Friday, July 26, 2013

Parmesan Honey Lager Burger

Time (and a good juicy plump burger) waits for no man. Nor a woman. Nor anyone. In between. Just this evening at work, a colleague of mine who suddenly realised that it was almost 6pm on a Friday evening remarked that before we all know it, life will pass us by without us really living it. He lamented where did the days go and since when did we the week come to Friday. Days, weeks and months sure seem to speed through so much more quicker in this era. Especially so when we get all too consumed with work. During my childhood, days seem to linger on and on and on and dreadful, sleepy-eyed school hours just don't seem to have an ending to it. As kids, most of us can't wait to grow up, as we spent countless time imagining what we would become as adults - teacher, nurse, doctor. One of those traditional roles. Part of that eagerness to grow up was so that we could finally leave school, grumpy teachers and exams! But school years seem to pass by so slowly back then. As we hit adulthood, that's when the years start to swoosh by more quickly. To be more precise, it starts right after you hit the big three 0!! And then, it accelerates further the moment the 0 hits 5. Life is mean. But I think globalisation has redefined the way we relate to the whole concept of time. I mean, time really didn't change, did it. There are still 60 seconds in a minute as there were 50 years ago. But, our spatial sense of time has changed. Technological advances like the internet and social media have made life more busier than ever, and time passing by faster than ever, ever before, or so it feels like it. I don't think we can ever go back to pre-internet days. How can we ever get used to that all over again? We can only go forward from here on. So, I do wonder how that spatial sense of time will be like say, 20 or 30 years from now, with the younger generation and with newer technological innovations. And speaking of time, I didn't realise just how long I've left this blog unposted. Didn't feel that long at all but it has been almost nine months since my last post. Now, where the heck did all the time go to?! I haven't got a clue!

Parmesan Honey Lager Burger (adapted from 'Gourmet Burgers' - no author's name)

1 1/2 pounds ground beef/lamb/pork (or mixed)
3/4 cup lager/beer, stirred with 1 tbsp honey
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp Worcesterhire sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 tbsps mayonnaise
3 tbsps ketchup
1/2 tsp yellow mustard
lettuce, cucumber slices, tomato slices, onion slices, gherkins, sliced cheddar cheese

  1. Combine ground meat, 1/4 cup lager, Parmesan, Worcestershire sauce and pepper in a large bowl. Mix lightly. Shape into 4 or 5 patties.
  2. Combine 1 tbsp lager, mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard in a small bowl; set aside.
  3. Grill patties over medium high heat, a few minutes on each side. Turn and brush with some of the remaining lager. Repeat turning and brushing over grill and cook to desired doneness. 
  4. Place a slice of cheddar cheese on top a pattie and grill an extra 30 seconds until the cheese melts a little.
  5. Assemble the burger with the pattie, lettuce, tomato, onion, gherkin etc (whatever you like) and topped with the sauce (no. 2). Add other sauces like BBQ, sweet onion etc if you like.
  6. Bite in & enjoy!! 

Happy grillin'!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Orange Butter Cake


No matter how varied our choices can get whenever we walk into any cake shop these days, I've not met anyone who doesn't like to go back to a few golden yellow pieces of home made butter cake every now and then. 

I can identify a few people amongst my family and friends who do not like chocolate cake but butter cake? Uh uhh. Not that I know of. 

A good butter cake - plain or citrusy, rich, soft and moist, never goes out of favor (and flavor!).

Ingredients for a butter cake are nothing out of the ordinary. They simply are the basic stuff like flour, eggs, milk (sometimes), vanilla extract for aroma and of course, butter.

Though it sounds simple, I've encountered a few less-than-perfect recipes before.

One recurring problem I had with a particular butter cake recipe written years ago in my recipe notebook and which I really, really like the taste of, was an excess of fat resting at the lower middle part of the cake after it was baked and has cooled down.

The result was an oily lower half of the cake. Other than that, the cake tasted perfect and so I continued making it a few more times even though I ended up discarding the middle bottom part of it.

At one phase, I even went on an online hunt for the perfect butter cake. One in particular came highly recommended in a blog. I tried it and for me it was just borderline good but not super as it was a bit dry.

Anyway, glad I won't be hunting no more now that I have tried this recipe. No oily part and hardly dry, this recipe meets my expectation on what a butter cake should be like - slightly salty aside from tender and fluffy in texture. Tastes great the next day.


Recipe by Amy Heng in Delicious Cakes by Y3K, a local publisher.


250g salted butter
250g caster sugar
4 eggs
100ml fresh orange juice
1 tsp grated orange rind (use more if preferred)
250g self-raising flour
30g ground almond
1/2 tsp baking powder


1. Sieve together flour and baking powder, set aside.
2. Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
3. Add in the eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, and beat until the batter is creamy and light.
4. Fold in flour and orange juice alternately until well-mixed. Lastly, add in rind.
5. Pour batter into a 9 inch lined round cake tin (or equivalent capacity square tin) and scatter some slivered almond on top if preferred. Bake at 160 deg C in a preheated oven for 60 minutes or until an inserted cake tester comes out clean.

Note: Do not open the oven for the first 30 minutes or the cake may not rise well. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Simple Chic Upper Crust @ Dataran Prima, PJ

It was a warm and pleasant morning last Friday when a bunch of us made our way to our friend, David Yeoh's, brand new bakery cum cafe called Upper Crust. It was a public holiday and the shop was supposed to close as well but David and his kitchen team were kind enough to keep it open for the purpose of welcoming us. Located on the ground floor of a new commercial building at Dataran Prima Avenue, Jalan PJU 1/39, Petaling Jaya, Upper Crust opened its doors about four months ago.
 Kate, the sous cum pastry chef at Upper Crust

With its dominant white and black facade, the cafe greets customers with a clean, fresh feeling. I like it even better the moment I stepped in. I'm not one for over-the-top deco or loud colors, so in my humble opinion, this is one of the few cafes which exudes simple chic style and light but nice deco much to my liking. According to David, who used to work in the culinary kitchen of a hotel in Switzerland, the concept of Upper Crust is based on an English style bakery cum cafe.    


Upper Crust boasts a wide range of cuisine - pasta, sandwiches, salads etc - for meals at any time of the day from breakfast, lunch, hi-tea and dinner. 

As we were there at brunch time, somewhat a bit early for my lunch, I decided to order coffee and a plate of mushroom and cheese omelet (below). It was nicely moist with mushroom chunks and stringy bits of melted cheese. Simple yet satisfying and tasty. The rest in the group had pasta but I've forgotten to capture some shots.  The grilled salmon fillet pasta comes with a generous chunk of salmon and looks really hearty!

Below are the list of menus. Staying apt to the cafe's name, David shared that quality of products is of utmost importance to him. Not only does he bake all the breads for sandwiches by himself, he also goes as far as preparing his own chicken ham and smoked salmon, to name a few things that he does from scratch. 

Check out the durian coffee under Hot Beverages. Quite out of the ordinary. I missed that and shall try it on my next visit. Must be good! Anything with durian always is!!




Upper Crust also takes special orders such as wedding cakes, birthday cakes, 3D cakes, mini cakes and cupcakes. They also provide catering services to offices around the area.

What's cuisine without cakes or cookies for dessert?! Well, one can choose from a wide variety of lusciously frosted cupcakes or a slice of delectable cake to end a nice meal there.


The spacious upper floor has a raised stage and is a great place for meetings, hangouts with friends and families or a small party for 40 or so people. Perfect for an upcoming Christmas gathering!

Upper Crust Bakery & Cafe
No B-G-11 Tower B, Ground Floor, Jalan PJU 1/39, Dataran Prima Avenue
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Tel: +603 7887 5251

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cauliflower Briyani

I'm not very regular with my blog post but I guess this shouldn't wait any longer. Here to tantalize all you briyani lovers is a really easy and nice cauliflower briyani recipe that is fuss-free and almost fail-proof because it is all cooked in a rice cooker from start to finish! How great is that! I made this the same day as I had made the ayam masak merah (pls see previous post) and it was a day of gastronomic delight of the home cooking kind (!!mm...mmm!!), as I am surely and definitely, one of 'you briyani lovers' too.


Still, I continue to yearn for the best chicken dum briyani I've ever tasted in my life (so far). By best I mean it was worth every last broken grain of spiced rice there was!! If you're in Singapore, well you can start waddling your way to this gem of a place called Gayatri. They have a branch at Race Course Rd, where Little India is. Years ago, they used to have a small branch on Robinson Rd, where I used to work once upon my Singapore lifetime. It was always packed with lunch-goers regardless which day of the week. So, our Gayatri briyani lunch days would always end up with filled-to-the-brim styrofoam-packed chunky chicken briyani we would happily carry back and savor in the comforts of our office dining area, and complete with a cup of teh O (tea with sugar no milk) of course. The chicken was cooked to tender perfection along with the rice and spices and the whole lunch meal came complete with a hard boiled egg, yoghurt salad, rasam soup (Indian spicy tamarind soup) and 2 pieces of papadoms (Indian crackers). But at the end of that hearty meal which is guaranteed to give you maximum contentment, do be prepared for a carbo and ghee induced comatose for the next several hours, until of course when the clock has only 10 minutes to go before the work day ends. Weirdly, that's when we automatically get re-energized.


Making a perfect briyani I think, is no easy feat, especially if you go about the authentic way of cooking it (not rice cooker method of course). The fragrant basmati rice needs to remain grainy and not lumpy after cooking, yet it should not be dry but nicely moistened with the spice paste. I think the rice should be parboiled first before the next step of cooking it with the spices. Anyway, since I will never ever be a master chef at briyani of any kind, I'm thankful for this easy, short cut rice cooker method adapted from Azrah Kamal Shashi. It's a nice enough version for non-Indian home cook like me who once in a while seeks to dabble in a culinary adventure of one of her favorite rice meals. Here's the recipe, which can serve 3-5 people.


30 g ghee or butter
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
3 green chillies
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 big onion, sliced
60 g toasted cashew nuts
300 g cauliflower, cut into big florets
about 1/2 litre water (or slightly more depending on the brand of Basmati rice you use)
90 ml yoghurt
1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp masala powder
a bunch of coriander leaves, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
300 g basmati rice
salt to taste
3 or 4 hard boiled eggs (peeled)


- Heat ghee/butter in a rice cooker and add in the mustard seeds. When it splutters, add the green chillies, curry leaves,onions, cashew nuts and cauliflower. Fry for 3 minutes or so. 
- Add in the water, yoghurt, turmeric powder and salt to taste. Stir well.
- Add in the coriander, cumin and masala powders, and coriander leaves. Stir well and add in the rice. 
- Halfway through cooking, bury the hard boiled eggs inside the rice. Cover again with lid and cook till rice is done. 
- If the rice is not thoroughly cooked yet and seemed dry, add in a quarter cup of water, stir and continue to cook with rice cooker lid on. Serve hot with a side dish of your choice and slices of cucumber, coriander etc.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ayam Masak Merah (Spicy Red Chili & Tomato Ketchup Chicken)

It is awfully hard not to love spicy food when we are presented with an array of such delicious dishes thanks to our rich selection of culinary heritage here. Malay food is one of my favorites, especially the spicy, aromatic ones of course! It was written that many of the spices and ingredients used in most traditional Malay cooking were introduced by the Indians and Arabs, like chili, pepper, cardamom, star anise etc. Meanwhile, influences using ingredients for flavor and aroma such as galangal, lemongrass and herbs are known to originate from our native home soil and our neighbors in the south-east asian region.


I remember my first childhood encounter with spicy Malay food got me scurried home desperate for water. I was about 6 or 7 years old when I got invited to Alif's birthday party. Alif was I think a year younger than me. His family lived next door to us and his grandfather was our landlord. It was Alif's Mom's (really!!!) spicy fried beehoon (rice vermicelli) that got my palate all fired up! Too shy to ask for more water, I dashed down from the stairs of Alif's typical wooden-stilted Malay house straight into my Mom's kitchen looking for water. After that, I figured that since I have already given Alif his birthday gift and that everything else I imagined was spicy (which probably was not but like they say, once bitten twice shy), I didn't return to the party. His Mom was sweet enough to check with my Mom the next day why did I leave the party so early before the games started. My Mom, not wanting to be rude about our neighbor's rather kid-unfriendly food, simply told her that I had a sudden tummy ache!

Of course, the situation now is a far cry from the incident at Alif's party. I love my food spicy! Ayam masak merah is one of my favorite Malay dishes. It is fried chicken pieces coated in a rich and spicy sauce balanced with just a hint of sweetness, and laced with the aroma of those wonderful spices. Level of spiciness can easily be adjusted by adding or reducing the amount of dried chilies used in the recipe. The tomato ketchup will neutralize down a bit the level of spiciness. This dish is delicious served with plain or flavored rice.


Half of a chicken, cut into large pieces
1 tbsp turmeric powder
2 knots of screwpine (pandan) leaves for aroma
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 large onion, ringed
1 cup green peas (optional)
1 inch piece galangal, roughly crushed
1 inch-long piece cinnamon stick
1 star anise
a few cloves
a few cardamom pods
3/4 cup tomato ketchup
1 cup thick coconut milk
half tbsp sugar
salt to taste
enough cooking oil

Pound/blend together
15 dried chilies (soak in boiling water for 20 minutes, discard seeds and water)
3-4 cloves garlic
10 shallots
3 cm piece ginger
1 stalk lemongrass (the white part or bottom 5 cm)


1. Rub the chicken pieces with salt and turmeric powder and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a deep pan, fry the chicken pieces together with a knotted screwpine leaf until the chicken pieces are cooked and browned. Drain and set aside.
3. Heat half cup oil in a wok or pot. Put in all the blended spices, a knotted screwpine leaf, galangal, cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and cardamom pods and fry for about 10 minutes or until it is fragrant.
4. Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Then, add in the tomato ketchup, sugar and salt to taste.
5. Add in the fried chicken pieces, green peas, tomatoes and onion. Simmer for a further 5 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces to coat well with the sauce. Serve with rice.

Enjoy cooking!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Kuih Keria (Sweet Potato Rings aka Malaysian Donuts) & A Selamat Hari Raya


Malaysians have much to be happy about as August is buzzing with holidays, celebrations and balik kampung/hometown travels. The daily pasar ramadhan (ramadhan markets) around town here in the Klang Valley and Selangor have already set the celebration mood in motion by offering a wide galore of local Malay food and kuih-muih (sweet delights). People here are just looking forward to the Hari Raya/Eid celebration next weekend. Even though Malaysians have already begun to anticipate the bad traffic congestion on highways and at many local holiday hotpots expected to start next week, it still wouldn't thwart many Malaysians from planning their trips. Because like any other festivals in Malaysia, it is a time to gather and be with the family. And barely 2 weeks after the Raya holidays, we will have another one on 31st August as our nation celebrates her 55th year of independence. This is what I love about Malaysia and about being a Malaysian! As shallow as I may sound, I love the many holidays and celebrations and festivities by the different races that make up Malaysia's multicultural pot. The thing is, here in Malaysia, everyone celebrates! Even though Hari Raya is a festivity for the Malays and Muslims, many others join in and look forward to gather at a friend's open house and tuck into delicious Raya food. I think this country is one shining example of how festivals and food unite people.
For any Malaysian, this sweet delight needs no introduction. Kuih keria is I guess, the Malaysian version of a donut which is made with sweet potato. It is a popular kuih from the Malay heritage and a wide favorite amongst many, including me definitely! The mashed sweet potato is mixed with some tapioca flour and plain flour to give kuih keria a nice soft texture inside the fried ring, and the sugar frost coating renders a delightful sweet crunch.


Ingredients for kuih keria:

500 g sweet potato, peeled, cubed and steamed till cooked
30 g tapioca flour
50 g plain flour
Enough oil for frying

For the sugar frost coating, 200 g granulated sugar and 70 ml water.


Mash the cooked sweet potatos until fine. It's easier to mash while still very hot. Leave for it to cool slightly.
Add in the flours, and knead well to form a soft dough.
Divide dough into pieces, shape each into a flattened round and make a hole in the center.
Deep fry the rings in hot oil over medium heat until golden brown.
Drain and set aside.

 Boil the sugar and water in a wok for about 5 minutes or until the syrup bubbles and thickens slightly.

Turn off the heat, and drop in all the sweet potato rings into the wok. Use a flat spatula to quickly toss and turn the rings until they are well coated with the syrup.

Like magic unfolding before your eyes, the syrup will quickly frost up. Pick each ring and shake off excess sugar to serve.

Last but not least, Selamat Hari Raya to all my Muslim friends and readers!