Friday, 31 March 2017

Street Food | Takoyaki


This isn’t what I’d normally do, but I’ve been living in Taiwan for the last six months and the food has been incredible. So many stores, so much variety at night markets and street vendors. I’ve become accustomed to the smell of sticky tofu (which doesn’t mean I’ve summoned the courage to try it yet!). 

I’d like to talk about takoyaki. Unfortunately, I don’t have the equipment to make them for myself and my Mandarin is poor, so I haven’t been able to ask for a recipe. Besides, I’ve seen the woman just down my road do it and she’s a machine. Years have perfected her art and I would definitely not make any near her standards for some time.

Takoyaki is a Japanese dish. In effect, it’s an octopus ball. A dashi batter is made and poured over a well oiled hot takoyaki pan. After a minute, a piece of octopus is placed into the centre of each ball, followed by leeks or onion. Using two skewers, you break the batter between the holes and fold the half cooked batter over before rotating the balls around the cook the other side. Then, the balls have to be kept rotating until they’re perfectly golden. It’s great to watch - I’d recommend it if you have the chance! Whenever I’ve seen it being made, they’re cooking around forty at a time. It’s incredible. 

Once cooked, it’s time to dress them up. Whenever I’ve had them, they’ve been served in a boat shaped container and topped with sweetened mayonnaise, takoyaki sauce, chopped picked ginger and a generous helping of katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes/dried and smoked skipjack tuna in thin flakes - so tasty and they just disappear on the tongue!).


Takoyaki are light and full of flavour. If you get a chance to try them, it’s a must. If you aren’t in Asia, I’ve had this dish at YoSushi in the UK before so you may be able to get your hands on these balls. 


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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

White Chocolate & Citrus Truffles


For my birthday, I decided to treat myself to some good chocolate for a change. Mediocre chocolate can really take its toll! Ask any chocoholic. For me, there's nothing more satisfying than chocolate truffles. Especially knowing you're actually getting more out of your chocolate by adding to it.

This recipe is mouth watering! The rich white chocolate, the hint of citrus and the tingle from the chilli at the end. It's truly wonderful!

Like a lot of the recipes I post, this is versatile. You can always trade the zest for a shot of your favourite liqueur (I'd recommend an amaretto or a banana liqueur). They work great with the white chocolate. Don't forget to add something extra to your truffles. As little as some crushed nuts or a sprinkle of zest, it will make them that little bit more special. I will also be posting some more recipes of my favourite truffles so stay tuned for them.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                             (Makes 20-25 truffles)

Ganache
250g chopped white chocolate
125g cream whipping or double
10g unsalted butter
1/2 lemon zested (Optional.)
1/2 orange zested (Optional.)
1 shot flavoured liqueur (Optional.)

Coating
125g melted white chocolate

Method:
  • Boil the cream, the butter and the flavourings if you're using them.
  • Once the cream mixture has started to boil, pour over the chopped chocolate.
  • Whisk until smooth. Then leave in a fridge to cool and set.
  • Once set divide the ganache into sized balls. Rolling in your hands to create a round ball (cold hands are preferable so not to melt the ganache).
  • Melt the chocolate for coating. 
  • Dip the ganache balls into the chocolate and let the residual drip off before placing on parchment paper.
  • Either roll using a fork to create a spiky outside or leave to dry smooth. 
  • If drying smooth, add some garnish to the top when the coating is still wet to add flavour and extra appeal.

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Friday, 24 March 2017

Lemon Drizzle Cake

This week, I really fancied some lemon cake. My partner and I have noticed the distinct lack of flavour in the lemon cakes here in Taiwan. With that in mind, I headed out and grabbed some lemons. Within the hour I had my lemon drizzle cake cooling off. Well, some of it... it'd be a shame to have to wait for it to cool completely before enjoying!

This recipe is so basic it's wonderful. From that first hint of lemon you get as you zest it to when it comes out the oven, your kitchen is filled with a wonderful aroma. In my case, I could even smell it on the bottom floor as I left for work. Few aromas are better.

I like to enjoy my lemon drizzle cake with a lovely cup of tea or just by itself. However, it works great as an afternoon tea cake and even better with some lemon curd.
Recipe

Ingredients:

For the cake
3 lemons zested
80g softened butter
5 eggs
140ml double cream
300g caster sugar
240g plain flour (All purpose)
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

For the drizzle
1 lemon zest & juice
150g icing sugar

Method:
  • Beat together the lemon zest, the softened butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs followed by the cream.
  • Sift the flour, the baking powder and the salt before adding to the mix.
  • Mix well until a smooth batter. 
  • Pour the batter into a lined tin with parchment paper. 
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 40-60 minutes. 
  • Once the cake is cooked remove from the tin.
  • In a small saucepan boil together the lemon zest & juice with the icing sugar. 
  • Brush over the cake once warm so that the drizzle soaks through and is absorbed.
  • Leave the cake to cool on a drying rack. 
  • Top with some candied lemon if you have the time and you're ready to serve.
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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Beignets


These Parmesan cheese beignets are the perfect way to spruce up your meal. Whether you add them to a pasta dish or a soup, like this butternut squash and coconut soup, you will love them! They're wonderfully light with a great taste of cheese that everyone will enjoy. They're simply choux pastry with cheese added.

If you dislike Parmesan or are vegetarian, don't worry - just swap out the Parmesan for your favourite cheese instead. Anything from a blue Stilton to strong cheddar works well.

Recipe

Ingredients:

55g butter
75g hot water
75g milk
90g strong bread flour
2 eggs
Pinch of salt
50g grated Parmesan cheese

Method:
  • Sift the flour and salt then keep to one side.
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan with the milk and water. Once butter is melted turn up the heat to bring to the boil.
  • As the liquid mixture comes to boil stir in sifted flour and salt. 
  • Continue to stir and cook out over a medium heat until the dough forms a ball in the pan.
  • Remove from pan and press out onto a tray to cool slightly.
  • Once the dough is just warm to the touch add to a stand mixer. (Can also mix with a spoon by hand, just harder.).
  • Start to slowly beat the dough and add the eggs slowly till fully combined. 
  • The recipe can vary. You're looking for a consistency that just drops off the spoon. Once achieved don't add any more egg or it'll be too wet.
  • Now add the grated Parmesan cheese. Mix until fully incorporated.
  • Spoon the mixture into a piping bag for cooking. 
  • Heat a deep fryer to 180 degrees. Pipe the mixture slowly with one hand, using scissors in the other to cut the dough at around 1-2cm pieces. All depending on the size your looking for. (You can also use teaspoons to spoon the mixture if you're not confident.).
  • Fry for around 2 minutes, drain well and season before serving.
  • Enjoy with a delicious soup, a topping for pasta's or snacking on their own. Why not sprinkle with a little paprika too for extra enjoyment. 





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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Butternut Squash & Coconut Soup


If you're as much of a fan of soup as me, this recipe is for you! It's delicious hot or cold, as enjoyed like mine today on the rooftop in the sun.

This recipe is simple to make and requires little attention, leaving you free to do as you please. Using the coconut milk/coconut cream makes it super healthy. The warming of the spices work well with the butternut squash and the sweetness of the coconut.

I decided to jazz this soup up today by toasting off some pumpkin seeds the pan and making some Parmesan cheese beignets. They're just delicious. Finally, I gave the soup a generous swirl of creme fraiche.

Recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 small butternut squash
1 onion
1 large carrot
2 sticks celery
1 small red chilli
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp turmeric
2cm fresh ginger
200ml coconut cream/coconut milk
1250ml light vegetable stock /hot water

Method:
  • Peel and chop the butternut squash. Toss with a little oil and cook in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes approx.
  • Whilst that's cooking, chop the mirepoix (onion, carrot and celery.), garlic, ginger and the chilli.
  • Heat a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add a drop of oil then fry off the turmeric, ginger and chilli. Add the mirepoix and sweat down. There should be no colour at this stage.
  • After sweating down, add the stock or hot water. Bring to boil, turn down and cook. 
  • Once the butternut squash is almost cooked add to the saucepan. 
  • Continue to cook for around 20 minutes or until all vegetables are thoroughly cooked. Add the coconut and stir through.
  • Remove from heat and blend. Either with a stick blender or in a food processor. If the soup is too thick, let it down with some stock/ water.
  • Season the soup with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with chilli cream, toasted seeds and cheese beignets.



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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Honeycomb

When it comes to extra treats to add to your ice cream, desserts or to munch alone, little could be better than honeycomb. It's addictively tasty, it's quick and it's straight forward to make.

This recipe calls for honey. You might be wondering why I'd bother to mention that. Well, a lot of recipes call for golden syrup or corn syrup. That begs the question, why's it called honeycomb if there's no honey? With this recipe, you're getting what you'd expect. Honey is also much nicer to eat. That's not to say I haven't eaten golden syrup straight out the tin... come on, we all have!

Today I've decided to smother my honeycomb in dark chocolate to take away some of the sweetness. Adding a pinch of good sea salt to the chocolate is delicious too. Stay tuned as I will be using honeycomb in more desserts and treats to come.

Recipe

Ingredients:

100g caster sugar
30g honey
100g glucose
10g bicarbonate of soda

Method:

  • Weigh the sugar, the honey and the glucose into a large pan.
  • Cook on a medium heat, only shaking and swirling the pan. No stirring!
  • You'll notice the syrup start to get to a light caramel. With a temperature probe check the syrup.
  • Once your probe reads 150 degrees, remove from the heat.
  • Quickly add the bicarbonate of soda. Mix through caramel with a whisk till incorporated. 
  • Instantly it will start to expand and foam up quite a bit. 
  • Straight after pour onto greaseproof paper and leave to cool.
  • Once cool, put the honeycomb in an airtight container, otherwise moisture will make it go sticky and it will lose its crunch.




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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Pineapple Fritters with Lemon & Chilli Syrup


Pineapple fritters have always been a must order for me from a Chinese takeaway. However, they are incredibly easy to make at home yourself. This recipe give a little twist on them which is absolutely moreish!

Combining pineapple with spices is always delicious. This recipe combines fresh chilli, ginger and lemon. It doesn't have to stop there, though - vanilla, lime leaf and lemongrass work great as well as star anise.

I love this recipe, the syrup fills the missing flavour profile. You get that fresh lemon taste followed by the depth of the chilli, adding to that superb pineapple taste. If you have the opportunity to use fresh pineapple it's a must, you will notice the difference!
Recipe

Ingredients:

1 fresh pineapple or tinned
100ml water
70g plain flour
2 eggs
50g melted butter
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of salt

Method:

  • Start by making the lemon and chilli syrup. Follow the link to the recipe.
  • Once syrup is made prepare the pineapple. Remove the top and bottom and peel with a knife. Cut into quarters and remove the core. Cut each quarter lengthways into 4-5 pieces. If using tinned, drain off and leave to dry on kitchen paper.
  • Leave to one side and start to make the fritter batter. 
  • Sieve the flour, the sugar, the ground ginger and the salt into a medium sized mixing bowl.
  • Separate the eggs. Keeping the egg whites in another medium sized mixing bowl, with the yolks going into the flour mixture. 
  • Add the water to the flour mixture, mixing till smooth. Then add the melted butter. 
  • Leave the mixture to one side.
  • With a whisk whip the egg whites till stiff, fold the first mixture into the egg whites.
  • Heat a deep fryer with sunflower oil to 185 degrees. Once hot cover the pineapple in the batter. Begin to fry a few a time, removing and draining after 3-4 minutes (Till golden brown.) on kitchen paper. 
  • After cooking them all drizzle with the syrup and dust with icing sugar. 
  • If you fancy a little more bite top with chopped chilli and lemon zest. (It's delicious.)

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Lemon & Chilli Syrup


This lemon and chilli syrup recipe is incredibly versatile. It can be used on desserts to add a fresh lemony and chilli flavour. It would also work really well in cocktails - just don't reduce it as much and use in place of simple syrup.

This recipe can be easily tweaked. If you're looking for the heat of the chilli, simply add the seeds. For a more lemony flavour, just double up the lemon.

I'll be using this syrup in a recipe soon, so stick around for pineapple fritters covered in lemon and chilli syrup.

Recipe:

Ingredients:                                                                                                

284ml water
3 tbsp sugar
1 lemon
1 red chilli

Method:

  • In a saucepan, bring the water and the sugar to a boil.
  • Zest the lemon and add it to the saucepan. 
  • Once boiling turn heat down to a heavy simmer.
  • Cut the chilli into around 8 pieces, removing the seeds and stalk.
  • Add chilli to the saucepan and continue cooking on a heavy simmer.
  • You'll notice the syrup getting thicker, usually after around 10-15 minutes. 
  • Squeeze the lemon and add the lemon juice to the saucepan. 
  • Cook for another minute then remove from the heat. 
  • Pour the syrup into a heatproof container and leave to cool.
  • I like to leave the pieces of chilli and lemon in for 1 day before straining off. It lets the flavour infuse for longer.

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Friday, 10 March 2017

Flour Tortillas


If you enjoy tacos, enchiladas, burritos or any other of the vast possibilities, then it's worth having a tortilla recipe to hand. Mexican food is popular all around the world. This recipe comes out soft, not chewy and with a lovely flavour. 

With this easy recipe, you can have these delicious tortillas ready in 45 minutes. All you'll have left to do is sort out your filling! If your struggling for ideas, over the next few months I will be posting some of my favourites. See the bottom of the page for last nights dinner - Mexican spiced chicken, peppers, chilli & onion jam, celery leaves (If you believe in salad.) and a good helping of cheese.   

Recipe:

Ingredients:                                                                                                         (Makes 8 tortillas)

150g flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
30ml sunflower oil
60-75ml cold water

Method:
  • Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into mixing bowl. Add the sunflower oil and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Add some cold water. Only add 60ml to start with - if dough is too dry, then add some more little by little. 
  • Mix with your hands until it resembles a smooth ball. It shouldn't be sticky. (If you think it's too sticky, continue mixing and it should eventually form a smooth ball.)
  • Once the dough is made, cover it with cling-film and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • After resting, divide into 8 pieces. (It will make 8 13cm diameter tortilla.) If you're after standard wrap sizes, divide dough into 4.
  • Roll each piece into a ball then roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 13cm.
  • Once you've almost finished rolling them out, heat a pan on a medium heat.
  • When the pan is hot, place one dough circle into the dry pan (no oil for cooking.), and cook for approx. 1 minute.
  • You're looking for golden spots. The upper side will look bubbly, flip over and continue to cook for 45-60 seconds. If they are browning too quick, turn the pan down a little.
  • Between tortillas, wipe the pan clean with a dry cloth and continue with the rest.   
  • Either serve tortillas straight away warm or leave to cool. If for later use, keep in a sealed container or in the fridge covered so not to dry out.


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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Chilli & Onion Jam


Chutneys and jams are always great to have in your cupboard. They're so versatile. Whether you're looking to add to your cheese and biscuits or upgrade a sandwich, they work perfectly. This fulfilling onion jam works great with cheese or cold hams and gives extra bite to your ham sandwich.

This recipe could not get any easier and will leave you wondering why you ever bothered buying a jar instead of making it. I like to enjoy mine with freshly toasted soda bread and thickly sliced brie. The jam also works well in wraps or fajitas.

Try out this jam in a delicious tear and share Brie and onion jam bread.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                  (Makes 800g approx.)

2 large onions
1-2 red chillies
1/2 lemon zested
375ml red wine vinegar
185ml water
300g soft brown sugar
500g chopped tinned tomatoes

Method:
  • Peel and remove the roots from the onions. Cut the onion in half and then slice the onions thin.
  • Heat a saucepan with a little oil. Once warmed, add the sliced onions. 
  • Cook down the onions. Keep them moving on a gentle heat so not to colour them. 
  • Remove seeds and finely chop the chillies then add them to the pan. (If you're not a fan of spice, add less chilli or none - the jam will still be great!).
  • You'll notice the onions will turn soft and translucent. At this stage, add the sugar, the vinegar, the lemon zest and the water. 
  • Stir til the sugar is dissolved.
  • Turn the heat up and start to reduce to a syrup, stirring occasionally, especially near the end as has a tendency to stick. 
  • Once the jam has become syrupy, add the tinned tomatoes.
  • Turn to a medium heat. Continue to reduce until thick. Stir regularly again. If you're afraid it will stick and burn, turn the heat down and just cook for longer. 
  • You're looking for the thickness of a soft jam/ when almost all liquid has evaporated. Once achieved, pour into a heatproof dish to cool. The mixture will thicken as chilled. 
  • Once cold, put your onion jam in a container and keep refrigerated.





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Friday, 3 March 2017

Soda Bread


When it comes to bread making, nothing could be more simple than soda bread. Unlike other breads, it requires no proving, kneading or waiting around for that matter. It's the opposite. The only thing it asks for is for you to work fast! The raising agent works almost instantly - you can feel it growing as you work it. There's no need to work the gluten strands, simply combining is enough. You should be looking to have your loaf in the oven within 5 minutes. It really is that fast.

I like to enjoy mine fresh from the oven, smeared with a generous helping of salted butter. Alternatively, it tastes great dipped in piping hot soup, enjoyed with cheese and sliced meats or just toasted.

Recipe:
Ingredients:                                                                                                  (Makes 1 loaf)

450g plain flour (Type 45)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp table salt
Approx 400ml buttermilk

Method:

  • Sift flour and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle over the salt. 
  • Make a well in the flour. Pour in 3/4 of the buttermilk.
  • Now it's all about working fast. As the buttermilk and bicarbonate of soda combine the reaction starts, unlike with yeast.
  • Start to combine the ingredients with one hand. 
  • As the dough comes together add more buttermilk as required. Remember your looking for a semi-sticky ball of dough.
  • Once achieved, transfer the dough onto a floured work surface. Either roll your dough to a sausage or a slightly flatted ball (as is traditional).
  • Place the loaf onto a floured baking tray. Proceed to flour the top of the loaf. 
  • Using a sharp serrated knife score the loaf. If aiming for traditional, score a cross. You're looking to score around 2-3cm deep.
  • Place loaf in a preheated oven at, 200℃ or gas mark 6. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, shape and size dependent.
  • To check if it's ready, turn over loaf and tap the bottom. If there's a hollow sound, it's ready.
  • After allowing a little time to cool, cut into generous slices. Heavily smeared with salted butter, it's all you could ask for!
  • With no preservatives, it will lose its crust by tomorrow. Fear not! Lightly toast and we're back in business. 

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