Monday, 1 March 2021

SMOKED MOZZARELLA ARANCINI


O.M.G. These deep fried risotto rice balls, filled with smoked mozzarella or as the Italians would call it Scamorza, are absolutely amazing, indulgently gooey and probably one of the best things I have made in my lockdown cooking career.

I will say, they do take a while to make, more of a weekend cooking project rather than something to tackle after another day in the WFH office, and there are quite a few prep steps involved if you dont happen to have a lot of leftover risotto knocking around (and I mean who has? If I make risotto I usually finish it LOL) but IT IS SO WORTH THE EFFORT! 

Plus I found the whole process rather fun as well - making the risotto, shaping the balls, getting the crispy coating on and finally frying them until golden brown, with oozing melted cheese inside.

Normal mozzarella will work fine as well but the smokiness of the Scarmoza adds a very special finishing touch. 

Serve them as starter own their own or with a spicy tomato sauce which can totally be store bought, I went for one here, especially when you've already cooked your ass off with these wonderful Arancini balls!

I have been dreaming of these ever since I had my first bite and for sure will make them again even when lockdown comes to an end!

MAKES ABOUT 10

INGREDIENTS

  • 3½ cups vegetable broth
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1cup carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup double cream
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 150g Scamorza (or normal mozzarella), cut into small squares
  • 1 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs, I get mine at Waitrose)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • Vegetable oil for frying (about 750ml)

METHOD
  • Bring stock to a simmer in a medium pot over medium heat, then keep warm over low.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium. 
  • Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 4–5 minutes. 
  • Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until softened but not browned, about 1 more minute.
  • Stir in rice; season with 1½ tsp. salt. 
  • Cook, stirring often, until some of the grains turn translucent around the edges, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add wine and cook, stirring often, until pan is almost dry, about 2 minutes. 
  • Ladle in 1 cup warm stock, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring often, until liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes. 
  • Ladle in another 1 cup stock and continue to cook, stirring yet again, until most of the liquid is absorbed, 5–7 minutes. 
  • Add remaining 1½ cups stock and cook, stirring often, until rice is cooked through but toothsome and liquid is mostly absorbed, 9–11 minutes longer. 
  • Remove from heat. 
  • Stir in Parmesan, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tsp. pepper, and remaining 2 Tbsp. butter. 
  • Season risotto with salt.
  • Spread risotto in an even layer on a baking paper lined baking tray. 
  • Chill at least 1 hour or up to 4 (cover risotto with plastic wrap after 1 hour so it doesn’t develop a skin).
  • Line another baking tray with paper. 
  • Scoop about ¼ cup risotto into your hands and form into a patty about 2½" in diameter (it doesn’t need to be perfect!). 
  • Place Scamorza piece in the centre of patty. 
  • Carefully pinch and shape risotto so it completely encases the cheese, then roll into a ball. 
  • Your hands might get messy, and the balls may be slightly misshapen (they’ll firm up later). 
  • Place on prepared baking sheet. 
  • Repeat with remaining risotto and mozzarella. 
  • Freeze balls 10 minutes(DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP).
  • Meanwhile, pulse panko in a food processor or place in a ziptop plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until finer crumbs form. 
  • Transfer to a shallow bowl. 
  • Place flour in another shallow bowl. 
  • Lightly beat eggs in a third shallow bowl to blend; season all bowls with salt and pepper. 
  • Working one at a time, dredge balls in flour, shaking off excess. 
  • Transfer to bowl with egg and turn to coat, letting excess drip back into bowl. 
  • Coat with panko, pressing gently to adhere. 
  • Transfer to another lined baking tray. 
  • Chill balls while you heat oil.
  • Pour oil into a medium saucepan. 
  • Heat for a few minutes, then drop a few panko crumbs into the hot fat to see if it is hot enough, you will know when it is as they will start to fizz up when dropped in. 
  • Carefully lower half of rice balls into oil with a slotted spoon or spider and fry until deeply golden brown, 6–8 minutes. 
  • Transfer to paper towels to drain; season with salt. 
  • Repeat with remaining rice balls. 
  • Serve warm with a tomato sauce alongside for dipping!

Thursday, 25 February 2021

CREMLOR - WHERE THE CROISSANTS MEETS THE SEMLOR BUN!



As everyone knows by now I am a big fan of anything Sweden related and particular fond of their baked goods as well. 

My favourite cake of all time has to be princess cake (which I will dully request for every single of my birthdays going forward), I am a cinnamon and cardamon bun connoisseur and I even adore the very old fashioned dammsugare, a cake bar more favoured by old Swedish ladies than Stockholm's hipsters

It was no surprise then that I totally fell for the seasonal semlor bun when I went on a wonderful birthday trip pre-Corona to Stockholm last year.

Semlor buns, or Lent buns, are traditionally eaten in the lead-up to and during Lent, from the beginning of January up to Shrove Tuesday "to fatten one up" before Lent. 

Essentially they are cream buns, flavoured with cardamon, which have a marzipan type filling, and come topped with fresh whipped cream and icing sugar. 

They are rather heavenly and I managed to grab a few from my favourite Swedish bakeries in London, Bageriet and Scandinavian Kitchen, while they were "in season" but I did always find them rather doughy and heavy, I guess that's where the fattening up comes in, which is why I was so intrigued by a new foodie trend sweeping across Stockholm's cool bakeries: the cremla!

Yes, you heard it right! Following on from the now legendary cronut, a croissant + donut hybrid, the cremlar combines the much lighter and flakier texture of a croissant with the wonderful and unique fillings of a semlor bun! Even better no baking is involved and it tastes in my opinion superior to the the classic semlor!

Make sure you get a top notch fresh croissant as cremlar foundation, don't go for that gross packaged up supermarket stuff, and then it is a matter of a bit of cream whipping, almond mixture making and assembly before you've got yourself a rather stunning and incredibly yummy cremlor that you'd definitely queue for at a Hipster Scandi bakery for!

I bought the almond paste used in the recipe ready made from Scandinavian Kitchen but you can find pretty straight forward recipes like this one to make your own if you dont have a specialised shop near you.

This was a serious game changer and equally good as indulgent weekend breakfast as it was as dessert.

Mark my words, the cremlar will make global waves soon so get on it (and eating it) before everyone else, you won't regret it!

MAKES 10

INGREDIENTS
  • 5 large croissants (if you live in London get them from the Dusty Knuckle Bakery, seriously best croissants in town)

ALMOND FILLING
  • 150 g almond paste (bought or made from scratch)
  • 50 g almonds, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp cardamom pods, crushed

CREAM
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp toasted almond flakes

FOR SERVING
  • Powdered sugar

METHOD
  • Cut the croissants across the middle.
  • Cut the ends of the croissants and reserve for later. 
  • Scoop out a little bit of the croissant middle to create space for your fillings
  • Spoon in some of the almond filling, pipe or spoon whipped cream on top.
  • Place the end bit of the croissant on top of the cream. 
  • Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar and repeat with the rest of your croissants!

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

PERSIAN INSPIRED GREENS, BEANS & NOODLE SOUP





Hear me out on this one! Agreed, a Persian inspired noodle soup may not have been the first thing to spring to ones mind when it comes to cooking yet another elaborate weekend dinner, killing time till all this crap is over (I am having somewhat of a lockdown wobble right now so excuse my slight pessimism), but this super fragrant, herby and totally taste tantalising soup was incredible and quite unlike anything I had ever rustled up in the kitchen before.

What makes the soup so memorable? Well the soup base is the most amazing mix of fresh herbs (dill, parsley, coriander, mint and chives to be precise), turmeric, spinach, garlic and slowly sautéed unions, cooked down with water with a mix of chickpeas, lentils and cannellini beans until you achieve a thick, chilli like, stew consistency.

Then broken up linguine get added to the soup, cooked straight in the wonderful marriage of all the above ingredients, before a splash of sour cream get stirred in for a final hit of zingy-ness.

Slowly caramelised and slightly crisped up onions get served on top of the final noodle soup or stew with noodles, whichever way you prefer to put it, for an extra bit of texture and the final dish is quite the flavour bomb.

I won't pretend my version is super authentic, the original version uses Kashk, a form of drained yogurt or whey, and you are meant to use dried chickpeas which was a bit too much effort for me, but wow this fabulous final dish introduced me to flavour combos totally unfamiliar to me and was just real sunshine, yet comforting food that makes you feel good whilst eating it.

Yes, prep takes a bit of time but if you love a bit of chopping like I do you will be total convert to this dish even if it's not love at first recipe sight!

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS
  • ¼ cup tinned chickpeas 
  • ¼ cup tinned cannellini 
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 250g spinach 
  • 3 large bunches coriander
  • 3 large bunches parsley 
  • 2 large bunches dill 
  • 1 large bunch chives 
  • About 20 large fresh mint leaves 
  • 6 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 large yellow onions, 1 finely chopped and 1 thinly sliced 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 cup dried green lentils 
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric 
  • 1.5l water 
  • 200g sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint


METHOD

  • Just before cooking, prepare the herbs and greens: Wash spinach, coriander and parsley, then use a salad spinner to dry very well. 
  • Run a knife through the spinach to cut leaves into large pieces. 
  • Trim the woody ends from coriander parsley and dill so that only leaves and tender stems remain. 
  • Roughly chop coriander, parsley, dill, chives and mint leaves into pieces no larger than a quarter. 
  • To cook, set a large saucepan over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons oil. 
  • When the oil shimmers, add the chopped onion and a generous pinch of salt. 
  • Cook, stirring regularly, until the onion is tender and golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes. 
  • Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  • Add the beans to onion along with the lentils, turmeric and 1 teaspoon pepper. 
  • Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat the beans with oil and spices. Add the chopped spinach and herbs, along with stock or water, and stir to combine. 
  • Partly cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer the soup for 1 hour, stirring regularly to prevent the greens from sticking and burning. If the soup remains very thick even after the greens have wilted, add another 1 to 2 cups water, as needed to thin it.
  • Add a ladle or two of the sour cream to the hot soup and whisk to dissolve.
  •  Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then break the noodles in half and add to the pot. 
  • Stir gently to mix in the noodles and keep them from sticking together, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until noodles are soft and chewy and the beans are completely tender, about 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare the garnishes: Set a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. 
  • When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil shimmers, add sliced onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring regularly, until golden brown and caramelised, 16 to 18 minutes. 
  • Spread cooked onion onto a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil; let cool. 
  • Wipe out pan and return to medium heat. 
  • Add remaining 1/3 cup oil and warm gently over low heat, then stir in dried mint and remove from heat. Set mint oil aside and allow to steep for at least 5 minutes.
  • The soup should be as thick as a hearty chili.
  • If it’s any thicker, thin it with water, 1/2 cup at a time. 
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt as needed.
  • To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls. Drizzle with reserved sour and mint oil, then top with a sprinkling of golden onions.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

TINNED CHERRY TOMATO RISOTTO WITH BURRATA AND GARLIC BUTTER

This was only my third ever attempt at a homemade risotto and a rather tasty one at that! 

I loved the lack of cheese and very little butter in the actual risotto (though there is plenty of burrata to go on top at the end) which made the humble tinned cherry tomato the surprisingly fragrant and delicious star of the show. 

A splash of red wine vinegar really elevated the broth base into something special and with all the liquids added at once, it is a pretty easy risotto to make if you don't mind a bit of stirring. 

The finishing touches of torn burrata (when was burrata EVER a bad idea?!), crispy fried oregano stalks and a garlic butter, not only make this a stunning dish to look at when plated up but also very delicious, fresh and full of interesting textures and flavours. 

A great dinner choice for a more than one, a sort of one pot wonder that is pimped up pretty easily to make it restaurant quality!

One final pointer: do try and find tinned cherry tomatoes, the little tomatoes retain their shape when cooking and really add to the final dish rather than just going for chopped tomatoes (I found them at Waitrose).

Serves 3

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.2kg canned cherry tomatoes (3 tins)
  • 3 cups (750ml) vegetable stock
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 125g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed, plus 1 extra thinly sliced clove
  • 1 cup (220g) arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) white wine
  • 3 oregano sprigs
  • 2 balls burrata cheese

METHOD
  • Place tomatoes, stock and vinegar in a saucepan and cook over high heat until hot. 
  • Cover with a lid and reduce heat to low to keep hot.
  • Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. 
  • Add onion and crushed garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes, or until softened. 
  • Add rice and tomato paste, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until rice is heated through. 
  • Add wine and bring to the boil. 
  • Add tomato mixture and bring to the boil. 
  • Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes or until reduced and rice is tender.
  • While rice cooks, melt remaining butter in a frypan over medium-high heat. 
  • When butter is bubbling, add oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 seconds or until oregano is dark green. 
  • Using tongs, transfer oregano to paper towel to crisp up. 
  • Add sliced garlic to butter, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring regularly, for 1 minute or until golden. 
  • Drain, reserving butter and garlic separately.
  • When garlic is cooled, return to butter.
  • Transfer risotto to serving bowls and top with buratta. Scatter with oregano and drizzle with garlic butter to serve.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

MY FIRST JUICE CLEANSE: A HONEST REVIEW


Following a gluttonous birthday week with all the cake, all the wine and way too many Deliveroo orders, I was desperate for a body reset, particularly in times of lockdown where you can't just hit the gym hard to make up for it

Ok, disclaimer I do run every day and am fully committed to the daily amazing and pretty challenging classes offered by GRNDHOUSE, but for me it was also the fact that I felt slightly disgusted by what I had been putting into my body - gluten which never agrees with my belly, plenty of alcohol and all sorts of other very tasty but not so good for you things. 

A juice cleanse sounded appealing. 3 days of drinking cold pressed juices to cleanse the body, refocus yourself and get rid of a hell of a lot of toxins in my body. Also what better time to attempt my first cleanse than during a lockdown where there is no where to go, no temptations and all the walks in the world to go on to pass the time between juices.

After a quick search online I decided on Fuel Station's 3 day juice cleanse. There are a lot of options and company's specialising in cleanses online and some are ridiculously expensive (something like £49 A DAY for some) and though I was a little put off by Fuel Station's questionable influencer endorsements, let's just say there are quite a few #SPON posts by former Love Island contestants, I was actually pretty impressed with their offering overall and would wholeheartedly recommend them. 

Why? Well the prices are super fair, my 3 day cleanse was around £50, the delivery was super fast (ordered on a Thursday, arrived Friday afternoon to start the cleanse on the Saturday), and the juices were tasty, super fresh and came with clear instructions!

The juices arrive frozen and take a bit of time to defrost, so bear that in mind, and you also get a brief leaflet with a few pointers and the order in which to drink the juices each day. 

There a 5 juices in total per day plus a ginger shot which actually turned out to be plenty. I liked all the flavours, my favourite was the carrot, ginger and apple juice, my least favourite the slightly bland lemon, cucumber and kale juice but honestly by day 2 I was actually looking forward to the juices! 

A disclaimer: I did add a simple veg soup in the evening (and left out the 5th juice instead) as I was still doing my long runs and workouts and usually only very light exercise is recommended during the cleanse but I really didn't feel hungry and by the end felt very refreshed, not craving crap anymore and much more aware of what I am putting into my body.

Could I live this life forever? No, because I missed cooking and hey what is life without a little wine and sweet treats but I will for sure do a juice cleanse now once in a while to reset and reassess.

Below a few tips, tricks and observations during my 3 day juice journey:

  • I would recommend doing it over a weekend - you can have a lie in, go for long walks and avoid overthinking the whole thing and the foods you are missing which you are much more likely to do if you are stuck at your WFH desk instead.
  • My only real negative side effects were a few headaches here and there and a lot of peeing (A LOT). 
  • There will be juices you don't dig but you will drink them anyways.
  • You feel weirdly productive (especially as I spent a lot my weekends cooking usually) so write yourself a to do list of things you have usually avoided doing and YOU WILL GET THEM done during your cleanse days.
  • I had one coffee a day because I cannot live without, don't feel bad for a few amendments to the cleanse (see soup also).
  • Don't plan a massive meal on day 1 past the cleanse or your stomach is going to go nuts. Start on little portions of rice cakes and fruit to slowly ease you back into solid foods which is exactly what I am doing now.
  • Don't be afraid of the idea of doing a juice cleanse, it sound more intimidating than it actually is and what is the worst that can happen? Yes, you can fail but I didn't really fancy anything unhealthy once I had started, your mind will adapt super fast!

Sunday, 14 February 2021

PAPPARDELLE WITH WASABI INFUSED CREAM SAUCE, GINGER & SMOKED SALMON


This Japanese twist on one of my all time favourite recipes, my smoked salmon, dill, white wine and cream tagliatelle, is perfect for a quick yet impressiveValentine's Day supper, whether you are whipping up a romantic dinner for 2 for you and your other half, or are using this day to celebrate being single and staying (just about) sane in the rather strange times we find ourselves living in right now.

The wasabi infused cream sauce with ginger is a dream and pretty mild, so don't be put off by the potential heat, and works a treat when tossed with ribbons of pappardelle and smoked salmon. 

Made in under 30 minutes, this dish looks and tastes restaurant quality when plated up and will impress your loved ones, no matter who they are, or work perfectly for a solo dinner! Cooking for me is a form of love anyway, especially when you make lovely dishes like this.

SERVES TWO

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g smoked Salmon, thinly sliced into ribbons
  • 200g edamame beans, thawed and blanche, (Waitrose has them super cheap frozen)
  • 450g pappardelle (or another wide pasta shape)
  • 2-3 tablespoon wasabi paste (adjust to taste)
  • 1⁄3 cup pickled sushi ginger
  • 1 1⁄4 cups single cream
  • 1⁄4 cup butter
  • 1 cup grated parmesan (optional)
  • chopped chives
  • salt & pepper
METHOD
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add pasta and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Drain well.
  • Chop 1/4 cup of the ginger and reserve.
  • Pour cream into saucepan with half the chopped salmon.
  • Reserve the rest for topping.
  • Add butter and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and whisk in wasabi paste, chopped ginger and parmesan, if using.
  • Season generously.
  • Add pasta and edamame beans.
  • Toss to coat in sauce.
  • Transfer to pasta bowls and garnish with pickled ginger, chives and remaining smoked salmon ribbons.
  • ENJOY!

Thursday, 4 February 2021

HOMEMADE ROTI CANAI WITH CHANA DHAL CURRY & RED CURRY DIP


In another attempt to combat my desperate yearning for a holiday and to be as far away as possible from my bedroom / office / gym / prison, I got inspired by the trip of a lifetime 3 years ago, which took me all the way to Singapore and Bali. 

Singapore is a funny place, part the Dubai of Asia, all shopping malls, skyscrapers and designer clad rich kids, part intoxicating cultural melting pot, and I loved AND hated aspects of the city with passion.

One thing I did enjoy immensely was the city's ability to fuse a plethora of different culinary traditions into something quite unique and most importantly very delicious. 

There are Malay, Chinese, Indian and Western influences, and national dishes come with elements of all of them, packed full of vibrant flavours. 

I for example adore Laksa, that fragrant a spicy noodle soup popular in the Peranakan cuisine of Southeast Asia which is hugely popular in Singapore, but my biggest culinary discovery of the trip was the humble roti canai.

What is a roti canai you may ask? Well again it's a product of fusion, an Indian influenced flatbread made from dough which is usually composed of fat (butter in this case), flour and water and a dash of condensed milk.

The dough is repeatedly kneaded, flattened, oiled, and folded before proofing, creating amazing layers. The dough ball is then flattened, spread out until paper thin and gathered into a long rope-like mass. This "rope" is then wound into a knot or spiral and flattened, so that it consists of thin flakes of dough when cooked. 

Ok, I admit it sounds complicated and I am by no means a master of making it now but I did find a super easy to follow recipe (with video to accompany it) that broke down each step and it turned out to be actually really fun to make!

Even better the finished roti canai is just about the best bread to dip there ever was and I served mine with a super yummy red curry coconut dip and a wonderfully warming Chana dhal (a sort of split Chickpea you can find in the Indian food section at your local Sainsbury's) curry that was perfect for a cold January eve and surprisingly light for a curry!

Don't be intimidated by the homemade roti canai, it's a great weekend cooking project in times of lockdown and totally worth the effort, indeed for a second I was transported back into the exotic and vibrant surroundings of a Singaporean Hawker food court which I will hopefully be able to revisit again one day!

Serves 2-3

ROTI CANAI

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups bread flour (520 g)
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter (40 g), melted
  • 1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 ¼ cup water (310 ml)
  • 1 tsp salt (not shown in video)
METHOD

How to video here
  • In a standing mixer bowl (or by hand in a bowl), add in flour, salt, egg, melted butter, condensed milk and water. 
  • Mix to incorporate and knead for 10 minutes. 
  • Leave to rest for 10 minutes and knead for another 5 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 10 small balls. 
  • Coat each ball generously with unsalted butter and place them in a container that has been generously buttered.
  • Cover the container tightly with cling film and keep in the fridge overnight.

Shaping
  • The next day spread some unsalted butter on the working surface. 
  • Take one ball and lightly flatten it. 
  • Press and push the dough with the heel of your palm to make it bigger. 
  • Stretch it as thin as possible, until you can almost see through it. 
  • Now and then spread some soften unsalted butter on it to help the stretching.
  • Optional, lift up one edge of the dough and gently pull to stretch it even more.
  • Scrape and push the upper end of the dough to the middle. 
  • Do the same to the lower end, forming a wrinkle thin log. 
  • Starting at one end of the log, roll it into a circle and tuck the other end inside. 
  • Leave aside for 10 minutes before cooking. 
  • Meanwhile you can continue with the rest of the balls.

Cooking
  • Once ready to cook, take one rolled circle and flatten it into more or less 10-15 cm diameter. 
  • Heat some unsalted butter on a pan using medium heat.
  •  Place the flatten dough on the pan. Cook for several minutes and then flip. 
  • Continue cooking for some minutes more.
  • This is important for a fluffy roti canai: remove the cooked roti canai and place it on a working surface. Immediately yet carefully grab it using both of your hands and squeeze it to the center. 
  • We want to fluff it. 
  • You can see this part more clear in the video.
  • Keep the roti canai under a kitchen cloth to keep them warm. 

CHANA DHAL CURRY

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 shallots 
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 tomatoes 
  • 1 garlic cloves
  • 2 curry leaves
  • 1⁄2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 2 carrots
  • 1-2 potatoes
  • 1aubergine
  • 250g chana dhal 
  • 1 1⁄2 l water
  • 1tsp chilli flakes 
  • 1⁄2 tbsp salt

METHOD
  • Heat oil over medium heat and sauté sliced onions until golden brown. 
  • Remove onions from pan and leave aside.
  • Using the same pan, fry chopped shallots, minced garlic, minced ginger and curry leaves until fragrant. 
  • Add tomato slices. 
  • Cover pan with the lid to allow tomatoes to soften.
  • Chop carrots, potatoes, aubergine and carrots into bite-size pieces. 
  • Add them into the pot along with turmeric powder, dried chillies and dhal. 
  • Add water and cook over high heat.
  • Once it boils, lower heat to the minimum and simmer for about 30 minutes or until dhal softens. Keep stirring from time to time to prevent curry from being burnt. Add salt to taste. 
  • Finally, stir in fried onions.


RED CURRY DIP

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (shake can well)

METHOD
  • Heat oil in small pan over medium heat.
  • Add curry paste and curry powder.
  • Stir until curry paste is smoother and spices are fragrant.
  • Reduce heat to low and add coconut milk and brown sugar.
  • Combine well and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt.
  • Pour into serving dish and enjoy with your roti canai

Monday, 1 February 2021

CAULIFLOWER GNOCCHI WITH WHIPPED GOATS CHEESE, CRISPY COURGETTES AND CHEESY BASIL & GARLIC BREADCRUMBS


This is my third stab at homemade gnocchi and I got to say my favourite so far! 

Don't get me wrong I ADORED the sweet potato gnocchi I rustled up during the early spring days of the first lockdown, served with the most amazing sage butter sauce, and I also loved the pumpkin gnocchi with whipped ricotta that made yet another Friday during a very dull autumn at least a culinary delight, BUT this cauliflower version wins with its wonderful lightness, ease of making and sheer simplicity of the ingredients used to make them.

Indeed all you need to make these gnocchi is blended, blanched or steamed cauliflower (or to make your life even easier do like I did and buy ready made cauliflower "rice" which you simply have to steam in the microwave for 5 mins), flour, water and a bit of elbow grease, making these a lot lighter on the carbs and stomach than your conventional potato but even sweet potato gnocchi variety while maintaining the same pillowy texture.

Even better, these gnocchi get served on the most silky bed of whipped goats cheese with a hint of lemon, and are tossed with crispy slices of courgettes, cooked alongside chilli - no need for a heavy cream sauce when a plate is so full of zing and flavours. 

The real game changer here however is the basil, garlic and parmesan panko breadcrumb topping which elevates this dish into something quite special and worthy of a restaurant menu and I will be reusing for many more recipes to come. 

Overall the final dish looks impressive, tastes even more impressive and the best bit, is also super easy and fun to make! 

The new gnocchi winner for me amongst the vegetables and one I cannot recommend making enough.

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS

CAULIFLOWER GNOCCHI

  • 4-5 cups cauliflower florets
  • 3/4-1 cup of flour (add more as you need it)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (I found them at Waitrose)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 courgettes, thinly sliced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest and 1 tablespoon juice
  • 1 pinch chilli flakes
  • 250g goats cheese
  • Fresh basil and dill for serving
METHOD

CAULIFLOWER GNOCCHI

  • If not using cauliflower rice bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Add cauliflower florets and cook until tender, 10 minutes.
  • Drain well. 
  • Lay the cauliflower on a kitchen towel and squeeze out the excess liquid.
  • Add the cauliflower to a food processor, pulse until smooth (or simply mash well with a fork). 
  • Add the cups of flour, parmesan, and salt to mashed cauliflower or steamed cauliflower "rice" 
  • Knead the mixture until just combined. 
  • If the dough seems wet, add a tablespoon of flour at a time, until it can be formed into a ball.
  • The dough should be a little sticky.
  • Generously flour a clean counter and scrape the dough out onto it. 
  • Cut the dough into four equal sections. 
  • Working with one section of dough at a time, roll the dough into a rope about 1 inch thick and cut into bite-size pieces. 
  • Repeat this process with the other sections of dough. 
  • Place the gnocchi on a baking tray that has been dusted with flour. 
  • At this point, the gnocchi can be kept covered in the fridge for up to 1 day and then boiled just before you are ready to eat or boiled right away.

  • Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. 
  • Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic, the breadcrumbs, and basil. 
  • Cook, stirring occasionally until the breadcrumbs are toasted all over, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add the cheese and cook another 2 minutes, until fried. 
  • Remove the breadcrumbs from the pan. 
  • Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Set the breadcrumbs aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 
  • Boil the gnocchi until they float to the top and are cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. 
  • Drain.
  • Place the frying pan back over medium heat. 
  • Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and the shallots. 
  • Cook until the shallots begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add the sliced courgettes and season with salt and pepper. 
  • Cook, stirring occasionally until the zucchini has caramelized and is golden brown, 5-8 minutes. 
  • Add the butter, the thyme, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. 
  • Cook until the butter begins to brown, 3-4 minutes.
  • Drop the gnocchi into the sauce, gently tossing to combine. Remove from the heat.
  • To make the goat cheese, combine the goat cheese, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and the lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy. 
  • Lastly spread the goat cheese into the bottom of each individual serving bowl. 
  • Spoon the gnocchi and sauce over the cheese. 
  • Top with breadcrumbs and herbs and enjoy!

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

COFFEE NICE CREAM BITES


I am not a big banana fan, in fact you can literally chase me with banana bread and I can't actually recall the last time I ate a banana BUT on the hunt for a slightly healthier yet delicious weekend dessert I couldn't help but be intrigued by the idea of nice cream. 

What is this nice cream? It is simply frozen banana and a bit of milk blended together, here with some coffee added for extra omph, with the end result that gets pretty close to normal ice cream but without the sugar and all that double cream! 

Indeed I was impressed with the flavour and creamy texture, not too heavy on the banana when balanced with the coffee, and liked it even more after the bites were dipped in dark and white chocolate, maybe making this a bit naughtier but still a pretty great and relatively good for you dessert that made me re-think my hatred of bananas (a little bit at least). 


INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large bananas 
  • 3 tbsp instant coffee (I went for a vanilla flavour one)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 120g dark chocolate
  • 120g white chocolate

  • Serving suggestion:
  • Salt flakes, to garnish


METHOD

  • Peel the bananas and cut into rounds. 
  • Add the banana rounds to a resealable bag and freeze until solid. 
  • Line a medium-square 20cm x 20cm baking tray with baking paper, allowing the paper to hang over the sides slightly. 
  • Add the frozen bananas, coffee and milk to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. 
  • Pour the banana mixture into the baking dish and smooth out with a spatula. 
  • Freeze for overnight, or until set. 
  • Break your chocolate into smaller chunks and add to a microwave-safe bowl. 
  • Microwave for 15-second intervals, until melted. 
  • When the banana nice cream has set, remove the tray from the freezer and use the baking paper to lift the nice cream slab out of the dish. Cut into 2cm x 2cm cubes. 
  • Work quickly to dip the nice cream cubes into the melted chocolate, using a fork to lift them out and place them onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. 
  • Sprinkle with salt flakes to garnish. 
  • Repeat with all the nice cream bites. 
  • Place in the freezer and allow to freeze until set. 
  • Remove from the freezer 5 minutes before serving and ENJOY! 

Monday, 25 January 2021

SESAME SEARED TUNA POKE BOWL WITH MISO & KIMCHI SAUCE


After a cheese and heavy carb filled weekend (how can I ever forget that deep dish pizza), I was ready for an attempt at something a little more wholesome and you can't get more nutrient packed yet delicious than my version of the very versatile Poke bowl! 

Of course feel free to adapt the veggie and fruit to suit your taste - I love mushrooms and broccoli and add them whenever possible. I also love the sweet tang from chunks of ripe, diced mangos, contrasting with the spicy sauce, and am a big fan of the fresh crunch from sliced radishes but again chop and change according to what you like and have in the fridge! 

The real wow element indeed in any case is the show-stopping and rather addictive Miso and Kimchi sauce, which you will want to pour on just about anything, while a quickly made sesame oil, miso and rice vinegar sauce lends itself perfectly for quickly stir frying your chosen veg in. 

Make sure to get yourself a nice, good quality piece of tuna and DO NOT overcook it, you want that wonderful just about seared end result that makes the tuna so spectacular. If you want to go super light and low cal use cauliflower "rice" or leaves as base for the bowl or go more classic with some cooked rice or soba noodles! 

It's a fun dish to make, looks amazing and makes you feel even more amazing after eating it! Real sunshine, nutrient packed food we all can do with during these rather lethargic times.

Serves 2 (with plenty of the amazing Kimchi Miso sauce leftover for another day!(

INGREDIENTS

Kimchi Miso Sauce
  • 1 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 spring onions, roughly chopped (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more for a bit more heat)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 1/4 cup kimchi, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water (more to thin if need be)
Miso Sesame Sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
Bowl Toppings
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 heads of bok choi, individual leaves torn from the stem, briefly steamed in the microwave
  • 2 cups of broccoli florets, briefly steamed in the microwave
  • Handful of radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cooked white rice, cooked
  • Cup of ripe mangos, diced
  • 1 avocado, 1/2 per person, thinly sliced
Tuna
  • 2 fresh fillets of tuna
  • Olive oil
  • Black + white sesame seeds

METHOD
  • Prepare the Miso and Kimchi sauce by combing all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. 
  • Taste for seasonings, adjust as needed and set aside.
  • Prepare your veggies, rice and toppings, then whisk the ingredients together for your Miso sesame sauce.
  • Coat your pieces of tuna in the sesame seeds and season with a bit of salt. 
  • Set aside.
  • Add stir fry veggies one by one (I like to keep the different types of veg apart because of differing cooking times and as it looks neater) to a frying pan and cook them over med-high heat with a splash of the Miso sesame sauce until cooked but still crunchy. 
  • Add more sauce as needed and set sautéed veg aside until bowl assembly and repeat until all your veg is done!
  • Meanwhile, heat olive/coconut oil over high heat in a small frying pan. 
  • Once oil starts to smoke, add tuna fillet (one at a time) to the pan, cooking for 45 seconds each side (time this on your phone or a kitchen timer). 
  • You basically want to get a good sear on either side and then lightly cook the ends. 
  • Remove from heat and cut into thin slices against the grain with a very sharp knife.
  • Add your rice to each bowl, then your stir fry veggies, fresh veggies and mango chunks. 
  • Top with tuna slices and lashings of the Miso and Kimchi sauce.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds and enjoy!

Thursday, 21 January 2021

CHRISSY TEIGEN'S FRENCH ONION SOUP WITH CROISSANT CROUTONS

 

I am always a little dubious about the skills and credentials of a celebrity cook, more known for being a celebrity than being a legit recipe developer, but whilst hunting for a recipe for a French onion soup, caused by a moment of 'Fernweh' and missing Paris with its fabulous bistros, I couldn't help but be intrigued by Chrissy Teigen's indulgent sounding version of this comfort food classic. 

Indeed inventive additions like soya sauce in the broth and over the the top croissant croutons instead of your standard baguette ones quickly dispelled my initial reservation and on a particular grey and rainy Saturday night I made my own version and wow it did not disappoint! 

A real game changer here were Oxo's vegan "beef" flavoured stock cubes (available at Sainsbury's and Waitrose) which tasted so rich and beef like that I couldn't quite believe they were fully vegan, enabling a non meat eater to still achieve that wonderfully rich broth an onion soup is all about. 

Onions are slow cooked, don't rush this step, red wine injected for further flavour until the broth gets added, and everything simmers for a good 45 minutes, yes, not a quick dinner but so worth taken the time for. 

The final bowl comes with lashings of grated and melted Gruyere cheese and buttery chunks of croissants croutons, croissants cut into bite sized pieces and quickly crisped up in the oven before they adorn the top of the soup. 

Sophisticated yet like a hug in a dish and honestly the best onion soup I have had in my life, even when compared to those I had Paris, so I eat my words and indeed your soup Ms Teigen, you are a damn fine cook, celebrity or not!

Serves 2 as main course

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 5 Tablespoons Butter
  • 10 Cups Thinly Sliced Onions
  • 5 Thyme Springs, Tied Into A Bundle With Kitchen Twine
  • 8 Cloves Garlic, Thinly Sliced
  • 2 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 ¼ Cups Dry Red Wine
  • 6 Cups Beef Broth (or the amazing Vegan alternative I used)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • Kosher Salt
  • 2 Large Croissants, Cut Into 1 ½ Inch Cubes
  • 2 cups grated Gruyère 

METHOD
  • Heat the oil and 5 tablespoons of butter in a big saucepan on high heat till melted. 
  • Add your thinly sliced onions and thyme bundle and cook. 
  • Stir often for about 15 minutes until the onions are still light in color and begin to shrink. 
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the thinly sliced garlic. 
  • Cook another 20 minutes (give or take), stirring often, until the onions are a deep golden color and tender. Watch the color more than the clock. 
  • If you noticed some onions are browning more than others, stir more frequently. 
  • You want all your onions to be an even golden brown.
  • Next, add the 2 tablespoons of flour and stir until it coats all the onions for about 3 minutes, until they have a dull appearance. 
  • Now ADD THE WINE! 
  • Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. 
  • Cook the onions for about 5 minutes until they are purple and almost all the wine has evaporated. 
  • Take out the thyme bundle and throw it away. 
  • Add your beef broth, soy sauce (DON’T skip this ingredient), and 1 teaspoon of salt. 
  • Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. 
  • Continue to simmer until the soup has thickened and the onions are no longer purple, about 45 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  • Spread out the croissant pieces on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and crank up your grill. 
  • Arrange your soup bowls on a baking tray. 
  • Add a handful of Gruyère cheese to the the bottom of each soup bowl. 
  • Ladle soup over cheese and add your croissant. 
  • Top off with more grated cheese. 
  • Grill until cheese is bubbly about 3 or 4 minutes. 
  • Now sit down and enjoy the best soup of your life.