Thursday, 29 November 2018

Maven Coffee Store @ Taman Shamelin Perkasa

There aren't many coffee places in my housing area. *scratch that*  There aren't many coffee places that serve good coffees around my housing area.  In fact, there are none until Maven Coffee Store @ Taman Shamelin Perkasa came along.

Located in a neighbourhood that's just next to mine (and known as Blaq Coffee Store previously), there was no way I was going to miss it.  So, when I read about its existence from eatdrinkkl and theyumlist, I bookmarked the place for a visit.  I know, I know, it has taken me a while to finally get here....but I'm here now. ^_~

Upon entering, I immediately warmed up to the light brown tones of the decor and loved it.  The place looks big and spacious in photos but, in reality, it's a cozy little coffee shop with a small dining area.

There are some alfresco seats outside.....

....and a few bar-like seatings where you can get close and personal with the baristas (perhaps for brewing hand pour or filter coffees?).  You'd find displays of coffee equipment for home brewing in one corner.

And bags of freshly roasted coffee beans for sale in another.

And that's the kitchen?  It baffles my mind how hot food can come out of that tiny space that isn't even something I'd call a kitchen! O_o

The small menu consists of sandwiches, pasta, soups (mushroom or pumpkin), pancakes, all day breakfast (of granola), toasties (with butter or cheese) and snacks (of popcorn chicken and cheesy potato wedges made with an air fryer).

This is a coffee place, so a Hot Cappuccino @ RM10 is in order.

And a Hot Latte too @ RM10.

They certainly know how to brew a good cup of coffee.  The coffees here are probably the best one nearest to where I stay...and you get to sip them leisurely in a lovely environment.

But, in case you're hungry, there are some simple breakfast items like toasties, pancakes, sandwiches and all day breakfast that can tide you over till lunch.  Among them was this Tuna Egg Mayo Sandwich @ RM12 (a la carte or RM17 with a Long Black or Tea) accompanied by a side salad of lettuce, tomatoes and onions with a drizzle of Thousand Island sauce.

This was canned tuna and chopped hard-boiled egg mixed with mayo on a bed of sliced onions and tomatoes in between two slices of sourdough bread.  The well executed sandwich with crisp and well toasted sourdough and fresh vegetables made up for the fact that this was a simple sandwich (though it could benefit from a bit more filling).  Other sandwiches include Smoked Beef Strip and Smoked Chicken Ham.

The Strawberry, Berries and Honey Pancakes @ RM15 could be a breakfast choice for the sweet-toothed.  The plate came with three (not exceptionally fluffy) pancakes but an exceptionally huge piece of butter on top together with a dollop of whipped cream.

The pancakes were strewn with strawberries and blueberries and I was pleased to see more slices of strawberries in between the layers of pancakes.  Other pancake choices include Beef Strip Pancakes and Peanut Butter & Chocolate with Banana Pancakes.

However, it's unfortunate that the drizzle of honey, which would have tied the dish together beautifully, wasn't of great quality nor taste.

My Personal Opinion

They're a coffee retailer, first and foremost, offering for sale both coffee beans and coffee equipment for home brewing.  

Their hot food is not quite on par with other cafes, some might even think it's slightly pricey for the simple food they put out.  But certainly a place for good coffees (with cakes to complement) where you can sit and relax (by yourself or with friends) in between work or studies.

It deserves a spot in my list of places to get your coffee fix and I can see myself stopping by here often for just that. ^_*

Maven Coffee Store
Lot 30 Shamelin Star Residences
Lorong 6D/91
Taman Shamelin Perkasa
56000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 012-657 5760

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

How to get your chicken browned on the underside without flipping it over

One of the easiest dishes you can replicate at home that comes closest to a restaurant-quality dish is roast chicken.

I do it all the time as I enjoy eating the satisfying outcome....and my preferred cut is the chicken leg as it's meatier...and juicier.

But I don't do it as often with a whole chicken leg and would usually make it with chicken wings instead because of one outcome...the underside of the chicken leg is difficult to brown and tends to get soggy sitting in oil and its own juices during the cooking process.

Of course one can get round it by roasting the underside facing up first and turning it around midway through the cook but I'm all about lazy cooking and once I put it in the oven, I don't want to have to do anything to it and I certainly don't want to have to remember to flip it over.  So, it ends up undercooked sometimes (after my usual cooking time) and I had to put it back into the oven to cook longer.  Also flipping it means you don't get that nice browning on one side and instead you may end up getting it half-browned on both sides which isn't the most ideal! >.<

Well, that was before I discovered a way putting the chicken on a rack.  Season your chicken leg as you would and place it on a metal rack over a lined sheet pan.  You can even put some potato wedges underneath to cook at the same time.

I put it to bake at the same temperature and same time frame as I usually would with chicken and it'll come out looking like this...beautifully browned! :P  I decided to use aluminium foil as I felt that baking paper tends to be slippery and it'd be quite disastrous if the rack was to slide on the sheet pan as I move it in and out of the oven.

Let me show you just how well browned the underside is...without even flipping it! ;)  It gets this way because the hot air gets to circulate underneath the chicken and cooks it more evenly resulting in a better charred chicken.

Not only that but the chicken sitting on a rack will drip delicious fats, oil and seasoning onto the potatoes underneath thereby enhancing them with even more flavour.

But as with most ovens (and mine is no exception), heat is not evenly distributed throughout the oven (some spots tend to be hotter than others), so I'd need to toss the potatoes around to get a more even browning but I can't do that when they're sitting underneath the rack...but it's ok as they're still cooked through and delicious.

And because the chicken is elevated higher on a rack in the oven where it's hotter at the top, I find that the chicken achieves a higher level of browning.  In fact, the charring can get so intense that I (sometimes) have to cover the chicken with a sheet of foil (towards the end of cooking time) to prevent further browning! >_<

Not only that but I recently discovered that if I put the sheet pan directly onto the knob of my microwave/convection oven (and not on the wire rack meant for baking purposes after removing the three-legged prongs and turntable for microwave cooking), the sheet pan will continuously turnaround giving rise to an evenly browned chicken (and potatoes) without the need of turning or tossing them around.  That was great news as a well charred chicken...all a better tasting chicken for sure! ^o^

So, the next time you're thinking of roasting chicken legs, you might want to give this method of sitting the chicken leg on top of a rack a try for greater browning on top as well as at the bottom.

Friday, 23 November 2018

How many ways can you cook potatoes?

How many ways can you eat an egg spawned four posts in my blog...yes, you heard right, four! ;P  So, I thought I'd continue with the concept of the series...but with other foodstuff.  Now, how about one on potatoes?  As much as I love eggs, I love all kind of potatoes....cooked any way too.

So, how many ways can you cook a potato (and eat it in its original form).....deep-fried, shallow fried, stir-fried, pan-fried, baked or roastedgrilled, mashed, smashed, boiled, steamed, sauteed, braised, stewed...are there more ways to eat them?  Hehehe! :D

#1 - Deep-Fried Potatoes

Let's start with the most unhealthy way of eating potatoes but probably also the most popular....the deep-fried version! >.<  And what comes to mind instantly?  Fries, of course...and they come in many shapes and sizes to please us.

#1.1 - Regular (or French) Fries

They should be perfectly straight, perfectly fried and perfectly delicious...yesss! ^_~

#1.2 - Shoestring Fries

They're just thinner than regular fries but, whenever I see shoestring fries, they're usually those frozen fries from supermarkets.

Though some are clearly freshly made and taste good seasoned with spices.

#1.3 - Steak Fries

Referred to as steak frites, these are thicker cut fries than your regular fries and they usually come with what else...steaks, of course.  I prefer these thicker cut fries as they're extra fluffy with the perfect crisp on the outside if done right.

#1.4 - Chips

Ah, who can forget fish & chips.  They're like ebony and ivory...they live together in perfect harmony side by side on my plate.....

#1.5 - Curly Fries

This type of fries is usually what we get with fast food...and no two curly fries are the same.  But it's not easy to get perfectly cut curly fries (even with a special cutter).  They're ideal for trapping seasoning within their curls, no? ;P

#1.6 - Crinkle-Cut Fries

When I think of crinkle-cut fries, for some reason, I associate them with frozen fries I get from the supermarket coz these needs a special tool to cut them into that shape, so it's something we'd rather buy than do the extra work in the kitchen.  And when I get this type of fries served to me at restaurants, I automatically think frozen, not fresh. :(

#1.7 - Waffle (or CrissCut) Fries

This, like crinkle-cut fries, also needs a special kitchen tool to do the job.  Not a fan of this at all as the large surface area tends to make them less crisp.

#1.8 - Fries with Toppings of Meat Sauce

Nowadays, they even come with toppings like a meat sauce (or cheese).  I don't like it all that much as it makes the fries go limp.

#1.9 - Mentaiko Fries

And then we have fries drizzled with savoury, creamy mentai...ooh la la....more please! ^.^

#1.10 - Mentaiko-Cheesy Fries

And what's better than mentaiko fries?  Mentaiko-cheesy fries, that's what.  This was one cheesy fry I could eat as the abundant mentaiko taste was more dominant than the cheese...yay!

#1.11 - Truffled Fries

I'm not so sure about truffle fries though.  Most of the time, I can't find any truffle taste in the ones I had.

#1.12 - Sweet Potato Fries

These days, we see sweet potato fries being served as a variant to the usual potato fries in which some might feel is a tastier substitute.

#2 - Potato Wedges

A much thicker cut and distinctive from fries because of its shape, potato wedges can be deep-fried....

.....or oven-baked for a crisp exterior and a fluffy interior.

#3 - Boiled Potatoes

I guess one would choose boiled or steamed potatoes if one wants to indulge in a guilt-free version and don't mind them bland-tasting!

#4 - Steamed Potatoes

Another healthy rendition but much better in taste would be these purple potatoes, the sweetness of which make them delectable when simply steamed.

#5 - Baked or Roasted Potatoes

One of the easiest potato recipes to nail at home.  I make these all the time.

#6 - Pan-Fried Potatoes

It's a common method of cooking for the Chinese.  Seen here paired with Hainanese chicken chop.

#7 - Mashed Potatoes

They come in many forms...and each variation is equally delicious.  They can be extremely smooth and creamy..... coarse and chunky... studded and flavoured (with bacon, vegetables, fresh herbs or just about anything)... cheesy.... topped with gravy.  Any which way, I like :)

#8 - Smashed Potatoes

I first learned about smashed potatoes from watching Jamie Oliver pressing down on parboiled potatoes in an iron skillet which allows the potatoes to crisp up beautifully because of the wider surface area.

#9 - Braised Potatoes

Commonly cooked by Chinese families by frying them lightly first before finishing them in a braising liquid of oyster and soy sauce (sometimes with chicken or minced pork).

#10 - Stewed Potatoes

Westerners will have their potatoes in some kind of a meat or vegetable stew while we (Asians) prefer them stewed in a curry. ^_~

#11 - Grilled Potatoes

Potatoes thrown directly onto a barbie is what a great outdoor barbecue is all about....but that's not a usual way of cooking for us, so the closest we get is to grill them on a wire mesh over an open flame.  I especially love Japanese sweet potatoes grilled yakitori-style.

#12 - Jacket Potatoes

These are usually wrapped in foil and baked or thrown on the grill to cook with skins on.  They're cooked till the insides are just soft and eaten topped with sour cream (or cheese), (turkey) bacon bits and spring onions (or chives).

#13 - Hash Browns

You'd probably find this as one of the components in a big breakfast platter.  It's good when they make it in-house (hate the frozen ones) >_<

#14 - Potato Chips

And we must not forget potato chips either freshly fried (from your neighbourhood kacang putih seller or pre-packed ones from supermarkets)...the greatest snack on earth for couch potatoes, don't you agree? ^_*

#15 - Sweet Potatoes

Finally, sweet potatoes of any variety or colour are just an equally (if not more) delicious rendition of potatoes.

This carbolicious treat is hard to resist.  So, which is your favourite way of cooking (and eating) them?  Or you just love them all, like I do.  Go on...forget about your carb intake or know you want some...hihihi! ^o^

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