Donut worry, be happy!

Donut worry, be happy! Finally it’s friday!!!

Donut worry!

Have a happy weekend everyone!

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Stilton Pork Melts with Caramelised Apples

France and Britain, having engaged in rivaling relationship for centuries, have near-identical levels of national wealth, population, and historical swagger. But when it comes to food…. The French raised cuisine to a high art, while Britain- just across the channel, has had such a poor reputation for food until recently.

French cuisine may be my all-time favorite. But I always turn to British comfort food when I have a rough day at work… scotch eggs, bangers and mash, sticky toffee pudding and the list goes on. Heartwarming, filling and satisfying, they are always there ready to give me a cuddle when I need it most.

Stilton pork melts – a classic British delight, can also be made with any kind of blue cheese on top of pork chop with a spread of Apple sauce in between. Here I replaced the apple sauce with caramelized apples, using the leftover apples I had from making chicken Normandy. The blue cheese adds a mellow depth of tangy flavor and sophistication to the dish.  It brings together the tender pork and the sweet, sticky apple pieces, fusing them to create an incredible depth of flavour.

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Let’s not lose hope in Brit food… as once said by a handsome prime minister – Britain may be a small country but it’s a great one. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham’s right foot…


Ingredients:

  • 2 two-inch bone-in pork chops (I used iberico this time)
  • 100g Stilton or other blue cheese
  • pinch of pepper and garlic salts for seasoning
  • caramelised apples
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 3 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 apple cored and sliced
  • pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 220 deg c.
  2. Season the chops on both sides with a good sprinkling of garlic salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan, cook pork chops on both sides until they are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  4. Put the seared chops in the oven, cook for 20 min more. (the cooking time depends hugely on the thickness of the chop, do not hesitate to ask your butcher for advice =p that’s what i do all the time!)
  5. Start preparing for the caramelised apples for the time being. Peel and core apples. Slice into 1/4″ wedges.
  6. Melt butter and sugar over low-medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is bubbly, about 1 minute.  Add apples and cinnamon and cook over medium heat until soft and tender, for approximately 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  7. Spread a generous layer of stilton cheese on each chop, return to the oven to cook for further 5 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
  8. Transfer the cooked pork chops and caramelised apples to a plate, let the chops rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Melt-in-your-mouth baby ribs!

I always feel hesitated to make ribs at home as it is kind of intimidating to handle such a big chunk of meat. Plus most of the ribs I order in restaurant are overcooked and dry.

My worries ward off after trying this simple recipe, where the ribs were wrapped in foil and then slow- braised to contain heat and moisture, finished with a cooked-on glaze in the end. It only took a few ingredients but the result was… absolutely fall-off-the-bone tender!

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Who said you had to slave away in the kitchen to be a domestic goddess?

Let the oven do all the dirty work and spend your time on something more important… (like online shopping!)


Ingredients (serving for 2):

  • 2 lbs pork ribs
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups of your favorite premade barbecue sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees c.
  2. Mix together the sugar and spices to make the dry rub.
  3. Generously apply dry rub to ribs on all sides.
  4. Lay ribs on the foil, roll and seal edges tightly
  5. Bake for 3 hours until meat is starting to shrink away from the bone.
  6. Remove from oven.
  7. Brush on sauce on all sides.
  8. Return ribs to the oven and bake uncovered (meat side up) at 180 deg for another 15-  20 min or until there is bubbling of the sauce.

 

Authentic homemade crab cakes

Meeting boyfriend’s parents for the first time is surely a daunting experience, while meeting your boyfriend’s best buds can be as tricky. I have dated my husband long enough to have forgotten how the experience felt like and I’m blessed to have become friends with most of them over the years.

Somehow I can still remember vividly the first time meeting D, whom my husband often referred as multitalented- DJ, chef (who has worked in nearly all the top notched restaurants in town) and committed gourmet. When we first met 8 years ago, instead of the awkward silence for new acquaintances, he started his unapologetic talk on pasta and their different sauces… I knew we would be friends instantly!

Last night while I was patting my crab cakes in the kitchen and wondering how the two of us can finish a dozen of crab cakes, D called my husband. 1hr later he came to our rescue -with a 21 year old Japanese whisky in hand!

Moist and flavorful, crab cakes are perfect as appetizer, lunch, or light dinner! I can eat them on a sandwich, between crackers or just plain with my favorite sriracha mayo!

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As Julia Child said,  “It’s fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That’s what human life is all about — enjoying things.”

D left the whisky at our place afterwards, for that I’m sure we will be having him with us a lot more in the future!


Serving: 10-12 palm sized crab cakes

Ingredients:

  • 1pound canned crabmeat
  • 1/2 cup crushed Ritz cracker
  • 2 spring onions ( using both the green and white portions), finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Flour, for dusting
  • Oil for frying
  • Favorite dipping sauce (sriracha mayonnaise for me)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for the flour and oil.
  2. Mould into patties and then dust with flour.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour
  4. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  5. When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes in pan and fry until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, another 4 minutes
  7. Serve warm with preferred sauce.

Poulet à la normande

Most probably the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word Normandy is the D-Day landing and the beaches where thousands of soldiers lost their lives during the Second World War. You may even recall images of Tom Hanks rescuing Matt Daman if you happen to have seen the blockbuster Saving Private Ryan like me.

Normandy and Brittany of Northern France have always been on my travel bucket list- breathtaking views, beautiful villages, a great history… not to mention the great food…The lush green pastures of Normandy makes ideal grazing for dairy herds and cattle. No wonder it is often referred as the heartland of French dairy products; it is at the same time a major cider-producing region in France.

“Fier d’ être français, et puis fier de ma region” – proud to be French, and then proud of my region, is a common French saying.

That is also what I like about French food, each region bears its own distinctive cuisine, heavily influenced by the region’s history and culture, accomplished with pride using the finest local ingredients.

Poulet à la normande or Chicken Normandy is a dish you can never, ever go wrong with. Made with Normandy’s famous produce- apple, cider and free range chicken, it is truly hearty and flavorful.

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As ordinary working class people, we don’t get to travel around the year. But “exotic” food always serves as solace to my wandering heart and helps me get through until my next vacation.

* special thanks to my colleague… lemme just call her “cool mom A” here (simply love her personal style and all her shoes!) for helping me with the photo editing… she really worked wonders to my dishes and i just can’t thank her enough =)


Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • One cup of bacon lardons bacon
  • A whole chicken/ 4 drumsticks (marinate overnight with salt and pepper)
  • 200ml dry cider
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • Half cup fresh cream
  • 2 apples, cored and sliced
  • Parsley as garnish (optional)

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Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes until brown.
3. Then add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened, then set aside.
4. Use the remaining oil to brown the chicken. Turn regularly, pressing down on each side.
5. Put the onion and bacon in a dutch oven, then put the chicken on top.
6. Add the cider and stock. Cover with lid and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
7. Add apples and cook uncovered for another 20 minutes
8. Stir in the cream and sprinkle over the parsley.


 

Conchiglie with Roasted Tomato and Tiger Prawn

My first encounter with Italy dated back 20 years ago, when my family and I took a summer vacation there. Our first stop was Rome the eternal city, the whole place was ablaze in a heat wave, everything was alive with warmth, sunshine and energy. As a child I was fascinated by all the beautiful historic monuments and arts. My little brother, with his sensitive stomach, got worn as the voyage continued. Me on the other hand, got more energetic as the days passed, stuffing myself with gelato as big as my face everyday…
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Soon summer vacation ended and I was back to my life as a busy fourth-grader. But somehow in the back of my mind I guarded those good memories…
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By the time I made another trip to Italy, 18 years has passed. This time to Venice, with my husband (fiancé back then). Newly engaged, we talked endlessly about our dream house and wedding preparation. And… kept getting lost in the maze of canals. One day it was raining and we lost our way in the alleys again.
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Drenched and tired, we finally decided to take shelter in a modest looking restaurant. There it was, I tasted one of the best conchiglie (shell pasta) in my life. The sauce made with prawn roe was so rich, silky and luscious, deeply infused with freshness…

Isn’t it funny how food always recall the fondest memories?! Somehow I relived all the conversations we had, all the dreams we shared while I remade this dish…
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Conchiglie with Roasted Tomato and Tiger Prawn unnamed

Ingredients
  • 6 tiger prawns
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 cups whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 pounds conchiglie

Directions

  1. Using kitchen scissors to cut off all the prawn’s leg and antennae, and cut the tip of the prawn’s head.
  2. Devein all the prawns- make a slit along the middle of the back and then pull out the veins.
  3. Peel 4 of the prawns, cut the prawn into bite-size dice. Reserve the heads and 2 whole prawns.
  4. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add reserved prawn heads and roe. Sauté 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  5. Add tomato paste; stir for 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in tomatoes, wine, garlic.
  7. Add cream; boil 2 minutes over low heat.
  8. Simmer just until prawn flavor infuses cream, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Pressing on prawn heads to extract as much flavors as possible.
  9. Discard all the shells. (The sauce can be prepared in advance. Cover separately and chill.)
  10. Heat the pan with medium to high heat. When the pan is about ready, add the 2 whole prawns in the pan. Cook for 2 mins or until the shell changes color. Turn to the other side and cook for 1 min further.
  11. Transfer sauce to saucepan. Add in the bite-size pieces of prawn. Gently cook over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  12. Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.
  13. Drain; return pasta to pot. Add sauce; toss over medium-high heat until sauce coats pasta, about 4 minutes.
  14. 14. Season with salt and pepper and garnish the dish with the whole prawns on top.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf bourguignon is a comforting, rustic French dish that always holds a special place in my heart. It is one of those classic recipes that is constantly evolving, modernizing and being reinterpreted. I mean, how often do you find a dish that is cooked in Burgurndy farmhouse as well as served on the table of Michelin awarded restaurant?

Julia Child included a recipe of boeuf bourguignon in Mastering the Art of French Cooking- her famous cookbook. She described the wine-rich stew as “certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man”. She also pointed out that this is a dish that benefits from a day in the refrigerator. “Fortunately you can prepare it completely ahead, even a day in advance, and it only gains in flavor when reheated.” Making it a perfect choice of made-ahead food before party, and the flavors and taste do become richer and more mature with time.

Making boeuf bourguignon surely takes time and requires a lot of effort. But trust me, it is all worthwhile… imagine its meat shredding under the gentle pressure of your fork while its sauce a marriage of beefy aroma and wine. I wipe my plate clean with a piece of bread and lick my knife to capture the last drop of sauce every time I make this!

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Ingredients:
Marinade:

  • 1 garlic, smashed
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and halved
  • 1 rib of celery, halved
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
    One 750-ml bottle red wine, such as Burgundy/ Pinot Noir

Stew:

  • Olive oil
  • Pinches of salt
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 bundle fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of bacon cubes
  • 8-10 cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 rib celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 to 4 cups beef stock

Garnish:

  • 3-4 red potatoes, cut into slices
  • chopped fresh parsley, optional

Directions:
1. For the marinade: Combine the garlic, bay leaves, carrots, celery, onions and wine in a large bowl or container. Add the beef chunk and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. (try not to skip this steps as it makes a huge flavor difference)
2. Remove the beef from the marinade. Discard the veggies and reserve the marinade.
3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
4. Sprinkle the beef with salt and toss with the flour; flour the beef right before when you are ready to brown it.
5. Add the flour-coated beef to the hot pan (many recipe suggests using dutch oven at this point, but I prefer using a non-stick pan for browning and leave the dutch oven to the next step) , may need to cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.
6. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the bacon is lightly browned. Toss in the mushrooms, carrots, celery, garlic and onions, and season with salt.
7. Cook until the mixture starts to soften, about 10 minutes.
8. Then add the tomato paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
9. Add the 3 cups of marinade and deglaze the pan, stirring up any browned bits, and cook for 1 minute.
10. Add the beef. Stir to combine and cook until the wine has reduced by half, which takes another 1 to 2 minutes.
11. Add enough of the beef stock to just cover the surface of the beef.
12. Add in the bay leaves and thyme bundle. Cover the pan, bring the liquid to a boil and put in the oven.
13. Cook the beef for 2 hours.
14. Check the pot one hour later as you may need to add ~ 1 cup of beef stock/ marinade mixture to keep the surface of the beef covered.
15. Remove the pot from the oven and skim off any excess grease from the surface of the stew.
16. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat until shimmering and almost smoking. Add potato slices and let fry for 4-5 minutes or until the edges turn brown. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
17. Garnish the dish with potato and chopped parsley on top.


 

Cooking for an audience

Newbie wife. Daughter of the world’s best home chef. Fashion victim. Dreamer. Wanderluster. That pretty much summed up who I am.
Food photography

As a girl who grew up watching sex and the city ( who wants to be Carrie but is a Charlotte at heart btw) and breakfast at tiffany’s, I always thought my kitchen would be used for shoe storage…

It all changed because of a built-in oven…
My husband took a lot of effort in fitting a professional oven into our teeny-tiny kitchen during our home renovation. I felt really indebted to him and from that point forward I cook a lot. Locking myself up in the kitchen doing all sorts of cooking experiments.

Women of the older generation always say the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach…

I’d say I love cooking for an audience.
Somehow everything tastes better with your favorite dining companion. And you know he will eat whatever you have prepared even your cooking experiments go awry.