Friday, May 31, 2013

Recipe: Insalata Caprese (Tomato, mozzarella and basil salad)

Insalata Caprese (salad in the style of Capri) is a simple, classic salad which is usually served in Italy as an antipasto (starter). It is made of sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, ripe tomatoes and fresh basil and seasoned with salt and extra virgin olive oil. In this case, it is important to use the best quality ingredients for the best tasting salad.

Video Recipe

Insalata Caprese (Caprese Salad)
Recipe by Baby Sumo
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Serves 3-4

4 ripe juicy tomatoes, sliced thinly
1-2 balls of mozzarella, sliced
15 basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Good quality extra virgin olive oil

1. Simply arrange the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves on a plate as desired, then season with salt and pepper and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fun with Kids: Zoo Negara Malaysia

Zoo Negara is Malaysia's national zoo located in Hulu Kelang in Selangor, 5km from the city of Kuala Lumpur. The first local zoo in Malaysia, it was officially opened in 1963 (wow 50 years!). Zoo Negara covers 110 acres of land and has over 5137 specimen from 476 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Over the years, the zoo has transformed itself to an open concept zoo with over 90% of its animals being kept in spacious exhibits with landscape befitting its nature.

This is a great place to bring your kids for a fun, educational day. The zoo is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Entry is RM30 for adult with MyKad (RM50 without) and RM6 for kids 3-12 years old with MyKid (RM20 without). It is advisable to come earlier as it can get very hot in the afternoon. Pack a hat and lots of water/juices for yourself and your kids.

In the zoo, you can hop on the tram ride if you like (buggy) which will bring you around the zoo for a fee. You can check out the showtimes via this link before you go. But the normal show times would be at 11.00am and 3.00pm everyday except Friday which has only one show at 3.30 pm.

Baby C enjoyed her time at the zoo very much, the animals she sees in cartoons and books have come alive such as the long necked giraffe, the big elephant, and the mighty lion.


Does my bum look big in this?

Savannah Walk, the largest open concept exhibit in the zoo, is a home shared by a variety of African animals like Sable antelopes, Scimatar horned oryx, giraffes, ostriches, zebras, and white rhinoceroses.

The three Malaysian elephants - Siti (female), Sibol (female) and Teriang (male) which originally come from Pahang are currently in their late twenties/ early thirties.

The Tunku Abdul Rahman lake which sits in the middle of Zoo Negara is home to over 300 free-roaming birds - painted storks, ibises, egrets, swans and pelicans. Feeding time is at 11.00 am and 3.00 pm.



African lions - look daddy, it's the Lion King!




Bull fight!

Two species of hippopotamus can be found here; Nile Hippopotamus and Pygmy hippopotamus.

Time to watch a show at the amphitheatre - see the seals and macaw

Price: RM30 for adult with MyKad (RM50 without) and RM6 for kids 3-12 years old with MyKid (RM20 without)

Address:  Zoo Negara, Hulu Kelang, 68000 Ampang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Tel: +603-4108 3422/7/8

GPS Coordinates: 3.20869,101.758651

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Recipe: Oven-baked fries/chips with truffle oil

Chips.. fries.. whatever you call them, it's a must-have whenever we have our burger nights. Since we don't have them very often, in the past we usually just buy them frozen cos of convenience but a whole pack takes forever to finish and we always end up throwing half a pack later, so I thought I'd make them from scratch this time. It's a smarter and healthier way to eat fries.

I decided to make truffle fries in the oven. The steps are fairly straight forward- just blanch them in salted water for 3 minutes, then coat with a mixture of olive oil and truffle oil and a hint of salt (that will help them crisp up). You can also add some herbs- I used freshly chopped parsley. Then simply bake them in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. And for a stronger truffly taste, drizzle on a bit more truffle oil before serving.

Soft and fluffy on the inside, and crisp outside, these are how fries should be.

Oven-baked truffle fries/chips
Recipe by Baby Sumo
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Serves 4

4 Russet potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp truffle oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp dried parsley

1. Cut the potatoes into 1cm width, then cut into 1cm long pieces. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, then blanch the potatoes in the water for 3 minutes. Drain well.

2. In a mixing bowl, mix the truffle oil, olive oil and parsley. Place the potatoes into the bowl and then toss well using a wooden spoon until the potato is well-coated.

3. Preheat oven to 250°C/230°C fan.

4. Arrange the potato on a roasting tin / baking sheet and season well with salt and pepper. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp. Drizzle with a little more truffle oil if desired. Serve immediately.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Recipe: Braised beef (oyster blade) stew with mushrooms

Given the choice, I would cook beef stew on the hob rather than in the oven as it saves time and there are less things to clean up after. For this beef stew, I used my favorite braising cut, the Black Angus oyster blade cut which is a very affordable as well as being rich in flavour - it is not suited for steaks but slow cooking will make it melt-in-the-mouth, especially the gelatinous connective tissue that runs through it. 

Braised oyster blade beef stew with mushrooms

I also chose to add Shiitake mushrooms which has a lovely meaty texture and it also soaks up the lovely braising liquid. The preparation for this dish is very easy - all you need to do is brown the meat first, then add in the rest of the ingredients and braise over a low heat until the meat is fork-tender.

We chose to serve the braised beef stew with some boiled rice (you'll find yourself going for more rice to soak up the lovely sauce), but you can also serve it with crusty bread or mashed potatoes.  An absolutely comforting, hearty stew.

Braised oyster blade beef stew with mushrooms
Recipe by Baby Sumo
Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours
Serves 4

800g braising beef (I used oyster blade), cut into large chunks
2 onions, cut into thick slices
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup beef stock
1 cup water
3 tbsp tomato paste/puree
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
6 shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
5g cep/porcini mushrooms, rehydrated
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
2 carrots, cut into chunks
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Rosemary sprigs, to garnish

1. In a large pot or casserole, heat the oil over high heat. When the oil is smoking hot, add the beef to quickly sear, until the meat is browned.

2. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, stock, water, tomato puree, shitake mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, dried thyme, black peppercorns and Worchestershire sauce and mix well. Season with salt.

3. Bring to the boil and once boiling, cover with lid, and cook for approximately 1 1/2 - 2 hours over low heat until meat is fork-tender. Add the carrots 30 minutes before the end of cooking time. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired, and then serve with rice or mash potatoes or chunky bread. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

*I am submitting this to this month's Little Thumb's Up "mushroom" event hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

It's All About Italian @ Hugo's on 6, Best Western Premier Dua Sentral, KL

From now until 30 June 2013, Hugo’s On 6 at Best Western Premier Dua Sentral is running an Italian promotion whereby authentic Italian dishes are prepared using the finest ingredients and authentic Italian recipes. Choose from a range of pizzas, pastas, tapas or desserts from RM15++ to RM60++. This promotion is available for both lunch and dinner. 

We were invited here this week to sample some of the delectable Italian offerings. Hugo's on 6 is the hotel's signature restaurant and is located on the 6th Floor of the hotel by the infinity pool. The menu is a combination of Mediterranean & Asian cuisine. It boasts great views of KL cityscape, including views of KL Tower and Petronas Twin Towers. Guests can choose to dine al fresco or in the restaurant. 

Spaghetti aglio olio with pan seared cod

Bar area

Pizza station

The pizza counter is situated in the restaurant next to the bar, so diners can hop over and watch the chefs prepare the pizzas.  While our pizzas are being prepared, we sampled some of their starters and tapas.

The chef is preparing is our pizza... looking forward to it!

  And in it goes into the oven..

Hubby was craving for some hummus (RM15), so this definitely hit the spot. It was nice and smooth, topped with sweet Spanish paprika and chopped parsley and served with lovely grilled pita bread. We also had the Roma tomato with mozzarella cheese salad (RM24) which was light and refreshing. Out of all the appetizers, my favorite was the gambas pil pil tapas (RM25) - fresh and juicy tiger prawns cooked in extra virgin olive oil, garlic and dried chillies. I especially liked dipping the crusty bread in the spicy sauce - oh so good!

Gambas pil pil

Roma tomato and mozzarella cheese

Now for some Italian dishes - the pizzas were first to arrive. I love a thin crust pizza with lots of cheese and toppings and they do it really well here. The Pizza Quattro Stagioni (RM35) was topped with homemade tomato sauce and four different toppings, which are button mushrooms, olives, artichokes and turkey ham as well as a whole load of mozzarella cheese. Mmmm yum! Hubby was particularly fond of the olive topping while I liked the turkey ham.

We also tried Pizza Hugo's (RM56), a signature creation here is made with creamy pesto sauce, grilled eggplant, gorgonzola and Parmesan cheese. The Pizza with Pepperoni (RM36) was topped with homemade fresh tomato sauce, beef pepperoni, oregano and mozzarella cheese. It's great to see the pizzas freshly made to order, it makes all the difference.

Lots of cheese! Yummeh.

Pizza Hugo's

Pizza with Pepperoni

The pasta selection here is not huge, but the restaurant manager recommended an off-menu special - spaghetti aglio olio with pan seared cod fish. A nicely prepared pasta dish, and I thought the cod was a really addition with its lovely flaky flesh.

A trio of desserts end our meal on a sweet note. I like the rustic presentation of the tiramisu (RM22), served with an almond praline. The orange and lemon tart (RM19) with rosewater cream was tart and appetizing, while the Creme Catalana (RM15), also known as creme brûlée was rich and creamy, though the brûlée part was missing.

Orange and lemon tart


Creme catalana

View from the infinity pool

View from the car park

Opening times: Sunday to Thursday (12.00 noon to 1.00 am); Friday, Saturday and eve of Public Holidays/ (12.00 noon to 2.00 am). Happy hour 6pm to 8pm, with drinks 1 for 1 on all house-pouring spirits, beers and wines by the glass daily from 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm.

Location: Best Western Premier Dua Sentral, 8, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel: 03- 2272 8888

Join their Facebook page here.

GPS Coordinates: 3.136185,101.693356

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