French classic cod with olives

This French classic is one of those instantly look healthy, and it is incredible easy to prepare. It is very hard to get cod fish in South East Asia, however any white fish can replicate this dish easily.

  • 20g butter
  • 2 rashers of bacon cut into strips
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 250g cod fillet, skinned and cut into chunks (or any white fish will do)
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 8 pitted black olives
  • 1 ball of mozzarella, torn into chunks
  • 20g pine nuts
  • parsley, roughly chopped
  1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat. Add the bacon and onion and fry for 2 minutes or until the onion is starting to soften and bacon is cooked. Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 second or so.
  2. Drop in the chunks of cod (or any fish of your choice) and fry, turning the chunks every now and then, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes an bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the olives and mozzarella, then take the pan off the heat and let the mozzarella melt in the residual heat.
  4. Serve the cod topped with the pine nuts and the parsley.

This dish could make ahead if you short of time, by that mean you could cook the sauce and fish separately and keep them in the fridge until you needed.

Classic Chinese Roast Pork Belly 燒肉

Roast pork belly

I never though I could do a classic Chinese dish or I called it cured pork in Chinese style. It first came to me as French lardon, however the French cured the meat as a whole including the skin. The only different the Chinese style has a very crispy skin after it roast and I have the full classic Chinese recipe. Be prepare to get a kilo of coarse salt in your kitchen, however I have some shortcut for that too, if you could wait it patiently until is ready.

  • 1 kg pork belly
  • 1 tsp five spice powder
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp Shao Hsing rice wine 紹興花彫酒 (you could get it from Chinese supermarket)
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp Rice wine vinegar
  • 1.5 kg coarse salt (this ingredient exist if you couldn’t wait any longer than 24 hours)
  • 3 egg whites
  1. Place the meat on the chopping board with the skin-side-down.
  2. Cut the meat but the skin still intact with the meat, you are not completely cut the meat off.
  3. In a small bowl mix the spice, pepper and Shao Hsing rice wine. Rub this mixture on the the meat on the side and cut area except this skin make sure is fully coated with the mixture.
  4. In another small bowl mix the 2 tsp of the salt and the rice wine vinegar. Now, place the meat onto a flat surface tray then turn the meat skin-side-up and the brush to the skin of the pork with the mixture of salt and vinegar.
  5. Place the meat into the fridge to let it dry for at least 24 hours. (if you are omitting the kilo of salts then you must expend the drying time at least 3 days otherwise 5 days is the best)
  6. After air dry in the fridge for choice of your time, it is time to take the meat out from the fridge, and use a sharp knife to poke many holes onto the skin.
  7. If you air dry it for 3 day or 5 day you can put into the preheat oven of 210°C for 45 minutes, after you poking them. Otherwise after the air dry of 24 hours in the fridge, then you have to build the salt pit cover the meat, first by flat laying the salt the bottom of the roasting pan then place the meat on top of the salt, and build the side-wall of the salt to cover the sides of the meat. Finally cover the skin of pork with salt as well, then only put into preheat oven of 210°C for 45 minutes.
  8. If you did build the salt pit, after 45 minutes in the oven, you can take the meat out from the oven, remove the salt pit then return the meat into the oven with same temperature for 15 minutes. Otherwise increase the oven temperature to 240°C then roast for another 10 minutes. If you did not build the salt pit.

After let the meat cool, you can enjoy it with the crispy skin whenever you bite through the meat. You can keep this leftover in the fridge, to refresh it either with air fryer or simply put them into frying pan.

Breadcrumbs

breadcrumbsNever ever throw away a stale bread, otherwise you may throw away the most delicious thing. I used a whole stale bread including the crust, cut them into small pieces then put them in the food processor or blender, blitz it until the consistency that you wanted to achieve. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Spread the processed breadcrumbs on the Swiss roll tin, let it dry for 20 minutes (to drying it further) while waiting for the oven to heat up.

There is several type of breadcrumbs you could make it yourself.

  • White breadcrumbs – Remove the crust from some stale bread and rub it through a fine wire sieve, using the palm of the hand.
  • Brown breadcrumbs – Put the crusts or any pieces of the stale bread there may be into a moderate oven, and bake them brown. Then crush them with a rolling pin or pound them in a mortar, pass them through a fine sieve, and keep them in an air-tight tin.
  • Mollica (Italian) breadcrumbs  – Soft breadcrumbs: the inside of a loaf or roll, as distinct from the crust. Mollica is used principally as a binder in Polpette and Polettoni, in fillings for Ravioli and other pasta shapes and in stuffing for vegetables, fish etc. In Calabria and Sicily fried breadcrumbs are the main ingredient in many pasta sauces as a substitute for the more expensive Parmesan. The taste is, of course, different, though not necessarily less good, but the appearance is similar. There is one dish in southern Italy, in the poor regions used this breadcrumbs, even still serving today.

The French breadcrumbs (panure in French) are made from fresh bread and are soft and large-crumbed. Dried breadcrumbs (chapelure in French) are finer, made from bread that has been dried in oven or slightly stale, or by drying fresh breadcrumbs and crushing them. Browned breadcrumbs are dried crumbs that are lightly toasted. (Alternatively, the bread may be baked until browned before it is crumbed.) Breadcrumbs are used in cooking for coating food or as a topping for dishes. They are also used for binding mixtures or thickening soups or sauces.

  • Coating with breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are used to coat delicate foods before frying, typically fish or seafood, chicken breast fillets, croquettes or fritters. Dry white crumbs do not absorb as much fat as fresh crumbs; they produce a fine, crisp coating and turn golden on cooking. The food is first dusted with flour, then dipped in beaten egg and finally coated with breadcrumbs. This gives a secure coating, ideal for soft mixtures which may melt during frying. Less delicate items can be moistened with melted butter or milk before a fine layer of crumbs is pressed on – this is useful when baking or grilling (broiling) the food. Dishes coated with fresh breadcrumbs must be cooked slowly so that the crumbs do not brown before the foods are properly cooked. The French are prefer their fresh breadcrumbs, making that misnomer!

If you had a very tired or lazy day, you could even ignore the step of drying the bread in the oven. You can cut the crust off and cut the bread into chunks and lacerate  into crumbs in the food processor, and then leave the crumbs in a shallow bowl or spread them out on a plate to dry and get staler naturally. You can keep breadcrumbs in a freezer bag in the freezer and use them straight from the frozen. An average slice of good bread without crusts, should be weights 25g; this in turn yields approximately 6 tablespoons of breadcrumbs.

Creole prawns

P1160200AAAs I know this dish are from America’s Louisiana. Obviously I am not been introduced to Louisiana’s food, but Creole‘s food is combination of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese. What I know in my dish is the tomatoey of Italian, Spanish pepper, French wine and Portuguese Chili.

P1160209AAAI have a confession to make here, I haven’t got energy for shopping, I decided to cheat a bit of the ingredients by using a convenient way of supermarket – canned tomatoes, and puree. I always find these stocking in my pantry cupboard, for it is well stock it up, just in case you need something quick and easy that is the convenient products from supermarket. I know is not very antithetic but it is kitchen shortcut, If I would prepare everything from scratch it will take hours to get it done. Not in the mood of grandmother’s method. Here is how I start.

Ingredient

  • 250g frozen raw tiger or king prawns
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can of plum tomato about 350g
  • 1Tbsp of tomato purée
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips.
  • 2 red chillies, de-seed and roughly cut into small pieces
  • 150ml dry white wine, I used sauvignon blanc
  • 2 spring onion, including the green parts, finely chopped
  • Handful of Parsley, roughly chopped
  • Cooked rice, pasta, noodles or couscous whichever you prefer to serve with. I used rice.
  1. To start of by cooking 250g washed rice into pan covered with water, and drizzle with some olive oil, let it boil with a lid off, once is boil about 1 minute, turn the heat lowest heat and let it cook further about 5 minutes or until the rice cook through. Once its cooked removed from the heat, give it a good stir and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in pan then tip in the chopped onion, garlic, pepper, chillies; and moving them around, give them 5 minutes to begin to soften and colour.
  3. After that, add the frozen prawns and stir them around for about 5 minutes, until they start to turn pink on both sides. Now Pour the canned tomatoes, use the white wine to rinse out the can, then add that too to the pan. Stir in the tomato purée, along with some seasoning. Bring to the boil, give a good stir, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting and let it simmer gently for 5 minutes. At this stage sauce will pop and mass up the kitchen.
  4. Scatter with the spring onion and serve with rice. and snip some parsley on top.

Voilà. Bon appétit!

Pea Soup (Potage Saint-Germain)

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Potage St-Germain, my easy supper when I need some push in the evening. It is creamy and thick, but I used pancetta as topping instead of  cheese and crouton. This recipe you could easily serve for four people.

  1. If you topping with pancetta, dry pan fry the pancetta in medium heat until is golden brown and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and fry, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the stock, peas, sugar and salt and pepper to taste and bring to the boil, uncovered. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the peas are very tender.
  3. Strain the peas and reserve the cooking liquid. Processs the peas in a food processor or blender, then return the purée to the pan. Gradually stir in the cooking liquid until you have the desired consistency.
  4. Reheat the soup. Stir in the crème fraîche and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately with blue cheese and croutons (pancetta) sprinkled over.

This are one of the everyday cooking, or as a starter for a party. I think kids will like it too when their sort of refuse to eat their green. Bon appetit!

Strawberry Tartlet

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This little tartlet inspired from a tiny patisserie shop in Paris, I remembered I walked pass it everyday during my trip in Paris. I thought, “when I get back home I will give this a go!” I tried many times to figure the recipe out by trial and error, and assemble these together, and eventually got a great result, after a few disasters!! I did notice this little dessert is not suitable to be carried around like cake, it is very fragile, so be gentle with it. My first batch fell apart while I was taking them to a friends house for afternoon tea! Aghh, disaster!

It is an easy dessert to make, I promise, and fabulous to eat, if you have a dinner party this will impress you guests too.

Dory fish with celery, peas & beurre blanc

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I should really tell you the meal I had this evening is very much pleasing with the beurre blanc sauce over the fish. Albert Jack’s book said the beurre blanc sauce was discovered after a mistake from a chef. Here is the story.

“One of famous sauce, beurre blanc (white butter) apparently evolved from a mistake made by French chef Madame Clémence Lefeuvre towards the end of the nineteenth century while she was working in the kitchens of the marquis de Goulaine. On one occasion, the story goes, intending to make Béarnaise sauce for a pike dish, Lefeuvre ran out of eggs at the crucial moment and had to quickly improvise, using wine and lemon juice instead. Legend has it that her new sauce became so popular she opened her own restaurant, La Bubette de la Marine, on the banks of the Loire River near Nantes, on the strength of it with beurre blanc as her signature sauce”.

Here is my recipe for you to try it at home. It’s important that you have all of the ingredients for the sauce ready prepared before you start to cook the fish, or the fish will become dry and cold while you’re making the sauce.

Marinate for the fish

Vegetable side

  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 50g sweet peas
  • pinch of salt

Beurre Blanc Sauce

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons of dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons double cream
  • 100g butter, cubed
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Herb of your choice: mint, parsley, basil or tarragon
  1. Marinate the fish by putting all marinate ingredient into freezer bag and put the fish into the bag and give it a mix with the fish and set aside so that the flavours can infuse the fish. The fish can marinate in the bag for 1 hour in the fridge, or less if you’re in a hurry.
  2. Cut celery into bite size then set aside. Bring a pot of water to boil then add pinch of salt into boiling water, reduce the heat to medium and then add in the celery and let it boil for about 3 minutes and add in the pea to finish up to 5 minutes. After that drain it off, put on a lid and set aside somewhere warm.
  3. Heat up a frying pan to medium heat, place the marinated fish in the heated pan and pan fry until golden colour at the edge and is not pale in colour. Put the cooked fish on a warmed serving plate with the vegetable, and set aside somewhere warm.
  4. Simmer the shallot, wine and vinegar in a pan until reduced to 1 tablespoon, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream followed by 1 cube of the butter at a time. Make sure to whisk energetically. If the butter isn’t melting, put the pan back on a very low heat. Once all the butter is incorporated, season with salt and little cayenne. Serve immediately by spoon it over the cooked fish. Chopped herbs, such as mint, parsely, basil or tarragon, make a nice addition.

Beurre blanc should taste creamy, frothy, light and tangy. This simple yet classic French sauce is probably the quickest way to add extra flavour to fish, meat, poultry and vegetable. It’s quite quick to make, apart from melting a little butter. Remember, this is for one portion, if you have a guest, you’ll need to double the ingredients., Bon appetit.

Baking mood in rainy day

P1140975AI just could not believe sunny the day was in the morning, as I woken up to start my day with a routine coffee and bread in the morning, and suddenly cloudy sky and shadowed the ground then the cloud burst, pouring! As hearing the rain drop on ground and roof.

A jazzy song pop up on the radio and that’s it , a mood on indulgent baking had set. My cat even curl up to sleep in a tiny box to keep warm. As this moment I going to make some French tea time treat – Madeleine. As the batter need to stay chill overnight for the best result, I will post the finish picture tomorrow. Do stay tuned for that.

Chouqeuttes

P1130278AThis is a Viennoiserie type of small bite-sized portion of choux pastry that is sprinkled with pearl sugar or can be covered with chocolate chips, and sometime filled it with custard, mousse or dipped into chocolate too. Chouqeuttes originate from Vienna  and the French took it to their home and shared it.  Sometime I topped it up with some cheese, make a savoury version, a bit naughty I fill the chouqeuttes with little thick cheese sauce as well and served as starter for my dinner party, my guests loved it and asked for more!

This is the pastry that agaist all the traditional pastry making rules. Hot crust pastry, one of those vey easy to make at home. You will be surprised when it turn out perfectly.

Here is a little story about this Viennoiserie, French for ‘Viennese specialties are baked goods made from a yeast leavened dough in a manner similar to bread, or from puff pastry, but with added ingredients (particularly eggs, butter, milk, cream and sugar) giving them a richer and/or sweeter character, approaching that of pastry. The dough is often laminated. Viennoiseries are typically eaten at breakfast or as snacks.

Examples include croissants, Vienna bread and its French version the baguette viennoise, brioches, pain au chocolat, pain au lait, pain aux raisins, chouquettes, Danish pastries, bugnes, and chausson aux pommes.

The popularity of Viennese-style baked goods in France began with the Viennese Bakery opened by August Zang in 1839. The first usage of a related expression appears to be in 1877: “pâtisseries viennoises” by A. DAUDET, Le Nabab, I, p.251.

Pâte à choux is a light pastry dough used to make profiteroles, croquembouches, eclairs, French crullers, beignets, St. Honoré cake, Indonesian kue sus, and gougères. It contains only butter, water, flour, and eggs. In lieu of a raising agent it employs high moisture content to create steam during cooking to puff the pastry.

Choux pastry is usually baked but for beignets it is fried. In Spain and Latin America churros are made of fried choux pastry, sugared and dipped in a thin chocolate blancmange for breakfast. In Austrian cuisine it is also boiled to make Marillenknödel, a sweet apricot dumpling; in that case it does not puff, but remains relatively dense. They are sometimes filled with cream and used to make cream puffs or eclairs.

A chef by the name of Panterelli invented the dough in 1540, seven years after he left Florence, along with Catherine de’ Medici and the entirety of her court. He used the dough to make a gâteau and named it Pâte à Panterelli. Over time, the recipe of the dough evolved, and the name changed to Pâte à Popelin, which was used to make Popelins, small cakes made in the shape of a woman’s breasts. Then, Avice, a pâtissier in the eighteenth century, created what were then called Choux Buns. The name of the dough changed to Pâte à Choux, as Avice’s buns resembled cabbages – choux in French. From there, Antoine Carême made modifications to the recipe, resulting in the recipe most commonly used now for profiteroles.