Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fat Luscious Juicy.....Taugeh, and a Hysterectomy

That's how Lemongrass described the taugeh from Ipoh. A bit of a waste and overkill of adjectives, but yeah, she is right. The taugeh, apparently because of the water from artesan wells, IS plump, juicy and naturally circumcised. As in, you dont have to really pluck the tips.

Oh, yes, I was in Ipoh last friday, on a whim, coz WOMAN I AM SCARED OF (WIASO) was back on holiday, so Godma (to my kids) and I thought we'd take the day off, chow down some Ipoh food, and bring WIASO back to KL. The drive up north was uneventful enough, but I have to say the limestone caves, Lata Kinjang (or is it Kijang) waterfalls from the highway, do make for a rather scenic drive. But being 41 and jaded, one doesnt go ooh and ah anymore.

Suitably famished by the time we arrived, WIASO's sister took over the wheels and played local tour guide. First stop was Khong Heng kopitiam for Kai See Hor Fun. I can now understand why Michelle Yeoh is such a fan of Kai See Hor Fun, for the Ipoh version is really rather good.

For starters we had the Yau Yee Ong Chow, ie, Cuttle Fish with Water Convulvulus. (Anything with two Vs and and L reminds me of a certain word).

The sauce of the YYOC is different from the KL one. It's more like a curry sauce. In my haste and hunger, I agreed to order a bowl of Ngau Nam Meen.....highly forgettable, and wasn't really finished.

The Kai See Hor Fun, as I said, was excellent. Should have ordered two bowls. Unlike Penang hawker fare, which comes in MINISCULE portions, the servings here are pretty much like KLs. I ordered a small hor fun, which was sufficient.

We also had popiah and rojak, by which time I was too engrossed in the hor fun to bother taking pics. The popiah seemed to have a lot of "liu", unlike the ones here.

For dessert, WIASO's sister brought us for tau foo far in this "drive in". Snow Mountain. The proprietors have been running this for the last 30 years.

You basically sit in your car, and place your order, and eat in the comfort of your car. What a brilliant idea. The TFF was superb, silky smooth, but then again, most TFF in Malaysia is rather good anyway.


On a separate note, two weekends ago, while I was making 2 chicken pies for delivery, the oven here konked out. It is 12 years old, and has served us faithfully, churning out roast chickens for family dinners, scones for countless tea parties, thousands of muffins for church, [getting teary eyed], twas the experimental lab for many a cake, and it was in this oven that the first wedding cake was made as well. Alas, sad to say, it wasn't economically viable to repair, and the parts were not available anyway, so, an oven hysterectomy it has to be. No more buns from this oven. Actually it was causing the ELCB to trip. It has served us well.

So, bring out the old, bring in the new!!!! The ELECTROLUX EOB3637X. I'd forgotten what it's like to have a clear oven door, and a light in the oven.... it's like watching TV!!!! In the old oven, the oven door had turned opaque with its years of wear, and the light wasnt working either. So, I could actually see the cakes rise, ah, such a joyful feeling to the heart. Until it rose too much and I went, ARGHHHHHH.....coz I havent really got accustomed to the new temperature settings etc. AND THANK YOU, manufacturers, for FINALLY getting it into your skulls that it is far easier to demarcate the temperature settings with ACTUAL TEMPERATURE readings, ie, 180C, 200C as opposed to numbers 1-7......

I look forward to having many buns in my new oven.

Monday, July 23, 2007

It's Been Nearly A Year

I was quite upset at first, when I couldn't find my calendar from last year, coz I was looking for a very important date. The date I got my first commercial cake order. And I didn't jot it down in my 2006 diary either. Finally, after combing the several blogs, I found an entry that did pinpoint the exact date and time. So the date of my first order was 2nd August, 2006, and the first delivery made on 3rd August 2006.

Time FLIES!!!!! Was thinking of throwing an afternoon tea party to celebrate the first year anniversary.....should I? Any willing guinea pigs?

Friday, July 20, 2007

House & Co, Bangsar Shopping Centre

Looking from the outside of the shop you wouldn't really know, unless you had inside information, that within its confines, the furniture and household shop called House & Co in Bangsar Shopping Centre houses a little cafe. I had recently heard about it, when friends raved about the curry laksa and the nasi lemak. It was with a bit of trepidation that I managed to convince my usual Friday Boys Lunch crowd to make their way there, instead of the usual Bangsar Village outlet we hang out at.

I quickly put in a disclaimer that I had never been and I bear no responsibility for the outcome. However, my fears quickly disappeared, when I saw that the cafe was full of people, always a good indication of the quality of the food.

The menu is rather limited, which goes to show, you can draw crowds by having just a few consistent good items. So, we zoomed into the popular dishes, and had the nasi lemak, nyonya curry laksa, and ipoh hor fun.

The nasi lemak is served on a HUGE platter and the condiments are served on pretty banana flowers. I didnt get to try it, but the rice looked nice and fluffy, just the way I like it. Apparently the rendang was good and tender, and friend remarked that it was all good stuff, at least it wasn't just presentation.

KO3 who was suffering a bad tummy opted for the clear soup hor fun, which was ordinary.

The Nyonya laks came in a HUGE bowl as well, and looked absolutely divine. Actually, it was rather good. The soup was thick enough, without overkill of coconut milk, the ingredients were good, nice slices pak cham kai (steamed chicken), cockles, (very important), two big prawns....

Each of these cost RM15 each, which is no worse than say Alexis, or other eateries in this category. Considering the portions and quality, I'd say it was good value.

Highly recommended. They did have an assortment of desserts, but we were too stuffed with our mains.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My Life Very Boring One

Unlike other food bloggers who eat out twice a day, but only review once a day, and therefore have a massive backlog that would make our civil service look darn efficient, I hardly ever eat out, and when I do, it's usually at the same old same old places, so my life is very boring one.

Apart from this uphill battle of the bulge, which means no frivolous lunches, I usually eat at home on weeknights, or at least try my best to do so. Anyway, I was at a friend's house on Sunday night, when the topic about chocolate came up. One of the expats there mentioned that Lindt has a new range of dark chocolate, with cocoa from all over..... 65% from Madagascar, 70% from ??? and 75% from Cuba. Ever since I read that dark chocolate is GOOD for you, I have no guilt at all occasionally indulging in some. So, as I made my way to pre book my new Harry Potter book at neighbourhood bookstore, after doing so I headed to Bangsar Village to pick up my fruit for lunch AND a bar of Lindt. I chose the 65% Madagascar, coz I don't really like it TOO bitter. 70% is about my limit. The 85% one is a bit too dark for me. Much like a dementor from Azkaban.

Which brings me to my next point. In Delia Smith's How To Cook series, when she was teaching about chocolate, she said, one of the tests of a good chocolate is the snapping sound when you break it off. I think I beg to differ, as that particular test depends on the temperature of the chocolate. I think if the chocolate is from the fridge, of course the snap sound will be louder. So I tried with the 65% madagascar. Sure enough, there was no snap sound at all, coz it was room temperature, and in Malaysia, you know what THAT is.

Has anyone out there found a cost viable, dark chocolate with reasonable cocoa content that can be used for baking? Actually I hear our local cocoa is of very high standard, and companies like KLK are making chocolate for export.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I Virtually Grew Up In This Building

In the good old days of yore (also known as my salad days....I found out "salad days" refers to one's heydays), this building was the venue for BONTON, one of the premiere restaurants in town, and hey, had food bloggers existed then, the reviews for upscale restaurant would be over within a week. I remember coming here for many a date, with different cast.....

Some years ago, the place became TOP HAT
but I suspect there was some link with the original BONTON because the menu, layout, etc, remained suspiciously similar. In fact, I think these three establishments probably came from the same source, and share the same DNA. TOPHAT, BONTON AND SUCHAN. Does anyone know what mysterious cord links the three?

Anyway, cousin who works in London is back for holidays, so as self proclaimed president (by virtue of age) of the council of cousins, we insisted he buy us dinner, as the pound is 7 to 1. He chose Top Hats as the venue, based on recommendations by his friends. We asked him why he didnt consult us, but propriety dictated it was impolite to ask the guests for recommendations. Got such thing one ah?

They have quite a range of sets, the Mediterranean Seafood one being the most costly. The chicken & mushroom pie set is RM55. I usually have that, but decided this time not to. Wife had that C&M Pie set, which came with 6 top hats, the mains, and a choice of dessert. I had the asparagus soup, which I had to return, because it was way too salty (the proprietess who agreed it was too salty said, "aiyo, the cook must be in love la"), and got it replaced with some tomato /french onion kind of combination. For mains, the tenderloin.

The tophats, or pie tees, were okay. Nothing to ooh or ahh over, but tasty enough, and when hungry, actually very palatable.

My replacement soup, which seemed a tad oily. However taste wise, it was not too bad. That thing on the spoon is that cheese on bread thing that they usually serve with french onion soup.

Wife's chicken & mushroom pie andaccompanying vegetables. I liked the pastry of the pie. I think its a form of Flaky Pastry. I wonder how they get it so evenly browned though.

Cousin's fish.... Looked good. Forgot to ask him how it tasted.

Another cousin's nasi bryani spread. They used to serve these in large rattan platters.... now its on an ordinary plate.

Sister's ox tail stew.

My tenderloin, which was a bit tough. Taste wise it was okay. I quite liked the mushroom crepe that accompanied the dish, (the one with the two brocolli pieces on top) and the two pototo croquettes.

Ah, this is one of the few desserts that I simply love ordering, because I can't replicate it, after years of searching for a recipe. Also, since no one in the family likes pear, this pear ginger upside pudding might not receive an audience if I did make it. Ah, guinea pigs needed. Served with treacle ice cream, it is one of the FEW sweet desserts that I CAN stomach. But actually this was part of wife's set.

Sago gula melaka, such a simple yet refreshingly good dessert. Sago is another thing I've never gotten around to doing. I always reckon things like sago, nyonya kueh, kek lapis, glutinous rice dumplings are somehow not worth the effort making, because they are readily available, and such good quality and affordable prices.

Thanks cuz for a lovely dinner and great company.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Can You Bubble Wrap That Cake To Go?

I had the oddest phone call last night. A customer, who had ordered three durian cakes from me, to bring to dunno where, calls me, asking me to sell her the cakes in the cake pans!!!! Apparently my little babies were making a journey somewhere, and needed to be properly padded and insulated against ....violent handling.

Sooo, how DOES one transport a cheese cake, about 8" diameter, 2 inch high, in a dignified manner without looking like you're smuggling chopped up body parts? Tell me tell me please. Alas, I couldn't part with my cake tins, as I needed them for something else today. Worked out well anyway, as the customer came prepared with polystyrene box and tupperware, which fitted perfectly. Should be okay for a car journey.

On a separate note, one of Boolicious' posts of yesteryear has been subconsciously embedded in my head, and I have had a craving for this burger for the longest time, so last saturday, after body step and a massage, I was feeling ravenously hungry, and decided, ah, what the heck. I went for the full monty, DAGING DOUBLE SPECIAL. For the uninformed, for our local burgers, "special" generally denotes wrapped in egg. Double means double patties. So double special means two patties wrapped in egg. Making the egg crepe is an art form. They partially crack the egg, and drizzle the contents on the griddle in a circular motion, much like making tosai. They then place the two cooked meat patties in the centre, and fold it up. Layers of chilli sauce and mayonnaise complete the masterpiece. My only grouse is the strong taste of margarine. I detest margarine the way I detest....people who dont finish their wines at dinner banquets, yet allow waiters to refill their glass.

Oh, I forget to mention, the local franchise in question is OTAI burger, probably an offspring of RAMLY. While Ramly is probably someone's name, I have NO idea what OTAI could possibly stand for.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Much Talked About Cafe Cafe

When a restaurant is reviewed on two famous food blogs within the week, one does set the bar of expectation rather high, and I was delighted that I would have to wait no more, to try out this much touted place, Cafe Cafe. Located just at the corner of Jln Maharajalela, the minute you exit from Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka, you'd never have imagined such a location could host such a quaint little establishment. Honestly, I felt I was in another country.

It took me 15 minutes to locate the place, coz we parked at Mirama Hotel, and then was told it was after Mirama (actually she meant after Wisma Mirama), so we ended up walking down towards the Merdeka Roundabout (how many of you young fellas out there know that that area in front of the chinese chamber of commerce, where the fountain is, used to be a roundabout? My grandad used to bring me round and round to watch the fountain change color). A rather nasty accident involving 4 cars had occured just before and the wreckage was parked along the road. The Gen 2 Proton was hancai. (hancur dan berkecai) I digress.

Anyway, we unanimously agreed that we must try SET 149.... (ie the RM149 set), which afforded a choice of Foie Gras or Frogs Legs...(I must have strained a brain muscle trying to decide which....NOT!), Escargots or Pear Salad (again.... a no brainer for me), and mains of either Cod, Wagyu Beef Cheek or Lamb Cutlets. Hmmm, let me think.......

Oh, the occasion was for yhsmom's birthday and she played the gracious hostess with the mostest. Happy birthday again yhsmom, and thanks for a lovely feast.

Here it goes.

Pan Seared Foie Gras, done to perfection. The balsamic jus was also perfect, a slight tang, sweet all at the same time. The portions of the foie gras were a bit thin, if you ask me. I am not sure if the ala carte portions are the same size, (mine was part of the SET 149), but if I remember, it costs RM65. In which case, it seems a bit pricy, considering in Zipangu, its RM30 for the foie gras wintermelon. Oops, lets hope they don't wisen up.

The escargots in garlic. Very garlicky. I am not really a huge escargot fan, but heck, the choice was between that, and THIS!!! I try not to order stuff that I myself can put together without much effort. Anyway, wife doesn't like snails, so she opted for the greens. It's a nightmare for the non rocket lover, and conversely, a dream come true for those who do like aragula. I think it could be balanced out with a bit of other leaves, such as watercress. I love aunty sue's and KTT's Rocket, Watercress, Pear and Walnute salad.

Meanwhile Leon Lai had made his diva entrance as usual, looking VERY dapper in his dress shirt, apparently came from a wedding banquet at Hakka Restaurant. Who did he think he was? The groom? Dressed like that, outstaging the host. He ordered these yummmmmy garlic prawns for starter.

To wash the palate, lemon sorbet. Texture is perfect. Wonder if they used gelatine. I can't seem to achieve this kind of sorbet consistency. Meanwhile, I am getting sms-es from the flood blogger's updating me on their food crawl. While the company I was with was sterling, the food was taking an inordinate amount of time in coming. Didn't help that the restaurant was PACKED!!!!

Ahboy, the only person who didnt go for SET 149 (and Leon, coz he already had 2 courses at the wedding), ordered two mains instead, a marinara pasta of sorts, which was rather tasty. (I had a bite). But pasta is pasta.

At about 10.30, the mains started to arrive. Wife's cod fish, with enoki mushrooms. Actually, despite not being a cod lover (cod lover oil?) I thought it was rather good. The creamy sauce went well with the perfectly pan seared fish.

Duck confit.... looks divine. I had a bit of the skin, which was yummy, but it's rather fatty, and didn't get to sample the meat.

Now, at 10.50pm, I am the only one still waiting for my wagyu beef cheek, when the waiter comes and tells me, "sorry sir, we've run out of wagyu beef cheeks, as they took your order wrongly". ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! The sound of shrieks that could shatter crystal mentally crossed my mind. They asked if they could replace it with the tenderloin in foie gras reduction. Did I hear foie gras??? That was enough to mollify me.

So, I got the that. Retailing for RM75 on the ala carte, I guess it wasn't a bad swap. Anyway, there was enough wagyu on the table for me to get a sampling. Wonder what the foie gras reduction was? Was it the leftover gravy from all the pan seared foie gras? Omigosh, I had better not do a cholesterol check anytime in the near future.

Dessert....now, although I know we had the birthday cake from that all too familiar logo,

dessert was actually part of the set as well. Being kiasu that I am, I always try to go for the MOSTTTT expensive ala carte item if the set has a carte blanche for you to choose from. (ie, "any dessert selection") I zeroed into the warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and TRUFFLE OIL infusion.
Eeeeeeeksssss.............. so good, just sooooooooooo good. Molten chocolatey choc sauce flowing forth, with a hint of truffle, (truffle truffle, not chocolate truffle)...which I didn't know how would taste....but it was deeevine. Meanwhile food bloggers crawl were raving about Bijan's Durian Cheesecake and Teh Tarik Ice Cream.

To complete the near death experience, we had Death By Chocolate, for the birthday cake.

What a wonderful feast!!!!! Dreamy gaze.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Delia Smith's Molten Chocolate Puddings

Very easy to make, and visually quite a treat, these were featured on Delia's HOW TO COOK series aired on BBCE recently. Fortunately, I also purchased the entire series of books, so I had the recipe in hardcopy, without having to take dictation (now, that's a word I haven't heard since Form 3).

200gm butter
200gm dark chocolate
2 tablespoons brandy (or more)

I used a 52% cocoa content dark, coz like lemon, I find people's tolerance of bitterness varying, so for the greater good, I stuck with a mere 52%. If I was eating it myself, I'd have used Green & Black's 70% or 85%....which I only have one bar of, so am saving it like a bar of gold bullion. Or my precious packed of Valrhona. (70%)

Ya, anyway, melt the above mixture in a double boiler set up. Low heat, making sure the bowl doesn't touch the surface of the water. (or you could cheat like I do, and just zap the whole darn thing in the microwave. This is where those glass measuring jugs come in really handy).

Meanwhile, in a mixer bowl, mix 4 eggs, 4 yolks (use the whites for a healthy omelette). 110gm sugar, teaspoon vanilla extract, until its trebled in quantity, and leaves a ribbon trail when you lift the beaters. This should take about 7 minutes on a kenwood chef. (with a balloon whisk).

Slowly pour the melted chocolate around the perimeter of the bowl of egg mixture, (as in, don't pour it plonk into the centre), and then sift 60gm of flour onto the mixture, and gently fold. This is rather laborious work, and takes about 5 minutes for the chocolate, flour, and egg to be incorporated into each other's warm embrace, without losing too much air.

Your pale egg mixture should now be the color of milo kau, .... whereupon you should transfer the batter into individual pudding bowls (8 numbers) or ramekins, which should be WELL GREASED, and into a preheated 200C oven. Bake for 12 minutes, and the centres should ooze out a molten fudge.

The beauty of this recipe is, it can be made in advance, and refrigerated, and baked just before serving. Plop it out of the pudding bowls, inverted, onto a plate, and serve with pure cream, or vanilla ice cream.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A Weekend Of Orgiastic Home Dinners

Who says you've to eat at a restaurant to have a gourmet feast!!!!

These is the massive spread we had at my fellow gym member's abode, cooked by the man himself.

Kylie Kwong's Styled Steamed Cod fish. Perfectly done. Not your conventional style of steamed fish.

Signature chicken in some sauce, that is meant to be dipped with thick slabs of hainanese coffee shop bread.

Sauteed Spinach on Steamed Bean Curd. Didn't even get around to trying this, there was so much food.

Oxtail Stew. Ooooh, bovine heaven. Hmm, a lot of meat.

Vinegared Pork Trotters. Confinement food, but great stuff. (and I'm not even a fan)

Bourbon chocolate mud cake....made by me. It went very well with the hostess's homemade vanilla ice cream with a hint of bailey's irish cream.

Durian cheese cake. Still don't know how to really capture this cake in pictures. Help!!!!

On Friday night, we were at another friend's house, but we were all so hungry, I forgot to take pictures. However, I did manage to take pics of my latest experiment, Delia Smith's Molten Chocolate Puddings.

It turned out pretty well for a first attempt, but I couldn't achieve that molten centre that was in the recipe. It could be attributed to the fact that I forgot to check the temperature for cooking, and brought the batter in the pudding bowls to friend's house to bake. So I hazarded a guess, which was a hazard. I estimated 150C, but in actual fact, recipe called for 200C!!!! I guess it's meant to quickly cook the outsides leaving the insides uncooked and hence, molten. iI forgot to take pic of the finished product.

Okay, let's see if I remember the recipe.

4 eggs, plus 4 yolks with half a cup of sugar, until quadrupled in volume, leaving a ribbon trail when you lift the whisk.
In a separate set up, melt 200 gm of chocolate ...oh shucks, I forgot the recipe. I'll put it on tomorrow.