Sunday, 28 December 2008

Dill Trout with cream

Once again, the lazy cooks will be charmed. It's not as healthy as steamed, and you can cut on cream to make it healthy, up to you.
You'll need per person:
- 1 trout fillet
- 1tblspn sour cream (or 2..)
- 1tspn dill (fresh is better, but dried is fine)
- 1 filet lemon
- optional: salt (I personnally abstain)
- 1 square of foil

Place on the foil the fish, top it up with the cream, the dill and splash with the lemon juice.

Close the foil, and place in the oven for approx 15-20 min at 200degrees C depending on the size of the piece of fish. Check and keep cooking if it needs more.
Serve with toasted and buttered crumpet..
As I said, not super healthy, but since it's so tasty....

Source: my improvisation

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Variation on the Charlotte theme

I have been eating lots of pomegranates, and I have been using it too cook as well. This came naturally to mind as I use raspberries for this charlotte, usually. Instead, I peeled 1 pomegranate (you can buy the seed ready but you've been warned, it's not cheap and possibly not as fresh..), half crushed the seeds, added a little bit of sugar (to taste) and used it instead of the raspberries in a can.

To peel the pomegranate efficiently, chopp the top and the bottom, and cut lines through the skin with your knife from the cut top to the cut bottom at the places where you see the white line of the separation membranes. Separate the quarters created, and peeling the seeds off will be a child's play!

Also, instead of using the sponge fingers, I used the 4 trifle sponge bits remaining from when I last made tiramisu for 2. They make nice portions if you use 2 per persons, and they present really well.
- Dip a trifle sponge like you'd do for my normal charlotte and place it in the desert plate sugar face up
- add on top a layer of total yoghurt beaten with a little bit of sugar (not much) and the juice produced when you crushed the pomegranate.
- add the pomegranate crushed

Then repeat the operation so that you get a double decker. Prepare one per guest.

Keep in the fridge for at least an hour, the longer the better the results. For the decoration (see main picture on the right), I used one of these glazed german little Christmas marzipan stars that I bought ready made, but intend to make myself one day.

It goes down a treat and looks fantastic! (and you hardly spent any time or efforts on it!)
Source: my improvisation

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Oven Satay glazed Chicken wings

I did fancy some satay chicken, easy of course, in the oven. I did not follow a recipe, I was inspired that day.
I marinated the chicken wings in
- 75g gado gado paste crumbled
- a big thumb sized piece of ginger chopped finely
- 2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
- 2 shallots chopped finely
- 1 lime juice
- fish sauce to equal the lime juice
- 2 tblspn peanut butter
- 1 slosh honey or golden sirup
- a dash of soy sauce
- 1 tblsp sesame oil
- 2 birdeye chillis sliced (I used a green one and a red one)

Marinate the chicken in the mix for at least 1/2h
Then dispose the chicken wings on a tray covered with foil (you don't have to, but remember who's washing the dishes in the end..) pour half the marinade on top.
Cook for half an hour at 180 deg C. Turn the wings and pour the rest of the marinade on top.
Cook for another 1/2h, ready!

Provided you have the ingredients (and I always do...) it's easy enough and you spend a minimum of time making it and taking care of it cooking. Brilliant for parties.

Source: My own improvisation

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Raspberry mess

Dispose some meringues in a plate, open a can of raspberries, pour the liquid in a glass, then cover the meringues with raspberries, pour single cream on top, sprinkle with roasted almond flakes and a few slices of lemongrass. Could not be easier.
Et voila!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Home made pesto

I had this great pot of fresh basil, but I knew it would not pass the winter with me being gone over 10 days for the Christmas break. So rather than letting the poor thing die, I decided to make a pesto jar with it.

- A large bunch of basil (just the leaves)
- 6 to 8 walnuts shelled
- 1 or 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 1tbsp butter
- 2 medium cloves of garlic peeled
- 175ml olive oil
- salt and pepper

- 2 heaped tbspn drained boiled spinach
- 110g grated parmesan

Put the walnuts, pine nuts, basil, (spinach if you have it), butter, garlic and 50ml olive oil in a blender and work to a smooth paste. Add the remaining olive oil and blend some more.

Transfer to a bowl, add salt pepper (and parmesan if you choose to at this stage). It's ready to be transferred to a jar. Being in oil it keeps well for quite a while.

I tend to not put the parmesan in but add it on top when serving or not. The usual/italian way is to put parmesan in when out of the blender.

I use pesto on pasta, or sometimes in soups etc, it is quite versatile and has a great flavour to compliment a lot of foods....
It is fast easy, always ready in the fridge. And miles better than the one you find in the shops ready made...
It's also easy to turn this into a vegan sauce: don't use butter nor parmesan..

Source: Initially I used the recipe given in the book: " A celebration of soup" by Lyndsey Bareham

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


I seem to be into making sweet things these days, even though I do not have a sweet tooth. This time, I have tried myself at meringue, to use the egg whites from the tiramisu (although the whipped whites can also be incorporated in the mascarpone).

This recipe works every time, all you need a bit of patience, really...

COOKING TIME: 2 to 10 hours
- egg whites
- 80g of sugar per egg white
- a bit of salt
- a few drops of lemon juice

Pre-heat the oven at 100-110oC
Add the lemon&salt to the egg whites and beat a little with a fork.
Whip the egg white until very firm.
Slowly add up the sugar whilst still whipping until the mix becomes very white and very shiny.
Keep adding the sugar whilst you keep whipping.

Lay some baking paper in the oven and deposit quantities of the mix - the quantity depends of the size of meringues you want to end up with).

Cook for 2 hours at 100-110oC then 2h at 90oC.

If you want the meringues to be hard to the core, cook them at 90oC for up to 10 hours.

If you want to serve these as a dessert, create them so that the centre is concave, and when you serve them, fill the centre with raspberries (tinned raspberries are fine, you can use the juice too) and cover with single cream.

- Cook the meringues immediately, do not make the mix wait. - egg whites can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days, or longer (4 months) if in the freezer. Strangely enough, the older the egg whites, the better the meringues. - the egg whites must be at ambiant temperature when you whip them up - You can add almond flakes on the meringues, or cocoa, pine nuts. coconut powder, hazelnet powder... or you can also add some taste, like coffee, vanilla, orange blossom, liquor... - If you want your meringues to be super shiny, srinkle them with ice sugar before cooking them - If your meringues stick on the paper, you need to evacuate some humidity by leaving your oven door slightly open - If the over is too hot, the meringues will change colour (well, personally, I do like a bit of colour)
Source: my experimentation

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Food in Koh Samui

A year ago or so, I was in Thailand, and the last pasrt of my trip was Koh Samui.
The breakfasts were taken at the hotel for convenience, but also because we were litterally by the sea... However, ever other meal was taken at street food stalls, which we much preferred to hotel restaurants.
Food is everywhere in Thailand, and it's very difficult to get a bad meal... all day long we were teased by food passing in front of us... including the beach of course, where I have had my best mango to date...

Temptation was everywhere....

In the evenings, gorgeous swanky restaurants were flaunting their superb settings:

But we preferred the street stalls, planted in the mud, where the Thai lived, not the tourists. The latter were rare in that area, afraid to be poisoned by the gorgeous food (we had no problem whatsoever eating at these stalls, nor any other for the matter!). The lively area had shops of all sort, and the locals were going about their business. There was a celebration at the time, and the park was taking an air of fun fair...

But one shop got our attention (and our tastebuds!) from the first evening. There was inumerable food stalls and we tried a few, but this stall had a large range of great curries, the owner was from Chiang Mai, where we'd just been, and we established contact very quickly as John (the owner, he gave us the name of John since his real name was much longer) could speak reasonnable English (Japanese and Iraqi too we found out as he worked abroad!) and was pleased to share his thought with us. The food was delicious, and we came back many time to his shop. So much so that we ended up making acquaintance to the whole family(the picture only shows the 'cooks' (John and his parents), but we got to know the brother and the cousins too..), and John's brother lead us around the island for a day's discovery.The generosity and welcome from the family was very humbling. It was wonderful to be able to talk to locals and have an insight into their lives, quite a hard working life really. The mum cooked a soup especially for us for the last night.
Everyday we were getting some rice sausages that were superbly tasty, served with pickled ginger.

If you go to Samui, stray off Chaweng Road : you'll find a road that goes West , 15/20 min walk from the North of Chaweng, you'll find wonders, including this little shop, full of great food!
You'll also witness great street scenes...

Monday, 8 December 2008

Pomegranate Raita

I've always been fond of raita, and I am obsessed with Pomegranate at the moment. I spotted this recipe on the BBC and thought I'd give it a go. The ingredients are very easy to find, fresh, and the recipe is incredibly easy as well as healthy. You can use the raita as a dip or as a side dish or salad.

You can either buy ready pomegranate seeds, or do it yourself: once you learn how to, it does not take that much time, and has the benefit to be fresher.

It tastes very fresh and could well help you to calm down theses curry burning sensations....

- 200g Greek yoghurt (I always use total yoghurt)
- ½ cucumber, grated, excess water drained away
- 1 pomegranate
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt, to taste
- handful chopped fresh coriander leaves

Beat the yoghurt so that it becomes fluffy-ish
Grate the peeled cucumber and carrors. Make sure you squeeze the water out of the cucumber by pressing it in your hands.

Now add all the ingredients in the yoghurt

Mix together, then place in the fridge for a bit, it's ready to eat!
Bon apetit!

Source: BBC program Indian made easy

Friday, 5 December 2008

Christmas markets

If there is one thing I am looking forward to in Winter, it's the Christmas markets. With their mulled wines, German European products, useless gadgets and fun items, scarves, craft, xmas pressies,... Gouda at the Dutch stall, German sausages

Every year it brings crowds from all over the region. Despite the economic downturn, the market is still very popular, whether if it rains, snows...
scarves and hats,Congolais at the Belgian stall, some more cheese at the Bavarian cheese stall, maybe I'll have some sauerkraut or schnitzel, strudels... and of course I will browse the local craft stall and drink some Glühwein with my friends, in the freezing cold!
From year to year in Manchester the markets are getting better and better and spread in town. The prices are high, but the pleasure is there.
I have my habits, every year I will get some cheese, woven pink garlic, pâtés and saucissons at the French charcuterie stalls,