Spoonful of Christmas: to the tune of Michael Jackson

When I looked at my calendar on the table and realised we barely have few days left before December, I got excited! For Christmas is truly just around the corner. The thrill I have as we approach this season has never changed since childhood. It always brings me good memories of the past. When I think of Christmas, I always have these three things in my mind: socks, apples and dentures. It reminds me of the tattered socks filled with candies of my youngest sister. She loved them so much she carried it for one week like a bag. Apples, because I always choose the meal package with apple on it every Christmas party in our grade school for seven years. And dentures, because my favorite auntie lost her dentures (she keeps them in her bag while sleeping) when burglars attacked her house on the eve of Christmas and only to find them in the garbage area on *Christmas day..(her story made us all laugh) it still makes us laugh even now. When I think of these souvenirs of the past I still cant help but laugh and cherish those moments. I guess the reason why I always have this excitement about Christmas, for this is day I often express my gratitude to people I care and love through gifts I offer. Price is never important but the love that we put into it that matters.

When I heard that Zlamushka of Spicy Kitchen is hosting a Christmas blogging event on kitchen made gift ideas, the Spoonful of Christmas (I'm glad to be invited to participate)I thought that that it is a great idea for Christmas is never Christmas without gift giving. And on this season we always tend to run out of gift ideas to give. So this is really timely.

Finding the right gift is always mind boggling. If we really want to put a smile on their faces I suggest three kitchen gift ideas concocted in my kitchen.
How about fascinating your friends and family with this home-made walnut wine, I made three years ago with my husband. It is in fact the most priced gem that we have in our kitchen. This is an excellent red wine that has plenty of character and rich in sweetness. This wine is imperatively made on the month of July in France when walnuts are still young and green. A sure knockout for wine lovers!

Walnut Wine

40 pcs of your green walnuts
5 liters of red wine
1 liter of water at 50°
1 kg of sugar
4 heads of girofles

Crush the nuts of the walnuts with the skin. The green walnut stains a lot, so the technique is to lock them in a large freezer bag and break them with a hammer. Put them in a large container with all ingredients and shake well. Macerate it for 6 weeks, shaking the container once a week.

Filter the wine nut and put it in the bottle. It is better to wait a year before you drink it. There are often residues in the bottle and it may be necessary to refiltrer it.
This is a charming wine perfect as it is. It goes well with red meat and some desserts.

Want to taste something different...?

How about unleashing the flavor of summer with my second gift suggestion, my Watermelon & Lime Jam. Traditionally in Provence they gather the immature watermelon or pasteque à confiture (gigerine) in making this jam. It is normally cooked with some oranges and lemon. My version though gives a much distinct taste of tropical with green organic lime I used. Perfect for breakfast on cold winter!(by the way just for fun if you want to see a square watermelon just click here.)

Watermelon-Lime Jam

1 kg of young watermelon pulp
juice of 2 lime
1 kg of sugar

Peel the watermelon and remove the spongy part of the fruit together with the seeds. Mix the sugar, the pulp and the lime in a big bowl and macerate it for an hour. Cook slowly uncover for 2 hours over medium fire until it thickens.

How about jamming with some tropical aroma...

And last but not the least third gift suggestion from my kitchen is my Pineapple-Mango Jam flavored with cinnamon and ginger powder. The combination is so perfect that we'll remind you of your summer memories on your table.

Pineapple-Mango Jam
1 big pineapple
2 mangoes
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of ginger powder
sugar (1:1 for sugar and fruits combined)

Peel and chop the pineapples. Do the same for the mangoes. Macerate the fruits with sugar and spices for an hour. Cook slowly for an hour medium fire.

I guess in the end whatever gift we have big or small it doesn't really matter. For its the thought that truly counts. And as Michael Jackson put it, let us give love on Christmas day!

Weekend Snapshot: Tips on getting drunk

I was never a hardcore drinker, nor an occasional drinker. My father hated alcohol and so he raised us to feel the same way against this distilled liquid of high fuelled spirit trapped in this bottle. I used to hate alcohol when I was a kid. At the age 18, force of curiosity, I had my first taste of alcohol. It was disgusting! And so I thought. During the sleepless days of thesis writing we would comfort ourselves with our power drink. My classmates baptised it the "zombie drink" a beautiful blend of one liter of fresh fruit juice (mostly we used Dalandan fruits that is rich in vitamin C) with one bottle of Tanduay Rhum and one bottle of Gin of Ginebra. It was a cocktail so powerful for us that a glass or two could turn us immediately into walking dead.Arriving in France however, I realized that even if I don’t drink alcohol I should have had a wine and cocktail 101 in my academic curriculum. For my knowledge is so meager in this country where drinking is as important as the food they are eating. In France it is indispensable to know at least the basic. White wine for white meat. Red wine for red meat. Cold cider if we are eating crepe or to serve some bubbly Champagne on special occasions. The types of glasses too are crucial or even the temperature at with which we need to serve them. It is so important that it is like a ritual that there is no shortcut in doing it the right way. At home having a wine cellar is not a must but storing some of these bottles is indispensable. Some good Porto, Pastis (specially we are living Provence), Rhum (very practical for cooking desserts), some Italian liquor like Amaretto or Martini or more powerful stuffs like Tequila or a strong Vodka. A wide choice of beer (brown, white, flavored) without forgetting some strong or sweet Ciders at hand would also be useful from time to time. Storing some bottle of sake would also be useful not only for cooking some Japanese dishes but could also be an inventive proposition to some guests. Having a very expensive wine is not really necessary but having some old red wine (at least six years old) waiting in the kitchen will save the day during special occasions. Well the list could really be endless.

When I have learned that I was pregnant last year, I avoided even more alcohol. In fact, It even shocked me to discover that it was just very recently in France that the Ministry of Health signed the Zero Alcohol Campaign alarmed by the high incidence of premature and birth defects because of too much alcohol consumption even by pregnant women. The law just took effect this year meaning "this time" there would be visible warning sign symbol that drinking for pregnant women is dangerous.

So you are probably wondering how do we enjoy alcohol and get drunk in France even if we don’t necessarily like alcohol. It is simple. My tips are the following; First you start up your meal with a sumptuous Drunk Shrimp (nilasing na Hipon) flambé in Sake drizzled with sautéed red pepper, young onion and lots of garlic for entree.

Drunk Shrimp in Sake

Then you followed it with a main dish of roasted breast of duck marinated in grated ginger and a good dose of Porto wine glazed with honey.
This dish goes very well with the sweetness of caramelized fresh figs.

Roasted Breast Duck in Honey & Porto with Figs

Then you finish up your meal with Pinacolada Pie.
A pie of fresh pineapple flambé in white Rhum and baked with a custard of coco cream over flaky pastry.

Pinacolada Pie

But of course do not forget that this meal should be consumed with great moderation *(that is if you are not pregnant ;-) Cheers!

Drunk Shrimp in Sake (Nilasing na Hipon sa Sake)

250 g of prawns, 1 cup of sake, 1 head of garlic chopped finely, 1 young onion chopped, 1 red pepper cut in small cubes, salt, pepper, 10 g of butter, 2 tbsp of olive oil

Start by marinating the prawns in the sake for a minimum of one hour. In a pan melt the butter with the olive oil and brown lighty the garlic, the onion and the red pepper. Add afterwards the prawn. After 3 minutes add the marinating sake and flambé it. Add salt and pepper.

Roasted Breast Duck in Porto and Honey with Figs

1 large breast of duck, 2 tbsp of grated fresh ginger, 1 tbsp of Balsamic vinegar, half a cup of Porto, salt, pepper, 6 pcs of fresh figues, 5 tbsp of honey

In a bowl combine the honey with grated ginger, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and Porto. Marinate in this sauce the duck. After an hour pre-heat the oven at 220 degrees Celsius. In a pan, brown the duck (fatty side) for about 5 minutes. Then bake in the oven with the marinating sauce for 15 minutes. Set it aside. On the same pan, caramelize slowly the figs. Take it off from the pan, add the marinating sauce and thicken it.

Pinacolada Pie

1 big pineapple, 10 g of butter, half a cup of coconut milk, half a cup of fresh cream, 2 large eggs, 60 g of sugar, 50 g of dessicated coconut, 2 tbsp of white rhum, for the pastry: 200 g of flour, 60 g of sugar, 100 g of butter, 1 egg yolk

Start by preparing the pastry: in a bowl mix the flour with the butter cut in cubes using your hand. Add the sugar and egg yolk mix well. Form a ball and let it stand in the fridge for an hour. Prepare the pastry and put it in a buttered pie pan. Cook it for 15 minutes at 180 degrees. In a pan brown the sides of pineapple with 10 g of butter then add the Rhum and flambé it. Mix in another bowl the eggs with 60 g of sugar then add the coconut milk and fresh cream. Mix well. Finally add the 50 g of dessicated coconut. On the pastry put the coconut cream mixture and arrange on the top the pineapple. Bake in the oven until golden brown (20 minutes at 180 degrees).

Pumpkin Madness

After enjoying the posts on Pinakbet(with lots of pumpkin) of Oggi-I can do that and Pumpkin & Beef Stirfry of Maybahay, I have been drooling since for some pumpkin. And last weekend, at the organic market where I usually buy our vegetables and fruits finding them wasn't that difficult. I bought the biggest and the heaviest pumpkin I could carry back home. Considering that I have a fifteen pounder little thing that loves to wiggle suspended on me. And about a hundred step stairs to climb before reaching our place. Ok I was maybe exaggerating because it was indeed really heavy. Nevertheless we survived; my baby, me and the pumpkin. And to commemorate that anecdote, yesterday night I prepared a dinner all in the name of pumpkin. We started with some crumble of pumpkin and parmesan and had some pumpkin lasagna for the main course. I was thinking of some pumpkin-persimmon ice-cream but my husband already ate all the fresh persimmons i bought in the market. So we had just some bar of chocolate for our dessert.

Pumpkin Lasagna

for the sauce bolognese : 500 g of ground beef, garlic, 1 onion sliced, 1 carrot cut in small cubes, half a liter of tomato sauce, 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt , pepper, and some dried thyme and basil
for the béchamel sauce : 40 g of butter, 1 tbsp of flour, salt, pepper, half a liter of milk, some muscade
pour the pumpkin layer: 300 g of cooked pumpkin, 250 g of ricotta, salt, pepper, 1 tsp of paprika, 2 tbsp of olive oil

1 pack of grated cheese and 1 pack of pre-cooked lasagna noodles

In a casserole, saute some garlic, onion and carrots with olive oil. Add the ground beef and herbs (thyme & basil). Pour in the tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste. In another casserole, melt the butter and add the flour. Pour in the milk and stir non-stop the sauce until it becomes homogenous. Add salt, pepper and some muscade. In a mixing bowl, mix evenly the ricotta cheese with the cooked pumpkin. Eventually add salt,pepper, muscade and olive oil. In a lasagna pan, layer alternately the lasagna noodle, the sauce bolognese, bechamel sauce and pumpkin-ricotta mixture. Top with grated cheese and bake for 40-45 minutes at about 200 degrees.

Crumble of Pumpkin & Parmesan

650 g de pumpkin, 15 dl of fresh cream, salt, pepper, muscade, 1 tsp of curry powder , 100 g of flour, 100 of butter, 75 g of parmesan cheese

In a bowl mix the flour and butter cut in small cubes. Add eventually the parmesan cheese. In a casserole of boiling water cook the pumpkin for about ten minutes. When its done, gently peel off its skin. Put the cooked pumpkin in the mixer and add the fresh cream, salt, pepper, muscade and curry powder and blend well. Put the pumpkin mixture in ramekin and cover it with flour-butter-parmesan mixture and cook in the oven until golden brown (about 10 minutes 180 degrees).

First Weekend Snapshot: My Best Recipe Ever

For my first Weekend Snapshot entry I just thought of revisiting my first blog entry...none other than my best recipe ever..

1 romantic evening
9 months of love and care
12 hours of labor
15 minutes of pushing
4 minutes before the first cry

(Three months ago I still dont know how wonderful it is to be a mom. Not an easy job but really rewarding.)

A Sweet Note, Japanese Opera with Raspberry Coulis

Yesterday it started to get really really cold. I turned on all our heater at a maximum level but to no avail. It has been three days that Mistral has been blowing cold air in our region. Its not that its new to us but yesterday it was exceptionally cold. I was trying to search for another layer of sweater to put on me when my attention was directed towards the window. It was snowing....yes it was indeed snowing! Provence is the hottest region in France. We've been cursed with a beautiful weather and rarely bless a day full of snowflakes like this. I pulled a chair next to the window and sat there with my three month old daughter. She seemed to be mesmerized by this thousand of white stuff flowing everywhere. I could see on her eyes, she was happy. We were glued next to our window for a couple of hours.

It is in savouring happy moments like this over a cup of hot green tea that I come up with sweet composition like this.

Green Tea (Matcha) Opéra with Raspberry Coulis
for the cake
130 g of sugar, 4 egg yolks, 3 egg whites, 80 g of flour, 30 g of butter, 80 of dark chocolate, 2 tsp of green tea (matcha), 80 g of white chocolate, 30 g of hazelnut
for the Raspberry Coulis
80 g of sugar, 20 cl of water, 1 tea bag of Mint-licorice, 200 g of raspberry
for the Chocolate Ganache
150 g of dark chocolate, 5 cl of fresh cream, 25 g of butter

Beat the egg whites and add 50 g of sugar. Mix the egg yolks with 80 g of sugar then fold in the flour and the melted butter. Combine the two mixture gently until it becomes smooth and homogenous. Divide this mixture into three parts. Fold in the melted dark chocolate into the first part, the green tea powder on the second and the melted white chocolate-hazelnut mixture on the last. Bake each cake on a greased pan at 200°C for about 10 to 15 minutes. For the raspberry coulis, melt the sugar with the water in a pan and infused one bag of mint-licorice. Fold in the mashed raspberries and wait until the syrup becomes thick. For the chocolate ganache, melt the dark chocolate and mix gently the butter. Pour in the fresh cream and continue mixing. For each layer of the cake put alternately a layer of the raspberry coulis and chocolate ganache. Cover the last layer with chocolate ganache. Put in the fridge the three-layered flavored cake for a minimum of one hour. Cut with a sharp knife the edges of the cake to get a smooth perfect edge.

for my french readers, you can find the french version here: http://www.lesfoodies.com/news/recette/Opera-framboise-chocolat-the-vert-et-reglisse

Reminiscing Thailand with bagoong rice

I must admit after reading Joey's post (80 Breakfasts) of her recent food escapade in Thailand, I can't help but have nostalgic memories of my trip there with my husband (we were boyfriend and girlfriend yet at that time). The truth is, it was a long distance relationship. He was a student in Japan while I was a student too in Manila (we were both taking Master's in Japanese Management). Well as students, we had very limited budget and very little time for pleasure. Without counting of course all the paperworks we needed to hand on time and the Kanji (Japanese characters we needed to memorize and learn how to write). So we thought why not have a date in Bangkok. They have very cheap package tours there and besides it is a very pleasant country to visit. Lots of historical and cultural findings plus the gastronomic adventure that is really interesting.

So yesterday I took out our photo album and reminisce those moments when we were still young "he he he" (well it was a not so distant past.) But of course what goes well during these nostalgic thai moments but a sumptous thai dinner. I have prepared a very spicy Tom Yam soup, a creamy-sweetty Prawn-pineapple curry and a Khao Kluk Kapi or simply Bagoong rice. My husband enjoyed everything i prepared except the bagoong rice for he really hated the smell of it. Have a nice day to all!
Tom Yam Soup

Prawn Pineapple curry

Tom Yam Soup
for 2 personnes


250 g of shrimps, 3 cups of water,garlic, 5 kaffir leaves, 3 slices of galanga (frais ou sec) , 3 tsp of Fish Sauce, 2 stalks of lemon grass,1 onion sliced, some mushrooms, 3 chilis, 1/4 cup of lime juice
some coriander leaves (optional)

In a casserole boil the 3 cups of water with the shrimps. After the first boil, strain the shimps and take off the shells and head. Put back the shrimp broth in the stove and add the garlic, onion, kaffir leaves, lemon grass and galanga. When the first bubble appear put the mushroom, the chilis and the lime juice. Add the fish sauce and shrimp. Serve hot with coriander leaves.

Prawn Pineapple Curry
for 2 personnes


8 pcs of tiger prawns (about 4 pcs per serving)
1 eggplant cut in cubes
half a cup of fresh pineapple
3 tbsp of pineapple juice
1 tbsp of green curry paste
4 tbsp of olive oil
2-3 chilis
1 tbsp of curcuma
one cup of coconut milk

In a wok fry rapidly the eggplant with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Reserve the eggplant. In the same wok, put the remaining olive oil and add the green curry paste and curcuma. Pour the coconut milk and simmer over low fire. At the first boil add the pineapple, the pineapple juice, the chilis and prawns. Cook for about 3 more minutes. Season it with some fish sauce. Add the fried eggplant and turn off the fire.

Khao Kluk kapi (Shrimp Paste Rice)
for 2 personnes

2 bowls of cooked rice, 1 onion chopped, garlic, 1 tbsp of shrimp paste, 2 tbsp of olive oil, 2 tbsp of fish sauce

In wok brown the garlic and the onion. Add the shrimp paste and mix well. Put the cook rice and continue to mix. Season with fish sauce.
For my french readers, the french version of this Tom Yam recipe is here: http://www.lesfoodies.com/hilda/recette/tom-yam-kung-soupe-thailandaise,
the recipe of curry is here: http://www.lesfoodies.com/hilda/recette/curry-de-crevettes-a-lananas
the recipe of Thai rice is here: http://www.lesfoodies.com/hilda/recette/riz-frit-thai-pate-crevettes-et-porc-caramelise

Mango Cheesecake pie

Well just to share with you what i prepared for our weekend dessert. I will share the recipe next time my three month old baby is crying...gotta go!

For my french readers, the french version of this cheesecake recipe is here: http://www.lesfoodies.com/hilda/recette/tartelettes-au-cheesecake-mangue-et-confiture-lait

Roasting inside a palayok...

This is just a small post to answer Joey regarding my entry on Lasang Pinoy Cooking for Heroes. I basically use a very thick sort of palayok (they call it terrine in France) to roast my chicken, pork or lambs. During the roasting I regularly moisten the meat with my marinade or some wine. thank you for the question.

Mango Ice-cream and Macadamia Biscuits

Mango Ice-cream and Macadamia Biscuits

for the mango ice-cream
2 mangoes
4 egg yolks
20 cl of fresh cream
150 g of sugar

for the biscuits:
120 g of butter
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon of coffee
50 g of flour
125 g of icing sugar
a pinch of salt
65 g of macadamia nuts

Preparation: In an electric blender, put the peeled mango and make some purée. Whisk the yolk with sugar. In another bowl whisk the fresh cream. Fold in the yolk-sugar mixture and blend them together. Add the mango purée. Refrigerate it for minimum of four hours. For the biscuits: cream the butter in a bowl, add afterwards the sugar and a little bit of salt. Put the coffee and the macadamia nuts. Whisk the egg whites in another bowl and the flour little by little. Put this mixture on to the first mixture and blend them gently. Preheat the oven at 180° celsius. Form the shape and size of the bisquits you want. Cook them for about six minutes.

Happy Halloween to all!

I have been quite busy these past few weeks that I didn't have much time to update my blog. Well as we often say "better late than never", I'm sharing the Halloween goodies that i made last Friday: Jack O'lantern Pumpkin cookies and some Choco-Honey Glazed Skull Muffins. Happy Halloween to all!