the hinata diaries

Friday, December 16, 2005

The road to Christmas dinner

In an attempt to improve my kitchen management skills, went advance grocery shopping for the big night (tomorrow) last night. Decided to battle the holiday shoppers at Takashimaya, figuring that the Cold Storage there would be the best one-stop shop. (Not a big fan of Carrefour since it's way too big and I inevitably forget the one or two or three items that are at the opposite end of the store.)

Anyway, phase 1 of mission more or less accomplished. Some deviations:
- Decided to splurge on beef tomatoes for the tomato salad. $18.90 for 6 tomatoes! but since figured the dressing would be fairly simple, that I might as well make sure the tomatoes taste and look their best. Even the aunty at the cashier was trying to persuade me to change my mind:

aunty (prior to weighing) - these are beef tomatoes you know, very expensive
me - yah, i know, it's ok
aunty (after weighing) - $18.90 you know! got cheaper ones, you want to go change?
me - really, it's ok...
aunty - *sigh* (probably thinking, kids nowadays don't know how to save money)

- As for the tomato salad dressing, original plan was to make a sesame sauce and serve them similar to Xi Yan. Unfortunately I have the wrong Xi Yan cookbook (there are two or three volumes now I think) so only had the recipe for cold spinach in sesame sauce. That sesame sauce is a mix of sesame paste, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar, and sounded close enough. But while scanning the aisles for sesame paste (which I ignorantly don't think I've ever seen in package form before), I came across a bottle of shabu shabu sauce, whose main ingredients were water, soy sauce, sesame sauce etc. etc. Makes sense! So picked that instead, hopefully will turn out ok. Worse come to worse, shabu shabu for dinner next week :)

Other substitutions made due to products being unavailable: (Cold Storage needs to restock faster!)

- Thai asparagus for angmor (Australian?) asparagus. Quite unhappy about this one but didn't think it was worth a separate trip to another supermarket just for asparagus. There were also only 3 packs of asparagus left. A fourth mysteriously appeared upon my return to the veggie section 20 minutes later. Probably not enough for 20 people though, we'll see.

- Nectarines for plums in the plum clafouti. Never thought plums would be hard to find but apparently so.

- Green chilli for capers. Think this might work out quite well actually. Plan was to blend capers with anchovy fillets and black olives for a nice tapenade, but had been thinking of ways to spice the tapenade up as well.

- Chocolate cookie crust for butter shortcrust. Kinda amateurish, but the butter shortcrust was out of stock and again didn't want to go trekking to search for it. Anyway the tart crust will soon be indulgently filled with Valrhona dark chocolate; hopefully everyone will be too caught in throes of chocolate orgasms to notice the cheap crust. Obviously I will soon have to set my sights higher, but for now this'll do.

All these proud acquisitions are now sitting patiently in the fridge awaiting their moment of glory tomorrow. May I do them justice!!! Photos to come.


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