Saturday, December 31, 2011

Elisenlebkuchen and Christmas Tea from Nuremberg, Germany

**Have a wonderful New Year's Eve celebration! **

Last year, The Unc brought home a couple of elisenlebkuchens for Baby C. We shared them and enjoyed them very much. So during the Christmas market at Nuremberg this year, he got us two whole packs along with a pack of Christmas tea and asked a friend who was coming back to KL to deliver it to our home. So nice! Thanks very much :)

Elisenlebkuchen specially air-flown from Nuremberg

Elisenlebkuchen is premium quality lebkuchen (a soft German version of Gingerbread). It is designated the Protected Designation of Origin by EU law and must be produced within the boundaries of the Nuremberg, Germany but you can get it in various other states in Germany. 

Although elisenlebkuchen is sold in Christmas markets, The Unc tells me that you can also find it all year round in several specialty shops in Nuremberg. The one he got us was from Wolfgang Woitinek. Each pack contains 3 original elisenlebkuchen and 3 chocolate coated elisenlebkuchen.

They both contain hazelnut, almonds, egg whites, marzipan, citronat, orangeat, fructose, honey, apricot confiture, and spices, and the chocolate coating is dark chocolate. I prefer the original one, though both are really nice. Gingerbread is quite hard, but elisenlebkuchen is wonderfully chewy. The taste and aroma is very Christmassy too, owing to the lovely spices and marzipan. We enjoyed this for the past few evenings with a cup of Christmas tea... just perfect.

Christmas tea - black tea, orange peel, grated coconut, clove, cinnamon

I loved the smell of the Christmas tea as soon as I opened the pack. Wafts of cinnamon and orange peel gives this tea a uniquely Christmas feel. Drunk with the sweet elisenlebkuchen, it is a great accompaniment, however if you're eating a non-sweet item or drinking it on its own, it may taste better with some sugar.

I think if elisenlebkuchen was ever sold in KL, most people would like them. :)

Full set of photos here.

Elisenlebkuchen is from: Wolgang Woitinek, Saarbruckener Str. 4, 90469 Nuremberg, Germany. (Tel:0911/482121)
Price: €8 per pack.

Christmas tea is from: Krauterhaus Wurzelsepp OHG, Hauptmarkt 1, 90403 Nuremberg, Germany (
Price: €3.95 for 100g pack.

Friday, December 30, 2011

I cooked: Astronomical Canapes (Avocado, Tomato, Mushroom)

Have you planned your New Year's Eve menu yet? If you're planning to throw a party, these canapés will make a great addition. 

If you think the name of the canapés sounds a little bizarre, let me explain. This canapé was concocted during the Blogger MasterChef finals in mid October, whereby the mystery box ingredient turned out to be avocado. Most contestants were quite surprised with the mystery ingredient but since the finals was held in a shopping mall, it was not possible to give us meat or poultry or seafood to cook since there was no washing facilities at all during the cooking stage.

Anyway, back to the avocado. I wanted to make a creamy mushroom soup topped with an avocado quenelle, but they had no soup bowls!!! So I had to improvise with the ingredients I have taken, and decided to make a simple canapé.  What I like most about it is it's vibrant colour, so I think this will look quite pretty on the dinner table. It is also light tasting with a nice tang from the lime. 

Since the Blogger MasterChef contest was run by Astro and Nuffnang, I decided to call it Astro-nomical Canapés when I was asked to present my dish to the judges. Do you like the name? :)

Astronomical Canapés

Canapé of Avocado, Tomato and Sauteed mushrooms
Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes

100g white button mushrooms and Swiss mushrooms, diced
Fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 ripe avocado
2 limes
1 tomato, diced
4-5 tbsp UHT cream
Salt and pepper
1 pack canape water cracker

1. To remove flesh from avocado, cut half, remove seed and then scoop out flesh using spoon. Avocado browns quickly when exposed to air, so add the juice of 1 lime to it. Put the avocado and cream in a blender and blend to a puree, season with salt and leave aside.

Other ingredients I took (thinking I was making a soup)

2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Cook the onions for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes. Add half the parsley, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

3. For the tomatoes,  place the diced tomatoes in a bowl and add the juice of one lime and the remaining parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

4. To assemble, first put a generous amount of avocado cream, followed by the tomatoes and finally mushroom on top.

Not much cooking involved, but it sure makes a pretty dish.

Something you can prepare in a jiffy for a party you are throwing.

*Did not have a scale during the competition, so all ingredients are estimated. 

*This recipe was featured on Asian Food Channel's Facebook page on 10 October 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Like a G-Stick @ Ben's Independent Grocer, Publika, Solaris Dutamas

Little girls love ice-cream and Baby C is no exception. Her face lights up whenever she sees ice-cream.. 

So when we were at Ben's Independent Grocer and she spotted the G-Stick shop (right next to Ben's General Food Store), this is what her face looked like. Happy, yes? 

The name of this place reminds us of that song.. Like a G6.

Wonder what put a smile on her face? This......

Very pretty gelato pop sticks, all homemade and all natural.. There were eight flavours when we visited -- Christmas pudding, black sesame, chestnut, chocolate hazelnut, rocky road, mango, pistachio and raspberry yoghurt.

We promised to get her one after our lunch, and her pick was Rocky Road. I think it's because she saw marshmallows on it! She was pleased to find even more marshmallows encased within the ice-cream. Each bite was like a treasure hunt for her. Her daddy would eat any walnuts she came across. :P

Time for the taste test....

One happy customer :)

Price: RM8.90 each.

Location: G-stick, Ben's Independent Grocer (B.I.G), Lot No. 1A, 83-95, Level UG1, Publika, Solaris Dutamas, Jalan Dutamas 1, 50480 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03-6209 1700

GPS Coordinates: 3.1711, 101.66583

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gourmet Heaven @ Ben's Independent Grocer, Publika, Solaris Dutamas KL

For our Christmas Day meal, I was short of some items and could not find them in regular supermarkets. There were only a couple of places in KL that we know of that stocked the things we needed -- and one of them is Ben's Independent Grocer (B.I.G.) in Publika, Solaris Dutamas KL.

Newly opened this year, we have been here a few times and totally love it here. True some of the things are more expensive but the selection is vast. And there are also a lot of items which are cheaper than regular supermarkets, for example whipping cream. 

So much cheese

My utmost favorite section at Ben's Independent Grocer is the "Gourmet Goodies" by the main entrance. Here you can find goose liver pate, truffles, truffle butter, wild mushrooms, cep mushrooms, fleur de sel, Heilala vanilla pods and pure vanilla extract, and so much more! You can also find Echire butter in the dairy section. Truly a gourmet's heaven (well, for me anyways :P).

We also managed to get some delicious Spanish chorizo; Hubby loves chorizo and he has given the chorizo we got here a big thumbs up. For those interested, the brand is Cecinas Pablo, and it's called Maragato Hot Chorizo (price approx RM70).

Champagne anybody?

Ben's Independent Grocer houses many of its signature restaurants such as T Forty Two, Ben's General Food Store, and also a Chocolate Bar, The Gingerbread Man and G-Stick gelato sticks. We got some stuff from a few of these places so will blog about that soon too.

The Barn Butchery stocks some great quality beef and lamb, I spotted some high marbling Wagyu. I often complain that it's hard to find duck in supermarkets - now I know where to go if I ever want a whole duck.

 Even if you're not getting anything, it's a great place just to walk around especially if you're a foodie. But as always, temptation is too great and we found ourselves leaving with a few bags of groceries and gourmet goodies to spice up our Christmas :)

Location: Ben's Independent Grocer (B.I.G), Lot No. 1A, 83-95, Level UG1, Publika, Solaris Dutamas, Jalan Dutamas 1, 50480 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03-6209 1700

GPS Coordinates: 3.1711, 101.66583

Santa Claus Visited Our Home!

A few weeks before Christmas, Baby C sat down and wrote a letter to Santa Claus..

When the children were tucked in bed safely, our CCTV caught some movement downstairs by the Christmas tree.. look who has arrived... Ho Ho Ho!

Santa Claus visited our home and came bearing lots of gifts for the (well-behaved) children.

Just before he left, he enjoyed the glass of milk and Oreo cookies that Baby C has left out for him. "What a nice little girl, leaving me my favorite cookies and milk," says Santa Claus.

And just before sunrise, the children rushed downstairs to find lots of lovely presents awaiting them. And thus they had a great Christmas, thanks to Santa Claus, the man in the red suit, big belly (ahem!) and white beard.

-----THE END-----

P.S. Did Santa visit your home this year?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Meet the Pros: Pastry Chef Loh Mee Foong of Le Meridien KL & a dessert recipe

Life keeps getting sweeter for Le Meridien KL's Pastry Chef Loh Mee Foong. Chef Mee Foong who oversees the production of all pastries, cakes and confectionery for the hotel's restaurants, banquet and catering events was recently awarded as the "Platinum Winner - HAPA Artistic Chef (Pastry)" in the prestigious Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards 2011-2013.   She has previously worked in Palace of the Golden Horses, Crowne Plaza Mutiara and Shangri-la KL.

Pastry Chef Loh Mee Foong with her HAPA Award 

Executive Chef Antoine Rodriguez tells me that she makes a "simple yet excellent creme caramel" -- I have to agree, after trying this at Latest Recipe just last week. Perfect wobbly texture. 

I managed to meet up with this talented pastry chef two weeks ago and spoke to her about her culinary background, inspirations and her recent win at the HAPA Awards.

Baby Sumo (BS) : Congrats Mee Foong! How do you feel about your recent win in the HAPA Awards?
Mee Foong (MF): This is my first time participating in the HAPA awards, so I was definitely nervous. My mentor Chef Antoine thought I was ready and put my name in for the "Artistic Chef - Pastry" category. I was very surprised and delighted when my name was called out during the regional award ceremony in Singapore recently. I am grateful to receive this acknowledgement as one of Asia's top 5 pastry chefs alongside so many other talented pastry chefs. I will continue to do my best and create unique, visually expressive and tempting desserts. 

BS: Have you always wanted to be a pastry chef?
MF: I trained at the prestigious Syuen Hotel & Catering Institute Malaysia Diploma in Chinese Culinary Art Program -- not in pastry arts, but in Chinese dim sum. A friend told me to reconsider a career change since dim sum masters have to be at work by 5am! I did and I've never looked back. Being a pastry chef is very rewarding. 

A trio of desserts at Favola

BS: What is your favorite ingredient to work with?
MF: Chocolate as it is very versatile. You can create interesting showpieces, pralines or chocolate desserts. 

BS: Do you have a signature dessert that we should try in Le Meridien KL?
MF: Yes, try the Rich hot Chocolate Cake, served with chocolate sauce and stracciatella ice-cream at Prime or warm chocolate pudding served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce at Favola.

One of her signature desserts, rich hot chocolate cake at Prime

BS: We've tried the rich hot chocolate cake during one of our visits to Prime and it's certainly good. At LMKL, what does your pastry technique / style lean towards? 
MF: It varies -- I am constantly whipping up innovative creations with influences from both east and west. For Latest Recipe's desserts, I have more room to experiment and you would often find modern French desserts there. 

Carrot walnut cake at Latest Recipe

BS: What's your favorite kitchen tool?
MF: I have a mini angled spatula which I use for almost everything. A lot of the pastries that I work with are very small, so this tool is the perfect size for handling pastries. 

BS: Throughout your career as a pastry chef, who is the most inspiring chef you have worked with?
MF: Definitely Chef Antoine! He has been very supportive and encouraging, and has given me lots of opportunity to shine in Le Meridien KL.

Homemade blueberry yoghurt ice cream cake with blueberry coulis at Prime

Pastry Chef Mee Foong has kindly shared a recipe with me, which I am going to share with you all. This peach yoghurt cranberry cake is an eggless cake, hence is suitable for vegetarians. Will post a photo once I've attempted to make this, maybe for New Year's Eve :)

180g butter/margarine
150g sugar
150g peach yoghurt
100g canned peaches, sliced
100g dried cranberries
220g cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp baking soda

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and creamy, add in peach yoghurt and mix well.
2. Fold in sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, canned peaches and creanberries, mix well.
3. Pour mixture into a greased mould or cake ring, bake in preheated oven 180°C for 40 mins or until cooked.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day 4-course Menu - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Dessert (updated)

8.00am : Breakfast is served! Scrambled eggs with chives, topped with caviar. Served with smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes and sundried tomatoes. (Recipe here)

12.30pm: Time for lunch! Chunky mushroom soup with truffle oil and summer truffles. Served with garlic toast.

2.00pm: Snack time! Kids enjoy Marks & Spencer animal shaped butter biscuits while the adults enjoy the Maragato Hot Chorizo we got from Ben's Independent Grocer.

5.00pm: A good ol' roast for Christmas dinner. Roast rib eye with roast potatoes, brocolli, carrots and natural jus gravy.

8.30pm: A sweet ending to our Christmas day.  Deconstructed tiramisu.

9.00pm: Let's drink and be merry. Bacardi Gold for the boys and Baileys for the girls. And a chocolate peanut butter Santa for me. :)

It has been a fun-filled day, good food and great company. Hope you enjoyed following my liveblogging for the day. :) Merry Christmas once again.

*All recipes will be posted after Christmas day.
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