Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Why Do People Have To Be So Rude?

I do not usually blog about negative experiences, but since this is food related, I think I should relate my experience, so that whoever goes into the F&B business should not make the same mistake.

Fellow flogger (food blogger) and me went for coffee and cake at this cafe in the vicinity of Atria. The minute we entered, we were greeted by the aroma of durian, so I suspected they must have durian cake, which was good. We plonked ourselves at a cosy corner, only to be told, almost impolitely, by the proprietress, "oh, you're only having coffee and cake? Can you move to the smaller table as I'm expecting my lunchtime crowd". Fine, although a "please" or "do you mind" would have been welcome, I attributed the lack of manners to stress.

We had our cake, and coffee, which really, to her credit, was quite good. So good that my fellow flogger wanted to take away a piece of the durian cake for his mum. Then the waitress comes and says, very unconvincingly, oh, cannot pack, because it's too soft. Well, it's not like it was falling apart when they served us, and I didn't think it was THAT soft, so I casually enquired after the owner, "oh, you mean the durian cake can't be tah pau-ed?"

She literally snapped at me, "No, I am expecting a lot of walk in customers..... (and for good measure, threw in the excuse)...and its too soft to pack". Now this time I got really irate. There are many ways to skin a cat, there is no need to be rude. Anyway, I shouted to my friend, "I'm waiting outside, I can't take this".

Ah, it's good to get it off my chest.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fiddling With the Same Old Stuff

Ever since my little venture into "commercialism", most of my exploits in the kitchen have been restricted to the same old stuff, hence, nothing much to update. The lemon tart and lemon meringue pies seem to be doing okay, with an average of 1 to 2 orders per week. Other stuff I have been "supplying" include the Orange Mocha Chocolate Brownie, Peach and Banana Crumble, Flourless Chocolate cakes......

In addition to the the commercial supply, of two lemon meringue pies, peach and banana crumble in separate containers which I had to get ready Friday evening, I also had to prepare a birthday cake for my other half as it was cell group night, so I also had to prepare supper, of puff pastry quiche with luncheon meat and mushrooms. The birthday cake was a Chocolate Mint Cake, different from the Chocolate Peppermint Cake which was featured in an earlier post. This was a serendipitous result of carelessless. Why? Well, I had set out to make the Chocolate Oreo Cake, actually, and asked my 6 yr old son, whilst in the supermarket, "Have we got any oreos at home", and he confidently replied, "Yes". Normally, I am very kiasu, and would have bought another one anyway, just in case, but not wanting to undermine his reply, I accepted it as gospel. Turns out, there was an Oreo box, but inside were ritz crackers. And I have actually started crushing the ritz crackers before realising what they were.

So, necessity being the mother of invention, I had to think how to best utilised the 3 cups of cream that had alread been whipped, and the chocolate that had been melted. Aha, then the brain wave struck, to flavour the chocalate cream with peppermint. Anyway, leaving it to the the forces that be, it turned out to be a hit with the cell group. Boy said it was like eating mint ice cream. And the mint cream is a lot lighter than the peppermint butter cream in the earlier post.

For the following night, celebrating with friends, I had the oreos, so made the oreo cake, which was also well received.

Last night, for family dinner with Singapore uncle, it was apple crumble, as all have health issues....

(pic courtesy of PA Khoo)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tiramisu For Kung See Lai

Since Kung See Lai heard that I have started selling desserts, she has suddenly become very kan cheong (what's the english word for this? sense of urgency) to get all my recipes off me before err.....I become a celebrity chef!!!! HAHAHAAH!!! Yar, like that's gonna happen. Worry not, dear Kung See Lai.

Here's the tiramisu recipe you've been asking for:

Sponge fingers..... depending how much sponge you like in your thing.
Coffee and kahlua mixture ...i usually use two tablespoons coffee powder, 1/4 cup hot water to dissolve the coffee powder, and 3/4 cup cold water, & anywhere from 2-6 tablespoons kahlua.

4 yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 cups whipping cream
250gm mascarporne

1. Whip up the whipped cream till fairly stiff. Don't over whip. Over whipped cream is like an abacus to an anglophile. Absolutely useless.

2. In a separate bowl, whip the egg yolks, with the caster sugar, until pale yellow. Stir in the mascarporne, and stir until well combined. It should be a lovely creamy light beige texture. Add in some kahlua, up to you how much, 2-6 tablespoons.... I love mine with more.

3. Combine together with the whipped cream, and stir. And run it through the electric beaters for a minute or so, to combine it nicely.

4. Dip the sponge fingers into the coffee mixture quickly. Its best to put the coffee mixture into a flat bowl, which allows maximum surface area for the sponge fingers. Line the bottom of a flat based bowl or dish with a layer or two of sponge fingers. Or individual cups.

5. Either top up with all the filling, or half, and place another layer of sponge fingers and top up with the rest. Sprinkle with cocoa powder or grated dark chocolate. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. The colder the better. Alternatively, sprinkle the cocoa/chocolate only just before serving.

Tips: Its imperative you do not oversoak or undersoak the sponges. Oversoaking will make it soggy, undersoaking leaves it hard.
And watch the beating of the cream. Overbeating will render the thing useless.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Food Exploits Of The Week

My landlady gave me a slice of this decadent Sticky Date Pudding With Toffee. Simply divine, albeit too sweet. She has offered to hook me up with the lady who makes these delicious treats, apparently she'd even be willing to teach me a thing or two. Yahoo!!! Free culinary lessons.

Leftover Lamb Wraps, from my Roast Leg of Lamb on Saturday. Plonked on top of a tortilla wrap, garnished with undressed salad, comprising lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, rocket leaves, it made a perfect Monday lunch. I should imagine it's quite healthy. Afterall, the lamb's lean, roasted, and there's no dressing on the salad.

Apple Pie With Pure Cream and A Scoop of Haagez Daz Vanilla ice cream, family dinner dessert on Tuesday night. Not good for the waistline, no matter how an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Full of cinnamon, strips of lemon zest, and a pastry that requires 4 different types of flour. A pain to make, but worth it.

Blog Friend

This is not a food posting per se. It is related to this food blog though. One of the interesting thing about blogging is meeting all the new people in this virtual blogosphere. It's the modern day equivalent of pen pals I guess. In a food blog such as this, the people all share a common interest, ie, food.

Anyway, I've occasionally wondered who all these people are, what they look like, whether or not masak masak will organise a blogosphere get together, so I get to meet the culinary luminaries like herself, and others....Well, as it turns out, yesterday I actually met up with a fellow blogger for lunch, and it was a rather pleasant experienced. The illustrious young chappie is in the process of setting up a much more foodier can you get!!!!!

May I introduce you my first food blogging buddy who I've actually met:

Young man, you can be rest assured that we will descend on your restaurant and scrutinise every dish.

Ironically, we didn't take any pictures of our meal, which was basically at the new outlet, Shanghai 10 in Bangsar Baru, (replacing the Only Mee outlet), and dessert at Bakerzin. I never knew that tapas dessert set was so palatable. RM15 for 3 dessert tapas, and coffee. We had Banana Pizza, Raspberry Panna Cotta and Vanilla Cream Brulee .... I think.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Quick Dinner For 15 Pax

I guess if your guests don't mind eating the same food everytime you host dinner, it can get progressively easier to prepare dinner... and considering the average time cycle that elapses before they get the eat this particular menu again would be anywhere from 6 months to a year, I guess memories should have been erased by then.

The good things about regurgitating the same menu is you become an expert and can get away with shorter and shorter time. Last Saturday's menu, for friend's farewell, comprised basically the following:

For Starters we had:

Fajitas; a medley of tortillas, honey roast chicken, avocado, caramelised sauteed onions, hot chilli jalapenos, and a mango tomato salsa..

This is really easy to prepare. Buy tortillas, they're cheapest at Carrefour, of various flavours. There's garlic, plain and potato. Roast your own chicken if you must, but with the abundance of roast chickens, very aromatic too, in various supermarkets, like Tesco, Giant, TMC, from as low as 5.99 per bird, heck, .....
I used two ripe plump Aussie avocadoes, removed the stone, and crushed it with some lemon. Onions were sauteed on a hot fire, with grape seed oil, and sea salt.
Mangos (chokanan) and tomatoes are finely diced, (cubed), and tossed in some lemon juice.
Sour cream from the tub.
Zap tortillas in microwave for 30 seconds before serving.

Cheese platter : I know ze cultured have cheeses AFTER dinner, but I find it suits my chinky palate to have cheeses as a starter. I served a block of Harvati Cheese, and Brandied Apricot Fruit Cheese, which some described as almost like eating ice cream. I suspect the true blue cheese connoiseurs would tut tut this as being an impostor cheese, but who cares, as long as the majority loves it. Served with Ritz Crackers. I find Water Table a bit overated.... I like the slight saltiness of Ritz crackers.

Freshly baked baguettes : Delifrance has these frozen baguettes, which you throw into an oven for about 20 minutes, and it's like eating freshly baked bread. Goes divinely with REAL butter.

Creamy Potato and Leek Soup : Deskin one whole chicken, and boil in a stock pot. (I used 15 cups of water, estimating 15 bowls of soup). Chuck in some onions, and whatever else you think will sweeten the stock. An hour before serving, chuck in the potatoes, (I used 8 large potatoes), 4 large leeks, 2 large onions, and chunks of thick bacon. It might be a good idea to remove the chicken (which should have disintergrated by now) before adding the potatoes and stuff. If not, you'll have to sift through a conglomeration of chicken, potatoes, leeks, onions...which you have to puree in a blender. After pureeing the concoction, put back into stock to boil. Actually, the soup is creamy on its own, but I added in some cream, and about 1/4 bottle of white wine, with sea salt. Goes brilliantly with the freshly baked baguettes.


Roast Leg of Lamb With Rosemary, Garlic and Honey Mustard Glaze.

The night before, I seasoned the leg of lamb with the garlic and rosemary. Pierce the skin of the leg of lamb (mine was 2.3kg), and stuff with garlic...I used 2 garlic bulbs? cloves? Two whole garlic. Also pierce with rosemary sprigs. Put in plastic bag, and refrigerate overnight.

2 hours before dinner, place on roasting pan at 180C, and roast for 1 hour. Take out, glaze with honey mustard, (1/2 cup seeded mustard, 1/2 cup dijon, and 1/2 cup honey), and put back to bake for a further 20-30 minutes, until the meat thermometer shows your preferred doneness.

Serve with pan juices and mint jelly.

Zuchinni Mushroom Pie

Use ready made puff pastry, unless you have all the time in the world, and a cold kitchen.
Slice 1 pack of button mushroom and 2 zuchinni, into a large bowl. Toss in one cup of cream, 1 packet of instant mushroom soup, (mixed into a concentrated soup), and some grated cheddar, or sliced cheddar cheese torn into bits. Line bottom of pie plate with puff pastry, put in filling, close the top with more puff pastry, glaze with milk or egg, and bake until nice and brown, in the same oven with the lamb.

Salad With Quails Eggs

Salads have got to be the empty canvass equivalent for a cook. Really, possibilities are endless. This time I used two types of frisse lettuce, 2 yellow capsicum, a punnet of cherry tomatoes, 30 quails eggs, a handful of toasted pine nuts.
Dressing : 1/2 cup seeded mustard, 1/3rd cup honey, 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil.

Spaghetti With Aubergine and Oyster Mushroom

Have to ask the maid.


Flourless Chocolate Cake with Warm Chocolate Sauce and Pure Cream
Lemon Meringue Pie

Both of which have been described in earlier posts. These can be made ahead, either day before, or morning of dinner.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Moist Moist Carrot Cake

If you're like me, and like moist cakes, moist, dense, wholesome, hearty cakes, then this has to be THE carrot cake recipe for you. Good enough to eat without frosting, and I daresay, fairly healthy, judging by the ingredients.

What To Put In

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger

1 cup brown sugar

4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
125ml sunflower oil

4 grated carrots, large-ish
10 prunes chopped
1 can pineapple, chopped and drained
handful of walnuts, chopped roughly

1. Sift together all the dry ingredients
2. Mix in a separate bowl the eggs, oil and vanilla, and chuck into the dry ingredients. Stir, (I use a whisk to stir), until all combined.
3. Chuck in all the other stuff, until all combined.
4. Pour into square 8" pan, lined and greased, and plonk into 180C oven for 45-50 minutes.

So easy!!!! Even better if you have domestic help to help grate the carrots. I'm not sure if food processors grate it too finely. Can someone tell me?

Anyway, I made this on Monday night, just before popping out to Zeta Bar for a friend's birthday. Served it on Tuesday night, and it was wonderfully moist. Sister said it could have done with a dollop of thick pure bulla cream, but ahem, I am into health food these days, so no cream. Okay, okay, that's rubbish, I forgot to stock up.