Monday, March 19, 2012

Chinese bake pork

This is a quick, simple and easy one-pot pork dish. Good for those who have no time to cook. I usually cook a lot, eat half and mince the rest to make Chinese steam bun stuffing which you can find in any Chinese dim sum menu. Or if it is pork belly, I will wrap it in pie pastry and bake. Et voila! another dim sum dish :)


  • 4  1-inch thick Pork chop (with some fat in between) / pork belly
  • 4 tomatoes chopped
  • 2 carrots wedged
  • 1 onion wedged
  • 1 head of garlic (bruised and skin-on)

  • For the sauce
    • 1 tbsp of salted soy bean (mashed)- Yeo's is a good brand which any Asian grocery carry
    • 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (optional)
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp pepper
    • 4 tbsp tomato ketchup
    • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp sesame oil

    1. In a bowl mix soy bean, salt, pepper, ketchup, light soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine. Set aside.
    2. Marinate your pork with the mixture above.
    3. Place your carrots at the bottom if your baking dish, then layer your pork on top of the carrots.
    4. Next, place onions and garlic on top of the pork.
    5. Sprinkle sesame oil all over the dish.
    6. Bake at 220C for an hour. It might appear to be watery at first but it would reduce. 
    7. Put on the grill 10 min before to grill the pork on all side. This will give it a good caramel colour as well as to reduce the sauce further.
    If you don't have ketchup at home, you can replace it with 2 tbsp of tomato paste, 1 tbsp of water and 1 tbsp of sugar.
    If you are using pork ribs, you might have to increase the sauce and baking time.

    This dish is best eat with plain rice and some fresh lettuce leaves for the extra crunch. My french family gave it a 3 thumbs up :)
    Hope you like it as much as we like it!   
    Bon Appétit  


    Friday, March 09, 2012

    The Maldives

    Today, let's "go" to Maldives.. I'm missing the 3 Ss as in Sun, sand and sky. Also 3 Ts as in Turquoise, tranquility and tequila for a frozen Margarita..

    Just 4 months ago The French Nyonya were running bare foot as free as the crane above in the Maldives. Yes!! I can understand how you feel when I say we were in the Maldives and we were not holidaying but living there for.... awhile. Jealous?? I can understand..

    I just love it whenever people asked about where we lived. Once the word Maldives left my lips..most people would give us the envy, disbelieve, oh-you-so-lucky kind of "look".

    Our front yard..

    I don't blame them for that "look". Oh! no.. I don't blame them at all cause Maldives is not a country you would migrate to. People go there for their once-in-a-life-time/honeymoon/retired kind of holiday and before we are all too old to move about...

    So Maldives and its many high end, ultra luxurious resorts is truly a place one should visit before it is totally submerge by the effect of global warming. Have a look here.

    Island crane

    I did count my blessing
    Each and everyday.

    Even though, I have to be very honest that I was moaning of no shopping malls, can't drive, can't go visit or hanging out with friends who live on another island as and when I wish.. can't just walk to school, can't just cross the road to buy say.. toothpaste. Can't find things that I want/need all in a shop but have to do a "treasure" hunt around Male, the capital island. 

    For as beautiful as paradise it is, it can be difficult to be isolated for an extended amount of time. Depence of which island you are on.. as there are as many as 1190. Some big, a good example would be Male.. some small.. just enough to set up a table for two.

    We were on a good size island.. when describe how big is the island, I like to measure it with time. Say in Velassaru, we need a good 30min to walk one round around the island with a few stops to feel the sand and to smell the air but in Velavaru, it took us only 12 minutes to the max.

    Despite all the minus above, I do miss this piece of paradise on earth. When there is no shopping malls to pass my time, no time waste at the traffic, no way to go, can't get all things needed..

    We spent time well admire the many colourful sunsets..

    We swam with fish of rainbow colours..while cotton clouds floating by..

    We saw dolphins on our way to school..
    Once, I was so lucky to be greeted by three pilot whales on my way home from school island..

    No shopping malls, no play parks..
    but the turquoise blue sea and sparkling-powder-white sand

    No Eau de vie..
    but fresh-from-the-tree coconut juice..
    and/or a Pina Colada to call it day..

    Saturday, March 03, 2012

    Mon petit chou / mes choux

    The title translate as my little cabbage / my cabbages but no I'm not talking about cabbages here. And yes,
    Chou in English is cabbage but these little puff pastries is call Chou as it does look like cabbage. So this is what I made today..Mes choux.. but "mon chou" is also what we call someone dear to us in France.

    The first year when LM went to kindergarten here, often I heard mothers called their child "Vien, mon chou" ("come, my cabbage..") Wait!! what's on earth mothers here call their babies... CABBAGE??? My eyes was as big as ping pong balls when I heard that. Oh! poor cabbages..

    In fact, French as wierd as they are..haha.. I know I love them but they can be odd sometimes. So this is the perfect example to show how funny it can be..

    Actually, Mon petit chou is a term of endearment. Here's a few example;
    Ma puce = My Flea = in Malay would sounds even worst Kutu ku..
    Ma poule = My hen
    Mon carnard = My duck
    Ma Biche = My Doe (female dear)
    Ma minette = My pussycat 

    Of course there are a lot more "normal" or nicer terms of endearment, here's a few example;

    Ma Belle = My beautiful
    Mon ange = My angle
    Mon amour = My love
    Mon Coeur = My Heart
    Mon Cher/cherie = My dear


    So now that you know what the french call their love ones.. let's make some cabbages  Choux..and  Creme patisserie for our choux...

    It is actually not hard to make, once you know the Dos and Don't:

    Creme Patisserie
    (recipe adapted from Rasamalaysia)

    1 cup milk
    3 egg yolks
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    1 tsp vanilla essence
    2 Tbsp cornstarch
    a pinch salt
    1/2 tsp unsalted butter (for shine)

    1. In a mixing bowl add in yolks, 1/4 cup milk, vanilla essence, salt, sugar and cornstarch. Mix till sugar dissolved.
    2. Meanwhile bring the rest of the 3/4 cup milk to a scald in a saucepan.
    3. Pour hot milk in small stream into the egg mixture,  whisking consistently with a balloon whisk as  you pour. Once incorporated, pour everything back into the saucepan.
    4. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until it thickens and firm up. Remove the heat and whisk in butter.
    5. Place a piece of cling film directly on creme to prevent it from forming a skin.
    6. Once it reaches room temperature, scoop the creme into a piping bag or container. Refrigerate until ready to use

     Choux Pastry

    1/2 cup butter
    1 cup water
    1/4 tsp salt
    4 eggs
    1 cup all-purpose flour

    1. Put butter and and water into saucepan on low fire. Turn off the fire once butter has melted.
    2. Add in flour and salt all at once. Stir quickly with a wooden spoon  until a dough it formed and does not stick to the saucepan.
    3. Leave to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
    4. Beat in eggs one at a time on a cake mixer (low speed) till mixture is stiff.
    5. Using a ice cream scoop or teaspoon, scoop the dough onto a greased baking sheet.
    6. Bake in a preheated oven at 190 Celsius for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 170 Celsius and bake for another 15 minutes.
    7. Turn off the heat. Leave the puffs to cool in the oven for another 20-30 minutes without opening the oven door. ( I know this is the hardest part but it pays or else your puff would deflate in 5 minutes)

    "Ma Minette"

    This is the same chou pastry for the famous Profiteroles, Croquembouches and Éclair. Don't worry about these fancy names, they are just in different shapes. Piped with cream and dip in chocolates.

    I learnt this from Ma belle Isa. We added some cheese into the pastry dough and there we had some quick savoury puffs. Great for aperitif. Add a pinch of curry powder in the chou pastry and there you have a curry flavour choux.

    And what if you fried the choux pastry??  Et Voila!! you get the famous Spanish/Latin America's Churos. Roll it in sugar and dip in a cup of hot chocolate.. and you are ready to conquer the world.

    Have a nice weekend. In France, spring is in the air.. Birds are chirping happily as they build their nest, flowers pop out of the ground, kids cycling.. what about you?? which part of the world are you from??

    I know there are some readers from Russian, Germany, States, Of cause Singapore and Malaysia/France.

    What do you call your love one??
    Tell me in the comment section and 3 of you will win a post card from France.

    Thursday, March 01, 2012


    Look! Mr. with his Casquette Beret and Mrs. with her Classic Black  Beret.
    Another beret (look at how she stand,
     the french just has it in their blood.)
    A beret (play /ˈbɛr/[1] BERR-ay or /bəˈr/[2] bə-RAY; French: [beˈʁɛ]) is a soft, round, flat-crowned hat, designated a "cap", usually of woven, hand-knitted wool, crocheted cotton, or wool felt,[3] or acrylic fiber. 
    The Basque style beret was worn by Basque shepherds in the Pyrenees, a mountain range that straddles the border between southern France and northern Spain. The colors originally varied by region (red in Gipuzkoa, white in Álava, blue in Biscay), but eventually the Basques settled on blue berets, and the people from Navarre adopted red berets as part of their folk costume while the black beret became common headgear in France and Spain. [3]

    So chic, isn't she?


    This is a Basque Beret as there is a little knot on top.
    The black beret was once considered the national cap of France in Anglo-Saxon countries and is part of the stereotypical image of the Onion Johnny. It is no longer as widely worn as it once was, but it remains a strong sign of local identity in the south west of France. When French people want to picture themselves as "the typical average Frenchman" in France or in a foreign country, they often use this stereotype from Anglo-Saxon countries. There are only two manufacturers left in France (the world-famous Hoquy family among them). (source: wikipedia)

    In my opinion, Beret is more a hat for the older generation but getting more fashionable these days with it's large selection of colours and materials in shops. As for the men, I see more Casquette Beret then the Basque Beret. I have yet to spot any hot pink beret or animal print beret on the street.. A little advise for the tourist, if you want to experience the everyday french life and don't want to look ridiculous while visiting France then don't wear a beret unless you are Sarah Jessica Parker who can pull off wearing bizarre headwear.

    Even the winemaker wear a beret

    A better option is.. go to the Boulanger (Bakery) pay 1 Euro for a Baguette (french loaf) which is wrap and twisted in a little piece of paper. Please just carry it in your hand, don't put it in plastic bag.. only fish and salads are allow to be in plastic bags. Next,  go to a near by supermarket, grap a bottle of wine and some cheeses..oh yes! do not forget your wine glasses and cutleries. Nobody drink wine from bottle, unless you want to look like alcoholic. If you want to be show that you have class, a napkin (not paper napkin) would be great.

    Next, go to any green and cheers!!