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Archive for the ‘Appetizer, Light Snacks & Finger Food’ Category

Today I’m going to blog about my first cooking lesson at Taylor’s University College Malaysia’s International Certification in Cuisine. The course lasts about 8 weeks, every Saturday morning. I can cook a lot of dishes, and I know many of the basic skills, but I thought it’s good to improve on things I already know, and learn new things that I don’t know.

Being a self-taught cook (aside from my home economics classes in high school), I’ve always wanted to improve cooking and preparation skills, and learn the right techniques. I’ve been pondering on attending this course for ages, but I kept delaying the thought as I either had not enough money (it costs about RM3000 or USD 850 for the entire course, inclusive of all facilities, tools and ingredients), or no time. This time, I just bit the bullet and signed up!

Some of the reasons why I chose Taylor’s are that the classes are conducted on Saturday, less chances of clashing with my projects; and very good facilities (I remember drooling away when I first saw the training kitchen when I went there to check out the course 2 years back).

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My dream commercial kitchen…Every student has a workstation to themselves.

This course is more like a leisure course, specially designed for non-trained cooking enthusiasts or people who want to refresh or relearn their cooking skills. I even met the head chef of my favourite Vietnamese restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Sao Nam! He was very surprised when he found out that I knew he was from Sao Nam haha!

Our instructor, Chef Rex is a very nice & helpful guy who patiently answers all my questions (being my inquisitive nature and my keenness to learn). He knows his stuff well, and happy to share!

We learned to cook 3 dishes: 2 appetizers (Lime marinated scallops tossed in glass noodles with julienne mango; Crispy Indian semolina breaded prawns with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette), and a main course (Pan fried cod bedded over warm macaroni pomelo served with creamy fish sauce).

Among some of the basic skills we learned yesterday:

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Captions of photos (from left to right and top to bottom): Cutting and julienning (photo of my opposite neighbour Ina from Russia), zesting lime, making fish stock, preparing & whisking vinaigrette, coating prawns before frying, frying prawns and fish.

We also learned other skills such as the proper methods to boil pasta the French and Italian way.

Some of the useful little tips which I previously did not know:
* Standard recipe for preparing basic vinaigrette is 1 part acid : 3 parts oil.
* Use cold water to add into fish stock base to get a clear stock, if hot water is used, the stock will turn out cloudy.
* When adding butter to white sauce, make sure the butter is properly chilled and solid to give better flavour, smoothness and shine.
* Herbs are divided into strong herbs and soft herbs. Strong herbs are used during cooking and flavour will stay even a few days after cooking, while soft herbs are added into the dishes just before dish is ready.
* The Basil leaf is a soft herb, while the stem is a strong herb that you can use for cooking.

We get to cook the dishes hands on and take them home to enjoy! It was certainly very fun and I definitely look forward to the next lessons!

Final results (photos of final output were poorly lit as I could only use whatever light that was available):

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Appetizers: Lime marinated scallops tossed in glass noodles with julienne mango; Crispy Indian semolina breaded prawns with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette

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Main course: Pan fried cod bedded over warm macaroni pomelo served with creamy fish sauce (It’s so so so yummy and it’s the best-est cod fish dish I’ve eaten in a long time!)

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Smoked salmon & avocado bruschetta-IMG_6322-6200 copy2

This is probably the fastest afternoon snack or finger food for a party you can make…in under 20 minutes! I made it yesterday and I had 4 to myself…yum yum! All you need is a baguette (sliced 1.5 cm thick, slanting), some packed smoked salmon, 50g of arugula (rocket), 1 ripe avocado (sliced about 3 mm thick), mayonnaise, and plain natural yogurt.

Procedure as follows:
1. Mix 2 tbsp of mayonnaise with 2 tbsp of plain natural yogurt, stir well.
2. Place some arugula on the baguette slice, followed by the smoked salmon slices, spread with a teaspoon of (1), and top with sliced avocado.

Note: You can also toast the baguette slices with butter spread on one surface before adding the toppings…For those living in KL, the best arugula you can find is at Village Grocer, Bangsar Village, they are imported from Australia…The flavour is more intense and darker green…more aesthetic!

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Spicy Lemon Chicken Drummette-IMG_6361-9000 copy3
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Another photography attempt at spicy lemon chicken drummettes…Still poor natural lighting as it was almost 7 pm! 😦 I made this earlier a week back but wasn't very satisfied with the studio lit outcome…

I first created this dish in Rome, when I was at a backpacker's hostel…simply because the ingredients were all I could find in the supermarket to prepare a fast and decent one-dish meal!

I need to cook this and shoot again for better photography results!

But it's definitely very delicious! Here's the recipe:

Cooking time: 30 mins
Preparation: 10 mins (+ 60 mins to marinate chicken)
Serving: 2 – 3

Ingredients:
10 chicken drummettes
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 cup of vegetable oil for frying

For sauce:
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp lemon zest
3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 stalks of thyme, roughly chopped
1 red chili, seeds removed and cut into small squares
1 tsp honey
1 tsp cane sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp corn flour
1 cup water

Procedure:
1. Marinate chicken drummettes with salt, black pepper and honey for 30 mins – 1 hour, set aside.
2. Heat up oil until bubbles form around a chopstick when put in the oil. Pat chicken drummettes with kitchen towel to remove excess liquid, fry in oil until golden brown on both sides.
3. Remove chicken drummettes from oil, drain on kitchen towel. Pour away oil in the pan/wok until about 2 tbsp left.
4. Mix water with corn flour, sugar, honey and salt, stir well and leave aside.
5. Fry remaining oil in pan/wok with garlic, onion and chili until tender and fragrant, then add thyme, lemon juice and mixture (4). Leave to boil, it should take about 3 – 5 minutes. Add more salt or sugar to adjust taste according to liking. Turn off fire.
6. Return the chicken drummettes to the wok/pan and mix well with the spicy lemon sauce.
7. Serve with baguette slices or rice, enjoy!

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