Bacon Parmesan Gougere (Cheese Puffs) Recipe

As a continuation from our Valentine’s Day dinner post, one of the dishes I made for our appetizers was Bacon Parmesan Gougere. The easiest way to describe a Gougere is a cheese puff. The more technical way of explaining a Gougere is a choux pastry (used to make eclairs, cream puffs etc) made with cheese. They’re typically served as an hors d’oeuvres or it can be served along side soup like a biscuit or a bread.

While I was looking at different French cookbooks to come up with other dishes to accompany our French meal, this recipe came up a few time and it’s hard to turn down a recipe with bacon in it.

This recipe was fairly easy to make. First, I had to make the choux pastry dough by heating up the milk and butter in a small sauce pan over medium high heat and bringing it to a simmer. Then, I added the flour and pinch of salt to the mixture and mixed vigourously until it formed a smooth dough and the mixture no longer sticks to the side of the pan. When done, transfer the dough into a mixing bowl and press it out to the sides of the bowl to help the dough cool down faster. Allow to chill for a few minutes until it is warm to the touch (approximately 5 mins).

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Beef Bourguignon – Inspired by Julia Child’s Recipe

This year for Valentine’s Day, I decided to cook the hubby a French inspired meal. To read more about the French meal that I whipped up that night, check out the post here.

For the main dish, I decided to make the infamous Beef Bourguignon, inspired by none other than Julia Child.

I decided to make this dish the day before as I read online that the flavours develop a lot more overnight. It also alleviated the amount of stress work that went into preparing the rest of the dishes the day of the dinner.

First, I preheated the oven to 400F. Then, I paper towel dried my beef to remove all excess moisture (forgot the cut of the meat – we got it from Costco) and cut them into ~2 inch cubes. Season generously with salt and pepper.

In a large stainless steel skillet, add some olive oil and cook the cut up bacon over medium high heat until nice and brown. This will help render out the bacon fat for more flavour. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside for later use.

Now, add in the beef cubes in the pan with all that bacon fat and sear them on all sides until nicely browned. You will likely have to do this in batches as you do not want to overcrowd the pan. Take the beef out and set aside.

Add the onions and carrots and cook them down until onions start to turn brown. In the last minute, add the chopped garlic. Remove everything and set aside.

You’ll notice that a nice fond has developed on the bottom of your pan. It is now time to deglaze it with red wine. I used about 2/3 of a bottle (750ml) of red wine (pinot noir specifically). Scrape all the fond off the bottom of your pan and set aside.

In a dutch oven over medium high heat, add the seared beef, cooked vegetables, bacon, and wine sauce. Then, add in enough beef broth to just cover the beef (for me, approximately 2 cups). Add in thyme, bay leaf, and tomato paste and bring the dish up to a simmer. Quickly do a quick taste test to see if additional seasoning is required. Once satisfied, place in the oven at 325F to braise for approximately 3 hours.

Beef Bourguignon – Inspired by Julia Child's Recipe

Yield: 6 people

Beef Bourguignon - Inspired by Julia Child's Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 strips of thick cut Bacon, cut into small slices
  • 2 lbs Beef, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 3-4 Carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1.5 Yellow Onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp Chopped Garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2/3 of a 750 ml bottle of Red Wine (we used Pinot Noir)
  • ~2 cups of Beef Broth
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp fresh Thyme leaves
  • 1 Bay leaf

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel pan and add the bacon. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned (approximately 8-10mins). Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to set aside for later use. Keep the rendered bacon fat in the pan.
  3. Dry the beef with paper towel and cut into 2 inch cubes. Generously sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In the same pan over medium high heat, sear the beef cubes on all sides until nicely browned. Do this in batches as to not overcrowd the pan. Once browned, remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Add the carrots and onions to the pan and season generously with salt and pepper. Stick occasionally until onion is lightly browned. In the last minute of cooking, add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Remove everything from the pan and set aside.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and scrape the fond off the bottom of the pan. Save this for later and turn off the heat.
  6. In a large dutch oven (ours was 5.5 qt) over medium high heat, add the seared beef, cooked vegetables and red wine sauce. Top it up with beef broth until it just covers the beef. Add thyme, bay leaf, and tomato paste. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  7. Cover the pot with the lid and place it in the oven to braise for 3 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
  8. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with toasted bread.
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An Evening in Paris – Valentine’s Day Dinner

This is our first year celebrating Valentine’s Day as a married couple. Not that we do anything special on Valentine’s Day to begin with but this year, I felt like going the extra mile. I decided to make the hubby a full course French meal with the theme of the evening being “An Evening in Paris”.

I found this Valentine’s Day menu template from a blogger and customized it slightly to accommodate the Paris theme. It took me several days of research consisting of looking up various cookbooks to come up with a full course menu. In the end, I settled on the following dishes:

Appetizers

  • Bacon Parmesan Gougère
  • Charcuterie Plate consisting of Tapenade Noire, Pork & Chicken Liver Pâté, Homemade French Bread, and Grapes
  • House Salad

Entrée

Dessert

Chocolate Soufflé with Espresso Crème Anglaise

We started the night with some French music playing in the background to set the mood. We listened to the “French Cafe Lounge” playlist on Spotify which was pretty good! Then we started the evening with the appetizers and a bottle of red wine of course 🙂

Yes, I even busted out napkins – we usually use paper towels but decided to be classy tonight 😉

The Tapenade Noire turned out really good! It only consisted of black olives, anchovies, capers, and olive oil. I should’ve used a food processor but was lazy and ended up using the Vitamix instead with mediocre results. Luckily, it still tasted great. To see the full recipe, click here.

Next was the Bacon and Parmesan Gougère. A gougère is essentially a French cheese puff made with choux pastry mixed with cheese. I added in the bacon to make it extra savoury 🙂 For the full recipe, click here.

For the Main, we had the Beef Bourguignon with Cauliflower Gratin on the side. This Beef Bourguignon recipe was inspired by Julia Child and ended up tasting super delicious! It’s very rich though so it won’t take much to fill you up. For the full recipe, click here.

Lastly, we ended the evening with Chocolate Soufflé. Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to capture this… 🙁 If you’re looking for other ideas for sweets, check out our Chocolate Dipped Pretzel recipe!

And that was it! As expected, this French meal was super rich… lots of cheese and butter haha. We wouldn’t mind having this type of meal once in a while but definitely can’t handle it on a regular basis. Hope you guys give these recipes a try and Bon Appétit!

Chinese Turnip Cake (Lor Bak Go)

Chinese New Years may have passed but that doesn’t mean we still can’t celebrate with Chinese Turnip Cake! I love ordering these at the restaurants and with our never ending obsession with buying daikon to make pickled daikon or Japanese dishes, it seemed to make sense to make turnip cake with any extra daikon that we can’t finish.

However, as some of you may know, finding Chinese recipes on the internet isn’t exactly the easiest thing and even when I do find one, I’m skeptical as to how credible the source is how ‘authentic’ the recipe is. Lucky for us, we’ve stumbled across the blog WoksOfLife and tried a few of their recipes and found them to be quite authentic and delicious. And thus, they became our default go to site for any Chinese recipes. When we decided to make Chinese Turnip Cake, lo and behold, we checked their site first and luckily, they had it (yay!)

The ingredients aren’t too hard to find – in fact, we would say most of them are staples in a Chinese household.

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Momofuku Pork Buns

In our previous post, we talked about how we made steamed buns. Well, it’s time to put it all together! As part of our Momofuku week, we made a variety of dishes from the Momofuku cookbook including the Compost cookie, Roasted Sweet Summer Corn, and now this! Pork Buns 🙂

These little buns were so much fun to make and realistically, you can put whatever the heck you want inside as fillings. The original cookbook suggested this to be served with pickled cucumbers but we ran out so we used pickled carrots and daikon instead which was just as good! It could also be served with lettuce or any greens of your choice.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a pork bun without the pork. We purchased thick cut pork belly for this at our local grocery store (which was surprisingly hard to find in our area!). I personally found that the thicker the cut, the better.

In order to maximize flavour of the pork belly, it needs to be brined first. So, liberally coat both sides of the pork belly with equal parts sugar and salt. One they’re both fully covered, leave it to sit overnight in the fridge for at least a day.

When you’re ready to cook them, rinse off the extra sugar and salt – otherwise, it’ll be overly salty when you cook them. Pat them dry and bake the pork belly at 250F in a baking tray for approximately an hour and a half. Be sure to flip them halfway into the cooking time to ensure even cooking. Then turn up the oven to 400F and roast for another 10 minutes or so or until golden brown as shown below.

Cut the pork belly into smaller pieces and insert in steamed buns along with pickled veggies and serve with other accompaniments such as Hoisin sauce and rice!

 

 

Steamed Buns Recipe

There is nothing I love more than steamed buns. If I had to choose between artisanal bread and steamed buns, I will choose steamed buns. For the longest time, I’ve put off making steamed buns because I was a bit intimidated by the process – and also because I didn’t have a steamer.

I’ve made steamed buns in the past but mostly it was used in the form of a traditional steamed bun where there’s filling inside and you can’t see it until you bite into it. See my Nikuman – Chinese Steamed Pork Buns recipe I made in the past to better understand what I’m talking about.

However, while I was making my Momofuku themed dinner, I stumbled across David Chang’s Pork Buns recipe which used the traditional steamed buns recipe but instead of stuffing it with filling, it was used almost like a taco wrap.

This recipe was really easy to make – it took about the same amount of time as making any standard bread recipe. Plus, I also found the bun a bit sweet which I like! The buns turned out really well – it was super soft and fluffy 🙂 I think I might use this recipe as the foundation of my other steamed buns recipe moving forward.

From an aesthetics point of view, this style of bun was great because you get to see exactly what you eat and it can be more visually appealing. It also lends a different texture than a crunchy lettuce wrap if you were to have pork belly ssam for example.

To learn how to make this steamed buns recipe, see below! To learn more about the Momofuku Pork Buns that I made using this steamed buns recipe (see photo above), click here.

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Chinese egg tarts

Hello everyone!

It has been a while since our last blog post. A lot has happened since then – we got engaged, we went on vacation for 2 weeks to Italy and Greece, and I got a new job!

Our bunny Beans breaking the news to our family and friends

Our hotel at Santorini, Greece. Isn’t the view breathtaking?! No filter required..

I think that’s a good reason as to why we’ve been MIA, right?

Anyways, we are back and this time, with a classic Chinese pastry dish – egg tart! This is a very popular item that can typically be ordered at dim sum restaurants or bought at local chinese bakeries. They usually come in two types of crust – puff pastry or cookie crust. I personally prefer the cookie crust but my SO prefers the puff pastry kind.

Given I’m pretty lazy and making puff pastry from scratch is a lot of work (and requires A LOT of butter), I decided to cheat and buy the pre-made stuff (I know – blasphemy!) These frozen tart shells make making egg tarts so much easier. The custard itself is super easy and you can probably make this within 5 minutes. If you’re unsure what treat to bring to your friend’s dinner or potluck and you’re short on time, you can easily gravitate toward this recipe.

To make these egg tarts, whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, water, and salt into a bowl until thoroughly combined. You may have some residual egg whites not fully integrated into your custard mixture – to ensure a smooth batter, be sure to strain the custard mixture into a separate bowl to ensure a smoother custard texture. I like to strain my mixture into a measuring cup because it makes pouring into the tart shells much easier.

Fill them up to the brim and bake them at 365F for approximately 20 minutes.

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Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) – Updated Recipe

If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll know that chicken and duck went on sale for us last week and we stocked up quite a bit…

With all this poultry that is enough to last us a a couple of months, we had think of different recipes to make with it. One easy one we could think of was Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken). It just required a simple marinade and a light dusting of potato starch before deep frying.

We made this a while back using a different recipe which you can read about here and although J could barely taste a difference, I personally prefer this recipe more as I felt that the chicken had more flavour than the other recipe.

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Miso Clam Soup

We had some friends over for dinner this weekend and considering we are trying to refine our Japanese cooking skills, we decided to have a Japanese themed dinner.

We started off our morning gathering all of our ingredients. One of the dishes we wanted to make was Miso Clam Soup so naturally, we had to get some fresh clams.

Diana’s seafood was our go to fish market for this – it’s pretty far from where we live but we can always count on them for having the largest variety of the freshest fish.

We picked up a few items from there but we can post about those later 🙂 We picked up two types of clams for our soup since we wanted to mix it up a bit: Littleneck and savoury clams.

Savoury (left) and Littleneck (right) clams

People often store their clams by throwing the closed bag in the fridge or soaking them in water until they’re ready to use. This is not the best way to store your clams as you are at risk of killing them. Clams need to breathe so the first thing you should do when you are home is to open up the bag. Although it is perfectly normal to soak the clams for an hour or so to help them purge the sand they were sucking in from the ocean floor, they should not be soaking in water for any longer than that as clams are not used to living in fresh water.

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Cold Soba Noodles with Dipping Sauce

For those of you who don’t know, one of the main reasons why I decided to start this blog was to keep a running collection of recipes that we’ve tried over the years, capturing the ones we enjoyed the most. Instead of making adjustments to recipes and then not remembering what we did to alter it, it was just so much easier to document it online so that we don’t lose our notes considering how unorganized we are. It also makes looking up a recipe much easier because we tend to make things we like over and over again.

As people who love to cook and bake, we thought this would be a great project for us. Plus, it made sharing recipes with family and friends so much easier. We have decided to try and take this project to the next level with the goal to produce a cookbook within the next year. We aren’t really planning to sell the cookbook, it’s more so something we can see as an accomplishment for ourselves. But who knows, maybe it can one day make it to the bookshelf 🙂

The hardest part was thinking about what the theme of our cookbook would be – considering how much we love Japanese food, it made sense that our first cookbook would be about Japanese cooking. We already have quite a bunch of Japanese recipes on our blog such as Agedashi Tofu, Miso Cod, Ochazuke, and Japanese Strawberry Shortcake just to name a few but it’s time to build on it even more. Stay tuned because you will see lots of Japanese recipes coming up on this blog 🙂

I decided to take the day off today to start working on some recipes and update our blog. The easiest dish that I could think of making was Cold Soba Noodles with Dipping Sauce.

Cold soba noodle is a very popular dish in Japan, especially during the summer months when you want something to cool you down. Typically it is served with Mentsuyu sauce which is a multipurpose sauce used in Japanese cooking. It is often served with noodles and tempura dishes just to name a few. Best of all, this sauce can be made in advance and be stored in the fridge for up to a month. This means the next time you’re hungry for some cold soba noodles, all you need to do is boil the noodles which would take no time at all!

How to eat Cold Soba Noodles

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