Tag Archives: nathalie’s gourmet studio

Foodie Days

4 Feb

Since I first started this blog, life has changed for me. I have become more and more immersed in the pleasures of food and cooking. Its been a wonderful journey, at first taken with little steps, but it has now moved into joyful leaping bounds. I cook most every day, and often I am too tired to blog about it!

So much has happened, in such a short time. I am humbled and awed at this simple truth: if you live your passion, your true self, then everything falls into place. Every day is joy, every moment is a pleasure. In recognising that which resonates inside, happiness becomes normal. And opportunities (and wonderful people) come to you.

So what have I been doing, rather than blogging?

I did a photo shoot with the magificent Lascheersco for Retale magazine – O’Gourmet Food Hall’s Chili Ice Cream for their Valentine’s day issue. It turned out gorgeously (as you can see here), and it was wonderful to work with such creative people. The image is really beautiful, and the process was yet another education in food presentation.

I was given so many good food things! Two of my favourites … The amazing GoddessMoments brought back a tub of dulce de leche from Argentina, which was devoured and savoured… I wish I had been less greedy, and put it in an ice cream, but so it goes. And I recently, GoldenOro gave me a little tub of mastic – the very particularly Greek herbal sweet gum paste. I am currently meditating on how to use it. Perhaps in an almond honey cake – the tart herbal hit an antidote to the sweet unctuous honey richness. Or in an ice cream – refreshing and creamy at the same time. Decisions, decisions!

Our foodie crew had dinner at Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio again to celebrate ZaZa’s and Adi’s birthdays. Nathalie is cooking with beautiful precision and artistry. This meal was absolutely phenomenal from start to finish. And, she is continuing the menu into the month of February, so if you havent tried her food (or are aching to go back), now is a good time! They are open for lunch, and two nights this month for dinner – the 11th and 25th. Go, if you can!

The deconstructed french onion soup was so beautifully presented, and delicious. Rich, without being heavy. And the vegetarian main course – an emmental and parmesan custard, topped with darkly sweet and bitter caramelised endive, and a endive and cream foam – I dont have words for how it made me think, and reevaluate, and abandon myself to the pleasure of that dish. And the carnivores were raving about the lamb, the beef cheeks, the fish, the prawns. I fell in love with the pureed peas. I wanted to slather it all over myself it was that good. Each dish was presented with such care and elegance, and yet it never felt artificial or forced. It felt like you could taste the passion of the woman cooking for you … and that kind of experience is soul deep satisfying.

On the way home, Adi and I talked about the joy of that meal, and how strong and confident the food is, and yet utterly feminine. There is an elegance and a grace, a female beauty to the presentation and the taste, which is often missing in the peacocking of some (very good) male cooks. I am a fan of Nathalie’s food (obviously) … but there is a power in a woman’s touch, and a great pleasure in being one of her lucky customers.

The following photos from that night are courtesy of Adi 🙂

Sauteed Endive and Cheese Custard

 

Prawns with a Milk Foam

Lamb

Prettiest Peas Ever (and most delicious)

Lemon Cake with a Cherry Sorbet - Stunning

I also cooked, and helped to host, more than 50 people for Jobby’s baby shower. Ive detailed the menu in a previous post, and will definitely be writing up a few of the recipes – the truffled potato salad, and the fresh ginger cake were particularly lovely. It was overwhelming, and exhausting, to cook for that many people. But the challenge was a wonderful one. It made me stretch myself in a different way, and demanded I plan and consider what to cook, when, and how.

I was so pleased to see how much everyone enjoyed themselves, and ate and ate and ate!  And I was so very lucky, to have once again, the invaluable assistance of AngelKitten. She has a grace, a quiet strength and a wonderful eye. She made the food look good. And MsTK made the whole space look professionally designed and put together – in less than 24 hours!

Here are a few of the things we enjoyed…

Mini Cheese Scones - Served with Fresh Herb Cream Cheese

Chili Spinach Artichoke Bake

Truffled Potato Salad

Cakes! A dark chocolate cake with mint chocolate chip frosting and a fresh ginger cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting

Mini Baked Truffle Cookies (Starry Starry Nights)

And I have cooked, on request, for many friends. And even found it within myself to price and sell what I cook. This was unimaginable for me just a few short months ago. But as I immerse myself more and more in cooking, I recognise that I need to put a value on the time and energy I spend cooking. Its part of valuing myself as a cook. Its been a challenge, but its also been a learning and growing experience.

I made more Yee Sang cakes than I can count in the last week or so for Chinese New Year. They were such wonderful fun – and I still have a few more to make! People really enjoyed the quirky nature of these cakes – a traditional yee sang, it is not. But its a delicious dessert, that holds much symbolism and joy for the New Year of the Rabbit.

I made two versions. The first batch, with the assistance of AngelKitten, were corporate gifts. They had their own bespoke design, and were very beautiful.

Making the World Beautiful Yee Sang Cake

 

And this week, I did a series of cakes based on the original O’Gourmet Food Hall version. I do love that blue porcelain against all that red. Dramatic and gorgeous.

Yee Sang Cake for the Year of the Rabbit

I have also been cooking regularly for friends and loved ones. A hazelnut chocolate cake. The same cake, made into a big birthday cake, stuffed with raspberry cream cheese, and iced with vanilla whipped cream. An easy pasta with tomatoes, spinach, white wine and onions. My semolina white chocolate pudding, with raspberry sauce. A simple bread pudding, elevated with bittersweet chocolate and raspberries.

Each of these moments, these events, these experiences, have consolidated a celebration of myself as a cook. As I near my 40th birthday, I am thankful to have found such happiness. I am looking forward to what life will bring me. And I promise… I will blog regularly!

 

Please note that the photographs from Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio are copyright bigeyesentertainment@gmail.com and the second photograph of yee sang cake is copyright GoddessMoments. None of these images may be used without express permission from their authors.

A Meal to Remember @ Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio

13 Dec

Sometimes a meal is a symphony of taste and texture and colour … and sometimes, its even more than that. A divine merging of friends and loved ones, family and comfort, intermingled with sublime food, cooked by an artist, with a sense of love and presence and drama. Last Friday night at Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio was like that – just pure joy. With Adi, Goddess, GoddessSpouse, AngelKitten, GoldenOro and Bubby, and MsTina… laughter flowed around us, wrapped us in warmth and happiness, and the food was a beautiful counterpoint to the joy in the room.

You cannot plan that kind of a night, you cant buy it or make it happen by force of will. It is an alchemical merging of all that is good and joyous. Thank you to Goddess + GoddessSpouse for hosting us. And thank you for Nathalie for welcoming us, yet again, with open arms and brilliant skill. We will be back next month! Meanwhile, feast on our memories 🙂

Joy

A potato galette with sauteed mushrooms, and a porcini foam. Simple, sensuous, lively flavours. Not too much, not too little. Just right to start with. This was the vegetarian choice and it made me happy.

A new take on duck liver with brioche – the brioche made into an apple tart tatin. A clever merging of two very French tastes.

Tuna Tartare with blini and chive cream… and a fresh green salad.

Snail napoleon – earthy, rich, beautifully presented. I tasted the accompanying sauces, and they were beautiful. Balanced, imbued with vegetable essence, gorgeous.

The vegetarian main course. Home made egg tagliatelle with green capsicum and a perfect parmesan porcini foam. Subtle and luxurious, elegant and beautiful. Incredibly satisfying.

The duck main course. According to those who ate it, it tasted truly of duck … gamey and wild and delicious. Served with a stunning hazelnut polenta and a blueberry stuffing. Clever and thoughtful all in one go.

Steak. Apparently, it was perfectly cooked. With a stuffed potato on the side. I like how this looks, the juxtaposition of the meat and the potato… Smart.

An intense caramel custard creme brulee – perfectly burnt crispy sugar crust, with a lime and thyme sorbet. What an interesting combination.

Trio of desserts – a pineapple foam, an incandescently good salted caramel macaroon, and a vanilla spoon biscuit, holding chocolate mousse, and a chocolate truffle. Mine!

Frozen chocolate mousse “gift” with a liquid river of raspberries running through it. So so so good. I could have buried myself in this plate and just whuffled.

A dramatic and architectural Mont Blanc – pureed chestnuts, whipped cream and crisp meringue. So beautiful!

Dried fruit croquant – crisp, caramelised, sticky, delectable.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving + NGS!

23 Nov

Gorgeous!I have been ill this past week. Just one of those yucky, enervating flus that goes around and just decimates you. And then, once the infection is over, the recovery takes a while… Im not getting any younger, and when I get sick these days, I really feel it! 😉

But I have been trying to get out and about. Yesterday had lunch with two of my favourite women … Goddess and AngelKitten. We lunched at Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio, and were totally utterly blown away by the dessert. A gorgeous, decadent, stunningly pretty raspberry tart accompanied by pistachio ice cream. The ice cream was a revalation. Nutty and dark goldgreen, it wasnt too sweet, and tasted intensely, purely of pistachios. And who knew that raspberries and pistachios were best taste friends? What an extraordinary taste combination … and so inspirational!

It inspired AngelKitten and I so deeply that we immediately went home and made ice cream – a ripple of gorgeously tart passionfruit and glowing raspberries. And it made me imagine a tart, which I will make for Thanksgiving … pistachio crust, dark chocolate pastry cream, and raspberries sitting atop a gentle cloud of whipped cream. Perfection.

Which brings me to Thanksgiving. Last year, I was at my sister’s house, and it was wonderful! Cooking with those that you love – its the ultimate form of holiday celebrations. This year, I am far away from my family, but close to the family of my heart. So we are doing a collective, pot luck Thanksgiving at Pingaling’s house. I have been dreaming about what I am going to make for this celebration. I know we arent Americans, but the idea of having a day to be thankful is so resonant and powerful… well, we just cant resist.

But, because we are Malaysians, and we suit our holidays to suit our needs, we are celebrating on Friday instead! So I have a few more days to finalise my vegetarian Thanksgiving meal. Here is what I am thinking of at the moment:

  • Rocket / Arugula Salad with caramelised pears, macadamias and avocado
  • Mushroom pot pie (with remembrance of the ultimate Per Se version)
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Red wine gravy
  • Roasted brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potato and parsnip hash with a touch of maple syrup
  • Pickled beets
  • Whisky and cranberry sauce (or may be a kind of a chutney?)
  • Broccoli with garlic
  • Cornbread stuffing with mushrooms, almonds, spinach and sun dried tomatoes
  • Cheddar Cheese Biscuits/Scones
  • Raspberry tart with a pistachio crust and chocolate cream
  • Cranberry biscotti
  • Pear Riesling sorbet

I dont think anyone will miss the turkey do you? 😉

A Food Lover’s Day

10 Nov

Today was one of those days… It was a day I used to only dream about, but ever since I have embraced my life as a woman immersed in the pleasures and joys of food, these days seem to be happening more often. It was a day of adventure and exploration, of sensuous delight and comfort, and happy-making gifts devoured with beloved ones. Today was a food lover’s day 🙂

This morning, AngelKitten and I ventured out to the wilds of Taman Megah to find Bake With Yen. We had gone to the Taman Tun Pasar Besar outlet, but to be honest, it was a bit, well, rough. And it really didnt have all the supplies we were looking for. AngelKitten and I are on a big baking jag – we are going to be refining and baking cookies, with the possibility of offering some for sale over the Christmas period. We needed to go to a real baker’s shop, and we had been told about Bake With Yen and really wanted to go and see for ourselves.

The Taman Megah shop was wonderful! So many pretty and useful baking supplies – we were like kids in a candy store!

Every kind of flour and nut you can imagine, in any presentation you might like. Green pea flour? They had it! Ground hazelnuts or almonds, yes yes! All broken down from huge bags at the back, direct from the supplier, and sold in 1 kg bags. Brilliant, and very inexpensive compared to supermarket prices.

Colourings

Food colouring, flavouring, spices, herbs, vanilla beans,honey, treacle, sugars, coconut – anything and everything you could imagine to add colour and taste to a cake, pastry or cookie – they had it. And in bulk too – often for less than you would purchase a tiny amount in the supermarket.

Pans

Every kind of baking tin, pan, roll that you could imagine, in every shape and size. Amazing selection, and really good prices. A little cat shaped tin, yep, they could find it for you. Hearts and teddy bears, squares and rounds and octagons and quiche, pie, flan and chocolate tins. I was totally overwhelmed.

And for decoration, every kind of sugar flower that you could think of, for a few cents each. And pretty decorations for sugar cookies and cakes. And loads of different decorative pieces including stencils, fondant rollers, sugar work tools, and an entire aisle of colourful cupcake holders.

I’m telling you, we were both in an advanced state of happy. So we got what we needed (meringue powder for sugar cookies! almond meal! loads of extras we didnt mean to buy but couldnt resist!) and headed on to our next stop….

Well, actually, we stopped at the Warung Kek (Cake Shop) next door – very old school. Huge loaves of bread, blistering hot from the oven, blueberry cheesecake tarts that reminded AngelKitten of her school days, mee with sambal and packets of nasi lemak, and big moist slabs of chocolate cake. Could we resist such take home temptations? Of course not! 😉

But then it was time to rest and revive our senses…

——-

At the unadulterated sensuousness of lunch at Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio…. Oh bliss.

We shared a starter of a tangle of lightly sauteed green vegetables, atop a crispy puff pastry circle, elegance and deliciousness combined with a light and sure touch.

And our main course was a mindblowingly gorgeous, light, yet rich ink lasagna with ratatouille, and a ratatouille foam scented with parmesan. Smooth and sexy, perfectly balanced, indulgent yet restful.

And finally, we shared a pot of tea and this dessert – chocolate espuma, over chocolate cake dust (which coated the entire inside of the bowl) – textures of smooth silk and rough chocolate, and in the centre, in all its subtle glory, mascarpone sorbet.

What a meal. We were so happy. And we went away with 2 kgs of Valrhona chocolate to bake with…

——-

And this evening, AngelKitten and I put the chocolate to good use. First I made a batch, and then AngelKitten made a batch, of Starry Starry Night cookies. The batter sits in the fridge at the moment, doing its magic and firming up so that tomorrow we can roll in sugar and freeze them before the final bake. I love this part of cooking – imparting my knowledge, my rhythm, my sense of balance and taste to my niece. Well, the niece of my heart. I love the sense of continuity it gives me, and joy and peace.

And after the melting of the chocolate, the whipping of the eggs, the folding of the almond meal, and the washing up, cleaning and drying… we rewarded ourselves.

We sat down, and shared an entire box of Pierre Herme macarons which had been brought home to me all the way from London by my beloved Goddess. What a lovely gift. What pleasures to taste these macarons. Such amazing complexity of flavours – grape and bittersweet chocolate, green tea, apricot, vanilla, hazelnut. These were macarons to be savoured – each one painstakingly cut in half, looked at, smelled, tasted, discussed. There were great depths to the macarons, amazing flavour combinations, varying textures. We had such a great time, immersed in our macarons, intent on discovering the flavours of each new bite. As AngelKitten said to me, these were like no other treats she had ever tasted … they were a feat of enfolding complex and deeply layered flavours into one tiny little pastry. Astonishing and wonderful and such fun to share, and to be given, such a treat!

And on that note, I will look at my now almost empty box, and bring myself to bed… perchance to dream of another perfect food lover’s day…

Sweet dreams!

 

Another Night @ Nathalie’s

31 Oct

This past Friday, we went to Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio to celebrate AngelKitten’s birthday. I have blogged about this amazing and passionate Chef before – here and here. Suffice to say, it was another enchanting and flawless meal, served with passion (and tons of that totally perfect bread) and joy. It was so lovely, we took pictures… so I thought I would share them with you. For an actual review of Nathalie’s, please follow the other links… for now, just enjoy 😉

Starter

AngelKitten’s salmon starter. Perfectly cooked salmon on the inside, Asian, fusion tastes, and gorgeous plating. Such an elegant Chef, our Nathalie.

Starter

BoyBoy’s starter. A sublime mushroom foam, a tower of pasta, creamy chicken and morels in the centre. And on top? On that simple bamboo skewer? A morel, stuffed with chicken and deep fried. A nod to Chinese cooking, but with a definite French twist.

Starter

And finally, my starter. I laughed when I tasted this. I think its something I do, instinctively, when a taste is just perfect. If you ever visit Nathalie’s and you see pumpkin on the menu, order it. She has some wildwonderful juju with pumpkin. A pumpkin broth, essence of sweetness and savoury. Hiding home-made goat’s cheese stuffed raviolis. Such a perfect taste combination.

And oh, did we devour Nathalie’s bread during our starters… and, like true Malaysians, fantasised about having it for breakfast the next day, warmed, split, buttered and stuffed with a fried egg. BoyBoys eyes rolled back in his head in ecstasy as he imagined that perfect bread, soaked with hot egg yolk. Heheh.

Kitten

AngelKitten’s main course. Cabbage, braised, stuffed with dark greens and chicken, with a chicken foam. She said it was perfect. Light and rich, substantial and beautiful, all at the same time.

BoyBoy

BoyBoy’s main – a reconstructed moussaka rich with lamb, cheese, eggplant and tomato. Each bite a perfect balance of flavour and texture. He must have loved it because he finished every last bite.

P

My risotto – and again! I forgot to take a photo of the centre of this sublime dish. Herb foam made it light, and it was rich with all sorts of good vegetables – asparagus, broad beans, snap peas and mushrooms. They lightened the risotto, and yet it was so rich and pure and perfect – you could taste the parmesan in every bite. I know how difficult it is to make risotto that is al dente and not too soft, not too hard, especially in a restaurant. Nathalie managed wonderfully. It was so so so good.

Charlotte

A chocolate chocolate charlotte. BoyBoy and I were very civil in sharing it 😉 But I think thats because we were full on bread (and he wasnt feeling 100%)… if not, it might have been war 😉

Morels

And amazingly, delightfully, morels made another appearance in our dinner – for dessert. Caramelised morels and bananas, a banana ice cream, caramel mousse and balsamic caramel banana sauce. It was outrageously good, and very daring!

BoyBoy had been nursing a cold, but he drank a big pot of Mariage Freres‘ Nil Rouge tea and perked right up. Nathalie’s has a full stock of Mariage Freres’ teas – and you should try them some time – they are known as the best teas in the world, and the flavours and scents are absolutely lovely.

We cant wait to go back to Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio and try their new menu (which starts on Tuesday). She will be open for another 2 nights in November… do check out her website, and join her mailing list. You will be so happy you did!

 

Nigel Slater’s Perfect Summer Pudding + A Quick Nathalie’s Recap!

13 Aug

Tonight we had an amazing dinner at Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio – good food, wonderful company, and the inspiration of a truly passionate chef. I had the tomato crumble with a goat’s cheese cream for starters – sublime, out of this world decadence. Just gorgeous. Goddess had a crab mille feuille which was just stunningly beautiful in its construction. JoB had a reconstructed salad nicoise which had the most perfectly simple (and simply perfect) dressing. And Goddess’ Spouse had a scallop tart with absolutely sublime deeply simmered onions. For mains, the table was split evenly. Carnivores devoured a steak in a gorgeously lush looking red wine reduction, with grilled vegetables and the delicious-est polenta I have ever had – cheesy, crisp on the outside, meltingly creamy inside. We vegetarians (or otherwise) had home made tagliatelle with a mushroom foam and a tangle of wild mushrooms. Surrounding the tagliatelle was this simple seeming, brave, delightful mushroom broth. Amazing taste. Amazing balance. So smart it made me joyous!

And dessert! Again, we ordered everything on the menu. A mango cream under a shortbread crust with a deep blazing yellow mango sorbet. A “big mac” of a huge chocolate macaron, with strawberries, and a perfect scoop of strawberry basil sorbet in the centre. A litchi combination – raspberry and litchi espuma, litchi sorbet, and a raspberry litchi mille feuille. A trio of a caramel vanilla cream puff, a salted caramel macaron, and a chestnut chocolate mousse. And a green tea mousse with a chocolate ribbon running through it. Needless to say, we devoured it all, so happily, with the joy and comfort of good friends and family.

So tonight, I just didnt have time to cook. I am packing for the US (slightly frantically, but trying to be calm). But I have been wanting to try this recipe, so I decided it is going to be a “cheat” night. I share this recipe with you, which I bookmarked in 2001. Its a perfect summer pudding recipe, written with wit and passion and opinion and love by one of my favourite food writers, Nigel Slater. I hope it inspires you. I am going to try a version of it soon and will report back. But for now… enjoy the writing of a brilliant cook. With love, from a very replete and sated me 😉

—————————————————————–

Perfect Summer Pudding

By Nigel Slater

The Observer, August 5, 2001

One of the things that exasperates me about the insatiable demand for ‘new’ recipes is that it doesn’t give anyone time to get something well and truly right. I see nothing wrong with tinkering with an idea until it is as good as it can be; in fact, I see everything right about it.

I just don’t understand the desire (or is it desperation?) for snatching up a new recipe, rushing through it, then dashing off for the next cookery magazine, book or television programme for the next new thing. What is it exactly that these cooks are frantically searching for? Wouldn’t it be better to find a dish that they know and like and then to work at it until it is absolutely to their taste?

There is much, much pleasure to be had in honing a dish to perfection. To get to know the little nuances and pitfalls, the tricks and the intimacies of a recipe, and add your own signature if you wish. If this is a search for perfection – and I suppose it is – then we have to work out the crux of it all: the real reason why an idea appeals to us. We need to identify the heart and soul of a dish and get that part of it right. In some ways you can get this from a well-written recipe. But the truth is that there is more to it than that. Some of it is intuition, a gut feeling that you have understood what I like to call the ‘essence’ of the thing. The part of something that really rings your bell. If you like, the whole point. Identify, and then pursue.

By identifying that point, you will know what you are aiming for and why you are cooking something. I would argue that in a risotto, say, it is not just the grains of stock-saturated rice that are the essence of the dish, but the way in which the limpid stock holds those wet grains together on your fork. (Which is why vegetarian stock never makes quite the perfect risotto, because it lacks the gelatinous quality of chicken stock.) In a piece of roast pork it is the contrast between the sweet, rich meat, succulent fat and crisp, salty crackling. And in a chocolate brownie it is (for me, at least) the contrast between the crisp crust and the moist, but not wet, cake beneath.

I could go on, and indeed I will – at least once a month over the next few weeks.

We are not talking about textbook perfect here, as in the arrogant and often misguided notion of how something ‘should be’ (usually by self-styled tin gods of the cookery world, who are hiding their ignorance behind a smokescreen of arrogance), but in that it will give you as much pleasure as you can possibly get from it. So, not only have you had the pleasure of sniffing, stirring and tasting, but the end result is as near to perfection as you can ever imagine it being. You have found and understood the very reason for that dish, that recipe. Now that is what you call cooking.

And so it is with summer pudding, that rough’n’tumble of raspberries, currants and bread. I rank it with Christmas pudding as one of the best recipes ever, except, of course, that the weather is usually better. It matters not one jot if you make it in a shallow dish, a pudding basin or, charming this, in individual china dishes. What is important – no, essential – is the juice and how the bread soaks it up. This is your ‘essence’. The crux of the matter.

We must work out our own preference for the ratio of the three different berries.

I like a proportion of blackcurrants, a tart counter to the ever-sweeter varieties of raspberries and redcurrants. Purists will not accept a blackcurrant in a summer pudding. I add them for their glorious colour and for the extra snap of tartness that they bring. The sweet of tooth can leave them out. Then again, too many blackcurrants will overpower the raspberries. My perfect berry count is 150g blackcurrants to 250g of redcurrants to 500g raspberries.

Historically, this pudding was made with a raspberry to redcurrant ratio of 4:1. (The idea goes back to the 18th century and was a favourite of health spas, the bread being a substitute for butter-rich pastry.) Purists will stick to this. But our tastes move on, and this balance is now considered a little insipid; a few blackcurrants turn up in most versions now.

The fruit

My suspicions about the wisdom of solemnly following a recipe were once again founded this week. The currants I bought for my summer pudding from a large supermarket chain looked bright and fresh, but were flabby and flat-tasting, and sweet rather than sharp. To have followed a recipe blindly, ‘yes, sir, no sir,’ would have resulted in a sweet and flat-tasting pud. Luckily, I tasted the fruit and added less sugar by way of compensation – though, ideally, I would have preferred tarter currants. The offending redcurrants, by the way, were Rovada, the oversweet raspberries Tulameen.

The bread

The bread is more than just a case to hold the fruit. Its texture is crucial to the whole pudding.

Without it you would have nothing more than a compôte – stewed fruit. Soft, ‘plastic’ bread turns slimy rather than moist. God knows why it turns so nasty – it’s like eating a soggy J cloth. No, the bread needs enough body to hold its shape should you decide to turn your dome of fruit out, and the closeness of texture not to turn to pink pap.

A well-made white sandwich loaf will work.

Dense bread such as sourdough is often too tight to soak up the juice. Brown bread is disgusting in this instance. Come to think of it, brown bread is disgusting in most instances.

The juice

The centre of attention, the difference between a good pud and one that is utterly sublime is the juice that soaks into the bread. It is this – its flavour and sheer abundance – that will make or break this dessert. It does need sweetening though, so a shake of sugar over the berries is essential. I use 3 tablespoons for fruit of normal tartness. This doesn’t sound a lot, I know, but you will have, at the table, the tempering effect of the cream.

The cream

A jug of cream is a necessary part of a summer pudding. Don’t even think of offering crème fraîche, the pudding is tangy enough as it is. You want pouring cream, not whipped or extra thick, but good old-fashioned double cream. And preferably unpasteurised. You will need a 1l pudding basin.

850g mixed raspberries and currants, with an emphasis on raspberries
7-8 slices firm, good quality white bread
3 tbsps white sugar
3 tbsps water
cream to serve

Sort through the fruit, tenderly, picking out any that are unripe or mouldy. There’s nearly always a few. Pull the currants from their stems then put them, with the raspberries, in a stainless-steel saucepan over a low heat. Taste the fruit for sweetness and add sugar accordingly. For normal, sweet raspberries and slightly tart currants, I add 3 tablespoons or so of sugar. Sometimes you may need slightly less or more. Use your own judgment, bearing in mind that the finished pudding should have a bit of sharpness to it. Pour in a little water, a couple of tablespoons will do, then bring it to the boil.

The currants will start to burst and give out their juice. They need no longer than three or four minutes at a cautious simmer. The fruit should be shiny and there should be much magenta juice in the pan. Turn off the heat.

Slice the bread thickly. Each slice should be about as thick as your little finger. (Thinner if you are making several smaller puddings in individual moulds.) Cut the crusts off the bread. Set one piece aside, then cut the rest into ‘soldiers’, that is, each slice of bread into three long fingers. Using a glass or cup as a template, cut a disc of bread from the reserved slice and push it into the bottom of the pudding basin.

Line the inside of the basin with the strips of bread, pushing them together snugly so that no fruit can escape, and keeping a few strips for the top. Fill the bread-lined basin with the fruit and its juice – it should come almost to the rim. Lay the remaining bread on top of the fruit, tearing and patching where necessary, so no fruit is showing.

Put the basin in a shallow dish or bowl to catch any juice, then lay a flat plate or small tray on top with a heavy weight to squash the fruit down. Some juice may escape, but most will soak into the bread. Leave overnight in the fridge. (You may have to remove a shelf depending on how deep your fridge shelves are.)

Remove the weights, slide a palette knife around the edge, pushing carefully down between bread and basin so as not to tear the bread. Put a plate on top, and then, holding the plate in place, turn quickly upside down and shake firmly to dislodge the pud. It should slide out and sit proud. Pass a jug of cream around – it is an essential part of the pudding. Serves 6-8.

Dinner @ Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio

20 Jul

I know, I have already written about Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio, but we got an email saying they were slowly opening for dinner on selected nights, so we had to go! We had dinner there tonight, and it was just tooooo delectable not to share. The food here is really phenomenal – and with a new menu out every month, the exploration of flavour and taste and texture and delight can just go on and on and on! I wont go into detail about the ambiance or the chairs, the drinks or the table settings … I did that in my first review. I will just highlight some of the scrumptious food we had this evening, and leave you to drool!

And just to let you know, yes, there were six of us, and yes, we ordered every dessert (5 in total) on the menu, and yes, amazingly, we finished them ALL. Unabashedly licking the plates were we.

Starters

There were 6 of us for dinner, and we shared 3 starters. As a vegetarian, they had several options, including a vegetarian quiche. However, we tried these three:

with hidden artichoke heart!

Pingaling ordered the Norwegian poached egg. The egg was wrapped in a gossamer thin, silky layer of smoked salmon with an extraordinary chive sauce. It sat atop a simple, delicious artichoke heart, and since Pingaling doesnt “do” vegetables, I had the pleasure of eating that whole artichoke heart myself! I swizzled it in the yolky bits and was in heaven.

No, its mushroom cream

The mushroom soup was beyond heavenly. As Nana said, “Most of these soups are cream of mushroom, this one is mushroom cream!” and it was dreamy. Thick, unctuous, tasting of the essence of mushroom. A light foam on top, and porcini dust in the centre. It covered a huge (and apparently very delectable) scallop, but I only tried the soup. It was the perfect mushroom soup. I cannot find the words to describe it, though I am trying. It was as if your every memory of mushroom had been condensed, refined, and re-defined. Silky smooth, sensational on the tongue. Perfect.

beautiful

This salad was so elegant, so refined, and yet retained the essence of tomato and mozzarella with basil salad. From the top – toasted pine nuts, a beautiful, clean, clear tasting basil cream, slightly bitter fresh greens, and lightly poached tomatoes, layered with the creamiest mozzarella. Drizzled with old balsamico. Such incredible textures. Such a perfect rendition of a salad we all know and love. Thoughtful, creative, delicious.

Main courses

Pingaling and Ezril had the children’s portion of bolognese with fresh buttered noodles. Small portions, delicious (they said) and a fine buffer between the superb starters and the stunning desserts. I had a bit of the noodles, without the sauce, buttered and fresh, and dreamed of a bowlful of that pasta, naked but for a slick of butter and a shaving of parmesan…

And a divine ratatouille

AngelKitten had wanted to try the reinvention of chicken nuggets the last time, but they had run out. She managed to get some tonight, and finished her plate like a very good girl!

White breast of chicken, breaded and fried. AngelKitten said it was scrummyyummy. She was literally savouring every bite. Served with a beautiful pile of ratatouille – perfection. I tasted the ratatouille, and loved it. Deep bold flavour, delicious and rich, and yet simple. Served with a parmesan dip.

buttered noodles

Ezril’s Abang had the beef cheeks bourguignon over fresh pasta. Oh that pasta again. Sublime. He said the beef was bright, rich, delicious and winey. Tender and beautifully cooked. I wouldnt know, but he finished the plate!

newburg sauce

Nana had the chicken breasts stuffed with king prawns, on a tangle of braised vegetables and a stunning, deeply flavoured newburg sauce. He said it was delectable. I believed him as I watched him polish it all off.

ricotta and herb ravioli

I had the vegetarian entree. Now let me say, when I eat at places that are focused on non-vegetarian food, the vegetarian entrees can often be disappointing. But this. Oh my good goddess. A carrot foam (which is all you can see in the above picture), with hints of spice and ginger, covered ravioli stuffed with creamydreamy ricotta and fresh herbs, dabbed with a carrot and ginger broth. Underneath it all, a puree of carrot and pumpkin, condensed, rich, and earthy. Sky and terre, light, and rich, so many flavours bursting through. I was going to take more photographs as I unearthed this splendid meal, but I didnt want to stop eating! The carnivores at the table tried bites of mine (small ones because that was all I would share) and one and all, they were delighted. So rich, so tasty, such a wonderful treat for a vegetarian. I was as shiny golden happy as this photograph.

Oh and before I forget…

glorious bread

The bread was out of this world wonderful. Woman can live on bread alone, if it was this bread. Fresh out of the oven, chewy, crusty, sourdoughy, tasting of bread. With sweet butter and sprinkle of sea salt. We couldnt stop eating it. We mopped everything up with it, and ordered more. It was served with a smile, and received with gratefulness. Oh that bread.

Desserts

We ordered our desserts when we asked for our main courses. We couldnt decide, and so, the women at the table took an executive decision to order everything. The men just went along for the ride. And what a ride it was…

reinvented

Tarte tatin reinvented. Beautiful creamy apples on a puff pastry base. A gorgeous tuile. Caramel ice cream. Caramel toffee all around.

lime coconut sorbet

Pineapple and lime crumble with a coconut and lime sorbet. Such sharp clean Asian flavours, melded with classic baking techniques. Ezril’s Abang gravitated to this one. He adored it. He wanted to marry it 😉

chocolate chocolate chocolate

I would have married this one. All the elements I love. Tall, dark and handsome. And chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. A bitter frozen chocolate mousse, enrobed in a crisp chocolate shell, with a chocolate tuile. Though I think Ezril might have fought me for it, we managed to share (just).

teletubby ;)

This was Pingalings favourite, the one she wanted, and which she graciously shared with us. It was called a strawberry and raspberry surprise. Nana said it looked like a teletubby, but that didnt stop any of us from devouring it. A gorgeous meringue, crisp and crunchy, studded with vanilla, encasing a beautiful razzle of strawberry and raspberry chunks, topped with creme chantilly, and a raspberry sorbet. Check that colour out. It tasted as good as it looks. Such a wonderful textural combination, sharp brilliant fruits, creamy light meringue.

coffe, caramel, lemon

The dessert threesome. Coffee cream, with a lick of luscious burnt caramel at the bottom, topped with lightly whipped cream, a caramel macaron, and a perfect, miniature lemon meringue tarte. Such a clever juxtaposition of flavour and texture. Bright, dark, creamy, rich, so so so good.

Have I run out of superlatives? Here is the last picture because it encompasses how we felt about the food… a very happy, full family went home tonight to dream about Nathalie’s passionate, loving, delicious meal…

mmmmmmm

Thank you to everyone at Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio for a wonderful meal. Join their mailing list, and go when you can! So gooooooooood.

Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio Unit 4-1-5  Solaris Dutamas, Jalan Dutamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur Tel : 03.62 07.95 72

http://www.nathaliegourmetstudio.com