Saturday, September 28, 2019

HANDY KITCHER HELPERS FROM TURBAN CHOPSTICKS


While I love cooking things from scratch, I do use pre-made curry pastes occasionally. At the recent Tasty Australia showcase, my interest was piqued by Turban Chopsticks after I met the brand founder, vivacious Mei Sann Yong.

A quick chat revealed the friendly entrepreneur was born in Malaysia but grew up in Perth, Australia. According to Mei, she founded Turban Chopsticks when she encountered cooking inconveniences in her busy life, early in her career.
Mei said: “As a busy working professional who travel constantly, I didn’t have much time for cooking. After a long day, I wanted home-cooked meals - the kind I grew up with - that were healthy and tasted amazing. But I also didn’t have the time to source and cook everything from scratch nor do I want to use prepackaged food with suspicious ingredients and origins.”
She soon identified a gap in the market for pre-made meal kits and curry sauces with bold flavours that used clean ingredients. That’s where Turban Chopsticks’ convenient, pre-made meal kits and ready-to-use sauces come in.
 
Raised by a full house of bakers, chefs, restaurant owners, food businesses, home cooks, and (some say extreme) food lovers, Mei has put her own exposure to various cuisines and exotic ingredients as the starting point of Turban Chopsticks.
 
“Turban Chopsticks gives busy mums and dads, working professionals, and enthusiastic home cooks a sneaky shortcut to beautifully home cooked Asian and Indian inspired meals.  They can use it as a foolproof foundation to create their own tasty masterpieces. Cooking food from the heart is something everyone can nail with Turban Chopsticks.”

Putting Turban Chopsticks to the test, I used Turban Chopsticks Red Curry Sauce to cover a whole red snapper. After wrapping up the fish in banana leaves, I chucked it into the toaster oven to bake. 
Half an hour later, the fragrant aroma permeated the whole house and we soon sat down to a delicious, robustly flavoured fish for dinner. A few days later my 20-year old daughter spread the remaining Turban Chopsticks Red Curry Sauce to grill salmon with equally scrumptious results.
 
For more information about Turban Chopsticks, visit: 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

VIVA ITALIA SUNDAY BRUNCH AT PREGO


 
The simplest things in life are often the best. Marco De Cecco, Chef De Cuisine at Prego will testify to that. At his urging, our Sunday brunch experience got off to a rousing good start with the antipasto (starter) of Buffalo Mozzarella and
Burrata with Tomatoes.
A splash of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar helped to amplify the custardy-soft cheeses' voluptuous creaminess and the subtle sweetness of tomatoes, making it an opener to remember. Of course, drizzling it with aged balsamic vinegar would be divine...if you can lay your hands on some.
 
Served every Sunday from 11.30am to 2.30pm, the Viva Italia Sunday Brunch proffers a vast array of antipasti (appetisers) and chilled seafood, buffet-style. Main courses, pasta and pizza are brought to the table throughout the brunch for optimum freshness and with different chef's specialities featured weekly. In addition, there are barbecue and carvery items in the line-up too.

A tall chalkboard reveals the day’s tempting offerings: from appetisers and oven-fresh wood-fire baked pizzas to hot-off-the-grill meat and seafood. In
between forays to cherry-pick from the inviting salads, soup and mains, the affable Prego team makes it their mission to ply diners with an endless stream of freshly prepared pasta, the chef’s specials and creative cocktail concoctions.


Once our glasses runneth over with the day’s first welcome drink, a platter of nibbles comprising Crunchy Bites with Housemade Citrus Mayo, Crabmeat Arancini (deep-fried breaded rice balls stuffed with crabmeat) and Asparagus wrapped with Bresaola (air-dried salted beef) whetted our appetite for the upcoming Italian feast.
We could hardly resist the lure of shelled Crab Claws, Mussels, Prawns and Shucked Oysters; all nicely laid on crushed ice. Best enjoyed with a dash of freshly squeezed lemon, tabasco or creamy dressing, the oceanic treasures proved on-point.
 
 
 
Chef Marco and his team’s versatile prowess came to the fore with antipasti such as Roasted Broccoli & Fregola Salad, Sicilian Caponata with Bread Crouton, Spanish Frittata, Prawns & Squid in Mayo Dressing, Insalata Russa (Russian salad), Macaroni Pasta Salad with Pesto, Pine Nuts, Feta, Basil & Cherry Tomatoes, Cannelloni Di Bresaola with Ricotta & Rocket Salad.
 
After sampling the Baked Salmon marinated with Italian Herbs and Beef Salami, we made a beeline for the BBQ station out by the patio. The chefs will grill a choice of Beef Steak, Freshwater King Prawns, Mediterranean Chicken Skewers and Lamb Sausages on request. Although it's a hit and miss affair hinging on the eventual outcome, the barbecued servings are worth savouring.
 
Before our BBQ fare hit the table, delicious Housemade Pappardelle with Lamb Ragout and Porcini, seductively rich Venetian Risotto with Crab, rustic Housemade Pumpkin Ravioli with Parmiggiano Reggiano and a hearty portion of Polenta with Caramelised Onion kept us suitably riveted.


 

More protein overload came in the form of tender Roast Chicken, splendid Roast Tiger Garoupa and scrumptious slices of Lamb Shoulder from the carving station. Accompanied by grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes and various sauces, the delectable morsels left no cause for complaints.
 
 

Hot on the heels of those meaty options were zingy Pizza Diavola, laden with a devilishly piquant sauce, salami slices and cheese followed by the timeless Pizza Margherita.


The extensive dessert parade would befit a Mad Hatter’s tea party. True to form, we somehow found tummy room for a sweet finish by being selective and sharing our sweet spoils.
 
 
 
 
My go-to faves include Black Forest Cake, Macarons, Gelato (assorted flavours), Nutella-filled Bomboloni (Italian doughnuts) and Mixed Berry Tart. These barely scratched the surface of the cornucopia available.
 
 
 
The Viva Italia Sunday Brunch at Prego is priced at RM188 nett per person. For a luxurious bubbly experience, pop up RM260 nett per person and succumb to a free flow of Moet & Chandon champagne, prosecco, red and white wine, draught beer, special Sunday cocktails, soft drinks and chilled juices.


 


For reservations, call Prego, tel: 03-2731 8333. Address: Lobby Level, The Westin Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Bukit Bintang, KL.