Taken by my friend, Veron Ng, at Samplings on the Fourteenth
Taken by my friend, Veron Ng, at Samplings on the Fourteenth
Last Friday was my pastry examination in the practical area, whereas theory is this Saturday (dear God help me). Moving on, throughout the semester, we’ve been grouped into threes, except my group had four people. Anyway, on the day of the exam, we were told to make six products; creme caramel, scones, eclairs, cream puffs, apple pie and fruit tartlets. It may seem easy, and indeed, it was reasonably doable. The trick is, like in any other kitchen, is timing and communication. Because not only did my group have to concentrate on getting our products finished within three hours, we also had to consider other groups because we were all sharing ovens. Luckily, we’ve had a trial exam the week before and I must say we did pretty well. And I must also commend our performance on the exam itself. We kicked ass.
Along with getting the products done on time, we also had to present it with a theme. At first, I wanted to do a theme that had to do with a “prisoners last meal”, since it’s such a big deal and would really highlight the fact that our products are just so good that it must be a dying man’s wish to eat it for the last time. It was a bloody good idea except for the fact I had no idea how to present it. With the right decorations, it would have been awesome, but being a student, with such a low budget, I must keep the idea aside and use it for later. Instead, I though about a theme that had to do with a tea-party, because heck, these foods show up more or less at an actual one. So then I had another brilliant idea, why not make it a Mad Hatter Tea Party? Hmm..then again; budget, and it takes time to handcraft some decorations, and time wasn’t really on my side the whole week, with tests and other exams.
Ultimately, I chose to make into a theme of “Lovers in the Park”. It’s simple and there really isn’t a lot of exaggeration when it comes to props. I borrowed my mother’s basket and bought a few materials from a Japanese store which has all its selling products under one price. So it was a good bargain. I also reused the gerberas flowers I had for my service exam. And voila. Done!
The head chef in the pastry department said that we were almost perfect. ALMOST. Darn. He liked the presentation and thought our products were above average and done quite well, and he definitely liked the smooth silky texture of our creme caramel. Oh well, it’s okay. Improve for next time! Afterwards, we had to eat our products instead of throwing it in the bin since bringing it home is against school policy. Creme caramel as an appetizer, with scones on the side like bread, with apple pie and the fruit tartlets as the main course, while the pate a choux products were reserved for dessert. Not such a bad lunch. It was heavenly sweet.
Hello people. Yes, I’m still alive. Clearly I haven’t written nor posted anything for a really looooooooooong time, due to the fact that my schedule is busy like hell and there is not a lot of leisure time for me to post anything, though I somehow find the time to sneak in some video game time. Haha.
Anyway, my first semester has come and gone and let me say: WOW. I have learned a lot and I’m looking forward to learn a lot more in the coming semesters. I realize that there are more aspects to food and the kitchen than just cooking and serving. And to be honest, I can never go to the supermarket the same way again. I can’t shut up and educate my family on the different ingredients, fresh, raw, or packaged, whenever we go out shopping. Like, I would look at cheese and say, “Do you know that cheese is made from accident? And that mozzarella was cheese in the making that accidentally dropped in hot water?” or if I looked at mayonnaise, “Do you know that packaged and commercialized mayo isn’t real mayonnaise? They put so much other stuff. I don’t know why people like it!” I think I’m pretty annoying but I do feel proud to know these little trivial information about different ingredients. But that’s really important to one’s career because you have to know the ingredients to be able to use them up to their full potential.
And oh! Just a tip when garnishing, never ever ever EVER poke your food. I made risotto once and shaped it into a cylinder with a ring molder, then placed three short asparagus stalks in the middle, poking into the rice. I got scolded by doing that. Whoops. Lesson learned. So don’t poke your food! It may look nice but it isn’t proper. But I did get props for a nice tasting risotto. It was even al dente.
I shall be back for more posts! I hope. Two weeks holiday should be enough to write a few more. Yay!
First of all, sorry about not posting up anything for awhile now. Lame excuse; I’ve been busy. Anyway, I started classes last week and technically it was all about intros and briefings.
I got to take a closer look at the kitchens and might I say it was incredibly awesome, especially when we were each locked up in the chiller. Yup, our lecturer, Chef Randall, locked us in one by one in the chiller to see if we were smart enough to find our way out. It was for safety reasons in case any of us at any given time were locked in. Anyway, there’s a push button on the other side of the door which releases the lock from the door therefore we will not, let’s put it this way, die of malnutrition and cold. Though he did tell us to bring our phone with us at all times and to have the emergency number on speed dial.
Other than that, I’m much too eager to start actual classes which this following week. In pastry/baking class, we’ll be making French baguettes and other lean yeast dough products. For basic culinary class, we’ll be looking at a close look on vegetables! Plus, I have two portfolios and three oral presentations to complete which is due on the same week. Yay. College life, here I go!
Coming back to Malaysia is like a food wish come true because, I don’t mean to brag about my home country, but…we have really, really good food. Everyone here is a food enthusiast. And those who have visited there, you know what I’m talking about, and those who haven’t, I’m making a list of what you should eat.
Malaysia, like the US, and the UK, we’re multiracial and since we have been that way for over a century, we have influenced each other by our own traditional dishes and have fused it and have been perfecting it for a long time. If you go to Malacca (or as locals spell and pronounce, Melaka), you’ll expect a lot of Baba Nyonya food, which is the food fusion between Malay and Chinese delicacies. But don’t get me wrong, even though there are a lot of fused dishes, each race still keep their own traditional recipes, so there is authentic Chinese food and classic Indian food and the very, very traditional Malay food.
If you go to other states in the country, you’ll find that every state has their star dishes, and what’s so convenient about our capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is that most of these dishes can be found anywhere and anytime. If you aren’t so adventurous in the food scene, no worries, we have the ever so popular fast food chains, such as McD and even Carl’s Jr., and other non-Malaysian food companies. There’s something for everybody. Don’t worry, be happy, and go eat.
But the thing is, don’t go to some fancy schmancy restaurant to eat these local delicacies. The best places are those closer to home such as the weekly food markets (Pasar Malam or Pasar Tani or some other) or mamak stalls/restaurants or even hawker stalls; these are the IN places for local food. You could also find good food in Kopitiam places which are our version of a cafe/bistro. Though I do caution to eat at your own risk for you may have a case of food poisoning which will last a few days. So be smart about it too.You have been warned…although, most places are clean and have a license to sell edible goods. And furthermore, some of these foods are very filling. Half of the Malaysian dishes, including the desserts, have coconut milk, so…best to consult your doctor and be ready to gain a bit of weight. You will regret it for a little while but at least you know you’ve tried Malaysian food and know it.
The List of Dishes You Should Eat in Malaysia: (I highly recommend this.)
Morning Breakfast Favorites:
- Roti Canai
- Nasi Lemak
- Paper Tose (Pronounced as ‘toe-sey’. It can be as thin as paper, thus the name.)
- Assam Laksa
- Mee Kari (Many variations)
- Mee Rebus
- Mee Goreng
- Laksa (Each state has their own version such as the Laksa Johor)
- Kuey Teow Goreng
- Kuey Teow Soup
- Mee Bandung
- Mee Hailam
- Nasi Kerabu
- Nasi Dagang
- Nasi Padang
- Nasi Campur
- Nasi Ayam
- Nasi Daun Pisang (Technically, no plates are used. Indian curries/side dishes with rice served directly on a banana leaf.)
Side Dishes/Snacks/Tea-Time Favorites: (To list a few of many.)
- Pai Tee
- Rojak Buah
- Satar (Sold mostly in the state of Terengganu)
- Pisang Goreng
- Keropok Lekor
- Kerabu Mangga / Betik Muda
- Ikan Bakar
- Ayam Percik
- Satay w/ Peanut Sauce
- Kuih Lapis
- Putu Piring
- Pudding Terengganu
- ABC (Ais Batu Campur)
- Kuih Bangkit
- Kuih Bakar
- Kuih Seri Muka
Western Influenced Dishes:
- Ramly Burger
- Roti John (Our so-so version of sloppy joes.)
Specialty Drinks: (The word “air”, pronounced as ’ah-yehr’, meaning water)
- Air Tebu
- Air Bandung
- Teh Tarik (Direct translation: “pulled tea”)
**Note**: This is only half, maybe not even half, of the total of dishes we have here. These are the listed few that I particularly love and every other local here loves. If you wish to know about more of some of these dishes, don’t be afraid to contact me or comment below.
I made this for lunch for my family one weekend and it was absolutely awesome. I used sun dried tomatoes to give another layer of flavor (I dried it and ground it). Anyway, this is quite an easy recipe and very tasty. You can use any type of mushrooms you would like.
This recipe serves 6-8.
- 450 grams arborio rice
- 2 tbs butter plus 1 tbs
- 2 cups mushrooms, cubed/sliced, firmly packed (I used portabello and brown mushrooms)
- 1/2 cup of diced onions
- 1- 2 tbs chopped garlic
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano (or any other cheese you prefer)
- Salt and pepper, for seasoning
- 1/4 cup ground/powdered sun dried tomatoes**
- 1 – 1.5 liters of vegetable stock (if you use cube stock, just bring the amount of water need to a boil and add the cube)
1. Saute the onions with 2 tbs of the butter until translucent. Add the mushrooms and garlic.
2. Continue sauteing until the mushroom has somewhat softened (though not all the way through for it will be cooked further on with the rice).
3. Add the sun dried tomatoes. By this time, it will look a little dry, so add the rest of the butter.
4. Once the butter has melted, add the rice. Combine all ingredients and “stir fry” the rice for a few minutes, so it collects most of the flavor.
5. With a soup ladle, and the pot with the stock very nearby, add one cup (or as much as the ladle can take) into the rice mixture. Mix until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue doing so with one cup at a time until the liquid has finished or until the rice is al dente. (You don’t want it any softer or it will turn into porridge.) This process will roughly take 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure you’re stirring all the time. If leaving it for just a little while, the rice will stick to the base of the pan and can be frustrating to scrape.
6. When you know the rice is al dente, add the cheese and thyme and stir to combine. Taste it if it needs any more salt. If not, add a dash of pepper.
7. Now that your risotto is done, you may add garnish to it however you may like. Serve immediately.
Note: If you can’t find the dry version of the tomatoes, you use the wet ones. Just cut them up into bite sized pieces and add them along with the mushrooms. Or, you may garnish the risotto with it to make it look more splendid.
**To make the ground sun dried tomatoes, you first need to have a cup of sun dried tomatoes (the dry one, not the one stored in jars drenched in olive oil.) If the tomatoes aren’t crisp and are leathery and chewy, just pop them in the oven at 100 degrees Celsius (or higher if you prefer) until they do become somewhat crisp. Once that is done, just put in a small blender and blend until to a slightly fine powder. (It’s okay if it isn’t as fine. Rough will give it more texture.) Use the amount needed and if there is extra, store in a small bottle in a cool and dry place.
For breast cancer awareness month at my sister’s school, they are having a bake sale to raise money to give to the breast cancer foundation here. Anyway, she volunteered me, ME, not herself, to bake cupcakes. And since I love my little sister so dearly and I love baking and cooking, I agreed.
So what I made was the classic vanilla cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes with butter-cream icing. At first, I was a little nervous since the past cupcakes I baked before were either dry or just not good enough. No one likes a dry cupcake, right? Anyway, to my surprise, this time, it turned out great. Thank God! I wouldn’t know what to do with thirty plus cupcakes if it turned out wrong. I’d probably eat them all since I really don’t like giving people food that is not up to my standards.
A tip I learned is that, if you’re not sure about how the cupcakes will turn out, just fill one cupcake case and see how that goes according to the directions of any cupcake recipe you follow. Once you see how that one turned out, you can adjust the timing, or the temperature (ovens can be a pain sometimes, overheating and all.) And another thing, if you don’t want any lumps, although some recipes don’t say you have to, you should sift your flour/cocoa.
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted if you prefer)
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2/3 cup cold milk
1. Preheat oven to 175°C.
2. Combine butter and sugar and whisk for a few minutes until it is well combined. Put in eggs, one at a time and mix till smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
3. In another bowl, put together all the dry ingredients and then pour it in the butter batter. Slowly add milk. (I suggest you alternate pouring the flour mixture and milk. Starting with flour, and ending with the flour.)
4. Pour batter into cups and bake for 20-25 minutes. (Mine took 23 min.)
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 175 °C.
2. Combine all the ingredients together making sure there are no lumps. Sift if needed.
3. Pour batter in cups and bake for 20-25 minutes.
This fruit, with a crown above its head, is a jewel of it’s own, containing ruby-like seeds, which are edible. Originating from Iran, it had spread to South Asia and then towards China and the rest of the Asian region. It was brought to western lands during the eighteenth century and has been enjoyed widely since then.
The word pomegranate comes from the words pomum, which means “apple” in Latin, and granatum, which is the Latin word for “seeded”. However, different regions at present time have their own ways to say it.
It is mentioned in the holy books of the Quran and the bible, and is believed in ancient Egypt that being buried with a pomegranate will give a second life. And not only that; if a woman were to eat pomegranate, she would become very fertile. (So if those of you are trying to conceive a baby, you should try this! I know you may think it is a myth, however it happened to my aunt, who has been trying for many, many years.)
Pomegranate is transformed into a syrup, even molasses in Middle Eastern countries, and most famously as a juice and a tea. However, it can be enjoyed on it’s own (just be careful not to stain your shirt nor your carpet!)