Merry Christmas! My Christmas Feast for 2014

Merry Christmas everyone! It is a rare occasion for us to celebrate Christmas in Zurich, a rather welcome change as it has given me the opportunity to cook on Christmas Day, something which might prompt fear and dread in most people but has instead filled me with glee as the Christmas season started to approach.

Madeleines with Lemon Curd

Madeleines with Lemon Curd, a delicious madeleine recipe from Rachel Khoo from The Little Paris Kitchen. Madeleines with Lemon Curd I am rather surprised that it has taken me this long to try this popular madeleine recipe from Rachel Khoo. In my defence, I already had a madeleine recipe to which I have been faithful to for many years, plus I felt that Rachel’s recipe was a bit fiddly for me. And with

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Crispy Chicken Wings with Fish Sauce

A delicious Vietnamese recipe for Crispy Chicken Wings with Fish Sauce. The chicken wings are marinated in fish sauce and then fried to crispy perfection, served with a sweet and sticky mouthwatering dipping sauce. My mother used to cook a lot with chicken wings when I was younger. I’m not sure if it was just because they were cheap, or if she merely enjoyed cooking them. I certainly enjoyed eating them. She would sometimes

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Spaghetti with Tuna, Chilli, and Lemon

This Spaghetti with Tuna, Chilli, Rocket & Lemon takes only 20 mins from start to finish! I have been a long-time admirer and follower of Donna Hay’s cookbooks, even as early back when she was the food editor of the Marie Claire cookbooks in Australia. Her clean and refined approach to food styling is what normally attracts the attention of readers in the first instance; food which looks so stunningly beautiful on the

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Cheese Bread

How to make these tasty Cheese Bread rolls from scratch with these step-by-step photos. This recipe uses Parmesan, Gruyère and Cheddar, but you can use any of your favourite cheeses. One of my favourite snacks when I lived in Australia were cheese scrolls from the local bakery. In fact, as a child of parents who ran a busy Vietnamese bakery, I often lived for the moment when the cheese scrolls came fresh out

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Vietnamese Pork Ribs

Tasty Vietnamese Pork Ribs, perfect serves with steamed white rice. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but my blog seems to feature very few Vietnamese recipes, despite the fact that I cook Vietnamese at home every second day or so. So in an attempt to rectify the situation and to bring some more balance to this blog, I hope to feature more Vietnamese recipes which are quick, easy and delicious to make at

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Easy General Tso’s Chicken Recipe

An Easy General Tso’s Chicken Recipe which is light and healthy. There is no deep-frying but you can still enjoy the classic flavours of this Chinese takeaway favourite. There’s Chinese food, and there’s American-Chinese food. I wasn’t even aware of the latter until we were posted in Chicago for a few years where lunch with colleagues was often at P.F. Chang’s or Big Bowl, two popular Chinese restaurant chains in the US. There,

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Custard Tarts with Prunes

These Custard Tarts have a caramelised pastry for extra crunch and sweetness. A big, big thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway to win a copy of Rachel Khoo’s latest cookbook, My Little French Kitchen. The response was fantastic and I loved reading everyone’s entries on their favourite French food. The entries made me realise how far-reaching and popular French food really is; from the simple baguette loaf and famous croissant to

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Duck Confit (Confit de Canard)

duck confit

A classic French recipe for Duck Confit, or Confit de Canard, which are duck legs slowly cooked in duck fat until meltingly tender, and then pan fried until the skin is crispy and golden. Tips on how to make the best Duck Confit. Duck Confit (Confit de Canard) Confit de Canard is a classic dish found in many Parisian bistros, and it is a dish which my mother-in-law likes to serve whenever we

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Blueberry Lemon Cake

A delicious recipe for Blueberry Lemon Cake using crème fraîche, sour cream or natural yoghurt to produce a fluffy and moist cake. Bake it in a bundt tin to make it extra special! Blueberry Lemon Cake Strangely, I have always associated blueberries with muffins. And pancakes. Of course, you can eat them just as they are, as nature intended, but I’m sure most of us are more acquainted with blueberries in cakes and

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Mushroom Tarts

These bite-sized Mushroom Tarts have a flavoursome mushroom filling with a golden puff pastry base. They are perfect for entertaining and would delight both vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. We are hosting a small cocktail party this weekend or, as they call it in Switzerland, an apéro, where the evening will be fueled by lots of small canapés and finger food. Hubby is rather excited by all of the possible wine pairings and I

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Chicken Liver Pâté

A flavoursome Chicken Liver Pâté which is perfect for appetisers, dinner parties and even to use in a Vietnamese Banh Mi. Making Chicken Liver Pâté is easier than you think and it can be ready to serve after just a few hours to firm in the fridge. Chicken Liver Pâté As someone who squirms at the thought of eating livers or offal of any kind, I happen to love chicken liver pâté. Perhaps

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Lemon Drizzle Friands

Recipe for Lemon Drizzle Friands with step-by-step photos. Friands are similar to the French financiers and are made with ground almonds and egg whites for a light and fluffy cake.  Leaving Australia It has been roughly seven years since I made the bold decision to quit my job in Australia, electing to become unemployed and to take a chance at life on the other side of the world. At the time, it was one of

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Vegetable Barley Soup

An easy and delicious recipe for Pearl Barley Soup with step-by-step photos. It is a popular soup in the Swiss alps, called Gerstensuppe in German. The pearl barley thickens the soup as it cooks, making the soup quite substantial and comforting. A Weekend in Kandersteg A trip to the Swiss mountains usually guarantees good, hearty, winter fare. After a day of heavy duty winter sports, the body is likely to crave something substantial,

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Lamington Madeleines

These Lamington Madeleines (or Madelamingtons) are a cute Australian twist on a French classic. Light and fluffy madeleines dipped in chocolate and then sprinkled with coconut. Recipe with step-by-step photos. Lamington Madeleine As an Australian married to a Frenchman, could there be a more perfect cake to represent the union of our two cultures than the madelamington, a French madeleine dressed up as an Australian lamington? No, I didn’t come up with this

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Chicken Dumpling Soup

A simple and nourishing Chicken Dumpling Soup from the Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo. Recipe with step-by-step photos. A little while back, I had posted quite a few reviews on recipes from Rachel Khoo’s delightful French cookbook, The Little Paris Kitchen. For a short time, it looked like I was cooking my way through the book, and indeed I was – just a lot of the recipes haven’t made it to my

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Chargrilled Lemongrass Beef with Hoisin Dipping Sauce

From looking at the recent entries on my blog, you wouldn’t think that I cook a lot of Vietnamese food at home. The fact is, I probably cook Vietnamese food about 4 to 5 times a week! Of course, the frequency varies, but hardly a week goes by when I haven’t made something at least Vietnamese-inspired. After my mother, Luke Nguyen would have to be my greatest source of inspiration when it comes

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Fruit Loaf

fruit loaf

Fruit Loaf recipe with step-by-step photos. This easy and delicious Fruit Loaf is perfect at breakfast, whether served warm or toasted. A great base recipe and you can different types of dried fruits and spices. Fruit Loaf Recipe If I had to choose my favourite meal of the day, it might have to be breakfast. But having just said that, those close to me might sneer and jest, for the truth is, I

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Beef and Guinness Pie

A classic Beef and Guinness Pie with tender chunks of beef and a delicious gravy. Make with traditional puff pastry or a tasty Sour Cream Pastry. Beef and Guinness Pie For many Australians, a meat pie at lunch with a good squirt of tomato sauce (ketchup) is almost a daily ritual. In fact, when I lived in Australia, I often preferred a meat pie to a sandwich, the latter being something which I

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Indian Chicken Curry with Lentil Dahl

An easy Indian Chicken Curry which is perfect for weeknight dinners, served with a fresh and fragrant Lentil Dahl. Recipe with step-by-step photos. Back in the Kitchen The weather has been blisteringly hot in Zurich lately, which should be a welcome change given the torrential rain which we’ve had in the preceeding months. But after a few days of soaking up the sun and several impromptu lakeside evening picnics, the lack of air-conditioning

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Tahini Cookies

tahini almond cookies

These delicious Tahini Cookies are a perfect way to use up a tub of tahini! Recipe with step-by-step photos. Tahini Cookies I was first introduced to these Tahini Cookies by my work colleagues who travelled frequently to Israel to visit their friends and family.

Crumpets … or something similar

I had a sudden inkling to make crumpets the other day, somewhat unusual because I was only ever a mild fan of these yeasted breads when I was a child. My memories of crumpets are of the shop-bought kind which were round, thick and spongy in texture. Once lightly toasted, a generous slather of butter was obligatory, as was a good dollop of runny honey or jam. As a child, perhaps the allure

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Chicken Curry Puffs

A simple recipe for baked Chicken Curry Puffs. A visit to most Chinese restaurants will reveal curry puffs on the appetiser menu and I am always a sucker for anything wrapped in pastry. I could sometimes quite happily forego the main dish and just sit down to a huge serving of curry puffs, but afraid of any negative reaction this could elicit in public, I’ve never quite gone that far. So making curry

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Chocolate Chip Chouquettes

A delicious recipe for Chocolate Chip Chouquettes, adapted from David Lebovitz. While working in the outer suburbs of Chicago in the last few years, I often found myself at a Barnes & Noble or Borders bookstore during lunch, not only because I have a fondness for bookshops but mostly because I discovered that living and working in Switzerland had had a big influence on my lunch-time eating habits. Unlike the Australians and Americans

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Coq au Vin Skewers

It was never really my intention to cook my way through Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen, but so rarely has a cookbook resonated with me so much that I have found myself trying a new recipe from this book every few days since I first purchased it. If only I had this level of enthusiasm for all of my cookbooks! With the weather warming up recently in Zurich, I was curious to

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Cream of Tomato & Potato Soup

In case you were wondering what the soup is which is photographed with the Rustic Bacon & Cheddar Bread, it is the Cream of Tomato & Potato Soup from French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David. Long before cooking became a passionate hobby and was more of a matter of survival for me, I heavily relied on cookbooks to put together really basic and simple meals like … vegetable soups. Yes, for something which

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Bacon and Cheese Savoury Cake

A delicious Bacon and Cheese Savoury Cake, or a no-yeast savoury bread, which is perfect for serving alongside soups or on picnics. Delicious served warm or cold. I love savoury cakes and this particular recipe is a firm favourite of mine. Given my New Year’s resolution to cook more vegetarian food, this has frequently been in the form of vegetable soups. After several days of eating rich food like Swedish Meatballs or Boeuf

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Croque Madame Muffins

Here is another fabulous recipe from Rachel Khoo with her take on the French classic, a Croque Madame. Most people would be familiar with a Croque Monsieur which is a toasted cheese and ham sandwich, commonly served in most French bistros for lunch or as a light snack. For a more decadent treat, the Croque Monsieur is also sometimes coated with a béchamel sauce and baked in the oven until the sauce is golden

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Meatballs in Red Wine Sauce

I have been cooking quite a bit lately from Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen and am loving everything I have tried so far. This is a bit of a revelation for me considering that I am quite familiar with French food, having grown up eating this cuisine as a child and now married to a French husband. Sure, I have always enjoyed eating French food but, for so long, everything I had

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Pot-au-feu and Pho

Pot-au-feu literally translates into English as “pot on the fire”. It is a classic French beef stew, a peasant dish at heart. Traditionally made from beef bones and stewing beef, the broth is typically served as a clear soup, preceding the main dish of sliced beef with vegetables which have been cooked in the broth. It is honest and hearty French fare. Although the dish may take several hours to cook, you are

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Savoury Waffles with Gruyère & Thyme

Delicious Savoury Waffles with Gruyère & Thyme which are perfect as a light meal or served alongside a bowl of soup. Savoury Waffles Faced with some bits and pieces of leftover cheese in the fridge, I thought I would try my hand at a savoury waffle for lunch today, and these waffles with Gruyère and fresh thyme were absolutely scrumptious!

Rhubarb Compote

Rhubarb compote, or stewed rhubarb, is perfect for serving at breakfast with a dollop of yoghurt, or baked in a crumble for a delicious dessert. Rhubarb Compote (Stewed Rhubarb) I always look forward to seeing the vivid pink of the forced rhubarb at this time of the year, its season generally lasting from January to March in the northern hemisphere. After this time, the more common rhubarb can be found in abundance with

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Keralan Fish Curry with Lemon Rice

A deliciously tangy Keralan Fish Curry with Lemon Rice which is easy to make and takes only about 30 minutes to cook! Forever Summer With spring just around the corner, my thoughts have been turning to more light and fresh meals. A cookbook which I frequently turn to during the warmer months is Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer (re-titled as Nigella Fresh in the US).

Chilli, Cheese & Rosemary Polenta with Tomato Sauce

Due to hubby’s request to eat more vegetarian meals this year, I saw no reason to not buy the latest book from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of the River Cottage fame, Veg Everyday. The book is dedicated to eating vegetarian meals, though it is not written by a vegetarian – an important distinction in my mind because it means there are no spooky and holistic ingredients which would otherwise make vegetarian cooking too much of

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Cheesy Hearts

Cheesy Hearts, the perfect savoury biscuits for Valentine’s Day. I often approach Valentine’s Day with mixed emotions. Once upon a time, when I was a singleton, I would stay sofa-bound at home in front of the telly, à la Bridget Jones. But instead of wailing to Céline Dion on the karaoke machine, I would watch back-to-back murder mysteries, stuffing my face with all of my favourite junk foods, thinking all the while how

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Pumpkin Laksa

I have long been a fan of Nigel Slater, his books having been instrumental in my initial forays into the kitchen, along with Nigella Lawson and, dare I say it, the Australian Women’s Weekly. One of my favourite cookbooks would have to be Appetite, a hefty book filled with amazingly delicious recipes but provided in a manner that encourages the cook to develop some intuition in the kitchen. Rather than call for, say,

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Waffles with Bacon & Maple Syrup

I had an inkling to make waffles for breakfast this morning, and upon waking to see the snow falling heavily outside, thus meaning a day of welcome indoor activity, I set about humming in the kitchen. But faced with a slight over-supply of bacon in the fridge, it was time to turn my usual waffles sprinkled with icing sugar into something more savoury at breakfast.

Chestnut Soup with Bacon & Parsley

As soon as the street vendors start setting up their chestnut-roasting stations in Zurich, I know that Christmas is around the corner. I adore these roasted beauties, their sweet and fluffy interior making for the perfect street snack when you need something warm and filling. Sometimes when the air is bitingly cold, a little bag of roasted chestnuts is the perfect excuse to warm your hands while you are waiting for your tram.

Vietnamese Yoghurt

A delicious recipe for Vietnamese yoghurt using a yoghurt machine. It is often observed in the Vietnamese culture, and also amongst other Asian groups, that a typical greeting when you see someone is not “Hi, how are you?” but, rather, “Hi, have you eaten yet?”

Chinese Braised Beef with Carrots

I always look forward to Autumn, that time of the year when the trees change their colours and their golden leaves line the streets with their warm tones in contrast to the biting chill that is beginning to pervade the air. I also love Autumn because I can start to pull out my favourite trench coats, turtleneck jumpers and knee-high boots, a welcome change in wardrobe when I can start to cosy up

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Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops

Tasty and succulent Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops, with a simple marinade to give maximum flavour. Here is another fabulous short-cut recipe for Vietnamese pork chops from Bill Granger’s new book, Bill’s Everyday Asian. The Vietnamese have a popular dish called sườn nướng where the main component is a pork chop which is typically marinated with garlic, lemongrass and fish sauce. The pork is either grilled or pan-fried until it is golden in colour and caramelised,

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Vietnamese Chicken Curry Soup

A tasty Vietnamese Chicken Curry Soup with vermicelli noodles, sweet potatoes and lots of fresh herbs. A quick short-cut recipe which is perfect for mid-week meals. One of my all-time favourite dishes is a Vietnamese Chicken Curry. My mum makes this dish using a whole chicken which is first marinated in a special mixture of Vietnamese curry powder and other seasoning, and then slowly simmered on the stove with an array of aromatics

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Madeleines with Nutella

madeleines with nutella coffee

Easy and delicious Madeleines with Nutella. This is a classic French madeleine recipe with tips on how to make madeleines perfectly every time. I have a real soft spot for madeleines. It could be because I have very early memories of eating these dainty little madeleine cakes, their light sponginess making them the perfect snack for little hands. The madeleines of my childhood were always plain or lemon flavoured. These days, recipes abound

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Peach and Raspberry Jam

An easy recipe for a small batch of Peach and Raspberry Jam. Delicious made with either fresh or frozen fruit. To continue on from my recent foray into the world of jam-making, I tried my hand at one of my favourite fruit combinations for jam – peaches and raspberries. And the result? Truly delicious! This Peach and Raspberry Jam is a welcome addition to our breakfast table. I need to buy me some more

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Apricot Jam

An easy recipe for a small batch of Apricot Jam which you can use with fresh or frozen apricots. You won’t be buying jam again after you have tried this recipe! Given the amount of jam which my husband and I go through (about 1 jar of Bonne Mamam per week), it’s rather surprising that I only recently got into jam-making. For a long time, I always thought that you needed a gluttony

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Crispy Tofu with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Golden and Crispy Tofu served with a Vietnamese Spicy Tomato Sauce. This dish will win over both vegetarians and meat-lovers alike! Use either silken tofu or firm tofu. I had to renew my work visa the other day, which necessitated a trip to the immigration office so that I could be fingerprinted and all the rest. The only thing worse than taking an hour out of my day to visit a government office

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Quick and Easy Waffles

A recipe for Quick and Easy Waffles which are crisp and crunchy on the outside. This recipe does not use yeast or require you to separate eggs, perfect for a lazy brunch or breakfast. I have to admit that I haven’t really been into waffles until quite recently. As a child growing up in Australia, my memories of waffles were of those pre-made, pre-packaged ones sold in the bakery section of the supermarket. Not

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Aubergines with Buttermilk Sauce (again!)

Early this morning, one of my neighbours knocked on my door and suggested a barbeque at her place in the evening with some other neighbours. Such spontaneity is not common in Switzerland and I happen to love informal gatherings like these at short notice. Given that one neighbour happens to be a vegetarian, the first dish that came to my mind was Yotam Ottolenghi’s Aubergines with Buttermilk Sauce which I made for the

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Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes with Coriander and Chillies

These Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes are fragrant with Asian flavours, including coriander (cilantro), ginger and chillies. Easy to make and a great way of using up leftover mashed potatoes. Further to my previous post, we still had another 1 kg of potatoes to get through, and as we are going away next week, I had to come up with a way to use those potatoes. And then, by chance, Carrie from The Patterned

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