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No-fail easiest Beef Stew ever!

No-fail easiest Beef Stew ever!

Feels like we’re in limbo, this MCO (movement control order). While some people get back to basics and unleash their inner chef, others are running out of ideas of what to cook. Frankly, after practically living in the kitchen these past few weeks, I opted 

Healthy Oatmeal Chia and Sunflower Seed Coconut Cookie

Healthy Oatmeal Chia and Sunflower Seed Coconut Cookie

Was the granola too tedious as you have to keep taking it out of the oven and putting it back in again? Maybe this could be simpler. I was thinking of making a healthier sort of cookie after I saw something in the supermarket. Then, 

Make your own Granola Extra

Make your own Granola Extra

It probably wasn’t a big surprise as most of us expected it. But still, when it was announced that another 2 weeks would be added to the Movement Control Order (MCO), it seemed like a lifetime sentence.

I know, I know. I’m feeling pretty restless myself. Keeping myself busy by pottering in the garden and trying different options in the kitchen.

In fact, it feels like we are eating healthier! Less take-out food, more cooking and baking, and I’m using up whatever ingredients I have at home and making the most of things.

Bread is being polished off the shelves as soon as it hits the stores. So, for a change, instead of bread for breakfast, try making your own granola.

My recipe is a revised version of the ones you can easily find on the Internet. I used dried orange peel, as I had some in the fridge as well as the last bits of some dried blackberries I found. But generally, dried apricot or large raisins or cranberries would be better. I call mine Granola Extra because apart from the basic rolled oats, raisin and nuts, I add in a whole lot of other ingredients so it packs a bunch of goodness.

It’s really up to you to add in all the seeds in this recipe, or you can omit some if you don’t have them. It doesn’t affect the outcome of the granola. Cut back on the sugar and salt, according to your own preference.

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups rolled oats (Instant oats don’t work. Trust me, I tried it. It doesn’t keep as long, and you don’t get a nice texture. And when you add milk, it becomes mushy real fast)

1 cup almonds (or walnuts/pecan), chopped chunky

1 cup dried fruits (suggested: cranberry, dried orange peel, raisin, sweetened ginger, pineapple, apricot)

1/2 cup desicated coconut (optional)

1/2 cup chia seed (optional)

1/2 cup sunflower seed

1/2 cup pumpkin seed (optional)

1/2 cup oil (something neutral like coconut oil, grapeseed or sunflower oil)

1/2 cup honey or maple syrup

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

Method

Heat up the oven to 150 degree Celcius in preparation.

In a separate container, whisk the sugar, oil and honey together until it is well-blended.

In a large bowl, add in all the dry ingredients (except the dried fruit) and mix together with a large wooden spoon.

Pour honey mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir everything together. Ensure everything, as much as possible, is coated with the syrup.

On a large baking tray, spread out the granola evenly. I like to use a baking sheet beneath as it makes it easier to wash.

Bake for about 15 minutes and then remove from the oven and mix the granola around so that the bottom half gets baked evenly. Repeat the process for about one hour and 15 minutes. (15mins x 5)

Remove from the oven and mix in the dried fruit. Or you can add in the fruits just before the last 15 minutes, if you prefer drier results.

Let it cool down before storing your precious Granola Extra. You can have it for breakfast, munch on a bowl as a snack instead of potato crisps, or sprinkle it on top of your ice cream or smoothie!

Mango smoothie bowl
Comforting gochujang tofu soup

Comforting gochujang tofu soup

I was getting tired of the usual ABC soup. And while double boiled soups are good and nourishing, but it takes time and ingredients. Time we have, but going out to buy ingredients can be challenging in these times. True blue ajummas may argue that 

Healthy cauliflower fried rice

Healthy cauliflower fried rice

We’re going into Day 3 of Restricted Control Order (RCO), and some people are already getting cabin fever. Since everybody is stuck at home, we might as well do some cooking, right? Most people can do, or have tried to do a basic fried rice. 

Neighbourhood joint Yi Pin Chu scores big

Neighbourhood joint Yi Pin Chu scores big

(UPDATE: YI PIN CHU CLOSED FOR GOOD POST MCO)

When weekends come by, we usually eat out as I wanna take a break from cooking. There are so many new cafes and restaurants popping up. Sometimes, I forget that there are many outlets in my own neighbourhood which I haven’t been to.

Passed by Yi Pin Chu Restaurant many times, but the signboard says Asian dessert so we normally don’t stop as Tong Sui (sweet soup/dessert) is not on our radar for lunch.

This time, I actually got out of the car and looked at the menu and saw that they had real food too, so we decided to go in as we didn’t want to go too far. There was quite a good variety of local fare as well as desserts.

We ordered Curry Laksa – something someone will always inevitably try – and No. 3 settled for Nasi Kerabu while I opted for Spicy Thai Chicken Chop.

The Laksa (RM8.20) was surprisingly very good and an unexpected hit. Slightly different version from what we are familiar with, this one had thicker rice vermicelli (coarse meehoon), prawns, fishcake, egg and bean sprouts. The soup was nicely thick yet not too rich, balanced in flavours. Totally forgive them for not having cockles and roast pork instead!

Also found out that Yi Pin Chu had been open for more than two years. Funny that only now we never noticed it but then, it is a little off the main street. It is also under the same management as Tang Pin Restaurant which specialises in fishballs and fishcake, which explains the larger fishcake slices in the laksa, better in terms of taste and quality.

The Nasi Kerabu (RM14.50) came with a generous chicken drumstick which no. 3 said was quite yummy as it was well-marinated, moist and juicy. The ensemble also had a half a salted egg, keropok, ulam and the blue rice was topped with lots of kerisik (coconut). Verdict: passed with flying colours.

Mine was the chicken chop (RM13.50). Tastewise it was not bad, but total fail in the presentation department. The menu showed a full piece of chicken while the actual dish came with the meat cut into small pieces on a bed of lettuce. More like a chicken salad?

When I asked the manager, he said, “If I serve one whole piece, but how will you be able to eat it?” So they so kindly cut it all up! (Me – rolls eyes). I ended up eating the chicken pieces with chopsticks.

For dessert we had Momo cha cha (RM5) which was a corruption of bubur cha cha, or more commonly called bo bo cha cha. I asked the manager what’s with the name, and his smart alec answer, “Oh, so that people would ask us about it, and then order it!”

Guess it worked as order it we did. It was thick, made rich with santan, and had quite a few pieces of yam and sweet potato. The other dessert we tried was cold mango with sago (RM6.50), with shaved ice and quite a few pieces of sweet mango. Also highly recommend this.

We noticed other tables ordering dumplings (pot stickers) so we had some too. At RM8 for a set of 8, each dumpling was adequately filled with meat and nicely juicy.

Round 2: We came back the next day for dinner again as No. 1 and No. 2 wanted to try the food too.

This time, I tried the Nasi Dagang (RM9.50), a Terengganu specialty, with mackerel fish curry and pickles. A very straightforward dish, everything hinges on the curry. I must say I was pleasantly surprised that the curry was pretty authentic, with a certain brightness brought on by a mellow sweetness.

The Signature Pan Mee (8.30) was ordinary though the noodle was slurp-worthy smooth, while the Nasi Lemak Rendang Chicken scored top marks for its creamy rendang chicken.

The Signature Lor Mai Kai was OK but predictable; the Yam Cake kinda weird as it smelt yeasty though Mr Manager said it was supposed to be like that, and the uncommon dessert on the menu was Double Skin Milk, which was kinda like yogurt or egg custard. Nice, but very filling as it’s a whole bowl of milk, after all. I’ve tried this in Hong Kong before but not here.

Generally, prices are more than reasonable, almost coffeeshop standards but you get a clean, comfortable air-cond environment, and food, for most part, above average. Guess this is gonna be one of my go-to haunts for the weekends!

Add: 25, Jalan SS 2/30, Petaling Jaya. Tel: 03-766 0725  

Burrito and burgers at Sushi Brito

Burrito and burgers at Sushi Brito

There’s sushi and there’s burrito, and then there’s Sushi Brito. Sushi Brito offers a mash-up of foods from two different cultures. A Sushi Burrito is essentially rice ball with stuff in the middle in long roll format or, imagine a California roll, except that the 

Refreshing and healthy Thai style sweet sour noodle

Refreshing and healthy Thai style sweet sour noodle

I was going for something different with meehoon (rice vermicelli) other than the usual stir-fry and meehoon soup variations, and I found a recipe for Thai minced beef noodle. This turned out quite refreshing and the boys gave their stamp of approval so I thought 

Japanese Specialty Food Festivity at Cilantro

Japanese Specialty Food Festivity at Cilantro

Generally, I love oysters, but Oyster and Ice Cream?

Chef Takashi Kimura makes it possible to have it all, with his take on Kakiemon Oyster and Ice Cream with Konbu Jelly. Not quite the blob of ice cream as one would expect, the cream in this instance provides richness to the lightly grillled oyster served chilled, sitting in the shell with oyster broth mixed with the briny Konbu Jelly.

This was slurped down the throat way too easily, and my only complaint was there was only serving of this spectacular dish!

This was the second course in resident chef’s specially curated 6-course dinner for the Japanese Specialty Food Festivity, excluding the main course and dessert, held at Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar, Micasa Kuala Lumpur.

Another standout dish was the main course, Hitachi Beef with Shaved Perigord Truffles. Never have I seen such generous shavings of truffle, and its enveloping aroma greeted diners way before the actual dish arrived.

The only Hitachi I know relates to appliances but I now know the Hitachi Prefecture has other wonderful facets.The thin marinated slices of marbled beef were juicy, flavourful and melt in your mouth tender, and the perfect accompaniment to the fragrant sticky rice beneath, moistened by an artfully hidden onsen egg.

One other dish was particularly memorable though for different reasons. Shirako with Kabu, or cod milt (sperm sac) was a bizarre food contender, however, the taste was more than pleasant, akin to creamy egg custard. Actually, it reminded me of pig brains, which my mother used to cook for us when we were young before we knew any better and it became politically incorrect to cook such things!

The first course, MoArc Farm Fresh Baby Leaves with Carrot Vinaigrette, was pretty as a picture, while the Cold Capellini with Wasabi Flowers and Broth was comforting like a familiar bowl of somen. Eating wasabi flowers was a first for me, and it was surprisingly just as pungent as the actual horseradish itself.

Instead of Kuro Matsu, we had Grilled Amadai (tilefish or Japanese sweet sea bream), grilled to perfection for a crisp crunchy crust that revealed super fresh, soft and naturally sweet flesh.

For a moment, my tastebuds were a little confused as I tasted what seemed like kurma in the King Crab aux Epices, but it was chef Takashi’s clever mix of spices that provided the unique creamy bed for the succulent crab.

The ultimate dessert, surely, Ichigo (strawberries) imported from Japan, no less, to go with ice cream and champagne, made for a fitting end to an amazing culinary journey

‘Twas a feast for the gods, a chance for mere mortals to have a taste of heaven, a splendid marriage of east and west, with excellent blending of Japanese influences with French sensibilities.

This was the first in a line up of specialty dinners to come; the next will be a French culinary journey in June.

Sake session at Cilantro

Sake session at Cilantro

A first for me, as I have never been taught the different nuances of sake before. And I confess, even after eight shots of sake, I still find it hard to differentiate the various types of sake, only that they all went down real smooth!