Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lucy met Lucy

We commented on each other’s blog often. We chatted on facebook. We teased each other LUCY because we shared a lot of common traits. Yesterday, we finally get to meet each other in person for lunch.  Yes, I met Ping of Ping's Pickings in person yesterday for lunch. She brought with her a box of homemade pineapple tarts and some special coffee.

Pineapple tarts from Ping (click on photo to get 
the recipe at Ping's Pickings


They look so delicate and as soon as I arrived home after our meet, I popped one in my mouth and I ended up eating half of them. I had to stop myself so as to not finish them all and be left with nothing to take these photos. That is how yummy they are. Thanks Lucy (Ping), I can’t call you Aunty Lucy because you are so much younger than me.

I brought some macarons which I made last night with me, thinking that we can both enjoy them with a cup of coffee after lunch. Unfortunately it was the wrong flavor of filling for her. I made lemon curd durian fillings and regretfully, she does not eat durian. (Another "Lucy" moment?) I should have made the kumquat chocolate ganache filling for her. Well, there is always the next time and I am looking forward to it already.  I have been very fortunate this week to also meet up with Yen and hubby of Eat Your Heart Out and Mei Yee and hubby of I Am A Witch. I have a lot of notes from that meet up and will blog about the wonderful visit we had next week.

Vanilla Macarons with lemon curd and durian fillings

Ping and I had a wonderful lunch and I gave her an earful of my bad experience with the real estate agents. She shared her stories of similar experiences with me. After lunch we adjourned to have coffee. I said, “Let’s go to Table for Two” for coffee.  She laughed and said, “I think it is Tea for Two.”  When we reached the coffee place, we realized both of us were wrong, it was “Tea Forty Two”. So now you know why we call each other Lucy? LOL!

I love my new friend already. I am just in awe over how truly amazing she is! Direct and not pretentious at all. It feels as though I just spent my afternoon with my best friend, someone I have known forever. We will definitely hang out again sometime soon, aren’t we Lucy (Ping)? 

Here is the recipe for the macarons.

Lemon curd and durian fillings:
1 cup mashed durian pulps
1/2 cup lemon curd (click to get the recipe)

Method:
Mix till both mashed durian pulps and lemon curd thoroughly till fully incorporated.

Vanilla Macarons shells (click to get the recipe)

Note: This batch of macarons did not turn out as perfect as my last batch. There were many bumpy and cracked shells and the legs were not even. I think I did not let it dry long enough because I was eager to get it done and go to hit the sack. I should have let it dry for another half hour. I found the fillings a bit sweeter than I like. I think it is because the durian was very sweet. I used "Musang King" durian. I suggest that you reduce the sugar on the lemon curd so that it will be less sweet. Instead of 3/4 cup, use just 1/2 cup of sugar.



Thursday, March 29, 2012

A promise is a promise

I am sure you have heard this phrase before, “Promises are meant to be broken.”  This concept does not exist in my book. For me, a promise is a promise and demands fulfillment or at least a best effort. I have no respect for people who make empty promises. To me, people who make empty promises are not much better than a con artist. Like my Quay Lo often says, such people are "all talk, no do". On close examination people that casually break a promise, or worse, make promises with the full intention of not keeping to their word, will repeat. Some people approach pathological behavior, and will lie through their teeth to get what they want. Sometimes, their moral decay is so great, they will lie or misrepresent even when they don't have to.  I have been thus "conned" many times throughout my life as I am sure many of you have as well.  I have come to believe that this is all because of my own weakness. I too easily trust so called "friends". 


Just recently, I trusted one of my son’s friends who is pursuing a career as a real estate agent. I should have known I should not have trusted him when he asked me to write the commission to his name instead of to his company. That was a clue right there and how stupid of me it was to ignore that sign and comply. I think I did that because he is my son's friend and because the deal involved another agent, a relative of his. I favored this young man when I was shopping for an investment property. I felt like I wanted to encourage his career and to his credit he had done some leg work in finding a property suitable. So subsequently, I was pleased when he got a tenant for that property even though it was for a six month lease instead of the year term that I wanted. As it turns out I now know that he had not represented me well and in fact, he and his relative caused a lot of misunderstanding between the tenant and me. I "rolled with that" however,  so all was ok because I gave what the agent promised (without my consent) to my tenant and he was happy. 


The tenant who is an expatriate had stayed in my property for three months, when he text messaged me yesterday. In the text he said he had left the country in a hurry, citing a "death in his family" and had left the keys with his agent (the relative mentioned above). The note told me to get the keys from that agent (who is not my agent). I called the agent and told him to put things right, and at least get a termination letter from his client but he asked me to "speak nicely to him with the right tone of voice." I argued that I was and was intending to be firm. I was already feeling victimized by his client and him. Then, he told me he was "not in the mood to talk to me" and hung up on me. 


Now I have to roll back a bit. This guy was angry with me from the very beginning of the deal. The reasons initially involved not agreeing to some of the terms he had submitted to us with this client. (Little did I know he had already mis-represented the terms to the client in the first place.) In addition, he wanted me to pay my agent another half month commission on top of the half month paid to him for the six months lease should the tenant renew another six months. The commission was shared between my agent and him. I found out from other agents that there was no such rule that the Landlord had to pay commission to real estate agent for renewal of lease and my lawyer confirmed that. Furthermore my Quay Lo pointed out that the agent was asking for a commission promise without assuming any risk of the outcome.  Of course I told him that I do not agree. He made his displeasure very clear. I suspected that was why he behaved so badly with me when I called him. I was VERY upset and almost exploded but then I remembered what my Quay Lo told me. He said we will always make the wrong decision when we get mad but if we stay cool, we will be on the winning side. 


Haha so, I stayed  very cool and here I am writing this post, sharing the demo by Chef Ryan Khang (click to find out more about this young handsome promising chef) at Jaya Grocers last Saturday and his Berries Pie recipe with you.  It was a promise I made in my earlier post to share the recipe. A promise is a promise and I have to keep it. Moreover it is better to feed my eyes with Chef Khang's beautiful pie and feel happy than to feed my soul with anger and feel bad, don’t you think? 

Blueberry and Raspberry Pie (8 inches pie)
By Chef Ryan Khang (with slight amendment)

Pastry Dough:
250gm plain flour
40gm sugar
15gm walnut, roasted and blended
110gm butter
50gm water
10gm salt
1 cup blueberry
2 cups raspberry

Almond Cream:
4 tbs unsalted butter
4 tbs suger
4 tbs beaten egg
3 tbs almond powder
¼ tsp vanilla essence paste

Custard Cream:
4 egg yolks
50gm sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
2/3 cup milk
2 tbs unsalted butter

Method:
Pastry Dough:

Mix all the ingredients together until a dough is formed. Roll out dough to 3mm thickness. Cut dought with a pastry cutter and place into the pie pan.

Almond cream:

Cream unsalted butter and sugar with a wooden spatula. Add beaten egg and almond powder and vanilla. Mix well and make almond cream paste.

Custard Cream:

Mix egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until creamy white. Add lukewarm milk and unsalted butter and cook over high heat until it becomes thick and creamy. Leave aside to cool.

To Assemble

Pour almond cream onto pie pan.  Add the custard cream and spread evenly. Add in the berries and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 35 to 40 mins. Cool on rack.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

WOW! I got GOOSIES!!

I should sub title this entry as "Tooting My Own Horn" but I admit it...I just cannot help myself. Last Saturday was a very happy day for me. I got up early in the morning to make some macarons because an ardent reader and I were meeting for the first time. We were set to have lunch together at the Empire Subang. I wanted to let her taste my macarons.

We had lunch at a newly opened Thai restaurant. The food was just so-so, but it did not bother us because we had such a great time chatting. In a delightful coincidence, the new friend turned out to be the daughter of the midwife that had delivered me (so many moons ago). Her name is Cindy and she is a very pleasant lady and so warm and friendly that it felt more like meeting an old friend.  She was so thoughtful and generous and had brought a lovely set of earrings and a necklace as a gift for me. What a delightful surprise  and I loved both the design and the color. I wore them to lunch yesterday. I think they matched my purple blouse. Thanks so much again, Cindy. 


As we were having lunch, a young lady came over to our table and asked me if I am Veron and introduced herself as Adrine. She is also a food blogger and a regular reader of my blog. It was a great pleasure to meet her and her family. What a small world this is!   


After our lunch, Cindy and I went window shopping together and then I asked her to tag along to watch a "Berries pie" demo at Jaya Grocers by the young and handsome Chef Ryan Khang.  Chef Khang is quite an accomplished chef. He had written his first book in 2006 and had worked as a consultant chef for a chain restaurant where he had developed new menus and supervised production. Currently he is the resident chef of The Cooking House and the editor-in-chief of a food and health journal called Malaysian Nourishment.

When I met Chef Khang, I offered him a piece of my macaron with my newly invented fillings that was suggested by my Quay Lo. What he said to me sent me to cloud 9! As soon as he took the first bit of my macaron, he said, "This is a French macaron, did you age the egg white for 7 days? What is the filling? This is very good!" I told him it was a filling I invented, kumquat preserves with dark chocolate and cointreau. He told me he had just returned from Paris and had tasted lots of macs while there and mine was better than the Dulce de Leche macarons he had there!! OH MY GOODNESS!! someone please pinch me and tell me that I am not dreaming!  When I felt my feet just about to touch back down to the ground, he sent right back to cloud 9. He asked if I would like to contribute an article to the Malaysian Nourishment food and health journal. I think he must be joking.

Me? write an article for a food magazine? I can hardly believe that. Wow! I got goosies all over!! Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to get a picture with this young handsome chef who is so kind to offer his opinion on my macarons (especially since it was favorable).


I am eager to share with you the new fillings recipe because it must be good when the compliment comes from a chef. 

Vanilla Macarons with kumquat dark 
chocolate and cointreau fillings


Vanilla Macaron shells:

83 grams icing sugar
64 grams ground almonds
53 grams egg whites (about 2 small eggs), aged for 48 hrs at room temperature
28 grams granulated sugar
coloring (optional)
½ tsp vanilla extract

Method to make the shells: (click to see the step-by-step photos)
Sift almond flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl and set aside.

The old lady at work with Ranger keeping an eye 
to make sure everything was done correctly. LOL!

Please ensure the mixture is dry is entirely dry. After it is well mixed, add in coloring and blend in. In a large clean, dry bowl whip egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip to ALMOST stiff peaks like in the photo. With a flexible spatula, gently fold in almond and icing sugar mixture into egg whites until completely incorporated. The mixture should be shiny and 'flow like magma.' When small peaks dissolve to a flat surface, stop mixing. Fit a piping bag with a 3/8-inch (1 cm) round tip. Pipe the batter onto the baking sheets lined with parchment paper and try to have equal size circles. If you want to have uniform size of shells, draw circles before you pipe. 


I am so happy that I finally got 
these shells to look more decent

Tap the underside of the baking sheet to remove air bubbles. Let dry at room temperature for 1 or 2 hours to allow skins to form or when you gently touch the top of the batter, it does not stick to your finger. Place baking sheet into another bigger baking sheet. Bake, in a preheated 140°C oven for 20 minutes. Remove macarons from oven and transfer parchment paper to a cooling rack. When cool, slide a metal offset spatula or pairing knife underneath the macaron to remove from parchment paper.

Note: if the batter is overmixed, you will get flat shells and if it is undermixed, you will get Dolly Partons (click link to find out why Dolly Partons). LOL! So, be mindful when you mix the batter. 

Fillings recipe:

Kumquat compote with cointreau:
(adapted from Wendy of Table For Two and More with slight modification)
200gm kumquats, removed seeds
2 tbs cointreau (more or less to individual taste)
80gm Sugar
200gm Water

Method:
Half kumquats and remove seeds. Put cleaned kumquats, sugar and water into a saucepan and cook (on med heat)until the kumquat looks glossy and soft. Let cool and puree. Add cointreau and mix well.

Chocolate ganche:
100gm dark chocolate
200gm cream

Method:
Put cream in a microwave safe glass bowl and heat on high for 2-3 minutes, until just about to boil. Put chocolate in a medium sized glass bowl and pour hot cream over. Let sit for a minute or two then stir with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.

Kumquat dark chocolate cointreau fillings:
Add equal amount of  kumquat preserves and chocolate ganache and mix well. Put into a piping bag and pipe onto macaron shells. 


So what about the berries pie demo? I am sure you would like have the recipe from Chef Khang. I promise I will share with you in my next post. 


I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers Challenge #17 - March Macaron Madness (March 2012 ) hosted by Alan from Travelling Foodies

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Life need not be just black and white

When one feels life is boring, it is possible you have just settled into to much of a routine. Doing the same thing, day in day out can be begin to wear you out, don’t you think? How about doing something new? Don’t be afraid to try new things for they are the spice of life.  There are so many new things you can do to make life interesting, so what are they? Let me name a few of mine.

You might want to consider to learn cooking, baking, singing, dancing, writing, painting or learn to play your favorite musical instrument. How about doing some social work, lending a hand to people in need? If you still do not know how to use a computer, get one and learn how to use it. Then, open a facebook account and start connecting with old friends and make new ones. Starting a blog has been interesting and very rewarding for me. I have found much joy in writing down my thoughts. If you would like to keep fit, you could join a gym. It is fulfilling to look in the mirror and see yourself in good shape. When I was going to a gym on a regular basis I also felt more energetic and more healthy. The list of new things that can add colors to our lives are endless.  Your life can be more colorful and delicious than all these kueh lapis I brought back from Sibu!

 Assam Manis
Horlicks Honey
Aiyoh! this one I forgot to write the name before
I throw away the wrapper.

All the kueh lapis are from this friendly lady in Sibu. 


I can imagine the high level of skill she mastered in making those pretty, moist and "to die for" kueh lapis. Each layer are so even in size and surely she got good sense of color matching too. I was fortunate to have the awesome host, Arthur of Still Crazy After These Years, brought me there. Arthur, Thanks again, you are "THE" food icon in Sibu. However, I regretted that I  bought one each of three flavors of kueh lapis home only. All three were delectable but I love the "Horlicks Honey" (recommended by Arthur) the most, my Quay Lo preferred the other two. I wished I had bought one dozen of each flavor. The price is so reasonable, none of them is more than RM35.00 and if you know how tedious and time consuming it is to make one kueh lapis you will not complain the price is expensive ever. After seeing all the photos of the kueh lapis, don't you want to try making your own? I do. The other alternative for me, is to go back to Sibu when I finished them. LOL!

I found a kueh lapis recipe and video from Poh’s Kitchen and I am going to try making this as soon as all the kueh lapis from Sibu "habis" (gone). Maybe you can try it first and let me know how it goes. Here is the link:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Have food will travel

According to wikipedia, "Have gun will travel" was an American Western television series that aired on CBS from 1957 through 1963. I was only two in 1957. However, the phrase is still popular these days except it is used variably to suit the situation. In my case it was "Have food will travel". Family friends and regular readers of my blog probably knew that I am not a traveler by choice, but then, I will consider traveling to places where I know I can get great food.  Last weekend I went to Sibu in East Malaysia to visit with some blogger friends and merely to sample all the wonderful food there.
Sibu is a township in the Sibu district of Sarawak state, in East Malaysia on the nothern coast of Borneo island. The population consists primarily of Chinese immigrants from Fuzhou (Foo Chow), and indigenous Malay and Iban people. The Fuzhou Chinese arrived in numbers of about 1,700 in 1901 after a deal was made several years earlier with the white (English) Rajah of Sarawak, Sir Edward Brooke, to open up farming and commercial enterprise on the Rajang River delta, a ripe and fertile ground. With that background in mind I knew that there were many food specialties associated with Sibu and influenced by the traditions of Fuzhous Chinese.
One of the first things I was eager to try is a bread called kompia, a well known specialty from Sibu. These are flattish buns rather like a bagel and are available with different flavors and a variety of fillings. Here are some photos which will give you some idea how kompia is made.

Two flavors of kompia were sold at this bakery. A plain, sweet variety and a saltish bun with sesame seeds. They can be eaten as they are or with your choice of fillings. They are out of this world DELICIOUS and you can ONLY get this in East Malaysia. Sibu examples are boasted to be the best. I was very curious about the ingredients used in making the kompia so I googled immediately and found that they are very similar to a bagel. I am very eager to try making some at home. Once I have finished the forty pieces of kompia that I brought home, I am going try making some and have tongpo pork to go with it. Here are the two types of fillings with deep fried kompia that I had. One was minced meat in thick dark sauce and the other was sliced pork belly.


Another well known local dish that we tried was kampua. Kampua is a noodle similar to won ton mee, and at a glance seems quite plain and simple. However the taste is memorable and to watch the preparation is a bonus show  of exaggerated toss and catch by the deft chef. The texture of the kampua is different from any noodles I have tried so far.  Smooth and not too firm with a soft, yielding mouth feel. As for flavors this largely depends on the ingredients used. Very simple preparations might simply include some light soy sauce with fried onions. Other ingredients that are common include char siu (bbq pork) and rich black sauce. The one ingredient most common is the use of pork lard for frying that imparts the rich flavor associated with Kampua.  

As for the piansip, it is something like wantan but the skin is more transparent and much thinner.

I was recommended to try the Fook Chow zhaochai hoong ngan noodles. I am glad I did not miss this one because this is something I cannot get in Kuala Lumpur and the taste was so unforgettable.

When I was at this coffee shop for the famous kampua, I saw something really interesting. A LOST scene in West Malaysia. A Muslim food store in a Chinese Coffee shop next to a Chinese food store selling kampua which consist of lard on the right and a Chinese sambal kueh teow store on the left which also uses lard.

Another thing that was interesting to me was the lady making roti canai. It is almost always done by a man. Getting the flat grilled roti just right is an acquired skill which this lady had obviously mastered.

Other than the wonderful street food in Sibu, we also tried café and restaurant food. The café we went to is called simply "Noodle House" and below are some of the food and drinks that we had. The highlight of the day was the Mille Crepe cakes. I have tried making this once. I nailed the taste but not the looks. I am eager to try making this again and hopefully I get the looks right the next time. The drinks were rather special because I have not seen them in the cafe in KL. The colourful drink on the left is mulberry lychee and the two drinks on the right is Horlick dinasaur and Horlick Gozilla. I love Fook Chow mee sua with chicken in red wine soup and I am so happy I got to try the authentic one. On the right of the mee suah is beef noodles which I did not try. My friend who tried it said it was delicious (for those so inclined).


We also went to two different Chinese restaurants for dinner during the two evenings we were there. The food from both restaurants was delicious and such a bargain compared to Kuala Lumour eateries.

Dinner at the Ruby Restaurant, these are the dishes we had:
All the above inclusive of drinks for 8 adults and a kid, cost only RM140.00


Dinner at Ming Mei Shi Seafood Restaurant:
All of the above food cost RM337.00 for 11 adults plus a kid. In case you wonder why there are 9 of us in the photo, one is the camera man, and the other is camera shy. LOL!

Other than having wonderful food in Sibu, we got to do some sight seeing. Sibu is also known as The Swan City. Why Swan city? This is what I found out. 


"In order to promote itself to tourists and for branding purpose, Sibu Municipal Council under the former Chairmanship of Datuk Robert Lau, adopted the swan as the symbol of Sibu town. According to the Sibu Chinese community, when the early Chinese immigrants arrived in Sibu in the mid 19th century and early 20th century, the present Rajang River reminded them of Swan River in Fuzhou, China where they came from. However, due to the fact that such a bird is non-existent in the town (except for the numerous huge artificial swan statues) or anywhere in Malaysia, the majority of the Sibu community, especially the natives, feel that such a choice is too artificial and does not invoke any special or deep feeling toward the so-called “Symbol of Sibu"."
I was told that the Sanyan building is 
the tallest building in Sarawak
On the left is the Rajang River and 
on the right is the Sungei Merah,
both are the landmarks in Sibu

There were many things that I have seen in Sibu that reminded me of my hometown, Ipoh when I was living there in my younger days:

I had a great time in Sibu and I enjoyed all the wonderful food. It was great meeting our generous host, Arthur of Still Crazy After All These Years and his family along with my Kuala Lumpur blogger friend, Small Kucing and family again. I was also delighted to meet with blogger friend from Ipoh, Claire of Caring Is Not Only Sharing and family and my Blogger friend from Kuala Lumpur, Yee Ling of Ling In De House for the first time after chatting on facebook and commenting on each other's blog posts for sometime. 


I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to Arthur for his hospitality, and gifts, and for being such a great host. I would also like to thank Small Kucing’s Daddy for driving us around, Claire for a good time singing and dancing with me at the karaoke, Yee Ling for your thoughtful gifts and lastly my dear friend, Peng for accompanying me to Sibu and helping me to carry all the food and goodies I brought back. You guys are the BEST!! 
Me and my blogger friends in Sibu