#MiriamCooks

Cooking with California Raisins - Raisin Cauliflower Fried Rice & Apple Blueberry Raisin Crumble Recipe

Thursday, June 22, 2017


Hi merry goers,

How many of you remember the California Raisins Blogger Baking Challenge from last year? Well this year, they held another Cooking Challenge and both me and Sara took part in it again with two new team members, Aunty Lilly and Bowie. 


Once again, the theme was using California Raisins but we could choose to either bake or cook with it. Honestly, last year win was actually an achievement that encouraged me to really consider opening my own cafe/restaurant and this time Sara told me if we were to win again, I definitely have to do it. So yes, it was nerve-wrecking because well I am my biggest critic and it has been a while since I had the time to play around in the kitchen.


This year, with four team members we decided to go with a mixture of both a cooked dish and a baked dish, hence the name of our dish East Meets West. Since I have been eating healthy recently and have been experimenting on healthy yet tasty dishes, I decided to go ahead with Cauliflower Fried Rice incorporating California Raisins while the baker in Bowie suggested a Apple Blueberry  Raisin Crumble.


Competition this time round really gave me nerves with so many people in a group and also they  looked so prepared, honestly I wasn't confident that day. Before I jump into the competition and the whole cooking process, here's some information about California Raisins. When you think of California Raisins, some of the notable brands would be Sunmaid or Ligo but there are actually a lot of other brands out there which sells California Raisins. 


I personally love California Raisins as they are sweeter and also very addictive. Raisins are an amazing snack because not only are they tasty, they are healthy and packed with a lot of nutrients. Plus it curbs the craving addition I have instead of munching on chips and sweets, raisins are a better alternative. Raisins are a great source of nutrients and can help prevent diseases like coronary heart diseases. 


On that day, Chef Rohani Jelani was present to show us how to incorporate raisins into our daily cooking especially for the Raya season. Using raisins in sambal was the dish that captured my attention because if you know me well, I love my chili and the addition of raisins actually added some natural sweetness to the overall sambal. It was interesting how something sweet like raisins can be incorporated into savory dishes as well as sweet treats. After a short cooking demonstration from Chef Rohani Jelani, we headed up to the competition area and it was time for the Cooking Challenge to begin.


It was a bustling one hour of prepping and cooking and fumbling around. Thanks to le amazing partner for accompanying me and showing his support plus being my photographer for that day *hugs* You actually don't know how much your support meant to me that day. I was in charge to get the Raisin Cauliflower Fried Rice ready while Bowie was the head in the desserts department. Amazing Aunty Lilly and Sara were the best sous chefs.


Here we have our final dish East Meets West Raisin Combo with Raisin Cauliflower Fried Rice and Apple Blueberry Raisin Crumble; both incorporating California Raisins. We decided to serve the Cauliflower Fried Rice into little capsicum boats just for presentation sake and ok I'll be honest, we did not prepare enough plating materials to dish up two identical dishes because we forgot we had to prepare one for photography purpose and the other for judging.


Since I was assigned to be team captain, I had the role of explaining the concept behind our dish to the judges and oh boy, my heart was beating so fast it was about to jump out of my chest! I was so nervous and especially seeing how well the other groups prepared their dishes with their presentation, I wasn't really very confident that we could win again this year.


However after deep deep deep breaths, I just went on like a bullet train explaining to the judges about the idea behind the whole dish. The reason why I used cauliflower to replace rice was because with the rise of obesity and gluttony nowadays, rice is one of the major source of carbohydrates that lead to over eating. We are all so used to eating rice especially in Asian countries that we can overindulge in it and overeating carbs is really very bad for our body. I personally have carb cravings at times and I realised that cauliflower actually is a great substitute for rice especially if you fry it well. Plus, you do not need to worry about overeating cauliflower because it is healthier and really the calories is so much lesser compared to rice. The addition raisins add a natural sweetness to the dish which makes it Raya appropriate as well. So this Raya instead of the regular Briyani or Nasi Kuning etc, you can try making this healthier option instead.


Bowie's Apple Blueberry Raisin Crumble is a healthier alternative as the sweetness from the raisins means you use less sugar plus it adds more flavor complimenting the other ingredients. I love the crunch from the almond which we had to crush it by hand and I can't wait to make this recipe again. One note: Do remember to soak your raisins to prevent it from burning. A crucial tip I wished I knew last year when I nearly burnt off my Raisin Bread Pudding that won first place in the previous Cooking Challenge.


After some nerve wrecking moments, we were announced as the champion for the California Raisins Bloggers Cooking  Challenge 2017. When the emcee announced our group name, Soul Sistars I was so nervous that I didn't even recognize our group name. Really thank God for this blessing once again  and also for my awesome team mates and partner who believed in me to lead our team to victory. The minute our names were announced, Sara was "Ok Miriam, this is the sign. No turning back. A bet is a bet". I still have a long way to go to learn and grow but this sure adds that boost of confidence in me to have more faith in myself.

Anyway, here's the recipe to the winning dish.



Do let me know if you try out the recipe and share with me your thoughts.

Til next time,
xoxo
Miriam

#MiriamEvents

Diamond and Arissto Coffee Music Party

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Hi my dear merry goers,


How has the past week been for you? Last weekend I was invited to attend Diamond and Aristo Coffee Music Party hosted by NEP Holdings to thank their customers and also to introduce their latest products.

Hosted at Rooftop, One City it was a pleasant weekend accompanied with great coffee and music. You might find Diamond a familiar name or maybe your household is already using their water filter. Diamond water has been one of the earliest players in the water filter market and recently introduced the new Coral Alkaline Water Filter to their customers. Meanwhile, coffee lovers out there might have heard of Arissto an upcoming coffee brand which specializes in Italian coffee.


During the party, we were introduced to three new products which are the Diamond Coral Water Bar, Diamond Coral Water Filter, and Arissto Happy Maker.


There was a whole hall where they showcased the products and my eyes were caught with the Diamond Coral Water Bar. It was interesting how they had fruits like lemon and strawberries in the back compartment. So, actually this product is a new launch that has a new 3 second instant heat technology which means it heats up your water in just 3 seconds. 



Did you know that actually those hot water thermos you have at home that is constantly boiling and reboiling isn't healthy for you? Not only that, the machine actually allows us to add our preferred fruits to add more flavor to the water. This is great for children who hate drinking water and well maybe also adults who have issues drinking more water daily. Such a compact equipment to settle your water issues.


Now that I am more inclined towards coffee, the Arissto Happy Maker drew my attention with their assorted Coffee Capsules. They are actually not selling the machine on it's own but you can get it free when you purchase the Arissto Coffee Capsules. 


With 6 types of coffee capsule selections, each has a different blend of coffee beans suited for your individual taste. They have quite unique names to them like Lonely, In Love, Peace, Passion etc.


It is so easy to now enjoy your favourite cup of coffee and also at a much cheaper price than at your regular cafe. Just pop in the coffee capsule and with a click of a button, your crafted Italian coffee is ready to be enjoyed. Arissto does provide good quality Italian coffee and is 100% Italy-produced. The beans are mostly aromatic blends of bittersweet Robusta and Arabica beans which have been roasted and blended according to their secret recipe. 


Enjoy your cup of coffee in just 30 seconds with Arissto Happy Maker. It was so tempting to get one unit for myself. I enjoyed my own cup of freshly brewed Arissto Coffee 'In Love' which was aromatic, not too strong and perfect for a coffee date.


We were also entertained with the array of songs from the Live Band and also dance performances. It was definitely a fun weekend party as we could also try out some coffee art as well. Look out for these new products from Diamond Water and Arissto coffee as I will be sharing more about these products soon.

Til then,

xoxo
Miriam

#MiriamEats

AirAsia Santan Food Festival, Best In Flight Meals

Wednesday, June 14, 2017



Hi merry goers,

Let me bring you to one of the coolest offices in Malaysia which is AirAsia RedHQ! I finally had the opportunity to pay  a visit to AirAsia office for the Santan Food Festival, the largest food tasting event in Asia featuring meals from across the region.





The event showcased the gastronomical delights of Santan hot meals from across AirAsia’s network, including the latest signature dish, Thai Green Curry with Rice, an aromatic chicken curry infused with authentic Thai spices served with fluffy fragrant white rice.



I also had the privilege to meet AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes which was totally awesome because I've read so much about his success story and he sure was a cool guy! Santan aims to create a unique food experience with the vision of replicating on-ground gourment experience on board. Food sure is a great unifying factor across the region but with  Santan, he believes that they will be able to create the first restaurant brand in the sky that is both tasty and affordable. 

They are exploring the use of green packaging and inflight coffee trolleys to enable serving freshly brewed premium coffee onboard as well as working  with local Asean enterprises and farmers in developing F&B products. I really like the idea of how Santan is able to create more job opportunities and business opportunities for young Malaysian entrepreneurs. 


The Santan Food Festival was attended by more than 200 members of the media and key influencers from 16 markets - Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Brunei, India, China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and India. It was awesome how AirAsia gathered so many members of the media both international and local to join in this Santan Food Tasting Session. 


I even managed to bump into NOC latest member addition Aiken (@aikenchia) whom I have been enjoying watching him on Foodking NOC! Seriously, you guys should check him and Night Owl Cinematics videos :) 

Attendees took part in the Santan food tasting session and interactive activities, including a cooking demo of the Thai Green Curry with Rice meal by AirAsia Regional Manager of Group Inflight F&B Chef Calvin Soo, a performance by AirAsia X cabin crew, Assraf Nasir, and more. 


You guys might recognize Assraf from the ever viral Toxic dance video that hit so many views online. From the first time I met him during a food event a few months back, he is still that ever endearing and sweet guy! So happy for him that he is being recognized :)



AirAsia’s award-winning Santan menu offers the most extensive variety of inflight meals for guests to choose from both onboard and via online pre-booking. These include tantalising hot meals, kids meals, savoury snacks, healthier selections such as wraps and sandwiches and local desserts personalised to suit the preferences of guests travelling across AirAsia’s extensive route network.


On that day, we were able to savor sample sizes of all their menu items which I must say is really enjoyable for a flight menu. I can just imagine ordering this during my next flight. Don't forget to prebook your meals online to enjoy greater savings with the Santan Combo Meal plus you will be able to get a wider variety of meals and no more worries that the meals are sold out on board. Here's to priority meal services onboard! Yay :)

Follow the AirAsia Santan journey through the hashtag #AirAsiaSantan and #SantanFoodFest or the latest AirAsia news, activities and promotions on Twitter (twitter.com/AirAsia) and Facebook (facebook.com/AirAsia).

Til next time loves,

xoxo
Miriam

#MiriamEats

Tai Thong Imperial Garden Restaurant New Menu Review

Monday, June 12, 2017


Hello merrygoers,

Let's have a fusion of delectable Chinese cuisines with a Malaysian touch with Thai Thong Group latest fresh new menu showcasing more than 50 brand new dishes.


For the past year, Thai Thong Group Executive Chef Lee Wee Hong and his team spent around a year concocting the new menu catering to the growing trends and demands of diners. This new menu featuring a total of 112 items will be officially launched at all outlets across Klang Valley and Ipoh from 1st June 2017.

I was privileged to be one of the few to savor some of their latest innovative creations at Tai Thong Imperial Garden Restaurant and here are some of the top picks recommended :)


To warm up our tummy, we were first served with Giant Grouper Fillets with Assorted Seafood in Casserole (RM68). This casserole was filled with generous chunks of grouper fillets, tender and adding sweetness to the broth. Be satisfied with the range of seafood you will discover like giant prawns and scallops which adds so much flavor in the soup plus the numerous vegetables in it too.


A highlight dish among many would be the Braised Australian Lamb with Water Spinach in Casserole (RM55). Served in a casserole just like the previous dish, it actually helps to retain the heat of the dish ensuring that you still get warm food especially after I take 101 shots of it. *giggles*  Cooked tender and juicy, the meat just comes right off the bones. 


Well marinated, this dish came with a second step where you actually cook the fresh water spinach in the leftover sauce; making this dish a 2-in-1 delight. So remember to leave some of the gravy to cook your water spinach.


In nearly every Chinese dinner, there would be this dish that serves as a centrepiece which is the Yam Ring. Most of the time you would find Kung Pao Chicken or Black Pepper Beef, this time we were served with Stir Fried Australian Beef Tenderloin in the Yam Ring (RM45). Different from other Chinese cooking methods, this dish used Beef Tenderloin Chunks instead of slices where you can still chew on the juicy and succulent tender chunks. I personally love meaty texture and I love my meats to have that chew and bite so I do find this dish to my liking. The juiciness from the Beef Tenderloin was just so succulent and I couldn't help getting more. The crispy Yam Ring was a delight to cut into with the crunch of the exterior paired with the fluffy yam within.


We cannot go without some more seafood choices as we were served with Crispy Sea Prawns with Salted Egg Yolk (48). Now this is just a heart-stopper and maybe quite literally if you regularly consume this. So flavourful from the salted egg yolk, salty but not too overwhelming with the fragrance and crunch from the sea prawn batter. Yums! This is just the perfect snack although I wouldn't quite recommend it to those who are in a healthy diet but once in a while, some sinful indulgence is worth it just like this dish. 


Another seafood dish would be the Cheese Baked Crab Shell Stuffed with Seafood (RM28). Just imagine cheesy seafood goodness all well seasoned and stuffed back into the crab shell. No worries about dirtying your hands as you enjoy this dish


If you're still hungry after all that, well fill up your tummy with the Dry Tossed "Mee Pok"with XO Sauce and Eggplant (RM20). Inspired by the staple noodle dish commonly served at hawker centers, this is a tasty twist on tradition. I personally feel it may be a bit too soft for my liking as I like my food to have more texture and flavor-wise I wouldn't say there was much XO sauce taste


Now, just when I thought the feast was over, we were served with their Hari Raya Selera Mesra ala carte Promotion. Yes, weird but Tai Thong now serves some Malay cuisines too. For a Chinese restaurant chain establishment, I sure was curious how well they can pull this off. First up, the Sambal Shrimp with Petai served in Pineapple (RM38++). Oh wow this sure is some 'fragrant' dish but to those who love petai, you will definitely love this. Super flavourful, with a spicy kick this really taste amazing. The prawns were done really well plus the sambal, I could just eat this up with a nice plate of rice.


Of course, we cannot forget the Rendang Curry Chicken (RM28++) which took all of us by surprise. Rendang isn't the easiest paste to cook especially for Chinese restaurant which tend to lose out on the special taste and touch that most Malay restaurants offer. However, the rendang served at Tai Thong exceeded our expectations and we were even wondering if there was a Malay chef in the kitchen actually preparing the rendang. Yes, that was how fragrant and flavorful the rendang was prepared for us that night.


We then have the Assam Red Snapper Fillets (RM38++) as well as the Tumeric Stuffed Cuttlefish with Mushroom & Capsicum (RM28++). Though the fish isn't that aesthetically pleasing but it sure was pleasing on the tastebuds. Once again both these dishes exceed our expectations of Tai Thong Group.


Time to end the night with some Malay desserts where we were served with Durian Pancake (RM15++) and Pandan Gula Melaka Ball with Grated Coconut (RM8++). The Durian Pancake was filled with fresh cream and durian pulp which tasted so good. Maybe it was because I was craving for durians and it really hit me at the right spot. I love my Malay kuih and Ondeh-Ondeh is one of my favourite sweet treat so the Pandan Gula Melaka Ball with Grated Coconut really made my night with the sweet gula melaka filling bursting into my mouth at the first bite. Mmm.. so goooood.

The Selera Mesra ala carte promotion will be available until 27th June 2017 so get them while it is available. Also Tai Thong is having a promotion price in the month of June for the new menu items you see in my post today.

For more information and restaurant locations, head on to http://www.taithong.com.my/restaurants-introduction

Til next time,
xoxo
Miriam 


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