Thursday, September 27, 2012

I hate backbiting but I love great bites

I love watching the cooking shows especially the Masterchef New Zealand and Australia because the series includes Masterchef classes where I could learn lots of tips from the chefs. I told my Quay Lo that I don’t like any shows that include a lot of backbiting among contestants and he agrees. For whatever reason the Masterchef series from the U.S. is full of this unbecoming behavior. While I recognize that some of this may be due to editing it still makes me wonder what people derive from putting others down. I can't think of a reason other than some distorted means of elevating one's self at the expense of another. Do they not have a voice of conscience? I really feel backbiting is an evil act and it is so wicked. I hope it is the producers who have deliberately highlighted drama and backbiting in the shows to attract more viewers. Of course then we have to ask ourselves why that would be considered as a device to attract more viewers. What do you think?

In the Masterchef New Zealand and Australia shows, you don’t see the contestants speaking badly about each other. In fact they seemed to be very supportive of one another. I think this is the right thing to do. We can still support each other even in a competition. I think a victory is more honorable if it is won by skill instead of using dirty tactics.

In one episode of Masterchef class, New Zealand, I saw how mango cannelloni was made by one of the show hosts.  It seemed so easy to do and such an impressive dessert. As I am a mango lover, I could not wait to try making this at home. When I started to roll the mango slices, it was not so easy after all. I did it though, but as you will see, it is far from perfect. My rolling was not tight enough and I think the filling was way too wet. In my next attempt, I will reduce the amount of cream and pat dry the pineapple and see if that helps. Perhaps I should chill cannelloni for 24 hours before I cut it. Still, this is a pretty dessert isn't it? I can say that it is delicious. 

Mango Cannelloni 
Recipe from Chef Josh Emett, Masterchef NZ

Click on the photo to get the recipe

I’m submitting this recipe to this month’s Cook Like A Star (Masterchef), hosted by Zoe of Bake for Happy KidsAnuja of Simple Baking and Baby Sumo of Eat your heart out

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My first cooking video

When Chef Mario Batali introduced a new dish called Uova da Raviolo (ravioli with a soft egg yolk inside) many home chefs may have been persuaded that it was almost impossible to cook at home. In fact, it can be done and it is not as difficult as I thought. My kitchen is very basic and I have no special kitchen utensils, just the usual ones, but with a little attention to detail even in a modest kitchen it can be done with stunning results.

In the following video, you will see my recipe and the steps.  The video was sponsored by Nutriplus, and produced by Nourish magazine, in preparation for the upcoming Think Out Of The Shell - Vol. II cookbook launch and the Nutriplus Pastry Challenge

You may pause whenever you want to look at the recipe and directions, which tend to flash by too quickly. All instructions are in text on the video.  

Uova da Raviolo (ravioli with a soft egg yolk inside) 
by Quay Po

You can serve the Uova da Raviolo with sauces, puree or soup of your choice. Think out of the shell, let your creative juices flow and most importantly, have fun. LOL!

By the way, I would like to remind all interested home cooks and bakers to submit your entries for the Nutriplus Pastry Challenge. Don't be shy or afraid. If you have the passion in cooking and baking you will have a wonderful time and have the chance to show off your baking skills. Why not?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Don't mess with granny

While organizing my files in my hard disk last weekend, I came across this video clip called “Granny’s airbag”.

I could not help but laugh out loud watching it again. Not only was the video hilarious, it reminded me of an incident where my Quay Lo hit the car bonnet of a guy’s car when he sped up on him instead of stopping while we were crossing the road. At that moment we were furious but now the drama seemed so funny to me. I showed my Quay Lo the video clip and he too laughed when he saw how fierce that granny was.  He thought it was acted out and staged but then even if it was, I still find it plausible. We chatted for a long time about how people could turn into devils the moment they go behind their wheels. We both agreed that drivers in Malaysia are more aggressive compared to many countries. Pedestrians need to be very careful when they cross the road. 

We enjoyed our chat so much and did not realised it was past our usual dinner time already. Die!, I forgot to plan for dinner. 

When I walked into the kitchen, I saw the bowl of Zespri kiwi fruits sitting on the table. An idea of making kiwi salsa came to to mind. I got dinner ready in less than an hour. This dish was refreshing, delicious and visually appealing. The combination of grilled pancetta wrapped prawns, avocado and kiwi salsa was superb and I love the colors in the dish. There you go, here is the recipe. 

Pancetta wrapped prawns with Kiwi salsa and avocado

Sorry for the poor quality of the photos, they were all taken by my iPhone, 
no time to set up my camera, it was late and we were both hungry. LOL!

for 1 serving

3 to 5 prawns, clean, deveined with the tail on
4 or 5 pieces of sliced avocado
½  lemon, juiced
zest from 1 lemon
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 small red onion chopped
½ sweet red chili, chopped
½ sweet orange chili, chopped
¼ cup chopped cucumber
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 green Zespri kiwi, peeled and diced
1 golden Zespri kiwi, peeled and quartered
¼ cup feta cheese
salt, sugar, ground black pepper to taste
4 - 5 pcs thinly sliced pancetta

In a medium bowl, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, chilis, cucumber, onion, parsley and diced green Zespri Kiwi, salt, sugar, ground black pepper and extra virgin oil. Put salsa in the fridge. Season prawn in ¼ tsp sugar. Make sure prawn is dried before being wrapped with pancetta. Spray some butter on the grill pan and grill prawns till pancetta looks crispy, about 2 mins per side. Remove salsa from the fridge and transfer to the serving plate with a slotted spoon. Top salsa with grilled prawns, sliced avocado and quartered golden Zespri kiwi and serve with freshly baked baguette and corn chips.


Zespri had given me some cute bookmarks and keychains to give away to Malaysians. If you are a Malaysian and you are a follower either on my facebook page, my twitter or here, you may leave a comment to indicate your interest for either the keychain or the bookmark. I will contact you later to get your address. I have 10 keychains and 10 bookmarks and it will be on first come first served basis. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Celebrity Chef Rohani Jelani cooking with Zespri Kiwi Fruits

Two weeks ago, I received a facebook message from Yan of “Eat your heart out” saying that she had passed my email address to a lady called Hazel and she would be writing to me to invite me to Zespri kiwi fruits event where we would learn all about their products. When I received the email from Hazel, I did not think twice and confirmed my attendance. Know why? Because it was being held in this scenic and serene place called Bayan Indah. I have heard positive comments from many friends about their culinary learning experiences there, in the midst of a beautiful garden setting.

Furthermore, I knew I would get to meet Celebrity Chef Rohani Jelani and see her in action, how cool is that? Sure, I was so pleased to go even though I knew I would have a hard time finding the place with my poor sense of direction. I was right, I could not locate the place on my GPS and when I looked at the address and the location map provided, I got lost already! LOL!

Finally the day of the event arrived, and I woke up 7.00am to get prepared to head out at 8:00  am. The event was to start at 10.00am. I knew what you must be thinking, why two hours?  For those who know me, they would know why. That’s because I give myself enough time to get lost and find my way back to the destination. True enough, I did it again! I landed in a small kampung up the hill with very narrow road where there was access for one car only at a time. When I was at the top of the hill reaching the last house, it was a dead end road. AIYOH! I found that I was stranded! There was hardly enough place to turn the car around. I was saying to myself "Say Lor!" (Die!)

OH MY GOODNESS! I was thinking, I can forget about going to the event. How am I going to go back down the hill and make it there on time? Suddenly, one young Malay gentleman came out of his house. I told him I could not turn my car around and asked if he knew where Bayan Indah is situated. I showed him the map and he said he knew the  way to the place. He was so kind to help me turn my car around and even lead me to the door step of my destination.  If only the world has more kind souls like him, it would be so much a better place to live in. It is a comfort to know there are still lots of kind people around. 

Now, guess what? I was the first one to arrive. Later the rest of the attendees arrived. There were people from the media, including magazines and several other food bloggers. We were then each offered a Zespri kiwi smoothie as a welcome drink.

The kiwi smoothies were delicious and I could not help but take another.

After all the guests arrived, we were asked to sit back and relax and get ready to hear all about Zespri system, their products.
An informative presentation given by 
the Marketing Manager (SEA), Miss Judy Lee of Zespri 

And a talk about the goodness of kiwi fruits by Dietician, Miss Ng Yee Voon 

For example I learned that when we eat fruits we want to choose those that have the highest nutrition density index and kiwi fruit is on the top of the chart. 

Ten Fabulous Facts About Kiwifruit

1.            Kiwifruit are the nutrition powerhouses of fruit
Kiwifruit consistently rank at the top of fruit in nutrition density models which tell us exactly how nutritious food are. That means you get more vitamins and minerals per gram, and per calorie, of kiwifruit than most other fruit.

2.            Kiwifruit are rich in vitamin C
While everyone always think of oranges for vitamin C they should think kiwifruit. In fact there is twice as much vitamin C in kiwifruit as there are in oranges. So much in fact you only need one kiwifruit each day to get the amount recommended for your daily intake (RDA).

3.            Other vitamins that kiwifruit are especially high in (compared to other fruit) are
Vitamin E
Its quite unusual for a low fat food, let alone fruit to be a good source of vitamin E (well known for its heart health and antioxidant properties) - but kiwifruit is a great low fat natural source of vitamin E

Folic Acid
A natural source of folic acid which is needed to prevent neural defects in babies (you need folic acid both before and during pregnancy) as well as brain and cognitive development in children and cardiovascular disease. Everyone needs to have enough in their diet. In fact folic acid is so important many countries are considering adding Folic Acid to flour to ensure we get enough.

It has about the same levels as bananas but only half the calories - making kiwifruit an excellent low sodium, increased potassium source - potentially beneficial in the maintenance of blood pressure and for heart health.

4.             Kiwifruit are a good source of the carotenoid lutein
Kiwifruit has not only one of the highest concentrations of lutein in fruits - but the lutein in kiwifruit has recently been shown to be really highly bioaccessible (better than from vegetables) and so it is bio-available - meaning it can actually do good things such as help to prevent age related deterioration of eye-sight.

5.            Kiwifruit are naturally high in antioxidants (e.g. polyphenols, carotenoids) and other potentially beneficial phytochemicals including some unique enzymes
Eating kiwifruit is a sure way to get your daily intake of antioxidants to help fight the damage cause by free radicals and oxidative stress.

6.            Kiwifruit can help improve the function of your immune system
Natural protection from daily challenges helping you to ward off the effects of stress, inflammation and attack from bacteria and viruses. Recent and ongoing trials have shown kiwifruit to be highly effective at beneficially modulating the immune system.

Next, we were prompted to buy the best quality and now that I know Zespri system ensures that all ZESPRI products are grown with the best orchard management techniques possible and very stringent in quality control of the fruits, I will probably buy Zespri kiwi over others. 

If you are interested to know more about Zespri kiwifruits, do head over to their website to read all about it. I do not mind making this testimonial to the brand. They have a high commitment to the best possible product and that product is a very healthy food.

Oh, and apparently Zespri is holding a contest for Malaysians to come up with creative recipes using their kiwifruits as the main ingredient. Last day of submission of entries is 24th September 2012, so put on your thinking cap and let your creative juice flows. Who knows?  You might be one of the 5 lucky winners to receive Zespri premiums worth more than RM 100.00.

You may contact Hazel ( or Adrian ( if you want to know more about the  competition.

After understanding all about Zespri kiwi , it was time to have some fun. We all headed to the Bayan Indah's kitchen. As soon as we reached the dining area beside the kitchen, we were greeted with beautiful and yummy kiwi cupcakes and lovely table settings and two shiny stainless steel poles. 

Kiwi fruits were used as the center piece.

Before Chef Rohani does her cooking demo, there was a pole dancing performance. 

When the instructor asked the audience to try, everyone was so shy to even go near the pole. So yours truly, went and tried it out to break the ice. The rest followed. Trust me, it was not easy, especially for an old lady. If you want to see me in action, you can head over to Sonia of “Nasi Lemak Lover” to see it. She took a great shot of me flying off the pole! (Just kidding). I should warn you, you might be very disappointed by what you will see. Haiyah, what do you expect from an old lady doing the pole dance ha? LOL!

Then came the most interesting part of the event, the cooking demo by Chef Rohani, showing us various methods of cutting the kiwi fruits before the hands-on session of cooking three of her recipes using Zespri Kiwi Fruits. 

Demo by Chef Rohani showed different ways of cutting kiwi

I will let my photos speak to you from here on.

Our station is No.3 and there were four of us me, Sonia of "Nasi Lemak Lover", Swee San of  "The Sweetspots" and Eveyln of "Missyblurkit" preparing four dishes:

kiwi fruit platter

Spicy Zespri kiwifruit, glass noodle and chicken salad
Swee San is the one who did most of the work on this dish

Nyonya style asam fish curry with Zespri kiwifruit wedges
Sonia and I cooked this together

Zespri kiwifruit pastries with yoghurt cream and kiwi jam
Eveyln did most of the work for the jam

Everyone did their own plating for the dessert and this is what I did for mine

The most fun part was that we all enjoyed ourselves cooking up the dishes and they tasted awesome!

and of course we had to have a group photo for the album

and for me, I must have one shot with the Celebrity Chef Rohani
for my album

Check this video out and see how much fun we had!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

THINK OUT OF THE SHELL - Join the Pastry Challenge

Do you know that the egg is one of the most versatile super ingredients for both cooking and baking? Eggs have been a staple of diets all over the world, and likely are as old as history itself. Their popularity can be explained by being a readily renewable source of protein. They were easy to produce, readily available in most climates, not to mention they came in their own nice packaging design. Two years ago when I was not this preoccupied with cooking or baking, I used to cook a lot of egg dishes, especially when my mum and my Quay Lo were not at home. I knew the basic techniques of scrambling, poaching, frying, boiling and making omelettes and I am able to rustle up a meal in minutes! Of all the techniques, I find that poaching a perfect egg is still the most challenging. I have eaten a lot of not perfectly poached eggs. More infuriating, I still fail to get a perfectly poached egg in all attempts but I am getting better. A perfectly cooked egg on a plate with almost anything is still a joy to look at and to enjoy.

Eggs, along with flour, are almost always present in most baking recipes. Patisserri chefs come to know all there is to know about eggs as they are so important to their finished product. We home "chefs" need to know at least the basics. You will probably have to know how to differentiate old eggs and fresh ones as that can affect the outcome in baking. (Hint: fresh eggs are not always the best as some recipes call for slight older eggs.) It is also important to know the techniques of separating eggs as many recipes call for one, or the other, or both in differing quantity and used differentlly in the same recipe. I gathered the following tips from various articles I’ve read about eggs and I would like to share them with you.
To know an approximate age of an egg, you need a bowl of cold water. This is what you have to do. Gently drop the egg into the bowl of water. It
is about three to six days old when it sinks to the bottom and stays there. If...
it sinks, but floats at an angle, it's more than a week old. If..
it sinks, but then stands on end, it is about two weeks old.
Finally, if it floats, it's too old and should be discarded.
For a test just to see if the eggs are all right to use, dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 2 cups cold water, then put the egg in the water. If it sinks, it's good; if it floats, it's too old.
It is also good to know various methods of separating eggs if you love to bake because lots of recipes call for this:
1. Crack the eggs on a flat surface so that it will break more evenly and no small pieces of egg shell will get into the eggs when you open the egg shell.
2. Use cold eggs because the yolk and the white separates more easily. If the recipe calls for room temperature egg, separate it first and let it come to room temperature.
3. Use the 3 bowls method. Crack egg in the first bowl and pour the egg yolk onto our fingers and let the white run through them into the bowl. The yolk goes into the second bowl. Pour the white collected in the first bowl into the third bowl. Continue this process till all required eggs are separated. In that way, if any egg yolk should break on you, you will not spoil the whole batch of egg whites you have collected before it.
4. Place a dessert plate and 2 bowls next to each other. Crack the egg into the dessert plate. Use a well washed and rinsed empty plastic bottle (such as a mineral water bottle). Squeeze the bottle, pushing most of the air out of it, and still squeezing, place the mouth of the bottle near the egg yolk. Release your hand and the egg yolk will be sucked into the bottle while the egg white remains. Pour the egg yolk into the first bowl and empty the white on the plate into the second bowl. (it is almost magic how this works).
Since I am on the subject of eggs, I would like to share with you the launch of the cookbook “Thinking Out Of The Shell – Volume II”  in conjunction with the Nutriplus Pastry Challenge. How about joining in the fun? Participants will get to meet featured professional bakers in the cookbook and learn some tips from them, as well as each other.

I am excited about this event as I am with the chef that heads up the group that is responsible for organizing it for the sponsor Nutriplus. I am helping them to get the word out for a very fun event that I am looking forward to. I hope all of you will join me.

If you are one of the shortlisted contestants, you will get a chance to show off your baking skill and your delicious bake. On top of that, you will stand a chance to win attractive prizes.

It is so simple to submit your entry. Click on the picture to go to get the online application form and submit your entry. 

Terms & Conditions

The competition is open to all Malaysians aged 18 and above.

Eight entries shall be selected from all submissions for participation in the contest. 

Submissions shall be judged based on originality and creativity. To enter, contestants must complete this Registration Form.

There is no entry fee. Only one entry may be submitted per person.

The competition will take place at AEON One Utama (formerly known as JUSCO) from October 27th to October 31st, 2012.

The contest is intended for amateur and home bakers only. Professional bakers or those who earn a portion of their livelihood from baking or cooking may not participate. Employees of Lay Hong Berhad, AEON, and any or all organising parties may not participate in this contest.
Each contestant must submit a recipe with an attached picture as registration material. All entries must be submitted with any AEON receipt for the purchase of any NutriPlus product, as proof of purchase. This is only valid for purchases made after September 2012 and before the 21st of October 2012.

All recipes must include the use of NutriPlus Eggs. Creators of entries that are selected to advance to the competition shall be notified of the schedule one week before the 27th of October.

Each baked product must be made from scratch. Baking equipment will be provided by the organiser. Pre-made store-bought ingredients are prohibited, though home-made ingredients are acceptable. All ingredients required for recipes must be classified and confirmed for acceptance prior to the competition.

NutriPlus reserves the right to improve, enhanced, recreate and distribute submitted recipes as part of promotional programs. Due credit shall be given to the creators of all recipes used for this purpose.

The winner and runner up of the contest is entitled to one prize each only.

The decision of the judges are final and cannot be disputed. All rights for judgement go to NutriPlus.

The organisers and NutriPlus reserve the right to alter the conditions of the competition without prior notice.

If you are shortlisted, you will be featured in “Think Out Of The Shell” Facebook Page. Imagine the exposure you will get. This will definitely bring traffic to your blog if you have one.  

Not sure what kind of recipe to submit for the challenge?

Here is an example. For this challenge, Nutriplus eggs must be one of the ingredients.

Savory galette

This recipe was featured on Asian Food Channel (Official) 
facebook page on 17 September 2012

Crust ingredients:
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
Dash of salt
6 tbs chilled butter
1 Nutriplus jumbo egg
1 -2  tbs cold water

Ingredients for fillings:
40 g Parmesan, grated
40 g Gorgonzola, sliced
350 g spinach, drained
1/2 cup celery
1 medium onion, sliced
200 g Parmesan roasted mushrooms
1 roasted red capsicum, cut
1 head roasted garlic, sliced
1/2  Nutriplus egg, lightly beaten for glaze

Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Cut in the cold butter and mix with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle ice water into the bowl and continue to mix ingredients with your fingertips. Turn out the dough onto your work surface and gather the dough into a ball. Wrap the ball with a plastic film and flatten the dough into a thick round. Chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper to form a 15-inch circle. Sprinkle half of Parmesan and Gorgonzola in the center, leaving 2-3 inches border all around. Then mound the spinach, roasted mushrooms, roasted capsicum and roasted garlic, onions and celery on top of the cheeses.

Fold the border up and over the filling to form a rim, pleating as necessary. Now sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and Gorgonzola over the vegetables. Brush egg glaze over the rim.

Bake the galette until the crust is nicely golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Slide onto a serving platter and serve hot or at room temperature.