Thursday, August 30, 2012

Let Them Eat Tau Huay

A versatile Asian delicacy, “tau huay”, is eaten as a confection consisting of very smooth tofu (Soya Beancurd) and is simply sweetened with the addition of sugar or sweet syrup. I assume we all know that the consumption of tofu is often the brunt of jokes among westerners, except the ones who have adopted vegetarien diets or are simply on a health food kick. In China it is called douhua (豆花, dòuhuā) or doufuhua (豆腐花, dòufuhuā). It can be found among the street vendor stalls, sold in a plastic bag, or encountered in a Chinese fine dining restaurant, served as a favored dessert. 

Recently, my friend Alan, of the wonderful Travellingfoodies  blog invited me to join an on-line event he titled simply as  “Make and Eat Tau Huay Day”. This was his response to a live event in Singapore, called "Diner en Blanc", which originated in Paris in the 1980s and has since gone round-the-world as a celebration of all things white, especially the food. Apparently the organizers of the event, had responded negatively to a fellow blogger's recent post in which he expressed excitement for the rather "la-di-da", invites-only, affaire' de huat and had posted a suggested menu that included this local favorite.  You can read all about  the behavior of the organizers at Alan's blog

When I read Alan's post in facebook about the behavior of the organizers and their snub of the bloggers, I was not so incensed. The fact is that snooty people have been snooty for a very long time, long before I arrived on this earth. And there will be snooty people for a long time after I depart...what to do? In any case, I have long ago given up trying to unravel the mysteries of our southern neighbor's proclivities. However, Alan's note prompted me to consider  this admittedly humble sweet dish in some depth. The result is that I created a dessert with tau huay as the core ingredient and suitable to be served up as a dessert at any fine dining restaurant, east or west. At least that was my aim, and I will as always, surrender to the judgement of you, my good readers. 

My Quay Lo was quite enthusiastic for my "creation" though I admit that he learned a long time ago to love the variations of tofu and how useful they are when considering neutral flavors in a dish.  Actually, he seemed more angry than I about the Singaporean officials turning their backsides toward what has long been part of our collective traditional food.  When I gave him a serving of my attempt at an elegant pudding with Tau Huay he consumed it (more like "inhaled" it) with relish. I asked him for help in naming of it and he delivered the following to me on a piece of note paper. Without further ado, I am pleased to present, the Faux Marbleized Parfait of Tau Huay, Chocolate Ganache, and Zabaglione with fresh berries and pecan praline. 

Earlier, as he thought about how it should be named, he giggled to himself in a mad and conspiratorial way, while he wrote on the paper. It was quite odd to me as he is not a giggler usually. Then, in the midst of a giggle, he suddenly jumped up and shouted "PERFECT MY DEAR, WE WILL LET THEM EAT TAU HUAY IN DISGUISE".  This was starting to unerve me. I suddenly had images in my head from the musical play  "Les Miserables" and  I thought, are we safe? Had tau huay finally sent my normally loveable Quay Lo over the top? But then I began to understand his thinking. You see, without any thought of revolution or some show of disdain for the holier-than-thou attitude of the Singaporean organizers, I had actually come up with a dish that allowed the tau huay to be featured alongside components that would undoubtedly be liked by the organizers.  In fact, I would hardly call this inventive. It was really simple to understand that while Tau Huay has a beautiful smooth mouthfeel, it has no flavor. It is so flavor neutral that it pairs well with almost anything in which smoothness would be a good added contrast or highlight. My Quay Lo and I both love the complex taste of dark chocolate ganache and the smooth sweetness of a zabaglione made with marsala wine.  Consider both of those in a dish that is also embracing the acidic tartness of the fresh berries and the crunchy sweetness of a pecan praline. Who does not love these things?  The praline pecan and the red currant really dressed up the dessert. A slight twist of a rubber spatula created an amazing marbleized look in the pudding.  It is  all visually appealing. Who said tau huay is too lowly to be placed on the tableau blanc?  Hmpfff I thought.  

Here is the recipe if you wish to try.

Fuax Marbleized Parfait of Tau Huay, Chocolate Ganache, and Zabaglione with Fresh berries and Pecan Praline

Servings: 2

1 cup soybean pudding (homemade or store bought)
16 blueberries
2 strands of red currants for garnishing

pecan praline ingredients:
4 whole pecan
1 tbs of melted butter
enough sugar to coat the pecan
Coat pecans in butter and sugar. Place on baking paper on a cookie sheet and toast in oven at 200 degrees C for 5 mins. Remove from oven and set aside.

Chocolate ganache ingredients:
50gm dark chocolate, chopped
62gm whipped cream
Put the heavy cream in a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. As soon as it begins to simmer, remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon to melt the chocolate.  Set aside.

Zabaglione ingredients:
4 egg yolks
4 tbs castor sugar
2 tbs marsala wine
a pinch of cinnamon
a drop of vanilla extract
Place egg yolks, and sugar in a large stainless steel bowl. Add a pinch of cinnamon and a drop of vanilla extract to the yolk mixture. Pour in the Marsala wine. You can use sweet Vermouth as a substitute for the Marsala. 1/4-fill a pot with water, bring the water to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Set the bowl containing the custard mixture over the water without the bottom of the bowl touching the water. Whisk the custard mixture until it reaches the desired consistency of a mousse. Take the bowl of custard out of the pot and set aside.

To assemble the dessert:
Mix soybean pudding, chocolate ganache and zabaglione, to make a marbleized parfait.  Add in berries and currants and mix in till covered by parfait. Transfer to 2 small dessert wine glasses. Chill for 1 hour in the fridge and garnish with pecan praline and red currant before serving.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pot luck "LUNNER" (lunch and dinner)

Usually during long holidays, Wendy of "Table for Two or More" will come to KL which gives us the opportunity to meet up, catch up, taste each other’s food, and eat till we drop. Over the recent holiday we had a pot luck “LUNNER” (Lunch and Dinner) and the theme was finger foods. We were reminded by Wendy to make small portions because what we wanted were varieties not quantity. Swee San of "The Sweetspot" kindly offered to host the “LUNNER” in her beautiful home. 

That morning I was  full of anticipation  and got up very early to prepare the food shown below to take to the feast. 

Goody bags for each of my friends - Almond Crisps
(click on any picture to get the recipes)

For finger food, I made pancetta wrapped prawns with gorgonzola cheese
to go with lemon tahini mayo dip dressing

This is another variation for serving the prawn as a starter
(You may click on the photo to get the recipe)

I made two desserts
American soft chewy big thick chocolate chip cookies
using my mother-in-law's recipe
(You may click on the picture to get the recipe)

Apple tarte tartin
(I have not posted the recipe yet, it will be up next week)

Here are the contributions from all my friends. Every dish was made with passion that shines through, don't you agree?

Prepared by Wendy of "Table for Two or More"
Cucumber cups with dried prawns sambal

Mieng Kam Kadok

That is how you eat it. 

Prepared by Esther of "The Fuss Free Chef"
Meat balls

Dragon fruit jelly

Prepared by Sharon of "Feats of Feast"
Shepherd pie

Crackers with caramelised onion mayo

Scotch quail's eggs

Prepared by Swee San of "The Sweetspot"
Double baked potato skins with guacamole

Cassis pear milk chocolate entremet

Prepared by Shannon of "Just as Delish"
Stuffed grape leaves

 and finally Prepapred by Yen of "Eat Your Heart Out"
Moist Brownies

We all agreed that we planned the portion of foods very well this time and there was not much left to “tap pau” (take away). This is the way to go for all future pot luck “LUNNER” so when is the next one?  LOL!

I wish to thank you all for the delicious foods and especially Swee San for being so gracious to host this gathering in her home. And a big thank you to Swee San's mum for taking this group picture for us.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Alone but not lonely

The weekend of Hari Raya, I was all alone. My Quay Lo was on a business trip and my Mum had gone to stay with her friend for the weekend. I have a spirit within me that stays connected to my loved ones, even when we are physically apart. I may be alone, but not lonely. I will always make my life the best that it can be. I am happy working on my latest project, or catching up with my friend's blogs, or using social media to stay connected to friends and family. I will always see myself as being alone and not lonely.

My "aloneness" did not last long. The multi-talented friend of mine (she is a good cook, baker, writer and photographer), Chris Wan of "Pureglutton" sent me an invitation to have lunch in her home but I did not know about it until she followed up and messaged ask me if I had received her invitation. I am often confused about navigating facebook, and had overlooked her initial invitation there. I am so happy that she followed up. Otherwise I would have missed this awesome get-together with her and the chance to meet with some lovely people who are also famous bloggers.  Not only that, I would have missed out these sumptious dishes  prepared by Chris herself. Look at all these mouth watering delights!

Rendang Pork to go with store bought lemang

The best Bak Kut Teh I have ever had

Stir fried lettuce with garlic

Beautiful moist and luscious plum cake

As I usually don’t like to go to friend’s houses empty handed, I made a pavlova and some cream puffs to share. I am really very happy that it turned out great. You may click on the photo to get the recipe.
Pavlova with Strawberries, blueberries, pineapples
and golden kiwi

Mini cream puffs
(You may click on the picture to get the recipe)

I had a wonderful afternoon catching up with Chris and get to know some new friends. What was most satisfying was, I got a big reward for the day. Everyone enjoyed my pavlova and it was all gone. Trust me, this is what every cook or baker wants in the end. In the midst of all these creative foodies I GOT PRAISE! (Excuse me while I float away on a cloud.)
The proof, is in the pudding...or... in this case, the "no pudding left"

So, for my Hari Raya holiday I was not alone after all. It was a blast. Thank you Derek and Chris for being such great host and and hostess. Oh, it was a pleasure to meet Ken Chan of "Food point of Interest", Sue Lynn of  "Bangsar Babe" and hubby, and Babara Moullie for the first time and I was very glad to see Evelyn of "My lil oyster" and hubby again.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Selamat Hari Raya Adilfitri

Let's sing along!

Lyrics (Short): 
Berlalulah sudah ramadan sebulan berpuasa 
Tiba syawal kita rayakan dengan rasa gembira 
Anak muda di rantauan semuanya pulang ke desa 
Ibu dan ayah keriangan bersyukur tak terkira 
(Chorus 1) Kuih dan muih beranika macam 
Makanlah jangan hanya di pandang 
Ketupat rendang sila nikmati kawan 
Penat memasak malam ke pagi 
(Chorus 2) Wajik dan dodol jangan lupakan 
Peninggalan nenek zaman berzaman 
Asyik bersembang pakcik dan makcik 
Hai duit raya lupa nak di beri

If you are still undecided what dessert to make for Hari Raya, I recommend bahulu tiramisu, a dessert that I have tasted and tested for “Crave” Malay Mail which was published on 27 July 2012. If you would like to have the recipe and read my review, please click on any of the photos. You can omit the liquor and still taste as good.

Bahulu tiramisu


Monday, August 13, 2012

A Crabby Old Lady

I went to the wet market two Saturdays ago. My intention was to to buy some prawns to make a prawn salad for lunch. It was a dish suggested by my Quay Lo. I saw some nice looking crabs next to it. I just could not take my eyes off of them. As I am crazy for crabs, I did not need much of a sales pitch from the fishmonger to buy some. I picked up a kilogram. As soon as I arrived home, I started cooking my favorite spicy, sweet and sour crabs. Would you believe it if I tell you that I finished all those crabs by myself? No, I am not kidding, I really did.

Yes, I am a crabby old lady, but not like you expected when you read my title, and not what you read about in the following poem. 

A Crabby Old Woman!

What do you see, kids, what do you see?
Are you thinking when you are looking at me...
A crabby old woman, not very wise
Uncertain of habit with faraway eyes.
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice: 'I do wish you'd try.'
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe:
Who, unresisting or not, lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, kids - you're looking at ME.

I tell you who I am as I sit here so still
as I act on your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child often, with a father and mother
Brothers and sisters who love one another.
A young girl of 16, with wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon now, a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at 2O - my heart gives a leap
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At 25 now, I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure, happy home.
A woman of 3O, my young now grow fast
Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At 4O, my young sons have all grown and gone
But my man's beside me to see I don't mourn.
At 5O, once more babies play round my knee
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me; my husband is dead
I look to the future and shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own
And I think of the years and the love that I've known.

I'm now an old woman and Nature is cruel
'Tis sad to make old age look like a fool..
The body it crumbles, grace and vigour depart
There now is a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass, a young girl still dwells
And now and again, my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain
And I'm living and loving life over again.
I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last...
So open your eyes, kids, open and see
Not a crabby old woman - look closer, see ME!
– by Anonymous
Some of you may have read this before. I think we can all agree that the poem is sad, and perhaps too often true. And does it make us think how the time will come for each of us, that we age, and if we are not careful, betrayed by our bodies, grow crabby, sadly not able to enjoy a pile of fresh crabs but remembering them with fondness.   Well I didn't think of any of this the day I made this dish. I arrived home and began working on my personal pile of goodness. Somewhere during the meal, devouring the now bright red crabs, it occurred to me that later I must compensate for the feasting by skipping a meal and eating my veggies. I didn't think it very long however. I am happy to report that Quay Lo isn't particularly fond of crab. He says he spends way more calories getting to the meat then he gets eating the meat when he gets there. I didn't tactfully try to suggest that in his case that might be a good thing, because lets face it, there is no tactful way to say that besides, I wasn't thinking about that anyway. At this writing I only have a recollection that I was thinking "it's mine...all mine!" I better eat as much as I can, right now. LOL!

OK, so now, feast over, mission accomplished, and sitting down to recall it here with fondness, the poem suddenly popped into my mind. I had read it some years ago.  I am not sure why I thought of it but crab and crabby are at least related words, though with different meanings. So let me ask you, just now as you read it, did it make you feel a little sad? You won’t when you see the crab dish that I made because this dish tastes as good as it looks. Make this as soon as you can. Prepare it carefully and then sit down and eat it slowly, enjoying each bite. We'll worry about aging, getting crabby, and expanding beltlines later. Some day it may be just a memory, but it won't be one if you don't just do it.

Spicy, sweet and sour crab

This dish is featured in Asian Food Channel (Official) Facebook page
on 15 August 2012


3 crabs about 1 to 1.2 kg
4 tbs for frying
1 tsp sesame oil
½ cup water
1 onion sliced
1 egg,  lightly beaten

Sauce Ingredients:
2 tbs oyster sauce
1/2 tbs soy sauce
3 tbs tomato sauce
2 tomato, (blanched, skin and seeds removed)
¼ cup fresh red chilli sauce
1 tbs sugar
2 tbs tamarind juice 
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 piece 2 in young ginger, diced
1 lemon grass, diced (white part only)

Wash and cut crab in small pieces and roughly pound the shells. Put all the cleaned crabs into colander, drain well and then set inside the fridge while prepare the sauce. Place all the sauce ingredients in blender and blend till smooth paste. Heat a wok with 2 tbs oil, toss the crabs until they turn red and cooked. Dish out the crabs and set aside. Heat 2 tbs oil and sauté, onion slices till translucent. Pour in the sauce and let it simmer for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the crabs and ½ cup water and stir to have all pieces of crab covered by the sauce. Let it simmer for another 10 mins. Add in beaten eggs and stir quickly and when sauce is thickened, turn off the fire and serve immediately with toasted bread for soaking up sauce.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

We came, we saw, we wollop!

What a good excuse for people who love food to meet up and share their passion. Well, my good friend, Arthur Wee of ‘Still Crazy All These Years” was in town last weekend. We all met at Ah Lye Curry Fish Head Restaurant and had a feast. The delight in these gatherings is greeting some old friends and making some new ones. The highlight of the evening was not so much the following food as delicous as it all was.

Lower left: Arthur brought the kompia all the way from Sibu
Lower right: The achar was kindly contributed by Jocel's mum

The real highlight was all these homemade desserts that were shared.
From left: Homemade chocolate truffle by Shannon of "Just As Delish", homemade pineapple tarts by Ping of "Ping's Pickings", Store bought cream puffs contributed by Yee Ling of "Ling in De House"

I was also eager to take a dessert to the dinner. Arthur has said he loves my macarons and he cannot get Hokkaido Chiffon Cakes in Sibu, so I made these and brought them with me to the dinner. The filling for the macaron was kumquat, chocolate, chestnut with Cointreau liquor. For the cupcakes I made a whisky, orange, vanilla custard cream filling. I am thrilled to see people enjoying what I made, and in the end, isn't it what all of us interested in baking and cooking want?

Macarons with kumquat, chocolate, chestnut, cointreau filling
(click on the picture to get the macaron recipe)

Orange Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcakes with vanilla whisky custard filling
(click on picture to get HCC recipe)

It was a great bloggers get-together and "makan" (eat) session.  We had so much food and dessert that we all were stuffed. Later Ping wrote on Facebook that our fullness could be the reason that she bounced off Arthur's tummy when she gave him a hug to say goodbye. I laughed out loud when I read this because I had this instant vision of all of us saying goodnight in the parking lot and bouncing around.  LOL!  Here we are after calming down.
Back row from left: Quay Po, Arthur Wee of 'Still Crazy All These Years", Kathy and son of "Small Kucing", Shannon of, Ping of "Ping's Pickings", Jocel of "Food and Travel"
Front row: Abby and daughter Yee Ling of "In-house Ling" and Alice. Two camera women not in the picture: my best friend Peng and Arthur's good friend, Mandy.

We all should be happy especially when Santa came to town early this Christmas. Each of us get a bag of these goodies from Santa Arthur. LOL! Thanks Santa, hope you return to Kuala Lumpur again soon. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Don't get drunk, but getting a bit high may be unavoidable

One of the fun things I did during my last visit back to the U.S. is touring wineries and tasting their products. As we traveled, we did the tourist thing and took some photos for the album.

My stepdaughter took us to two wineries.
The first one was Kalrya Winery in Santa Ynez

Our second visit was to the Sunstone Winery also in Santa Ynez.
I loved Sunstone. The winery was beautifully built to capture the Spanish classic design of California's history. The place is so COOL!

     They sold their wines and other specialties like flavoured olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.
The flagstone patio with a beautiful view beckoned everyone to sit and enjoy a glass of wine.

After tasting all the wonderful wine and getting a little high it was time to leave the wineries behind and head off to the small tourist town of Solvang for dinner. One advice from Aunty Lucy: Don’t get drunk, but getting a little high is forgiveable (unless you are driving). In fact, it is almost unavoidable, if you visit more than one winerie. They pour as much as you want in the tasting room. Drinking too much is awful and will just spoil your day.

We arrived in Solvang at just the right time for an early dinner before the drive home. We dined at a small restaurant called Mustard Seed.

The restaurant looks very nice but the food there was just so-so, nourishing but lacking flavour. I think we should have gone home and made the chicken roulade shown below for dinner. It would have been much more satisfying.

Chicken Roulade

4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
1 medium carrot (blanched and thinly sliced)
1 capsium (roasted, skin removed and in 8 slices)
1 cucumber, (seeds removed and thinly sliced)
4 tbs grated cheddar
16 -20 slices pancetta
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Butterfly the chicken breast and lay them open on the cutting board. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Lay slices of cucumber, capsicum, carrot and 1 tbs of cheddar cheese on the chicken. Roll the chicken breast around the filling and then wrap each roll with pancetta. Secure the pancetta strips with toothpicks or tuck the ends under other wraps to hold in place. Brown the rolls evenly on all sides. Put the chicken roulades on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake in the pre heated oven at 350 degrees F until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 170°F. Should take about 15 minutes.

I served it on a two layered bed of lightly sauteed fresh spinach and grits flavoured with parmesan.