Sunday, 30 November 2008

Tiramisu: Fast 'slow food'

Tiramisu (by Christ tell)
Here's a great dessert, and so easy to make too..I got the recipe from a friend who's boyfriend was an Italian chef... and I reproduced it many times, it's so yummy!

For 2 hungry people
PREPARATION: 10 minutes maximum

- 1 pot of mascarpone
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon of sugar (the sponge fingers will bring the sweetness)
- 1 packet sponge fingers (for the small version on the photo I used trifle sponge):
- 100% cocoa powder (very important, do not use the odd cocoa powder: although you won't need much, the flavour will be very important)
- 1 espresso or strong coffee (but fresh, it wont be as good with granules coffee)
- Amaretto (or other alcohol that agrees with coffee and mascarpone)

Mix well the mascarpone with the yolk, put aside.

In a shallow dish, put the espresso, a small dash of Amarett, and top up with water (it should not be too strong)

Dip one by one the sponge fingers in the espresso mix (quickly enough so that they are not soaked), and dispose them neatly and tightly one by one in the final dish to cover an area with half the packet (a bit less) of sponge fingers.

Cover this first layer with half the mascarpone, then cover again with the rest of the sponge fingers, then another layer of mascarpone.

Sprinkle the whole with cocoa powder to cover with a thin layer.

Keep in the fridge for a few hours, it gets better with time.

And remember: the simpler, the better. You might be tempted to add a few things: like vanilla flavour, etc… but try it like that first, you'll realise quickly adding more ingredients won't make it better.

Also, no sugar is required in the mascarpone because the sponge fingers arre already sweet enough...

Et voila!

Source: a friend who's boyfriend was an Italian chef taught me a few years ago

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Beef Hor Fun

(Hor Fun means Flat Rice Noodles)

Ingredients (for 4):
- 200 g dried flat rice noodles (did not find fresh ones in Chinatown, I'll look better next time..)
- 300 g steak, sliced thinly
- 250 g kai lan (Chinese kale)

- 2 tablespoons peanut oil (vegetable oil)
- - 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
- 4 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 thumb-length ginger, peeled and chopped

- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce (coeliac use gluten free version)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon rice wine

2 espresso cups of stock (1/2 beef stock cube in hot water will do)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
(coeliac use gluten free version)
1 tablespoon soy sauce (coeliac use gluten free version)
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour (I tend to use rice flour, it works too)


Slice the steak thinly in slices and cut each slice again in half if you want small pieces. Marinate in light soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine for at least 15 minutes.

Soak the dried noodles in cold water until softened. Drain

Place the Chinese leaves with the noodles, and pour over it the boiled water from the kettle, repeat 2 or three times (drain in between the times, then leave it soaking in the water) (Omit this step if you are using fresh noodles)

Heat the oil in a wok large enough for the noodles. Make sure the wok is very hot and sauté the garlic, shallots and ginger until fragrant. Add the beef slices and stir-fry briskly for a few minutes. Do not worry if they are half cooked. Remove.

Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl, stir well. Pour the sauce into the hot wok and allow it to thicken, stirring continuously.

Return the beef to the wok. Add the noodles and mix well in the wok so that the noodles are well coated with the sauce and beef .

(if you want that smoky taste, you can flambé the noodles...)

Serve immediately and enjoy!! (I certainly did!) Slurply good!

For vegetarians or even vegans, replace the marinated meat by caramelised tofu see my recipe there).

Last time I had this dish was in Singapore, in the little cafe in front of the Royal Peacock hotel, where I was staying. I had quite craving tonight and decided I'd make them..

Source: my memory of the dish, and a million of recipes on the net I made a synthesis of....

Pineapple tempeh

Never say never.
Today, I wrote a comment on Laurie's blog that I probably would not try tempeh unless it was in an Indonesian dish, in Indonesia. What a stupid statement! One should try everything at least once in their lifetime of course. If I go about convincing people that tofu can be gorgeous in the right dish, why don't I apply that with tempeh? Tempeh has been used in Indonesia for so long that I can't believe it would have continued to exist if it was that bad, protein source or not.
Any ingredient can taste good in the right recipe. Now, in order to punish myself for this stupid statement, I went out to buy tempeh next door (I've seen it there many many time along all the vegetarian alternatives, some I still haven't tried) with the intention to cook it tonight, which I bravely did. There was only one type of tempeh which made my choice easy.
I must say, I rather liked raw tempeh, although I did recognise the taste as raw indeed... Of course, I did a bit of preparation. I looked on the internet on several tempeh specific websites and odd recipes:
I read the type of recipes, cooking process, looked at the indonesian recipes, tips and advices (count 1/2h in total). After this, I did not want to cook any of the recipes I'd seen, but I did build a mental image of how I could like it.
So I wanted a marinade, but not too long, I needed to taste the tempeh raw to give myself an idea of what it would go with, what type of consistency... And tried to imagine what the food is like in Indonesia (never been there, and I only have a tasted a few dishes, in the West.. so very superficial knowledge of the cuisine and ingredients, hence it was just the fruit of my imagination really). So here's what happened in my frankenstein kitchen:

- 200g tempeh
- 1 red onion
- 1 can pineapple

- A nail of finely chopped ginger
- 1/4tsp tamarind paste
- 1 small garlic clove finely chopped
- 1 pinch Chinese 5 spice
- 1 tsp concentrate tomato
- 1 dash ketchup
- 1 dash oyster sauce (vegans and vegetarians abstain of course...)
- 1 dash soy sauce
- 1 dash pineapple juice.

I boiled the tempeh for 10 min to get rid of the bitter taste then cut it in small cubes
Then I coated the tempeh in the marinade.
In the meantime I chopped an onion and cooked it until the ' just before golden' state so that it would keep its tangyness. Then I added the tempeh and half the pineapple chopped in regular squarish bits. I cooked that for about 10 minutes, then dish it and added on top the rest of the pineapple.

Result: I must say I am quite pleased. I think tempeh is quite happy along with tastes like pineapple, tamarind and ginger and a light amount of sweet taste, that flatter it, make it lighter and complement its texture. The very juicy pineapple prevents the tempeh to seem dry.
I would recommend this dish, I thought it tasted good, however I can't see it dethroning ever the duck I did a few post ago...
Remark: Like Laurie, I noticed that tempeh seems to leave a lingering after taste.... Also, I'd advise to marinate the tempeh for a few hours for best results.
This dish also passed the fast, easy and tasty test!

Source: my own experimentation

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Tiramisu Christmas log: Buche de Noel au tiramisu

The traditional French Christmas Log
The log is a very traditional french Christmas dessert. A lot people buy it nowadays, and it used to be made traditionally with butter cream, which although very tasty, is not the lightest of dessert after a meal.
These days there are many variations to be bought, based on other cakes, or totally new creations. French patisseries have gorgeous logs for sale, but I do tend to like a good homemade log.

And I have a very simple and rather fast recipe for you, a tiramisu log. A great success in the family. It was born from teamwork with my mum, she provided the rolled biscuit recipe, and I provided my tiramisu recipe, that I learnt from a Turkish friend, who herself obtained it from her italian boyfriend who was a cook.

...Anyway, it's very easy, and very tasty!

For the rolled biscuit you need:
- 4 yolks
- 4 egg whites
- 75g+1tsp cassonade (raw, unrefined sugar, with a 'blond' colour)
- 50g butter
- 25g sugar
- 75g flour

Beat the yolks with the cassonnade until the mix is white and creamy. Add the flour and mix well.

Beat the egg whites

Add the melted butter to the mix, and incorporate the white delicately.

Place cooking paper on the oven plaque, with the sides covered. Mark the corners with your thumbs. Pour the mix in, make sure the corners are filled. Cook between 12 and 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 180 degrees centigrade (thermostat 4).

Take the biscuit out when it has raised and is slightly golden and still supple. cover it with a moist cloth. Let it cool down a little. Remove the cloth.

Sprinkle cassonnade on a large baking paper sheet and turn the biscuit over it quickly. Humidify the baking paper the biscuit cooked on, and separate it from the biscuit slowly and delicately. use a round patisserie knife if you need to.

Now, whilst the biscuit was cooking, you prepared the filling:
- 2 tubs of mascarpone
- 2 tblspn of sugar
- 100% cocoa powder
- 1 fresh espresso
- water
- a swig of Amaretto (or else if you don't have this alcohol)

Mix the mascarpone with the sugar
in a shallow dish, mix espresso, alcohol and water down. Sprinkle on the biscuit evenly to avoid making it soggy, or it would make it too fragile for the next phase.

Spread 2/3 of the mascarpone the biscuit, and sprinkle with cocoa powder.

Then proceed to roll the biscuit delicately:

To make as if it was the stump of a cut branch you can cut the end of the log and place it on top for decoration, so that it looks like a real log. I am generally not too fussed about details like that, as it means wasting a bit of this precious time I so lack. And anyway, the eaters don't care very much, they are already very happy with it as it is. But it is up to you indeed and how much you want to impress your guests!

When it is rolled, cover the log with the rest of the mascarpone and make marks with a fork.

Then sprinkle it with the cocoa powder so:
Keep it in the fridge for 1 hour or more before eating! Done

Bon appetit!

Christmas in the south of France...
Source: my mother and I, as a creative and happy team

Thursday, 13 November 2008

African cat fish

An African dish, not North African! if you can find salt dried cat fish of course....
Apart from soaking the fish overnight, this recipe is pretty rapid, especially if you steam the vegetable whilst you prepare the fish....

- Count 100g of salt dried African cat fish per person
- 1 can of coconut milk (I always use chaokoh, even for an african dish!) but you can use creamed coconut and add milk.
- 1 broccoli steamed (reserve a bit for the presentation)
- couscous grain for 4 (100g per person for a good ration) coeliacs use rice
- boiling water, same volume as the couscous grain
- 1 tbl spoon of oil
- 1 tbl spoon fish seasoning powder (contains pepper onion, celery, paprika)
Do not add salt: the fish is already salty enough!

Soak the catfish overnight to de-salt it.

In a pan, heat up the coconut until you can see little bubblets of fat forming on the surface. Then put the fish in.

Cook until the mix becomes thicker, then add the broccoli, cook together for a minute or two

In the meantime prepare the couscous. Place the couscous in a bowl, mix well with the oil, then pour the boiling water on top, wait until the water is totally absorbed by the grain, Then separate the grains with a fork, and serve the couscous in each plate
Then serve the dish on the beds of couscous, it's ready!

Source: Bob

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Le pâté en croute (pâté lorrain) PART 1

I'll introduce a french specialty for once. Made by my mum. This is one of the dishes I crave in Britain, because it does not exist here. It is a sort of meatloaf I suppose, but more juicy, flavoursome and tasty... Not that difficult to make although you need to dose the ingredients correctly, have the right meats at hand (including veal, rabbit,pork...)and a bit long to prepare.....

It contains different types of meat, and herbs, The crust is a sort of puff pastry, that is crusty outside and soaked with the meat juices inside, hummm....
To be eaten warm, straight out of the oven!
See recipe there
Source: my mum

Thursday, 6 November 2008


I tasted these again at a Christmas market quite a while ago, and found them so good this time that I decided to make them myself..

Again, it's very easy and it takes minutes.

To make about 6/7 congolais, you need 2 egg whites, probably 20g sugar (you can add powdered milk or condensed milk), and some dry gratted coconut (to wanted consistency). beat the whites, incorporate the sugar and the coconut until the mix is on the verge to not be foamy anymore. shape them as little rocks and press them when doing so:

Place them in the oven at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes, until they start to be golden on the outside.

These are great out of the oven or cold, and you can keep them in a biscuit tin for a fey days!


Source: my own meanderings

Inspiration: Franco-Thai beef

To make a change from the usual steak tartare and to suit my cravings of Thai food, I created this recipe, a mix between French ideas and Thai ingredients... It is pretty easy, and the most demanding is chopping the ingredients, as always.

Preparation time: 15 min
Cooking time: 10 min

For 1 or 2 pers:
250g Fresh lean mince beef
- 1 tomato (cut in 1/2 slices)
- 1/2 broccoli (Cut in small bouquets)
- 2 red peppers (cut in squares)
- 1 clove garlic (cut thinly)
- Ginger (same amount as garlic, cut thinly)
- 1/2 lime juice (squeezed!)
- Fish sauce (same amount as lime)
- 4 mushrooms (cut thinly)
- 2 spring onions (cut thinly)
- 1 big red chilli pepper (or 2 small ones for those who like it hot, cut in 1/2 slices)
- Kaffir lime leaf (optional: it's hard to find, 2 or three whole leaves to be removed once the dish is ready. Do not eat them!)
- 1 spoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Mix the meat with the lime juice, the fish sauce, the spring onion cut in slices (green stem included), the mushrooms and half the chilli pepper. Mix with the hands, briefly, so as to get buns. Sprinkle the top of the buns with the sesame seeds.

Mix the rest of the ingredients: tomato, broccoli, red pepper, garlic, ginger.

Heat the sesame oil in a pan, brown the beef buns sides well, then add the mix around the buns. Cook on high heat (+ 1/2 a lid to soften the vegetables) add the kaffir lime leaves just before the end. Do not over cook the vegetable so that they keep a vibrant colour.

After you dish, de-glaze the pan, and pour over the beef.

Serve hot, that's it.

I sometimes cook the meat in the oven on a grid which allows the fat to drip away from the meat.

Source: my own cravings