Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas advent calendar


Although Christmas is still a month away (almost), towns and cities have already been dressed up in decorative lights. The most exciting thing prior Christmas to me is no doubt the Christmas market. Strolling down the streets filled with stalls and stalls of mouthwatering food (my favourite being the pancakes, steak burger and an Irish coffee to keep me warm), lovely handcrafted accessories and bags, and of course some gigantic Christmas trees. I enjoy every single bit of that. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pão de queijo


Sweat: 6%
Sweet: 94%

Friends and I went to a Brazilian restaurant last month. The food did not surprise nor disappoint me because to me anything cooked on a barbie would taste nice anyway. But one thing I took from the food counter really impressed me and that was Pão de queijo, or in English, cheese puffs/buns. These little babies were absolutely unforgettable! Crunchy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. How could one not dream of having them again and again. 

Soya milk miso soup


Sweat: 3%
Sweet: 97%

Sometimes a simple healthy meal is exactly what you need to recharge yourself after a tired day of work. Here I present you the Japanese style of simplicity - a bowl of steam rice, natto and miso soup. Whilst a bowl of hot miso soup is loved by many, natto is less so. Those who are unfamiliar with it may scream 'yuk!' when looking at the above photo. I do not blame you for that. It is indeed the Japanese version of Marmite, i.e., you either love it or hate it. Of course I am the former. Natto, basically means fermented soybeans, is generally mixed with soy sauce and mustard before pour over hot rice to eat with. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My brother's bithday


Sweat: 0.1%
Sweet:99.9%


My brother turned 18 this September and I made him an "effortless" ice-cream cake with his favourite oreo cookies

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rice burger


Sweat: 8%
Sweet: 92%

Rice burger is nothing new. According to Wikipedia, it was first introduced in a Japanese restaurant in 1987. But my first contact with it was only some years ago when MosBurger, a Japanese fast food restaurant chain, opened in Hong Kong. It was the best burger I had. Since there is no MosBurger in the UK, the only thing I can do is to replicate it at home. Although it does not look very much alike the rice burger by MosBurger, I still find it very tasty.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Beef brisket and tendon stew


Sweat: 5%
Sweet: 95%

A hearty stew is not only an essential dish for Europeans, but also for Asians. I absolutely adore a home-cooked stew on a cold winter day. The key to this succulent beef brisket and tendon stew is the chu hou paste/sauce (see photo below), which can easily be bought in any Chinese supermarkets. One good thing about making this stew is that you no longer need to get everyone to come to the dining table because the wonderful aroma does its magic. In my case, for instance, it is always the smell that brings my brother to the table whenever I make this stew. 

Hot chocolate


Hot chocolate for my little brother. Oh, he is spoiled! HaHa :D He came home asking for something hot to drink. Fortunately we had milk in the fridge so I quickly whipped up a hot chocolate for him using just milk, unsweetened cocoa and sugar. Topped with cream, marshmallow, grated milk chocolate and oreo crumbs. He loved it! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Beer battered fish and chips


Sweat: 8%
Sweet: 92%

I am a big fan of steamed fish. Back home, my mom buys fresh fish from the market every single day and thus a fish dish is always on the dining table. However, in this country, I believe unless you visit a proper fish market (at 3am in morning) it is very unlikely to buy live fishes from your local fish monger. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Salt and pepper squid


Sweat: 8%
Sweet: 92%

My brother is the biggest fan of squid. I have made stuffed squid a couple of times in the past which he really likes but he says he wants something different this time. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coconut sago with melon balls


Sweat: 1%
Sweet: 99%

Coconut sago is an effortless yet delicious pudding. In my opinion, no dessert can be easier to prepare than this one. I can wrap up the instructions in one sentence. Boil the sago, add sago into the coconut milk, adjust sweetness and done! Simple as that. And foolproof of course. You can never go wrong with it. Do not panic.  A more detailed step-by-step guide will be provided below, just in case if this is something new to you. 

A plate of joy for Christmas



If I have to choose between homeware and fashion, I will probably pick homeware. Kitchenware to be specific. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the kitchenware department in any shopping centres. I can stay there for a whole day gazing at those beautifully shaped ceramic plates, those colourful kitchen gadgets, those super heavy cast iron pans and pots, and of course those adorable teacups and saucers. Sounds like a freak? HA :) OK, I do not just gaze, I shop too, sometimes! This Kitchen Craft Christmas plate, for instance, is something I recently picked up from TKMAXX, at the cost of £3.99 (original price £8.99). Yes, a bargain! Who can resist buying this cute little plate? 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The luxurious bread and butter pudding


Sweat: 5%
Sweet: 95%

It was months ago when I baked this British classic dessert - bread and butter pudding. Or should I call it the luxurious bread and butter pudding. Instead of using white bread, I went for the French brioche. FYI, only butter the bread lightly if using brioche because it is high in butter content. In addition to butter, I also like a generous amount of jam over the bread. For me, apricot jam works wonder with this pudding.

Monday, November 12, 2012

My last spoonful of matcha panna cotta



I had finished my LAST pot of matcha panna cotta. It was so delicious. I could never get tired of it. 

Osmanthus and coconut pudding 椰汁桂花糕


Sweat: 1%
Sweet: 99%

Have you ever been so full after a meal but still crave for something light and sweet? If so, here is the solution - Osmanthus and coconut pudding. This recipe is just as simple as making jellies but healthier (at least I believe). Usually this dessert is eaten in the summer but who cares when you live in a country that has about one week of summer per year! British weather! LOL! 

Matcha mochi 抹茶餅


Sweat: 5%
Sweet: 95%

My matcha frenzy continues. After matcha cookies and matcha panna cotta, I wonder what is next? Hmm... something quick and easy, and sweet! Yep. Matcha mochi this time. Matcha is like a drug to me. It is something that once has started it is so hard to stop. Thanks again to my dear friend who brought back a tin of organic matcha powder from Hong Kong. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beef and spinach dumplings 餃子


Sweat: 10%
Sweet: 90%

I rarely ask for dumplings when I dine out. Not because I am not a fan, but because I am not a pork eater and 9 out of 10 times I will be given pork dumplings unless stated otherwise. Some people say I miss out a lot of delicious food for being a non-pork eater but to me I am very satisfied with beef, chicken and seafood. So being a non-pork eater does not bother me at all. If I crave for dumplings, I can always make beef or chicken ones. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Egg-in-a-heart♥♥


When I posted this photo on facebook, I received an enormous amount of likes which was something unexpected. Everyone was asking me how did I make a hole in the bread. EASY! I just grabbed a cookie cutter, which happened to be a heart-shaped one, pushed it through the slice of bread. Then I buttered a pan and toasted the bread on the pan. Cracked an egg in the hole and let it sit for a while. Put the whole pan into a preheated oven. As simple as that. 

Egg-in-a-heart is the fancy way of presenting egg on toast. Do it more often to your beloved ones. This will definitely put a smile on their faces. Make them feel loved from the very first meal of the day. 

Red bean soup? Red bean sand? 紅豆沙



Sweat: 15%
Sweet: 85%

Red bean soup is part and parcel of our culture. It is served not only at weddings and Chinese New Year but has become a very common dessert that anyone can easily have anytime of the day (well, at least in Hong Kong). Being away from this never-sleep-city, I have to make my own red bean soup whenever I crave for it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Matcha panna cotta 抹茶パンナコッタ


Sweat: 3%
Sweet: 97%

Traditional panna cotta calls for only double/heavy cream but this recipe calls for half cream half milk. I love it because full fat milk is not as fattening as full fat double cream yet when mixed with double cream the end result still produces a creamy texture close to using just double cream. 

Ginger milk curd 薑汁撞奶



Sweat: 1%
Sweet: 99%

Nothing beats this warm ginger milk curd on a cold winter day, like today. Although it looks like a really simple recipe using only three ingredients, it requires boiling milk skills. Yes, the milk boiling part is crucial. If that stage is done wrong, then the milk will not set. Always use a thermometer so as to get the milk to the perfect temperature (75-80 degrees C). 

Dinner party at JoJo's



When my friends and I were food shopping a few days ago, they insisted on having puff pastry soup at my place this Thursday. So we had a small dinner party last night. We all wanted a bit of seafood so we decided to go for cream of seafood soup. It was very easy to whip up: made the roux - butter and flour, poured in chicken stock (forgot to buy fish stock), added what was left over from the seafood risotto - haddock, shrimps, crabsticks and asparagus, as well as scallops freshly bought from the fish market and a generous amount of double cream as a finishing touch.  Use a ladle to transfer the cream soup to the soup bowls (make sure they are safe to go in the oven) and cover the bowl with a squared puff pastry. Let them sit in the oven until pastry is puffed up and golden brown. 

Maldon sea salt flakes


I had been tempted to buy this box of Maldon sea salt flakes for quite a while and FINALLY I bought it! I picked up a pinch of salt flakes and they looked so delicate. I almost put them in my mouth! LOL! 

Seafood Risotto



Sweat: 6%
Sweet: 94%

I was thrilled to know that Tesco Metro started selling Baxters Luxury and immediately bought two cans of lobster bisque. I used one with pasta last time and it was delicious! This time I tried it on something else. It might not be the proper classic way to cook a risotto but the end product was perfect, at least my brother and I thought so. He was so hard to please because he did not like congee, porridge or risotto. Anything close to that texture he would try to avoid but he absolutely loved my creamy risotto. It would be great if there was crab meat but way too expensive (£9.99 per can) so I had to skip that. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fruit scones


Sweat: 10%
Sweet: 90% 

Having lived in the United Kingdom for over 12 years, I will be ashamed if I can not bake scones - the key of cream tea or British afternoon tea. Personally I like fruit scones a lot more than the plain ones so whenever I bake them, I only bake fruity ones, unless plain ones are requested. Although they can be stored for 2-3 days, freshly baked scones are just so nice that they are hard to resist. I do not like to bake a lot of scones at a time, knowing that the longer I store them, the less tastier they will be. If you are baking them, remember to have clotted cream and jam in the fridge ready to be served with the scones, or else you will regret it! Yes, clotted cream and jam work wonders with scones. Not that I have to tell you I am sure :) Enjoy!


Slipper socks


The sky is dark at 5 pm. The freezing cold air. The end of summer time. I need no more facts to prove that winter has officially arrived. When I was shopping with my friend last week, I found this pair of furry slipper socks from Primark at the cost of £6. Surprisingly cheap? Yes, because they are from Primark. They are not necessarily long lasting but as long as they last throughout the winter season I am fine by that. Happy feet. Warm feet. Fashionable feet at home. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Matcha cookies


Sweat: 15%
Sweet: 85%

My friend bought me a very nice organic matcha powder from Hong Kong (imported from Japan). The texture is much better than the one I used in the past. Wanting to test it out, I went online to search for an easy and quick recipe. I found this matcha cookies recipe from a site called lovescool and immediately fell in love with it. I followed the exact recipe but somehow the colour of my cookies was a bit lighter than the recipe writer's cookies. I would add a bit more matcha into the batter next time to get a greener colour. The other thing that I found was the cookies were a little bit drier than I thought. Perhaps because my egg yolks were not big enough? 

Crème brûlée


Sweat: 8%
Sweet: 92%

Crème brûlée is my favourite dessert of all time. No matter how full I am after a meal, I can never resist this creamy fancy dessert. There are ginormous amount of recipes available online as to how to make this dessert. Some call for double cream, some call for double and single cream whilst some call for a mixture of double cream and milk. I am no expert in French but as far as I know, crème brûlée literally refers to burnt cream. As such, the recipe I use calls for double cream, yes, double cream only. In fact, the recipe I adapted is written by a French chef so I guess it will not fail me. And it has not. I have used this recipe quite a number of times and those who have tried it absolutely love it. 


Bonfire night dinner


I always wonder whether we will get a special menu if we go to an Italian or Spanish restaurant. Because we do when we visit a Chinese restaurant. We never order from the English menu because we believe that the food listed on there is for foreigners (although in this country we are THE FOREIGNERS). Therefore my best advice is go with a Chinese to a Chinese restaurant if you are adventurous or you are tired of sweet and sour chicken/pork. 

We were recommended by a friend to try this set dinner from the Chinese menu - steamed scallops, soups, four dishes and desserts, 17 pounds per head. Food was good especially the tofu fa, a Chinese dessert made from soya bean. 

Happy Bonfire!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Banana cake? Bread bread?


Sweat: 12%
Sweet: 88%

Should we call it a banana cake? Or should we call it a banana bread? This argument will never end. I think I will stick with 'banana cake' for this post since I have baked it with a cake mould. Some weeks ago, I came across this banana cake recipe on a Japanese website. The publisher claimed that it was a recipe that she had been using this recipe since high school. Very safe and sound. I decided to give it a try. And it turned out just perfect! When I asked my brother to smash the bananas, he also vomited. He said to me that he would not try it but guess what! He totally loved it! We finished the whole cake in three days. A slice each morning as breakfast or in the afternoon with a cup of earl grey (that was for me). I made slight changes to the original recipe. Instead of using 120g sugar, I have mixed 100g sugar and 2 tbsp of maple syrup. The recipe also called for mixed nuts to your liking. I knew walnuts would go great with banana but I went for poppy seeds. 


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Stuffed squid with glutinous rice in teriyaki sauce



Sweat: 5%
Sweet: 95% 


The above recipe is probably the easiest way to prepare this dish. Or call it a foolproof recipe. Instead of stuffing the squid with uncooked rice, I cheated. Yes, with my rice cooker. With cooked rice, it was a lot easier for me to measure how much rice I needed to stuff inside the tube. I personally found it a very filling dish, perhaps because of the glutinous rice. Try serving it as a main dish to share amongst a few friends. Or serve one or two tubes by the side of fresh udon. Enjoy!

Cupcake cases and toppers


The kitchen section in TKMAXX is like my little fairyland. It is the best place to shop for kitchenware before fishing them online. Why pay more when you can save up almost half of the original price? Sometimes, if you are lucky, you can find products that will cost you only one third of the original price. On my last trip to TKMAXX, I bought some cupcake cases and toppers for Christmas!  My favourite festival is on its way! YEY!

Vietnamese food in town


A few days ago my friends and I went for Vietnamese food. The restaurant, more like a cafe I would say, was opened few months ago in Chinatown. I had high hopes before visiting and it did not disappoint me. The food was great. The coffee was excellent! My friends had two coffees each. I wanted to have a second one but I was so full that my stomach could not intake another drop of water. In the end, we had three starters - a mixed of everything, a spring roll and a salad, three phos and five coffees. It only cost us each 10 pounds because we had the half price voucher! WOOHOO! The waiter (whom I suspect was the owner) was very caring. He spoke perfect English and decent Cantonese. 

We will certainly visit it again even if we do not have a discount voucher. But the good news is, we do have another one to use before the 15th of this month! YEY! I will definitely have two coffees next time! I love Vietnamese coffee so much that I am now considering of buying the coffee filter and ground coffee to make my own. 


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Almond puff fingers



Sweat: 1%
Sweet: 99%

Another no-effort-great-results-recipe. I think everyone who bake with puff pastry will across having left-overs in the freezer. When the time comes for a quick clean up, this is one way to make use of your left-over puff pastry. Of course, if you are not into like sweet stuff, use cheese as a substitute to create a savoury version. Either one will make a great snack!


Mini palmiers


Sweat: 2%
Sweet: 98%

Palmiers have always been part of my life. In fact, they are something in my blood because my dad makes them every other day, if not everyday. Yes, he is a baker. And to me, he is the best cook in the world! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Omurice オムライス


Sweat: 10%
Sweet: 90%

This popular Japanese fusion dish is great for both adults and kids. Omu is the short form of omelette. Together with rice, it basically refers to rice wrapped inside an omelette. I have been cooking this dish for years, once a fortnight usually, and I am still loving it.  The must-have ingredients are rice and eggs. Other ingredients can be easily substituted to your liking. If you do not eat/like chicken, you can replace them with pork, prawns, beef, etc. Or skip all kinds of meat and make a vegetarian version. Yes, it is very versatile!  The recipe above happens to be my favourite combination but feel free to create your own. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chinese-style pumpkin pancakes


Happy Halloween



Sweat: 10%
Sweet: 90%

Happy BELATED Halloween. Bought a small pumpkin from the supermarket few days ago and decided to make some sweet nibbles for friends on Halloween. How awesome! Celebrating a Western festival with Chinese food! LOL! The look of these Chinese-style pumpkin pancakes did not do them justice. They were incredibly chewy and tasty and my friends and I loved them! We had them as desserts last night but feel free to serve them as a starter or main course to share. 

Moules marinières



Sweat: 5%
Sweet: 95%

The hardest is the cleaning part. Other than that, it is an easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy-recipe that anyone pull together. Best served as a starter with French crusty bread. When I went to Mont St Michel earlier this year, I tried mussels in cider but did not like it. Perhaps because the taste of alcohol was a bit too strong that it had overpowered the freshness of mussels. But the white wine in this recipe was a lot lighter, I almost could not taste the wine when eating the mussels. The cream added a smooth texture to the sauce. My bother and I really enjoyed this dish! Hope you will like it too.