Chicken Pilau Rice

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KITCHEN KIT:
An ovenproof deep casserole pan, a griddle pan, a pestle and mortar or spice grinder

Ingredients Serves 8:
1st batch:
1. 3 tbsp. of gee (use butter or vegetable oil as an alternative)
2. 3 cassia bark approx. 3 inches in length
3. 12 cloves
4. 12 cadamom pods
5. 3 bay leaves

2nd batch:
6. 1 tbsp. garlic, grated (approx. 20g)
7. 2 ½ tbsp. ginger, grated (approx. 70g)

3rd batch:
8. 4 medium size onions, finely chopped (approx. 450g)

4th batch:
9. 1 tsp. coriander seeds (grounded or pounded into a powder)
10. 2 tsp. cumin seeds (grounded or pounded into a powder)
11. 1 tsp. nutmeg, finely grated
12. 1 tsp. chilli flakes (for less heat reduce to ½ tsp.)

5th batch:
13. ½ tsp. salt
14. ½ tsp. ground black pepper
15. 200g chicken breast, cut into bite size chunks

6th batch:
16. 1 tsp. tumeric powder
17. 2 medium size tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
18. 400g tomato chops (tined or if fresh finely chopped)
19. 500ml of water
20. 2 carrots, peeled and sliced

7th batch:
21. 400g basmati rice
22. 15 curry leaves

For garnish:
23. 6 small red bell pepper
24. A handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

For the Chicken Pilau:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Place your casserole over a medium heat, add all the ingredients listed on ‘batch 1’ cook for 30 seconds to release the flavours of the spcies.

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2. Add ‘batch 2’ ingredients into the casserole and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add ‘batch 3’ ingredient and cook for 15 minutes until the onions has completely softened, stir constantly to prevent the onions from burning and sticking to the pan.
4. Add ‘ batch 4’ ingredients and stir for 1 minute.
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5. Next, add ‘batch 5’ ingredients and cook for 5 minutes.

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6. Now, add ‘batch 6’ ingredients and lower the heat. Bring it to a gentle simmer and allow simmering for 3 minutes.

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7. Finally, add ‘batch 7’ ingredients, stir the rice and curry leaves well. Cover the casserole pan with a lid and place in the oven to cook for 30 minutes. (If you don’t have an oven, you can also cook this in the stove over a very low heat.)

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For the garnish:
8. 10 minutes before the ‘chicken pilau’ finish cooking in the oven, place your griddle pan on a high heat, add your peppers and grill on all sides until their skin starts to blacken and becomes softer. Place this on top of your cooked ‘chicken pilau’ along with the chopped coriander leaves.

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Serve immediately.

 

Note:
This dish taste as good without the chicken, you can easily replace the chicken with a vegetable of your choice. I also usually serve this dish with my “Aubergine and Cauliflower Spiced Vegetables”. The recipe for this can also be found on this blog:
This dish is easy to prepare and cook. The most time consuming part of making this dish is the chopping of the onions, ginger and garlic but this can easily be avoided if you buy a ready grated garlic, ginger and onions which is available in many Asian super markets across UK in a jar.
Although I always ground my own spices, I appreciate that it can sometimes be too time consuming, if you’re busy and in a hurry you can use ready grounded spices available in little bottles from Waitrose or Sainsbury’s, so you don’t have to pound and ground them yourself.

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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Chapati

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Chapati is a common staple cuisine in India and Pakistan, this unleavened flat bread ‘Chapati’ as it is called in India which means ‘flattened round bread’ can be found all over India, in restaurants, in cafes, in grand hotels and street hawkers sells them too. This is a lovely bread to have with any dish and if you are as terrible as I am using my hands to eat this bread is a saviour! Not only it is useful for scooping food it taste lovely too. I sometimes have this with hummus and sometimes I even use it as a ‘taco like’ shell for a Mexican food. However you eat, I hope you enjoy it!

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KITCHEN KIT:
A frying pan, a food mixer with a dough hook, a large bowl and a rolling pin

Ingredients Serves 2:
1.  300g  chapati flour or wholemeal flour
2.  100ml cold water
3.  a pinch of fine salt
4.  1 tbsp. of gee or butter (for greasing the bowl and to brush the cooked chpati)
5.  4 tbsp. of plain flour for dusting the work surface and rolling the chapatis

The Chapati:
1. Place the flour and salt in a medium bowl, make a well in the middle and slowly pour in the water while mixing to make a dough.
2. Transfer your dough in floured work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic, alternatively use a food mixer machine with a dough hook and knead for 5 minutes.

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3. Oil a large bowl and transfer your dough, cover with a cling film and leave it to rest for 15 minutes.

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4. Now, divide the dough into 6 small balls (small enough to cover it with both of your hands) and roll out each ball on a well-floured work surface as thin as possible.
5. Heat the frying pan over a medium heat (without any oil or gee), once it is very hot cook each chapati, pressing and turning it every now and then. When it begins to puff up, turn it over to cook the other side for another 30 seconds and remove from heat. The cooking time is around 1-2 minutes on both sides or just when it starts to puff up, it should be golden brown in colour.

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6. When the chapatis are cooked you can brush it lightly with some gee or butter, it will give it a nice shine and a lovely flavour to it too.

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Serve warm.

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.

Chorizo and Olives Thin Crust Pizza

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Pizza and Tapas for me is the ultimate social food. It’s a lot of fun to make with family and friends and so easy to prepare as well. All you need is a dough base and you can choose whatever toppings it is you want.  You can have a simple classic margherita with just tomatoes, basil and mozzarella topping or a full on meat feast with different hams and spices and meat, alternatively have a vegetarian version with a medley of roasted vegetables as your pizza topping, yum!!
On this recipe, I just used whatever it is I could find in my fridge. I didn’t have any fresh tomatoes left so I just used the dried tomatoes hanging over my kitchen and hydrated them over hot water before slicing and adding them onto the pizza. So feel free to use whatever you have at home as your pizza topping and enjoy the experiment and most importantly the eating process with your family and friends! Buon Appetito!

Health and Safety Warning: Do not throw the pizza dough too high up or it might just end up on your head as it did to me on many occasions…. apart from that.. throw, turn and toss away!

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KITCHEN KIT:
A large bowl, a 10 inch’ pizza baking pan or any flat baking tray will do as well; a food mixer machine with a dough hook for mixing and kneading, if you haven’t got the machine you can knead the dough by hand instead and mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon.
A tea towel or a cling film that has been sprayed with oil.

Ingredients Makes 4 Pizzas (approximately 10 inch’ in size):

For the pizza dough:
1.  300g strong bread flour
2.  4g. fast action yeast
3.  4g. fine salt
4.  180ml.  warm water
5.  20ml. full fat milk
6.  10ml. olive oil

For the sauce base:
7.  150ml. passata
8.  2tbsp.dried oregano (½ tbsp. per pizza)
9.  60g. grated parmesan cheese (15g. per pizza)
10. 4 pinches of ground black pepper ( a pinch per pizza)
11. 4 pinches of chili flakes
12. 2tbsp.olive oil (½ tbsp. per pizza)
For the toppings:
13. 130g. mozzarella slice into chunky pieces
14. 8 slices of picante chorizo.
15. 4 sundried tomatoes ( if they are completely dry, soaked them first in hot water for 5 minutes to hydrate them before slicing them into strips)
16. 8g. of green olives, stoned and halves

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For the pizza dough:
1. Put the flour into a large bowl; add the yeast on one end of the bowl and the salt directly on the opposite of the yeast (don’t combine the salt and yeast as the salt will kill the yeast and will affect the dough from rising).
2. Make a well in the middle of the flour, pour in 180ml warm water, 20ml. milk and 10m.olive oil.  Mix well until you have a fairly wet dough.

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3. On a well-floured surface, transfer your dough and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth alternatively mix and knead on a food mixing machine for 5 minutes.
4. After kneading, cover the dough with a tea towel or a cling film that has been sprayed with oil, placing the oil side first onto the dough so the dough can rise and does not stick into the cling film. You can now leave the dough to rise for 10-15 minutes to get a thicker pizza base, but if you want a very thin crust you don’t have to leave the dough to rise, you can use it immediately or reduce the rising time to 5 minutes.

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5. If you’ve left the dough rise, knead it again for just 1-2 minutes, and then split the dough into 4 balls.
6. On a well-floured surface, place the dough ball, using a rolling pin roll it until it is very thin as it will rise in the oven.
7. Sprinkle some flour over the pizza baking tray so the dough doesn’t stick to it.

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For the sauce base and toppings
8. Pre-heat oven to 200ºC.Spoon over the passata first on the rolled out pizza dough, then add all the other ‘sauce base’ ingredients listed above.
9. Sprinkle the toppings all over the pizza.
10. Place the pizza in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes or until crisp.

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Serve immediately.

Note:
Making a crispy base pizza:
Spoon over the passata and toppings just before you bake the pizza in the oven, leaving it for more than 5 minutes will make the pizza base less crisp and in some cases soggy.
Storing the dough:
Once you have made the dough and have given it time to rise, tear it into small pieces of balls. The ones you don’t want to use immediately wrap in a cling film (air tight) and place in the fridge overnight and use the next day, alternatively you can also freeze them and use when needed.  If you decide to put it in the fridge make sure you knead the dough for a couple of minutes before rolling the dough out to make a pizza base. If you do freeze the dough then you will have to defrost it at room  temperature which wold probably take 6-8 hours, you will have to knead the dough for a couple of minutes before rolling the dough out to make a pizza base.

 

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.

 

Boulangerie-Patisserie Review: Hardouin

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Category: Boulangerie-Patisserie, Take Away Service Only no seating.
Cuisine: French Bread and Patisseries
Price Range on Average: Between EUR 2- 3 for a piece of patisserie
Ambiance: Traditional with a modern twist
Address: 39 Place Grand Marché, 37000 Tours, France
Tel: +33 2 47 76 02 63

Opening Time: Tuesday to Thursday open from 7:00 to 13:15 and again from 15:00 to 19:15 and on Friday & Saturday from 7:00 to 19:15 all day ‘no closing break’.
Website: http://www.achat-tours.com/pagecp-93-BOULANGERIE-PATISSERIE.htm
Last Visited: 2013

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Review:

Tours, which is also known as “Le Jardin de la France” The Garden of France has a lot to celebrate, the city has many beautiful gardens and parks, surrounded by white and blue slate roof buildings that is typical in the North of France, it is also famous for its original medieval district, called “Le Vieux” Tours. Thanks to Jean Royer, who became Mayor of Tours in 1959 for 36 years that conservation of the old beautiful buildings of Tours began, saving the beautiful historical buildings of Tours city centre from demolition. If it wasn’t for him we may never see how beautiful this city must have been.

The centre also has a beautiful square called La Place Plumereau surrounded by boutiques, shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. I you are visiting to watch or participate in the world famous bike race ‘Tour De France’, please take some time too to visit the centre and experience it.
Touraine, the region around Tours is also worth a visit, known for its fine wines and fine cheese. But as my obsession lies more on patisseries, I would like to share my newly found discovery the ‘Hardouin Boulangerie-Patisserie’ located inside Tours main market ‘Les Halles De Tours’  http://www.achat-tours.com/pagecp-93-BOULANGERIE-PATISSERIE.htm

This Boulangerie-Patisserie shop offers amazing freshly baked breads and a wide selection of patisseries at very reasonable prices. Their Eclair Praline, Apple Crumble patisserie and Lemon Drizzle Cake were executed very well, in taste and creative design, the patisseries were so pretty that I felt so guilty eating them. They are not just pretty to look at they are so tasty too. It is not a surprise that Patisserie chefs are so highly regarded for their amazing Patisserie skill and creative flare. I am so honoured to have had the chance to try these amazing little gems! I will no doubt make a trip to Tours once again in my lifetime just to try these Patisseries again.

Finally, I would like to add that, Hardouin is right in front of a great Charcuterie in Tours. You can spend a morning walking around this little indoor market and sample all the amazing cheese, bread, Charcuteries, chocolates on sale at reasonable value and of excellent quality!

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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.

Restaurant Review: Bordeaux- Le Noailles

Le Noailles
Category: Restaurant, Brasserie
Cuisine: French, Typical Brasserie Dishes
Price Range on Average: EUR 35.00 (per head for a 3 course meal excluding drinks)
Ambiance: Traditional, Rustic French
Address: 12 Allée de Tourny, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Tel: +33 5 56 81 94 45
Website: Currently Not Available
Last Visited: 2013 for dinner

Review:
This beautiful Parisian style brasserie has been serving typical French brasserie dishes such as steak and pomme frites and sole beurre noisette since the 1932. This restaurant is centrally located at the Allées de Tourny just a few steps away from the Grand Theatre. This is not the restaurant to go to for a haute cuisine gastronomic experience, but a place instead to enjoy a casual dinner with friends and reminisce the old times. This is certainly one of the places to go to when in Bordeaux just like La Tupina, not because it is the best but because it has been around for decades.

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The atmosphere and dining experience will take you back to 1930s, it has a lovely covered terrace with tables and wooden chairs set up by the side street overlooking the Tourny alley square, full of smoking locals who’ve just finished work. The main restaurant is decorated in traditional dark wooden panelled walls and red velour booths, with waiters in traditional black and white outfits and black long aprons running around across the room as they navigate all the tables of hungry guests of both regular locals and tourists.

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The atmosphere is busy and noisy, so if you want a quiet romantic candle light dinner this is not the place for you.  Expect the waiters to be running around you throughout the whole evening, at one point our waiter tripped and accidentally dropped an ice cream on a guest’s jacket, I must say that it was an accident and he was very apologetic still something I should mention for those readers who are particular about service and expect superb service. As someone who is in love with food and adventures for me this is just another exciting new experience to try, so the running around doesn’t really bother me. I was simply happy to have tried another restaurant that has been serving food for decades. The food is not much to write about, I can see why this restaurant appeals to locals and tourists as they serve, if not all, certainly most of the traditional brasserie dishes you would expect without all the fuss and fusion type dishes you find in some of the new trendy restaurants.

This is a place that serves plain, simple, classic French brasserie dishes in massive portions. The price is little bit more expensive than I would expect for the quality of food and service they provide. But then as an institution that has been around since 1932, a restaurant well located at the centre of Bordeaux I guess they can charge the prices they do.

For the main course I tried their steak which was cooked perfectly, the French beans that came with it was however over cooked and under seasoned. For dessert, the waiters come to each table to show the day’s patisserie and ice cream samples, guest can then pick their choice from the plate of desserts or order from the menu which has the classic desserts you’d typically find in French brasseries such as crème caramel. They have a wine list that suits every budget.

Overall the food is average, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. If you fancy a night out with friends, in a busy restaurant full of atmosphere then I would recommend this place for sure.

 

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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Bordeaux

France Postcard 3

Bordeaux, home to one of the best wines of the world and to France’s tasty canelé de Bordeaux, a traditional Bordelais cake made originally using miniature cooper mould. These little golden cakes with a rich and dense spongy custard filling and golden caramel shells are definitely a “must try” in Bordeaux. Typically eaten for breakfast, as a dessert or even just as a snack in between meals; wine lovers often serves these little gems at wine tasting as well, a perfect accompaniment with sweet Sauternes wine. In my case, I can certainly eat them anytime of the day with a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, tea or even just by itself. Aside from canelé, Bordeaux is also famous for its oysters from Arcachon Bay, seafood from Gironde Estuary and Cod from Begles. Lamprey à la Bordelaise is another popular dish that originated from Bordeaux, a fish stew cook in red wine that is popular to both locals and visiting tourists. In terms of meat; the black pigs from Bigorre Pyrenees and Charolais beef cooked over wood-burning fires are also a must try and certainly a delicious treat to have in this beautiful city, full of history, pack with flavours and amazing wine! A city that no doubt will leave you with a lasting memory in the palette…

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Reviews and Recommendations:

La Tupina

Category: Restaurant, Bistro

Cuisine: French, Traditional cooking from the South-West of France

Price Range on Average: EUR 65.00 (per head for a 3 course meal excluding drinks)

Ambiance: Traditional, Rustic French

Address: 6 Rue de la Porte de la Monnaie, Bordeaux, 33800 France

Tel: +33 5 56 91 56 37

Website: www.latupina.com

Last Visited: 2013 for dinner

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Review:

La Tupina which meant ‘kettle’ in basque language, opened in 1968 by Jean-Pierre Xiradakis, this restaurant is situated in a lovely narrow cobbled street at the centre of Bordeaux. While Cafe Tupina is right at the main road of Quai de la Monnaie, La Tupina, the restaurant, is tucked away just behind it in a pretty narrow street.

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As you enter this restaurant the first thing you will notice is an enormous open fire place, surrounded by hanging dried herbs and garlic, rustic pots and pans. Best local produce of vegetables from the surrounding region of Bordeaux and best cuts of meat of the day is also showcase at the centre of this magnificent fireplace. I have requested for a seat right by the fireplace at the centre of the action. I must say that the whole experience has been fun. As someone who is in love with food and has great passion for cooking, watching chefs prepare and cook is always an exciting experience for me.

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As the chef roast a chicken on a rotating spit over wooden fire, season a rack of lamb on a grill and cook chips on a pan of sizzling duck fat, the smoked and aroma of all these amazing flavours really captivates my senses and appetite. I just couldn’t resist staring at every single dish he plates up.

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When I came for dinner at 7pm on a Monday evening, the restaurant was a bit quiet, by 8pm however the restaurant was packed both with locals and tourists all ordering La tupina’s famous chips cooked in goose fat.

The restaurant is divided into different rooms; the best tables in my opinion would be the tables at the front room by the entrance. Furniture wise; wooden chairs and wooden tables covered in white French country style tablecloths.

The front of house, the chef and the waiters are very friendly. Service is both friendly and efficient. The front of house is very lively and entertaining, who speaks fluent English and of course French.

There’s an extensive wine, Armagnac and cognac list to suit every palette. The waiters are also quite knowledgeable on the best wines to match the dishes they serve and are happy to recommend a good wine to accompany your dish.

The portions of the dishes are definitely very generous, tasty, rich and robust in flavour. This is not the place to have an haute cuisine experience, this is more of a place to try a traditional south-west French cooking, cook simply with good local ingredients and serve simply without all the Michelin starred detailed architectural plating style. For instance, a side dish of stewed beans that came with the leg of lamb was served on the table with a metal sauce pan; this may not be to your taste but works for me as it does suit the ambiance of a rustic, French country home decors and furniture.

For Starter:

The terrine of semi-cooked “Foie Gras” was served with a simple toasted white bread, a few pinches of salt and ground black pepper around the plate. The waiter recommended that I have it with a sweet Sauternes wine, the wine did complement the smooth; melt in the mouth foei gras.

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The squid was simply pan-fried with garlic and chili, served on a simple black plate. The squid was fresh and perfectly cooked. There is nothing worst than an over cooked, rubbery squid and this was definitely not one those.

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For Main:

The leg of lamb was cooked in its own juice for 7 hours, served with one clove of roasted garlic and a pot of cassoulet beans. The meat was succulent and the beans were cooked fine, it wasn’t the best but it’s good.

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The Bigorre black pig was served with a lovely thick sauce, creamy mashed potato and a clove of roasted garlic. It was such a delight to have tried this dish, the meat was tender and pack full of flavours. I’ll definitely order this again the next time I visit.

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For Dessert:

La Tupina’s “Cannelé “stuffed with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with some butterscotch coulis was a new discovery for me. Although I’ve had Cannelé countless times in France I’ve never had them with butterscotch coulis or stuffed with vanilla ice cream. I love the different textures and flavour combinations of this simply constructed dessert. Though perhaps I am a bit biased seeing as cream and caramel is my idea of heaven! Hence, even though I was already full from a massive portion of starter and main course, I did eat all of it. Sometimes it is worth remembering that life is too short to waste such sweet, tasty dessert. So if you do order this on your visit at La Tupina, please enjoy it to the full as I’ve had, as it is worth it.

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Pear “Belle Hélène” with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Sadly as I was too busy tucking into my “Cannelé” I’ve only tried a bit of this dessert, the pear’s cooked well in spice syrup and was served covered in chocolate sauce with some almond slivers, the ice cream came as a surprise as it was hidden inside the pear, this is a tasty and rich dessert.

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Overall the quality of food at La Tupina is good, the portions were a bit too much and I can’t help thinking that perhaps it would have been better if they reduce the portions and the price both at 20%. As in comparison to all other bistros that I’ve been to in Bordeaux, Lyon, Tollouse, Paris, Orleans, Reims and Rouen, La Tupina’s price is definitely higher than any other bistros in France that offers the same food quality and service level. But then, everybody goes to La Tupina as in some ways it has become an institution in its own rights, it is the place to dine when in Bordeaux, to have a great time, to enjoy the theatrical atmosphere and the cozy ambiance, to reminisce on the old days and enjoy local produced. I guess you’d go to La Tupina, because it is La Tupina.

Bon appétit!

Sushi

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KITHCEN KIT:
Large sauce pan, tea towel, sushi bamboo mat, flat dish/plate, fan, rice spatula.

Ingredients Serves 6:
For the Sushi:
1. 250g Sushi rice
2. 1 pint of water
3. 60ml Mirin (sometimes labelled as Sushi seasoning)
4. 8 Nori Sushi sheets (dried seaweed sheets)
5. 100g smoked or fresh salmon
6. 100g smoked mackerel
7. 100g crab sticks
8. 1 Cucumber peeled and sliced into approx. 2 inch in length, soak in cold water and salt for 5 minutes.
9. 4 tsp. Wasabi paste (reduced quantity of wasabi paste for a lesser heat.)

To Serve:
10. 4 tbsp. Japanese light Soy sauce (different from a Chinese soy sauce, the Chinese soy sauce has a higher salt content)
11. 1 tbsp. Japanese Pickled Ginger
12. ½ tbsp. Wasabi paste

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The Rice:
1. Rinse and drain the rice at least 5 times under cold water (this will reduce excess starch from the rice and will not make your rice too sticky).
2. Finally on a large saucepan, over medium heat pour over your rinsed and drained rice, add 1 pint of water into the pan and bring it to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes until there is no water left on the surface.
3. Remove the rice from the hob, transfer the rice on a large flat clean dish, damp a tea towel and use this to cover the rice. Allow rice to cool for 10-15 minutes.
4. Pour the Mirin over the cooled rice, use a rice spatula to cut through the rice (cutting through the rice rather than mixing it will retain the rice individual grain shapes and prevents the rice from becoming too sticky and glutinous)
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5. Fan the rice with a Mirin for 1 -2 minutes.
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Making the Sushi:
Note: there are many ways to make and roll and sushi, instructions below is just one example which is the Makizushi. If you would like to create a variety of sushi rolls and sizes, below are some picture instructions for reference.
6. To make the sushi place a bamboo sushi mat on a work surface, then place 1 Nori sheet on top. Spoon the rice over the Nori sheet; use a knife to spread it thinly, for one end of the Nori sheet leave approx. ½ inch of it empty or without rice, using your finger smear some water or Mirin over this, this will allow you to seal your sushi roll. (As you roll you can add more crab meat or cucumber slices if you wish as I have done in this picture, alternatively you can simply roll away and seal.)
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7. Next add your crab meat, cucumber or other fillings on the rice, spread a little wasabi paste on it.
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8. Roll up the bamboo mat gently pressing it with both hands to make sure that the sushi is rolled tightly on all sides, Remove the Sushi roll from the mat, you can if needed you can add more rice on the two ends of the sushi roll to fill any gaps. Place the sushi roll on a chopping board. Use a very sharp knife to slice your sushi, if your knife becomes too sticky, soak the sharp end of the knife on a bowl of warm water to remove the stickiness and continue slicing through.
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Other Alternative Ways to roll and make a Sushi:

For a Cone Shape Sushi (Temaki Sushi):
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For another shape of Sushi (Nigiri Sushi):
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For another example of a roll Sushi (Makizushi):
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9. To keep the sushi moist and tasty, cover it with a cling film and place in an airtight container before serving or storing in the fridge.
10. When ready to serve, serve it with some pickled ginger, soy sauce and wasabi paste.

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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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Îles flottantes (Floating Island)

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KITCHEN KIT:
An electric whisk, a large bowl, a small pan for the praline and a large sauce pan for the meringue.

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the Crème Anglaise:
1. 50g golden caster sugar
2. 2 large eggs, yolks only
3. 1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
4. 250ml full fat milk

For the Praline:
5. 1 tbsp. chopped hazelnuts
6. 75g caster sugar
7. 25ml water

For the Meringue Islands
8. 65g egg whites
9. 50g caster sugar
10. 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
11. Pinch of salt
12. 1.5 litre of water

For the Crème Anglaise:
1. In a bowl cream the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
2. Meanwhile, in a large pan bring the milk and vanilla pods/extract to a boil. Gently simmer for -5 minutes. Then allow it to cool for 30 seconds.
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3. Pour the milk mixture onto the eggs and sugar, whisking continuously until smooth, then gently pour the mixture into the saucepan. Place on a medium heat and stir continuously for 5 minutes, or until the mixture has slightly thickened. It is important to continuously stir and not allow the mixture to reach boiling point as it will split and you will end up having a scrambled egg rather than a crème anglais (this happened to many times for sure). Your mixture should have a single cream texture rather than a thick custard texture as it will thicken after chilling it in the fridge.
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4. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, stir for a few minutes, then place into the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours.

For the Praline:
5. In a pan, over low heat, gently dissolve your sugar with the water.
6. Then turn the heat high up and add the chopped hazelnuts, stirring continuously, coating them evenly all over for 3 minutes this will turn copper brown in colour.
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7. Place on a sheet of baking paper to cool, until it solidifies. This will only take 1-2 minutes.
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For the Meringue Islands:
8. In a clean bowl, add half of the egg whites with the sugar, lemon juice and salt and whisk until soft peaks form.
9. Then add the remaining egg whites, continue whisking until the meringue forms stiff peaks.
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10. Very gently drop 4 spoonfuls of meringue into a large pan of simmering water and simmer for a few minutes or until they are slightly puffed up. Turn them gently around to cook them on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate.
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The Assembling:
11. Pour over some crème anglaise on a shallow bowl or dish, place your meringue island on top and finally sprinkle over broken pieces of praline.
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Serve Immediately.

Mom’s Stir-Fry Beef with Bell Peppers

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My Mom being a busy entrepreneur, didn’t cook much when I was growing up, but the few dishes she did cook she cooked really well. And this is certainly one of her dishes which my sister and I really love.  It’s a very simple dish that reminds me of home. This is the kind of dish she would cook for us on a school night, when we got back from school.  My Mom never gave this dish a name, so every time my sister and I fancied this dish we would ask her to cook her ‘beef dish with bell peppers’ that’s just what we call it. To make things easier to catalog, I named the recipe “Stir-fry Beef with Bell Peppers”. Though no doubt in our household it will forever be called ‘Mom’s amazing beef dish with bell peppers’. Enjoy.  

KITCHEN KIT:
A dish for marinade and a work for stir fry.

For the Beef Marinade:
1.  Approx 220g beef sirloin, thinly sliced into strips
2.  1 clove of garlic, crushed of grated
3.  3 tbsp. light soy sauce
4.  1 tbsp. Worcester sauce
5.  ½ tsp. sunflower oil
6.  ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
7.  ¼ tsp. chilli flakes
8.  1 bay leaf, torn into small pieces
 
For the Stir Fry:
9.  2 tbsp. sunflower oil
10. 1 clove of garlic, crushed or grated
11. 1 small onion, finely chopped
12. 1 bay leaf
13. 2 bell pepper, slice into strips
14. 3 tbsp. light soy sauce
15. ½ tbsp. dark soy sauce
16. Pinch of salt
17. ¼ of ground black pepper
18. 2 sprigs of spring onions, finely chopped.
 

The Stir-Fry:
1.  Drain the beef off from the marinade.
2.  On a wok, heat 2 tbsp. of oil, when the oil is smoking hot, add the garlic, onion and bay leaf stir fry until onion turns translucent and soft. 
3.  Add beef and bell peppers, fry for 1-2 minutes. Then season with the soy sauce, salt and pepper, finally add in the spring onions.

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Serve immediately with jasmine rice.

Macaroni Cheese

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Kitchen Kit:
A pasta sauce pan, a frying pan and a grater

Ingredients Serves 2:
1.  105g macaroni
2.  Pinch of salt (for pasta)
3.  ½ tbsp. oil (for pasta)
4.  1 tbsp. oil (for frying)
5.  3 bacon or pancetta rashers, chopped into small squares
6.  ¼ tsp. whole grain mustard
7.  ¼ tsp. dried parsley
8.  ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
9.  Pinch of nutmeg
10. 150 ml double cream
11. 60g mature cheddar cheese, grated
12. 25g dolce latte, torn into pieces
13. 10g dried breadcrumbs

Macaroni Cheese:
1.  Pre-heat oven to 200°C set to grill.
2.  In a pasta pan bring salted water with oil to a boil. Add the macaroni pasta and cook until al dente. (if using dried macaroni, follow the packet instructions as some dried pasta takes longer cooking time)
3.  In a  frying pan over a medium heat, ,add oil with the bacon/pancetta and cook for 3 minutes until the bacon turns golden brown and crisp. Drain bacon on a kitchen paper and set it aside.

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4.  Reheat the frying pan over a low heat, leaving the left over oil from the bacon/pancetta in the pan, add the whole grain mustard, dried parsley, ground black pepper, nutmeg, double cream and half of the grated cheddar.  Stir so that all the ingredients are well combined. Cook for 2 minutes.
5.  Add the drained and cooked macaroni in your frying pan, coating them evenly with the cream sauce. Transfer them into an ovenproof dish.

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6.  Sprinkle on top of the macaroni the cooked bacon/pancetta, half of the remaining grated cheddar and finally the breadcrumbs. 

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7.  Place it in the oven to grill until the top turns crisp and golden, this would take around 3-4 minutes.

Serve immediately

French beans wrapped in prosciutto

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KITCHEN KIT:
A steamer and a frying pan

Ingredients Serves 2:
1.  150g French beans, top and ends chopped and chopped into an approx. 2 inch in length.
2.  1 small garlic clove, crushed or finely grated
3.  ½ tbsp. of butter
4.  A pinch of salt
5.  2 prosciutto slices

The French beans:
1.  On a steamer, steam your French beans for 8 minutes.
2.  On a frying pan over low heat, melt your butter with the garlic and a pinch of salt. Add the steamed French beans stirring and coating it with butter all over for 1 minute.
3.  Remove from heat, half the French beans and bundle them together, wrap each bundle with a prosciutto.

Serve Immediately. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Boeuf Bourguignon

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This truly is a heart-warming; comforting dish that originally came from Burgundy (Bourgogne). This dish certainly is one of the very best of French peasant dishes that has been transformed into a magnificent haute cuisine over time. A French house-hold favourite, serve in many bistros in Paris, Lyon and Burgundy and now serve in many Michelin star restaurants. This dish requires the very best of full bodied red wine from Burgundy to give this dish justice. This is a dish where patience really does pays off, no short cuts for dish I’m afraid but trust me it is worth waiting for. The longer the cooking time the better this dish taste! You haven’t tasted beef until you’ve had Boeuf bourguignon! The meat in this dish just falls apart with a gentle touch of a fork, and it melts in your mouth like no other. The flavour of a full bodied red wine form Burgundy penetrates into the meat and the vegetables making it not just a food to enjoy for an evening meal but definitely a dish to remember by. I hope you enjoy this dish too! bon appétit!

KITCHEN KIT
Deep casserole dish with a lid

Ingredients Serves 6:

For the Marinade:
1.  900g  beef brisket, cut into large cube ( or shin of beef also works with this dish)
2.  4 thyme sprigs
3.  4 garlic cloves, crushed
4.  2 tbsp Armagnac  (alternatives: cognac, brandy)
5.  1 ½ bottle of full-bodied red wine- preferably from burgundy

For the First Stage Cooking Process:
6.  2 tbsp olive oil
7.  1 tbsp butter
8.  ½ tsp of salt
9.  ½ tsp of ground black pepper
10. 4 tbsp plain flour

For the Second Stage Cooking Process:
11. 1 tbsp. olive oil
12. 150g diced bacon
13. 8 small silver onions peeled kept whole
14. 1 tbsp. butter
15. 200g  chestnut mushrooms, chopped
16. 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
17. 1 stick celery, cut into chunks
18. 3 Bay leaf
 
For the Third Stage Cooking Process:
19. 1 tbsp tomato puree
20. 600 ml beef stock (if you haven’t got the time to make the stock, I recommend using a shop bought good quality stock as it does makes a big difference with this dish, however if you decide to use a boullion I recommend using 2 small beef boullion pots the concentrated jelly ones rather than the powdered ones mix with 600 ml hot water.)
21. ½ bottle of good quality red wine (I used Roc Des Chevaliers 2010 from Bordeaux)
22. 1 Bouquet garni (made with 2 parsley sprigs, 2 thyme sprigs and 1 bay leaf)
23. Pinch of salt
24. Pinch of ground black pepper.

For the Garnish:
25.  A handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

 

The Marinade:
1.  In a deep dish, marinade beef, wine, 2 sprigs of thyme, garlic and armagnac overnight or for at least 3 hours.

For the First Stage Cooking Process:
2.  Preheat the oven to 200°C.
3.  In a bowl combine the marinated meat with the flour, salt and pepper. Shake off excess flour.    
4.  Place a casserole dish over medium heat; add 2 tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp of butter, brown the meat on all sides. Do this in batches, adding more oil as necessary to avoid the meat from sticking into the pan. Once cook remove meat from heat and set aside.

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For the Second Stage Cooking Process:
5.  Add another 1 tbsp of oil on the pan, add diced bacon cook for 2 minutes; then add the onions, 1 tbsp butter, followed by the mushrooms, carrots, celery and bay leaf. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the cooked meat into this.

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For the Third Stage Cooking Process:
6.  Add the beef stock, red wine, 1 tbsp of tomato puree and bouquet garni into the cooked meat and vegetables bring it to a boil.

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7.  Remove any impurities from the surface, and then simmer for 1 hour.
8.  After one hour,lower oven temperature to 180°C, cover the casserole dish and place in the oven. Leave to cook for 1 hour stirring occasionally. Season to taste and finally sprinkle over some roughly chopped flat leaf parsley.

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Serve with either roast potatoes, creamy mash potatoes or a nice baguette.

Easy Fried Rice with Cured Chinese Sausages (Chinese Chorizo)

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KITCHEN KIT:
A wok

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Fried rice:
1.  4 tbsp. groundnut oil
2.  5 cured Chinese sausages, slice thinly ( alternatively use honey glazed ham or chorizo)
3.  2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4.  15g ginger, crushed or grated
5.  2 medium eggs,  lightly beaten
6.  3 cups cooked jasmine rice, cold and preferably a day old
7.  ½ cup Chinese barbecued pork also known as Char Siu, chopped into small pieces
8.  ½ cup green peas
9.  3 stalks of green onions, finely chopped

For the seasoning:
10. 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
11. ¼ tsp. caster sugar
12. ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
13. ¼ tsp. sesame oil
14. Pinch of fine salt
15. 1 tbsp. water
For the Fried Rice:
1.  Place the wok over a very high heat, add 1 tbsp. of oil, followed by the sausage slices. Fry the sausages for 2 minutes. Remove from the wok and set the sausages aside.
2.  Return the wok to very high heat, add 3 tbsp. of oil, garlic and ginger, fry for 1 minute or until fragrant.
3.  Stir in the eggs and just when the eggs are about to set, add the rice, peas and green onions. Stir Fry for 2 minutes.
4.  Finally season with some light soy sauce, sugar, pepper, sesame oil, salt and water. Stir in the cooked sausages.

Serve immediately.

 

Eggs in pots (oeufs en cocotte)

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I love having this for brunch on a late Sunday morning over a freshly baked home made bread and a nice cup of coffee.  I sometimes have this with honey glazed ham and wilted spinach rather than chorizo and once I had this at a cafe in Paris with slamon, so feel free to experiment and hope you enjoy this too! : ) bon appétit!

KITCHEN KIT:
2 ovenproof ramekins or clay pots and a deep baking tray

Ingredients Serves 2:
1.  8 tbsp. single cream or crème fraiche ( 4 in each ramekins or pots)
2.  2 pinches of salt  (a pinch on each ramekins/pots)
3.  2 pinches of ground black pepper (a pinch on each ramekins/pots)
4.  2 pinches of smoked sweet paprika (a pinch on each ramekins/pots)
5.  12 Picante Chorizo slices (6 in each ramekins or pots)
6.  2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only (1 sprig in each ramekins/pots)
7.  2 eggs

Eggs in pots (oeufs en cocotte)
1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
2. Place 2 tbsp of single cream or crème fraiche in each ramekins or pots.
3. Sprinkle over some salt, pepper and smoked sweet paprika on the cream/crème fraiche.
4. Add 6 chorizo slices on top, then sprinkle over some thyme leaves.

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5. Next, add 1 egg in each ramekins/pots. Spoon over 2 more tablespoon full of cream/crème fraiche on each pots.

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6. Place the ramekins/pots in a deep baking tray, pour enough lukewarm water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins/pots.

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7. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the eggs has set.

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Serve immediately with a warm crusty bread.

 

Spaghetti Meatballs

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KITCHEN KIT:
Pasta pan or large sauce pan and a frying pan

Ingredients Serves 2:

For the Meatballs:
1.  450g minced beef
2.  ½ tsp. salt
3.  ½ tsp. ground black pepper
4.  ½ tsp. chili flakes
5.  ½ tsp. dried oregano
6.  ½ tsp. dried parsley
7.  2 tbsp. olive oil (for frying)
 

For the Sauce:
8.  2 tbsp. olive oil
9.  1 tbsp. butter
10. 1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
11. 1 onion, finely chopped
12. 150g chesnut mushroom, finely chopped  
13. 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
14. 1 tbsp. tomato paste
15. 200g of small fresh vine tomatoes, finely chopped
16. 100 ml. good quality full bodied red wine
17. 300ml beef stock
18. ¼ tsp. chili flakes
19. ½ tsp. sugar
20. ½ tsp. salt
21. ½ tsp. ground black pepper

 

For the Pasta:
22. 1.5 ltr. Boiling water
23. Pinch of salt
24. 1 tsp. olive oil
25. 150g spaghetti (preferably fresh pasta)

For Garnish:
26. A handful of basil leaves

 
For the Meatballs:
1.  In a bowl, mix all the ‘meatballs’ ingredients listed above until well combined. Make small little balls from this mixture of a approx. ½ inch in size.
2.  Place your frying pan over high heat, add the oil and when it is smoking hot add the meatballs.
3.  Cook the meatballs for 3 minutes on all sides stirring gently to prevent the balls from falling apart. Once cooked, remove and set aside on a plate.

For the Sauce:
4.  Using the same pan to cook the meatballs, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil and butter. When smoking hot, add garlic, onion, chestnut mushroom and celery. Cook for 2 minutes.
5.  Next add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, wine, beef stock, allow it to boil.
6.  Once it starts to boil add the meatballs back into the pan, lower the heat, cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes.
7.  Season with chilli flakes, sugar, salt and pepper.
For the Pasta:
8.  Bring salted water with oil to a boil. Once it is boiling add your pasta and cook until aldente. If using dried pasta follow the packet instructions as cooking time varies.
9.  Drain cook pasta, add into the sauce and coat evenly with the sauce. Sprinkle over some torn basil leaves.
Serve Immediately.

Caprese – Tomato, Mozarella and Basil Leaves Salad

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This is certainly one of the favourites in our household, so easy to prepare, no cooking involve at all yet taste superb everytime. This is also great for dinner parties as it can be prepared well in advance. For this salad it is important though to get really good quality tomatoes.  

KITCHEN KIT:
A big plate and a small bowl

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Tomato and Mozzarella:
1. 125g mozzarella pearls, drained
2. 250g cherry vine tomatoes, sliced
3. A handful of basil leaves, torn into smaller pieces
4. 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced

For the dressing:
5. A pinch of salt
6. A pinch of ground black pepper
7. 2 tsp. of Balsamic Vinegar
8. 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 

For the Tomato and Mozzarella:
1. On a plate lay your sliced tomatoes, add the garlic slices basil and mozzarella pearls on top of the tomatoes.

For the dressing:
2. On a bowl mix the all the dressing ingredients listed above, drizzle over the tomato and mozzarella. Garnish with some torn basil leaves.
Serve Immediately.

Salmon and Cockles Farfalle with Mascarpone and Belarusian Caviar

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KITCHEN KIT:
A pasta pan/ large sauce pan and a frying pan.

Ingredients Serves 2:

For the pasta:
1.  150g Farfalle (preferably fresh)
2.  Pinch of fine salt
3.  1 tbsp. olive oil

For the salmon, cockles’ sauce and caviar:
4.  2 tbsp. olive oil
5.  2 small shallots, finely chopped
6.  1 clove of garlic, crushed or grated
7.  A handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
8.  1 tsp. of butter
9.  100ml of good quality white wine
10. 2 pinches of fine salt
11. 2 pinches of ground black pepper
12. A pinch of chilli flakes
13. 200g Salmon, skin and bone removed, cut into strips
14. 100g cooked cockles

For the garnish:
15. Another handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
16. 20g grated parmesan cheese
17. 1 tsp of mascarpone cheese (for each plate)
18. 1 tsp of caviar (for each plate)

For the pasta:
1.  On a pasta pan over a high heat, boil some water with 1 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
2.  Once the water starts to boil cook your fresh pasta for 3-4 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Drain all the water from the pasta. If you are using dried pasta follow the packet cooking instruction as some pasta takes longer cooking time.

For the salmon, cockles’ sauce:
3.  Add olive oil into your frying pan over a medium heat, fry your shallots, garlic, parsley and chili flakes for 1-2 minutes then add your butter in. Allow to melt then add your white wine. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
4.  Season with salt, pepper and add in your cockles and salmon. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
5.  Add your cooked pasta covering it with the sauce all over.

Serve immediately with mascarpone cheese, chopped parsley, caviar and grated parmesan cheese.

Yang Zhou Fried Rice

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This is probably the most popular Chinese fried rice dish there is. A definite favourite of many Macanese, Hong Kongers and Westerners too, now that it is widely available in many restaurants outside of China.  It is not known how this recipe came about, but many believe that this recipe was created during the Sui dynasty (589–618 CE) in the province of Yangzhou, China.

When I was young, I went to Yangzhou and Guilin with a group of friends. It was one of my most memorable holidays, not just because of the amazing company of fantastic friends but also because of the food I ate during the trip. In a wet market in Yangzhou I sampled the best ever hand pulled noodles – no wonder the market was packed with people at 6 am!

The market was full of hawkers and shoppers. In the air was a heady mix of excitement, the horns of mopeds and the aroma of the day’s just arrived fresh ingredients. It really was an assault on my senses. My sister and I sat on little plastic red stools in the middle of this busy market as the chaos went on all around us. We were completely engrossed in watching an old Chinese lady first pull and then cook amazing fresh noodles for us. She served them in a simple clear broth with fresh vegetables. I was in heaven! One of the best noodles I’ve ever had!

Sadly I didn’t have the chance to try Yangzhou Fried Rice in Yangzhou – I was too busy eating the noodles – so this recipe is based on the Yangzhou fried rice found is cafes and restaurants all over Macau and Hong Kong. Its a dish I’ve eaten hundreds, if not thousands, of times and I never tire of it. When its really good, you don’t need to order anything else other than the Yangzhou Fried Rice – its a meal in itself.

KITCHEN KIT:
A small bowl and a wok

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the shrimps marinade:
1.  ½ cup shelled and deveined shrimps
2.  ¼ tsp salt
3.  ¼ tsp sugar
4.  ¼ tsp ginger, crushed or grated

For the Fried Rice and Vegetables:
5.  3 tbsp. groundnut oil
6.  2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
7.  15g ginger, crushed or grated
8.  2 medium eggs,  lightly beaten
9.  3 cups cooked jasmine rice, cold and preferably a day old.
10. ½ cup Chinese barbecued pork also known as Char Siu, chopped into small pieces
11. ½ cup green peas
12. 3 stalks of green onions, finely chopped
For the seasoning:
13. 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
14. ¼ tsp. caster sugar
15. ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
16. ¼ tsp. sesame oil
17. Pinch of fine salt
18. 1 tbsp. water

For the shrimps marinade:
1.  On a small bowl combine the shrimp, salt, sugar and ginger. Leave to marinade for 1 hour or at least 20 minutes.

For the Fried Rice and Vegetables:
2.  Place the wok over a very high heat, add 3 tbsp. of oil, garlic and ginger, fry for 1 minute or until fragrant.
3.  Add the marinated shrimps and fry them until pink. Stir in the eggs and just when the eggs are about to set, add the rice, pork, peas and green onions. Stir Fry for 2 minutes.
4.  Finally season with some light soy sauce, sugar, pepper, sesame oil, salt and water.

Serve immediately.

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Rhubard and Stem Ginger Crumble serve with a warm custard

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KITCHEN KIT:
An ovenproof dish and a bowl

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Crumble Filling:
1.  450g sticks of rhubarb, sliced into approx. 5 inch in length
2.  2 tbsp water
3.  1 tbsp Armagnac
4.  6 tbsp caster sugar
5.  1 tsp all spice powder
6.  2 tbsp glace ginger

For the Crumble:
7.  90g unsalted butter, softened
8.  90g demerara sugar
9.  150g plain flour
10. 10g chopped hazelnuts

 

For the Crumble Filling:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C. On an ovenproof dish place your sliced rhubarb, sprinkle with water, Armagnac and caster sugar. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
2.  Remove from the oven and mix the glace ginger and all spice powder into the rhubarb.

For the Crumble:
3.  On a bowl, rub the butter into the flour and sugar, until they resemble breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the rhubarb, followed by the chopped hazelnuts. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the crumble topping is crisp and golden-brown.

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4.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Serve with a nice warm custard.

 

 

Pancetta gnocchi in brown butter sage and courgette

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KITCHEN KIT
Potato masher

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the Gnocchi:
1.  4 large baking potatoes approx. 550g
2.  2 medium eggs
3.  150g flour
4.  Pinch of salt
5.  Pinch of pepper
6.  25g polenta (for dusting)
7.  2 pancetta slices

 

For the Sage and Butter Sauce:
8.  40g butter
9.  1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
10.  8 Sage leaves
11. 1 Courgette, finely chopped into small squares.
12. Pinch of Salt
13. Pinch of Ground Black Pepper
14. Pinch of Chilli flakes
15. 2 tbsp.Parmesan cheese, grated

 

For the Gnocchi:
1.  In a large saucepan bring some water to the boil, add unpeeled potatoes and cook for 45-50 minutes.
2.  Drain potatoes on a colander (return boiled water onto the sauce pan), peel the potato skin off.
3.  Transfer peeled potatoes on a large bowl, season with a bit of salt and pepper and mash until smooth.
4.  Add the flour and eggs one at a time, mixing to the mash potato. Knead the potato dough (the dough should be moist and not sticky, add a sprinkling of flour if it is sticky)
5.  Roll the dough like a cigar on a flour dusted surface. Slice the dough in half, insert the pancetta and seal the dough again. Slice the dough in small squares approx. 1cm thick.

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6.  Sprinkle some polenta on a plate then add your gnocchi.
7.  Reheat your sauce pan, add a pinch of salt, and add your gnocchi onto the boiling water one batch at a time. The gnocchi will rise up and float on the surface of a boiling water when they are cooked. Once cooked drain the gnocchi and plate.

For the Sauce:
8.  On a large sauce pan over low heat, melt half of the butter with the chilli flakes and courgettes. Cook for 1 minute and add into your gnocchi.
9.  Reheat your sauce pan, melt the remaining butter with the garlic for 1 minute. Add the sage leaves and cook till crisp.Spoon over the brown butter and sage into your gnocchi.

Serve immediately.

Apple Crumble Hazelnut Serve with Crème Anglaise

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My passion for and great love affair with French patisseries is very well known by my family and friends. Though, it always surprises them how a little person like myself can consume so many macaroons and tarte tatins in one day. However what they don’t know about, is my secret love and adoration for the Great British pudding! I adore Apple and Rhubarb crumbles, Ginger syrupy sponge puddings, Eaton mess, Bakewell tarts, Lardy cakes, Victoria sponges, Carrot cakes, Trifles, Minced pies, Scones and perhaps my favourite of all, well in name as least, Fat Rascals! My list is much longer than this, but it would take me days to type them all out, so I will just put them here in my blog as I go along baking and eating them. British puddings for me are the ultimate comfort home food. Enjoyed most of all, on rainy winter days or in my case on any day! There is nothing else I love more than to snuggle on the sofa with a warm duvet, watch an old movie and enjoy the company of a Great British pudding, such as this warm and comforting Apple crumble. My lovely friend, Connie, gave me one of the most memorable presents in the world a few years ago: a gift to the Cotswold Pudding Club, where I enjoyed a night of eating all the best British puddings. Each pudding was presented in such grandeur, with a trumpet announcing each pudding’s entrance. It made me giggle none stop throughout the whole evening. Each pudding was paraded one by one and everyone had to rate each pudding after eating them. I had a terrible headache that evening from the amount of sugar I’d consumed – it almost induced a hyperglycaemic coma! But I must say it was worth the pain! If you ever want to enjoy the best British puddings then try and visit The Pudding Club. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! In the meantime, please try this Apple crumble in the comfort of your home : )

KITCHEN KIT:
An ovenproof dish, a sauce pan, a whisk, a wooden spoon and a bowl.

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Apple Filling:
1.  Approx. 550g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced into small pieces
2.  1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
3.  A pinch of cinnamon powder
4.  1 tbsp. of water
5.  60g light brown sugar

For the crumble:
6.  100g plain flour
7.  60g unsalted butter, cold and soft
8.  Pinch of salt
9.  30g chopped hazelnuts

Crème Anglaise:
10. 50g golden caster sugar
11. 2 large eggs, yolks only
12. 1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
13. 250ml full fat milk

 

For the Apple Filling:
1.  Combine all the ‘Apple Filling’ ingredients listed above and place in an oven-proof dish.

For the crumble:
2.  Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
3.  In a large bowl mix all the crumble ingredients listed above, except for the chopped hazelnuts. Rub flour, salt and butter until they start to look more like fine breadcrumbs. Then mix in the chopped hazelnuts for an added texture.

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4.  Add your crumble on top of your apple filling mixture and place in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the crumble has turned golden brown and crisp.

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For the Crème Anglaise:
5.  In a bowl cream the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
6.  Meanwhile, in a large pan bring the milk and vanilla pods/extract to a boil. Gently simmer for -5 minutes. Then allow it to cool for 30 seconds.
7.  Pour the milk mixture onto the eggs and sugar, whisking continuously until smooth, then gently pour the mixture into the saucepan. Place on a medium heat and stir continuously for 5 minutes, or until the mixture has slightly thickened.  It is important to continuously stir and not allow the mixture to reach boiling point as it will split and you will end up having a scrambled egg rather than a crème anglais (this happened to many times for sure). Your mixture should have a single cream texture rather than a thick custard texture as it will thicken after chilling it in the fridge.

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8.  Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, stir for a few minutes, then place into the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours.

Serve the Apple crumble with a lovely smooth crème anglaise.

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Extra Tip:
Apples:
For thsi dessert I personally prefer to use Bramley a famous Britsh cooking apple or Braeburn apples will do as well, as both types of apples hold their shapes when cooked.

The Crumble:
Your crumble should have that amazing dark golden brown in colour, if you’re afraid that your crumble is starting to look a bit burnt, as I was in some occasions you can cover it with a foil and continue baking it in the oven, before you take off though, remove the foil and place back on grill in the oven just for 1 minute or so to crisp it up.

Crème Anglaise:
I love Crème Anglaise and I can eat by itself anytime. It is important however to use very quality eggs when making this as it does makes a massive difference with both the taste and texture. When I first made this I got distracted and the mixture boiled for a a few seconds and it that short period of time my smooth Crème Anglaise turned into a scrambled egg. I had to start all over again. The second mistake I did was leaving it too long in the hob, trying to get it to have a thicker consistency again another disastrous experience it split. Attention and patience is definitely a must for this one! Do not leave it to boil not even slightly, and do not leave it on the hob for longer than 5 minutes as I have done. The Texture should not be thick, it has to be smooth and has that single cream like texture. Leave it to chill for at least 3 hours and your Crème Anglaise will thickened. You can enjoy it then and no more waiting required.

Creamy Salmon Pasta with Belarusian Caviar

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Although this dish couldn’t be more Italian, I must admit that I have never had this in Italy. I first had this dish during a work trip in Minsk, Belarus at the Grand Cafe in Lenin Street. Unfortunately as I couldn’t speak a word of Russian I couldn’t ask them for their recipe. So here is my version of their Belarusian Caviar pasta dish, which does taste similar to the one I’ve had at the Grand Cafe. Although,  I am not a massive fan of caviar like my sister who can eat it anytime of the day, I do like caviar in this dish. If you are not a big fan of caviar as I am, try this dish as it may just change your mind. This dish is so simple to make so I hope it won’t put you off trying to make this dish in your home. Bon Appétit or as they say in Belarus Dobry apietyt!

KITCHEN KIT:
A pasta pan/ large sauce pan and a frying pan.

Ingredients Serves 2:

For the pasta:
1.  150g spaghetti (preferably fresh)
2.  Pinch of fine salt
3.  1 tbsp. olive oil

For the salmon, sauce and caviar:
4.  2 tbsp. olive oil
5.  2 small shallots, finely chopped
6.  1 clove of garlic, crushed or grated
7.  A handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
8.  1 tsp. of butter 
9.  100ml of good quality white wine
10. 2 pinches of fine salt
11. 2 pinches of ground black pepper
12. 200ml Double cream
13. 300g Salmon, skin and bone removed, cut into strips
14. 1 tsp of caviar (for each plate)

For the garnish: 
15. Another handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
16. 20g grated parmesan cheese 
For the pasta:
1. On a pasta pan over a high heat, boil some water with 1 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
2. Once the water starts to boil cook your fresh pasta for 3-4 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Drain all the water from the pasta. If you are using dried pasta follow the packet cooking instruction as some pasta takes longer cooking time. 

For the salmon, sauce and caviar:
3. Add olive oil into your frying pan over a medium heat, fry your shallots, garlic and parsley for 1-2 minutes then add your butter in. Allow to melt then add your white wine. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
4. Season with salt, pepper and add in your double cream and salmon. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add your cooked pasta covering it with the sauce all over.

Serve immediately with chopped parsley, caviar and grated parmesan cheese.

Pan fried Rainbow trout with Serrano ham and thyme butter sauce (Spanish Inspired)

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KITCHEN KIT:
Kitchen towels/paper, 2 frying pans and a sauce pan.

Ingredients Serves 2:
For the fish:
1.  1 rainbow trout fish approx. 300g, cleaned and gutted
2.  2 slices of Serrano ham
3.  3 tbsp. plain flour
4.  1 tsp salt
5.  1 tsp ground black pepper
6.  1 tbsp.fresh thyme leaves
7.  2 tbsp olive oil
8.  55g butter
9.  ½ lemon juice

For the peas, courgette and chorizo:
10. 100g petite pois/peas
11. 1 small courgette, chopped into small cubes
12. 6 chorizo slices
13. 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely grated
14. 30g butter
15. Pinch of Salt
16. Pinch of Pepper

The Rainbow Trout:
1.  Preheat oven to 100 ºC. Pat the rainbow trout dry with a kitchen towel.
2.  On a large plate mix the flour with salt, pepper and half of the thyme leaves. Coat the inside and outside of the fish with the flour mixture all over, then shake off any excess. Insert the Serrano ham inside the fish.

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3.  On a large frying pan over a medium heat add 2 tbsp. of oil. When the oil is smoking hot, add the fish in the pan, cook for 2 minutes on one side until golden-brown, then turn the fish over and cook for another 2 minutes until golden-brown. Plate and place in the oven to keep it warm.

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4.  Using a kitchen towel/paper wipe the frying pan and return to a medium heat. Melt the butter and when it starts to turn light brown, turn off the heat and add the remaining thyme leaves and lemon juice.

 

For the peas, courgette and chorizo:
5.  On a small sauce pan, boil some salted water and boil your petite pois/peas for 2-3 minutes, then drain.
6.  On a frying pan over a medium heat, add the butter, garlic and courgette, sauté for 3 minutes. Then add the petite pois/peas and chorizo. Cook for another 2 minutes.

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Serve the rainbow trout with the petite pois and courgette immediately.

 

Spice Poached Pears in White Wine

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KITCHEN KIT:
A sauce pan and a wooden spoon
Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Poached Pears:
1.  4 pears ripe but firm, peeled and cored
2.  350 ml Sauternes wine or any good quality dessert wine
3.  250 ml water
4.  120g  brown sugar
5.  1 lemon juice and zest
6.  1 vanilla pod, split using the seeds only
7.  1 cinnamon stick
8.  2 cloves
9.  1 star anise
10. A pinch of Kompot pepper
11. ½ tsp. ginger powder
12. 1 Orange zest

To Serve:
14. 80g mascarpone cheese
17. 8g Stem ginger pieces
 

For the Poached Pears:
1.  On a sauce pan, over a medium heat bring to boil the pears along with all the ingredients listed above.

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2.  Once it reaches a boiling point, reduce to a low heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes.

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3.  Transfer the pears with their poaching syrup to a shallow bowl.

Serve with mascarpone and stem ginger.
Extra Tip:
For the Pears:
For this dish I used Conference pears, sweet and juicy, with grain like texture, taste good eaten fresh or cooked.
You can also use other types of pears, such as Comice pears; probably one of the sweetest bunch of the pears family equally good eaten fresh or cooked. It has a fruity aroma, juicy and less grainy texture compared to many other varieties of pears.
Whichever type of pears you choose, I recommend using ripe pears that are still quite firm when press with your thumb. Over ripe pears falls apart and can be grainy when cooked.
If you do have some over ripe pears and want to use it for this dessert, then I would recommend cutting down the simmering time of the pears which only needs to be simmer for 5 minutes. 

Alternatives to Mascarpone:
You can also use a plain nice vanilla ice cream, crème fraiche or double cream as an alternative to the mascarpone.

Baked Peach with Amaretti biscuits

 

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KITCHEN KIT:
An ovenproof dish

Ingredients Serves 4:
1.  15g soft butter
2.  4 peaches, slice in half and stones removed
3.  25 pcs. Small amaretti biscuits, crushed
4.  4 tbsp. Tia Maria Liqueur
5.  50g light brown sugar
6.  20g icing sugar 

Baked Peach with Amaretti biscuits:
1.  Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Butter your oven proof dish.
2.  On a bowl mix your amaretti biscuits,Tia Maria Liqueur and brown sugar. Spoon this over your peaches and then place them on the ovenproof dish.
3.  Dust with icing sugar and bake for 25 minutes in the oven.
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Serve warm with mascarpone cheese or vanilla gelato.

Tiramisu

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Ingredients Serves 6:
1.  32 ladyfinger sponge biscuit ( Savoiardi)
2.  2 egg yolks
3.  120g caster sugar
4.  1 tsp. vanilla extract
5.  400ml mascarpone cheese
6.  100ml single cream
7.  250ml strong espresso coffee
8.  20g light brown sugar
9.  4 tbsp. Tia Maria Liqueur
10. 20g cocoa powder for dusting

For the Garnish: (OPTIONAL)
11.  6 small amaretto biscuits
12.  30g dark chocolate, melted
13.  Pinch of chopped hazelnut

Tiramisu:
1.  On a bowl mix the egg yolks, caster sugar and vanilla extract. Then add the mascarpone and single cream into this mixture. Stir until well combined and set aside.

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2.  On a separate bowl mix the espresso coffee, with the Tia Maria liqueur and light brown sugar. Dip the ladyfinger biscuits in the espresso mixture, don’t dip them too long as they will become too soft.

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3.  Layer the container with the ladyfingers that has been soaked in espresso mixture then spoon over the mascarpone cream mixture on top. Do this twice, so you’ll have 2 layers of lady fingers and 2 layers of mascarpone mixture.

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4.  Dust with cocoa powder and put into the fridge to set and chill for at least 1 hour.

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5.  OPTIONAL: Coat your amaretti biscuits in melted dark chocolate, sprinkle chopped hazelnut on top. Leave to cool and set for 15 minutes. Serve on top of the Tiramisu slices.

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Serve immediately.

 

Roast Pork Belly

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KITCHEN KIT:
Oven proof dish

Ingredients Serves 2:
1.  400g boneless pork belly strips, skin scored
2.  1 tsp fennel seeds
3.  1 tsp black pepper corns
4.  1 tsp sea salt
5.  4 tbsp. olive oil

The Pork:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C. Pat dry the pork with kitchen paper. Rub the oil, fennel seeds, ground black pepper and sea salt all over the pork meat and skin.

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2.  Place the pork belly on a roasting tin, skin-side up, and roast for 1 hour. Remove pork, then, increase the temperature to 220°C and roast again for a further 30 minutes, until crisp
3.  After 1 ½ hour of roasting remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes before serving with broccoli and cauliflower gratin.

Serve warm.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

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KITCHEN KIT:
A sauce pan, a whisk an ovenproof dish

Ingredients:
For the Vegetables:
1.  Broccoli
2.  Cauliflower

For the Mornay Sauce:
3.  30g butter
4.  30g plain flour
5.  300ml full fat milk
6.  50ml single cream
7.  30g grated gruyere cheese
8.  ½ tsp whole grain mustard
9.  1 clove
10. 1 small onion peeled
11. 1 bay leaf
12. Pinch of ground white pepper
13. Pinch of cayenne pepper
14. Pinch of nutmeg

For the Gratin:
15. Some chives finely chopped
16. 5g dried breadcrumbs
17. 5g chopped hazelnuts
18. 5g parmesan cheese (optional)
19. 30g gruyere cheese

For the Vegetables:
1.  Pre-heat oven to 200C. Meanwhile, on a medium size pan, bring salter water to a boil, add the cauliflower, and cook for 5 minutes then add the broccoli for a further 4 minutes. Darin and set aside once cooked.

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For the Mornay Sauce:
2.  On a large sauce pan 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.
3.  Once all ingredients are incorporated stir in your single cream, grated gruyere, mustard, onion, clove and bay leaf. Season with some ground white pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Simmer over low-medium heat for 7-8 minutes whisking occasionally to avoid lumps from forming.

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4.  After simmering, remove the onion, clove and bay leaf. Pour the mornay sauce over cooked broccoli and cauliflowe.

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For the Gratin:
5.  Top the oven proof dish with the rest of the Mornay sauce, sprinkle over breadcrumbs, chopped hazelnuts, parmesan and gruyere cheese. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, set oven to grill and return it back in the oven to brown for 2-3 minutes.

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Serve with strips of pan fried crispy prosciutto and roast pork. (Roast pork belly recipe can be found on the English Cuisine or  Meat&Poutlry section of this site)

Peach Tarts

KITCHEN KIT:
Muffin Tin/mould, rolling pin, pastry brush, cookie/pastry cutter, balloon whisk, large bowl and a sauce pan.

Ingredients:
For the Peach and Custard Mixture:
1.  4 eggs, yolks only
2.  80ml whipped cream
3.  80ml full fat milk
4.  65g golden caster sugar
5.  1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod.
6.  Waitrose tinned Peach halves in syrup, drained and slice into small pieces

For the Pastry:
7.  2x 320g ready rolled shop-bought, all butter puff pastry if you are in hurry or just feeling lazy. Otherwise you can also make your own puff pastry by following “All Butter Puff Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
8.  100g unsalted butter, softened (for pastry and for greasing muffin tin)
9.  25g icing sugar

For Glazing:
10. 3 tbsp. milk
11. 10g icing sugar

 

For the Custard Mixture:
1.  On a bowl whisk your egg yolks and sugar until all ingredients are well incorporated.
2.  On a small sauce pan over a very low heat, gently simmer your milk, cream and vanilla pods/extract for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, leave to cool for a couple of minutes, and then pour this into your egg and sugar mixture.
3.  Whisk all the ingredients together. Cover with a cling film and place in the fridge overnight.

 

For the Pastry, baking and glazing process:
4.  Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Butter your muffin tin/mould.
5.  On a flour dusted work surface, roll both of your puff pastry, approx. 3mm in thickness, wide and long enough to cover the entire baking tin, brush the pastry with butter on one side, then sprinkle over some icing sugar on top.

6.  Using a cookie cutter, cut the pastry into discs.


7.  Place 3 pastry discs overlapping each other. Just lightly press them together so that they stick together. We’d like the pastry to puff so best not to roll them together or press them too firmly together, a light touch would do.
8.  Place pastry discs on your muffin tin/mould; gently press the pastry at the bottom and around the edges of the tin/mould.


9.  Pour your egg custard mixture, top with the peach slices and bake in the oven for approx. 15-18 minutes or until the mixture has set with a slight wobble when gently shaken. Remove from the oven once baked and set aside.


10. Switch oven setting to grill, brush the egg tarts with some milk and sprinkle over some more icing sugar on top. Return your egg tarts into the oven and grill just to slightly brown the top of the custard for approx. 5-6 minutes. Remove from the oven, set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Serve Immediately.

Chocolate Mousse with Salted Caramel Hazelnut

KITCHEN KIT
Electric whisk, sauce pan, wooden spoon, 2 bowls and 8 small glasses/liqueur glasses

Ingredients Serves 8:
1.   6 eggs, whites only
2.   ¼ tsp. lemon juice
3.   160g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), broken into small equal size pieces
4.   2 tsp. cocoa powder
5.   ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
6.   5 tsp. golden caster sugar
7.   2 tbsp. roasted chopped hazelnuts (optional)
8.   1½ tbsp. salted caramel spread (optional)
9.   a pinch of chilli flakes
10. a handful of raspberries

 

The Chocolate Mousse:

1.  Add your chocolate pieces in a bowl resting over a sauce pan of simmering water. (Make sure that the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water). When the chocolate starts to melt, stir in vanilla extract and cocoa powder, then turn off the heat.


2.  In a separate clean bowl whisk the egg whites with the lemon juice into soft peaks, then add the sugar, and whisk briefly just until firm peaks form. It is important not to over whisk and lose the air. The lemon juice should help to preventing it from being over whisked.


3.  Vigorously whisk in a third of the egg whites into the melted chocolate. This needs to be done very quickly otherwise the chocolate’s temperature will drop and it will solidify.


4.  Fold the rest of the egg whites very gently into the mixture, just until the ingredients are combined. (It is important not to over fold/mix to keep the air from the mixture).


5.  Spoon the chocolate mousse mixture into small glasses and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours or until its sets.


6.  This bit is optional: In a small sauce pan over a medium heat, dry-fry the chopped hazelnuts for 1 minute, then stir in the salted caramel. When the caramel starts to melt remove from the heat and leave aside to cool slightly for 1-2 minutes until the caramel hazelnut mixture sets. Sprinkle a couple of tiny chilli flakes over the top of the chocolate mousse, then spoon over the salted caramel hazelnuts, finish with a rasberry on the top.  Alternatively simply sprinkle over some grated lemon, fresh raspberries or grated chocolates on top of the mousse before serving.

(NB: For this recipe I used a ready-made salted caramel spread, from Vannes in France which I got as a present. If you are unable to find salted caramel spread in your local supermarket you can also make this easily at home using basic ingredients. Below is a recipe I have written for making salted caramel spread.)

Ingredients for the Salted Caramel Hazelnut:

1.  2 tsp. of chopped hazelnut
2.  Pinch of rock salt
3.  40g salted butter
4.  70g brown sugar
5.  150ml double cream

Making the Salted Caramel Hazelnut:
1.  In a sauce pan, dry-fry the chopped hazelnuts for 1 minute. Add the salt, butter and sugar.
2.  When the butter has melted and it’s golden-brown in colour, pour in the cream and bring to the boil.
3.  Remove the pan from heat and set aside. When slightly cooled, spoon the salted caramel over the chocolate mousse

Serve cold.