mercredi, février 28, 2007

Rice Man, Stuttgart Mitte

I am in general very disappointed with the Chinese restaurants that I've been to in Stuttgart. Most of them are owned by Chinese who came from regions in China definitely not known for their culinary finesse. But Rice Man in Stuttgart, if you head upstairs (skipping the horrible buffet at the entrance) and order à la carte, could be reasonably edible. They claim to serve authentic Cantonese cuisine. I beg to differ, but at least this effort to differentiate somehow bore fruit and I would recommend the restaurant to those who desperately seek to eat Chinese in town.

I have tried a number of dishes and find their Egg Noodle Soups (8,50 - 9,50 Euros) quite tasty, probably helped by the fact that their noodles are hand-made. Their Cantonese Roast Duck (11,50 Euros per serving) is also quite good and the portions are usually generous. I didn't enjoy their Mixed Meat and Vegetables Horfun (seafood frozen and not fresh), but the Beef Horfun was not too bad. The beef was tender and the sauce not too thick. Their Kangkong was OK, but very expensive (I think around 11 Euros) and their Tim Sum sucked.

I saw that they have exotic dishes like Pig's Blood and Intestines, but have yet to try any of them. The next time I'll try a few classics like Seafood and Tofu Pot, Mahpo Tofu and Fried Garlic Prawns...

On a good day, they'll serve you a bowl of Coconut Sago as you pay the bill. That is refreshing and which reminds me that I haven't been making this for sometime now and should consider doing so soon.

mardi, février 27, 2007

Schloss Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau (and Pig's Blood Soup with Egg Noodles)

We checked out of the AlpenHotel at 11am on Sunday and decided to visit the region before we return to Stuttgart. The Hotel receptionist recommended Mad King Ludwig II's Schloss Neuschwanstein (New Swan Stone Castle) at Hohenschwangau in Bavaria and we decided to follow her recommendation as we remember seeing a model of the castle at Legoland.

On the way there, we realised that we had already passed through the region last Summer on our way to Tuscany via Austria. And as we approached the castle, I began to suspect that I had already been there, probably 14 years ago on my 1st trip to Europe. As it was a mad tour of 9 countries in 36 days then, at the end of it I could no longer tell one castle from another.

Though I remembered the horse cart ride up the winding slope to reach the castle and the fact that the horses stank and spent half the journey shitting. So we decided to take the shuttle bus instead.

The whole area is beautiful, you are just surrounded by mountains and fields and so much nature. But from the time you buy your ticket (free for under 18 and 9 Euros for adults) and make your way up there, nearly an hour would have gone by.

Once up there, we went to look at the castle (Sleeping Beauty's Castle was a Copy Cat inspiration) from the Marienbrücke. I was a little stressed out as we were quite numerous to stand on the bridge and I was wondering if it was solid enough to withstand our collective weight. The fall down would have been quite a long one.

Baby Boy of course refused to walk and had to be carried ALL the time. But Hubby and I took turns to do it as the kids didn't ask to visit the castle (like they never asked to be born) and since we insisted, we should take full responsibility for it.

We were mightily impressed once again by German efficiency and organisation. Our tickets bore a Tour Number and a Visit Time and when we entered the castle grounds, we saw 3 lines dedicated each to one Tour Number and at exactly the time stated on the ticket (e.g. 13h45), the tour number (e.g. 457) would be announced on the screen. No hassle, no waiting, no stepping on toes and wow so smooth.

Only 14 rooms in the castle were completely decorated (Ludwig II died mysteriously before the works could be completed), but they were really beautiful rooms. Wood, marble, tapestries, mozaics...The castle on the whole didn't look like it was constructed more than 100 years ago, it is in such a marvelous state - kudos to the Germans for such excellent preservation. No photos allowed though inside - the German Government has the copyright to them.

Once back in Stuttgart, Hubby cooked us dinner (Bavette à l'échalotte) while I unpacked and then we all went to bed early as the kids and I were all still quite sick (longlasting cold with all of the works).

On Monday, he flew off to Italy and I took the opportunity to make myself Pig's Blood Soup with Fresh Egg Noodles, something that would have freaked him out if he were around. Both the blood and the noodles were imported from Paris (found them accidentally in a Vietnamese-run Asienladen here) and I just made a soup with Star Anis, Onions, Cinnamon, Cloves, Beef Stock, Garlic, Ginger, Dark Soy Sauce, lime juice, coriander leaves and fresh red chilli padi. Made 3 meals out of them, really satisfying.

As for the kids, I made them a Roast Chicken Rendang Curry with rice. And I cooked it the night before so that I would be able to remove the fat from the curry the next day. I have put on 2 kgs in Oberjoch (on top of the 10 that I've still to lose) and this is just so depressing.

I Want To Move It Move It

Baby Boy : "I want to move it move it..."

Me : "Move what?"

Baby Boy : "I want to move it move it..."

Me : "What do you want to move?"

Eldest Son : "It's a song from Madagascar."

Me : "I didn't know they speak English there. What are they moving anyway?"

Eldest Son : "Madagascar is a cartoon, mom."

Me : "Oh, OK. But for your info, it's also a country."

dimanche, février 25, 2007

Bad Hinderlang, Oberjoch

I wasn't in a very good mood when we left on our 2-hour drive to Oberjoch. I had spent hours the day before packing for the trip (with the babies around to unpack everything at the very same time) and I guess that I was upset with Hubby for not being around to be of any help. He's the sort who would often just dress himself up, drink his coffee and then stand at the door asking, "Aren't you ready to leave?"

Then I was also uneasy over the price that we would be paying for the Hotel. For once I didn't compare prices at all, as trying to read German in brochures or on the Internet was too tiring. Anyway, that would be our first German ski holiday. I was wishing then that I had at least bothered to find out if the hotel was in the least near some skiable slope.

The uneasiness came from the fact that I've booked a second ski holiday in the French Alps for end-March and our hotel at Oberjoch is somehow more expensive than our Hotel-Club (formerly Club Med) in Flaine. Added to the fact that we have not been having much snow this winter, I felt that a disaster was forthcoming and that I would be nagged to death by Hubby for it.

When we arrived at Bad Hinterlang and it was mentioned somewhere that the AlpenHotel is 4-star, I started to feel even worse. Why did I book a 4-star hotel when we could do quite nicely with just 2 or 3 stars? Arrgh...why didn't I pay more attention when I booked the hotel? Hubby on the other hand seemed quite happy about it, in fact, I do not know if he was mocking me when he said, "Ah my chérie, it is good that you are spending money..." I asked him if that was breaking his heart and he replied, "Not as much as yours, I'm sure."

The connecting bedrooms were big. Everything was ready and waiting for us when we arrived. We had 2 TVs, 2 bathrooms, a microwave oven and a big fridge. And bathrobes and slippers. And we discovered to our joy that in this hotel, one could walk around in one's bathrobe and nobody would raise any eyebrow.

In fact there is a lovely pool (heated at 29ºC), a jacuzzi (where children are allowed), a sauna and an aromatic air bath ALL with a view of the surrounding mountains. Beautiful. The sauna is mixed, we would all shower and walk about naked in the sauna area and all this very naturally. Just the way I like it.

On Saturday, Hubby and I went for a full body massage, but well, we found our masseurs a little weak at the fingers. Guess we were too used to the powerful Indonesian girls back in Asia.

During meals, we were assigned our own table for the duration of our stay. And we were near the children's play room, their drinks and food station, and our own buffet. The food was typically German most of the time, but quite nicely done. I loved the salad bar (you can prepare your own dressing) and the children adored the ice cream bar.

The hotel is really very children-friendly. They have a well-equipped Kids' Club with a Playstation room, and children eat and drink for free at the hotel. Only set-back was that my babies took turns falling sick and I never got to put them there. I didn't get to ski either (the ski lifts are about 500m from the hotel, but only a few miserable slopes were open when we were there), nor sleep much, it was all in all quite a tiring holiday, actually.

On the last night, I left a rather sick Baby Girl to sleep with her doting father and took over her bed in the next room. Eldest Son came back from an evening away at the Kids' Club, prepared for bed and started cuddling up to me. My first reaction was to push him away (got rid of a whining Baby Girl, just wanted to be left in peace finally to read my book : One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez) and then I started crying and couldn't stop crying for a few hours after that.

Tears filled my eyes and the pages before me blurred. I started seeing Eldest Son at birth, of him in my arms, sleeping with me almost every night for years, of him always kissing and hugging me (and vice versa) and I realised that we have stopped doing that ever since he started going to school (spent most of my time screaming at him since), since the babies were born one after the other... It was horrible, I felt really bad and very very sad, and especially helpless that I could no longer turn back the clock and make things right. I am such a horrible mother and for that I cried myself sick well into the night. Then day came, I woke up and saw the mess he left the room in and started screaming at him - again...

Anyway, I would recommend the AlpenHotel at Bad Hinderlang, Oberjoch. I really appreciate its German efficiency, good organisation and good service. We wished that we had thought of staying there last year when we had lots of snow. We could definitely ski in Italy next winter, but the Italians are a mess, things would not be as smooth, safe and organised as in Germany. When you have children, this is an important consideration.

However, the Skischule Lanig sucked. Baby Girl started out all enthusiastic for her one-day ski class and spent all 3 hours crying. She found the exercises insipid and the instructor didn't look like she knew what she was doing. And the class (no way half as professional as the École de Ski Française, for example) and ski rentals were quite expensive compared to what we were used to paying in the French Alps. But the mountains are lovely, a nice place to spend a weekend in.

lundi, février 19, 2007

Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year!

I was not able to celebrate the Chinese New Year with my friends and family back in Singapore - for what, the 11th year? And have once again missed out on all those delicious lucky dishes, the endless visiting and snacking, giving out red packets (yes, I wouldn't mind doing that 'coz I have 3 kids so I normally wouldn't lougi* ha ha), catching up with the relatives and especially the cousins etc etc. As it was, I spent the last weekend in France, with my MIL and SIL and Hubby's best friend the Banfields...

We had to visit MIL principally because I had been buying like crazy on a few France-based websites and have had my purchases delivered to her house. Apparently my stuff were piling up really badly in one of her rooms and she was getting mad about it. I must say that when I entered the room I had quite the shock of my life (couldn't remember that I even ordered half of the stuff) and started worrying that Hubby would freak out once he saw the boxes.

To his credit, he had been strong, just shook his head and muttered that I must be quite mad to have bought so much. I worked really hard and fast to get rid of the wrappings and to try to reduce the pile and even then it filled up the entire car boot (and we have a Monospace for a car so try to imagine the generous boot space). I promised myself that I would stop this buying craziness and for the past 48 hours indeed I have not bought a single thing. :-)

The kids were happy though. They were entitled to a few different costumes and wasted no time in trying them out on the spot. Quite the Fantastic Three, I must say.

We were lucky SIL was there 'coz for once we didn't have to cook every single meal (MIL refuses to cook or do anything for that matter nowadays, she is in her I-rebel-against-domesticity phase). She made us Skate with butter-capers sauce on Friday evening and Couscous for Saturday lunch. They were very good.

We provided dinner (raw oysters, smoked salmon on toasts, seafood platter with prawns, shrimps, crab...) on Saturday and lunch (Rocket Salad with Prawns, Grapefruit and Parmesan Cheese, Roast Leg of Lamb with Sauteed Potatoes and White Beans) on Sunday. The Banfields brought a dessert with them - a delicious Macaron with Pistaccio Cream and Berries.

The Banfield best friend is French, but the family are cousins a few times removed of the current English Queen. He looks like Brad Pitt, is smart, intelligent, witty and takes great photos. But he also smokes like a chimney and drinks like there is a hole in his stomach. A pity, don't you think so? But well, if you do not have to live with him, he is wonderful company and so we had a good time.

MIL was quite a sight, since she just had her eyelids stretched surgically in the name of beauty. Well, at least she did look like she was really going to recover and look younger, compared to the first days after the surgery, when she looked like a Panda Bear, Battered Woman etc all mixed up. I told her that now that the eyelids no longer droop, it made her droopy chin look even more droopy. Is she going to stretch her chin too? Believe it or not, she is actually considering it.

At the dinner table, we did the usual French thing - laugh at a few common friends, and we also discussed Politics, as in who-we-were-going-to-vote-for in the coming Presidential Elections. I was the only Foreigner at the table and it looked like I'm the only person who would not vote for the Socialists. I am the only person who would not make my children and grandchildren reimburse my debts. All this over the very last bottle of champagne from our wedding.

This evening I warmed up a packet of fish soup for the kids and gave them a few crabmeat sticks to go with it. Hubby as usual has flown off on some business trip. For myself, I made something special since it's the Chinese New Year : Mini Buddha Jump Over The Wall (courtesy of my mom) and Crab Claws in Tomato-Chilli-Egg Sauce. I also spent 40 minutes on the phone with my mom and had her describe to me the 8-course dinner I paid for but was unable to taste. I thought of throwing a CNY party for the Singaporean and Malaysian friends I have here, but we would be going away to ski on Thursday and I didn't have the courage to cook and entertain in between.

Well, have a Happy and Lucky Year of the Pig, everyone!

And especially my dada as he is one old pig!

*Lose out

jeudi, février 15, 2007

Fasching (Carnival) and Mini Nutella Waffles

Dressing up in costumes and pretending to be someone else is not my thing at all. Not that I wouldn't love to do it, but just haven't the imagination to carry it out with grace. In my dreams I would dress up as a Gypsy and dance the Flamenco, but in reality, I would probably dress up like a potato and not know where to rest my butt. It is therefore with much apprehension that I watch Fasching or Carnival time approach, and I always keep my fingers crossed that we would not be invited to some costume party that we wouldn't be able to refuse.

However, the kids look forward to it. And unless I choose to keep them away from school on Faschingstag, I will have to dress them up.

Actually, I look forward to dressing them up. It is just that my lack of sewing/couture talents mean that the costumes would have to be bought. And when you look at the variety/quality (or lack of) and the price (quite a rip-off), it is not a pleasant entreprise. I don't want my kids to look like another clown or cowboy in school, but neither would I be able to call Armani up and have him make something unique for them.

But the fact that we move every 2 years or so is actually an advantage. This means that I can buy good quality stuff and recycle them. And I try to make it a point not to buy the costume in the country we live in, in the hope of not having the kids wear the same thing as everybody else.

2 years ago, I bought a really beautiful bear costume from Moulin Roty, a French Teddy Bear maker. Very soft material, lovely design and not the kind of costume that you can find in most departmental stores. I intend to keep it for my grandchildren if it would keep that long.

Then when I was last in Singapore, I bought a Tigger costume at a discount though of course that is something you can find anywhere in this world where Disney is known, and as it was, there were 2 Tiggers in Baby Girl's class this morning (she was one of them). Baby Boy wore the Teddy Bear costume and he was the sweetest, cutest and most cuddly baby bear on earth...As for Eldest Son, he turned up in his red Gong Fu suit and probably spent the morning pretending to be Bruce Lee. I shudder to think about it...

As for myself, I was in Metzingen (again) yesterday and for the first time shopped at Pepe Jeans. I came across this black dress with a square collar, round sleeves and white skirt trimmings - which reminded me lots of a French Chambermaid. I bought it on a whim, thinking that Hubby would probably be more than interested to see me in it. We could have our own private costume party...:-).

I have also spent last evening making quite a number of mini Nutella waffles for Eldest Son's class party. Simple recipe :

100g Salted butter
300g Flour
1 Pkt Rising Agent
70g Brown Sugar
500ml Milk
2 Eggs

Microwave the butter. Remove the foam and set aside.

Mix the flour and rising agent and make a well in the middle. Add in the sugar, eggs and butter. Slowly mix in the milk. Mix in the Nutella (quantity is as you wish). Leave the mixture to rest for at least one hour before using it.

You can omit the Nutella and make plain waffles to be garnished as you wish later on, replace it with a glass of beer etc etc.

mardi, février 13, 2007

So What's Up?

Last Friday, Hubby came back from his business trip to Penang with a few goodies (e.g. Kueh Lapis and Pineapple Tarts from the Bengawan Solo and Curry Puffs from the Polar Café at Singapore's Changi Airport where he transited, Prima Taste Mee Rebus from my good friend PL and Shark's fin from my mom - though he kept grumbling about sharks getting extinct because of our soup frenzy etc). I ate up 3 curry puffs in more or less 3 large bites and half the Kueh Lapis and then we went out to look at cars.

I mentioned a few posts ago that Hubby could not decide between the AR (Alfa Romeo) Brera and AR Spider, and that he was thinking of getting me the AR 159 Sportwagon. Well, we arrived at the car dealer's and started helping ourselves to the cars on display. I looked at the Brera and then called the salesman over. "Are those seats behind really for sitting on?" As I had suspected, he shook his head and said no.

To sit on those passenger seats in the AR Brera, you'll need to either not have legs or have really short ones. There is no leg room. Full stop.

I turned to Hubby with a sigh and told him that since this was the case, he might as well make himself happy and get that AR Spider two-seater convertible, the kind of car for selfish people who would not be able to help bring the kids to school or fetch them back. Though I also added that he had better not forget himself too much in that car and come back with speeding fines, in which case the next year (we get to change our cars every year) he'll have to content himself with a FIAT Punto. Let all my readers be witnesses to this pact.

Speaking of speeding fines, I had yet to pay off the last one and he got himself flashed at in the tunnel between the car dealer's showroom and Stuttgart City Centre on our way back! That's another pair of Hugo Boss pumps, damn it.

Then we opened the door to the AR 159 SW and I entered the car. How in the world could people get all excited about cars that make you drive almost lying down? I felt closed in. Kind of like I risk having the head knock on the car ceiling each time I fidget in the seat. And there is leg room behind, but not too much. You can imagine the kids sitting behind and complaining about it after 30 minutes. If it takes us 6 hours to drive to the Alps, that would be 5h 30 mins too long.

So we must look for another alternative. Less sexy, but surely more practical. Besides, if we have family over, we could avoid driving 2 cars each time we go out, him so cool in his convertible (cannot take passengers, cannot take luggage), while I have to lug around everybody plus the luggage. No way, man. Plus think of the extra petrol and the environmental pollution.

We will probably get the LANCIA Phedra ( It is like the RENAULT Espace that we are currently driving, only less powerful but more chic. 7-seater, enough leg room etc. Difficult to park, but if you give me automatic gears, GPS and rear parking radars, I'll survive. I hope.

Then we spent the weekend looking at Baby Girl's head, she has crusts on it. It's weird. And we also debated long and hard about whether to write a letter to Eldest Boy's teacher and school Principal - and try to meet and get them to change the lousy grades and nasty remarks on his report card. The boy has a concentration problem and daydreams on his feet, but he doesn't deserve to have the teacher write it down so nastily the way she did. Also, he has been bringing back excellent grades (interspersed with mediocre ones) in the past 2 months, but none of that was reflected in the report card. Just bad grades. Something's not right there. I am the last person to challenge a teacher's judgement, but honestly this time around I can't sit around and let it pass. It would be unfair to the boy. Most kids are already mean to him because he is so out-of-this-world, he shouldn't have to harvest mean remarks and lousy grades just because the teacher too has a bone against him. Assez!

Otherwise I am pretty happy today. I cooked my Mee Rebus and ate it all up myself. Such satisfaction. The children get to eat the usual Papa-is-away stuff like Minced Pork and Shrimp Congee, Fried Wantons and yesterday I had to cook Salmon in 2 different ways i.e. just pan-grilled with olive oil and lemon juice and served with grilled zucchini and potatoes, and also cooked in a curry and served with rice - because Eldest Son likes it done European style and the other 2 prefer it the Asian way.

On Saturday Hubby made us a lovely dessert - Banane Flambée au Rhum served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream that we ate in front of the TV (the Samsung DVD player is kaput, by the way, it's relatively new so it's a pain).

Last week, I had a craving for sardines. But it has since been satisfied and I won't go near any for quite a while. If you had to remove scales and innards from a dozen fishy sardines with your fingers, you'll understand why. The whole kitchen stank for 2 days at least. But they were good, lightly coated with ground turmeric, corn flour and salt and fried. Served with fries and a squeeze of lemon.

To celebrate Hubby's promotion we had dinner 2 Fridays ago at this nice restaurant Landgasthaus zur Linde recommended by the Gault et Millau Guide. The wines were good and the food too and the bill came up to a reasonable 170 Euros for 2. We both had the Octopus Salad to start with, followed by a Herb Soup with Scampi and then Beef Rolls in Balsamic Sauce (the potato purée was too salty though). And we shared a chocolate dessert that was nicely done. More importantly, it was nice having some couple time together and be able to carry out a discussion without a few kids screaming around us.

And last Friday evening, we left the kids at home with a babysitter and turned up at Eldest Son's school for circus night. Every Friday afternoon, the boy learns circus tricks from this private circus school (Circus Circuli) in his own school. And to make us feel better about the huge amount we have paid for our kids' classes, I suspect that they had come up with an evening of letting the parents try their hands on the same tricks. We brought the finger food and they were supposed to provide the drinks, and when we were there, they said that we could contribute towards the drinks as we wished. Hmm...

Anyway, M and her hubby were there too so we were happy to be there. I arrived with my sport shoes, but didn't try anything once I was there (no wait, I touched the fire on the torch). Just didn't feel like breaking a bone. Besides, it's difficult jumping etc with my glasses on and I can't see a thing without them. Hubby tried the trampoline, the wheel and a few other things, he's a better sport, of course. M and her Hubby tried everything and they were quite good at them, I must say. We didn't stay too long as Hubby was tired after a whole night spent on the plane and I was a little worried about the babies who were a little off-colour. Also, I've eaten almost everything there was to eat and couldn't think of anything else to do.

PS : Most of the photos turned out blur, the camera must have been badly adjusted and nobody knows how to make it work normally again...

dimanche, février 04, 2007

Foie Gras de Canard aux Pommes cuit en Terrine

I changed my mind about making more Foie Gras ravioles and made a Terrine de Foie Gras de Canard Mi-Cuit aux Pommes instead. I guess that I didn't feel like wrapping dozens of ravioles. Besides, Hubby the Perfectionist (who usually follows recipes quite religiously) wasn't around and I felt that it was the moment for me to make my Foie Gras alone and sans surveillance.

I'm the aga-aga (estimation) kind of cook. I like to cook by feeling and often improvise along the way. So far I've done quite well this way and see no reason to waste time measuring ingredients religiously when I could just get on with the cooking.

The French would tell you to treat the whole raw liver delicately and try not to break it or smash it too much when de-nerving it. I'm neither delicate nor patient, so I de-nerved it more or less by tugging at the main vein and seeing where it would lead me to, cutting up the liver into big chunks if it suited me to do so. Experience has taught me that once prepared, you wouldn't really be able to tell the difference between the more delicately and not so delicately treated liver.

The French would also tell you that you have to marinate your liver and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours before cooking it. I didn't feel like waiting as I wanted to cook something else the next day, so of course I didn't wait.

I lined half the liver (e.g. 300g/600g) in a porcelain terrine (better that it be too small than too big, don't squash the pieces, just put them in gently), added salt and pepper (you can't really add them once the liver's cooked so do know how much salt and pepper you would want in your foie gras at this point), very thin slices of Braeburn apple, sprinkled ground Cinnamon over them, added in the other half of the liver, added more salt and pepper, and then poured in a generous amount of Ice Wine (Muscat, Sauternes or Monbazillac would do just as nicely).

Then I started to heat up my oven to 80ºC and put in a baking tray filled with water to be heated up (or just add hot water). When the water in the tray and the temperature in the oven are both at 80ºC, put the terrine (covered) onto the baking tray (the water should cover the terrine up to about 1cm from its edge) and bake in the oven (we call it a Bain-Marie) for 20 minutes. Then turn up the heat to 190ºC and once the temperature's achieved, cook the terrine for another 10 minutes. This should give a half-cooked (mi-cuit) Foie Gras, so if you prefer it more cooked, increase the cooking time by another 5-10 minutes.

Hardworking cooks will then drain the liquid fat from the terrine and start to filter the floating bits of liver from the fat. Some will even start to heat up the fat so that they may clarify it, removing blood from it. Then return the fat to the liver in the terrine. Me, without Hubby watching, I just let the terrine cool for an hour and then dump the whole thing in the fridge. I didn't even bother to put a weight on my foie gras, because I know that if I let it sit for at least 24 hours (preferably more), it'll settle down just as well and not risk being dwarfed by the weight.

This evening, Hubby took the terrine out of the fridge and cut out a slice of the Foie Gras to see if it was ready. It was nicely pink, cut up cleanly (didn't fall apart) and tasted really good. Baby Girl was all excited about it as she just loves toast with Foie Gras. And I now have enough to make her toasts through the week.

PS : If you intend to keep the terrine for more than 5 days, you may wish to cook the apples first in a frying pan with just a bit of butter, sugar, salt and ground cinnamon. Fresh apples even cooked with the terrine may change colour and turn black after a few days, even though they are still perfectly edible (just not very appetizing).

Crepe Party at the Le Clercqs

Two of my favourite girls here in Stuttgart are Tiff and M. We all have our kids in the French Kindergarten. Tiff and I we are both English speakers, with M I speak French and share a love for all things French, and both Tiff and M are Mexicans (though Tiff is American first).

Last Saturday we were invited (with the kids and husbands) to Tiff's place for a crepe party. And achtung, the chef (her cute French Hubby P) is from Brittany where crepes were born, so expect only the very best of crepes to be fed into our stomachs.

P made crepes from two types of flour : Sarrazin (black wheat) and normal white flour. The former is great for making salty crepes and the latter sweet ones. We had a choice among 3 fillings (Ham and Cheese, Spinach and Goat Cheese, Mushroom and Bacon) for the salty ones, and for the sweet crepes we could have them with Nutella, dark chocolate, Cane Molasses Sirup, Fruit Jam and with or without sliced bananas, pears, almonds etc.

I was quite shameless, eating the left-overs from the kids (they were served first), screaming out for the first adult crepe and must have eaten at least 5 crepes in total. The problem with a crepe party is that the chef has to be at the crepe pan all the time and could usually serve only one person at a time. Luckily the Le Clercqs live in a small appartment with an American kitchen and we could at least watch P cook and talk with him at the same time.

We then walked up to a hill where we could have a view of Stuttgart (one of our last, I imagine). My Baby Boy peed in his pants in the playground at the bottom of the hill and stood there (not moving an inch, according to the men) for the whole of the 15 minutes or so it took Tiff and I to return to her flat to get him a change of clothes. We then climbed up the hill and on our way back, we drank coffee in a Tapas Bar. A really nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Otherwise, we do make crepes from time to time ourselves as the children love them. They are simple to make and one can have much fun filling them up in a hundred and one ways.

White Flour Crepe :

250g Plain Flour
500ml Milk
2 Eggs
1 Tbsp Oil
A pinch of Salt
A touch of Rum, Fleur d'oranger etc

Make a well in the middle of the flour, add in the eggs, oil, salt, alcohol etc and a little of the milk. Mix well, adding more milk as you stir. Leave the crepe mixture to stand for an hour before using it.

vendredi, février 02, 2007

Char Siu (Barbecued Pork) Noodles

I saw REWE selling filet mignon (pork filet) at a pretty decent price the other day and told myself that I had to make a pork dish. But it would be a pity to cut it up since it was quite nice looking as it was and the idea of making Char Siu (Barbecued Pork) was thus born. And I had a craving for thin egg noodles so I made Char Siu Noodles for dinner.

Pork Filet mignon (make a few cross cuts on the surface of the meat)
Minced Garlic
1 Tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
A pinch of Ground Cloves
Half a Star Anise
1 Tsp Oyster Sauce
1 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 Tsp Dark Soya Sauce
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tsp Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
1 Tsp Fermented Beans or Peanut Butter
Salt and Pepper
Red or white wine or dry Sherry
Red Food Colouring (optional)

Spice and sauce the pork and leave it to marinate for a few hours. Heat an oven to 200ºC. Grill the filet in it for 20 minutes (I leave it in its marinade, but adding in some wine and water to keep it from drying out. Otherwise, grill it without the marinade, but will have to brush it with it from time to time). Take it out of the oven to turn it over onto its other side. If you want the surface of the meat to burn, add some honey to it. Put it back into the oven for another 20 minutes. If cooking with the marinade, adjust the liquid level to make sure that the sauce will not dry out and burn. I served slices of the pork on thin egg noodles and poured some of the sauce over it.

PS : You can see peanuts on the meat as I used Chunky Peanut Butter :-).

Little Fried Fish

When we were living in Andalusia, we would often go to this little restaurant (Gamba del Oro) in the heart of Jaén for seafood. Gambas à la plancha, chanquetes/boquerones/calamar fritos etc. A few times we were at the beach at Jerez de la Frontera and we would always visit the famous local hawker stall for some fried fish and grilled seafood that you would pay for according to its weight.

The other day I had a sudden craving for little fried fish. So I made my way to the Markthalle in Stuttgart City Centre and bought myself half a kilo of expensive little fish.

I mixed some corn flour with normal plain flour, added some salt and pepper and coated my little fish in it. Then I fried them in olive oil, drained them on kitchen paper and squeezed some lemon juice over them. They are delicious eaten hot and crispy. The best thing about them is that the kids love them too and they can be eaten entirely, flesh, bones, head and all.