Thursday, April 26, 2012


Kaiserschmarrn, a soft fluffy pancake like Austrian dessert that is ripped into bite size and slightly roasted in a pan, traditionally served with stewed plums.

A legend says that this dessert was invented for Emperor Franz Joseph.  There are many different stories about how this dessert was invented.

The pancake itself is not sweet, so icing sugar and sweet sauce is required to go with it.  I've tried both Kairserschmarrn with and without lemon zest in the restaurants and really prefer the one with a tangy taste.  For that I've added 1 tablespoon of lemon zest in this recipe.

100g flour
3 eggs, separated
125ml milk
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
30g butter
blueberries, to garnish
icing sugar
Serves 4 as dessert

1.  In a medium bowl, mix together egg york, sugar, milk, flour, vanilla extract and salt until well combine.

2.  Beat the egg white until stiff and using a spatula, fold the egg white in the flour mixture gently until just combine.

3.  Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat and melt the butter.  Pour in the mixture and turn down the heat to low.  Sprinkle the lemon zest and raisins, cook for about 10 minutes, checking the bottom if it turns brown.  Turn the pancake, never mind if it breaks.  Cook for 2 minutes and then started to rip the pancake into bite size.  Keep roasting it in the pan until brown but not over cook.

4.  Sprinkle with icing sugar and garnish with blueberries.  Serve with stewed plum or applesauce.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Healthy Breakfast Sandwich with Salmon, Rucola and Spinach

A healthy breakfast refuels your body, give your body the energy it needs and having healthy breakfasts are the healthy ways to kick start your day.

This healthy breakfast is easy to assemble.  The vegetables can be washed a head of time and place in the fridge so that they're ready to go in the morning.  Rocket(Rucola) and baby spinach are used in this sandwich, but you can replaced them with other greens as well.  Don't fancy salmon?  Then substitute them with low fat lean ham! 

A hand's full of rocket
A hand's full of baby spinach
4 slices multi grains bread, toasted
4 slices smoked salmon, sliced into smaller strips
4 slices low fat cheese of your choice
1 large tomato, halved and sliced
1 lemon
Freshly ground multi colour pepper
1 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
Serves 2

1.  In a medium bowl, place the rocket, spinach, tomato and salmon inside.  Squeeze half or 2/3 of the juice over, add in olive oil, sprinkle with pepper and mix them lightly with the hand.

2.  Place the bread on a serving plate.  Lay a piece of cheese on each bread.  Then arrange the mixed salad on top of the bread.  Your healthy breakfast is ready to serve!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chicken Involtini with Prosciutto and Basil

Involtini, an Italian dish with the word meaning a thin slice of meat rolled around stuffing and cooked.  Just like a roulade.

This involtini recipe uses chicken, rolled with prosciutto, Italian ham, stuffed with sweet basil leaves and cheese.  The result, it tasted great and looked great.  The chicken breast is butterflied and flatten with a mallet.  If you want to see the photo on how to butterfly chicken breast, please click here.

4 single chicken breast fillets
12 slices prosciutto
24 large sweet basil leaves
1 small onion, finely diced
6 tomatoes, boiled, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup chicken stock or water
2 thin slices cheddar, or mozzarella
2 tsp sugar
4 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Serves 4

1.  Preheat oven to 180C.

2.  Butterfly the chicken breast fillet.

3.  Arrange 3 slices prosciutto overlapping each other on the worktop.  Place chicken over it.  Top with 3 basil leaves, lay 2 small slices of  cheddar over the basil leaves and sprinkle with pepper.

4.  Roll up the chicken.  Tie with kitchen string to keep its shape.  I know mine were not nicely tied, but hey, it worked. 

5.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large non stick pan over medium heat.  Cook the  involtini until all sides are brown and crisp.  Work in batches of two if the pan is not big enough.  Dish out the involtini and set aside.

6.  Heat the remaining oil in the same pan, add in onion, garlic  and cook until aromatic.  Add in tomatoes, sugar and stock and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes or until the sauce thicken.  Season with pepper.

7.  Pour the sauce into a large heat proof dish.  Place the involtini on top of the sauce and bake for 10 minutes.  Then turn the rolls and bake for another 8 minutes.  Serve with pasta or salad.

It is said that involtini are served with the kitchen string attached and the customers or guests would remove it themselves.

This recipe do not require salt as the prosciutto is already salty enough.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Yang Zhou Fried Rice with Ham 楊洲炒飯

Yang Zhou Chao Fan is a popular Chinese fried rice dish in most of the Chinese restaurants around the world.  The ingredients used may vary, which includes: cooked rice, barbecued pork, shrimp, eggs, peas, carrots, spring onion and so on.  In my case, I used ham instead of barbecued pork.

I have to say this is one dish that I would never order in a overseas restaurant.  Simply because it's easy to cook and I think we Chinese make fried rice like making coffee at home.  Don't you agree?  ;-p

400g cooked rice
 20g carrot, finely diced
100g ham, finely diced
 80g green peas
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sprig spring onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp cooking oil
salt and white pepper, to taste
Serves 2

1.  Heat cooking oil in a pan or wok on medium-high heat, add in garlic and stir until brown. Pour in the egg and scramble slightly, pour in the rice and carrot when the egg is 40% cooked.

2.  Stir the rice well for half a minute, add soy sauce, ham, green peas and cook until all is hot and coated evenly with soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Add in spring onion, turn off heat immediately. Mix well before dish out.

3.  Serve with other Asian dishes.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Three-Cup Chicken 三杯雞

This dish originates from the Jiangxi province of southern China, but has become especially popular in Taiwan.  The name 'three-cup' is referring to the three main ingredients for this dish.  It is said that for one whole chicken, it require 1 cup sesame oil, 1 cup soy sauce and 1 cup Chinese rice wine. 

It is traditionally cooked in a claypot and served in it.  I don't have a claypot, so I cooked it in a ceramic pot.  I know what I should buy the next time I visit the Asian shop.  ;-)  But then of course, you can also cook it in a wok or normal pot.   

I'm glad I tried out this dish.  Both my kids loved it so much.  And this was the first time Angelica actually 'ga fan', in Hakka, meaning ask for another plate of rice.

I'd used chicken wings in this recipe.  You can also use whole chicken or chicken thigh.

1/4 cup sesame oil(dark one if available)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine
1 kg chicken, cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic
8 slices ginger
1/8 cup sugar
2 tbsp sweet dark soy sauce
4 spring onion, cut into green and white sections
Thai basil leaves
Serves 4

1.  Heat sesame oil in claypot.  Stir fry garlic, ginger, white portion of spring onions briefly until aromatic.

2.  Add chicken pieces, mix well over medium high heat for about 1 minute or until the chicken pieces are no longer pink.  Add wine, soy sauce, sugar and dark soy sauce.  Bring to a boil.

3.  Lower the heat, cover, simmer for 6 minutes.  Then stir once and continue cooking for another 5 minute or until the liquid has reduced greatly.  Stir in the rest of spring onions and basil leaves and it's done.

4.  Serve hot with rice.


American Hotcakes

Weekends are the only time my kids and I get to sit down together and have some nice breakfast.  Angelica is always more than happy to help setting the table! 

These American pancakes are perfect for a weekend morning or holiday breakfast.  Serve these delicious pancakes with butter, honey, jam, applesauce, Nutella or your favourite toppings and fruits.  They're also delicious with 'kaya', coconut jam, something we are unable to get here.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 medium eggs
1 cup milk
60g butter, melted
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp caster sugar
Pinch salt
Oil to brush the pan
Serves 3 -4


1.  In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs, add in milk, melted butter and stir well.  Sift in flour, baking powder.  Then add in sugar and salt. 

2.  Using a whisk, stir until smooth and batter is free of lumps.  Cover with a tea towel for 10 minutes.

3.  Over medium low heat, brush the non-stick pan with oil.  Pour a level 1/4 cup of mixture at a time.  Cook for one minute or until bubbly, turn and cook the other side.  The second side take shorter time to cook.  Transfer to a plate and keep warm with a tea towel.  Repeat with the remaining batter.

4.  Serve with butter and your favourite toppings.

Asparagus and Beef Stir Fry

This spring vegetable pair perfectly with beef in this quick stir fry.  The asparagus are crunchy and the beef is tender, both coated with a flavourful oyster sauce.

800g beef tenderloin, cut into strips
400g green asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
Half of a red pepper, sliced
2 gloves garlic, chopped
Cooing oil
(A) Marinate:
20g ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 tbsp corn starch
1/2 dark soy sauce
1/2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp oil
(B) Sauce:
180ml water
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp corn starch

Serves 4

1.  Marinate the beef with (A) for at least 10 minutes.  Mix all the (B) together and ready to go.  Remember to stir well before pouring into the pan or wok.

2.  In a pan or wok over medium heat, heat a tablespoon of oil.  Cook the garlic until a little brown and stir in the asparagus.  Cook for 5 minutes or so depending on the thickness of the asparagus.  Dish out the asparagus when they are 80% cooked and set aside.

3.  In the same wok, over medium heat, heat two tablespoons of oil and cook the beef.  While the meat is half cook, return the asparagus to the wok and cook together with the meat for a minute or two.  pour in the sauce mixture and the sliced red pepper.  It is done when the beef is cooked and all coated with sauce.  Make sure the beef is not overcooked, otherwise it will become tough.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Homemade Applesauce

This applesauce is easy to make and is yummilicious!  It goes well with pancakes, vanilla ice-cream, Kaiserschmarrn or roast pork.

4 large red apples, peeled, cored and diced
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


1.  In a saucepan, combine all ingredients together and cook on medium heat until just boiling.  Cover and reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the apples are soft.

2.  Mash with a fork or blend until smooth.  Can be served hot or refrigerated.

Hakka Golden Egg Rolls 客家金蛋卷

This was one of my mother's specialties, simple but hearty.  I try to keep this recipe as original as possible.  There are two reasons I named it Golden Egg Rolls, 1) they are golden yellow in colour and, 2) My mother's name has the word gold in it.  :-)

Finely chopped carrot and mushroom were added to the minced pork and wrapped with beaten eggs.  I didn't add carrot in this recipe as my son is a choosy eater.  However, I blended together the mushrooms and the pork.  So there was a hidden treasure in it and my son didn't know.  Next time I will add in blended carrot as well.

I normally would double the sauce as the kids just love it over their rice!

(A) 180g minced pork
      2 mushrooms
      1/4 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp sesame oil
     1/4 tsp sugar
     some pepper, all (A) ingredients mix together
(B) 3 eggs
      1/4 tsp salt
      some pepper, using a fork, beat all (B) ingredients together
(C) for the sauce:
      200ml water
      1 tbsp oyster sauce
      1/4 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp soy sauce, mix all (C) ingredients together
(D) 1 tbsp water
      1 tsp corn starch, mix together and stir well before pouring into the pan

Some spring onion, chopped,  to garnish
Serves 2 - 3

1.  With all the ingredients mixed or combined and ready to go.  You can shape the minced meat into a little bigger than thumb size pieces in advance so that it's faster and easier to work later.

2.  Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in the wok on medium heat.  Spread 2 tablespoons of egg mixture on the wok, a long shape is perfect, quickly place a piece of meat at one end.  Roll it towards the other end while the top side of the egg is still a bit uncooked so that the meat and egg will stick together.  You'll have to act fast.

3.  I like to keep them in the wok for a while to brown them.  One batch is done, set aside, start with the other until all the meat are used.

4.  Place all the egg rolls in a pan or pot.  On medium heat, pour in ingredient (C) and cook until boiling, then turn to low heat and simmer for about a minute.  Pour in ingredient (D) to thicken the sauce.  Serve hot garnished with spring onion.

You can add some chopped prawns, or bamboo shoot in the minced pork for more flavour. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Creamy White Asparagus Soup / Deutscher Spargelsuppe

Germany produces a lot of white asparagus.  Both green and white asparagus are actually the same.  It is just that the white ones are not exposed to sunlight.  This spring vegetable must be peel before cooking or raw consumption.  It is low in calories, with good source of folate, potassium, and its stalks are high in antioxidants.  I would prefer to use the white asparagus for soup and the green ones for roasting, stir-fry and and side.

800g white asparagus
400ml chicken/vegetables stock or water
1 potato, peeled and finely diced
2 gloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, thinly sliced
20g butter
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp heavy cream
pinch of ground cumin
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Spring onion, to serve
Serves 4

1.  Peeled the asparagus.  cut into 2cm pieces.

2.  In a pot over medium heat, heat the butter.  Stir in onion, bay leaf and garlic and cook until aromatic.  Add in the chopped asparagus, potato and cook for about 10 minutes. 

3.  Take out all the asparagus tips and set them aside.  Pour in the stock, add the ground cumin and continue to cook over low heat for another 20 minutes until the potato and asparagus are tender.

4.  Remove the bay leaf, blend the asparagus and potato until smooth.  Return soup to the pot.  Stir in the heavy cream, add salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Serve the soup with the reserved asparagus tips and sprinkle with spring onion.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012


Vienna, described as Europe's cultural capital, is a metropolis with unique charm, vibrancy and flair. 

That's where we went for the Easter long weekend.  Since we had to visit a family staying in the south of Austria, we only had one day to explore Vienna.  But never the less, we managed to visit some places, try out some food and had a little bit of adventures too!

We arrived Wien(Vienna) on Friday in the late afternoon.  Immediately, we went for a walk.  Not far from our hotel was Votiv Kirche(Votiv Church).  The photo above is a view of the church from the Rathaus.


                                                                          A nice wall at the University

                                                             Passed by some nice dome too :-)

Then it was time for dinner.  The kids and I would definitely try out the Wiener Schnitzel....

                                                                             Wiener Schnitzel (Puten)

And how could I not order the Sachertorte, a rich chocolate cake with a little apricot jam filling, serve traditionally with whipped cream.  It was a little too sweet for me.

We started early the next day, took the tram with the intention of going to the St. Stephen's Cathedral.  Following my husband's instructions, we ended up somewhere else....  "That's it."  I said, "I'll read the map from now".  So we started from the Volkstheater, then went to the Naturhistorisches Meseum.  The kids had a good time at the museum.

Lunch at the Museum's Cafe Nautilus was simple and nice.  Kids had Wiener sausages with bread.  And we had Wiener Gulasch soup.

And Wiener Eiskaffee is always yummilicious!

                                A fabulous view of Kunsthistorisches Museum from the Cafe

Andrew appreciating a beautiful blue stone

Angelica loves crocodiles

Kunsthistorisches Museum

After that we headed to Hofburg and took a Carriage ride.  And when it was tea time, we were at one of the street near St. Stephen's Cathedral.

                                         Another Sachertorte for tea.  This one tasted much better!

 Kaiserschmarrn, soft, fluffy pancake that ripped into bite size and slightly roasted in a pan, served with applesauce.  Yumm!

Kaiserschmarrn was not on my 'food to try' list.  But I tried it anyway as I knew I wouldn't be able to get Salzburg Nockerl.

After tea and some shopping.  It was time to go back to the hotel for a rest.  While it was time to get out of the tram, my husband said that it was the next station.  I said no, he said yes.  And because of that we ended up somewhere else again.  After asking someone, bla bla bla, it was another wrong tram....  Funny?  Well not when you have two tired kids with you!  After another tram and more walking, we arrived our hotel safe and sound!

Looking for a nice restaurant for dinner near our hotel was a challenge, we walked and walked to find all the restaurants were closed.  On a Saturday evening?  Aren't Saturday evenings the busiest time for restaurants?

We finally found one near the Rathaus, a restaurant called Einstein I believe.  Kids just preferred to have Wiener Schnitzel, and again my husband had Gulasch soup!

I had Balkan-Pfanne,  kind of like Gulasch served with the yellow thing which was sort of like Gnocchi.

A closer look at the Gnocchi

That pretty much conclude our day in Wien.  The next day, we had to leave right after breakfast to the south of Austria, Klagenfurt.  Everything packed, hotel paid, we arrived the underground car park.......  We were stuck!  In the car park!  The machine kept saying that the ticket was not valid, it was given by the hotel, with the parking fees paid.

After talking to the hotel reception on the phone, bla bla bla, went to the autopay machine to activate the card(instructed by the reception), it still didn't work.  In the end, Georg gave up, pay an extra 15 Euro and hooray, we got out of the car park!

It was snowing lightly while we left Vienna.  Yes, snowing, in April. 

The drive to Klagenfurt was a nightmare.  Georg kept asking "where are the highway?"  "Ya, 20km more, and we'll be on a highway..."  We were up on the hills, or should I say mountains.  It was snowing, and all white.  The road was narrow, curvy, and ........  I had to take an aspirin because of that. 

We spent a night at our friends in Klagenfurt.  Early next morning we left for Hannover.  This time we were driving on a high way, heading to Salzburg.

We could go left to Italy, or middle lane to Slovenia, right to Salzburg which leads to Germany.

While driving towards Salzburg, the GPS kept reminding us that there was a tunnel in front of us.  I found that odd.  So I click the options button and found that the GPS was set to 'avoid the tunnels'!!  So if you don't want to go under, then you have to go over, right?  That explained why we were crossing the mountains and were not using the highway from Vienna to Klagenfurt!  How silly!

Despite all the unpleasant adventures, we had a good time in Vienna.  It's a beautiful city that I would love to visit again and it's VERY clean.  No broken beer bottles.  ;-)  The drive to Salzburg was lovely as along the way we got to see beautiful scenery, beautiful mountains.  And we made it home to Hannover safe and tired.  :-)