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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Friday, 16 June 2017

Matcha Tea & Chocolate Sponge Cake

For you eagle-eyed readers, this cake could be seen in the background of the homemade bubble tea post. After playing around with the recipe, it's finally ready. Matcha tea and chocolate sponge cake. With matcha being one of my favourite ingredients at the moment it seemed only fitting to have a matcha cake. Combining chocolate into the mix really does help to break through all matcha tea. You get the distinctive matcha natural sweetness and aroma with the earthiness from the chocolate providing a more stable taste.

Feel free to get as creative as you like when decorating. Whether you'd like just a 3 tier sandwich cake, fully covered in buttercream or even a more rustic look of a half-finished feel cake like I went for. Leaving some sponge uncovered, random piping and not smoothed out. Depending on how you wish to decorate can dictate how you with to make your sponges. I decided to marble mine for a better-distributed flavour through the cake, however, it's not vital.

Whether you're sitting indoors to evade the sun, soaking it up or working, this cake is perfect. With a clean flavour, you can sit back and enjoy with a cuppa and even share with colleagues as you get a great 12 portions from this cake.

If this cake has you in a cake baking fever, check out these other cakes which are part of an ever-growing list.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                      (Serves 12)

(Sponge)

150g softened butter
150g caster sugar
150g cake flour/ self-raising
3 eggs
45g cocoa powder
10g matcha tea powder

(Buttercream)

250g softened butter
500g icing sugar
3g matcha tea powder
20g cocoa powder
2 tbsp milk

Method:
  • For the sponges, cream together the butter and the sugar. When light, gradually add the eggs, followed by the flour.
  • Split the cake batter into 2. In the first, beat in the cocoa powder, then the matcha into the other half.
  • Evenly distribute both batters between 3 18-20cm lined tins with greaseproof paper. With either the skewer or the handle of a spoon, give the batters a good mix for the marble effect. 
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 12-18 minutes. (Oven dependant). Check with a skewer that they are cooked before removing. 
  • Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before, removing and cooling on a wire rack.
  • For the buttercream, beat the softened butter until pale and light. Sift in half the icing sugar and beat well, sift in the rest and mix thoroughly. Add the milk to loosen the buttercream. (Add more if required).
  • Split the buttercream in half. Beat the sifted matcha tea powder into one, sifted cocoa powder into the other.
  • For the building, once the sponges are cold it's time to build. Healthily cover the top of one with matcha buttercream. Add a layer of sponge and cover with chocolate buttercream. Top off with the last sponge. 
  • Spoon all remaining matcha buttercream on top the top of the cake. Smooth over the top and roughly do the sides. With a little chocolate buttercream, you're looking to give a 2-3cm rim of frosting at the top. If you can try and work the 2 buttercreams together so it's not a harsh transition. Don't worry if it's not perfect it's not meant to be.
  • With any remaining buttercream, decorate as you please.

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Crispy Lychee Salad with Sesame Dressing


The next instalment of lychees comes in a savoury form. Having fruits in salads really does uplift them. Be it pomegranates, melons or dried fruits, they work. So why should lychees be any different? They have a fragrance that goes wonderfully well with fresh basil and coriander leaves, resulting in a fennel-like taste. A juiciness to help aide this spicy salad, I used semi-dried chillies so they certainly packed a punch. They just make this crisp lychee salad with sesame dressing so fresh and clean on the palette.

Using some of the crispest salad ingredients out there, this salad has great contrasts to the soft lychees. The flavour from the dressing is wonderful. There are many layers of flavours throughout this salad that all come together, making this perfect for any barbeque, side or even a light lunch.

Once again I urge you to use fresh lychees, not just for the taste but the nutritional value. There's no sense in using fresh vegetables, a little light dressing only to add some tinned lychees drenched in sugar syrup.

For more uses for this wonderful fruit have a look here, for sweet and savoury recipes.
Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                                         (Serves 4)

(Salad)

80g beansprouts
80g cucumber, sliced
2 spring onion, finely chopped
60g red cabbage, finely chopped
10 lychees, peeled, stoned, quartered or halved
1 red chilli, finely sliced
4 tsp sesame seeds
10-15 basil leaves
10-15 sprigs coriander

(Dressing)

1/2 lime, juiced
1 tbsp clear honey
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, pureed or crushed
1/2 cm slice fresh ginger, finely grated or pureed
20g sesame oil

Method:
  • For the dressing, in a small mixing bowl combine the lime juice, the honey and the soy sauce with the ginger and garlic. Whisk the ingredients together and slowly add the sesame oil. Once combined add the sesame seeds and leave to one side.
  • For the salad, mix all the ingredients together. Ensure the red cabbage is finely chopped along with the chilli. 
  • Add half the dressing and have a quick season with salt and pepper before tossing. Have a quick taste and add more dressing if required. 
  • Serve immediately. This salad is great on its own or as an accompaniment to a barbeque or even some fresh seafood. I enjoyed mine alongside some marinated pork belly.

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Friday, 9 June 2017

Lychee & Blueberry White Roll Cake


This week marked the start of a wonderful season - lychee season. Having completely forgotten, I walked to the local fruit stall and, as I did, I saw an abundance of them. Originally, I was hoping to buy some passion fruits for this recipe to go alongside mango, but that all changed.

This is one of many recipes I will post this season to really highlight this amazing fruit. Its wonderful floral aroma, the incredibly juicy flesh and the unique fresh taste leaving you wanting more. I'm more than happy to sit watching something and snack on them until they've disappeared. I do urge you to get them fresh as when they come from a tin, laced with syrup, they lose their wonderful taste. They are readily available in most supermarkets, I can even remember seeing them in Lidl last year in the UK.

Often you find yourself with excess egg whites. It's commonplace as recipes tend to use egg yolks separated. You can use the excess whites in this white roll cake. It comes out superbly light, like a feather. The filling truly compliments it with fresh flavours working together, a little sharpness from the blueberries and subtle flavour of vanilla creeping through.

If you're not brave enough, or simply dislike lychees, this recipe can work perfectly with almost any fruit combination. Follow the link here, for more lychee recipes this season.

Recipe

Ingredients:

Cake
4 egg whites
40g caster sugar
7g cornflour
40ml whole milk
20g rapeseed/ sunflower oil
25g sugar
45g plain flour

Filling
12 whole fresh lychees
50g fresh blueberries
125g cream
15g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract/ essence

Method:
  • For the cake, whisk together the milk, the 25g sugar 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, 25x25cm preferably. (I used a rectangle, hence not the perfect roll). 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, peel the lychees, remove the seed and cut the flesh in quarters. 
  • Whip the cream till stiff peaks with the sugar and vanilla. Fold through the lychee pieces and the blueberries. 
  • Once the cake is cooled, peel away the baking parchment and place back on the reverse side of the parchment. Spread the filling all over the top of the cake. Roll the cake away from you, applying gentle pressure so not to push the filling out. 
  • Once rolled leave in a fridge to firm up before serving. Serve with a dusting of icing sugar and any extra berries you may have for this light and refreshing cake.

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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Homemade Bubble Tea With Boba


Since coming to Taiwan bubble tea has become an increasing part of life. Whether it be chain or independent, I've been there, done that - ranging from fruit teas to milk teas and even teas flavoured with chrysanthemum, they've all been tried and tested. This recipe brings to bubble tea to your own kitchen. Sometimes travelling out can seem like a trek for a good cuppa, especially if you get struck by sudden rainfall.

With bubble tea originating from Taiwan, it's no surprise there's a vast amount of choose from. There's plenty of shops dedicated to this refreshing beverage. The market for bubble tea has grown rapidly, leaving you with a wide range of flavours and additions. Some include jellies, sago or even a set custard like pudding, not to mention the tapioca pearls.

You may be thinking... why's it called bubble tea? They're pearls, not bubbles!? It actually has nothing to do with the tapioca pearls. It refers to the shaking of the tea when making that leaves a bubbly froth on the top of your drink.

There are two ways of making the pearls for this drink. Be sure to watch out for the posting of this other, more time consuming yet fun way of making them. After making this drink, I can assure the drink won't last long. As soon as you get the first chew of the tapioca pearls with a mouthful of wonderful tea you will be hooked. The pearls will keep happily in syrup in the fridge for 24 hours leaving you plentiful amounts of time and copious cups of tea to keep you going.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                       (Serves 2)

(For the pearls)
100g tapioca pearls
600g boiling water

(For the syrup)
40g caster sugar
40g dark brown sugar
80g boiling water

(The Tea)
3 tea bags, preferably
360ml boiling water
360ml whole milk
1 handful ice cubes

Method:
  • For the pearls, in a large pan boil the tapioca pearls in the water. Leave them to cook for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally so they don't clump.
  • Whilst the pearls are cooking make the sugar syrup. Dissolve the sugars in a small pan with the water. Bring to the boil and boil for 2-3 minutes before removing from the heat. Leave to cool.
  • Once the pearls are cooked, cool under cold water. Keep them in the sugar syrup.
  • Brew the tea in the water for 4-5 minutes to ensure a good flavour. 
  • Once brewed, pour the tea into a shaker with the milk and the ice. Shake the tea thoroughly to get a good froth.
  • Put half the pearls at the bottom of a large glass with some sugar syrup (add to your preference), pour over half the bubble tea.
  • Finish with extra ice a wide straw (be thrifty and save one from an earlier purchased bubble tea!) and there we are - homemade bubble tea with boba.  

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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Crispy Chicken Curry Puffs

These crispy chicken curry puffs are an absolute winner. They take inspiration from a traditional south-east Asian snack, which origins are unknown (many south-east Asian countries have their own variation). I've changed things up making this a more fragrant affair. I used ingredients I already had it goes to show what you can really make when rummaging through your cupboards.

These puffs turn out incredibly crispy thanks to this spiral pastry. It consists of two doughs combined together with layers of fat. Much the same as puff pastry, only this takes 5 minutes instead of 2 days. Combine that pastry with a fully loaded filling and you're set for a handy snack. This filling reverts away from a traditional curry filling in a sense, using similar ingredients and flavours to make up a lighter less heavy filling.

In the recipe I mention komatsuna, it's a leafy green vegetable grown in Japan and Taiwan. If you can't get hold of any, adding your favourite Asian greens will suffice. Whether it be Asian cabbage or pac choi, it will work well.

I'd recommend eating these crispy chicken curry puffs within 18 hours of cooking. The pastry loses is crisp afterwards. These can also be baked if you don't wish to fry.

Recipe

Ingredients:

(Water Dough)

115ml water
15g butter
200g flour
Pinch of salt

(Butter Dough)

100g flour
75g butter/ margarine

(Filling)

1 chicken breast, small dice/ thin strips
1 potato, peeled and 1/2 cm dice
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped/ crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp turmeric
2cm piece of ginger, finely chopped/ grated
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bunch komatsuna/ your favourite greens

Method:
  • For the filling, part cook the diced potato in boiling salted water. In a medium sized pan, toast off the turmeric and the fennel seeds. Add the onion, the chilli, garlic, ginger and the chilli with a tablespoon of sunflower oil.
  • Sweat the vegetables down until the onions translucent. Add the part cooked potato and chicken. 
  • Cook for a couple of minutes, add the chopped komatsuna or replacement. Add 75ml water and cook until the waters disappeared. 
  • Check the potatoes are cooked before seasoning and leaving to cool.
  • For the pastry, start by making the water dough. Rub the butter into the flour and salt, add the water gradually until you form a soft smooth ball. Leave to one side.
  • For the butter dough, mix the butter with the flour until fully combine and a smooth ball is made.
  • Wrap the butter dough with the water dough so it's fully encased.
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface, in only one direction until 1 cm thick. You should end up with a long thin rectangle. 
  • Roll the dough up, tightly like a swill roll. Roll out again with the spiral facing you, once it's 1cm thick and a long thin rectangle, roll up tightly again. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Cut the dough into 1cm thick slices. Roll out gently to form a disc. 
  • Place a couple of spoonfuls of the filling in the middle. Fold over the sides to create a half-moon. Press the edges together before crimping.
  • Cook the filled puffs in a deep pan of oil or a deep fat fryer at 180 degrees, until they turn golden and crispy. Remove from the oil and drain before serving.
       

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Friday, 2 June 2017

Apple & Cinnamon Rose Cake


The past week, this recipe has sure been hassling me. From being overly moist to getting the apple rose how I wanted, it has been a struggle. The third attempt was successful... or was it the fourth?

With a 50/50 ratio of brown and white sugar, I managed to get the super moist apple and cinnamon rose cake I've been hoping for, with a deep flavour from the brown sugar. In the recipe, I recommend using Granny Smith apples. The tartness works wonders. As you can see from the pictures, any apple will work well. When it came to polishing this recipe off I used some Royal Gala's as I was unable to get some Granny Smiths.

From your first slice, you will become addicted to this apple and cinnamon rose cake. The aroma from the cinnamon entices you into this lightly crisp top to the cake, a wonderfully moist and light base then the slightly chewy nature of the baked apple slices as part of the rose. This cake certainly competes for the best cake to be served with a generous dollop of clotted cream.

If this cake has you in a cake baking fever, check out these other cakes which are part of an ever-growing list.

Recipe

Ingredients:

1 egg
3g vanilla essence
80g soft brown sugar
80g caster sugar
60g sunflower oil
160g all purpose flour
2g bicarbonate of soda
3g cinnamon
3g mixed spice
2 apples, preferably Granny Smith

Method:
  • Beat together the egg, the vanilla and the 2 types of sugar. Continue to beat till the mixture becomes pale.
  • Slowly add the oil whilst beating. 
  • Fold in the sifted flour, the bicarbonate of soda, the cinnamon and the mixed spice.
  • Chop 1 of the apples into small pieces. Then mix into the cake batter. 
  • Spoon the cake batter into a lined 18-20cm tin. 
  • For the apple rose, using either a mandolin or a knife, slice the apple into 2mm thick slices.
  • Place all the slices into a heat-proof bowl, add a drop of lemon juice and top with boiling water. 
  • Leave to apple slices to soften and become pliable for 2-3 minutes. Once you can bend them without snapping they're ready.
  • Start to build the rose layer by layer, bending the apple slices around to give the shape. 
  • Push the rose gently into the centre of the cake. Only push enough to hold its shape. The cake will rise and cover it if it's too deep.
  • Bake the cake in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees and bake for 35-45 minutes oven dependant. 
  • Once cooked leave to cool before removing from the tin. 
  • Serve with a generous spoonful of clotted cream or even ice cream, for the ideal afternoon slice of cake in the sun.

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