Saturday, June 06, 2009

Spicy asian food for this weekend.

It had been some time since I had Tom Yum Gung. I missed the hot and sour taste of the seafood broth. That Friday morning I walked to Chinese quarter at Guillotiere to pick up some fresh lemon grass, galangal as well as herbs like cilantro and spring onions. On the way back I picked up some fruits from the morning market. There were so many seasonal fruits to be spoilt for choice. The dark cherries from nearby farms, the strawberries from spain, the fully ripe apricots with lovely shades of red and orange.

Voila, afternoon lunch menu was Tom Yum Gung with Rendang Lamb, with market fruits.
Making tom yum gung is pretty simple. It was my first attempt but a success.

Recipe: Tom Yum Gung(Thai hot and sour shrimp soup)

  • 400G of shrimps
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste
  • 5 small red chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • one inch of galangal, sliced
  • 4 stalks of lemon grass, lower potions cut into 1 inch length and pounded to release the flavour
  • 10 Dried Kaffir lime leaves
  • I tbsp Dried tamarind, soaked in 1/2 cup of hot water; strained and reserve the water
  • 1 cup straw mushroom
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 6 tablespoon of Fish sauce
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped spring onion
  • limes wedges
Remove shells and heads from shrimp. Put the shells and heads in a pot and cover with 1 litre of water. This is to make a shrimp broth. Let it boil and simmer for 10 mins.
Strain broth and discard the shells and heads.
Boil the broth and add the rest of the ingredients except the shrimp. Let it simmer for 10minutes.
Add the shrimps and let it cook for another 1min.
Serve it in a bowl, topped with chopped cilantro, spring onions and a wedge of lime.

I made Lamb Rendang with premade Rendang sauce from Malaysia. It was just as simple as adding some onion and diced lamb cubes to the sauce and simmer for 30 mins. Served with white rice.

Here is my dessert for the weekend, les fruits du terroir - Abricots, fraises, cerises.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

English lemon cake

After my trip to London, I still dream about the lemon cake from the natural history museum cafe. The cafe has a nice ambiance with exhibit displays of dinosaur and panda. In the center of the cafe there was a long table with an elegant arrangement of English cakes. The Englishs must have bestowed afternoon tea with great importance. The museum was awesome with so many different zones to visit. Since Ced and I arrived 2 hours before the closing time, I just did the blue zone - Dinosaurs, Fish et mammals- and I briefly glanced through the other zones: Darwin and the precious stones.

Back to the lemon cake, it was very moist and soft in the interior with a fresh citrus tang. Pure simple delight.
So when I came back to Lyon, I scoured though recipes online before I found one, similar to the english lemony ones, at Tentations gourmande de Chris.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Just some pictures of the famous Hainanese Chicken Rice from Singapore that I have made this weekend. Gosh, I miss Singapore, Ice Kachang, Satay, Popiah and all.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rojak and me in Geneva.

It was 2 weekends ago, Ced and I took a road trip to Geneva. We were supposed to sample Ethiopian food that afternoon when we arrived in Geneva but it was too late for lunch as we left Le Salève later than anticipated. At 1097m, there was an open air cafe with a stunning view of Geneva and Leman lake. There was also the smell of bbq food on the grill that was simply enough to make us stay an extra hour. Grilled lamb, merguez, grilled chicken legs with baked potatoes. It had been a long time since I had a bbq. Reminded me of summer and my good old days in Singapore. In Singapore, we have bbq all year long.

Bref, we arrived at Geneva around 3pm on a Saturday. Everyone was enjoying the sun, strolling around the lake. So did we. Ced shot a few hundreds of pictures for his hdrs while I just people- watched. Along the lake, we found some huge white eggs in a nest on the rocks and 2 swans were taking turns to defend them. It was very impressive watching the swans fighting off a dog or other nearby ducks. They just hissed and raised their wings to frighten them predators.

As the sun began to set we went to the old town to check out the Cathedral. It was around 6pm and everything was closed. The Cathedral or the surrounding shops. I checked all the opening hours of a few shops. It looked like shops closed at 5pm on saturday in Geneva. That is early!
Even the French closed at 7pm which I considered too early.

Given that we have done most of the touristic stuff by 7pm, we headed to a Singaporean restaurant which I had made a reservation the day before at 8.30pm. I looked forward to it because there is no Singaporean restaurant in Lyon.

The restaurant is called Jak's place. When we entered, I kind helped noticing 2 lions on each side with some teak wall sculpture. Then we were greeted by 2 Asian server probably Singaporeans, dressed in sarong Kebaya, clothing in batik from SE Asia.

After studying the menu, we ordered only the Singaporean dishes: Rojak, Satays, Beef Rendang and Char kway Teow. There were Thai dishes available but they were not part of the real deal of a 2 hours drive to Geneva.

Soon came the food served
on a warmer with lit candles. A unexpected touch to Singaporean food. Perhaps food gets cold in Geneva rather quickly.

The rojak was served cold with Kangkong, bean sprouts and pineapple chunks with dark shrimp paste sauce. It was refreshing and fruity. I can't say the same for the Satays. The satay sauce was good but the meat skewers were not tender or juicy like the ones from Lau Pa Sat. They tasted like plain meat with satay sauce.

Beef rendang was exceptional. Soft beef with lots of sauce. And the Char Kway Teow had the wok taste and came with cockles. Just like the one from typical hawker centers.

At the end of the meal, I was looking forward to some chendol or some ice kachang or even some pulut hitam(glutinous black rice soup). Well, they had none of this on the dessert menu. So we got some thai sticky rice with mango which cost 10 Euro. It only lasted 3 mouthful and it wasn't exceptional.

Prices run from 10Euro per appetizer, 20 Euro per main dish and 10 Euro for dessert.

Jeck's Place
Rue de Neuchâtel 14
1201 - Genève
Tél.: 022 731 33 03
Fax: 022 731 16 11

Friday, April 17, 2009

Simple Cannelé Bordelais

Cannelés are small french crown-like pastries that is soft and airy inside and little crusty at the caramelized exterior. They taste like chewy custard with vanilla and rum but baked. They are so small that you could pop several in a go. The ingredients are very simple. Almost like a crepe paste with a strong rum taste. The baking of canneles was quite a show. After baking at 250 C at 5 mins, the paste in 3/4 filled mould popped up like a souffle. And another 55 mins at 180 C to deflat and caremlise the cannelés. I used a new silicon mould for 8 small canneles and they were so easy to turn out at the end of baking.

Some history of Canelés de Bordeaux
They became popular in France in the 1980s. Originated from Bordeaux, they have gone through several name changes, forms and versions since the 17th century. Canole, Canaule, Canaulé or Canaulet. The basic recipe consisted of sugar, milk, flour and eggyolk. Back then, only the artisans from Canauliers guild are permited to make and sell them. Sounds like the modern day licence-franchise thing.

In the early 20 century, rum and vanilla was added to them. Only in the 1985 that brotherhood of the Canelé of Bordeaux was formed and thereafter the name Canelé was used.

Canelés are found everywhere in France now, not just in Bordeaux anymore. I guess that there is no copyright to the name Canelés anymore. Everyone can make it. You won't have to join the guild.

Recipe: Cannelé Bordelais/Canelé de Bordeaux
  • 1/2 l of milk
  • 2 whole eggs & 2 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
  • 3 tablespoons of rum
  • 150g of sugar
  • 125g flour
  • 30g butter with 10g butter to grease the mould
  • A pinch of salt

Bring milk, 30g of butter and vanilla essence into a boil.
Beat sugar, eggs and egg yolks until pale yellow. Add flour, salt, rum and then boiled milk. Mix well until a smooth paste. Leave it in the fridge for a full day at least.

The day after:
Take the paste out of the fridge for an hour and leave it at room temperature. Grease canelé mould with melted butter using a brush. Preheat oven 15 mins to 250C. Stir the paste well. And pour it into the greased mould until 3/4 filled. Do not overfill as cannelés puff up enormously during baking.

Bake for 5 mins at 250C and then lower the heat to 180C. Bake for another 55 mins at 180C.

Take the cannelés out of the oven and let it cool for 5 mins.
Turn out the cannelés while they are still warm.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fondant au chocolat...literally translated as melting chocolate?

I have been thinking of making Portuguese egg tarts these days. It seems that it would require a little more effort than I thought. Instead I made a fondant au chocolat in 5 mins. It's a very moist soft dense chocolate cake. Not the one with the melted center(same name but different recipe). Bref, it would make a nice warm tea cake for this afternoon goúter with a nice sugar rush.

Fondant au chocolat
  • 200g baking dark chocolate
  • 125g butter
  • 150g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 70g flour

Melt butter and chocolate with 1-2 tablespoon of milk in microwave. It should take about 1 min or less. Mix well.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the slightly cooled chocolate-butter mixture and mix well until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the mixture into a greased rectangle/square pan and bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for 15 mins.

The cake should be soft and moist inside, not dry.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nothing beats a bowl of warm Niu Rou Mien

Back in Seoul, my favourite Chinese restaurant was DTF(short for Din Tai Fung). Like always I would order the Niu Rou Mien, which is Taiwanese Braised beef noodles. It's wheat noodles in a thick beef soysauce broth, with chunks of tender and juicy beef. I'm not sure how long the beef had been cooked but the meat was soft enough to be pull apart easy from my teeth with just a pair of chopsticks.

In Lyon, the closest Chinese food we can get is Vietnamese food. You see, all the Chinese restaurants are usually opened by Vietnamese. The typical names you would see on the menu are Nems (spring rolls with lettuce and mint, dipped in fish sauce), Riz Cantonais(fried rice), Aigre-Douce (Sweet and sour), Poulet à l'ananas (pineapple chicken) or Canard Laqué (Peking duck swimming in sauce). It's like in the States where you see General Tsao Chicken or Beef & Broccoli everywhere.

It was hilarious when I first arrived in France. My french family was so stunned when I told them Nem is not Chinese.
"But they have them in every single Chinese restaurant." That doesn't make it Chinese. For the french, it's the must-have appetiser.

Don't get me wrong. I love Vietnamese food when it comes down to Pho, Bobun and even the nems. I just miss real Chinese and Singaporean food sometimes. And I made Niu Rou Mien for dinner today! Alsolutely delicious with fresh noodles- in this case I got fresh tagliatelle from a low-end supermarket called Leader Price. Oh yeah, blame it on the crisis.

Taiwanese braised beef noodles
  • 2 tablespoons of oil( I used olive oil, that's what I have in the kitchen)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed.
  • 1 inch ginger, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon Lee Kam Kee's spicy(chili) bean paste
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • some cinnamon powder(i guess it's better with cinnamon stick, but i don't have it)
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 purple radishes, peeled and halved
  • 1 leek, green & white part, cut into 2-inch length (or 3 stalks of scallions if available)
  • 1kg beef for braising, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 6 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine
  • 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar

Heat oil in a pot. Add garlic, ginger, chili bean paste, cloves, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon to heated oil. Stir for 1 min.

Add beef to the pot and stir to coat with the spices. Continue to stir until the beef gets brown.

Add all veggies and all seasoning for the sauce. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the beef and veggies.

Bring it to a boil and simmer covered for 2 hours. While simmering, more water can be added if the stew gets too dried.

Top the stew over a bowl of fresh tagliatelle or any kind of Chinese noodles. Garnish with chopped cilantro and spring onions.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Swedish Cardamom Rolls

I first tasted Swedish Cardamon Rolls when I was in Cary, North Carolina. My good friend Rebecca made them for me. It was about 4-5 years ago. They were so good that I dreamt of making them all the time. Why dreamt? Being a total bread baking beginner with no electric mixer, I was intimidated by the labour + skill required. Come on, I tried baking brioche with my hands. It was such a big failure that they were hard like rocks. I made inedible plain rolls that were rock hard and stinked the whole apartment with that intoxicating yeast smell. Then came the focaccia with not enough rising. One disappointment followed by another.

Finally, the focaccia and pita recipes are the only ones that I can manage to produce pretty good end results.

Yesterday, with my new sidekick, the Kenwood Chef Titanium, I successfully baked one batch of Swedish Cardamon Rolls. With the mixer, I still spent 3 hours making them and it was labour intensive. The sweat was worth it, I could say.

Swedish Cardamom Rolls

  • 5cup bread flour
  • 1 1/4 warm water
  • 2 packages of bakers yeast
  • 100g butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamon
  • 3 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 2 tablespoon of milk powder

  • 70g butter melted
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 3 teaspoon of cinnamon or less.
  • 5 tablespoon of sugar

Egg wash
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoon of water
  • a pinch of salt

Sprinkle yeast over warm water and stir to dissolve

Mix flour, milk powder, cardamon, salt and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Add to the well, melted butter, followed by yeast-water mixture and beaten egg. Using a electric mixer, beat for 1 min on minimum speed and beat for 7-9 min on the next speed (1 for the kenwood chef) until the dough is elastic and smooth.

Shape the dough into a smooth ball and leave it in a greased bowl and roll the dough around the bowl to coat with oil. Cover the dough with cling wrap and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel.

Heat a cup of water in a microwave oven for 1 min. After it is done, place the bowl inside with the door close. This is a good tip for winter bread baking.

Let the dough rise for 1 hour or until it doubles its volume.

Punch the dough down. And divide the dough into 2. Roll the 2 dough using a rolling pin into 2 rectangles roughly about 30cm x20cm each on a floured surface.

Spread melted butter all over the flattened dough.

Mix sugar, cinnamon, cardamon together and sprinkle it all over the dough.

Fold the dough 2 times: Top 1/3 to the bottom 2/3 of the rectangle. It looks almost like a flatted Swiss roll 30cmx7cm. Cut the dough into strips of 2 cm x7cm. Holding both ends with each hand, twist and stretch each strip until it's long enough to make a knot.

Place the rolls directly on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Let them rise in a warm place for another 20mins until they double their volume.

Preheat the oven to 190 deg Celsius
Mix egg with 2 tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt. Apply this eggwash, with a pastry brush, to the top of the rolls. Bake the roll at 190 deg Celsius for 15 -18 min.

This recipe makes roughly about 24 rolls. Leftover rolls can be frozen in Ziploc.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Latest gadget in my Kitchen.

A Kenwood Chef Titanium Mixer. In France, they call it a robot. Don't ask me why. It is stationed on my Ikea counter top, barely fits that tiny space between my Nespresso machine and fruit bowl. I could say it looks very Pro, with the titanium coating. It comes with5 attachments - a dough hook, Glass Liquidiser, a k-beather, a flexible 'Double K' and a whisk. And I flipped through the brochure, there were like 20 other options I could get: Sausage maker, pasta maker, potato peeler, Meat slicers, shredder, mincer, icecream maker. The possibilities are endless, or rather excessive.

For the past 2 weeks, I have been gathering ingredients for my baking projects. Swedish cardamom rolls and Alsacian Kugelogf. It seems to take forever to shop for ingredients. I will either forget this or that. And there we go again, back to the supermarket. The key actor for the Kugelogf is still missing: the kugelogf mould.

All ingredients for swedish cardamom rolls are checked in. I shall bake them tomorrow. All set.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fondant a la creme de marron

For creme de marron(french chestnut cream) lover, this dessert is a must try. It's a little crusty on the top and soft and moist in the interior.

Fondant a la creme de marron
  • 1 can of 500g creme de marron, sweetened.
  • 3 eggs
  • 75 g butter
  • 1 tablespoon of cacao powder, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon of flour, sifted
  • a pinch of salt

Preheat the heat to 180 degrees C. Grease a rectangle baking pan (the size is about 12cm*15cm?). Or you can use muffin pan instead and you serve the fondant in individual portion. I think you can make about 5-6 portions.

Butter the butter in the microwave. Cool it. Add the melted butter to the chestnut cream. Mix before adding the rest of the ingredients to the paste. Mix again until the paste becomes smooth.

Pour the paste into the baking pan. And bake for 25 mins.