Sunday, November 27, 2005

sunday brekkie.....not in bed....

After a saturday evening of drinking champagne (or rather an afternoon as we started from 1pm....)you really need something to fill the space in your stomach on sunday morning;)
When we finally got out of bed around 8:30am I was feeling hung over or anything....on the contrary i felt quite good but hungry for something warm and filling....
so we had breakfast sandwiches
for 2 persons
1/2 baguette (sliced lengthwise into 4)
2 tomatoes sliced
4 rashers of bacon
1/2 cup of cheese of your choice.
Toast the bread on one side first while frying the half the tomato slices and the bacon rashers. Once one side of the bread is brown or toasted to your liking first place the fried tomato slices, followed by the bacon, then the cheese and top it off with fresh tomato slices and return to oven. After 2 or 3 minutes the egdes will be nicely browned and the fresh tomatoes grilled.

Serve with fresh juice or coffee.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

the job of being a hostess....new but enjoying it!

We had friends over for dinner for the first time tuesday night....it was not an impromptu thing....we (my chef and i) invited another couple over for dinner....we have been friends for ages and this is the first time we have ever cooked a meal for them....i know it sounds bad but this is our first real place that we can entertain at.
On the menu that night
Warm beef Terriyaki salad (i left out the cripsy potato chips) experimented on the day before
Tomato and Garlic salsa
Grilled Sophie Fish (i recently found out it's called Tilapia)
Roast Pork
oven steamed veggies
Cheesecake
The star of the evening was the roasted pork, i used a mixture of bajan seasoning, soya sauce and char sui sauce for the skin. I marinaded the meat for 24 hours to really let all the flavours soak through the meat, also i tied it up securely before roasting it with apples and onions in a renolyds oven bag. it was the first time using the bags and i was very impressed not only was the meat succulent but it had also browned nicely all over....just before we were ready to serve it my darling helped me rub the char sui sauce over the skin and put it back under the grill for a crispy finish.

Dessert as i mentioned was a new york style cheese cake from Chantal......thank you so much Chantal i follwed the recipe (even though i halved it) and the result was a light and moist cheesecake. I served it with fresh blended papaya and slices on the side. I got the ultimate compliment when my darling said that cheesecake was perfect sweety.

We are having a dinner party the 3rd and he suggested i make it again...which i probably will do......so keep your fingers crossed for me so that i can have the success of making another delicious cheesecake.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Salad for 2

My darling has been complaining to me for the last months how fat he is getting....i mean i do understand because sometimes i am cooking enough to feed a small army.....but the purpose is not to fatten him up as he thinks....it is more a labour of love....i find it really relaxing to cook after a stressful day at work (especially all the crowds on the subway on the way home). SO i thought i would surprise him with something filling yet light and healthy for our 10pm supper (due in fact to him being sent to Hong Kong on sunday at 11am for a half day meeting that was only taking place on monday.....Chinese flight schedules i tell you....did i mention that even though the meeting ends at 1, he is only getting home at 10PM......).
I made a warm terriyaki beef salad with crispy oven baked potato chip

This salad was terrific I used walnut oil in the dressing and it complemented the ginger of the beef. My main goal of the evening was fulfilled filling my sweetheart with something healthy and nutrious in preparation for the dinner party we would have the following night. Actually if you must know this salad was so nice with its cripsy iceberg, peppery arugula and the sweet gingeryness of the beef we served it again the following night;) naughty i know but if you must cook for others you must make sure it tastes good yourself!
My next post will be all about our first ever dinner party featuring my first-ever cheesecake and a terrific roast pork with a char sui crust.

Monday, November 21, 2005

nibbles, sancks and tit-bits

I had my girlfriends over for dinner maybe three weeks ago it was really nice we cooked (or rather i cooked) and chatted and laughed and just had alot of laughs.....fun, fun......i made some snacks that night which went down really well....and actually over the last few weeks i have been making quite a few snacks....here are a few.....
Oven baked wontons with sweet & spicy sauce

Oyster mushrooms with cream cheese and roasted garlic (great for spreading on crackers or baguette)

And of course Mushroom rolls with herb crust

Thursday, November 17, 2005

a tale of two fish....

Have you ever done something really silly and then kick yourself after for doing it? well this happens to me alot more than i care to imagine....On tuesday i went to the supermarket looking for something to accompany the leftover potato gratin i planned on serving that night (yes, a leftover potato gratin, i had 4 leftover baked potatoes in my fridge). SO i did what any confused housewife would do i called the man of the house who of couse said its up to you sweety (I expected this sometimes i dont know why i bother to call....then again maybe its to hear his sexy voice....ok enough of my day-dreaming and back to my post). In the end i decided on two sophie fish (not their real name but the chinese name is luo fei yu similar to sophie's chinese name).
We had one very delicious grilled fish with italian herbs (compliments a farmers market in Nice)and one very massacred steamed fish with the same herbs but a very dried out taste...(go figure..it was one of those cooking disasters....i thought i could filet the fish with a small but blunt knife and totally runied it....after i started hacking at the fish i thought no is definitely the time to stop but of course it was too late and no turning back once i wacked off the poor buggers head...so that was my faux pas for the day....well my chef forgave me and enjoyed the gratin and the delicious grilled fish).
Potato Gratin and grilled fish
I am not going to include a recipe for the gratin because it is one of those dishes i think that you add what you wish and add copious amounts of cream or milk, butter, cheese, eggs and herbs and you will never go wrong.

I didnt brown the top of mine only because i added more grated gruyere at the end after i removed it from the oven and it melted really nicely....
For the grilled Sophie fish, i used a herb mix and cut some slits in the skin and just put in under the grilled for about 20 minutes on one side...

in the future i think i will grill bother sides cuz i just love crispy fish skin.
the lesson learnt from this cooking episode....fish are beautiful whole unless you have a sharp fish fileting knife!!!

Monday, November 14, 2005

A weekend of dinners

I did it Friday night.....i had my first ever dinner party....i was so thrilled i mean why else would you have a fully equipped kitchen if you cant entertain your friends.
What started off as a simple dinner for 4 turned into a dinner for 7....as i had not gone shopping this had to be done friday after work....horrendous...especially with the awful Beijing traffic....to cut a long story short i had to walk 20 minutes with my heavy laden bags from the supermarket to home....and had to start cooking with fat cold fingers....luckily i had my darling to meet me half way and then chastise me for not calling him in the first place to carry the bags home....is he great or what?
On the menu that night.
For the munchies
Mushroom and cream cheese spread acccompanied by whole wheat baguette rounds and Veggie sticks
The actual Meal
2 types of lettuce salad
Warm orange flavored Eggplant, zuchinni and tomato salad
Jerk Chicken with grilled onions
Grilled sticky pork ribs
Shrimp and Spring onion Quiche
Baked potatoes with buttter

I am not posting any recipes, but if you are interested in any of the dishes leave a note and i will fil you in.
I recieved lots of compliments and must say i was terribly pleased and big headed at the end of the day;) unfortunately i cant post any photos either as none were taken with my camera only those of my girlfriends and up to now i havent seen those yet:(
The second dinner or rather 'abendessen' as they say in Germany, the country of my guy, was on sunday night. They were 5 of us: Sophie, Saipin & daughter and D and I. Earlier in the evening we went to the gourmet shop "be kind this is one of the few places in Beijing you can buy proper cheese and cold cuts"....we also had some sausages from Austria (thanks Saipin)....so our evening feast was as follows and of course no cooking required (those smart German women).
Italian Sourdough bread (fresh from riverside cafe)
Crusty French Baguette (also thanks to riverside)
Hard Goat cheese (product of France)
Gruyere (Swiss)
Fresh Brie (Shari's favorite, French)
Putenwusrt (turkey sausage Austria)
Rotewurst (red sausage Austria)
and lettuce and tomato salad.

Friday, November 11, 2005

A light supper

I find with cooking at home we eat alot....and as i am trying to really stay within my weight barrier....i decided opne heavy dinner once a week is quite enough. So on thursday night in preparation for our big weekend ahead i made....
crusty pork chops and warm eggplant salad
The pork was something new i never tried before....but luckily it came out just perfect. I was looking for a way to keep all the lovely juices in the pork so that they could be enjoyed....hence the crusty pastry shells...and they did work fabulously. I seasoned the pastry with chives and used a short crust pastry dough.

check out my new bright red serving plates.
I served the pork with a light warm salad, grilled eggplant with fresh tomato with roasted garlic and bay leaves, which was just a matter of throwing the eggplant chunks into an olive oil, rosemary, garlic and bay leaf mix and grilling in the oven until slightly soft to the touch and finally mixing with the chunky chopped fresh tomato.

I served it in my gorgeous new jet black salad bowls. This meal was just as i had imagined filling but light and refreshing.

A new take on fast food

I am not such a big fan of mickie dees or wendys or anything along those lines, but i had been thinking for awhile about making burgers so juicy and so delish that my chef would say "WOW love you outdid yourself this time!".
I told him sunday, "baby monday night is burger night"....he smacked his lips and said "gorgeous i cant wait..."
then you know what happened he got a call at 6:30pm Monday evening....please be at the airport at 7:30pm cuz you are flying to Shanghai....he said sorry love, maybe we can do it tomorrow when i return at 10:30pm....
well, yes love but i wished it was tonight....oh well the beef will just marinade one day longer....enhanced flavours i told him
I had bought 1/2 kg of minced beef, with of course the requisite amount of fat after all you do need some fat to keep the burgers nice and moist. I used chilli flakes, salt, chilli-garlic marinade (compliment lee kum kee), barbeque sauce (heinz) and of course my good ole bajan pepper sauce so for two days my beef was sitting in this lovely marinade. I wanted to keep the burgers as juicy as possible so i decided to dress them in bacon.
Bacon wrapped beef burgers
Shape marinated meat mix into patties (i got four big burgers)and place two slices of streaky bacon in a cross and burger in the middle, when ready to cook place folded side down.

I grilled the burgers in the oven with sweet peepers and onions for 15 minutes (this was for well done burgers) actually the thing about my oven was i found it difficult to control the doneness of my burgers. Just before you are ready to eat add two thick slices of gruyere to each burger and leave for 30 second just so its slightly melted.
Instead of just plain old chips i wanted something that would really stand up to these bacon wrapped burgers, over the weekend i had purchased some new potatoes, so i thought thats what i will pair them with.....
Rosemary oven roasted new potatoes
as many potatoes as you wish
olive oil, whole peeled garlic cloves, salt, cilli flakes and dired rosemary

Roast in the oven until skins are crispy and insides are soft.
To assemble your gourmet fast food
spoon some of the juices from grilled burgers onto a hamburger bun and generously add grilled peppers and onions and place under the grilled so that bun is nicely toasted, nicely sit the burger on th bun and garish with grated gruyere. .
Serve new potaotes and a herb dusted tomato and iceberg salad on the side

Notes: Honey those burgers were delish, they were fantastic! they were also good the next day too when we had the other two for dinner.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

eggless AND chickenless.....

Good grief...what am i going to do?
Apparently with the way the avian flu is going....it seems as though we are going to have to stop eating all chicken related products sooner or later urgggggg......
I thought we were going to have a burger night tonight (monday) but unfortunately D had a last minute trip to Shanghai, so I tried making something else that could also be used for lunch for the rest of the week, so i made Quiche, not any ordinary quiche but eggless quiche.
Creamy corn bacon and mushroom quiche
2 cups mushrooms of your choice
1 small tin of corn (creamed: blend with a little milk so result is thick)
4 rashers of streaky bacon chopped
1 small onion thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups of grated cheese
salt, pepper seasoning to taste
Mix all ingredients well.
wholewheat crust
1 1/2 cup of wholewheat flour
4 ounces of butter
1/4 tsp of salt
dried herbs to flavor.
Press crust into greased pie pan and bake blind for at least 20 minutes. Remove from oven let cool slightly and place filling in pie pan.

Bake for 45 minutes in a moderately hot oven, in mine this is around 200C .
Slice and serve

Notes: this quiche was extremely rich and would be nice paired with a light salad which i will do tomorrow for lunch

Monday, November 07, 2005

a perfect dinner guest

I was invited on saturday night to a girly dinner at one of my very good friends house....the theme was lingerie (no admittance unless you wore one piece of sexy lingerie)my idea he he he....
I went with A to the wet market during the day...it was the first time i went to this particular market...i wanna go back...it was great there was everything there and to make life even better it was spotlessly clean for a Chinese market. A bought salmon, watercress, potatoes, peppers (sweet and hot) and i got some new potatoes which i will probably use for my Monday burger night:)
And i got 3 delicious golden apples which were part of my role as a perfect dinner guest. I offered to make some dessert as A is not too fond of either making or eating them, so i wanted to make something that would be difficult to refuse as it would be either too cute or the individual portions just a mouthful to make them easier to swallow (two bites and you are done)and there was also the fact that i went to the market and picked up some cute foil and paper cakecups that i just couldnt wait to use. So i made mini apple pies, you can never go wrong with apples.
Mini Apple Pies (makes 24)
sweet short crust pastry
4 ouces of butter
2 tablespoons of fine sugar
4 ounces of flour
mix until crumbly (feel free to add a little ice water if dough doesn't bind)
Press into mini cake tins
Filling
3 apples quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 dashes of cinnamon
a dash of brown Rum and raisins are optional
Mix all ingredients and set aside for at 45 minutes
Place a teaspoon of filling in each cup and bake in a medium oven until the crust is brown, mixture will probably bubble a little and apple turn brown.


Notes: this would be really nice with a scoop of vanila ice-cream

Friday, November 04, 2005

Making something from nothing

1 tin of tuna, 1 tomato, 1 sweet pepper and half an onion. The contents in my fridge on November 2nd (well, the tuna was in the cupboard) as i knew we would probably eat out thursday and friday night.....
These ingredients found themselves metamorphisizing into:
Savory Tuna Bites
I mixed the above ingredients with approximately 1/2 cup of oil, 1/2 cup cornmeal and 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour (I also added some roasted garlic, salt and pepper sauce to give it a kick).
Once i mixed everything together i spread the dough thinly in a flat pan and baked in a medium oven until it was nicely browned and crisp on the edges. Allow to cool and cut into 4 to 5cm squares. Serve with your favourite sauce , i used my fish marinade and thai sweet and spicy sauce.

Notes: i found them a tad dry due to the fact i think i added too much cornmeal (with my recipes the measurements aren't exactly accurate so you have to play it by ear)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

something light...

After the ribs and veggies we had, I couln't very well make something heavy again...or those were at least my thoughts dunno what mr. chef was thinking. We had for dinner an assortment of dishes, one because i bought these spring roll skins and didnt know what to do with them (there were just sitting in the fridge getting lonely...) so i made some accompaniments for them.
So that night we had Steamed fish with Sweet peppers & Onions, Tomato Garlic Salsa, Carrot sticks (julienned carrots) and the spring rolls (to be assembled and eaten as you wish)Steamed Fish with Sweet peppers & Onions
1 steak per person
2 sweet peppers sliced thickly
1 Onion chopped finely
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a foil packet and steam in a hot oven for 15 minutes (Or once fish is cooked, for soft fish will be shorter and for meatier fish longer).
Tomato Garlic Salsa (this was really great can be used on sandwiches or as a dip)
2 tomatoes chopped finely
4 cloves of oven roasted garlic
salt and pepper to taste
a dash of bajan pepper sauce (optional)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A food orgy

Last night was my first time....that is with my new oven....it works great....it has a roaster which will be tried later of course.
Last night we had.....(drumroll please)
Pork ribs & Seasonal Veggies
As you know it is getting colder and colder in those countries that have winter so if they are anything like Beijing this means less and less delicate veggies.
the Pork Ribs
I used just over 1 kg of ribs which the butcher generously cut for me, I knew it was too much for the two of us but I figured why not use all regardless cause then I will have some for lunch for the next two days.

I marinated the ribs in chili garlic paste (compliments Lee Kum Kee), Barbeque sauce (Heinz), apple vinegar, Soya sauce, salt and pepper for at least an hour.
Why did I chose to call this dish a food orgy, simply because I made everything in one container and it was everything in one, when I was finished I had veggie soup, veggies, potatoes and of course the spare ribs.
the Veggies
Celery (chopped)
Leeks (thickly sliced on the diagonal)
Onions (thickly sliced)
Tomato (thickly sliced)
Sweet Pepper (chopped roughly)
Garlic (whole and mashed with the back of the knife)
Potato (sliced in rounds)
Preparation
Place all veggies at the bottom of the roasting pan with spare ribs on top of everything, cover well and place in the pre-heated oven for at least 45 min at 250 degrees.