Sunday, 10 March 2013

Twin Peaks

Irresistible Pair. How can you love one and reject the other? No way…. But to love both equally

Maccha and Black Saseme Ice Cream topped with Pine Nuts and Chocolate Brittle at favourite Japanese Restaurant.

Maccha green tea flavored ice cream is a perfect dessert to serve after a Japanese-style meal.
• 3/4 cup milk
• 2 egg yolks
• 5 Tbsp. sugar
• 3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped
• 1 Tbsp. maccha green tea powder
• 3 Tbsp. hot water

Mix hot water and green tea powder together in a bowl and set aside. Lightly whisk egg yolks in a pan. Add sugar in the pan and mix well. Gradually add milk in the pan and mix well. Put the pan on low heat and heat the mixture, stirring constantly. When the mixture is thickened, remove the pan from the heat. Soak the bottom of the pan in ice water and cool the mixture. Add green tea in the egg mixture and mix well, cooling in ice water. Add whipped heavy cream in the mixture and stir gently. Pour the mixture in an ice cream maker and freeze, following instructions of the ice cream maker. Or, pour the mixture in a container and freeze, stirring the ice cream a few times.
*Makes 4-6 servings

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Pig With a Wooden Leg

Pig with a Wooden Leg (an old dark joke I heard…)

Farmer Jones got out of his car and while heading for his friend's door, noticed a pig with a wooden leg. His curiosity roused, he asked, "Fred, how'd that pig get him a wooden leg?"

"Well, Michael, that's a mighty special pig! A while back a wild boar attacked me while I was walking in the woods. That pig there came a running', went after that boar and chased him away. Saved my life!"

"And the boar tore up his leg?"

"No he was fine after that. But a bit later we had that fire. Started in the shed up against the barn. Well, that ole pig started squealing' like he was stuck, woke us up, and 'fore we got out here, the darn thing had herded the other animals out of the barn and saved 'em all!"

"So that's when he hurt his leg, huh, Fred?"

"No, Michael. He was a might winded, though. When my tractor hit a rock and rolled down the hill into the pond I was knocked clean out. When I came to, that pig had dove into the pond and dragged me out 'fore I drowned. Sure did save my life."

"And that was when he hurt his leg?"

"Oh no, he was fine. Cleaned him up, too."

"OK, Fred. So just tell me. How did he get the wooden leg?"

"Well", the farmer tells him, "A pig like that, you don't want to eat all at once!"

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Hard Shelled Crusty Rolls

A basket of fresh breads
Hard Shelled Crusty Rolls
“What is it about hard rolls that get you going?” Sexy Sue stands with arms akimbo, panting slightly. Miniscule beads of perspiration form along her hairline, she is slightly flush with the heat from the oven behind her.
She has just removed a tray from the oven and places these babies on a wire rack to cool. Yummy delicious hard rolls. Sexy Sue’s feign a mild temper, trying to look annoyed at the girls who are hankering after bread: of all things.
Sexy Sue is baker extraordinaire. The title Kitchen Goddess was made for her. This woman can bake up a storm. Our trip to Ipoh was just for one purpose. To eat bread and cakes and yes, to visit with Sue too.
Bonk! Got hit by a roll, more please. Just throw, I can catch it with my mouth! Cooee….
Again, she asks patiently, “What is it about hard rolls that get you going?”
I know there are those who go the soft way, as in steamed Hainanese bread. How limp is that? Cottony soft like clouds, like cotton candy, just air as in volume but without the resistance in bite.
What’s not to love when it comes to crunchy, richly golden brown rolls with a soft chewy interior that is so flavourful.
I love breaking into the golden crust and hear that fresh cracking sound. I would describe its insides as pizza dough with amply crusty shell.
Then there’s the smell. There’s nothing quite like it, that fresh bread smell permeating from the oven and filling the kitchen. It’s a slow dance, a seduction. Warm and embracing. I am totally lost; hopelessly in love.
Sue says “For a crisper crust place a shallow pan of hot water on lowest oven rack during baking.”
I’ve heard that steam is a good tool to use when baking bread, except I don’t really understand the science of it. Apparently the steam helps the bread expand in the beginning of the bake, after that it inhibits the caramelization as that doesn’t happen in a wet environment. Ten minutes into the baking, you’re supposed to open the oven door and let out the steam…
I mean we could sit for hours at Sue’s kitchen and expound the science of baking and go into humidity and altitudes, fresh versus dry yeast and fermentation. Rolling, kneading and punching out and let it rise. Proofing. The entire mechanics of it but really watching Sue, I am humbled.
On the days that she bakes, her black wavy hair is tied into a pig tail; she has on her blue chequered shirt and jeans. She wears that apron with a man’s nude torso and six packs on it. He’s wearing a superman briefs and belt.
She is light with her hands and works quickly, her motions are fluid. We watch mesmerized as she flours the board and kneads. After that she forms the bread into various shapes and let it proof.
We sit and chat and drink copious cups of coffee, wandered around the bungalow to chat with her children and to feed her giant tortoises morning glory.
The original Hard Shelled Crusties
Oh what a splendid way to while away the morning and wait. Which brings us back to Sue staring hard at us, mildly amused?
The rolls are done sitting looking pretty. We grab with greedy hands. Sue laughs as the children trooped into the Dining Room with creamy butter, strawberry conserve, honeycomb and fresh whipped cream.
Nothing beats butter melting on fresh hot bread and watching it dissolve as it soaks into the crust. It’s almost scared. Irresistible.
“Oh Dee Dee, did I tell you that these are actually made from sourdough starter? It’s an Italian recipe that makes lean crisp rolls that bake up rustic and satisfying.”
Oh those Italians!
Carrot Walnut Cake with
Cream Cheese Frosting
Tiramisu decorated with
Fresh Fruit and Chocolate Powder
Next to a slice of heaven,
Delish Durian Cake
Chicken Pie with melt in mouth
butter shortcrust pastry
Best Savoury Muffins Ever
Chicken Pie in Puff Pastry
All goodies in photos are created and baked by Sue Ng for a private Brunch


Saturday, 10 November 2012

What’s New Mayonnaise?

The first salad that had any impact on me was a Waldrof. The original recipe had diced red-skinned apples and celery held together by mayonnaise. But I happen to run with a particularly ravenous crowd and love the one with the works. Chopped walnuts, shredded chicken, grapes and dried fruit.
I have healthier friends make it with yogurt instead of mayo. Humph… Yes, to live longer but without the full taste of real food? Not for me.
I confess allegiance to the mayonnaise camp; my roots are deeply planted there. Mayonnaise is almost sovereign in my books. There’s just no substitute, ever. Period.
Not plain yogurt, soy mayo, low fat anything, sour cream, mustard or even whipped cream cheese. That’s a direct snub to a dish that is so dependent on the flavour of mayo that anything else used in lieu is disgusting. I want to taste specific texture; not to just experience something pulled together based on binding properties.
Might as well don’t eat.
My first encounter with it felt so momentous. It was the secret knowledge of the ingredient that distinguishes between the common and the drug-like addiction of the guiltless.
For years I’ve had the commercial stuff. Pathetic.
We’re not made to join the world’s largest human research project as a guinea pig for the jarred and store bought. I mean are there real egg yolks in those jars with self-life’s that exceed two years?
Surely there’s nothing in there but chemicals and rancid oils and a whole lot of additives, thickeners, emulsifiers, flavour enhancers and binding agents like guar gum.
Go read a label.
We’re talking back to basics, elbow grease balloon whisk stuff here.  Good homemade mayonnaise is sometimes known to be described in rapt nearly euphoric terms.
It was surprisingly simple and basic. Freshly made mayonnaise is always delightfully light.
Ask my Chef who taught me basic French cuisine. The first edible thing we did was to whip up mayonnaise.
Knock one egg and separate the white from yolk. We only need that one bright yellow sunny yolk. Whisk that and add in the oil, drop by drop. 
The big secret is to emulsify.
Normally egg yolks and oil would not naturally mix together. By slowly whisking the oil into the yolks, the two liquids form a stable emulsion that won't separate. Adding the oil too fast; it breaks. Drizzle it in a steady stream it breaks. It needs time and the patience of a saint to get it to work the first time.
So, don’t worry. Escape clause here. If it breaks, start again. Just crack another egg, separate it and slowly incorporate the broken mayo into that yolk, slowly hand-whisking it in.
Once all the oil is incorporated add in a squeeze of lemon juice, more salt and a bit of white pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
The reward is really delicious, gorgeous, creamy homemade mayonnaise in my fridge.
What more is there, I had the cheek to ask Chef. I was rewarded with an eye roll to the ceiling.
“You may choose to make all the other sauces and replace those you have in the fridge,” Chef replied flatly.
I grin, feeling a little silly. I could conquer the world as a balloon whisk heroine of sorts.

To make other mayonnaise based sauces, start with 1 cups of freshly mayonnaise.
Aïoli: Stir in 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
You can eat Aïoli with vegetables, cold meats, hard-boiled eggs, and poached fish. Spread on baguette croutons and eaten with Provençal fish soup. And if you must, fries.
Tartar Sauce (with relish): Just stir into a cup of mayonnaise 1tbsp of chopped sweet pickle or dill relish, minced onion and extra lemon juice. Fish and chips, here we come!
Thousand Island Dressing: Just add in 2tbsp ketchup, 1tbsp chilli sauce, 1tbsp white vinegar, sugar, sweet pickle relish, minced onion, salt and pepper to taste. It works amazingly well with seafood and shrimp cocktails.
Hey, is that the sound of jars being tossed out of the fridge....


Beware the Roast Potatoes: Addiction Warning

A magnet for potatoes and pig. This girl lusts after the perfect roast potatoes that are both creamy on the inside and crispy with a deep crunch on the outside.
The first time is always memorable. It was made by a European woman. Let’s just call her Stella. Her potatoes are pan fried in a heavy cast iron skillet. Yes, strange to call them roast in the first place, I know.
So, we sit in her kitchen waiting. The roast pork with crispy skins, losing its appeal and crunch by the second. The rest of the dinner party eye it longingly whilst it rests.
What’s that? This greedy little piglet rolls her eyes so far back that she almost sprains the ligaments.
So she exaggerates a little. So what?
That’s Stella, not Julia Childs mucking around the stove, draining the parboil potatoes. The steam rising above the sink and forming a cloud of mist. No she didn’t look like an angel. An apparition of sorts, yes. Angel, a definite No.
She lets is drain. The rest of the dinner party drinking and making polite conversation. Some drape themselves near her kitchen counter. A few rest their elbows on her kitchen island watching a salad being made and tossed.
More chatter. This girl is getting hungrier by the minute. Wine on an empty stomach aggravates her delicate tummy. She should have had a pre-dinner snack at home. Or on the way. Or was there a half-eaten granola bar in her purse.
Search, search, rummage. None.
Politely starve. Weak smile. More innate banter.
The potatoes drained, Stella puts her heavy dutycast iron skillet on the heat. This girl didn’t know that skillets have lineage.
Only the cast iron ones.
So the story of inheritance was retold as the butter melts and browns.
Then Stella lifts the round bottom colander (with reducing holes) by its ears and pours the contents into that skillet. It sizzles.
She salts it without turning over even once. This girl is completely transfixed.
Aiyah, sure burn la!
Stella uses a potato masher of sort and presses down gently. This girl fancies that to be akin to making batik prints.
Stella applies a grid of  squares, making equal-size squares and spaces, and then dips the masher thingy into clarified butter to have another go.
The thoughts we have to amuse ourselves in polite company. Sigh.
She turns them over. Darn food porn. Everyone’s watching aptly.
This is like watching bread rise. Same satisfaction, I suppose. Or the same irritation as finding a dandelion poking its head from a recently rooted patch or growing between patio bricks.
The spud hiss back crisping up nicely. Stella laughs heartily at some joke. She salts again and sprinkles minced garlic and rosemary over them. The aroma hits us.
Tantalize our taste buds and sense of smell is as beautiful as its perfect aroma and wonderful taste. Or some prose to that effect.
When can we eat? There’s a scream rising.
Stella turns that damn skillet. They tumble out, golden brown studded with garlic bits and prettied with rosemary. The sound of the crunch is incredible. It scrapes the serving dish. It was a split second that I saw it. Before the flurry of hands, crowding and the rest of the dinner party literary carrying the star dish to the dining table.
Was Stella carried out too? 
Who cares?
I pared it open. That humble spud, now glorified. Unbelievably loud crunch, almost a rude noise. Its inside is incredibly warm and exceptionally soft, snowy: ascribed to cashmere.
The butter smells so unbelievably good.  It was enormous, succulent and appetizing. I wolf it down and burn the roof of my mouth.
It was worth it.
What about the pig, you mentioned earlier?
Oh that. Well, let’s just say that’s another story.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Naughty and Nutty

There's nothing’s sexier or raunchier than peanut butter in bed.

We are lying on tummies on the carpeted floor watching Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford in “The Way We Were” and eating peanut butter from the jar.

There’s something illicit about peanut butter. Whether it’s in bed or not.


We are having a BFFs sleepover, all camped in her AV room. It is the best peanut butter theme party ever. And a good thing that none of us have peanut allergy.

We started with Ants on a Log which is peanut butter spread on celery stick topped with raisins (black ants), cranberry (red ants) or chocolate chips (brown ants)


Peanut brownies with peanut butter ganache. Yes!

Grill Lamb Satay with sweet soy sauce and peanut.  This Sate Jawa is bought not made. Best Kind of Protein.

Munchies: Salted Garlic Peanuts.

Supper Snack: The King’s Fave Snack Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwiches.

Easy Peanut Butter Ganache
Melt in a double boiler. I use a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water.
250grams cooking chocolate semi-sweet
100grams peanut butter
20grams good quality cocoa

Salted Garlic Peanuts
Slice thinly garlic and fry in hot oil until golden. Set aside for later.
Marinate shelled large peanuts with garlic juice overnight. About 1 large bulb for 500grams peanut. Alternatively you could use powdered garlic.
Air dry before frying in hot oil. Drain and salt. Add in garlic chips.

Here is the King’s Peanut Butter & Banana Fried Sandwich
Yield: 3 sandwiches
2 large ripe bananas
1 cup peanut butter
6 slices white bread
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Peel and mash the bananas in a medium bowl. Combine the peanut butter with the bananas and mix well.

Toast the bread lightly and spread the mixture on three of the slices; top with the remaining three slices.

Melt the butter in a large skillet and slowly brown the sandwiches on both sides until golden brown.

Of course we cheated and made a tame, healthier version without frying in butter, used about 4 tablespoon peanut butter and 1 mashed ripe banana and used an electric sandwich maker instead.
Tastes pretty good too!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Kap Kap Karipap

Our school sports day would not be complete without the Karipap Man. When we were knee high to a grasshopper the Karipap Man used to tower over us. He’s a dark Tamil man with his trusty black big bicycle and huge rattan basket filled to the brim to hot triangular Karipap.

Ah Neh’s speciality is in his pickled pink onions. When he serves his Karipap, he would place a huge Karipap on a piece of newsprint. Take his fork and jab the Karipap making an opening and then stuff those sweet pickled pink onions inside.
Most of the time the Karipap was a little soft and chewy but we didn’t mind.
Great as a tea time snack, these Karipap are basically a small pie with dry curried chicken and potatoes in a deep fried pastry shell.

My cousins and I make a simple Karipap for snacks with leftover chicken curry cooked down.
Baked Puff Pastry Curry Puffs
 Left Over Filling on Sliced Baguettes and baked
Left over deboned chicken curry with potatoes
“Kawan” brand puff pastry

Fill a piece of puff pastry with a heaped spoonful of chicken and potatoes. Fold over to form a triangle and seal edges with a fork. Snip a few slits for the steam to escape and brush with egg wash. Bake until golden brown.
Still, there’s nothing that beats watching Karipap being deep frying in a wok of oil. I go to the wet market for this. The size of this XXL Karipap is as big as a packet of Nasi Lemak *(see note)

Sometimes there’s a small chunk of chicken and half a hard-boiled egg inside. These are the good stuff.
Almost a Palm size. XXL Karipap
Say if you’re up to making it from scratch, for the filling that it, this recipe’s pretty good. I’m more of an eyeball cook, working with guesstimate and adjusting to suit taste.

Potato and chicken filling
a few potatoes, diced
half piece chicken breast, diced
some chilli paste depending on taste
2tbsp meat curry powder
1 big onion, diced
3 sprigs curry leaves
salt, sugar and light soy sauce to taste
a little mustard seed
1. Heat oil in wok, sauté diced onions until aromatic, add in mustard seeds
2. Mix in chilli paste, curry leaves and curry powder and fry until fragrant.
3. Add in chicken and potatoes, mix well.
4. Add in a little water and simmer until just tender, season to taste and cook until mixture is dry.
5. Dish out to cool before using the filling.
*Nasi Lemak is a fragrant rice cooked in rich coconut milk with “pandan” screw pine leaves; often considered the national dish. The simplest are sold wrapped in a small square of banana leaf and newspaper. The rice is doused with sweet spicy chilli gravy cooked with fried anchovies and a quarter of a hard-boiled egg.