Friday, 11 August 2017

Banoffee Upside Down Cake


All things banoffee are always a delicious. Well, that's my understanding anyway. This banoffee upside down cake is by no means an exception.

With gooey, sticky, toffee coating infused into bananas, it's something not to miss. With the addition of some walnuts for a welcomed crunch, it brings this cake together. You'll also be happy to know your likely to get some delicious random pockets of toffee appear throughout for an extra surprise.

This cake makes a nice change from the usual banana loaves you'd find, so if you're looking for something a little different, this sweet treat recipe is for you.

Recipe 

Ingredients:                                                                                                                          (Serves 8)

Topping
70g soft dark brown sugar
35g butter
1 1/2 bananas, cut into 2cm slices

Cake
60g butter
100g sugar
1 egg
170g self raising flour
200g banana, peeled weight, mashed
80g walnuts, broken into pieces
Milk to consistency

Method:
  • For the topping, melt the butter and sugar together in a pan. Stir till combined and cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Pour into a lined 18-20cm tin. Quickly place the banana slices on as you wish before the toffee sets.
  • For the cake, beat together the butter and sugar until pale. Gradually add the egg, beat until combined. 
  • Add the sifted flour and stir until you form a smooth cake batter. 
  • Add the mashed banana and broken walnuts. Fold everything thoroughly together. 
  • If the cake mix is too stiff, add some milk until a soft consistency. 
  • Smooth over the topping in the tin and bake in a preheated oven at 170°C for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Once cooked leave to cool for 10 minutes before flipping and removing from the tin. 
  • Serve with lovely banoffee cake with a generous scoop of ice cream.


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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Pineapple Iced Tea With Pearls


A road trip to Taichung at the weekend was enough to jog my memory about tapioca pearls. Taichung is the birth place of the bubble tea with pearls. There's a bubble tea shop on virtually every corner.

For those of you who remember my post of, homemade bubble tea with boba, you may remember I mentioned there's a second way of making the tapioca pearls (boba). In this recipe I decide it would be a great opportunity to share it with you. These may the a little more labour intensive and time consuming but it's worth it. Finding tapioca pearls is not the easiest task, tapioca starch on the other hand, certainly is. From start to finish the pearls shouldn't take any longer than 25 minutes.

Pineapple iced tea is great! Whether you are using regular tea, a good quality black tea or even green tea you can enjoy this. The natural sweetness from the pineapple helps this drink a lot, especially letting it have a little brew with the tea before cooling.

For more great recipe to use up any leftover pineapple, check these out.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                                               (Serves 4)

Tapioca pearls
50g tapioca starch
15-25ml boiling water
50g soft brown sugar

Iced Tea
500ml boiling water
3-4 black tea bags
100g fresh pineapple, finely diced
Ice cubes

Method:

  • Sift the tapioca starch into a mixing bowl. Add the boiling water gradually (crucial it's boiling or the texture will be very different). Mix well until you can form a smooth firm ball. The water can vary so be sure to add slowly to avoid a soggy mess.
  • Roll the ball into a long cylinder, approximately 6-9mm thick.
  • Cut the cylinder into small pieces to make the balls.
  • Roll the balls one by one to make them spherical.
  • In a pan of boiling water add the brown sugar. Once dissolved, add the tapioca balls.
  • Cook the pearls for 10 minutes to start, check to see if they are ready by lifting a couple from the water and look for a soft texture and lots of bubbles in the pearls.
  • Leave them to cool into the now formed sugar syrup. 
  • For the tea, let the tea bags brew in the water. Whilst brewing chop the pineapple into a small dice. 
  • Add the pineapple to the brewing tea. Once brewed remove the bags. 
  • Add a good handful of ice and shake through the tea. 
  • Place some tapioca pearls, along with some syrup to sweeten the tea into the bottom of a glass. Add the iced tea, be sure to check there's lots of pineapple in there. Lastly top with extra ice and serve. 


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Friday, 4 August 2017

Lemon Curd & Chocolate Shortbread Bars


It's rare to find excess chocolate in this household, but when we had some the other week I had to make something new with it. Combining it with lemon was unexpected, but well worth it.

The key these bars being so good is how crumbly and delicate the shortbread is. The addition of cream and an egg yolk is truly noticeable. If, however, you don't have them to hand, the recipe will still work very well. This chocolate shortbread is most definitely moreish just on its own - with a wonderful zing from the lemon curd, it is transformed. You get this light, easy to eat bar, with a real chocolatey taste before a fresh taste of lemon freshens your taste buds.

You'll be having a bite of these bars in no time with this recipe.

Recipe

Ingredients:

Shortbread
110g butter
60g sugar
1 tbsp cream
1 small egg yolk
110g plain flour
20g cocoa powder

Lemon curd
1 whole egg
3 medium egg yolks (70g)
3 lemons, zested and juiced
170g caster sugar
85g butter

Method:
  • For the shortbread, mix all the shortbread ingredients together until combined and comes together in a ball.
  • Press into a lined 18cm/18cm tin. Bake at 160°C for 15-18 minutes. 
  • Whilst the shortbread bakes it's time to make the lemon curd. 
  • For the curd, whisk together the egg, the egg yolks and the sugar. Add the lemon zest and juice, followed by the butter. 
  • Whisk over a bain marie. Constantly moving the mixture from the edges to ensure even cooking. You will notice it thickening, wait until it starts to leave a trail and remove from the heat. 
  • Pass the curd through a sieve to remove any zest or pips. Leave to one side. 
  • Remove the shortbread from the oven. Pour over the lemon curd whilst hot, then smooth out. 
  • Bake once again for 5-8 minutes until fully set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. 
  • Once cool trim the edges and portion. 
  • Top with a dredging of icing sugar before serving. 


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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Prawn & Corn Dumplings


I took advantage of the free time this weekend due to a possible typhoon hitting the area and unpleasant weather to make some prawn and corn dumplings and play about with shapes.

Making your own dumplings at home is very straight forward. Whether you make your own skins or head to the shop for some, they are something the whole family can do. When it comes to the shapes you can be as creative as you please. With there being almost endless possibilities, just like pasta, feel free to experiment. If you do have open face ones, steam them instead of boiling.

Corn and prawn is a lovely combination and depending on your location, corn may be in season right now. I've gone for baby corn, however, regular corn would also work just as well. These dumplings have a great crunch from the corn with the meatiness of the prawns holding everything together amongst all these fresh flavours.

For another dumpling recipe to try out, these gyozas (pan stickers) are a superb dinner or lunch.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                      (Makes approx. 18 size dependent)

Dumpling skins
150g strong bread flour
Pinch of salt
100ml boiling water

Filling
200g baby prawns
2 garlic cloves, pureed or finely chopped
1 whole medium sized fresh chilli, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh pureed/ finely grated ginger
1/4 bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped
4 large baby corns, finely chopped
4 large Chinese leaves of your choice, chopped small

Method:
  • Start by making the dumpling skins. If using store bought, head straight to the filling.
  • Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the boiling water and incorporate with either chopsticks or a spoon. (Don't add all the water in one go as it may not all be required).
  • Make a ball with the dough, cover with cling-film and leave to rest for 30 - 45 minutes.
  • For the filling. Chop the prawns until they are around 5mm dice. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger and coriander. Give it a good mix before seasoning with salt and pepper. 
  • Add the chopped baby corn and Chinese leaf. Leave in the fridge until the skins are ready. 
  • Roll the dough into a cylinder and cut 18 even sized pieces. Roll the individual dough pieces on a floured surface until a thin as you can possibly get it. Normally around 10cm diameter. 
  • Place a tablespoon of filling into the centre of the skin. Wipe a little cold water all around the edge of the skin and shape into the dumpling shape of choice. 
  • Repeat for all skins. Once made keep in the refrigerator or cook straight away. 
  • Cook in either salted boiling water, stock or even the soup you may be serving with. Remember these can also be steamed. 
  • Cook for around 5-6 minutes. Remove from the water or cooking liqueur if not being served as a soup and serve with a dipping sauce of your choice. I recommend a good sweet chilli sauce or a blend of soy sauce, little rice wine vinegar and some chilli oil. 

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Friday, 28 July 2017

Matcha Tea Ice Cream


Matcha anything is pretty popular here in Taiwan and I'm a huge fan of it myself. Since I had some on hand after making a cake and some truffles with it, I thought I'd make myself a treat to help keep me cool during the summer.

I usually make my own cones to enjoy with this matcha ice cream, but you could stack it high on some cake, waffles or pancakes to replicate the latest food trends or enjoy it by itself. For an added yum factor, sprinkle it with some white chocolate shavings or some broken up pocky sticks.

Recipe

Ingredients:

355g whole milk
355g double/ whipping cream
4 egg yolks
200g caster sugar
2 tbsp glucose
20g matcha tea powder

Method:
  • Mix the sieved matcha tea powder with the milk in a large pan over a medium -high heat. 
  • Whisk the egg yolks, glucose and the sugar together till pale in a large mixing bowl.  
  • Once the milk mix is brought to the boil, pour into large mixing bowl whisking to incorporate the pale eggs. 
  • Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook out. 
  • Constantly stir with a heatproof spatula until the base thickens (it should coat the back of a spoon) or reaches 84 degrees on a thermometer.
  • Pour in the double cream the stop the cooking then pour into a container to chill.
  • Once the ice cream base is chilled, pour into an ice cream machine and follow the machine's instructions.
  • Alternatively, pour the chilled mixture into a container and place in the freezer. Every 15 minutes stir the ice cream well until thick and almost set.
  • Leave in the freezer, covered for 2-3 hours to fully set before serving.




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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Street Food | Taiwanese Oyster Omelette


Eating street food is not only delicious but incredibly cheap. 1 portion from a street vendor will set you back the equivalent of £1.40 / $1.80. For that, you get around 10-15 fresh oysters in this delicious Taiwanese oyster omelette. It's a bargain - try finding that anywhere else.

These Taiwanese omelettes have a significant twist on what you may have in mind from other cuisines. The main bulk in this omelette comes from sweet potato starch. When cooked this way you get an incredibly gooey and chewy omelette. With cooked oysters, fried egg and Chinese cabbage, each mouthful is glorious. Top that off with sweet chilli sauce and it's perfect. I use the word topped off lightly as it comes swimming in it, almost like a soup. See picture below for reference. Unlike the majority of dishes with chilli, the sauce served with this has very, very little punch. Almost more tomato like, with the sweetness and sharpness you'd usually expect.

Getting hold of oysters is straight forward. You can find them at any good fishmonger or supermarket. If you happen to be in Taiwan or somewhere similar, head down to almost any supermarket. You can buy them fresh and shucked in a sealed cylindrical bag with water.

Try one of my favourite street food dishes from Taiwan at home. Taking no more than 10 minutes it's the perfect dinner or lunch if you're busy. For more street food have a look here.


Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                                 (Makes 2 portions)

100g sweet potato starch
200ml cold water
20-25 oysters shucked
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Handful Chinese cabbage, chopped
75-100ml sweet chilli sauce (not very spicy)

Method:
  • Whisk together the sweet potato starch and the cold water. Once dissolved leave to one side. 
  • In a hot pan add the oysters to a tablespoon of oil. Preferably sunflower or rapeseed. 
  • Add half the potato starch mix, ensure to give a whisk before adding as the starch will go to the bottom. 
  • Cook on a high heat for a minute, before turning down. Gently cook until it becomes translucent. Give a stir to help break it up. 
  • Add the lightly beaten eggs and stir quickly to combine. Top with chopped cabbage. 
  • Cook for another minute before pouring over the remaining potato starch. 
  • Cook until translucent once again. Split the omelette into 2 with a lifter and flip. 
  • Cook to get a little colour on the other side and serve. 
  • Serve with sweet chilli sauce, usually poured all over.



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Friday, 21 July 2017

Plum & Stem Ginger Galette


Making the most of seasonal fruits is the best way of making a great summer dessert. With plums being all around the shops and so many varieties to choose from, it was a no brainer for this dessert.

Galettes are a wonderfully rustic tart, made without a tin, leaving these great hand folded edges. Making a tart at home couldn't be any simpler, especially if you're travelling from place to place with little equipment.

I wanted this recipe to have an especially old fashioned almost country kind of feel. With this pastry recipe including oats, when baked it has this wonderful flavour you don't normally get with pastry. Combine that with some lovely fresh plums, stem ginger and a hint of cinnamon, it has a wonderful homely feel to it. Almost so much it's begging to be served with some custard.

When making the galette be sure to roll the pastry out even, around 3-4mm in thickness. Too thick or thin will have negative issues. When it comes to adding the fruit, ensure it's not piled up, you'll end up with cooked pastry and uncooked fruit. Don't let any of these points deter you, if you can get hold of any plums, most fruit will be wonderful in this, strawberries and peaches especially.

If you want to make your own stem ginger, check out my post here.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                                (Serves 4)

Pastry
150g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
20g sugar
75g cold butter
25g oats
45-50g ice cold water

Filling
6 plums
1 piece stem ginger
1 tbsp caster sugar
Sprinkle of cinnamon
1 tbsp stem ginger syrup
10-15g butter

Method:
  • For the pastry, sift the flour, the salt, the baking powder and the sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and using the tips of your fingers rub them together. Do this quickly so not to let the butter warm up. 
  • Add the oats and cold water. Mix together to form a smooth dough. Once made, wrap in cling film and rest in a fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  • Whilst the pastry is resting, cut the plums into 6 pieces, removing the stone. Either finely slice or chop the stem ginger, add to the plums with the sugar and toss together. 
  • Roll out the rested pastry on baking paper you will be cooking the galette on. Roll out till about 3-4mm thick. 
  • Arrange the plums on the rolled out pastry, arrange in a layered circle or how you'd like the finished article to look. Remember to keep quite a wide border. See the slideshow for an example. 
  • Fold over the pastry rim. Do it a section at a time so it has this lovely folded, crinkled look.
  • Carefully list on the baking paper, or slide the tray under. Drizzle the stem ginger syrup over plums. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon, followed by finely chopped pieces of butter.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 185°C for 40-45 minutes. You're looking for beautifully golden edges.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little, before serving warm. Serve with a delicious scoop of ice cream.

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Homemade Stem Ginger


Stem ginger is an item you will always find in my cupboard. It's able to be used in dessert and savoury recipes, making it a must have ingredient. It can be used in drinks too. The syrup is to die for! Taking the time to make it yourself is definitely worthwhile.

When I made this, I happened to use young ginger - it's less spicy and a little more floral. It's perfect for some lovely light desserts. Using normal fresh ginger will also work just as well. The end product will be spicy and pungent.

I love stem ginger in anything from a delicate panna cotta to a light lunch, like this sea bream with a shimeji mushroom broth. Be sure to check out my post on Friday when I combine some of this lovely stem ginger with some fresh plums in a wonderful dessert.

Recipe

Ingredients:

150g young fresh ginger/ fresh ginger
200g caster sugar
1 tbsp glucose
200g reserved cooking liquid

Method:
  • Gently scrap the young ginger to remove the skin. There's no need to peel as where the skin is soft it comes off super easily. If using normal fresh ginger you can use a peeler. (keep the peel to one side).
  • Cut the peeled ginger into rough 3 cm pieces. Remember preferably all the same size so they all cook at the same time.
  • Squeeze what juice you can from reserved ginger peel through a sieve into a medium sized saucepan.
  • Add the ginger to the pan and fill with water until the ginger is covered with water by at least 1-2 cms.
  • Bring to the boil and then leave to cook for around 40 minutes depending on the size of the ginger and whether it's young or normal. I'd recommend cooking normal ginger for about an hour.
  • Remove the ginger from the pan using a fork and leave to one side. Measure 200g of the cooking liquid and pour away the remaining. 
  • Add the ginger to the remaining cooking liquid, followed by the sugar and the glucose. Stir until dissolved and then bring to the boil. Once a boil is reached, turn the heat down and gently simmer for 20 minutes or until thickened to a syrup.
  • Once cooked add the ginger to a sterilised jar with the syrup and seal immediately. 

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Friday, 14 July 2017

Chocolate Ice Cream Cones


Ice cream in a cone is a sure-fire way to tell that summer is underway. By no means is either ice cream or cones something strictly reserved for summer. With this recipe, you can be rustling up some cones in no time.

Making these simple cones at home couldn't be any simpler. Using no fancy equipment or ingredients, these are perfect for upgrading any garden party or barbeque. Unlike other recipes out there, these are baked in the oven and not to be cooked in a waffle maker. By all means try, however, I can't vouch that they will work. Let me know if you try it.

Adding a good quality cocoa powder really helps make these cones a little extra special. They have a more discerning flavour when matched with appropriate ice creams. Matcha ice cream, strawberry and even banana ice cream work well to name a few. If you have a little spare time, check out this peanut butter and chocolate ice cream recipe. It's a great match for the cones and also uses no fancy equipment.

To be drip conscious, you can dip the ends in melted chocolate, giving them the perfect seal to avoid messy hands.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                                 (Makes 16 cones)
2 egg whites
95g icing sugar
60g plain flour
25g good quality cocoa powder
75g melted butter

For dipping (optional)
50g dark chocolate

Method:
  • Start by whisking the egg whites. Once they are frothy continue to whisk and slowly add the sifted icing sugar.
  • Gently fold the sifted flour and the cocoa powder through the mix with the whisk. 
  • Gently beat in the melted butter until fully combined and smooth. 
  • Scrape the mixture into a small container and leave to rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  • Spread out around 20g of mix a portion into a circle on baking paper, spreading thinly.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 8-10 minutes. 
  • Once cooked remove from the oven, quickly lift from the tray and shape. Remember to do this as fast as possible as they will go hard and set in approximately 10 seconds from being off the tray. 
  • Leave to cool.
  • Dipping the end is chocolate is optional. If you want too, melt the chocolate and leave to cool until it starts to thicken slightly, dip the end of the cone and let the residual chocolate drip off. Leave to set.  
  • Once cool store in an airtight container. 
  • Serve with your favourite ice creams or sorbets. 

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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Sea Bream With Shimeji Mushroom Broth


Whether you're lucky enough to catch your own or snagged a lovely fresh fish from the store. This recipe is a slight change from my usual meals, but I was craving something different.

Using the bones to create a wonderfully light and flavourful simple fish stock, you really do make the most out of everything with no waste. This isn't a conventional fish stock, using just the bare minimum ingredients to get as much flavour from the remaining bones as possible. Any leftover fish stock can also be frozen for future use.

Combining this lovely fish with a light mushroom and fish broth is superb. The warmth of chilli in the background and the light sweetness and spiciness from the stem ginger helps to lift the broth. The addition of the kelp or your favourite seaweed helps tie everything together with a taste of the sea. Lastly, the vegetables, with their crunch, give this light lunch or dinner everything you could ask for. The crispy fish skin completes it.

Taking very little time, this is a handy go-to dish. If your catering for friends, serving a smaller portion as a starter is a great way to get the evening started with lots of flavour.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                                (Serves 2)

1 whole sea bream or 2 fillets of sea bream or a similar fish
1/2 red chilli, finely sliced
1 piece stem ginger, finely chopped
1/4 carrot, cut into small thin shapes/ paysanne
1 spring onion, finely sliced
50g fresh kelp, tied into bows or in strands
4 pieces baby corn, halved then quartered
1/2 punnet shimeji mushrooms, removed from the root
50g beansprouts

Method:

  • Start by filleting the sea bream if bought whole. Chop the remaining bones and add to a pot of water with the head and mushroom trim. 
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Once cooked strain through a fine sieve and leave to one side.
  • Score the skin before sealing the sea bream, skin side down, in a hot frying pan with a tablespoon of oil. You're looking to get a lovely crispy skin. When 3/4 cooked remove from the pan and leave to one side. 
  • For the broth, using 300ml of the simple fish stock from earlier, add the chilli, the stem ginger. 
  • Bring to the boil and turn to a simmer, add the carrots, spring onions, kelp and the baby corn. Simmer for 1 minute before adding the mushrooms and the beansprouts. Continue to cook for another minute.
  • Add the fish leaving the skin facing up to finish cooking in the broth. 
  • Once cooked remove from the heat and serve. Your not looking to overcook the vegetable, you're after a fresh crunch. 

 
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Friday, 7 July 2017

Matcha & Adzuki Layer Cake (Red Bean)


When the weather's hitting 33 degrees and feeling more like 38 degrees, being outside is sure appealing. The last thing on your mind is being stuck in the kitchen, surrounded by a hot oven and having to do what feels like a work out to make a recipe. This recipe is an absolute breeze and you merely need the oven for a maximum of 15 minutes.

This cake comes out light as a feather, full of flavour and is best served chilled. What could be more appetising on a summers day? Matcha and adzuki are a superb combination that is very popular amongst Japanese and Chinese cuisine. They are superbly healthy, readily available and most important, they taste amazing together. A real earthiness from the matcha, with a clean finish as you get the sweet filling from adzuki beans and a hint of savoury that they also provide. It makes the perfect combination.

Adzuki is simply red beans. Here in Taiwan you can easily buy them in store, vac packed in the fridge, cooked. It really makes this recipe bliss to make knowing a lot of the work is done. However, if your not lucky enough to have that ease, this information is vital for you. If your bag of beans has cooking instructions on them, follow them as most won't. You will need to soak them for at least 1-2 hours. When it comes to cooking, cook them in sweetened water. When used in desserts it is the thing to do. You will be looking to cook them for around an hour or until tender.

This cake will make the perfect afternoon tea snack to have out in the lovely weather. If your looking for a iced tea to go with, search no further. This homemade bubble tea with boba is perfect to keep you cool and refreshed in the sun.

Recipe 

Ingredients:

Cake
10g matcha tea powder
40ml whole milk
20g rapeseed/ sunflower oil
25g sugar
7g cornflour
35g plain flour
10g matcha tea powder
4 egg whites
40g caster sugar

Filling
100g cooked red beans
100g whipping cream
10g icing sugar

Method:
  • For the cake, whisk together the milk, the 25g sugar, the matcha powder and the oil until combined and the sugar is dissolved. Sift the two flours and add them. Whisk until smooth and mixed together.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites till their fluffy. Slowly add the sugar whisk whisking until peaks.
  • Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the flour mix. Fold through carefully and thoroughly. Add this to the remaining egg whites. 
  • Fold everything together gently until fully combined. (Do all of this as carefully as possibly so not to loose excess air).
  • Spoon onto a lined tray, 28x18cm preferably. Bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Once the cake is slightly springy it's ready. Leave to cool.
  • For the filling, mash the cooked red beans. In a separate bowl whip the cream with the sugar. Once there's stiff peaks fold through the mashed red beans. 
  • Once the cake is cooled, peel away the baking parchment and place back on the reverse side of the parchment. 
  • Cut into 3 equal sized rectangles. spread half the filling on the first layer. Add another layer and top with the remaining filling. Lastly add the last layer. 
  • Leave in a fridge for an hour to firm up before serving. Serve with a dusting of matcha powder and any extra cooked red beans you may have. 


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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Ingredient Insight: Lychees


Lychees are a seasonal fruit originating from China and other countries in South East Asia. They're renowned for their rough skins, revealing a juicy white flesh around an inedible seed. With lychees only being freshly available between June and July, if you see them, get them.

Lychees are quite the versatile fruit. They work great amongst desserts, complimenting slightly tart berries like raspberries and blueberries very well. In savoury dishes, like a lot of fruits, they go well with duck. They compliment spices and are great in salads for a freshness. They can make a soft drink or cocktail that little bit more special with their floral appeal in taste and aroma.

Get your lychees fresh whenever you see them. They normally have a  beautiful pink/red skin, sometimes with a little green. They are fast and easy to peel with your fingers. You are highly likely to get juice on you. Their juicy white, almost translucent flesh is a true delight. You could easily sit and eat these one after another as they are. Containing lots of vitamin C and numerous other beneficial vitamins and nutrients, they are certainly close to being in the realm of being called a superfood. Not without caution though - they are also high in fructose, a natural sugar, which if eaten excessively can be harmful.

They store well so don't feel rushed to use them. I like to keep mine in the fridge until they turn a little brown as it often means the fruit will be a little sweeter. They're also widely available dried or even tinned. However, do check a recipe before using first as dried can't be used as a straight swap in most cases. With canned lychees, do bare in mind they will likely be kept in a sugar syrup so are likely to have lost some taste and gained a lot of sweetness.

For some great ideas of how to use this incredible fruit, check out the sweet and savoury recipes below. There's also a superb drink in there too for a way to cool down with after being in the sun.


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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Coconut Crusted Fried Chicken


The 6th July marks a popular day in many a food lovers calendar. It's National Fried Chicken Day.

With fried chicken being one of the most popular foods, it's no surprise that there are many variations. This recipe combines an incredibly crispy coconut coating around a wonderfully flavoured and perfectly cooked piece of chicken.

In the recipe I've used powdered flavours, they are best when it comes to fried chicken and other foods. They are directly coating the chicken for maximum flavour and consistency. If you can't get your hands on them or fear they will never get used again, fear not. They are widely available and can easily be used in many recipes. Using them up in marinades and sauces is perfect.

When cooking ensure that the cooking oil is as 160 degrees. If it exceeds that you may find your chicken coating will colour overly fast and still be raw inside, or simply become something similar to charcoal. If you can use coconut flour that would be perfect, a lot less likely to burn and you get an incredible crunch with great flavour. I happened to use powdered, it gives a texture similar to panko breadcrumbs once fried. You just have to be a little more careful when cooking.

If you're looking for the perfect side for this coconut crusted fried chicken or for National Fried Chicken Day in general, check out this recipe for loaded sweet potato fries.

Recipe

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp chilli powder
coconut flour/ coconut powder
cornflour
2 egg whites/ 75ml buttermilk

Method:
  • Sieve together the paprika, garlic powder, the onion powder, the chilli powder and cornflour together and season with salt.
  • Whisk the egg white till lightly frothy if using. For buttermilk simply leave as is.
  • Toss the chicken through the cornflour mixture. Then in into the egg whites and repeat once more. 
  • Lastly, they go into the coconut flour/ powdered coconut. 
  • Heat a  fryer to 160 degrees. Carefully add the chicken to the hot oil watching out for any pops or spits from the hot oil. 
  • Cook the chicken till perfectly golden and the chicken is cooked inside.
  • Remove from the hot oil and leave to drain before seasoning and serving.
  • I enjoyed my coconut crusted fried chicken with some flavour packed loaded sweet potato fries.
 

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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Sparkling Lychee & Ginger


After a hot day out in the sun, few things are quite as refreshing as an ice-cold, sparkling drink. This sparkling lychee and ginger drink is no exception.

These flavours all work great together, leaving you with a sparkling fruit based drink, with a little warmth and depth through the stem ginger. Just the right amount of sweetness aided by the lemon, complemented by the lightly floral lychee, and lastly the fresh aroma of the orange giving that citrus thirst-quenching appeal.

This drink can easily be turned into a cocktail. I'd recommend adding either vodka or a white rum. Both of these have a milder flavour profile so won't interfere with the main flavours and both are transparent so you keep the wonderful light colour.

In this recipe, I used my own homemade stem ginger. Keep your eyes peeled for this recipe being posted in the coming weeks.

For more refreshing ways to use up any lychees this season, check out these other possibilities here.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                                           (Serves 2)

15g stem ginger
4tbsp stem ginger syrup
1/2 lemon, juiced
8-10 lychees, peeled and stoned
400ml lemonade
5-6 ice cubes

Method:
  • Either blitz the stem ginger and the lychees together to form a smooth puree, or finely chop them. Reserve any lychee juice that may leak out if chopping.
  • Add the squeeze of lemon and the stem ginger syrup. 
  • Add the ice cubes followed by the lemonade. 
  • Give the drink a good stir before pouring into glasses. 
  • Serve with an orange garnish for added flavour and aroma.

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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Loaded Sweet Potato Fries


With National Fried Chicken Day just around the corner. Yes, you read that right, it's a thing. These loaded sweet potato fries will be the perfect accompaniment.  Check my blog my next week for a delicious fried chicken recipe. In the meantime, you can try this great side.

I will use the word fries leniently here as they're ... well, oven cooked. These sweet potato fries can certainly make a great alternative or just a lovely change. Give them a good season with spices and some suitable herbs if you have any to hand. Cooking them in the oven, of course, also comes with its own nutrition benefits as well. However, those benefits are soon lost once these fries get the addition of some bbq sauce and sour cream.

Giving the fries a handful of spring onions gives these fries a good raw hit of flavour to help break through the natural sweetness of the sweet potato. The tomatoes really help give these loaded sweet potato fries some freshness amongst the spices and sauces. 

Check out a great fried chicken recipe here

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                                  (Serves 2)        
1 large sweet potato
1 large clove garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp oil
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 spring onion, chopped
30-40g sour cream/ mayonnaise
30-40g bbq sauce

Method:
  • Give the sweet potato a good scrub to remove all the dirt. Leaving the skin on, cut into rough fry/chip pieces. (You can remove the skin but it's just a waste of nutrients). 
  • On the tray, you will be cooking the sweet potato fries. Add the garlic, the paprika, the ginger, the cinnamon and the oil. Give a season with salt and pepper before tossing all together so everything is combined and coated. 
  • Cook in an oven at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes (or until they've reached your desired level of crispiness). Be careful not to overcrowd them on the tray as you could end up with a soggy mess if they are all piled up.
  • Once cooked remove from the oven and transfer into your desired serving bowl.
  • Top with the quartered cherry tomatoes and sliced spring onions before drizzling the sour cream/ mayonnaise and bbq sauce over the top. If you have any coriander, add some roughly chopped as well as it works great. 

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Friday, 23 June 2017

Lychee, Stem Ginger & Coconut Panna Cotta

Wibble wobble jelly on the plate... well almost. Panna cotta is just as wobbly as jelly, especially this recipe. Traditionally, panna cottas are made from double cream, lightly set with gelatine to give the wobbly, just set texture.

This recipe, however, calls for a change to this classic Italian dessert. Using a majority of coconut milk over double cream, extra flavourings including stem ginger and lychee, it's quite the change. Putting all that aside for any panna cotta purists or deeply patriotic Italians, this dessert will win you over. It's light, clean on the palate yet full of flavour. Not to mention, it's so easy to make!

To break up all this creaminess, I'd recommend serving with something tart and crisp. Served with this one is a great sesame, ginger and honey crisp. All the flavours are totally in keeping with the rest of the dish, leaving it to work wonders. The crisp can also be used with many other desserts and not limited to just this one. Whether it be as a replacement for a brandy snap or ever an extra crunch for a zingy lemon cheesecake or key lime pie.

For more refreshing ways to use up any lychees this season, check out these other possibilities here.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                        (Makes 4 portions)

Panna cotta
100g double cream
400g coconut  milk
100g caster sugar
3 leaves gelatine
1 piece stem ginger, finely chopped
10 fresh lychees, peeled, stoned, pureed or finely chopped

Sesame & ginger crisp
25g butter
25g caster sugar
25g clear honey
18g plain flour
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds

Method:
  • For the panna cotta, in a large pan, bring the cream and the coconut milk to the boil alongside the sugar, the ginger and the lychees. 
  • Once it comes to the boil remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 20-30 minutes.
  • Soak the gelatine in a container of cold water. 
  • Bring the infusion back to the heat. Once the gelatine is soft and supple, remove from the water and add to the pan. 
  • Stir until dissolved. Either strain the pan off through a fine sieve to remove the pieces or leave as is. I chose to strain mine for a perfectly smooth panna cotta, however it is delicious either way.
  • Pour into moulds and leave to set in a fridge for 3-4 hours.
  • For the crisp, cream together all the ingredients to form a paste. 
  • Spread onto baking parchment and sprinkle with a few more sesame seeds. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 8-10 minutes. 
  • Once fully golden leave to cool. Once cool store in an air tight container. 
  • Once set remove from the moulds. You can do this by dipping the mould in a bath of hot water for a few seconds, before turning upside down on a plate. 
  • Serve extra lychees, and shards of the sesame, ginger and honey crisp.

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Street Food | Taiwanese Scallion Pancakes


The next instalment of street food comes in the form of Taiwanese scallion (spring onion) pancakes.

These are a great go to street snack food. Often I've found myself with a hunger craving and these scallion pancakes have satisfied those urges. They are just the right amount to keep hunger at bay without becoming overwhelming, tasty enough to hit the flavour scale and fast enough (once the dough's made) to compete with any food for a fast savoury snack.

Taiwanese scallion pancakes are made from an oil dough, spring onions and sesame seeds and a fried egg. There's also a generous helping of sauces. Brushed with chilli sauce (sweet chilli sauce also works well), and a mysterious brown coloured sauce, before a dusting of pepper and chilli. Anyway, they're delicious, full of flavour, flaky exterior yet pleasantly doughy inside.

These are relatively easy to make. Follow the pictures in the slideshow for the way to fold and roll them. These can be made and stored in the fridge for future use saving time when it comes to cooking. These also work as a great side dish as well, just add a few dips and your good to go.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                             (Makes 4 pancakes)

250g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
150ml warm water
2 tbsp sunflower/ cooking oil
4 spring onions, chopped
25g sesame seeds
20ml sunflower/ cooking oil
4 eggs
4 tbsp chilli sauce/ sweet chilli sauce

Method:
  • Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the water gradually whilst constantly stirring.
  • Once the dough comes together, knead for a minute, add a little more flour if too sticky. Cover and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes. 
  • In a frying pan lightly toast off the sesame seeds over a low heat. Add the chopped spring onions followed by the 20ml of sunflower/ cooking oil. Gently cook over a low heat til the spring onion wilts down. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.
  • In the mixing bowl add the 2 tbsp of oil to the rested dough. Knead the oil into the dough. You may think at first it's not going to work, persevere it will. Cover and leave to rest once again for 20-30 minutes. 
  •  Divide the dough into 4. Roll each portion out into a disc. Equally, smooth over the spring onion mix onto the discs. 
  • Roll each disc like a swiss roll, so that the spring onion mix is fully sealed inside.
  • Pinwheel each dough and gently flatten or roll until slightly thinner than a centimetre. 
  • Heat a pan on a medium heat. Add the pancakes to the pan without any oil. Cook on one side will golden before flipping. Repeat once again. 
  • Using 2 lifters/ spatulas you're looking to squash the pancake sideways all the way round to push the pancake up and split it a little before removing from the pan. 
  • Beat an egg a little and add to the pan. Place the pancake onto and cook. 
  • Remove from the pan and smother the egg side with either chilli sauce or sweet chilli sauce.

My version of the Taiwanese scallion pancake from the recipe.


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