Saturday, 26 March 2011

Duck à l'orange

A traditional French cuisine

Inspired by Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck Restaurant in one of his TV programme 'Heston's Chocolate Factory Feast', I went in search of a classic recipe that best resembles the original French dish. I found one on the UK Good Food Channel website, tried it, and it turned out quite well!


A lovely dish which only requires a few ingredients - Duck breasts, oranges, chicken or duck stock, brown sugar, white wine vinegar and Grand Marnier.

Duck Breasts

The duck breasts were seasoned with sea salt and pepper, and although the recipe did not mention this, I used Grand Marnier to marinade the duck (to enhance the flavour) before searing then roasting in the oven.

Grand Marnier - Orange Liquor

The rind of an orange was pared in thick slices then cut into thin zests. The individual segments of the orange were then removed from the membrane and set aside.

More oranges were juiced to get 300ml of orange juice for the sauce.

To make the orange sauce, brown sugar and white wine vinegar were brought to boil and shimmered until half the liquid was left. Then the orange juice was added and shimmered until half the liquid was left before adding the chicken stock. Grand Marnier was added (optional) and the sauce was then shimmered until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon then set aside.

Roasted Duck served on a bed of Curly Kale

The duck breasts were seared in a hot pan skin-side down until the fat melted away then the duck was turned over to sear the flesh side. Then the duck breasts were transferred into the hot oven skin-side down for about 10-15 minutes with the seasoned cherry tomatoes on vine.

I also made creamy mashed potatoes and fried curly kale with bacon strips to serve with the duck.

Before serving, the orange sauce was brought back to boil again with zest and orange segments added to it then seasoned with salt and pepper. Once ready, the lovely orange sauce was spooned on to the dish and the duck was garnished with orange segments.

Roasted Duck with the orange sauce

A beautiful dish that tastes as good as it looks. The duck was roasted to perfection with a crispy skin and a slight pink to the middle producing a very juicy and succulent meat.

Like Heston Blumenthal said:"The acidity of the orange juice and bitterness of the orange zest cuts through the richness of the duck." Makes this a perfect combination for the palate.

My version of Duck a L'orange may not be as sophisticated as Heston's, though it would have been fun to do it his way with all those fancy gadgets and lab equipments, but all the same, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making my very own Duck a L'orange!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Japanese Cuisine

Ichiban Restaurant

I have been to this Japanese restaurant many many times before but it is the first time I am writing about it.

After talking about sushi and Japanese food on several occasions with my work colleagues, we all decided to have an evening out to this Japanese restaurant.

They serve good quality and authentic Japanese food. A bit pricey but I would say value for money food.

We started off with a few different types of nigiri sushi. Nigiri sushi is made of an oblong mound of sushi rice with toppings drapped over it and sometimes held together with Japanese seaweed. The toppings are normally made of raw seafood but sometimes Tamago (sweet egg) is used.

Hotategai Nigiri and Unagi Nigiri

We ordered the Hotategai Nigiri (Scallops) and Unagi Nigiri (Sea eel). The scallops were very fresh and had a very nice texture where it breaks nicely in your mouth as you bite into it. The unagi was nicely grilled in sweat teriyaki sauce which gives a little smoky taste and complements well with the fragrant and sticky sushi rice.

Amaebi Nigiri and Tako Nigiri

We also had the Amaebi Nigiri (Sweet shrimps) and Tako Nigiri (Octopus). The shrimps were very sweet with a nice seafood flavour and the octopus had a chewy texture to it. Very fresh seafood, which is essential as they are served raw.

Okonomi Yaki

Okonomi Yaki - Japanese style Pancake with seafood and vegetables.
This dish is so nice that it tastes 'out of the world'! The 'pancake' was made of flour but with a nice surprise inside as it was filled with crunchy shredded mixed vegetables and sweet small prawns. Then the top was painted with strips of mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce, sprinkled with shredded seaweed, thin sheets of dried mackerel which were still moving when served and red pickled ginger in the middle. Very crunchy pancake with sweet and sour flavours from the mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce. Absolutely delicious!

Slice of pancake

Kaki Furai
Then we had the Kaki Furai - deep fried oysters in breadcrumbs served with brown sauce. The very fresh oysters were deep fried  and as you bite into the very crunchy crust you get the very juicy oysters inside bursting with freshness and a somewhat 'sea-watery' flavour!

Kakiage Don

One of my colleagues had the Kakiage Don - deep fried seafood and vegetable, tempura sauce and egg. What amazed me was mountaineous deep fried seafood piled up on top of the rice! Looked very inviting and my colleague liked the dish.

Ebi Katsu Curry

I had the Ebi Katsu Curry - Deep fried breaded king prawns served with curry sauce. The Japanese curry has a sweeter taste to it compared to Indian curries. It has the sweetness of carrots in it and a hint of spiciness from curry powder. It is not overwhelmingly spicy hot which explains why I liked this curry. The deep fried king prawns were lush as they were very well cooked and fresh and the curry sauce goes just nice with the glutinous Japanese rice.

Overall, one of the best Japanese restaurants in Cardiff although there are not many here. My colleagues enjoyed the food and we will most certainly go again!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Back to basics

- flavours-

Photo from Bloomsbury website

I came across this book while browsing various blogs and food sites. Read some reviews. Then bought the book - The flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit.

A very interesting book pairing flavours beyond imagination and providing ideas for creative cooking.

A very enjoyable read!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Linguine with Mussels in White Wine Sauce

Adapted from Tagliatelle with Mussels and Saffron (PASTA by Theo Randall).

PASTA by Theo Randall

Sounds like entirely different dishes but is actually very similar in many ways.

I have used the main sauce's ingredients and technique shown in the original recipe to make my very own linguine with mussels, which turned out quite well!

Linguine with Mussels

A few simple techniques using a few simple ingredients creates a simple and rustic pasta dish. The ingredients include fresh double cream, a clove of garlic, mussels, a big glass of white wine, parsley and of course linguine. To add a twist to it and to spice up the dish, you can add chilli flakes and saffron as instructed by the original recipe.

Australian White Wine
Shimmering Sauce

Olive oil and finely sliced garlic were put in a large saucepan with lid on and cooked for 1 minute. Then mussels were added and lid put on. White wine was added 2 minutes later and allowed to cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Cream and parsley were then added and the sauce simmered gently for about 3 minutes until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Salt and pepper was added to season the sauce.

To add another layer of flavour to the sauce, I have earlier sautéed small strips of bacon until brown. The bacon was added into the sauce to simmer. 

The simmering sauce gave out a very nice fragrance from the garlic, white wine and parsley.

Close-up of beautiful sauce

A very tasty dish of pasta with a bag of flavours! The saltiness of bacon, the fragrance of garlic, the fresh and peppery taste of parsley, all these flavours enhanced by the fruity white wine and thick double cream - a simply delicious pasta dish!

Linguine with Mussels

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Boiled Rice with Seafood, Meat and Egg 滑蛋三鲜烩饭

滑蛋三鲜烩饭 by AT

People always say:'A picture says a thousand words'. So I suppose my two pictures say two thousands?

Well, the two words I have for the above dish are - beautiful and delicious!

This Chinese dish is another one of the many recipes my house-mate is trying to re-create from 2 cookbooks she bought recently. The first 2 dishes she has made are here, 3rd dish here and the 4th dish here.

A very pretty looking dish and equally tasty but yet very simple to make!

The dish includes ingredients like Flammulina or Enokitake Mushroom, french beans, lettuce, pork meat, prawns and 1 egg per plate.

The pork and prawns were marinated with soya sauce.

Each ingredients were individually sautéed for about 10 seconds then removed from the wok. Then each ingredients were fried together with fish sauce for flavouring. After-which, cornflour dissolved in water was added to give the dish a shiny look and also to enhance the flavours.

The cooked ingredients were then added to a plate of rice and finally the yolk of one egg was added on top of the dish before serving. The egg yolk was then quickly mixed in with the hot rice and ingredients. This action helps create another dimension to the taste of the dish where the egg is not over-cooked and this also adds a shiny appearance to the dish.

A wonderful dinner after a hard day's work.

P.S. 5 dishes done and 45 to go!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Pot-roasted Pork Chops

Pot-roasted pork chops in cider with shallots and peas - another easy weekend meal.

The weekend has arrived again! And another recipe to follow from deliciousmagazine - very easy to make and yet very tasty!


Pork chops were lied in a large roasting pan with lots of peeled whole shallots, seasoned with salt and pepper then placed into the oven for 20 minutes.

Pork chops with shallots

 Then cider, chopped bacon and a spoonful of blackberry jam was added and the porks were roasted for another 10 minutes.

Then finally peas were added and roasted for another 10 minutes.

Cider and peas

Tada~~~ the pork chop is ready for serving!

Pot-roast pork chops

The sauce was absolutely lovely with sweetness of the blackcurrent jam and shallots then a punch of apple flavour from the cider. Apple flavour and pork is always a good combination! Altough the recipe says that cider will retain the juiciness of the pork chops and prevent them from getting too dry, I still find these pork chops a bit too dry. Perhaps, next time I shall quickly saute the pork chops to lock the juices in before I put them into the oven!

Served with mashed sweet potatoes

Served with a lovely sweet potato mash. With a pinch of salt and pepper, a scoop of butter and a dash of milk creates a smooth tasty mash! A healthier alternative to mashed potatoes but still very tasty with added sweetness from the sweet potatoes.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pancake Day

Pancake day a.k.a. Shrove Tuesday, a day to eat pancake.

Normally, people will make pancakes at home and add any toppings that they like.

Today, we decided to go to a pancake cafe in town, called the pancake house.

Never seen so many people out on a Tuesday evening eating pancakes in a cafe!

Nicely decorated pancakes (which is a little pricey) in a pretty little pancake cafe. There could be no better dessert. Yum Yum!

Banana and Nutella chocolate
Banana and Peanut Butter

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Coq au vin

Coq au vin - a 'French braise of chicken cooked in red wine'.

 My food adventure has brought me to French cuisine this time! A very classic and simple dish but very delicious and full of flavour!

*Another recipe extracted from deliciousmagazine by Hermione Norris.

 Even though this dish involved a lot of ingredients, herbs and seasonings, it is rather easy to make.

Red wine

I selected this Australian red wine for its sweet and fruity taste.

Pot of chicken and various items
Each ingredients were carefully handled. First the chicken was jointed then coated with seasoned flour before frying in olive oil and butter. Then strips of bacon were fried in the same frying pan until crisp, after which a clove of crushed garlic was added. Peeled whole shallots were fried until brown before adding the mushrooms to fry until soft. All these ingredients were added succesively into a big pot.

Once the ingredients were added into the big pot, red wine, homemade chicken stock, tomato paste, sprigs of thyme and bay leaves were added.

 The casserole was brought to boil then allowed to shimmer for about an hour until the chicken was cooked through and tender.

Coq au vin

The wonderful and sweet aroma of the wine, herbs and chicken filled the kitchen.

Coq au vin (2)
A nice and thick sauce from the reduced red wine and chicken stock. The chicken was tender and juicy and had absorbed all the flavours of the sauce. All the wonderful flavours from the fried bacon, sweetness of shallots, garlic, sourness and sweetness of tomato paste, herby bay leaves and thyme, and also the fruity punch from the red wine. All these flavour leaves a lingering taste in your mouth with each mouthful!

Served with rice

Lots of sauce served with rice, so delicious that it leaves us wanting more rice to go with it!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

A Lazy Weekend Menu

Here comes the end of the week. After a week-long of hard work, nothing is better than a heart-warming, mouth-watering, home-cooked meal!

Does a nice home-cooked meal always mean lots of toiling in the kitchen? The answer is...........most certainly NOT!

After shifting through my new issue of 'deliciousmagazine' and tagging a few recipes that I like, I decided to cook this simple dish on the weekend.

Nigella's lazy weekend menu - Roast Duck Legs with Potatoes.



Searing Duck skin side down

Ready for the oven

Roast duck leg with potatoes
Searing the duck skin-side down not only leaves a very crispy skin and lock the juices inside the duck meat, but also brings out the natural fat/oil from the duck which leaves a very lovely aroma and flavour to the dish.

Potatoes diced into even 2cm cubes were arranged around the seared duck legs in a hot roasting pan. A few sprigs of thyme were spread over the duck and potatoes which were then seasoned with sea salt and pepper before putting into a pre-heated oven.

As the dish was cooking in the oven, the aroma from the thyme, the fat from the duck and the roasting potatoes filled the entire house!

Two hours later, we get a very tender duck with extremely crackling skin and absolutely crispy potatoes! Of course, some boiled mix-vegetable to provide our daily 5-portion of fruit & veg.

5 minutes to prepare and 2 hours in the oven - easy to cook with very little hassle producing a yummylicious weekend meal!

Honey Dew Melon with Sago

Recipe from a blog that I follow.


Honey Dew Melon

Honey Dew Melon with Sago

After a nice warm meal, it is always very refreshing to have a nice cool dessert.

A delicious dessert made from fresh fruit and coconut milk then cooled in the fridge is just heavenly. The sweetness of the melon juice and sugar syrup is so soothing and the milkiness of fragrant coconut milk is just amazing. The boiled sago adds another dimension of texture to this lovely dessert, making it thicker.

Served cold, this dessert --> yummylicious!