Saturday, 24 January 2009

Light Waffles

Waffles are a great treat on a par with crepes, and I decided to make some for the visit of a friend who loves sweet treets.
They are easy to make, but you need the waffle machine I'm afraid... However, the machine is convertible as a grill or croque monsieur maker, so it's worth having it.

Waffles are easy and quick to make, and these are lighter than normal ones as the milk is replaced by beer - yes beer!-. The beer is incredibly discreet, but it makes the waffles lighter and fluffier.

Here's my recipe for 4 people:
- 500g flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 50g powdered sugar
-1/2l water
- 3 eggs
- 100g butter, melted
- 1/2 beer or cider (or milk if you want to go traditional)

Mix flour, sugar, salt and make a well, pour in the middle the eggs yolks beaten and the water and start mixing with a fork, slowly eroding the well.
When mixed, add the butter and mix thoroughly for 10 minutes until the mix is smooth. the mix should be a bit elastic and slightly liquid.
Then add the beer and mix well, Incorporate the beaten whites. The mix should be rather liquid
Preferably leave for about 2 hours, but if you don't have the time ahead, just make the waffles directly.

Making the waffle:
Pour a small laddle in the waffle machine already heated up, close the upper part of the machine press well for 10 sec then turn the machine around, leave for 2 min, turn around again, and wait for2 minutes (Obviously the time will depend on your machine, read the manual if in doubt). Open and detach the waffel (it should be very easy, if not, grease the mould in the machine with a brush.
Repeat for each set of waffles!
It is traditional to powder the waffles with icing sugar, and top it up with chantilly crea (or whipped cream). Beyond that, everything is allowed, melted chocolate, jam, babana slices, ice cream, etc...

Bon apetit!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Bacon chichen wrap

This recipe is the fruit of an improvised collaboration of 2 people around a set of ingredients and hunger! it is easy and relatively quick. Most of all, it was very tasty! Only thing, I'll conceed, it looks very messy!
- 6 thighs and drumsticks
- 6 slices of bacon (take the fat off)
- 1kg parsnips
- 1 big onion
- 1 apple
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tspn paprika
- 1/2tspn chili powder
- 1/2tsp chili flakes
- 1 ttsp ginger powder
- salt and pepper to taste

In a steamer, cook:
- the meat in the bottom tier (for 30 min) and
- the parsnips (reserve one) cut in quarters in the top tier (for 15 minutes)In a blender, placed the peeled and chopped onion, apple and parsnip. Blend to a fine chopped, but not mushy. Then add the ginger, tumeric, salt, pepper and 1 tsp paprikaPlace the cooked parsnip at the bottom of an oven dish.
Stuff the onion mix in the skin of the chicken pieces, coat with the onion mix and hold in place by wrapping the bacon around it. deposit on the parsnips. put the rest of the mix around the pieces of chicken, and sprinkle the dish with the rest of the paprika. Place in the oven for 40 minutes then serve.
Source: collaboration on improvisation

Monday, 19 January 2009

Cheng Ho Cultural Museum in Melaka, Malaysia

We almost missed the museum as it is discretely tucked away although it is a beautiful traditional Baba Nonya Mansion which was the warehouse of the Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He). An old and very lovely Indian lady who was working at our hotel came to talk to us one morning, and said we should visit it, she gave us a flyer and said she was working over there too. She convinced us (as well as the flyer) and we did visit it. And what a wonderful visit it was!
The museum contained large and numerous rooms where the life and era of Cheng Ho was admirably told, some scene reconstitutionsartefacts
, local objets and customs,We arrived in the beautiful main courtyard And there were greeted by the owner of the museum, a very friendly man who gave us the honor to make some tea for us, and to explain us how tea should be served. We were very attentive and interested.
His wife then arrived and was as welcoming as her husband. She fed us some sweets,
which I absolutely loved and asked the recipe for. It is hard boils eggs cooked in water sweetened with rock sugar, flavoured with chinese herbs: "Tong Kwai"
We had a great conversation with the couple and it turns out that they are planning to make a part of the museum unused for now as a B&B, and to organise a special event this summer for the Chinese Valentine Day, which will certainly be a great event.

The last part of the visit was a theatrical performance about the story of Cheng Ho, a wonderful work of beautiful painted panels crossing the theatre in layers and changing in a very poetical manner, we loved this bit, that lasted about 20 minutes, it was the cherry on the museum cake!
The owner also serve dim sum in the mornings, do not miss them!
If you go through Melaka, do not miss the visit of the museum, and if you want to organise an event or get some information, you can contact the owners there:

Cheng Ho Cultural Museum
51 Lorong Hang Jebat
75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Tel: 606-283 1135

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Marinated pork noodles

Another improvisation on the Chinese theme... Easy, and effortless....However If you don't have the Asian ingredients at home, forget it, the marinade is balanced but quite complex.
Ingredients for 2:
- 1 1/2 pork loin slice per person
- 1 slab easy cook noodles per person
- 1 head of broccoli
- 7 mangetout
- 7 mini sweetcorns cut in thick slices
- 4 sliced spring onions
For the marinade:
- 2 dashes of ketchup
- 2 dashes of oyster sauce
- 1 dash dark soy sauce
- 1 dash light soy sauce
- 1 big dash Thai fish sauce
- 1 dash dry sherry
- juice of 1 small lime
- 2 big cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 big thumb of ginger finely chopped
- 1/2 small tsp of tamarind paste
- 1 tsp full of chilli oil
- 1 tblsp Chinese 5 spice powder
Place the pork in the marinade, and leave minimum 1/2 hour.
Cook broccoli in the steamer for 12 minutes. Add the mangetout and sweet corn 5 minutes before the end of the 12 minutes to blanch them.
Cook the noodles, pass them under cold water and drain, reserve.
Cook the meat in a hot wok with the marinade.
When cooked, add the vegetables
and the noodles,
stir well and make sure the noodles are hot by cooking it 1 or 2 more minutes. serve in bowl with chopsticks and sprinkle with spring onions!

This dish went down a treat, the meat absorbed the dark and sweet flavours of the marinade, whereas the noodles absorbed the tangy tastes, delicious and very light tasting!
Source: the inspiration of the day

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Fluffy sweet potato mash

Yesterday evening I had to prepare my lunch for today, and I wanted something warm, comforting, light, tasty and minimum effort... Looked in the cupboards.. Ah!!
So there you are, I ended up with the idea of mash, but not tatties because it's too heavy.
Here's how I made the mash, fluffy, ligt healthy and flavoursome (have I sold it yet? - yes you gather, I loved it!)

For 1 person:
- 2 big sweet potatoes, cut in small bits
- 1 big shallot chopped
- 1 heaped tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- a little bit of saffron
- salt to taste (sea salt is best!)

Cook the sweet potatoes and the shallots in a steamer for 20 minutes.

Use a hand masher and mash roughly to keep the fluffy texture, add the spices, sprinkle a bit of paprika for the deco.

The hardest is probably to cut the potato in bits, all in all I'd say 10 minutes of preparation if you are really really slow at peeling the potatoes and cutting them. The steamer will do the rest for you...
This mash is very happy to be reheated - not like potato or carrot mash whose texture is changing.
And you'll notice: not one ounce of fat: it's super healthy!

Bon apetit!

Source: I was hungry, it decuples the thinking power to create food!!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Gratin dauphinois with salad and vinaigrette

You have been warned: this is not a healthy dish! However, it is succulent. If you think it's too rich, cook it and serve it nicely presented in individual little ramequins, that will do the trick.

This recipe is the traditional savoyard method. Adding cheese on top is nor traditional, nor a good idea (as if there was not enough fat in the cream!?).

Ingredients for 4-6 people:
- baking potatoes (quantity depends on the size of your oven dish)
- 1 big pot of full fat sour cream (yup, full fat or nothing!)
- salt and pepper
- a little nut of butter
- 1 clove garlic

Butter your oven dish then rub the garlic cut in two to rub the oven dish.

Use a mandoline to slice the potatoes thinly - they must be translucid). You can do it by hand - I have done it for years like that, but it's so much quicker with a mandoline!...)
Place the slices in layers in the dishThen pour on top the sour cream mixed with salt and pepper.

Put in oven at 200 deg C for 45 minutes.

Because it is very heavy with the cream, my mum has always substituted the cream with a mix of egg and milk, salt, pepper to make a much lighter dish. Agreed, this was not the authentic dish, the texture was quite different, but it was also a very tasty dish in its own right....

Serve with salad leaves topped with a vinaigrette:

For the vinaigrette, the basis is:
- 1 spoon vinegar
- 3 spoon of oil (or 2 spoons of oil and 1 spoon of water for the health conscious)
- salt and pepper.
- optional: a teaspoon of dijon mustard

Start practicing with cder or white wine vinegar and grape seed oil or vegetable oil and follow the quantities.
With experience, you will adjust depending on which vinegar and which oil you are using. example: if you are using balsamic vinegar you need 2 spoon less of oil, when you use olive oil, use water with it as it tends to be thicker.

When you maater the basis of the vinaigrette, you can use speciality vinegars and oils and add fresh herbs, nuts, spices, cheese, yoghurt etc... to your liking and taste.

This is a very french meal, I hope you'll like it!

Source: don't forget I'm french!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

French Onion soup

In these times of arctic cold in Europe, I revert back to soup mode, warming, and satisfying. The good old French onion soup is working wonders. Easy, rapid, cheap (credit crunch!!), it's the perfect dish.

- 2 large onions
- 1fingernail of butter + the equivalent in grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 pinch of flour (optional, it makes the soup thicker, but it is coeliac avoid or use rice flour!)
- salt
- 1/2 glass dry white wine (cooking wine will do)
- croutons (finely sliced baguette or dices)
- grated gruyere or emmenthal (avoid cheddar: it releases oil and does not taste french!) - vegans avoid
- 1/2l stock (homemade, orready made, byut without MSG, maize starch etc: NATURAL!) - or if vegetarian, find an alternative
I found this one which is suitable:

Shallow fry the onions ?(with 1/2 butter 1/2 oil, just a little bit) so they become golden. Please make sure they don't burn as it gives a bitter taste to the soup.
Add the flour and mix well to coat the onions, cook for a minute or two.

Wet with the stock and top up with water if needed.
Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.
In the mean time prepare some croutons (in the pan if you are courageous, or just toast some thin slices of baguette if you are lazy and healthier!).
Add a little bit of salt (not much, since the gratted cheese is already salted.

There are two ways for serving it.
- you can place some croutons and cheese and gratiner the soupe in the oven under the grill
- or as I prefer, just serve the croutons and cheese on the table, and let the guests serve themselves...

Bon apetit!

Source: my own experience

Friday, 9 January 2009

Lamb Handi and mango lassi

A few years ago, I tried the lamb handi for the first time in an Indian retaurant on the curry mile (Rusholme in Manchester, where Indian restaurants stretch on a mile of road, on both sides!). It dawned on me it was the best Indian Curry i'd ever had. BUT, never ever I tasted it that way again. So I decided that the best way to taste it again was to try and reproduce it at home. What got me in this curry is a particular and perfect tanginess, where I recognised fresh ginger, cardamon, tomatoes and tamarind (and maybe lime?).
To start it off, I looked on the internet for handi, and I hardly found anything. I used as a base the cooking method found in a recipe called mutton handi althought it missed the ingredients I had guessed.

So here's what I concocted in my kitchen:

Ingredients for 4
- 1 kg of lamb with bones
- 2 large onions
- 1 bunch of fresh mint leaves or a big spoon of dried mint
- 2 tsp mustard oil (or vegetable oil)
- 2 pieces of green cardamom)
- 2 pieces of black cardamom:
I did not have any when I made the recipe....
- 2 pieces of cinnamon (or 1 tsp of powder)
- 1 thumb of fresh ginger
- 3 garlic cloves (remove
the germ)
- vegetable oil
- fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
- 2 tsp garam masala powder
1tsp chili powder or 2 fresh chilis or chili flakes, or chili oil... to taste
- 1/2tsp tamarind
- 2tsp turmeric powder
- 1tsp coriander powder
- 1 can chopped tomatoes (fresh tomatoes in season)
- salt to taste

- 1 small pinch of salt

Marinate the washed, dried lamb with the salt, the mustard oil, the turmeric powder, the chili powder and the coriander powder for 2 hours.

In a blender, place the onions onions, the garam masalas, the fresh coriander leaves, the mint mint leaves, the ginger and the garlic cloves and blend not too finely.Heat some vegetable oil in a wok.
Add in the blended mixture and saute for 5 mins.
Add the marinated lamb pieces. Cook for 10 mins.
Add a pinch of salt, turmeric and chilly powder.
Add water tomatoes and tamarind and cover cook till the sauce is dense and lamb pieces are tender.Garnish with freshly cut coriander leaves. Serve hot with plain rice, roti or paratha.
I really enjoyed this dish. It was not exactly exactly as I remembered it, but still, I will do it again and will strive to perfection!! and I'll add some fresh lime...

Serve with a mango lassi:
In a blender, mix 500g yoghurt, 1 ball vanilla ice cream, 1fresh mango peeled and boned, 3 or 4 ice cubes, and adjust the texture with water and serve quickly to keep it fresh. It is great to calm the fire of Indian dishes.
Bon apetit!

Source: inspired from the handi mutton recipe on