Posts Tagged ‘#TeaTimeTreats’

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!