Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Madeleines, Memes and Awards

The last few weeks saw me tagged with a couple of memes that I haven’t been able to fulfil due to the 3 lengthy vacation posts that I published, but as promised, today is THE day, but just in case you haven’t noticed that I already share my personal life quite freely with you, my advice to you is, don’t hold your breathe – I have nothing ‘juicy’ to expose. I have also been fortunate enough to received four awards but have been unable to down load them onto my sidebar for some strange reason. Anyway, first things first – Here’s a brief history of the ‘Madeleine’;

Madeleines have always been associated with the little French town of Commercy in the region of Lorraine. In the 18th century, the bakers of Commercy were said to have once, long ago, paid a very large sum for the recipe and sold the little cakes packed in oval boxes as a speciality in the area. Nuns in the 18th century France frequently supported themselves and their schools by making and selling a particular sweet. Commercy once had a convent dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. Historians think the nuns, probably when all the convents and monasteries of France were abolished during the French revolution, sold the recipe to the bakers.

In 1923, the Madeleine was made famous by Marcel Proust (1871-1922) in his autobiographical novel ‘A la recherchĂ© du temps perdu’, translated ‘Remembrance of things past’. This novel was left unfinished upon his death and his brothers published the book in 1923. In it he wrote:

“She sent for one of those squat plump little cakes called “petites madeleines” which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell... I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure invaded my senses…
And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings in Combray when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Leonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane… and the whole of Combray and it’s surroundings, taking shape and solidity sprang into being, town and garden alike from my cup of tea.”

Proust’s reminisce of a happy memory associated with the madeleine is not unlike our own reminiscence that is almost always associated with food, after all, food is the basis of any one happy memory, well, for me anyway! Madeleines are traditionally made with eggs, butter, flour and sugar with the inclusion of the zest from the orange or the lemon, but in the recent years, other ingredients have been added to add interest to the flavour.

Makes about 30

100g salted butter
100g icing sugar
40g almond meal
40g plain flour
4 eggs
Zest of 1 large lemon
1tsp. vanilla bean paste
Caster sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat. Let it bubble briskly for about five minutes (you’ll hear it crackle a bit as it loses water.) When it’s a deep golden colour and smells nutty, turn of the heat and leave it to cool slightly. Strain the melted butter (using a paper towel over a mesh strainer) – you want to leave the solids behind.
Grease the madeleine molds and dust with caster sugar. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sifted flour, almond meal and icing sugar and set aside. Put the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until thick. Fold in the lemon zest and vanilla, then sprinkle the flour mixture on top of the egg mixture and gently fold in. Now fold in the melted butter and stir only enough to bring everything together.
Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each mold 3/4s full. I use a small milk jug filled with batter to keep things clean and manageable. Bake the madeleines for 12-14 minutes or until the madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately on to racks to cool slightly. Serve warm.

Now, on to the Memes..

Big Boys Oven and Singairishgirl both tagged me with the ‘5 things’ meme, so here ‘tis…
5 things…
A. Found in my room
1. A Queen sized brown leather bed
2. Two nightstands on either side
3. Two table lamps, one on each night stand
4. Oil paintings on canvas
5. An Oil Burner

B. Found in my bag
1. A wallet
2. A tube of hand cream
3. A tube of Vaseline Lip Treatment
4. My mobile phone
5. My house and car keys

C. Found in my wallet
1. Cash
2. Drivers License
3. Bankcard
4. Loyalty Cards
5. A stack of receipts

D. I have always wanted to…
1. Be able to swim
2. Be slim
3. Be able to fit in nice clothing (Man! this is becoming depressing! Don’t anyone tag me with a meme ever again!)
4. Be able to eat whatever I want without putting on weight
5. Be able to sing well

E. I am currently into…
1. Blogging
2. Watching Korean and Hong Kong soaps
3. Home Decorating
4. Watching my daughters dance hip-hop (they are SO good, I want to learn how to youtube them. Can anyone teach me??)
5. Lounge and Korean music

And now, I have the pleasure of tagging the following bloggers with this meme;
(If you have been tagged with this meme before, you may choose to not take this on)

1. Daniel of Messy Pastor
2. Ming of Ming the Merciless
3. Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen
4. Anh of Food Lover's Journey
5. Sylvia of La Vida en Buenos Aires y afines...

Daniel of Messy Pastor tagged me with the ‘ 7 things most people don’t know about me’ meme, so here goes…

1. I don’t like crowded places – you’ll never find me at a sale
2. I can’t be under the afternoon sun for more than 15 minutes, I’d almost always have a headache
3. In my teens, I used to represent my school for singing competitions
4. I have terrifying stage frights – at a solo performance in Church with hundreds of eyes watching, my mind went totally
blank and I forgot the words to my song. (HORRORS!!) So, I made up some lyrics on the spot until the familiar chorus
5. That was the last time I sang solo on stage.
6. In 2000, I went on the Atkins Diet. I didn’t have rice, noodles or any carbohydrates for a year. I lost 15kgs and dropped
to a size 6. After a year of eating meat, sausages and bacon with very limited fruit and vegetables, I gave up.
7. In 2001, I decided to Love myself more

I’m tagging the following bloggers with this meme…

1. Jaden of Steamy Kitchen
2. Belinda of Bel’s Fish Bowl
3. Sunny of Big Boy’s Oven
4. Rafe of Rafe New York
5. Bee of Rasa Malaysia

I want to thank the following bloggers for giving me an award, I’m humbled and honoured.

1. Nora B of Life’s Smorgasbord for the Thoughtful Blogger Award. I have earlier passed on this award in a previous post.

2. Sylvia of La Vida en Buenos Aires y afines... for the Thinking Blogger Award. I pass this award on to the following bloggers:

Daniel of Messy Pastor, for helping me understand my faith better
Jaden of Steamy Kitchen, for being such a huge inspiration to me

3. Debra of Singairishgirl for the Creative Blogger Award. I pass this award on to the following bloggers:

Sylvia of La Vida en Buenos Aires y afines for her excellent food styling and photography
Bee of Rasa Malaysia for her fabulous recipe ideas

4. Debra of Singairishgirl (again!) for The Power of Schmooze Award. I pass this award on to the following bloggers:

Anh of Food Lover’s Journey for always being helpful and obliging
Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen for her beautiful personality that shines through her blog

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Chloe -my school holiday guest chef & Singapore - my vacation wrap-up

After 2 solid vacation posts, the passionate foodie in me is literally ‘itching’ to do a post on a home spun goodie of some sort – so today, I present to you a guest chef from the Rode-Chong household, my gorgeous multi-talented daughter Chloe who is affectionately known at home as ‘Theng-Theng’. For all you foodies reading this post, I hope you will leave a kind comment as an encouragement to her. Many thanks in advance from this doting mom!


Chloe is 13, loves to cook and bake – her favourite food items in the whole wide world are the glorified Potato and the highly exalted Chocolate so it’s no wonder that she’s sharing her favourite Brownie recipe today. I’m just a little surprised that she did not incorporate a spud or two in the recipe! See here for another of Chloe's creations! Chloe also enjoys Hip Hop dancing, reading girlie novels and magazines, racquet sports, rock climbing and swimming. Albeit her tender age, Chloe is a sensible and responsible child who assists me in my home duties above and beyond her assigned tasks. She is a delightful companion and I count myself extremely blessed to have her as my daughter.

Chloe’s totally awesome Chocolate, Chocolate Brownies!
Makes 24

40g all-purpose flour
60g unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
250g good-quality dark chocolate,
chopped into small pieces
125g milk chocolate chips
250g salted butter, melted
2tsps natural vanilla extract
4 eggs lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to160 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease a 20 x 30 cm cake tin and line with baking paper, leaving the paper hanging over on the two long sides.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl and add the sugar and chocolate. Mix together and make a well in the centre.
Pour the butter into the dry ingredients with the vanilla and eggs and mix well. Pour into the tin, smooth the surface and bake for 40 minutes (the mixture will still be a bit soft on the inside). Chill for 2 hours before lifting out, using the paper as handles, and cutting into pieces. Enjoy them with your friends!

Now, on to the second part of this post - a wrap-up of my recent vacation in Singapore, I would firstly like to say that Singapore is Ming’s (my husband) country of origin, his family and the friends that he grew up with are all there, so we visit the island about twice a year. As for me, besides visiting Ming’s family, I get to hang out with one of my ‘Bestest’ (I learned this word from my daughters) friends, M, (of 'Yummytots') who actually introduced me to blogging. I have known M for yonks, we went to High School together here in Perth. We used to ‘wag’ (play truant) school together, cook and bake together, have long chats while we plucked hairs from our legs, ok, maybe a little bit too much info there but yeah, we were really close then and we still are.

The very impressive color changing canopy at Clarke Quay

Paige, at Clarke Quay

Paige and I browsing some bling-bling at Clarke Quay

Paige, digging into the Haagen Daaz Chocolate Fondue at Clarke Quay - hey, this here is a natural born foodie!

During my stay in Singapore, M and I went for two Delicious treatment massages at the ‘Renewal Day Spa’ in Tong Building Orchard Road, a couple of ‘toe-curling’ reflexology sessions at the People’s Park, countless meals together with our families – the best being the afternoon tea at the PS. (Project Shop) CafĂ© in Harding Road where we had their famous Steak Sandwich and fantabulous Tall Chocolate Cake. The most memorable meal however was had at M’s home where she cooked up a really satisfying meal that included her mouth-watering ‘Assam Fish Head’ (Fish Head cooked in a spicy tamarind sauce). As always the best meals are had without the presence of a camera, unfortunately. M and I also did a baking class together with Lynn Chen, patissier blogger and instructor at Palate Sensations, a cooking school in Singapore. We learnt to make the ‘Opera’ – a rich 3-layer almond sponge saturated in coffee and liqueur, sandwiched in a coffee butter cream and covered in a Valrhona Dark Chocolate Ganache. It was heavenly, as you can imagine. Lynn was wonderful, M and I totally enjoyed the experience.

Our 'Opera' making class in Lynn's Kitchen

The finished Product..

'M's very successful 'Opera'

During this trip, I also had the pleasure of meeting ‘A’ of Greedy Goose, one of my favourite food blogs. ‘A’ was really sweet and hospitable and my family and I took to her immediately. We had lunch together at the famous Chicken Rice stall in the Alexandra Village Hawker Centre. The Chicken and the fragrant ‘oil’ rice was delicious but the girls and I stared in horror as Ming and ‘A’ tucked into the plate of Chicken livers!

After Lunch, ‘A’ took us to ‘Macaron’, a patisserie specialising in macarons where we had some very tantalising samples over coffee. It was a very pleasant afternoon indeed.

Our Macaron Tasting Plate

A half chomped-on Lavender Macaron

Besides having a lot more lunches....

Ming, Chloe and I at Toast Box, Food Republic in Vivo City

.....and a lot more dinners...

'Rojak' - Singaporean Spicy Fruit Salad with Crisp Cruellers

Cheryl (my niece) and I at Island Cafe, CK Tangs

Spicy Fried Chicken Wings

...Ming and Paige visited the zoo whilst Chloe and I caught up on some retail therapy. Here's Paige (my precious, precious baby!) to take you on a mini tour of the World-Class Singapore Zoo..

Paige and the Alligator

A very rare White Tiger

Paige and the Hippos

Paige with the monkeys and the trainer in the background

Paige and the Elephant

This post concludes the recount of my August 2007 Foodie Vacation. I hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I've enjoyed writing it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chiang Mai- A Foodie's Vacation Part 2

Welcome! For this final installation to my Chiang Mai Vacation recount, I promise to deliver a lot more photos, photos which will show you where we’ve been, and what we ate, essentially, but you won’t see any elephant rides or monkey shows because, this is, after all, a foodie’s vacation. This is an EATING HOLIDAY in other words, and I make no apologies for this. This trip has proven to me what I had earlier suspected, that food served in grandeur is not necessarily the best tasting, and the humble food hawkers on a dusty Chiang Mai ‘Soi’ (side street) may be your true answer to food nirvana. I say ‘may be’ because I will never know for sure. Why? You ask. The answer is because I did not ATTEMPT to eat at a humble food hawker stall on a dusty Chiang Mai Soi. Why? You ask again. Because I cannot enjoy eating while stewing in my own sweat! There you have it. I don’t like hot humid weather, but for a lot of you out there who enjoy it, you should give these eating stalls a go, but have some ‘Poh Chai’ pills (diarrhoea ammo) with you just in case.

Four Seasons Resort Hotel

These photos are of some of the decor pieces used in the Four Seasons

Deemed one of the 20 most beautiful Boutique Resort Hotels in the world, the Four Seasons should be a priority on your ‘places to go’ list if you’re ever in Chiang Mai. We spent a breathtaking half-day there taking in all the beauty and wonder of this spectacular setting..

Me and the family (in the background) in the sculptured gardens of the Four Seasons

'The Three Posers' - Sheryl (my niece), Chloe and Paige. Look at that gorgeous backdrop of terraced rice paddy fields and the mountains in the beautiful Mae Rim Valley!

Chloe, standing outside one of the spacious Lanna-style pavilion resident suites. The family suites come with a live-in housekeeper and an exclusive plunge pool and will set you back from just under US$3,000 a night for a minimum of three nights.

Who says men don't like flowers?

Doesn't this arrangement make you feel happy?

The common pool where you can savour the sweeping vistas. Not too shabby, wouldn't you say?

More photos of blossoms and Paraphernalia at the Four Seasons

Care for a simmer in the Jaccuzzi, anyone?

It's time for dinner, don't you think? Let's go..

Inside the Sala Mae Rim Restaurant - A high teak wook ceiling compliments Northern Thai artifacts and sweeping views of the Mae Rim Valley

Ming, seated comfortably, waiting for his dinner

Sala Mae Rim - renowned for the unique flavors of it's sumptuous northern and vegetarian Thai specialities

The condiments..

Sen Lek Tom Yum Talay - Rice Noodles with Seafood and Lemongrass

Goong Mae Narm Pad Takrai - Wok Fried Prawns with Green Peppercorn

Kaow Pad Poo Prig Goong - Wok Fried Rice with crab meat, prawns and chilli

Ming, introducing his dinner. Let's have a closer look at it..

Ming's main course - Hors D'oeuvre Ruam - Pork Satay, Marinated chicken wrapped in Pandanus Leaf, Crab cakes and Vegetable spring rolls

Cake Bai Toey - Pandanus Coconut Cake with Chocolate-Lemongrass Bon-Bon

Kaow Niew Mamuang - Black and white sticky rice with mango

My happy little camper, Paige - as we take our last picture at Four Seasons.

The Foothills of the Doi Suthep Temple

A natural Waterfall near the Palaad Tawanron Restaurant at the foothills of the famous Doi Suthep Temple. Unfortunately, we accidently erased the photos taken at the restaurant. But wait, we have a peace offering to offer you for this blunder..

Urrhh.. Fried Bugs, anyone??

Food Court at the Airport Plaza

A delicious array of Thai hawker fare at the Airport Plaza

Condiments and Garnishes..

Yummy Desserts!

Paige, spoilt for choice, finally decides to have a mung bean jelly dessert

Ming decides that he will not pass on the opportunity to eat some fried maggots! After all, you can't get this anywhere in Perth! The Thais treat this delicacy the way we do Beer nuts. Ming says that the maggots taste similar to fried anchovies!

Suan Paak Restaurant

Paige, at the entrance of the Suan Paak Restaurant. This restaurant was recommended by Tim from the Kaohom Cooking School- it was the BEST meal we had in Chiang mai, not counting the food we cooked at Kaohom. Unfortunately, it was our last night at Chiang Mai.. oh, it's situated just outside the Airport Plaza which happens to be the Best Shopping Centre in Chiang Mai

This is the Best Tom Yum Goong I've ever tasted - It has a little coconut cream in it. YUM! Sorry, this is the only photo we have to show for our dinner at Suan Paak. The food was soooooooo good we inhaled it all before realizing we forgot to take anymore photos!


We completely enjoyed our Chiang Mai trip but our time spent with Tim at the Kaohom Cooking School was definitely the highlight of our holiday, surpassing even the breathtaking half day spent at the Four Seasons! We're definitely coming back !