Tag Archives: pineapple


7 Nov

Yesterday, I didnt post, even though I really really wanted to. I had nothing to say, nothing to write, and the things I did cook had been posted already. I had the cookblogger’s version of writer’s block, and it was a bit scary. I sat in front of my laptop, and started to write about… Cook’s Tips? Orange Olive Oil Cake? Nothing inspired me. Nothing made me excited or happy or intrigued. There was nothing to say, really, so I didnt say it.

Today when I woke up, I found I still had that feeling. May be it has something to do with the weather – hot (as always) but slightly damp, overcast and softly raining. Curling up in bed with a good book and a cat seemed like a plan. But I know myself. I am the best (or worst, depending on who you ask) procrastinator in the world. I could curl up with a good book and a cat forever and a day, and be perfectly happy. One of the things this blog has given me is discipline, and there was that nagging empty feeling inside because I hadnt posted.

Its a strange thing, this discipline. I never understood it before, not clearly, but the discipline of writing this blog is a gift I give myself. I feel good when I write a blog post. Not just because I get wonderful responses that stroke my (still slightly fragile) cook’s ego. Not just because I enjoy having a history of my food thoughts and creations. But because something in me has begun to flower and bloom – and the discipline of writing every day is like sunshine and water to that nascent joyous self. It makes me realise I can do anything I set my mind to do – and I can do it consistently, over time, and learn and grow from it.

So after finishing the book, and cuddling the cat – because, after all, I am still me, and I love my sensual lazy creature comfort Sundays… I hauled myself out of bed, had a cup of coffee, and thought about what I should do today and where I should go in order to find some inspiration. And I realised that it was Sunday – and that means the Bangsar Sunday Market would be just beginning and a little wander through all the sights and sounds and colours of that market might just be what my soul needed… and my be even my tummy!

Many years ago, there was a woman who came with her two children and sold the most astonishingly delicious home made vegetarian nasi lemak (with about 10 different dishes to choose from – rendang, char siew, masak lemak – all made with veggie proteins) for the princely sum of RM5 (about USD1.50). I thought I would find her again, take some photos, choose my dinner, and wander home with a meal and a blog all done… but a very friendly gossipy auntie told me the nasi lemak lady couldnt afford the license for her stall and so did not come any more. I almost turned back then, but I am glad I didnt.

The Bangsar Market is on Jalan Maarof, right next to the mosque, in front of Bangsar Village II. Its an open air market with plenty of stalls. Many neighbourhoods have open air markets one or two days a week. Its when the residents can come and buy fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meats from stall holders who are traders – and who deal directly with farmers and fishermen and the like. This is our version of the western farmer’s markets – and I have been going to market in Malaysia for as long as I can remember. My grandmother used to take my sister and I to the wet market in what is now the very touristy Central Market in the centre of town. I can remember the scents, the textures, the colours, the haggling and bargaining and laughter and teasing as if it was yesterday.

So, since I could not find my nasi lemak lady, I thought a slow stroll through the stalls might re-awaken my mind … and oh my goodness, it did so much more than that! The colours, sights, sounds, textures. Everything conspired to pull me in, to tempt and tease and slowly bring me back into myself. I thought Whole Foods was amazing … but this! Such abundance, such freshness, such textures. Everything was so beautiful, people were so knowledgeable and friendly and I wanted to touch and stroke and poke and sample everything. Instead, I took photos, and these are my inspirations. My grounding, my home…

Bangsar Market

Vegetables of every colour and texture arranged in gorgeous glistening piles … just waiting to be taken home and turned into delectableness!

Green Green Green

Every possible shade of verdant green you could imagine …

Green Green Green

In overlapping patterns of green


And the most delicate shades of smooth cool green

Purple and Green

And patterned green juxtaposed against deep purple … Which brought me to…


The bruised beauty of my favourite fruits… mangosteens …

Purple Red

And earthy purplered beets… melding into …


The bloodred tentacles of roselle (with a tiny green bug nestled in a petal). And then I move on to sweeter reds …


The juicy bright pink seductiveness of watermelon … prettier than any lipstick…


The fragile yet wild blushing pink of the dragonfruit gave way suddenly to sunshine …



Carrots arranged with pride and care …


The patterns of bright bananas (pisang mas) and honey papayas ….


Offset by the jagged symmetry and perfume of luscious looking pineapples.

Everywhere I looked, everything I touched… beautiful. Inspiring. The noise and jostling of the crowd of people. The light soft coolness of the rain cutting through humid heat…

And in the midst of it all… In their own space and silence.


A woman with a fabulous looking knife, preparing jackfruit, and her dog, kipping a nap in the midst of all the hustle and bustle.

I think … I think I have my inspiration back …. đŸ˜‰




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.


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.


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.


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…


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 đŸ˜‰

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…


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


Pineapple Upside Down Cake for a Special Person

29 Jun

My organic delivery friend (yes, I have that luxury, and yes, I take full advantage of it! and if you live in KL, you can too!) sent over a beautiful ripe pineapple on Monday. Its been sitting on my counter, looking at me, and smelling of that unique sweet citrus pineapple-y smell that just seduces you into needing to eat it!

But I wanted to do something different, and also may be a little retro. Pineapple upside down cake is just stunning – beautiful pieces of caramelised pineapple and sticky gooey caramel adorning a perfectly simple, and yet deliciously tasty, vanilla cake. Buttermilk makes this tender, as does the melted butter. The cake itself is not very sweet, but that is because youre relying on the caramel to flavour the cake. Its easy to put together, as long as you are patient with the cutting of the pineapple – and have a VERY sharp knife. If you would rather have the old school pineapple rings, by all means cut them that way – you could even put a little cherry in the centre of each, or a strawberry or dried cranberry! But I like the chunky pieces of pineapple best – more rustic, a little less twee retro, craggier and more able to brown and suck up all that gorgeous caramel.

You will need:

  • 1 sweet pineapple
  • 1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons), divided into half (plus a bit for buttering tin)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 + 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Start by prepping. You will need to preheat your oven to 175C, and butter a 9 inch round cake tin very well. Once the cake tin is buttered, prepare a sling made of parchment or baking paper. Tear a sheet that is twice as long as the width of your tin, and centre over the buttered tin. Push it in, and using the butter as a kind of glue, ensure that the paper adheres to the bottom and sides of the tin. Rebutter the sheet of baking paper, up to the sides as well. Set aside.

Prepare your pineapple. You will need a very sharp knife, otherwise please dont attempt this as you may chop a finger off! Resting the pineapple on its now stable bottom, use your knife to peel off the skin. Cut in half lengthwise, and then into quarters. Once the skin is off, you will need to get the brown “eyes” that stay within the indentations. Use your knife again, working slowly and carefully, at an angle, against the pineapple. You will see that its possible to make triangluar cuts into the pineapple in long strips to take off these pesky bits. Once the pineapple is clean, cut out the woody interior, and chop roughly. Set aside once you have prepared the entire pineapple.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over high heat. Once the butter has been melted, add all the pineapple, and ensure that it is in one layer at the bottom of the pan. Allow it to brown and caramelise in the butter, flipping over only a few times, for about 5 to ten minutes or so. Sprinkle over about half the brown sugar, and mix, and allow to cook, all in one layer, for a few minutes. Add the rest of the brown sugar, mix, and let bubble for a bit. Add about 1 tablespoon of vanilla (be careful, it will hiss and spit at you!), and mix well.

Using your spatula, transfer all the pineapple and gorgeous caramel into your baking tin. Ensure that it coats the entire bottom of the tin, and the pineapple is well layered. Set aside.

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter to the hot pan – it should melt quickly. Once melted, transfer immediately to a heatproof bowl, and whisk in white sugar, buttermilk, eggs and remaining vanilla. Once the mixture is foamy, set aside while you mix dry ingredients together (I usually just measure out the flour, add the baking soda and salt to the measuring cup and mix with spoon).

Using a spatula, mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Taste for vanilla, and add more if its to your liking. Spoon or pour the batter over the caramelised pineapples in the tin and smooth the top over. Bake in your hot oven for 50 – 60 minutes (checking at about 45) or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Take the tin out of the oven, and let it rest for at least ten to fifteen minutes, over a cookie rack. This waiting time is really important, to let the caramel set up, so that when you flip it over, the while thing wont run in rivers over your countertop! Be patient! Once the tin is lukewarm and handleable, invert the tin over a cake plate, using the paper sling to coax it out. Peel the parchment off gently, and adjust any pineapple bits that may have fallen off. Let the cake rest for at least another 10 minutes or so before slicing.

You could serve this with some creme fraiche, a few strawberries, or some vanilla ice cream, but thats kind of gilding the lily! Its beautiful as is, and such a wonderful tribute to the prickly pineapple.

Cooks Note: you can bake this without the parchment sling. It will definitely make the caramel stickier and richer in colour and flavour. I decided against it because I wanted a lighter version of the cake but feel free to eschew the parchment sling. In that case, rest for only up to ten minutes when it comes out the oven.