A blade shines in the darkest of the nights
Not being able to surf everyday for a month was pure torture for a computer addict like myself... but only at the beginning. Once I got over my PC withdrawal syndrome, I started getting A LIFE. Yes, you heard me right. One of the things I have learnt from this is that I was way too addicted to the Internet than I was willing to acknowledge. Internet is good and helpful but as with everything, it has to be used with moderation, or it'll eat your life before you know it. If you have a family, the first in line is your precious little children, then your couplehood. And yes, sadly Little One was in that front line. Don't get me wrong. I do spent time with her but not as much as I thought I did. After this incident, Pierre & I agreed that whenever Little One is at home and awake, my computer will be switched off.
As some of you know from my previous post, I joined a group of expatriate ladies for a weekly chit-chat exchanging languages and cultural differences etc. It's from this group that I met Corinne who formed a small group of ladies passionate about cooking to meet once a month to cook. Each takes turn to cook something of their home cuisine at their place. And so today we bring you all the way to Cuba. Why Cuba? Two months ago, we met up at Robin's house. She is from New Orleans and it happened that her Cuban-born mom-in-law came for a visit. She taught all of us that day how to make Cuban Pork Roast. Robin's mom-in-law talked a little bit about her growing up in Cuba and how she managed to flee her country just before Castro took over the country and settled down in her new home at New Orleans. I could see that after all these years, talking about the past still pains her but she was happy to share her personal experience with us. We had a wonderful time talking and exchanging cultural habits, mannerism, upbringing, etc. It made me wish to have a chance to talk freely about the past with my grandparents, to know who were their parents, how and where did they grew up from, how they meet each other etc. Sadly they aren't here any more to answer any questions that I have in my heart. So dear readers, if your grandparents are still around today, seize the opportunity and get to know them better, for once they are gone, the secrets, the past history goes with them.
Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)
Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)
I was pleasantly surprised at the first bite of the roast. The pork was so tender, succulent and very aromatic. Each bite just got me drooling for more. The beans were delicious and fragrant and the fried banana a nice sweet addition that makes the whole thing fruity and exotic.
The Black Beans (Frijoles Negros) takes some time to cook so make this first before the roast.
Sorry I haven't posted anything since 28/2. I just got so caught up in the daily affairs at home. My cool Sister in law came and stayed with us for a week or so before flying back to LA. We enjoyed her company so much that we were so sad to see her go, especially Little One who cried at the train station. A few days after that, I suffered a personal loss (as the saying goes, we never thought it would happen to us), then a few days later, I slipped and fell down the concrete stairs at home (earning myself a big bruise on my back and pigeon size bruises on my right arm). As if to prove that things happens in 3s, I got super lucky and caught stomach flu which lasted for days.
As I was on the mend, Little One caught a virus at the day-care centre (I think). Poor thing (and also poor self) suffered 2 days of fever and the next morning, I gave her water and she cried and stuck her finger in her mouth: 'mommy, bobo. bobo.' (so cute right but so painful to watch her suffer like this). So I had a clingy and cranky baby for 2 days (I was about to pull out all my hairs). Stuck at home for a week as she was super contagious, she got a bit of luck with the doc who prescribed ice cream as medicine. Anyone wants her virus? hmm...think I spoke too soon - I myself caught her super bug. This taught me something: don't eat some chilli while having a really bad sore throat. Duh!
End of my complains and back to food. I would like to share this easy and delicious thai dish that I have prepared for my sister in law with all of you.
(Taken from Thai Cooking)
This is a nice sweet dish, of course the pineapple dominates but the coriander and mint are what makes the whole thing interesting. My Sister-In-Law loves it very much and the dish was completely cleaned out before end of dinner.
It feels so good to be home (my home in Singapore that is) with my family! As we decided to fly back for Chinese New Year, it will be Little One's and Pierre's first experience of what is Chinese New Year all about. The flight was a bit long but our daughter slept through most of it, although she was woken up a few times by the crying baby next to us. There are a few perks about flying with a baby however, namely cutting through the line to board and getting seats with extra leg room (sweet precious leg room...)
Little One found her new surroundings a bit strange at first but she quickly adapted and also warmed up to my family rather quickly. She loves playing balls with our family dogs and like to pat them - she even tried to hug and carry one of them. She adapted to the new languages very well and has even said new words in the last 3 days. On the part of my family, even my mom is learning a bit of French in order to understand what is Little One saying like gateau (cakes), l'eau (water), oiseau (bird) or dodo (sleep). She also loves my mom's cooking, as she polishes off her bowl at each meal all by herself. hahaha...I guess I'm not that a good cook afterall.
One of the dishes that I have been loving ever since I was a little girl (and apparently Little One and Pierre too) is this simple and quick White Peppered Pork Slices. I was over the moon when my mom made this the other night.
Deliciously good - the photo doesn't do this dish any justice. It's not exactly a good looking dish but I assure you it tastes better than it looks. Taste wise: a wonderful mix of pepper soya taste and smell with tint of pepperish hot (but not spicy hot). It's quite addictive - hard to stop at one. It's a bit dry so you might want to eat it with a "wet" side dish (i.e: not plain rice).
My mom always does her own ground white pepper. It is more fragrant and it stays that way for a long long time.
How to make your own ground white pepper?
My sincere apologies to my readers for my lack of posts lately. I promise to do better and get back on the wagon on things - it just seems my routine has been shattered after moving house.
Little One was ill with flu and cough (so did Pierre). She seems to have made a fast recovery but she still coughs a bit now and then. Now the super bug has caught up with me and I'm sick again. It seems that as a girl born and raised under the equator, I'll never get used to winter !
Now back to food, while going through my documents, I realized that I have not posted this interesting dish that I made some time back. Who would have thought a combination of pork with dried fruits stuffing would turn out this delicious. Oh... please avoid making the same mistakes as I did.
Making the crispy rind strips
Making the sauce
Although my roast didn't have enough fats to cover it and keep it moist, it still turned out good and tasted fine on its own without the sauce. The taste of it...how shall I describe it? Imagine taking a bite of the roast, you get the tasty taste of meat and fruity flavoured rice - salty, sweet and a bit acid (from the prune) all in one. Pretty interesting tasty combination isn't it. Hmmm... roasted pork !
Shame on me: I didn't make the crispy rind as my pork roast came with a small layer of fats only.
I sliced the meat on the wrong side. Instead of length wise, I cut it width wise as you can see from the photo. Duh!
I bought the meat prepackaged from the supermarket that had hardly any fats. So if you are buying a prepackaged one like me, do ask your butcher for extra skin fats. It would make a difference to the roast as it would keep the meat moist and prevents it from drying out.
Living abroad made me realise the comfort zone I lived in and the things I took for granted living in Singapore (where everything is so easily accessible and within a stone throw away). One of the things I miss most is my mom's cooking and Singapore food. Craving for home food is what drove me to the kitchen and do the dishes I miss... sweet & sour pork happens to be one of them.
Cornflour or cornstarch paste
Mix 1 part cornflour with about 1.5 parts of cold water. Stir until smooth.
Sweet and sour pork is one of the most popular Chinese dish all over the world. I have made this dish several times for my friends and my in-laws and like the szechuan prawns, it never fails me. It's also one of Pierre's favourite Asian dish.
I love the taste of sweet and sour (at the same time), and in this dish the sauce doesn't overwhelm the flavour of fried pork and vegetables which is nice. In fact, all the ingredients of the dish blend in very well yet retaining their individual taste.
This dish is simple and easy to make (for Asian food...). The only part that takes a little effort is preparing the meat for deep frying.
Regarding the preparation, I use rice-wine vinegar and red bell pepper instead of the green one. I usually prepare the sauce first before preparing the meat, and then go on to get the veggies done.
I tried this dish once with chicken. Sadly, it didn't turn out as tasty as the pork version and tasted too sweet using the default quantity of sugar. You can normally also use prawns or fish, this is something I might try sometimes
There are variations on the way this dish is being cooked. Some recipe uses tomato ketchup instead of tomato puree paste and pieces of pineapples as part of the vegetable ingredient and add pineapple juice in the sauce.
Pierre has this French regional cook book sitting on his shelf for many years - given by his mother to motivate him to cook something more grand than his famous carbonara I have flipped through this book so many times before but never really dared to try out any of the recipes. Then the other day I was just having another glance at it and I stumbled upon poivron rouges farcis, I looked up the ingredients and it did not seem too complicated to do plus I have everything I needed to cook this dish in my fridge. So why not
This dish is linked to the city of Perpignan from the Roussillon region (a sunny area in the south-east of France, along the Mediterranean sea and the Pyréenés mountains) which of course produce southern/mediterranean cuisine.
And this is my entry for WCC 18's Red and White theme.
(taken from Les meilleures Recettes des Régions de France)
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 45 minutes
Mmm...very aromatic. The stuffing is nice, tender and fragrant with a tint of cinnamon. Surprisingly the cinnamon blends very well with the rest of the ingredients in the stuffing - it isn't overpowering like I thought it would be when I was mixing it. The combination of the meat stuffing and the red pepper give a unique and tasty taste. I'll definitely cook this again.
My preparation of the above stuffing was done with a food processor. First the meat was chopped up a bit before adding the onion, garlic, parsley and bread. Once it is mixed and chopped up, in goes the egg, oil, cinnamon, salt and pepper and mix till it is homogeneous. Saves a lot of time and I only have to clean up my food processor.
This very simple yet very delicious and flavourful plat was introduced to me by my Korean friend, Jung Sol-yi whom I met in 2002 at SUEFLE, Nantes University. I remember back then, how we often had to use gestures and pictures to express ourselves when our limited French and dictionary failed us. Or how all of us (Yumi, Zhang Ying and I) squeezed into Sol-yi's tiny one-bedroom student apartment for lunch. How she cooked for us our 1st Korean meal just outside her bedroom door at the corridor using a portable stove she borrowed from her next door neighbour. How each of us took turns to introduce our country food - Yumi cooked Japanese while Ying cooked Szechuan food and I cooked Chicken curry and stir-fried noodles. It was the most beautiful 2 semesters we had together and when our long lasting friendship was formed. Whenever I made this dish, it always brings back those sweet memories of my friends whom I miss so much.
Sol-yi's Special Sauce (Optional)
Mix both together till well blended.
How to eat it Korean style?
mmm... it tasted still as good like the time I made it together with Sol-yi. Pierre likes it too. His only critic is that I made it a bit too spicy for him. Hehehe... I was happily adding spoonful after spoonful of Gochujang to the pork mixture before I remembered that Pierre can't take as spicy as me. Oops! Too late. Well, the poor guy still happily finished his spicy Bulgoki and even had a second helping.
This dish can be eaten with plain ordinary steam rice or with round/Japanese rice. Pierre prefers his with plain Basmati rice while I prefer to eat mine the Korean way.
Gochujan (Korean chilli paste) is quite spicy so remember to go easy with it when adding it to your marinated mixture. It is better to put less in the marinate if you aren't sure how spicy it would be when cooked. You can always add more in during cooking stage if it is not spicy enough for you.
And also it might be better to test taste it (dab your finger on the marinated mixture) to check if it is salty enough before adding a 3rd spoonful of soya sauce, as it will make it taste saltier.
Regarding Korean soya sauce, for those who don't have it, you can replace it with Chinese light soya sauce. In this case, you have to add less because Chinese soya sauce tends to be saltier. I have made this dish before using Chinese light soya sauce and it still tastes as good.