Thursday, June 17, 2010
I totally agree with the saying that 'reading maketh a full man'...I love poring over cookbooks packed with glorious food photos and devouring food-themed novels with great relish.
Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs is a heartwarming tale about a celebrity chef - Augusta Simpson whose popular cooking show 'Cooking with Gusto' was forced to undergo drastic changes as TV ratings dipped.
The protagonist naturally was forced to share the limelight with a former beauty queen and Internet Foodie Queen, Carmen Vega on a new TV show. It didn't help that Augusta or fondly known as Gus would be turning 50 soon and her two grown-up daughters started rebelling against their mother's well-meaning albeit misguided intrusions into their lives.
It is a heartwarming tale of how changes in life can bring renewed happiness, unexpected love and the unlikeliest of friendship to Gus and those that she loves and loathes amidst the trials and tribulations of a successful cooking show and what goes on behind the scenes.
Reading Comfort Food reminds me of some nostalgic favourites from my salad days such as Nasi Kerabu, Udang Masak Lemak and Pineapple Upside Down Cake. So recently I put my cooking skills to the test and recreated all these dishes. Needless to say, my family was the primary beneficiary of those culinary attempts!
To welcome back my brother-in-law who has been away for two years from Malaysia, I prepared Nasi Kerabu, Ayam Percik, Udang Masak Lemak Nenas and some fresh salad for a family dinner.
All the recipes were Rohani Jelani's (refer to my earlier blog Saturday Cooks) which I replicated successfully. Phew!
Doesn't the Ayam Percik look scrumptious? It's an East Coast-style roast chicken marinated with fresh turmeric served with a mildly spicy sauce.
My Mom was especially ecstatic over the Nasi Kerabu - cooked rice with a mixture of local fresh herbs such as pegaga, mint and curry leaves, ulam raja, daun selom, Thai basil, ginger flower and turmeric leaf, dry-fried grated coconut, shredded ginger and lemon grass. She calls it ngap chai fanIt means duckling rice in Cantonese due to its resemblence to duck's feed (basically consisting of leftover rice, vegetables, etc) of yesteryear.
Everyone also loved the Udang Masak Lemak Nenas - prawns cooked in coconut milk and spices with pineapple especially the rich and tantalising gravy!
PIECE OF CAKE
Last Sunday instead of emptying my wallet at the malls, I baked up a long cherised recipe - Pineapple Upside Down Cake!
It was based on Chef Wan's recipe from his Sweet Treats book. Although the measurements given were a tad confusing (how much butter constitutes 1/4 cup?), I somehow managed to figure things out.
This is how the cake looked fresh from the oven and voila! when it was removed from the baking pan, I was really pleased with the results.
Next time, I would sprinkle more sugar at the base as per the recipe (I actually cut down on half the amount as I presumed the cake would be too sweet) before laying down the pineapple rings. I'd also add in some chopped pineapples to give the cake a nicer texture. But I'd definitely make this again!
For those who has asked for the recipe for the Pineapple Upside Down Cake, here it is:
115g brown sugar
8 pineapple rings
6 whole glace cherries
240g cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
115g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup pineapple juice
1. Grease a 22cm cake pan with butter. Sprinkle brown sugar over the base and sides of pan.
2. Arrange pineapple rings in a single layer over the sugared base. Place a cherry in the centre of each pineapple ring. Set aside.
3. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees C.
4. Sift flour together with baking powder and salt.
5. In a separate bowl cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in sifted ingredients, eggs, vanilla essence and pineapple juice.
6. Pour batter into cake pan that has been lined with pineapple rings. Bake for 45 minutes. Check to see if cake is done by inserting skewer into the cake centre. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready to be removed from oven.
7. Cool in cake tin for about 15-20 minutes before removing it from the cake pan.