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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Rempah


Once a week or two, I make rempah for my curries, asam pedas and masak lemak. My fingers and nails are still yellow from peeling fresh tumeric for this one. They leave my magimix yellow too. sometimes when I am not doing a lot, I use the pestle and mortar - which off course will be a lot yummier. having jars of rempah in the fridge makes cooking a lot faster and easier.
I also use them in dryer dishes - they are excellent to baste on chicken, beef and lamb for roasting. And the rempah for thai green curry is excellent to steam fish in. But more than the culinary promises, peeling chopping and pounding (and seriously even the whizzing processor) the onions, galic, galangal, lemon grass, ginger and chillies sooth me. And the aroma is just so tantalising! I love even the crying and sneezing from peeling onions.
It reminds me a lot of my mom's kitchen or the stories and the gossips exchanged. There are no hard and fast rules in the ingredients - everything is interchangable, everything follows the rule of agak-agak.
You are the goddess of your own cooking. In winter, when it is so cold outside, it transports me to the tropics where flavours, scents, textures and colours are sultry and magnificent.
It reminds me of who I truly am.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Chocolate Pavlova and my new fetish!


Elizabeth David aced it when she said it is pointless to buy them then since they don't taste like they should. But the strawberries we got last weekend were fabulous and made me bought some more for the dessert I made for dinner last night.

Next to the brownies, this is probably the thing I bake most because it is very easy and it can be altered to so many metamorphosis. It suits almost every fruit and when it doesn't, I just make a plain pavlova.

Instead of using white wine vinegar, I used raspberry wine vinegar from Maille to echo the taste of the strawberry. Shaved 72% cocoa chocolate and Van Houten cocoa powder are folded gently into the dough. I usually bake them at night since they take about 1 hour to bake in the oven and then I will turn the fire off and leave them there with the door close overnight and the next day, they will be perfect - glossy, hard and crunchy on the outside and squidly and chewy on the inside just as a pavlova should be.

I made little pavlovas instead of a big one because it is easier to store and to eat. sometimes I serve them without fruits but like other macaroons - just made small baby pavlovas and join them together with a little gfanache and serve the fruit ont he side.

To assemble, just spread some vanilla cream on top of the pavlova and place the strawberries and roasted hazelnut on top. And enjoy!


BTW, this is what I got for Valentine's Day which arrived a week early I have been using it non stop since it arrived - sometimes twice a day. .And I can't stop kissing it. My husband said it is my new fetish!

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Kambing Panggang Delima

We didn't go out. The plan drastically changed yesterday. I think for a good reason too. There is more than one reason to celebrate. Besides it being Valentine's Day and another anniversary for us, I have finally been able to put to bed what have been dragging me down for months. But Nabila is down with fever so we will not be able to wine and dine in a Michelin starred restaurant and enjoy ourselves.




So I devised a plan for dinner at home - something simple enough so I don't have to spend the whole day in the kitchen and can attend to a cranky daughter but dramatic and titillating enough to celebrate with. I decided 2 course meal will be best. I made Kambing Panggang Delima or Roast Lamb with pomegranate.

Inspired by the scents, warmth and flavour of the Marrakesh souks, this is easily one of the easiest dish to make and yet the cornucopia of flavour and aroma is absolutely intoxicating. The leg of lamb is marinated overnight in pomegranate molasses, honey, a mixture of herbs and spices, garlic, onion and ginger and then roasted. To make the sauce, combine the marinade and the jus of the lamb and heat up in a saucepan and pour on top of the roast with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds as garnish. Served with saffron pilau, pineapple paceri and a simple rucola salad.

Next to mango, I find pomegranate to be the sexiest food. It is hard ont he outside and you have to be very patient peeling the seeds off the flesh to be rewarded with perfumed rubies. It's like courting a mysterious lover. My parents have two or three pomegranate trees in their garden - the fruits are smaller compared to the ones you get from Morocco or the middle east but I find the Asian one sweeter. I don't like the way TV chefs knock the fruits with fork to get to the seeds - it is almost violent though the skin can get very hard when it is ripened. It just take away the romance of eating the fruit.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

vongole


My favourite pasta is made with fresh vongole, sauteed in olive oil, garlic, parsley and white wine; served with linguine or angel hair pasta... and this was how dinner ended tonight when we found a kilo of fresh little vongole at the fish shop this morning...

All it took was 5 minutes of preparation and another 10 of cooking time. The sauce was ready as soon as the pasta was al dente. Tossed together for 1 minute at the pan and then ready to serve!
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have a great weekend



Every Saturday, I get to stay in bed longer than usual and my husband will whip up pancakes! As always, Nabila will have the first and the last pancake. The first one was eaten with sugar and chocolate crunchies... sprinkled on top from its own mill (like salt or pepper). The last one, is always a real treat because she will want to create a masterpiece with everything on it...

This was the one she made today:
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Balans


one of the things I am most grateful for for growing up Asian is the instinct for balance. And this need for balance was instilled as early as a baby's first weaning meal. A lot of my western friends are amazed at how many dishes we can chow down in one sitting and how veggies seems to steer their way into so many dishes. And of course how three dishes that look similar - made mainly with the combination of soya sauce, ginger and garlic can taste completely different. How we all eat first with our eyes, then with our nose, then our tongue and finally our belly. How flavour, scents, textures and feel instinctively come together to entice us. And how every meal is at once an adventure and a sensuous experience.
We understand the concept of the complete meal since small so everything has to balance out. If you had a spicy, heavy, rich 10 course (or 10 dishes) dinner, you balance it up with a light almond and lychee cold sweet soup or a simple fruit sorbet. To pacify the tongue while eating a hot curry, we take a spoon of yoghurt, a sip of fruity lassi or a bite of watermelon. All of these planned into a meal.
Last night, I made a simple dish of mee goreng (stir friend noodles) which wasn't oily at all. In fact it tasted as if it was steamed. To keep it light, the flavours come mainly from shredded ginger, garlic, spring onion and soya sauce. Instead of meat, I use shrimps, oyster mushroom, tofu and bakchoy. A Japanese omelette was fried seperately and added later with a small dish of light soya sauce, lemon and sliced bird chillies on the side.
A simple and healthy dinner, don't you think?
We needed it, you should've tasted how rich the dessert was...
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