Friday, 31 October 2008

The famous Singapore Sling

When I was in Singapore, I went to the Raffles hotel, where the Singapore Sling was invented. I had to try this cocktail! I found it too sweet -I am definitely not a sweet tooth-, but it was worth trying.

Before I ordered the cocktail, I asked a member of staff what was in it and he pulled out a card from his pocket with the recipe and gave it to me with a smile, it was the recipe for the cocktail. I was quite impressed by the service...

Here is the recipe that was on the card:

Raffles Hotel’s Hainanese-Chinese bartender, Mr Ngiam Tong Boon, created the world-famous Singapore Sling, based on Peter Heering’s cherry brandy, in 1915. This gives the Singapore Sling its distinctive pink colour.

Recipe of Singapore Sling – Created at the Legendary Raffles Hotel

- 30 ml Gin
- 15 ml Heering Cherry Liqueur
- 120 ml Pineapple Juice
- 15 ml Lime Juice
- 7.5 ml Cointreau
- 7.5 ml Dom Benedictine
- 10 ml Grenadine
- A Dash of Angostura Bitters

Garnish with a slice of Pineapple and Cherry

Source: Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Breadstick Fingers

Breadstick Fingers
Originally uploaded by grayd80

Happy Halloween!

I don't tend to cook anything special for Halloween since it is not really in my culture: Halloween is new and shy in Britain, and virtually non-existent in France where it has no roots. But I always marvel at the creativity of people who cook around the theme.

Yesterday I was browsing Flickr and came across this fantastic dippy dish.
I don't think I've ever seen such realistic finger food before!
I sure will make these whether it will be Halloween or not!

I'd like to thank you Deanne for accepting her photo to be featured on my blog. Click on the photo to get Deanne's instructions!

We don't have pizza sauce here, so I'd say a salsa will do for the bloody sauce:
- a can of chopped tomatoes or better some passata if you have
- 1/2 clove of garlic chopped finely
- 1/2 onion chopped finely
- 1 tsp sugar to neutralise the acidity (adjust to taste)
- herbs (optional)
- salt, pepper
You can add some chili, but it depends on your guests...

Mix everything, and it's ready to serve.

I'd like to point to another blog where I saw some formidably creative ideas: There! on the blog of Create Eat Happy :)

Now have a great day!

Source: Photo and fingers recipe by Deanne/grayd80, and my own quick salsa

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Summer tortilla wraps

Sometimes, and especially in summer - and i know some of you still have a gorgeous weather - , I fancy something fresh and easy and sloppy. the wraps provide me with the best answer for that.
They are great for using up what's in your fridge as well. They are also very healty.

I always have greek yoghurt,greens, tomatoes and herbs, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and eggs or ham as far as proteins are concerned, so I can always manage something. They are different everytime of course

The wrap illustrated contained:
- 1 wrap
- Greek yogurt,
- 1 hard boiled egg,
- balsamic vinegar,
- tomatoes,
- gem lettuce,
- fresh chive,
- guacamole
- sliced mushroom

Source: my own imagination

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Red hot soup for cold days

The weather has turned really cold the last few days, and it's meant to go worse (1deg C). So it's so good to go back home and have something hot and warming...

Lazy hurried people, this soup is dedicated to you. It will warm you up in the cold days (chili, ginger):

For 2 people:
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- a pinch of chili flakes
- 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
- a tsp of sugar

Optional Ingredients to your liking:
- 1 finely chopped onions,
- 1 finely chopped nail sized piece of ginger
- herbs of your choice. basil or cardamon, or thyme, or oregano
- 1 pinch paprika
- Grilled pepper chopped very finely in small sticks

Heat the tomato in a pan, add the garlic, and sugar to your liking to neutralise the acidity and chilli flakes. Once it's hot ,salt pepper, it's ready!

Add herbs and spices to your liking

Fry the garlic and onion in a pan, maybe the ginger, add the tomato and grilled peppers, the sugar, once it's hot, add spices, herbs, salt and pepper.

Serve hot with croutons rubbed with a clove of garlic (so that you smell french!).

Source: the fruit of my own laziness

Friday, 24 October 2008

Melaka chicken Rice Balls

I travelled to Malaysia this year and had wonderful food experiences that I want to share with you. No recipe for this post I'm afraid, although if anyone knows how to cook this please let me know, I'd love to cook it myself.

On my way to the historic Square of Melaka (Malacca) from my hotel (Hotel Puri, I could make a whole post on it, it was beautiful), I got a bit Peckish and had a sudden want to try chicken rice balls in a small restaurant that was doing take away too. I would have preferred to stay in, but my travel companion did not want to spend too much time sat down in a restaurant so the consensus was that I took away the dish.

When I finally opened the box and tasted it I could not believe my tastebuds: it was so flavoursome, tasty, the texture and association was incredible.
The chicken was juicy and moist, the sauce was soft and meaty, the vegetable were working perfectly with it, and the texture of the rice balls was perfect..

My travel companion regretted then not to have stopped in the restaurant and in the evening, we stopped in an other restaurant at a corner in the same street that claimed a bit louder to do that dish. I had something else then, but her chicken rice ball was nowhere near as good as the one I had for lunch.

So next day lunchtime, we came back to the older quainter looking restaurant (the one just before the mini roundabout and the bridge!), sat down, asked for the menu. No menu. Only one dish! So of course we ordered it! A family of other westerners sat down next to us and quickly went out as soon as they realised there was no menu, their loss!

It turned out that the owner, a lovely lady, had made that dish in that same restaurant for 42 years! No wonder it was so good!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

The Succulent Duck

What I love about preparing food is the last minute decision, and cooking with what is available in the cupboards... Even better when I can produce fantastic food on the cheap at the last minute...
It's all about challenge and optimisation really...

The other day I was in a local Sainsbury's after work, looking for ideas . To my great surprise, I found amazing bargains. So I chose 3 items to make my meal:
- a packet of fresh salad at 15 pence,
- an avocado nicely ripe at 59p and grab a seat,
- a fabulous looking duck breast at a maddening 89p - reduced at the till-,
all that because the sale by date was on that day (not the eat by date..).
I'm not even going to add up to the total cost, it's too ridiculous.

So I decided on a simple salad with french dressing:
- 1 tblsp balsamic vinegar,
- 1 tblsp Italian Olive oil,
- 1 tblsp water
- 1 pinch of salt flakes
- 1 turn of grinder of black peppercorn

With the sliced avocado sprinkled with salt flakes and topped with one of my home-dried bird eye chili for the photo.

Now the duck.
I slashed the skin side at several places so that during the cooking, the fat can escape and the skin go all crispy, and the heat penetrate the meat better.
Then I massaged the duck with some honey and some soy sauce (coeliacs use glutenfree alternative).
I then Proceeded to cook the duck in a hot pan in a bit of oil on the skin side. I seared the other side, but mainly it has too cook on the skin side.
It takes approx 15 min dependent on the thickness - the breast shrinks and increases thickness as it cooks.
It should be beautifully crispy and caramelised outside and pink and juicy in the middle.

That day, it was absolutely perfect and it tasted fabulous. the breast usually costs £2.99, and I'd say it is well worth it at that price, it is of superb quality.
I'd have to pay A LOT MORE to get that in a restaurant.... So this time, I met the challenge with great success. Ahh that feels so good!

Source: my own pea-brain

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Sweet and sour prawns

This is a brilliant recipe given to me by Marjolaine, whom I thank very much for it.

Definitely easy, tasty and fast to prepare.

- 1 Thumb of finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 finely chopped clove of garlic
- 1 finely chopped small onion
- a dash of ketchup (or tomato sauce+sugar)

- chili paste
- Prawns (shelled and de-veined)

Shallow fry them the ginger, garlic and onion in vegetable oil, add some ketchup and chili paste, mix well and add the prawns, mix the cook with a lid for 5 minutes, check that the prawns are cooked, but still crunchy.

How's that for a tasty recipe! enjoy with a bowl of steamed, boiled rice or even better, coconut rice will be great with it!, and a pot of jasmine tea to drink with it

I cook king prawns simply with butter and garlic sometimes, another successful and quick dish:

Source: Recipe and first photo courtesy of Marjolaine

Monday, 13 October 2008

Vietnamese spring rolls

One of the dishes I missed terribly when I first arrived in Britain was the Vietnamese spring rolls (also sometimes called summer rolls in English). You can find them everywhere in France. Most of the Chinese restaurants serve Vietnamese food over there.
So When I saw spring rolls on the menu of a Chinese restaurant in England I gladly ordered them; however I was in for a huge disappointment as I ended up with deep fried vegetable filled chinese rolls. Horror!! So there, I decided to make my own..
The other thing I miss is the Vietnamese nems, but these are deep fried so I won't be making them since I can't stand deep frying smells in my dear kitchen (which has no window)...

It's a healthy, fun, and tasty starter. You can get the guests to roll their own for fun if they have never tasted them before, They'll love that! And you don't need to cook anything, which is the super bonus. You can have them as a starter or as a main...

You will need:
Vietnamese rice paper

You will need for the filling:
- Prawns (pre-cooked and de-veined)
- Optional: dried Chinese Black mushrooms that you will have soaked earlier - I personally prefer without
- crystal noodles (also called vermicelli) that you will have soaked in warm water for 20 min.
- beansprouts (if you have time, cut the dry ends)
- lettuce leaves
- grated carrots
- fresh mint

You will need for the presentation and to eat with it
- more lettuce leaves and mint

For the dipping sauce:
- 1 tablespoon Nuoc Mam (the Vietnamese fish sauce, very different from the Thai one)
- 2 tablespoon lime
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- crushed peanuts
- a little bit of finely chopped garlic
- a little bit of finely chopped red chili
- some grated carrots for presentation

Dip the rice paper individually for 5 second in a plate of warm water. in another plate, fill on one side of the rice cake and as a line with: lettuce leaf, then mushrooms, noodles, 2 leaves of mint, beansprouts, and a bit of grated carrot; a bit further and parallel (in the middle of the rice paper in fact), place 2 prawns.
Start rolling from the filling (not the prawn side) side of the rice pape, roll tight, and when you reach the prawns. fold the sides of the cake perpendicular to the filling lines. When you have finished rolling, you'll notice that the roll stays in place since the rice cake is a little sticky.
Put aside and roll the next one.

Be careful when you roll as the filling (especially the beansprouts if they are fresh) can tear the rice cake as it is a little fragile. Make sure you don't dip the rice cake too long or it will become too brittle.

I did not take photos of how I rolled them, so you can see the live action in a video I found on youtube (In french but who cares, you don't need the sound).

Serve the rolls with the green leaves and the dipping sauce (just mix the ingredients).

Et voila, it's fresh and lovely, and easy to put in the bento or bring to work for a healthy tasty lunch!

The ones on the picture I made with some cooked chicken instead of shrimp for a friend who can't eat seafood, but it's honestly not as good!

I am expecting some great comments from Marjolaine to improve the recipe: she's a champion of Vietnamese spring rolls according to a gourmet spy friend of mine...

Source: many + my own experimentation with them...

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Spiced butternut squash soup

Humm, the weather has gone colder last week, and today, for the first time I smelt autumn in the air. So I decided to make a soup.
I chose a big butternut squash at the market, diced it up, and cooked it in a pan with a nut of butter(for the taste) and a bit of oil (to prevent the butter from burning.), until the flavour starts to come out and the squash is nice and a bit mushy at the surface of the dices.

Then I added:

1 half tin of chaokoh coconut milk
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp of paprika
1 chicken or stock cube (or chicken/vegetable real stock, you can buy it fresh in the shop, and it's miles better than the cube, because all the ingredients are natural.. OR it could be your own stock of course) - don't add any salt if you use stock.
1 tsp of Gado Gado paste

Then adjust with water and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, just before serving, mash it with a potato masher - I like my soup not too smooth. it's ready. For the deco I sprinkled paprika and crushed roasted hazelnuts.

And I must say, it was absolutely delicious. Full flavored and very satisfying!

Source: moi, inspired by the winter coming...

For the little stories:
The yellow doodle background is a painting I've made and it's not finished, but I don't know what top do with it next... at least, if I don't finish it at least I've used it!
Also, just as I'd finished setting the table and props for the shoot, my camera fell in the soup, would you believe that!!??? So the shoot took longer than planned. I thought you'd like to know about this, one needs to laugh at least once a day - I'll be your laughing stock! -

This recipe is not classed as light because it contains coconut milk which is high ion saturated fats....skip the coconut milk if you want the soup to be 'light'

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Very light, super quick muffins

Preparation: 7 min Cooking time: 20min
For 6 big muffins:

- 80g flour

- 20g wholemeal flour

- 50g sugar

- 1 pinch of salt
1tsp of baking powder
- 1 handful of walnuts

- 1 cardamon crushed

- 80g yoghurt

- 1 egg

- 100ml Martini bianco

Mix in a bowl the dry ingredients: flours,sugar,sugar,salt, baking powder and crushed/broken walnuts. Mix well.
Mix in another bowl the wet ingredients: egg, yoghurt and Martini. mix well. Mix the wet ingredients in the dry ingredients, not too long. Pour in the mould. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 min. When cook, let the muffins cool before removing them from the mould. That's it, mission accomplished, enjoy!
Source: recipe adapted from /L'internaute