Taste of Home: Beef Kaldereta with a French twist

I was longing for a beef stew, so I thought of making one of my favorite hearty Filipino stew, Kaldereta, another dish I learned from my mom.

Originally, Kaldereta uses goat meat, but my family prefers beef with potatoes, carrots, bell pepper, fresh tomato sauce and liver pate, which gives this dish its own identity. However, this time, I am adding mushrooms and red wine for some little French twist. So it was quite a combination.

Beef kaldereta with a French twist

Even though Beef Kaldereta is easy to cook, it requires a long cooking time so that the meat becomes really tender.

Sometimes I serve it with steamed rice and sometimes we just ate it as it is. It was a great hit and it’s definitely a keeper!

Ingredients good for 6 servings:

Marinate the beef:

  • 1 kg of beef, cut into cubes
  • 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

Stew:

  • Beef marinate
  • 2 medium carrots, cut roughly
  • 1 large potato, cut roughly
  • 1 small green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced
  • 5 big tomatoes, cut roughly
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 1 Knorr beef cube
  • 150 grams of liver pate
  • 1 small can green peas
  • 425 grams of mushroom
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • black pepper, freshly crashed, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon flour

Beef kaldereta with a French twist

How to make it:

  1. Put the meat in a marinating bowl. Add oyster sauce and soy sauce. Mix thoroughly. Set aside and marinate for at least 3 hours.
  2. Put olive oil in a cooking pot.
  3. Sautéed the garlic, onion and tomato.
  4. Add the beef marinate, and cook until it turns light brown.
  5. Put in the liver pate. Stir.
  6. Pour 500 mL of water. Mix. Add the Knorr beef cube. Stir. Cover the pot. Cook in low heat for about 1.5 hours or until the beef gets tender. Add more water if needed.
  7. Add freshly crashed black pepper. Stir thoroughly.
  8. While the stew is simmering, put the mushroom in a separate frying pan. Let it cook for about 7 minutes so that the water in it will evaporate.
  9. Pour in the wine. Stir.
  10. Add potatoes, carrots and mushroom. Stir. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  11. Prepare a flour mixture. Put a tablespoon of flour in a small cup. Add water, and stir thoroughly so that the flour dissolves.
  12. Pour in the flour mixture in to the cooking pot. Stir. Keep stirring regularly so that it won’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  13. Add the bell peppers and green peas. Stir. Continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  14. Et voila! Serve, share and enjoy!
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Taste of Home: Tartiflette

Very recently, we added a new welcome addition to our menu. It’s called Tartiflette – such a cute charming name for a recipe, isn’t it?

Tartiflette is a French-style cheesy potato bake, and a popular scrumptious winter dish in France. It’s a combination of potato, bacon, camembert cheese and white wine – I love it!

Tartiflette

We really enjoy a good home-made Tartiflette. It’s cheesy, rich and delicious! Personally, I think, I could eat this any time of day, and I’m sure you’ll crave it all times.

If you are like me and my family who love cheesy potatoes, you may wish to give Tartiflette a try. Here’s a simple recipe, and I hope you’ll enjoy the way we like it with pleasure.

Ingredients good for 6 servings:

  • 2 kg of potatoes, peeled, cut in thick slices and boiled
  • 600 grams bacon striped, sliced
  • 500 grams of camembert cheese, sliced
  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • 5 big onions, sliced
  • black pepper, freshly crashed, to taste

Tartiflette

How to make it:

  • Peel and cut the potatoes into thick slices. Then boil the potatoes. Check if the potatoes are cooked by inserting the tip of a knife – if there’s no more potatoes sticking to the blade it means that the potatoes are cooked.
  • Slice the bacon according to your desired size.
  • Peel and slice the onions.
  • In a frying pan, put the bacon. Add the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add freshly crashed black pepper. Stir.
  • Add the wine. Mix it thoroughly. Bring it to boil, and let it cook for about 10 minutes.
  • Let the mixture rest for about 30 minutes in order to bland the flavors.
  • Cut the camembert cheese into slices.
  • Scoop half of the mixture (bacon, onion and wine) into an oven dish. Spread some sliced camembert cheese on top. Put in the other half of the mixture on top of the cheese. Then topped it with the rest of the camembert cheese.
  • Cover the oven dish with aluminum foil.
  • Bake it at 200 ⁰C for about 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, uncover the oven dish to allow the cheese to melt.
  • Et voila! Serve, share and enjoy!

Cambodia: A visit to the chapel in Areyksat Village in Phnom Penh with friends

One of the things I enjoy doing very early in the morning at weekends while my two handsome boys are still enjoying their sleep is to visit the Chapel in Areyksat Village in Phnom Penh with friends. The village is about 15 minutes by ferry boat ride from the city.

While waiting the ferry boat to Areyksat Village

A cousin’s friend introduced me to this place very recently, and since then we have visited it several times – about 7 times. We took a ferry boat at 6AM. Once there, we stayed for about an hour before we headed back home.

Here are 4 reasons why I love to visit the chapel in Areyksat Village in the morning:

1.The chapel in Areyksat Village is small and beautiful. It is unique as it houses 2 statues of Mother Mary – the statue of Virgin Mary was found by a Cambodian Buddhist in the Mekong River on November 19, 2012 and the statue of Mary, Mother of Mekong River was found by a Khmer Muslim and 8 Vietnamese fishermen in the Mekong River on April 16, 2008. I love visiting this chapel early in the morning because it’s very quiet – a perfect place for praying and for meditation.

before heading back home

The main door of the chapel

The Statue of the Virgin Mary

The Statue of the Virgin Mary

with the Statue of the Virgin Mary

2. The ferry boat ride is fascinating especially since it crosses where the Tonle Sap River and Mekong River meet. The water is very calm and peaceful. As the morning breeze touches my face and the warm sun shines on me, it brings a feeling of excitement, joy, smile and a wonderful sense of expectation.

aboard the ferry boat

aboard the ferry boat

the ferry boats

The ferry boat

…to the village

on our way to the village

3. I like going there early in the morning because it’s fresh, not too hot and not too crowded. Plus, I could see the sun creeping over the horizon – magical.

…and every sunrise is always a marvel

…and every sunrise is always a marvel

…and every sunrise is always a marvel

…and every sunrise is always a marvel

…and every sunrise is always a marvel

…and every sunrise is always a marvel

…and every sunrise is always a marvel

4. The village seems interesting. It seems that it is popular for bicycling, as I noticed many cyclists while aboard the ferry boat. In addition, as the ferry approaches the wharf, I saw several small boat houses where some poor families live. Likewise, inside the chapel compound, I’ve noticed a wee school (with 2 or 3 classrooms) where they teach mostly small Vietnamese children since most of the families living nearby are Vietnamese.

can you see the boat houses?

The boat houses

A boat house

Certainly, the early morning trip to the chapel in Aryeksat is a beautiful start to the day – happy for the breath of fresh air, and grateful for all the goodness that surrounds me and for the beautiful family and friends I have. I love it! And next time I go there, I would bring my family and explore the other part of the village.

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • The ferry boat ride is very cheap – almost nothing as it only costs 500 Riels ($0.125) each way person.
  • The ferry boat is available from 5.30AM to 8.00PM daily.

 

Taste of Home: Pan-seared butter-basted chicken steak with mushroom and pepper sauce

A few days ago, I came up with my own recipe for a simple Chicken Steak. It was my first time but it was already a hit in the family. Success!

Today, I cooked it again for lunch and I served with mushroom and Kampot pepper sauce to make it a wee bit more elaborate.

Pan-seared butter-basted chicken steak with mushroom and pepper sauce, side dish with stir-fry mixed vegetables

I marinated the chicken breast with lemon juice, oregano, Kampot pepper and salt for about 3 hours to absorb the seasonings and to make it tastier. I used salted butter to pan-seared the chicken breast.

While cooking, I loved its aroma – it smells really, really good and it feels like it create a multi-layered sensory experience. The texture was good – it was perfectly cooked.

My family love and enjoy every single bite with pleasure. It’s rich, sumptuously moist, flavorful, tender, juicy and filling! Side dish, with a bright stir-fry mixed vegetables. Perfect!

Pan-seared butter-basted chicken steak with mushroom and pepper sauce, side dish with stir-fry mixed vegetables

Here’s my simple recipe, in case you would like to try it:

Ingredients good for 3 persons:

Chicken steak

  • 3 pieces of chicken breast, fatless and chunk
  • Lemon juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Kampot pepper to taste
  • salt to taste

Mushroom and pepper sauce

  • 1 425 grams of white button mushroom
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 30 cL of tick fresh cream
  • Kampot pepper to taste
  • salt to taste

Pan-seared butter-basted chicken steak with mushroom and pepper sauce, side dish with stir-fry mixed vegetables

How to cook it:

Pan-seared butter-basted chicken steak

  • In a marinating bowl, put the chicken, lemon juice, Kampot pepper, olive oil and salt. Toss it thoroughly. Cover the bowl. Let it marinate for 3 hours or longer.
  • Put 5 tbsp of salted butter in a frying pan. Put in the marinated chicken. Cook each side of the chicken over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes or until it turns brown. Scoop some melted butter on top side. Flip it over to cook the other side. Add some more butter if there’s no more melted butter.Put the sliced white button mushroom in a separate frying pan. Cook it gently for about 5 minutes so that all the liquid in the mushroom evaporates. Set it aside.

Mushroom and Pepper Sauce

  • Put 1 tbsp of butter into a frying pan. Add shallots, cooked mushrooms and garlic. Stir.
  • Add thick fresh cream. Stir.
  • Add pepper and salt. Stir.
  • Cook for about 8 minutes.

Putting together

  • Put 1 chicken steak on the plate.
  • Scoop some mushroom sauce on the chicken steak
  • Serve, share and enjoy.

 

Taste of Home: Carne Guisada

One of the Mexican dishes that I really like is a Mexican beef stew – Carne Guisada, so yesterday, I gave it a try to cook my own version for lunch. I’ve got spectacular results – just the right amount of spice, the meat was very tender, the flavor was awesome, and it was very easy to make!

Carne guisada

I served the Carne Guisada with steamed Jasmine rice and side dish with fresh carrot tomato and cucumber salad. It made a perfect meal and it’s loved in the house – my family and I enjoyed it with pleasure.

To those of you who wish to give our new favorite a try, here’s a keeper recipe for you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of beef, chunk
  • 3 big tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 medium size onion, sliced
  • 6 gloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cube beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • Kampot black pepper, to taste

Carne guisada

How to cook it?

  1. In a bowl, put the beef, salt, black pepper, cumin, oregano and basil. Toss it thoroughly. Let it marinate for about 30 minutes.
  2. Drizzle and heat up olive oil into a pan.
  3. Put the marinated meat into the pan. Stir. Let it cook until the meat turns brown.
  4. Once the meat is browned, add tomatoes, garlic and onion. Mix well. Let it cook for about 10 minutes until the onion becomes translucent and the tomatoes becomes soft.
  5. Add water and a cube of beef broth. Stir well.
  6. Cover the pan. Lower the heat, and simmer for 2 hours to allow the sauce to thicken.
  7. In a small bowl, put the flour and add some water. Stir it well until the flour dissolves.
  8. Then add the flour mixture into the pan. Stir it regularly so that the meat won’t stick in the pan. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes to thicken the sauce.
  9. Serve, share and enjoy.

Thailand: Relaxing in Phatong Beach in Phuket

After enjoying our breakfast at our hotel room, we were ready and excited for a relaxing and fun day at Phatong Beach.

Phatong Beach

i love my tan…

Phatong Beach is popularly known by its long, wide, white sandy beaches. It’s busy, but it’s family-friendly. It’s close to all Phuket’s main attractions. The beach has a great atmosphere in the day and has a good fun-vibe as there’s always many things going on to keep the whole squad entertained.

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

Since our hotel was located near the beach (5 min by foot), we decided to walk. Unfortunately, we took the long route. We strolled for about 30 minutes from our hotel to the beach, but it was ok because it allowed us to explore the area.

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

As soon as we arrived at the beach, our son had immediately plunged himself into the water since it was about a year and 3 months that we hadn’t gone to the beach. Certainly, Pete had a time of his life at the beach – swimming in the sea and playing with the sand the whole day long!

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

We had a real fun day too – I got my hair braided and Alan got an temporary hyena tattoo.

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

We enjoyed lying on the beach all day under warm sweet sunshine and a gentle little breeze. It was like a massage from nature – so relaxing and so enjoyable. And woke up beaming with energy.

Phatong Beach

Then grabbed a book that’s perfect beach read while listening to the sound of the waves, savoring the smell of the ocean, and reveling in the mesmerizing beautiful view. In between, we guzzled down a glass of fresh fruit juice and sipped on Singha Beer.

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

And at lunch time, we devoured Thai food with pleasure.

Thai Chicken BBQ

Thai chicken noodle

Fresh coconut juice

Phatong Beach

The beach closed at 5PM, before the sun sunk further and further down the horizon. We packed our stuff and went back to the hotel.

Indeed, it was a great relaxing beach getaway! It gave us positive energy! We had a ball!

Thailand: One Day Tour in Phi Phi Isands

While in Phuket, we visited Phi Phi Islands, which is composed of several different islands and one of the most famous group of islands in Asia. The speedboat ride from one island to the other offers stunning and breathtaking views of cliffs that rise like skyscrapers from the ocean. It has warm white sands and gorgeous turquoise blue waters that make you feel like you are in a dream.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

We did a boat tour with Phet Phoom Travel, which the hotel booked for us. Even though we do not really like organized group tours because it’s far too commercial and structured, we thought it was the best way to go since we only had a day to explore the islands. We stopped at 6 different islands, and the tour lasted the whole day from 7:30AM to 5PM. A minivan picked us up at our hotel at 7.30AM and picked up several other guests at a couple different hotels before heading to the pier area (Ko Sirey), where we hopped on our speedboat. After the short orientation about the tour – safety and schedule, we boarded the speedboat and off we went. And after the tour, the same minivan dropped us at the hotel from the pier area.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Our first stop was in Maya Bay, where the movie ‘The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCarpio, was shot. I have learned that Maya Bay is a part of the natural reserve, so you can’t stay there for more than a day unless you pay the entrance fee. Once there, we got off the speedboat and explored the place for about 40 minutes. The place was so crowded – full of boats and tourists, and felt a bit like we were processed like items in a factory.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

From Maya Bay we sailed away to the Monkey. Beach. We saw the monkeys on the rocks, some are hard to spot because they camouflaged in with the rocks. We took some pictures for a few minutes and moved on to PhiLeh Lagoon and Viking Cave. In those places, we didn’t get off the speedboat as the boat just stopped for about 10 minutes, just enough for taking some photos from the outside. It was the exact opposite of what I was expecting.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Before heading for lunch, we took a break in the middle of the sea for a quick swim and snorkeling. The water was really deep, so I put on the gear on when I went into the waters (just wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t drown). From what I saw, it was a magnificent world under the sea – so many different charming and colorful fish swimming around me and it felt like a different world under there. I couldn’t believe how clear the water was, and I wish I could have explored more.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

After 50 minutes of fun snorkeling, we headed to the main island of Phi Phi Don, where we had our catered buffet lunch at the restaurant. We really enjoyed the food with pleasure – it was fresh and very tasty, and you could eat as much as you can. We were so hungry, and we ate a lot. After lunch, we relaxed on the white beach for a few minutes, and luckily it was not as crowded as Maya Bay.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Little did we know that this was not the end yet, we sailed up North towards Khai Nok Island and spent around 40 minutes there before heading back to the mainland. We relaxed on the white sand beach – sipped beers, had some ice cream, lied down on the sand, and read a book. Even though it was a little crowded, at least we found some space for us. At this point our son enjoyed swimming longer, and even took a video on his iPhone under the sea.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Overall, the island itself is naturally beautiful. It is one of the most picturesque beaches we’ve been to, but it’s still far from the best. Although the tour was ok, I prefer islands/beaches with fewer guests and where the vibe is more chill, I don’t think I would go back there again.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • Some islands are crowded and spoilt by the influx of tourists.
  • The tour is relatively expensive.
  • The tour group was well organized, and well run with new boards and snorkeling equipment. The pick up and drop off services to and from your accommodation was free. The food was good and the lunch was well catered. They offered many options for all dietary requirements. And the crew were friendly and willing to assist wherever possible.
  • The tour guide gave a safety speech before the boat tour to the islands but we had a strong feeling the speech was mainly delivered in order to sell some equipment like rubber beach shoes, special snorkeling masks etc.
  • If you like organized group tours – like being picked up, fed, told where to go and for how long and then at the end of the day being dropped home again, then it is for you. But, if you do not like being herded from one location to another with large group of travelers then this tour is mostly likely not for you.