Hollandaise ("ol-uhn-dehz") is a rich sauce formed by an emulsion of egg yolk, butter and lemon / vinegar. A perfect complement with eggs (especially the sous vide ones), vegetables, fish, chicken and even beef (through secondary sauce Bearnaise).  It's also one of the 5 French Mother Sauces you can master.

A great Hollandaise is rich and buttery, with a mild tang from the lemon juice. It is best prepared and served warm, but not hot.

Despite its reputation of being a notoriously difficult sauce to make,  we have tried-and-tested various methods and zeroed in on one so that you can master it quickly just with a little practice. 

We love Harold McGee's straightforward, no-nonsense and minimal clean up method of just using a saucepan and a whisk. Plus some useful troubleshooting tips to make that weekend brunch extra special.

As Julia Child eloquently summed up: “Sauces are the glory and splendour of French cooking”.

French cookbooks like Larousse and Escoffier literally lists hundreds of sauces. To grasp a whole tome full of quirky names can be a tad intimidating but thankfully, this extensive list was consolidated to just five, which forms the foundation for many other sauces in French cuisine and hence the term "mother" sauce, while its variations “daughter” sauces.

Just with these 5 sauces, you can easily concoct a myriad of others just by adding spices, herbs and other ingredients. 

As temperatures continue to dip and most of Europe covered in snow, a nice cuppa thaws the skin and comforts the soul, offering much more than warmth, which is exactly why tea, in all its glorious permutations will be at the centre of this month’s Food Mood Board.

Credit: picturescollection
Scrambled eggs were the first thing I learnt how to cook, and I suppose this is true for many.

Eggs can be made into everything: the heart-warming concoction, the hearty brunch, the lazy meal, the simple snack…They have this incredible ability to alter, adding that magical touch to dishes – deep fry and then top it into a broth and you get a multi-textured meal; crack it onto a pizza before oven baking and it’s instantly gourmet.

They simultaneously produce, absorb and enhance flavours, and thus are one of the most common ingredients in the world’s kitchens. In Spain for example, the typical “can I make you something to eat?” greeting at home is “can I fry you an egg?” (¿Tienes hambre? ¿Te frio un huevo?)

Today, let’s leave the classics aside and contemplate on a list of more colourful and intriguing ways that eggs are being cooked and consumed.

Having pancakes for brunch always makes me feel like I’m on a holiday. 

My insides turn into goo when I see pancakes piled up high, all buttery and toasty, even better topped with crème fraîche and then packed with a nutty, macadamia crunch.

It is thus no coincidence that my favourite song by Jack Johnson is “Banana Pancakes” and that my favourite British tradition is one that reserves a special day for eating pancakes. This year, the special day is today, the 12th of February.

Pancake Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras (meaning Fat Tuesday in French), all have the same significance: eating rich foods before the start of Lent, which is a 40-day period of abstinence and penitence, or “self-austerity”. But how did this tradition came about exactly?

Tips for an Impressive Dinner Date at Home
Image from cookingwithlisa
Cooking for that special someone is a very personal gesture that shows sincerity, care and generosity. It brings a whole new experience to a relationship and is more intimate than just another restaurant date.  

Whether you have just started dating each other, or if your anniversary is coming up, the same principles apply. Keep things simple and easygoing - the focus should be on the two of you.

On the bright side, cooking for two shouldn't be stressful and is easier than hosting a dinner party. Just one caution though: generally, at-home dinners are not really suitable for a first date. We know you're keen to impress, but getting to know each other better through a few more dates beforehand is a better bet.

Without further ado, here's our top tips on details you need to focus on to make this dinner date at home extra special.

Teochew braised duck sous vide version
Teochew duck - sous-vide version
With Chinese New Year (CNY) just around the corner, it never ceases to evoke fond childhood memories of this merry celebration - the jubilant atmosphere, abundance of red (representing good luck) and of course, the glorious food spread in Malaysia!

Like other major festivals of different cultures, CNY is the opportunity for families and friends to gather for a big catch up after a busy year. Each household/family generally has a designated main gathering spot, usually hosted by parents or the eldest sibling in the family. 

One of the things I missed most is my Teochew aunt's signature CNY dish, the Teochew Braised Duck. 

Teochew cuisine originated from the Chinese cities of Chaozhou, Shantou, and Jieyang in Guangdong province. Teochew cooking is all about natural flavours and high quality ingredients, hence it's tendency to apply healthier methods such as poaching, steaming and braising.

For such a majestic dish, it was exhilarating to discover that my aunt's recipe is surprisingly simple. "The key to this dish," she whispered to me, "is to get a good quality duck" - very Teochew indeed. Here's her recipe along with my (adapted) sous-vide spin on it.