Friday, June 29, 2007

Climb and Eat Well

When Rafs and I first started climbing, we were gung ho as hell. Well, she was the gung ho one and I used to feed off her fury. We'd climb for hours and hours. I don't know where we found the energy as it was all brute strength back then, not like the stealth techniques we use these days. Yea right. If anything, I have not been climbing well at all and I'm convinced its the lack of meat. I get so tired so quickly because there really is hardly any energy in vegetables. Well, thats my excuse anyway. Anyway, theres a little cafe at Camp 5 that promotes eating well, serving up simple and healthy meals. They use organic where they can and all natural ingredients.

Last week, after climbing with Boo, we grabbed a quick meal before watching a movie. We both ordered penne with pesto. I just assumed it was vegetarian but it wasn't. After a couple of bites, I bit into a piece of chicken. I looked deeper into the bowl and discovered it was covered with chicken. Thankfully they changed it for me, free of charge, after I explained that I did not realise it was pesto chicken. I was given a white sauce pasta with capsicum and mushrooms instead. There was something tacky about the sauce that reminded me of instant sauces and airplane food. Fortunately, I do enjoy tacky food from time to time. It was far too rich though. I only managed half a bowl. As for Danny Ocean and gang, didn't quite live up to the first two movies. After all, how much more complex and over the top can yet another heist be? It was entertaining and definitely easy on the eyes but Vincent Cassel and Ellen Barkin was wasted in this movie.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Lunch Favourites

I'm boring about my lunch choices. When I'm out and alone, I always end up eating wanton mee or char siu fahn. They are the two staples I always remember eating after school when my Mum hadn't made lunch that day. Of course the stall we used to frequent has long gone. A 7 Eleven store stands in its place instead. Apart from Slow Uncle's late-night wanton mee on Jalan Sahabat, this one from Jalan Tun HS Lee is my favourite wanton mee. This was my late-grandfather's favourite stall whenever he was in KL. The noodles are not as springy as Slow Uncle's but then again, you don't have to wait 30 minutes (minimum!) for a plate either! I like the wantons with the hint of cho hau yue and the lean but tasty char siu that comes with the noodles. Parking is a hassle in this area so I'm usually the one who drives and someone will run down to get the noodles. This time, I was driven there so I was able to snap some pics.

I don't think I can call this guy Uncle as he doesn't look all that much older than me. Lang Chai is far too young and a trifle condescending. So it was just "Mm goi". Not that he noticed. I don't think he would've even noticed if I came strolling in wearing a bikini and disco ball on my head because he was so busy and focused on getting the orders out. I always admire how fast these stalls work. Multitask! Something Slow Uncle could learn a thing of two about. Ten minutes later, I was holding my bag of wanton mee.
For dessert, I usually wander over to the next coffee shop as they have a Tong Kee stall there. I don’t think the egg tarts are as good anymore but somehow I always end up buying them for nostalgia’s sake. When I was a kid, I loved their paper sponge. I think I pestered my Mum for one everyday! And I wonder why I was so chubby in my school days. Huh. Anyway, I still love the cottony and fluffy texture of the sponge and they are the benchmark for all sponges for me.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Fourteen For Dinner

Above : Boolicious' succulent scallops

Last Saturday a few floggers and I met up at Max! with hopes of appeasing our ferocious appetites. Judging from the amount of high tech DSLRs on the table, you'd be forgiven for thinking we were media covering an event at Max!. I felt a little out of place with only my W800i in hand. It was quite dim so I had to photoshop some of the pictures. I added a nice glow to them and they now look like wedding photos! Poor Max was all alone in the kitchen that night and had to tend to 14 hungry floggers as well as his other customers. They gave us lots of bread and his wonderfully syrupy balsamic vinegar in oil to keep us quiet. It was nice to see everyone again and have a proper chat. I was sitting right in the middle so I could pick up conversations from either side of the table. On my left, I heard bits of politics, Eurasian food and nipples! On my right, the person whose nipple I was suddenly staring at as Nigel's phone was waved infront of me. Ah, it was just ever so slightly awkward as I now know Joe much more intimately. The conversation was a lot cleaner on my right with talks of food, cameras and more cameras.
I ordered portobello mushroom salad to start. It was quite nice but a tad oily. Hunky's yabbies (pictured above) with avocado were very tasty, wished I had ordered that instead. There was quite a lot of crazy photo taking whenever a dish arrived. It was like paparazzi for food. I think it really added to the fun atmosphere that night. Splashie Boy and I were lighting directors for the compact camera floggers. For my main course, I ordered tuna steak. As much as I would've loved to order the wagyu cheek (especially after seeing Lyrical Lemongrass eat hers in utter bliss), I think it would've been too much after three weeks of being vegan. The tuna steak was a little over done. I had asked for rare but Max recommended medium. It was definitely more like well done. I think I also couldn't enjoy it because halfway my stomach started to feel really heavy. I actually skipped dessert! Shocking!
Above : My tuna steak with caperberries

We ended the night with alcoholic shots supplied by Max (thanks Max!). It was a fun night and I can't wait to meet up with this crazy bunch again. Check out the others blogs: wmw, Jason & Soo Yin

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cooking At Home

Last Saturday, Hunky and I went over to Boo's new flat for dinner. Its such a lovely little place, perfect for a girl on her own. She was making lasagne with a gas oven for the first time. I've never cooked with a gas oven before. It freaks me out that she has to light a match and stick it in the oven. While Hunky busied himself checking out the finishings of the flat, we were both fascinated by how lousy and unevenly the gas oven cooks! After 50 minutes in the oven, it still hadn't brown because the flame is on the bottom of the oven. She decided to turn the fire up but it was already on its maximum! Seriously, eventhough it said 180C, it felt no more than 150C. Finally, after about 90 minutes, her spinach, mushroom and zucchini lasagne was finally ready. I love that combination. In her excitement at spotting a bargain, "2 for 1", at the supermarket, the silly cow went and bought cheddar instead of mozarella. As a result, it didn't melt very well but it was super tasty anyway. I really liked it because they flavours really came together and it wasn't oily and rich. Hunky and I were not shy and helped ourselves to seconds. After we had cupcakes for dessert. I had made a new batch of the wonderful egg-free chocolate cupcakes. I iced half the batch with a cream cheese & orange zest frosting and the other with a chocolate and peppermint frosting. Just an observation; between my friends and family who have tried the cupcakes, all the women liked the chocolate mint while the men preferred the cream cheese. I guess men don't like mint?

Below is a picture of my favourite pasta to eat during the past couple of weeks. Mainly because I am lazy and its so easy to make but at the same time its deeply satisfying. Just slice up an aubergine and soak in salt water. Drain and line on baking tray. Halve some cherry tomatoes and lob off the top of a whole garlic. Add to the tray. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (I use extra virgin because I love the slightly nutty & green flavour) and season with lots of salt and pepper. I usually add some finely chopped thyme and rosemary too. Whack it in the oven at 160C for about 30-45 minutes. The garlic needs to sit in there longer than the rest. Although, there was once I just left the aubergines in there the whole time and I ended up with aubergine crisps. A pleasant change to the usual spongey texture. If you aren't a health nut like me, feel free to drown it in oil when baking. It does taste better and the aubergine texture is much nicer. Sometimes I add pinenuts for a bit of texture or capers for a sharp and salty hit. Toss with spaghetti, add some stir-fried mushrooms, some basil and grated parmesan, lovely!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Darling Dumpling

I found out from Mum this morning that today will be the last day of zhong tzit, or dumpling festival. I haven't had a single one this time apart from the kan sui zhong (picture on right). Incidentally, what are they called in English? Surely not alkaline water dumpling? What a mouthful.

So Mum has been bringing back bundles of different home made zhongs every few days and I watch by the sidelines while the rest of my family devour them. And every so often, they will look at me with an expression that is a cross between disbelief and respect. Or was it pity? Hah! Little do they know, I will be receiving some lovely nyonya zhongs made by Boo's (no relation to Boolicious) mum. Boo's mum makes the most amazing layer cakes, mooncakes and zhongs. I guess I also appreciate them even more because she doesn't make that many and they are kind enough to share some with me. Boo's mum hasn't been in the mood to make mooncakes the last couple of years. Everytime I see her I ask with great hope, "Aunty are you making mooncake this year?" And each time she replies with a very non-commital chuckle that parents seem to do so well.

On a separate note, I had lunch with Rafs at Chef & Brew last week. After we sat down, we couldn't figure out why something just didn't feel right. Despite the contemporary look to the place, there was something that was bordering on tacky. I think it was the butter knife that gave it away. We soon confirmed that it was indeed owned by Victoria Station. Anyway, I was happy to see that they had a vegetarian burger on the menu. Although if I had known it was owned by a steakhouse, I would've just stuck to a grilled cheese sandwich. It arrived with two sprigs of gau choy sticking out from the top of the bun like some insects antennas. My burger patty was very well seasoned but I couldn't get past the taste of stale oil. It was not very pleasant but tasted ok with the beans and aubergine. Rafs had a chicken salad which came in a substantial portion. After that I made my way over to see Nigel at Just Heavenly to ask if he had anything without eggs in it. My god! I think I would've had a better chance at winning the lottery. Sadly, I could only soak in the many delicious cakes and pastries visually. Next time...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Making Soup Out Of Nothing At All

Its been 15 days now. I feel lighter, calmer and my yoga has definitely improved. Although that probably has to do more with eating lightly compared to attempting yoga after char siu fahn previously. I haven't done much cooking apart from the occasional grilled vegetable & roasted garlic pasta and odd green salad. I have been making a lot of soup instead. And we have the perfect weather for drinking hot soup right now.

Last week, I decided I wanted to make some stock. I took for granted that there would be vegetables in the fridge. There is always something to eat/cook in the fridge in my house. This time I ran out of luck. All I had to work with was garlic, onions and chinese lettuce. What? Yes, I attempted to make stock out of those ingredients. Not surprisingly, it was terrible! Fortunately, the rain finally stopped and I was able to run out to get some carrots and celery. And so I've been living off that batch of stock for the last week. I made a zucchini and cheese soup by boiling the zucchini with some stock. Blended the soup to make it smoother and put it back on the stove. Then I added some grated odd bits of cheese I found in the fridge which was aged cheddar and parmesan. Dash of cream and voila! A rich and comforting soup, to qoute Hunky - "to warm your cockles".

The following day, I stole some young papaya from Mum and simmered it in stock. I really liked the clean-tasting sweetness of the papaya but I added some vinegar to balance the sweetness. The resulting soup had depth and a lovely mellowness to it. Couple of days later I doused some fresh corn with olive oil, seasoned it, wrapped it in foil and chucked it in the oven along side my cupcakes which were baking away, and very yummy I might add. I didn't have to do much to it after that as it had caramelised. It was so tasty, I had to stop myself from eating it on its own. I made a soup and added a couple cloves of roasted garlic for some added kick. It was really nice. Not quite as sweet as Palate Palettes but almost as good I reckon. The last soup I made was a carrot soup. I took some carrots from the stock pot and blitzed it into a puree. It was quite bland which I didn't mind. For Hunky's version, I spiced it up with mustard, cumin, quite a bit of salt and a some cream. Although he thought I went a bit overboard with the mustard, he really enjoyed it and finished it anyway.
I'm all out of stock, I'm so lost without you. I know Mum was right about boiling for so long. I'm all out of stock, what am I without you. I've got to go make more stock now and I'll make it strong.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Belated Birthday

Two weekends ago, on a rainy afternoon, we celebrated my nephew's 2nd birthday. I can't believe he is two already. Seems like just yesterday I said "Hi" for the first time at the hospital. Sigh, I miss the time when he was just a few months old and he had no choice but to lie quietly next to me. Now he lies next to me when he wants to hear the story about "rocketship go moon" for the hundreth time. Anyway, the boy had a grand old time being the centre of attention. Aunties fawned over him, friends snapped pics like papparazzi, it was a lovely and relaxing day. Sis baked a poppyseed buttercake with a tea party theme. She modelled a rather obese version of my nephew's favourite animated character, Gromit. I guess it was appropriate as Gromit looked like he ate too much of everything that was on the table. The cake was deliciously soft, moist and buttery. I'm so glad there was leftovers so I could polish it off over the next few days.
There was macaroni with cheese and cookie cutout quiches for the kids. The big kids had assorted canapes, mini beef burgers with swiss cheese and mushrooms, mini crab burgers with wasabi mayonaise and roe, oyster shooters and more. I think I had three crab burgers and one beef burger. They were just so darn good! I would've had more but I figured I really ought to be good host and let the guests eat too. Mum also ordered some agar-agar from a friend who uses natural ingredients to colour the jelly. Red from beetroot and blue from the clitoria flower. I particularly love the picture of the teddy bear agar-agar in pale blue. There is something about it that I find irrisistably adorable. Sis also made some fudgey cupcakes from Nigella's recipes. It was far too sweet so she made a bitter chocolate ganache laced with brandy to balance the sweetness. The result was a R-rated cupcake that was rich, dark and sinfully luscious. Even I had trouble finishing one cupcake which says a lot really. Happy birthday lambchops!




Friday, June 08, 2007

Treasured Junk

There was a time in my life when the words shoe, handbag and sale would trigger the release of endorphins into my blood stream. These days I might feel a little tingle but nothing more. Ever since I bought an apartment, all I can think about is wallpaper, lighting and more importantly, kitchen equipment. I admit I am a hoard hog. I collect a spatula here, a peeler there and more recently, a Kitchen Aid mixer which I have been lusting after for awhile. There are still so much I have to buy for the apartment, I am dreading the big $$$ purchases.
I love nothing more than to browse through aisles of cookie cutters, spatulas and useless gadgets, particularly the egg slicer and avocado cutter. What is that all about? I also love looking at mixers, blenders, coffee machines, etc... My next purchase is going to be pots and pans. Le Creuset now comes in pretty pastels. Colours like satin blue, almond, lavender and strawberry. Joy! However, those things are so darn heavy, I need to start lifting weights before I can use them. Today I went to a kitchen equipment wholesaler along Jalan Cheras. Check out the size of the industrial mixers. They look like they belong on the set of Star Wars. If you are interested in baking 5, or more, cakes at one go, they are currently on sale. Perhaps you would like an oven to fit the 5 cakes in? They have that too.


I also picked up a dusty little kitchen scale in Pudu. I already bought one from the Isetan sale recently but I couldn’t resist adding this to my collection. I couldn’t help but notice this rather sad looking thing from a bygone era. It stood out like a sore thumb next to the green scales favoured by Chinese sundry shops. It was irresistibly retro and chic in all its orange melamine glory. I especially like the side dial where one can set and view “memory of calories consumed”. I think the shop owner must’ve been overjoyed that I finally removed this “junk” from his hands. I’ve been trying to find out more about the manufacturer but to no avail. Guess it really is junk. Oh well, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Lunch With A Babe

Its quite funny that BabeKL and I have not met sooner. We work in the same area, eat at the same places and go to the same yoga classes. We even have the same Kitchen Aid mixer! What does that have to do with anything? I don't know, I just wanted to mention that I have a Kitchen Aid mixer now. Hurray!!! We agreed to meet at The Weld for lunch yesterday. I was a little nervous meeting BabeKL, it felt a little like a blind date. After all, before this I had only seen her side profile at Sandias and we had exchanged a couple of emails. So in actual fact, maybe she should've been the one who was nervous as I now sound like a stalker!

We ate at Aryan, the posh looking Indian restaurant I've walked past so many times but have never been to. BabeKL recommended I try the mutton or chicken set lunch when I am done with my vegetarian stint. For now, we had palak paneer, chilli mushrooms and dahl with a side order of plain naan. The food arrived fairly quickly and was dished onto our plates by a pleasant chap. The palak paneer was tasty but I would've liked more spinach in it. There was quite a bit of cottage cheese in it which was nice. The chilli mushrooms turned out to be kung pow mushrooms. Bit odd. It was very tasty but we both felt it was too salty. The manager came round and offered to change it for us. I'm quite sure I accepted his offer but it never came back. Oh well, we were quite full anyway. The bill came up to under RM40 which is quite pricey considering we only ate vegetables. And this is without the mushrooms on our bill. I definitely want to come back again to try the other dishes. Especially the mutton set lunch at RM18++. Good service but maybe just a bit slow. By this time, all the butterflies were comatosed from the rich palak paneer and BabeKL's friendly demeanor. I felt like I just met up with a long lost friend from school. Thank you for a lovely lunch and baking tips!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lunch With Datin at Chinoz

I've known Datin for many years now. We met long before she got married, long before she became the Datin she is today. She is a peculiar sort. She is fiercely loyal to her friends, is somewhat of a scatterbrain and somehow manages to rub people the wrong way on most occasions. She is a firecracker for sure. Pretty and fun but when handled wrongly it leaves you with painful burns. We met up for lunch at KLCC last week. We argued about the restaurant. She refuses to eat at restaurants not located on the ground floor. I say this because everytime we meet, we always stay on the ground floor of KLCC. She wanted to go to Chinoz, I didn't want to go. I've never thought much about the food and now that they've undergone major renovations, the appeal is even less. I may not have liked the food but I did like the look of the place. I liked the mosaic tiled floor and the slightly rustic feel to the place. Now, its modern day drab. The lovely floor is gone. The look is now white, beige and blah. The only thing I like is the noguchi coffee table and ceiling fans which they have thankfully retained. Anyway, I finally agreed to meet her at Chinoz because it was that or...Dome. *Shudder*

I was a few minutes late and when I got there she was in full Datin mode. Her sandwich had just arrived and it was not to her standards. To her defense, it was quite lame. She had ordered off the menu, a vegetable sandwich to be exact. It arrived as roughly chopped, semi-cooked vegetables lined up on two pieces of toasted foccacia. She was not happy and demanded for more vegetables. Meanwhile, I was pleased to find a Japanese menu. Yay! I ordered a dragon tempura maki. I notice "dragon" is frequently used to describe avocado, or is it prawn, in maki rolls. It does look like a dragon I suppose with the prawn head rearing up on one end and the long roll with avocado slices laid out to resemble scales on top. Datin's vegetables arrived. There was quite a lot more but they were still barely cooked. My maki followed soon after and it was just what I wanted. It was a big prawn and there was a lot of avocado on top. Well, it did cost me RM30++ for it. It was expensive but it was good.
Datin ordered a chocolate torte but she asked for them to remove the cream and balsamic strawberries. What? Yes, I nearly protested and was about to offer my services to remove the offensive cream and strawberries into my stomach but I didn't because I was actually quite full. I'm just a greedy glut. Anyway, it turned out to be a slice of chocolate molten cake. Quite nice. When the bill arrived, Datin said to me that this would be the last time she ever eats in Chinoz. I am horrified. Does this mean I have to meet her at Dome next time?!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Om

I've gone vegetarian for the next 4 weeks. Its a cleansing/detox ritual I used to do regularly but in the past couple of years, there seemed to be one excuse after another. I just feel like I've eaten so much meat lately so I'm finally taking a break from carnivorous activities. Although I have to break it on 23 June for dinner with my fellow bloggers. Duty calls you know. Anyway, today was the first day. I've forgotten how much I enjoy being vegetarian because I appreciate each grain of rice that little bit more. I was unprepared for lunch as I hadn't been grocery shopping. Thankfully, there were a couple of things in the fridge. I made myself some mushrooms stir-fried with garlic on toast and a rocket, tomato and avocado salad. I think I was really hungry because it tasted so bloody good!

After I bought some groceries, I leafed through my trusty Leith's Vegetarian Bible for some inspiration. Quite a few of the recipes I was interested in had eggs in it. Then a thought struck me. I can't eat cake! 4 weeks without cake? I can give up meat, seafood and eggs but I can't give up my sweets and coffee. So, forget about lunch and dinner, I started looking up egg-less cake recipes. I remember coming across quite a few but I couldn't seem to find any today. How typical! I think the heavens heard me cry because sunlight suddenly burst through the clouds in the form of my sister. She had just bought a cute little book that yields 500-recipes for cupcake and muffins. And there was ONE recipe for egg-less cupcake. Hoorah! I'm happy to say that the recipe was a success. The cupcake is soft, chocolatey and has the sweetness resembling 70% cocoa content dark chocolate. Slightly bittersweet and intense. Its not perfect but it will do for now. Lovely!