Saturday, May 22, 2010

What to do with... jalapeños

A friend of mine runs her own little organic farmville on her rooftop, and as the jalapeños were ready for harvest and plentiful, she was kind enough to give me a few, which in HK really is a treat as they are very hard (if not impossible) to come by. I used them to make and old favourite Cuban dish of mine - picadillo, which is essentially a mix of ground meat (beef most of the time, but there also exist pork versions) with green bell peppers, some sort of chilli peppers (jalapeños are perfect), onions, tomatoes, garlic, green olives, oregano, bay leaf, cumin seeds, vinegar (I used white wine vinegar but simple cristal alcool vinegar is fine as well) and capers.

Chubby Jalapeños, HK grown!!

Jalapeños, sliced. See how thick the flesh is, which is characteristic of this variety of chillies.
I served the dish with another caribbean dish - black beans and rice. Again, there exists many versions of this dish (some use black beans, some pigeon peas, black-eyed peas or chickpeas). This recipe is from Wendy Rahamut's excellent cookbook Caribbean Flavors and is the Cuban version of the dish, made with bay leaf, black pepper, brown sugar, oil (I used olive oil, not very Caribbean but at least healthy...), garlic, onion, cumin, chicken stock and ground coriander seeds.

Sous-vide green bell peppers, to serve the rice in. Packed using the "human vacuum" technique patented by the Elves ;-)

Picadillo à ma façon with black beans & rice (from Wendy Rahamut's excellent cookbook "Caribbean Flavors")

Piccadillo (serves 3/4)

1 pound ground beef
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly chopped
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and sliced in ¼ inch strips
2 jalapeño peppers (or more to taste)
4 medium tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and cubed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cloves
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ ounce capers (nonpareils)
2 ounces pitted green olives in brine, sliced
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 cup beef stock
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp neutral oil (corn or rapeseed)

·       In a large pot, heat the oil and fry the meat until it starts browning slightly. Remove the meat from the pot, leaving the oil in, and fry the onion until translucent (do not let it brown).
·       Add the garlic, bay leaf, oregano, cumin seeds, cloves and black pepper and fry until the spices are fragrant.
·       Add the tomatoes, bell pepper, jalapeños, olives and capers and stir-fry for a further few minutes.
Finally, add the meat, vinegar, beef stock and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
·       Serve with steamed rice or any Caribbean rice cookup (black beans & rice, pigeon peas & rice etc…)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Plenty (Yotam Ottolenghi)

Such a wonderful cookbook! This is a collection of some of the weekly columns Ottolenghi has published for a number of years in the Guardian - this one is all about veggies recipes (although not strictly speaking vegetarian). Stylishly designed and packed with gorgeous photos of all the dishes. Must buy - must try.

The Canteen

I was lucky enough to return to Fook Lam Moon (aka the Tycoons' Canteen) for a dinner organised by one of my fellow foodies. As usual, he had pre-ordered all the dishes, and we were treated to an amazing feast. FLM is possibly my favourite Chinese restaurant in town. I have heard some friends complaining that the quality had been going down recently, but judging from what we were served that night, I could not tell. These people are a much tougher crowd than I am when it comes to food, so it might as well be that it actually has gone downhill and I do not go often enough / do not have sensitive enough tastebuds to notice. Oh well... I walked out of the restaurant happy that night, it's all that matters to me :-)

Deep fried frog legs

Deep fried frog legs - delicious but I agree with April, not as good as Tin Heung Lau's

Roast suckling pig - simply the best in town

roasted piggie skin - so delish... crispy on top with this yummy layer of "collagen" underneath. More!! More!!

Winter melon soup (with crab meat & roasted duck)

Winter melon soup - served in the fruit. Spectacular and delicious!

Winter melon soup: roast duck, sliced straw mushroom, crab meat, what was that little green thing ??, winter melon

Pan-fried garoupa

Pan-fried garoupa - the skin was sooo yummy (flesh not bad either...)

Stir-fried lobster with black beans, green peppers and sweet onions - 2 thumbs up!

Stir-fried lobster with black beans, green peppers and sweet onions

Baked stuffed crab shell with fresh crab meat and sweet onions - just gorgeous!

Baked stuffed crab shell with fresh crab meat and sweet onions  - close up...

Pan-fried prawns with walnuts & mayo sauce
Pan-fried prawns with walnuts & mayo sauce
Sweet & sour pork - not something I would normally consider (as HK has so much more to offer) but was curious to try this at a premium eatery - it was well worth the stomach space!! Very yummy :-)

Sweet & sour pork

Wolfberry leaves & wolfberries in superior broth
Wolfberry leaves & wolfberries in superior broth - I absolutely loved this veggie - perfectly done and delicious!

Stir fried noodles (beansprouts, soy sauce, ginger, spring onions & sweet onions) - very nicely done
Longevity buns (filled with lotus seed paste & salted egg yolks)

Special humble request from this Frog, whose B-day was just a few days ago. These were absolutely gorgeous.

Steamed brown sugar sponge cake

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Les Copains d'Abord

A rather large group of friends gathered at Les Copains, a small and friendly restaurant in Sai Kung where Paris-trained Chef Bonnie So treats her guests to a classic French fare. The Lady Elf in our foodie group used to sweat under Bonnie's direction a few years ago, and she was back in the kitchen today to treat us to an amazing feast including frog legs and fromage de tête... That was a VERY long lunch, and I think none of us had dinner that night...

117 Pak Sha Wan (Sai Kung) - that's where you'll find Bonnie So's lovely little French restaurant...

Gigolette de grenouille "à la Robuchon" (breaded fried frog leg with sweet garlic & parsley creams)

Quenelle de brochet sauce nantua - I can't say how grateful I am the Elves & Bonnie went through the pain of making this. Soooo yummy...

Fromage de tête - nothing to do with cheese, it's actually a deboned pig's head rolled into a giant sausage and poached for hours (was it 4 ??) in broth

Fromage de tête - can be eaten as cold cuts...

... or pan fried
In this pic: crispy fried brains tartine, roquette & young spinach salad with mustard and onion dressing, Fromage de tête, Capers & red bell pepper relish

Andouillette 5A - like in aaaaah... so good

Grilled Andouillette 5A, andouille de Vire, red cabbage and onion relish

From front to back: Moutarde de Dijon, moutarde de Meaux, English mustard

Andouillette 5A, red cabbage & onion relish, pan fried sweetbreads, Andouille de Vire

Tarte Bourdaloue

Tarte Bourdaloue - perfect pastry & nice browning

Bugnes Lyonnaises

home-made bread roll