Monthly Archives: October 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie (FFWD) recipe is so easy, I can make it every day! You just mix everything together with a whisk and fold in the apples with a spatula. My pink KitchenAid was probably wondering why she wasn’t needed this time.

I used a mixture of Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Mcintosh and Empire apples and these apples were large. When folding them into the batter, I was worried that my cake wasn’t going to turn out well because there was just enough batter to coat the apples. It looks like it was going to be apples coated with cake rather than a cake with apples in it! As it turns out, I didn’t have a layer of cake over the apples and the apples were showing at the top. Oh well, I’ll pretend it’s a rustic French country cake!

Dark rum is used in this recipe and it adds so much to the cake. I could smell the rum as I was mixing the batter and I was wishing I could eat it already. When the cake was almost done, you could smell the rum from the oven and when the cake was out and cooling on the rack, the aroma of apples and rum wafted through the house. Mm-mm! I used Gosling Dark Seal Rum.

The cake was very moist and the different types of apples gave it an interesting texture – soft, mushy and crunchy – and mixed flavours – sweet and tart. This cake is good by itself or served with ice-cream or whipped cream. I made some rum-flavoured whipped cream to go with it and it was magnifique! I’ll definitely make this cake again and with different apples for a change.

This is the last FFWD recipe for the month of October which were all chosen by Dorie Greenspan from her latest book, Around my French Table. Next month’s recipes will be chosen by popular vote from a list drawn up by the FFWD staff. Go over to French Fridays with Dorie to have a look at other apple cakes and/or to join the club!

Update: This recipe can be found on the website. (Thanks, SweetBites!)

Update 31/10/2010: I baked this again with medium apples (around 160g each) and this time I have some extra batter to go over the top, giving me a little more cake than the previous time. I used honeycrisp, golden delicious, gala and empire apples. I also cut the apples into smaller chunks, like not 1″ – 2″ chunks as per the recipe. Result: A nice layer of crusty cake over the apples. I’m happy now. 🙂


Posted by on October 28, 2010 in Baking, Food, French Fridays with Dorie


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Chinese Honey Chicken

Woo hoo! I managed to recreate this restaurant favourite dish of mine and it doesn’t require deep frying! Honey chicken (mut chup gei) is savoury and sweet, my favourite combination. The dish is typically cooked this way – first marinating the chicken in the usual suspects, deep-frying the chicken, cooking the sauce and tossing the chicken in the sauce. I didn’t want to do any frying at home so I used the braising method, that RC taught me, to cook the chicken instead. Here’s my version of the dish:

Honey Chicken

Half a chicken, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
1 heaped teaspoon corn starch
Dashes of salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 heaped tablespoon crushed roasted sesame seeds or 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (to add colour)

1. Marinade the chicken with the first six ingredients and leave for half an hour.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Stir-fry garlic for 30 seconds. Put in the chicken (watch for splatters) and quickly stir-fry the chicken till the outer parts are cooked. Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and let the chicken simmer for 15 minutes or until fully cooked. Dish out and set aside.

3. Pour the sauce into the pan. There may be a little liquid leftover from the chicken. Stir and let the sauce boils till it thickens. Put the chicken back into the pan and toss to coat. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over and give the chicken a quick stir. Dish up and serve.



Posted by on October 26, 2010 in Cooking, Food


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French Fridays with Dorie: Hachis Parmentier

Update 2 Nov: You can get the recipe here as well as listen to Dorie make it on the radio clip.

Hachis Parmentier (Ah-shee Pahr-mon-te-a) is this week’s FFWD pick. It’s a meat-and-mashed-potato pie similar to a shepherd’s pie. The recipe calls for homemade beef broth made by slow-boiling beef with vegetables but I didn’t have the time this week. I took the shortcut given by Dorie in the Bonne Idee (Good Idea) section and used store-bought beef broth and ground beef. The way I look at it, if we can use store-bought chicken broth to make the Vietnamese noodle soup, we can use store-bought beef broth for this pie. And I bought Wolfgang Puck’s Organic Beef Broth so I can tell myself it’s as good as homemade broth, non? 😉

Now, I don’t know how a made-from-scratch hachis parmentier tastes but my shortcut version was not bad. The filling was rich and savoury from the combination of beef and mild Italian sausages and the mashed potato topping was smooth and creamy with Gruyère cheese melted in. I did sauté 2 cloves of garlic before cooking the sausages and added some chopped cilantro (way more flavour than parsley) and dried thyme. The next time I make this I’ll make the broth. I’m curious to know how the boiled beef chunk would taste.

By the way, Dorie always says to remove the germ from the garlic. I looked up garlic germ and found that: a) the germ is the sprout in the centre of the garlic clove and b) the germ is acidic and can cause indigestion. So if you’re prone to indigestion due to garlic, remove the germ before using the garlic.

Go to French Fridays with Dorie and click on Leave Your Link (LYL): Hachis Parmentier to look at how others made their hachis parmentier especially those who followed the recipe fully!


Posted by on October 22, 2010 in Cooking, Food, French Fridays with Dorie


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French Onion Soup

There’s 3 cups of beef broth leftover in my refrigerator from making Hachis Parmentier, the next FFWD recipe posting this Friday, and I want to use it up while it’s still ‘fresh’. I decided to make French onion soup, something that has been on my ‘To Make’ list for the longest time. I dusted off my Donna Hay: Modern Classics Book 1 and looked for her French onion soup recipe. I knew she had a simple one in there.

The soup came together quite fast. You have to keep checking on the onions when they’re cooking as they go from white to brown to burnt quite fast when you’re not looking. Yeah, my soup has a smoky taste. I made Parmesan toast to go with it too. All together it made a good lunch.

French Onion Soup
(adapted from Donna Hay: Modern Classics Book 1)

3 large Spanish onions, sliced into rings
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 cups organic beef broth (I had only 3 cups so I added a cup of chicken broth)

Place the onions, butter, oil and thyme in a large saucepan over medium heat, cover and cook for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden.

Add the flour and cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add the brandy and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the mustard and broth and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with toasted cheese sandwiches or parmesan toast.

Parmesan Toasts
(from Donna Hay: Modern Classics  Book 1)

Top 4 slices of crusty bread with 1 cup roughly grated parmesan cheese. Cook under a hot grill (broiler) until golden.

I’m linking this post to Brenda’s Canadian Kitchen Cookbook Sundays.


Posted by on October 21, 2010 in Cooking, Food


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Tonjiru or miso soup with pork is one of my go-to recipes for a quick meal. It’s a hearty soup, you may call it a stew, and very good for chilly evenings. Kip is always appreciative when I make it. Tonjiru is usually made with konnyaku, gobo, daikon, potato and carrot but you can make it with more or less vegetables. You can even make a version with pork, potato and tofu. Using napa cabbage was taught to me by my friend Mariko.


1 lb thinly sliced pork (like those for hot pot)
2 tablespoon sake
2 teaspoon soy sauce
2 medium potatoes
1 carrot
1 long napa or 1 small round napa cabbage
6 cups dashi stock or water
6 tablespoons awase miso
3 stalks spring onions, thinly sliced
shichimi togarashi or chilli powder

1. Marinate the sake and soy sauce.

2. Peel the potatoes and cut into medium chunks. Soak in cold water for a few minutes to remove starch, drain.

3. Peel the carrot and cut into semi-circles, 1/2-cm thick.

4. Trim and slice the napa crosswise into 1-inch wide pieces. Rinse and drain.

5. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pot and saute the pork till it’s no longer pink. Add the vegetables and saute for another minute.

6. Pour in the dashi or water and bring to a boil. Skim the surface of any scum that arises. Lower the heat, cover and simmer the soup till the potatoes are tender. Add in the cabbage and bring the soup back to a boil again. The cabbage takes just a minute or two to soften.Turn off the heat.

7. Put the miso into a medium bowl and ladle some hot soup in. Stir to dissolve the miso and pour it into the pot. Stir the soup to combine.

8. Serve the soup in a bowl with some spring onions and a sprinkling of shichimi togarashi.


Posted by on October 18, 2010 in Cooking, Food


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Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart

My friend, Mariko, whom I haven’t seen in more than a year, came over to visit yesterday with her family. It was great catching up with her and seeing her family again. I know Mariko has a weakness for food that’s sweet and salty so this chocolate-crunched caramel tart was the perfect thing to bake for her. It’s a chocolate tart with a bottom layer of peanuts enrobed in caramel.

You can get the recipe for the tart crust here. I made the tart crust by hand and rolled it out in my pie crust maker as I find it difficult to press the dough into the pan.

You can get the recipe for the tart here. Dorie said the tart should be served the day it is made so I did everything the night before except pour the ganache over the tart. I kept the tart at room temperature overnight. The next day, I warmed the ganache and finished assembling the tart. The recipe says to refrigerate the assembled tart for no longer than 30 minutes and then keep it at room temperature until serving time so that the caramel layer is soft and stretchy and the chocolate smooth. However, my ganache did not set in 30 minutes. I put it back in the refrigerator longer but it still did not set up firmly when I cut into it later. The chocolate layer drooped all over and covered the sides of the slice of tart. I stored the leftover tart in the refrigerator overnight and took it out the next morning and let it come to room temperature before cutting a slice. The ganache has set but it still pulls away with the knife.  You can see in the photo the chocolate layer drooping at the tip of the slice.

The tart tastes good though; crunchy peanuts, soft caramel and melt-on-your-tongue smooth chocolate, all on a buttery crust. If I were to make this tart again, I would finish assembling the tart the night before, store it in the refrigerator and serve it the next day at room temperature. I will also use regular salted roasted peanuts in place of honey-roasted peanuts so there will be more ‘salty’ in the tart. Mariko thinks the tart is very nice and even took some home. That should be enough to tell me the tart was a success. 🙂


Posted by on October 17, 2010 in Baking, Food


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French Fridays with Dorie: Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

This is this week’s French Fridays with Dorie pick – Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. It’s Vietnamese chicken noodle soup with coconut milk.  I was relaxed with this recipe as I’m on familiar grounds because I’ve made Chinese chicken noodle soup (gai see hor fun) before and I eat Vietnamese pho noodles quite often too, heh!

This recipe is a Dorie original. There is pho ga (clear chicken soup) and there is la sa ga (curried coconut-milk chicken soup) but Dorie mixed them together and created this … pho la sa ga? The soup starts with a base of chicken broth to which you flavor with cilantro stems, star anise, coriander seeds and peppercorns. Dorie said to tie the spices in a bundle with cheesecloth but I used filter bags for loose tea leaves instead. Quite ingenious, huh? 😉

The kids ate their noodle soup ‘straight’ but hubby and I boost the flavors with fresh basil leaves, fresh cilantro, lime wedges, extra fish sauce and chili sauce. Slurp!

(By the time this photo was taken, the noodles had absorb much of the soup!)

I tried the bonne idee and added curry powder the second time I made the soup. I looked up Vietnamese curry powder and read that it’s Indian-influenced yellow curry powder. I have a bottle of Waugh’s Curry Powder and used that. The result is not to my liking, it’s a neither-here-nor-there kind of soup.

The best thing about making this recipe is learning about Vietnamese soup. I hadn’t known earlier that they use spices like star anise and coriander seeds to flavor the soup. Cinnamon and cardamon seeds are used too and today in the Chinese supermarket I saw there are convenient packets of pho spices complete with mesh bags in them.


Posted by on October 14, 2010 in Cooking, Food, French Fridays with Dorie


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