Chickpea Socca or Farinata


I knocked out too early last night. I was drunk.I forgot and overzealously sipped too much expensive pu’erh served over a bakuteh lunch.

Hubby always label me a “cheap date” cos I rarely could hold alcohol. Who would spent that much if a coffee and tea can knock me out.

In short, I am allergic to caffeine.

Waking up early, I managed to catch the beautiful horizon of the morning sunrise from the balcony of our new home. Now, I am waiting for the cheery Negara-ku anthem to be sung daily by my very young neighbours. They are kids residing and studying in this Muslim boarding school right next to my block. Soon, in another 5 minutes.

I work alternate Saturdays. How I wished this is not a working Saturday?

I would be doing a million other better stuff. I would be happy shopping with Agnes. Like going to the wet market in Happy Garden and having a bowl of curry noodles for my breakfast. Grocery hunting at NSK Supermarket at Kuchai Lama, an awesome place for the best bargain for most produce.

In the afternoon, we will either be hosting a brunch or lunch. Agnes’s kitchen and oven will be fired up all times. I miss the simple food we cook together for a leisure weekend.

At this moment, I am craving for a socca.

Agnes makes the best of socca. Honest, I am biased and I have only ever tried hers. Anyway, trust me because if you know Agnes, you know quality. She stocks the best wine, whiskeys, herbs and spices. Epicurean.

Agnes and I had many great afternoons eating adventure perfecting her socca. Made with very readily available ingredients and in very simple steps. You can either bake it in an oven or fry it over stove in a cast iron pan. We had experimented by “localising” it by adding lentils and shallots, bearable but I still prefer it original and neat.

I think I shall pop over to Agnes’s after work.

I need a serving.


Madagascar multi colored peppercorns.


Rosemary from Agnes’s garden.



  • 1 1/4 cup of chickpea flour
  • 300ml water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • fresh rosemary, a small sprig
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Mix together the flour, water, salt, cumin, rosemary leaves and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let batter rest at least 2 hours, covered, at room temperature.
  2. Heat the oven to 230F.
  3. Oil a 9 inch pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and heat pan in the oven.
  4. When pan and oven are blazing hot, take out the pan and pour batter, and sprinkle pepper evenly.
  5. Swirl pan to let batter sits evenly and quickly pop it back into the oven.
  6. Reduce temperature to 200F and bake for 20 minutes.

Pengat Durian


A non-working Saturday  to Mrs. Chan, means a lot. It means I get to “lepak-lepak” or laze a bit doing nothing much or it could turn out to be a very busy day doing “happy chores” eating a hearty breakfast and grocery shopping at the wet market.

Being new to the Old Klang Road neighbourhood, we are pleased that Irene volunteered to bring us around and get acquainted with this charming place. This morning,after our grocery shopping we sat in front of the busiest coffee shop in Happy Garden, we discovered that the parallel row opposite has so many Chinese medicinal halls cum mini-markets and stand-alone specialty produce shops. Agnes and I find visiting such places a privilege and therapeutic, almost a fulfilling stand in for fashion retail therapies we once had. I know, we probably getting old. (smile)


We take a liking to a tiny store here which sells a wide variety of rice; from Pakistani Basmathi to California Short grain; organic stuffs and plenty of my old favourite cookies sold by the grams in very large yellow tins. Got excited when we saw a row of  palm sugar in cylindrical blocks wrapped in tiny poly-bags. Perfect sweetener for local desserts, no overpowering sweetness but a hint of caramel. After all, since the durian season we had been saving up lots of surplus durians frozen in the fridge for either a sambal tempoyak or a durian pengat. So, pengat durian it is for our Saturday afternoon dessert!!!


Well, Agnes and I are not exactly made to toil in the kitchen. Maybe a perfect dish here and there. However, as a “team” we have been able to share courage to explore on dishing out new platters. I need to make a shocking declaration here, I not only do not know how to cook a Pengat Durian; I had never ever tasted it before. I thought it gross and repulsive. Anyway, I was prepared to be a sport. I even asked Twitterjaya if anyone has a perfect recipe. No one replied, I guessed it must have been the fasting month thingy. Anyway, between Agnes and I, we checked the internet and found many fascinating versions. We agreed on a simple and basic one.


PENGAT DURIAN RECIPE adapted from Makan Apa.


  • 3 cups of durian pulps (we used delicious durian tempatan)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of brown organic sugar
  • 80 ml fresh thick coconut milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 daun pandan or pine screw leaves
  • 2 tablespoon of sago (decided to give this a miss)


  1. Set stove medium heat, put water, pandan leaves and durian into a ceramic pot and cook durian till soft.
  2. Pour in palm sugar and brown sugar and let it simmer.
  3. Put the thick coconut milk last,  5 or 10 minutes before you are ready to scoop it out and serve.

Best eaten with steamed glutinous rice, dunk with white bread or even neat, by itself……heavenly, durian!!!!


3 cheers

Agnes played host to the LevArt Xinjiang 2011 gang, a role she plays so effortlessly.


Although there are 11 of us in this silk road tour, we have to discount four Chan’s because we are in a family. The seven new found friends have very interesting personalities. There is ChiaChi, a lawyer working in Singapore ; Easy Yashashii who is pursuing her doctorate in Hong Kong; Yen, a savvy businesswoman in the rag trade; Karen who distributes UMW generators; WeiLing who is in architecture; Irene sells lorries and Eloise in logistics.

We clicked instantaneously, despite the big age gap, especially for Margaux. We were a little concerned if she would be overwhelmed by the taxing journey, heat and socialising with unknown travellers. All turned out well, except for her little trip to the hospital. Everyone adores her and she comfortably made new friends with a bunch of adults, a bunch of very beautiful people.

We picked August 6 for this post-Xinjiang gathering to suit all our busy schedules. A little sad that Yen and Easy aren’t able to join us due to distance and commitments. The Chan’s volunteered to host while Irene gladly accepted my invitation to be guest chef to share her recipe on Braised Pork Belly, a popular Hokkien dish.


Everyone traveled from various destinations in order to make this afternoon happen.


Agnes drove to Melaka to fetch Margaux who was spending her school holidays with our parents. ChiaChi happily came in from Singapore for this little do before she heads home to Penang. She is busy spending time with love ones before starting her class in Japan in a month or so. Karen flew in from Kuantan. (Beautiful shots by Irene Ngoh)


While Agnes was in the kitchen busy preparing us the Seafood Platter Baked in Sea Salt and Xinjiang Steamed Chicken Salad, our guests cheered themselves with our homemade Ribena Lemonade.


As the afternoon progressed, we ate a light Pao Paw Salad of raw papayas made by Pao, our Cambodian helping hand. It was great accompanied with samplings of Irene’s perfectly braised pork belly.

To celebrate, Stevie  made these lovely ladies each a gin tonic served with lime and mint leaves. Cheers!


Irene shared with us 2 bottles of Fleur de Cap’s prized Noble Late Harvest from South Africa. I particularly enjoyed this sweet wine that was such a great pair to the Seafood Platter Baked in Sea Salt. While the party began with plenty of yamsengs, Mrs. Chan went to prepare Pumpkin Sweet Soup and French Apple Cake for our guests. I was all tipsy and high. Cheers!


We had such great time together and talks of a trip to Japan popped up. I know Agnes is eager to organise this and I look forward to travelling with this bunch again. It will be great to visit ChiaChi there, and Margaux thinks it was a great idea.

pic by Irene Ngoh

One group photo for the album. Wished you were here, Yen and Easy.

Rice Dumplings 粽子


At Hakka Chan, we do not have to wait for Double 5 端午節, 5th Day of 5th Month according to Chinese Lunar Calendar or more popularly known as the Dragon Boat Festival to have Momsie’s delicious home made rice dumplings. Whenever we crave for it and she gets to hear it, we will find them on the dining table when we next return to Malacca.

Chinese Rice Dumplings have so many version and varieties. Many will argue to defend their favourites. I do not get personal about it because I am open to savour all kinds of composition. When I was younger, I used to be crazy over the Peranakan version. As I grow older, I found it too sweet for my liking. Mind you, there are communities that eat their savoury dumplings dipped into sugar. No kidding.


There are such thing as Hokkien, Teo Chew, Hakka or Cantonese Dumplings on the general. There would appear to be a certain rules on how they wrapped and common ingredients used. However, when you put 10 hakka families dumplings for comparisons, you will find variations unique to each family’s culture and history.

Our Hakka Chan rice dumpling recipe has evolved the last 50 years.

When Momsie married to dad, Grandma Chan was guardian to many of Hakka Chan’s recipes. She cooked her food very carefully and most times in favour of Grandpa Chan’s palate. Momsie told me she had never wrapped dumplings when she first stepped foot into the family. On her way work to the rubber plantations, she will gather as many bamboo leaves. She practised hundreds of times wrapping sand into those leaves as if they were dumplings.


Today, she is the new guardian of this Rice Dumpling recipe. She remembered when Grandpa Chan was alive, the two main ingredients for fillings were dried shrimps and pork belly. When he passed on, she has adapted the ingredients over the years based on the responses and feedback from her children. Coco dislikes the texture and smell of oyster, meanwhile Agnes finds that dried shrimps overpower the flavour and has a very sandy texture.

There are endless of combination of ingredients that one can introduced. Salted duck egg yolks, split mung beans, black eyed peas, sugared melon, dried shrimps, dried scallops etc.

At Hakka Chan, our dumplings are served in simplicity. Brought home a few for my parents to try. Dad said it was the simplest dumpling and the tastiest dumpling he ever had. Full of praise.


When choosing bamboo leaves, be mindful that there are size variations. Try to choose the larger ones for wrapping savoury dumplings and the smaller one for alkaline dumplings.

If you have time, soak those leaves overnight and there is no need to boil to soften them. Moreover, they retain a prettier green colour than the yellow hue of those boiled. However, in case of shortages, you may need to boil a few to supplement.


Shallots and garlic add flavour and aroma. Make sure that you do not over fry them as they can be bitter when overcooked.


Dried chestnuts adds flavour and sweetness to the dumpling. The powdery sweet nut somehow delights the palate in an interesting manner. Soak them overnight and with the tip of a sharp little knife, dig out the thin membrane stubbornly stuck on thin grooves. If you are short of time and do not have 4 to 6 hours to soak, boil them first to soften.

Choose mushrooms with thick succulent flesh. Soak for an hour and slice thinly.

FILLINGS of Random Chopped Meat – Chan Family Recipe


  • 1 kg pork – shoulder part, cut into cubes and randomly chopped
  • 15 pieces chinese dried mushroom (pre-soaked till soft and cut into cubes not more than 1 cm sides)
  • 8 shallots (sliced thinly)
  • 1 bulb garlic (sliced thinly)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons dark soya sauce
  • 5 spice powder
  • a tablespoon of oyster sauce (a great debate to drop this off)
  • Liberal dashes of white pepper powder
  • a dash of light soya sauce
  • a little cornstarch with water to thicken excess gravy
  • 3 tablespoon of oil for frying and cooking
  1. Marinate random chopped shoulder port with salt, 5 spice powder, 2 teaspoon of salt,
  2. Heat up 4 tablespoons of cooking oil in wok and fry the other half of garlic and shallots till aromatic. Drain and keep aside. Keep oil.
  3. Trim soaked mushrooms into small thin slices. Drain all excess oil. Add a tsp of sugar and a tablespoon of oyster sauce. Mix well.
  4. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil from frying shallots and garlic into a wok. Fry mushroom till fragrant.
  5. Add pork and fry meat over medium heat. Add salt, light and dark soya sauce. Liberal dashes of white pepper powder. Stir and fry till pork is cooked. Pour in cornstarch paste to thicken the fillings.
  6. Add fried shallots and fried garlic. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Keep remaining fried garlic and fried shallot oil to fry glutinous rice.
  8. Set aside and cool.

Glutinous Rice


  • 1 kg glutinous rice (washed, pre-soaked for 4 to 6 hours and drained)
  • 3 tablespoon oil balance from frying shallots and garlic
  • salt
  • light soya sauce
  • dark soya sauce
  1. Pour 3 tablespoons of remaining oil into wok.
  2. Pour in drained glutinous rice.
  3. Add salt,  light and dark soya sauce.
  4. Fry for 10 to 15 minutes and it cool before you start wrapping.
  5. Organise rice, meat filling and chestnuts for wrapping.
  6.  Boil Rice Dumplings for 3 hours completely submerged and covered. For best results, use a charcoal stove. For quick cooking, use a pressure cooker and boil for approximately 30 to 40 minutes on pressure.

Ah Na’s mother who is visiting her grandchildren in Kuala Lumpur during this school holidays dropped by Agnes’s place this afternoon. They came with their fusion Hakka and Hainanese rice dumpling made from mince meat. Momsie was delighted to have friends from Tanjong Minyak dropping by to share some gossip over coffee.


Wrapping rice dumpling can be a quite a messy task. It requires a certain skill that I obviously am lacking at the moment. Our visitors were uncomfortable seeing Agnes wrapping all alone. Before we knew it, Ah Na and her mom were all busy helping out to wrap our dumplings. A most welcome gesture and as a token, Momsie gave them half a dozen of our delicious Hakka Chan Rice Dumplings.


our daily bread

I am not sharing a gospel here but it is gospel truth that my sister-in-law Agnes has in possession a Kenwood B250 Breadmaker for years and she actually only dish out her holy first bread today.

Salutations! Hallelujah!

I can look forward to a generous supply of home-made bread everyday. Fresh and organic.

Banana Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake

Momsie’s banana is a hit.

2 combs were brought back on Sunday and before we knew it, Margaux has consumed a comb. It wouldn’t be sitting at Agnes’s kitchen for too long either as we both are pretty confident to start our baking adventure with a dish that calls for banana.

Agnes quickly scoured David Lebovitz, her favorite food blogger stationed in Paris and we found this Banana Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake. We would suggest you follow his recipe to the T and the outcome will be tremendous. Absolutely a fun dish to bake.

For the topping:

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons (60 g) packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water or butter; cubed, at room temperature
3-4 ripe medium bananas
a few drops of lemon juice

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups (210 g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (30 g) melted butter, salted or unsalted
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 cup (250 g) banana puree (about 2 bananas)
1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream, regular or low-fat
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (80 g) chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

1. To make the topping, place the brown sugar and water or butter in an 8-inch (20 cm) square cake pan. Warm the pan directly on the stovetop over low heat, stirring until the sugar is thoroughly moistened.

If using water, simmer the mixture for about 45 seconds. If using butter, stir just until the sugar is moist and bubbling, then remove from heat. (It won’t melt completely smooth, and there may be a few bare spots, which is normal.) Let cool to room temperature.

2. Peel and slice the bananas in 1/4-inch (1 cm) slices. Arrange them in slightly overlapping rows over the melted brown sugar. Sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice.

3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl, making sure there are no lumps. Mix in the granulated sugar.

5. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, egg, egg white, banana puree, sour cream, and vanilla.

6. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients until almost combined. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the chocolate pieces.

7. Scrape the batter into the pan over the bananas, then use a spatula to carefully spread the batter over the sliced fruit.

8. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the cake feels just set in the center when you touch it.

9. Cool the cake for about 20 minutes, then run a knife along the edges of the cake to help it release from the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.

Agnes and I had a few false start though. Although we visited a nearby cake ingredients supply shop, Blue Sea, we did not obviously had a proper shopping list. Had we visited David’s website prior to our shopping trip, our cake would have turned out as it actually should.

Anyway, this is truly a very interesting episode for Agnes and I, both amateur but enthusiastic bakers. We didn’t realise that we ran out of normal wheat flour, the most important basic ingredient for any baker. As the banana cake is named, an up-side-down cake; we had our total process a little choppy and turbulent as well. Thank god, it did not dampen our mood at all.

For one, we had no choice but to use wholemeal flour which made the texture of the cake a bit stiff. I can imagined if we had used normal flour, the cake would have been moist and tender. I don’t find it offensive and I think some may like the hearty feeling of this bite.

Our greatest anxiety had little to do with the flour, we did not have sour cream. So could our baking project turn sour? There was small glitch in communication and we had to improvise. Thankfully, Mr. Google has all the answers to your query and soon we were making buttermilk as substitute by adding lemon juice into milk. I just had to keep my fingers crossed as it did not look or taste anything like sour cream.

Searched we did the entire kitchen but we found no 8 inch square tray but a 9 inch round one. Agnes’s stuffs are still packed in boxes and all over the place, hopefully in a couple weeks her kitchen will be well equipped for our future baking adventure.

It was a long 40 minutes wait and our banana cake turned out fantastic; both in appearance and taste.

HAPPY FAMILY: Agnes & Margaux Chan

I thought it would be nice if I start introducing you the Chan family members. Let’s start with this beautiful mother-daughter couple, Agnes Chan and Margaux Chan Chaillou.

Pretty, successful and enterprising. She is now all dressed up on a Saturday morning, all ready to defend a team of residents of a condominium in Ampang. Although a busy lady, Agnes makes sure she spends enough time with her little kiddo; especially on weekends like this.

Strong taste buds, highly critical on food, Agnes prefers home-cook food because rarely she finds those served outside palatable. Despite a late bloomer as far as venturing into the kitchen department, she can cook up a surprise or two. Summarily, a very daring, adaptable and intuitive cook.

Margaux Chan Chaillou is an artist. That is how she loves to be recognised. Kid you not, this kid can produce very beautiful sketches and drawings. Margaux actually started selling some of her creations as far back as when she was a tiny tot at 4.

This morning, while Agnes is cooking her favourite French Toast, she is busy preparing an illustration project on Benjamin Franklin. Whenever she is inspired, her creative adrenaline is gushing; nothing can distract her.



1                  egg

1 tbsp           condensed milk

3 slices      wholemeal bread

3 tsp           raw honey


oil butter


1. Break egg in a wide bowl. Beat the egg a little.

2. Add condensed milk and lightly stir to dissolve them.

3. Pour in a little milk to the right consistency.

4. Immerse bread slice by slice.

5. Heat a frying pan and put in a little oil.

6. Fry both side to golden colour.

7. Scope a little raw honey and trickle as much or as little, or none.

She is so absorbed into Franklin’s world.

Pleasantly taking a little pause from school work. Time for this little girl to grab these golden toasts.

Her little masterpiece for the morning.

Thyme Roasted Chicken

a delighted Margaux

Oh! It’s Ready!

When we were signaled that Agnes’s Thyme Roasted Chicken is ready, there was cooperation. Everyone just got out of the pool, gather round her patina laden 14 ft lacquered table she gotten as a bargain from an antique dealer in Malacca.

No body negotiates like Agnes. What Agnes wants, she normally gets.

Yeah, she got us all drooling and salivating. Queuing politely. Anyway, with such a big chicken on the platter, no one needs to rush. You got to hint on your favourite part though. Since Stevie was carving the bird, I needn’t have to ask.

first come first serve
this thigh for me
kiddies first
sharing is togetherness


For those waiting for this recipe, be warned.

Firstly, this is Agnes’s maiden attempt to cook something on her brand new SMEG. No matter how great or reputable the make is, good roasting requires good handling of temperatures, ingredients and time in oven.

Secondly, Agnes loves to vary and replace ingredients to the availability or sometimes, as she puts it, based on her mood and liking at that point of time.

We encourage you to be adventurous. Use your intuition, it’s there, Come on use it!

Welcome to the “agak-agak” world of Momsie.


1                 Whole Free Range Chicken

3                 Potatoes

1                 Large Lemon

1                 Bunch of Thyme

20              Black Peppercorns

20              Cloves of Garlic

some          Asparagus

some          Streaky Bacon

some          Butter

some          Sea Salt

Choose your favorite potatoes. In our case, we had these 3 lying around and decided to rid of them. It is not good to keep potatoes for too long, least they start sprouting. If you love vegetables, feel free to toss in whatever you fancy. Carrots, squash, capsicum, pumpkins or onions.

Timing is important. If you decided on asparagus or capsicum, put them into the oven during the last 20 mins. You do not want them too soft when overcooked.

Prepare the chicken ahead. After it is clean, pat dry with a paper towel. Rub salt generously on the inside and outside. Cut the lemon into wedges and stuff it inside the cavity. If you prefer more thyme aroma, stuff more of it too. Leave it aside and you can move on to prepare the rest.

Set the oven to a temperature of 375F.

Rub a big roasting tray with butter. Put the chicken onto the centre of the tray and surround it with the cut potatoes. Spread the balance thyme and sprinkle some sea salt and peppercorns. Carrots can add colours, onions are best.

The highlight and most important ingredient is the streaky bacon to be spread across the chicken breast. Make sure you buy the non-smoked version. The bacon strip will be cooked and becomes crispy and releasing an aroma so inviting. Besides, the coverage will help keeps the breast part moist.

If you don’t prefer the strips of bacon, drizzle some olive oil over the chicken.

Put the tray into the oven and roast it for 40 mins at 375F. Put in your asparagus and turn down the temperature setting to 200F for a further 20 to 30 mins.