Sunday, July 24, 2016


On a sunny Saturday morning my husband and myself set off for a Chinese Cooking Class. I had done some before, however husband not only hadn't had a class, he never actually cooks! Today was looking like it was going to be fun.

Chef Mike welcomed us all and told us we would be preparing Xiaolongbao which is a Chinese soup dumpling. It's one of our favourites. When you bite into the dumpling not only is there a minced pork, or sometimes minced shrimp, but there is also a delicious soupy filling which you have to be careful of. It's very hot and can be very messy. This is created by adding gelatine to the pork. Today it had been made from pigs feet. We would also be making Kung Po Chicken. One of the most popular dishes amongst expats.

 It always amazes me how Chinese Chefs use these cleavers for everything, even to peel ginger!

Preparation got underway. We were a group of 10 so there was lots of chatting and fun, and a little bit of competition. The table was soon covered in flour and everyone was busy making the pastry for the dumplings which was nothing more than flour and water.

 We were supposed to have clean work surfaces by the time we finished the mixing and rolling. This was optimistic.

However soon everyone had completed the task and the dumplings were taken off to be steamed.
We then moved on to the Kung Po Chicken. A mix of  salt, pepper, cooking wine and cornflour, was added to the diced chicken. The secret to a soft chicken is apparently to massage it at this stage until all the liquid is absorbed into the meat. A teaspoonful of water was also added for extra moistness. This too had to be massaged into the chicken.

Now time for a very hot wok and a bit of stir frying. Some garlic and ginger and dried chillies were added to the wok, followed quickly by the chicken, a quick stir to seal then out it came. A mix of light and dark soy sauce, sugar, pepper and vinegar was heated then the chicken added back for a final cooking. A spoonful, or two, depending on hot you like it, of chilli paste, was added. A final blast of really hot heat and it was ready.

I hope you agree that it looked delicious and I am happy to report it tasted as good as it looked.

All in all it was a very successful and pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning. As for my husband he really enjoyed the experience and is looking forward to doing it again. Will it entice to cook at home? Maybe, but think I need to wait and see. 
However I will be cooking these dishes again at home and probably in the very near future.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

WHEN I'M OUT OF LEMONS....................

They say when life gives you lemons make lemonade. Today was one of those days but with no lemons to hand the best I had was mushrooms so I made mushroom soup!
With nothing more than mushrooms, plus a few dried ones which I used to make the stock, I set about making my soup.

It never seems to amaze me how easy this is. I chopped my mushrooms, I only had oyster, boiled the kettle and poured it over the dried mushrooms and after 5 minutes poured this over the mushrooms. I just covered them, added salt and pepper and a pinch of dried thyme.

 After it all came to the boil I turned it down to a low simmer. 15 minutes later I blitzed it, adjusted the seasonings, a touch more pepper, and added a spoonful of creme fraiche.

I then tucked into a delicious bowl of "pure" mushroom soup. No need for an onion, and the stock from the dried mushrooms gave it a delicious flavour.

I may have been given lemons today but making, and then enjoying the soup helped a lot.

Cooking is my therapy.