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It’s French tonight – Coq Au Vin

I am thinking to cook something French tonight, it’s because I am going to have this dinner party / house warming for our new home soon. These friends would like to have something Western, French or Italian. As I haven’t done many dishes that are really French, let’s search and give it a try. Talking about French cuisine, of course everyone would think of Julia Child, the American woman living in France. I found this dish Coq Au Vin, and there are lots of recipes inspired by Julia Child that you can find food blogger  and home cooks have been trying to make this dish and learned from Julia. It sounds delicious to me, why not give a try.

Coq Au Vin is about cooking chicken in red wine, I was a bit skeptical in the beginning. Really? Chicken with red wine? not white? Red wine for me is more for red meat, like beef. After cooking, the chicken will turned into dark colour, to me is not looking that good, but I guess as long as it tastes good should be fine. According to the recipe, Julia Child also cooked the pearl onion and mushroom as side dishes, and people said the pearl onions are really really good, so I am going to follow the side dishes, plus making some potatoes on top as well.

The key is the chicken, so you can use the whole chicken and chop it into pieces, or you can buy chicken pieces so you don’t need to worry on the chopping part and you can choose the part of chicken you like. I bought a whole chicken and chopped into 6 pieces, 2 chicken breast, 2 chicken thighs, and 2 chicken wings. I decided to get rid of the chicken skin, so the dish is less fat. First of all, cut the bacon into pieces and boil them into hot water to wash down the taste a bit. Or, you can just skip this step and jump right into the next step. Use a Dutch oven or skillet, and heat it up with some butter and olive oil. Place the bacon in and let them fry until they started to turn brown, remove them and let them set aside. Now, use the same oil to fry the chicken, season them with salt and black pepper, brown every single piece and make sure they are brown on both side. Then, add back the bacon, and cover it with lid and cook them for 10 minutes under low heat, turn the chicken once in-between. After 10 minutes, add a bit of cognac and light the dish with fire, let the flavour cook. Then, put the red wine and chicken broth in, make sure it covers the chicken. Now, you can add some minced garlic, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaves. Bring it to boil, then cover the lid and let it simmer for around 30 minutes under low heat. Or, you can put it in the oven under low heat for the same time.

When the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the potatoes, onion and the mushroom.

For the potatoes, I cut them in big pieces. Heat up the pan with butter and a bit of olive oil, then add in the potatoes, season them with salt, pepper, thyme and oregano when they started to turn soft. Pour in some chicken stock and let it simmer with the lid on, they should be done after 20 minutes until all the chicken stock dry out. You can cook this even in advance and re-heat it when you serve it.

For the onion, it said the best is to get the pearl onions. I could only managed to find the small ones, but not exactly the pearl onions, it’s still fine. Heat up the pan with butter and a touch of olive oil, add the onions, and fry them around 10 minutes. Remember to roll them around, so you would not burn them. Lower the heat, then add red wine and some chicken stock, as well as some herbs, thyme, bay leaves and parsley. Cover the lid and let them simmer under low heat for 30 minutes, season them with salt and pepper to taste.

For the mushroom, you can cut into half or serve them in a whole. Heat up the pan with butter and a touch of olive oil, add the minced shallots and then brown the mushroom and let them cook for around 5 minutes or until they are done. Season them with salt and pepper to taste.

Now we can go back to the chicken, remove all chicken from the Dutch oven, raise the heat and then let the liquid boil until it goes down to around half of the original, should be around 2 cups. Now you can taste it and make some adjustment of the taste. Remove the liquid to another bowl, then heat up the Dutch oven again with some butter and some white plain flour, blend them and whip them with the wire whip, then add back the liquid in but use the sift to get the smooth liquid out of it. Let it cook and keep stirring until the sauce is thicken.

Serve the chicken with potatoes, mushroom and onions with sauce on top, garnish it with some chopped parsley. The onions taste really good, and the chicken of course so yummy~~~

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Healthy Sunday dinner – vegetarian pasta

2017 seems not to be on my side, after getting laid off, I just got another piece of information that our landlord would like us to move out. Why everything have to come at the same time? Well, we always should look into the bright side, but sometimes it’s a bit too much and hard to stay positive all the time. I will try but it’s a bit tough these days.

I was busy with flat hunting this weekend and do not have much time to think about what to cook. So, I just come up with something very simple and healthy, in order to fit into our healthy theme lately. A vegetarian pasta – tri-colour fussili with asparagus and mushroom. 

The ingredients are very simple and of course based on vegetable, asparagus, mushroom and onion are the key ingredients and of course the tri-colour fussili. Bring a pot of hot water to boil and ready for the pasta. Heat up the pan with a touch of olive oil, then add sliced garlic and chopped onion in the pan, fry until the onion start to turn brown. Then, add the chopped red chilli pepper and mushroom, fry them and squeeze some lemon juice in. When the mushroom turned soft, add some white wine and cook a bit. Finally, add the chopped asparagus in, cook them a bit and then add a bit of salt. The sauce is basically ready and you can just add the pasta when they are done, don’t forget to add some chopped parsley. Mix the fussili pasta well together with the sauce, and serve them with some roasted pine nuts on top to add a touch of nutty texture.

I found this pasta particularly light and healthy! You can also use this as a salad, chill them and then mix with some salad to eat as a pasta salad.

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Green Sunday dinner to leverage with my juicing husband…. quinoa with green salad and nuts

My husband watched this TV show by Joe Cross, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. He is really amazed by this Reboot programme and the amount of information he got, only to do it with juicing and how much nutrition your body can get and how to balance your diet with raw food and processed food. So, he decided to start juicing and reboot his body on Saturday, he would like to have someone doing this with him, but I would not be able to do it as I think I will feel hungry all the time….. He got his brother in Germany, who is going to kick off the reboot programme with him at the same time, which it’s great to have someone doing this together.

As I would not be able to do juice fasting together with him, but I would like to have a nice juice to start off my day. First of all, we managed to get a second-hand juicer, the powerful Breville juice fountain elite. It is very important to have a good juicer, as you are going to live your days with only juicing. There are lots of varieties of juice you can find online and Joe Cross also got a good amount of juice recipes, that can get either from the app or on the website. I was testing the juicer with my first attempt, to juice with apples, carrots, celery, cucumber and ginger. The juicer is really amazing and speedy, you get a jar of good juice in 30 seconds! Tasting fresh and feeling healthy! My husband was trying to follow the recipe from Joe Cross, and he started off with the Mean Green Juice with cucumber, green apples, celery, kale, lemon and ginger. It tastes good and very green, I love the taste! Compare to the super green powder that I used to drink, I guess this one should be better because it is so fresh! Now whatever I see, I see them in juice……!

For Saturday and Sunday dinner, I also try to leverage with my juicing husband. I try to have a raw diet, or more raw food instead of processed food. I had a salad for dinner with 100% raw food, and for Sunday dinner, I did a dish with quinoa and salad. Even it is not a 100% raw diet meal, it is at least over 51% with raw food. For the quinoa, boil it with a double portion of water in a sauce pan, and I add the leftover sauce we had the other night from the steam mussels. The sauce was full of mussel flavour, and it tastes so good with the quinoa, with still a bit of vegetable leftover in it. I served this quinoa with a mixed green salad, chopped tomato, sliced mushroom and some mixed nuts. Season the salad with a touch of salt and add the quinoa directly on it, eat that like a warm salad.

 

My first trail

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Heathly Sunday dinner – brown rice with minced pork and aubergine

Tonight, I would like to cook something healthy! Well, that’s what I always try to do, cook healthy food! I am getting this idea from Jamie Oliver and change a bit to my version.

First of all, to cook the aubergine in hot water to make them soft. It is difficult to find aubergine with nice shape, they are all long and lean, which is hard to use the skin the bake later on. That’s why I decided to not keeping the skin. On the other hand, cook the brown rice and get them ready. 

Preheat the oven to 180C. Now, heat up the sauce pan with olive oil, then add the minced garlic, red chilli and onion. Fry them until they start to turn brown, then add the chopped mushroom, and the minced pork to fry everything until they are done. Add salt, ground cumin, oregano and fresh dill for seasoning. Now, mix the cooked brown rice and the aubergine into the sauce pan and stir them well. Taste it and adjust. 

Put the mix in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, get the tomato sauce done. Heat up the pan with olive oil and a bit of garlic, add one can of plum tomatoes in and then some brown sugar. Cook and stir them until they are done.

When the rice mix is done, serve them on a plate with the tomato sauce on top, some feta cheese and some fresh dill as garnish. 

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The last day of CNY holiday – bake stuffed pumpkin with quinoa, minced pork & mushroom

Four days of CNY holiday is ending soon, tomorrow have to get back to work. What should I cook for tonight? I would like to do something with quinoa, quinoa is really healthy and we should eat more quinoa! Maybe with minced pork, mushroom, carrot…… How about stuff them in a pumpkin?

First of all, steam the pumpkins until they turn soft, leave them aside and let them cool down. Cook the quinoa with double portion of water, I like to use the rice cooker to cook it which it’s so much more easier, but you can also use a sauce pan to cook that. For the fillings, heat up the pan with a bit of butter and olive oil, fry the minced garlic, followed by roughly chopped onion and carrot. Then, we can start to add the minced pork, and then the roughly chopped mushroom. Cook until they are done, then switch off the heat and add in the quinoa, cheese ( I use mixed of 6 kinds of Italian cheese), finely chopped parsley, fresh thyme, and season it with salt and pepper. 

Now put the fillings inside the pumpkin, fill it up and add cheese again on the top and cover the entire top part. Place the pumpkins in the oven under 190C and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is nice and brown.

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Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner – must have lucky food

It’s Chinese New Year’s Eve today, we called it 團年飯, and traditionally you should have the dinner with your entire family, in order to end the year altogether. It is important for Chinese to gather the entire family together for important event like this one, but I think it’s important for everyone, like Christmas Eve for Western, Thanksgiving dinner for American, and etc.

One thing funny about what we used to eat for CNY’s Eve dinner, we should have something means lucky to us. Meat somehow is a must, as that means you are rich enough to have meat. Fish is also one of the choice, as fish 魚 Yu, sounds like 餘 Yu, meaning extra. Of course we would like to have extra money! Shrimp 蝦 Ha, sounds like 哈 Ha, the sound of laughing, so shrimp is also a popular dish for CNY.

So, I’ve made a Western style year-end dinner for us, with shrimp and salmon (fish).

Garlic, Chili and Lemon Shrimp. Heat up the pan with butter and a bit of olive oil, put minced garlic in, then put the lemon slices and chopped red chili pepper, fry a bit then put all shrimps with shell in the pan, cover with lid and cook until they all turned pinkish. Season the shrimps with salt, ground pripika and parsley flakes. 

Creamy Salmon Penne Pasta. Put one pot of water to boil, add a good amount of salt and cook the penne pasta according to the cooking time of the package. For the sauce, heat up the pan with butter and a bit of olive oil, put the minced garlic in, and then put the chopped asparagus and sliced mushroom. Fry them until they turn soft, add some lemon zest and squeeze in lemon juice, then pour in the cooking cream, let it simmer and then add some cheese. Could be a mix of Italian cheese, like parmesan, romano or pecorino cheese. Let it simmer a bit more, then season it with a bit of salt and ground pripika. Mix the sauce with the penne pasta, and serve it with a touch of black pepper.

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Japanese homemade dinner – sous vide miso pork tenderlion 

I don’t know how I ended up with cooking Japanese tonight, but I was all prepared with recipes in my head and planned to cook sous vide rack of lamb with greens as side dish. I went down for grocery shopping and I walked in this Japanese grocery store, I just could not help it and completely changed my mind and starting to re-generate new recipes in my head already.

So, I got edamame, clams, pork tenderlion from Kagoshima, and some udon. I also want to make this Japanese cheese cake since few weeks, maybe I should also get that done tonight as dessert. 

Steamed edamame is easy, just get them steam and then put salt as seasoning. That’s it! Could it be more simple? And that already making you feel like at the Japanese Restaurant.

Sake steamed clam, boil 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sake. Add clams into the pan when it’s boiling, cover the lit and cook until the clams are open. Add a bit of salt and some butter into the pan, and mix them well. Add some chopped leek for garnish.

For the sous vide pork tenderlion, of course it takes more time and procedure to cook. Mix 3 to 4 teaspoon of miso paste into some sake, add some grated ginger and brown sugar into it and make them well together. Use the mix and put them all over the pork tenderlion, and then place it in the vacuum bag. Cook with the sous vide machine with 61C for 2 hours, if your tenderlion is thick, the temperature has to adjust to 62C. When the pork is done, remove it from the hot bath and set it aside. 

To cook the udon, have to work on the broth first. Boil the chicken broth and add carrot slices into the broth, and then add mushroom or any other ingredients that you like. When all the ingredients are cooked, now it’s time to put the miso paste. I like a very strong miso taste, so I put more miso paste into the soup. Bring a bit of broth and dilute the miso paste in a bowl, then add everything into the pot. Now, can add the udon, cook until they are done. Serve the udon soup with pork tenderlion, some fried tofu and chopped leek. If you like spicy, can add some red pepper flakes.

Dessert is the Japanese cheese cake, the one that is so easy to make with 3 ingredients only, 120g white chocolate, 120g cream cheese and 3 eggs. This recipe is so popular on Internet and everyone is cooking this. It is so simple and I think everyone can do it, you can also give it a try!

I really love the miso flavour and my husband is also very happy, and he said the miso tastes so different than what he used to have at the Japanese Restaurant, which is usually very fishy.