Monday, March 30, 2009

Cornflake Cookies and Coconut Macaroons

Moving into a new apartment means that I have a new oven to negotiate. At first it didn't turn on, and after a long battle with our real estate agents we finally got an electrician to look at it. He fiddled with some knobs and now it half works. It's a rubbish 70s oven, with a non-digital clock that must have stopped working decades ago. There are only two settings - bake and rotisserie. One turns on the coils down the bottom and burns the bottom of your cakes to a crisp, the other turns on the top coils and kills the top while the rest of the oven stays cold. Oh and there's no fan. So I've tried to deal with this by switching between the top and bottom coils every 10 minutes or so in the hope that this will somehow lead to an evenly heated oven. INSANITY, I KNOW.

My poor workmates were the guinea pigs for my new-old oven experiments. The first was semi-disasterous but still tasted good thanks to the absolutely epic amount of butter in the recipe. I adapted this recipe for cornflake cookies and added sultanas to the cookie dough. I think the sultanas added some nice moisture and tartness to the cookies. My boss described them as "so awesome I'm going to have to report you to the awesome police".

Cornflake and Sultana Cookies

Experiment Number 2 was coconut macaroons. This is something so simple it doesn't even need a recipe - a bag of dessicated coconut, a tin of sweetened condensed milk and some glace cherries to decorate.

Coconut macaroons about to go into the oven

Thanks to my switching between coils trick these did not get as burnt on the bottoms as the cornflake sultana cookies and were gobbled up. My workmate then accused me of working for the AWWA (Anti-Weight-Watchers-Association).

Print Friendly and PDF

Kuala Lumpur Part 4

As a brief distraction from our shopping mall madness, my Dad decided to take us on a day trip away from KL. His plan was to show A Genting Highlands, something that did not interest me in the slightest. I had spent many boring weekends in the Resort, the only thing that kept me entertained was the Motion Master, while the oldies disappeared for hours in the casino. But since A had never seen it before I went along with it. The drive to the bottom of the mountain was much quicker than I remembered. This could either be due to the exaggerated time dilation in my child memory, or the fact that a bajillion new flyovers and highways have been built since the last time I went.

We stop by Gohtong Jaya for lunch, a little area near the skyway station packed full of seafood restaurants. According to my Mum, tourists on their way to Genting LOVE this place. My aunt from Singapore will actually drive all the way here for the main purpose of eating seafood in Gohtong Jaya, with a gambling stop at Genting a side benefit of the trip.

The restaurant that was recommended by this aunt is closed today, so we stop by one of our other favourites. The food is delicious, especially the frog (yes, frog.) noodles.

Frog noodles @ Gohtong Jaya

The noodles are just like wat tan hor fun - thick, flat rice noodles that are wok fried and mixed with a gravy like sauce - with the extra addition of frog meat. The meat is moist, a cross somewhere between fish and chicken meat. It requires a bit of care to eat though, the bones of the frog have been smashed up to separate the pieces of meat, sharp enough to cut through your gums. We also get a bowl of clear spicy soup containing fresh fish and vermicelli noodles. I love the depth of flavour in the soup.

Fish noodle soup and marmite pork belly

Our final dish is crispy deep fried marmite pork belly. Malaysians looove their marmite marinated meat. It's a good thing that this dish only comes in a tiny portion, because the crisp fatty pork bits covered in that sticky dark sauce is SO moreish but so bad for you. After our enjoyable and far too heavy lunch, we head over to the cable car station. The Genting Skyway is apparently the longest and fasted cable car in South East Asia. I am clinging on to A's arm for dear life the whole way up thanks to my complete lack of faith in Malaysian safety standards. The view is absolutely spectacular however:

View from Genting cable car

Despite my apprehension, A loves Genting. He marvels at the whole casino in the clouds concept, and enjoys some card games in the casino, winning 15 Ringgit before we have to drag him home.
Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, March 29, 2009

East Ocean Bakery - Eastwood (CLOSED)

Ah...Now this is what missed about Sydney during my month overseas. Ever since returning from my holiday, I can't stop marvelling at how beautiful and perfect the weather is in Sydney at the moment. After a month trapped under an endlessly low & heavy cloud, breathing in humid and polluted air, coming back home was literally a breath of fresh air. The sky is so blue! It took a long time to convince A that going for walks outdoors was not worth the effort in KL, that's why they've built so many air-conditioned shopping malls for everyone to walk around in. It is a lot easier for him to convince me to go out for a walk here, even though I tend to avoid exercise like the plague. So even with the gorgeous weather, it will take quite a lot to convince me to walk all the way to Eastwood. It will take even more to convince myself to go on my own. But I know that there are a few very good reasons:
1. Hukuya - great value sushi restaurant but is closed on Sundays :(
2. BBQ One - my best friend's mother's chinese BBQ store that has the best roast pork in Eastwood
3. Wife cake

Wife cake (lou phor peng) is a flaky pastry filled with wintermelon paste. One of the main ingredients is pork lard, no wonder I am completely obsessed with this asian dessert. Honey to the bee, that's pork lard to me. I am a little confused by the aversion to pork lard that many of my non-muslim Malaysian friends and family have developed. Anyway, if you want a good wife cake I don't think you can get much better than the ones at East Ocean Bakery in Eastwood.

Wife cake food porn (flaky butter pastry with wintermelon, pork lard, sesame and five spice filling)
Forget BreadTop, forget the rubbish they sell in the asian supermarkets, this is the real deal. The pastry is so perfect and is overflowing with wintermelong filling. East Ocean bakery always seems to have freshly baked trays filled with a variety of asian sweets. I get three wife cakes and cannot resist the large tray of freshly baked egg tarts sitting on the table. They are still warm, the egg filling perfectly set but a little wobbly inside, just right. Unfortunately they shove the warm egg tarts into small plastic bags and the pretty tarts do not survive the walk home in my shopper. A is still happy to scoop out the ruins of the egg tart for his afternoon tea.

While I am in Eastwood, I also stop by the huge Sakura supermarket to buy some of my favourite Prima meals, Noodle King instant noodles and linger in the sweets and biscuits aisle. I have a hankering for some strawberry flavoured chocolate and this cute little packet catches my eye:

It's even cuter inside, small squares of chocolate made up of thin strands of dark, white and strawberry chocolate. The smell of the strawberry chocolate is very inviting, I have a bit of a weak spot for it. These little morsels are good for satisfying those ever-persistnt chocolate cravings.

Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, March 28, 2009

SWEETNESS the Patisserie

I'm very easy to please.

All it took was a little store to open up right down the road for Epping station and I was gleefully skipping around on a beautiful Saturday morning. SWEETNESS the Patisserie opened recently in Epping and I have been desperate to check it out since I heard about it. Other blogs had mentioned that it was only open on weekdays which devastated me, I would never get to see it because I would be stuck at work. Luckily last Sunday I walked past the store to scope it out and noticed that it was also open on Saturday. I spend the rest of the week looking forward to Saturday morning.

The store is gorgeous. It's my idea of the perfect patisserie. Bright and full of delicious looking goodies stacked all over the window displays and shelves. I had to try several things. I bought a banana streusel muffin for A, it had walnuts in it so I could only have a tiny taste of it without breaking out in hives. But that taste was enough to determine that it was delicious - moist, fragrant with banana and cinnamon flavours.

I also have to try some of their dark chocolate shortbread. They are even better than I imagined, literally melting in my mouth. Delicate but rich, the biscuits are coated on the bottom and top with dark chocolate. Sigh.

My final purchase is an adorable bag full of mini marshmallows. They come in a variety of colourful, fruity flavours but my favourite are the plain white ones dotted with vanilla bean.

After scoffing down my treats I took the new Epping to Chatswood train to do some last minute shopping for A's birthday. Not only did I find some good gifts, I also grabbed myself some winter basics from Myer, a gorgeous hair pin from Mimco and MY DREAM WATCH.

Yep. I've had my eye on this MBMJ watch for a long time, so my eyes nearly fell out of my head to see it just sitting there in DJs. Could not stop myself from getting it straight away, even though it has left a hole in my savings. I am too easy to please...but it can result in poverty.
Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, March 27, 2009

Kuala Lumpur Part 3

It feels like we spent almost half our holiday in 1 Utama, I'm sure I went there at least 5 times in a month. It's so close to my parent's condo and we needed to buy A a completely new wardrobe (which we did, and it is making it impossible for me to think of a good birthday present to get him now). One of the restaurants we visited a couple of times was Penang Flavours.

Assam Laska and Popiah at Penang Flavours

The popiah was so good, light and crispy. The assam laksa was okay, I've definitely had better but at least it came with a very generous serving of mackerel. We also ordered the mee rebus, which was definitely a winner.

Mee Rebus

The thick potatoey gravy combined well with the crunchy textures of the fried cracker things (which they kindly gave to us in a separate dish so it did not go soggy immediately). Also their ice milo was damn damn good, I forgot to take a photo but A asked for an extra thick one and that made all the difference. I find a lot of places water down their ice milos too much. On a separate occasion we also tried their char kway teow and a set meal with kari kapitan and both were excellent.

Another place that earned a revisit was Nasi Kandar Bestari at Mont Kiara Solaris. Since it was walking distance from our headquarters, it was the perfect place to wander down to for brunch. Much roti and sambal was consumed. And their maggi mee goreng wasn't half bad. Their teh tariks were good but always a little too sweet for me.

Roti @ Nasi Kandar Bestari
Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kuala Lumpur Part 2

MidValley really stresses me out.

It stressed me out when I was younger and it still stresses me out today. One of the many endlessly sprawling shopping malls in KL; it's always chaotic, full of people, and every wing of the centre on every floor looks exactly the same. Which, for me, is a recipe for crankiness.

A couple of hours of stressful shopping in MidValley was forced to halt by my hungry Mum, so we stopped by Little Penang Cafe.

Fresh coconut, soya bean milk with redbean, acar fish set and prawn mee

The acar fish set was packed full of flavour - acar fish (deep fried fish with a spicy pickled/tumeric sauce), lor bak (marinated belly pork, wrapped in beancurd sheets and deep fried) and paku belacan (ferns fried with spicy shrimp paste). My favourite was the paku, something I had not tried previously. My Mum explained how my Grandmother used to walk into the jungle behind their house to pick the same type of ferns to make this dish when she was younger.

There were only two things at MidValley that I spent the rest of the holiday craving but never got to try again - the famous durian pancakes and the curry puffs.

Crispy and light curry puff and a sweet, rich durian pancake - a bit much for breakfast but who cares when you're on holiday?!
The curry puffs were some of the best I've ever had (and I've had a lot). The pastry was not too greasy, extra crispy and the filling inside was moist with just the right amount of curry powder and not completely overwhelmed by potato (something I find in a lot of curry puffs). It was so moreish - at first we only bought 1 but A and I gobbled it up before we had even walked 10 metres away from the stall - we ended up going back and buying three more.

Mmm food porn shot...

On the other hand, the durian puffs were a controversial food topic throughout the rest of the trip. I LOVED them, the thick layer of mashed fresh durian rolled up in a thin sweet pancake with light cream. It did smell pretty full-on, the pungent fumes kept wafting up towards us from the plastic bag we were carrying it in during our shopping trip, which alarmed A quite a bit. He was not a big fan of them, probably because of the strong smell and the concentration of the flavour in the cream and pancake.

Pancake filled with fresh cream and durian

When we finally got him to try fresh durian on its own he quite liked it. And we both loved the durian doughnuts from Big Apple - light fluffy doughnuts with a hint of durian and a crispy spiky outside. I hated durian as a child, the smell put me off from the very beginning, but now I love it!
Print Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kuala Lumpur Part 1

Taking A to Malaysia for a month was a exciting (and daunting) challenge. We had never been on an overseas trip together before and this trip would include a whirlwind month spent with my insane parents and completely insane extended family. A has two cousins. I've never even tried to count how many I have, I always lose count...Or forget how/if some are related to me. But a holiday is a holiday, and this particular holiday was one that I was in desperate need of after spending my last two holidays working part-time and completing my thesis.

There are really only two main things you can entertain yourself with in KL; eating and shopping. You wake up, eat, go shopping, eat, shop a bit more, go home and eat, go out and eat and shop and come home (and eat). The moment we stepped out of the airport, my parents whisked us off to Section 17 to pick up some takeaway satay, something that has become a bit of a tradition whenever I travel back. It was especially welcome this time because of my pathetic "special meal" on Malaysian Airlines. My allergy to nuts meant that my sandwhich came with nothing but two pieces of cucumber and a slice of tomato in it...I really wish I was making this up.

Our first day was spent shopping (surprise!) in 1 Utama, my happy place. This was followed by lunch at Oriental Cravings - Claypot Lou Shi Fun, Chee Cheong Fun and Prawn Mee. The claypot lou shi fun is one of my firm favourites - slippery "rat's tail" shaped noodles covered with a thick black sauce, fried with pork fat, pork mince and egg. The chee cheong fun is also surprisingly smooth and tasty.
Mum digging into the Claypot Lou Shi Fun, full of crispy, glistening pork fat mm mmm

Dinner that night was at the food court of one of the newer shopping centres in town, Pavillion. The food court there was shiny and new, full of stalls selling food from a variety of countries. My choice was the char kway teow which came cutely presented in a little bambo basket. The noodles had that lovely burnt wok flavour that is essential to a good char kway, with plenty of bean sprouts, chilli and cockles throughout the dish. The sang har mee and chicken rice were also pretty good, the sang mee a little on the bland side maybe.

Although all of us were about ready to explode from the amount of food we had consumed, my Mum insisted on getting us an ice kacang to share, but this turned out to be pretty awesome. There's just something about corn and ice that go so well together. And everyone I talk to about this in Sydney looks at me like I've sprouted another head.
Print Friendly and PDF