Hello! First of all, thank you all so much for your notes of congratulations – I was so thrilled to read each and every one of them! I already feel like I got one of the best wedding gifts ever with all your heartfelt wishes! I'm also very excited to learn about all the fellow brides-to-be out there! Congratulations to you all as well, and I hope your planning is also going well! I promise I will share more information and pictures about the big event when it happens – only a few months away, eek!
For this post, though, I also want to share a very cool adventure I had last fall when I went to Hong Kong. Although it was meant to be a vacation, one of my aunts there let me know that she was friends with a well known cookbook author, and would I like to meet her? This was an offer I could not turn down.
So that was how I met Annie Leong, a talented chef and intrepid globe-trotter who has written three cookbooks and also has food columns in several of Hong Kong's newspapers. Annie has led the dream life of many a foodie: in love with food from an early age, she ate her way around the world and also took the opportunity during her travels to study numerous cuisines under several chefs. Ultimately she returned to Hong Kong and began to work on her own cookbook, Cooking with Annie, which reflects the breadth and quirkiness of her culinary interests. Annie graciously gave me a copy of the cookbook, and I find the range of recipes, from lobster bisque to drunken chicken to tiramisu, a testament to the her amazing knowledge and skills.
In return I gave Annie copies of my Field Guide to Cookies and Field Guide to Candy. Upon looking at them, she made a surprising proposal to me: would I like to have some recipes featured in her newspaper column? I knew there was no hesitating on this decision. I told her yes!
This meant that for the last couple days of my vacation I was dashing about town gathering ingredients and tools necessary to do a photoshoot of three recipes for the newspaper. Did you know, in Hong Kong home baking is not extremely popular as most apartment kitchens are rather small and lacking in equipment? I had never even tried baking with the oven in my parents' Hong Kong flat, so I had no idea how my recipes would turn out in a foreign setup.
Fortunately, Annie lent me the use of her gorgeous professional kitchen, which was outfitted with all the tools, equipment, and counter space I could need. If you look at the photos in this post, they were all taken in her kitchen! Afraid that I was going to have to improvise Iron Chef-style in some tiny test kitchen, I was very relieved and wholly impressed by her space!
One thing I've noticed about cookbooks in Hong Kong is that they are very fond of step-by-step photos. Annie is a master of this setup: all her recipes in her columns are shown step by step, so that was how I would have to make my recipes for the column. I had never done this before! Fortunately the photographer was a pro and captured everything, getting glimpses of my recipes in-the-making even I'd never seen! I've never done in-the-process photos for this blog; I guess I'm just not organized enough or something. So I'm very pleased and proud that some of my recipes finally have step by step photos! Following are scans of Annie's columns in the Sing Tao newspaper featuring my recipes:
These are my apple crumb bars – Annie was quite enamoured with them and I think we sent the whole batch after the photoshoot to the Sing Tao newspaper staff as a thank you.
This is my almond buttercrunch – I will admit I was petrified of attempting to do sugarwork in a foreign, humid climate, but fortunately it turned out just fine. It's hard to go wrong with sugar, chocolate, butter, and nuts.
I also did the linzer cookies for Annie – you can see them in the post on Annie's website. She was kind enough to write a post about my visit, so I'm (belatedly) returning the favor. Thanks for everything, Annie!
I suppose the lesson of this little adventure is to always be prepared for anything: you never know when an opportunity will come your way! I thought I was just going on a little vacation but it turned out to be a very memorable one! I'm very happy to be able to share the fruits of my serendipitous fortune with you dear readers – hopefully it has given you a glimpse into Hong Kong food scene, plus a look at pastrygirl in action!