Monday, July 30, 2012

"I also don't know" and "also can"

Though the phrases "I also don't know" and "also can" are not uncommon in Malaysia when I hear them I am reminded of our former driver, Vincent. When we asked him a question, his answer would usually be one of these phrases. He is one of the most hardworking and cheerful guys we know and any boss would love to have him as an employee. After working for us four years he resigned to expand his hawker business and we are very happy for him. It is no surprise to us that he and his lovely wife were successful in their enterprise.

Quay Lo and I sometimes use his favorite phrases to tease each other. For example, when we say something to the other, for emphasis and reassurance, we might say "You know what I mean?" It has become a private joke between us to answer "I also don't know." Or, we might ask each other if we would like to go out for lunch and the other would answer, "Also can." That usually causes us both to laugh out loud. 

Do you remember my post about picking berries in a berry farm in California? After that, I made a berry pie with the all the different kinds of fresh berries we picked and all together was a wonderful experience.  There are no berries to pick in Kuala Lumpur but we can buy fresh berries or use the frozen ones if we want to make a berry pie. One morning, my Quay Lo told me that he loves blackberry pie. POOF!! Genie Lucy made him a blackberry pie that evening. I could not get fresh blackberries, so I used frozen ones and they are from the states. The pie came out almost as delicious as the one I made with the fresh berries. So I can say that the frozen ones "ALSO CAN" , but please don't ask me how much is the frozen blackberries because I "ALSO DON'T KNOW". LOL! I forgot to look at the price when I bought them. A thousand apologies.

Blackberry Pie
make 2 six inches pie

This dish was featured in Asian Food Channel (Official)
Facebook page on 31 July 2012

Filling Ingredients:
1 packet 12 oz. frozen blackberries
3 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 rounded tbs flour

Method to prepare the filling:
Add frozen blackberries and sugar into a medium pot over medium heat. Stir till sugar is dissolved. Add cinnamon and nutmeg and mix well. Add in flour and mix well. Turn off heat and set aside.

Crust ingredients: 
250 gms flour
150 gms cold butter (cut into small cubes)
63 gms icing sugar
3 tbs ice cold water

Method to make the crust and assemble pie:
Combine flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add butter and mixed well with the flour and sugar. Use fingers to break up the butter until the mixture has a pebbley tetxure. Gently shape into 4 discs, two bigger than the other, with the size depending on the pie plate or rings you use. Press the dough just enough to form the discs, but do not over handle. You should be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These small chunks of butter are what will allow the resulting crust to be flaky. Sprinkle a little flour around the discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour, or store for up to two days.

Remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes in order to soften just enough to make rolling out a bit easier. Roll out with a rolling pin in between two piece of clinging plastic wrap to a circle according to the size desired and about 1/8 inch thick. Carefully place loosely into pie pan. Gently press the pie dough down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Use a rolling pin or scrapper to trim off overhanging dough. Add half of the filling to the pie and dot with butter. Roll out second disk of dough, as before. Lay dough over. Use the rolling pin or scrapper to trim off the over hanging dough and seal the dough with your fingers. Poke holes on the top pie crust with a fork. Do the same for the second pie.

Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 40 minutes depending on the temperature of your oven. If the top begins to brown before the baking time is done, cover the top of the pie with some aluminium foil with the shiny side up to finish baking. This pie is best served with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My two years blogging and a brief reflection

Tomorrow is my 2nd "Blogivesary" and I am still busy blogging and still have so much to write about and share. LOL!

My son’s boss shared this article by Tim Kreider on his facebook one day and this is too good not to share with you guys. Here is the link:

In my case, I love my “Busy” trap. I think we all should take time off to reflect whether we are busy doing the right things. I mean things that we will not regret, and that we are happy that we did, rather than simply marking time. We risk cluttering our lives with doing things that we may regret on our death beds, or  the regret of not doing otherwise.

Today I was weighing a decision that involves a commitment of time and effort. I thought, "looks like I am VERY busy all the time".  I am busy helping my Quay Lo in his business, cooking, baking, spending time with my friends and family, and especially blogging which includes meeting with my new food bloggers friends. In fact, I was busy just now trying to bake this cheese cake, take photos, write out the recipe and share it with you guys. But...pssst, come a little closer, this is a secret. I LOVE my ‘BUSY’ trap. I love the things I do, even the small chores we all need to do. I love being busy and feeling personally productive. It makes me feel worthwhile, and gives me self satisfaction. In some cases I do it because I feel grateful. Grateful for the chance to support my loved ones, and grateful for the chance to produce a smile on someone else's face. I'll tell you a little secret, these kinds of things we do are among the more selfish acts we could perform. They are SELFISH! But that is because they yield enormous payback in "feel good" (if not occasional exhaustion and tired feet). If you do not feel this way, then it may be time to reflect whether you are getting paid back for your efforts. Or maybe it is just that you don't see things the same way? LOL!

I am always thankful for my Quay Lo. He has been very supportive of my blog, contributing ideas  for my recipes and editing my posts. And I am thankful for my mum, my family, and my friends, especially the ones who agree to taste my food and for being honest.  I am so thankful to my blogger and facebook friends, my readers, and confidants, for visiting and leaving comments all these years. I love you and not just for your support, but for being the unique you that you are and for coloring my life in bold colors of ideas, and thoughts. I will keep on sharing as long as I can. Because I am "lovin" it. (LOL) 

Lemon curd cheese cake with strawberry compote
Adapted from Joy of Baking

Crust Ingredients:
1 cup (100 grams) graham wafer crumbs or crushed digestive biscuits
1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar
4 - 5 tablespoons (55-65 grams) butter, melted

2 - 8 ounce (454 grams) packages of full fat cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) sour cream, room temperature

Lemon Curd Ingredients:
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons (56 grams) butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon zest

Strawberries compote (Optional)
3 pints fresh strawberries, washed,patted dry and sliced
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Grand Marnier or 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method for Cheesecakes:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Line 8 inch cake pan with wax paper.

Method For Crust:
In a small bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press crumbs into the bottom of the cake pan. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.

Method For Filling:
In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese on low speed until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and salt then beat all until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and beat until incorporated. Add cold lemon curd and swirl into the cheese filling with minimal motion. The idea is to creat "veins" of lemon curd in the cheese mix. Remove the crusts from the refrigerator. Fill pan with cheese filling. Bake for about 18 - 22 minutes or until firm but the centers of the cheesecakes still wobble slightly though visibly. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Let cool and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Method for Lemon Curd:
In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water (this setup is called a bain-marie), whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a Greek yoghurt) If you prefer to use a thermometer you are looking for 160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted and is blended in. Add the lemon zest and cover immediately to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool but retain at a pouring consistency which probably means still slightly warm to the touch.

Method for Strawberries compote:
In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine 2 pints of the strawberries, sugar and liquor. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the fruit is soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. In a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, puree the strawberries until smooth. Turn into a mixing bowl, and add the remaining sliced strawberries. Mix well.

To Serve: Once the cheesecakes have been chilled, gently remove the paper liners. If desired, use a small metal spatula, that has been dipped in hot water and wiped dry, to smooth the sides of the cheesecakes. Top cheesecake with strawberries compote and serve. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chinese lunch, Quay Lo Dinner

Last Saturday, my best friend Peng and I went to try the food in Di Wei Chinese Restaurant at the Empire Hotel in Subang. 

Our intention was to try the Dim Sum but then there were not many choices, so we decided to order noodles. The one we chose was recommended by the restaurant captain and we were quite happy with it. It had qualities that I like in food. It was very simple but flavorful. It was stir-fried in egg white gravy resulting in a dish that was light, but still unctious and rich tasting. The noodles were al dente and give a nice mouth feel. I believe it is rather easy to make so I am going to try replicating this at home someday.

I liked the design of the restaurant and the service was very good. When the waiter brought the bill, I signed on it and carry on chatting with Peng. The waiter stood right there and did not take the bill away for almost 5 minutes. I got a bit agitated with his hovering. I turned to him and said, “I signed already.” (with a slightly irritated voice). He said to me, “Ma’am, I am sorry I am waiting for your credit card.” Good gracious! Did I think I could eat for free?!! So embarrassing! LOL! I quickly gave him my credit card and apologized to him. AIYOH! 

After lunch, we adjourned to Fresco, a cafe in Jaya Grocers, to have our coffee because I had brought with me the lemon curd cheese cake that I had baked in the morning, to let Peng sample it. Before she ate it, I explained to her that my cheesecake is a cross breed between baked and no baked cheese cake. She laughed and said she would call it half baked. I burst into laughter. A perfect name for my alter ego  Aunty Lucy who now has a cheesecake named for her. I can see it under the counter as an exclusive at Secret Recipe Cake Shop. "Aunty Lucy's Half Baked Cheesecake". LOL! When Peng sank her teeth into her first bite, I could see the approval from her expression. She said it was delicious and the cake melted in her mouth. I will share with you the recipe in my next post. For now, I will give you a sneak peek of this "half baked" confection.

In this post, I would also like to share with you an appetizer dish that I learned from Chef Fabio’s demo, the pancetta wrapped prawn. However, this time I turned it into a meal by plopping it on top of some freshly sauteed spinach with garlic, and pairing it with left over paella rice which I re-purposed to a stuffing for some beautiful fresh capsicums. After filling the peppers I broiled them in the oven and served with the pancetta wrapped prawn. This was a brilliant idea from my Quay Lo. The two dishes complimented each other very well in flavors and we all enjoyed the meal.

Pancetta wrapped prawn
(Chef Fabio’s recipe)

6 big prawns
6 tsp of gorgonzola cheese
6 pcs. thinly sliced pancetta
ground black pepper to taste
oil to fry the prawn

Remove head and shells of the prawn, retain the tail. Make a cut at the back of the prawn from head to tail to butterfly it. Season with ground black pepper on both sides. Using palm of your hand and press 1 teaspoon each of gorgonzola cheese to make little bugs that will fit into the opening of the back of the prawns. Close the lip of the prawns to hold the gorgonzola cheese in place. Wrap the prawn with pancetta staring from the tail end. Press the prawn by closing your hand around it to ensure the pancetta will stick to the body. Fry the prawn on both sides till pancetta looks crispy or you can grill the prawn if you prefer. I served it on a bed of  garlic sauté spinach.

Stuffed Capsicum with paella

Paella (Please click on photo to get the recipe)
3 capsicums
olive oil

Cut off the top of the capsicum and scoop out all the seeds. Blanch the capsicum and dry it before stuffing in the paella. Oil the baking pan with some olive oil. Spoon  in the paella till the brim of the capsicum and cover with the top piece. Lay them all in the baking pan and roast it in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 10 mins. You do not want the capsicum to be too soft and collapse. You just want it to be cooked. This can be served with other side dishes or just with some freshly baked bread and butter.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Don’t pick on people, pick berries more productive

There are all sorts of people in the world. Good, bad and the ugly. An ugly and bad type loves to pick on others. Have you come across people like that? There was one stage in my life when I was working with a corporation where I was always being picked on. Why? All because I was not a graduate and they (the colleagues who were graduates) used this fact to doubt my qualifications. That was not true, but trust me, it is no fun being picked on. I was miserable. Fortunately, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I worked harder and did my job well and proved to them, (and more importantly, others) that I was worthy of the post. Eventually I earned everyone's respect.  Looking back I later realized that the reason for being picked on was due to fear and perhaps some jealousy as my work began to get praise from management and clients. It often is true that some people can only focus on their competitors by raising doubt and by criticizing instead of by focusing on their own performance.
People who pratice this are actually unable to compete, and are afraid of their own shortcomings. They lack confidence in themselves. 

I would advise that if someone is picking on you, tell them to go pick berries. Let them know that it is definitely more productive than picking on you. At least they can eat the the berries but they can't eat you. LOL!

The very first thing I did after I arrived California was to go pick berries.

I had to do this touristy photo thing. It accurately portrayed what I knew was to
come with fresh berries in hand.

In an ocean of green, searching for the little flavor packed ripe blueberries

Blueberries ripening on the vine

Luscious freshly picked raspberries

This is my idea of a truely wonderful "menage a troix"

When I saw all the beautiful red raspberries and strawberries and the dark blue, healthy looking blueberries, they made my heart sing. I made a berry pie from the berries I picked for our dessert that evening.

"Sawyer" looks on while I make the pie crust

When I got a nice compliment from my step son in law, it was worth all the effort.

The best reward is to see that everybody finished their piece of pie. 

If you care to have the recipe, here it is.

Berry Pie

Sorry for the inferior photo quality. This was taken in the evening with my handphone.


Pie Filling:
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 tbs flour
½ brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg

Pie Crust (Click to get the recipe)

Put berries and brown sugar in a pan on medium heat to melt the sugar. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, flour and mix well. Pour berries mixture into the pie crust. Preheat oven at 180 degrees C and bake pie for 30 minutes or till pie crust is brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream.