Berry Cheesecake

I feel so privilege to have sampled many cheesecakes in my short life. Some baked, some weren’t. When I was in primary school, my mom took my sister and I to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for an afternoon tea and there I discovered my love for cheesecake. The cheesecake was baked and decorated with sweet fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Since then, it became my constant birthday present from my family year on year. Each year, I celebrated my birthdays with my favourite cheesecake baked by the very talented Italian patisserie chef of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. As I grew up and travelled the world, I have since discovered, tried and tested various cheesecake recipes and attempted to recreate them all in my humble home.

New York’s Carnegie Cheese Cake is indeed amongst those delicious cheesecakes I rate very highly. When I was 17 I even detoured from Washington D.C to New York just to have the cheesecake at Carnegie’s. Many wondered why a 17-year-old teenager chose to sit in a diner to have a cheesecake rather than go out and enjoy the nightlife in New York City. No one understood then and even now that eating great food with great company is my ultimate life’s pleasure.

Food, scent and music often bring back memorable experiences and the scent of a freshly baked cheesecake always brings sunshine to my face and comfort to my heart and certainly my belly. I have tried cheesecakes in Rome-Italy made with mascarpone (yum!), then one made with lemon zest from Lyon-France (very nice too) and recently from my favourite beach restaurant hideout spot in Andalusia-Spain, a baked cheesecake which they served with caramel syrup, surprisingly light and not too sweet (heavenly!). All the cakes were very nice, though none will take the place of the cheesecake that was made by the talented Italian chef of Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

How I wish I knew who he was, so I could thank him and ask him to train me. I worked hard over the years to create and perfect a cheesecake recipe that is close enough to the cheesecake I used to enjoy as a young girl from the talented chef of Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Over the years I finally made my cake stay still and not sink, not get burnt or become too dense to slice. I am grateful to my family and friends who tolerated many of my failed experiments and now repay them with this version that they can finally enjoy. I have only baked this cake on very special occasions for my loved ones. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Feel free to decorate it with other types of fruits or even with edible sugar-coated flowers.

Serves 8 (12 slices):

KITCHEN KIT:

8 inches round deep cake tin (lined with baking paper), food processor or a blender, a weighing scale, pastry brush, a large mixing bowl, a heatproof bowl, a saucepan, palette knife and a whisk.

Ingredients:

For the base:

  1. 300g. digestive biscuits, broken into pieces
  2. 100g unsalted butter, soft and almost melted

For the cheesecake:

  1. 200g good quality white chocolate, broken into small equal sizes
  2. 600g cream cheese
  3. 250ml curd cheese or cottage cheese
  4. 100 ml. double cream
  5. 90g. golden caster sugar
  6. 50g. corn flour
  7. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  8. 4 eggs, whisked
  9. 70g fresh mix of raspberry and blueberries

For the base:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.
  2. Using a food processor or blender add your biscuits and butter until well combined and biscuits turn into fine crumbs. Add into your baking tin and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.

 

For the cheesecake:

  1. Mix the sugar and cornflour in a bowl, then add your cream cheese, curd cheese, cream, eggs, and vanilla extract, whisk all together until well combined.
  2. Meanwhile, put some water on your saucepan over medium-low heat, place your bowl on top, making sure the bottom of your bowl does not touch the water (Bain Marie). Add your chocolate pieces on the bowl and melt it over simmering water, gently stir.
  3. Once melted, add the chocolate pieces into your cream cheese mixture, then fold in some of your blueberries. Once well combined, pour over the biscuit crust and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  4. Cover the cake with a foil when it turns just a bit golden brown to stop it from burning. After 40 minutes you can turn off the oven heat and leave it resting inside the oven for around 30 minutes.
  5. Run a palette knife around the edge of the cake before releasing the spring-loaded cake tin. Decorate with more berries and then serve.

 

Enjoy!

 

Flamenco eggs or ‘Huevos a la flamenco’

My recent trip to Spain with my lovely Portuguese and Spanish friends reminded me of those traditional, simple and super tasty dishes that I have enjoyed very much in Spain over the years, yet somehow forgotten. Flamenco eggs or ‘Huevos a la flamenco’ is undoubtedly one of those fantastic comforting, delicious dishes typical in the Andalusian region of Spain and a much-loved dish in Seville. Although this may seem to be an ideal breakfast meal, this dish is also perfect for lunch or even dinner.
The French always serves Eggs in Pot dishes (Oeufs en cocotte) for breakfast, but I confess that I had cooked and eaten them for lunch and even as a late dinner snack when I craved for it. Similarly, I have had shakshuka eggs for breakfast in North Africa but then had shakshuka with fish rather than eggs in Israel for dinner. Eggs are versatile and a great source of protein, I therefore highly recommend this dish either for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even for late snacks. There are many variations to this dish; some use string beans, some prefer only to use peas, while I prefer asparagus with red and or yellow bell peppers. Representing the flare and colours of Spain in a casserole dish! A heart-warming dish that I highly recommend to anyone visiting Andalusia or to anyone who enjoys the pleasure of eating good food at home.

Eggs in pots (oeufs en cocotte)

Serves 2

KITCHEN KIT: knife, chopping board, a frying pan, medium size heatproof casserole dish and a wooden spoon.

Ingredients:
1. 3 tbsp. of olive oil
2. 1 small onion, finely chopped
3. 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
4. 50g. serrano ham, chopped
5. 1 tsp. of smoked paprika
6. 30g. peas
7. 80g. of asparagus, cut into small pieces
8. 1 red or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
9. 2 tsps. of tomato paste
10. 400g. or 1 tin of good quality tomato chops
11. 8 slices of chorizo picante (spicy) sausage
12. 2 large eggs
13. Pinches of salt and ground black pepper

Method:
1. Heat your oven to 200°C
2. Place your pan in a medium-low heat and fry the onion, garlic and serrano ham with the smoked paprika for 3 mins.
3. Add your peas, chopped asparagus and bell peppers, and cook for another 3 mins.
4. Season with salt and ground black pepper, then add the tomato paste and tomato chops. Cook for 10 mins, until the sauce, has thickened.
5. Transfer into a heatproof casserole dish, scatter the chorizo slices and then add the two eggs on top. Baked in the oven for around 8 mins.
6. Serve with toasted bread.

Bon provecho!

 

Steak & Peppercorn Sauce with Potatoes Dauphinoise

I adore classic dishes, and when executed well it is heavenly. Steak is one of those classic dishes that I love, though hard to execute well to my specific liking. Cooked too long and the beef becomes too tough to eat, cooked not long enough and it becomes too rare to eat for some. It is therefore not an easy dish to cook for anyone, a challenge for any chef or cooks to cook this dish with exact precision meeting the requirement of the ‘eater’. It is to no surprise that I have come across hundreds of cookbooks and sites with the varying definition of medium-rare, well done and so on which also varies by countries and regions…
This recipe and the cooking time guidelines are from my experience of cooking ‘steak’. Now, steak executed to my liking aside, it is also a challenge to find an excellent and authentic bearnaise sauce, peppercorn sauce and chimichurri sauce. I am therefore in a mission and have to admit had been so in the past ten years to hunt across the world for the best steakhouses that serve these sauces well.
Since I have featured my favourite bearnaise sauce recipe in this blog, I thought it would be only fair to post peppercorn sauce this time.

Rib-Eyed Steak with Bernaise Sauce and triple cooked chips

I hope you enjoy this newly tested peppercorn sauce recipe; I will soon embark on a challenge experimenting on chimichurri sauce. Providing I don’t burn the kitchen down or my phone as I did last time. I will share the final edible version of my chimichurri sauce experiment.

Serves 2
KITCHEN KIT: knife, chopping board, a medium size bowl, a small whisk, a heatproof casserole dish, two saucepans, two wooden spoons, a griddle pan and a tong.

Ingredients:

For the steak:
• Two steaks of your choice, (I prefer sirloin, tender and well-marbled with fat)
• 3-4 tbsp of good quality oil
• Pinches of salt and pepper

 

For the peppercorn sauce:
• 2 tbsps. Of black and pink peppercorns, crushed with a pester and mortar or bashed with a rolling pin.
• 50g. of good quality unsalted butter
• 1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped
• 100ml brandy (optional)
• 100ml rich beef stock
• 70 ml double cream
• Pinches of salt

 

For the sides- vegetables and potatoes dauphinoise:
• A bunch of tender stem broccoli
• 1 tbsp. of butter
• 4 medium size Maris Piper or red-skinned desirée potatoes peeled and sliced with a mandolin (3-4mm).
• 2 cloves, garlic peeled and bashed with a rolling pin
• 200 ml double cream
• 200 ml full-fat milk
• Pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper
• 70g grated gruyere cheese

 

Cooking Method:

For the steak:
• Season your steak by rubbing the olive oil, salt and pepper all over it.
• Place a griddle pan over very high heat for 3-4 minutes, until the pan is smoking hot, this will give the steak a smoky flavour. Add the steak and cook to your liking. Leave the steak to cook without turning it regularly. Once cooked, leave on a clean plate to let it rest for 5 minutes, serve at room temperature.

 

For an ideal cooking time of a 2-2.5 cm thick sirloin steak
• Medium rare: 2 min each side
• Medium: 2.5 mins each side
• Well-done: 4-5 minutes each side

 

For the peppercorn sauce:
• Place a medium-sized saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter, add the shallots and cook them until translucent.
• Add the brandy and let the alcohol evaporates for 3-4 minutes, add the beef stock and let it boil for another 3-4 minutes.
• Reduce the heat to low and add the cream and crushed peppercorns. Stirring constantly to heat the cream gently.
• Season with pinches of salt.

 

For the sides- vegetables and potatoes dauphinoise:

For the tender stem broccoli:
• Place the griddle pan over very high heat, once smoking hot add your tender stem broccoli. Cook for 5-7 minutes until they are charred and soft. Turn them occasionally to cook all sides of the vegetables. *Use the same griddle pan you used to cook the steak to cook the tender stem broccoli, the vegetables will absorb the flavour of the steak.

For the potatoes dauphinoise:
• Brush your heatproof casserole dish with butter.
• Heat oven to 190C
• Meanwhile, place your saucepan over medium heat, pour the double cream, the milk and add the garlic cloves. Bring to a simmer then add the sliced potatoes.
• Cook and stir gently for approximately 3 mins. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
• Remove and discard the garlic. Next, remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and place in your casserole dish. Pour over the garlic-infused cream over the potatoes and scatter the grated cheese.
• Baked in the oven for 30 min and until the potatoes are cooked and brown on the top.

Bon appetite!

Spiced Grilled Lemon Chicken Couscous Salad

This is one of my favourite easy weekday meals. A comforting and healthy meal that I enjoy.  So easy to prepare and cook after a busy day at work. I often substitute the chicken with salmon and in some occasions only have the salad itself. The salad is so versatile that you can add any meat or fish you prefer. In my lazy moments, I won’t hesitate to buy a pre-marinated chicken or fish and so the only thing I need to do is grill them and prepare the salad which takes less than 15 minutes.

Serves 4

KITCHEN KIT: knife, chopping board, a large bowl, a small bowl, a small whisk, a griddle pan and a tong.

Ingredients:

For the chicken marinade:

  1. 4 chicken breasts, scored
  2. 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  3. 5 tbsp. of olive oil
  4. 1 tsp. of dried parsley
  5. Juice of half a large lemon
  6. Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:

  1. baby Pomodoro tomatoes, halves

2 bell peppers, chopped (red and yellow)

  1. green and black olives halved
  2. feta cheese, diced
  3. 200g of couscous (cooked with 200 ml. of hot water)
  4. 100 g. of mixed leaves and rocket salad

For the salad dressing:

  1. ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  2. Juice of 1 large lemon
  3. ¼ tsp. of chilli flakes
  4. ¼ tsp of salt
  5. ¼ tsp. of freshly grounded black pepper

 

Method:

The Chicken:

  1. Mix all the chicken marinade listed above, marinade the chicken in an airtight container in the fridge overnight or for at least 3 hours. Alternatively, buy a pre-marinated chicken, widely available in many supermarkets in U.K.
  2. Place the griddle pan over a very high heat, allow the pan to heat up for 1-2 minutes. When the pan is hot, add the marinated chicken and cooked on each side for 2-3 minutes. Then set aside.

The Salad and dressing:

  1. In a large bowl, place all the salad ingredients together and toss gently.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk all the salad dressings and pour over the salad.
  3. Add the cooked chicken and serve.

Caldo Verde (A Portuguese Comfort Soup)

Caldo Verde is a traditional Portuguese comfort ‘soup’ a national favourite which originated from the Minho Province of northern Portugal. Where there are Portuguese settlements/communities, there will certainly be Caldo Verde. A humble, tasty and heart-warming soup that brings back childhood memories and still gives me great comfort today. I hope this gives you as much comfort as it does to me.

Serves 6

KITCHEN KIT: knife, chopping board, a large casserole dish and a wooden spoon.

Ingredients:

  1. 5 tbsp. of olive oil
  2. 1 large onion, finely chopped
  3. 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  4. ½ tsp. of chilli flakes
  5. 2 bay leaves
  6. ¼ tsp. smoked paprika powder
  7. 1 chorizo sausage, chopped
  8. 4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped in equal sizes
  9. 1 litre of vegetable stock
  10. 1 litre of chicken stock
  11. salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  12. large bunch of kale or cavolo nero, shredded
  13. 4 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil to serve.

Method:

  1. Gently fry the onions, garlic, chilli flakes, bay leaves, smoked paprika and chorizo in the olive oil until onions softened and translucent.
  2. Add the chopped potatoes and fry for just a minute. Add the stock, bring to the boil and let it simmer until the potatoes are soft.
  3. When the potatoes are ready, mash them into the broth to make a thick base. Add the shredded kale or cavolo nero simmer for another 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with some chopped chorizo, and drizzle more olive oil to serve.

Bom apetite!

Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon (Eggs Royale)

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One of my favourite all time breakfast is a really good Eggs Benedict. Though widely available in many restaurants and countries not all serve it well. A very good eggs benedict for me constitute runny egg yolk, eggs poached to perfection and a freshly made hollandaise sauce that has a smooth and silky texture with a good balance sweet and salty flavour without the vinegar over powering the overall taste. As an alternative to my ham based eggs benedict I also like to use   smoked salmon and in some cases have both. A lovely breakfast to have on a beautiful Saturday morning.

Salmon Egg Florentine

Eggs Benedict Salmon

KITCHEN KIT: Balloon whisk, sauce pan and a bowl

Ingredients:
1.  2 eggs
2.  Some water for poaching the egg
3.  3 tbsp. of white wine vinegar
4.  4 slices of good quality smoked salmon
5.  2 English muffins, sliced in halves
6.  Some butter to spread over the muffins (optional)
7.  Dill, chopped for garnish (optional)

For the hollandaise sauce:
8.  2 tsp lemon juice
9.  2 tsp white wine vinegar
10. 3 large egg yolks
11. 130g cold unsalted butter, diced
12. Pinch of Salt and pepper (optional)

The Muffin and Salmon:
1.  Preheat grill to highest temperature, place your English muffin on the grill for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden brown and crisp. Plate, butter and add 2 slices of salmon on top of the muffins.
Poaching the eggs:
2.  On a medium sauce pan over a high heat, bring water to the boil and stir in the white wine vinegar.  Lower the heat and simmer gently. Stir the water and vinegar a few times and slowly slide in the eggs one by one. Cook each eggs for about 3-4 mins. Once cooked remove with a slotted spoon and place on top of the English muffins with ham.

Poached Eggs

The Hollandaise Sauce:
4.  On a sauce pan, over very low heat, whisk your lemon juice and white wine vinegar, add the egg yolks whisking constantly until light and frothy. (the pan should never be too hot for you to touch the sides of it)
5.  Gradually add the butter, whisk constantly until butter has melted.
6.  When the butter has completely melted, turn up the heat to medium-low, whisk continuously until the mixture has thickened.  (If it looks like it might be splitting and the mixture starts to steam, turn off the heat and whisk continuously for a few mins. It is important to keep whisking to prevent it from splitting and to thicken the mixture.)
7.  When the mixture has thickened and is smooth, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and pour over the top of the salmon. Garnish with some chopped dill.

Serve immediately.

Extra Tip: Hollandaise Sauce-to make sure that your sauce does not split, don’t stop whisking until the sauce has thickened. Keep the sauce under very, very low heat. If it is not easy to control the heat, put your mixture on a bowl, place the bowl on a simmering sauce pan with water also under low heat.

Eggs Benedict

Cantonese Congee with Stir Fried Chicken ( 广东粥)

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Congee or Chook (粥) is a popular rice porridge in South East Asia which can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. Although, widely available across many South East Asian countries, I much prefer the creamy and tasty Macau and Hong Kong version of this popular dish. In Macau and Hong Kong congee is often serve with either beef, chicken, pork, fish or Chinese sausage, along with an accompanying century egg or fried dough stick. Although, congee can be eaten plain by itself too.

Congee is served in many cha chaan teng or tea restaurants in Macau and in Hong Kong. It’s a popular, cheap and comforting dish and is the Chinese equivalent of the Jewish penicillin known as ‘Chicken soup for the soul’. Many Chinese doctor’s recommend this dish to those who are ill, my Mom use to make or buy this dish for me too every time I was ill. Even now in my adult life whenever I feel ill there is nothing else that I’d like to eat than a humble Congee to make me feel warm and better. This heart-warming dish, though simple, is actually not easy to find in Chinese or Asian restaurants in the U.K. or the U.S. and in those that do serves it I would say that the taste is bland. I’ve yet to find a restaurant in the U.K. and U.S. that serves really good Congee packed full of flavour.

The last time I was very ill, I had just got out of the hospital and I craved so badly for a congee so I went to London’s Chinatown and bought takeaway congee. My heart sank as it tasted so bland. Since then I have been on a mission to create a congee recipe that’s as creamy and as packed with flavour as the congee found in Macau and Hong Kong. I’ve come up with two basic chicken congee recipes and this is one of them. I hope you enjoy this recipe, which is my take on a Cantonese Congee. I hope that if you feel ill and have this it will give you strength and a warm comforting feeling and make you feel better. Bon appetite!

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients:

Chicken Marinade:
1. 1/2 inch of finely sliced ginger
2. 1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced
3. 1 tbsp. of light soy sauce
4. 1 tbsp. of dark soy sauce
5. 2 tbsp. Shaon Xing rice wine
6. 1 chicken breast, diced
7. pinches of corn flour
8. 2 tbsp. oil

For the Congee:
9. 1 litre of chicken stock
10. 1.5 litre of water
11. 1 cup of long grain rice (rinse two or three times, then drained)
12. 1/4 cup of glutinous rice
13. 1/2 tsp. salt
14. 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper

For the Garnish:
15. 1 clove of garlic, sliced and deep fried
16. 1 spring onion, finely chopped
17. 1 tbsp. of roasted peanut
18. a handful of chopped coriander leaves.
19. 1/2 inch of finely sliced ginger (omit if you prefer your congee with less heat)

Process:
Chicken:
1. Marinade the chicken for one hour with all the marinade ingredients listed above except for the oil.
2. After one hour, heat a wok over high heat, add 2tbsp. of oil. Once the oil starts to smoke, add your chicken with the marinade into the wok. Stir fry for a 5 minutes or so until the chicken is golden brown and cooked. Set aside.

For the Congee:
2. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan bring the chicken stock, water, rice and glutinous rice to a boil over low-medium heat. Cook at a lively simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture is creamy, about 1.5 hour.

Congee 1

For the Garnish:
3. Serve the congee in a bowl, add the stir fried chicken and garnish on top and serve.

Note: You can make the plain congee a few days in advance, stored in a container in the fridge.  Simply bring it to the boil and add your stir fry your chicken when you are ready to eat it.  You can also eat the porridge plain or add any toppings you like.

Congee 3

Pâtisserie Duployez

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Category: Pâtisserie Shop and Cafe
Cuisine: French Pâtisserie Shop  and Cafe
Price Range on Average: EUR 3-5 per pâtisserie
Ambiance: Chic and simple
Address: 5, rue Désiré Delansorne 62000 Arras, France
Tel: +33 03 21 51 77 18
Website: http://www.artisanenor.fr/les-artisans/patisserie-duployez/
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday, 8AM – 7PM
Last Visited: 2016

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Review:
There is no secret to my life long love affair and obsession with french patisseries. I feel so lucky and humble to have had the opportunity to get to know France so well. To travel in its beautiful cities and regions regularly means I’ve had the privilege to sample the very best tarte au citron meringuée, taste fine aux pommes, macaroons and mille feuille.  I usually travel by train or plane to France but on several occasions, usually on holidays I like to drive and go for a road trip through France. This time around I drove from the UK to France and discovered a real gem. In a very small, quaint town of Arras there lies a lovely, simple and chic Salón de thé. Not quite as chic and grand as the ones you’ll find in Paris but certainly very lovely.

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The pâtisseries are immaculate and not to be missed. If you are in Arras or near it and are not sure where to go for tea, this would be the place to go. The pâtisseries and cakes are a work of art. There’s a wide selection to suit every palette.

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Quiche Lorraine Part 2

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I was sitting at a café in Arras and I immediately felt so excited to be back in France again. I’ve always been fond of French patisseries, macaroons and amazing cakes.
Although, I am very adventurous with my food and will happily try anything and experiment on recipes. I do have certain favourites that I just can’t help having so much of. A trip in France is never complete without my usual quiche, croque monsieur and French patisserie for lunch. This is one of my all-time favourite lunch dishes at home and in France.

I do like my quiche warm though and I must admit that I have experimented on over 30 or so different Quiche Lorraine recipes to get to this version. I am sure that in a few years’ time this experimentation will go on. I called this my Quiche Lorraine Part 2 since this is an adaptation of my Quiche Lorraine Part 1 which is also on this blog.

After my bloated quiche disaster, an eggy wobbly quiche that just collapse when you slice them that’s really more of a scrambled egg than a quiche and a burnt pastry quiche that almost went alight. Well, this one finally works without collapsing, setting the smoke alarm in the kitchen off or burning the house down.  I know that I should expand my horizons and learn more about other dishes and experiment on other recipes but having so many failed attempts on a quiche, I am now determined to try and make so many variations of this wonderful quiche that works. I hope you enjoy this one.

Quiche 4

KITCHEN KIT:
A pan, a knife, a wooden spoon, a rolling pin, a pastry brush, a 23cm pastry tin/silicone mold about 3.5cm deep, baking beans, baking parchment and a whisk.

Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1. 500g of shop bought short crust pastry at room temperature. You can also follow my short-crust pastry recipe on this blog to make one.
2. 400ml  crème fraiche
3. 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
4. ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
5. ¼ tsp. salt
6. 1 tbsp. of olive oil.
7. 1 large banana shallot, peeled and finely diced.
8. 5 rashers of streaky bacon, diced
9. 200g. Gruyere cheese, grated

Process:
1. Lightly flour your rolling pin and your work surface. Roll out the pastry until it is to a thickness of a£1 coin and then lift into a tin/silicone mold. Gently press the insides of the pastry and trim excess pastry with a knife. Cut a large piece of baking parchment, place this in your pastry case and then add the baking beans.

2. Heat the oven to 200C fan, bake the pastry case blind for 15 minutes until the pastry is crisp and set. Remove from oven and carefully lift the paper and beans out. Return pastry to the oven and cook for another 5 mins or until the base and sides are golden and crisp.

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3. Meanwhile beat the crème fraiche, eggs, ground black pepper and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Next, place a pan on a medium heat, add 1 tbsp. of olive oil and fry the shallot until translucent. Then, add the cooked shallots into your crème fraiche and egg mixture.

4. Using the same pan to cook your shallots,  add your diced bacon until golden and crisp (you do not need to add oil into the pan as the bacon will release its’ own fats).

5. Once cooked, scatter your bacon on your pastry and pour your crème fraiche and egg mixture over. Sprinkle the top with Gruyere cheese and bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Change the setting of your oven to grill and continue to bake for another 5 minutes. This will give your quiche a nice golden colour on top. (if your quiche is still wobbly, put it back for another 5 minutes to bake).

6. Once baked leave the quiche to cool for 10 minutes, this will make sure that the quiche doesn’t fall apart when you sliced them. Serve with a nice rocket salad with French dressing. Bon appetite!

 

Note: The pastry needs to be at room temperature if its too cold the pastry will crack when you roll it out. Baking beans as I’ve found out in my early days of baking is a necessity, without them baking a pastry blind will give you a dome instead! I also learnt that it’s best to be patient and let your quiche bake for the time it needs to bake, taking the quiche out too soon because of the urgent need to snack will give you scrambled egg instead. Thus my tip will be to be patient with the quiche, it’s worth waiting for.

All American Fluffy Pancakes

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I’ve always love pancakes. As a child I always look forward to fluffy pancakes for breakfast drizzled with real maple syrup. I used to look forward to pancake day and during my recent trip to New York my childhood obsession to pancakes resurfaced when I had this wonderful buttermilk lumberjack pancake at Comfort Diner in 214 East off 45th Street. I then wondered why I haven’t had pancakes in ages. So as soon as I landed in LA the following day I couldn’t resist having pancakes for breakfast again. In LA there’s nowhere better than The Griddle Cafe on Sunset boulevard for the ultimate pancake experience of a life time. An institution in its own right that’s certainly worth a visit when in LA. The Griddle Cafe’s pancakes are the giants of the pancake world. The pancakes are fluffy and tasty and made from buttermilk. Here’s my take on of the ultimate fluffy American pancake. I hope you enjoy it!

KITCHEN KIT:
A spatula, a crepe frying pan, a whisk, measuring spoons.

Makes: 6 pancakes

Ingredients:
1. 150g. plain flour
2. 1 tbsp. baking powder
3. 1/2 tsp. of salt
4. 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
5. 1 tbsp. caster sugar
6. 250 ml. of full fat milk or buttermilk
7. 2 medium size eggs
8. 30g. of unsalted butter (cubed into small pieces)

Process:
1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract and caster sugar into a large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the milk and eggs.
2. Pour the milk and egg into the flour mixture and, using a whisk, beat until the batter is smooth.
3. Heat a frying pan over a low heat and add a knob of butter. When it’s melted, add a ladle of batter. When the pancake begins to bubble, turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown and the pancake has risen to about 1cm (½in) thick.

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Serve with real maple syrup, berries and cream.

Note: To make a fluffier pancake substitute the plain flour with self-raising flour. If you do decide to use self-raising flour you still need to use baking powder.

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Mango Pudding

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Mango pudding is one of the all time favourite pudding in Macau and Hong Kong.From a recent visit to Singapore I found that this is also a popular dessert in Singapore. There are even dessert houses in Singapore with a whole page menu just covering all types of mango desserts, a mango pudding, mango shakes with mango pudding or a mango pudding with sago on top or fresh mango and the list goes on.

There has always been a mango craze in Macau and Hong Kong. When I was living in Macau and Hong Kong I often have this dessert at least once a week. Often mango puddings are also served at dim sum restaurants, even in the U.K. dim sum restaurants serve mango puddings for desert. Having recently indulged in this pudding in Singapore for an entire week. I figured it is about time I learn to make it myself if I am to continue on this crazy mango pudding eating marathon. Unfortunately, in Europe and US it is not easy to get those amazingly ripe, baby and ultra sweet mangoes that you can easily find in the markets of Macau, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. Thus, sadly I had to use tinned mangoes as an alternative. If you can get hold of fresh Thai ripe sweet mangoes do use those instead. They are heavenly.

Here’s my newly created recipe a homage to the ultimate mango pudding! Enjoy!

KITCHEN KIT:
6 small ramekins, a small sauce pan, a wooden spoon,a measuring jug.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:
1. 250g fresh or tinned mangoes, chopped into cubes (preferably fresh mangoes)
2. 200ml double cream
3. 400ml mango juice
4. 50 ml ideal milk also known as evaporated milk
6. gelatine 4 sheets (approximately 5cm squared)
7. 5 tbsp. of caster sugar

Process:
1. Place chopped mangoes in the ramekins.

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2. Place the sauce pan in a hob over low heat, pour over the double cream,mango juice, ideal milk, gelatine sheets and caster sugar. Stir and bring to a simmer until the gelatine has dissolved. Pour the mango pudding mixture into the ramekins. Allow to cool at room temperature for 10 minutes.

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3. Place the puddings in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set. To serve in a plate out of the ramekins, simply dip the ramekins in hot water for 30 seconds and tip the pudding on a plate.

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Serve with chopped fresh mangoes and ideal/evaporated milk.

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Crispy Prawn Balls

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Inspired from my recent trip to Taipei, I thought I’d re-create the sumptuous crispy golden prawn balls I had there during my visit. This dish is ever so simple yet tasty and a perfect appetiser to serve at dinner parties. Below are some pictures taken from Taipei 101 where I had these gorgeous crispy prawn balls.

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KITCHEN KIT:
Deep fat fryer or a large sauce pan, tongs, food processor, net ladle, absorbent kitchen paper.  A plate, a cling film, a pastry brush and four bowls.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
Marinating:
1. 235g fresh prawns, deveined and chopped
2. 70g fresh pollock filet fish, chopped
3. 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
4. 1 tsp. salt
5. 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
6. 1 tsp. sugar
7. 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
8. 3 tbsp. Shao Xing rice wine
9. 4 tbsp. corn flour
10. 2 tbsp. plain flour

Coating and Frying:
11. 2 tbsp. plain flour
12. 1 egg beaten
13. 8 tbsp. panko bread crumbs
14.800 ml. sunflower oil

To serve:
15. 1 head of baby gem lettuce
16. 50g coriander, chopped
17. 2 spring onions, chopped
18. 4 tbsp. shop- bought- sweet chilli sauce

Process:

Marinating:
1. Tip the prawns, fish, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, sesame oil, rice wine, cornflour and plain flour into a food processor – and blend until all the ingredients are well combined.Take a spoonful of the combined ingredients into your palm and make 14 golfball size balls.Using a pastry brush, brush the plate and the cling film with oil. Place the prawn balls on an oiled plate and cover with a cling film for at least one hour. It is important to oil the plate and the cling film as this will prevent the prawn balls from sticking into the plate and the cling film.

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Coating and Frying:
2. Place the beaten egg, plain flour, panko breadcrumbs on separate bowls. Dip each prawn balls into flour first, then into the egg and finally into the breadcrumbs coating all sides.Heat the vegetable oil in a dee fat fryer or a wok over a medium heat. Drop each prawn balls into the hot oil and deep fry, turning over when golden on one side.The prawns will cook for approximately 4 minutes. It would be best not to cook the prawn balls in 3 or 4 batches this will keep the oil temperature hot and will ensure that all the prawn balls are cooked evenly.

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3. Lift the prawn balls out with a net ladle when golden brown. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
Serve with chopped coriander, spring onions, baby gem lettuce and serve straight away with a shop-bought sweet chilli sauce. Alternatively, you can also serve this with a bowl of rice as part of a main course.

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Enjoy!

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

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Many says that this British Classic dessert was invented by Francis Coulson or Brian Sack of Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel in the Lake District sometime in the 1970s. But no one really knows for sure the origin of this lovely sponge pudding. All I can say is that whoever invented this must have had a sweet tooth just like me. The sugar, cream and butter involved in making this wonderful dessert was certainly a lot! Though, I’d prefer to forget that when I eat my sticky toffee pudding, after all we only live once. I’d rather live my life to the full and have a Sticky Toffee Pudding or two than not have it at all. As once tasted it cannot be forgotten. It is no surprise that this dessert has made it to the top of the charts as one of Britain’s most love loved desserts of all time. I hope you enjoy my newly created recipe! Bon appetite!

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KITCHEN KIT:
A 23cm tin or 8 ramekins. A food mixer, a small pan, a wooden spoon and a silicone spatula.

Serves: 8

Ingredients:
To prepare the tin:
1. 20g of unsalted butter
2. 5g of flour

For the Sponge:
3. 70g of soft unsalted butter
4. 170g of demerara sugar
5. 1 tbsp.of golden syrup
6. 2 tbsp. of black treacle
7. 2 large eggs
8. 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
9. 200g of self-raising flour
10. 220g of pitted, dried and chopped dates
11. 300ml of water
12. 1 tbsp. bicarbonate of soda

For the Toffee Sauce:
13. 50g. of muscavado sugar
14. 50g. of demerara sugar
15. 100g. unsalted butter
16. 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
17. 200ml of double cream

Process:
To prepare the tin:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Brush the tin with 20g of softened butter and then dust with 5g of flour.
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For the Sponge:
2. Cream the butter and sugar together on a slow speed using a food mixer. Gently add the golden syrup, black treacle, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix for 5 minutes on a high speed.
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3. After 5 minutes, set the speed to the lowest setting and slowly add the flour. Meanwhile, place your dates and water on a small sauce pan gently bring it to the boil. Then stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Add this into your sponge mixture while it is hot.

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4. Continue to mix all the ingredients in your food mixer for another minute. Then, pour this into your prepared tin. Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the sponge is set. You can use a cake tester or a knife and insert this at the centre of the sponge to check if it is baked. If the knife comes out clean your sponge is ready, if it comes out wet then it needs more time to bake. If the edges of your sponge starts to burn and yet the middle is still raw and needs further time to bake, cover your sponge with a foil and place it back in the oven to bake until the sponge is baked completely.
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5.  The sponge can stick into the tin even when it has been greased with butter and dusted with flour. You can easily take out your sponge out of the tin by dipping your palette knife in a hot water and running it along the insides of your cake tin.
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For the Toffee Sauce:
6. Place a small pan in a hob over a low heat, add your butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Once the butter has melted completely add the cream and bring it to the boil. Gently simmer for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens.
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Serve with a vanilla ice cream, with just double cream or custard.

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Tips:
I sometimes add 20g of dates to the Toffee sauce to add more depth into the favour of the sauce and to add texture to it too.
You can also use as an alternative just a plain brown sugar to make the Toffee sauce. I prefer a mix of muscavado and demerara sugar. As the muscavado sugar has stronger molasses taste to it and a stickier consistency in comparison to demerara. I kept the demerara sugar as it does give a lovely toffee, honey flavours.
Freezing: You can freeze the sponge and defrost at room temperature the day you need to use it. You can then heat the sponge in a preheated oven for 15 minutes or for 5 minutes in a microwave. If you do decide to freeze the sponge you will have to wrap it tightly with a cling film and then with a foil.
The toffee sauce can be made 2 days in advance but it does need to be kept in an airtight container and kept in the fridge the whole time. To re-heat the sauce I recommend re-heating on the hob and to give it a very good whisk while heating.

Tuscan Ribollita (Reboiled Soup)

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During my visit to Florence I discovered this humble soup in Trattoria da Roco. Although it doesn’t look so apetising, it is a very comforting; a hearty soup that is tasty and filling. I have been making this soup since I came back from Florence and have tried a few different ways of making it. I tried using thyme and added other vegetables to it. The key ingredient is the Tuscan Kale and the beans, which I didn’t omit in any of my previous experiments. Recently, to my surprise I discovered that there is an official ‘authentic’ Ribollita recipe issued by the Tuscan Tourist office.  Although, my recipe is not the authentic recipe endorse by the Tuscan authorities it is one of my favourite experiments and the stubborn side of me can’t help but stick to my easier and quicker version. Though, I would certainly try making the authentic recipe the next time I am in Tuscany and can get access to ‘Tuscan Kale’. The best part of making this soup is that it tastes even better the day. It is no wonder the Italian’s named it Reboiled Soup.

KITCHEN KIT:
A 5 litre ceramic caserole dish and a wooden spoon.

Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1. 6 tbsp of olive oil
2. 65g, diced pancetta
3. 3 cloves of peeled garlic, grated
4. 2 onions, finely chopped
5. 3 celery sticks, finely chopped into little cubes
6. 3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped into little cubes
7. 1 courgette, finely chopped into little cubes
8. 2 bay leaves
9. 2 rosemary sprigs
10.400g chopped tomatoes (from a tin)
11.400g of cannellini beans (from a tin)
12.600ml chicken stock
13. 2 tbsp. of tomato paste
14. 2 slices of a loaf of bread, torn into small pieces.
15. 1/2 tsp of salt
16. 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
17. 80g of chopped Kale
18. 4 tbsp. of grated parmesan cheese

Process:
1. Place the caserole in a medium heat, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Fry the garlic, pancetta, onion, rosemary and bay leaves for 5 minutes or until the onions turns translucent. Keep stirring to prevent the garlic from getting burnt.

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2. Add the chopped celery, carrots, courgettes and soften for 5 minutes.

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3. Add the chopped tomatoes,cannellini bans, chicken stock, tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat (lowest heat possible), stir and cover the casserole for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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4. After 30-45 minutes, add the bread and kale, stir them in and cover the caserole again. Cooked for another 10 minutes before adding the 3 tbsp. of olive oil.  Season to taste and just before serving garnish the soup with some grated parmesan cheese.

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That’s it! buon appetito!

Tips:
You can add more water if you find that the soup is becoming slightly dry. If you do add more water, give the soup a good stir and just let it simmer for a couple of minutes so you do not lose the flavour of the soup.

You can also cook this dish at the lowest possible heat for 24 hours, you need to cover the casserole to ensure that the liquid does not evaporate too much, stirring occasionally to also ensure the vegetables and bread does not get burnt. I find that this dish is actually better the next day when reheated and all the flavours of the vegetables are infused into the soup and bread. This a soup that taste good when reheated which I think could be the reason why they named it ‘reboiled soup’ in Tuscany.

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Lemon Drizzle Cake

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I love this simple, humble cake. Easy as it may look, I’ve actually had several disastrous lemon cakes in the past. Some too lemony, some too bitter and some even roasted! There have been times when I’ve over zested the lemon and the bitter whites of the lemon ended up in the cake, making it more of a Bitter cake than a Lemon cake! Yikes!

There have also been times when I thought I could get away with not accurately measuring the ingredients. But after all the trials and tribulations and disastrous experiments! Life taught me to be patient. When it comes to baking, precision and lots and lots of patience are prerequisites. Sadly there are no short cuts and no easy ways around it. If you want to enjoy that cake, you have to learn to wait for it to bake and not open the oven door too early!

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I love that comforting smell of a cake baking in the oven and I certainly love eating them too. Hence, I learnt to sit still and not get over excited. The last time I got over excited, I’ve made the fatal mistake of having an early peep in the oven only for the whole thing to collapse, within seconds of opening the oven. Forcing me to start from scratch all over again! Lesson learnt. Do not get over excited and open the oven when your cake is baking or when anything is baking, cakes simply don’t like to be rush and for their temperature to fluctuate!

I do not know the origin of lemon cake. It is common in England but it is also in France. I’ve also had Lemon cake in Italy. Although, lemons are first thought to have been grown in Assam, Burma and China I don’t think the Indians, Burmese or Chinese would have made lemon cakes!  Wherever it comes from I hope that everyone gets the chance at least once in their life time to try a lovely lemon drizzle cake.

If baked well, it’s so homely and comforting. As such it is my cake of choice when it comes to friends’ presents and birthdays. The scent of the lemon and the sweetness of the cake bring back that happy homely memories for me and I hope that those of you who eat this cake will also enjoy happy memories of home and comfort.

KITCHEN KIT:
A loaf tin, pastry brush, baking paper/parchment, spatula, an electric mixer or a balloon whisk, 2 bowls, a sifter and a lemon zester.
Alternatives: you can either use two 17 x 7.5 x 6cm H loaf tin or one 19 x 9 x 6.5cm H loaf tin.

Ingredients:
For the lemon sponge:
1. 2 large lemons, zest only (finely grated)
2. 200g softened, unsalted butter
3. 200g caster sugar
4. 3 lightly beaten medium eggs
5. 200g sifted self-raising flour

For the lemon syrup and decoration:
6. 2 lemons, juiced (100ml)
7. 70g icing sugar
8. 1 tsp. of pear sugar/sugar nibs

For the lemon sponge:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Grease a cake tin and line the bases with baking parchment.

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3. In a food mixer, cream together the butter, salt, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy.

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4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then add them very little at a time to the creamed butter mixture.

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5. Next, fold in the flour into the mixture, mix until well combined and pour the mixture into a lined cake tin.

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6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until well-risen and golden-brown on top. Insert a skewer or a cake tester in the middle of the cake sponge, if the skewer comes out clean and not wet, your cake is done.

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7. Remove from the oven and turn the cake out onto a wire cooling rack. Prick the cake all over with a cake tester or a skewer.

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For the lemon syrup and decoration:
8. Squeeze the lemon juices into the sugar and gently whisk to dissolve the sugar. Slowly drizzle over the cake, wait for a few moments before pouring over the syrup, so that it all sinks in the cake.

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9. Decorate with pearl sugar/sugar nibs and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Enjoy!

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‘Some sort of a kind of a Victoria Sponge’

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Aside from enjoying the art of cake eating, baking and cake experimenting. I am also curious about how cakes came about and what makes them special. I’ve read numerous books and blogs to understand what constitute as a perfect cake and how it got its name.

I initially thought that Victoria sponge was created by someone called Victoria. Though, apparently, I couldn’t be more wrong.  It was Queen Victoria who named this cake after herself, she love this cake so much that she named it after herself. It is no secret that she had an incredible sweet tooth. Although it was Anna, the Duchess of Bedfordm, who invented ‘tea time’ it was Queen Victoria who made it a tradition and turned it into an art form, hence the British adoration for afternoon High tea.

By 1885 Queen Victoria was holding formal attire tea parties for her guests and every week royal residencies received a consignment of pastries from the Buckingham Palace kitchens. Different pastries, cakes and sponges were created and named after her during her rein. What makes a traditional Victoria Sponge is however still a mystery to me. Some argue that it must only have strawberry jam, some says jam and cream, while others use butter cream. In my opinion if it tastes good then it must be the way it should be!

I created this recipe recently for my cake club. A friend of mine from work signed me up to our company’s cake club! The cake club consist of cake enthusiasts, we each get an allocated week to bring cakes. Cakes are eaten and reviewed. It’s a fun club to discover new recipes and flavours that I would never have dreamt of combining! And since we are all experimenting on each other. It’s safe to say that whatever the cake looks or tastes like, it’s the learning process that counts in this club. The last time I made this cake it was half burnt, I thought I’d give it another try, completely rewriting the recipe and measurements. I used butter cream as I was not sure how hot it would be in the office and didn’t want the cream to go off. Some of my colleagues told me though that it wasn’t a Victoria sponge because I’d used butter cream. So I named it: ‘Some sort of a kind of a Victoria Sponge’ I hope you enjoy this experiment!

 

KITCHEN KIT:
Two 20cm/8in loose-bottomed cake/sponge tins, pastry brush, baking paper/parchment, spatula, an electric mixer or a balloon whisk, 2 bowls, a sifter and a lemon zester.

Ingredients:

For the Victoria sponge:
1. 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus some for greasing the cake tins.
2. 250g caster sugar
3. A pinch of fine salt
4. 5 lightly beaten, medium size eggs
5. 250g self-raising flour, plus some for dusting the cake tins
6. 1 lemon (zest only)

For the butter cream filling:
7. 250g softened unsalted butter
8. 200g sieved icing sugar
9. 1 lemon, juice only

For the jam and decoration:
10. A jar of Bonne Maman Raspberry Conserve
11. 200g of fresh raspberries
12. ½ tsp. of silver metallic sugar balls (optional)
13. 1 tsp. of icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

For the Victoria sponge:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Grease and flour two 20cm/8in loose-bottomed cake/sponge tins and line the bases with baking parchment.

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3. In a food mixer, cream together the butter, salt, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy.

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4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then add them very little at a time to the creamed butter mixture.

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5. Next, fold in the flour into the mixture, mix until well combined and divide the mixture between the two lined cake tins.

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6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until well-risen and golden-brown on top. Insert a skewer or a cake tester in the middle of the cake sponge, if the skewer comes out clean and not wet, your cake is done.

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7. Remove from the oven and turn the cakes out onto a wire cooling rack. Peel off the baking parchment and leave them to cool completely.

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For the butter cream filling:
8. In a food mixer, cream together the butter, icing sugar and lemon juice.

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For the jam and decoration:
9. Once the cake has completely cooled down, simply spread the jam over the 2 sponge cakes.

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10. Then add some of the butter cream filling and sandwich the two cakes together.

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11. Finally spread over the left over butter cream on top of the cake and add the fresh raspberries on top. You can also decorate the cake with some silver metallic sugar balls and dust the cake with some icing sugar.

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Crema catalan alla Alicia Marcos Ng

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I got this recipe from my lovely friend Alicia. Who I must say is a brilliant Thermomix Sales woman!  She doesn’t work for Thermomix but you would assume she does if you meet her.  Before visiting Alicia in her wonderful mansion near Alicante, I had never heard of Thermomix. Dare I say that after 24 hours with her I have to admit that she is right. Thermomix is definitely the gadget to have if you are a keen cook or a professional chef.  As Alicia would say, it does all the cooking for you! and it is so easy to clean too! Hard to believe, I know but I have seen her clean the thing in seconds. My dear friend Alicia is probably the sweetest and most generous person I know. She is so keen for me to learn more about Thermomix and try her delicious experiments, that she quickly knocked up a coconut ice cream and papaya dessert using Thermomix; made a vegetable puree for her adorable cute son Kai; and finally she made Crema Catalan all with her must have Thermomix!

The Crema Catalan she made is a perfect dessert to have after a heavy meal. Her recipe is surprisingly light and the sweetness of the cream is just right. The caramalised sugar on top just adds another layer of sugarary yumminess. The velvety cream and crisp crystalise sugar just makes it so fabulously yummy!

If having Thermomix means having Alicia’s super delicious Crema Catalan on a daily basis, then I guess I really need to start saving up for a Thermomix for Christmas!  Here’s her fantastic Crema Catalan recipe:

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Kitchen Kit:
6 ramekins, a blow torch and a Thermomix!

Ingredients (Makes 6 ramekins):
250g eggs
70g  sugar
2 vanilla pods
400ml cream
5-10 g sugar

The Crema catalan:
1. Scrape out the vanilla seeds. Place all the ingredients into your Thermomix metal bowl (except for the 5-10g of sugar).

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2. Set your Thermomix to mix all the ingredients at speed number 3 for 1 minute, then at speed number 3 – 90C for 15 minutes and finally at speed number 10 just for 10 seconds.
3. Pour the cream mixture into your ramekins. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour and let it set.

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4. Once set, remove the fridge, sprinkle over some sugar and caramelise the sugar using a super fun blow torch and you’re done!

Buen Provecho!

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Berry Coulis:

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KITCHEN KIT:
A pan and a fine sieve.

Ingredients:
1.  300g. Mixed berries
2.  2 tbsp. Caster or Icing sugar
3.  2 tsp. water

Berry Coulis:
1.  In a large pan over high heat, add the berries and cook for 4 minutes.
2.  Then add your caster sugar and continue to cook the berries for a further 2-3 minutes just until the sugar has dissolved.
3.  Transfer the coulis mixture into a food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth, add 1-2 tsp. full of water if you’d like to loosen the mixture a bit.
4.  Strain the coulis through a fine sieve or muslin cloth and set aside to cool. Chill in the fridge until needed.

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Serve cold either with a slice of lemon sponge cake,  vanilla ice cream or with yoghurt and honey. Yum!

Granny Nelly’s Brownies

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What makes a good brownie? Some like it gooey in the middle, some like it fudge like and some like it crunchy on the top. Everyone has their own preferred brownie texture and taste and I think the only way to know what makes a good brownie is to simply enjoy trying them all and experiment with your own sorts of ingredients! This brownie is my 5th brownie experiment,I have tried them with nuts, with broken cookies, with dates, plain and so far I still haven’t made up my mind which ones I love best. I am still in my life long quest searching for the perfect brownie!
It was Gran’s birthday last week and I know how much she loves her chocolate and sweets.So I decided to conduct my brownie experiment number 5 and since I made this for her 95th birthday present, I decided to name it after, ‘Granny Nelly’s Brownies’
The first 4 brownies I made were made with less sugar, less butter or less chocolate. So far my experiments has proven that more butter, sugar and chocolate is needed! This is certainly the richest brownie I’ve made so far. Although, Gran did say that this is more of a chocolate cake than a brownie. Cake or brownie I hope you enjoy as much as we did! 🙂

KITCHEN KIT:
A brownie tin, a large baking tray, pastry brush, baking paper, spatula, an electric mixer or a balloon whisk, 2 bowls and a small sauce pan.

Ingredients:
1. 200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), grated or broken into pieces.
2. 50g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), broken into pieces
3. 250g unsalted butter
4. 300g golden caster sugar
5. 3 large eggs and 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
6. 50g plain flour (old recipe is 60)
7. ½ tsp baking powder
8. 1 tsp vanilla extract
9. 2 pinches of salt
10. 50g good quality cocoa powder (old recipe is 60)
11. 50g pistachio nuts (optional)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C, brush your brownie tin with some butter, then line it with a baking paper.

2. Place your 200g of your grated chocolate in a bowl, then set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure that the bottom of the pan doesn’t touch the simmering water). Leave the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally. Once all the chocolate has melted remove from heat and set aside.You can also melt them in a microwave on low, for 30 seconds.

3. On a separate bowl or a mixing bowl attached to an electric mixer, beat your butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the chopped chocolate pieces and gently stir to combine with the butter and sugar.

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4. Gradually add the beaten eggs on a running electric mixer, do not pour all the beaten eggs in one go, it is best to add them in 3 or 4 stages to ensure it’s thoroughly incorporated before pouring in more of the eggs. Mix the ingredients on a high speed for five minutes until the batter is smoother in texture has increased in volume.

5. Next, gently fold in the melted chocolate, followed by the vanilla extract, flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and pistachio nuts.

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6. Spoon the mixture into the brownie tin, and bake for 30 minutes. A few minutes before the brownies finished baking, prepare another baking tray big enough to hold your brownie tray. Pour some cold water over the tray and set aside.

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7. To test your brownie if it is baked, insert a skewer in the middle of the brownie, the skewer should come out with some sticky but not runny and raw mixture. If it does come out with runny raw mixture, place it back into the oven for another 3-5 minutes, then test again.

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8. When the brownies are ready, remove from the oven and place it in a baking tray with cold water. Leave to cool in the water for an hour before removing the brownie from the baking tray and slicing them. Store in an air-tight container; freeze or eat them all on the same.

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Serve by itself of with a yummy Madgascan vanilla ice cream.

Tarte Fine aux Pommes

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I’ve first discovered these amazing tarts on my first trip to Paris and ever since they came into my life. I’ve longed to eat them at every opportunity that arises! As much as I love pain au chocolat or a freshly baked croissants aux amandes for breakfast, nothing is better for me than a wonderful  Tarte Fine aux Pommes first thing in the morning. Although, many would insist that these should be eaten later in the afternoon or for dessert. I would argue that it is always best to start your morning well. That means wake up early, while half the world is still asleep,  take your time to enjoy the sun and a moment alone with a Tarte Fine aux Pommes! Here’s my take on the wonderful Tarte Fine aux Pommes! Bon appetite!

KITCHEN KIT:
A rolling pin, a 3 ½ inch cookie cutter (or anything round you can use to cut the pastry), pastry brush, a wooden spoon, a small pan and a tart baking tin (optional)

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Ingredients Serves 30:
1. 700g. all butter puff pastry
2. 8 medium size Apples, peeled and sliced into very thin slices ( use Cox or Granny Smith Apples)
3. 1 lemon, zest and juice
4. 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
5. 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
6. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
7. 4 tbsp. apricot jam

Tarte Fine aux Pommes
1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
2. On well floured work surface, roll your puff pastry. Using a cookie cutter, cut the pastry into small round circles.

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3. Line a baking tray with baking parchment/paper, place the pastry circles on top.
4. Place your sliced apples in a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and zest, lay the apples on top of the pastry, dot the apples with some butter, sprinkle over some sugar and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

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5. Place a small sauce pan over a low heat. Slowly heat your apricot jam and vanilla extract, once warm brush this onto your cooked apple tarts.

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6. Sprinkle over some more brown sugar and place back in the oven to bake for another 3 minutes. If you would like it to caramelise you can set your oven to Grill instead and bake the tarts for 2-3 minutes, you’ll have to keep a constant eye on it to make sure the tart doesn’t burn.

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Serve immediately.

 

Creme Caramel

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Creme caramel is certainly one of my all time favourite classic desserts. It was a childhood favourite and still is. The best part of this dessert is that it is easy to make and comforting to eat.  Although this dessert has made its way into Micheline starred restaurants, to famous french brasseries of Lyon, Bordeaux and Paris, with its the ‘Egg flan’ equivalent being equally famous across Spain’s many fine restaurants. This dessert for me is still best serve at home made by my lovely Mom! who never fails to supply UNLIMITED creme caramel to me and my sister. I love this dessert so much that I often eat this for breakfast -well on the times when I’ve beaten my sister to the fridge first!!

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KITCHEN KIT:
A small sauce pan, a medium size pan, a large bowl, a whisk, a fine sieve, 4 medium size ramekins, a pastry brush and a baking tray.

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the caramel:
1. 2 tbsp. water
2. 125g. golden caster sugar
3. 1 tbsp. unsalted butter (brush your ramekin base with the butter)

For the creme mixture:
3. 500ml. full fat milk
4. 1 tsp vanilla extract  or 1 vanilla pod
5. 2 medium eggs and  3 egg yolks (organic or free range)
6. 125g golden caster sugar

For the caramel:
1. In a small saucepan add your water and sugar, then place the pan on a medium heat. Leave it without stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved, you can gently shake the pan to make sure the sugar dissolves evenly.  Allow to simmer until the syrup turns into a rich brown caramel colour. This takes around 10 minutes.
2. As soon as the colour turns caramel, immediately remove the pan from the heat.Pour the caramel into 4 (buttered)medium size ramekins, gently shake each ramekins around so the caramel coats the base evenly. Transfer the ramekins to a baking tin and set aside.

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For the creme mixture:
5. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C
6. Pour the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla extract and bring it to simmering point for 4-5 minutes.
7. In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolks with the sugar. Gently pour your hot milk into your eggs and sugar mixture, whisking all the time.

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For the final stage of making the creme caramel:
8. Pour your creme mixture through a fine sieve into your ramekins with caramel base.

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9. Place the baking tray with the creme filled ramekins in the oven and carefully pour some boiling water in the tray, two-third of the way up the side of the moulds.

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10. Finally, bake the creme caramel for 55–60 minutes, until the crème caramels are just set ( you can check if they are set by gently pressing the middle of the creme mixture with your thumb).
11. Once set, remove from the oven and leave to cool, then place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour (I prefer mine to chill overnight).

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12. To serve, use a knife, soak it in hot water and slide it around the inside edge of the ramekin, place the bottom of the ramekins into a hot water for a couple of seconds and then turn it upside down on to a serving plate.

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Bon Appétit!

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Pear, Camembert & Rocket Salad in Raspberry Dressing

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KITCHEN KIT:
Electric whisk, a large bowl, silicone spatula, a small sauce pan and a mini food processor alternatively use a blender.

Ingredients:
For the Cheese:
1. 150g. Camembert cheese
2. 300ml. Double Cream

For the Pears:
3. 2 Conference Pears, peeled and sliced into small cubes
4. 1/2tbsp. of Olive oil
5. 1tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
6. 1tsp. Sugar
7. A pinch of Salt
8. A pinch of ground black pepper
9. 70g. Rocket leaves

For the Dressing:
10. 70g. raspberries
11. 1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
12. 8 tbsp. Olive oil

For the Cheese:
1. Crumble the Camembert in a large bowl, add the double cream and whisk until the you have a thick ‘whipped cream’ like texture. Pipped the cream cheese on a plate.

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For the Pears:
2. Place the pan over a low heat, add the oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and pears. Cook over a low heat for 2 minutes.
3. Plate the pears and some of the juices from the pears and sprinkle the rocket salad around the plate.

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For the Dressing:
4. Place the raspberries, balsamic vinegar and olive oil into a mini food processor and blend until smooth. Spoon over some of the raspberry dressing over the pears.

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Serve Immediately.

Morrocan Spiced Oranges

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This is a very refreshing dessert. That is so cooling. This dessert doesn’t just compliment Moroccan dishes, it’s also a perfect ending to a rich and heavy meal such as roast and stews.

KITCHEN KIT:
A medium size bowl.

Ingredients:
1. 1 tsp. Orange Flower Blossom (key ingredient for this dessert)
2. 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon powder
3. 1/4 tsp. Water
4. 1/2 tsp. Golden Caster Sugar
5. 4 Oranges, peeled and sliced
6. Fresh Mint leaves, torn into pieces

The Orange Dessert:
1. Place the slice oranges in a bowl, combine all the ingredients listed above and mix them all well.
2. Place the oranges on a plate, cover with a clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
3. Finally sprinkle over some torn mint leaves over the oranges before serving.
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Vegetable Tagine

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This is such an easy dish to prepare so please do not be put off with the length of this recipe. Getting all the spices out is the hardest part of this recipe and trying to remember if I have already put every single one of them in! The cooking part on the other hand is super easy. There are days when I feel I’ve had far too many brownies in one day. I’d feel so guilty and decide to have a vegetarian evening. This is what I usually make in one of those evenings!

KITCHEN KIT:
Tagine, baking tray and a large pan.

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Roasting:
Spices and Seasoning:
1. 1/2 tsp. Cumin Powder
2. 1/2 tsp. Paprika
3. 1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
4. 1/2 tsp. Ground Coriander
5. 1/2 tsp. Salt
6. 1/2 tsp. Sugar
7. 1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
8. 1/4 tsp. Dried Chilli Flakes

The Vegetables:
9. 1 Aubergine, chopped into large chunks
10. 1 Red Onion, quartered
11. 3 Bell Peppers, deseeded and chopped into large chunks
12. 1 Parsnip, peeled and chopped into large chunks
13. 1 Carrot, peeled and chopped into large chunks
14. 4 tbsp. Olive Oil

For the Frying:
Spices, Seasoning and Fruit:
15. 1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
16. 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger Powder
17. 1/2 tsp. Dried Parsley
18. 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
19. 1/2 tsp. Paprika Powder
20. 1/2 tsp. Ground Coriander
21. 1/2 tsp. Salt
22. 1/4 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
23. 1/4 tsp. Dried Chilli Flakes
24. 3 tbsp. Olive oil
25. 2 tbsp. Runny Honey
26. 70g. Dried Apricots

For the Couscous:
27. 150 g. Couscous
28. 300 ml. Vegetable Stock
29. 15g. Raisins
30. A handful of Coriander leaves, roughly chopped
31. A handful of Almond flakes (approx.5g.)

For the Roasting:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. Place all the ‘Roasting Ingredients’ listed above- the spices, the seasoning and the vegetables all in a baking tray. Mix them well to make sure the vegetables are nicely coated with the spices and oil.  Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, stir the vegetables half way through the cooking time.(a bit less if you have very ripe vegetables.)
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For the Frying:
3. Place a large pan on a medium heat, add the oil, spices and seasoning. Stir for a minute and then add the honey, followed by the roasted vegetables and their juices. Stir well for 1-2 minutes making sure that the honey coats all the vegetables. Finally stir the apricots in.
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For the Couscous:
4. Place the couscous in tagine and add the hot water. Stir in the raisins and cover the tagine for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, sprinkle over the chopped coriander leaves and almond flakes on top of the couscous.

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Serve the couscous with the roasted vegetables.

Moelleux au chocolat (The very gooey Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes)

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I love this dessert! In fact I haven’t met anyone yet who hasn’t fallen madly in love with these gooey little cakes. These cakes are widely available in many brasseries and cafes in France. They are also frequently available in my house-hold due to my serious addiction to these cakes. They are perfect for dinner parties too as they can be prepared a day in advance. They also don’t need to be taken out from the fridge ahead of time before baking, as they need to be bake straight out from the fridge, whilst they are still very cold to get the ‘gooey chocolate lava in the middle’ consistency. Baking the cake cold will make it slower for the heat to penetrate the middle of the cake, making it yummy and gooey!

KITCHEN KIT:
4 Ramekins oven-proof, a whisk, pastry brush, s small pan and heat-proof bowl.

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the Ramekins:
1. 10g. of softened or melted unsalted butter
2. 10g. cocoa powder

For the Moelleux au chocolat:
3. 85g. Dark Chocolate use at least 70% cocoa and a very good quality chocolate, broken into small pieces
4. 85g. unsalted butter, softened
5. 85g. light brown sugar
6. 43g. of plain flour
7. 3 eggs, lightly beaten
8. 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
9. A pinch of fine salt

For the Ramekins:
1. Brush the insides of your ramekins with butter, then coat them with the cocoa powder. Tap them a couple of times to remove any excess cocoa at the bottom of the ramekins. Then set the ramekins aside.

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For the Moelleux au chocolat:
2. In a heat proof bowl, add your butter and chocolate, place the bowl in a pan of simmering water (bain marie). Stir the butter and chocolate until melted and well combined. You can also melt them in a microwave on low, for 15 seconds.

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3. Next, whisk the eggs with the melted butter and chocolate, then add the vanilla extract, the flour and sugar. Whisk until all the ingredients are well combined.

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4. Pour the mixture into your ramekins, cover with a cling film but make sure the cling film does not stick into your cake mixture. Place in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. The mixture needs to be cold so the centre remains cold when baked making it gooey.

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5. When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 180C. Bake the cake for 18-20 minutes. The sides of the cake should look crisp, and the cake will look more like a little dome, when poked in the middle the chocolate should pour out like a lava. Run your knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the ramekins, making it easier to transfer on a plate.

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Serve immediately with madagascan vanilla ice cream or double cream.

Bon appétit!!

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Lasagne

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Lasagne for me is one of the ultimate comfort food. Lasagne is a labour of love on a plate, as it does takes time to cook and prepare, I hardly make this dish but the few times I have made a lasagne is to either show love or comfort to family or friends. It was one of my favourite dish as a young child and is also now my Mom’s favourite dish. When she came to visit me in England from Macau the first thing she asked me to do was cook lasagne for her soon as she lands and this recipe was created specially for her. I hope you enjoy this too!

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KITCHEN KIT:
A large casserole pan with a lid, a medium size sauce pan and an oven-proof dish.

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the Lasagne filling:
1. 1 tbsp. butter
2. 2 rashers of pancetta, finely chopped
3. 1/4 tsp. cinnamon powder
4. 3 tbsp. olive oil
5. 1 medium onion approximately 150g, finely chopped
6. 2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
7. 1 carrot, finely chopped
8. 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
9. 1 butternut squash approximately 600g, deseeded and chopped into small cubes
10. 2 bay leaves
11. ¼ tsp. salt
12. ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
13. ¼ tsp. chilli flakes
14. 1 tsp. dried oregano
15. 1 tsp. dried basil leaves
16. 3 sprigs of thyme
17. 1 sprigs of rosemary
18. 3 Sprigs of sage
19. 400g. minced beef
20. 400g. tinned plum tomatoes
21. 2 tbsp. tomato paste
22. 1 tsp. sugar
23. 250ml. full bodied red wine
24. 300ml. beef stock

For the pasta:
25. 400g fresh lasagne sheets

For the Béchamel Sauce:
26. 30g butter
27. 30g flour
28. ½ pint of full fat milk
29. 80g grated mature cheddar cheese (if you are strict Italian feel free to substitute to parmesan)
30. Pinch of salt
31. Pinch of pepper
32. ¼ tsp. nutmeg
33. ½ tsp. fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
34. 120g mozzarella, sliced into small pieces

For the Lasagne filling: Preheat the oven to 200ºC
1. Fry the 1 tbsp of butter with pancetta and cinnamon in a large pan over medium heat, until golden.
2. Then add 3 tbsp. of olive oil, stir in the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, butternut squash, bay leaves, salt, pepper, chilli flakes and all the herbs, fry for 2-3 minutes.
3. Next, add the beef and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, wine and beef stock, bring to boil.
4. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat (lowest heat possible) and cover the pan with a lid. Allow cooking for 1½ hour, stirring occasionally to ensure that the meat and vegetables does not stick into the pan.

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For the Béchamel Sauce:
5. On a small sauce pan over low-medium heat, make your roux; melt butter and stir in the flour, constantly stirring until well combined. Slowly add milk and grated cheese stirring constantly. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and parsley. Stop adding milk and remove from heat once the béchamel sauce is thick and smooth.

For the layering of the lasagne:
6. After 1 ½ hour, pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.
7. Lay some sheets of lasagne at the bottom of your lasagne dish, then add a layer of meat, then another layer of lasagne sheet and again meat, repeat the layers, until you reach the top of your dish. Finish it with a layer of lasagne sheets covered with Béchamel sauce.
8. Finally grate some cheddar or Parmesan cheese and place the mozzarella pieces all over your Béchamel sauce. Cook in the preheated oven for 30–35 minutes until golden.

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Serve immediately with a lovely salad on the side and finish with a yummy Tiramisu.

Jerk Chicken with Spicy Coconut Rice

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Although this recipe involves a long list of spices, please don’t be put off making this dish.  It is in fact a very easy dish to make. Measuring and mixing the spices all together is the most time consuming part for this dish.  What I have also recently done is have all the dry spices all measured up and stored in a few small containers. That way, whenever I fancy making this dish, it is a matter of simply adding the liquid ingredients into the spice mix, rub it all to the chicken pieces, leave to marinade for a couple of hours, grill and done. A super easy evening dinner or a weekend lunch!

KITCHEN KIT:
A grinder or pestle and mortar, 2 ovenproof dishes, a cling film, 2 sauce pans with a lid and a rubber glove.

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Ingredients:

For the Jerk Chicken:
1. 3 tbsp. olive oil
2. 4 chicken thighs, skin on
3. ½ tbsp. Allspice powder
4. ½ tbsp. ground black peppercorns
5. ½ tbsp. dried chilli flakes
6. ¼ tsp. salt
7. 1 tsp. muscovado sugar
8. 1 tbsp. runny honey
9. 25g.fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
10. 25g.fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
11. 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
12. 1 tsp. ginger powder
13. 3 spring onions, finely chopped
14. 1 lime juice and zest
15. 1 scotch bonnet chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (traditionally this is added but if you are not keen on spicy food you can omit this)

For the Spicy Coconut Rice:
16. 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
17. 1/2 onion, finely chopped
18. 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
19. 410g. long-grain rice
20. ½ tsp. salt
21. 2 pinches of ground black pepper
22. ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
23. ½ tsp. ginger powder
24. 400 ml. chicken stock
25. 400 ml. coconut milk
26. 400g. or 1 tin of Kidney beans, rinsed and drained
27. 1 tsp. thyme leaves
28. 1 whole Scotch bonnet chilli (left whole)

For the Corn:
29. 2 cobs
30. 1 tbsp. lime
31. A pinch of salt
32. A pinch of ground black pepper
33. A pinch of chilli flakes
34. 3 tbsp. butter, melted

For the Jerk Chicken:
1. Spoon over 3 tbsp. of olive oil in an ovenproof dish, place the chicken thighs skin side down first.
2. Next, place the rest of the ingredients listed on the above ‘Jerk Chicken’ recipe in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar, ground or pound all the ingredients for 2-3 minutes until well combined. Then rub this all over the chicken, if you are using Scotch bonnet chili wear a rubber gloves to handle the chili.

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3. Cover the chicken with a cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
4. Next, pre-heat oven to 200°C. place the chicken and bake for 30 minutes, turning the chicken a few times to cook well on all sides. After 30 minutes turn the oven to ‘GRILL’ turn the chicken skin side up and finish them off to grill for 5 minutes to get the skin charred.

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For the Spicy Coconut Rice:
5. Place your sauce pan over a medium heat, add the onion, garlic and thyme, fry for 2 minutes, then add the rice and fry for 1 minute.

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6. Stir the rest of the ingredients listed on the above ‘Spicy Coconut Rice’ recipe. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low and allow simmering for 25 minutes until the rice is cooked (check the rice occasionally).

For the Corn:
7. In a small bowl, combine the lime, salt, pepper, chili flakes and melted butter; then set aside your spiced butter mixture.
8. Place your saucepan over a medium heat, add 2 litres of water and bring it to the boil.
9. Once the water is boiling add the corncobs and boil for 10 minutes.
10. Place the corn cobs in an oven proof dish and finish cooking in the oven under the grill for 5 minutes, your corn and your chicken should be grilled in the oven to both finish cooking at the same time.
11. Removed the cooked corn from the oven and brush with the spiced butter mixture all over.

Serve immediately.

Palmiers

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This lovely canapés are perfect for a dinner parties or movie nights with friends. Quick and easy to prepare and most importantly they can be prepared a day in advance. You can also freeze them and defrost at room temperature before baking them in the oven. You can also put any fillings you want, you can spread the palmiers with some other types of savoury spreads or just with parmesan cheese or even with those addictive ‘Nuttela’ sprinkled with some chopped hazelnut for a crisp texture, you can also simply use icing sugar and deep them in hot chocolate sauce once baked, Yum! Feel free to experiment and above all enjoy the baking and eating process!

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KITCHEN KIT:
A rolling pin, a fine sieve, a pastry brush and a baking tray.

Ingredients:
For the pastry:
1. 1 pack ready rolled shop-bought puff pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy, otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following “All Butter Puff Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
2. 1 egg, lightly beaten for glazing

For the savoury filling:
3. 4 tbsp. of basil and pine nuts pesto (recipe to make your own pesto: Basil and Pine Nuts Pesto Recipe)
4. 10 sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
5. 2 pinches of salt
6. 2 pinches of ground black pepper
7. 10g. grated parmesan cheese

For the sweet filling:
8. 2 tbsp.icing sugar
9.  1 tbsp.cinnamon powder
10.  2 tbsp. mini chocolate chips or chocolate nibs pieces

 

Palmiers:
1. On a well-floured work surface, roll the pastry out into a rectangle about 12 x 14in and the thickness of approx.3mm.

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2. For Savoury palmiers: Spread the basil and pine nuts pesto, sundried tomatoes, grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper over the puff pastry.

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3. For the Sweet palmiers: Sprinkle the cinnamon powder, icing sugar and chocolate chips over the puff pastry.

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4. Take both long edges of the pastry and roll them gently and tightly towards each other to meet in the middle. Brush the centre with some egg so that the two halves stick together.

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5. Place into a large baking tray and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This will make it easier for you to slice them into smaller pieces.
6. Preheat the oven to 200C.
7. Remove the rolled and filled puff pastry from the fridge and slice it into ½in thick pieces. Lay each pieces flat on the baking tray and brush only the top with a beaten egg.
8. Bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes until they all puffed up and golden-brown.
9. Remove the palmiers from the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray for just a couple of minutes.

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Serve immediately.

Basil and Pine Nuts Pesto

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This versatile sauce can be used in many different dishes; it can be added into pasta, risotto, meat or fish or even just as flavourings for roasted vegetable dishes. You can also be creative with pesto, you can use walnuts instead of pine nuts for instance, use watercress and basil, or spinach for instance. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice or even lime.

Ingredients
1.  30g. fresh basil leaves
2.  10g. toasted pine nuts
3.  15g. grated parmesan cheese
4.  ½ clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
5.  40ml. of extra virgin olive oil
6.  1 pinch of salt
7.  1 pinch of ground black pepper

The Pesto:
1.  Add the basil, parmesan, garlic, pine nuts, salt and pepper into a food processor.
2.  Whiz all the ingredients together while it is whizzing, gently pour the oil in a steady stream, until the pesto starts to thicken.
3.  When all the ingredients are well combined and the pesto is thick it’s ready. You can now use your pesto for your pasta, bruschetta, pizza, risotto or even just with your toast.

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Note:
Storing pesto:  You can store your pesto in a jar or any airtight container. Drizzle some olive oil on the top of your pesto, cover with a cling film before sealing your jar or container; this will keep the pesto fresh and green and prevents it from oxidizing and turning brown.
Pesto in an airtight container can be stored in the fridge for a week. You can also store it in a freezer plastic bag, or ice cube bags in the freezer for six months, before using frozen pesto best to thaw it in the fridge.

 

Trout en Papillote

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KITCHEN KIT:
Grease proof paper and a large baking tray.

Ingredients Serves 2:
1. 2 trout, gutted and cleaned
2. 1 medium size fennel, sliced
3. 3 sprigs of spring onions, finely chopped
4. 2 lemons (1 lemon zest and 1 sliced)
5. 3 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
6. 1/4 tsp. of salt
7. 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
8. 1 tbsp. of butter (1/2 tbsp. for each trout)
9. 1 medium size potato approx. 230g, peeled, sliced and parboiled for 10 minutes.

For the salad:
10. A handful of rocket leaves
11. 2 tbsp.lemon juice
12. 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
13. 3 pinches of salt
14. 3 1/2 tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil
15. A handful of roasted pine nuts

For the Trout en Papillote:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. In a bowl mix the oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Rub this all over the trout and inside the cavity.
3. Next, place each trout on a large sheet of greaseproof paper onto a baking tray.
3. Stuff the fish with the fennel and spring onions. Place the potato slices underneath each trout.

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4. Dot all over with some of the butter.

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5. Now, bring the edges of the greaseproof paper together and fold to form a sealed parcel. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes (cooking time would depend on the thickness of the fish). The flesh of the fish should be opaque, if it is translucent you would have to cook it a bit longer, as you are cooking the fish with the skin on just slightly lift the skin to check the flesh of the fish.
6. Once done serve the fish with the juice from the parcel.

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For the salad:
7. Mix the lemon juice, mustard, salt and oil. Pour over the rocket leaves and sprinkle over some roasted pine nuts.

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Serve the trout with the side salad immediately

Foccacia

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KITCHEN KIT:
A baking tray, a cling film, a rolling pin, a bread mixer.

Ingredients:
1. 510g.strong white bread flour, (500g for the foccacia and 10g for dusting)
2. 2 tsp. of sea salt
3. 7g.fast action yeast
4. 70ml. extra virgin Olive Oil
5. 250ml. warm water
6. A handful of fresh rosemary
7. Oil or butter spray

The Foccacia:
1. Preheat the oven to 200C and dust your baking tray with strong white bread flour.
2. Put the flour into a large bowl or bread mixer, make a well in the middle and add the water and oil. Next, add the salt and add the yeast (the yeast should be right opposite the salt or the salt will kill the yeast)

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3. Knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes or for 5 if using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Poke the dough with a well floured finger and if the indent disappears the dough is ready, if it stays then continue to knead for a couple of minutes longer.

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4. Shape the dough into an oval shape.Then place it in a well floured baking tray. Cover the dough loosely with an oiled/buttered cling film, making sure it is airtight. (You can use an oil or butter spray to oil or butter your cling film, this will then prevent the cling film from sticking to the dough.)

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5. You can now leave the dough to rise for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

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6. After 45 minutes, roll the dough in a well floured work surface into an oval shape, the length and width can be however you want it to be, you can even shape it as squares or small round balls, or in this case I did an oval shape one.

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7. Once you have rolled the dough, poke some holes all over the dough, you can use the back of a wooden spoon to do this, or use a well floured finger. Insert some rosemary into the holes, sprinkle some more salt all over the top and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. It should rise a bit and have a lovely pale brown colouring all over it.

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8. Once baked, place in a baking tray to cool for 3-4 minutes, drizzle with some more olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper and serve.

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Smoked salmon canapés

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I recently had a dinner party at home and served this canapés, it is quite common to have salmon canapés with a blini base. But as I had loads of short crust pastry after making all sorts of tart, I’ve decided to use short crust pastry as a base for this canapés instead. It gave this canapés a nice crunchy biscuit type base, a great alternative to blini.
KITCHEN KIT:
A shallow muffin tin, a 2 inch’ cookie cutter, a pastry brush, dried/pastry beans and a foil.

Ingredients Makes 16:

For the pastry base:
1. 320g ready rolled shop-bought, shortcrust pastry if you are in hurry or just feeling lazy. Otherwise you can also make your own puff pastry by following “Savoury Short Crust Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
2. 20g unsalted butter, softened (for greasing muffin tin)
3. 1 lightly beaten egg, for glazing the pastry

For the salmon mixture:
4. 150g smoked salmon, slice into small pieces
5. 1 lemon, zest and juice
6. 2 pinches of salt
7. 2 pinches of pepper
8. A pinch of cayenne pepper
9. 8 tbsp. of Crème fraîche
10. A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley or dill

For the pastry base:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Brush your muffin tin with butter.
2. Roll your pastry on a well-floured work surface, cut into small circles. Place the circle pastry into a well greased muffin tin and poke with a fork all over. Place strips of foil on top and add the dried/pastry beans to prevent the pastry from rising. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.
3. Remove pastry from the oven, take off the foil and dried/pastry beans. Brush the pastry with a beaten egg and return in the oven to cook for another 7 minutes or until crisp and baked. Take off from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

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For the salmon mixture:
4. In a bowl, mix the lemon zest, lemon juice, crème fraîche, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Spoon over into the pastry cases.
5. Add the salmon on top, garnish with some fresh parsley or dill.

Serve immediately.

Chorizo Pork Stew in Tomato Sauce

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The combination of pork, chorizo, thyme and bell peppers are heavenly. Although most casserole or stew type dishes are mainly eaten in the autumn or winter season. I find that this Spanish inspired stew is perfectly enjoyable anytime of the year. Serve this with a Cava or a refreshing  2008 Brandal Albariño, D.O. Rías Baixas, Spanish white wine.  Or simply a nice freshly made mint lemonade.

KITCHEN KIT:
An ovenproof casserole pan

Ingredients Serves 4:

1. 400g pork shoulder, chopped into chunks approx. 3cm
2. 3 tbsp. of Olive oil
3. 100g. picante chorizo, sliced
4. 8 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
5. 1 clove fo garlic, crushed or grated
6. 1 medium size onion, finely chopped
7. 2 bay leaves
8. 1/2 tsp. salt
9. 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
10. 1/2 tsp. paprika (I used picante for extra heat)
11. 1/4 tsp. saffron
12. 170ml. Spanish white wine
13. 1 1/2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
14. 400g.chopped tomatoes or passata
15. 150g. bell peppers, deseeded and chopped (alternatively you can also use roasted bell peppers adding smoky flavours to the dish)
16. 150g. green beans
17. 12 olives

The Chorizo Pork Stew:
1. Pre-heat oven to 150C.
2. Place your casserole pan on a high heat, add 3 tbsp. of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chorizo, thyme, garlic, onion and bay leaves. Fry for 1- minutes.
3. Next add the pork and season with salt, pepper and paprika. Brown the pork on all sides for 4-5 minutes, then add the saffron, white wine, white wine vinegar and chopped tomatoes. Stir all the ingredients well, cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes.

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4. Now, place the casserole in the oven to cook for 1 1/2 hours. Stir frequently to prevent the meat from sticking into the bottom and sides of the pan. After 1 1/2 hour remove from the oven, stir in the bell peppers, green beans and olives. Return the casserole back into the oven to cook for another 15 minutes.

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Serve immediately with a nice crusty bread, saffron rice or cous cous.

Tomato and Spinach Dhal

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This dish is inspired from my memories of India,  the exotic spices they use in their everyday cooking add depths of flavours in their vegetarian dishes, making it truly a spectacular dish with fire works of flavours! This is just one of the many dishes I was lucky enough to try during my visit.  In Rajasthan, I remembered trying their famous Panchmel Dhal also known as Panchratna Dhal cooked with 5 different types of Dhal, a dish that is not just flavoursome but also very healthy, a perfect source of protein for vegetarians. If I am successful at finding all these 5 different dhal in England I will certainly try and make it at home. For now I hope you will try this dhal recipe instead and hope you enjoy it.

KITCHEN KIT:
A medium size sauce pan and a frying pan.

Ingredients Serves 2:

For the Dhal Base:
1.  100g red lentils
2.  500ml vegetable stock
3.  3 medium size tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
4.  1 small onion, finely chopped
5.  1 tsp. garam masala
6.  ½ tsp. tumeric
7.  ½ tsp. chili flakes
8.  ½ tsp. fine salt
9.  ½ tsp. ground black pepper

For the Accompanying Vegetables:
10. 1 medium size sweet potato approx 350g. , peeled and cut into small cubes
11.  150g spinach leaves

For the Topping:
12. 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil
13. 1 tsp. or clove of garlic, finely grated
14. 1 dried Kashmiri chili
15. 4 curry leaves
16. ½ tsp. cumin seeds
17. ½ tsp. black mustard seeds
18. 1 cinnamon bark approx. 3 inch in length
19. ½ tsp. coriander powder

For Garnish (Optional):
20. A handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped and or fried onions

For the Dhal Base:
1. In a medium size pan, place all the ‘Dhal Base’ ingredients listed above. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, on a low heat without covering the pan with a lid.

For the Accompanying Vegetables:
2.  After 10 minutes of simmering time, add the sweet potatoes into your Dhal base and continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes  until the sweet potatoes are cooked. (It is important to ensure that the sweet potatoes are cut into small cubes and of equal size to cook them evenly). Then add the spinach and cooked for just 1 minute.

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For the Topping:
3. On a separate frying pan, heat 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil. Add all the ‘Topping’ ingredients listed above and fry for 2 minutes. Pour this over on top of your Dhal and garnish with some fresh coriander leaves.

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Serve hot with a nice warm naan or chapati. If you’d like to make your own chapati you can find the recipe on this link: Chapati

Baked Alaska with lemon curd (Omelette norvégienne)

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KITCHEN KIT:
An electric whisk, a big bowl, 2 of 7’inch round baking tin and a 3′ inch cookie cutter

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Madeira Cake:
1. 75g. unsalted butter
2. 75g. caster sugar
3. 2 medium size eggs. lightly beaten
4. 113g. self raising flour
5. 1/2 lemon, zest only
6. 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
7. 1 tbsp. of full fat milk
8. 2 tbsp. Pousse Rapier (alternatively you can use Grand Marnier or other types of Orange Liqueur)

For the Lemon Curd:
9. 2 small lemon zest and juice.
10. A pinch of salt
11. 50g sugar
12. 50g melted unsalted butter
13. 4 egg yolks

For the Alaska:
14. 4 big scoops of good quality Madagascan vanilla ice cream
15. 65g egg whites
16. 50g caster sugar
17. 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
18. Pinch of salt
19. 1 tbsp. of Flaked Alomnds

For the Madeira cake:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease and flour your 2 baking tin, line the base with greaseproof paper and grease the paper again.

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2. Next, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the lightly beaten eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well between each one and adding a tablespoon of the flour with the last egg. This process although time consuming will make sure that your mixture doesn’t curdle.
3. After adding the last egg, mix again for a minute, then gently fold in your lemon zest and 1 tbsp. of milk.

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4. Pour your mixture into your baking tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
5. Once your cake is baked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Before brushing it all over with Pousse Rapier. Then finally using a cookie cutter, cut the 4 small cakes.

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For the Lemon Curd:
6. Put the lemon zest and juice, salt, sugar and butter into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and butter have melted. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool for a minute, add beaten egg yolks and whisk all together.
7. Turn the pan onto a low heat again, whilst constantly whisking. Once the curd thickens, remove from the heat. Cover with a cling film once cooled, refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Once ready for use, spread the lemon curd on each cakes.

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For the Alaska:
8. First, Pre-heat the oven to 230C.
9. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the lemon curd. Place in the fridge to prevent the ice cream from melting.
10. Then in a clean bowl, add half of the egg whites with the sugar, lemon juice and salt and whisk until soft peaks form.
11. Then add the remaining egg whites, continue whisking until the meringue forms stiff peaks.
12. Spoon the meringue mixture over the ice cream and cake, covering all sides completely. Sprinkle the top with some almonds and bake for 2-3 minutes until the meringue is golden on the top.

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Serve immediately.

Note:
This dish is fantastic for dinner parties, as it can be prepared in advance. You can make the lemon curd and sponge cake a day before or you can also make everything well in advance and freeze. Once you have covered the cake, lemon curd and ice cream with the meringue it can be frozen in the freezer.  It doesn’t have to be defrosted, to cook it simply place it in a pre-heated oven of 200C to bake for 8-10 minutes until golden all over, bake straight from the freezer.

 

 

Peanut Butter Milk Shake

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I love peanut butter milk shake, I also adore peanut butter and chocolate and peanut butter with caramel and ice cream. I even love peanut butter by itself! I think the only other person I know of who loves it more than I do is Charlotte, a friend of mine who is probably the biggest peanut butter fan out there! She and I used to spend our afternoons at work talking about peanut butter chocolates, peanut butter M&Ms and day dream about it until we both feel hungry and annoyed we can’t have it right away!  I have recently discovered a kids paradise near where I live, a shake shop that sells amazing milk shakes, ice cream, sweets and treats for all ages!!   www.shakeshop.co.uk

I love going to this shake shop and wouldn’t mind queuing for ages amongst the 4-5 years old just to have my regular Saturday treat ‘ the ultimate peanut butter milk shake’. In one unfortunate Saturdays I couldn’t unfortunately go to my favourite shake shop, so I had to come up with an emergency solution and make it at home instead. Not as good as the Witney Shake Shop peanut butter milk shake, serve with crushed Oreo toppings, but it will do as a Plan B option! Here’s my take on a Plan B Peanut butter milkshake!

KITCHEN KIT:

A blender

 

Ingredients Serves 1 (just for me sorry):

1.  300ml full fat milk

2.  4 tbsp. very good vanilla ice cream

3. Reese’s cups (2 packs 6 pieces)

4. 1 tbsp. peanut butter spread

5. A few sprinkles of cocoa powder (optional)

 

The Peanut Butter Shake:

1. Blend or Blitz all the ingredients except for the cocoa powder for 1 minute and done!

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Serve immediately.

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Rasberry Clafoutis

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I love this dessert, it’s ever so tasty and moorish but then I do have a very sweet tooth! This lovely dessert which originated from the Limousin region of France is traditionally serve with black cherries. However, this dish can also be made with plums or other types of berries. I’ve heard that in some parts of France this was also made with the actual pits of the cherries as it does brings out amazing flavours when baked in this traditional way. I haven’t tried making it yet so for the time being I can only say that I love the raspberry version. Bon appetite!

Ingredients Serves 6:
1. 250g. raspberries
2. 1 lemon, zest only
3. 130g caster sugar
4. 35g unsalted and melted butter
5. 20g unsalted and softened butter
6. 90g plain flour
7. A pinch of salt
8. 1 egg
9. 1 egg yolk
10. 300ml.  full fat milk

Rasberry Clafoutis:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease your baking dish with butter. Sprinkle over 2 tbs. sugar on your baking dish coating the inside of the dish with the butter and sugar.
2. Place the raspberries, lemon zest and 1 1/2tablespoons of the sugar in  the bowl.Gently mix coating the raspberries all over with the lemon zest and sugar, then set aside to macerate for 15 minutes.

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3. Next, add your flour and salt into a bowl and set aside.
4. In a another bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolk and remaining sugar, then slowly add this into the flour and salt. Mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.
5. Add the milk, stirring the mixture continuously for 2-3 minutes until the batter is smooth, add the melted butter and mix until well combined.
6. Now add the macerated raspberries in your baking dish, mixing gently to release the juices from the berries.

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7. Pour the batter over the raspberries and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the top looks golden brown and  the batter is set. To test that it is cooked through, insert a cake tester or knife into the centre of the dish, when you removed it, it should come out clean and dry. Remove the dish from the oven allow to cook for a couple of minutes before serving.
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Serve with some additional lovely fresh raspberries.

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Mediterranean Vegetable Cous Cous

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This is such an easy dish to prepare and perfect for a dinner party as you can do all the preparation work in advance. Although I prefer this warm you can also serve this dish cold.  If you are not too keen on feta cheese you can use other types of cheese such as  goats cheese or even brie.

KITCHEN KIT:
A heatproof bowl, a grater for the lemon zest and a roasting tin.

Ingredients Serves 6:

The cous cous:
1.  250g. couscous
2.  Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3.  600ml. vegetable stock

The cooked vegetables:
4.  3 tbsp. olive oil
5.  3 red bell peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
6.  2 aubergines, sliced diagonally
7.  2 courgettes, sliced diagonally
8.  ½ red onion, sliced thinly
9.  ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
10. ½ tsp. salt
11. 1 tsp. dried parsley
12. 1 tsp. dried coriander
13. 1 tsp. cumin powder (or cumin seeds pounded)

The rest of the ingredients:
14. 25 pieces of green olives, pitted and halves
15. 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
16. 100g feta cheese, crumbled into chunks
17. A handful of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

 

The cous cous:
1.  Place the couscous into a large salad bowl and pour over the hot vegetable stock. Stir in the lemon zest and then cover the bowl with a plate, leaving the cous cous to soak for 15 minutes.

The cook vegetables:
2.  Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. On a roasting tin mix all the ‘cooked vegetables’ ingredients listed above and bake for 45 minutes turning over the vegetables occasionally during the cooking process.

The rest of the ingredients:
3.  Next, add all the ‘rest of the ingredients’ listed above into your cous cous and mix in the cooked vegetables.

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Serve warm or cold.

Spiced Courgette

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This recipe is inspired from my recent trip to Israel where I discovered so many amazing vegetable dishes; such as this courgette lightly coated in olive oil, mixed with exotic herbs and spices, cooked simply in a ‘Tanur clay oven’ or lightly pan fried. Most restaurants will serve this as a starter, accompanied with a flat bread or matza and some wonderful hummus. This is an excellent dish to have as a starter or as a side dish and if you are not keen on courgettes you can alternatively use aubergines, bell pepper or other types of vegetables instead of courgettes. instead. It will tastes just as good!

KITCHEN KIT:
Roasting tin

Ingredients:
1. 1 Courgette, finely sliced approx. ½ inch in thickness (can be peeled or unpeeled)
2. 2 tbsp. olive oil
3. ½ tsp. dried parsley
4. ½ tsp. dried coriander
5. ½ tsp. ground black pepper
6. ½ tsp. cumin powder (or cumin seeds pounded)

The Spiced Courgette:
1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Meanwhile, in a roasting tin; rub the sliced courgettes with the olive oil and all the herbs and spices.
2. Place in the oven to bake for 35 minutes.

Serve immediately.

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Creamy Mushroom and Thyme Vol Au vent

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Ingredients Makes 6:

For the mushroom mixture:
1.  1 tbsp. of butter
2.  1 shallot, finely chopped
3.  150g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
4.  10g morel mushrooms, finely chopped (hydrate dried morel mushrooms on a 100ml hot water before chopping and reserved the liquid)
5.  1 tbsp.  thyme leaves
6.  50 ml. Madeira
7.  200ml double cream
8.  1 tbsp. cornflour
9.  ¼ tsp. paprika
10. ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
11. ¼ tsp. salt

For the pastry case:
12. 1 pack ready rolled shop-bought puff pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy, otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following “All Butter Puff Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
13. 1 egg, lightly beaten for glazing

For the mushroom mixture:
1.  On a large frying pan over high heat add the butter, cook the shallots, mushrooms and thyme leaves for 3-4 minutes. Add the Madeira and simmer for 2 minutes.
2.  Next, add the 100ml liquid from the morel mushrooms, cream, cornflour, paprika, pepper and salt, stir well for 1-2 minutes to prevent lumps from forming and thicken the sauce.  Season to taste and then set aside.

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For the vol au vent pastry cases:
3.  Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line your baking tray with a greaseproof baking paper.
4.  On well-floured surface roll out the puff pastry and cut 12 circles with 10cm diametre cookie cutter.
5.  Cut a smaller circle out of the centre of 6 of the circles.
6.  Lay the 6 (10cm diametre) circles on your lined baking tray; brush the pastry circles with a lightly beaten egg. Now place the six circles with a ‘hole in the centre’ on top of each of the full circles and glaze the sides only with egg.

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7.  Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Cut the top circle as shown in the picture below.
8.  Allow to rest for a minute and spoon over the mixture inside the vol au vent pastry cases. IMG_3888

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Serve immediately.

Cantonese Crispy Noodle Pork

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This dish is commonly eaten at ‘dim sum’ places. I love the crispiness of this noodle dish and this is definitely one of my favourite noodle dish that I always order whenever I go for dim sum. I used to have this dish for breakfast when I was growing up in Macau, it would have been the soft noodle version though, rather than the crispy one. When I was at primary school, there were small take away restaurants in Macau that only sells fried noodles. They sell fried noodles cooked simply with light soy sauce and beansprouts or fried noodles with strips of beef or sometimes pork. The dishes are cooked within seconds on high heat burner in char-coaled gigantic wok. Soon as the noodles are cooked, they are quickly thrown into paper, similar to the baking parchment paper you get in the UK. The noodle’s quickly place in a plastic bag with a complementary wooden chopsticks. I guess serving fried noodles in a paper is kind of similar to the English ‘deep fried chips’ you get from a ‘fish and chips’ take away places, that are also serve on a cone paper.  On paper on a, bowl or plate, for me it doesn’t matter where this dish is serve as I am sure I would still enjoy it and I hope you do too!

Ingredients Serves 6:
For the pork marinade:
1.  200g. lean pork, sliced finely into strips
2.  1 clove of garlic, chopped into quarters
3.  ½ tsp. of ginger powder
4.  ½ tsp. salt
5.  ½ tsp. ground white pepper
6.  1 tbsp. corn flour
7.  1 tbsp. Shiao Shing rice wine
8.  1 tbsp. Light Soy Sauce

For the shitake mushrooms:
9.  55g. of dried shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
10. 350 ml. hot water

For the egg noodles:
11. 200g. dried egg noodles
12. 350 ml. hot water

For the sauce:
13. 1 tbsp. corn flour
14. 1 tbsp. soy sauce
15. 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
16. ½ tsp. ground white pepper
17. ½ tsp. sugar

For frying:
18. 2 tbsp. sunflower oil
19. 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
20. 10g. fresh ginger, finely sliced into matchsticks
21. 100g. beansprouts

For the garnish:
22. 5g. chives, chopped

Crispy Noodle Pork:
1.  Marinade the pork with all the ingredients listed above under ‘pork marinade’.IMG_3691
2.  Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes, drain the mushrooms and sliced them thinly. Keep the mushroom liquid aside.

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3.  Blanched the egg noodles in hot water for 1 minute, tossing the noodles to loosen the noodles and avoid them from sticking together. Drain the noodles and place on a plate to dry for 30 minutes. The noodles need to be dry, in order for it to crisp up.

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4.  Next, combine all the ‘sauce’ ingredients listed above in a small bowl.
5.  Place the wok on high heat burner, add approx. 600ml. When the oil is smoking hot, add a quarter of the noodles and deep fry until they are crispy, do not stir or move the noodles around the pan, just leave them to cook until crisp and golden. Do the same for the rest of the noodles cooking them in batches so they cook evenly and crisp up.

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6.  Once the noodles are cooked and crisp, place on a plate and set aside while you make the sauce.
7.  For the sauce, heat the wok over a high heat burner; add 2 tbsp. of sunflower oil into the wok. Once the wok is smoking hot add the garlic, ginger and mushrooms stir fry until fragrant.
8.  Add the pork and fry for 2 minutes. Next, add the rest of the ‘sauce’ ingredients along with the ‘mushroom liquid’ simmer for 2-3 minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce.
9.  Stir in the beansprouts and cook for 1 minute. Pour the sauce into the crispy noodles and garnish with some chopped chives.

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Serve immediately.

Creamy Chicken Pie

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Comforting, tasty, filling and a definite English household favourite dish! It is probably the most famous savoury pie in the whole of England. Although steak and ale pie, steak and kidney pie are not too far off from the English’s favourite pie list! There are probably a hundred different chicken pie recipes out there, every family and chefs I know of have their own little secret spice or add their own little twist into this dish. This is my version which I would say is not suitable for those on a diet as in all my cooking, baking and making, I always use full fat butter, and to make such a delicious puffy pastry a lot of butter is simply pre-requisite! I take the attitude that we only live once so we may as well enjoy our days and eat loads of pies! Feel free to amend this recipe and add your own twist into this dish! Happy pie eating!  

KITCHEN KIT:
A deep pan, an oven proof dish, a pastry brush.

Ingredients Serves 6:
1.  1 tbsp. olive oil
2.  2 tbsp. butter
3.  2 chicken breast, sliced into big chunks
4.  4 good quality sausages ( I prefer to use sausage full of different types of herbs), sliced in halves
5.  1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
6.  A handful of fresh thyme leaves
7.  3 carrots, peeled and chopped
8.  3 celery sticks, chopped  
9.  2 leeks, chopped
10. 130g. chestnut mushrooms, chopped
11. 250 ml. good quality white wine
12. ½ tbsp. mustard
13. ½ tsp. salt
14. ½ tsp. pepper
15. ¼ tsp. nutmeg
16. 300 ml. double cream
17. 1 tbsp. corn flour
18. 1 pack ready rolled shop-bought puff pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy, otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following “All Butter Puff Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
19. 1 egg  lightly beaten, for glazing

 

For The Chicken Pie Filling:
1.  Place a deep pan over high heat, add the oil and butter. Once the butter has melted add the chicken pieces and sausages. Cook and brown for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown all sides of the meat.
2.  Next, add the garlic and thyme leaves into the meat, continue to cook for 1 minute, then add the rest of the vegetables and white wine. Allow to simmer for 4 minutes.
3.  Stir in the mustard, salt, pepper, nutmeg, double cream and corn flour. Thicken the sauce for 1 minute then transfer the chicken and vegetable fillings in an oven proof dish.

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For The Puff Pastry:
4.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.  On a flour dusted work surface, roll the puff pastry approx. 3mm in thickness, wide and long enough cover your oven proof dish.  
5.  Place the puff pastry on top of your chicken and vegetable fillings. Brush with beaten egg all over and prick with a fork. The egg glaze will give your pie a nice colouring once cooked and pricking the pastry will allow the steam to come out of your pie.
6.  Place your pie in the oven for 30 minutes or just when the pastry has risen up and is golden brown.
7.  After 30 minutes, remove the oven; allow the pie to cool down slightly for 2-3 minutes before serving.

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Extra Tip:
If you’d like your pie sauce to be a little bit more runny add a little bit of full fat milk and stir well into your sauce.
If you are not too keen on ‘All butter puff pastry’ you can always use short-crust pastry instead, infact there are many restaurants in UK that serves this pie with short-crust pastry instead.
You can also try and make your own short-crust pastry by following “The Savoury Short Crust Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.

Freezing: I usually make small individual portions of the chicken pie fillings and freeze them. When I come home from work and haven’t got the time to cook. I heat the chicken filling in a microwave for 4-5 minutes or until its very hot, cover with a puff pastry and place in the oven to bake till the pastry is nice and puffy. Taste as good!

Ratatouille

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The name of this French Provençal vegetable strew, ‘Ratatouille’ originated from the Occitan word ratatolha or in French ‘touiller’ which means to ‘toss the food’. This dish is so versatile, it can be eaten by itself or served with an accompanying meat or fish. It can even be added or toss into a pasta with some pesto. I love making this beautiful and colourful dish. Not only it is healthy, it is also very tasty and so easy to prepare. I do two types of ‘Ratatouille’ a more traditional version making the ‘Ratatouille’ without any crunch  and another version with crunch, which is a ‘Ratatouille au Gratin’.
The picture above is ‘Ratatouille’ without the crunch on it which is the classic way to cook this dish.
The picture below on the other hand is the less traditional version “Ratatouille’ au Gratin” with its extra crunch.

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KITCHEN KIT:
A large frying pan and an oven proof dish.

Ingredients Serves 2:
For the Ratatouille:
1.  2 tbsp olive oil
2.  1 red onions, sliced
3.  2 cloves of garlic, crushed
4.  2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
5.  2 bell peppers, roughly chopped
6.  1 courgettes, chopped
7.  1 aubergine, chopped
8.  2 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
9.  1 tsp sea salt
10. 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
11. 1 tbsp. herbes de Provence

For the crunch:
12. 4 tbsp. panko breadcrumbs
13. ½ tbsp. herbes de Provence
14. 2 tbsp. grated comte cheese

For the Ratatouille:
1.  Preheat the oven to 200ºC on Grill.
2.  In a large frying pan, heat the oil and cook the onions for 2 minutes, until they are soft.
3.  Add the rest of the vegetables, salt, pepper and herbes de Provence; gently stirring to cook all vegetables evenly for 5 minutes. Then lower the heat, cover the pan with a lid and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring gently from time to time so the vegetables doesn’t stick into the pan.

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For the crunch:
4.  Transfer the vegetables to an ovenproof dish, mix the breadcrumbs with ½ a tbsp. of herbes de Provence and 2 tbsp. of comte cheese; sprinkle this over the vegetables and place the vegetables under the grill for 3 minutes.

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Serve immediately.

 

Coq au Reisling (Alsatian Chicken cooked in Reisling wine)

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This is more of a continuation from my Alsatian blog yesterday. Another local speciality of Alsace, this dish is serve in many restaurants in the region and one of the local favourites too. A creamy sauce, with cute little Alsatian pasta, best eaten with a refreshing Reisling wine. Bon appétit!

KITCHEN KIT:
A pasta sauce pan and a large pan with a lid. 

Ingredients Serves 2:

 

For the chicken and reisling sauce:
1.  2 chicken legs
2.  70g. butter (40g from frying and 30g for the sauce)
3.  ½ tsp. salt
4.  ½ tsp. ground black pepper
5.  30g. shallots, finely chopped
6.  1 tbsp. of fresh thyme leaves
7.  50 ml. cognac or armagnac
8.  250 ml. Reisling (For this dish, I used Trimbach Riesling Frederic Emile, 2006 dry Reisling wine)
9.  150 g.  Paris mushroom
10.  200 ml. double cream

 
For the pasta:
11. 120g. dried corolles d’Alsace pasta (I used a pasta by Reflets de France)
12. 2 pinches of salt
13. 1 tbsp. oil
14. 1.5 litres of hot water

 

 

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For the garnish:
14. A handful of thyme leaves 

For the chicken and reisling sauce:
1. In a large sauce pan over a medium heat, melt 40g. of your butter. Add the chicken legs (cook the skin side first), fry and brown for approx. 5 minutes on each side.
2.  Once the chicken is brown and cooked, transfer into another clean pan, over medium heat. Add 30g.of butter,  ½ tsp of salt and ½ pepper, then add the shallots and cook for  2 minutes.
3. Add the cognac/armagnac and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
4. Next, add the mushroom and the Reisling wine. Cover the pan with a lid and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
5. After 20 minutes, remove chicken legs from the pan and set aside on a warm plate; turn the heat up and reduce the sauce by a third. Finally, stir in the double cream, season to taste with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Cook the sauce for 2 minutes before serving.

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For the pasta:
6.  Meanwhile, while your sauce simmers, prepare the pasta. Place the pasta pan over a high heat; add the hot water, salt and oil. Allow to boil then add the pasta in.
7.  Cook the pasta for 7 minutes and drain. (If you are using a different type of pasta or a different brand of pasta follow the pasta packet instructions for cooking time. as this varies.)

Plate the pasta into a plate and add the chicken and sauce. Garnish with some thyme leaves and serve immediately.

 

Meatballs in rich tomato and red wine sauce

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The pasta and wine I used for this dish is from the Alsace region of France, which is located on the west bank of the river Rhine, between the Rhine and the Vosges mountains. To the north and east Alsace shares a border with Germany; to the south with German-speaking Switzerland and finally to the west with Lorraine and Franche Comté. Making Alsatian cuisine quite different from the rest of France, pasta is one of the typical dishes from this region. Dishes from Alsace are also known to be packed full of flavours, rich and hearty with German names. A definite place to visit for another gastronomic adventure! bon appétit!

KITCHEN KIT:
A large bowl, a pasta sauce pan and a large pan with a lid.

Ingredients Serves 2:

For the meatballs mixture:
1.  4 sausages (sausage meat removed from casting)
2.  150g extra lean minced beef
3.  ½ tsp. salt
4.  ½ tsp. pepper
5.  ½ tsp. dried chili flakes
6.  ½ tsp. herb de Provence

For cooking the meatballs:
7.  2 tbsp. olive oil

For the tomato and red wine sauce:
8.  1 tbsp. Butter
9.  2 rashers of bacon, sliced
10. 1 tbsp. herb de Provence
11. ¼ tsp. chili flakes
12. ½ tsp salt
13. ½ tsp. ground black pepper
14. 1 small onion, chopped
15. 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
16. 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
17. 1 tbsp. tomato paste
18. 400g. or 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
19. 150ml. good quality red wine (for this recipe I used Domaine Barmès Buecher – Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignes 2006)
20. 300ml. beef stock

For the pasta:
21. 120g. dried Monschel pasta (I used a pasta by Reflets de France)
22. 2 pinches of salt
23. 1 tbsp. oil
24. 1.5 litres of hot water

For the garnish:
25. A handful of roughly chopped parsley

For the meatballs:
1.  In a bowl mix all the meatballs mixture, ingredients listed above. Then make this mixture into small round balls. Set aside on a plate.
2.  On a large pan over a high heat, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Add the meat balls and cook for 3-4 minutes until the meatballs are cooked and brown on all sides.
3.  Remove the meatballs from the pan once cooked and set aside on a clean plate.

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For the tomato and red wine sauce:
4.  To keep the flavors of the meat in your sauce, using the same large pan you cooked the meat balls in and add the butter and bacon. Over a high heat, cook the bacon for 2 minutes, then add the herb de provence, chili flakes, salt, pepper, onions, celery and carrots; cook further for 2 minutes.
5.  Finally add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, red wine and beef stock. Once the sauce starts to boil lower the heat, add the cooked meatballs into the sauce and gently simmer for 15 minutes.

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For the pasta:
6.  Meanwhile, while your sauce cooks, prepare the pasta. Place the pasta pan over a high heat; add the hot water, salt and oil. Allow to boil then add the pasta in.
7.  Cook the pasta for 7 minutes and drain. (If you are using a different type of pasta or a different brand of pasta follow the pasta packet instructions for cooking time. as this varies.)

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Plate the pasta into a plate and add the meatballs and sauce. Garnish with some chopped parsley and serve immediately.

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Note:
Ready-made meatballs are now available for purchased in many super markets in the UK. If you are in a rush, you can buy these ready-made meatballs instead. Though, if you have the time to make the meatballs adding your own herbs and spices into it will surely make a lovely difference and personal touch to the dish.

Chocolate Soufflé:

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KITCHEN KIT:
A sauce pan, a silicone baking spatula, a whisk and 4 oven proof ramekins

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the pastry cream:
1.  180ml full fat milk
2.  1 tsp vanilla extract or half a vanilla pod seeds
3.  25g caster sugar
4.  25g plain flour
5.  4 tbsp. cocoa powder (for a more intense chocolate flavour add more, I sometimes put more but on this occasion I put less)
6.  4 large eggs, (yolks only)

For the soufflé:
7.  4 large eggs, (whites only)
8.  55g sugar
9.  ½ tsp. lemon juice
For the ramekins:
10.  1 tbsp butter
11.  1 tbsp golden caster sugar

 

For the pastry cream:
1.  In a medium size pan, bring the milk and vanilla extract/seeds to a simmer.
2.  Meanwhile in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cocoa powder in a bowl until well combined. Slowly add the warm milk mixture into this whisking continuously until well combined.
3.  Return the milk and creamy egg mixture into the saucepan, over a low heat, continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously, until thick and smooth.

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For the soufflé:
4.  Preheat the oven to 170C. Brush your ramekins with butter and dust all sides with golden caster sugar.

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5.  In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and lemon juice until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugar, until stiff peaks form.

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6.  Spoon over a quarter of the pastry cream into the egg white mixture. Gently fold and once well combined add the rest of the pastry cream. It is important to do this gently to keep the air on the egg whites. Using a pallete knife smooth over the top of the soufflé, and then run a knife around the edge of the insides of the ramekins to allow the soufflé to rise.

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7.  Finally spoon this over the buttered ramekins, dust the top with some icing sugar and place in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes.

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8.  Dust the top with some more cocoa powder and serve immediately.

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Pot au feu (A very comforting meat stew)

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This is a very comforting dish that is quintessentially French.  A dish that is not just tasty but also very easy to prepare.  It is not a surprise that this dish is famous among French families.

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KITCHEN KIT:
A large casserole pan with a lid/cover and a medium size sauce pan with a lid

Ingredients Serves 6:
 
The Meat:
1.  330g ham hock (that has been soaked in cold water overnight in the fridge)
2.  150g flank of beef , sliced into 3
3.  100g smoked bacon rashers, sliced into approx.1 inch’ in length
4.  100g good quality sausage
5.  200g bone marrow
6.  1.5 litres of water
7.  2 pinches of salt

The Vegetables: 
8.  6 black peppercorns
9.  Bouquet garni ( 3 bay leaves, 5 parlsey, 3 sprigs of dried thyme all tied together)
10. 1 garlic clove, unpeeled
11. 1 medium size savoy cabbage, sliced into large chunks  3 wedges
12. 2 medium carrots, peeled and quartered
13. 2 celery stalks, cut into thirds
14. 1 large turnip, peeled and halved
15. 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
16. A bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped  (for garnish)
     
The Meat:
1.  In a large casserole pan add all the meat ingredients except for the sausage and bone marrow.
2.  Pour 1.5 litres of cold water into the pan, add salt, cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
3.  Once it starts to boil, lower the heat and allow the simmering for 3 minutes whilst removing impurities that rise up into the surface. (best not to remove all the fat that comes out of the meat as it does add flavour to the dish)
4.  Next, add the bouquet garni, garlic and peppercorns. Cover the casserole pan with a lid leaving a small gap slightly open to allow the steam to come out.  Continue to cook gently over low heat for 1 and ½ hours.
5.  After 1 and ½ hours add the bone marrow and the sausage.

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The Vegetables: 
6.  Meanwhile in a separate medium size pan, bring water to a boil and blanch the savoy cabbages for 3 minutes.  Drain the cabbages and add these into the meat casserole pan.
7.  Add all the other vegetables listed above into the meat casserole pan. Continue to cook gently for 45 minutes.
8.  Finally add some chopped parsley, serve the meat and vegetables on a large plate and serve the consommé separately on individual bowls.

Serve with warm freshly baked bread, dijon mustard and cornichons.

Calvados Soufflé

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This is such a wonderful dessert to have specially if you’ve had a rich  and heavy meal when all you wanted for dessert  is something sweet and light to finish your meal.  I got this idea from a restaurant I’ve recently  visited in Rouen called  ‘Restaurant La Couronne’ this restaurant is a definite must to visit when in Rouen, one of the oldest restaurant in town that has become an institution in its own right and serves amazing  Calvados Soufflé. The Calvados Soufflé I’ve had at La Couronne is certainly more alcoholic than my recipe, I wanted to create a more toned down version, a soufflé that just gives  a slight hint of the calvados flavours. However, if you love alcoholic desserts then simply add more calvados into this recipe for that extra kick. Enjoy : )

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KITCHEN KIT:
A sauce pan, a silicone baking spatula, a whisk and 4 oven proof ramekins

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the pastry cream:
1.  180ml full fat milk
2.  ½ tsp vanilla extract or half a vanilla pod seeds
3.  25g caster sugar
4.  25g plain flour
5.  2 tsp calvados
6.  4 large eggs, (yolks only)

For the soufflé:
7.  4 large eggs, (whites only)
8.  55g sugar
9.  ½ tsp. lemon juice

For the pastry cream:
1.  In a medium size pan, bring the milk and vanilla extract/seeds to a simmer.
2.  Meanwhile in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar,calvados and flour in a bowl until well combined. Slowly add the warm milk mixture into this whisking continuously until well combined.
3.  Return the milk and creamy egg mixture into the saucepan, over a low heat, continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously, until thick and smooth.

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For the soufflé:
4.  Preheat the oven to 170C. Brush your ramekins with butter.
5.  In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and lemon juice until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugar, until stiff peaks form.

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6.  Spoon over a quarter of the pastry cream into the egg white mixture. Gently fold and once well combined add the rest of the pastry cream. It is important to do this gently to keep the air on the egg whites. Using a pallete knife smooth over the top of the soufflé, and then run a knife around the edge of the insides of the ramekins to allow the soufflé to rise.
7.  Finally spoon this over the buttered ramekins, dust the top with some icing sugar and place in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes.

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La Couronne’s Calvados Soufflé –  http://www.lacouronne.com.fr/

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Fish Pie

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KITCHEN KIT:
An oven proof dish, a large sauce pan, a large bowl, potato ricer/masher, food processor and a whisk.

Ingredients Serves 4:

For Boiling the Potatoes:
1. 900g King Edwards floury potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks of equal sizes
2. 2 liter. hot water
3. Pinch of salt

For the Mashed Potatoes:
4. 200 ml full fat milk
5. 150g softened butter
6. ½ tbsp. Whole grain mustard
7. ½ tsp. salt
8. ½ tsp. ground black pepper
9. A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
10. 2 tbsp. of olive oil

For the Mornay Sauce:
11. 50g butter
12. 50g plain flour
13. 200ml full fat milk
14. 220ml single cream
15. 50g grated gruyere cheese
16. ½ tsp whole grain mustard
17. 1 clove
18. 1 small onion peeled
19. 1 bay leaf
20. Pinch of ground white pepper
21. Pinch of cayenne pepper
22. Pinch of nutmeg

For the Fish and Prawns:
23. 16 pieces of cooked prawns
24. 300g smoked salmon
25. 300g smoked mackerel

For Boiling the Potatoes:
1. On a large sauce pan over a high heat, bring salted water to boil. Once it starts to boil add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place on a large bowl.

For the Mashed Potatoes:
2. Add milk, butter, mustard, salt and pepper into the cooked potatoes and then mashed until smooth.
3. Next, process chopped parsley with the olive oil for 1 minute. (alternatively use a pestle and mortar and pound the chopped parsley with the olive oil) Mix this into the mashed potatoes until completely the parsley’s completely incorporated into the mashed potatoes.

For Mornay Sauce:
4. On a large sauce pan (you can use the same pan you used to boil your potatoes) melt butter over a medium heat, once melted add your flour and stir until you have a smooth paste. Slowly add your milk whisking constantly.
5. Once all ingredients are incorporated stir in your single cream, ¾ of the grated gruyere, mustard, onion, clove and bay leaf. Season with some ground white pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Simmer over low-medium heat for 4 minutes whisking occasionally to avoid lumps from forming.
6. After simmering, remove the onion, clove and bay leaf. Set the sauce to one side.

For the Fish and Prawns:
7. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
8. Spoon over half of the mashed potatoes on an oven proof dish, then lay over the salmon, mackerel, prawns, Mornay sauce and some of the grated cheese.

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9. Then lay another layer of salmon, prawns, mackerel and Mornay sauce, before spreading over the remaining mash potatoes.
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10. Finally sprinkle over the remaining gruyere cheese on top and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until the mashed potatoes turn golden brown on the top.

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Serve immediately.

Bread and Butter Pudding

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KITCHEN KIT:
A baking dish and a sauce pan.

Ingredients Serves 4:
1. 80g butter, softened
2. 8 slices of slightly stale white bread or panettone, slice into triangles
3. 2 tbsp armagnac or brandy, optional
4. 50g mixed fruit (combinations of currants, raisins, dates, orange peels etc.)
5. 200ml full fat milk
6. 1 vanilla pod seeds or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
7. 100ml double cream
8. 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
9. 3 1/2 tbsp. golden caster sugar
10. 1/2 tbsp demerara sugar
11. 2 Pinches of grated nutmeg

Bread and Butter Pudding:
1. In a bowl combine the dried fruits with the brandy. Cover the bowl with a cling film and leave to soak overnight or for at least 1 hour.

2. Next, Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Then slice your vanilla pod into half, scrape the seeds out with the back of a knife, place both the vanilla pods and seeds in a sauce pan, add the milk and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes over medium heat.

3. Remove the sauce pan from heat and set aside to cool for 2 minutes. (Discard the vanilla pod). Add the cream, lightly beaten egg and caster sugar into this and beat lightly until all ingredients are well combined. Save this custard mixture aside.

4. Meanwhile, butter the bread and your baking dish. Arrange the buttered bread slices in overlapping rows inside the dish.

5. Scatter the soaked fruits on top and pour over some of the custard mixture on top. Leave the bread to soak for 20 minutes.

6. Add the rest of the buttered bread in the baking dish, making a second layer, then pour over the rest of the custard mixture on top. Finally scatter pieces of softened cubed butter on top, followed by sprinkling of demerara sugar and pinches of grated nutmeg.

7. Place in a roasting tin and and fill halfway with water to make a bain marie. Cook for 35 – 45 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with more custard or as is.
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