Friday, December 24, 2010

The end to another year gone by....

Hi everyone, Christmas has really snuck up on us, hasn't it? Feels like I was just celebrating Christmas last year with my family in Melbourne, eating a delicious roast turkey prepared by mom and opening presents gifted by the boy :)

This year I only decided 3 days ago to head home for Christmas to celebrate the holiday with family and I'm off tonight! Can't wait :D . And since I made such an impromptu decision, I spent today hunting down presents and wrapping all of them up. Ok, one was bought a month ago and I was eye-ing a couple yesterday, but I can't believe I managed such a monumental effort in such a short time!
I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, enjoy the New Year celebrations, be safe on the roads when travelling (drinking and driving is a big NO-NO, in fact it's downright stupid) and I'll see you again next year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Burnt .... out.

Having left the professional services industry to work in commerce, I must say that the deadlines are few and far between. I've been lucky to leave work at 5-ish everyday but as the company I currently work for has a 31 December year-end, it means that I'll be lucky to see daylight when I leave the office for the next couple of months. 

Add into the mix a merger to complicate reporting requirements- a merger with a listed Hong Kong company, no less. So that means I'll have to take into account HK Listing Rules and Disclosures when I prepare the accounts. Whee. Not so fun when I've been sick for the past week (2nd time in 2 months! Urgh.) and I think I've got the flu this time. *sniffle. Body aches, headaches, blocked nose, cough, sneezing...everything! 

Unfortunately there hasn't been time for bedrest, I've had to work from home (no, working from home doesn't really sound as fun as it does) and last Thurs/Fri were late nights :(. But I guess it was good that I was home, because that meant I was logged onto my Hotmail and I received an email to place pre-orders for Macarons by Duncan! Yay! In my groggy haze I ordered 10 macarons for myself *teehee. Picked them up today on the way home from work and I can't wait to get better so I can devour all of them! Being sick means I've had to say goodbye to my tastebuds so there's really no point getting into them right now.

Look how tempting they are........mmmm......
Check out the sparkly Christmassy stars
Even the red ones have glitter on them
How can you resist them?

I couldn't resist them in the past *here & *here, and I'm back to my old, greedy ways ;) Oh let's be honest, I've never been able to resist good macarons (unless they were absolutely horrible, and trust me, you know a bad macaron when you see one). 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Roast Pork...with Crackling!!!

Who doesn't love a good 'siew yuk'?. When I was young I steered clear of this because of the layers of fat in each perfectly cut column of meat but as I grew older I began to appreciate this more and more. Suffice to say, I've come to love a good roast pork paired with crispy crackling- you can't have it any other way ;). I never thought to attempt this dish at home but one day I just felt like making it. Sure, I could've gone to Pacific House (who do a really good 'siew yuk') but nothing would've curbed my urge to get busy in the kitchen experimenting and trying to get it right.

The Internet is my cookbook when it comes to looking up recipes but a search for 'Roast Pork with Crackling' turned up more variations of how, what, when, why to do it than I could count on both hands. So I did what I did best- opened up a couple of recipes and combined all the sensible bits together. 

Before I chopped up the pork belly...see how juicy and moist it looks! Of course you can trim the fat before placing on a serving plate.
And after- yum!
Of course, it's not complete without the crackling..
And last, but definitely not least, bird's eye chillies to bring everything together.

1 kg pork belly
Copious amount of sea salt
1 tsp of five spice powder
1 tbsp of light soy sauce
A pinch of sugar
A few teaspoons of olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 200°C (fan forced).
2. Rinse pork belly under cold running water. Pat dry. Using a sharp knife, score the skin all the way across (approximately 1 cm apart for each incision), repeat until the whole skin layer has been scored.
3. Rub a copious amount of sea salt into the skin and incisions (the more the better as salt helps draw out moisture from the skin). Prepare the marinade by mixing together five spice powder, soy sauce and sugar. Stir well and coat meat with marinate. Be careful NOT to let this touch the skin as you want the skin to be dry. Place uncovered in fridge for 2-4 hours, depending on how much time you have. Some people recommend leaving it overnight to completely dry out the skin.
4. Remove pork belly from fridge, wipe away excess salt and let it warm to room temperature. 
5. In a bowl, mix a handful of salt to olive oil and rub this mixture all over the skin, and into the incisions. Remember, the more salt, the better.
6. If you have a rack, place the pork belly on a rack and put this onto a baking tray and into the oven. I just used a baking tray as I didn't have a rack.
7. Let it roast on  200°C fan-forced for 20-30 minutes; drop the temperature to 180°C (non- fan) and roast for a further 40 minutes, or until pork is moist and tender in the middle.

Tip for a good crackling:

When I cooked this I opened the oven a couple of times to keep adding salt to the skin but what I learnt was that you can slice the layer of skin off the meat once the meat is cooked, brush some olive oil and sea salt onto the skin and pop the skin back into the oven at  220°C (fan-forced) for 10 minutes- please hover around your oven and keep an eye on the progress...I will not be responsible for any fires started by this recipe! While you are waiting you can chop up the meat and place on a serving plate. 

The sound of the skin crackling is like music to your ears. When this happens you know you've done it right! You have to constantly watch the oven as you are cooking on high heat and there is a lot of smoke involved. Make sure your windows are open when you open the oven doors, otherwise your smoke detectors will have a field day. Once the crackling has been cooked to your desired crispiness, remove from oven and let cool in a warm place. Slice and place on top of the meat. Ta-da! All done, and easier than you thought ;)