Kung Hei Fat Choy – Happy Chinese New Year!!

Our cookery group gathered on January 31 and, as that day was marked as the start of Chinese New Year, there was no question as to what the theme for our session would be!!  Our hostess had decided on the following menu:

  • Crab meat soup
  • Chicken with green peppers and cashew nuts
  • Sweet and sour pork
  • Special fried rice
  • Choi sum in oyster sauce
  • Carrot salad with sesame seeds
  • Aromatic and crispy duck
  • Fruit salad

When we arrived two tables had been set:  the kitchen table with all the ingredients and recipes we would need, and the dining table in readiness for our feast!  Since this new year is the Year of the Horse, our hostess had placed a beautiful sculpture of a black lacquer horse at the centre of the dining table.


P1080305The very first task was to cut the duck in half and to get it simmering in a broth which contained all kinds of wonderful ingredients: fresh ginger, soy sauce, yellow bean paste, sherry, star anise, five spice powder, sugar and stock.

Once the duck was on the stove we ran through the menu and recipes, and decided on who would cook what.  Soon everyone was busy, peeling, chopping and slicing.  I had taken on the task of preparing the special fried rice, and was to help with the aromatic and crispy duck later.

You can see how much progress we were making!  Of course a glass of champagne helped speed the preparations along nicely!! 🙂

Our hostess decided that we would start our meal with the crab meat soup,  follow that up with all of the other dishes, except for the duck, which was to be eaten last.  So that’s what we did.  Here is the soup:


It was very delicious, with just the right balance of flavours and textures!  Next came some more cooking;  first the sweet and sour pork,

…then the special fried rice.

IMG_8931Here is the chicken with green pepper and cashew nuts,

… and finally it was the turn of the Choi sum:


And what a feast it turned out to be!!

Each dish had a very different character, but they were all equally delicious!!  We didn’t gorge ourselves too much, being mindful of the aromatic and crispy duck that was yet to come!  After having been simmered until tender and left to cool, the duck halves were deep-fried to crisp the skin.

And after only about 12 minutes in the bubbling oil, the duck was ready to serve!!  Our hostess thought that pancakes might be a little on the heavy side to wrap the duck in, and had opted for leaves of iceberg lettuce instead.  Good move!

IMG_8963The duck was as yummy as it looks, the meat shredded and wrapped in lettuce with shreds of spring onion and cucumber, and with a dab of plum sauce – heavenly!

And here is the fruit salad to end our New Year’s feast!!

IMG_8965We all felt very happy that we’d been able to mark the start of the Year of the Horse in such a splendid way!!

Food, food and more food!

When I look at this blog I amaze myself that I’m not a walking barrel – so much of it seems to revolve around food and eating.  But then we all enjoy good food and without it our lives would be rather monotonous – I don’t think any of us would enjoy the diet of an everyday mediaeval person.

Last Sunday the Etoile Cycliste du St Chinianais had its annual summer party, by invitation only and I was lucky enough to be invited.  The party takes place in the garden of the founder of the association, a little outside St Chinian.  It’s a garden full of quirky things, and shaded by large pinion pine trees.  The guests sit at long trestle tables and cooking is done over an open fire or coals.  First there are aperitifs – drinks of various sorts accompanied by home-made nibbles.  The come the moules – mussels cooked over the coals and turned with a garden rake!  Lovely juicy mussels, washed down with white or rose wine, the juices mopped up with crusty French bread.  Just as we finish the mussels and think there’s time for a break, they start cooking the sardines – lots of them, grilled just as they are, and they come to the table crispy and piping hot. Surely that must be it now, but wait, now they start grilling pork chops and sausages!!  OK, I think I can manage a chop and a tiny bit of sausage (there are beans to go with them).  Then comes cheese, and finally a sponge cake as light as a feather, and in between main course and dessert, and after dessert there’s music and dancing.  I did feel like a barrel, so we went for a long walk and took a detour to get home! 

This week saw the arrival of the first locally grown tomatoes – delicious, juicy and RIPE!!  From Gill at Le Petit Pepiniere in Caunes Minervois I got a selection of basil plants (lemon, cinnamon, lettuce leaved, ararat, thai, greek and regular) so I decided to make a tomato and mozzarella salad, experimenting with several different basil flavours.  It was totally delicious, but I’m not sure which I prefer.  The first apricots also arrived – somewhat later than usual and even more eagerly anticipated.  For now I’m just eating them fresh, but soon enough I’ll be turning to jam and tart making!

On Wednesday I got together with a group of friends for our monthly cooking session.  This week’s theme was Asian food, and we had a ball!  On the menu were
Green onion pancakes
Temari-Zushi (rice balls with prawns or fish)
Tuna salad sushi rolls
Shiso roll Katsu (pork)
Egg rolls
Gyoza (Chinese dumplings)
Green onion pancakes
Lynn’s salad
Matcha ice cream (green tea)

Ambitious I know, but with nine pair of hands we made short work of the cooking, and of course of the eating!!  I won’t describe the preparation of the meal in detail, I’ll just leave you to drool over the pictures!  And as I’m selecting the pictures, I’m starting to feel ever so hungry, I wonder why?

Green onion pancakes


Shiso Roll Katsu

Egg Roll



and a few more pictures

and finally the gallery