Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Nuitritous Papaya and Pork Ribs Soup

This is my favourite soup.  Semi-ripen papaya and pork ribs boiled to perfection with groundnuts and chinese dates or jujubes. It's an age old recipe which I learnt from my late Mother-in-law and I can never have enough of this soup. The original recipe calls for pig's tail, but for convenience I subsituted it with soft ribs which tastes just as good and flavourful.  The papaya has to be in the right semi-ripen stage, not too ripe nor under-ripen as the sweetness of the soup depends on it.  If the papaya is too ripe, when boiled it becomes too mushy and if not ripe enough, the soup will be too bland.  So what I did was to buy green papayas and keep it in the kitchen to monitor it's ripening stage, usually about a week.  You can guage it by the skin which should still be green with very pale orange specks.  When cut open the flesh is firm and it's reddish-orange hue which is perfect for boiling.

Papaya cut into large chunks and groundnuts soaked and baised till tender

Dried Chinese dates or jujubes add subtle sweetness to the soup

Boiled to perfection.  It is know to be good for lactating mothers as the nutrition in papaya improves milk flow, as I was told!

Friday, 9 March 2012


One of the best thing about self-driven road trips and free & easy vacation is to be able to take your own sweet time driving past scenic highways and in between stopping for food or coffee and still have time to browse some quaint little shops. I found some delightful items when we were covering the Canterbury Region and West Coast of New Zealand.
Gardening Tools set from Kaikoura. Strolling through Kaikoura town, I was simply attracted by the shop’s window display and went right in to just to browse without any intention of buying. This gardening tools set caught my attention because back home I almost bought a set from Crabtree & Evelyn under their Gardener’s Range which comes with their hand care therapy cream and a pair of trowel and 3-prong fork. I was so glad I decided against getting it as at RM165 for hand cream and a pair of gardening tools it’s way too pricey. I paid only half the price for this pretty floral gardening tools set although without the hand cream, I got a matching pruning shears and a pair of gardening gloves.
Delights from Taras Country Shop.On our way to Queenstown we stopped by Taras a small farming settlement famous for it's Merino sheep.  Here we had a hearty brunch at Taras Caf√© and next to it is The Country Shop where I bought a jar of pure vanilla bean paste which has over 20 pods in a small 100ml jar and it is a Cuisine Artisan Awards 2011 Winner too! The lady shopkeeper told me that I made a good choice as this is really fine food. I intend to use it for my vanilla ice-cream, cream brule√© or butter cakes and cookies when I make the next batch, yummy! 

The wooden citrus reamer is made of solid beech wood. I always wanted to get one every time I watch Nigella Lawson uses it to ream lemon juices into  oh so appetizing salads on her cooking show. I got mine at last! Such a simple yet practical tool to be added to my list of favourite kitchen tools. I love the pallete knife which can also be used as a cheese or butter knife, and the broad wooden handle is ergonomically designed making it very comfortable to hold.

New Zealanders are environmentally friendly, even in this shop they use plastic packaging only when necessary. The Herbs scissors were displayed separately, some with packaging, some without but  the price are the same, just that if you are getting it for your own use, don’t bother with the packaging. I got the packaged ones as gifts for my sisters and a like minded friend whom I know would find it useful in the kitchen and as well as the home office as it can double up as a document shredder!

The cute mini food grater is also a good buy. The single ramekin, a French Country Collections of fine Portugese stoneware is from the Half Price Table for clearance items. It was a set of 4 ramekins, somehow someone probably broke the three pieces and this lucky one was safe. I use it to hold dipping sauce and it makes an interesting addition to my eclectic collection of ramekins.  

Cherries at Queenstown. We were just window shopping on our first day at Queenstown and chance upon this little stall selling cherries and several people were buying them. Paid for a 800gm packet of juicy, sweet and large cherries fresh from the farm right in the middle of Queesntown Mall! Each and every one was sweet and juicy with a tiny stone (seed). I wish I could I buy some home to bake a cherry pie, but we still have several towns to explore!

Gourmet Seasoning from Haast 
On our way to Fox Glacier, we stopped at Curly Tree Whitebait Company at Haast River on the Westcoast. We ordered whitebaits patties, and while waiting for our patties to be cooked, Moana the owner recommended some specialty seasonings, which we sprinkled to eat with our patties and we liked it. It is made of NZ’s natural rocksalt, smoked garlic, shallots, coriander, mustard seeds and the mighty chilli.

Natural NZ rocksalt and spice seasoning

Artisan Honey and Citrus Passionfruit Curd From Christchurch

On our way to the airport, we made some last minute shopping at Ballantynes, Christchurch's foremost department stall which is about 160 years old, were reportedly suffered significant damage to fittings and stock, but the building had stood up to the quake remarkably well during the February 2010 Calamity.
These Artisan Honey from J.Friend & Co is a boutique range organic honey sourced from NZ’s diverse landscape. The 40gm mini jars makes stylish gifts. So many collections to choose from, they have Honey for Health, Honey for Cheese Matching, Floral Honey collections and NZ Native Honey collections.
Here’s an interesting extract from their brochures about their bees. "Our bees must fly the equivalent, (relative to humans) of three times around the globe to gather a single teaspoon of honey. We think that makes them pretty special".
Personally, they are not only special but also precious, even the beekeeper names are mentioned on the bottle! I feel so blessed to be able to taste honey from these bees!

40gm mini jars comes in pack of 3 varieties

160gm bottles are packed indivually

Names of Beekeeper are shown on the bottles

The Citrus Passionfruit curd is a random but gratifying find. It can be swirled into whipped cream and spread on Pavlova, as fillings for small tarts or simply spread on fresh bread for breakfast which I have been enjoying.

Wooden Mortar & Pestle from Spain
Ahh...This cute kitchen gadget is a gift from my friend during her vacation in Barcelona. I appreciate this gift very much as there’s an interesting story behind how she found it, and both of us enjoy using it in our kitchen.

It is handy and good for crushing peppercorns and dry herbs. A note worth mentioning is that wood is best when used with the same flavored food, since it does absorb whatever flavour from the food used and you don’t want your almonds smelling like garlic! It is also not recommend using it with moist food.