Thursday, February 28, 2013

We are different, Man and Woman

Date: 4th March 2013
The cook for the meal is QUAY LO
and the winner is Arthur Wee 

I love to start my day laughing! Today, my son Nick shared a video titled “The tale of two brains” which I would love to share with you all. This is hilarious and yet so familiar and TRUE! After watching the video with my Quay Lo, he commented that we should watch this video each time before we start an arguement. LOL!

Click on the picture to go to the link

Now, tell me you did not laugh watching it. Surely we all recognize that the inter-relationships of men & women have been a main theme of comedy for a long time. What makes this comedian special is his comic delivery skills, and his reflections of truth, so familiar to us. In other words, with comic skills like timing, word emphasis, body language, and facial features, he delivers that splendid comical moment where we get to laugh at ourselves, and trust me, there is nothing quite so funny.

Yes, men and woman are very different but if no difference, how? We know the difference is a valid construction of preserving the species. But how about preserving our sanity? The differences extend into all parts of our normal lives and routines. In fact I read an article that even with cooking, men and women approach things quite differently.  You might want to go to this link and read more. The article gives an insightful observation about the difference between men and woman through the art & science of cooking. One significant difference is; (quote) “Women chefs cook with their hearts and souls, while male chefs cook with their head and their private parts.”  Go ahead, I know you are going to click the link now. Don't worry, this will be here when you get back. And when you do I will have a little challenge for you.

So how about having some fun and playing a little guessing game? Who did you think cooked the dishes below by looking at the photos. Quay Lo or Quay Po? The first person who guesses right will get a surprise gift. Guessing will closed at 12 midnight on 3rd March 2013. The winner will be announced on Monday, 4th March 2013.

Here are the hints:
It is a Japanese fusion dinner. Appetizer was grilled scallop and cold soba with dashi . The main dish that followed was a duo scampi of salmon & prawn, with cabbage and carrot salad with sesame, ginger and sweet sauce dressing. Each seafood element was done perfectly.

(The photos were taken with my iphone under florescent light so not the best possible but that should not hamper your view too much.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

No Chinese New Year cookies?

There have been so many mouth watering Chinese New Year cookies in my friends’ blogs during the last few weeks and guess what? I wanted to make them all, but other demands of the season interfered, and suddenly, I realized end, I had made none! LOL!

Then finally, two days before Chinese New Year, I decided to try making the famous “Chicken biscuits” from Bidor, a little town in the north of Peninsula Malaysia. I was jolted out of my procrastination by two events. A friend dropped by and passed us a small box of a batch she made in her kitchen. They were good, and my husband said he wished we had more. That was a suprise because my Quay Lo is not always fond of our version of what Americans call "cookies". Here in Malaysia we more closely follow traditional Chinese bisquit favorites that reflect our love for Coffee shop society as welll as the English tea bisquits. I got this recipe from my friend and was surprised to find it was so simple.  So I set about making a batch but I was skeptical that it would not taste the same as those I bought from the famous shop “Pun Chun”.  Usually, simple recipes harbor a little hidden secret and I thought that for sure, a biscuit with as much fame as a biscuit can get, might have just such a secret. So when the biscuits were baked, I could not wait till they cooled to try one. The moment I bit into it, I could feel the right texture and the flavor tasted even better than what I remembered. I am guessing that it was more of a nostalgic moment than anything that made me think so. Here in Malaysia we hold a special place in our hearts and bellys for our favorite "biscuit" (read "cookie" if you are an American). We are a coffee shop society, after all, and nothing pleases us more than our favorite bite with a cup of our favorite brew, especially around that time in the afternoon which we learned from the British colonialist, was properly called "tea time" (even if your brew is a coffee).   In fact, I think our view is that coffee or tea is not an issue, the issue is the biscuit. That is a subject that causes no end of debate among various defenders of their "fave". So now, since I I could make these biscuits at home, there is no need to buy any if I go back to Ipoh in the future. Here is the recipe I used if you are interested to try. I did make these with slightly less oil than the original, both as a nod to our modern concerns about fats, and to eliminate that slightly cloying of oil to the palate that I find unpleasant in some of our more rich biscuits and crisps.

Chicken Biscuits

300gm self raising flour
115gm icing sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp Chinese five spices powder
80gm white sesame seeds
115gm dry winter melon
½ tsp minced garlic
100ml oil
2 pcs lam yee (fermented soy bean curd)
1 tbs molasses
1 large egg
2 drops of dark soy sauce

Combined (A) and (B). Mix well and set for 10mins. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 3mm thick and punch out rounds with a cookie cutter. Bake for 8 mins at 160 degrees C.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Not so Anna Olson

In November last year, I attended Anna Olson’s cooking demo. She showed us how to make meat pie and since then, I have wanted to make one at home.  I did not follow her recipe and ended up creating my own, primarily to match the ingredients I had on hand, but also because it felt like a good time to play-play. When I shared the meat pie photos on my facebook page, I received several requests for the recipe and here it is. I know my meat pie does not look as professional as Anna's but I am happy with it because it tasted really good. Try it. The test is in the tasting. And if you are feeling playful, by all means, get crazy. I hope you will let us know about it. 

Quay Po Cooks’ meat pie

Fillings ingredients:
2 tbs bacon oil
1 kg ground beef
1 large onion,chopped
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp chopped sage
1 tbs chopped basil
1 tbs chopped garlic
1 tbs minced ginger
3/4 cup water
1 tsp flour
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon
2 medium potatoes, diced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon clove
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 pcs 9 inch pie crusts (click here to get the recipe but omit the sugar)

Mix meat with chopped rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and set aside. Heat oil in pan and sauté garlic, ginger and onion till onion is translucent. Add meat and mix well and stir fry till brown. Stir in water, celery, carrot, potato, chicken boullion and basil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 7-8 minutes. Add in cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, flour and mix well. Turn off heat and let it cool slightly before spoon into pie shells. Cover with pastry topping. Brush beaten egg lightly on crust. Bake 375°F 30-40 minutes. Serve with béchamel sauce and your favorite vegetables.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine to all!

Last year I made a Valentine lunch for my Quay Lo and this year, I will think of something different but I will tell you in another post.

Please click on the photo to get the recipe

Anyway, I would love to wish all my friends, readers and my family a VERY HAPPY Valentine's day. May you all have LOVE in the air around you. 

My son, Nick had just launch his 3rd single and it is a great song for Valentine's Day titled SKIN. If you like this song, please share the link with your friends.

GRIM Film had made a very cute short film for Valentine's day and my son is the actor, which I want to share with you. Enjoy!

Friday, February 8, 2013

This, I won't procrastinate, GONG XI FA CAI

Today I heard the boss of our regular grocery shop ask why do people like to do last minute shopping.  That made me think of the word “procrastination”.  Aren't we all guilty of that sometimes? Is there any of us that do not feel the heat of our schedules breathing down our back? In this “rush rush” world, we seemed to have less and less time in a day to do all the things we want or need to do. When our "to do" list starts to stack up we are pretty much forced to re-priortize, and therein lies the rub. Something on the list is going to be sent to the end of the line, and suddenly we are procrastinators? Haha, no... that isn't really procrastination. That is just having too much to do. Sorry, no excuses, because we all have too many things to do. As my hubby says..."it is the human condition....get over it".  Procrastination is when there is something on your list that has to get done but it isn't any fun and you really hate doing it. To avoid it you begin to think of reasons why you can't do it today, as you may have irrationally promised yourself or others that you would.

There are times when I procrastinate although honestly, I don’t like to. It is always a task that I do not enjoy and with one type of chore I could even say "hate".  Let me say up front that the mere thought of any task involving any contact with a government office is enough to send me into a sweaty-palm state of anxiety.  Recently it was time to renew my dog’s license. It is a simple task but I dislike going to the MPSJ and sitting there for hours waiting for my number to be called. But then, the consequence of putting it off and not doing it at all is worst. So, I finally got it done (not without some difficulty best left out of the story).

From what I read, fear of failure is in the equation of procrastination, so once you eliminate that fear from the equation, you will be on your way to overcoming this bad habit. As for me, there are so many bakes and dishes, I have procrastinated publishing. That is usually because I frequently create dishes  or adaptations on-the-fly as it were. The problem then becomes my lack of discipline in making notes. So to publish a recipe I sometimes have to go to the kitchen and re-create the dish. In this case, I finally did exactly that. The only saving grace in this shortcoming is that this is a dish that I think you will find worth trying. It passes my Quay Lo second helping test. 

I share the pumpkin dish with you for Chinese New Year because pumpkin (南瓜; nánguā) is a symbol for prosperity, abundance, descendant's luck, illustrious children, enchantment,  and  it is believed that this fruit draws earth energy to manifest gold!

Couscous in roasted pumpkin

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
½ large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves , minced
Salt to taste
3/4 tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne (
1 can 14oz pelled whole pomodoro tomatoes with juice
1 roasted sweet red chili
1 roasted sweet yellow chili
2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and diced
½ cup snow peas
½ cup chicken broth
pieces of roasted turkey or chicken (dark meat is best)
1 cup couscous
2 halves roasted pumkpin

Heat the olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes, and stir in the garlic, the spices and salt to taste. Stir together until the mixure is fragrant, and add the tomatoes Cook, stirring break up the tomatoes and let it cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Add sweet chili, peas and chicken broth. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add, chili and salt to taste. Bring back to a simmer and simmer 15 minutes or till pea is soft. Taste and adjust salt.

Prepare the Couscous:

2 cups chicken broth
1 tbs butter
1 tbs freshly chopped parsley
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp freshly chopped basil
1/2 tsp roasted garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup couscous


In a saucepan, combine everything except the coucous and bring to boil. Stir in couscous. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.

Assemble the dish:
Mix coucous with (A) and spoon into the roasted pumpkin and serve.
Note:  The meat you see in the photos roasted turkey red meat. I had some leftover from our Christmas meal so  and I added to it but this is optional.

Now this, I will not procrastinate. I would like to wish 
all my family, friends and my readers 
with lots of love!! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Walker and Turner

It is good that as we grow older, that we sustain our interest in life and various topics. Its good to have a hobby as more of our time frees up, and we aren't as consumed by working. I fear that if we do not have pastimes that sustain our imaginations and thought processes we may risk becoming a walker-and-turner. I know you'll be puzzled by that term. Don't fret too much because I just made it up. The term  comes from a recent market trip with my Mum. When we go there, she shops for the fresh vegetables, spices, and grocery items, while I like to watch the people. Malaysia is blessed to still have our "wet markets" where so much is available in one place from a large variety of sellers. In the U.S. the supermarkets are huge, pristine clean, air conditioned, and filled with all kinds of things to buy, including many non-grocery items. They are convenient, and of course there are people to watch there too, but not quite the cast of characters we can view readily in a Malaysian wet market. 

During the visit I am referring to, I happened to watch an old man as he walked and turned through the market. He was not buying, but simply observing this and that, and appearing rather aimless. I remember thinking, poor uncle, he has nothing to do, really. He should buy some ingredients and take them home to cook something instead of just walking and turning.  Then, I thought I am so fortunate to have found a joy in cooking and baking. It has brought a focus into my life that I hope I never lose. As my Mum and I walked back to the car I thought about the uncle again. Then, I realized that while I was watching him, he was watching others and it occurred to me, how do I know that he wasn't just as engaged as I was with watching the activity and amusing himself with the bustle of the market? It gave me a chuckle that in fact, we may both have been enjoying people watching. It may be that a "Walker and Turner" isn't something so bad after all, as I had hastily thought before. Maybe there is a little "Waker and Turner" in me. LOL!

Still, as we drove away I began to get excited about the dish I was planning to make when we got home. True to form, I brought out the iron and all the ingredients and proceeded to "wok" my way to a delicious dish under the guidance of an original recipe by Chef Janet Yong of "Proud Janny" Restaurant (opening soon at Menara The Weld). I hope you'll agree.

Tamarind prawns
Chef  Jenny Yong’s recipe

6 prawns with shells
2 tsp tamarind pulp
1 tsp light soy sauce
3 tbs cooking oil
1 tbs honey
1 tsp fish sauce
¼ tsp pepper

Mix tarmarind pulp with 3 tbs water. Combine with fish sauce, soy sauce, honey and pepper. Wash and clean prawns and then coat them with tamarind mixture and marinate for 15 minutes. Heat oil and stir fry prawns until brown and cooked. Serve immediately.