Monthly Archives: May 2012

Cooking Classes for June 2012

June 3rd Sunday 10 to 1 pm

Easy Eggless Cookies

Learn to make 3 types of eggless cookies. These are not just cookies with eggs omitted. You will learn to make;
1. Anzac Cookies
2. Diamant Vanille
3. Diamant au Chocolat
This is a fully hands on session. Class will commence once there are 6 students.
Price Per Person: $10

June 9th  and 17th Saturday 2.30 to 5.30 – 1 more place left each

Mille Crepe

Learn the art of Mille Crepe
You will learn to make crepes and crème pattisier and then assemble your mille crepe. This is a hands on class. You will be working in groups.

Price Per Person: $110. Class is already commencing.

June 9th saturday  10 to 1 pm  4 more place

Red Velvet Class – New Class

Learn to make red velvet cake along with a filling and a topping.

1. Red Velvet Cake
2. Chocolate Butter Cream Filling
3. Cheese Topping
Price Per Person: $110 – This is a hands on class and will commence

June 10th Sunday 2.30 to 5.30 1 place left
Let’s do Indian

We will learn a complete Indian Meal. We will cook:
1. Vegetable Beriani
2. Smoked Mutton Curry (Guaranteed no mutton smell)
3. Vegetable Jalfrezi – Indian style Mixed vegetable
4. Palak Paneer – Learn to also make Paneer
Price Per Person: $110 (Class will commence once there are 8 students)

Classes will be held at 70 Road 14/24 Petaling Jaya. Please email nicholas_pillai@yahoo.com to book and to make any enquiries. Please check my blog http://www.nicholaspillai.wordpress.com class updates and other food related topics.

Zipangu – Shangri la Kuala Lumpur

I was dragged kicking and screaming that day because I just didn’t want to venture out to KL in the after work traffic jams. I don’t like traffic jams, and I think in a whole year I can probably count the number of times I am stuck in a jam and so far this day was the first for 2012. I have always timed my shopping sprees and visits and any outing away from our traffic jams, so I was not a happy chappy.

I was told to shut up many times when I went on complaining and even when we reached the Shangri la I was complaining of a head ache attack because of the “long journey” to KL.

So we entered… now I don’t ever recall the staff shouting out welcomes when I worked at the Shangri la. Yes I worked there many moons ago in Public Relations actually. I think Zipangu now is casual and very retro compared to what it was many years ago when it was called Nadaman. Still the old charm exists minus the girls in Kimonos.

So we were seated and for some reason I thought Dan said it would be a buffet dinner and in my mind ahhhh copious amounts of Sashimi. Then we sat down and I noticed it was not a buffet dinner but an a la carte one. Ohh my headache shot up again because I really didn’t have the mood to choose anything and so I just mentioned I’d have a salad of some sort. And then the menu was grabbed away from me. So I left it as it is. I couldn’t make out what he ordered because he spoke behind the menu.

So our food started to appear.

First was the Chawan Mushi and the Braised Cold Chicken.

The Chawan Mushi was light and rich and well had something on top I thoughtChawan Mushi was rather tacky from Shangri la point of view…. Julienned Crab stick!!! Now why? Couldn’t it have been just a tiny bit of crab meat? Just a tiny bit like the size of caviar on a cracker! But no, julienned crab stick. Thank goodness Dan ate the top bit and I finished the bits at the end so I did not have to eat the julienned crab stick. It is not like I don’t like crab stick but it’s just that you would expect to see it in some road side stall and not Zipangu. Taste wise the Chawan Mushi was excellent.

A rather bad photo of the soupNow the cold braised chicken, to me was a tad bit oily. Actually too oily and would have been better served hot. The chicken was a little touch due to over cooking or the fact that it was made much earlier and left to chill but it was certainly something you would eat hot. We picked at it and left it as the other things arrived. We had a mushroom soup with enoki mushrooms and a big chicken ball. Now that was another downer, because 5 star standard, this would rate a 2. It was rough and it was too big to eat daintily in Zipangu setting.

A Orgasmic ExperienceSo now staring us in the face was Foie Gras. I have not had Foie Gras for years and years because you just never get enough, so I don’t bother, but today in front of us was two plates of amply sized foie gras on a slow braised wintermelon I believe. To just cut the foie gras with the teaspoon and slink it into my mouth and while it does not melt in your mouth but the mashing it as the tongue hits your palate is just priceless… oh my gosh… it was like having an orgasm in your mouth.. I just wanted to have more orgasms that night. MORE MORE MORE!!!!

Alas it ended quite quickly.

Next we were served the Hotate Mentaiko which were scallops that were au gratined with Mentaiko which is Pollack Roe ( I think that is the right spelling). Now this dish was presented well, but somehow eating it, it was a dish that was neither here nor there. Pollack Roe gives a kind of pinky orangey color. I don’t know what it was but Dan felt the same. It just lacked something. To me it kind of tasted like a very lightly herbed Italian something or the other and the fact that it was served with four slices of French Baguette kind of made it even more confusing. It was not bad, it was different. Perhaps if it came before the Foie Gras then we would have appreciated it more. It was a good amount of Scallops though, eight if I am not wrong. Maybe it is wrong for me to say but it tasted like a mild gratinated thousand island dressing. It’s just me perhaps. Do try it though, but not after Foie Gras.

What could be better then a few bowls of this? Then came my favorite, my Sashimi Set 200. Oh gloriness to the power of a trillion. It was just not enough I swear, but it was the best Sashimi I have had in a long long time. The pieces were thick and succulent, the butter fish which is generally not a favorite of mine was as its name suggest, melted like butter in the mouth. Now whenever I order sashimi I always cancel the prawns, but of course since Dan ordered it, he didn’t bother to. So I was a bit queasy about the prawns till I was forced to try it and LOW AND BEHOLD…. It was gorgeous. I have had prawn sashimi before and always felt like throwing up. I do not like prawns, cooked or not. But it changed at that moment.

Funnily enough, the prawn did not have much prawn flavor, which was fine with me and the consistency was difficult to explain. How I wish I took a photo? Something was obviously done to the prawn to give it that texture. It is like eating Har Gau, the prawns are crunchy and big and yet does not taste prawny at all. This was kind of similar that day at Zipangu.

Still it was a wonderful dish… garnished delightfully on a bed of ice to ensure freshness and you know presentation presentation presentation. All in all, perfect, I came, I wanted and I got! All that garnishing after the fish was gone… what waste… How I wish the whole bowl was filled with sashimi instead…when pigs fly!

Kampachi Fish

Next came the Kampachi Fish. Well as you know I am never keen on cooked fish, moreover one with the skin still intact. Now as crispy as they say they can make fish skin, it’s still fish skin, and I don’t like it. So I was forced to have at least a morsel of the fish and so I did and it was really nice, minus the skin of course. The fish was perfectly cooked, and the sauce did not over power it like a curry would often overpower a fish. Of course the fish was very fresh so that added to my interest. Would I order it again, perhaps not. But it was nice. I did not however think the salad that came with it complemented it in anyway, perhaps it was a garnish but I like my vegetables so I ate it all.

Then we had the Sukiyaki Set. This came with the much needed salad, Miso soup and rice. The beef was of course excellent, just cooked enough and not overdone. I did think though that it looked rather insipid. I think the appearance was not tempting and this could be the fact that this was the last dish served and we were full.

The soup was nice, as any Sukiyaki can be, there was enough sake and so that took away the sugar sweetness so it had a nice alcoholic sweetness. It was a good broth, and we would have enjoyed it thoroughly if we ordered two set meals without the whole enchilada. I finished all the salad by the way. Actually after saying all that, I believe we finished everything except the rice because we’re on a DIET!

 

Dessert. Now this is when I like a Japanese Buffet, or at least the one I went to on my birthday. I love good green tea ice cream and I do not mean one scoop. But that’s what we got sadly, one scoop of ice cream with red beans ok a quinelle of red beans. It was of course nice, but more is nicer.

All in all it was a memorable night. I would like to thank Dan for a wonderful dinner that day. Truly mystifying, truly orgasmic with a tsunami of tastes running down my gullet.

Go to Zipangu, although you should make sure you go with someone who has a Shang Card!

[Up to 51% Off] 3-hour Hands-on Rustic Red Velvet Cake Baking & Decorating Workshop for 1 (RM108) / 3 (RM280) People. Also Learn to Make Cream Cheese Topping & Chocolate Butter Cream

Lavish your taste buds with today’s Groupon: you get a three-hour hands-on Red Velvet Cake baking workshop from Cooking With Nicholas in Petaling Jaya. Choose from:

Workshop for 1 person for RM108 instead of RM189
Workshop for 3 people for RM280 instead of RM567 (only RM93.30 per person)

Red Velvet Cake - Exactly what you will be making

Within spacious baking barracks, students learn tips and tricks of red velvet cake construction from renowned chef, Nicholas Pillai, who will guide them through three informative hours. Ingredients and utensils are provided and cake apprentices also acquire the knowledge to create cream cheese toppings and chocolate butter creams. Hungry graduates should bring a container to take home red velvety goodness and may opt to bring an apron or face the hazards of flour and sugar head on. Comfy clothes are a must to stretch baking muscles and creativity.

Nicholas Pillai is the co-author of Healthy Eating – Recipes for the Asian Palate. He has written for publications such as Her World, OH Magazine, Clove, websites such as Against The Grain and Pharmvision.com, as well as the Malaysian Women’s Weekly. He has also provided recipes for Rasa, Nur, Majalah Midi, Parenthink, Ibu dan Ayah, Traverama and Shape. Nicholas has taught more than 1,000 students in the past eight months.

Class schedule

May 10, 2012 (Thu) 10am – 1pm
May 19, 2012 (Sat) 10am – 1pm FULL
May 27, 2012 (Sun) 10am – 1pm

June 2, 2012 (Sat) 10am – 1 pm
June 3, 2012 (Sun) 2.30pm – 5.30pm

Each class commences with a minimum of 8 students and a maximum of 9. More classes may be made available depending on response.

Please email nicholas_pillai@yahoo.com to book your class.

Meat Myths

I found this article a while ago on the internet and thought it would make good reading to my followers as well as my meat loving students.  While this may be the way we do things in the US, some of the practices cannot be done in Malaysia due to sanitary reasons.  Read on and see what we should do, don’t do and always do thinking we are correct

This article was written by Bridget Lancaster.

When it comes to cooking meat I have my own personal set of “rules.” I prefer to grind my own meat, buy fresh and local whenever possible, and never, ever, buy meat on sale (think about it…)
But there are quite a few rules that are based in fiction — myths that have survived decades and continue to offer bad advice to the home cook. Let’s bust them, shall we?

Myth #1: Searing meat seals in juices

Forget this one. It’s not true — never has been, and never will be. Most likely the idea came from the crusted exterior that meat develops as it’s seared; surely that crust will seal in the juices, right? But in the test kitchen we tested this old maxim by weighing steaks before and after they were cooked. Some were seared first, others weren’t. There was no difference in the amount of juices that were lost between the various steaks.
The main purpose of searing is to add flavor by converting natural sugars and amino acids into flavor compounds via browning. If you want juicy meat, you can slow roast it (which prevents meat juices from being squeezed out.) And always let meat rest after cooking so that it can reabsorb any of those precious juices.

Myth #2: Marinating meat makes it juicy or tender

No, it doesn’t. Marinades are usually made with some kind of oil, citrus, and herb combo that can only penetrate the very exterior of meat. In the test kitchen we found that after 18 hours, a red wine marinade made its way ONE MILLIMETER into beef. Hey, that’s perfect for tenderizing those two-millimeter thick steaks!
Now if that marinade contains an acidic ingredient — like the above-mentioned citrus, or vinegar — you can actually do more damage to the meat. Acids will begin to break down the exterior fibers of the meat. Left too long in an acidic soak, that exterior will go from meaty, to mushy, and eventually, chalky and dry.
So the takeaway here is that if you want to flavor thin cuts of meat — cut for a stir fry or paper-thin paillards for example — go ahead and give them a quick 10-minute-or-so marination for flavor.

Myth #3: Eating pink pork will make you sick

Once upon a time this may have been true as there was a fear of ingesting an ugly parasite named trichinosis. Cooking pork to a safe, but gray interior temperature of 160 degrees would kill off trichinosis — but who would want to eat that dried up chop?
Today, government standards have all but eliminated the risk of trichinosis contamination from pork. According to the Center for Disease Control, between the years of 1997 through 2001, the average reported cases of trichinosis was twelve.
So go ahead and go for a slightly rosy hue. The test kitchen highly recommends cooking that pork chop or loin roast until it registers an internal temperature of 140 to 145. And be sure to let the pork rest for 10 minutes or so-the internal temperature will continue to rise 5 to 10 degrees, but the meat will still be beautifully moist.

Myth #4: Always rinse off poultry that comes from the supermarket

Back away from the sink my friend. I know that it’s been pounded into your brain that you should unwrap that poultry and give it a good rinse in the sink. But beware that what you’re most likely doing is splashing all of those yummy surface pathogens over your sink, faucet, and surrounding area. Now, if you’re willing to give the sink a super-thorough scrub down it will be fine, but you’re better off simply cooking the poultry to a safe internal temperature (165 degrees for the breast meat and 175 for the thigh meat.)
So those are a few of the myths out there. I hope that busting through these gives you more confidence when preparing meat.

May Cooking Classes

Saturday May 5th 10 to 1 pm Full
Wednesday May 16th 10 to 1 pm 3 more places Left
It’s a Complete Meal with Salmon

Let’s prepare Salmon and some of its accompaniments. You will learn the following:
1. To prepare pan fried Salmon
2. Berry Nutty Coleslaw
3. Easy Potato Bake
4. Hot Chocolate Soufflé
Price Per Person: $110 (Class will commence once there are 6 students) Each student will pan fry their own Salmon.

Sunday May 6th 10 to 1 pm 3 more places LEft
Let’s make Breakfast

This long awaited class at least 4 years now has finally come to fruition. You will learn to make:

1. Pancakes
2. A Quickie Breakfast Muffin
3. Scones
4. Poached Eggs
5. Hollandaise Sauce
Price Per Person: $100
This is a fully hands on class, so do prepare yourself to do some work.

Saturday May 19th 2.30 to 5.30PM  4 more places left
Let’s do Indian

We will learn a complete Indian Meal. We will cook:
1. Vegetable Beriani
2. Smoked Mutton Curry (Guaranteed no mutton smell)
3. Vegetable Jalfrezi – Indian style Mixed vegetable
4. Palak Paneer
Price Per Person: $110 (Class will commence once there are 8 students)

Classes will be held at 70 Road 14/24 Petaling Jaya. Please email nicholas_pillai@yahoo.com to book and to make any enquiries. Please check my blog http://www.nicholaspillai.wordpress.com