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Friday, 20 January 2017

#ewew cooks (Daphne Brogdon Inspired) Best Cauliflower Dish

Feelings of guilt for over-indulging during the Christmas festivities have seen me eating a lot of salads lately.

Usually it'd be from a packet of triple-washed salad leaves with an additional pack of rocket leaves (which is good enough for 4 servings).  Sometimes a protein of shredded omelette or lean chicken fillet is added and tossed with either Kewpie's Roasted Sesame or Thousand Island dressing.  

But I grew tired of eating it for two consecutive weeks....and that's when I remembered this recipe from one of the latest cooking shows I'm following...Daphne Dishes!  She's a blogger, married to an award winning chef, mom to two adorable kids (and one cute dog)...and she's even done stand-up comedy.  That's why I love her show so much coz she's really funny.  Plus her dishes are easy to follow (at least some of them from what I've seen) which revolve around family-friendly meals (that she cooks with her two kids in mind).

This Daphne inspired Best Cauliflower Ever is my first attempt to try out one of her dishes....and to great success I might add.  I have to say I was simply blown away by how such a simple dish can taste so good! ^.^

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower (about 600g)
1 medium red bell pepper
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp silken tofu
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
Some red pepper flakes
Salt & black pepper to taste

Preparation:

Cut up the cauliflower into smaller florets.  Wash and make sure you drain really well as we want the cauliflower to char (not steam) when we saute them later on.  Deseed and quarter the red pepper.  Chop up 2 cloves of garlic.

Method:

Throw the cauliflower florets into a non-stick pan with some olive oil to saute until it's well browned and tender.  Season with a good pinch of salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.  This will take about 20 minutes.  Start with medium heat to get a good char on your cauliflower, then lower the heat to allow it to slowly soften.

You can (of course) put a lid on it to help it soften quicker but I wouldn't recommend it as your cauliflower will steam.  The slow sauteing method gives it the nice grilled flavour, so you need to be patient with this.  Do a taste test to ensure that you've got the cauliflower softened to a level you like and the seasoning is right.

At this point (with some sauteed garlic), the cauliflower is certainly good enough for eating.  I've eaten it this way many times as I find it a whole lot nicer because of the grilled flavour it imparts (rather than blanching the cauliflower in hot water and then stir-frying it with garlic).  Some might even want to blitz it up to make cauliflower rice.

But Daphne took it to another whole new level by making a sauce and so I followed suit.  I lined the quartered red pepper on a sheet pan and roasted it at 220°C for 20 minutes until charred (you can also roast the pepper under an open flame if you're using a gas stove).

Remove from the oven and roughly chop them up.  Some of you might want to remove the charred skin but I like the little bit of burnt flavour it imparts, so I'd leave it on.  As you can see, I didn't quite get the amount of charring I desired...and that's because I was trying to be a smart alec and thought that I could increase the temperature and cook it for a shorter period of time.  I got better charring when I made roasted peppers previously by using 200°C for 30 minutes (so, in future, I'm gonna stick to that temperature+timing and add a drizzle of olive oil to get it going).

Drizzle more olive oil onto a non-stick pan and saute the cut up roasted peppers with the chopped garlic briefly.  This is just to allow the raw garlic to warm up a bit in the olive oil.

Pour the contents into a mini blender and blitz.  When it's blended, it turned into this creamy sauce and the colour was very vibrant (only marred in the photo due to the lighting).

At this point, to make the sauce even creamier, Daphne added something unconventional...silken tofu (2 tbsp of it or about a third of a 300g pack)...and it's genius!  Blitz again.

Pour the sauce over the now softened cauliflower.

Give it a good stir and add in 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp of sesame seeds and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes for some heat.  If you don't have breadcrumbs and sesame seeds at your disposal, you can omit them. These two ingredients just give the dish a little bit more texture.

Give it another quick stir to ensure everything's well mixed together.

And my Daphne Brogdon inspired Best Cauliflower Dish Ever is ready =)

The dish starts with this soft but still slightly crunchy texture of the cauliflower followed by the nice roasted flavour of the pepper-made sauce.  Then you get this little bit of crunch from the sesame seeds and ends with a little kick of the red pepper flakes.

When I took the first bite, the dish tasted so creamy and decadent that you'd think it had some calorie-laden cream involved...but there was obviously none.

Not only did the silken tofu add creaminess to the dish, it's also a very healthy option to use instead of cream. It's perfect for those who seek a low-carb or gluten-free meal.

And then Daphne asks, "Is it the best cauliflower dish you've ever had?  I might be bias but I think so."  And I couldn't agree with her more.  It was certainly the best tasting cauliflower dish I've ever made (with her recipe).....and eaten! ^o^

I guess I'm never going back to my boring blanched, steamed or stir-fried cauliflower ever again.  I implore you to give this a go (if you love cauliflower)....and I can assure you that you won't regret doing so...plus the recipe is actually pretty simple to nail.

With this dish being such a success, it looks like I'll be trying more of her recipes in future! ^_*

Serves 4 (as a side dish) or 1 (as a "carb less" meal...which I couldn't finish in one sitting)

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Favourite 'Cheap Eats' of 2016

After my 2016 favourite 'nice eats' list, here comes another.  This year I didn't eat at many new coffee shops partially due to the fact that I tend to patronise the same stalls/shops.  Of the few new ones that I did try, (sadly) not many were worthy, so it wasn't very difficult to come up with some my favourite 'cheap eats' of 2016.



I was introduced to this place for its breakfast options not knowing that it was actually their lunch dishes that turned out to be the better choice.  Must try dishes include the chicken rendang, curry chicken, pork curry, sambal eggs, stewed pork with eggs and sambal okra.


But the best of the lot has to be the immensely fragrant Stuffed Ikan Cencaru.  It's worth every bit of effort to get through the bones to get at the well charred meat and chilli paste stuffing! ^o^



This stall was a gem of a find for the old lady makes a really excellent Penang Otak-Otak that's different from the norm, not the thin and tiny grilled ones we're accustomed to but a big parcel of fish (in a steamed version) that you can sink your teeth into.  

She also makes a very good Glutinous Rice and the best Yam Cake I've had.  Eat that with her kick-ass chilli dip that's unlike any I've tasted before...don't say I didn't tell ya! ;)


Get your wantan noodles, flying through the air for a bit of entertainment, served with Char Siew, Siew Yoke or even Poached Chicken.


The stand-out is definitely their nicely textured house-made noodles and melt-in-your-mouth char siew.  Finish with some freshly fried, piping hot Fried Dumplings.

Golden Sun @ Kuchai Lama


Dine in comfort with fast and efficient service, but not hectic like some coffee shop-style dim sum places, with down-to-earth prices.  Variety is endless but the Steamed Char Siew Buns, Steamed Glutinous Rice, Stir-Fried Radish Cake and Fried Yam Puffs deserve special mention. 

BBQ Soon Hing @ SS2 PJ


It's the best of both worlds here...noodles or rice with any roasted meat and dim sum under the same roof.  Roasted meats (like siew yoke, char siew, roast duck or even roasted sausages) are their primary pride which you can have with either wantan mee or rice.


Their secondary offering is their dim sum selection.  Though limited in variety, there's still enough to satisfy any dim sum cravings.

Suukee Coffee @ SS2 PJ


A good mee rebus is not easy to find, more so if it's in a Chinese coffee shop.  Try the two best things here...the Teluk Intan Mee Rebus, with an exquisite potato-based gravy and totally crispy fritters, and the Hainan Bread with kaya and an artery-clogging thick cut stick of frozen butter that's sinfully delicious! ^_*

K Intan @ Sec 17 PJ


Their scrumptious Hand-made Noodles, made fresh daily without preservatives, together with their plump and juicy Soup Dumplings, is what sets them apart from other wantan mee stalls, not their char siew or siew yoke though they're still decent.

Kukus Stim Habis! @ TTDI


Come very "lapar" (hungry) to devour the Set Kukus Master Dulang on your own or share between two not-so-greedy people.  Served with their fluffy triple steamed basmathi rice, crispy and fragrant whole chicken leg and a set of four different types of sambal that's enough to make you drool.

It's all about the Bacon by Five & Two Foods


Maybe not quite a cheap eat based on the portion size but how ingenious is it to make Bacon Jam and Candied Bacon Stix.  Munching will never be the same again once you get your hands on these! ^.^

my Toast & Roast @ SS2 PJ


Prime pleasure is undoubtedly the glorious, well caramelised, smoky and half-lean-half-fat Char Siew.  But, just in case you're feeling a wee bit guilty, then eat it in smaller portions with Hakka Noodles, Wantan Mee or Rice.

And that pretty much sums up my favourite 'cheap eats' of 2016.  Here's to finding more good cheap eats in 2017...in anticipation of a not-so-good year ahead and the need to tighten our belts! :'(

Friday, 13 January 2017

Two Chefs Lab @ Bandar Mahkota Cheras

I wasn't aware that my friend's housing area was home to a terrific neighbourhood Japanese restaurant (opened in the last quarter of 2016) until I stumbled upon it around the Christmas period.

The place I'm referring to is Two Chefs Lab @ Bandar Mahkota Cheras.  From the name and the initial impression of the decor, Japanese restaurant certainly doesn't come to mind.

Looking at the decor and ambience of the place, it exudes the vibe of a western brunch cafe but the words sushi.don.coffee imprinted on the glass panel clearly gave a glimpse of what to expect.

We started with a chef recommended side dish for sharing....Hamaguri (Clams) Ninniku (Garlic) @ RM16 featuring grilled clams with a creamy garlic sauce.

Presented with 8 pcs of (conveniently opened) clams topped with a torched creamy sauce that tasted of a combination of garlic and mentai sauce.  The sauce was rich, creamy and slightly salty...it was oh-so-de-li-cious...and the sprinkling of garlic chips on top gave it even more garlic flavour and that crunchy factor.

Next up, from their sushi menu, we tried their TCL Signature Maki @ RM38 that came with 6 pcs of maki sushi with different toppings...all fresh with a subtle clean taste.

Spicy Salmon (+ chilli threads) & Scallop (+ avocado) Sushi

Ebi (Prawn) & Ikura (Salmon Roe) Sushi

Unagi & Crab Meat Sushi

We also had the Salmon Sushi Fiesta @ RM11.80.  This was just 3 pcs of salmon sushi, two lightly seared and one sashimi style with slightly different toppings.

For our main meal, we went with two donburi dishes (both chef recommended, highlighted by a red dot on the menu), the first being the Ebi Mentai Don @ RM25.  Other choices include Gyu (beef, RM36), Unagi (RM33), Kakuni (braised pork, RM19) and Tori Karaage (deep-fried chicken, RM15) Don.

Oops...the pan-fried tiger prawns were buried under so much mentai mayo, you can't even see them.  Wouldn't mind a bit more charring on the mentai though.  Strictly for mentai lovers who say there's no such thing as too much mentai....hehe! ;D

The other donburi of choice was the Wagyu Don @ RM72.  How can I say no to wagyu?  I couldn't, of course ;) You can add on foie gras at RM25 for a bit more decadence if you want (though I didn't).

I requested for the Australian wagyu beef to be done medium rare and it was expertly executed to such.  Just look at the super tender slice of medium rare beef.  The lightly seasoned beef may come off as a tad subtle in taste for those looking for a more robust flavour...but not me....I'm super happy with it! ^o^

The donburi came topped with a perfectly cooked runny egg yolk that oozes out to coat the rice grains lovingly that has been lightly drizzled with sauce.  Mix everything together for a spoonful of yum.  I'd eat 5 servings of this anytime (not in one sitting, of course) than eat the dreadful Kobe beef I had previously that cost me RM360! >:(

I can't help but revel in the amazing knife skills of the chef.  Look at how evenly, perfectly each piece of beef has been sliced that 'disturbing' the handiwork felt like an injustice....but eat it I must! ^_*

Right after we made our orders, we were served complimentary water taken up a notch with some orange infusion (nice touch!).  Service was attentive and the servers also regularly filled up our glasses and brought us a refill.

I had sushi.  I had don.  Now, I should have coffee.  So, I ordered a Flat White @ RM8.50 just because I could (kekeke!)...in a Japanese eatery! :O  That probably wasn't a very wise move....let's just leave the coffee in the hands of coffee specialists, shall we? ;D

My Personal Opinion

I'm so envious....how I wish I have such a nice and affordably priced Japanese eatery a stone's throw away from where I live.  That way I don't really need to travel for a good Japanese meal.

Everything I had I enjoyed thoroughly but the Wagyu Don and Grilled Garlic Clams are two dishes not-to-be-missed here.  Hmmm, now what shall I have the next time?  Psst....check out discounts available through Upocket (*wink wink*)!

Two Chefs Lab
23-G Jalan Temenggung 27/9
Seksyen 9 Bandar Mahkota Cheras
43200 Kajang
Selangor
Tel: 03-9011 9910

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