Monday, 26 September 2011

My Dream as Malaysia's first ever Blogger MasterChef

Have you heard that MasterChef is coming to Malaysia??

Astro is launching MasterChef Malaysia REAL SOON! I was really excited when I heard about this but the problem is, you need to take time off from work and be away from the family as well for quite some time. So that put paid to taking part in MasterChef.

However... Nuffnang is organising the first ever Blogger MasterChef competition and I thought I would enter that! As part of the contest, I'm supposed to write about why I think I should be crowned as “Malaysia’s First Ever Blogger MasterChef”. I'm also supposed to blog about my signature dish.

Firstly, I'm passionate about cooking and baking. Unlike a lot of Malaysian Food Blogs, my blog details out food that I make myself rather than featuring restaurant food. I share my recipes as well as I believe that good food should be shared.

I have a wide repertoire of dishes that cover include a variety of cuisines including Italian, Western, Indian, Chinese. You could say that I'm a jack of all cuisines! I also love to replicate dishes that we taste at restaurants and so far my 'succes rate' has been pretty good as judged by The Lovely Wife and our two children.

If I can't attempt to be Malaysia's First MasterChef, at least I should be crowned as Malaysia First Blogger MasterChef!!

Now comes the hard part - blogging about my Signature Dish. You see, my favourite stuff to make is desserts - all kinds of desserts especially chocolate based desserts. I also love to make Savoury stuff. So the quandary is what do I pick as my Signature Dish?

Since this is all about fun and also sharing, I decided I'd pick my Signature Savoury dish and ALSO my Signature Dessert. Both of these have been posted before on my blog and you can go to the links to get the recipes if you like.

My Signature Savoury dish is Beef Kheema or Minced Meat Curry. This has been a favourite of mine from childhood and its based on a recipe that Mom used to make. I modified it of course while I was a student in Uni back in Melbourne. I used to love this dish so much that almost every time it was my turn to cook, I would cook this. As a result, my flatmates used to call me the "Minced Meat Man" although they used to enjoy this dish as much as I did!

It's fairly simple to make but the results are truly delicious. The full recipe is on the link above but this is a brief synopsis of how its done.

Slice onion into thin slices. Dice Capsicum and thaw frozen vegetables. Lightly fry onions with cloves until onions are soft.
Add in Curry powder and Chilli powder and fry till fragrant. Be careful not to burn the mix.
Add in tomatoes and mix well. Add in a little water if needed.


Continue cooking till a nice paste is formed.
Add in Mince and cook well.


Add in Capsicum and frozen vegetables
Continue cooking, stirring frequently. Add a cup of water and cover pan. Simmer for a further 10-15 minutes then remove cover, mix well and cook till most of the water is evaporated.





It goes really well with yellow rice or what I call Fools Saffron Rice - the recipe of which is also on the same link.


As far as my Signature Dessert goes, it would HAVE to be Chocolate Mousse. I have always been a sucker for Chocolate Mousse and would always order it at restaurants that served it.




When I was about 8 or 9, my parents took us to the Equatorial Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, which used to serve these great High Teas. The dessert spread was huge and they had Chocolate Mousse served in martini glasses. That was my idea of heaven at that age! I ate so much that the buckle on my pants broke! True Story.



They say the apple doesnt fall far from the tree and in that respect, Chocolate Mousse is also my sons favourite Dessert!




For those of you who haven't heard about MasterChef, read on...

MasterChef is a worldwide phenomenon. A cooking reality show that, although not allow viewers to vote, has still broken viewership records in US and Australia. MasterChef is a success because not only is food something we are all very passionate about but the show only allows amateur cooks to compete. Malaysians who love cooking but never had a chance to really showcase their skills and be appreciated, now get the opportunity! Get ready for the MasterChef phenomenon to take over Malaysia on 22nd October 2011!

Details of MasterChef Malaysia is as follows:


  • Program title – MasterChef Malaysia

  • MasterChef Program Information - MasterChef TX will be starting from 22nd October 2011, every Saturday – Wednesday, 9.00pm. Master Class will be on every Friday, 9.00pm.

  • Program Channel – Astro Ria (Channel 104)

  • Official Site URL - http://www.astro.com.my/MasterChef/

  • Facebook Page - http://www.facebook.com/MasterChefMalaysia

  • Twitter Link – www.twitter.com/MasterChefMY





So here's hoping I get selected by Nuffnang to take part in the cook-off!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Brinjal, Mushroom & Rocket Salad



Most of you will know that I'm not a salad kind of guy. I enjoy eating them but I really don't like making them. I leave that to The Lovely Wife and at the risk of repeating myself, she makes damn good salads. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure if I've EVER made a salad!

Some time ago, we went for dinner at this place where we had this salad with Brinjals, Mushrooms and Rocket. It wasn't a cold salad but neither was it hot. Bottom line was, the taste combination was really, really good.

So, as I am accustomed to doing, I decided I was going to try and replicate it. And replicate it I did!





This is what I did:

Ingredients
3 cloves Garlic - chopped
1 tsp basil
3 baby brinjals - cut into slices
200g Button Mushrooms - quartered
50g Rocket
Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
Salt
Pepper
Method
Degorge the brinjal by sprinkling some salt over it and then patting dry. Sautee the garlic with the basil till soft. Add in the brinjal and lightly fry until the brinjal is tender. Add in the mushrooms and cook till juices are released and mushroom is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Toss together with Rocket and balsamic vinegar.

The salad was really tasty and I liked the slightly sourish taste of the balsamic vinegar. The trick is not to put in too much and you can even leave it out if you don't like the taste of vinegar.

The rocket added a nice crunch and freshness to the salad while the mushrooms and brinjals complemented each other really well. Make sure that the brinjal is cooked through thoroughly but not to the extent that it is mushy.




A great salad to serve as a side dish or make a larger batch as a vegetable accompaniment to a main meal. Whatever you choose to do with this, you can't go wrong.

Now who says I can't make salads!!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Homemade Honeycomb




Honeycomb is not something that I thought could be homemade. I always thought that it was only something that was commercially available and if at all it could be made at home, you would need some sort of industrial production line or at the very least a huge machine. Wrong!

Honeycomb is known by a variety of names throughout the world. In Australia, South Africa and most of Britain, it is known simply as Honeycomb although some Brits refer to it as Honeycomb toffee. The Kiwis refer to is as Hokey Pokey while I am informed that it is not hugely popular in the USA but is more commonly known as Sponge Toffee.

For those of you that have no idea what Honeycomb is, think of that golden crunchie stuff that you find inside Crunchie bars or Violet Crumble bars.

So anyway, while vegetating in front of the Tele one evening with the kids, I watched as Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris from MasterChef Australia gave a MasterClass on how to make some dessert that had, you guessed it, Honeycomb in it!

The kids and I watched spell bound as the honeycomb came to life and the kids then turned to look at me and asked me what honeycomb was and how it tasted. I reminded them that they had eaten it in a chocolate bar before - Crunchie and Violet Crumble.

The next question out of their mouths was: "Dads, Can you make it?"






So a few days later, what did I do? I made the honeycomb! The recipe from MasterClass actually uses liquid glucose but I chose to use honey instead. I also followed my own method of making a caramel and just added in the honey and then the sodium bicarb. The Sodium Bicarbonate actually aerates the caramel and that is what produces the honeycomb texture.


Ingredients
7 Tbs Sugar
2 Tbs Water
2 Tbs Honey or Liquid Glucose
1 tsp Sodium Bicarbonate
Method
Line a small baking pan or bowl with non-stick baking paper. In a heavy saucepan, heat sugar and water till it dissolves. Add in the honey and bring to the boil till edges start to turn a little golden/darker at the edges. (This may be difficult to see if using honey) Quickly add in the sodium bicarb and whisk. Mixture will froth up. Pour into the paper lined bowl/pan. Mixture will continue to cook and rise. Let sit for about 40 minutes till honeycomb is cool and hard. Break into pieces and serve with ice cream or dessert or just eat it!

The size of the pan is dependent on how thick you want your honeycomb. If you want it really thick, use a deep bowl. If you want it thin, then use a swiss roll pan or flatter bowl.

Be really careful when you are working with caramel as the temperatures get really hot. And I mean really, really hot! I've been making caramel for years now and I still take extra precaution.

So how did the honeycomb turn out? I was amazed! Really, really amazed! It was really crunchy, really airy, really tasty. But sweet. Then again, that's what honeycomb is supposed to be - sweeeeet. (spelling intended!)

The kids enjoyed it and it went really good with ice cream. I made the mistake of not putting the honeycomb away in an air tight container or in the fridge and found that after a few short hours, it began to weep rather badly. I guess the humidity in Malaysia doesn't help either!





So! I can now add honeycomb to my list of 'achievements' and I can think of a variety of desserts that would go well with honeycomb.

I also took the opportunity to tell my kids that many people claim to be good cooks. However, the 'true test' of a good cook is whether they can make their own Hot Fudge/Chocolate Sauce and their own Honeycomb!

And I'm only half joking about the 'true test'...

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin