Sunday, 30 September 2012

Seafood Chowder

Chowder always reminds of the time when my then-boyfriend MrD, who came back from a business trip in the US some nearly 30 years ago. He told me how awesome the food he had over there was, and the one in particular that stuck in my head was the seafood chowder.

Well, me being me, I saw this as a challenge.

So, one day, I took it upon myself to cook him this unfamiliar cream-base soup (probably much to my mom's annoyance -- well, to be fair, she did not say anything but her actions speak louder...hahaha, Mama, if you happen to read this, I LOVE YOU muy grande!)
Luckily for me, my mom loves to collect recipe books, so there was enough information and recipes for me to work with. You see, back then we had no web-based information, no internet to speak of, and my computer was a clunky 256kb pretty-much-useless piece of massive paperweight.
Research still had to be done at your friendly neighbourhood library.

Oh, you lucky, lucky lot nowadays!!!

 Seafood Chowder

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion , chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
800ml vegetable stock
500g new small potatoes , halved
pinch mace
1/2 tsp  cayenne powder
1/2 tsp white pepper
smoked haddock
100ml single cream
small bunch parsley

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then add the onion. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the onion is soft. Stir in the flour, then cook for a further 2 minutes.
Pour in the fish stock and bring it up to a gentle simmer.
Add the potatoes, cover, then simmer for 10-12 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.
Add the mace, cayenne powder and white pepper and some seasoning.
Tip the fish mix into the pan, gently simmer for 4 minutes.
Add the cream and mussels, then simmer for 1 minute more.
Check the seasoning and sprinkle with some finely chopped parsley.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Rick Stein's Sicilian Orange Cake

Rick Stein's Sicilian Orange Cake

250g lightly salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
250g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1½ teaspoons finely grated orange zest
250g self-raising flour
85ml freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 170C.
Grease and line a 22cm clip-sided round cake tin with non-stick baking paper, or in my case, I'm using a 10-inch bundt pan.
Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together for 4-5 minutes until very pale.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each one.
Beat in the orange zest.
Add the flour all at once and mix in well, then slowly mix in the orange juice.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45-50 minute.
Leave the cake, in its tin, to cool on a wire rack.
Once the cake is complete cool, put it onto a serving plate.

For the icing
(this recipe makes for a thinner consistency)

125g icing sugar
6 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the orange juice until you have a spreadable consistency.
Spread it over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides, and leave to set.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Sweet Potato Crisp

A healthier option
Oven-baked Low-fat Sweet Potato Crisp

All you need to do is thinly slice the potatoes. To do this you can use the food processor or if you're feeling lucky, the mandolin yields better looking slices.

Preheat the oven to 100C
Spread the sliced potatoes thinly on a baking tray.
Lightly spritz some canola oil onto the potatoes, making sure all side are thinly coated with oil.
Bake for 45-60 minutes until crispy and golden brown, checking and turning the slices ever so often to prevent any soggy bottoms (now, we don't want that, do we!)
Once baked, sprinkle with some sea salt and your favourite herbs and/or spices. In this instance, I'm using ground cumin.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Apple Walnut Cinnamon Muffin

Apple Walnut Cinnamon Muffin

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
4 oz butter, melted

Preheat oven to 170C.

Whisk together sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Add chopped apples and walnuts; toss to coat.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and butter.
Gently fold buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.
Divide batter among muffin cups.
Bake for about 18 - 20 minutes.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Gooseberry Almond and Orange Cake

Gooseberry Almond and Orange Cake

225g butter
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
125g self-raising flour
100g ground almonds
zest of 1 large orange
350g gooseberries, topped and tailed

for the syrup:
100g sugar
juice of 1 large orange

Preheat the oven to 160C fan. 
Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.  
Fold in the the flour and the ground almonds using a large metal spoon; scrape into a buttered, 20cm springform cake tin.
Toss the gooseberries with the remaining 75g caster sugar and spread them over the top of the cake. Bake for 30–35 minutes.  
The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into its centre comes out clean. 
Stir the orange juice and granulated sugar together, spoon over the surface of the warm cake.
Leave it to cool in the tin, then carefully remove the ring and the base. 
Best serve warm with a dollop of creme patissiere.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Marble Cake

Stuck with too many egg whites frozen in the freezer?
Here's one for you to try

Marble Cake
Recipe adapted from Aunty Yochana

360 g egg whites (from 10-12 eggs)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
200 g sugar

2 egg yolks
20 g sugar

250g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk
220 g melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
20 g cocoa powder

Sift together flour and baking powder and a pinch of salt.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. 
Add 200g sugar gradually and continue beating until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.

In another bowl, beat egg yolks with the remaining sugar until pale and creamy. 
Add in the vanilla extract and melted butter into the creamy mixture.
Gently fold in the flour and milk.
Add meringue and mix in thoroughly into the batter.
Divide the mixture between two bowls. Stir the cocoa powder into the mixture in one of the bowls.
Take two spoons and use them to dollop the chocolate and vanilla batter into the tin alternately.
When all the mixture has been used up, tap the tin on your work surface to ensure there aren't any air bubbles.
Bake in 170C for 40-45 minutes.

Saturday, 18 August 2012



1 cucumber, seeded, but not peeled
red bell peppers, cored and seeded
6 organic  tomatoes
1 red onion
garlic cloves, minced
1 liter tomato juice 
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tsp toasted ground cumin
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp tabasco sauce
2 tsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper

Fill a pot halfway full of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil.
Make an X on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath and allow to cool until able to handle, approximately 1 minute. Remove and pat dry. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes. 
Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into cubes. Put chopped vegetables and garlic into a food processor and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. 
Once processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, cumin, worcestershire sauce, tabasco, sugar, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. 
The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavours develop.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Lemon Passionfruit Meringue Cake

Lemon Passionfruit Meringue Cake

125 grams unsalted butter
4 eggs, separated
300 grams sugar
100 grams flour
25 grams corn flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Zest of one lemon
4 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp milk
½ tsp cream of tartar
150 ml whipping cream
150 grams lemon curd
Flesh of three passionfruits
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Line and butter two 21 cm sandwich tins.
Mix the egg yolks, 100 grams of the sugar, butter, flour, corn flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and lemon zest in a processor.
Add the lemon juice and milk and process again.
Divide the mixture between the prepared tins.
Spread until smooth.
Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form. Then slowly whisk in 200 grams of sugar.
Divide the whisked whites between two sponge-filled tins, spreading the meringue straight on top of the cake batter.
Smooth one flat with a metal spatula and with the back of a spoon, peak the other.
Put the tins in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes.
When done, remove both cakes to a wire rack and let cool completely in the tins.
Unmold the flat-topped one onto a cake stand, meringue side up.
Whisk the cream until thick but not stiff, and set aside.
Spread the flat sponge surface of the first cake with lemon curd mixed with passionfruits, and then spread over the cream and top with the remaining cake, meringue side up.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Crispy Fried Beef Szechuan-stylie

I first came across this dish on one of my many, many ladies potluck outings.
Can't remember which one exactly, but the dish sure sticks in my cavernous mind like the proverbial glue.
After scouring the net for the recipe and found one (obviously!) I proceeded to make the Family my trial-and-error-experimentees (yeah, they're still my guinea-pigs, but I thought I'll play nice and give them a more important sounding title)

Crispy Fried Beef Szechuan-stylie

300g beef steak
2 tbsp cornflour
salt and pepper

Cut the beef julienne style, across the grain into thin and long slices.
Add the cornstarch and seasonings to the beef strips. Mix it in thoroughly, making sure that each piece is coated.
Add the oil to a wok over medium high heat. Once the oil get hot add the beef.
Toss the beef occasionally. It will start to look as is it’s drying a bit.
Once the beef turns a nice browned color, remove the beef from the oil and set aside.
Remove the excess oil with some paper towels.

To make the sauce

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar.
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp  chili garlic paste
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp roasted Szechuan peppercorn

In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and then set it aside.

Return the beef to the wok and add the sauce mixture.
Stir until everything is thoroughly combined.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Sea Bass with Thai-style Mango Salsa

Here's the deal...

No one in the Family likes fish on bones, let alone a whole fish.
And why do I end up with 3 whole sea bass, I hear you say?
Long story short, saw them on a fishmonger shelf, they were screaming out freshness.
I was not able to resist.

And that was how I ended up with 3 fish faces staring at me.

Anyways, I turned them into crispy fried fish (sans head), seasoned with turmeric powder, black pepper and salt.
Which was in turn smothered with strips of mango, chillies and spring onions marinated in a fish sauce, sugar and lime juice mixture.

I must say, The Family did enjoy the meal (in between picking and chocking on bones).
But will I buy any more whole fish after this?
After a unanimous and resounding NO from the The Family, my work here is done.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Raspberry Jelly with Frozen Mango Yoghurt

Fresh Raspberry Jelly

450g fresh raspberries
2 sachet vegetarian gelatin
450ml unsweetened apple juice
2 tbsp sugar

Sprinkle the gelatin over the apple juice in a saucepan and simmer while stirring thoroughly until completely dissolved and the liquid appears to thicken. Turn off the heat.
Add the fruit  and mix carefully so that the fruits are not squashed. Ladle mould.
Leave to cool then chill for at least 1 hour or overnight until firm. 

 Frozen Mango Yoghurt

2 cups plain yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp honey
1 cup mango puree

Using a food processor blend all the ingredients until smooth.
Put the frozen mango yogurt in a container and keep it in the freezer for at least 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Jambalaya with Chicken and Chorizo

I have made a batch of chorizo using minced veal and I'm dying to test it out.

Jambalaya with Chicken and Chorizo

1 tbsp olive oil
6 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
1 onion , diced
2 garlic cloves , crushed
75g homemade veal chorizo, sliced
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cups long-grain rice (I'm using Basmathi)
400g can plum tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
salt, to taste

Season chicken pieces with a little salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a large frying pan and brown the chicken until golden.
Remove and set aside.

Into the same pan, tip diced onion and cook until soft.
Add the garlic, chorizo and the spices. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

Stir in the chicken back into the pan along with the rice.
Add the tomatoes and stock. Season well.
Cover and simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Veal Chorizo

I know they're ugly.
But they're amazingly delicious and thoroughly versatile.
Since these are fresh chorizo (as opposed to those cured ones) they must be cooked thoroughly before being eaten.

Homemade Spanish-stylie Veal Chorizo

750g ground veal
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and squish the mixture through your fingers to distribute the seasonings evenly. What could be easier than that! 
Leave it to sit overnight in the refrigerator so the flavours will meld.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Vegetarian Dry Curry

It was one of those days that started off sunny and bright...
Optimistic as ever, MrD and I made our way to a nearby PYO to replenish our supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.
While going through the rows of brambles, with our baskets hardly filled up, the sky burst open and we had to make a hasty retreat to the farm shop in fear of getting drenched, to wait out the rain. It didn't look like the rain was ever going to stop soon enough, so we decided instead to pick the produce that was on the shop shelves. After all, they're all freshly picked at the farm with zero carbon footprint, says she who drove all the way in a gas-guzzling automobile...

some waxy new potatoes

just picked creamy head of cauliflower

good enough to eat on its own fresh sweet garden peas

I decided to turn them into a spicy vegetarian curry to eat with some Indian flat bread.

Vegetarian Dry Curry

1 small cauliflower, cut into smaller florets and blanched
new potatoes, boiled in salted water

a handful fresh coriander
1 small knob fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
3 green chillies

1 tsp cumin seeds
6 small red onions, thinly sliced
1 cup tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp kasoori methi
1 tsp garam masala
salt, to taste

Heat oil in a pan.
Add cumin seed and sliced shallots and saute over medium heat until fragrant and golden brown.
Add the grounded ingredients and chopped tomatoes.
Add in the rest of the spices and simmer on low heat until the oil separates from the gravy.
Add the boiled potatoes, cauliflowers and peas. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes