Monday, March 26, 2012

EARTH-SPECIALLY FOR YOU



Raise a toast to Dorsett Regency KL's pledged to support of Earth Hour on 31 March! The hotel team aims to create better awareness and draw hotel guests to support the worthy cause through several interesting activities.

Besides switching off lights and reducing usage of electricity for an hour on that evening, guests can participate in the campaign by dining in candlelight at Checker's Cafe/Cellini's with Executive Chef KK Yau and his team preparing a low-energy, more eco-friendly menu.

A special cocktail concoction named Window Slide refreshes the palate, reminding you of the fresh vitality of life through its tangy-sweet concoction of lemon, lime and orange juices blended with mint leaves.


The chef's tasty tapas of Foie Croquette with Yuzu Marmalade got the ball rolling. We love the fried morsel of duck liver foie gras encrusted in breadcrumbs; its crispiness is less cloying when paired with some fresh micro sprouts and a tiny dollop of mildly sweet citrusy marmalade.


This paves way for his next starter of Australian King Fish Sashimi with Pastrami Spice. The sashimi-grade fish's rich succulence is lightly tempered by a palate-tingling mixture of fennel and mustard seeds, ground black and white pepper, chopped garlic and parsley on a bed of fresh salad.


I love partaking the Heirloom Tomato Consomme. Depending on whether you love or loathe cooking, this clear broth is a labour of love (or pain!) that demands detailed preparation and saintly patience to make. I thought it most befitting that the crystal clear and intensely flavourful broth is served with a grand flourish; poured piping hot from a teapot into our soup dish bearing a single square of homemade mozzarella ravioli and a cherry tomato stuffed with mozzarella.


We taken by surprise by the unexpected moistness of the filling inside the Ballantine of Organic Chicken on Osso Bucco of Organic Carrots. Chef Yau explained that chopped chestnuts had been added into the cheese and turkey ham stuffing to give better moisture. He also revealed that the 'osso bucco' in this instance refers to the braising of baby carrots in white stock, a reduction of chicken stock and herb infusion to tenderise them. Overall, it certainly ensures the chicken rolls remain moist and juicy to the bite.

The final crescendo came when I dug into the fudgy-soft Steamed Chocolate Brownie with Organic Hazelnut Ganache. Rich, nutty but spongy light, this brownie is a far cry from the usual dried crumbly versions that I had encountered. Kudos to Pastry Chef Badrul Hisham for such a luscious creation...whose dulcet voice is as soulful as his dessert.

So do your part and be an eco warrior this Saturday for Earth Hour. Our one and only home planet's worth rooting for over a sumptuous dinner where it'd be lights out from 830 pm to 930 pm. At RM98++ per person, it's a small price to pay to help save Mother Earth. 

Call Checker's Cafe, Tel: 03-2716 1000. It's at Dorsett Regency, 172 Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur or log onto: www.dorsettregency.com/kualalumpur

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

ORGANIC GROWTH

Organic food seems to be enjoying a growth spurt of sorts in KL.

There's now an Organic Farm outlet in my own neighbourhood. Recently I spied and ventured into two organic cafes - Haven and EarthFood in Ampang Hilir which served dishes cooked with organic ingredients; both outlets also sell organically grown vegetables, organically farmed fish and organic produce.


 I've also been told that there's great Sarawak laksa and organic dishes to be had at Living Food (Menara Tan&Tan) and Opika (1Utama) but I've yet to make my way these places.

Diners in the city can expect to find organic beef and lamb soon on some hotels' and restaurants' menus. This is a foregone conclusion after I attended an informative cooking cum tasting session on organic beef and lamb by Beyond Culinary and Classic Fine Foods which was well-attended by many of the said industry players.

Rose Yong's Beyond Culinary Studio Theatre is more than just another cooking school. It's designed to let professional chefs and food service/trade people explore and experience the whole 'source to plate' process through hands-on educational sessions.

According to Jacques Cosset, MD of Classic Fine Foods, his company decides to import The Organic Meat Company's organic beef and lamb from Australia in response to consumers' growing awareness and demand for healthier, safer meat.
"Organic farmers also emphasize on and practise sustainable farming; from the animals' welfare to how their produce is grown and harvested which are more eco-friendly in the long run," he said. "To be certified organic, the animals have to be born and bred on certified organic pasture outdoors, be allowed to roam and feed without any given antibiotics or growth hormones."

 Chef Victor Seow from Las Carretas pan-fried, grilled and roasted different cuts of beef and lamb for us to sample. To retain the meat's inherent flavour, no marinade was used. No complaints from all present though as most of the cuts were superbly tender and juicy. A dash of coarse sea salt and ground black pepper were more than ample to perk up the flavour profile according to taste.


The lamb rack was another major hit that afternoon ... needless to say, it was one of my fave cuts too!

Before we wrap up for the afternoon, Victor also demonstrated the convenience of cooking Bonduelle's frozen spinach, baby French beans and broad beans - a boon for the busy food service personnel who are constantly pressed for time. Definitely an interesting way to spend an afternoon!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

BEERY GOOD!


Would you believe these chunky baked chicken are fat-free? It's true!


I used the recipe from this cookbook - Quickies and the results are well-worth the little efforts put in.

Pre-heat oven to 230 degrees Celsius. Then marinade about 1 kg chicken pieces (cut into medium-sized chunks) with 1/2 can (150 ml) beer, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp white pepper powder.

Since I didn't have any garlic powder at hand, I just smashed 6 cloves of fresh garlic and added that into the marinade. If you're using garlic powder, 2 tsp would be enough.

I let the chicken sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes before dredging them in some plain wheat flour. Use just enough to coat the chicken pieces evenly. Shake off any excess flour before placing the chicken pieces onto a wire rack atop a roasting tray.

Bake the chicken for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 180 degrees Celsius and turn chicken pieces over to cook for another 15 minutes. Keep a close watch on the chicken pieces to avoid them from being overly burned.

Test the thickest pieces to ensure the meat is cooked through - juices should run clear. If they're underdone, cook for another 5 minutes. Serve piping hot to enjoy the super-duper juicy tenderness with an oh-so-heavenly garlicky and beery accents! Soooo good!