Sunday, December 21, 2014


now the winter has arrived. you mum always whisked up dumpling (tang yuan) in white and pink color and cooked it in pandan ginger sweet soup. she always told you to eat at least one dumpling otherwise you cannot grow a year older.
many years later, mum is no longer around and you have settle down in europe, you come to appreciate this festival more as there's winter here in europe after all. it's normally just a few days before christmas and it's also denote the shortest day light or longest darkness.
you made a bowl of black sesame tang yuan and some plain ones in pink/purple-ish color infused with beetroot. the color is muted but that's alright since you're not keen with artificial coloring.
so this is a heart warming, down the memory lane and a rekindle of your childhood, cultural and values bowl of tang yuan.
happy winter solstice everyone! 冬至快乐!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

you have seen this a few times and wanted to have a try on the saffron buns but never have the courage until you watch the bake off master class. a recipe demonstrated by paul so effortlessly and you said to yourself you can do it. it's no other than baking a bread or bun.
so, with the saffron in hand you have a go... the result is good. you like the texture and the lightly infused saffron, so subtle but you notice its presence.

Friday, December 19, 2014

you baked a small loaf of christmas fruit cake.  this is a tradition that you grew up with that your mum will bake a big square tin of fruit cake with a lot of raisins, a very dense and sweet cake that brushed with rum and can keep for months.

two years ago, a friend shared a  simpler recipe with you,  a smaller cake, with less sugar and a lighter version of christmas cake. this year you added a teaspoon of speculaas spice to the cake and that totally transformed the taste of the cake, giving the cake another dimension of complexity and aroma.
it's less booze but it's better this way and you totally enjoy your piece of cake with a cup of tea.

today is the last working day of the year, you're looking forward to the festive holiday and hopefully you can make a different to your friends and people whom you crossed your path with.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

you checked out the dutch christmas market in leiden as it's nearby and you're attracted by the idea of floating christmas market on a cannel.
however, albeit a christmas market but it has no atmosphere like the german ones. perhaps you visited at the wrong time of the day, but set aside the crowds, the stalls are uninteresting, let alone the food they served.
so all in all, you stay for less than half an hour and adjourn home. you missed the atmosphere, the aroma of the food in any typical christmas market in germany and the up side is you are going for one ^^.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


 playing the sous chef role at friend's kitchen...
 cooking the french classic lapin au pruneaux bière, rabbit meat cooked in prunes and beer. such a simple recipe and yet yield a complex flavorsome and earthy dish.
 baking a leek pie as a side dish to go with the rabbit.  this dish is not new to you...
 cutting the foie gras and store bought pain d’épices.  this is a total new way of savoring foie gras and it's such an interesting way with the spices from the cake. you enjoy every bite even though the cake is way too sweet to your liking...
learning how to make croissant aux amandes is like a dream come through. you some time crave for this and the only place to get this is from a french bakery in scheveningen. even then the bakery only sell this on saturday.  you're happy that now you have your hands on these, you can recreate this any time.  you're grateful to a friend who shares the tips and know-how and allow you to help her composing this...
you're served with this four cheese platter besides the dishes where you helped above.

anyway, you're a happy sous chef for the evening and ending the evening with a bloated stomach.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


 you came here in the evening after, all of you taking the 3 course menu and each of you chose the different options, so a simple 3 course dinner turned into a '9' course dinner with plate rotation.

the best starter was the hare pie, the lardon salad comes second and the salmon rank the third
 main course, both the stuffed cabbage with veal and sea trout was nice but the steak was bleh!
dessert that didn't come in dessert size. the pear with almond is the best, while the profiterole is super size, the taste is legit.  the most disappointing dessert is the baba au rum, again giant size and without rum and not booze at all. how could this be a rum cake without even a little hint of rum?

regardless, you're full and having fun whole night rotating and swapping plates with friends. the restaurant is nicely decorated in christmas candy theme and full house despite of some hit and miss in the dishes.

Monday, December 15, 2014


after the cooking demonstration, you had a quick break and the practical session starts
 you deliberately choose a different chef as in that way you will get the best dynamic out of both chefs both from their personality and tips on french cuisine.  you have to peel and julienne all the veg and then sweat them in a pan to prepare for the stuffing...
 then work on your mini mushroom flan
 and the most difficult part or technical challenge on de-bone the saddle of lamb, then add the vegetable stuffing to the lamb and tie them with string before you briefly sear it in another pan.
 once the meat is nicely browned, you add more dice veg and bouquet garni, lamb bones to make the jus while the lamb is sent to the oven for further roasting.
and this is your lamb, weight over a kilo, chef has to slice it for you.  obviously not as pink, as pretty or harmonious as the one prepared by another chef in the morning.
it's a fun but tiring experience, the kitchen is small and narrow and you have to stand and busy from the start to the end. but you learned heap and thoroughly enjoyed your day here in le cordon bleu.

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