Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Herbs and How To's

Garlic. I absolutely love garlic. Eating it with every savory dish possible would be the ideal thing to do... (for me) but I HAVE to take into consideration those around me. Can't make them smell my every garlic laden word now can I?.

What is it about this pungent white pip that I love so much? Aside from the fact that it is a natural antibiotic, it has been developed into a supplement thus elimination the 'garlic breath'. However, I still believe in ingesting it fresh, organic and straight from the ground.

Other than that, it is rumored to be able to combat the common cold and the flu. It has been used extensively in herbal medicine (phytotherapy) as well.

Raw garlic is used by some to treat acne and there is also evidence that it can assist in lowering cholesterol levels . It can even be effective as a natural mosquito repellent.

It is sharp on the tongue when consumed raw, therefore cooking it would reduce this effect.
It should be kept in a dry place so that it does not begin to sprout and using it as soon as possible would of course be the best advice I could give you.

I do not use any garlic in any of my recipes ( I doubt there are any dessert recipes to begin with) so I hope this shared information helps. Please feel free to share your comments and ideas on this segment or article. Let me know if you want me to feature herbs, vegetables, spices, anything at all and I'll do the work (research) for you.

Picture courtesy of
Information courtesy of

Monday, May 25, 2009

Herbs and How To's - Ginger

I have a love hate relationship with this one particular herb. Reason being, as a child my mother used to cut these rhizomes into pieces which, to me looked like potatoes. As I sank my teeth into them only did I realize that it was a piece of ginger. By which time it was a little too late to spew back out. (I would have gotten it good from mum if I did).

It was not until recently that I discovered after reading a newspaper article that ginger is used to treat nausea related to both morning sickness and motion sickness.

warm, sweet and pungent.

Fiery and pungent

Heat Scale:
Preparation and Storage
Ginger is best used fresh and is either minced, crushed or sliced. Fresh ginger can be kept for a
few weeks in the salad drawer of the refrigerator. Dried ginger should be kept outside and ‘bruised’ by beating it to open the fibers, then infused in the cooking or making ginger beer and removed when the flavor is sufficient. Dried and powdered ginger should be stored in airtight containers.

Culinary Uses:
Fresh ginger is essential to Asian and oriental cookery. It is used in pickles, chutneys and curry pastes and the ground dried root is a constituent of many curry powders. Tender young ginger can be sliced and eaten as a salad. In the West, dried ginger is mainly used in cakes and biscuits, especially ginger snaps, gingerbread and ginger nuts.

It is also used in puddings, jams, preserves and in some drinks like ginger beer, ginger wine and tea. Pickled ginger is a delicious accompaniment to satays (skewered meat) and a colourful garnish to many Chinese dishes. Preserved ginger is eaten as a confection, chopped up for cakes and puddings, and is sometimes used as an ice cream ingredient.

Its uses in other parts of the world:

Ginger has long been ascribed aphrodisiac powers, taken either internally or externally. It is mentioned in the Karma Sutra, and in the Melanesian Islands of the South Pacific it is employed ‘to gain the affection of a woman’. Conversely, in the Philippines it is chewed to expel evil spirits.

refer to THIS link for our items that include ginger.

Picture courtesy of
Information courtesy of

Herbs and How To's - Star Anise

Dear friends,

It's been a while since my last H&HT (Herbs and How To's) segment and I apologize
for that. That is why today, I'm going to give you not 1, not 2 but yea... 3 different herbs and their how to's.

On the menu, we have Star Anise.

Star anise is the fruit of an oriental tree. As the name would have it, it is star shaped and has between five to ten pointed sections. These hard sections are seed pods. Tough skinned and rust coloured, they measure up to 3cm (1-1/4”) long. The fruit is picked before it can ripen, and dried. The stars are available whole or ground.

Bouquet: Powerful and liquorice-like, more pungent and stronger than anise.

Flavour: Evocative of a bitter aniseed, of which flavor star anise is a harsher version. Nervertheless, the use of star anise ensures an authentic touch in the preparation of certain Chinese or Indian dishes.

Spice Scale: 3

ful Information:

The whole stars can be placed directly to the cooking pot with a host of other spices and browned before the main ingredients are added. Another method would be to grind the whole stars as required and used as how you would ground cinnamon or nutmeg.

A note worth remembering is that small amounts are used, as the spice is powerful. Stored whole in an airtight container keeps for well over a year. A good time to toss it out would be when it is no longer

Culinary Uses:
Good to be added in any meaty dish, especially pork and duck dishes. As
for using it in desserts, it is used to flavor compotes and jams

Medicinal Uses:
Like anise, star anise has carminative, stomachic, stimulant and diuretic properties. In the East it is used to combat colic and rheumatism. It is a common flavoring for medicinal teas, cough mixtures and pastilles.

Recipes which use star anise:

Sujee Spice Cake - RM 45/lb (alcohol optional)

Festive Sujee Fruit Cake - RM 45/lb (alcohol optional)

Rich Fruit Cake - RM 45/lb (alcohol optional)

picutres courtesy o
nformation coutesy of

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chocolate fudgie brownie!

Yes you read it right! Its a fudgie brownie.

Now the pictures have been taken but due to some delays they'll be posted up a little later.

Since these little chocolate dynamites are extremely chewy (yet they don't stick to your teeth) I've decided to cut em' up into small bite size pieces measuring 1 inch x 1 inch.

They're simply to d.i.e. for. I should warn the nutty nuts that they are loaded with walnuts and for a little adventure, each piece is topped with a little sour cream & chocolate frosting.

They come in a set of 64 pieces and sealed in an airtight container. If you are looking to take it with you as a gift for someone, we'll tie the plastic jar up with a little ribbon.

Chocolate fudgie brownie : RM 45 / 64 pieces.

Please note that it has to be kept in the fridge.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A write-up on our Charity Bake Sale

After sweating it out in the kitchen, Sowmya and I dolled up on the last day to please the lenses and I must say the pictures in United Voice were simply divine.

Mind you I'm referring to the food and our little helpers, namely Intan, Izzuddin, Pavala and Jennifer.

They made the baking fun and we felt extremely energetic being around them.

Here is our article (from a journalist point of view). Feel free to leave your comments here or e-mail us at velvetvintage09@gmail.com


Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Astrid!!

May 1st saw Astrid turn 23. She was all dressed down and sitting in Old Town with her bff Monica. Thanks to James, a close friend of Aaron's who set up the surprise, we ( about 9 of us) went down to where she was winding down...only to wind her up!

She was indeed surprised as Aaron and I walked in with 2 boxes of Rich Chocolate Muffins (23 altogether) and laid it down on the table for her while the rest were trumpeting Surprise

The muffins were part of our personal contribution towards the Human Trafficking Workshop fund. The decoration was done patiently by Aaron and it was indeed a job well done! He definitely had fondant fun.

Thanks to the following people who chipped in for the muffins:-


You're contribution will surely go a long way guys. Kudos to all ya'll!

Central Market Charity Bazaar. Sunday May 3rd 2009

SUCCESS!! We practically sold out our 400 muffins and raised a total of RM 500++ for the Kiwanis Charity Bazaar in aid of the Kiwanis Job Training Center.

Day 2 of the muffin sales took us to Taylor's College and we also sold out there as well.

Miss MalaysiaIndian Global winners on a roll ya'll!

Now we just have to push for the sales of Cakes for Mother's Day!.

So here it is broken down for you.. we are selling the cakes at RM 25 / kg and we will DELIVER it to you're Mum's doorstep. Only one catch.... we deliver in the Klang Valley only. If you ask me that's a steal!

Do support us and our efforts in trying to curb Human Trafficking. Malaysia is THE hotspot transit point and now that the economy is down, more people tend to seek refuge in greener pastures and in the process some are unlucky enough to get duped into being sex slaves.

If you have watched Slumdog Millionaire, THAT is exactly what we are trying to prevent. Malaysia cannot be a first world nation if we keep bearing these skeletons in our closets. STOP living in denial and let us do the grassroot work... all we need is the RM25 to help kids in rural schools understand this message and prevent them from being scammed into sex slavery.

e-mail me for orders of cakes at fionazuzartee@hotmail.com

Thanks in advance for your support!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Central Market Charity Bazaar. Sunday May 3rd 2009

What have we accomplished in this past week? We (Sowmya and I) headed down to United Voice, to teach the mentally disabled how to bake. They were taught how to make Chocolate Muffins as well as a Chocolate Cake.

They grasped the idea of it pretty quickly but they do still need guidance while working the batter.

How I feel? Aside from the lack of funds to carry out our project and only partial news coverage, we had fun teaching Intan, Pavala, Izzuddin, and Jennifer while some of the others looked on. The best part of it all was the look on their faces when the products were finished. They loved it.

Would I do it again? Definitely! The only discouraging part of this project was a 5 minute lecture on the economic downturn I recieved by a certain vendor and how he couldn't spare me 5 bags of flour as the company had no such allocation considering the recession swinging our way. It would have come up to LESS then RM20.

I'd like to thank those who followed my every tweet relentlessly and for those who supported me by giving your donations. It had helped a great deal although a larger contribution (in kind) especially from retail outlets would have saved us RM400 on ingredients that could have been spent on providing the United Voice employees lunch.