A blade shines in the darkest of the nights
Pierre & I are so proud of Little One: she got accepted for Taekwondo class. I know it's nothing special but she is only 3½ years old and the minimum age for this class is 5 years old with a few 4 years old accepted on a case to case basis. Last week, my friend, Sharon checked with the teacher if Little One could join his class together with her son. He was a bit hesitant about her ability to follow instructions, discipline etc. but he decided to give her the benefit of the doubt after Sharon sang praises about Little One. Needless to say, she was all excited and looking forward to this day, talking non-stop about it and practicing her karate chop-chop since last week. So at the tryout on Wednesday, wooed and impressed the teacher she did. When I went to pick her up after her class, he kept praising her and giving me his thumbs up, telling me that she is good as those 5-6 years old in his class. Woohoo! Way to go, Little One! Bullies, watch out! This one will kick your ass if you dare to mess with her. LOL!
To celebrate this occassion, I decided to experiment with the left over dough from my Chinese Steamed Buns. I was curious to see how the buns would turned out if I incorporated some beetroot juice into the dough. The dough was a beautiful pinkish red but after steaming, it lost all the red tone, leaving a dull blotchy looking bun. But with a few strokes of brush of beetroot juice over the hot steaming buns, we got ourselves that beautiful red bun again.
This time around, I tried it out with cheese fillings using Laughing Cow (La Vache Qui Rit). I would recommend to try these cheese: cream cheese, blue cheese (if you like blue cheese), Saint Nectaire, Mont d'Or or any cheese that could melt easily.
It is so surprisingly delicious. The Laughing Cow cheese which is normally very mildly flavoured tasted as strong as some of those strong cheese. Even my father-in-law was surprised. Be careful when eating it because the melted cheese is still hot and it simply oozes out of the bun when you take a bite of it. I'm not a very cheesy person but I love the taste of this creamy cheese filled buns so much that I'm going to make more of it for breakfast. It's so yummy.
I also would like to thank lovely Renee of Flamingo Musings and Asha of Fork-Spoon-Knife for these 2 lovely awards: Happy 101 & Honest Scrap. For being the proud owner of these awards, I have to share some honest things about myself. So here they go in no particular order:
I'm forwarding these awards to some of my favourite bloggers whom I got to know when I first started blogging:
Chinese Steamed Buns are called baozi or popularly known as bao, bau, pow, pau. They are plain or filled buns (bread-like/brioche made of flour) that comes in various forms, with a variety of fillings (meat or vegetarian). In its bun like form, it is quite similar to the traditional Chinese mantou. In the Chinese culture, we eat this for breakfast or as snacks in between meals or during a meal.
One of my childhood favourite bao is Birthday Buns made in the shape of a peach with a lotus-seed paste fillings. Why in the form of peach? Peach is a symbol of long life in the Chinese culture. When I was a little girl growing up back in my village, we used to live in a typical big Chinese household of 3 generations under 1 roof - grandparents, uncles & aunties, cousins. That was back in the 70s before all of us were relocated to our new spanking multi-storey like pigeon holes home HDB flat (Housing Development Board) in the city. But before that happened, my grandparents used to host grand birthday celebrations with about 10 tables or more at home on their birthdays each year. My cousins & I used to sneak into the kitchen during the celebration to help ourselves with another one of those delicious and beautiful looking birthday buns. Sometimes the cooks caught us and kick us out of the kitchen but sometimes, he would kindly give one to each of us before sending us back to our parents.
When Jamie of Life's a feast who is hosting this months Bread Baking Day throws a « Baking Bread for a Birthday Party! » theme, I thought this is a wonderful occasion for me to try my hands at making Chinese Birthday Buns to honour her birthday in January.
Eager to bring some peach bao to Jamie's birthday bash, I plunged into this task with zealous energy and concentration. Little did I know forming bao in a shape of a peach would be this hard. I tried several times to shape it the best I could but failed miserably; it always turned out like a round bun after steaming. Then I thought every party needs some party animals, so I decided to make some party animals for her instead.
Some recipes calls for bao flour or Hongkong flour (gives your bao a whiter colour than normal flour but Hongkong flour is very expensive if you live overseas), while others uses a traditional method which takes 3 days but gives a fluffy outcome. I opted for a simpler recipe that is very suitable for making home-made bao using plain flour (easily available) and the result is pretty good. And since I live in France now, I decided to give these bun a little twist in East meets West version. And please don't spit out your coffee or fall off your chair upon seeing my artistic work!
My little animal friends are so cute, aren't they. Guess what are they?
Mmm...these are so good. The caramel just simply oozes out and so did the nutella version. They are even better than the traditional version with red bean paste or lotus seed paste. But be careful when eating it, the caramel and nutella filling can be pretty hot!
And no, it's not a hamster or a mouse. I know it looks really like one but it supposed to be a rabbit. LOL! I personally think I've done quite a good job - not bad for a first try at creating an animal form bun. It could have turned out looking worse. LOL!
If you couldn't make the buns immediately after making the dough, you can let it rise in the bowl with a damp cloth drape over the bowl. And if you have any leftover dough, leave it in the bowl with a plastic film or in covered box in the fridge.
These buns can be kept covered in the fridge, or frozen. You just need to steam it again when you want to eat it.
Fish is a common sight during meal time in my home (well, at my mom's), something that I took for granted for many years until I started living in France. There, I started to miss having fish, not that France doesn't have fish at all, but because I don't know how to cook fish - steamed, pan-fried or oven baked. Luckily my in-laws came to my rescue. They love fish so I get my fix whenever we dine at their place. On the other hand poor hubby hates fish (too many bones he says!) and is a true red meat eater. However, he has since come a long way living with me - now he doesn't mind eating salmon once a week. Now that's a rare treat for me. If I want to eat any other fish, I will just have to cook it for myself and he will cook himself some other stuff. At least now I have Little One, it's nicer to cook for 2 than 1. Frankly speaking, I don't know how to cook for one.
My craving for this fish dish droved me to calling my mom from France for her recipe. As usual with all traditionnal Asian cooks (from grandmothers to mothers), there aren't any exact measurements - just a bit of this & that, no exact timing either. Like they say, once we have wok a few times in the kitchen, we'll do the same like our mothers & grandmothers. I know I did with some dishes, I stopped weighing and just know the approximate amount by eye.
So when my friend Emilie (was my classmate at Nantes' University) came and spent a week with us in May, she wanted to sample some of these delicious Singapore food that she heard me bragging all the time at the university. I thought this dish would be a wonderful representation of what home-cooked Singapore food is all about, besides the Char Kway Teow, Satay and my Mutton Curry.
The aroma of this dish is enough to make your stomach go growling - the mix of tomato, ginger & seasoning giving off a sourish sweet fragrant smell that fills the air. The fish is very tender and fragrantly immersed with the spices. Do not waste the sauce - it's full of flavour and goes very well with rice. My friend Emilie loved it very much.
Normally this dish is usually steamed with the above ingredients plus 1 or 2 sour/pickled plums, sprinkled with a tiny pinch of sugar. However if you don't have sour plums in your kitchen like me, it will taste as good sans it. If you like to have some spicy kick for your taste buds, put a few freshly sliced chili over the fish before putting it to steam. It tastes excellent.
For a prettier presentation, remove the steamed coriander and spring onion from the dish and just sprinkle some fresh ones on top right before serving. Some would even remove the fish, put it on a new platter, prepare fresh seasoning and pour it all over the fish and decorate it with fresh coriander and spring onions. As far as I'm concerned, I like it the way it comes out of the steamer.
I have been wanting to try out some fish dishes for ages ... you see, I have never cooked any other fish in my life besides salmon - it's hard to go wrong cooking this fish. Pierre isn't willing to be the sacrificed guinea pig for my fish adventure ... he isn't, shall we say, a fish person. So when he finally agreed to it, I went out and got everything before he changed his mind. This is what we had for dinner last night:
(taken from Papillotes - Sandra Mahut)
Preparation : 15 minutes
Cooking : 15 minutes
Makes : 4
I didn't find this dish extraordinary. It was OK to my taste. Pierre seems to like it better. Both of us find that it didn't really have much of the mint-lime flavour in it. Perhaps I didn't put enough mint or lime zests in it. Pierre suggested adding some lime juice to the dish before baking.
Overall, I was rather disappointed. Maybe it's just me who didn't follow the recipe well. If any of you ever try this recipe, please let me know how yours turned out.
Now I just need to convince Pierre to be my guinea pig again in my fish adventure to cultiver my 'fishy fingers' ... hmm, what bait shall I use?
Crème fraîche can be made at home by adding a small amount of cultured buttermilk or sour cream to normal heavy cream, and allowing to stand for several hours at room temperature until the bacterial cultures act on the cream.