French Bread à la Julia Child, Daring Bakers' Challenge

"El pan fora de casa, xe massa salà o desavio"
bread outside your home has either too much salt or too little
time to bake our own :-)

Man does not live by bread alone.

When I published this post of mine I really wanted to do a post on bread series. Little did I know, that for the month of February, the challenge hosted by Mary (Breadchick) and Sara (I Love to cook) is on making Julia Child's French bread. As I am not a good baker I have always been scared in making bread. But the wonderful moment I spent chatting with an old woman living in Alps who makes her own bread everyday (for simple reason there is no boulangerie in their area) changed the way I look at this kitchen experience. It is true that sometimes no matter how hard we stick to the recipes the end result is never successful. But one thing she imparted me in improving my baking skills is that when it comes to bread, humidity, amount of water and temperature counts a lot in making the dough rise. Without forgetting the right geste in preparing the bread. This old woman I am talking about is keeping a sort of a diary where she writes regulary the exact details of the bread she made: how much water, how long, at what temperature, at what exact time and during which season. Which means she could bake a baguette with the same goodness under different conditions noted on her diary. And her tips worked for me.

Of all the DB challenges I have done I would say this is the one that I enjoyed the most. For I made this challenge not once, not twice but three times. I had so much pleasure baking the french bread that I frolicked in making some long ones, round ones and some adorned with pavot grains. My next agenda is to make some perfect brioche that will wake us up with its goodness on our morning table.

Here is a short cut version of the recipe but I suggest you go and check out the step by step procedure and long version of the recipe here.

Making French Bread:

(Warning: the recipe is quite complicated but worth it :-)

1 cake (0.6 ounce) (20grams) fresh yeast or 1 package dry active yeast
1/3 cup (75ml) warm water, not over 100 degrees F/38C in a glass measure
3 1/2 cup (about 1 lb) (490 gr) all purpose flour, measured by scooping
dry measure cups into flour and sweeping off excess
2 1/4 tsp (12 gr) salt
1 1/4 cups (280 - 300ml) tepid water @ 70 – 74 degrees/21 - 23C

Stir the yeast in the 1/3 cup warm water and let liquefy completely while measuring flour into mixing bowl. When yeast has liquefied, pour it into the flour along with the salt and the rest of the water. Stir and cut the liquids into the flour with a rubber spatula, pressing firmly to form a dough and making sure that all the bits of flour and unmassed pieces are gathered in. Turn dough out onto kneading surface, scraping bowl clean. Dough will be soft and sticky.

Start kneading by lifting the near edge of the dough, using a pastry scraper or stiff wide spatula to help you if necessary, and flipping the dough over onto itself. Scrape dough off the surface and slap it down; lift edge and flip it over again, repeating the movement rapidly. In 2 -3 minutes the dough should have enough body so that you can give it a quick forward push with the heel of your hand as you flip it over. Continue to knead rapidly and vigorously in this way. If the dough remains too sticky, knead in a sprinkling of flour. The whole kneading process will take 5 – 10 minutes, depending on how expert you become.

Let dough rest for 3 – 4 minutes. Knead by hand for a minute. The surface should now look smooth; the dough will be less sticky but will still remain soft. It is now ready for its first rise.

Slip the bowl into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic, and top with a folded bath towel. Set on a wooden surface, marble or stone are too cold. Or on a folded towel or pillow, and let rise free from drafts anyplace where the temperature is around 70 degrees

After the first rise, with a rubber spatula, dislodge dough from inside of bowl and turn out onto a lightly floured surface, scraping bowl clean. If dough seems damp and sweaty, sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour.

Lightly flour the palms of your hands and flatten the dough firmly but not too roughly into a circle, deflating any gas bubbles by pinching them. Let it rise the second time until it is dome shaped and light and spongy when touched.

After the second rising divide the dough into:
3 equal pieces for long loaves (baguettes or batards) or small round loaves (boules only)

While the dough is resting, prepare the rising surface; smooth the canvas or linen towelling on a large tray or baking sheet, and rub flour thoroughly into the entire surface of the cloth to prevent the dough from sticking

Working rapidly, turn the dough upside down on a lightly floured kneading surface and pat it firmly but not too roughly into an 8 to 10 inch oval with the lightly floured palms of your hands. Deflate any gas bubbles in the dough by pinching them.

Fold the dough in half lengthwise by bringing the far edge down over the near edge. Roll the dough a quarter turn forward so the seal is on top.

Flatten the dough again into an oval with the palms of your hands.

Press a trench along the central length of the oval with the side of one hand.

Fold in half again lengthwise.

This time seal the edges together with the heel of one hand, and roll the dough a quarter of a turn toward you so the seal is on the bottom.

Now, by rolling the dough back and forth with the palms of your hands, you will lengthen it into a sausage shape. Start in the middle, placing your right palm on the dough, and your left palm on top of your right hand.

Roll the dough forward and backward rapidly, gradually sliding your hands towards the two ends as the dough lengthens.

The covered dough is now to rise until almost triple in volume; look carefully at its pre-risen size so that you will be able to judge correctly. It will be light and swollen when risen, but will still feel a little springy when pressed.

It is important that the final rise take place where it is dry; if your kitchen is damp, hot, and steamy, let the bread rise in another room or dough will stick to the canvas and you will have difficulty getting it off and onto another baking sheet. It will turn into bread in the oven whatever happens, but you will have an easier time and a better loaf if you aim for ideal conditions.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees about 30 minutes before estimated baking time.

As soon as the dough has been slashed, moisten the surface either by painting with a soft brush dipped in cold water, or with a fine spray atomizer, and slide the baking sheet onto rack in upper third of preheated oven. Rapidly paint or spray dough with cold water after 3 minutes, again in 3 minutes, and a final time 3 minutes later. Moistening the dough at this point helps the crust to brown and allows the yeast action to continue in the dough a little longer. The bread should be done in about 25 minutes; the crust will be crisp, and the bread will make a hollow sound when thumped.

If you want the crust to shine, paint lightly with a brush dipped in cold water as soon as you slide the baking sheet out of oven.

I suggest you check the complete long version and step by step guide of this recipe here.

"Love is sweet but tastes best with bread"
specially the one with pavot grains :-)

Banana and Honey Muffin with Nutella Swirl and a fashion show

Go banana with this muffin,
Banana & Honey muffin with Nutella Swirl

When I was still in the world of fashion the month of February is normally our busy days. The textile and future trends salon in Paris and of course the match awaited fashion shows of world's top-notch fashion designers with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Sonia Rykiel and others. It is for us the occassion to know what will be the fashion trends for the next collection. It is always inspiring to see how imaginative and creative they could be once you saw each collection walks in the catway. It is normally from there you start to germinate your own collection. And of course the excitement doubles when it is your work that is in the limelight. I must admit that the real thing I miss in this profession is the creativity part, brainstorming, designing, choosing the materials to work with and without forgetting my tons of friends in the business.

I have no regrets taking a pause in this industry to give way to my most beautiful creation (my daughter) and besides everyday I get a chance to liberate my artistic flair in the kitchen everytime I concoct a recipe for my blog. :-)

With very limited ingredients left in my fridge plus a little bit of my imagination enjoy this sweet muffin recipe with the small clip of the last spring-summer collection I designed.

Banana& Honey Muffin with Nutella Swirl

250 g of flour
100 g of sugar
6 tbsps of Honey
3 ripe bananas
50 g of bitter sweet chocolate
50 g of Nutella
3 eggs
1 sachet of baking powder
5 cl of milk

In bowl whisk the egg with sugar and honey. Eventually add the flour and baking powder. Pour in the milk and mix well until it becomes homogenous. In a separate bowl crush the bananas using the back of the fork and them in the mixture. Melt the chocolate bar in bain marie. Once the chocolate have completely melted add the nutella and mix well. Add half of this mixture in the egg-flour-honey-milk mixture. Pour the muffin mixture in muffin trays or in a ramekin. Add the swirl of nutella at the top of each muffin. Pre-heat the oven at 180° celsius and bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes. Before serving I glaced my muffins in honey to make it brilliant and shiny.

My Fairtrade Spring-Summer Collection

For my french readers, the french version of this muffin recipe is here:

Strawberry sushi crepe with minty chocolate sauce

Green tea infused Strawberry Carpaccio in Crepe Rolls with choco-wasabi paste and chocolate minty sauce

When my baby cry you would think she's the daughter of Luciano Pavarotti. Her capacity to keep high notes could fairly pass for a soprano soloist in any audition for opera. I couldn't blame her for I nourished her with my singing prowess during pregnancy. :-) It is the reason why, everytime I succeeded in making her sleep it is such a great relief for me (and probably for our neighbors too) and I do all the precautions to keep it that way. Sometimes I even unplug the phone to avoid waking her up from the noise of the incoming calls.

Unfortunately that day I was too late. The phone rang. Definitely it woke her up. I was torn between, answering the phone (probably scold that person at the same time) and taking my baby from her crib. Since I was angry I opted to pick up the phone. It was my husband. My anger transformed into worries because It's unusual for him to make calls at this hour. Then he blurted out the reason of his call, was to ask me if I would accept living back again in Japan for 2 or three years. Apparently there was a proposition for an expat job in Japan. Wow! Definitely I said yes. I love Japan and terribly miss my friends back there.A short stint there will be a great idea I thought.

That day I got so excited with this news that I saw everything already in Japanese color.

Strawberry Sushi Crepe with spicy chocolate paste and minty chocolate sauce

Sushi Crepe
250 g of flour
half a liter of milk
3 tbsps of oil
2 tbsps of sugar
a pinch of salt
3 eggs

In a bowl mix the egg with all dry ingredients. Add the oil. Eventually add little by little the milk. Continue mixing until the mixture becomes homegenous. Let it stand for a minimum of one hour. Cook over very hot crepe pan. Dust icing sugar over each crepe and roll delicately. Cut the uneven edges of the two sides. Eventually cut regular sizes for each rolled crepe. Then set aside.

Strawberry carpaccio in Mint and green tea infusion
250 g of strawberry
5 tbsps of hot water
1 tsp of green tea
8-10 leaves of mint leaves
2 tbsp of honey

Slice each strawberry lengthwise. In a small bowl mix the hot water with the green tea powder, honey and sliced fresh mint leaves. Pour over this mixture over the strawberry and let it infuse for minimum of 30 minutes. Insert the starwberry carpaccio in your sushi crepe.

Choco spicy paste
50 g of bitter dark chocolate
1 tsp of chili powder
1 tbsp of cold water

In bain marie melt the chocolate then add the chili powder. Turn of the heat then add one tablespoon of cold water this will make your thicken your chocolate mixture. Prepare this last as this have the tendency to harden when temperature is too cold.

Chocolate minty sauce
50 g of mint chocolate
2 tbsps of fresh cream

Melt the mint chocolate in bain marie and add slowly the fresh cream. Mixed continously until the mixture becomes liquid. Serve hot.

Dunk it here...

Pineapple Ginger and Cinnamon Creme Brulée

Creme Brulée goes exotic....

Ten days before our vacation and my brain cells are running out of ideas. What shall I cook? What do I have left? Every morning I open the fridge I am confronted with these questions. Sticking to the challenge my husband put on me I really feel that one way or the other I will definitely gonna give up. Considering how meticuluous I could be when it comes to ingredients, it would be like demanding me to make paella without rice. Well that's not a very good example :-) though. Since Friday is market day in our city I decided that it won't be that bad to do a small promenade with my daughter to freshen up my ideas. Thinking that I might come up with a delicious recipe seeing all the fresh produce of our local market. Upon arrival in the market the first thing that caught my attention was the mountain of sweet scented pineapple at the middle of the plaza that were on sale: "buy one take one". I couldn't take off my head the image of this pineapple and all the recipes I could do with it. But probably it was my lucky day afterall for I went back home with a big fresh pineapple. Could you guess what transpired:

a. I used my baby girl's charm to lure the pineapple vendor to give me one.
b. I found one in the garbage
c. I stole one

Well, none of the above. It just happen that I saw my mom-in-law doing her regular market day and she gave me the "take" of the pineapple that she bought. That's what I call being lucky :-) With a dozen of eggs left in the fridge I made some vegetable omelette, Rice Pilaf in pineapples and Pineapple Ginger-Cinnamon Creme Brulée for our dessert. By the way I'll be sending this recipe to Root Source Challenge #2 to win that fabulous recipe book. :-)

Pineapple Ginger and Cinnamon Creme Brulée

250 g of sliced pineapple
20 g of butter
a pinch of cinnamon powder
a pinch of ginger powder
1 tsbp of brown sugar
100 g of sugar
5 egg yolks
1 tsp of vanilla extract
half a liter of heavy fresh cream

In casserole caramelised the pineapples with butter and sugar. Add the ginger and cinnamon powder and continue cooking until pineapples become golden brown. In a bowl cream the egg yolks with 100 g of sugar. Add the vanilla extract and heavy cream. Put a layer of caramelised pineapples in ramekin and cover it with the cream. Cook slowly at 130° celsius for 30 minutes. Before serving put a teasepoon of brown sugar on the top and brown it using a blow torch.

Eyes, eyes baby....

Which floor?

Pecan nuts and Maple Syrup Tart: honey in the kitchen

Creamy and crumbly on the mouth, pecan nuts and maple syrup tart
As our vacation approaches hubby gets excited even more everyday like a kid. Before I met him I never really see the importance of the word "vacation". Probably because I grew up in a tropical country where everyday is set in vacation ambiance: sun, sand, beaches and coconut trees :-) Infact, I never imagined that French people can be obsessed (? I am not sure if it's the right word) on the number of weeks of vacations they can have. Considering the fact they are only working 35 hours a week, no Sunday work (even for the service industry) plus a total of six weeks of vacation in a year. Without counting the days they are on strike (which happens very often) as this is their favorite sport way far before tour de France or football :-) (oops just kidding). He always tells me its his hard earned reward for working diligently.

Anyways, as we were pulling our luggages stocked on the top of our closet we couldn’t helped but chat about the last vacation we had in Canada. We were so much engulfed by our conversation that we decided to stop what we were doing and look instead at our photo album. We spend the entire afternoon talking about all our happy memories, funny anecdotes and delicious food tripping in Canada. That day we decided to bake the sweetest memory left of this vacation, maple syrup tart.
Our complice in this sweet adventure
Pecan nuts and Maple Syrup Tart
for the pastry:

250 g of flour
100 g of butter
½ tsp of salt
3 tbsps of water

for the garniture :
500 ml of maple syrup
400 ml heavy fresh cream
2 tbsps of cornflour
½ tsp of vanilla extract
30 g of pecan nuts
Start by preparing the dough. In a bowl mix with your hands the butter cut in small cubes. Add salt and the water little by little. work on the dough until it becomes smooth. Form a ball and keep it covered and let it stand for an hour. While waiting for the dough, In a casserole mix the maple syrup and heavy cream and let it boil. Add the cornflour by diluting it in a tablespoon of water before adding up in the maple syrup-cream mixture. Simmer over low fire for 15 minutes until the mxiture thickens. Add the vanila extract and turn off the fire. Cook the dough first at 180° celsius for ten minutes. Then add the pecan nuts and pour over the syrup mixture. Cook slowly for 40 minutes

For my French readers, the french version of this delicieuse recette is here:

Beef Tagine in dried figs; a morrocan delight and a football match

Love me tender, love me sweet

No to racism!

This was the slogan of the campaign ad that widely circulated on french television last year triggered after numerous incidents of "racism insults" during football matches in France on colored football players. A great number of popular football players mobilised for in doing that commercial hoping to end this racism occurence. Thierry Henry, Zinadine Zidane and the likes gladly volunteered their services in that commercial ad. However,this morning as we were taking our breakfast we've learned about the latest racism incident involving a Moroccan player that was insulted by the spectators during the match in one of the key cities in France. We are not really football fanatics but the current issue called our attention. The french government was thinking of being more strict with the penalties involving such issues like one year prohibition to enter stadiums, 2 years imprisonment and thousand of euros of fine. Ouch! And guess what the insult in question was; monkey cries and gestures during the entire match. I'm pretty sure those fans were regretting so much their behaviour that got carried away with the intensity of the match. Sometimes it pays not to become too much devotee of one's team you are rallying for. Of course, I am not judging those fans because I saw how my aunties and dad would cry everytime their favorite team loses a match. But I will never understand how it works in their head :-)

Come to think of it, how ironic it could be that racism transpire on circumstances like this when sports true meaning is all about camaraderie, fairness and fun

That day, after the news I had so much envies for morrocan food; I should say that my belly got carried away....

Beef Tajine in dried figs

1 kilo of beef cut in cubes
1 big onion slice
1 red pepper sliced
50 g of dried figs
12 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of curcuma
1 tsp of cayenne powder
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of paprika
1 tsp of tomato paste
salt, pepper

one cup of beef bouillon
Chopped coriander (optional)

In a casserole, sauté the sliced onion then add up the beef. Brown a little bit all the sides of the meat. Add the pepper and all the spices. Add the dried figs, tomato paste and the bouillon. Simmer for one hour over medium fire. Serve with couscous.

"Ini, mini, myni mo..."

Don't get carried away....

Apple Muffin Rosemary and 5 Random Facts

Sweet and flavorful, apple & Rosemary Muffin

I have been tagged again :-)

Infact, It’s a long over due meme on five random facts and since I will be on vacation soon, I thought it would be the best time to post it. I am deeply honored to have been tagged by the gifted artist-blogger Ronell of My French kitchen and a fellow DBer Gabi of The Feast Within (you can check their answers here and here). I will share 5 random facts with you and then I will tag 5 people to do the same.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

Evereyone else seems to be showing pictures of themselves as a child- but unfortunately all my baby photos are in my parents’ house. I’ll be sharing instead some of my not so « old photos » for you to understand that despite my age im still young at heart and mentally childish (these are scanned photos sorry for the quality.)

Taken in one of the numerous temples you could find in Tokyo

1. I am born under the sign of Sagittarius and under the year of the rat.
2. I am a middle child, that explain’s my weirdness from time to time.
(I am funny, bubbly and I love company but I can be moody sometimes)

Posing with the Roman soldiers during Moriones festival in Philippines

3. I have a photographic and very sharp memory. I dont know how many times I passed important exams relying on this ability. I could memorize recipes by just looking at them for few seconds.
4. Dessert is the most important part of the meal for me. I could start a bad entrée followed by equally bad main course but the dessert should be absolutely delectable. I could skip out all parts of a meal : entree and main course but never the dessert. For medDessert comes first.
5. I love inventing recipes. Mix and matching flavors and ingredients: Lasagna ratatouille, risotto with coco cream, dark espresso sauce on duck breast or this apple-rosemary muffin. But I tell you5 out of ten ends up in the garbage uneatable.

I am passing on this to the following: Oggi of I can do that (sorry if I have to tag you again :-), White Rice Couple, Manggy of No Special Effects , A Forkful of Spaghetti and Tigerfish of Teczscape.

Apple-Rosemary Muffin
125 g of flour
100 g of almond powder
75 g of sugar
5 tbsps of oil (you can use peanut or any nut oil)
1 pack of baking powder
20 cl of milk
2 big apples peeled and mushed
1 tsp of fresh rosemary
1 egg
10 g of butter for the mold

Beat the egg yolk with sugar. Add in the flour, almond powder, baking powder and milk. Fold in the apple and rosemary into the mixture. Preheat the oven at 200° celsius and bake on buttered ramekin or muffin molds for 20 minutes.

For my french readers, the french version of this muffin recipe is here:

Pear, goat-cheese & Macaroni Salad

Can you "pear" up with me?

"Cleanliness is next to godliness"
I don't remember how many times my mom used this line to convince us when we were kids to help out with the household chores. We did'nt had a big house but already dividing it among three lazy daughters was always such a head-ache for her. Most of the time its her blackmailing strategy that proved to be more efficient in making us participate: "dirty house means no afternoon snack". For voracious kids that we were missing our afternoon snack was totally out of the question. Unfortunately none of us inherited her passion (obsession??) for maintaining the house clean. When I was a kid I never understood that.

Things are quite different now. Having my own household to keep clean, I don't really have much choice despite that I still abhor cleaning :-). Hubby and I agreed to do major cleaning of our house once a month. We normally do a draw lot who cleans what part of the house. With my magic technique I always end up winning always the easy part :-) This weekend, different from our normal cleaning routine hubby and I were on our "happy and excited mood". Guess why? Simply because in two weeks time we will be leaving for our one month vacation. We are really excited because it's been two years now that we haven't travelled yet, specially due to my pregnancy last year. As we were cleaning, I just realised that's what I should have done long time ago as a kid: I should have thought of good stuffs that I like to make me enjoy cleaning.

Anyways, hubby told me since we will be leaving in two weeks time we will refrain from doing our groceries. He wanted me to finish off all the stocks of food we have in the kitchen. I do love cooking but improvising recipes based on available ingredients on the kitchen is not really my forte. As I was busy pondering on hubby's words to me and as I look on our fridge I just thought how tough these 2 weeks would be for me.

Pear,goat-cheese & macaroni salad, don't ask me why.

Pear, goat-cheese & Macaroni Salad

100 g of cooked macaroni
1 log of goat cheese
2 pears peeled and cubed
50 g of grapes
75 g of raw ham cubed

for the dressing home-made mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
half a cup of olive oil
juice of a demi lemon
salt , pepper

Start by whisking the yolk in a bowl then add the mustard, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Continue whisking vigorously as you add up the oil. In a separate bowl mix all the ingredients of the salad: macaroni, raw ham, grapes and pear. Add the sauce and toss lightly.

Peek a boo...

Toblerone molten cake, I'm in love

Pour your heart out..

They do not love that do not show their love.
The course of true love never did run smooth.
Love is a familiar.
Love is a devil.
There is no evil angel but Love.
William Shakespeare

Toblerone Mini-cakes oozing at the heart

(Note: the key to the success of this recipe is the cooking time. Do not overcook. You need to be vigilant. As oven could vary on their real temperature and sizes and shapes of your ramekin, I advise you cook the molten cake halfway and check one ramekin by unmolding it gently in a plate. if it comes out perfect. Its already done, if not put it back and continue cooking.)

1 egg
25 g of sugar
20 g of flour
50 g of butter
50 g of toblerone
20 g of bittersweet chocolate
10 g of butter for greasing the ramekin

Beat the egg with sugar until it becomes smooth and creamy. Add the flour and continue beating. In bain marie melt the the two chocolates and add the butter until the mixture becomes homogenous. Pre-heat the oven at 200° celsius. Fold in the chocolate mixture in the egg-flour-sugar batter until it becomes smooth. Pour in this mixture in a well buttered ramekin. Cook for 10 minutes. Unmold immediately after cooking.

Happy Valentine's day to everyone!
Let romance conquer your soul tonight :-)

Thai Express Salad and an Oscar award, well almost...

Colorful Verrine Thai Salad

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

When people are dining at our place I always take an ample and careful contemplation on what menu to serve. I take meticulous preparation seeing to it that from entrée to main course and down to dessert will give my guests a pleasurable dining experience. And If the word culinary saddism exist I would proudly claim I am one. For I find extreme pleasure in cooking for other people . Seeing the satisfaction and smile on their faces is enough to make me happy.

Growing up as a teenager, I don't remember how many times I sacrified staying late at night to help my mom and aunties prepare food for big gathering at home, while my sisters and cousins are enjoying their beauty-rest for the big day. So when I received the phone call of my sister-in-law yesterday, telling me she's coming over with some of her friends a bit impromptu at my place, I totally panicked. For preparing express menu is not really my cup of tea. And when I'm harrassed like this, my brain stops from functioning.

As I was totally lost in my kitchen, my eye was caught by the cookbook of Cyril Lygnac, a gift I got last year for my birthday. Let me say he is like the Jamie Oliver of France, good looking, sexy and young chef that become popular through his "cooking tele-reality" show. Two minutes browsing was enough for me to settle for this entrée.

Captivating Express Thai Salad

for the salad
100 g of vermicelli noodles (glass noodles) 1 courgette 2 carrots 50 g of bean sprouts 150 g of shrimps (cooked and without shells)

for the sauce
1 small ginger 1 tsp of soy sauce 2 tbsp of sesame oil 1 tsp of sesame seeds 3 tbsps of lime juice 1 tsp of honey

Cook the vermicelli or glass noodles in a big casserole with water as you would cook a pasta noodle. Let it cook for five minutes only then drain it. Wash it with cold running water to avoid from sticking. Wash and peel the carrots and courgette. Cut them in julienne strips. In a bowl mix all the vegetables together with the vermicelli noodles and cooked shrimps. For the sauce mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl and add just before serving.

Messy bean sprouts....

I got it!

My sincerest gratitude to Happy Cook and Gloria for giving me this award. Getting an award from the two awesome food bloggers that I admire is already like winning an Oscar for me :-) Thanks again my dear friends. Now I need to give my own award. There's to many of you and choosing will be difficult. I'm awarding this "Nice Matter Award" to Oggi (I can do that), Susan (Well Seasoned Cook), Tigerfish (Teczsape), Big boys oven and Ronell (my french kitchen). These are all the bloggers I truly admire.


For my french readers, the french version of this verrine recipe is here:

The art of loving sweet sushi

Caviar of Caramelised Gooseberries over sweet perfumed Home-made Star Anise ice-cream
Making my baby fall asleep is like a big rubiks cube that needs to be solved by trying different ways. I would dance, sing and would sometimes tell stories even if i knew she still doesn't understand a word. Sometimes it would work, but most of the time it doesnt. Last Friday, it was listening to my Japanese songs that made her fall asleep. As I happily put her on her bed (finally after 2 hours)I continued listening to this compilation of japanese songs and opted to relax. Even if I knew I needed to do things in fast forward ("while she was still sleeping") after all I needed a break and I felt I deserved it. Truly music brings back memories.
We have lived for quite a long time in Japan and I only had good memories of this country. Japan was the country of my "first" was there that I lived for the first time far from my family, It was there that I met my husband for the first time,.. and it was there that I have learned how to bike for the first time in my life (at the age of 26 he hehe) and it was also in Japan that I got married (for the first time too hahaha because we had three ceremonies one in Philippines and another one in France). As I browsed our photo albums I just realised how I miss those moments. I thought i should cook something Japanese and oishii tonight. I was still savouring this quiet instant when I heard my baby cried...end of round one!

Sweet sushi
for Caviar of caramel-dipped gooseberries
100 g of gooseberries
200 g of sugar
20 tbsps of water

In a casserole, melt the sugar in the water. Let it boil slowly in medium fire. As soon as the caramel starts to thicken, turn it off. Soak one by one the gooseberries in the caramel and place in a plate separately to avoid sticking from one another.

for Home-made Star anise Ice-cream
50 g of sugar
2 tbsps of honey
2 eggs
2 star anise
1 cup of heavy fresh cream
Start by breaking the star anise and infuse them for fifteen minutes in the boiling water. Whisk sugar, honey and egg yolks until the mixture whitens. Add the infusion then whisk again. In another bowl, whisk the white eggs until it becomes firm and floppy. Stir in gently the egg whites in the yolk sugar mixture. Add in little by little the whipped fresh cream. Put in a covered container and freeze for 3 to 4 hours. During the first, second and third hour put out the ice-cream mixture and stir gently. Serve as in the photo .
Starry starry day....
For my french readers, the french version can be found here:

Chocolate cinnamon roll: A Valentine treat: a heart-warming romantic story

Falling in love with chocolate and cinnamon...........

Come Valentine's Day, there are people who have certain aversion for this day lambasting that it was merely created for its commercial aspect. Making people spend money stupidly on chocolates and roses or other romantic expenses. But whether it is true or not, I personally don't mind this extra day on our calendar celebrating love. And to honor this event I would like to share with you this heart-warming story of love quite timely for this upcoming day. Nothing goes well with the sweetness of a story like this it but a serving of this heart-shaped chocolate and fig cinnamon rolls. This is an adaptation of the recipe for chocolate cinnamon rolls from Global Gourmet (recipe here) and I am sending this to Zorra's Valentine blog event: Home-made edible heart.

I have a good friend who grew up hating his dad. He had always told us that his dad have always loved his elder brother more than him. It was a simple sibling childhood jealousy that grew with him as he matured. He had completely cut the ties with him. He refused his dad's presence during his wedding and he didn't allow him too to see his grandchildren with him. A hatred so strong that he didn't show up when his dad got sick and not even the day of his funeral made him changed his mind. He didn't try to search for the answers. He kept his anger and never forgave him. All these years her mother told him, that his father loved him so much and if ever he had this impression it is never true.

Heart-shaped Chocolate Cinnamon Roll with chocolate sauce

One day he got a message from his older brother that their mother was rushed to the hospital. Their mom wanted absolutely to see him. She knew her time was up. So on her dying bed she revealed to him what he wanted to know eversince: the truth.

"I vowed to your father that I will never tell our secret, but I cannot die in peace knowing that you are carrying a grudge to your father." The truth is, I was molested and rape when I was young. But when I discovered that I was pregnant, I knew that fleeing the province was the only way to escape the judging eyes of the people. After all I already disgraced my parents and my family. I was already five months pregnant when I met your dad. He was a taxi driver. It was about twelve in the evening when he saw me lying in the dark street of the city. Restless, penniless and nowhere to go, I was desperate for any help that will come my way. Your father offered me help because he knew I needed it. He invited me to come with him to his house. He was living with her mother. And they were really nice to me. They fed me and I told them my story. I told them I wanted to get rid of the baby I was carrying, because it is the source of all my problem. But he told me that the baby is a blessing. He volunteered to take care of all the expenses and offered me to live with them. Your father was a very caring and a loving person. We fell in love eventually and decided to get married even before I gave birth to your older brother. When I gave birth, he told me that he will claim him as his own and will love him as his own. Your dad made me promise that we will keep this a secret for he doesn't want people to discover about my past. Your father loved both of you so much and he told me to tell you that for all the things that you have done and not done, he has forgiven you."

It was Valentine's day he discovered the truth: the heroism and unconditional love of his dad.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!!

You better kiss me, your gonna miss me when I'm gone...

Fruit Minestrone: savouring a refreshing soup dessert

A healthful dose of Fruit Minestrone

Who doesn't love strawberries? Who doesn't love basil?

And do you know that blending these two together will make you love them even more? I know that my cravings for strawberries and basils arrived too early for their season. But the moment I come across the recipe of this wonderful soup dessert on the Serge Hermes dessert cookbook, I got so thrilled. I have been hearing already so much praises on combining strawberry and basil among French gourmet magazines but I know this time I really need to taste it myself. I would admit that I knew very little about Pierre Hermé but my brother-in-law (lawyer by profession and an amateur gourmet just like me) introduced me to this awesome world renowned French chef that is really talented. Last Christmas they offered me his latest collection of recipes dedicated for sweet-tooth.

Don't ask me how I succeeded in procuring strawberries and basils but I tell you it was worth all my effort. Thanks Alex and Cecille for this delicious gift!!
Fruit Minestrone

for Apricot syrup:
40 cl of water
70 g of sugar
zest of one lime
1 tsp of vanilla
15 cl of apricot juice
7 leaves of fresh basil

ministrone fruits:
12 pcs of strawberries
1 banana
1/2 ripe mango
1 kiwi

Start by preparing the apricot syrup. In a casserole mix all the ingredients except the fresh basil leaves. Cover and wait until it boils. Turn off the stove and transfer the syrup in a bowl and let it cool down. Add the thinly sliced basil leaves in the syrup and let it infused for at least 30 minutes. During those time, wash and dry the fruits. Peel the mango, banana and kiwi. Take off the green part of the strawberries. Cut all the fruits in dice of about 3cm. Put them in a bowl, cover and keep in the fridge. Dress each soup plate with the mixed fruits and put about 1-2 ladle of apricot syrup. You can serve this soup with some lemon sorbet as suggested by the recipe.

Strawberry fields forever......

Miniflute Bread: Men do not live by bread alone Part 1

Bread with rock salt, sesame, cumin and pavot seeds

If rice is to Asian, bread is to French.

Before being married to my french hubby, I have always believed this to be true. I remember that the first thing that strucked me visiting France for the first time was seeing them precipitating in boulangeries to buy their baguette for the day. Some would come out with one, others with two, or interestingly some were already consuming what they bought when they just been out of the boulangerie. You wouldn't imagine too how easy it is to find a boulangerie, for you will surely see on in every block.

French people love affair with bread dates back in history when majority of France were peasants and that eating soup and bread was the only means of survival. To note in their history was an interesting anecdote when people were rallying against scarcity of bread to eat against the monarchy and Marie Antoinette's naive reply was, "why they don't just eat cake.." This relationship is also something they take very seriously. French laws are very much strict in preserving their bread and the artisans behind them. Baguette for example should only contain water, flour, yeast, and common salt The addition of any other ingredient to the basic recipe requires the baker to use a different name for the final product.

This weekend, I had a wonderful experience to have a chat with a grandmother living in Alps making her own home-made bread. When we went back home, I didn't wasted time in baking this magnificent and equally delicious bread adopted from Sandra Avital's Mini-flute bread. In the original recipe there was water included but I took it off I was too scared my dough will be too sticky. I was quite satisfied with my version despite it's the first time I baked a bread. I advise you go and check her site for it's a very good source for all those wonderful baking goodies. Well explained and wonderful photos. :-)

(I'm sending over this photo too for Click's february theme: flour)

Mini-flutes Bread with rock salt, sesame, pavot and cumin seeds

500 g of flour
10 g of dry yeast
125ml of milk
20 g of butter
egg yolk wash
rock salt, cumin seeds, sesame seeds and pavot seeds

In a bowl, mix the flour with the dry yeast and salt. Add the warm milk and mix .Transfer immediately in your working table lightly floured. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes until it becomes elastic and non sticky (you can always add a little bit of flour to facilitate this task). Let this dough rest for about ten minutes covered by a towel to avoid drying. Continue again kneading the dough until it becomes really non sticky. Form a round shape and leave the dough in a bowl lightly oiled and cover. Let the dough rise for 1 hr. Cut about 12 to 14 triangles of about .5cm thick. Roll them from the largest side towards the smallest side. Brush with egg yolk and powder with rock salt and seeds. Cook for about 15 minutes at 200°celsius. Put a ramekin with water inside the oven while baking to add humidity.
Bread, alone........

A delicious Coco-bread and a murder story

Delightful childhood memories of freshly baked Pan de Coco

Mysteries and murder stories never fail to captivate audience whether on big screen or in boob tube. The more intricate and the more impossible the stories with twists and gory endings the more it will make audience. Is it an innate behaviour among us to feel that way? Or writers are really running out of better ideas?

Do not be disappointed to know that you won't find anything like this on this post. Not even a single blood has been shed but a real murder story really happened. The story started few weeks ago, hopping around for a cooking inspiration in the delicious blogsphere world. Susan of the Well Seasoned Cook bewitched me with her recipe of a Coconut sweet (you can check the recipe in here). Seeing the photo of a "real" coconut (you know what I mean not just dried dessicated coconut) and her delicious cake, awaken my deep yearning for this tropical fruit. How I long to drink its oozing juice from a newly opened fresh coconut and scrape it's soft and creamy fruit inside. The taste was so long ago that I have almost forgotten about it.

Unfortunately, satisfying this cravings for fresh coconut will not be that simple considering where I live. For finding fresh coconut in the supermarket isn't that easy. But heaven must have heard my lament that day, for my chase over this precious nut didn't last that long. I didn't have much choice, as there was only one left in the exotic fruit section. Rest now to do, is how on earth will I open this up? I knew I needed something strong and sharp the same bolo (machete) my grandfather uses to open a coconut back in the province. I knew I wouldn't find this at home so I went and desperately looked for in my in laws' kicthen. But to no avail, for the sharpest thing they have was an electric cutter for meat.

So delectably innocent.......

Hopelessly I went outside with my coconut in the garden. I stared at this thing and decided to defy all what grandpop taught me on the proper way of opening up a coconut. Without batting an eye I took the biggest and the most piercing stone I could find and started breaking this thing up.

It took me 5 minutes to brutally assasinate this poor thing.

I'm sending this recipe to Lasang Pinoy 24 on this month's theme:Loco over Coco.

Coconut Bread (Pandecoco)
For the brioche
4 cups all- purpose flour
4 eggs, beaten 2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 package active dry yeast 1 cup lukewarm milk (scalded them cooled) ¾ cup sugar ¾ pound butter or margarine ¾ tablespoon salt

Coconut Filling

150 g shredded coconut
5 tbsp of coco jam

Egg Wash

1 egg yolk

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients except the yeast. Add slowly the melterd butter, warm milk and eggs. Then dissolve the yeast in one tbsp of warm milk and add in the dough. Work on the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. Keep covered in a warm place about 40 degrees Celsius until it sizes doubles. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Place the coco jam in a pan and cook over medium heat. Mix in the shredded coconut thoroughly. Soften the consistency by adding few tablespoon of water if coco jam is too sticky. Remove from the heat and allow cooling. Set aside. When the dough is ready; knead again for the second time. You can add some flour to facilitate the task. Make some balls of about 2 inches in diameter and flatten slightly. In the center of dough, place one tablespoon of the coconut filling. Fold the dough over the filling and seal the edges. Let the dough rise again for about 30 minutes under the same condition. Brush with egg yolks the top to give a golden crispy touch and bake for 20-30 minutes at 190 degrees celsius.

After I brutally assasinated

Resting peacefully over a fluffy dough