Skillet Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

The dish sounds like something you can find in the menu of some fancy restaurants. By deglazing the pan with a combination of chicken stock, cream and a little bit of whisky… everyone can turn those pan drippings into a fantastic sauce, no culinary school degree required!

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Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in pork chops (1 1/4 inches thick)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 apples and onions, cut into wedges
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whisky
  • 8 small fresh thyme sprigs

Methods:
1. Preheat oven to 240°C. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Cook in hot oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from skillet.
2. Add apples and onion to skillet; cook until browned. Remove from skillet
3. Add broth to skillet, stir to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet, cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Whisk together cream and mustard; add to skillet, cook and stir constantly, cook for 2 minutes or until bubbly.
5. Remove skillet from heat, and stir in bourbon. Add pork, turning to coat, and top with apples, onions, and thyme.
6. Bake at 240°C for 15 minutes or until liquid is just beginning to bubble. Let stand in skillet 5 minutes before serving.


La MaisonTroisgros- Un Jour de Septembre

It’s been 8 months since my visit to Maison Troisgros. The restaurant has been running since 1930, with three generations of the family as chef. It is the only Michelin 3 star restaurant situated in the unlikely setting of Roanne, a town with glorious history as a trading centre due to its situation on the Loire, but now a rather quiet and modest place. The restaurant is truly an oasis amongst such blandness.

I had chosen the menu ” A day of September” and every dish was a delight…

The precision and ease with which Michel Troisgros uses and judges flavors in his dishes is in my experience second to none, the chef is clearly at the peak of his powers. Delicious flavors, elegant presentation and innovative combination of flavors. Troisgros is a culinary dynasty run entirely by family, where tradition is in the making, and perhaps one of the last of its kind in France!

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A gemstone amongst the granite

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Tomato caramelised with sesame and ginger, Puff pastry with fresh white cheese and Egg with safron jelly

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Laminated cornbread with Salted butter from Normandy

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Artichoke pasta, Smoked Mackerel with Orange Zest and Nut Oil

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Oyster, Apricot and Rice, beautifully seasoned with warm Soy Sauce

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Monkfish loin, Sakura blossom, White wine cream sauce with dashi

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Lobster, Coriander, Carrot and Red fruit sauce with Beefheart cabbage

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Cheese served with fruit bread, Tomato jam and Orange marmalade

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Almond and Sabayon Ice Cream

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Shortbread, Rhubarb, Cardamom, Celery ice cream

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Strawberry and fennel arlette, Meringue with coacoa and ginger and Lemon sesame tart

 

La Maison Troisgros

Address: 1 Place Jean Troisgros, 42300 Roanne

Tel: +33 4 77 71 66 97


Pan-seared Foie Gras with Fig and Balsamic Reduction

The rich flavor and the smooth creamy texture of the fat liver is just so delicate and heavenly that I find it very difficult to describe. To enhance the already excellent delicacy, I like to add some sweet, plump figs as the accompaniments, and balances its richness with the acidity of the balsamic reduction.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 thick slabs of foie gras
  • 5 figs, split into quarters (reserve one for plating)
  • 1⁄4 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of salt, fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions:

For the fig and balsamic reduction.

  1. Combine all ingredients with 1/2 cup water in a saucepan.
  2. Cover; bring to boil over high heat.
  3. Reduce to a simmer, cook for 10 minutes or until fruit has broken down.

For the Foie Gras:

  1. Season foie gras liberally on all sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a small skillet over high heat for at least 3 minutes.
  3. Place foie gras in skillet, cook, swirling pan gently from time to time, until golden brown and crisp on first side, about 30 seconds.
  4. Flip foie gras onto second side and cook for 30 second longer.
  5. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and let rest for 1 minute.

 

Cherry Clafoutis

Family legend has it that I swallowed all the pits when I ate cherries for the first time… and I actually believed that when my dad told me a cherry tree would be growing on my head (in fact I was pretty excited about that!!!). Twenty some years have passed, there is no cherry tree on my head, but my fondness for the fruit continues to deepen. When cherries appear at my local market, I just have to buy them. Sweet, crisp and juicy, they often don’t even make it to my kitchen- I usually gobble them all up on my way home. But if there  are a few left, I will use them to make this dessert.

Cherry clafoutis is one of the easiest French desserts you can ever make, simply perfect for cherry season and is absolutely amazing. The batter used in clafoutis is based on a crêpe batter. Unlike traditional custard, it contains flour, giving it a dense texture. The thickened batter ensures that any juice that escapes from the cherries is well-contained. Other fruits would also work well in this dish. Try peaches, blueberries, plums or apricots!

Voilà! Un dessert facile et délicieux!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of fresh sweet cherries, pitted
  • 3 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius . Butter and lightly flour the baking dish.
  2. Scatter the cherries over the bottom of the dish.
  3. Whisk the eggs and sugars together.
  4. Add in the salt and flour.
  5. Add the milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
  6. Pour into the baking dish over the cherries.
  7. Bake for 35-45 minutes in water bath, until lightly browned or a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in the oven for 10min before taking it out.
  9. When cool dust the clafoutis with powdered sugar. Serve!

Note: It will wiggle a bit when you pull it out of the oven, that is normal.

Place on a wire rack to cool. The clafoutis will have puffed up quite a bit and will deflate while cooling.


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Salt Baked Chicken Wings with Rosemary

Salt baked chicken is one of the most classic dishes in the Hakka repertoire. The dish is both clever and flavorful. Traditionally it is made by sealing the chicken with a tight cocoon of lotus leaf or parchment paper, which is then baked in scorching coarse salt. Despite the fact that the bird is packed solidly in a thick layer of coarse salt as it cooks, it doesn’t get unbearably salty because the salt doesn’t penetrate the wrapping. The salt coat mainly serves to retain heat and cook the bird evenly.

This week I tried to remake the dish by giving it a western twist – the chicken wings were marinated with cayenne, garlic and lemon zest, before it was baked in my reliable Staub cocotte. The unique cooking method locks in all the flavors and bastes the bird in its very own essence, the chicken turned out juicy and succulent. And once the ceremonious unveiling began, herb-scented steam curled out of the parcel of goodness, filling the room with gratifying aromas. =)

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Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 8 chicken wings (mid-joint)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 500g rock salt
  • Marinade
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tbsp crushed black pepper
  • Zest from 2 lemons
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (chopped)

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Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 deg C.
  2. Wash chicken wings, pat dry. Mix with marinade.
  3. Wrap the chicken wings with tin foil.
  4. Whisk the egg whites until foams form. Add salt and mix well.
  5. Line a French oven with tin foil. Spread a layer of salt mixture. Put in the chicken wing wrap and cover it with the remaining salt mixture.
  6. Bake the whole French oven for 30mins. Do not cover up the French oven while baking, otherwise the salt mixture cannot be dried, making the chicken very salty.
  7. Smash to remove the salt on the surface. Take out the chicken wings and serve!
  8. Soak the French oven with hot water until the salt melt before washing.

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Baked Camembert with Rosemary & Truffle oil

Trust me when I say, there is nothing more decadent than this rich, fragrant, creamy wooden box of gooey goodness. In this recipe, my favorite cheese is baked to a pouring consistency and is then served with crusty bread. It is the perfect way to end a long day at work or brace yourself for an afternoon of shopping in the cold. If…that is, it ever gets cold in Hong Kong!

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Ingredients:

  • Camembert, in a box
  • 1/2 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • Few rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tsp white wine
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Drizzle of truffle oil
  • Pinch of freshly grind black pepper

Directions:

  1. Remove the cheese from the fridge 1 hour before cooking, so that it can come to room temperature.
    (otherwise it will take forever to cook)
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  3. Remove any plastic packaging from the cheese and place back in its box, leaving the lid off.
  4. Poke the garlic and rosemary into the holes, pour over the wine and honey, then grind over some black pepper.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the centre of the cheese is melted.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave the Camembert to cool a little before drizzling with the truffle oil.
  7. Serve the bread with the warm cheese for dipping.

 

Crème brûlée au foie gras

Amélie Poulain cultive un goût particulier pour les tous petits plaisirs. Elle aime plonger sa main au plus profond d’un sac de grain… briser la croûte des crèmes brûlées avec la pointe de la petite cuillère… et faire des ricochets sur le Canal Saint-Martin…

Translate as: Amélie is simple; she has devoted herself to simple pleasures, such as cracking crème brûlée with a teaspoon, going for walks in the Paris sunshine, skipping stones across St. Martin’s Canal…

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Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain happens to be my favorite movie. It is a film so original, so funny, and so warm that it made my heart smile. It is heart-warming, not in the phony Hollywood movie sense; but in the sense of how good you feel when laughing with a dear, dear friend.

You may wonder what my favorite movie has to do with a cooking blog… Well, a memorable thing about Amélie is that she likes cracking the caramelized sugar crust on the top of crème brûlée with the back of a tiny spoon. Breaking into the top of crème brûlée truly is wonderful, from the sound of the cracking to the textural contrast between the thick, crusty sugar shell and the delicate, smooth custard underneath.

While I adore the classic crème brûlée, I’ve decided to be adventurous and create a savory version this time, as an homage to the lovely, curious lead character. The luscious foie gras complements the silky custard, with the sugar coat together they create a sublime contrast: each bite, crunchy and smooth, toasty and lush, is a revelation.

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Crème brûlée is an awesome canvas to let your imagination run wild. I have seen interesting variations made with coffee, lavender, ginger, parmesan cheese… Hope you all have fun with your food experiments! And by all means don’t be afraid of trying something new!

Ingredients

  • 150g duck foie gras (I use Rougie bloc de foie gras)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 15ml milk
  • 150g whipping cream
  • Half cup of white sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Direction

  1. Preheat the oven to 100 deg C.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cut the foie gras into pieces. Add the whipping cream.
  3. Add in milk and egg yolks.
  4. Season with salt, pepper.
  5. Combine with a hand mixer until the mixture is homogenous.
  6. Place the ramekins into a roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. (this water bath with prevent cracks in the custard)
  7. Bake at 100°C for 40-45 minutes, until the mixture is softly set.

(Gently sway the ramekins and if the crème brûlées are ready, they will wobble a bit like a jelly in the middle. Don’t let them get too firm.)

  1. Lift the ramekins out of the roasting pan with oven gloves and allow them to cool at room temperature for 30min.
  2. Put in the fridge to cool completely, at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Sift a generous amount of sugar evenly over custard. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top.
  4. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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.


 

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.