Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tonight is going to be a good night !

Looking forward for this evening at our friend Liisa's a Sylvester Feast features Oysters & bubble, Roast Leg of Lamb & Bordeaux, Goat Cheese with Honey and more...

 I gotta a feeling - that tonight going be a good night !

The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies) - with Bonus CDI Gotta Feeling (as made famous by Black Eyed Peas)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009



Happy New Year, สวัสดีปีใหม่, Frohes Neues Jahr, Bonne Année, Bon Anno, 明けましておめでとうございま, Gott Nytt År - Have a Great Start in 2010/2553/Year of Metal Tiger - Everyone !

I Have A Dream

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Incredible Refreshing Winter Salad

Already I received several requests from friends for Fennel Salad I made for x-mas dinner. I love this amazing salad - a light, crunchy, fruity and refreshing at this time of the year. They are seasonal ingredients available in our local market in Germany.  Also you can find Pomelo in Asia except for the Fennel bulbs which you may have to pay a fortune for them. I will experiment and try to find a substitute for Fennel bulbs and will let you know.

Fennel Salad with Pamelo and Citrus Dressing
For 4 serving

Ingredients for Salad
2 medium size Fennel bulbs
1/2 Red Onion, thinly Sliced
1 1/2 cups of Pomelo fruit - a citrus fruit look like giant grapefruit. It comes from South East Asia or Middle East. Grapefruit can be substitute if you cannot find Pamelo in your local market.
Ingredients for Dressing
2 Tablespoon of fresh squeezed Organic Lime and Lemon juice – reduced the amount if you use Grapefruit instead of Pamelo
2 Tablespoon of fresh squeezed Orange juice
1 Tablespoon shredded of Organic Orange zest
1 Tablespoon of shredded Organic Lemon and Lime zest
2 Tablespoon of Walnut Oil or ground nut oil or any light Salad Oil
1 tablespoon of chopped Flat Leaves Parsley
Sea Salt
Freshly ground Pepper
Chili or Cayenne Pepper to taste (optional)

1.        With hand slicer – shave Fennel Bulbs and Red Onion in a big salad bowl
2.       Peel and separate Pomelo fruit into bites pieces.  Add to the bowl with Fennel and Red Onion.
3.       Pomegranate,  Walnut Oil, Orange Zest, Lime Juice, Sea Salt, Freshly ground Pepper, Chili/Cayenne Pepper and chopped Parsley leaves
4.       Gently mix the salad with hand. That the Pomegranate and Pamelo fruits are not break and juice comes out.
5.        Taste and add salt, pepper, chili or lime juice according your desire flavor. Be sure the salad dressing flavor is to compliment Fennel, Pamelo and Pomegranate not too strong. Otherwise you will lose refreshing flavor of this salad combination.
6.       Top with  Orange Segments and serve

This refreshing Winter Salad is seasonal at end of the year. It is wonderful as starter before heavy meal or Seafood dishes.

Serving suggestions:
-          Top with simple grilled seafood or grilled boneless or skinless chicken breast as a nice lunch or light dinner
-          Serve between 2 main dishes if you plan many courses
-          Add shaved Parmesan cheese

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas !

Christmas for me is a time when friends are gathering or invitation to friends’ family. We combine our traditions by either being with friends or with his family. Often we gather people we know or friends who is/are alone on this day. Sharing is a keys word for us.

It has been 5 years since we are at home. We had nice walk to the city before the feast – drank a couple of Alt beer (local beer from Dusseldorf) at Fuechschen Brewery - my favorite fuechschen beer, celebrating Dusseldorf style. The Dusseldorfers meet up every year on December 24 in the Old City (Alt Stadt) between 12-16:00 having some drinks and wishing each other joyous holidays. After this ritual everyone goes home to their festive feast or dinner. It’s a kick off of Holidays festivities of days to come.
This year Jårg has a special request – Zuppa di Pesce – an Italian fish soup which has become our traditional Christmas Eve dinner since 15 years – only when we have dinner at our place. We would cook together-which is very rare. He is a master of scrubbing the mussels. They get very clean and well polished before they get into hot pot! I got to do the dirty job of cleaning fishes and squids and Jårg loves to film it- which it is annoying sometime!

This year we were 5 person – starting with my favorite German bubble –Sekt(German sparkling wine) from Fuerst von Metternich.

Our menu: refreshing Fennel Salad with Pomelo, Pomegranate and Citrus Dressing of Orange, Lime and Lemon; Goat Cheese Spinach Lasagna; Zuppa di Pesce; Cheese Plate ( goat, comte and gorgonzola) with dried figues and dates; Caramelized Apples with creamy thick Yogurt(such Turkish or Greek); Christmas Cookies; fresh fruits. Yes - the desert menu kept going til we could not intake anymore of solid substance. This time of the year we indulging more sweet than usual like at our friend’s Gluehwein-Mulled Wine Party the other days. There were at least 12 different kind of Christmas goodies and river of mulled wine which did not stop flowing.

Christmas day is Oyster and bubble for me. I look forward for this since weeks. Happy Christmas to you all.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Orange Cake with Caramelized Citrus Sauce

Clementine and oranges are in season during the holiday. The Japanese always eat these citrus fruits during their New Year celebration. The smell of orange and cinnamon makes me feel warm and cozy. We bought a whole bunch of organic orange the other day. I wanted to bake a cake and am too lazy to go outside at minus 2 degree. I love baking with fruits, vegetables and herbs. So it was one of those days when I gather ingredients around my pantry and fruits bowl. I starred at the oranges for some idea. Pound cake I thought at first… well that requires too many eggs – so no! How about make something similar that uses less egg. A classic cake recipe with citrus flavor with something adds to it to rid off the dullness of just plain cake. I found slices of dried Blood Orange in my pantry – I use them for cooking Daube, sauces or making Mulled wine. My tasted buds started to work – sweet buttery cake with sticky tangy chewy topping! It sent signal to my brain and I came up with a recipe below. My genie pig husband loves the cake – he thinks it was the best I baked in a long time. Is that a complement with a hint to improve my baking !?! The plus point of making cake is natural room fragrance - the whole apartment smelled after fresh baked cake and fresh citrus (I used Lemon and Orange zest). If you cannot find dried orange slice, substitute it with thinly sliced of fresh orange. I want to share this recipe with you and please feel free to share your thought or your variations.

Orange Cake with Caramelized Citrus Sauce - make 8 slices

185g (3/4 cup) Butter, softened
190g (3/4 cup + 5 teaspoons) Raw Sugar
A small pinch teaspoon of Sea Salt
3 large Eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon finely grated zest  of Organic Lemon and/or Orange
185g (1 1/4 cups) Self-Raising flour can be subsituted - for each cup of all-purpose flour, add 11/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon ofsalt
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) fresh squeezed Citrus Juice from Orange and/or Lemon
Caramelized Citrus sauce
4 slices of dried Orange or Blood Orange - you can purchase it in gourmet food shop
150g (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) Raw sugar
2 Tables spoon Lemon juice
1 1/2Tablespoon of grated zest of Organic Orange and Lemon
Very tiny pinch of sea salt to smooth the tangy tart flavor
Instruction- Cake:
1.       Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius (150 degrees Celsius fan-forced).
2.       Grease the side and base of a 20cm diameter round cake pan.
3.       Add Butter to mixing bowl and slowly add Sugar about 1/4 cup at a time. Use electric mixer or electric hand-held beaters and beat Butter and Sugar until very pale and creamy. This could take up to 10-15 minutes
4.       Add the Eggs one at a time, beating for a few minutes after each addition. Do not rush the addition of the eggs otherwise the mixture will be more likely to separate and develop a curdled appearance. Add the Zest with the last Egg
5.       Add half the flour and stir until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour
6.       Mix in juice
7.       Spoon mixture into prepared cake pan and spread evenly
8.       Bake for about 50-55 minutes- it can be longer depend upon your oven, or until a thin-bladed knife or wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. The cake should spring back when lightly pressed in the centre
9.       Let cool
Instruction- Caramelized Citrus Sauce
1.       Add sugar, Lemon juice and dried Orange slices in a small sauce pan and cook over low – keep stirring over the heat for about 5 minutes– do not let the sauce boil just bubble
2.       Add zest of Orange and Lemon and Salt to sauce and cook for another 3 minutes. Make sure the sauce is not too thick or too thin. It should have the same thickness as honey - If it too thick adds little water and when it is too thin boil it down.
The sauce should have sweet and sour citrus flavor. Let sauce cools down to warm temperature

Finishing the cake – put cake on a cake plate and pour the warm sauce over the cake and decorate the top caramelized dried orange slices. Scrape the extra syrup upward toward the cake to make sure all the side of the cake is evenly covered with sauce. Let cool completely before serving. Enjoy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Festive Mulled Wine

Our holidays celebration had started sometime last week and the schedule are quickly filled with invitation and gathering. We went to our local Christmas market in Dusseldorf last weekend. One must do thing for almost everyone is to drink Glühwein – German spiced mulled wine. I started with a spiced mulled white wine which has become very popular in the last few years here in Dusseldorf. Then move on to the red wine version. I like to browse around and enjoy the atmosphere – smell, sound, light, music, Christmas goods and happy crowd. So we did Glühwein stands hopping! Well that was a big NO DO thing! I woke up next day felt like someone was hammering my head. You see - each Glühwein vendor has his own secret recipes as well as using different wine and brandy quality (after 2 of those – they all taste fantastic). I did the same mistake years ago and totally forgot the morning after experience. The excuse is that we were away abroad for few years.
I love the smell of this festive drink in the house. It makes me feel cozy, wintery, and romantic. Here are recipes for red and white mulled wine. Please make sure use the wine you know or you may experience my symptom from Glühwein stands hopping.

Gluehwein – German spiced Mulled Red Wine
• 3 bottles (750 ml. each) dry Red Wine (zinfandel, merlot, burgundy, etc.)
• 1 pint Brandy
• 3/4 cup Raw Sugar
• 5 Cinnamon Sticks ca 10 cm
• 10 Cloves, whole
• 1/8 tsp Allspice
• 1/8 tsp Mace
• 2 Organic Oranges, sliced
• 1 Organic Lemon, sliced

1. Pour the wine into a large pot and begin heating over low heat.
2. As it begins to warm, add Sugar and spices. Stir until sugar is dissolved
3. Add the Brandy
4. Heat thoroughly, but do not allow not let it boiled. The alcohol will evaporate
5. Add the Lemon and Orange
6. Steep for about 1 hour over low heat
7. Add more sugar during this time if desired and stir until dissolved
8. Serve hot and garnish with Orange slices and stick Cinnamon

Spiced Mulled White Wine
• 1/2 Organic Lemon
• 1/2 Organic Orange
• 2 tablespoons Honey
• 1/3 to 1/2 cup Raw Sugar
• 6 whole Cloves
• 6 whole Allspice
• 2 Cinnamon Sticks
• 2 bottles (750 ml. each) dry white ( Pinot Grigio, Soave, or Sauvignon Blanc)

1. Rinse Lemon, Orange, and Kumquats and thinly slice them, discarding seeds
2. Quarter Orange slices
3. Heat Wine over low heat until almost hot
4. Add Fruits, Honey, Raw Sugar - use the smaller amount if you prefer drinks on the tart side, Cloves, Allspice and Cinnamon
5. Steep over low heat for about 1 hr over low heat
6. Serve hot with slice Lemon, half Kumquat (optional) and Cinnamon stick

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Middle in Holidays Season

When I close my eye and think of holiday season – I feel cozy, melancholy, romantic, brisk fresh cold air, love, friends and family. I see twinkle light, candle light, rich color of green; red; gold and gem, dark cloudy sky and blue sky. I smell firewood, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, apple, orange, pine, burn candle, hot wine, and fresh baked goods. I hear children noises, people converse with laugh with news and update, Christmas music, Nat King Cole, Billy Holiday, silence, merry go round, bell. I taste holiday feast of rich food with wild games and varieties of side dishes, hot wine, homemade baked goods with cinnamon, orange, dry fruits and nuts, fresh Eggnog from David Galloway (the best I ever have), fresh oysters, champagne, foie grass, cheeses, good red wine and calvados.
This year we decided to stay at home. We had been on the road about 70% this year. I am working on a Holiday feast with the 5 senses. Calories and Holiday Season definitely do not go well together BUT we try to balance it and be conscious about it.  My favorites - Moron Glace, fresh Foie Grass and David’s Eggnog have about 1 week worth of fat and carbohydrate. We try to exercise more by walking to everywhere to the city, shops, bars and restaurants, walk up and down the stair way as much as we can. I spread the calories through the weeks and day. Using and eating more of fresh and dried fruits, nut, fresh vegetables, using Olive or Grape seed Oil as much as I can instead of butter and others. Substitute white sugar with brown sugar, honey or maple syrup depends upon the recipes. Thinly sliced fresh foie grass fry in its own fat serve with quince paste, fresh fruits, mixed green, fruit dressing without oil. Cheese plate serves without baguette instead mix green and drops of fine Extra Virgin Oil, spiced fruit jam such fig, fresh and dried fruit and nuts. Reduce carbohydrate in main courses substitute with steamed vegetable, salad of mix green, herbs, fruits and roasted nuts dress with extra vergin olive oil and lemon or vinegar dressing and steamed or bakedpotatoes. My favorite during the holiday is to lunch with the left over. Especially at our friend’s Laurent in Provence a day after our festive dinner and a long traditional walk on New Year Day. We open the fridge and take very thing that ready to eat and just need to heat up. It was always the best meals. This year we will follow our lunch tradition at home.
Adding more fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs to your meals are also good for cleaning you digestive system not to forget drinking plenty of water or herbs tea between the meals. During the Holiday Jårg and I eat two times a day one light and one normal meal. For the spiritual cleansing forgiving,  be positive and share them with your love one and the others. I am a Buddhist, when I am in Thailand I usually go to temple on New Year morning to pray, forgive and make wishes for peace, health, love and share my wishes to the world.
A song to give you a holiday spirit  by Nat King Cole “The Christmas Song”

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Quick Bread from Southern United State

I love Buttermilk biscuit. I adore Southern and Creole food. I find the kitchens are so unique – it tells many stories and history of different cultures (African, French, Native American, Spanish and Caribbean) through their vegetables, herbs and spices that they brought with them and how they adapted to the new world of cultural integrations. Since, I moved from the United State. I was often craved the food from the region. The only way I can satisfy myself is to learn how to cook the dishes.
Today I will share one of my favorite - a quick bread recipe. It is a buttery Buttermilk Biscuit that almost melt in your mouth. I love them for breakfast with all kind of honey and to company the meals. Jårg goes further adding his European way of eating bread by making little sandwiches with different kind of cheese and he is happy. After many recipes and experiments. I finally got the recipe down to the flavor and texture that I was searching. Don't let the number of steps scare you the recipe is actually very easy. 
Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups Self Rising Flour you can subsitute this (if you don't have self rising flour subsitute it as follow -  for each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix well)
1 tablespoons of Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 teaspoon fine Brown Sugar
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 stick chilled Unsalted Butter about 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon melted Unsalted Butter for brushing
Flour for working the dough
Heat the oven at 200 c
Mix dry ingredient together in a bowl.
  1. Add butter and mix together with dry ingredients by hand or fork until form grain like rice.
  2. Slowly add Buttermilk and mix it hand or fork until it form a sticky dough 
  3. Dust flour on the working space. Bring the dough and work on it with hand for about 3 minutes. Add more flour as you work on until the dough is not too sticky.
  4.  Flat the dough with hand about 1.5 cm folds it and flat it out again couple times
  5. Roll the dough with rolling pin to about 1.5 cm
  6. Cut the biscuit with round cutter or you can use a glass with about 5 cm in diameter. It should make 12 pieces
  7.  Then I lightly shape each biscuit with hand to about 4.5 cm to make sure the texture is loose. The form will look a bit organic.
  8. Place the biscuit closely on baking sheet line with parchment/baking paper or non stick baking sheet, so they can rise upward not outward.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the top is nicely brown. 
Serve warm with meals, for breakfast with honey, jam, butter, eggs dishes or whatever you like. You can store and heat them for next day.
Follow me for more of my favorite Southern and Creole recipes.

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Water the morning ritual

In Asian culture we love to drink warm or hot drink. My Father used to say drinking warm water is good for you - it circulates and clean your digestive system. One day I started and try this for a week and I mediate notice the different. Now Jårg and I do this every morning - we add a slice of organic lemon for fresh citrus taste. Since then, we often don’t drink caffeine beverage like coffee or tea because we would be totally awake. Well ... I do enjoy a cup of Japanese green tea in the morning. I try to drink warm warm through the day when it is possible or at least 2 big glasses – 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening.
You can enjoy drinking water by adding flavor using organic - flowers, hearbs, sliced fruits and vegetables such cucumber, mint, lemon grass, citrus fruits like grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, rose petal, jasmin flower (this is very popular in Thailand) and whatever you desire. Just make sure they are free of any chemical and wash well.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Eating and Environment

Do you know that one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock? There is a study that eating 200 grams of meat produces about 5250 kilogram of CO₂ (carbon dioxide) through the total process ending on a plate. Since May the residents of city Ghent, Belgium becoming the outstanding example in making a better world and sustaining the environment by declaring vegetarian every Thursday - the Veggie Day.
Without knowing that is good for the environment - Jårg and I have been doing this since years. We cook mostly vegetarian at home and using  fresh herbs mostly from our balcony. I was growing up having  a plate of fresh vegetables and herbs at the table. It becomes a habit to have at least 2-3 vegetables and fresh herbs in or with our meals.
Just imagine half of the world doing this at least one day a week like people in Ghent. There are plentiful of delicious vegetarian recipes. I will share them with you. You can check one recipe in my blog “Spontaneous Casserole” from 2 days ago.
Click here to read more about Veggie Day in Ghent.

Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent Top 10 (Eyewitness Top Ten Travel Guides)Brussels (EYEWITNESS TRAVEL GUIDE)Insight City Guide Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Well... you did Evah

Time: early 1980s - 1994 Back in those days they were neighbors. We bumped into them at diner, bar, supermarket, party, club... That was the most creative and hypest era in Manhattan. When the Soho was Soho, walking in Alphabet City and Lower Eastside cautiously going to underground bars and clubs. Many Private dinners and gatherings with the interlects, artists, fashion photographers, Designers, Models, Musicians, bankers, and drink and others were flowing like Hudson river. Back stage passes, VIP lounge - I never had to pay entrance for clubs. There after 1995 ... The commercial world slowly moved into the city the people exchanged. Where did they go? Brooklyn, Queen, Williamsburg, Europe ... some still remain in the city and adapt to the new world. We have found several of those who left in Berlin, Paris, London, Queen, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Mid West... they still talk about the era ... the most inspired years which had turned many lives. Watch and listen to this video - Deborah Harry & Iggy Pop "Did You Evah". It brings back my great memory.

picture shown above (2006) was our last apartment in the red building on the first floor 1st Ave between 3 &4th street. It becomes one of trendy address today.

Spontaneous Casserole

Jårg always says that I am the master of universe of cleaning out the refrigerator, using the rest of fresh and available ingredients to create a fantastic meal. He is just too kind and hungry ;-) Well, I usually do this when we are leaving for the trip. I stop buying fresh grocery and use up whatever there. We did not go shopping this time when we came back from Berlin. The trip was short just a week. I packed all fresh vegetables properly and froze whatever that had to. Last night we were hungry and too lazy to go out. I gather my fresh produce: organic carrot, fresh bulb of fennel, small potatoes, some grated Emmental cheese. I always have the most fun and become very creative in this situation. I like to eat good food. So I created a light but hearty casserole meal for the cold weather.
Potatoes, Carrots and Fennel in Cheese sauce with Spicy bread crumb topping
I turned on the oven for 200 C degree. I washed and sliced carrots and fennel bulb into ca ¾ cm thick and steamed them separately they need different time: carrots 8 mins and Fennel 4-5 min. Boiled potatoes in salted water for about 20 mins. Mixed about a cup of bread crump I have in the cupboard with spices: 1teaspoon each oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, onion and garlic powder and 11/2 teaspoons of paprika and salt about ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper. Mix well and then add about 2-3 table spoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil - stir it until there is no crumb stick to the spoon and set aside. 
I make a cheese sauce using a Roux basic recipe – heat butter till brown add some flour mix well for 3-4 minutes the add milk cook it but not let it boil then add grated cheese slowly and stir well. The sauce should not be too thick I added a cube of vegetable bullion some freshly ground pepper and salt.
I drained the steamed vegetables and boiled potatoes. Cut potatoes in half. Layer the glass or ceramic casserole dish first with halved potatoes, cheese sauce, then vegetables, cheese sauce then sprinkle mixed bread crumb evenly on top and bake it for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubble and the topping is nicely brown and crispy. 

Personally I like casserole when the textures are combined – soft and crunchy or soft and chewy. Nice table red wine such Minervois made a perfect dinner last night and we still have left over for lunch today.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The teahouse in Berlin

We just came back from our business trip from Berlin. My friend Koji brought us to a brand new teahouse with Vietnamese kitchen in Berlin Mitte which I am still dreaming. Chén Chè locates near Rosenthalplatz hidden quietly in the court yard back of a Jazz club. The elegant ambiance is in modern Southeast Asian style with dark wood accents with gem color of turquoise, red, gold and etc. The big counter with many tea kettles and pots as you may see at coffee and tea stall or in Asia and beautiful arrangement of Asian sweet delicacy which you should come out of your comfort zone and try some of this. The corner shop of varieties of tea, incense, ceramic dishes and some sweet to be taken away. On our first visit I try a bowl of Bitter Melon tea, Koji had sweeten Ginger Tea with lemon and fresh mint and Jårg was drinking his favorite Vietnamese coffee sweeten by condense milk. We try small snack of fresh spring rolls with smoked tofu to company our tea. The light Asian music in the background, the smell of different tea fragrances and soft scense with the perfect temperature of tea that was served. It was so soothing and calm like we were on spa holiday in Southeast Asia. We conversed and catching up on news. It was just perfect. On my second visit with friends - Koji, Jårg and I tried a Butterfly Flowers tea prepared in hot sweeten rice milk flavor with ginger. The tea came white with few dry blue flower floating as time went by our tea slowly turned blue. This time we had 3 different flavor of Mochi (Japanese rice cake) – red bean, taro and matcha (green tea) with our tea. It was an experience of the 5 senses. Later on 2 friends came and joy us. They had shake with alcohol made from rice flavored by herbs and exotic fruits. I will definitely try that next. Chén Chè is my new favorite meeting place in Berlin. I am already looking forward for my next visit.

Chén Chè : Rosenthaler Straße 13 , 10119 Berlin (Mitte)
Telephone: +49 (0) 30- 28 88 42 82