A Hot Pot of Warmth

Winter has most certainly descended here in London now, and I am still getting used to waking up and walking to work in the cold. (Summer seems such a far dream now lol.πŸ‘‹) Nonetheless, my week began on a high after celebrating my birthday in the weekend. (Thank you for all of you who commented and liked my birthday post. ❀️❀️) But, honestly, the high did hit some bumps this week, but when is life truly a smooth sailing?

After work today, I was definitely craving for a hearty dinner and the first thing that came to my mind was a good, old hot pot. A hot pot is a Chinese cooking method where individuals cook raw ingredients such as meat and vegetables in a simmering pot of broth. It is a very prominent thing in family gatherings, and I grew up being used to my family surrounding a hot pot every winter.

The ingredients on the conveyor belt
All set!

My favourite hot pot place in London is a restaurant called Shuang Shuang in Chinatown (located above the ramen shop that I visited a couple of weeks ago). The restaurant is different to many traditional hot pot places in that every customers has one pot to themselves, instead of sharing one. And the raw ingredients are transported around through a conveyor belt, where the customers can pick up their selections like in a sushi bar. Not going to lie, initially I was quite sceptical the first time I visited the restaurant, but now this place has become one of my favourites in town. πŸ˜‹

Mixing a dipping sauce is my favourite thing to do in every hot pot lol πŸ˜‚
The House prawn ball – which is my favourite thing to order here.

A standard procedure of mine every hot pot is to create my own dipping sauce. My favourite is a hefty amount of sesame sauce topped with lots of spring onions and coriander, with a bit of chilli sauce. For me, a good dipping sauce is always the soul of a delicious hot pot! ❀️ And I did get carried away picking lots of food from the conveyor belt lol.

But I wont’t fall to a food coma yet until I finished the evening with my favourite ice creams. πŸ˜‹πŸ˜˜

Egg Custard Tart and Strawberry Pocky Stick Ice Creams

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Late-Night Sausages

About a month or so ago, I visited an American-style restaurant called the Fat Bear here in London. (You can read about my visit here πŸ‘‰ https://tangosbaking.home.blog/2019/06/15/journey-across-the-waters/) I tried their delicious biscuits and gravy, and ever since then, I had always wanted to try to replicate this classic American dish.

Yesterday, I was feeling peckish in the middle of the night. I suddenly had this idea of making some biscuits and gravy to fill this hunger. So, I quickly leapt down to the supermarket (the closet one to me had closed already so I had to walk slightly further), and came back to attempt to make this dish for the first time ever. I followed a recipe by the Hairy Bikers (Link: https://goodfood.uktv.co.uk/recipe/biscuits-and-sausage-gravy/), though I just went all freestyle with the sausage gravy using some good-quality caramelised onion sausages, double cream (that was left from when I made my Oreo cake a few days) and some mixed spices. I also didn’t have any buttermilk, so I made my own using lemon juice and milk by following tips on this article πŸ‘‰ https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-to-make-buttermilk/.

I wasn’t entirely sure how the biscuit dough should be like, but I felt it was wetter than it should be, so I did end up adding a bit more flour. I felt the biscuits did come out slightly denser than I would like it, but the sausage gravy was absolutely delicious! πŸ˜‹ (Though it eventually did feel quite heavy as I kept on eating it after… πŸ˜…)

Have you made biscuits and gravy before? Do you have any tips you would like to share? Let me know in the comments below. πŸ˜‰

Day 4: The Next Julia Child…?

Bonjour from Paris again! The hot weather stepped up to an even greater level today (setting a new record of 39C…!πŸ”₯😰😰) Despite an exhausting day yesterday, I still made sure that I headed out early to visit Angelina (near the Louvre) which my best friend suggested was an ideal place for breakfast/brunch. It took me ages to find it as well since somehow I ended up in the wrong part of the road. (I blame my maps app!)

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is my favourite breakfast dish. The crispy bacon and toasted bread accompanied well with the soft poached eggs and the silky hollandaise sauce. πŸ˜‹As I was eating it, I was trying not to think about the amount of butter and fat in the dish…πŸ˜“

Fraisier (hazelnut biscuits with vanilla cream and fresh strawberries) and Douceur abricot-miel (Pistachio biscuit with apricot jelly and honey mousse)

The shop had a large range of patisseries to choose from, but I decided on these two. I absolutely loved the Fraisier! ❀️❀️ The light vanilla cream with the biscuit was such a great combo, and the tangy sweetness of the strawberries cut right through. 🀀 (I actually wanted another one lol!) The Douceur abricot-miel was good but a little on the heavy side for me personally. Though, they both looked stunning! πŸ‘

I also tried their signature chocolate drink. (It was way too hot for hot chocolate, so I went for cold instead. πŸ˜‚) Rich and velvety, I would say it was definitely one for chocolate lovers. Though for me, it was slightly too dark and bitter… πŸ˜…

After being roasted in the heat at the Catacombs yesterday, I decided to take a more indoor approach today. (Quite honestly, I was very sick of the heat by now!) However, I did managed a quick stroll around Tuileries Garden where a carnival was being held. (As to who would want to go on rides under this heat, I had no idea!) The walk didn’t last long at all before I ran into Carrousel du Louvre to avoid the intense heat… πŸ˜“πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈπŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ The park would have been nice to visit in fall season.

After a nap in the hotel, I headed to my most anticipated event in my entire trip and that was to attend an amateur cooking class! πŸ‘¨β€πŸ³ So the class I went was run by L’atelier des Chefs (a friend who speaks French recommended this to me) and unfortunately they don’t run any English classes. But when I asked for information yesterday, they said that they do get a lot of tourists attending and most people can follow without even speaking any French, so I decided to give it a try anyway.

Including me, there was a total of ten people in the class (and I was pretty sure that I was the only tourist πŸ˜‚!) I was the first person to arrive (probably looking a bit too keen haha), and the reception lady was incredibly welcoming to me and said, ‘For this evening, treat this place as your own home and look around however you want!’ (Aww! ☺️) The two-course menu we made were king prawn skewers with fennel salad & mashed potatoes and also an apricot Tarte Tatin. Despite being pretty much muted for the duration of the class (everyone was speaking French, I couldn’t join in the conversations lol…πŸ˜…), the class was very enjoyable! We cooked the dishes simultaneously so they would be ready to eat at the same time, and we started with preparing Tarte Tatin first. For a baker like me, I was super excited!

Everyone would take turns trying out the individual steps, and we were all so gracious in passing stuff to each other and letting other people had a go. It felt like we were a big family cooking together for a family gathering meal.☺️ (I was like one of those wind up toy repeating ‘merci’ every few minutes. πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚) Though, I felt a little awkward when my ‘perfectionist’ side came out as I was adamant in arranging the apricots in a flower pattern (you can see at the bottom right on the photo) when everyone else was dumping theirs into the mould… πŸ˜…

With the Tarte Tatin ready to go in the oven, we started dicing up the potatoes for the savoury course. And to be frank, I was really embarrassed by my appalling knife skills (as my mum would agree…) and the chef had to warn me to be careful with my fingers. πŸ™ˆ Here is also a video of the chef demonstrating how to peel and de-vein the prawns. (I know my mum would love to have all the heads we ended up throwing away! πŸ˜‚)

I hate this mandoline!! 😑😑

I felt quite comfortable with preparing the prawns as it was something I did before. (Really reminded me of Hong Kong where we used to cook the fresh prawns we bought straight from the market. ☺️) The fennel though was a different story…

While I had seen many times of people using a mandoline on TV, I had never used one. 😬 The chef stopped me to show me how to hold the fennel correctly so I didn’t slice off my fingers, and even then I was struggling with it so much that I abandoned using it altogether and used the knife to chop up the fennel. I thought I was doing a decent job until I looked around to see how everyone cut their fennel very thinly and mine were large chunks! πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈπŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ I tried to trim mine down but they were still nowhere near as thin.πŸ˜• (The guy next to me was chopping them up so quickly and skilfully, I literally wanted to find a hole and hide! πŸ™ˆ) Most of the group then went to the stoves to help with the cooking, and I was still chopping up the fennel! πŸ˜‚ (I was actually really embarrassed about adding my large pieces of fennel into the bowl…) I guess Julia Child must be shaking her head at me… πŸ˜…

With the prawns and mashed potatoes ready, we moved on to plating. (I was like in my head, ‘Yes! Forget stupid knife works, this is something I am good at!’ πŸ˜‚) I was again being such a neurotic perfectionist, I was the last one to finish plating. πŸ˜… (Literally digging through the bowl to find spinach leaves of similar sizes lol…)

King Prawn Skewers with Fennel Salad and Mashed Potatoes
Apricot Tarte Tatin

But, finally after all the hard work, it’s tasting time! Bon appetite! πŸ˜‹ πŸ˜‹ πŸ˜‹

(And after the dinner, I also got a souvenir for myself! πŸ˜‰)