Archive for the ‘CookBlogShare’ Category

Larb is one of the iconic dishes of Laos and Isaan region of North Eastern Thailand. It is a warm salad of ground meat, with ground pork as the more common protein used, however chicken, beef, duck and fish make great substitutes.  

Little Thailand in Zaventem 

3 weeks ago, I was introduced to a little Thai takeaway by a colleague. He chanced upon the little takeaway joint when he was driving along the narrow street somewhere in Zaventem during lunch break. The tiny shoplot is not particularly an obvious sight unless you actually explore that street and pop your head in the shop to check.  The “Takeaway” sign is rather misleading as the tiny shoplot could miraculously accommodate 12 people at the most.  A business lunch dish is priced at Eur 9. Two types of dishes are prepared daily, spicy and non spicy. À la carte order is more expensive depending on the choice of protein – chicken, beef, pork, tofu, prawn or fish. 

In just 3 weeks, I have sampled their Panang Curry, Pad Grapao (holy basil stir-fry), Pad Thai, Pad See Ew (soy sauce stir-fry), Green Curry and Larb Gai (spicy chicken salad). I was completely Thai-away!

Oh by the way, the Larb Gai was not one of the dishes for business lunch, so I had to pay as per à la carte price. The portion was huge and came with steamed jasmine rice.


Fresh, Fast and Simple 

Methinks paying Eur 13.50 for the Larb Gai was daylight robbery because making Larb is not rocket science. It’s really simple to make.

I have made Larb several times but have not found the time to blog about it. Recently I made Larb again but with a twist. It’s a vegetarian Larb using minced Quorn. Quorn is gluten-free mycoprotein. I pan-fried the minced Quorn for 8-10 minutes with small amount of oil.

Looks like ground beef… well it’s vegetarian mock meat


The next ingredient is unique and a must-have in making Larb, ie toasted rice powder. Originally glutinous rice is used, however, jasmine rice is a great substitute. I used jasmine rice in this recipe.

The rice is dry-roasted on medium high heat until a deep golden brown colour is achieved. It is advisable to make as much as you need at a time.  I used about 2Tbsp jasmine rice for 200 g minced Quorn. 


Once the rice turned a ravishing brown colour, I transferred it to a stone mortar. The rice was ground to the consistency I wanted, not too powdery or flour-like but still fine with bits to bite on.  The smell of ‘popcorn’ emitting from the freshly pounded toasted rice was awesome.

Before assembling the Larb, I prepped the fresh herbs of mint, coriander and spring onion. Then I thinly sliced a shallot and a yellow chilli. For colour, I halved 8 cherry tomatoes.

Next I combined palm sugar, nam pla (fish sauce) and juice of 1 lime to configure the trinity of Thai marinade. Chilli flakes were sprinkled, all to taste. (Note, fish sauce can be substituted with light soy sauce to make this dish vegan)

Finally, the assembling of the dish!  My favourite part. After all, it’s an all-in-one-pot dish. Easy peasy!


And there you have it… My version of Vegetarian Larb. Scrumptious!


The extra sprinkle of the toasted jasmine rice powder was the pièce de résistance of an exquisite or almost authentic Larb dish. 

My Verdict?

I was glad I made good use of the 200 g minced Quorn. It was lying in my fridge for at least 2 weeks. I had wanted to make a vegetarian bolognese sauce for my boys after work in the evening but I never got round to making it. Well, my procrastination paid off. Hubs and the boys loved the refreshingly light vegetarian Larb. To be honest, Quorn is a rather dry ingredient, unlike chicken, pork, duck, prawn or beef when the technique of “Ruan” (cooking meat with water without a drop of oil) is used. I’m glad I added cherry tomatoes and the juice of 1 lime really perked up the dish and tantalised our palates. 

I’m linking this post to #CookBlogShare May 24-30 hosted by Hayley at Snap Happy Bakes

Have a great weekend!
Cheers!

Like the Brazilian pão de queijo, these bite-sized crispy snail snack are super addictive.


Down Memory Lane …

When I was a kid, Mum used to concoct creative snacks for our afternoon tea. My siblings and I were always looking forward to 4 pm’s mystery nibbles made with love by Mum.

By the way, I have always loved the savoury snacks Mum made. I know I will not be able to replicate Mum’s kueh siput (snail cookie or snack or crisps), but I remembered most of the ingredients that went in there. While Mum always guesstimated the ingredients in her cookings, meaning she never had any exact measurements in the dishes she prepared, I tried my best to come up with some measurements, especially so when I started cooking with my Thermomix. With  the built-in weighing scale, I was forced to come up with a more or less precise measurement for the ingredients. 

Oh by the way, Mum deep fried her “snails” while I baked mine 🙂

I was pleasantly surprised by the result!  

Ingredients-

Fermented Beancurd and Fresh Coriander

  • 110 g SRF 
  • 35 g tapioca flour
  • 35 g melted butter
  • 56 g egg
  • 15 g fermented beancurd
  • Half veg stock cube
  • A pinch of brown sugar
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Freshly milled white pepper
  • 20 g fresh coriander, finely chopped 

Method –

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 165 deg C
  2. Weigh all ingredients in the TM bowl. Mix for 20 sec/ sp 1.5
  3. Knead for 2 mins. The dough may or may not be too wet; if a bit wet to handle, add some SRF. Continue to knead for 1 min. The dough should not stick to the bowl or the blades. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl.
  4. Pinch a small portion of the dough and spread a thin layer on the teeth of the fork, the right side up. Press gently and roll upward to form a pattern of a snail
  5. Bake for 22 to 25 mins until golden brown. Note the timing of doneness depends on the type of oven you own. I baked mine for 24 mins.


My Verdict?

My sons had never eaten this snack before, hence, were the best guinea pigs in providing an honest feedback. I placed a bowl of the baked “snails” on the kitchen table. My younger son who was upstairs then, came down and said he smelled chicken soup, whilst my older son said he smelled baked banana cake. Hmmm… What an interesting and contrasting combos! When they both ate the kueh siput, they said it tasted like cheese crisps, BUT there was no cheese! They kept popping the “snail” in their mouths.  Yup… Very addictive nibbles, indeed. 

When I told my sons that there was no cheese, but fermented tofu, they couldn’t be bothered but kept taking one nibble after another. The “snails” were slowly diminishing. The only way to recuperate the volume was to make some more!! And I did exactly that, the following day …

Oh by the way, I used a pizza crisper tray and a baguette baking tray to bake the snails. They crisped perfectly.

To be honest, I loved my Mum’s deep fried kueh siput, but I’m glad I have found a healthier and ridiculously hassle-free alternative of indulgence 😉

I’m linking this post to #CookBlogShare Week 19, hosted by Kirsty of Hijacked By Twins


Happy new week!

Cheers!

The weather has been amazing the past week. Mother’s Day was exceptionally SUN-TASTE-TIC! Perfect for any al fresco get-together. And that’s exactly what we did last Sunday at the restaurant. We opted to sit on the terrace, with parasols just to cover our heads from the scorching afternoon sun

The dishes we ordered were refreshingly light using fresh seasonal vegetables. We noticed a common ingredient on every plate. Asparagus!!

Hubby looked at me and I, him. Immediately, I read his mind… Okay, okay, we have not had asperges op vlaamse wijze or asperges à la flamande or (white) asparagus cooked the Flemish way in a LONG time. He’s actually right. The last time I made this dish was in 2012! Boy that was eons ago. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!

A Healthier Version

White asparagus is hugely popular in continental northwestern Europe ie BE, NL, FR, DE, AT, CH, TR, IT, ES and PL. It is a spring vegetable, hence is freshest from late April to June. Hubby was persistent to have the dish again and he actually bought a bunch of super fresh 1kg-pack of the herbaceous, perennial plant. Did I have a choice? Erm… Don’t think so… Duh!

By the way, I have posted a recipe of this dish on this post, Asperges op Vlaamse wijze following the recipe of one of my favourite Belgian TV chefs, Jeroen Meus. To be honest, I like the dish, BUT the amount of butter used in the recipe scares me LOTS! The original recipe for 4 pax calls for minimum 300 g farm butter and 6 hard-boiled eggs. In this recipe, I have reduced the butter to 120g with 4 hard-boiled eggs. A fairly huge reduction, but we all loved the end result. I have also tweaked Jeroen’s method slightly.

Here’s the out-turn…

How I did it …

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 kg white asparagus (ca 21 to 22 spears)
  • 120 g unsalted farm butter
  • 4 free-range eggs, hard-boiled 
  • Fleur de sel, to taste
  • Freshly milled black pepper
  • A bunch of parsley 
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste 

Cooking asparagus is not difficult. The trick is to place the peeled asparagus (check out my recipe here on how to peel the asparagus correctly) in a large pot of cold water with a pinch of sea salt. It is important to use enough water to immerse and cover the asparagus completely. Heat the pot over medium heat and bring the water to a boil. Let the water simmer or bubble for a moment and immediately remove the pot from the heat. Allow the asparagus to rest for a few minutes in the warm water, depending on the quantity and size of the asparagus. I accounted for 10 minutes for 22 asparagus spears. Do the taste test to check for doneness. It should be crisp tender, cooked but not overly cooked. Remove the asparagus from the water and drain them on a clean kitchen towel.

Meanwhile, boil 4 eggs. Once boiled, immediately transfer the eggs to cold water. Peel the eggs and mash them lightly. Do not purée the eggs. Then mix finely chopped parsely while adding salt and pepper to taste. Grate some nutmeg and mix the egg mixture gently. Set aside.


Add 120g farm (unsalted) butter in a pan and let it gently melt over low heat. This Flemish dish requires using only clarified butter, meaning the white milk residue from the melted butter must be removed. Keep the clarified butter on a very low heat.

To serve, place 4 to 5 warm asparagus on a plate, then scoop a chunk of the egg mixture across the centre of the cooked asparagus and then drizzle some clarified butter over the egg mixture. 

Ta-dah!


My Verdict?

The original recipe says to add the egg mixture into the clarified butter and mix gently. I omitted this step. Instead, I drizzled the clarified butter over the egg mixture separately. That way, less butter was used and consumed per portion and the egg mixture was not a mushy mass. We could still see the eggs and the freshly chopped parsley with a light drizzle of the clarified butter. Sorry, Jeroen, I prefer my new-found method, and will stick with it. Without a doubt, thanks for the inspiration you have given me by unlocking the Belgian kitchen and putting big smileys on the faces of my other half and 2 boys.

I’m linking this post to #CookBlogShare week 19, hosted by Kirsty of Hijacked By Twins


This post is also linked to Tea Time Treats for the month of May 2016, hosted by The Hedgecombers and Lavender and Lovage


And to Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Happy Mid-Week!

Cheers!

You know I could be a Hakka in a past life for the simple reason that I kinda drawn to Hakka‘s cuisine. Although my paternal grandmother was of Hakka origin, I have never tasted her cooking. Infact, I have never seen her in the kitchen at all. Erm… could it be that lost yearning that’s dwelling in me screaming to get out?

Hakka and not Haka

It has nothing to do with the traditional ancestral war cry, dance, or challenge from the Māori people or All Blacks rugby union team of New Zealand. Hakka, by the way, is one of the major groups of varieties of Chinese people who migrated from North to Central to Southern China. There’s no wonder Hakka is literally translated to mean “guest families” or “guest people”, due to their “normadic” origin. Interestingly enough, the Hakkas can be found in almost every nook and cranny of the globe. Try searching for Hakka dishes on YouTube and you will end up watching several channels of Hakka Noodles prepared by chefs from India, Suriname and several parts of Latin America, Africa and North America! 

Hakka people are said to be very thrifty and hard-working. One of my Mum’s sisters is married to a Hakka. I remembered seeing my Aunt giving my Mum bags full of bamboo shoots at several intervals until she became suspicious of her sister’s “gift”. My Aunt said, “blame it on my MIL!”. My Aunt’s MIL was the ‘culprit’ who singlehandedly harvested the bamboo shoots from her garden and she was in her 70’s then! A very humble, hardworking and generous Hakka woman, as I remembered her. I noticed my Aunt has embraced the Hakka-ish lifestyle from years of marrying into a Hakka family. She speaks Hakka fluently. She cooks Hakka dishes and we’re always looking forward to my Aunt’s festive invitation. The dishes she prepares are pragmatic, simple and above all, superbly generous and yummy. We’re often stuffed to the brim from her cooking. Thanks, Aunty 🙂

These are the few of my favourite…

Among the few of my favourite Hakka dishes are chai kueh (vegetable dumpling), the unique Lui Cha Fon (Hakka Pounded Tea Rice), the succulent rice wine chicken, the noteworthy suan pan ji (yam abacus beads) dish, the simple and tasty Hakka salted steamed or baked chicken and the most resourceful-and-waste-nothing dish called Ngiong Tew Foo or popularly called today in the Cantonese equivalent, Yong Tau Foo.


The story was told that Hakkas who migrated from Central China, tried to improvise making meat dumplings. Instead of using wheat flour pastry which was scarce in Southern China, the Hakkas invented meat dumplings using tofu! Today, Yong Tau Foo (stuffed tofu) can be ordered easily in most Chinese restaurants throughout the world.


Yong Tau Foo is eaten in numerous ways, either dry drizzled with black bean or fermented bean sauce or served as a soup dish, deep fried, shallow fried, steamed or braised. The tofu is stuffed with either ground meat mixture or fish paste. Variations include using various vegetables and proteins with the more common ones being aubergines, shiitake, okra, chillies and bitter gourd stuffed with the same meat or fish paste. 

Umamily Colourful 

My version of YTF is based on simplicity and reliving the flavours of a simple Hakka kitchen.  No expensive fish or prawn pastes, but minced meat ( I used the readily available ground veal) with some salted fish to enhance that umami flavour. For the broth, I used soy beans, anchovies, white peppercorns, ginger and garlic.

For the vegetables, I went for the colours. PURPLE aubergines, GREEN courgettes, BLACK shiitakes, RED sweet pointed peppers and WHITE tofu. Seriously, the choice is endless!

I was inspired to make this dish after watching Shiokoholics’ video on YouTube. The recipe she posted was adapted from Mr Rontree Chan, winner of SG50 Hong Kah North Masterchef Cooking Competition. 

Note: I wanted a soupy YTF and I wanted the broth to taste as authentically Hakka as possible. I’m glad Rontree Chan’s recipe summed up perfectly.

And by the way, I used Thermomix (TM5) to brew (slow-cook) the broth. If you don’t own a Thermomix, by all means use the slow cooker or a pressure cooker or a soup (crock) pot or a multi cooker. You will definitely get the same result; only the timing or duration of cooking may differ. 


Ingredients A

  • 10 g garlic
  • 30 g shallots

Ingredient B

  • 10 g cooking oil

Ingredients C

  

  • 75 g soy beans, rinsed
  • 20 g whole white peppercorns 
  • 30 g fresh ginger slices 
  • 40 g garlic cloves, skin on, bruised
  • 30 g anchovies 
  • Inner flesh of 1 courgette 

Ingredient D

  • 1,500 g water

Ingredient E

  • 250 g water

Ingredients F

  • 750 g minced veal
  • 1 small fried salted fish, deboned 
  • 1 Tbsp cornflour 
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • Dash of white pepper, to taste
  • Sesame oil, to taste
  • Light soy sauce, to taste
  • Mushroom oyster sauce, to taste
  • Scooped tofu from G

Ingredients G

  

  • 250 g block organic tofu, cut in 3 equal rectangular pieces. Scoop part of the tofu to create a cavity. Transfer scooped tofu to F
  • 2 red sweet pointed peppers, cut in rings, seeds removed 
  • 1 aubergine, cut on the bias
  • 4 shiitakes, soaked in hot water until plump. Remove stems
  • 1 courgette, cut in equal parts/ rings. Scoop the flesh in the centre and transfer to C

Ingredients H

  • 1 Tbsp mushroom oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3/4 Tbsp sesame oil
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste

How to prepare 

   

 

  1. Place A in TM bowl. Blend 5 sec/ sp 5.  Scrape the sides of the inner bowl.
  2. Add B. Sauté for 5 mins/ 120 C/ sp 2
  3. Place C in the simmering basket and attach it in the TM bowl. Add D. Slow cook for 45 mins/ 120 C/ sp 2
  4. Pour E in TM bowl. Stir C. Cook further for 10 mins/ 120 C/ sp 2 
  5. Meanwhile, combine F in a clean bowl
  6. Discard C and rinse the simmering basket 
  7. Stuff F in the cavities of G
  8. Pan-fry stuffed veg and tofu until golden brown
  9. Prior to serving, place stuffed G in the simmering basket. Add H and cook for 10 mins/ 120 C/ sp 2
  10. Done!

  

Et voilà!

My one-dish meal. Super scrumptious!

Honestly, I could have this everyday…


I’m linking this post to #CookBlogShare : May 3-9 hosted by Snap Happy Bakes

With the colourful array of vegetables in this dish, I’m also linking this post to Tea Time Treats Linky Party for May 2016, hosted by The Hedgecombers and Lavender and Lovage

Another beautiful woman once said, “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child“. ~ Sophia Loren ~

Thank you for thinking twice a zillion times for me. Happy Mother’s Day, Mum and to all mothers everywhere.

Blessed Sunday!

Cheers!

When Fortune knocks, open the door, they say. 

But why should one make Fortune knock, by keeping the door shut?

~Idries Shah (Caravan of Dreams)

Now, my ‘fortune’ started at my SIL’s place when she hosted the yearly family reunion celebrating the New Year. I happened to grab one of the mags lying on a magazine rack. I flipped through the pages quickly as lunch was about to be served. There was this page that bewitched me. It was in Dutch. I stopped a little longer and then I took my iPhone and took a snapshot of the pages. They were 2 blurry pages. My SIL saw my action. 

Oh-oh… now what?” 

She said, “Stop! I can do better. I will print the pages for you” 

Phew! That was a close one…

So yes, my SIL printed the pages for me and in colour prints on A4. What a relief I did not have to squint my eyes reading the small prints on my iPhone. 

Curious to know what my SIL printed for me?

Well, my fortune cookies, of course!

What did my Fortune tell me?

Go make more fortunes! Ha ha ha…

Seriously? Well, I’ve been wanting to make the cookies for a long time. 

Origin

The exact origin of fortune cookies is rather vague. There are 3 claimants who claimed they invented or founded the cookie, however, to this day, the debate on the real founder is still on-going. Contrary to popular belief, the cookies were not invented in China (as rumoured). It’s an American thing, created by Asian immigrants in either the LA or SF areas, migrated from Hong Kong or Japan, depending on which crystal ball you want to believe in. LOL!

Whatever or wherever the origin came from, I see it as part of an entertainment, an ice-breaker or simply, a gift! (Hint: Mother’s Day is up next … ;-))

When I left my previous job more than a decade ago, I distributed about 50 store-bought fortune cookies much to the curiosity and delight of my former colleagues. It was something to remember by and a great way to stay engaged even if it was my last day. Cool!

Oh by the way, I met up with some of my ex-colleagues recently, one of whom I have not met since I left  “Coy P” in 2003! It was good meeting and catching up with them ~ a very international reunion with 6 different nationalities out of 8 that Friday evening!

We went to a Thai restaurant, so no, there were no fortune cookies 🙂

Now I get my fortune cookie when I am at a Chinese restaurant. You can tell the fortune cookies are mass-produced. Identical in size, shape, texture and taste. You will also notice that the pastry is pretty thick, like so …

   
 
 

With the recipe my SIL printed out for me, I wanted to surprise myself that I, too, can make these cookies in the comfort of my own kitchen. By the way, it looked damn easy on paper ~ but oh dear ~ the actual execution was near to disaster. The recipe yields 10, ten-centimeter diameter cookies. I wanted 6 cookies which I wanted to bring to a small gathering the next day. Did I manage to get 6 fortune cookies? We’ll see…

Ingredients (with some modifications)

(Makes 10 fortune cookies)

  • 36 g egg white (room temperature)
  • 30 g superfine sugar 
  • Pinch sea salt (ground in pestle and mortar)
  • Zest of 1 lime 
  • 55 g APF
  • 28.35 g melted butter

Decoration (optional – my own addition )

  • Poppy seeds
  • White sesame seeds

Method 

  

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 deg C (Note: Different ovens work differently. Frankly, this was more a trial-and-error. Cfr my verdict at the end of this post)
  2. Whisk the egg white until frothy
  3. Add sugar and whisk until smooth and glossy
  4. Add salt and lime zest. Whisk to combine
  5. Add flour. Whisk until the batter is smooth and lump-free
  6. Add melted butter and whisk for the last time
  7. Draw three 10 cm circles on a parchment or baking paper. Make sure to turn the paper pencil side down with the circles still visible on the reverse side
  8. Scoop about 3/4 Tbsp of the batter and spread it to follow the pattern of the circle on the baking sheet. Make sure to even out the thickness of the batter with the back of a spoon or a flat butter knife or even a fish knife
  9. Do not rush to bake the cookies. Make 3 at a time. Trust me, that’s plenty to keep you busy! Bake the cookies for 6 to 8 minutes. Seriously, the baking time depends on the type of oven you own. (Note, you need to work very fast as the cookie will crisp up and become brittle in no time at all)
  10. Insert a fortune in a cookie and ply the cookie in half immediately. Hold the cookie at both ends and gently curve the centre of the long straight side of the cookie on the edge of a cup or glass and transfer it to a muffin tin to hold the shape until it cools.
  11. Repeat the process until the batter is used up completely
  12. If the cookie is not crispy or under-cooked, crisp it up by baking in a low heat oven for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are satisfied with the texture. 

   
   

My verdict : I made 10 cookies, but I managed to salvage 6 – yes, on target !! I must confess, though, that the execution was not as easy as it sounded or looked on paper! The first 3 cookies that went in the oven first were a complete disaster – not the taste – but the cookies were not pliable at all. They crisped up and turned out to be crunchy as they were, round thin cookies! BUT, they were delicious! I was so happy I added lime zest  and sprinkled some poppy seeds and white sesame seeds. My younger son, was waiting nearby like a mindless eating machine, preying for the failed cookies. Mine! Mine! Mine! And failed, I did – 4 out of 10 times! To be honest, the failure stats would have been higher. To overcome subsequent  failures, I purposely under-baked the cookies first, and then took them out of the oven and placed a fortune in the cookie and started plying and folding to form the shape of a fortune cookie. Once done, I re-baked them in the oven to crisp them up. The cookies were soft when they were still hot. Re-shaping the cookie was a must and then immediately nesting each cookie in a muffin cavity. I brought the 6 cookies for a birthday gathering the next day for lunch. I was quite disappointed that the cookie was not as crispy as I wanted it to be (btw, that’s the honest verdict from the cookie I ate that afternoon). I’m sure the other girls were too polite not to mention about some of the calamities…(?) I thought, the cookies could do with more re-baking time. After all, it was my maiden attempt in making fortune cookies and for such an “important” function *wink*. 

Happy Birthday to the Birthday Girls , and thanks “A” for hosting us and for the scrummy “mee sua”

Now, there’s someone else who’s waiting for these cookies …My SIL! I promised her that I would make these when it is our turn to host the family reunion, total 17 pax (including 4 kids)! And that’ll be this summer!!! Fingers crossed for success.


By the way, what did my fortune say? 

Lol! 

I’m linking this post to #CookBlogShare: May 3-9, hosted by Snap Happy Bakes

Happy Mid Week!

Cheers!

It was only quite recently that I found the perfect recipe for baby potatoes (‘Krielaardappelen” in Dutch), as far as the palates of my and my 3 guys are concerned. I will share the recipe in a later post, so stay tuned 😉

The fact that I had a 2kg bag of baby potatoes and a great recipe to boot for a perfect summer meal, I made sure the protein to complement the carbohydrate was right, too. I knew exactly what I wanted to cook for one of our Sunday lunches. On Saturday, I included on the shopping list, 5 pieces of Tournedos (nottornado“the destructive and violent rotating winds, please. LOL!), but small round pieces of lean cut of meat from the end portion of beef tenderloin. It is sometimes called, filet mignon.

In my fridge were a stack of uncooked rashers of streaky pork belly bacon ready to be used to wrap the tournedos

Hubby went shopping, but – alas – he came home with something else, escalope de veau or kalfslapjes or veal cutlets/ filets! No tournedos! No filet mignon! Yikes! What to do next??!!

Plan B – A Challenge!

Okay, no tournedos or filet mignon. No worries! I eyeballed my kitchen cupboards and fridge to double and triple check what ingredients I had in order to come up with a decent meal, completely unplanned at the eleventh hour!

My brain was gear-wheeling for the right mix and match of the available ingredients. For Heaven’s sake, its Summer and my summer chord was harping this tune for me. And here, folks, was the result!

  
This was probably one of my most perfectly executed dishes, and I loved every single moment assembling this dish together *big smile*

Ingredients

  • 5 pieces escalope de veau or kalfslapes (Note an escalope is a piece of boneless meat, usually veal, that has been thinned out)
  • 20 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 10 green asparagus, par-boiled
  • Some cooking oil
  • Some water
  • Fleur de Sel and freshly milled black peppercorns, to taste

For the filling –

  • Some fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
  • Emmentaler Cheese, finely chopped (I used Emmentaler since that was the only cheese I had that day. You may want to use any of your favourite cheeses but not the strong types)
  • Freshly-milled black peppercorns

Kitchen “gadgets” 

  1.  A pan
  2. Electrical grill-teppanyaki-hot plate 
  3. Some Toothpicks

How to assemble

  
  

  1. Prepare the cheesy-herby filling and scoop a tablespoon of the filling to each escalope.
  2. Roll the escalope tightly and neatly, making sure the filling remains intact
  3. Lay 4 rashers of bacon under each escalope and place 2 par-cooked green asparagus on top of the rolled escalope
  4. Roll the bacon around the escalope and asparagus neatly and tightly. Seal with some toothpicks. Do all 5.
  5. Place each bundle of bacon-wrapped escalope to a slightly greased electric grill-teppanyaki-hot plate to brown and sear the outer layer (Note, at this point, the meat is not fully cooked)
  6. To cook the escalope further, transfer the rolled meats to a pan, with a little cooking oil. Add some water and season to taste. (Note the “seasoned water” will transform into a nice gravy)
  7. Before serving, I transferred the bundle to the grill which enhanced the BBQ-flavour
  8. Serve the escalope with your favourite carbs and greens. 

  
  
Notes: The thinned out escalopes cooked really fast and retained quite a bit of moisture. Beware of the seasoning! Make sure not to exaggerate too much on strong herbs and spices when cooking veal steaks because veal has a very mild flavour. This unplanned dish turned out to be a keeper!  It had very interesting flavours – the mild escalope sandwiched between the smokiness and saltiness from the bacon and a light herby flavour of the rosemary and creamy Emmentaler as you cut through the piece. Mmmmm…. Simply divine!

Oh by the way, I would like to thank Jasline @Foodie Baker for nominating me with “The Versatile Blogger Award” which I’m proud to keep and share the badge on my blog 🙂

Do hop over at Jasline’s blog. She has an amazingly neat blog. Love her step by step instructions and her photography skills. Well done, Jasline! 
 

I’m linking this post over at  Cooking with Herbs for July: BBQ with Rosemary and Thyme, hosted by Karen of Lavender & Lovage

  
 

This post is also linked to Tea Time Treats with the July’s theme “BBQ Fodder’ hosted by Janie of The Hedgecombers 

 

I’m also linking this post over at #CookBlogShare, hosted for the last time by Lucy at  Supergolden Bakes

 

  
Have a fantastic weekend!

Cheers!

 

I must confess that I was a hopeless, pathetic cook when I moved to Belgium permanently in 1995. I was a nervous wreck in the kitchen not knowing how to start…. until I watched Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook which was aired on BBC1 on weekday mornings. To be honest, I could relate myself to one of the categories of “useless” cooks, “Can’t Cook!” *blush*

One of my utterly useless kitchen disasters was baking a swiss roll cake for the first time that turned out leather-hard and completely un-rollable. It was meant to be a surprise for hubby’s birthday, but alas, hubby didn’t get to see a rolled cake because it went in the dustbin! And then I wanted to slow cook a pigeon which I got from my late MIL. The pigeon was freshly hunted when I first got it, but I froze the bird when I got home. Well, that’s OK because I was not in a hurry to make a meal out of the bird then. When I finally wanted a bird meal, I took the pigeon out from the freezer and dumped it in the slow cooker and filled the cooker with water that literally drowned the bird! No matter how long I cooked the bird, it remained hard rock frozen! So in went the bird in the bin!

There was no such thing as internet then. Or maybe there was, but I did not own a PC, and smartphones were unheard of then. Luckily, there were several “ancient” ways to refer to recipes, id est, recipe books, magazines, my prized helpline – Mummy dearest – and of course the multitude of cookery channels on the telly!

Being a newbie in a non-English speaking country, BBC was a big relief for me, because (1) BBC1 had loads of back-to-back cookery programs and (2) the programs were in English!! Yay!!

Ready, Steady, Cook!

Strange, but true, I first saw James Martin, one of the Chefs on Ready Steady Cook, prepared this ancient Chinese technique of smoking chicken in a wok in 20 minutes! He used only 3 ingredients – uncooked rice, sugar and tea – as the smoking mix.

>>> Fast forward 

Thanks to RSC, I have done several tea-smokings in my kitchen, in the meantime, and have experimented with different spices, herbs and proteins : tea-smoked salmon, duck, chicken and turkey.   

Here’s one I made recently, tea-smoked chicken thighs with Asian ingredients.

  You need –

  • 1 kg chicken thighs/ cutlets, skinned
  • 3 Stalks Spring Onions
  • Root Ginger, sliced (skin on)
  • 1/2 cup Hua Diao Rice Wine
  • Mushroom Soy Sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • Sesame oil

Marinate the chicken overnight in a ziplock bag.  

For glazing – 

  • Water
  • Honey

 

The next day, boil 500 ml water in an electric kettle. Remove the marinated chicken on a plate. Add the marinade in a pan and pour in boiling water. Cook the gravy until simmering hot. Add the chicken pieces in the pan. Boil the broth with the chicken until bubbling hot. Season to taste. Total cooking time should be at least 30 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces and transfer them to a colander to release any excess liquid. 

Glaze the chicken pieces with the honey water. 

Next prepare the tea-smoked ingredients –

  • 1/2 cup uncooked fragrant rice 
  • 1/4 cup mixture of light brown and palm sugars (or the less expensive white sugar works well, too)
  • 6 sachets of Jasmine tea with petals (as a matter of fact, any type of loose tea leaves will do)
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns 
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 4 dried chillies
  • Rind of 1 lemon
  • Heavy-duty aluminium foil 

  

Toss and mix the ingredients on a heavy-duty aluminium foil.

 

Add rinds of one lemon and place the aluminium foil in a wok. A wire rack is suspended above the tea-smoked mix.  

Heat the wok on medium to high heat, covered, until a few wisps of smoke escape from the lid. Then transfer the honey-glazed chicken pieces on the wire rack.   

Keep smoking the chicken for 45 minutes to 1 hour  (Note: I have an induction stove-top, hence  the longer smoking time

Ta-da! 

 Serve the tea-smoked chicken with home-made pickled red onion and some salad leaves. Yums!

   

My 100% home-made summer platter of tea-smoked chicken with pasta, pickled red onion, chunky guacamole and salad leaves

  
 

Verdict: As this is an indoor cooking (with an outdoor mindset), always pre-cook and season your proteins before smoking (or steaming) them. I found  marinating the meat overnight makes the meat more flavourful. The tea-smoking method is not a cooking method but is simply a technique to infuse the proteins to another level of imbued fragrance of smokiness.  It is important not to pre-smoke too long as the final result will be shamefully bitter, literally speaking. 

The selections of spices and herbs are just endless. For instance, Duck goes well with star anise, lemon and orange zests and five-spiced powder.  Salmon goes well with dhill, mixed peppercorns and lemon rind, Lamb with rosemary and thyme, and etcetera.  The sky is the limit and of course, most importantly, think out of the box and get out of your comfort zone and enjoy! And by the way, I’m learning all the time 😉

With “TEA” as the oddball and key ingredient in this recipe, I’m hopping over to the blog-hop event at Little Thumbs Up (July 2015 theme: TEA) organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Cheryl of Baking Taitai

   

I’m also sharing this post over at Cooking with Herbs for July: BBQ, hosted by Karen of Lavender & Lovage

With Summer in mind, this indoor smoking technique with an outdoor mindset, is perfect for the July Tea Time Treats with the theme “BBQ Fodder“, hosted by Janie of The Hedgecombers

    
It is with deep regret to have learnt that this is the last time Lucy at Supergolden Bakes will be hosting one of the coolest and most flexible blog-hop challenges. I wish her all the best and success in her new job. Congratulations, Lucy. I have enjoyed reading her blog and have drooled over her most amazing bakes! Without much ado, I’m linking this post at  #CookBlogShare