Fun girlie trip with fun thing to do – Cooking class at Blue Elephant

It is hard to organise a trip with your girl friends BFF many years after school, as each of us is having our own agenda. Some married, some with kids, some busy with work, some  living in other countries, and etc. But the 4 of us somehow still managed to go for our second girlie trip last year, and to make it more fun, we tried to line up with fun thing to do. Four of us ended up with an agreement to go for a cooking class, our destination is Phuket in Thailand, and we found this nice place called Blue Elephant, it is a well known restaurant, and they also do cooking class.

a corner inside the Blue Elephant

 

 

Arrived to this beautiful building, and actually the entire building with old Chinese-colonial style is the Blue Elephant Restaurant, with a huge lawn and very old trees. I heard that it was a government building, and the owner bought the whole building and keep the look for the restaurant, it is nicely decorated and I love the style! The restaurant itself is quite well-known, with brunches all over the world in different countries, for example London, Paris, Brussels, Dubai, and etc.

The first thing we need to do is a tour to the wet market nearby, not really doing shopping, but in order to understand the ingredients of Thai food or how do they look like, the best place to go is the market. It’s actually quite interesting to go around the market, and having someone can speak with the locals with you is great. I’ve learned different kind of vegetables and herbs that are originated in Thailand. It was definitely a nice experience.

wet market in Phuket, Thailand. Those yellow chicken are marinated with turmeric.

So, let’s start cooking! Basically, they prepared all ingredients for you, you just need to cook. Our class is to learn 4 dishes, the first one is Keang Ka-Ree Koong Subparod (Yellow Curry with Prawns and Pineapple). The most important thing to learn is how to make the curry paste, everything is about grinding with the mortar. So, you need to work out your muscle in order to grind the curry paste. Basically, the red curry paste is the base, and to make the yellow curry paste is using the red curry paste to add yellow curry powder and turmeric powder. The ingredients are garlic, coriander root, yellow curry powder, turmeric powder, red curry paste, vegetable oil, coconut milk, prawns, pineapple in thinly sliced, cherry tomato cut in half, sweet pepper and onion. This dish is not difficult, most of the work is about making the red curry paste.

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Yellow Curry with Prawns and Pineapple, mine one is number 2 😉

The second dish is Hor Mok Poo Tod (Fried Crab Soufflé), for this one you need to whisk a lot, another way to build muscle. For this dish, we have to mix the ingredients in a big bowl, first to mix the paste, egg yolk and coconut milk, then have to mix the minced chicken, minced prawn, steamed crab meat, kaffir lime leaf, sweet basil leaves, then add fish sauce and sugar. Place the mixture into crab shells or containers, and steam that for 15 minutes. Dip with beaten egg, then coat with breadcrumbs, and deep fry.

 

Hor Mok Poo Tod (Fried Crab Soufflé)

The teacher said that this Phad Ka-praow Nua (Stir-fried beef with holy basil) is one of the most popular, cheap and cheerful dish in Thailand. Basically is to fry the sliced beef with holy basil, with the garlic and chili paste, kaffir lime leaf, green peppercorn, sliced of red and yellow chilies, chicken stock, young baby corns and long bean. Season it with light soya sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and sweet dark soya sauce.

Phad Ka-praow Nua (Stir-fried beef with holy basil)

 

The last dish is the Yam Som O (Pomelo Salad), always love to eat this one, let’s see how to make it. The salad ingredients are pomelo, cooked prawns, chicken, ground dried shrimps, roasted peanuts and desiccated coconut. Mixed the ingredients together and add the dressing, chilli paste, tamarind juice, palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice mixed well together. Garnish it with deep fried shallot, deep fried dried red chili and boiled quail’s eggs.

Yam Som O (Pomelo Salad)

 

 

Some Thai ingredients that I learned and it’s quite new to me, holy basic leaves, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, tamarind, coriander root (don’t know you can cook with the root). Each of us got a certificate and some gifts home, few ingredients to bring with us, such as fish sauce, curry paste and kaffir lime leaves. We also got to sit down and have lunch together and enjoyed what we cooked.

 

 

 

CNY’s Eve dinner, good to go for fish – Salmon and Scallop with Avocado Dips


Tonight is Chinese New Year’s Eve, I am thinking to cook a salmon dinner for the two of us. For the 團年飯 (Tuen Lin Fan), dinner for the whole family to get together, it’s an important dinner  during the year. Traditionally, we need to make sure we are having certain dishes for dinner, such as fish, shrimp and meat. Fish (魚 pronounce as yu), that represent good fortune and money, shrimp (蝦 pronounce as ha), that represent a lot of laughter and happiness. So, I guess for just the two of us, salmon is a good choice.

I would say, this dish is all about the avocado dip. That is not like guacamole, because that will be too strong for salmon, the trick for this one is with Greek yogurt. So, this dish is salmon and scallop with zucchini and cauliflower, served with avocado dip.

To get everything prepared before starting to cook. Cut the cauliflower in pieces and steam them until almost done, I will finish them later pan fry with butter and seasoning. Cut the zucchini in slices. Cut two avocados in half, and smash them into a large bowl. Then, add minced garlic, some Greek yogurt and a bit of lemon juice into it, and mix them well together. Season it with the amount of salt and pepper that you like. Now, heat the oven in 190C, place a foil and then salmon on the tray, season the salmon will salt and pepper, a bit of lemon juice and put some dill directly on the salmon. Drizzle some olive oil on the salmon and the tray, and put it in the oven and grill for 15 minutes. Turn the salmon upside down when it’s half way done, that helps to cook it more evenly. Sometimes I do prefer to grill the salmon with fully wrap of foil, in order to keep it moist. But today, I guess it’s fine to grill it just like that.

When the salmon is in the oven, we can get the grill pan to fry the zucchini with olive oil. On the other hand, we can heat up another pan with butter, and fry the cauliflower, and season them with salt and pepper. Then, we heat the pan with butter, and fry the scallops. Please remember, do not overcook them, otherwise they will become too dry and chewy. Don’t forget to turn your salmon once in the middle. When the salmon is done, take them out and serve it with the scallop, some zucchini and cauliflower, of course with the avocado dip. The avocado dip tastes better if you have chance to let it chill in the fringe a little bit.

Just to make the entire family happy, I’ve also made some salmon with potatoes for our two doggies. Salmon is always good for dogs, this is actually what our vet asked is to feed one of our dog when she was having allergy. Good for skin and joint as well.

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Kung Hei Fat Choy! 恭喜發財!年年有餘!

Mussels with White Wine Sauce

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Mussels are something nice to eat at the restaurant, and you might think it is difficult to make, which is totally wrong. It is super easy and you can easily achieve a good result. You can give a try, quick and easy, maybe a dish to finish in 20 minutes starting from chopping.

Let’s get all the ingredients chopped nicely, garlic, red chili pepper, onion, tomatoes, celery, parsley and spring onion. It’s up to you, as it all depends on what do you like to eat, feel free to explore, but main ingredients, I would say, they are onion, parsley and some garlic for sure.

Heat the sauce pan with some butter, then put onion and garlic, fry them until they start to turn brown. Then, add the celery and tomatoes, you can add the red chili pepper now, or if you want it more spicy, can add from the beginning together with the garlic. Then, you can put either chicken broth or just water to boil it, also add a bit of white wine. Personality, I think water is good enough and it also turned out tasty, even without chicken broth. Now, you get ready with  the pack of mussels that you bought from the supermarket or food market. I’ve tried different brands, and they are all good. The best thing is, they are just not expensive at all, you save a great deal than eating mussels at the restaurant. For the frozen mussels, you don’t need to defrost them, you just pour them in the sauce right after you took them out from the freezer. Then, cook it around 5 minutes with the lid until shell open, then maybe cook 1 more minute without the lid. Finally put parsley and spring onion, then serve it with some slices of baguette.

The best thing is to dip the baguette with the sauce. So yummy! One thing to remember, no need to put salt, because the mussels should be salty enough.

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Creamy Smoked Salmon Penne Pasta

Cold and rainy night again! What should we eat? Maybe something that can make you feel warm, creamy or cheesy…… Let’s do a creamy pasta, creamy smoked salmon penne pasta.

This dish is creamy and you will feel satisfy after the meal!

I love to add pine nuts for the pasta, love the taste and the consistency.  First of all, before doing anything else, just fry the pine nuts with a pan with a bit of olive oil. You really have to watch it, because it might burnt all of a sudden, as you would not want your pasta with black pine nuts. So, that is ready and you will need that at the end, so better get it done in the beginning without spending time to cook it at the end. Some people just cook it together with the pasta, but I love to fry them a bit to get them taste even better!

To cook the pasta sauce is quick, so you can almost cook the sauce and boil the water for the pasta at the same time. Boil a big pot of hot water for the pasta, on the other hand, get a sauce pan ready. Put some butter in the pan when it’s hot, place some chopped garlic and fry them until golden brown, you can also add some finely chopped onion if you like. Then, add the crème fraîche as you like, around 200 ml, add parmesan cheese or you can add any kind of goat cheese as well, depends on what do you like. Add a touch of  freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a touch of white wine if you like. Cook until the sauce starts to become thick, season it with salt and pepper, then add the salmon. Do not add the salmon too early, as it’s already cooked, no need to extra cook them. At the same time, the penne or any selection of pasta you like, should be ready. The trick to cook the pasta is no tricks! Just pour a tea spoon of salt in the hot water and cook the pasta, duration refer to the cooking time on the package, and keep it with high heat, the result should be always good!

Mix the pasta into the sauce, you can always save some hot water from the pasta, in case you need them if the sauce becomes too dry. Finally, put the pine nuts and chopped parsley and mix them well together, then served them with a touch of black pepper.

Crème fraîche does taste different than a regular creme, but if you cannot find it, can still use the regular creme to cook the sauce. But, it tastes more creamy for sure with the crème fraîche.

 

 

 

Linguine alle Vongole

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I have no idea how the time really flies, and maybe I really woke up too late… By the time I feel it’s about time to start the day, was already 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Was thinking to cook a big dinner as usual on Sunday, but I guess I cannot afford to do it today, still a lot to fix before dinner time. Therefore, I need to change my plan, and cook something simple for dinner. Pasta is something always so easy to cook, and so easy to please.

The other day, I was already thinking about this dish, linguine alle vongole, which is my all time favourite, but I’ve never cook it. It’s difficult because you need to look for fresh clams, not cooking with those frozen ones. When I visit the wet market the other day, I saw them selling fresh seafood, that kind of reminds me, let’s cook this dish one day.

Luckily, there are still clams available, but not the small one. These are bigger, but still OK. Let’s get the rest of the ingredients, parsley, cherry tomatoes, linguine, and that’s it. I have the rest at home, white wine, garlic and red chilies.

As usual, it’s all about timing, when you are handling seafood, plus you are cooking pasta, which should be served when it’s hot. This dish is all about time management! You need to make sure two things are ready at the same time, so that you can merge the pasta into the clams, then you can serve it right away. To cook this dish is super easy and simple, the only thing you need to watch out is just about timing. Of course if you only have one burner in the kitchen is not going to work, as you need two burners running at the same time.

One side of the stove is getting a big pot of hot water ready for your linguine; the other side of the stove is heating up the sauce pan. Just simply heat up the sauce pan with olive oil, then add the garlic, parsley, red chilies and cherry tomatoes, when they are starting to cook, add the clams, and some white wine. Cover the lid and cook for few minutes, until the clams are open. By then, the linguine should be ready, and place them all into the sauce pan, and stir them well together with the clams, and it’s ready to be served.

Very simple and yummy, just took half an hour from preparation to finish. Why don’t you try it out? Nice to pair with a glass of white wine.

Home cooking is always amazing 😉 Cheers~~~