Monthly Archives: November 2011

dinner with friends – chicken marbella, la salade ala maman, la tarte au citron

on last saturday, we had a dinner party with 4 friends + 1 baby.

our friends’ baby girl is 11-month old, and just started walking recently, quite firmly most of the time, but clumsily from time to time. it looked as if her cute little bum covered in nappies was working as a weight so that she would not hit her head first. it was the first time for us to host a 11-month old, and we realised how dangerous our apartment could be for small babies. there are sharp corners everywhere, such as our display shelves with lots of small objects with hard surfaces, movable tv board with untreated edges, small yet tall sculpture on a heavy concrete block… while covering all the sharp corners with plastic tape (a strict order from myself), my husband agreed that going forward he would take baby friendly architecture into consideration in his future designs.

anyway back to the party. the menu of the day was as follows:

appetizer: la salade ala maman
salad: romain lettuce, endive, carrot, walnuts with balsamic dressing
main course: chicken marbella with jasmine rice
dessert: tarte au citron + yummy cakes (contribution from our friends)

and today, i would like to share the recipe for “la salade ala maman.” (you can follow the link below for the chicken marbella & la tarte au citron)

this recipe is inspired by the tomato salad which my best friend’s mother once cooked for me. my best friend is french, and whenever i went visit her & her family in paris, her mother always greeted me with her superb cooking. unfortunately she passed away 2 years ago and i never had a chance to ask her the exact recipe. after a number of trials and errors, however, i finally made it very close to hers, and i proudly admit that our guests tonight were very, very happy with it.

la salade ala maman

ingredients (serves 6):

6 large tomatos, peeled, then sliced (1cm thick)
1/2 shallot, chopped
1/2 tea spoon of salt (about 3g or so i think)
1 table spoon of red wine vinegar
3 table spoons of salad oil
a sprinkle of sugar


1) place the tomato slices on a large plate
2) in a small bowl, mix all the ingredients except for the tomatoes and mix well
3) pour the dressing over the tomato slices, and let it rest for half an hour before serving

if anyone is interested in the recipe for chicken marbella, you can refer to my earlier posting (which i totally forgot about). this time, i used white wine vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, and mixture of brown & red sugar. not too much difference in the taste, but the density of the sauce came out thicker this time, i believe due to the brown sugar.

the recipe for the tarte au citron can be found on the japanese website called “cookpad.” the one i used is this one (thank you very much shok for sharing your recipe!). i may have mentioned it before that cookpad has a wide range of very useful & easy recipes, so i highly recommend it if you can read japanese.

i know it’s not perfect, but when i took it out from the oven, it looked so good and impressive that i could not help but smile 🙂 it is a great dessert for a home party – it is not that hard to make as long as you have enough time, and i am sure that you can make your guests smile as well.

gai pad gra pow (chicken basil rice) a la japonaise

this is my first recipe for an asian dish (here i mean non-japanese/chinese dishes). it is called “gai pad gra pow (grapow for short),” which is a dish with stir-fried minced chicken with basil leaves, served with freshly cooked rice. i believe the dish is from thailand, as i always come across it in various thai restaurants.

my mother never cooked asian dishes at home, hence no asian recipes have been passed on to me. i always avoided making any of them so that I wouldn’t fail, and quite frankly, i had no idea how to make them.

but when i was grocery shopping the other day, i remembered that i had some leftover basil leaves in my fridge that i badly wanted to avoid wasting. as i had cooked an italian dish with the basil leaves a few days before, i decided to break the ice and try to make my first asian dish.

with my instinct to replicate the memory of its taste and with just one special ingredient, i made a miracle. the magical ingredient is called “nam pla,” which is thai fish sauce. you can buy it at any asian food store. i usually buy a small bottle (100ml or so), as i don’t use it so often obviously, and i like to use it fresh as much as possible.

here is my recipe of the grapow rice, with a hint of japanese essence.

gai pad gra pow

ingredients (for 2 servings):

3 table spoons of salad oil
15cm leek onion (chopped)
a glove of garlic (chopped)
a small chili pepper (chopped)
a small piece of ginger, same size as the garlic (chopped)
200g chicken mince
1 table spoon of japanese sake (or white wine)
20 basil leaves (leave 2 – 4 leaves as they are, and roughly chop the rest)
1 table spoon of soy sauce
1 table spoon of oyster sauce (optional, you can substitute it with soy sauce if you don’t have it)
1 table spoon of brown sugar
sprinkle of nampla sauce (about 1/2 to 1 tea spoonful, as your preference)
salt & pepper to taste

(on the side)
2 eggs, sunny side (try to make the egg york half cooked)
1 cup of rice (i like to use indian basemati rice with this dish), freshly boiled


1. first, put the oil in a frying pan (small size would do), and stir-fry the first 5 ingredients for a minute or so in low heat

2. add the chicken mince, put the heat to medium, and stir-fry further until the colour of the chicken changes from pink to golden

3. add the white sake/wine and quickly stir

4. add the chopped basil leaves and stir-fry quickly

5. lower the heat, and add the soy sauce and the oyster sauce from the rim of the pan, and mix it gently

6. sprinkle the sugar, and taste – if it is too salty, add a bit more sugar

7. sprinkle the nampla sauce, and taste – be careful, the sauce is quite “fishy,” so if you prefer making it mild, just stop there. if you like more exotic and strong taste of asia, add more by all means

8. at the end, you can add salt & pepper to adjust the taste

9. serve it with freshly cooked rice and a sunny side on top (the sweetness of the egg york suits the spicy/salty grapow extremely well!). put the fresh basil leaves on the side as well!