Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A fun day at The Academy Pastry Arts Malaysia

I was invited, along with several other fellow food bloggers, by Jade of Mustard Tree Communication to visit The Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia last Saturday. I was the earliest to arrive but shortly after my friend Pei-Lin of Dodol Mochi. showed up. The Director, Lejeune Guillaume welcomed us and showed us around the institution. My first impression was; "did I walk into an art gallery or a baking school?". You will understand why I thought that when you view these photos of the fabulous items that were on display.
Sugar Arts: These are made from sugar, would you believe it?



Look at those gorgeous cakes!!

Lejeune also showed us how to make pastry and demonstrated the creation of various patterns. In order to serve them, he pointed out, they had to be decorated and plated first. He stressed the importance of presentation. "Feed the eyes before the stomach so they say."


Lejeune show us how to machine roll the dough for the pastry and demonstrated how to make various patterns

Here are some cakes they made that day
"Ninja Cake" (Pistachio chocolate cake)

Top Left: Chocolate tart, Top Right: Ninja Cake (Pistachio chocolate cake)
Can you resist these lovely Macarons? Not me!
We were given a chance to experience some hands on attempts and were asked to add the final touch to some items. It was truly fun to do.
Before we called it a day, we had to take some pictures for the album. Know why everybody is so happy? Well, who wouldn't after eating so many mouth watering goodies?!
For those who would like to enhance your baking and pastry skills, you might want to check out the courses they offer. Recent courses they have introduced are:
1) Art of Cake Making & Designing (Certificate Program) RM3,800
To find out more, click here
2) Pastry & Bakering Program (Part-time Certificate) RM5,000.00
To find out more, click here
I have tasted all the fantastic pastries and cakes made that day and all I can tell you is they are AWESOME! In this case, Beauty is NOT skin deep!
mmmmm..... YUMMY!!
After tasting we were invited to pack some home and, for sure, none of us rejected such a wonderful offer.
I would like to thank Jade for the invite and Lejeune for the warm welcome. Also, I would like to thank my friend Pei Lin for taking my photos. It was indeed a fun afternoon for me and it is a delight to get to know new friends too. Oh I am sorry for the lousy photos (those that were taken by me) because I was too lazy to carry my DSLR instead took these shots with the compact Canon G12. This is Stitch's new camera and I am not familiar with it so I inadvertently used all the wrong settings!

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Guest post by my Quaylo - The fruits of seasons and a family kitchen

A high point in my earliest food memories was an oft featured treasure from my mother’s ovens that caused ripples of delight any time we became aware that she was baking these. So fragrant were the smells that permeated our small home when my mother was baking that, in my recall, we all became a little giddy. Never more so than when we knew she was baking pie. It almost didn’t matter to us what kind of pie she was making, they were all great. Mom was a master at taking advantage of the best available ingredients. In this way her pies were woven into our sense of the seasons. In hindsight it isn't any wonder why I still love pie so much. Pie is a part of my biorhythms. It is a little sad that today's hot house production and global supply lines have rendered these seasonal dependencies a thing of the past. We can have any pie, any time we want. That is a substantial dilution to anticipation, that thrill when something we are waiting for gets closer and closer. Examples of pies that marked our seasons are distinct in my memory. For example the salad days of summer were made all the richer by the freshly picked peaches, which, when cradled in one of my mother's unbelievably flaky, lard based, crusts, was elevated to a culinary status that paid homage to mother nature's wonders. Since we helped pick the peaches at the orchard my father would drive us too each year, we had a connection to these pies that went beyond the simple enjoyment of eating them. It was almost transcendental. However, it wasn't just peaches, but also cherries, strawberries, and blueberry pies that marked our summer days as much as the warm sultry evenings during which we ate them. Today, a home-made summer fruit pie invokes memories of heading for the patio to escape the hot house, and the smell of freshly mowed lawns, the sounds of crickets, and the feel of cooling grass between our toes. Of course, after the weather had turned, and our care free days yielded to school days, there were pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving. They joined the fresh apple and pecan pies that became the standards of late fall and winter. Again, we were often the agents of the harvest, going back to the same pick-your-own orchards for apples, or finding pecan trees under which to gather the fallen bounty, or selecting the large pumpkins for our Halloween from the farmer’s market. My father had several prime pecan trees we went to each year, and they had an abundant output. Two of these were huge, ancient sentinels in the largest of the city parks. I often wondered why we were the only ones that hiked back to these trees to gather the pecans that had begun to litter the floor with the first cool fall winds. The pumpkins so deftly carved for Halloween were never allowed to wilt on the porch and instead were cleaned and stewed to put by for Thanksgiving pies. My mother never wasted anything.

One particular pie stood out. The fruit came from my father’s annual garden, along with the early asparagus which was another product of a rhizome plant. These popped up and grew as early as mid April, making it a sure bet for spring time. I am talking about the rhubarb, which traces its cultivation back thousands of years. The Chinese prized its root ball and stalks for medicinal qualities. Rhubarb roots are harvested in the fall from plants that are at least six years old. The roots are then dried for later use. The root was used in various preparations for use as an anticholesterolemic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitumor, aspirant, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, laxative, purgative, general tonic [1]. My father was an avid reader and world traveler, and he may have known all of this. But there was only one thing on his mind when he came into the house triumphantly carrying the earliest stalks of this remarkable plant. PIE!


Only the red stalks of the Rhubarb plant are used as an edible "fruit"

Today rhubarb is widely grown in hot houses year around. One rhizome can yield as many as three harvests per year. It isn’t a very popular pie filling here in Southeast Asia, but then pie is not particularly a popular dish except in kitchens that see western baking. Still, during a recent visit to Singapore, a friend of ours purchased some for us from a local market after I spoke about it the night before at dinner. Carefully wrapping the fruit and carrying them back on her return flight to Kuala Lumpur, Quaypo made sure the treasure was secured. In the meantime, I stayed on to finish my work, and almost forgot about the rhubarb until my own return a few days later. As soon as Quaypo reminded me I was on it. I chose to mix some strawberries into the filling I made, and wisely recruited Quaypo to make her crust as she has the same golden fingers for pie crust that my mother had, even though she is handicapped by the out of favor lard, in favor of a vegetable based alternate. My father loved the sharp tartness of a full rhubarb pie, but I favor a milder blend. The result was far better than I expected. The very tart rhubarb stewed up plump and juicy, and was balanced by the less tart strawberries and the sugar in the recipe. The pastry was typical of Quaypo’s talents. The memories of those pies of my youth were, well…priceless, which is why I am sharing them with you.
Best,
Stitch aka "Simplifried"


Strawberrie – Rhubarb Pie







Ingredients:
1 1/4 c Sugar
1/8 ts Salt
1/3 c Flour
Zest of 1 lemon
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 ts vanilla extract or 1 pod scraped
2 c Fresh strawberries
2 c Fresh rhubarb, cut in 1" pieces
3 T cold butter
1 T Coarse sugar
Pastry for 2-crust pie

Procedure:
Combine 1 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and flour. Arrange half the strawberries and rhubarb in a pastry-lined 9 inch pie pan. Sprinkle with half the sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining fruit and sugar mixture. Dot with butter. Drape top crust and flute edges to make high-standing rim. Brush top of pie with cold water and sprinkle on coarse sugar. Cut steam vents in top crust. “Collar the edge of the pie with aluminum foil. Bake in hot oven (425 F) 40 to 50 minutes or until rhubarb is tender and crust is browned.




Friday, March 25, 2011

A "Give Away" for a good cause and to realise how fortunate we are

ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE WINNER FOR THIS GIVEWAY:

______________________________________________________
My dear friends, I have hand made a new set of matching bracelet and earrings. While I was making these, I was thinking of the people of Japan and how devastating it was for those who are affected by the disaster. It seemed to me that with every tiny bead I strung, I wished for more people to be saved or reunited with loved ones. My heart goes to those who have suffered and I wish that they will find solace and peace. The results of my small handiwork is something I want to give away to one of you. All you have to do is to leave your comment saying that you have made a donation to a charitable organization of your choice that are helping in the Japan crisis before entry is closed on 31st MARCH 2011 at 12 midnight Malaysia time. No proof of receipts necessary for I trust you have a good heart. Your name will be in the draw. It is that simple! Please enter this "Give Away" reminder to donate for the Japanese people. Thanks a Million!

P.S. My Quaylo, Stitch has asked me to report that we made an immediate donation to the Japanese Red Cross Society as we began to understand the extent of the disaster. You can too if you wish, via this web site: http://bit.ly/evdS9q . There are many accredited organizations that are actively engaged in the relief effort. But as a volunteer with the American Red Cross during two earthquakes in California, Stitch learned how they are often the first to arrive and the last to leave.

This bracelet is made from 72 safety pins and 720 tiny beads. It is stretchable so it will fit most wrists

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I give you wings and sky is your limit!


I believe that we do not let anyone tell us what we can’t do but do what we believe we can.  That is exactly what my son does. When he wanted to take a course in performing arts, many thought that it is not a good course to do because this is not a professional course and being an artists in our country means being financially unstable.  Many Asian parents are reluctant to support their kids to pursue the course and in their mind, it is a way to protect them from leading a hard life. I have to confess I was a bit worried too but my Quaylo said, we should support him.  He thinks that one can only excel and be happy doing what one is passionate about.  He said money is necessary but it is not everything. I agree with my Quaylo. We always tell Nick we do not wish for him to be rich or famous, our only wish is to see him happy and earn an honest living doing what he loves.  Unlike, his college mates,  Nick did not pursue his degree in performing arts overseas after he graduated from college.  He decided to make a name for himself in the music scene here in his own country. He started out as a Singer Songwriter and an actor. He acted in AIR CON, A Cameronian Award winning play written by Shannon Shah and directed y Jo Kukathas. He was selected for the lead role in a local controversial movie called "GADOH".  The soundtrack that he composed for a play called "THREE" was nominated for the Cameronian Award. He was also the youngest Music Director for the play "KAKI BLUE". Nick used to perform alone with his guitar and later collaborated with a violonist, Savy Ho and formed an acoustic band called The Snow Symphony.  


Together they performed at various places like The Apartment, Laundry Bar, Groove Junction, Cloth and Clef and many other places. By combining this two individuals, you get sounds of hard guitar strumming melancholic violin lines.  Here is an example of what it is.  If you are interested to listen to more of their songs, just click on the photo above. After Nick became the vocalist for Rosevelt, The Snow Symphony is at a halt.  I miss The Snow Symphony.



video


ROSEVELT was formed in June 2009. Although they are quite new to the local music scene, I think they have accomplished a lot.  Recently, they got 3rd place in the National competition of Global of the Band.  They have performed in various locations locally and just came home from performing at The Esplanade Singapore.  With the support of family, friends and all their loyal fans, they are where they are today.  To those of you who have been on the journey with them and voted for them, you all will be happy to know that their song ‘MADICINE” is No.1 on local radio station, Hitz.fm MET10 (Malaysian English Songs Chart Top 10) for 2 weeks now.  Thanks a MILLION!  If you want to keep them there for a while do head over to www.hitz.fm or click on the photo below to continue to vote for them.



To celebrate this occassion, I have selected one of the dishes I made in the past to dedicate to them.  Yes, it is “Char siu chicken wings”. Why do I choose this one over all the others?  Well I thought I give them the wings so that they can fly and the sky is their limit! LOL!  Also, I served the wings in a glass to toast to their success and wish them many more to come!  I LOVE ROSEVELT!! CHEERS!


Oh if you want the recipe, just click on the photo.



Char siu chicken wings

Monday, March 21, 2011

A blog post for a good friend, Kimberly of Kimba's Kitchen

Kimberly of Kimba’s Kitchen is no stranger to many of you. She has a lovely blog with lots of delicious recipes and "eye candy" photos.  Whenever I want to treat my eyes to a feast, her blog is one that I will go to. 

Kimberly is the first blogger friend to invite me to do a guest post for her. I feel so honored.  Thanks Kim for the invite, the friendship and your continuous support. You and all my blogger friends and the silent readers who come visit me often and leave kind words are the reason why Quay Po Cooks is still alive and kicking! HUGS!!

This is the recipe I submitted for the guest post and if you are interested to try this hearty tasty soup rice, please click on the photo and it will bring you to Kim’s blog and the recipe is there. 



Ingredients:
1 whole fish bone from a medium size "Senangin" fish
½ cup milk
Enough water to cover the fish bones and 1 in over
Bullion fish stock to taste (1 – 2 cubes)
2 tsp Chinese cooking wine
1/4 cup dried scallops (washed, soaked in warm water for 15 mins)
2 pcs dried shitake mushroom (washed, soaked in warm water for 15 mins)
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup chopped spring onions
1 inch spring ginger, thinly sliced
1 tsp white pepper corn (pound slightly)
2 cups of cooked soft white rice
1 tbs cooking oil
Salt to taste

Method:
Wash and soak dried scallops and warm water in 2 separate bowls in warm water for 15 mins. Squeeze dry the mushrooms, slice them thinly and set aside. In a deep soup pot (pot A), add oil and sauté ginger until fragrant. Add sliced mushroom and stirfry for 1 min. Set aside.
Fry the fish bones in a wok till golden brown, drain oil and set aside.
In another soup pot (pot B), add fried fish bones, water, fish stock, white pepper corns and bring to boil. Lower heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour.  Sieve the soup into pot A.  Add cooked white rice and scallop together with its water and bring to boil. Lower heat and let simmer for 20 mins or till scallop is soft. Add milk and Chinese cooking wine and simmer for another 5 mins. Lastly, add salt to taste. Mix well. Garnish with cilantro and spring onions and serve hot.



Friday, March 18, 2011

A guest post for Munaty Cooking on-line magazine

I was invited by Munaty Cooking to do a guest post. Munaty.com was launched in 2008 as a website featuring different recipes and step by step demonstrations. In February this year they launched MunatyCooking.com online monthly magazine. The webzine focuses on food, cooking instructions, and related topics. It is entirely free. Do check them out. The recipe that I submitted for guest post is Roasted multi-color potatoes with cajun flavor. To get the recipe, just click on the photo or the link provided. Do try making this dish because it is so simple to do and yet, as my significant other taste tester said, "very delicious". Have a wonderful weekend. HUGS!!

Ingredients:
2 pounds cut up potatoes (purple potatoes, yukon and red potatoes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme

Method:
Combine potatoes and olive oil in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with seasonings and toss to coat well. Roast at 200 degrees C for about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring 2 to 3 times.
Serves 4.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nian Gao Puff with yam and freshly grated coconut

I first tasted this nian gao puff at my first blogger meet during last Chinese New Year. They were from Tracie of Bitter Sweet Flavors and I fell in love with it. I am crazy over deep fried nian gao that were sandwiched with yam and sweet potatoes but they are very oily. The puff is much better because it not. Since I have some nian gao in the fridge, I decided to make it. Instead of following just Tracie's recipe, I incorporated Sonia’s, Tracie’s and Wendy’s recipes into one. I omitted the roasted peanuts and added mashed yam and desiccated coconut like what Wendy did with her fried nian gao roll. This combination had yield a fine product and I am very happy with it. My friends and family loved it. They nodded their head to show their approval after the first bite so this was a successful venture. The credit goes to my three friends. Do go check out their blogs, they have lots of yummy recipes as well as fabulous photos. Even if you do not cook, you can treat your eyes to a feast.

Largely adapted from Sonia’s and Tracie’s and Wendy’s
recipes








Ingredients:

1 medium size Chinese Steamed Sticky cake / Nian Gao (cut 32 pcs. lengthwise, 1 in x ½ in x ½ in thick)
4 pcs. Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed and roll it out thinly, cut into 8 rectangles
1 medium size yam, cubed, steamed and mashed.
2 cups freshly grated coconut
1 egg yolk, beaten for glazing
White sesame seeds

Method:

Mix desiccated coconut with mashed yam.  Coat nian gao with yam and grated coconut mixture.  Place Nian Gao in puff pastry and seal the edges. Brush the pastry with some egg wash, sprinkle some sesame seeds. Bake at pre-heated oven at 180c for 20 mins or until golden brown

Note: You may have some nian gao left. The rule of the thumb is to make 32 puffs. This will taste good with desiccated grated coconut too.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Poached pear in spiced red wine

I have posted a poached pear recipe last year when I first started my blog.  Back then, I was a newbie and not even sure how to write a proper recipe. Today I found a better recipe than what I used before. It is from Sara Buenfeld. This is a good one and I would love to share with you.



Largely adapted from Sara Buenfeld’s recipe
Ingredients:
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 bottle red wine
225g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
6 pears, peeled, but kept whole with stalk intact

Method:
In a large saucepan, put in the wine, sugar, cinnamon, star anise and vanilla extract and bring to boil until sugar dissolved. Turn heat to medium and add pears into the pan.Poach the pears, covered, for 20-30 mins, making sure they are covered in the wine. The cooking time will very much depend on the ripeness of your pears - they should be tender all the way through when pierced with a cocktail stick. Take the pears out of the pan and let it cool before putting them in the fridge. Boil the liquid to reduce it by half so that it's syrupy. Serve each pear with the cooled syrup and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!


Note: You can make these up to 2 days ahead and chill.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sweet Wheat Porridge, Yam Cake & a dancing video

This is a “tong sui” that me and my line dancing mates love to eat after our dancing session.  One of my dancing mates asked if I still have our old line dancing videos. She especially like the one that was taken by my son many years ago. He was only 15 years old then and he was crazy over making videos. He produced and edited it himself.   I remembered there was one part he fast forwarded on us and it was hilarious! LOL!  For an amateur, I think he did a pretty good job.  Last weekend, I was looking through all my old external hard drives and found it!  I wish to dedicate this post and the following two dishes to all my line dancing mates. Thanks for being such great friends.


I apologize for the poor quality because it was taken by a cheap video camera..hehe
video


I can never get enough of sweet wheat porridge.  When I was expecting my son, I crave for this porridge a lot.  Back then, I do not know how to cook except to fry an egg and cook rice so I buy this from the “tong sui” store.  I am so glad I know how to make this myself now and whenever I crave for a bowl I just do it. What goes very well with this is yam cake.  Yes, I love yam cake especially those that one of my mum’s best friend made.  Although my yam cake is not as good as hers, my mum said it is better than those we buy from the store. “Boleh tahan lah” (can do).  So here are the recipes.

Sweet Wheat Porridge
Largely adapted from Asian recipes


Ingredients: 

200 gm wheat pearls
1 litre water
2 pandan leaves (shredded and tie into knot)
200 ml thick coconut milk
200 gm palm sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp corn starch,
2 tbsp water

Method:

Wash wheat pearls water until water is clear. Soak for half an hour. Add water and pandan leaves to pot and bring to boil. Add wheat pearls and let boil for 5 mins.  Lower the heat and simmer for 30 mins until wheat pearls are soft. Add coconut milk, sugar and salt and bring it a quick boil. Dissolve corn starch in water and stir into pot to thicken the porridge.  Serve warm.

This is the first time I attempt making yam cake and I did not expect it to turn out so well.  I am very happy with the result and here I share with you the recipe I used. Serve this with a bowl of “tong sui” and it will never go wrong. I had this with sweet wheat porridge. Try it!

Yam Cake
Largely adapted from Madam Kwong’s Kitchen


Ingredients:


250 grams rice flour

125 grams wheat flour (Tung Meen Fun)

2 ½ cups warm water
250 grams yam (steam till cooked)

¾ tbsp salt,
1 tbsp rock sugar
1 tsp ground white pepper,
1 tsp Chinese 5 spices powder

Ingredients for garnishing:

50 grams of fried shallots

4 stalks spring onion, diced
1 ½ tbsp vegetable oil
1 ½ tbsp chopped garlic
1 ½ cup choy poh finely chopped
120 grams dried prawns
1 ½  tbsp sugar

Method to prepare the garnish:

Heat vegetable oil in wok and sauté garlic till fragrant.  Add dried shrimps and stir fry for 3 mins. Add choy po and stir fry till shrimps is slightly brown. Add sugar and stir fry for another 3 mins and set aside.

Method of preparing the yam cake:

In a big bowl, mix the rice flour, wheat flour and add in the warm water. Add in salt, rock sugar, garlic oil, white pepper and Chinese 5 spices powder.  Add in the steamed yam and mix with all the ingredients thoroughly. Oil a stainless steel deep round plate (22″ in diameter) before adding the mixture. Steam for 45 minutes in high heat. Top with prepared garnish.  Let yam cake completely cool before cutting.