issue
Makes 5 cups

1/3 cup olive oil
2 kg brown onions, peeled and sliced into 1 cm rings
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup red wine vinegar
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat a large deep saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add oil and onions.
Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes or until the onion is golden and caramelised (Cooking it uncovered but keeping a close watch on it, stirring more than occasionally, sped up the process)
Add the sugar, vinegar (I would be a little conservative with these two components and add more only when necessary after a taste test), salt and pepper and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Cook for a further 10 minutes or until thick and syrupy.


fe li ci a said...

funny funny daphne yuaaan!

but thank you for the oven and the mess i created la hoh. hahahah...

till next time my frieeend!

mascarpone strawberry thingy! (woahhahaha)

Anonymous said...

=) Till next time! And I'm surprised you spelt mascarpone correctly! Cookies and Cream cheese cake too right? =)