Self proclaimed least romantic person in the world (although I myself am vying for that title), and celebrity chef Rohani Jelani emailed to ask me if I would like to join the couple's cooking class. I always shudder whenever an event is preceded by the word "Couple's". It's like Couple's Therapy, Couple's Bible Study, Couple's Counselling, Couple's Retreat....seriously, it MUST be a thing from the evil West. (that wonderful repository for which we blame all the world's social ills).
Well, however, this time, the word Couple didnt have that averse effect on me, the way peanuts might send some into anaphylactic shock, because, it was followed by the word "cooking class", but most of all, because it came from my idol herself, Rohani Jelani. Those of you unfamiliar with the name, (after spanking yourselves for being ignorami), she happens to be one of our foremost Msian celebrity chefs, and runs a GORGEOUS culinary centre called Bayan Indah. Bayan Indah is nestled in the greenery of Kg Penchala, a Malay reserve parcel of land, just next to Taman Tun Dr Ismail. Minutes away from Taman Tun, one feels one has entered a time warp and a different world, where P Ramlee might still be alive, and Malay ladies wore tight fitting kebayas with flowers in their hair. The illusion is shattered by the frantic searching of GOOGLE MAPS to find the place, which has since been given ROAD NAMES, which totally threw me off course, despite having been there twice before.
We, (we meaning the wife and me..you know, couple.... brrrr) were late, but not the latest, thanks to the fact that we tried every road from Bayan Indah 1 -6 ... but bypassing 4 ...being chink and all. Hailing a passer by didnt help, when I asked "Adik tahu Bayan Indah di mana?" and he gestures, "Ini seluruh kampung Bayan Indah"...
The cooking class, meant for couples, for Valentine's day (despite all the brouhaha in the media), was priced at RM450 per couple, but if you ask me, better value than sitting in a restaurant over candle light, with tables so cramped you can stroke the thigh of the person next to you... for RM450, we learnt how to make a Cold Watermelon Soup with Fruits and Herbs, Scotched Eggs With a Twist, Seafood Millefeuille, and A Chocolate Velvet Cheese Cake.
I just love the setting in Bayan Indah. I feel a sense of belonging....like I was always meant to be there. Rohani as usual pre-briefed us on what to expect, and what to do. I love her preambles. They inspire.
We start with the luscious chocolate cheesecake. She tells us that dessert should be made first, before we dirty the kitchen with the messier stuff. It makes sense. Well, I always make dessert the night before, if possible. One thing I love about Rohani's recipes, they are easy to follow, and 99% of the time, turn out the way it should. It's a hands on class, so it's quite enjoyable barking orders to the wife.... afterall, she is more in need of baking classes than I am. Ahem.
Rohani guides us along the way. She shows us how to marble the cake ever so subtly so that we dont lose our marbles.
We then proceed with the scotched eggs, which are wraped in a layer of freshly peeled crabmeat, breaded and deep fried and served with a lovely wasabe mayonnaise.
The eggs are handled with care, as they are quite fragile, even after being cooked. The wife gently coats the eggs with the crabmeat coating.
As we do not fry the eggs immediately, we are told to refrigerate our eggs for later use. Refrigerate ya, not freeze.
The seafood millefeuille is made up of layers of puff pastry sandwiching a seafood concoction in a lovely white bechamel sauce. Rohani demonstrates to us how to roll the pastry.
Oh, one of the participants in our group was Ruth Liew, famous columnist on bringing up children. Another one was Giselda, who has just moved back from Britain after many years there, with her English hubby, and she intends to start a catering business, so do check out her website here.
The completed Seafood Millefeuille, accompanied by a freshly tossed salad. Actually, its a very substantial dish, and for me, half the size would have been sufficient.
Cold Watermelon Soup. Unlike the gazpacho, which is thicker, this is a refreshing alternative, and has so many different flavours to titillate the palate.
The scotched quails eggs in crabmeat. They may look diminituive, but they're quite filling. I love this dish, but the thought of peeling crabmeat to coat my eggs is just too much work. And as Rohani pointed out, and I concur, frozen crabmeat sold here is quite vile. If anyone knows where I can decent crabmeat, all peeled, let me know. Would be most grateful.
The piece de resistance...The Chocolate Mocca Cheesecake. Divine. And so easy to make too. How? Sign up for one of Rohani's classes and learn how. Click here for the website.
Rohani say oni, she not romantic, but she still swirled a heart sign when marbling the cake. Chis, closet romantic.
Look at that texture. Cake like, mousse like, rich, melt in the mouth all at one time. If my culinary IQ was any lower, I might have had brain cramp.
Oh, and the wife enjoyed it too.
Well, for all the aspiring cooks out there, head on to Bayan Indah. You learn how to fly, when you have no wings...and it's possible, for as GFAD said, its like cooking with GPS.
Thanks Rohani, for another great session! Selamat Hari Valentine terlambat.