Google Analytics

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Popover with Apricot Jam

Whenever I want to make a last-minute dessert, I often turn to Jacques Pépin's Popover with Apricot Jam. The ingredients required for the dessert are usually found in my kitchen.

The dessert is quite simple to make: melt 3 tablespoon of butter in an oven-proof non-stick pan; mix half cup of flour with 2 tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt; then whisk in 2 eggs, half cup of milk, and 1/4 cup of sour cream (when I don't have it, I substitute with some yogurt); mix in the melted butter; pour the smooth batter back into the pan and bake at 400 degree F for around 20 minutes.

When the popover is done, warm some apricot jam in the microwave. Use a little cognac or some water (if the kids are eating) to thin the jam and spread onto the popover.

To make it look a bit fancier, I dust a bit of powdered sugar around the rim. Slice, serve and eat.

A warm and satisfying dessert, especially on a busy weekday.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monocle Subscription

From time to time, I would buy an issue of Monocle magazine to read. I enjoy reading the stories and, besides, I like the look and the physical feel of the magazine. Recently I decided to purchase a one-year subscription, which is ten issues for £75. The great thing about Monocle is it doesn't matter where one lives in the world, the subscription rate is the same. Tyler Brûlé, the founder of Monocle, said, "We didn't think you should be penalized because of where you live.”

In certain parts of the world, unlike a typical magazine, it is actually more expensive to subscribe to Monocle than to purchase the issues at the newsstand. For instance, in London, the subscription cost per issue is £7.5 versus the newsstand price of £5; in the U.S., the subscription cost per issue is around US$12 while the newsstand price is US$10. Fortunately, in Taipei, the situation is reversed, where a subscription cost per issue is around NT$350 and the newsstand price is NT$550. Since I am always looking for opportunities to "save" money, I signed up and spent £75.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

147.2°F Eggs

For my first attempt at sous vide cooking, I used Thomas Keller's recipe of Soft-Boiled Egg with Toasted Brioche and Bacon Marmalade in the booklet that came with the equipment. Technically, eggs are actually not cooked sous vide since they come with their own shells and don't need to be vacuum packed.

The recipe calls for cold eggs to be cooked in a water bath at the temperature of 147.2°F or 64°C for one hour. The circulator is very precise as it maintains the cooking temperature with ± 0.2°F stability.

While the eggs were cooking, I made the bacon marmalade: pan-fried minced bacon with blanched diced onions, cooked in a mixture of reduced vinegar and honey. I also toasted a store brought brioche.

I took the eggs out of the water after an hour. I cracked the shells open on one end and slipped the eggs out into a small bowl. Then with a large spoon the eggs were transferred very gently onto a plate. I also tried to make a quenelle of the marmalade and placed it next to the eggs.

The egg white is soft but relatively firm. The yolk is set yet very creamy.

The precision and consistency provided by the immersion circulator is really quite amazing. The blog, Cooking Issues, actually has a chart showing the results of eggs cooked at different temperatures. Now I understand why chefs are so enamored with sous vide cooking.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Arbitrage: Le Beurre Bordier

Ever since my lunch at Caprice in Hong Kong, where they use Bordier butter for the bread service, I have been wanting to buy some to use at home. The butter by Jean-Yves Bordier is often considered to be the best. The butter is made from organic cream of grass-fed cows, folded and tempered by handheld wooden paddles.

Just out of curiosity I did a google search and, to my surprise, it is actually available in Taiwan via 博客來. Unfortunately, the price is ridiculously high: NT$235 for 125g of butter.

In Hong Kong one can buy 250g of Bordier butter for HK$58, in other words, roughly NT$110 for 125g; less than half of what it costs in Taiwan. Of course it is still the cheapest to buy the butter in France, where the price for 125g is around 1.8 euro or NT$73.

I love Le beurre Bordier, but I cannot justify paying more than three times the price in Paris or double the price in Hong Kong. So, no gourmet butter for me anytime soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lung King Heen 龍景軒

Lung King Heen 龍景軒 in Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong is the first Chinese restaurant to be awarded three stars by the Michelin guide. Ever since then there has been endless debates on whether the restaurant deserves the ultimate distinction. In a certain way, it doesn't really matter. If Michelin says it is three-star then it is; after all it is Michelin's stars anyway.

Nevertheless, all the chatter on the web certainly piqued my interest. When we visited Hong Kong recently, Maria and I went for lunch with our two young kids. Normally when we go to a fancy restaurant, we leave the kids at home. However, on Lung King Heen's website, it said, "Lung King Heen is delighted to welcome families with children aged 3 and above." I was too happy to oblige and this would be our kids first three-star experience.

The restaurant is located on the fourth floor of the hotel. The room is nicely designed with tables and chairs nicely spaced; a very comfortable environment. We were seated at a table adjacent to a silk clad column, near the window with a fantastic view of Kowloon.

We had a starter of barbecued suckling pig and roast pork; both were excellent. The rest of the lunch, we mostly ordered off the dim sum menu, that included baked turnip puff, baked abalone with diced chicken puff, steamed rice roll with lobster, steam shrimp dumpling, and crispy spring roll. Every dish was very refined, well executed, and simply delicious.

The service was not only impeccable but also friendly and relaxed.

Lung King Heen is the first kid-friendly Michelin three-star restaurant that I have been to. It is such a treat for a young family to enjoy a high quality meal together. In a certain way, this befits the Chinese culture, where dining is often a family affair and about sharing and eating together. Unlike fancy French restaurants, where one often don't see kids, or one has to ask the kitchen to do something simple. At Lung King Heen, we didn't even have to order anything off the menu for the kids. They thoroughly enjoyed their wonton shrimp noodle soup, the stir-fried vegetable, as well as the roast pork.

We finished the meal with two desserts that we all shared. The server also brought out a plate of mignardises, which our kids probably ate more than us. Below is Ava enjoying her share:

The meal at Lung King Heen was not cheap, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, especially as a family. Frankly, I have no problem with Michelin's rating. It was delicious and extremely pleasant.