Friday, June 25, 2010

Hot Can, Can Hot ah?

When I first got the invitation from Nazeen of Mongoose, the PR company (not the animal that kills snakes) that does Time Out KL, for the introduction of HOT CAN, I mentally pictured a row of hot french dancers doing the Can Can...ala Moulin Rouge.

Actually, I had NO idea what we were in for.... was it a launch of a coffee? A food review? (in Havana, Changkat Bt Bintang)....and not only was I blur in that department, when I arrived, I noticed the place was called Havana, and not Little Havana....and I distinctly recall seeing the words LITTLE Havana in the invite, so panic!!! Called Ciki, but no reply. Thankfully, Pure Glutton answered the phone, and I was at the right place. Little Havana grew up over the years, and is now Havana.

After some finger food of crabcakes and fried chicken wings, the CEO of Hotcans was invited to give a speech. Dato Kenneth Cole, if I am not mistaken, his name was. Anyway, to my surprise, it is actually a Malaysian born and bred invention. (the Cans, not the CEO). Basically, as the banner says, it is about self heating drinks.

He demonstrates to us, how with the push of one "button" at the base of the can, and a few shakes, voila, a piping hot drink.

An intriguing mechanism, within the can, that basically uses the basic reaction of lime(I think it must be quicklime, calcium oxide) and water, to produce heat. Exothermic reactions, all of you who have forgotten your KIMIA 101. I've seen vats of boiling lime on construction sites, back when I was a lai soi lou (concrete pourer). At this point, I was still an unbeliever, and imagined a lukewarm can of latte, and wondering what good that was.

Hookk here trying his hand at shaking the can vigorously till it "STEAM". A clever contraption at the base of the can works in such a way that it breaks the seal between the lime and the water, creating a mini stove within the can, to heat up the drink. AND, the temperatures actually rise quite high!!!!! After 3 minutes of vigorous shaking, you get a drink that can quite easily scald your lips.

I WAS NOW A BELIEVER!!!!! IT WORKS!!! Amazing. Teckiee was already making plans to get a few for her camping trips. Youth of today. Nothing like starting a big bonfire in the tropical jungles during a camping trip, rather than relying on modern technology.

The drinks come in 3 flavours for now, Latte, Mocha, Hot Chocolate. I am not sure where you can buy them, but they retail for approx RM6 per can.

It was a fun night out, with the many usual suspects, BabeKL, PureGlutton, Chocaholic, Ciki, Nipple Joe, Teckiee, Alexandra of Fried Chillies, and met some new people, like Chaokar.

Well, I have to say, I AM impressed. I think it will do well in the west, esp in winters. (apparently there's already been an order by Walmart).

Thanks Nazeen for the invite!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes From Home Made Buttermilk

Children, we have already learnt what to do with your Overbeaten Cream in a previous post.

Now, for part II in the series, we learn WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR BUTTERMILK from your overbeaten cream. I've come across many recipes for pancakes that call for buttermilk, and yes, there have been many "substitutes" for buttermilk, such as milk & lemon, milk & yoghurt,...if you were to BUY buttermilk, it costs an arm, leg and probably an udder... such beautiful mammaries.


The buttermilk is the whitish stuff, resembling milk, that has separated from the cream, which has curdled on its way to becoming butter, and I guess, hence the term buttermilk. If cream de la creme refers to the top students in the class, I guess the buttermilk would be the bottom of the barrel. (like me). But who cares, since buttermilk is even more expensive than butter.

So, to make the buttermilk pancakes, you need:

3 cups of plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 eggs (or use 1 chicken egg and 2 quails eggs)
1 cup milk
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons sugar
dash of vanilla
100gm melted butter

Basically, mix everything together..... let the batter rest for 30 minutes or so....or 2 hours until your guests arrive 1 hour late...

Warm a non stick griddle over medium heat, (the first couple of pancakes are usually disastrous), and scoop up dollops of 1/3rd cups of batter onto the griddle. When some bubbly holes appear, you can flip them.

Picture Courtesy of A Whiff of Lemongrass

Ta dah, fluffy buttermilk pancakes...served with homemade butter and honey. (no, despite having a bee at home, I dont get no homemade honey)....

If you can afford it, use maple syrup.

Incidentally, I was kidding about the quail's egg.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Rohani Jelani... Lady Extraordinaire

I cannot think of a more appropriate title. This lady, is my new found idol!

Thanks to Li Hsian, who had kindly put together this little cooking soiree, on a lazy Saturday morning. The chosen ones were Me, of course, A lil fat monkey, Awhiffoflemongrass, (thereinafter referred to as Thamby), Pure Glutton, Babe in the City KL, Audrey of Audrey Cooks, and Alice Yong, foodwriter and blogger.

We were greeted by Wati, Rohani's able assistant, and proceeded to shoot everything in sight, because it was just screaming out to be shot. (by a camera, I mean).


The lovely Bayan Indah in Sg Penchala. It used to be Rohani's home, which is now converted to a Kampung Homestay Bed & Breakfast, and also venue for her Culinary Classes. Sprawled over an acre, it has herb and vegetable gardens that Rapunzel's mother would have sold her soul for. Almost every conceivable herb in spawned in this veritable Eden.

Despite her credentials, Rohani is so very down to earth, hilarious, witty, and puts us all at ease with her natural warmth and hospitality. Her animated repartee keeps us awestruck while listening about how she started it all....our group of floggers, all familiar to one another, of course had a gala time chipping into the conversation, no holds barred.


We are divided into groups of 2, and it's a Hands On Class. I felt like a student in Hogwarts, all those herbs in herbology, and rival houses. For the sake of ease of reference, I'll call us Gryffindor, the team of Thamby and Babe are Slytherin, of course, since they are EVIL, (or rather, just Thamby was), Pure Glutton, Audrey and Alice are Hufflepuff.

Rohani's recipes are easy to follow, and in a matter of minutes of us donning on our aprons, the kitchen (incidentally, my DREAM KITCHEN...spacious, airy, bright, lots of work surfaces, well equipped...sigh..dreamy look) was filled with splendid aromas of various herbs frying away.

She demonstrates to us some basics, like how to de-vein a prawn with grace and dignity, how to shred the cornucopia of herbs that go into the nasi kerabu, finely, ...not the size of selimuts (blankets)...and valuable cooking tips like how to slice dried chillies minimize the de-seeding process. Will I share those secrets here? Nahhhh.....

She demonstrates how to chop up a Jantung Pisang (banana flower) with the dexterity of a Cardio Surgeon.

Somewhere in the cooking process, we suspect the Slytherin team had sabotaged us, because our gravy for the Ayam Percik seemed pale, compared to their gorgeously crimson red. Thamby must've nicked a chilli or two from our bowl. However, in the end, after some help of evaporation, ours turned out JUST AS NICE.

Looks delish dont it!

Almost effortlessly and flawlessly, we put together our Udang Masak Lemak with Nenas (Prawns in Coconut Milk with Pineapple), thanks to Monkey's speedy deveining of the prawns, and deftness at following the recipe.

The Cekur Manis dish, (Cekur is a stalk vegetable, from the same stalk as Sabah Shee Chai Choy, and has no known english name, but probably has some latin genus name like Cekura Phallacia something something) easy to put together and so gloriously beautiful. One just feels HAPPY LOOKING AT THIS DISH. Our version was with pumpkin, while the Slytherins was with sweet potato.

Monkey tasting the fruits of his labour.

Now, while we had finished all OUR 3 recipes, Thamby and Babe were still struggling with the slicing of their kerabu herbs. Put it this way la, if Thamby were to open a cafe selling nasi kerabu, she'll be bankrupt before Malaysia in 2019, if we dont remove our subsidies. Heck, she'll be bankrupt by the end of the week. Slicing the herbs at the speed of snails spawning... not very time efficient. We kindly offered to take over, so that they could get along with making their green balls with gula melaka filling. (Ondeh ondeh). More tips from the guru as to how to puree pandan, to get the maximum amount of juice. The scent of screwpine is dizzying... it just so comforting.

Rohani demonstrates how to roll and make the balls.

After laborious slicing of herbs to micro millimeter thin strips, the nasi kerabu is ready to be tossed. Doing it by hand is the best way.

Nothing like a good toss with the hands. This is the other team tossing their nasi kerabu. Isn't it just gorgeous? The kaleidescope of colours, completely embellishing a combination of basmati and beras wangi, (fragrant rice), to create such a beautiful dish. And most importantly, its healthy as well!!!

And FINALLY, lunch is served!!!!

The final product, Kerabu Jantung Pisang. Splendid. The older outer layers of the banana flower make for a wonderful serving receptacle.


Ayam Percik. Grilled under a hot grill, to give it that final charred flavour, soaking in a spicy herbaceous gravy that goes together with the nasi kerabu like a match made in heaven.

Udang Masak Lemak... Who would've thought that this tasty dish is so easy to put together?!!

Cekur Manis with Pumpkin and Prawns. The sweetness of the sweet potato, the leafiness of the cekur, the succulence of the freshwater prawns, divine.

Nasi Kerabu in a rustic salad bowl. Isn't this simply beyond description?!

And to finish, ondeh ondeh for dessert. Lovely green balls nestled in a banana leaf wrap, and lengkuas leaf (galangal leaf) wrap. The delightful flavour of palm sugar popping in your mouth with the slightly savoury coconut, and that pandanus filled dough, simply fabulous.

This was MY lunch plate. And trust me, one helping was NOT enough.

Now, if you were to attend just ONE cooking class in your whole life, it HAS to be at Bayan Indah. The complete experience, Rohani herself, the gorgeous surrounds, the fabulous recipes, the dream kitchen, honestly, this is THE place!

Check out the website HERE. Priced at around RM220 per class, it is darn good value, because it usually comprises a few recipes, it's hands on, you get to have a fabulous meal after. I highly recommend it. Oh, and in case I haven't said it enough, ROHANI JELANI RAWKS!!! She is my new idol for 2010!!!

Thanks soooo much for having us, Rohani, and special thanks to Li Hsian for hooking us up. I owe you big time.

In addition to the 4 bedrooms which are available for rental, in that quaint village surroundings, there is also a seminar room, which has THIS as a view. Pretty as a picture ain't it.


So far, only Pure Glutton has posted about it. HERE.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Wyndham Estate Wine Pairing Dinner At Sage

Every now and again, you get an invitation which you know warrants cancelling all other events, and when Marian Eu invited me to Sage, I knew this was one occasion when regular Wednesday dinner with the in-laws had to be conveniently "postponed".

We are pleased to say that we are no stranger to Sage. In my humble opinion, it is one of the better fine dining restaurants in town. Food is consistent, service is excellent, largely due to the fantastic manager, Affendie, ambience is pleasing, (except my group, whoever they may be, always seem to be the loudest).

Tonight's event was a wine pairing with Wyndham Estate, again, no stranger to our shores. I believe this is one of the more popular wine makers to have hit our markets, mainly because of its affordable and drinkable wines. To the wine pleb (as opposed to Wine Snob) like me, if it's priced right, and doesn't taste like kerosene, I'm good to go.

We actually started off in the holding room, with platters of tempura seafood, and a lovely crisp George Wyndham Savignon Blanc, which actually, was my favourite, but alas, was no more to be seen after the horse divorces. (hors d'oeuvres).

The International Travel and Food Blogger and the queen of the DSLR....actually, Aly of Red FM was there too, but she was right opposite me, and the fixed lens doesn't allow such close up shots...pity though, we all know how photogenic she is.

Don't you just love seeing these food assembly lines. Actually ever since I started food blogging, and ventured to industrial kitchens, I have a profound respect for the Chefs and their minions. It is darn hard work.


2. The lineup of wines for the night. The 2006 bin 222 Chardonnay, one of the most popular Chardonnays here, the 2003 George Wyndham Cabernet Merlot, the 2005 George Wyndham Shiraz.

Breaking into Mulan Song (Reflection):
Who is that girl I see
Staring straight
Back at me?
Why is my reflection someone
I don't know?

The Wyndham Estate chappie (I forget his name) explaining to us about W.E. and its popularity in Malaysia, and the different wines we were having that night.

Tranche of Hamachi with Avruga Caviar and Japanese Herb, paired with the bin 222 chardonnay. I told my fellow diners the history of the 222...which was inspired when the owner saw three swans swimming in the pond as he was harvesting the chardonnay grapes, and they BELIEVED me. Muwahahahah.

The Hamachi was PERFECT, and so very fresh... the caviar popped in the mouth like little bubble wrapped bits of sheer ecstasy.

Bin 222 - A rather light chardonnay, which complemented the Hamachi, though I personally would have preferred the Sav Blanc.

Next up, Royale of Abalone with Sea Scallop and Yuzu Citrus. A delightful broth, clear and oozing with flavour, and the sweet succulent scallop, that is actually flavourful even on its own. The sliver of abalone added dimension to the texture, but was too thin a sliver to have any impact on the taste. Maybe it was meant to be subtle.

Is there a more delightful scene, apart from the Iguazu falls, when liquid falls into another receptacle, as when wine is poured into a large goblet?

Smoked Venison With Veloute of Mushroom, Foie Gras. What can I say? Foie Gras? And usually foie gras at sage is always done well. I was a happy camper. The venison was tender, and the foie gras complemented it the way Sandy goes with Danny in Grease. Paired with the 2003 GW Cabernet Merlot, a strong full bodied red. Together with the venison and foie gras, it seemed very "manly". Very primal. A man's dish. Like a feast for the hunter back from the hunt. You know what I mean?


Palate Washer, Mango Sorbet. Creamy and smooth, it was more like ice cream than sorbet. They must have one helluva blender to puree the stuff that fine.

Wagyu Beef With Truffle Mash, Natural Jus...With the 2005 GW Shiraz. A totally elegant dish. There were two cuts of wagyu, I think one was a ribeye, which was tender and fatty, and the other larger slab, must have been a sirloin, leaner and tougher, but of course, when I say tougher, I meant tougher compared to the ribeye. It wasn't tough. It was delicious. And that fat asparagus spear!!! I love fat asparagus. Truffle mash. Heaven! The Shiraz seemed lighter than the Cab Merlot, and paired well with the wagyu.


For dessert, Roasted Fig Tartlet With Vanilla Ice Cream. The tartlet was a lovely almondy pastry, crispy, and soft at the same time. What the Fig! What a pity figs are so figging expensive here! I love figs. Such complexity... no wonder its referred to Biblically quite often. Alas, not everyone shares my love for this unique fruit. Ciki pushed hers away declaring she hates figs. One man's fig is another man's poison I guess.

A fabulous meal, KUDOS to the Sage Kitchens, and to the Wyndham Estate guys for whipping up such a feast. The only bummer was, Marian, the one who invited us, was away in Shanghai for the World Expo. Thanks so much anyway, Marian for the invite.

Highly recommended, when Sage has one of these Wine pairing thingies.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

What To Do WIth Your Overbeaten Cream....

Actually I have a few epic posts in the pipeline, in the proportions of a mini novella kind of thing. But one of the 7 cardinal sins have invaded me, ...sloth, and I am completely under its spell. So, I thought just to make an appearance, in case my adoring fans think I'm ailing, (it's like how rumours of Deng Xiao Peng's death forced him to make a public appearance just to prove he's alive)....

So children, the topic for today is, WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR OVERBEATEN CREAM. And I mean whipping cream, that is overwhipped. Cream is as sensitive as a neurotic woman. It has to be carefully watched, and once past that point of no return, is no longer useful for its original intention. However, QUITE by accident, I discovered, to my delight, that overwhipped cream need not be thrown away, and you can make a rather delicious homemade butter.

So, HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN BUTTER? Basically, you overwhip the cream, until it curdles, and separates.

Overbeaten cream look a bit like scrambled eggs.

Continue whipping (I'm using the whisk attachment of the magimix here, but you can use the normal whisk in your cake mixer, apparently) and you will see the separation of church and state... ooops, I mean curd and whey. The watery part is buttermilk.

Drain the buttermilk and continue whisking. The buttermilk can be used for a number of recipes. Buttermilk is VERY expensive if bought from the supermarket, about RM16 per 1 litre carton.

Continue churning till you get this gorgeous creamy butterlike consistency. It will be the consistency of thawed butter. I usually like to drizzle some salt into the mixture, because I HATE HATE HATEEEE unsalted butter.

Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate, and soon you'll have LOVELY homemade butter. I've made this three times already, because subconsciously, with this new found knowledge, I am even more lax when whipping cream.... so much so the kid asks me each time I make butter if I overwhipped the cream on purpose, or by accident.

He shakes his head in disbelief when I say its by accident.