Tham Jiak means in some way "love to eat" in Hokkien. I am a Malaysian Hokkien and truly love to eat.
Showing posts with label Celebration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Celebration. Show all posts

Friday, November 06, 2009

4 Years and Counting

I just realize, the last quarter of the year is like the best time for somebody to start a blog. What? You might ask. Well Tham Jiak, this dear blog of mine, has officially turned 4 years old, one week or so ago, on 27th October. Yes, it had been that long and the reason I said that it is like the time where people start blog is because I found some who are also celebrating their blog anniversary. How cool it is to celebrate together in the blogosphere with the famous llemongrass the queen of food blogs (and DSLR as I have heard) and Bangsar-babe the beauty queen (in all our hearts). It was them who reminded me of my overdue post to celebrate my dear blog's 4th year anniversary.

On reflections on this blog, it seem Tham Jiak has gently nudge itself from a baker who cooks and occasionally dines out to a full fledged diner who bakes occasionally and almost never cooks anymore. Am I happy about it? I guess it is just a phase of life, for I know I would always remember the joy of baking and cooking and someday would have the luxury again to indulge in these favourite activities of mine and stuffed my loved ones silly again. In the meantime, this tham jiak is contented in enjoying her eating adventures outside. Also for this year, one may have notice that tham jiak had came out of her closet and went out to meet the people behind those lovely blogs out there that she had diligently been following, and boy was she glad, as they have indeed added spice and colours to this tham jiak world of mine. Also I am starting to note that a large frequency of the posts are mainly invited reviews, yes I am happy to be able to come out and enjoy free meals who wouldn’t, but certainly the most enjoyable part is actually the companies, being able to eat among food enthusiasts and a what a bubbly bunch they are too.

There would be many more years for this Tham Jiak blog and I hope you would continue to join in the ride with me; it may not be as it always is but I sure do hope it will be an enjoyable one for everyone. For so far it has been an amazing ride for me!

Till then, happy eating!

Cuppacakes from Wondermilk, given to me by my best buddy L

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bribing with Cookies

I cannot believe it! Tomorrow is the last day of the Chinese Lunar calendar! I am going to leave for my dearest hometown wee early tomorrow morning along with aunty and cousins, and I can’t wait. Though counting up to tomorrow have been anxious, then turn to stress, then turn to excitement and then now anticipation. I can’t wait to drink my Pho Pho’s heart-stopping duck soup and wrap pieces after pieces after pieces after pieces of lettuce around my all-time-favourite Pho Pho’s jiu hu char. I can't wait to toss the Yee Sang with everyone up so high half of it end up on the table. I can’t wait to casually walk into my Lai Ma’s house again and mention casually that I haven’t had lunch, I hope the same trick works again, but then again, I don’t need a trick to have my Lai Ma pushing food to me. Moreover this year I am armed with New Year cookies for her as well! Hah! It does sound like I am bringing a container of cookies in exchange for a mouth-watering feast, I would say this is such a good deal, agree?

I have baked more goodies after my initial kick-off Chinese New Year baking and finally chosen to remake Green Pea cookies in batches for giveaways because it was oh-so-tasty and not too tedious to make. I mentioned that Peanut cookies seemed like a new cookie for Chinese New Year but oh boy was I wrong, Lily reminisced making these with her grandmother, only that the original called for lard! I stand corrected but I might try again to say these Green Pea cookies should be newer in generation, as I could not recall it before the appearance of Peanut cookies during Chinese New Year, and some even claimed that it was a variation of the traditional Peanut cookies. Correct me if I am wrong again! I do not know what the Green Pea cookies represent in Chinese in comparison to other more obvious cookies, if anyone does know, do let me know too!

As for now, pardon the short post, I need to get ready, pack my bag and head north to celebrate in gluttony. By the way, Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Green Pea Cookies

When I made my first batch, I found that it was too sweet, and so I went about researching on more recipes around the wonderful blogosphere and came about to my own measurement below. Also, on the first time I bought the green peas, it was the Jusco selection packet, that comes in 180g and it seem the green peas do look slightly smaller than the usual snack ones. The cookie came out so fragrant, I bought the same packets for my subsequent bakes! Note that these came salted so I omit the salt in the recipe. Also make sure you grind the green pea fine enough for the melt-in-mouth cookies. Similarly to the Peanut cookies, you should add the oil bit by bit until the dough comes together. This time I was a bit lazy and skipped the egg glazing steps, thus my cookies look pale but it still taste oh-so-good. This time I also learnt from the Peanut cookies bakes and used 1 teaspoon to shape my cookies and it came out just the right size to pop into the mouth.

180g ground green pea cookies
180g all-purpose flour (sifted)
80g icing sugar
80 - 100g oil
1/4 tsp salt (omit if green peas are salted)

1 egg lightly beaten for glaze (optional)

Mix the ground green peas, sifted flour, icing sugar and salt (if using) together till well combined
Slowly add in the oil and mix till a pliable dough is formed
Shape them into balls or use a 1 teaspoon to shape it, and then line it on a tray
Brush egg wash on top of each cookie (optional)
Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes

Make approximately 84 cookies

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Finally, Initially

Way long ago initially, I wanted to blog about my gastronomic adventure in Japan I haven’t. Then initially I wanted to do a roundup of the blog for 2008, and that did not happen either. Than it reminds me that initially I wanted to make many things for 1984 and friends’ Christmas Eve party but that did not happen either, though I did manage to make hummus and cupcakes, blog entry to follow, wish I hope would indeed happen on day. So all that initially aside, they have to wait, as I am going to make way for a more appropriate post at hand – Chinese New year bakes, which I had way way long ago initially, I’m talking about few years back here, wanted to bake which now I finally did!

To me the new year has yet to actually start, due to the impending Chinese New Year, it still feel like I am in the counting down mode to wrap up the year-has-been, please tell me I am not the only one, at least not the only Chinese. At first CNY still seemed pretty far away to me, but when I started to plan out some CNY bakes, it dawned onto me that it was only about 2 weeks away. Ah, so much to do, rather so much to bake yet so little time.

Anyway, what brought me into finally baking cookies for this important Chinese festival? That question brings to the story of a dear friend, M. She messaged me one day on a link to a mixer which she was contemplating to purchase in order to do some CNY baking; she chose to ask me because she knew I was a sort-of-baking-and-cooking aficionado, which then renewed the interest in me. I have always, wanted to bake for CNY but have not kick my lazy butt hard enough to really do it as because (insert overused excuses here) so this time thanks to M, I seized the opportunity and proposed to her to have a baking session together! Aha, that would bring this lazy tham jiak to really stick to the plan; she has a baking date to stick to!

So fast forward to the following weekend, I was lugging two big bags of ka-chang (Cantonese dialect’s multi-purpose word for utensils/equipments/anything that you use to do something), to M’s home and then we got started on our project. There were two bakes that day as each of us chose one recipe to attempt.

M chose her many-attempts-since-last-year Dragon Cookies, which she had not yet manage to achieve her ultimate one, which were supposed to be creamy , slightly soft, melt in your mouth yet having a bit of a crunch on first bite kind, if I understood her correctly. I can’t help but to mention here that the batch she baked the day before which she added banana essence due to one recipe which called for it, and a word of advice from both of us here, do not attempt to put banana essence in your Dragon Cookies! It is not a banana cookie, end of explanation. I guess I was her lucky star as finally, that very day that I am there with her baking the cookies she finally achieved her ultimate Dragon Cookie!

M’s Ultimate Dragon Cookies

Note that for this recipe, you would need a cookie press to shape it. Also M had noted that she had tried before with plastic press which has less desirable results especially if the dough is not soft enough, therefore she prefer the metal one that she is using now.

One important thing to understand about making these cookies is the balance between the baking time and the oven temperature. Our first batch was slightly over-baked and really puffed up. After tasting we found that it had a texture of similarity to kuih bangkit, where we even joked we had made a fusion of them, but ah that is not what we want for the ultimate Dragon Cookies, do we? So for the next batch we decided to bake in shorter time, about 10 minutes, and it came out perfect! The next next batch was slightly under-baked though, where we need to put in for few minutes more. Take note that we had the oven on slightly higher temperature due to its nature. Therefore we can only conclude that, the secret here in making the ultimate dragon cookies is to find the balance of time and temperature, also good recipe is a must, we would not want another banana essence case do we? Just remember that the cookies are suppose to be pale white even after baked. Good luck in trying, M tried since last year, so be like her, don’t give up! Also, we are now giving you a tried and true recipe below, so I bet it would save you at least a year, no?

150g butter (room temperature)
150g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
1 egg white
350g corn flour
30g milk powder
60g plain flour

Beat butter, icing sugar, egg yolks and egg white until creamy
Sift flour and milk powder together
Add flour mixture to the batter and mix till fully incorporated
Fill batter into cookie press and press out a line and then shape it (M shaped to S which to me is a sleeping Dragon, there are other who made a flying Dragon - curly long line)on a baking tray
Bake at 160-180C for 10-15 mins

Yields 120 cookies

As for me, I chose to make Peanut Cookies, which not too long ago, I would say about maybe 10 years back that in Malaysia here, it became a must-have for Chinese New Year. If anyone new since when these cookies got into the list please let me know. As a peanut fan myself, I just had to make it, even though I knew it is not going to be easy, as we would first need to dry fry the peanuts patiently and then remove the skins patiently. Preparation is bit tedious, some experience on how the dough should be like would be good, but other than that it is a fairly simple recipe, calling for minimal ingredients.

Peanut Cookies
Adapted from Do What I Like

First dry fry the peanuts over medium heat, remember to stir it religiously. Do not try to take shortcut by frying over high heat as it would result in the peanuts got burnt pretty quickly on the outside but has yet to fully cook on the inside. Then you have to take de-skin them, I do this by rubbing them against a basket, this would also need some work if you have not mastered the skill which enables you to do this in a jiffy. After that the peanuts is ready to be grind till fine.

But simple as the recipe may seem, it also requires some experience in understanding the dough. I added in all the oil and still found my mixture on the dry side but I tried by pressing them together and mould it into a 1/2 tablespoon for shape and it did work, but later noted to self that it seem a bit too big and might use a smaller one next round. But if you want an easier task where you can roll them into balls, you might need more oil to form the dough first. After researching and reading other’s experiences, it seemed that the quantity of oil needed depended also on how oily your peanuts were naturally. Therefore, slowly add in the oil until the dough is able to mould when pressed, or slightly more oil if you need to roll and shape them. These cookies came out with the melt-in-the-mouth texture, with some crunch due to the added chopped peanuts (I crushed them with a rolling pin; before that I tried to smash them against the counter which resulted in them flying everywhere, sorry M). I gave some to Q to try which she said that it tasted rich (even when I did not put enough oil) and she even asked if I have added peanut butter, ah, so it means I have achieved the creamy texture as well. Overall this is a good recipe, if you want full creamy kind then you might want to omit the chopped peanuts, and also remember to take note on the oil ratio.

200g ground peanut
200g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
100g - 150g crushed peanuts
100g-150g peanut oil/corn oil

Egg wash:1 egg yolk lightly beaten with 1 tsp water

Put all the peanuts into a wok and dry fry over low heat till crunchy
Remove the skin then grind till fineSieve flour and baking powder together
Mix the flour mixture, ground peanut powder, icing sugar and salt together till well combined
Add in the crushed peanuts and mix well (if you are using)
Slowly add in the peanut oil and mix till a pliable dough is formed (see note above
Shape them into balls or like use a 1/2 tablespoon to shape it, and then line it on a tray
Brush egg wash on top of each cookie
Bake at 165C for 15-20 minutes or till golden brown

Yields 35 cookies (for the 1/2 tablespoon size)

I would say the project has been quite successful for Peanut Cookies first attempt and the achievement of the ultimate Dragon Cookies. I am even contemplating to do second round of Peanut Cookies with some tweaks that I have learnt, oh well, we shall see if this lazy tham jiak will get around to that (psst, which might be next CNY!). Still, I think I deserved a pat on the head for finally meeting one of my initially-s, that is baking for CNY! Not to forget one pat for M as well for her perseverance!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bridesmaid in Need

I am just dropping a note here to say that I am alive and well. Life has been real busy, as I said that I was involved in my sister’s wedding tea ceremony and dinner. After all the stress and sleepless nights, I would say it went really well. Anyway, time for me to catch up on my work, I leave you here with one of my favourite shot of the day:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Home is where the Best Feasts are

I am back! Just a long weekend off for my favourite celebration of the year, I felt as if I have left for an entire year! There was so much to catch up on, I felt as if I had an overrun marathon for the whole week that left me breathless.

Although I had eaten so much within that long weekend regardless that I had forewarned myself, I can vividly remember all the wonderful feasts. Few of them was taken outside in restaurants as we do not want to tire our dear grandmothers and mothers, but those few home made feasts was what I treasured most.

On my Ah Ma side, it had been many years since she cooked a feast for our Chinese New Year as all her children want her to rest and relax, while on my Pho Pho side, it would be the usual feast of my favourite dishes such as jiu hu char, which had me standing by the side of the bowl, nearly finishing off by wrapping it in fresh raw lettuce and popping it into my mouth again and again, ah bliss, and also the must have heart-attacking duck soup, I swear that it is more of duck ‘oil’, but nonetheless irresistible! These home cooked feasts will have me gobbling up as if there were no tomorrow while I just nibble on the restaurant food, which once I got so sick off I cheated my way out of dinner by saying I wanted to visit my Lai Ma (Nanny), which I did of course but with no food.

Speaking bout my Lai Ma, she is another wonder woman in kitchen, apart from being a wonder woman of raising kids, which would be another whole story I will share soon. Last year, when I got real lucky, she had me sit down and feasted on her food during my visit. At that time I was already full from lunch at Pho Pho’s but staring at her version of Chinese New Year home feasting; I could not resist and proceeded to have second lunch of the day! I cursed myself for eating too much beforehand while continued on feasting anyway. So this year, with the reminiscence of the wonderful feast I had with the tastes still vividly at the tip of my tongue, I smarted my way out from a lunch out with my relatives in a restaurant and ‘visited’ my Lai Ma on Chor Yat (first day of Chinese New Year) itself. Beside the fact that I was really yearning to see both my Lai Ma and Lai Pa (her husband) after a long time, I was also secretly yearning for her special dishes.

When I got there, many people were there visiting already, including U and her brother which grew up with me together under my Lai Ma’s care. I waited patiently while enjoying their company and once they leave, I casually asked if there is lunch. My Lai Ma was extremely surprised “What! You haven’t had your lunch? Why didn’t you say so just now?” Glancing at the clock which was showing only near to 3pm, it wasn’t that late from lunch but from my Lai Ma’s reaction, just like how a typical Chinese would react, it would had seemed like I had been starving for years. Quickly, she had me get the rice while she got me a big bowl of ham choy thong (salted vegetable soup). I stared at the spread in front of me and proceeded to enjoy the feast, this time with lots of room in my tham jiak stomach to fit in.

The ham choy thong is how I always remembered it would be, as she cooks it quite frequently, salty, slightly spicy and sourish, which serves real well as an appetizer. Then there was the must-have steamed chicken, eaten with her homemade green chili sauce. Another meat dish is the lor bak (deep fried marinated minced pork rolled in thin soybean sheets) which was home made by my Lai Ma’s sister was really good too. The chunky minced pork was really juicy and fragrant while the soybean sheets were perfectly crunchy. My Lai Ma made pickled cucumber to eat with it, which surprisingly pairs really well together and to me, it was better than the usual Loh sauce (dark sauce thicken with corn starch, usually served at the hawker stalls).

Then next is my favourite chow mangkuang (stir fried sliced yam bean) which tastes like my Ah Ma’s Cantonese version with added cuttlefish strips. This dish has similarity to my Pho Pho’s Hakka darker and much more sinful version, which is to be eaten best wrapped in fresh lettuces.

Finally, it was the star dish of the day, which was the first that came to my mind when I was reminiscing about her dishes of last year. It is the stir fried ngaku (arrowhead/arrowroots) with nam yue (fermented red beancurd) that despite looking weird with its pinkish hue, it was a real delight to the palate. Slight sweet yet salty and with just hints of nam yue (many people find this an acquired taste, but trust me it is just a slight complement here). This dish is also a darling to eat wrapped in fresh lettuce, but first slathered generously with tim cheong (sweet sauce). I once asked where to get the tim cheong and my Lai Ma said “Aiya, make it yourself. Very easy! Put this this and that that together, and ta-da – you got your ultimate tim cheong”. Sorry though I cannot remember those ‘easy’ steps, aih, they all make it sound so easy, time for me to buck up! I must start cooking and making more Chinese cuisines. This is definitely one better way to enjoy ngaku apart from the usual addictive fried ngaku crisps which are widely available (both homemade or store bought) at this time of the year.

I ate with such gluttony and tham jiak-ness that halfway through my feasting, Lai Pa took second helpings of rice and joined me together at the table. Now the real family feast has begun!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Too Much of Good Things

Been back to my home town as I said I would, where every year relatives from near and far try their best to return because of both my grandmothers, Ah Ma and Pho Pho. Just for the reunion day itself, I had already indulged in so much food, here is just a glimpse of some of them that I managed to captured:

Yes, and that is just for PRE-Chinese new year. I wonder if my tham jiak tummy can take more to come. Anyhow, this is one case where too much of good things is still good, great even!

I wish you all Happy Chinese New Year, 新年快樂. Till we meet again after all the feastings and gamblings!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Best of 2007

When I first read this event from One Hot Stove, I was like “wow, what a great idea!” Ecstatically I click to my own blog to review it for the year 2007. To my own disappointment though, I found Ithat I was actually a bad blogger of 2007, for the first half of the year I was practically missing in action, with just an occasional post as if to revive a dying blog. Then I started to pick up the momentum again for the last half year, with me resoluting recently to be once again active in the food blogging scene. Anyway with just the half year efforts of postings, and very little cooking, I will try to give you the bests of my blog in 2007, with more to look forward to in the New Year to come.

Best Recipe attempted in 2007

Banana Fro-yo
A delightful healthy treat that I have churned out many times every since
my first try, taking advantage of our local sweet bananas that are crazily cheap when they are at the ripest blackened time, which also meant the sweetest and softest time, best for churning to make Banana Frozen Yoghurt.

Best Restaurant discovered in 2007

Grandma’s Kitchen

J and I have been back there for numerous times when we hanker for some authentic home cooking fares. Never failed with many of the dishes we tried, maybe time for a second review when I had tried more new dishes.

Best Dish encountered in 2007

Som Tum

I have nearly expressed all my love for this dish in
my love letter, what more can I say about this sweet yet tangy delectable salad that had me looking out for it every time I am in Bangkok.

Best Idea thought of in 2007
Malaysian Floggers Interviews

The idea struck me one day out of nowhere that it would be great fun for me to interview the bloggers behind the scene of various great Malaysian food blogs out there. There are many more to come in 2008, as now Malaysian food bloggers are popping up like mushrooms after the rain, therefore they would certainly be interested in so many of our
seasoned food bloggers that had been around for years.

Best Place traveled in 2007


Alright, this one seem to be a bit cheating as it seems to be the only place I traveled that I blogged about but what who am I to resist, it was certainly a land of good food, great affordable massages and cheap yet trendy clothes. It was also
testified by many food bloggers out there.

Best Celebration and Gift for a tham jiak in 2007

My Birthday

It has to be definitely my birthday celebration where J had brought me to a buffet of delectable spread of food, food and more food. I wish it is my birthday again, but then again, we all do not need a reason to splurge once a while on food right (hinting to J)?

Cooking and eating resolutions for 2008
These resolutions would seem like the most
overused and over committed resolutions of this blog, just like the resolution to lose weight by so many people of this world, year after year. But somehow, we can’t run away from our unfulfilled resolutions, it will haunt us till we finally make it, therefore along with the crowd of just-human, I resolute to once again do more cooking and baking; try to eat in more often on my own home cook fares, make more delicious and healthy desserts for breakfasts or munchies, bake cakes for my family, 1984 and friends for their birthdays, start again on my abandoned ‘Exploring My Origin' project, venture out to try more of the food that Malaysia have to offer, travel to more places to eat what the locals eat and most of all, to put it all into this humble tham jiak blog of mine to share with everyone in the food blogosphere, where without you all, I would not have learn so much on cooking, baking and enjoying food to its fullest! In other words, I am aiming to be more tham jiak in the coming year, he-he.

Till then, see you next year and I wish you a very Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Winter in Malaysia

So it is end of the year again. December always seem to be the special month of the year, something like a black sheep of the family. Technically it is no different of any other month in the year, but somehow it is special. To some it would mean Christmas but to the Chinese it would mean Dongzhi Festival, for the school goers it would mean holiday and for many others it would just mean the end of year, the time to reflect, to pay gratitude and settle personal debts if there are.

As a Malaysian Chinese, even though I have never been to my origin of country before, China, where my grandparents and great-grandparents came from, I was like the rest here who had never forgetten their culture. We are still tied very much to our roots, calling ourselves Chinese, proudly claiming which clan we are from – Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Teo Chew, and Hainan and so on. It is so natural, where one Chinese would ask another their surname (to judge) or just asking straight out which clan they are from.

So even though we have long (or always) been living in Malaysia, and even with the ever predictable weather of either rain or shine, we still carried on the tradition of celebrating Dongzhi (Winter Solstice) Festival, where in Cantonese we call it Kor Tong, loosely translated as 'passing through the winter'. So in order to kor tong, the tradition is to eat Tong Yuen (glutinous rice dumplings), along with various hot sweet soup, my Ah Ma usually make the sweet ginger soup version. It seems that we like to celebrate with glutinous rice, reminded me of my Bak Chang for Duan Wu festival.

As I said before, after coming up to KL, away from family, I seldom have the chance to enjoy all these festivals anymore, what more to have the chance to eat Ah Ma’s tong yuen. I wish I would have the chance to once again make these with her, rolling of colorful balls, making them round this time. Fortunately though, I had a chance to eat home made tong yuen this ‘winter’ as J’s mum made some for the family. J and I only had it today, late from the real date because we had been away for a weekend escapade with friends (food adventure to follow soon). I was so happy when I found that J’s mum had made the sweet ginger soup version, this one sweeten with my favourite gula Melaka. J’s mum made small plain tong yuen in pinks and also big white ones with crushed peanuts filling. It was absolutely delicious! So I guess now I have officially kor tong, what bout you?

By the way to everyone who is celebrating, Merry Christmas, and to the Chinese of the world, Happy Dongzhi and I wish you all abundant with family and friends reunions.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Man of the House

Oh boy, am I glad I finally have the time to sit down and write. I barely had time to breath nowadays, sneaking only time in betweens to read my favourite blogs, flitting in and out like a busy bee. Well, all this is because I am packing the house (more like throwing out garbage), selling what I deem not needed, arranging where to put the rest of the boxes, tits tats of furnitures and my many BIG boxes of kitchen appliances, utensils, gadgets and I don’t even want go there now, ha-ha. This is what happen when a cook decide to shift. Again you ask, when just a year more ago I told you I moved into a new neighbourhood. Yes again, this time, I am moving into my own apartment! Yay! J and I had bought an apartment somewhere in the heart of PJ, which I can only officially move in most likely next year, so I have to unload a lot of things now. It is taking up my every weekend, and most of my free weekdays. Then there is the loan, the legal stuff, the call here and there and everything else. In short, it is really exhausting.

Nevertheless, today I was lucky to be release early from a work training today, therefore this post. I have been meaning to post is since the beginning of this month, which was my dad’s birthday. Yes my dad, the pillar of my house and the foundation of my family.

Every dad is special to every little girl, just like how my dad is. Since the day I was born, he had never really raise his voice on me, not to mention laid hands on me. But he had his ways to keep us (my sister and I) in check, his “because I say so” and his silent treatments. No matter how though, I always see through his scheme. I am the little girl of the house, hardheaded at most times but usually using her charms to manja (pamper) her way through his heart. Whenever he tried to put up his steel manner, I would manja if I ever see there is a chance to get what I want (opportunity sighting is learnt throughout the years of living together), so I usually end up with what I want. But I had never abuse this power though, cause at times I know there are many things that even the best charm can never change or get.

My dad is in someway whom we like to tease in Malaysia, China-man, which actually loosely translated to the same style of the ancient Chinese people’s thinking, but not necessarily meaning it in a bad way. He was strict and conservative in his sense, protective towards his only two daughters, and manly about his house rules. Anyway, as my sister and I grew older, he had learnt to take off his protective net, and let us roam ourselves out in the world. So far, as he is always nearby, traveling forthnighly back to Taiping, we always find chance to come out for a dinner during Sunday nights, just like how we used to do as a family those days. During our Taiping days, we always go out for a full fledged Chinese dinner on Sunday night, its like a ritual. Then we would always go to the same restaurant again and again until we are so bored of it we would change to another, and then the vicious cycle begin again. Anyway, no matter what, I love you, dad!

So back to dad and his birthday, this year, mum insist that all of us go back to Taiping to celebrate. So of we all drove back in 3 separate cars, sis and her boyfriend, J and I and then dad, pardon us for the pollution, but as I told you, my mum insisted. Oh well, since she had came up in our numerous occasions, we all agreed to head home. Then during one of our MSN sessions, yes my mum DO surf the net and chit chat on messengers, she casually mentioned that I should bake a cake for dad. It tugs at my heart, I badly wanted to, but I know time is not on my side. Anyhow, due to perseverance, I got up that early Saturday morning, after arriving the night before in Taiping after midnight, and got over to my Nanny’s house and bake a cake, no so direct as I had to decide a recipe then from one of her old cookbooks, drove out to get the remaining missing ingredients (fortunately everywhere is near in Taiping), and came back to bake the

Chocolate Cake with Sliced Peaches

Yes it is a weird combination, I admit. It is the spur of the moment, desperate searching ways to spruce up a basic chocolate cake recipe to make it fit for a birthday celebration. The supermarket is out of cheese, and there are not much lovely fruits to choose from, so I resorted to a can of sliced peaches. Therefore, I had to improvise, I had to make do, and when I assemble it I pray it will work well together, which I can say it did, not exceptionally well as in why-we-never-think-of-this or what-a-wonder-combination kind, but just the alright, it-is-special-and-not-bad kind. But don’t be put off as the chocolate cake itself was good, coming from an old Singaporean cookbook, it was moist, delicious and just right, not too sweet, Asian style chocolate cake. Definitely a must try, and you can then use your own ways to spruce it up or just eat it plain or dip into the chocolate glaze (as I did with the chocolate cake pieces from the cut cake session), it was heavenly! Here goes, by the way I had halved the recipe to make an 8-inch cake.

100g chocolate (use the rich kind, I used Varlhona)

Shift together:
112g flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of baking soda
28g cocoa

100g sugar
½ tsp baking soda
5 eggs, separated (I hope I got this right from memory, missed it out from my handcopy)
155g butter
¼ tin condense milk
1 tsp vanilla essense
1 tbsp brandy

Heat oven to 175 degrees.
Melt chocolate over steaming water (like the usual bain marie kind or my Nanny’s bowl-in-water-Asian-style kind)
Beat egg whites with half the sugar till fluffy. Add baking soda and beat till stiff but not dry.
beat butter and remaining sugar till light and fluffy (old books love this word)
Add condense milk by spoonful into the batter, beat well.
Add in melted chocolate bit by bit and beat till incorporated.
Add egg yolks, one at a time, beat well each time
Add vanilla and brandy, beat till blend.
Pour into the prepared and lined 8-inch pan.
Baked for bout 45-55 minutes (we had some trouble during baking, so do not have the exact right time) or till skewer comes out clean (use this method then)

Chocolate Glaze
Whipped up by me out of memory of many food blogs’ recipes I read and the remaining ingredients lying around

110g butter
110g chocolate

Melt them together over slow heat
Let cool a little and then scoop over chocolate cake

To assemble
Cut the cake in half (this was done skillfully by my Nanny)
Put the top side down, hiding the cracks if any
Slather chocolate icing liberally over the cake (cut side)
Arrange the slices of peach around it
Put the other cake slice over, cut side down
Pour the rest of the icing over the cake, forming a lovely overflowing chocolatey fountain
Nanny and I wish we could devour it then when the chocolate cake is dousing in the chocolate sauce, but we put it in the freezer instead and let it set

Then bring to the party and serves 8 people after a full Chinese course meal for sweet endings

Monday, September 10, 2007

J Birthday: Short but Sweet Celebration

This is one birthday post after another. What does this represents? On flip side it meant I am slacking in my post, on the other good side is that my life has been real rich, full of celebration and happiness.

Before this I was in a midst of writing a heavily-emotion-laden post, but I got a writer’s block. I could not seem to convey all my feeling into the post as I used to always can. Has something gotten into me? Or is it just writer’s block? Or is it an occasion blockage due to overdose of changing, celebrating life and dreams that are piling high?

Anyway, since my brain is clogged, I shoved that post aside to draft and instead post up event instead. I would keep this post simple as well as fun as how it should be for it is a birthday post for J. Yes, it was a year since my bake out for J, and as a quote runs dry due to too many usages, I would still say that this time I am too busy to actually cook or bake anything. Thus I make a mental note for myself; I can and should cook regardless of the occasion whenever I had the chance.

Anyway, J treated his family to a lovely dinner at Tai Thong, where we filled our tummy to our hearts’ content.

First up was the stir-fried vegetable (I forgot the Chinese name, what more it’s English’s) with belacan. It was up to par with the usual Chinese eateries out there but the price was a tad bit ridiculous, above even meats.

Then it was the wu tau kau yok (braised pork belly with yam slices). What makes this dish special is the presents of nam yue (fermented red bean curd). I can’t seem to find more description of it, but let’s just say, it has an unique taste and it gives dishes pink hues. This wu tau kau yok is a dish where either you love it or you hate it. For me I used to dislike it, but now, the taste had somehow hooked on and thus, become a favourite of mine. The version here in Tai Thong was good, really home-cooked type. I’m not too sure though the origin of this dish, not Cantonese I suppose as my Ah Ma did not cook it, certainly don’t have those criterias. This dish is definitely not light literally or in spices term.

Anyway, next up was the yu pin chow keong (stir-fried fish slices with ginger). This was my favourite dish, as I love ginger (maybe unconsciously had cheered on due to fact it’s expelling air properties, which was usually what I need most). Besides, the fish slices was smooth and sweet, the ginger was just enough with the spring onions. Absolutely delish.

Then it was we also ordered claypot taufu with minced pork, nothing too spectacular but still delicious.

Besides this we also had nam yue pai kuat (fried pork ribs coated with fermented red bean curd). Nam yue again, you might ask, but it was nowhere similar to the wu tau kau yok, still with nam yue taste but definitely more prominent and just that. I had this dish elsewhere which was better and crispier. We also ordered Mooncake at the end as our dessert, as now mooncake is full of varieties due to research and development here, this one was a twist from the traditional flavour, snow skin beans with mashed egg yolk. I forgot to take picture for it, thus I took the liberty to cut out the picture from the website, please do not sue me. This mooncake was good, smooth filling, not too sweet and just enough flavouring. This is also the ping-pei type (chilled soft skin), in oppose to the baked ones.

Overall, I would say Tai Thong offered worth the money for the food and the atmosphere, but they seriously lack in their service part. So if they buck up on this area, it would be a really good place for family celebration or gatherings.

Summer Palace Chinese Restaurant (Damansara Utama)
101, Ground Floor, Wisma Dijaya
Jalan SS20/1, Damansara Utama
47400 Petaling Jaya
03 7726 8616
Mon - Sat
11.30am - 2.30pm
6.30pm - 10.30pm
Sun & Public Holidays
9.00am - 2.30pm
6.30pm - 10.30pm

Anyway, back to J. It is after all his birthday. This time, as I had said, I did not cook or bake. So where is the cake? Well, I wanted to get a special cake (as well I confessed that it fits well with my last minute buying), so I bought these cakes, yes cakes, from Secret Recipe (a well known cake house and café in Malaysia, more to that next time).

Isn’t it lovely? Well now everyone can taste a bit of everything, I tried to get all cheese cakes for it was J’s favourite, but I sneaked in a chocolate one (think of the love affair) as I could not resist and also not to forget it’s famous Chocolate Banana Cake, which J also likes very much.

I thought I said this would be a short post, well I guess my (tham jiak) brain start working again when it got to food. Nontheless, with tummies filled and sweet teeth satisfied, overall it was a good celebration, wouldn’t you agree?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Birthday: Prolonged Celebration

My birthday came and went, not in a fast food fashion but instead in a motion of a candlelight dinner that seems to last forever (or till the restaurant closed). It had stretched from the day before my birthday till even a week and more after it, which I had still been celebrating, with food of course. When it comes to celebration, it would inadvertently mean food. What more for this Tham Jiak girl, it would definitely be food, more food and good food at that.

As this year, unlike my last year celebration where I baked a cake for myself, sis and cousin, I had instead sit back and relax (or in more truthful term: lazy), and enjoyed all there is to eating out. Even the cake is store bought at the very last minute. Then the rest are bought by my lovely friends, which coincidently bought cakes from the same bakery but only different flavours. They did had the better choice than me as the cake I got was not really up to par, even my overdue-cheesecake could have been better.

After a year since my previous birthday celebration it was not all that different, I still had the same trio of celebration with the same families sitting together for a lovely dinner, but somehow it is different. I still had party with my bunch of friends, only this time in two separate occasions (of two separate groups) and all eating out. But why I feel that it is different? Is it because I have matured another year? Is it because I am no longer a carefree student enjoying until the few-last-24 hours torture prior to each exam? Is it because this time I am paying instead of my daddy? Is it because I am now facing self sustenance and not anymore the family’s baby (though I never have been one anyway)?

Looking back, this year had been a new phase of life for me. After throwing the mortar, I am now running the rat-race like most people just because we are all finding for a piece of cheese, or a slice of it or just more cheese. How was it? It was really different. Again. Yes, different again. It is a dog-eat-dog world out there, not surprising to me as I have been warned way before I stepped into it. But in the usual law of the nature, where there are blacks because there are whites, then where there are some who are not-too-good-to-mention-what people, there are also many who are helpful, sincere, genuine and simply nice.

Anyway, back to the topic of my birthday, or else I would start preaching. It seems funny how people take the extra efforts on birthday to catch up with each other, a reason to be all loopy and cheery and also an occasion to splurge without worries. Well, I am one who falls into this cliché category. After the celebration with my families who I had only seen on and off for quite a while ago, I had finally catch up with my universities friends as well, which guilty as charge, I must say it had been a year since I met them. It was really cool to catch up and listens to many stories of jumping ships as well as smooth sailing ones and not to mention rocky and ready to sink ones as well. Then by next weekend, I then arranged a gathering for my high school 1984 buddies at Chillis One Utama. It had been ages since we all meet up (all 10 except 1 who is in Taiping), and it was amazing how we can actually all get together for a designated time, with our separate busy routines. Well, as my good friend L says, “it just takes someone to organize, and somehow everyone will try to make it”. Then it was the week thereafter that I celebrated with my ex and current colleagues. Didn’t I warn you early on that my birthday had been like a prolong candlelight dinner where the restaurant seems to open 24 hours?

Besides the many celebrations that I had, with friends and family, last but definitely not least, I must talk about one that every tham jiak (food-lover) goes weak at the knee for. Yes, it’s definitely the act of filling one’s tummy with as much delicious food as one can from savouries to sweet endings. J, as I had said, a true partner any tham jiak girl can ever ask for, took me to an Italian buffet lunch at Avanti, Sunway Hotel. Oh boy, what a feast we had.

First I had numerous rounds at the raw sort-of-Japanese section where I took as many sashimis as I can devour and thoroughly enjoyed it. The raw salmon and tuna was fresh, the raw oyster, with freshly squeezed lemon on it was simply lovely.

Then I head on to the main dishes. There was not too many selections, but most of them are well thought out and made with care. Thought the chicken breast was bit too dry and hard, the rest was delicious. There were many fishes such as salmon, cod and a few more which was cooked tenderly and each accompanied by complementary sauces. For a fish lover like me, it was heaven. Then there was the beef and lamb, which was tender and just right. The cheesy lasagna was also great, but I stopped myself from taking more in order not to fill up.

I missed the appetizer section earlier on, thus I had it after my mains. It was great, but I forgot to take pictures. I built my own cheese platter from the selections, enjoying it with candied nuts and fruits. There were also the well roasted zucchinis and tomatoes. The miss here was the brushetta-like bread topped with beans and tomatoes, it was quite bland.

Finally, the moment came for me to enjoy what every girl would enjoy most in a buffet, the dessert section! I eagerly filled up my plate with a little of everything. Once again it was hit and misses, but sadly mostly misses. The desserts here were not up to par as I had expected it to be, which I might set too high. Just like how one goes in to watch a movie with great expectation and somehow ended up not enjoying as much as he would if he had not expected it in the first place. Among all, I would say the tiramisu was good, though not your classic type but still good in its own fusion way. The mini chocolate fondue where a dipped marshmallows and strawberry was nice, for a chocolate lover this is a bias review.

As it is my birthday, Avanti had his chef going around singing birthday songs to the babies of the day. Turns out there were about 5 other kids who are having the same birthday as me. Anyway, the chef came and sang me a really cool rendition of birthday song, accompanied by violin as well as two of the sous-chef (I guess) singing along. They brought this ‘cake’ when they sang for me. The chef certainly has a good vocal, what a talent for both cooking and singing.

That marks the end of my gluttonous brunch, it seems like I ate all the meals of the day in one seating. I was more of satiated then bloated, so it was a really satisfied meal, albeit at the end of the full scale. Every table was set with a clean white sheet and a glass of crayons for scribblings to accompany the meal (note the background of the food pictures). We did end up filling the paper to our own amusement. It was a nice touch to the overall ambience here.

Well not to get too lengthy like my over-celebrated birthday, I would end my birthday post with a note to self:

The best birthdays of all are those that haven't arrived yet. – Robert Orben

Avanti, Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel
Persiaran Lagoon, Bandar Sunway,
46150 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.
(603) 7492 8000

Monday, December 25, 2006

Quiet Dinner for Two

Where have I been missing from Bangkok? Well, I have been catching up my lost weeks in Malaysia, relaxing and enjoying Malaysian food once more, nothing beats going out and deprive from your usual food to fully appreciate it again. It reminds me of the time I left my hometown and came to live in KL; that is when I start missing home food, Taiping-style food and appreciate it so much more every time I’m back in town. As for now, I went and visited all the food I miss since Bangkok. Don’t get me wrong though, Bangkok food is great, it excites my palate and I’m hooked to one or two of their dishes. But somehow, nothing beats home.

For now, since its Christmas time, let this be a Christmas related post then (yes, it’s an excuse on my long overdue Bangkok food post). Yesterday, just for time of giving spirit, I cooked up some simple fare for J and I to enjoy together, thus escaping the hassle to go out, with the roads jammed with cars and the restaurants jammed with hungry people.

I cooked a variation of fish curry, adapting from the trusted source Kuali, in order to fit what I had in the pantry (sounds familiar). The fish came out alright, though not as good as the Assam Fish I did before, but this one does have a lot more spicy kick with an extra personal touch to it. To accompany it, I came up with the idea of chow fan (fried rice) at the last moments. So it’s just a simple fare of chow fan with curry fish, enough to fill two happy tummies while enjoying the peace of home.

The fish turned with hidden spiciness, like how when you eat some dish, it was not spicy at first or two taste, but then when you continue on, you will feel the burning sensation in your mouth and then it is your tummy on fire. I must have put too much cili padi (bird’s eye chilli). Anyway, it was good, could have been better with okra but I did not get them during grocery shopping as they sold it in huge pack and it looks not-too-fresh. I would not be sharing the recipe as I believe it could be better, somehow lacking in something, this taught me not to mess with a recipe too much.

As for the chow fan, I did it by my simple rules of ultimate chow fan. This time, it is much simpler as it would not be a main dish itself but just an accompaniment to my fish. So I just chopped up some shallots, fried it till slightly soft, throw in finely chopped long bean (my absolute favourite in chow fan, it gives the crunch and the nutrition I might add) and fry again for a minute. Then in went the rice, fry a little and pour in the sauce, which is a mixture of dark soy sauce, soya sauce, sesame oil, pepper and water. I added a little too much water this time, resulting in a less-than-perfect chow fan which was bit sticky. For extra seasoning, I splash some fish sauce and rice wine vinegar. Then of course, an ultimate chow fan must end with egg coating, to seal up the goodness and turn up the taste a notch. Oh if you have notice, there is no garlic in present, yes I ran out of it, but I believe with it, it would have been so much more fragrant.

So there, it wraps up my Christmas dinner for two. Now on you go to enjoy your holidays, while I see would I be able to squeeze in some last minute baking and also, not to forget my Bangkok food posts to come! Cheers!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cupcakes-ful of Love

Been on a blogging hiatus and I guess there are no better reason than that I have been having fun and eating well. Oh yes, just had two weekends getaway, which the latest one have me and J on a gastronomic excursion up north, no prizes for guessing where it is. Yes you have said it, Penang the food haven of course. The place where all foodies claim to be the one place you must go to stuff your face if you are ever in Malaysia. The place where even when the Penangites themselves have long move out from their hometown, would still scuff at the every apparent mock-Penang-food they find, which are vastly available everywhere in Malaysia. I leave this now to your desires until the time I post up my honest tried and enjoyed reviews. Don’t frown yet, as I promise more than a few posts of my gastro-adventure coming soon, so bear with me for now as the focus should be on J.

Why you ask? Well, it was actually J’s birthday the past 12 days ago (so that’s the REAL reason behind the absence), and so we had been on a prolong celebration. The trip was actually meant for him, but being such a sweet guy, J went on with me to do what I love most instead, that is to EAT. Ah, such tham-jiak-ness to a point of no return. How did J put up with these? Could it be because I could churn out
his greatest weakness anytime, tempt him with many cakes, trying variations of our vices, reward him with surprises from time to time, whip up something when hunger strikes and also many of my little Chinese cookouts that I tried, reenacting my Ah Ma’s simple dishes.

Aside all these, all I know is that he is putting up his best with me and my food such as my camera frenzy, especially after I got the new one, where I need to take every picture of every food before consuming, as if it’s a ritual (does anyone out there have the same problem as me?). Sometimes he just wants to dig in straight but I had to warn him not to touch it until I take a decent shot (which takes quite a few tries) and sometimes I just had to give in and let the hungry boy down his food (especially when he is having the tham-jiak face on too). Then he also has to put up with certain degree of humiliation when I go around taking picture of people preparing food. You will sure hear more of these in my Penang-tales to come. In despites the once a while frowning, J had been a great partner in crime of my food endeavors. He had
came early in the morning to try my new bakes, bring me to breakfasts (my favourite) and try out new places (knowing well I would go into the picture-taking frenzy), search high and low for some place I read on some foodblog which I insist I must try (or die), and taking me to places he tried which was superb and he would want to share it with me. How much more wonderful can a foodie have from her partner?

Well, I would not be going into details of how J is, I guess the aforementioned of him and my tham-jiak-ness shall suffice. As for now, the cake, the one ultimately should have been the reason of this post. For J’s birthday I wanted to make something special, something different from my
1984’s cakes bake-out. So I decided to make him cupcakes adorn with letters on top to form a certain message (it shall be between us). No prize for guessing again, oh yes, I made it with chocolate and cheese. After all this two combination meant a lot to us.

Black Bottom Cupcakes with ‘Icing’ and Chocolate Love Letters
Adapted from David Lebovitz, at Leite’s Culinaria

I did some variations on the recipes, substituting chocolates with chopped Oreos that I happen to have extras on hand (ok I admit it’s a big purchase from my company’s warehouse sale). That move actually causes semi-disaster as the cheese portion overflow and was left with ugly bumps on the top of the cupcake due to the huge Oreos chunks. So I had to come up with last minute idea to cover it. I found that the cupcake was not really sweet (yes, I gobbled up one, but just because it split to half due to my clumsy hands when releasing it for the first time), as I had lessen the sugar amount in the original recipe. So I decided to sprinkle the cupcakes liberally with icing sugar till most of the ugly bumps are covered, and then adorn it with chocolate letters. When J tried it, he said it was the best (cup)cake I had ever bake (he had too) and then commented that it has frosting too! Then later I realize that he thought the cheeses was the frosting, as I had bought an inferior cream cheese instead (cause the shop I went to ran out of Philadelphia), so it was not cheesy enough to be noticeable. If I am ever to try this recipe again, I would make sure I buy good quality cheese, stick with chopped chocolates instead of Oreos, stick with the sugar ratio and would pour in the cheese right on top of the chocolate batter; instead of how I tried to spoon it in initially (you wouldn’t want to know how).

250g cream cheese
Scant 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 egg
60g of bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chop (which I had substitute with Oreos)

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
5 tbsps Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp white/red vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

50g chocolate
25g of butter

Cheese Filling:
Beat together cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth
Stir in the chopped chocolate pieces
Set aside

Preheat oven to 175C.
Butter a 12 cup muffin tin, (or like me bake it in two batches of 6 holes muffin tin, I had a small oven remember)
In medium bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together.
Mix in the brown sugar.
In separate bowl, combine the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla.
Make a well in the center of the dry mixture, then stir in the wet mixture, till smooth
Do not overmix
Divide batter into the muffin holes, using a spoon, pour the cheese filling into the center of each cupcake, up to the brim
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or till top are golden brown and feel springy when pressed

Frosting (less than an hour before serving a birthday boy):
Melt the extra chocolate and butter in the microwave, stir once a while
Set aside and let cool
Pour it into a piping bag, or like me a ketchup squeeze bottle
Sift icing sugar on the cupcakes generously, till fully coat the top
Squeeze out the chocolates in letters you desire onto the icing sugars

Stick one little candle on one of the cupcakes
‘Surprise’ the birthday boy
Sing the age-old song
Demand him to make a wish first before blowing out the candle
Then make him eat at least two cupcakes
Later sneak into the kitchen and try it out yourself

Serves a birthday boy, the baker and his family (12 cupcakes)

Friday, September 08, 2006


Let’s see. Where do I start? There is so much to tell about a friend of mine, which is extraordinary in her own way. A girl I had mentioned quite a number of times in this blog. Y is a girl of exuberance. A girl who has a sweet smile on the face at all times. If I have to sum her up in one word, smile would would be it. She is smiling when she is walking, she is smiling when she is talking and she is even smiling when she is singing. Yes, she is a girl that smiles and brings joy to whoever she is with.

I have known Y more than 10 years ago, our passionate relationship kicks off when we both found ourselves sharing the same love for basketball. Then our friendship was forged deeper when we had the same class at 14, where we formed 1984; where we had tons and tons of laughter, excitement and adventure.

Our friendship was brought to the next level as we both came to the strange world of KL together, looking for more to life after the peaceful years of schooling and good food at the haven we are in. I call it fate that we both end up in the same college and soon end up as room mate, then to condo-cum-studio-mate and till now, housemate and not to forget, also my band mate. She had always been with me in KL, so to me; she is like my family here. I know I will always have someone to look to, to confide in and to share with, in times joy or turbulence.

I wish there is more I can tell about Y, as believe me she is not as simple as that. But somehow it seems impossible to mention everything about her. I can confidently say that she had always been a great friend, who never failed to be there for me when I needed and will always still be there for me even when I don’t need it. Confusing as it may seems, but believe me, she would understand what I mean. Love you Y, and have a great year ahead as a girl with the age-of-double-number. Cheers.

Extremely ChocolateY Chocolate ‘Kou
Adapted from Molly, Orangette

I made a cake for Y, specifically with all her preferences. I forgot to mention that she is a girl of acquired taste, extremely stubborn (which means if she does not like one thing, she would not ever change her mind bout it, no matter how much you try with all sorts of variation), a bit of a traditionalist and have a strong degree of liking to chocolate (who doesn’t?), and with certain specific no-no. She does not eat anything which is too bitter (thus degrade the idea she is addicted to chocolate, lets just add that she loves sweet things too), or anything with nuts, raisins or just anything round, hard or soft or whatsoever that appears in where she thinks it should not. Basically, she loves her food plain, simple and delicious. Since she has the weakness for chocolate, I decide to go all the way out to make an extremely decadent chocolate cake, which is flourless, and of course devoid of any trace of her no-nos.

I had been attracted to this cake since the day I read it at Orangette but have yet to find the occasion for such indulgence. Now this time, Y is going to be the victim, as the result of the cake is certainly addictive. When Y and my friends bit into it, they moaned with pleasure and I am not exaggerating here. In Y's words, she mentioned that the cake does not have the texture like regular cake at all but more to like ‘kou’ (as in kuih, like a marriage between pudding and cake), thus the name I christened it.

I would also recommend to use the best chocolate you can find (for me I would certainly go for bittersweet but since it is for Y, I used Vochelle cooking chocolate instead) and also the best butter, full fat kind, oh and the freshest egg around. I said this was good but I also said it was decadent remember.

200 g best-quality chocolate (bittersweet, unless for someone like Y)
200g full fat butter
220g granulated sugar
5 eggs
1 tbsp all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 180C.
Line an 8-inch round cake pan with foil.
Finely chop the chocolate and melt it with butter in a double boiler or microwave, stirring regularly.
Add sugar to the chocolate-butter mixture, beat well and set aside to cool.
Then add in the eggs one at a time, beat well with a wooden spoon at each addition (I like this traditional way, working my arms over the batter).
Add the flour and mix well.
Pour batter into the pan and bake for 25-35 minutes (mine took quite long, I covered the top half way through to avoid burning), until the top is slightly burnt but the middle is still jiggly.
Pull the cake out immediately with the foil and let it cool.
Then slowly peel away the foil, then be strong and store it away into the refrigerator for a at least a day (Molly said its better the day after and I’m not going to compromise this).
Before serving, take it out and decorate as desire to fit for a birthday girl (in my case a huge love to sweet Y).
Then slice thinly to indulge slowly (you have been warned).

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Taking On the World

"When you leave here, don't forget why you came." Adlai Stevenson, to college graduates

I have finally graduated. Oh yes, it had been sometimes since the days I left my universities, hanging around, looking for job, shift to new place and getting into this new job, but somehow, only after the convocation, I felt that I have finally officially leave my student-hood behind me. Now armed with a scroll, I am ready to take on the world!

Reminiscing, it seems like only yesterday that I had step out the comfort of Taiping into this middle of the peninsular. I can still remember vividly the time Y and I ventured into the bustling area of Wangsa Maju. We were so excited that on the first night itself we just walk out and wander around the area. We do not even know where we are heading or what we are searching for. Instead, food found us. We are in midst of all sorts of food, cheap yet good eats. We are introduced to so much new hawker food fare that can never be found in our home sweet hometown, among those are like kampar fishball noodles, pork ball noodles, curry mee KL style, chee cheong fun KL style, nasi lemak ayam from the numerous mamak stalls, claypot lou shi fun, my favourite banana leaf and yu tau mai (fish head noodle). People say that good food cannot be found in Klang Valley, but I digress, as good food might not have originated from here, but it seems to have found its way here from all over Malaysia. Food connoisseurs set up stall claiming from somewhere famous like Penang Char Kuey Teow, Kampar Fishball Noodles and so forth, making this place a food haven, where you can get the best of everything under one roof, technically. In my opinion, if you know where to look, you are sure to find good eats around Klang Valley. Nowadays, with foodblogging fever catching on in Malaysia, I have been reading numerous Malaysian blogs that features a whole bunch of good eats around Klang Valley, which had been extremely informational and also not to mention dangerous as it makes me want to go out and satisfy my desires right away.

Typical of this tham jiak girl to start ranting about food while reminiscing of her days long gone. Let me get back to my graduation, ah yes, the convocation. It was certainly a once in a lifetime event, that my parents came, along with my Pho Pho accompanied by my aunt. How sweet of them. Although I had not been as excited about it the day before as I should, but during the time in the event itself, I was overwhelmed by a multitude of feelings. During the time we were waiting to go in the hall, I saw parents rushing around; once I saw a couple calling their child on the handphone, looking lost, I felt touched that how parents would come our of their own comfort cocoon to this unknown world just to see their child up there taking a piece of paper. This is how huge parents love is. Later, during the moment standing in the front row waiting for the time to go up, I felt honoured and proud that I have finally made it through the way I would I want it to be. I hope my parents are proud too.

J’s convocation was in the afternoon session and so he did not get to attend mine, but in the wee hours of the morning he had took me there, how sweet, and then he came again later in the afternoon to pick me up. I had let my parents leave early as the place was packed and I wanted to take more pictures with my uni-mates. Well, during the time he picks me and before his own convocation starts, we squeeze in a bit of time to go out to lunch. Oh yes, time to talk about food once again. J took me to end my desires about this superb yu tau mai (fish head noodles) that he had been raving about; it’s nearby his office, which I would preen with jealously every time he described it to me. KL has loads of good food but I, living near the PJ suburb seldom have the luxury to try it, therefore this is one of those golden times I get to, just the right time to celebrate my graduation, with food of course.

The place that J took me to is a little stall, off Jalan Raja Laut, that seems like it had been there since eons ago. When you got into it, you can see that it is filled with localites, looking like regulars who certainly had been coming back again and again. We took a sit near the side and ordered like how everyone would, yu tau mai and yit cha (brewed Chinese tea) for two. The yu tau mai comes in a huge claypot, the soup still boiling hot.

Yu tau mai is actually fish head noodles, where the broth is boiled from the fish bones with ginger and milk, and then the fish meat would be deep fried separately before being added into the soup along with everything else, depending on variations. This particular yu tau mai’s soup tasted really good, unlike some thick over-milky ones out there, this is surprisingly light yet not lacking in taste. Then it is filled with loads of liu (ingredients) such as fried fish head (of course), soft tofu, yam cubes (I seldom encounter this outside), beancurd, lala (clams), fishballs, homemade rice noodles (thicker than the usual meehoon but softer) that are garnished generously with parsley. The soup is really addictive, with J and I nearly finishing all of it, and the homemade noodles are springy and good, which sets this bowl (or rather claypot) of noodles out from its peers. Certainly a gem found in this quaint little stall hidden behind the busy bustling KL. I wish I could have the address to give, but I hope you are adventurous enough to find this stall (the one with yellow red stripe canopy), at Jalan Tiong Nam, behind the row of shop houses along Jalan Raja Laut, on the same side of Wisma Sime Darby. Good luck and may the good food be with you ;)

Ong Lai
Jalan Tiong Nam,
Off Jalan Raja Laut,
Kuala Lumpur

P/S: I found another review over here at Wantan Production which have some extra directions.

Updated with the information from Wantan Production and babe (in comments).
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