Archive for the ‘Weekend Cooking’ Category

At the of age of 17, he wrote his first Science book, “Schitterend!” (Brilliant!) about the Universe and the theory of Evolution. He was 18 and the youngest nominee for the Eureka. At age 21, he published his second book, “Fantastisch!” (Fantastic!) on Evolution and Neuroscience. Fantastic! was also nominated for the Eureka. By age 25, he became the author of 3 Science Books and had invented a new food model for his patients to slow down ageing and reduce the risk of ageing-related diseases. This achievement won him the title of ‘Person of the year‘ in his home country, Belgium.

 

Dr Kris Verburgh is the author of one of the most controversial books, “De Voedselzandloper” (The Food Hourglass), which is available in 9 languages.





As you can see on the coverpage of the book, the 2 triangles interlocking at the pointed tips are quick summaries of 2 pyramids (“hourglass”).  One pointing up with its hierarchical strata of foods which we should consume more of and the top half tapering downwards indicating foods we should eat less of. Not many University Professors are in agreement with Dr Verburgh’s theory. As a result, he had to resign from the University he graduated with magna cum laude.

 

I did not buy Dr Kris Verburgh’s “Science” book, but I bought “De Voedselzandloperkookboek” (The Hourglass Cookbook), authored by Pauline Weuring based on the young doctor’s scientific theory of nutrition in slowing down the signs of ageing through what we eat, and losing weight in the process.




 

By the way, there is a catch. According to Dr Verburgh, he says, diets do not work and what does is educating oneself about what to eat with knowledge that is readily available. What we eat determines how fast we age. Basically, discovering thefountain of youth‘ is to avoid the typical diseases of ageing, which is anything from loss of eyesight to heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer or osteoporosis. 

 

Quotes from Kris Verburgh, MD

 

If you want to have the health benefits of healthy food, you have to do it your whole life. Not just for a period of time, but always

 

We can add more than 10 years to our lives if we know what foods to eat and which ones to avoid. That would keep us healthy well into our eighties

 

Ageing is a very complex process. We know that the rate of ageing is influenced by our genes and our environment and more specifically by how and what we eat. Powerful interventions that slow down the ageing process will come to see light in the coming decades. For now, the most potent tool at our disposal to impact the rate of ageing is our diet“.

 

Cakes and sweets should be replaced by dark chocolate and nuts

 

The Food Hourglass will show you how to immediately identify what is healthy and unhealthy food, and how to replace unhealthy foods with alternatives“.

 

 

Fountain of Youth

 

When I flipped through the pages of The Hourglass Cookbook, I saw a cake recipe!!! What’s a cake doing there? I exclaimed!

 

But then I realised it’s not an ordinary cake. It’s a cake recipe based on Dr Verburgh’s “fountain of youth” theory. Very interesting indeed.  No sugar. No flour. No butter. No milk.  Erm…how to make a cake without all the basic essentials?  Well, of course, the young doctor has the answer and the result? 

 

This! 



 

I made this healthy Banana Bread or Cake and was surprised at how moist and delicious the cake remained on the day of baking and subsequently. Anyway, the cake was gone in less than 48 hours! It was really light. I have made the cake twice already and was very pleased with the result both times.



 

Due to copyright, I am not listing the measurements of the cake. If you really want the recipe, leave your comment with a valid email address and I will get back to you personally or for readers who know me, please pm me😉


The ingredients used in the recipe are as following –

  • Bananas
  • Dates
  • Eggs
  • Almond meal or flour *
  • Baking soda
  • A pinch of Salt

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven
  2. Combine the mashed bananas and dates in a bowl
  3. Beat the eggs with salt until light and fluffy 
  4. Fold in the almond meal or flour and baking soda
  5. Grease the cake tin with some baking spray
  6. Pour in the batter and bake in the pre-heated oven
  7. The banana bread is cooked when a toothpick pricked in the middle of the cake comes out clean
  8. Cool the cake on a cooling rack before cutting

*Almond meal or flour is a result of ground almond nuts (with or without skins respectively) which is the healthier option to a normal cake flour



 

Note: For more variations, you may want to add pure chocolate chips or chopped pecan nuts

 

Obviously the sweet taste from the cake came from the bananas and dates.  Very natural and healthy options, indeed. 







 

Oh by the way, I think I’m feeling young already.  Yay! Ha ha…!

 

According to Wikipedia, a popular Flemish TV chef said his diabetes is stabilized due to the Food Hourglass theory and he claims to have lost almost 8 kg (17 pounds) as a result.

 

Honestly, I am fascinated by the theory, but I have some issues. I do love a good steak with fries, an oven-baked pizza, a bowl of spagbol with lots of grated mozzarella, cupcakes/ muffins, cakes (chiffon, pound, Sarawak kek lapis), and the “bad” list goes on….

 

Oops! There goes my fountain of youth! LOL!

 

BUT… I will not stop baking this light and gorgeous Banana Bread.

 

I’m linking this post to the Little Thumbs Up (March 2015 – BANANA) event organised by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids)and Mui (my little favourite DIY) and hosted by Faeez of BitterSweetSpicy.

 



 

Homemade Mondays week 123 hosted by Sarah of Frugal by Choice, Cheap by NecessityAubrey of Homegrown & Healthy and Kelly from The Sustainable Couple 

Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking



Cook-Your-Books #21 @ Kitchen Flavours 



Tasty Tuesdays with HonestMum



Have a great week!

Cheers!

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Christmas and the New Year celebrations have just passed us by. We have been pampered with a bit too much eating, from appetizers to starters to soups to main courses to desserts. Munching, chomping, slurping, burping… OMG!

I’m glad it’s over for now, albeit temporarily. My stomach needed a bit of rest after the eating marathon, so I decided to make something really clean and simple and yet very attractive and tasty. It’s everyone’s favourite – at least in my family – the delectable sushi, or rather, Makizushi or nori rolls.

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DIY Sushi Meal Kit

I have made sushi before when I was still in Kuching many moons ago. We made it from scratch, my sisters and I. Homemade sushi are definitely a notch higher than the store-bought ones or even the restaurants’ because we have control over what goes in the cylindrical gems. More often than not, the sushi rice served in restaurants are way too sweet, which I am not a fan of.

Both my sons are fans of Sushi of any type. I have made Inarizushi (sushi stuffed into fried tofu skin or aburaage). That became a hit with my guys.

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Once in a while during impromptu outings with my younger son, we would always end up in a Japanese resto ordering a sushi set lunch. My son, who is not a big eater could down these sushi in record time. But that also meant burning a hole in my pocket, hence the urge to home make the sushi rolls 😉

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Just before Christmas last year, I was at Stonemanor, a British store located at Everberg, Belgium.

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While filling my trolley with Christmas goodies, I was thrilled to see a Sushi Meal Kit on the Asian shelves, I grabbed 2 kits.

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Both kits included the following items –

• A Bamboo Rolling Mat (makisu)
• 4 Sushi Nori Sheets
• Sushi Rice (2 “Uncle Ben’s” type bags)
• Sushi Vinegar
• Japanese Soy Sauce
• Wasabi Paste
• Chopsticks (4 pairs in the red kit and 2 pairs in the yellow kit)
• Sushi Ginger or gari (not included in the yellow box)
• Sushi Recipe/ Instruction Leaflet

Per kit makes 4 large Makizushi, a main course for 2 or a starter for 4. Since there are 4 of us and I have planned to serve the sushi rolls as a main dish, hence I bought 2 kits. And by the way, I had actually planned to make those sushi rolls during the weekend of Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year. Since CNY 2015 falls on 19th Feb, which is a Thursday, it will be difficult for me because it’s a workday. Honestly speaking , the 2 kits were too enticing for me to wait that long, I decided to ceremonially open both kits on the same day for our first weekend lunch anno 2015 🙂

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Instructions (per kit)

1. Put the 2 rice bags into a medium-sized saucepan and add enough water to cover the rice bags, soaking evenly.

2. Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for 11 – 12 minutes with the lid on.

3. Turn off the heat and drain the water using a sieve; put the rice in the sieve back into the saucepan and leave to stand for 25 – 30 minutes with the lid on. Do not open the lid!

4. Remove the rice from the bags and transfer the hot rice into a large bowl. Fold Sushi Vinegar into the rice. Wait until the hot rice cools down to a warm temperature before rolling the Sushi.

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Fillings

While the rice is cooking, prepare the fillings. At this point, just let your imagination run wild with you. I have actually used leftover vegetables from my fridge (yellow, orange and green paprikas, cucumber, carrot, spring onions and chives). Then again, the list is endless. You may want to go vegetarian or vegan or add slices of chicken or Peking duck meat. The sky’s the limit! I made a vegetarian version, with mock crab sticks and omelette with chives as protein.

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To Roll …

1. Place a sheet of nori onto the makisu (bamboo rolling mat). Spread the cooked rice as evenly as possible over the nori making sure to keep a thin layer of rice and leave a 1 cm gap free from rice at top and bottom as you will need this to seal the roll.

2. Before placing the strips of vegetables, surimi/ omelette on the rice, brush some wasabi paste or mayonnaise on the rice, from one end to the other, horizontally. Do not put too much filling in otherwise it will be difficult to roll.

3. Begin rolling the nori carefully and evenly around the filling, using the mat to help shape the Makizushi, rolling away from you and pressing firmly. Pull the bamboo mat away from you, and make sure to keep rolling the nori around itself.

4. Once the roll is complete, press down firmly on the mat helping to compress the roll slightly so that it keeps its shape.

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To Cut …

1. Remove the rolled sushi from the rolling mat and place onto a dry chopping board.

2. Using a very sharp knife, cut the roll in half. Then cut the 2 halves into 4 even lengths, making 8 Makizushi. Wash the knife occasionally between cutting each Sushi roll to prevent the rice from sticking to it and to ensure a cleaner cut.

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I served my Makizushi on a tray with some gari (sushi ginger) and wasabi paste. As far as the presentation is concerned, there’s still room for improvement, however, since that was the first time I have attempted making the Makizushi on my own, I thought that was not too bad at all 😉

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Without a doubt it was a mouth-watering lunch and what was even better was it was wholesome, healthy and à volonté.

No wasabi paste? No worries.

Not many people will go gaga on this green-colured paste. Wasabi is Japanese horseradish and its stem is used as a condiment and has an extremely strong flavor. Its hotness is not akin to that of a chilli but more so of hot mustard. The heat from the wasabi paste produces vapours that stimulates the nasal passages more than the tongue. And sometimes it even goes up to the head. Ha ha..

I found a good substitute for the wasabi paste. It’s also green in colour. It’s a cousin of the Tabasco sauce, the Tangy Green Jalapeño hot and zesty sauce from Heinz. I always have this bottle in my fridge. It goes very well with pizzas, salads, soups… It’s just so zingy and funky! Love it!

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The Day After

There were 2 sushi rolls left after the day before’s à volonté lunch. I used those as starter for our Sunday lunch. There were no gari and wasabi paste left, hence I made a simple and quick pickled cucumber with dhill. It went so well with the sushi rolls. It was super refreshing and scrummy. Yums!

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I’m sharing this post to the following blog-hop Cooking Challenges, my first linkup in 2015 😀

The Great Britsh Store Cupboard: Cooking with Herbs Challenge – January 2015

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“My Treasured Recipes #5 – Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan/Feb 2015)” hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

Tasty Tuesdays by HonestMum

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January 2015 Family Foodies hosted by Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash

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January 2015 Vegetable Palette hosted by A2K – A Seasonal Veg Table

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Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking

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Extra Veg with Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle at Utterly Scrummy

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Have a Healthy and Happy year!

Cheers

Every one receives a blank 365-page book each New Year. We are being “tested” for each single day. What and how we fill each page-day is totally up to us. Has it been a good day, bad and horrid day, memorable and magical? Sometimes people forget how much 365 days actually brings to their lives.

Reflections … 2014

My last 365 days had its ups and downs, but not akin to a roller coaster mode. Each leaf of the 365-day page had been mostly stable, but inspiring and illuminating at the same time. I’m blessed with being re-connected and rekindled with my family every single day via whatsApp. We exchanged silly and funny notes, awe-inspiring messages, sad and happy news, photos and videos. One video that puts a lump in my throat was the one, one of my sisters forwarded of little Shirley Temple (may she R.I.P) singing 2 Japanese songs, one of which brought sweet memories of my late Dad. Shirley Temple was his idol, a role model to every child in those days. Of all people, it was via Shirley Temple that my late Dad taught us “Kutsu ga Naru“.

My family is my pillar of strength and support. They will remain forever in my life.

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And by the way, I have made new friends via the blogosphere, whom I have not even met in real life. I have enjoyed reading their blogs, but darn, I couldn’t leave a single comment on their blogs since I started using my tiny iPhone I received as a gift from hubs in early 2014. Our PC is frustratingly cum annoyingly unmanageable with its snail speed. Arghhh…! I have a laptop but it’s a company’s laptop and personal things are out of bounds. I noticed leaving comments from WordPress to Blogger is almost impossible via my iPhone. I want my blogger friends to know and understand why I have not left a comment of appreciation and enthusiasm on their blogs. I’m truly sorry. I wish it’s technically possible, or more so, I wish I’m tech-savvy.

Although I wish I could publish a post more frequently, some pages – in fact, many – in my Year Book, did not allow me to. That’s the downside part. I wish there’re more than 24 hours in a day, but that’s not meant to be. I had to balance work-life with equilibrium, but more often than not, the scales tipped.

On a different note, I have improved my cooking and baking (yes!) skills by leaps and bounds – at least I thought so, or want to think so 😉

I’ve mastered the art of cooking cakes in my traditional single-button Rice Cooker. By the way, my grand old lady is nearing 20 years old *wink*

I have challenged myself by participating in the many themed cooking challenges hosted by fellow bloggers around the globe. I have nothing to lose; instead I have gained friendship and confidence in my cooking.

Here are some of my sweet and savoury cooks and bakes I have shared in my blog the past 365 days.

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I have become more mindful when presenting my dishes on the plate, as we often “eat with our eyes” 🙂

These Christmas and holiday meals for examples.

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Sweet Rosy Surprise

By far the sweetest surprise of the year 2014 for me was getting reconnected with my Big Blue Marble friend. Yay!

Big Blue Marble was a half-hour children’s TV series. The name of the show referred to the appearance of Earth as a giant marble. In Malaysia we got to watch the reruns and as a pre-teen to my early teen years, that was my favourite TV series.

The best part about Big Blue Marble was the pen pal club. I wrote to BBM for a pen pal they matched me with, with whom I have been in contact for more than a decade, but sadly, we lost touch for more than two decades! It was the time when there were no such things as emails, whatsApp, Skype, or Internet! My pen pal lived thousands of miles away in a different continent and that meant putting my thoughts and stories on paper with a pen and folding the precious letter and tucked it in an envelope. And then my late Dad would drive me to the post office… and then the long waiting time. I was the happiest girl when I received my letter from the postman with the postmark “Sunnyvale, CA.” 😀

I’m glad I found my pen pal via my brother on Facebook this Summer 🙂

Words alone are not enough to express how happy I am to have found you!

Rose, definitely thumbs UP to our lost AND found friendship. I hope you had a fantastic birthday yesterday, and I wish you many happy and healthy birthdays to come! Hugs xxx

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Oh by the way, who could not forget the theme song with a strong message within.

The earth’s a big blue marble when you see it from out there . . .
Closer, getting closer..
Perspectives start to change.
Things look a little strange, as we get closer.
Closer, growing closer
No need to be afraid
Our troubles start to fade, as we get closer.
Together is a word we must learn to understand, if we ever want to get to know each other better.
Together is a word that holds tomorrow in it’s hand,
Tomorrow’s just another day to get together, and…

Get closer, closer, closer…

Isn’t that a great message? It was then and it still is! It’s simply timeless!

Precious and Treasured and for Keeps

They are like rare stones in my treasure box. They make me go bonkers and gaga one day; they shine bright like diamonds and melt my heart the next. Sometimes I felt like chucking them out of the window but they are too precious. Yep, they are my precious “Gollums”. Lol!

My Year book with these two had been very challenging and inspiring. They are no longer little tots but young teens with curious grey matter. They are my BFF *big smile*

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A Silent Moment

I would like to take a moment of silence here.

SILENCE

Complete Silence….

April 16th …R.I.P bro Ong

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2014 is the annus horribilis in the history of Aviation with Malaysia being hardest hit

March 8th => MH370 … 239 missing
July 17th => MH17 … 298 killed on board
December 27th => QZ8501 … 162 fatalities

And to all who have lost a loved one, may God give you the comfort and peace that you seek and may the soul of your loved one rest in peace.

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Let us all close our eyes, say a warm goodbye to the past 365 days. This year has come to an end and it will take away all the pain and mistakes. Thank God for everything that He has given us and ask for forgiveness for all our mistakes. Now a brand new beginning awaits us. Tomorrow is the first blank page of our 365-page book. Let’s use it wisely 😉

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.” ― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

May you have a great year and a wonderful and magical time ahead!

Happy New Year!

God bless
xxx

This is an extraordinary special dish and a special dish does not come by everyday. I made this dish on Sunday although it should have been served today, 9th December.

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Too Good To Be Forgotten 

It was 18 years ago today when this special tot became plus one mortal to earth’s population, however, I can tell you that this homo sapiens was not ready to come out into this world that soon. It was comfortably curling itself in its own world, called the ‘water bag’.

Was it going to be 1st Dec? 3rd Dec? 6th? 10th? 15th? I hadn’t the clue because it was all new to me. No contractions. No pain. Nothing. I could dribble a ball and do a slam dunk. No problem at all. And yet my OB/GYN confirmed full term and scheduled the planned date for delivery on 1st Dec. 

Hubby was anxious, or rather, nervous, because I showed no signs of labour. Then what?

Going back to my OB/GYN, she said, “Check in early on 9th Dec. The baby should be out.” Hubby checked me in at 8 am on 9th Dec… but the baby did NOT want to come out. The ‘gateway’ was too narrow and it was curling and snuggling comfortably really high up. And then a nurse came and I felt a sharp and piercing pain. She did something to open the ‘gateway’. I was in agony. It went on for hours on end. I was the loudest (literally speaking) patient on that floor, because the pain was just unbearable. I felt like I was dying. I was completely exhausted and worn-out. Poor hubby was nervy and on edge seeing me wailing in pain.

After a long and grueling 12 hours and 45 minutes on the ward, baby made the statistics – after an induced labour, ten hours of excruciating pain, one hour of epidural anaesthesia and the last one hour without – the little dude came at exactly 20:45CET! My firstborn 💙

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And that was the day when our lives changed completely. We were no longer two, but three and counting 😉 My second experience was an exact opposite. Baby could not wait to come out. You can read my experience here

A Birdy December 

Have you ever realised that the meat dish that is normally served on Christmas Day is usually a bird? Even the Christmas Carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas mentioned 7 different feathered friends. Oh by the way, if you had counted six, count again. It’s SEVEN – really!!

7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

You must be wondering, 5 Golden Rings? Well, the 5 gold rings were not actually gold rings but they refer to the five golden rings of the ring-necked pheasants!

It’s December, so a bird on a plate is the best gift ever for a birthday boy.

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Last year, we had Baked Quails with Bacon Rashers in White Grapes Sauce – A Christmas Eve Special. On the request of the birthday boy, I bought some quails on Sunday. Instead of baking them, I braised the little birds.

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This recipe is adapted from Cooking Channel’s Braised Quails with Wild Mushrooms. I tweaked the recipe and improvised according to taste and available ingredients. Instead of white wine, I used Bourbon Whiskey. I excluded the mushrooms altogether as my sons are not fans of wild mushrooms. My recipe as follows –

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INGREDIENTS 

  • 6 quails, cleaned 
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • Some butter 
  • Olive oil 
  • 250 g bacon, cut into slivers 
  • 2 small onions, chopped 
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour 
  • 2 caps Bourbon Whiskey (Jim Beam)
  • Water or stock broth 
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves 
  • 1 bay leaf 

DIRECTIONS 

1. Season the quails with salt, and pepper. Melt a knob of butter with a drop of olive oil in a casserole dish and brown the quails on all sides. As you can see, my casserole dish is quite small. The 5th and 6th birds were browned in a separate pan (I did not photograph).

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2. Remove the quails from the dish, and set aside. Add the bacon to the pan, brown it, and remove. Finally, fry the chopped onions until fragrant, adding a bit of olive oil, if needed.

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3. Stir the flour into the onions, and cook for one minute. It will get dry and lumpy at this stage. Deglaze the pan with a capful or two of the Bourbon Whiskey, stirring up the good bits at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the onions, bacon and quails to the casserole dish. Pour over the stock and bay leaf, cover, and simmer until the quails are just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Toss in fresh basil leaves.

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4. When the quails are done, remove them from the cooking liquid and keep them warm. Make a gravy from the cooked liquid. Season to taste.

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If only you were here to see my son finished this plate. He licked his platter clean – literally speaking – and if only bones were edible, too 😜

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With Christmas round the corner, I am bringing this platter to the following Christmas Cooking Challenges –

My Treasured Recipes #4 – Ho Ho Ho It’s Christmas (Dec 2014) hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 hosted by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids

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I am also sharing this pre- Christmas story to readers following
Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking

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Nine months of anxiety, ten hours in agony but pride and joy forever. 

Happy birthday, Niels! 🎁🎉🎂 

And happy mid-week all! 

 

Cheers!

6th December is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. In Flanders (Belgium) and the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas is called Sinterklaas. In Belgium, children up to 12 years of age receive their gifts in the morning of 6th December, while kids in the Netherlands get their gifts from the De Goede Sint (The Good Saint) the night before (5th December), on condition that they have been good all year. It is believed that The Good Saint keeps record of the good and naughty behaviours of the children.

Does he not sound familiar to us? 😉

Yup, you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why… but hey no… it’s not Santa Claus, but Sinterklaas came to town! 

By the way, the name Santa Claus is derived from the older Dutch name Sinte Klaas, because Saint Nicholas is the patron Saint of children.

Santa Claus is also known in both Belgium and the Netherlands, but he is known as Kerstman or Christmas man, ie not a Saint but just a good and jolly fat man who brings lots and lots of presents to kids all over the world on Christmas Day.

Here’s an animated version when Sinterklaas (the Saint) meets Santa Claus (the jolly fat man)

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Oh by the way, I have been good all year, too … because Sinterklaas visited us at work!

Yesterday morning, I received the following message in my inbox ….

Dear colleague,

Last night Saint Nicholas secretly visited our HUB. He has brought some candies for you because you have been good.

Enjoy!

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Here’s what I got from De Goede Sint 😊

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A must-have gift from Sinterklaas is a type of gingerbread biscuit, called Speculoos, or is it Speculaas? Lekker

So is it Speculoos or Speculaas?

According to Google translator, Speculaas is Dutch for Gingerbread. Incidentally, Speculoos is detected as a French word and is used by Wikipedia as the source word to define “Speculoos” in English. The definition of Speculoos by Wikepedia differs to the “arguments” between the Flemish-speaking Belgium and the Dutch from the Netherlands. 

 Speculoos or Speculaas – both terms are correct, but it’s the ingredients that went in the product that made the difference. The Dutch – as we all know with the history of the Spice Trade in Asia between the 15th and 17th centuries – battled a bloody conflict with Spain and England to gain control of the spice trade after the Portuguese. Erm…. who do you think won? Well, the winner is judged by the usage and consumption of spices in today’s kitchen, of course! 😉

I daresay the Dutch are more daring with their spices than the Belgians. The Dutch named their gingerbread, Speculaas, which includes the following spices: cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg and white pepper. On the other hand, the “shy-er” Belgians with their less daring palates can only take the cinnamon and a bit of ginger and caramalized sugar to form the crunchy biscuits they called, Speculoos. And there you have it, the difference between Speculoos and Speculaas

Stewed meat or stoofvlees is very popular or perhaps even the signature dish of Belgium. A classic Belgian meat stew is often cooked slowly over medium-low fire with a good glug of Belgian beer. I have cooked Flemish beef stew many times which I learnt from my late MIL. Over the years I have experimented cooking the dish by using different types of beer, which has got to be Belgian, of course😄 

Did you know that beers have colour? The colour is controlled by the malt that is used to brew it. Beer in Belgium varies from pale lager to lambic beer and Flemish red while generally beers are categorised as follows: White, blonde, amber, brown and black. The darker the colour, the bitter the taste. 

I have always used cubed beef stew meat, however, this time, I chose to use cubed Turkey meat by adding two very Belgian ingredients – speculoos and Maredsous 6 Blonde, an abbey beer. The number 6 represents the level of alcohol content, ie 6 %.

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Ingredients
(Adapted and improvised from a Colruyt recipe catalogue entitled Pork stew in Floreffe beer with my own method of preparation) 

• 1 kg pork stew (I used 2 kg cubed Turkey stew) 

• Onions, chopped (I used 4)
• Butter (to brown the meat) 

• Gingerbread cookies (I used 9 Speculoos cookies) 

• 1 Tbsp mustard (I used 2) 

• 1 Tbsp honey 

• 2 Tbsp flour or just enough to thicken the sauce 

• 33 cl Floreffe Blonde (I used 2 x 33cl Maredsous 6 Blonde) 

• 1 Tbsp vinegar (to taste) 

• Cloves (I used 6 cloves) 

• Thyme (I used a few sprigs of fresh thyme) 

• Bay leaf (I used 2) 

• Salt and pepper to taste

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Method (own)
1. Melt some butter to lightly brown the turkey meat. Sprinkle the flour and stir well.

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2. Add the chopped onions, cloves, mustard and honey.

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3. Crumble the Speculoos cookies. Stir well to combine the ingredients before pouring the beer along the edge of the stew. Throw in the fresh thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.

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4. Transfer the stew to the Slow Cooker. Switch the button to high for 1 hour and then to low for 2 hours. Thirty minutes before serving add the vinegar. You will know when the stew is ready when the sauce is no longer runny and the beer has completely evaporated and the sauce has slightly thickened. And the aroma! So Christmassy with the sweet smell of the spices whiffing passed my nostrils😜

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Note: To have even a richer tasting stew, let it cool before storing in the fridge until the next day. Heat the stew on auto for 45 minutes to 1 hour before serving. Add more vinegar if necessary.

Smakelijk!

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December may have 31 days, but to me, it’s the “shortest” month of the year due to the year end rush. And before we realised, it’s the New Year… Arghh!!!

Christmas is a time for giving and sharing. With Christmas in less than 3 weeks from now, I would like to share this recipe to the following Christmas themed blog-hop cooking challenges –

Janice Pattie’s Farmersgirl Kitchen’s December theme: Slow-Cooked Christmas

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Lavender and Lovage’s “Sugar & Spice (November and December Cooking with Herbs Challenge)”

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My Treasured Recipes #4 – Ho Ho Ho It’s Christmas (Dec 2014) hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 hosted by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids

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Bangers & Mash’s December’s Spice Trail Cooking with All-spice (WITHDRAWN. For more information, see N.B)

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Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking

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Cook-Your-Books #19 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours

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Happy St Nicholas’ Day! Hope you have been good😄 

Cheers! 

N.B. I would like to apologise to Vanesther of Bangers & Mash for incorrectly linking this post to her December’s Spice Trail – cooking with Allspice. I had mistaken allspice to mixed spice (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg). Allspice is a spice in its own right, completely different than mixed spice, which I must admit I did not use in this recipe. I have withdrawn my submission of this post to The Spice Trail Challenge for the month of December. Thanks, Vanesther, for pointing that out.

If you happened to be reading this post and were wondering, “Where’s the bread? That does not look like bread”, then you are on the right post 😉

1. Pao de Queijo_closed up_basket

Pão de Queijo is cheese bread in Portuguese!

At first I thought pão is bun, as is used in Hokkien (pao = bun), however, ‘boa’ is bun in Portuguese.

When I first discovered that pão de queijo is cheese-flavoured bread, the word queijo kept replaying in my head like an old, broken gramophone.

Okey doke, the penny dropped! I realised where I have heard the word queijo from. It’s a word that I came across when I was in school in Malaysia. In the Malay language, ‘keju’ is cheese.

Oh by the way, the Malay language has many loanwords, one of which is Portuguese, and one of which is queijo = keju = cheese.

A Truly Brazilian July

Honestly speaking, July 2014 had been a very sportive month, with many back-to-back international competitions, such as the Le Tour de France, Gand Slam (tennis) in Wimbledon on grass, XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and last but not least – and probably – the most prominent of all Tournaments was the 20th FIFA World Cup hosted by Brazil.

Although the host country did not win the World Cup this year, Brazil has won the hearts of millions of people with her much acclaimed cheesy bread.

Pão de Queijo had been flying around the net like nobody’s business this summer.

Ooh! Wow! Yum!

Yup, I exclaimed those words in that sequence – really, and, not wanting to be left gawking at the photos for nothing, I joined in the crowd.

The following proverb tells a lot about me. “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”Unknown

2. Pao de Queijo_closed up_basket3
Mine! Mine! Mine! (remember the seagulls in Finding Nemo?) LOL!

Addictively Cheesy!

Yes, Addictively Cheesy!

Pop one in your mouth and you will be popping in chain reaction. Ha ha ha..

Pão de Queijo is crunchy dough snack with a mild cheese flavour. These little gems are eaten throughout Brazil, at breakfast or as a snack. I think the secret behind this addictive delicacy is the crispy outer layer while the inside is almost hollow and chewy and moist.

3. Pao de Queijo_cheezy

Yum!

The essential ingredients used in making Pão de Queijo are very similar to making Popovers – eggs, milk, flour, oil or melted butter and salt. The only glaring differences are the use of cassava flour (or tapioca starch) and cheese(s), hence, living up to its name.

I noticed there are 2 ways of preparing these cheesy bread (1) the all-in –one method with the cold milk-oil-flour-salt-egg-cheese mixture pouring in the cavity of each muffin tin or pan or (2) the boiled milk-oil-salt mixture amalgamating in the flour followed by beaten eggs and cheese.

I have tried the first method first. Personally, I prefer the second method because it’s the authentic and traditional way of preparing Pão de Queijo.

Here’s one I made earlier using the first method, very similar to making popovers or Yorkshire puddings. Oops…not the best photography 😦

4. Pao de Queijo_cold process_r

In this post, however, I have based my recipe on a cool looking Cookbook, in the Dutch version, “BRASIL! Het Kookboek” (BRAZIL! The Cookbook) by David Ponte, Lizzy Barber and Jamie Barber. Note I have made some variations with my comments in blue italic.

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Ingredients –

  • 1.25 dl full cream milk
  • 50 ml Sunflower oil (I used Corn oil)
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • 250 gm cassava flour (or tapioca starch/ flour)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten (I used 2 small eggs)
  • 200 gm Parmesan or cheddar, grated (I used 100g grated Parmigiano Reggiano plus 150g Mozarella)

Method –

  • Pour 1.25 dl milk, Sunflower oil and salt in a large saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat once the mixture starts to rise and bubble. Add the flour and quickly stir the mixture vigorously until there is no trace of dry tapioca flour. Stir to form moist dough. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Let the dough cool slightly.
  • Add the eggs to the cooled dough and mix them through at low speed. Increase the speed after 1-2 minutes and blend the mixture on high speed until all the egg is incorporated and the dough is smooth. Add the grated Parmesan (Parmigiano reggiano and Mozarella) and continue mixing until the cheese is incorporated in the dough mixture. 6. Pao de Queijo_kneaded dough
  • Line a baking sheet or parchment paper. Moisten the palms of your hands with water or oil. Take a tablespoon of dough and roll into balls. Wash your hands in between before shaping the balls, because the dough is very sticky. (You can also use a small ice cream scoop. Dip the scoop into ice water and shake off excess water before shaping the balls). Place the balls 2.5 cm apart on the baking sheet.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. They should be crispy on the outside and a little gooey inside. Serve immediately.

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Depending on your oven and the size of the cheese balls, the result can go either way – too golden or too pale. Below the outcome of the baking times at 25 mins (top half) and 22 mins (below half).

8. Pao de Queijo_25 vs 22

I must admit that the ones baked for 25 minutes were crunchier with small pockets of air within the dough. They were less gooey than the ones baked for 22 minutes. The verdict? I loved both, because they’re Mine! Mine! Mine!   Ha ha ha…

9. Pao de Queijo_25 mins10. Pao de Queijo_22mins

11. Pao de Queijo_closed up_basket212. Pao de Queijo_jar2

I am sharing this recipe to the following blog-hop events –

Cook-Your-Books#16 hosted by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours

Cook Your Books

Bake Along with the theme “Popovers”, hosted by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids, Lena from Her Frozen Wings and Joyce from Kitchen Flavours

Bake Along

Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Weekend Cooking

 

 

Cheers!

Oh my! Have I been away THAT long?

I guess I have, looking at my last post dated 27th July! My blog must have gathered a film of dust. Lol!

Last month was an extraordinary special month as it coincided with my Mum’s and eldest sister’s visit. The last time my Mum was in Belgium was in 2010! Actually, that year we had wanted to head for Asia, but Mum came first 🙂

Again, our plan to visit Malaysia in 2012 was ‘shattered’ as we were moving house then. Lots of packing, un-packing, cleaning, decorating and what have you going on *sigh*. And the clock ticked … it has been 6 years since our last trip to Malaysia in 2008…. My sons have grown from inquisitive little imps to cool teenagers 😉 Their grandma could not even recognise them!

Instead of chanting the usual mantra of being bogged down busy, I’d rather look at my MIA in August different 😉

August has always been a good month – school break, less traffic on the roads, less rain than in July (typical Belgium weather, on the average)… and… Mumsie’s birthday falls in August!

Going Greek but not in Greece!

I am not sure how many times we have been there, but Zorba has been our favourite pick of restaurant reserved for very special occasions, for instance, Mum’s birthday!

Four years ago, Mum had a Belgian birthday but this year, we went Greek.

By the way, it was the first time for Mum eating in a Greek restaurant. I knew she would be over the moon with the renowned Greek appetizer or starter, Meze, as she loves her seafood – a lot!

1. Tzatziki_Mum's birthday_Zorba_r
The big smile on her face tells all 😀

It was at Zorba that I started to get hook on the white and refreshing dipping sauce. That was some 15 years ago! The sauce came with the huge Meze platter. I asked the waiter (he was Greek, of course) what it was and he said it was a typical Greek sauce, Tzatziki. He even told me the ingredients that went in the sauce!

There are many variations in preparing a good Tzatziki. I’ve prepared this dipping sauce many times already and have changed and modified the ingredients to our liking over the years.

Here’s my version of the Tzatziki I made recently.

2. Tzatziki_dip

 

Ingredients –

  • 1 medium cucumber, coarsely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic (or more if you like your Tzatziki more garlicky)
  • Strained yoghurt
  • Fresh dill, coarsely chopped
  • Some fresh mint for garnishing
  • Salt (I used coarse sea salt)
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (traditionally Greek olive oil is used)

3. Tzatziki_method
Method –

  1. Wash the cucumber and grate it coarsely (Note, I did not remove the skin or the seeds). Remove the excess water from the cucumber with a clean kitchen towel. Set aside.
  2. Traditionally, Greek yoghurt is used, but since I could not find it at the Supermarket near my place, I used a tub of plain yoghurt. You need to strain the yoghurt to remove the whey or excess liquid to get that thick and creamy result similar to Greek yoghurt or sour cream.
  3. Chop lots of fresh dill. You may want to use fresh mint or parsley or a combination of one or more herbs. We love our Tzatziki with lots of dill!
  4. Puree the garlic with some coarse sea salt. Salt acts as an abrasive as well as a food enhancer. Set aside.
  5. Either lemon juice or vinegar may be used, but the Greek waiter told me it’s optional as the yoghurt is quite tangy
  6. Assemble all the above ingredients in a clean bowl. Mix and combine.
  7. Drizzle with some olive oil and serve cold with grilled meats, gyros, tortilla wraps or as a dip. Garnish with some fresh mint and dill. Yum!

4. Tzatziki_with grilled meat5. Tzatziki_tortilla wrap_r6. Tzatziki_dip sauce

I’m linking this post to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking with Herbs challenge for the month of September. I’ve used lots of fresh dill and a touch of fresh mint in this recipe which I thought befits the theme, “Indian Summer & Mediterranean” very well. Enjoy!

Cooking with Herbs

I’m also sharing this post to Beth Fish Reads’ Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking

 

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Cheers!