Friday, January 4, 2013

The Kitchen Juggler's Recipe - Durian Crepe



        Durian eaters have gone into this durian crepe frenzy.  I normally have this thin pancake filled with a variety of savoury and sweet fillings - nuts, fruits, ice-cream, cheese, beef - but never with durian. So I figured why not give it a try.  After all, it is the durian season (I guess my durian panna cotta had to wait).  So I got myself some musang king durians (this must be one pricey fruit crepes ever)...the fleshiest and creamiest ones, and started whipping up things. The result: A delightful combination of that rich fruit pulp and custardy cream. Best eaten chilled. 


Crepe
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup rice flour
1/3 cup custard flour
1 egg
salt
few drops yellow colouring
100ml fresh milk
100ml water (more or less)
butter (to brush on pan)


        Mix all ingredients in a blender and pulse for a while. Use a strainer to ensure mixture is thoroughly smooth. A non-stick pan comes in handy when making crepes or pancakes. You just need to brush a little bit of butter on the pan and heat it very warm. Use a 1/4-cup size container as a scoop and pour onto the pan. As you begin to pour it, immediately move the pan around as to spread the batter thinly and evenly. Lift when all parts are cooked and dry. When placing the pieces on a plate, ensure there is a plastic sheet in between each piece so they don't stick to one another. This could also prevent them from drying out. 


Pastry Cream
3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cornflour
1 cup fresh milk 
1 cup water
few drops vanilla essence
3 eggs

       Again, mix all in a blender and pulse. Pour into a pot and turn on the stove. Use a whisk to prevent curdling and as the mixture thickens, whisk it vigorously. Remove from heat and after 5 minutes, add a spoonful of butter. Whisk until all are mixed well. Set aside to cool. In the meantime, whip up a cup of non-dairy whipping cream (I use Rich) and fold the whip and pastry cream together. 

       Now, to assemble the durian crepe. A dollop of cream followed by generous amount of durian flesh, then another dollop of cream on top. Fold in the opposites sides to get that fluffy square or rectangle pillows. Chill before serving. 


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Around The World Seeking Roti Canai And Teh Tarik




Food in Australia can be one of the most expensive items in your budget. I however, simply had to indulge my food whims regardless of the fact that things are three times more expensive there.
 
       I can easily be lured into sampling any food I set my eyes on. It's like each bite into the food tells us something about the people's culture and identity.
 
       So when I travel for short while, I can survive without rice or other Malaysian delicacies and put aside my true Malaysian appetite for days simply because I would have a wonderful variety of food to make up for it. Unfortunately, my other half can't possibly live without Malaysian food no matter where we go.
 
       During our recent trip to Australia, while I was eagerly trying to discover and sample their fabulous seafood dishes and exotic desserts varieties, my other half was whining about his intense craving for a simple (yet not simple in the land down under though) meal of roti canai and teh tarik.
 
       Being a 'good' wife (I will surely get my way if I help him accomplish his roti canai mission) I finally agreed to embark on our search that seemed endless and arduous. When we finally made to the familiar surrounding where you can actually see a person throwing and tossing the roti dough, I blew a sigh of relief I'm pretty sure all 5 tables around us could hear.
 
       And what better way to end this true Malaysian meal than with a "durian pannacotta" (which somehow managed to soothe my heel-pain). But the best part was to see a face beaming with a smile...undoubtedly satisfied (or perhaps feeling satiated after eating 2 pieces of roti and a tall glass of frothy teh tarik). 
 
       And of course, I had my reward for being such a good sport - loads of sinfully delicious desserts the following days!

       The lesson I learned: Never travel in a group of people with true Malaysian appetite! 


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Gender Inequality In The Work Force


For as long as I can remember, there has always been inequality in the workforce.  Although this situation is a lot better than what it was, it is still pretty clear that women get treated differently than men.
 
         I am currently a college student taking classes here in Malaysia for a year before I return back to the States. Last semester,  a class I took, International Human Resource Management, went into gender inequality in the work force in details. The class talked about how employees get chosen to go abroad to work.

         It was pretty evident that a majority of employees chosen to go abroad were males and the question was why? The answer that I am about to give you guys is pretty obvious and probably will not shock any of you. 

         People have it in their minds that males have a better chance of adapting to living abroad than women do, partially because of the place that those employees may be working.

         For example, my family has traveled all over the world because of my dad’s job, he is in the oil business and he is actually good at what he does and because of that he gets job offers from all over the world. So, for my whole high school career I lived in a tiny country in Middle East where their top industry is oil and gas.

         Anyone guess what country that is? It’s Qatar.

         Now all of you are probably wondering how in the world I could survive in a place like Qatar because that it is so hot and covered in sand right?  You guys are probably also wondering what it is like to live in an Arab country where a lot of small things are considered punishable by jail time or even worse, death.

         But back to the topic at hand, since my father is obviously male, he never had a problem when he was working there because, well, he was male. However, for females it is a whole other ballgame!

         In the Middle East, women are not considered to be the alpha gender, it has always been this way, and while other parts of the world are slowly trying to change this perception, the Middle East is embracing this tightly. Women are looked at as caregivers and caretakers and nothing else.

         Males believe that the women belong in one place and one place only, and I am pretty sure you guys know where that is. So, knowing a little bit of background, you probably have an understanding about women in the workforce there.

         It is pretty unheard of for women to be working in offices let alone going abroad unless you are a foreigner; even then it is hard to gain the respect from a lot of male colleagues because males believe that they should not need to take orders from a woman.

         Take this example, the last year that I lived there my father had a female boss, and he was the only person that respected her and invited her into our house. He treated her like a boss and because  of that she asked for his opinion about a lot things.’

         The moral of this story is that it did not even matter that she was way better at her job than any other person but the only reason that work did not go smoothly was because the males that worked under her would not work with her and did not follow her instructions. 

          Gender discrimination in the work place has been a controversial topic over the past few years because as more and more women show up in the workforce, the more companies have to take that into consideration.

          Women are starting to get jobs in places that were primarily male oriented proving to males that what they can do, women can do it. Women also tend to work harder than males so that they can prove to the world that they have to ability to do what so many people say they can’t. Gender discrimination is slowly decreasing but hopefully soon it can end for good.

And I, a young woman, is looking forward to the changes.
 
By Anitha Thanabalan