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It’s finally up! It’s a pity that I missed it broadcasted on BFM 89.9 but here’s the podcast!

[BFM launched in September 2008, and is a 24‐hour independent radio station focused on business news and current affairs. Core programmes include the latest business news and stock market reports from Malaysia and other financial centres, interviews with business personalities, financial analysts, entrepreneurs, technologists and marketers.] (From BFM website)

Front and back cover of Nestle Malaysia's yogurt recipe booklet, please note that I only styled the food for the photos on the back cover (left side), and the small photo on the top right of the front cover (right side)


Just want to take this opportunity to wish everyone Merry Christmas! I finally received the photos of some of the dishes I styled for Nestle Malaysia for their plain yogurt recipe booklet a couple of months ago. I have not been able to grab a printed copy, can’t seem to find it in the supermarkets yet! I was told that they will be given away with purchase of Nestle natural yogurt at Jaya Jusco but I went to Jusco at MidValley and did not see it….If anyone sees it, let me know!

(Update: Just managed to get a copy of it today (Dec 26, 2011) at Village Grocer at Bangsar Village, you need to purchase 2 tubs of Nestle natural yogurt (470g) to get a copy of the recipe
booklet)

Here are some of the pictures, please note that I only prepared and styled the food. Prop styling (even though many of the props are mine) and layout by the Art Director, and photography by another photography studio…There was a lot of effort spent in producing the dishes, photos and design, so I hope you’ll like them!

Enjoy! And have a great Christmas holiday!

French orange & poppy seeds madeleines on antique French cutting board

French orange & poppy seeds madeleines on antique French cutting board

These were brought to my friend Linus’ screening of all Yasmin Ahmad’s TV commecials recently. Yasmin Ahmad was a well known film director in Malaysia who passed away in 2009. Most of the her commercials touched the heart of Malaysians because of the cultural values, love and humour she portrayed in them and we can all relate to our lives as Malaysians. I’ve watched one of her films, Sepet as well.

The screening of the TVCs brought back old memories and very moving at the same time. I didn’t know many of them were shot by her. Rest in peace Yasmin!

Yesterday was International Human Rights Day (December 10, 2011). Some people just shrug their shoulders and say well it’s just another day. Some may say “So what?” But some decided to stand up for their rights as the citizens of Malaysia to say NO to the Public Assembly Bill (see previous blog post for the background of the bill here).

This was the third time on three consecutive Saturdays where a concerned group of people decided to show their dissatisfaction in the open, demonstrating to the authorities who drafted and approved the bill that it is 100% okay for Malaysians to assemble publicly without causing commotion, disruption or safety concerns to the public.

The original event was a flashmob to be staged at KLCC concourse area but KLCC management issued the organizers a legal letter threatening for court injunction should they insist to proceed as they (KLCC management) claimed past two events disrupted their tenants’ business and caused safety concerns to their shoppers (the past two events were not even conducted in the shopping mall)! Though we did not see the rationale as we were merely going to KLCC to shop, then congregate and disperse, we happily abode and decided to shower KLCC management with love.

About a hundred of us turned up, we went shopping and joyfully posed in front of the Christmas trees with the “yellow” items we purchased from KLCC outlets. Despite accusing us for causing business disruption and security concerns, we showed them that we only have good intentions and showing our concerns against the Public Assembly Bill in a loving and safe way.

I decided to make some Christmas cookies and share the love and joy with everyone present. This was the first time I decorated cookies with royal icing and they actually turned out pretty good as a novice. The cookies were only decorated in yellow and white. Yellow is the colour of “Bersih” (Clean in English), a movement created to demand for a clean general election in Malaysia. Tens of thousands of people marched on the streets on July 9 this year, and it was truly a historical movement to be witnessed (I wasn’t there as I flew to Hong Kong on that day 😦 ); and white resembles purity, that we PUREly only want peace and the best for the citizens of Malaysia!

The event went surprisingly well without the interruptions from the management nor the security guards. We shopped for yellow items and posed with the items and our receipts in front of the Christmas trees. We sang “Jingle Bells” and our national anthem. We had our group photos taken and the photos were published in some of the online news portals. (For video of the event, click here.) I happily distributed the cookies among the participants. We made new friends and smiled at everyone even though I didn’t know most of them. And most importantly, we had fun and we’re just a bunch of concerned citizens who happened to be happy shoppers! I felt really patriotic to see Malaysians (and foreigners) of all walks of life and races coming together and do something for the future of Malaysia! Bravo peeps! And see you in all future events! We will do it together and KILL THE BILL!

P.S. The best part was the after-event lunch…sitting down at the same table with Malaysians that I do not know and yet there was such strong sense of solidarity and home-coming feel…We should do this more often!

Click on the photos below to view them large.

Chocolate chip cookies and red bean buns ready to go for the event!


I was really excited and motivated for the event today, but too bad I had to leave 20 minutes after the event started. I got to meet two of my real heroes, A. Samad Said and Lim Kit Siang, and they both ate my cookies!

It was good to see Malaysians regardless of race and age congregate together to stand up for our rights and SAY NO TO THE PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY BILL!! (which in reality, isn’t peaceful at all, because it restricts our rights to assemble in public places, with a whole bunch of rules and restrictions. The Peaceful Assembly Bill bans street demonstrations and was passed on November 29 on BN votes after the opposition Pakatan Rakyat bloc staged a walkout (quoted from Malaysian Insider). For background info of the bill and why we oppose, click here and here) It shows that Malaysians can gather with peace and does not cause any commotion or stir any danger! (*says BOOO!!! to the creators to this law!*)

Since I left early, I just left the red bean buns with them, I hope they didn’t go to waste! I think the cookies were distributed before I left, but when I left the buns were left untouched 😦

But nevermind, it’s the thought that matters! Keep up the good work Chin Huat (key person for this event) and fellow comrades, we won’t give up and I will continue to show my support until the bill is withdrawn!

Here are the photos from the events…Just click on the thumbnails below to turn on slide show…

Cookies for a cause: These will be distributed during the gathering to stand up for freedom to assembly at KLCC park tomorrow afternoon (December 3, 2011, 2 pm)

Calling for action!

Calling all Malaysians, come join me for a walk/picnic to stand up for freedom to assembly at KLCC Park, this Saturday, December 3, 2011, from 2 pm onwards. We will be around the fountain area near Dome Cafe. I would be baking some chocolate chip nutty cookies together with red bean buns to share with everyone! Our National Laureate, A. Samad Said (affectionately known as Pak Samad) will be reciting poems there as well.

Please share this message and stand up for our rights to assembly and say NO to the peaceful assembly bill that has just been passed! KILL THE BILL!

See you there and bring your family and friends! We will show them, even though we may not know each other, we are there for a good cause, we’re all Malaysians, and WE LOVE OUR COUNTRY!!!!

Click here for details of the event.

NOTE: Change of plans…apparently I have to work on that afternoon and slipped my mind, cuz just too gungho about this event that I overlooked my project! But I will still drop by to show my support , share the cookies and buns, then rush off to work!

Roasted chestnuts

As a Chinese, the only ways I eat chestnuts are either in Chinese rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves (zong zi or 粽子),meat stew, or eat as a snack (sugar fried with shells). You can also boil or steam them with the shell.

But I’ve always wanted to photograph them roasted with the shell cut and curled out, the western way. Chestnuts are extremely photogenic, from the photos I’ve seen online. So when I saw them today at the open-air market in Sri Petaling, I just couldn’t resist from buying them to shoot them!

To roast them, all you need to do is to cut a X on the flat surface of the shell into the skin with a sharp paring knife. Then roast them in a shallow baking pan in the oven (160 – 180 C) for about 20 – 30 minutes, until the skin crack open and the flesh is tender.

I find that chestnuts roasted this way taste drier than those boiled or sugar fried, but definitely much much more photogenic and rustic on camera!

Now feast your eyes on these little beauties! (Click on the thumbnails at the bottom on this post to turn on the gallery slideshow)

Bread making

This was an area that I thought I would never get involved again. I used to work as a chef at a local healthfood store, and I remembered about the breads I handmade using organic flour were almost as hard as rock. At that time I didn’t understand about how gluten worked and how the gluten needed to be relaxed and stretched to create a soft texture. Arm muscle soreness from hours of hand kneading, without knowing the proper methods, really scared me away for more than a decade, until recently when I got my KitchenAid mixer.

As mentioned in my earlier post, I have problems digesting gluten and am allergic to yeast. So basically, I can’t eat any of the normal breads made using wheat flour and yeast. However, the temptation was very strong to try again after reading all the blogs online and facebook photos of my friends producing soft and fluffy buns and breads. So I knew I just had to give it a go again!

While I am writing this, I’ve made numerous batches of breads and buns already. The toughest one was I had to make about 50 – 60 pieces of different types of Middle Eastern bread for a food styling project. I broke my KitchenAid mixer because of that too! And that was the time I found out that my KitchenAid stand mixer is not powerful or durable enough for bread making.

After these numerous attempts, I am proud to say that I’ve mastered the basic skills of bread making, but I would like to bring it to the higher artisan level, which I would like to spend more time exploring.

I’ve kneaded using the dough hook on KitchenAid, using purely my hands, a bread maker (at my friend’s house) and also using both KitchenAid mixer and hand to reduce the stress on the mixer. I have to agree that machine made bread dough is still the best and the easiest, and I’m really eying on getting a proper commercial bread dough and cake peripheral mixer so that I can make bigger batches without the worries of damaging the machine!

Some of the breads and buns I made are for ordering, if you are staying in KL, PJ and surrounding areas. The most popular ones and my favourite buns to make, are the chocolate swirl buns that come in various shapes and sizes (photos below), made using premium quality Swiss, French or Belgium chocolates, and free from added preservatives or colourings. I do not use any artificial bread improver as well.

The pricing is RM40 for 10 buns, minimum order is 10 buns. Local pick up only. Ingredients used include high protein wheat flour, egg, milk, salt, sugar, yeast, premium dark chocolate bar (60% cocoa solids and above), French dark chocolate powder, corn flour, extra virgin olive oil, and white sesame seeds. The buns have a soft but firm texture. They are however, best eaten when still warm! Do drop me an email (cyphang@gmail.com) if you are interested to make any orders! Kindly order 2 – 3 days in advance as I can be very busy at times with my other businesses.

Chocolate swirl buns of various shapes and sizes

Chocolate swirl buns of various shapes and sizes...

Some other breads and buns I’ve made:

Twisted chicken sausage buns

Braided poppy seed milk loaf

Cinnamon Raisin Loaf

Chicken sausage with cheese buns

Cinnamon macadamia brioche rolls

Organic quinoa & veggie salad

I got to try quinoa (pronounced “kee-NO-wah” or “KEEN-wah”) through my friend SM and have been quite obsessed about it ever since. I have long known about it but just did not get a chance to taste it until a year + ago at an organic cafe in Taman Tun.

Essentially a seed, quinoa is more popularly known as a gluten free grain that is bursting rich in essential nutrients such as lysine, an amino acid important for tissue growth and repair; manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and a high iron content. Dated back to ancient Peruvian times, quinoa has a mild nutty flavour and slightly chewy texture when cooked. Read more about the goodness and history of quinoa here and here.

You can eat quinoa on its own like rice, or cook it with other gluten free grains like millet, buckwheat, brown rice and amaranth (same botanical family as quinoa) to eat with cooked dishes, or simply make a salad combined with vegetables or other ingredients.

Quinoa is a staple food for me, it is an ingredient that can be found permanently in my kitchen cupboard, and comes in really handy if I need something filling and nutritious. As I have problems digesting gluten-filled grains, this is my best option besides brown rice.

The simplest, fastest and my favorite way to eat quinoa, is to make a quick and simple veggie salad, tweaking the popular Middle Eastern salad, Tabbouleh, made using a variety of vegetables and fresh herbs (tomato, cucumber, spring onion, mint leaves and parsley), bulgur wheat, and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Quinoa is used in place of bulgur as a gluten free option.

You’ll get a refreshing and nutritious salad bursting with a combination of flavours, yet light and filling at the same time. You can basically add anything to this salad. I love to toss in some torn lettuce leaves, avocado cubes, roasted saltless nuts (my favourites are almond and cashew) and torn nori sheets. That would make a hearty breakfast, or a great accompaniment to pasta or mains.

I get my supply of organic quinoa from the healthfood stores. For those staying in KL and surrounding areas, you can easily get them from Country Farm Organics or Village Grocer in Bangsar Village. Country Farm Organics is my preferred store and brand as the grains are really clean and require less rinsing before cooking. Organic quinoa isn’t cheap, but I have not seen any non-organic ones so far, not in KL at least. Pricing ranges from RM14 – 19 per pack (500g), normally comes in either plain white quinoa, or mixed 3 colours.

Recipe
Serving size: 2
Preparation/cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients (organic ingredients used whenever available):
3 tbsp organic quinoa (plain or mixed colours), rinsed with running water in a strainer
1 cup water
pinch of salt

1/2 small cucumber, seeded and diced
5 – 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 – 5 pcs Romaine, iceberg, butterhead or other types of lettuce, torn into smaller pieces
1 small ripe avocado, cubed
1/4 red or green capsicum, diced (optional)
1 stalk spring onion, thinly sliced
2 – 3 sprigs flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 – 3 stalks fresh mint (leaves only), chopped
1 large piece of unflavoured nori sheet (the ones you use to make sushi)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste

Steps:

1. Toss quinoa lightly in a small pot (you need one with a lid) on low heat until you get a nutty aroma. (This step is optional, you can skip this and go straight to step 2)
2. Add water and salt and cook on medium heat for about 5 – 10 minutes, then reduce to low heat and continue to cook about 10 – 15 minutes until you see the grains start to get translucent and fluffy and the quinoa germ separates from the kernel (they look like little white rings). [While doing this, prepare the vegetables and fresh herbs]
3. Remove pot from the heat, fluff the quinoa grains lightly with a fork, cover with the lid of the pot and leave aside for another 10 – 15 minutes. This is to ensure the quinoa grains are properly cooked.
4. Combine all vegetables and herbs with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add in quinoa, roasted nuts and toss well. Top with torn nori sheets.

Below are some of the photos that I took a couple of weeks back, after the arrival of my (new) antique cutting board from France. The cutting board is so well used, rustic, and full of characters that I just had to find reasons to photograph it! The board is seen here with some of the ingredients used to make this simple and nutritious salad.

French Macarons

As promised earlier, I’m posting back-logged photos of what I have been cooking, baking or making in my long absence from blogging.

At one point this year, I was bitten by the bug of macaron making. Like I said in yesterday’s post, I haven’t tried a single macaron when I visited Paris in 2009. However, I did have a bite last year at Shangrila Hotel Kuala Lumpur and thought that it was just too sweet for my tastebud. I didn’t quite fancy the taste, but all the stories and experiences of other bloggers that I’ve read online really prompted me to take up the challenge to make my own. For me, I like challenges, the harder something is, the more I’m tempted to try!

They were for sure, not easy to tackle at all! French macarons are some tough cookies alright! Macs, as they are affectionately called, are typically characterized by the formation of “feet” (or pieds), which are seen as ruffled ridges on two cookie halves sandwiched together with fillings. The cookie shells are made from egg white, ground almond flour, and sugar as a base. I’m not going into the details of making them or provide a recipe as I believe there are thousands of recipes out there on the web or in cookbooks. I’m just going to show the photos of my successful ones.

My success rate is about 50% so far, out of maybe 8 times I’ve tried. By success, I mean the formation of feet, even though most of the macs that I’ve made were probably not that perfect in terms of texture and looks. I made all of them using the French meringue method, but now that I’ve got a KitchenAid stand mixer, I’m contemplating to try using the Italian meringue method, as I heard and read more success stories with this one.

Anyhow, I now leave you with the photos of my successful macs, and hopefully in the next couple of weeks, I would get to experiment with the Italian meringue method! Till then, feast with your eyes!

Chocolate macarons (with dark chocolate ganache filling), recipe from David Lebovitz

Dark chocolate macarons with passionfruit curd filling. This is a quirky combo, some loved it, some found it a little weird...

Bourbon vanilla macarons with lemon curd filling

Bourbon vanilla macarons with lemon curd filling

Minty dark chocolate ganache macarons

Minty dark chocolate ganache macarons