That pot right there. That’s a vessel of love. Packed with plump lup cheong (chinese sausage), black fungus, lily buds, chicken thighs, and wholesome brown basmati rice, that’s an unadulterated Hong Kong style claypot rice for hungry people. I take no credit for this amazing culinary feat. Hats off to my darling chef who whipped this up in less than an hour. All for my family who were coming to visit. We had two things to celebrate – my brother turned 27 this Wednesday and my father had a successful follow-up op (he had a minor accident last year). How else would we celebrate such a joyous occasion than with an enormous helping of comfort food!
Speaking of comfort, food is a language I am most comfortable with, thanks to early childhood conditioning. My greedy formative years spoiled by Dad’s fantastic cooking have indeed shaped my attitude towards cooking and eating.
Hervé This, an exemplary figure in the world of molecular gastronomy puts it quite simply, “Cooking is love, art, technique”. The emotional aspect of cooking reigns supreme, above expression or method. The most perfectly cooked egg is just protein and carbs if it were one of the many churned out by your nearby brunch place. No emotion, memory or feeling tagged to it.
Cooking is more than slicing, dicing, sautéing, frying, steaming, yada yada. A sequence of steps driven by a purpose to feed those you care about. That’s cooking for love right there. Throw in art and technique, and the cycle is complete. That ensures you won’t have a burnt pot of rice 😉 Or maybe a tagine of charcoal black grains!
Daryl used to work in Hong Kong so he was more familiar with the Hong Kong style claypot rice. And that was what he cooked up in a sexy fire engine red Le Creuset tagine. I’m not sure it made the rice any tastier; we just didn’t have a claypot and couldn’t be bothered to buy one.
Personally, it made for an enticing tableside ‘show’. Call it culinary theatrics or showmanship if you will but it worked! Just look at our unveiling:
No different than presenting a delicious work of art at a gallery where the guests are all welcomed to partake of that ‘not quite picasso but more so pollack-esque’ piece.
The technique part was easy when you have a trained chef at the helm. My chef certainly didn’t disappoint. If you’d like to try your hand at this claypot rice, check out the recipe at Daryl’s site.
We had oyster sauce kailan for our greens. Daryl’s repertoire apparently is not limited to the kitchen. He is an excellent decorator too. Check out the table he laid out. Impressive aye. I have no doubts that our future bistro/restaurant/cafe is going to be spectacularly handsome.
A beautiful empty table does not compare to a food filled one with bustling chatter. I love it when our family dines together (something that never was a habit because of our schedules). Now, we have new furry additions like darling Savannah, a sprightly cocker spaniel I love so dearly.
On to what we were here to celebrate! The birthday boy makes a wish (or 27 wishes maybe).
“Come let’s take a family photo,” my mother gestures. And after struggling with my camera (I forgot how to set the timer) and after many takes later, we had a beautiful family photo.
Extremely thankful for the generous amounts of food and love I have in my life.
I do love my family as much as I love food and cooking. I must do this more often.
Credits: Daryl a.k.a. The Chef who Lifts for cooking this scrumptious meal. 😀
Most kitchen phobes subscribe to the common notion that delicious food are hard to make. I do insist that it is but a common misconception. It is a pity though, how some let their fear of kitchen disasters come between their love of good food.
Has there been an occasion where you crave a good tiramisu or lasagne and harboured intentions of actually making it but got freaked out by the long list of ingredients and 18-step method? Or how about a time when a cookbook’s tantalising photos nearly convinced you to pick up your skillet and apron? You went to the supermarket to get those ingredients but gave up halfway because a quick meal at a fast food joint just seems so much more convenient.
Here’s the truth – most of us amateurs (me included) will have to overcome our kitchen fright one way or another. When I first started this blog four years ago, I hadn’t the slightest clue how much cooking and baking was going to change my life. But it did. It made me fall in love with food and it made me happy. I still think of myself as a novice, and I’m sure you will know by now how much a fan I am of fuss-free recipes. Recipes that are straightforward, with simple steps and basic ingredients – these are the building blocks crucial to anyone who desires to overcome their fear in the kitchen and cook more confidently.
Do you know what I do? Every time I spot a do-able recipe, or a recipe that I think won’t make me want to tear my hair out, I take note of it – I either copy it, type it out or tear it out (if it’s in some old magazine). I keep these recipes in a folder. When I feel like making something especially when I’m strapped for time, I take out this folder. This is my folder of great tasting quick fixes.
Recently, my folder had a new addition. It was an easy fool-proof everyone-can-do-it (yes even with your eyes closed) recipe that I knew I had to share. It yields about 16 golf ball sized peanut butter and chocolate chip rice krispies balls. The recipe was from last year’s Oprah Christmas issue. The ingredients are simple and the end result – simply addictive. They are also perfect as gifts for friends.
The magic lies with the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Boy are these some happy crunchy balls. Guaranteed to brighten up someone’s day. The best thing yet? It takes just minutes to make. Go ahead, try it and tell me that the kitchen isn’t all that scary after all. This is only the beginning. 🙂
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Rice Krispies Balls
from Oprah Magazine
2 (1.4 ounce) chocolate-covered toffee candy bars
2 cups Rice Krispies
½ cup chunky peanut butter
16 regular-size marshmallows
¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1. Leaving candy bars in wrappers, use a rolling pin to pound and crush bars into small pieces. Place Rice Krispies in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Place peanut butter in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl; microwave on high until hot, about 45 seconds. Add marshmallows and microwave on high until softened, bout 30 seconds. (Alternatively, place peanut butter and marshmallows in a heavy saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted, 2 to 3 minutes.)
3. Working quickly, stir to combine mixture with Rice Krispies. Stir until evenly coated. Add crushed candy bars and chocolate chips. Stir until combined. Coat your hands with oil and shape mixture into spheres the size of golf balls, making 16 treats. Pack into decorative tins or arrange on wax-paper lined wrappers and tie ends with ribbons. The balls will keep up to one week at room temperature. Makes 16 balls.