Friday, December 24, 2010

Pork & Duck Terrine with cranberries & hazel nuts - featured in Group Recipies (12/25/10)

If you are a regular reader, you already know that my hubby loves to cook and most of the western cuisine recipes are from him. He has been the main cook for our Christmas dinners the past several years but due to his back problem this year, he has to leave the cooking to me. However, he just could not stay away from the kitchen. While I was out doing some last minute Christmas shopping, he sneaked into the kitchen and cooked. When I returned home, I could smell the fragrance of food even before I opened our main door. Know what? He made this wonderful dish and he told me he thinks it is worth it even if his back hurts because of all the standing during the cooking. This is truly a dish filled with passion and I am sure this will 'WOW' our guests when served.

Pork and Duck Terrine with Liver
Before baking
Putting a heavy brick on top of the terrine to slough off some of the fat and make the terrine more dense
After baking
After it is removed from the loaf pan
2 deboned duck breasts , about 300g/10oz each, skin on
200 g (approx 8 ounces) sliced bacon (can use pancetta)
700 g (approx 1 ½ pounds) pork shoulder, cubed
120 ml (1/2 cup) milk
3 shallot , roughly chopped
5 slices of day old bread
2-3 whole cloves
200 g pork, duck or chicken livers, roughly chopped
6 black peppercorns
2 teaspoons coriander seed
2 cloves of garlic
Generous pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Cognac
2 eggs, lightly beaten
75 g shelled nuts (chestnuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios)
75 g (1/2 cup) dried cranberries

1. Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Put the duck breasts and skin in a shallow dish, then place in the hot oven for 20 minutes. Discard the shriveled bit of skin that remains, then pour the duck fat into a bowl to cool. Roughly chop the cooked duck meat and place in a large mixing bowl.

2. Roughly chop the pork, three slices of bacon, and liver to a coarse texture and mix with the chopped duck in the bowl.

3. Tear up the bread and soak in the milk for 5 minutes. 
Squeeze the milk out of the bread and put in a food processor with the shallots and garlic. Pulse the processor to get a coarse texture, then add to the bowl.

4. Grind the peppercorns, coriander seeds and cloves to a coarse powder (pestle and mortar works just fine). Stir in the cinnamon. Add the spices to the meat along with 4 tbsp reserved duck fat, the Cognac, the eggs, and 2 tsp salt. Mix together very thoroughly – the best way is to use your hands.

5. Lightly grease a 1-litre loaf pan. Line the pan with the bacon (or pancetta), slightly overlapping the slices and leaving enough overhanging the edges to cover the top.

6. Press half the mixture into the pan leaving a slight indentation down the middle. Scatter the pistachios and cranberries over all, then cover with the remaining meat mixture. Fold over the bacon strip and augment with more so as to cover the entire loaf. Cover the dish tightly with foil, then place all into a roasting tin. Pour boiling water into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the dish.

7. Bake for 2 hrs, remove foil, then bake for 15 minutes more to brown the top. When completely cooled, remove from pan and wrap in fresh foil and chill. For the best flavor, let the terrine chill in the fridge for at least 2 days before eating. The flavors will mature and blend.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oops, where's the paprika!!??

Hi Everyone, This is "hubby" dropping in for a quick note to share with you a very interesting link to information about paprika and a super simple recipe. So why suddenly an interest in paprika? I was looking through our collection of recipes for something to do with chicken as I am preparing the main dish for this evening's dinner. I thought of paprika and it's brilliant red color. It is the season after all. As I scanned the list under chicken I found it, slapping my forehead and muttering "oh yeah" to myself. Chicken Parisienne jumped out from the screen and I remembered that paprika is the primary spice, along with salt and black pepper. That should be just the ticket in this creamy white dish. I was good until I realized that we were out of paprika. That sent me back to the computer, this time to search for paprika substitutes. In the process I found the page in the link that follows and learned something rather extraordinary about paprika. Apparently it's use is all about the color and not so much as a flavoring agent. That is, of course, unless you use the smoked Spanish paprika which will impart some smoky flavor. Here, I'll let you read for yourselves if interested in the wonders of paprika, but do come back if you want a very-simple-but-good-enough-to-serve-company recipe.

Here is what you will need for this no fuss recipe:

A two quart baking dish with cover, a medium sized mixing bowl, a whisk, and a measuring cup


1 tbs of vegetable oil

4 lg. chicken breasts

12 medium sized Crimini mushrooms (Italian brown)

1/2 c. chicken stock

1 c. sour cream

1 c. half and half or light cream

1/2 c. dry white wine

2 rounded tbs all purpose flour salt/papper to taste

Paprika to taste (may substitute chili powder

Optional: garlic to taste (I use three full bibs of fresh garlic)

Method: Oil the inner surface of the baking dish with a brush or a soaked paper towel. Wash, pat dry, and debone chicken breast, placing them in the oiled baking dish.

Slice mushrooms about 1/2 cm (3/8inch) thick and spread over the chicken breasts

Combine chicken stock, white wine, sour cream, light cream, and flour in the mixing bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork. Pour this mixture over the chicken and sprinkle generously with paprika (or somewhat more sparingly with a mixture of chili powder and allspice).

Bake at 175C (350F) degrees for about 1 hour, or until tender. Serve over your choice of white rice or egg noodles. (I like the noodles which I toss slightly with a pat of butter and a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley.

Sprinkle a little more paprika on the chicken after plating. The contrast between the green flecks in the noodles and the red on the chicken qualify this dish for a pre Christmas, celebratory, dinner. Serves 4 people. (You can stretch this to 5 or 6 chicken breast without adding any liquid)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Potluck is a good idea for Christmas

I think potluck is a good idea for any party that needs to cater for a big crowd, especially when the host does not want do too much cooking. Yesterday, my son, Nick attended a Christmas party at his boss’ home. It was a potluck party so I prepared a few things for his contribution.  I made salsa, grilled vegetables, beef burgundy and coconut speculas.  It was my first time making the beef burgundy and fortunately it turned out quite delicious.  So the next time I cook this again, I will share the recipe with you all. 

I made some Belgium speculas but somehow when the first tray of cookies were done and I tried one, I did not like it because it was too sweet.  In order to cut down the sweetness, I added dessicated coconut to the next batch of dough and the cookies tasted much better. I do not know if they is such thing as coconut speculas, if not, then let the name be borned yesterday. LOL!

I was eager to know if his colleagues enjoyed the food I prepared. It was around 10pm that I received a thank you sms from Nick to say they did. I can’t tell you how happy I was.  I guess the best reward for any cook is to know that people enjoyed what they cooked. Do you agree with me?

Beef burgundy
Coconut speculas

spicy mango salsa
grilled mixed vegetables


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Looking for a simple & attractive salad for Christmas?

I was thinking really hard the past few days on what salad to serve on Christmas day. I wanted something colorful and festive looking without compromising the taste. This is what I came up with. This salad is very quick and easy to make.  Furthermore, it is colorful and very delicious. Any better suggestion?

Edible Flower Salad with roasted butternut squash and spinach

200 gms butternut squash, julienned
1/2 ts ground black pepper (can be adjusted to your own taste)
1/2  ts sea salt (can be adjusted to your own taste)
1 tbs extra light olive oil
3 stalks of thyme,
2 stalks of rosemary
2 tsp chopped garlic
60 gms spinach
30 gms edible flower mix

In a roasting pan, mix (A) and spread out the squash.  Preheat oven to 200 C or 405 F. Roast the squash for 15 mins or till they are soft.  On a serving plate, arrange (B) as you wish.  When squash is cooked, remove the thyme and rosemary and lay them on top of (B). Drizzle all the remain oil from the roasting pan onto the salad.  Toss well before eating. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

QPC bean soup on the 2nd day of Christmas, Anyone?

My hubby is a big fan of bean soup and cornbread so we have it more often than most I would guess. However, I chanced a twist on it and surprised him by adding grilled capsicum, garlic and onions this time. If you have some left over ham after Christmas, I recommend that you give this recipe a go. The spicy, smoky flavor of the oven roasted aromatics as well as the small amount of bacon I use, is beautiful with the earthy, round flavors of the beans (whichever of them you use) and very pleasing to the palate. (As I am not an expert on this favorite American "comfort" food I have to believe it must be tasty when my #1 food critic asks for a second helping and makes mmmm sounds throughout the meal.)

Serving: 6
500 gms dried mixed beans, wash and soak overnight
3 strips bacon, fried till crispy and break into small pieces
1 tsp bacon dripping from the pan
1 cup chopped parsley

6 cups water
250 gm left over ham
1 onions, cut into 6 parts and grilled
1 head garlic, grilled and sliced into strips
1 red capsicum, grilled and sliced into strips
1 green capsicum, grilled and sliced into strips
1 yellow capsicum, grilled and sliced into strips
1 stalks celery, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
½ cup curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cubes chicken bouillon, mashed
1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes

Put (A) into the soup pot and bring to boil. Turn down heat to medium anmd let it simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  Add (B) and let boil for 15 min. Add crispy bacon and simmer for 30 more secs. Turn off heat. Fill soup bowls and add a few drop of bacon dripping to each bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve hot. My recommendation is to served with freshly baked corn bread.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pork loin roast with Crackling - Co-star Christmas dish

This would be an artistic and delicous roast to set on the dinner table on Christmas day. To enjoy this dish, I suggest you forget all about how sinful this is. (I can do that, can you?) Just enjoy this alluring, luscious piece of roast pork loin like there is no tomorrow and have a Merry, and full, Christmas!
Serving: 4
1 piece 500gm pork loin with skin
2 cups water

1 stalk celery, cut into 1 inch pc.
1 medium onion quartered

1 tsp sea salt
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs chopped rosemary
1 tbs chopped thyme
1 tbs chopped garlic
1 tsp minced young ginger
¼ onion from quartered onion (retain the balance for another step)

Ingredients for the gravy:
Drippings and cooked vegetables in the pan
1 cup full cream milk
1 cup whip cream
1 tbs dry white wine
½ cube bullion chicken stock
¼ tsp ground black pepper

To get the crackling just right, this is what you need to do:
First, prepare a deep roasting pan and add (A) in and spread them out in the pan. Add 1 cup of water and set aside. Score the skin crosswise at about 5mm intervals. Rub items from (B) into the pork loin. Make sure some of the rub gets into the cracks of the skin. Place the pork on a rack and place the rack into the roasting pan. Put them in the oven at a very high temperature, 220 degrees C (420 degrees F) for the first 30 minutes to ‘crackle’ the skin. After that turn the oven down to about 175 degrees C or 350 degree F for the remainder of the cooking time, (about 25 to 30 mins. but keep your meat thermometer handy). Baste with liquid in the pan every 10 mins. Keep an eye on it as you don’t want to burn the skin – if it blackens in patches lay a sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side out, across the top of the roast. When the pork is cooked, (thermometer should read 70C / 158F) remove it from the oven. Use a sharp knife to carefully separate and lift the crackling and return it to the oven on a rack at 175 degree C (350 degree F) for around 15 minutes. While you do this, wrap the pork in foil, shiny side in, and leave it to rest as you would any other roasted meat. While the pork is resting and the crackling is getting its extra ‘crackle’, you can make the gravy.

Method to prepare the gravy:
Transfer the drippings and cooked vegetables from the roasting pan into the sauce pan. Add milk and bring to boil, add chicken bullion cube and white wine and turn heat to low. Let it simmer for 1 min and add whip cream. Simmer for another 1 min and transfer gravy to gravy boat to serve with the roasted meat and the crackling.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

East & West meet in Christmas Rice

This is my entry for the Apiring Bakers Christmas Giveaway 
hosted by Swee San of The Sweet Spot
My husband is the opposite of Ebenezer Scrooge when it comes to celebrating Christmas. An important part of his tradition of celebration is setting a table for guests that is loaded with good things to eat and the central focus is the Christmas turkey and ham. The first few years after our move to Malaysia, he prepared the feast with traditional side dishes. This included his personal favorite, a rich, sage laced cornbread stuffing. He was puzzled, however, when everything he made was gobbled up with enthusiasm by us... all except the stuffing. Everyone raved about his turkey and ham preparations, and the mashed potatoes, green beans, sauteed carrots and grapes, waldorf salad, and best of all, the gravy. Nevertheless, for the first three years of his taking command in the Christmas kitchen, the stuffing was largely snubbed. So in his direct way, he asked me what was wrong. To be honest I hadn't thought about it, but a little bit of digging, and I thought I knew what it was. Sage! It is the sage that is novel to our palate, and then I gently told him that even I didn't like the slightly bitter, deeply aromatic herb. To our palate, the sage was very intrusive, primarily due to unfamiliarity. Talking about it further, my hubby noted that rice is so very much the focus of our cuisine (in Cantonese, when we call for folks to come and eat, we simply say "sek fan" which literally translates as "eat rice", whether we are stting down to a traditional meal or a pizza.) He thought that, in hindsight, perhaps a bread based carb was not the best choice for our celebration. Then he did something that amazed me. The year we had that discussion my hubby went to the kitchen and starting with a large, freshly steamed pot of rice and a wok, he began to play with various spices, herbs, and other ingredients, to arrive at a fried rice that was reflective of both eastern and western flavors, and that was rich and bountiful to reflect the celebratory nature of the holiday. The final result became what we have come to call "Christmas Rice" and it is a highlight of our food tradition during the holidays. Featuring flavors that are both sweet & spicy, and almost rustic in flavors, but very complex, the rice is a perfect accompaniment to the turkey and ham that centers our table. One year, when we expected a much larger group than normal to gather in our home for Christmas day, my hubby also made a large pot of beef bourguignon. In spite of the traditional potatoes normally consumed with that mainstay of French provencial fare, everyone still chose to have some of the rice and it has become a big crowd pleaser. While my hubby doesn't endorse this rice dish for serving with beef, he suggests that it would be great with any fowl, pork, or lamb dish. I agree and hope you will give this one a try and enjoy it as much as we do. (I got hungry writing this.)

This was featured in Asian Food Channel Official Facebook Page
on 15 December 2013

Serving: 8 - 10
3 tblsp cooking oil (I like olive oil) 
½ cup pine nuts 
1 rounded tblspn cumin seeds 
1 tspn ground anise seed 
1 tblspn cinnamon Cayenne pepper (to taste, start with 1 tspn)
1 tspn nutmeg 
1 tspn black pepper 
1 cup chopped pecans (may substitute almonds or walnuts) 
8 cups steamed or boiled rice (allowed to cool uncovered to room temperature) 
1 cup golden and black raisins 
1 cup peeled and diced apple
  ½ cup dried apricot chopped 
½ cup chopped figs
  1 ½ cup chicken stock 
1 rounded tblspn turmeric powder 
¼ cup coarsely chopped garlic 
½ cup finely chopped coriander 
¾ cup chopped onions ¾ cup chopped celery 

Toast pine nuts & pecans in a very slightly oiled frying pan on low heat, being careful not to overdo. Set aside. Reheat the frying pan and add cumin seeds and toast them, tossing and stirring frequently, until the seeds start to pop and the aroma becomes pronounced. Add cinnamon, anise, and cayenne pepper and stir until well mixed, allowing combined ingredients to heat up for less than 1 minute. Remove from heat. Put these ingredients into a food processor and blend well. In a large wok, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic, onions, & celery and stir fry until well mixed and aromas rise from the pan. Add turmeric powder and chopped fruits, stirring until well mixed with the other ingredients and the pan is fully reheated. Add the blended dry mix and the coriander and stir until well mixed and pan is fully reheated. Add large spoonfuls of cold cooked rice and small amounts of chicken stock as needed to separate the rice. Continue to add rice and stock until all has been combined with the spices. Vigorously stir fry on high heat, adding more chicken stock as needed, until all ingredients are well mixed and the rice does not clump togetether. Continue stir frying for six minutes. Add and toss pine nuts, pecans, top with some fresh coriander leafs, just before serving. Serves 8 Note: This dish seems to improve if refrigerated overnight. Seal in a casserole dish or zip-lock bag. Heat up in the oven the next day. The flavors will have married well. Suggestions: Add shredded egg, diced turkey, chicken, sausage, pork, or garbanzo beans (for vegans) to make a one-dish meal.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stylish Blogger Award

Elisabeth of food and thrift finds is always so kind to me.  She gave me the the “Lovely Blog Award” and now she gives me the “Stylish Blogger Award”.  I am very proud to display this award.

To claim this award, I have to do the following three things:

1.      Thank the person who awarded me.
2.      Share 7 things about myself.
3.      Pass the Award on to bloggers I think are fantastic.

Elisabeth, I thank you for giving me two awards in such a short time. I am also very grateful for your frequent visits and take time to leave kind comments on my posts. I want you to know your visits and your comments mean a lot to me.

Now coming to the 7 things about myself. They are:

1.       I am not a good cook and a lousy baker but I know I am getting better everyday. I am also not a good writer either but I write from my heart.
2.      I am not a traveler but now I am hopeful to be able to go to Foodbuzz 2011 to meet with all the wonderful foodies from all over the world.
3.      I believe in not making any enemies and loose no friends because to me, friends are one of life’s many precious thing.
4.      My happiness comes from seeing those I love happy.
5.      I am a hyper person and must have something to do all the time. I do not know how to relax.
6.      When I decided to do something I always give my best. 
7.      When things don't happen the way I wanted, I like to say this, “Man plan, God decides.”

The last thing I need to do now is to give this award to other bloggers whom I think are fantastic. Honestly, I have not come across one blogger that I think don’t deserve this award so if I leave any of you out here, please know that you all are great bloggers and more than deserve just an award. Thanks to all who have visited my blog and left your comments and hope to see you all often.

Congratulations to the following blogger friends:

anedotes and apple cores
Kimba’s Kitchen
Elin luv’s sweet delight
luv to eat
collaborative curry
sidewalk shoes
Zesty south Indian Kitchen
My life in the Charante
Yin’s homemade
love to cook
The Kitchen Witch
Anncoo Joural
What’s cooking, Italiian Style Cuisine
Simply life
Kitchen gypsies
Teczcape – an escape to food
Pig Pigs Corner
Almost Bourdain
6 bittersweets
Angie’s recipes
Joy of Cooking
Eat well with others
Nasi lemak lovers
No frills recipe
pen to page
Bake for Happy Kids
Before I go make myself a cup of coffee,  please copy the award from my blog and display it on yours if you wish.  If you do, you know the rules.  Congratulations and once again thank you for allowing me to be part of your culinary journey and also being a part of mine.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pumpkin bread - I smell Christmas in my house!

I found this pumpkin bread recipe and decided to try it.  I have made some changes to the original recipes. I took the suggestion of one user and replaced cinnamon and nutmeg with ground all spices and added walnuts. I also added diced dates and use freshly mashed pumpkin instead of canned.  The original recipe calls for 3 cups of sugar, I have reduced it to 2 ½ cups and the result is actually sweet enough for my taste.  This is a good recipe as the bread came out fluffy. I cut out 3 pieces, got it packed and drove to the guard house to give them to the guard on duty so that he can have them for tea. The big smile on his face was priceless!. The fragrance of this bread not only filled my house with Christmas, it also gave the guard joy. AWESOME!

Largely adapted from Shirley Sober’s recipe.

            1 cup butter or margarine, softened
            2 1/2 cups sugar
            3 eggs
            3 cups all-purpose flour
            1 tbsp baking powder
            1 1/2 tsp baking soda
            1 tsp ground all spices
    1 tsp vanilla extract
            1 tsp ground cloves
            16 oz. mashed pumpkin
   ½ cup diced dates
   ¾ halved walnuts

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well. Combine dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. Stir in pumpkin, diced dates and walnuts. Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans or a bundt cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees F or 175 degrees C for 1 hour or until bread tests done.