Sunday, 27 March 2011

Seven years on,

I must tell you, I am very lucky.
Very very lucky to be part of family who is so loving and caring, who always welcomes me with open arms and kind heart.

There has been some tough times though.
Being broken hearted and full of uncertainties of the future ahead of me, I wasn't all there when I first met Toby. 
We fought with frustration. 
We screamed. 
We hit the brick walls trying hard to understand our differences. 
We cried desperately wanting it to work. 
We cried desperately for our lost spirits, hoping that we could be there for each other.

I cannot believe we are still together, you know.
Still, to these date, I often pinch myself thinking, gosh... we came this far.
Along the way though, we had, and very luckily so, a family, the unit who wasn't afraid to tell us, guide us and fix us to find our way.
They were there to support us, but never shy to shout at us to teach us that understanding was only ever meant to be through the loving heart, NOT through the calculated head.

Seven years has gone by with many tears, we laugh.
We cry with laughter knowing we've come far. 
From selfish little creatures to those who inspires each other to make better of ourselves, I guess we have come far.
I guess we have grown strong.
I guess we have learnt to love the way we are.

The Ledbury inspired bloody orange vodka sorbet with rosewater and lychee

1pint of blood orange juice (about 8 medium oranges)
100g sugar
150g lychee (I use tined)
50ml rosewater
50ml vodka
handful of mint

Place blood orange juice, sugar and rosewater into the medium sauce pan and simmer them until sugar is dissolved.
You now add lychee, vodka and springs of mint to the pan and blend them until smooth.
Pass them through sieve and put them in the freezer safe container and freeze.

After the first hour, take it out from the freezer and give it a good whisk and freeze it again for another hour. Give it a good stir or whisk again and agin every now and then.

But if you've just enjoyed too many glasses of wine and forgot about it all until the next morning like I have done this time, don't panic.
Just break the sorbet into reasonable pieces and put them in the blender and blitz them until it breaks down and forms smoother consistency.
Put them back in the freezer till you need them.

Great amuse buche or light cleansing dessert.

Martini stirred not shaken

Click here to see how it is done.

Everyone wants to be recognised...

Sunday, 20 March 2011

I wished not to steal my heart.

Our table was dressed just right.
Crisp white, not too small, not too big, little salt and pepper mills lined with silver, beautifully designed Robert Welch cutleries (this happens to be exact ones that we've been longed to own). 
Now, there was only one type of wine glasses that can possibly complete this table with effortless grace. It is not because any others won't function well but it might cause a little difficulty in understanding and appreciating such an establishment with perfection.
And I was relieved to witness the one and only, Riedel.

This was The Ledbury.

It was an amazing place to be in all accounts.
The dinning room was comfortably open and warm with an understated charm.
Their team was welcoming and caring with such an exceptional knowledge about everything I put in my mouth.

We started with a glass of Champagne and a little mouthful of buttery ginger.
Selections of bread and a bar of butter on a piece of slate (I say 'a bar' because when the butter appeared on our table it resembled a beautifully handmade bar of soap you might find from JoMalone or some posh little shop in the corner of Champs-elysees) was served by sweet young man.
Quails egg and hazelnut was our pre starter.
Toby adventured on clay and salt baked vegetables while I was beaming with the joy of subtle delight of Shiso with mackerel.
It was followed by roasted (and smoked in some parts) pigeon for Toby and slowly braised milk fed shoulder of lamb for me.
There was a little pot of apple crumble to cleanse out palate.
Superbly raised blood orange soufflĂ© and the best of the best, Tokaji told me it was coming to an end. Toby enjoyed every mouthful of pear panna cotta with beautiful sips from 1950's.

But what stole my heart amongst everything else, and I genuinely think this was a lovely touch, was the last plate came to our table unexpected. 
Creme caramel presented to us with a little message saying 'happy anniversary'

The Ledbury inspired mackerel with oven baked rhubarb

for mackerel
1-2 mackerel fillets
salt and some white pepper

for rhubarb
200g rhubarb, chopped
3 thin slices of ginger, chopped like match sticks
1-2 small pieces of star anise
2tsp sugar
1 orange zest and 1/2 juice

for garnish
China radish sprouts

This dish really depends on quality of mackerel you can source. Try going to your good fish mongers and get thickest piece of fillets you can get.

Prepare the dish by criss cross the skin. Salt them lightly and good crack of white pepper would add a good kick. Let it soak the salt for, if you can, over 24 hours, if you can't, at least for 30mins.

In the mean time, get your rhubarb ready by placing all ingredients into the dish and stick it in pre heated oven at 180Âș for 15-20mins.

About 10mins before rhubarb is due to come out, and this will also depends on the thickness of the mackerel, cook your mackerel under the hot grill starting from belly side up for 4mins and skin side up for 6mins.

Plate the dish by assembling the mackerel and rhubarb with China radish sprouts and a squeeze of lemon.

The Ledbury didn't impose on being two Micheline starred establishment. 
It simply celebrated with us.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

thinking of you...

There are some problems and I feel helpless.

My mum started the conversation asking how I was, as always. But I knew she wasn't asking me, she wanted me to ask her, 'Are you okay?'.
She is very upset. She has been for quite some time... as long as I can remember.
She is carrying, carrying let downs, hatred, jealousy that hurt her and her wound is eating her sanity.

Since the downfalls of my parents business, my mum suffered badly from, what I recognise as depression.
She ignores.
Telling herself little lies that once the financial issues are solved, everything will be just fine,
she looks away. She locks herself away and wonders if it will disappear.
Then she tells me, life sometimes is just little too much to bear. 

She is in dark.
I tell her. I whisper quietly hoping she will hear my crushed heart beat in pain. 
Wanting her to get better and wishing my mum every happiness, I tell her... to speak, forgive and forget. And... to look up... high above the sky to find the light.

Somewhere and someday she will find her old self, I hope. 
I pray for her lost crying soul to get better. 
Because... she is my mother.

Sweet soy marinade beef ribs with lightly grilled and pickled asparagus

for meat marinade
450g beef ribs (thinly cut ribs, you may find this in freezer section in oriental food store) 
1 pear
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1inch ginger
5tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp mirin (cooking sake)
2tbsp dark sugar
1tbsp corn syrup
white pepper

for asparagus
150g asparagus
handful of radish, thinly sliced
1/2 pomegranate
2tsp sugar
2tbsp cider vinegar
2tbsp water
pinch of salt

This meat marinade works very well with most cuts and types of meat (I haven't tried it on lamb though), so you don't need to be restricted to beef ribs. 
You can source corn syrup from good oriental food store. This adds little sweetness and gives nice gloss to the meat. If you can't get them, you can omit them or use agave nectar.

Whizz up all marinade ingredients with hand blender or food processor. Score the meat so it can allow the flavour to penetrate and mix them well in the marinade. Leave them to flavour as long as you can. 
Do this the day before, your meat will be amazing. If you haven't got time, at least an hour will do the job.

Meanwhile, get your griddle pan really hot and chargrill your asparagus in whole.
When they are cooked, cut them however you like and put them into the bowl with all the other ingredients. Mix them well and leave them for at least 30mins. This will pickle them very lightly and compliment barbecued/grilled meat beautifully adding fresh bites to the dish.

When they are good to go, you can barbecue, grill or griddle the meat, however you fancy.
I like to griddle mine if I can't barbecue.
Serve them immediately. 
Nice cold beer would be a welcome addition too.

Peaceful mind and the strength of inner belief... I am thinking of you.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

As he scored, she was touched.

I wasn't quite sure how it was going to all work out.
It sounded like a good plan though.
All we had to do was to turn up at the right venue discreetly.

What if she finds out? What if we get caught? What if we fail to make it altogether?
The only obstacle was her, our 'Mission #B'.

About 3 weeks ago, Toby's brother in law P facebooked Toby about his grande plan of night away in London with his beautiful wife, B.
He asked us if we would like to join them. We said yes and there, we were signed up for the mission where we become a little surprise for their romantic getaway.
How lovely of P to plan the night away, I thought.
And as if that wasn't enough, he goes that extra mile to arrange such a thing so his wife could catch up with her brother in town.
Now, come on, that is romantic! Was he for real?
I was well impressed!

P, I applaud you!

We arrive and succeed surprising B.
She hugs us with real good squeeze, 'I'm letting you know how much I appreciate' kind of squeeze, and a little  tears of joy.
P gets well deserved kisses and stocks up on brownie points for the rest of the month.

We loosen up with the crowd listening to the live performance of 'Hot Fiction' at Silver Bullet.
And we chat about family.

Knowing that we care, we were all moved.

Amazingly dressed purple sprouting broccoli

200g purple sprouting broccoli
1 garlic clove, chopped
pinch of crushed chilli
pinch of fennel seeds, dry roasted
handful of tarragon, finely chopped
1 tomato
nob of butter
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 lemon juice

Start preparing the dish by parboiling broccolis for couple of minutes and cooling them instantly in ice cold water.

Heat the frying pan with little olive oil and some butter. Put garlic and crushed chilli into the pan to infuse the flavour over medium heat. Add the broccolis, tarragon to the pan and squeeze or squash the tomato by your hands into the dish so all the soft bits of tomato goes into the dish. (Honestly!)

Season them with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 of lemon juice to taste.
Toss them well together.

Now, dish them up with good sprinkles of fennel seeds.
It is very important to dry roast the fennel seeds. Trust me, it does make all the difference to the dish.
They are just delicious!

It is nice to know that we love.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

getting on

I have been looking forward to this.
It must have been about three times that we tried.

Don't be silly, not what you're thinking.
We've been trying to organise this little soiree to celebrate their new home.

About 6 months ago, my dear friend P announced two things that excited me.
One, he's moving into town and two, that will be with his girlfriend J.
I mean, man's decision to move in with his girlfriend isn't something to be heard lightly, is it?
I think I was excited just for the sheer fact of knowing, there was a man who could possible make such a decision with genuine consciousness actually existed! Hooray!!

Last night, we finally hooked up.

Beautifully respected space, inch perfect shelvings, precisely arranged array of literature on places, spaces and living, and a gorgeous vintage green leather sofa accompanied by amazing smells of slow cooked lamb mingling with herbs and spices, I didn't expect anything less from these smart cookies.
We stayed overnight.

We decided to take an advantage of their neighbourhood.
Nice brisk walk to Sunday flower market in Columbia Road and a delightful breakfast at Leila's shop, I couldn't have asked for the better way of being in a good company.

We talk... about Danish designs, good coffee and of course... pancakes.

Pancakes with rosewater blueberry compote

for pancakes
110g plain flour, shifted
220g milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
some butter

for rosewater blueberry compote
150g blueberries (plus little more to garnish)
25g vanilla sugar (you can use ordinary sugar if you want)
1tbsp rosewater
1 lemon zest
1/2 lemon juice
25ml water

First of all, make your batter by mixing flour, milk, eggs, salt and sugar. Whisk them well but gently and set a side to rest.

To make your compote, place all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Let them bubble away until they thicken and form a syrup like consistency.

Now, making the pancakes, make sure your frying pan is hot but not sizzling. Melt some butter and pour the batter, coat the pan thinly by moving the pan constantly. Let them cook through and flip or turn them to cook the other side.
Serve them warm with rosewater blueberry compote, little more zest of lemon and some icing sugar.
But, like many other things, enjoy them however you like.

Wonderful weekend.
Thanks P and J, you lovely people.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

I bumped into these fellas

They were big boys.
They were round... good handfuls.

I've never met them before, so I was a bit shy introducing myself. 

I walked pass them, gave them a quick glance, pretended being busy otherwise and then... thought, maybe I'll give them a go.
It was kind of awkward approaching these fellas. 
I wasn't quite sure how they will respond to what I had in my mind. As I got closer, OMG, they were just SO handsome.
I've not seen anything so perfect for quite some time. Those amazingly soft skin, perfectly smooth and even complexion and the beautiful presence! 
I could not resist.
I had to have them, feel them and get to know them, you know.

And do you know what?
They didn't let me down.

Chargrilled round courgettes in minty olive oil

3 round courgettes, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
handful of fresh mint, thinly sliced
2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
1tsp dried oregano
olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
salt and pepper

First of all, chargrilling the courgettes. You can do this on very hot griddle pan. There's no need to oil the pan or the courgettes as long as the pan is hot. 
Do not be tempted to turn them too quickly or too often. Just leave them to be until the side you're cooking is completely done.
When they are done, put them in a large bowl. As you are piling them into the bowl, it will start to steam a little within.

Heat small pan with a little olive oil just enough to fry the garlic slices. Make sure they are golden on both sides. When ready, put them aside.

Now make this mega fresh dressing.
Put mint, kaffir lime lives and oregano in pestle and mortar with good drizzle of olive oil. Make sure to add salt and pepper and start mixing. As you're doing this, the oil will start to turn beautifully green.
Add lemon juice to your oil to your taste.

Pour the dressing over the courgettes and toss them well with fried garlic slices. Finish it with a little more fresh mint. 
And most importantly, enjoy!

I'm so glad I found you, lovely round courgettes!