Cauliflower gratin

Adapted from Ina Garten

1 head cauliflower, steamed
Kosher salt
75 g unsalted butter, divided
3 spoons all-purpose flour
475 mL milk, heated
freshly ground black pepper
grated nutmeg
some freshly grated Gruyere (we used Gouda because)
some freshly grated Parmesan


It would have been nice to add fresh bread crumbs, but we missed the boat on that.



Garlic butter roasted mushrooms

My all time favorite appetizer. Mix ingredients in a baking pan and pop it into the oven — so easy!

Adapted from smitten kitchen, in turn based on Gourmet’s escargot-style recipe

box of fresh mushrooms, halved lengthwise if large
2 spoons of capers, rinsed and chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
50 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
50 g vegetable oil

splash of fresh lemon juice
some chopped flat-leaf parsley



Da Syue Shan 2014

During a conference trip to Tokyo back in August 2014, I took it into my head to hop on over to Taiwan for a week. A friend of my mother’s friend highly recommended this mountain resort for birdwatching on Da Syue Shan (大雪山 — Da means Big, Syue is Snow, Shan is Mountain), a famous mountain for hikers. However, the best time to go birdwatching is in spring (April and May), before the weather gets too hot in summer and the birds go into hiding within the forest. So you can imagine our August trip was less than ideal.

Lonely Planet summed it up nicely: “expect some fantastic hiking opportunities and great wildlife viewing, in particular birdwatching. The climate is humid and cool with an average temperature of 12°C, making it a popular summer retreat.” It is indeed popular in the summer, for all locals seeking to escape the unrelenting heat and humidity.

pretty (injured) moth

pretty (injured) moth


a sample of altitudinal ranges of bird species in the Daxue Mountains. so many more!

pretty moth with a furry cape!

pretty moth with a furry cape!



Located in Taichung county,  there’s an admission fee, plus I recommend their “eco” lodging, the only cabin if you want to make a multiday trip (and a tasty restaurant included). I didn’t do the longest hike from the mountain lodge (Km 43 – Anmashan) that leads to the ‘Small Divine Tree‘, a red cypress, but I will the next time I go! I do agree with the website that the best view is from Yakou Observatory. It was cold, and the hike had lots of roots and steps to get up there, but check out the panorama:


with mom at the top of the observatory


Thanksgiving II

This was perfect for Thanksgiving. Be careful the potatoes have room to dry out (they release some moisture when cooked).

Sweet Potatoes with Walnuts, Goat Cheese and Celery
Adapted from smitten kitchen

2 big sweet potato, scrubbed, unpeeled, sliced in coins
glug of olive oil
handful of toasted walnuts
1 small shallot
2 stalks celery
some flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon dried cranberries or cherries (but I couldn’t get any)
150 g firmish goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard


A perfect plate

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Adapted from Alton Brown

100 g chopped frozen spinach
jar of artichoke hearts
150 g cream cheese
100 g sour cream
50 g mayonnaise (not my favorite flavor in the dip)
a lot of grated Parmesan
a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 chopped garlic


Rapunzel’s hazelnut soup

Rapunzel’s favorite dish that Mother Gothel makes. Here is the Disney version :

2 lb butternut squash, seeded and cut into 6 sections
1 lb parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
1 green apple, peeled, cored, and quartered
1 medium brown onion, thinly sliced
4 cups of chicken stock, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and white pepper to taste
1 cup raw hazelnuts (for topping)

but… The version I prefer (no, I do not do fruit in my soup, thank you very much) is this: Creamy hazelnut soup

some ground hazelnuts
50 g butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 medium leek, white only, chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 spoon flour
1 L vegetable stock
220 g crème fraîche
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
handful of chopped hazelnuts, roasted



Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore

I had a 12 hour layover in HK, so I thought I would try out the United Club airport lounge there. Checking out the food proved a very satisfactory experience, with such a variety of hot food served in their buffet: Indian curry, Taiwanese seafood soup, spaghetti with tomato sauce, chicken in a lemon butter sauce… I’ve been to a few United Clubs in the US but none can top this one. No wonder Hong Kong is one of the best food cities in the world!

Next long layover will be in Bangkok, but they only have United Clubs in Tokyo, HK and Guam, out here. I have a 14 hours at Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok) to look forward to, not sure whether I will go out and look about, because the cruise ship will later stop in Bangkok for two days. After the cruise, I will fly out of Singapore, stop at Bangkok again, then on to Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan! Can’t wait!


Salmon quiche

IMAG2735Adapted from smitten kitchen and Simply Recipes

3 scallions, sliced thin
1 diced red onion
a glug of olive oil
pinch of salt
50 g butter, diced
5 eggs, lightly beaten
100 mL creme fraiche
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
50 g smoked salmon, chopped
grated Grana Padano and diced cheddar
few drops of lemon juice

I wish I had goat cheese. I used a premade quiche dough, always!