Sunday, 26 April 2009

Malva Pudding

Malva Pudding (by Christ tell)
The other day, I was having lunch with a friend and we orderer the soup of the day which happened to be a South African soup called Sousbountje, a hot and sour soup made with tamarind, mustard seeds and red kidney beans (I migh try to make this one at some stage!).
We both loved the soup and started on that subject. My friend then mentioned a dessert he'd tried in South Africa. He seemed so enthusiatic that I asked him if he knew the name, as I might like to look into it. He said: better, I can get you the recipe! So he sent a text to a friend and tadaaa... In the afternoon he emailed me the recipe.

One day later, I made the recipe...
The quantities were all in strange units, so I had to adapt them which was not too hard.

This recipe serves 2
For the Pudding
- 1/2 coffee cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- 25g butter
- 2 spoons smooth apricot jam (I used Mirabelle plum jam - Mirabelle is a round and yellow type of plum quite common in France and a specialty of the region I come from)
- 1 coffee cup of flour (I used soya flour, which is gluten free) flour
- 1 coffee cup of milk
- 1 tablespoon vinegar( I used white wine vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the Sauce
- 50g butter
- 1/2 coffee cup sugar
- ½ coffee cup water
- 1 coffee cup cream or milk (I chose the evil option: double cream - I don't regret it!)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Making the Pudding:
1) Mix the sugar, egg, butter and jam together well
2) Add the flour and milk. Mix well
3) Add the bicarb and vinegar and mix again
4) Pour in earthenware, bake at 180°C, covered, until set

Making the Sauce:
1) Melt together the butter, sugar and water
2) Add the cream or milk and bring to the boil
3) Remove from the heat and add the vanilla essence

Once the pudding is baked, remove from the oven and pour the warm sauce over the pudding.

Enjoy as is, or serve with custard or vanilla ice cream.
Malva Pudding (by Christ tell)

My verdict? ok, my friend told me how good it was, but I did not expect it to be THAT FORMIDABLY great, not a diet cake for sure, but now ranking sky high in my favorites. It was absolutely delicious, the texture is a bit like a sticky toffee pudding and the taste is, well let me find the word,.. UNEARTHLY!!!!
And it is a doodle to make, so easy!

Yes I will do it again, and no later than wednesday as I have friends over!
Malva Pudding (by Christ tell)

Other useful info from wikipedia: 'The pudding's name is derived from Malvacea wine from Madeira. The dessert and dessert wine used to be served together after main course at Cape tables. It is of distinct Cape Dutch origin with many unique additions which my differ from one area to the next eg. ginger, apricot jam. There are also many variants of this dessert namely the Cape Brandy Pudding which also include brandy and dates and the Tipsy Tart which contains only brandy'
Source: Cheryl Labuschagne

Friday, 24 April 2009

Chocolate Birthday cake

Happy Birthday (by Christ tell)
Ok the rule is, if you make a Birthday cake, forget diet, and make it as chocolaty as you can.
Beyond that, I found this great recipe that fits the bill for a guy, and is moist, flavorsome, easy, quick to make. Humm yes indeed, this is the perfect cake! So yes how lucky are you, I am sharing the magic Birthday cake recipe with you:
Birthday slices (by Christ tell)

-200g plain dark chocolate
-125g soften butter -100g sugar
-50g flour (use soya flour for coeliacs)
-3 eggs

In a pan, place the chocolate broken into pieces with a tblspn of water, and a 25g of the butter.Let it melt on low heat.

In a bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar till the mix whitens, add the soften butter, mix well.

Add the flour, mix well, then add the chocolate.

I use silicon moulds now so no buttering and flouring, but do so if you use an old fashion mould.
Pour the mix in the mould, place in oven at 150degC for 25-30 minutes.
Happy Birthday (by Christ tell)
Let the cake cool down, take it off the mould, decorate it, and there you are, a very successful chocolate cake! Easy no?
Extreme chocolate cake (by Christ tell)

Source: (I modified the recipe)

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Tai Wu Review

Tai Wu is a very big Chinese restaurant in Manchester UK, which was created initially with the chinese student population in mind - Manchester campus represents 1/3 of Manchester in terms of area - but it is also only a few hundred yards from Chinatown, on Oxford Road.
I was fortunate to visit the restaurant before it was finished with a group of architects, I could then see the gigantic kitchen. The ground floor is for proper restaurant food: dim sum and menu (also a special Szichuan menu in the evenings), and downstairs is a decent buffet (but then again just a buffet). Whenever you go you'll find it is packed, so get there before 12h30 during the week if you want to avoid the queues!

Since it opened, I have been many many times, for lunch, and a few times in the evening, since it is a stone throw from my office (yes yes I'm very lucky I know!). It makes a very reasonnable lunch with their half price dim sum from 12-4pm, usually we order 3 dim sum per person and a chinese tea and it comes up to about 6 pounds, a bargain. the more at the table the merrier although 3 is a fab number as the dim sum come in either 3 or 4 dumplings.

They have the classic har kao and sui Mai of course and a few other less commoin dumplings with scallops, cuttlefish, shark fin,
Sui Mai (above)

However, for Xiao Long Bao, you have to get there at the week end:
Xiao Long Bao (above) - soup filled dumpling, mind your shirt! -

Also, the week end lunches are more fun as you get the trolley ladies, who roam amongst the table to propose various dim sum although you can also order from the menu, or whatever is not on the menu either (that's a Chinese thing: even if it's not on the menu, chances are, they'll still have it. crazy and great!)
The trolley ladies

One of my favorites is the steamed chicken feet and minispare ribs on rice, not everybody's taste I know..

Steamed chicken feet and mini spare ribs on rice

I also go mad on the steamed aubergines dumplings and beef dumplings with ginger and spring onions.
steamed aubergines dumplings (filling is fish paste)

Below is the beef and mushroom dumplings:
beef and mushroom dumplings
And to crown the meal, the egg tarts, served warm. they are definitely not as good cold, so make sure you do get them warm. A few times, I could not get them as they ran out and believe me, it is veeeery disappointing...

Egg tarts

Egg tart

Also, I discovered via a friend of mine a great tea that makes a change from the jasmine tea usually served, called shiao mei (it's a more sbtled and perfumed tea), but I can't get it every time due to my pronounciation. Chinese languages are not very forgiving, and depending on the waiter's ears, you might or might not get the name through. but if you can get it, it's well worth it. I bet they have other types of tea, but unless you're chinese, it's hard to know...

Voila. I don't need to convince you, the restaurant is already packed!

Source: me of course!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Chinese quick fix

Sometimes, I am hungry but I don't want to spend much time in the kitchen for it at all. This is one of these recipes you knock in a few minutes. I used a Szichuan sauce in a jar, but another day, I might just try to make it myself for personnal satisfaction.

I ended up with a satisfying dish, and fun to prepare.

- about 6 cubes of fried tofu, each cut in 4 (you can use chicken goujons if you prefer)
- 1 plaque of easycook noodles
- a handful of dried shitake mushroom, soaked
- 1 spring onion, sliced (keep a few slices for decoration)
- 1 red chili, sliced
- 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
- 1/2 a thumb of garlic, finely cut
- 3 spoonfuls of sichuan sauce
- 1 dash soya sauce
- a few drops of sesame oil
- a pinch of fresh coriander, chopped
Cook the noodles (2 min in boiling water), rince with cold water, drain and reserve.

In a pan, heat the rest of the ingredients together less the tofu, mixing well and making sure that the mix is heated throughoutAdd the tofu, make sure the mix coats the cubes, and that the cubes are hot throughout.
Add in the noodles, and cook till hot and well coated.
Et voila, dish and eat!

Source: me

Thursday, 16 April 2009

IMAM BAYILDI ('The Imam fainted')

Today I have a guest blogger, Marjolaine. She has a vast range of cooking skills, and in particular great knowledge of Asian and french cuisines. But today the recipe she is sharing is of Turkish origin and is called IMAM BAYILDI.. This is her take on cooking this dish in less time.
I'll let her speak now!...:

This dish translate litteraly from Turkish as 'the Imam fainted'. the name originates from the following fable:
A certain Ottoman Imam, very respected for his teachings, was leading a school all young people dreamed of being part of one day. the mother of one of these youths did not know how to thank the Imam who accepted her son as a student. This austere man was very difficult foodwise, he was a vegetarian and did not care much about his food. Modestly, she bought aubergines and cooked them her own way. She brought the dish to the Iman, and it is told that the Iman who accepted to taste them, fainted, sod elighted he was by the dish.
the mother was well rewarded for her gratitude.

For 2 people:
- A medieum sized aubergine
- 1/4 coffee cup olive oil
- 1 big tomato, peeled, dices and pips removed
- 1 big onion, roughly chopped or sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic (germ removed) and chopped
- 1 pinch of cinnamon, or four-spice
- a small handful of finely chopped parsley
- 1 laurel leaf
- salt,pepper

Cut the aubergine in half in its length, and remove the flesh with a spoon. Brush the insides with olive oil, place them a little under the grill so that they are half cooked.

Cut the discarded aubegine flesh in dice

Heat in in a pan 2 tablespoon of olive oil, and fry the onion till transparent, then add the aubergine dice and the tomato and cook for a few minutes on low heat, stirring from time to time.
Add the garlic, parsley, laurel and spices. Mix well and leave to cook about 10 more minutes, on low-ish heat, covered.

Discard the laurel leaf and fill the half aubergines with the mix. Place in an oven dish, pour a little glass of water and 2tblspn of olive oil at the bottom of the dish.

Cook in the oven for 3/4h at 175 degreeC. Serve warm sprinkled with finely chopped parsley, or cold as a starter.
Since the preparation takes quite a bit of time, it is best preparing larger quantities of it.

My twist on this dish, for a faster preparation:
I add cooked chopped lamb meat (not minced) (or a mix of minced beef and chopped lamb meat) and a red hot pepper.

Here is the method:
- I cut the aubergines in half (empty them and reserve the flesh), and shallow fry them with a bit of water and olive oil, first skin side for 5 minutes then flesh sidefor 5 minutes, covered (it tends to 'spit' a lot). then i reserve them.
- In the frying pan, I fry the onion, garlic,tomato, diced chili pepper , sppice,salt,pepper and parsley, leave to cook covered on low heat for a few minutes. When the sauce is reduced, I add the cooked meat and the aubergine dice
- In an oven dish, I place the aubergine stuffed with the mix and cover them with slices of gruyere and ook in the oven for 3/4h at 150-175 degreeC
I much prefer the aubergines fried rather than grilled, as they are more moist and creamy.

Source: Marjolaine, including the photos
My own note: slice (but not through, rather like a fan) the aubergines on the skin side before frying them

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Flat French apple tart

Yes. flat. just like that, and why not?

Anyway, down to the serious stuff,you'll need
- to make a french pastry as described in the previous post, use an alternative to butter for vegans, and soy flour for coeliacs
- to core two apples and slice them very very finely
- Granulated Sugar

Flatten the pastry,

dispose the apple slices on top, from the outer to the inner so that it forms a 'rose', sprinkle generously with the sugar because apples end up quite acidic otherwise (however good the apples).

Place in the oven at 200 degreeC for approx 20 minutes

Et voila, une French tart - yes yes flat, yes! -
Too easy really...

Source: Moi moi moi!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Hong Kong Style egg tarts

Egg tart, originally uploaded by Christ tell.

When I go for dim sum, I usually get the egg tarts at the end of the meal, and they come still warm, with this crazy smooth gooey consistency and these gorgeous texture, smell and flavour, brittle puff pastry , aaaaaaah.. They are not too sweet either..I know, I am raving, but hey, they ARE gorgeous.
So I wanted to try them at home. No idea how they are made. Ah. Let's google it. humm, the ones I want to make are those that people take pictures of at the bakeries and restaurants hence no recipe.
On the wiki I could find a recipe for Portuguese egg tarts, but no, not what I want..

You know me, I would nott have stopped at that, so yes I improvised!
And guess what? the result was rather close, I'm very proud of myself.Yes it must be said.

So I prepared a french pastry, and also used puff pastry I bought (never done puff pastry, somehow it clashes with the title of my blog..).

for 6 egg tarts:

French pastry (for the equivalent of one big tart = twelve little tarts):
- 30 to 40g soften butter (no British butter allowed there, please use the French one, they taste very different!)
- 250g flour (Coeliacs use soya flour)
- 1tblsp sugar
- hot water (about an espresso cup worth)

crumble the butter into flour and sugar, when homogeneous, add the water, and work into a smooth ball, but do not knead and work as least as possible: the more you work it the hardest it will come out once cooked.
Cut and place in moulds.

The egg tart filling:
- 1 egg
- soya milk (ahem, no I did not measure, sorry... but think in proportion more than you would use in a quiche)
- vanilla essence, a few drops

Mix and pour in the pastry

Place in oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes, then watch for the next 5 minutes, I figured from the look of the egg tarts I get at the restaurants that the filling should not cook too much, and the tart should look glazed.

Eat whilst it's hot please!
These egg tarts are still different from the ones I had in the restaurants, despite being close, and after making them I kept looking on the internet.
I fould this recipe(by Easy Recipe) and that one (by My Kitchen Snippet)and the Portuguese ones (by Leite's culinaria)
that seemed closest. I will try it another time to see how they compare.
In any case, getting the puff/flaky pastry like I like it is possibly mission impossible...
At first glance it seems a bit more complicated/long. Anyway, if you have a recipe for it, please pretty please tell me!

Verdict: I will make these again, because they were so simple and tasty, and yes, the consistency was great...

Friday, 10 April 2009

Easter lamb

Easter lamb, originally uploaded by Christ tell.
The tradition in christian based cultures is too cook lamb, so here's one I cooked a while ago... Pan fried, with some broccoli branches...

I'll always have a fond memories of Easter. The tradition in my family was, like in many in France, to hide chocolate eggs and bunnies in the lawn, bushes of the courtyard/garden, then wake up the kids, and tell them that the bells flew over the garden and dropped all these goodies. The kids then run in the garden, very excited, and scurry around to get all the goodies! My mum was always cooking lamb on the Sunday, as a tradition
, or habit maybe... You gathered, no religion involved whatsoever, and Easter for me is synonymous with chocolate eggs, bells with wings chicks and bunnies, 4 days free from school/work, and yes lamb, because that time of year is when the lambs were best to eat!

And the beauty of internet, I learnt this year about passover and the cooking constraints associated, I really enjoyed the blogs about creative cooking around it! :)
So, all in all I'll go to bed less stupid tonight!

What's YOUR experience of Easter?

Enjoy the long break!, and HAPPY EASTER, HAPPY PASSOVER and HAPPY anything else I don't yet know about!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Mexican mood

Ok, I won't pretend I know mexican food, because I don't. But that day I somehow fancied eating mexican food and that's where the inspiration is.

Something simple, balanced, with meat and vegge, and my take on mexican: the kidney beans and the melted cheese. My other priorities were time, effort and taste - and what I had in my kitchen on course. Accessorily, it's easy to adapt for vegans/vegetarians.

So here's what came up from my foodie brain:
- 1 big aubergine, sliced
- 500g minced beef
- 1 can kidney beans
- a few cubes of cheese
- jalapeno chilis cut in slices
- salt pepper
- Optional: 1 can of diced tomato, salt, pepper

Dispose the aubergine as a layer at the bottom of an oven dish

Mix the meat with the chillis, salt and pepper, and dispose as a layer on top of the aubergines

(If you choose to use tomatoes, pour it over the meat, or if you are vegetarian/vegan, forget the meat and us the tomatoes)
And on top of the meat, pour the drained beans and top up with the cheese(or alternative for vegans) cubes.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes at 20 degreesC,

And there you have it, your tasty dish!, and it looks good!

Serving suggestion: on a tortilla, with sour cream, and if you fancy some guacamole...and sprinkle with some tobasco! For coeliacs, just have it as is!

Verdict? I'll definitely do it again, I created iot on the spur of the moment and it's always a good thing. It was tasty, I could bring it to work the next day, and reheated, it was still as good (I prepared it with couscous the next day - I know, not very mexican!).
The aubergine was my favorite part, it was creamy and had absorbed the juice of the meat you'll notice: no fat added...

So yes the dish fit the bill, and i hope you'll enjoy it too!

Source: my very own grey matter

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Restaurant review: Zouk in Manchester,UK

Two new restaurants sprung up across from work, and as you can imagine, I went to have a look as soon as I could. The first time around, one of the restaurants was not yet open (Zouk), but my curiosity got me to ask what type of food it would be, and it seemed to be Indian/mediterranean which intrigued me no end. My first impression was good: a big open kitchen in the entrance, a great spacious, high ceiling restaurant space with big windows.
The front of the restaurant is very discrete though and it is not visible from the main road.

Anyway, I went for lunch as soon as I could with a friend.

The first impression is shaped by the open kitchen, the high ceiling and spaciousness (but not agoraphobic)

The staff is welcoming and very pleasant.

and right in front of you, the kitchen, pristine, all open, the kitchen:

And right in front of the entrance, the bread is prepared and cooked, wow!!! they have a traditionnal type of oven, and it means the bread is freshly cooked for you:

The first time I came, I ordered some chicken livers, and they were absolutely gorgeous, greatly cooked, melting in the mouth. The Kulcha bread (a flat sesame bread) was warm and tasty. I ordered also to share some king prawns kebabs, and a lamb grill including kofte, cutlet, all excellent.

The following time, I must say I almost ordered the sheep brain and the lamb trotters, but I left it for my next visit and had the lamb Nahari instead, a very tender piece of lamb cooked slowly for a long time, in a great tomato based sauce. this Lahore originating dish was served with separate little pots of garam masala, fresh herbs, fresh chillis and fresh grated chilis to sprinkle on top of it, and it was absolutely gorgeous. Even when you order the popadums, they have cumin in them, and are superbly crispy.

The menu contains unusual Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, and the staff is truly international (Iranian, Pakistani, Nepalese,...), both in the kitchen and out.

The strong points of the restaurant are definitely the freshness of the food, the originality of the menu and the open kitchen.

Also even on a weekend night, the music is not too loud, and although it is quite busy, the high ceiling give a great impression of space.

I sent a few people there, and they were all rather impressed. So yes if you can, definitely pay Zouk a visit!

Now you will ask, where are the pictures of the food?
Hum yes especially because it does look very good... Well everytime I went to eat there, I did not have my camera with me (yes yes, always carry your camera I know!), and I had to come back especially to take the photos one, when I did not have enough time for a full sit down meal.
Hopefully next time I will have my camera and will take advantage of the great natural light coming in through the huge window...