Sunday, August 29, 2010

My 'Little Kitchen Helper'....

It begins with simple recipes and a little direction and supervision, and leads to an adeptness in navigating the kitchen. Baking or cooking with your own kid is an art that has gone by the wayside for most busy households.

As a Mom, I often yield to the interests of my daughter when it comes to exploring her interests in the kitchen, and baking has become a pleasure ...and a 'talent' for my girl.
Baking with her, at times, can be rewarding or challenging...maybe both.

My philosophy of teaching any baking or cooking technique begins with a person's interest - my daughter's interest. I allow her interests to be my guide - and she developed her own 'strategies and styles' (whatever that means...!). I noticed that she will make some observations and I may ask questions while in the process.
Like, why did this texture happen? Do you like it?
Which way would you make this next time?

The moist chocolate cuppies baked and iced by my daughter.... (clap...clap...clap...!)

I guide her through a very basic and simple cake and cupcakes recipes closely the first few times. Then allow her to consider how to adjust. I gave her some options, including vegetable oil, butter, or a combination. As the cake and cuppies were eaten, she will notice the difference in product each time. U-huh... practice makes perfect..!

This also led to many 'what ifs'.
Mummy, what if we are out of milk?
Can we use water in the recipe in place of milk?
Can we use different oils or fats?

Look at that....! Not bad Girl.
I am not allowed to 'touch' this cake, 'coz this was made especially for her dorm-mates..!
I hope over time, my daughter can become confident and capable, building from one experience to the next, and growing into adulthood with the ability to manage her culinary interests and needs.
Remember Girl... "way to a man's heart is through his stomach.!"

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blurrr kejap.....

Hari ini tak ada resepi
& tak ada celoteh...
After 10 hari relax....this weekend start balik baking...
... sampailah Hari Raya....
...macam-macam permintaan designs for cupcakes & cakes... blurr kejap...
...customers nak ...
...itu... ini...
...begitu... begini...

...anak-anak buah yang free tu..., meh datang tolong Mak Lang..!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I feel like singing... yes lets sing...

Listen to my Playlist... and lets sing together...

We’re here on this special day
Our hearts are full of pleasure
A day that brings the two of you
Close together
We’re gathered here to celebrate
A moment you’ll always treasure
We ask Allah to make your love
Last forever

Let’s raise our hands and make Du’a
Like the Prophet taught us
And with one voice
Let’s all say, say, say

Baraka Allahu Lakuma wa
Baraka alikuma
Wa jamaah baina kuma fee khair
Barakallah hu lakuma wa baraka alikuma
Wa jamaah baina kuma fii khair

From now you’ll share all your chores
Through hardship to support each other
Together worshipping Allah
Seeking His pleasure

We pray that He will fill your life
With happiness and blessings
And grants you kids who make your home
Filled with laughter

Let’s raise our hands and make Du'a
Like the Prophet taught us
And with one voice
Let’s all say, say, say

Baraka Allahu Lakuma wa Baraka alikuma
Wa jamaah baina kuma fee khair
Barakallah hu lakuma wa baraka alikuma
Wa jamaah baina kuma fii khair.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

French Onion Soup anyone....?

French Onion Soup & Garlic Bread....
...what a 'lethal' combination for Buka Puasa..!

This is a pretty standard, classic dish.
Everything about this dish works for me...
– its innate frugality, everyday ingredients and lack of pretension.
Seasonings are up to you, so make them personal.
If you are a Vegetarian - no problem - use vegetable broth instead of beef or chicken stock, or if you are just looking for lighter fare, use chicken stock.
My version is 'very' heavy on the onions - so reduce those if you are having this as a side dish.
I like mine as a Main Meal.
The recipe:
2 bulbs of Yellow Onions
(or you can use Red Onions for the sweetness)
1 clove of Garlic
2 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Flour
6 cups Beef or Chicken stock
(no time to make the stock so I use Maggi cubes- disolved 3 cubes in 6 cups of hot water)
1 or 2 sprigs fresh Thyme
1 Bay leave
1 cup water
2 tspn Sugar
Baguette to toast (my leftover from two days ago..!)
Salt and Pepper
Gruyère Cheese
(this cheese is difficult to get in our local supermarket - but Hock Choon @ Jln Ampang will never fail you.!otherwise you can substitute with Parmesan)
Peel and thinly slice onions
Saute them to soften in butter and olive oil over a low to medium heat.

Stir them regularly.
They are ready when they are soft, sticky, sweet and deep gold in colour.
Throw in thyme, basil leave and garlic.
Add a pinch of sugar at this point to help the onions caramelise.

Stir in flour, cook for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in boiling beef/chicken stock and water. Partially cover with a lid and leave to simmer for a good 45 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, ladle into deep, heatproof bowl, place several thin slices of toasted baguette on to each, then cover with thinly sliced Gruyère (or shredded Parmesan Cheese). Parmesan in place of Gruyère produces a less fatty but just as tasty crust.
Bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes until the bread is toasted and the cheese has melted but not browned.

The trick to getting this soup right is that the onions caramelise – they must cook for at least 35-40 minutes over a low to moderate heat. Only when the onions are soft enough to crush easily between finger and thumb can you add the flour and stock.

What is probably the world's best-known soup has much to offer if we get it right... well almost..!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pasta Salad & Bruschetta...

I learned how to make a pasta salad when I visited my friend in Amsterdam in year ....hmm... lets see.... yes..2004... In those days we called it 'leftover kraft dinner'...!
As time goes by, I became 'more sophisticated' and minimised the ingredients and still have a great tasting dish. They make great side salads or full meals.

If the heat of the Ramadhan is getting to you, this is a lovely cold pasta salad for a hot day.
I made this fettucini pasta early in the afternoon and then let it marinate all afternoon in the fridge. By Buka Puasa time, it was a snap to quickly pull together.

It is easy to prepare, and even the novice cook can put together this delicious salad.
... and is hearty enough to serve as the main course...
...and this is what we had for our Buka Puasa yesterday...

"An easy, yet very yummy pasta salad. Almost any type of pasta may be used. Best if left to sit overnight."

Fettuccine Pasta
Shredded roasted chicken (leftovers will do)
Ripe Tomato - chopped (keep the juice)
Basil leaves - chopped (fresh tastes better)
Cilantro (Corriander leaves)
Extra Virgin Oil
Cloves of Garlic
Ground Pepper
Salt to taste

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
Throw in the pasta and cloves of garlic, boil until al dente, drain and run under cold water to cool. Put the garlic to one side for dressing.
Place the pasta into a bowl.
Chop the tomatoes, basil, cilantro and add to the bowl.
Add shredded roasted chicken.
Squash the garlic cloves out of their skins and mush in a pestle and mortar.
Add the extra virgin oil, salt and pepper.
Drizzle this over the salad, adding a little more seasoning to taste.

... and for Buka Puasa Appetizer, we had...BRUSCHETTA
Bruschetta is one of the simplest things in the world to make, and can be very satisfying if you have good extra virgin oil.

With an appetizer this simple, quality ingredients are key - use ripe tomatoes, extra virgin oil and Baguette (a long thin loaf of French bread" ). I customized the recipe to my own taste (isn't that almost the case..!) and use riped tomateos and chopped them by hand, rather than in food proccessor.

1 Baquette French Bread
2 ripe Tomatoes - chopped
1 clove of garlic - minced
1 tbspn Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Basil leaves - chopped
Cilantro (corriander leaves) - chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Slice the baquette on a diagonal about 1/2 inc thick slices. Coat one side of each slice with olive oil using a pastry brush. Place on cooking sheet - olive oil side down. Toast until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.

While bread is toasting. Prepare the toppings. In a mixing bowl, add chopped tomatoes, basil, corriander, garlic and olive oil and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Align the bread on a serving platter, olive side up. Top each slice with the tomatoes, do it right before serving or the bread may get soggy.

Done..! How easy is that..!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Out of Africa... and onto Your Grill

At this point in the month of Ramadhan, I start feeling like I'll lose my mind if I have to eat one more piece of chicken or a plate of rice. I mean, I love chicken and rice, but it's just so ... duh... unless you 'dress' it up.

This dish, which sounds way more complex and exotic than it really is, was the result of 'what to cook' for Buka Puasa.... I have a whole lot of chicken in the freezer, a whole lot of spices, and one of those ideas...."I wonder what would happen if...." :P

It turns out that what happens when you mix the flavour of Morocco with a good, old American grill, is something that will save you from chicken and rice boredom.


4 pcs Chicken Breast
1 cup Plain Yoghurt
Juice of 1 Lemon, plus 1 tspn grated Lemon Zest
2 tspn Ground Cumin
1 tspn Ground Cardamon
2 tspn Ground Corriander
2 tspn Tumeric
1 tspn Ground Ginger (you can also use fresh ginger)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Trim off any gross bits from the chicken, then butterfly it or pound out any thick parts, so it's a uniform thickness (this ensures more even cooking).

Mix together all the remaining ingredients and devide marinade in half.
Place chicken and half of the marinade in Ziplock bag, press out all the air and marinade for at least one hour or as long as overnight (longer is definately better). The chicken is going to turn a little yellow the longer it sits - don't be alarmed - its just the tumeric doing its thing..!
Pre-heat grill, medium-low... do whatever you normally do when you grill chicken.
Grill chicken for 6-8 mins per side, or until its cooked through.
Top with a dollop of the balanced of the spiced yogurt
(not the stuff from the Ziplock bag unless you have a death wish..! :P)

Serve with baked potatoes or beans soup, as a side dish.
Its even better with Lemon Mint Couscous.
(Went to Giant today looking for the Couscous-the salesgirl don't even know what couscous is...!)

Try this savoury, quick, easy, healty and great taste Beans Soup
Assorted Dry Beans (I prefer to use organic Beans)
- you can get all these at Isetan KLCC or Hock Choon
1/2 cup Onion - diced
2 cloves Garlic - diced
4 Carrots - diced
2 Celery ribs - diced
6 cups Water
1 tspn - Rosemary
1 tspn - Thyme
1 tspn Basil
1 can crushed Tomatoes
Cilantro (Corriander leaves)-chopped

In a large stockpot, cover dry beans in water.

(Lima Beans, Yeallow Split Peas, Mung Beans, Pinto Beans, Adzuki Beans, Garden Pea & Red Lentil)

Bring to boil and cook for 2 mins. Cover the pot and let stand for 1 hour - Drain and rinse.

In a small sauce pan, saute mixture: beans, carrot, cellery, rosemary, thyme, basil - bring to boil - add water, cover and let simmer for 1 1/2 hrs, or until tender.
Stir in peas, lentils and tomatoes and cook for another 30 mins. Add cilantro.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Steamed Kek Sarang Semut @ Honey Comb Cake

Easy to make...!
Cake should look like a honeycomb when cut.
Is very tasty.
Something different...!
Try it!!
Texture of this cake is light, 'holey' and chewy.
The english name of this cake-Honey Comb Cake-comes from the chemical reaction of baking soda in the recipe which results in that texture. The Malay name-'Kek Sarang Semut' means ant's nest or something? (apologize for the limited knowledge of my malay language.)

I have had this cake many, many, years ago.. gosh.. I cant remember when..! but have never made it myself. This recipe has been in my 'to try' file for a long time... and now it's not!

You want to know why..????
Because the day my friend Dali, send over this cake to my house (for my birthday..! :P) ... I immediately 'fall in love' with this cake... again!
Credit to my dear friend, Dali, for willing to share her Grandmother's recipe with me..
I hope she does'nt mind me sharing her recipe with you all...

2 cups Granulated Sugar
2 cups Water
3 tbspn Butter
7 Eggs
1 can Condensed Milk
2 cups Flour
1 tbs Soda Bicarbonate
1 tbsp Vanilla

To make ahead:
1. Heat sugar in a heavy bottom pan till melts and turns into amber color liquid in slow heat. Add water slowly stirring till caramel dissolves. Carefully add water to the caramelized sugar as it will splatter-trust me, it hurts! Keep stirring till all the crystalized sugar becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and add butter. Stir till butter melts. Set aside to cool.
2. Beat eggs till 'kembang' and fluffy. Add the cool sugar syrup and condensed milk - beat well
3. Sift flour and soda bicarbonate twice. Slowly add sifted flour into the egg/syrup and beat well to mix. Add vanilla.
4. Grease a baking dish and pour the mixture. Cover with aluminium foil.
5. Make sure steamer is continously steaming before you put in the pan.
6. Steam for 1 1/2 hrs, checking water level periodically.

Check piercing a skewer in the center and it should come out clean......confirms that cake is done...!

Note to Dali (if you are reading this): I have been making this cake three days in a row ever since you gave me this recipe... all the family love it. Thank you..!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to Meeeee......

It was 12:01, a minute passed midnight, the phone rang.. damned..! who on earth would be calling me in the middle of the night and disturbed my beauty sleep! Picked up the phone and there she 'yelled" ..."HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUMMY..! (to be honest, I actually forgot that it was my birthday..!). I heard she gathered her friends around and the girls started singing the birthday song over the phone. Am touched... and smiled to myself when they were done. Aahh... how sweet of the girls.. (hope these girls did not get into troble with the warden for sneaking out of their dormitory at this time..!)

Anyway, it was my birthday last Friday and it was a little sad because it didn't feel so 'magical' anymore. I had a fantastic day (as much as you can have at work!) and the celebrations continued into the weekend with some wonderful presents and people.

When I was younger, I used to look forward to my birthday and count down the days till it was my special day and I got to do anything I wanted (within reason!) and it always seem to take aaaaages to come around. But now that I am older each birthday seems to come around quicker and quicker. I have come to accept that I am 'growing older'. There are so many things I want to learn, do and accomplish, but I feel like I am running out of time. Someone needs to tell this time-person to slow down for a bit :P

Wonderful birthday card from my daughter... you too Girl...

...and this card is from......'the Cupcakes Gang' .....they are like my own kids! you too guys..! case you are wondering...
NO.., I did not make myself these two cakes :(

To all my family members and friends,thank you for your Prayers and Birthday Wishes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back in Action...

Well I know it’s been awhile since I last updated this blog as I was not feeling very well lately, but I am trying to be good and update this more regularly.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Somebody is leaving....

In The Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Devils Are Chained in Ramadan: Why Do People Sin?
It is said that Satan is locked up during the month of Ramadan.
If this is the case, then why do we see sins committed in this month?
To whom should such crimes be ascribed?

It is well known that Satan has nothing to do with those who are committed to the true meaning of fasting. Such people are saved from the devil’s influence during the blessed month of Ramadan. Although devils are chained during Ramadan, it is no wonder to see people committing sins in broad daylight because not all sins are committed as a result of Satanic whispers, but one’s evil soul or 'nafsu' may drive one to sin and even commit crimes.
Abu Hurairah, (may Allah be pleased with him) quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: “When the month of Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of the Hellfire are closed, and the devils are chained.” (Reported by al-Bukhari).

It is clear from the aforementioned Hadith that putting devils in chains during the month of Ramadan does not mean that they cannot influence people who are not abiding by the laws of Allah. The statement only means that as far as the believers who are observing the rules of Allah are concerned, Satan’s control over them is diminished.

I am not a Scholar...,
...but, Yes, we all know that during the holy month of Ramadhan, the Devils are being chained. And Yes... human still continues to do sin because of desire and habit.

... my two cents worth...

Selamat Berpuasa to all my Muslim bloggers..

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Broga Hill - The Climb...

Let me introduce you to Broga Hill or as the locals call it "Bukit Lalang" (you'll find why). Broga Hill @ Bukit Lalang name has been associated with peoples around me until I can't bear to ignore it. In fact, its an absolute a beauty hill with wonderful views for hikers and - an amazing hill landscape with full sunrise scenery view when you're on top of the hill. In this recent days, Broga Hill is getting very famous as the destination spot for novice hikers and avid nature photographers.

The beauty of this hill is the tall and dense weed (Lalang) and the spectacular view. As the hill has 4-peaks, it gives climbers the option to climb to higher peak for a wider view of the surrounding. The dense weed seems to look like they're dancing when the wind blows.
The journey begins....

My daughter and I woke up as early as 04:15hrs, all packed and set to go, we straight away drove heading to Petronas Saujana Impian, via MMR2, to meet my niece and nephews and El Zaff (my brother's friend). Stop at Petronas to perform our Subuh Prayer and continue our journey heading to Semenyih. The moment we reached Broga Hill's entrance (opposite a Rabbit Farm), we found out that we were not the early bird group, in fact, other hikers are already at top of the hill for sunrise view - hoping to catch a spectacular sunrise from the hill top. Park your car in between the space allocated. Parking rate: RM2:00..!

The starting point from the palm-oil plantation is much straight forward without hesitation. We talked and laugh like nobody business in the darkness. Dark and spooky...with our torchlights on, the initial walk is about 10 mins through an oil-palm estate. I was imagining snakes and sorts - including 'ghosts.! .. coz it was pitch BLACK all around me..!
After 45mins walk (more crawling for me..!) we reached at the middle of the hill. By this time our watches were alreay showing 07:11hrs. Ok now...let's see how little Miss Sunshine greets us... here she comes... and there we could really see the sunrise and the 'cloud sea'.... magnificent..!
It's advisable to reach earlier, probably before 06:30hrs to observe sunrise on the hill top. If you're not coming for sunrise, you can start anytime you want as long as you can stand the heat after 08:00hrs.

This is the prominent spot (before the peak), where one can pose and capture the beautiful background of the 3-toned illuminating sky... Just dont fall off..!

At the point where we met this steep path, we started to focus our energy and soul. There were many people hiking today since this hill is getting popular and always has 'traffic jam..! *LoL*. Whole peak was full of people as if theres some kind of 'carnival' going on up there..! The journey was harder than I thought... exhausted and sweat like crazy..! Walk on.. and you'll come to this 'bald' section where it's basically a huge grassland with mountain tops at the background ala 'The Sound of Music' kind. The surface is rocky and slippery. Some of them are even 60 degree steep.Making impossible to go down in standing position. You are required to 'duck-squatting' down all the way.... funny but safe..

Well done Girl.. I am proud of you..!

Going down took only half the time and required less effort. This is the first time I hike to a bold hill where only grasses and rocks can be seen up there. The trip was quite fun and eye opening.

(my niece and her BF.... yeah... I made it... - almost half dead..!)

Now, am back at I lay in my bed, writing, my legs feel like jello, my head is throbbing and my energy level down to zero... basically, I'm feeling like one of that 'Street Fighter' characters who's just one flying kick away from being KO-ed by the opponent...
How many (sane) people would actually choose to sweat, suffer and endure cramps and muscles aches from hill climbing on her Birthday's weekend? Hey..., I would...!

To El Zaff... thank you for being a very patience 'tourist guide'.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Selamat Berpuasa....

Mini moist chocolate cupcakes topped with butter-vanilla buttercream designed for Puan Norma.

...simple and sweet...

... for kenduri sempena menyambut Bulan Puasa..
Thanks Norma for the big order...
... and to all my muslim customers... " Selamat Berpuasa".

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Graduation Cupcakes...

This is probably one of my shortest entries as far as my babbling goes.
Maybe.. ha!
I made these graduation cupcakes for one of my brother's friends-Eddy.
There really isn't a whole lot of creative differences when it comes to graduation cupcake ideas - the usual caps and scrolls....
These cupcakes were basic chocolate and all topped with vanilla buttercream, with scroll and caps made from frondant. So here are the cupcakes...
Too excited going to the convocation, I TOTALLY forgot to take the pictures of the cupcakes. Frozen brain strikes again!!
Thanks to Eddy for sending me this photo and thank you for the order.

& Congratulations to your Big Brother..!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This is it...

Tuesday, 3rd August 2010
Dewan Tuanku Chancellor, University Malaya

Finally you graduated, now with a 'Master', the moment that you've waited for finally arrive. After 2 years of hard work, sacrifices and perseverance, you are able to reach this day. Your 2 years in UM was not that easy. You have faced the most ferocious foes, problems that strengthen, experiences that teach, and pressure that motivates. A lot of people tried to depress you, yet you fought back with a smile.

A lot of things changed for the past 2 years and you are trying to aim high and be the best that you can be... and today, you woke-up... you are on your way there. Maintaining a high grades every semester is what you are used to be during your college and universities years. Although it is difficult, you are still able to have the courage because maintaining good grades every semester gives confort to Mak & Abah for your education finances.

There were many sleepless nights, things to be sacrificed.

The family is your inspiration, when the times that you were to give up, you only think of them and you'll be back on track. This is for Mak & Abah. Graduating with honors is a gift for Mak and Abah for their hardwork. They are your true Heroes. This is it, its time to reach for your dreams. Graduation is not the end, but the beginning of a new chapter of life. Time may past but you will always look back on this significant moment of your life

...and congratulations to your coursemates too..
Diana, Nicole and Roslan.
(ni baru betul... 1-Malaysia)

Monday, August 2, 2010

That yummy indulgence treat....

Dangle a slice of delectable carrot cake for a yummy indulgence or a naughty but nice treat.
The lightest and most enticingly moist carrot cake you will ever come across - just find a good hiding place for it! Carrot cake always manages to lure those with a sweet tooth...that goey cream cheese and moist flavour... Yummy scrummy Carrot Cake...!
Think Carrot Cake... Think Zia Azizi..

(Arif... can you handle this...?)

Ask anyone in my daughter's class about their idea of a perfect chocolate cake and you’ll get a completely different answer. But whichever camp you’re in girls and boys..... this cake is a Gooey, Fudgey and Downright Delicious..!
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have tried many chocolate cakes in your time.
Some disappoint and some enthral.
Where to start?
To: Naddy, Fatin, Arif, Lai Hong, Zia, Nazreen, Maisara...
and the rest (cant remember all names)....

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"Dayang Sayang Kamu..."

Dayang... before the live concert @ Hard Rock Cafe on 1 Aug 2010
(photo courtesy Eqbal/Dayang)
Specially made for - Artist Dayang Nurfaizah
Carrot & Walnut Cheese Cupcakes and Chocolate Moist Cupcakes

To Dayang...Happy Birthday...

I love your stunning "serak-serak basah" vocals..!