Monday, April 23, 2007

Recent Purchases and Experiments

I cant remember the name of the shop, it's next to the hardware shop in 1 utama, new wing, basement level. They sell lots of zwillig henckels stuff, bodum, etc...and I lurve wandering in there for their "value buys".

Was rather pleased with these three items. These large measuring jugs, which can fill up to nearly 2 litres I think, cost only RM2!!!! TWO BUCKS!!!! And that little kettle thingie is a timer, costing RM5.90. Pretty good.

For my cell group on Friday night, I wanted to try Delia's Flaky Pastry. In her book, she described it as the cheat's puff pastry, but just as delicious. Something about puff pastry having a million layers, in french, as opposed to flaky pastry which may only have 50....actually, it didn't HAVE any layers at all.

It might be easier than MAKING puff pastry, but it certainly is a heck lot harder than buying ready puff pastry. Here's what you need to do, for a double crusted pie. (ie, base and top).

1 block of butter, FROZEN....but cut into long blocks
3 cups flour
ice water
pinch of salt

Grate the frozen butter onto the sifted flour. This obviously has to be done quickly. With my tubby fingers and high body heat, this proved an insurmountable task. The frozen butter was melting faster than I could say ANCHOR. Anyway, you're supposed to incorporate the butter into the flour using a palette knife. Once its more or less incorporated, you slowly pour in 3 tablespoons of water to make it cohese? cohesify? together.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out 3/5ths for the base, put with filling of choice in 9" pie pan or dish. In this case, it was chicken, mushroom and coriander. Roll out the remaining for the top. Brush with glaze. Bake in 180C oven until brown.

Well, it was quite well received by my cell group.

Verdict: The flaky pastry is rather delicious, because of the butter. I think what I'd do next time is use the grater of the food processor to minimise the contact with the human hand. I would freeze the butter in long sticks. (basically cut the block of butter in half lengthwise). I try again then let yall know la hor.

The other item I recently procured was the entremet ring. Me and fellow food blogger cum cafe cum bookshop operator went scouting around for restaurant equipment, and supplies, and based on my internet research, found this little place in Sri Damansara called ABS Supplies. They have a wide range of stuff, mostly imported, and hence, very expensive. This non descript 8" ring cost RM62 before discount. She let me have it for RM40 because of a boo boo on the pricing of the deep pan pizza dish. It's made from this gorgeous material called bluestone, and was priced at RM15. I thought WHAT A STEAL!!!! Turns out, it was wrongly priced, and it was actually selling for about RM120!!!! Bah.

Anyway, apparently, if there are sufficient orders, they can order the small tart rings, (the wonder woman bracelets), stainless steel. Anyone wants? I want at least 10. Say 3" dia x 2" height, or something like that. They cost about RM20 each.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

First Attempt At Those Entremet Thingos

Ever since I attended the Boutique Desserts course, I've been dying to try some of the recipes that we learnt, but never got around to doing it, because, A. it's VERY time consuming, B. the ingredients are VERY expensive, C. I dont have the proper equipment, eg tart rings, industrial oven, etc, D. I was actually quite intimidated.

But WIASO, (Woman I Am Scared Of) who had given me the gift certificate to attend the course, was in town, AND it was also good friend's (owner of Isthmus) birthday, so I decided to attempt the first of many recipes so that WIASO can see if her gift voucher was put to good use or not.

The Chocolate Jasmine Flower Entremet. It consist of four different components, a Sable Base, two acquoise intermediate layers, a filling of jasmine infused chocolate mousse, and a cocoa glazing.

I think it took me one continous hour to put everything together, and that didn't include the glazing.

Sable (Sa blay,...pffft)

Blitz the following ingredients in a processor to get a biscuit dough (or pastry like dough)
85g flour
50g ground almond
50gm icing sugar
100gm butter
30gm chopped walnut (which i just blitzed also, before blitzing the dough)

After a 15 minute stint in fridge, roll out to 8" dia, and bake in 160C for 15 mins. Actually this qty makes more than 1 x 8" dia....but I didnt now how to prorate the recipe exactly.

The sable in the cake pan oridi

acquoise (DAH KUAH)

As you'd make a meringue,
210g egg white, (this is when I really appreciated my virgin digital scale) out to about 5 eggs
beat till soft peaks, gradually add
60gm sugar

When stiff, add the following:
210 gm icing sugar (Dam sweet man!)
120gm ground almond
240gm chopped nuts (whatever tickles your fancy I guess. I used almonds and walnuts)
150gm chopped dark chocolate ( I just blitzed the dark bitter couverture droplets in the processor)

When incorporating, use a light feathery movement to avoid losing too much air.... a task I found almost impossible.
Pipe onto 8" diameter rounds on baking paper or silpat (except you cant mark a silpat)
Bake for 15mins in same oven
What you should get is a crispy meringue type biscuit, crispy on outside, a bit chewy on inside but crunchy coz of all the nuts

Jasmine Mousse

What a pain to make

Infuse 30g jasmine tea leaves (hiong peen) in 250ml warm milk. Think of infusing a warm bath with the dirt from your body as you soak in a warm bath. That's the idea, to transfer the flavours from A to B
Whisk 60g sugar with 3 yolks
Strain the milk into the yolk mixture and cook until slightly thickened, like pouring custard.

Pour warm mixture onto your dark chocolate. Surprisingly, it melts.....
What you will have now is a glorious dark chocolate mixture that probably overpowers your jasmine flavour, making it the infusing an exercise in futility. I suggest infusing MORE tea leaves if you like that jasminey taste.

When cooled, incorporate into 600gm of whipped cream, and when all cool, add 10gm of gelatine mixed in 50gm water. Apparently it's one part gelatine to five parts water.

Chill the mousse mixture.

When the sable and dacquoise have cooled down to room temperature, you can start assembling. Ideally, use a 8" tart ring, (quantities probably enough for 9", but adjust your biscuit sizes accordingly), but if you're like me, and didn't have one, just use a tin with removable base.

Place sable at bottom, as the base. Put 1/3rd of the mousse mixture. One layer of dacquoise. Another 1/3rd mousse mixture. Another layer dacquoise. Remaining mousse. Chill. It should set gloriously. Unlike my strawberry meringue pie. The French guy said in our climate, its best to use gelatine, and not chance it. It says Freeze in the instructions, but I reckon chilling in fridge is sufficient.

The next day, glaze with a cocoa glaze. Oops, I dont have that recipe on me.

I cant seem to get a good picture, because the glaze is too shiny, and the flash reflects off the surface, and without flash, it's too dark, since I don't have a fancy camera. The sides arent even, because I didnt have a tart ring, nor did I use the plastic liners, so when I shoved out the cake with the removable base, the sides were a bit rough.

You can see here the layers of the entremet. The verdict: Well, my mother raved about it, though the opinion of a mother is usually biased, so we have to discount that.

My friends said it was good, they liked the bitter chocolatey taste, which thankfully overpowered the sickly sweet dacquoise. But then again, friends have to be polite. So we have to discount that opinion as well. Oh, the chocolate did overpower the jasmine, so there was hardly any jasmine taste.

Wife of course, is very supportive of anything I make, even the landslide that opinion also is biased.

My OWN verdict: Very rich, quite interesting, because of the different textures. I also like the bitter chocolate. But really, a very small slice would suffice. It is very very rich.

I can't resist posting these pics of the starter platter we had last night. No prizes for guessing which restaurant we were at....

Monday, April 16, 2007

Kampar, More Than Just Chicken Biscuits

Before that, further to the previous post, about landsliding meringues, you can now view a picture of the said disaster at the birthday victim's blog.

During the Easter weekend, (yes, I know, it's not a public holiday or anything of the sort), my cell group, spearheaded by godson's mother, organised a trip to Kampar. This sleepy town used to be one of the towns you'd have to pass before the North South Highway was built, if you wanted to go to Ipoh, and is famed for its chicken biscuits, CB for short.

Thanks to the comments of one reader who managed to scare the wife, I shall no longer be posting photos of the kids on any blog, nor shall I be referring the to family, so I shall just stick to photographs of food, and possibly scenery.

Anyway, what's there to do in Kampar, I hear the chorus of voices in unison. You'll be surprised. For starters, friend's family owns this spanking new hotel there, called the hotel grand kampar, new, clean and very reasonably priced. And yes, quite grand, with rooftop pool and all. The rooms are huge, and adequately finished. No carpeting, thank goodness.

Upon arrival, we had lunch at Kow Kee...since the locals brought us, it must be good. It was good, but the shop owner didn't use their common sense in dispensing the portions of food, as there was wayyyy too much. The large dish of big head prawns was very well fried, except there was enough shrimp to feed a whale. We were so hungry, that I think I forgot to take pics of most of the food, and in any case, my camera is still on the blink and I was relying on cheaplak camera.

The steamed egg with century egg had a lovely smooth texture, surely can't be that difficult to get smooth steamed egg. Wonder what's the secret.

A huge, and I mean HUGE, catfish. I didn't really care much for the taste of catfish, but the sauce was very good. There were a couple of other dishes, which now escape me, but all in all, it was a fabulous meal, although the bill, was staggering. Poor hostess refused to accept payment and belanja-ed us all. Hey, thanks a lot again.

Dinner was at another famous restaurant, Yow Kee. They have these delectable looking breads filled with curry chicken.

The curry chicken is the chinese style curry chicken, I can't really describe what I mean by that, but it's different from the malay curry chicken, if you know what I mean. Help!!! Anyway, the bread is actually edible, and goes very well with the curry sauce.

This pork dish, served with mantaus had to be the best dish of the night. So much so, after the first plate came, we immediately ordered another. I would have taken more pics, but I was borrowing a friend's lumix (dunno which model) and they JUST sent me the photos, in very large file sizes.

The dinner at Yow Kee was exceedingly reasonably priced. I think we had the curry chicken buns, a patin fish, the pork, vegetables, tofu, for 12 adults, and 5 kids, all for about 175 bucks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My First Major "Commercial" Disaster

A couple of weeks ago, newlywed man ordered a Lemon Meringue Pie from me, to surprise his new wife on her birthday. Awww, how sweet is that. But subsequently, he changed his mind, because the thought of something sour on a birthday didn't seem appropriate, although for the record, I think a LMP is perfect, coz the solid base represents a solid foundation, the zesty lemon represents a zest for life, the bright yellow represents cheerfulness, and the sweet light fluffy meringue, represents sweetness in life.

Nevertheless, I failed to convince him, and he wanted a Strawberry Meringue Pie instead. Fine, I thought, how hard can that be. Anyway, the cake order was for Monday, and I was away in Kampar on the weekend, and only got back on Sunday. I assumed that it wouldn't be hard to find a recipe for strawberry meringue, but I was wrong, and I couldn't find any suitable ones. So, I mentally conjured up this image.

That symbol next to the word crust is Pi, in case yall have forgotten your add math.

So ah, a lot of work right. Three different textures, a crispy(?) pie crust, a semi soft meringue, and a light strawberry cream but not quite mousse thingo. The first inkling of a disaster was, the quantity of strawberries. My original punnet, which was made into a puree for the cream, was NOT ENOUGH. I could barely taste the strawberry in the cream. Anyway, had to rectify that asap.

The next morning, I realised the cream hadn't really set. Now at this point, alarm bells were going off in my head, but it being monday morning and all, ....(plus I had another carrot cake to ice), I knew I should add some gelatine to the cream, but I am generally averse to gelatine, unless absolutely necessary, so I though, ah well, I'm sure it'll set. Therein lies the principle that a man who builds his house on sandy ground can expect a landslide. Sure enough, the piake (cross between a pie and a cake) didn't set properly, and was resembling a stunted mount vesuvius. I chucked the whole thing in the freezer, (after I got back from work) and just prayed for the best, as I left instruction with the wife not to accept any money when hubby boy came to collect the piake. (pronounced pie ache)

Of course, I got an sms from a friend later on that night, saying, "oh, we just had your putrajaya strawberry souffle"....huh? "Putrajaya", I ask. "Yup, landslide", was his reply. Aiyo, I feel soooo bad. Hey Hey Miss Ley, I'll make it up to ya one dey okay.

Conclusion: It's also not economically viable to make anything with strawberries, unless you are either willing to skimp, OR are willing to pay a fortune. I think the next time I go to a temperate country, and if strawberries are cheap, I am gonna buy them in bulk, puree them, bottle it and bring back and freeze. Can ah?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Finally, Dinner At Max's Kitchen

Ever since I read boolicious' review on Max's Wine & Kitchen, I've been wanting and wanting to go try it out. A few other friends had also given it rave reviews, so when wife of King Of England suggested meeting for mid week dinner, I was rather pleased, but quickly vetoed the original suggestion of eating in Alexis BSC. In a plaintive voice I pleaded (as far as it's possible to show emotion on yahoo messenger) that I don't get to eat out very often, with four kids and all, so when I do, I would like to try new places. She acqueisced to my request, so off we went.

Parking is actually not bad, coz if you're willing to pay, there's ample car park, which gives easy access both to Tengkat Tong Shin and Jalan Alor, both the food paradises. As the car meandered through the tight Jln Alor, full with pedestrians, there were oohs and ahs and a whole running commentary by various individuals as to what and where to eat there. Thanks to the recent floggers gathering, I could chip in my 2 sen worth. (prior to that, the last time I ate in Jln Alor was err.....1989).

We kicked off with some communal starters. Uncle Francis who's been there before seemed to know what to order so we left it in his good hands. When the first plate of mushroom and aubergine came, it didnt even occur to me to take any pictures, since all I had on me was my lousy kodak easyshare camera, which doesn't even have a macro function.

Anyway, when the plump juicy scallops came, I thought what the heck, a bad photo is better than no photo....

I loved the sauce, it was garlicky, balsamic vinegar with chilli...very subtle, yet tangy, all at once.
The scallops were huge, and I reckon if you used Rasa Malaysia's scallop recipe, you could slice them into 4 slices horizontally without them being reduced to the thickness (or thinness) of a catholic communion wafer.

The next starter was the seared tuna. I liked the tuna, but the sauce tasted a bit dettol-ly.... couldn't quite place my finger on it.

The unagi was suprisingly good, layers of unagi, with some button mushrooms in a very satisfying sauce. Someone remarked that they preferred the cilantro unagi, ...yeah, well, that one has foie gras etc, and is double the price.

After my last wagyu beef cheek in cilantro, I was a bit wary of ordering it again, coz I didn't care much for the super gelatinous texture that comes with the cheek. After checking, and rechecking that it won't be so, I decided upon Boolicious' recommendation, to try it. No regrets there. It was super tender, and though a bit gelatinous, that part could be discarded.

Wife had the ocean trout, which exactly as Boolicious described, looked like salmon, (in fact, a few people had to reconfirm that it wasn't salmon), but tasted lighter.

Friend ordered slipper lobster, I know the picture was horrible.

All in all, I'd say the food was excellent, and not overly priced either. The duck breast was really good as well. Alas, we had to adjourn for dessert at another friend's place for coffee and cake, so didn't get to try the delectable sounding desserts at Max. Oh well, there's always next time.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Baby's Birthday Cake

My darling baby girl turned ONE yesterday. The hotel we were having dinner at, Equatorial Bangi, was providing a cake, so initially I thought there was no need to make one, but the night before, guilt struck me like lightning strikes a sinner, so I decided to whip up a simple butter cake for lunch, so that we could at least have a lunch celebration at home.

Haha, I know the decorations are a bit out of season, but we had these beautiful jelly bean lollipops hanging around since the yuletide, and well, it's almost easter, so they had to be used up quickly. For the butter cake, I used all the supposed premium ingredients; ie, golden churn butter, and pillsbury flour.

Verdict: Well, I am not sure exactly what constitutes a perfect butter cake texture. With those ingredients, you cant really go wrong as far as taste is concerned. It was very fragrant, and rich, and to me, the texture was okay, but my official cake taster said her texture was different. Does anyone have a sure proof butter cake recipe, and what temperature should the butter be for these kinda cakes?

Monday, April 02, 2007

More Money Spent on Cooking Related Stuff, in Pantry Magic etc

Actually, I wish I had a larger kitchen, or more storage space. So many things to buy, so little space to keep.

During my recent trans Malaysia sojourn for the annual filial ritual of Qing Ming, dad, son and me traversed more than a 1000km. Starting from KL to JB, popping over to Singapore to visit relatives, back to JB, then to Kuantan, and Kuantan back to KL. Our hotel in JB was next to Kotaraya complex, and don't underestimate these small town supermarkets. (ok ok, JB is hardly a small town...but you know what I mean). I have been looking for a long time now, for an EIGHT inch, ie, 20cm, springform pan, but they seem virtually impossible to find. The ones in Chang Tung are 9". And not cheap. So, I was thrilled to find in the supermarket there an 8" springform pan, non stick and all, for only RM14.90!!!

But of course, that wasn't the highlight of my culinary quests. I had all but given up hope of being able to pop over to Pantry Magic in Holland Village. We got into Singapore at 5pm, dinner was about 7pm, and I was told not to venture to those parts from where we were, coz of the jam. Killed time by wandering around the neighbourhood mall, in Upper Thompson Road. Then, miraculously, after dinner, dad wanted to hang around to spend time with his brother, and my cousin offered to drive me to Holland Village...(after I innocently asked for directions). Ah, relatives, they're always so hospitable.

So, with eager anticipation, we went there. Its brighly lit, located on the corner of Jalan Merah Saga, with a misleading back entrance, .....anyway, entering the shop, you'd think you were in some Caucasian country, as almost all the customers were caucasian. It's similar to the one I went to in Peddler Street HK last year, but bigger. I dunno if the latter has been renovated since. Lots of silicone ware, ceramic ware, that rotary cheese grater that Nigella uses. I had to stop myself from going overboard. Also, I kicked myself for not having my OCBC card, which entitles you to 10% discount. ARGH!!!! There goes two pieces of cake. Scanpans, silpats, trendy looking weighing scales, assortment of knives, thermometers, normal baking pans....

Finally, I settled on a few items that I usually would use, and guess what?? I managed to find my SQUARE PIE TIN!!!!!! See PIE ARE SQUARE post. Very expensive, SD29, but what the heck, since I was already there. Also got a silpat kinda mat, a digital thermometer to stick into wherever, a silicon pastry brush, a silicon oven mitt.

Bear in mind that my normal camera is konked, and I'm using a cheap chiplak camera.

Also, from the recent MPH 20% sale, I managed to get these books. Delia is really good for beginners, like me. At RM101 per book, it is not something affordable without a sale. However, they are hard cover and have nice visuals.