Sunday, June 12, 2016

the forgotten joy

As expected, being an officer at the Oral Maxillofacial Surgery dept of Hospital Tuanku Jaafar Seremban isn't easy. I have a lot of unlearning and relearning to do. I guess serving at a general dental clinic for almost two years desensitised me to certain things - things I shouldn't have missed in the first place. There, quantity is our pressure point, rather than quality; but at my current workplace, it's the other way round.

Being just another human, I'd reach my limit now and then - stress-wise. I learned from experience that the first step is to acknowledge my stress and understand that at times, to withdraw myself from the stressor is wiser rather than just clinging on. Of course, I learn from my mistakes, but I also know that pushing forward non-stop would only mean putting myself at breaking point - which would be a grave mistake.

Thanks to my colleague who came over and officiated my humongous mixer, once again, I tasted the joy of cooking - or in this case, in the form of baking. I took a day of leave just to bake cupcakes. Whenever I get extremely stressed, my escapism would be food. A little stress would require just enjoying good coffee. Extreme stress would require cooking food instead. I often try my hands on elaborate recipes under such circumstance.

I remember feeling so lonely and stressed when my parents were away for two years and there I was, during eid, recalling recipes my late aunt left me. And I cooked Johorean laksa. We, Malaysians, have so many varieties of laksa. I have cooked almost all of them, except for Sarawakian Laksa. And hands down, Johorean laksa is the toughest one to cook if you're a rigid person like me and happen to be born into a large Johorean family. Preparation alone consumed an hour while cooking it to perfection took me three hours in total.

Once, I had a bad fight, so I started searching on the net and there I was. I made nasi kerabu with ayam percik, ikan kembung celup tepung, kerabu, sambal budu, and sambal kelapa.

So a few days ago, I gathered enough courage to try baking hazelnut sponge cupcake with custard topping, chocolate ganache, and almond croqan. I had this mindset of  'I can't bake' because my mother doesn't bake much because she's not good at it. She's amazing when it comes to Asian cuisine, no kidding, though. I baked once during highschool, and what supposed to be a butter cake turned out like a brick of vanilla-flavoured shortcake. This time, it turned out fine! My sponge cake was so fluffy and not too sweet, even my parents ate them happily. Still, I guess I screwed up on the chocolate ganache. Should've cut on its sugar because that, was on the sweeter side.

"Awak tak nak try buat marble cake ke, Ira? Umi suka marble cake", my mother said to me. 24 hours later...
Right after tarawih, a freshly-baked marble cake was ready for her. She ate a lot of it, smiling all the way. 

"So, Umi, I can bake, can't I?"

"Boleh sangat. Haha, senang aku tak payah order kuih raya dah", she answered.

This Ramadhan, apart from my usual missions, I have a new one - which is to bake one type of eid cookies each weekend. My sister, Wani, requested for corn flake cookies. There's a story behind it:

During our time in Subang, we had a neighbour who we fondly call Aunty Dillah. She used to bake corn flake cookies and the best curry puff (with home-made puff pastry) I have ever tasted till this very second. I used to go to her house a lot, playing with her cat, reading her son's comic books, and growing fatter eating things she cooked and baked. If there's any neighbour I would remember till I die, it'd be her. Since my parents were always busy working, she sort of became my second mum. To whom I told whatever that had happened at home and at school. 

So this afternoon, I read through about 12 recipes of corn flake cookies I found online (may God bless all these generous people for sharing their knowledge at zero cost). If you're used to cooking, you'd acquire another skill which is you can pretty much guess the taste of food from their recipes. So of all 12, one caught my eyes, although it didn't convince me a hundred percent. I did a little tweaking with it here and there and...


Flour explosion - first time using a paddle attachment


And my mother's verdict on it:

I'm a happy daughter.

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Edited on 14th June 2016 (as requested by Farah):

Here's the recipe:

Crunchy Corn Flake Cookies (Tweaked)
Originally by: Azie Kitchen (I tweaked here and there and omitted a few ingredients here)

Ingredients:
250g unsalter butter (I increased it to 270-280g)
180g castor sugar (You may adjust this during the creaming process to suit your taste)
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 egg yolks
180g Kellogs Cornflakes - crushed lightly

Ingredients to be sieved:
210g corn flour (I reduced this to 190g)
150g general purpose wheat flour (I reduced this to 130g)
1/2 tsp baking powder

Methods:
1. Cream butter and castor sugar well
2. Chuck in egg yolks and vanilla essence and continue creaming for awhile just to mix them well
3. Chuck in sieved ingredients and fold it over with the mixture above
4. Chuck in lightly crushed cornflakes and fold it along with the mixture
5. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius
6. Bake the cookies on a baking pan lined with baking paper for 20-25 minutes till they are light brown in colour
7. Once freshly-baked, they'd feel quite soft. So let them cool down. They'd crisp up in about 10minutes



Tips:
1. During step 3 and 4, do not overwork your dough. Fold it over just for the mixture to blend well. The more you work on the dough, the denser and harder your cookies will be which we do not want
2. Unsalted butter is ideal for this recipe, but you may use salted butter too, but that'd result in having to add more castor sugar to achieve ideal sweetness
3. To cream butter and sugar means mixing them both with a mixer until mixture fluffs up, you don't really feel those sugar grains, and the colour of the butter becomes pale yellow
4. If you don't have a baking paper, you may opt for a greased pan. Just thinly grease your pan with butter
5. Egg yolk is the yellow part of the egg

Sunday, June 5, 2016

first cafe latte with cappuccino foam (VCR Coffee Bukit Bintang)

Yet another episode of coffee hunt came to pass.

So a barista suggested for me to visit VCR Cafe (located on Jalan Galloway, Bukit Bintang) if I'd like to experience coffee made by the very barista who holds the title of Malaysian Best Barista 2016.

Typical of me. After a tiring day, a cup of coffee and a dose of Murniyati would usually make my day. Right after I had discharged all my warded patients, I sped off to KL, kidnapped Murni, and brought her to the cafe.

First impression was - "Damn, such a small cafe. Where am I supposed to sit?". Little did I know that it is double-storied.

As I entered the cafe, I was greeted warmly by its barista. Have no idea what's his name though.

"I came all the way from Seremban, please tell me that your cappuccino is made with double shot espresso". Yeah, I am blunt like that, most of the time; but according to him, theirs is made using single shots instead since that's how their machine is calibrated for. "But I can prepare you cafe latte with cappuccino foam instead if you want that kind of topping. It's good, trust me". I took his words and didn't regret it at all. And I had a swan drawn into my froth! Its staff were friendly - which is surprising considering negative feedbacks on Foursquare regarding that; but then, hey, I didn't go there during peak hour.

This place is the perfect one to spend a quiet morning/night, enjoying your coffee. What more if you're a sucker for vintage stuff. Every single deco in this cafe screams vintage. Very cozy.

Murni had squash toast with sausage while mine was smoked duck quiche. If there's one word that I can use to describe the cafe on the whole, it'd be 'fresh'. My salad was lightly dressed and along with bits of pomegranate, it balanced out the saltiness of the quiche. Bear in mind though, that quiche there didn't have the classic tart shell. Its crust had a bread-ish texture. Their sausage isn't the typical factory-made sausage. Expect a huge arse homemade-looking sausage which was super delish! I will order that next time.

Before going back, I ordered yet another cup of coffee. Long black this time. I'm a pretty old school person. I prefer my coffee bitter, but I guess they're into third wave coffee - which means they serve sour long blacks. Not much of a fan of that, though.

Would return, definitely. For another cup of cafe latte and sausages!

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This is Murni, my ex-roommate during matriculation days. A very easy-going and fun lady to spend my day with. I remember the first thing that I noticed about her on day one at the college - hazel eyes. Frankly, I have never met any Malay with a pair of beautifully hazel-coloured iris like hers. And she nagged a lot during that time too. That used to annoy me, but I guess I learnt to embrace that part of her. I would feel awkward if she suddenly becomes quiet instead. She stands up for you (yes, do not underestimate her petite physique).

The best part of her is she's a no-nonsense, mature lady and enjoys food as much as I do, while most of the time, I am quite an airhead (the serious me would show herself only in clinic). Our once weekly cheat day would comprise of one or two slices of dessert (we'd usually ask the waiter, "What's your best dessert here?"), two main courses (at different places), and we'd usually end our day at a quiet cafe (I am so grateful that she tolerates this part of me despite not being a caffeinated-beverage-consumer herself).

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By the way, eh heyyy! My childhood friend, Azizi, has gotten married to the love of his life, Nad. Congratulations. lovebirds. Have a blessed marriage!

Reuniting with Subang-mates in Malacca