Cumin Seed Cloud Bread

Cloud bread

As my lovely other half was recently diagnosed as Type 1 diabetic this year. Quite quickly our usual cooking endeavours in low carb and gluten-free for fitness reasons took a more serious turn. This was followed by lots of experimenting in the kitchen, looking into ways to replace daily things like rice, pasta and bread. We still eat those of course, but we’re saving those blood sugar spikes for special occasions.

So here is my take on “Cloud Bread” which has been doing the rounds on fitness and health websites. First of all, as a disclaimer, this is not bread, this is not like delicious chewy floury bread. However, texture wise, it’s a bit eating the tops off soufflés! Out of the oven they a light and fluffy.  They flatten down slightly overnight should you want to take them into a packed lunch, but they still maintain being light and delicious. The original recipe asks for cream cheese, honey or stevia. I have none of those in this version. Only greek yogurt. And as I was making these for a super delicious home cooked vegetarian Indian meal, it seemed fitting to make it savoury.

Makes 6.

Cumin Seed Cloud Bread:
3 eggs
3 tbsp greek yogurt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp cumin seeds
small pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Prep a flat baking tray with silicon mats sprayed with non-stick baking spray. Or prep some grease proof paper.

In a heavy bottomed pan, take 1 tbsp of cumin seeds and dry roast until fragrant. Set aside.

Separate your eggs. Put the egg yolks into a small bowl and whisk together with the yogurt, salt and dry roasted cumin seeds. Put your egg white into a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) add the cream of tartar and whisk until they form stiff peaks.

With a rubber spatula slowly fold in the egg yolk mixture, careful to keep as much air as possible. Once just mixed, gently fold out six cloud shapes on the baking tray, and sprinkle with the remaining cumin seeds. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown, turn your clouds in the oven if need be for uniform colour.

cloud bread prep

Lemon Drizzle Poppy-Seed Cake

Lemon drizzle wedding cake I can only apologise for being so bad at updating my little blog, it gives me great pleasure to see that it’s been ticking away in the background when so much of life happened! In short. I fell in love, got married and took an amazing honeymoon! How exciting. But I’m back now and I promise to update more frequently! So the wedding was wonderful and what made it more lovely was that all the little personal touches. One of which was that all the mums made a variety of wedding cakes for the reception. It was a moving gesture and it meant we could get all the tasty cakes (cheesecake, brownies and lemon drizzle!)! My own mother contributed this lemon drizzle cake as it’s one of my favourites. We went through some taste testing with the bridesmaids (or ‘sisters’ as is the Chinese call them) over a boozy afternoon tea and the consensus was clear: this one was the better of the two. The fine flour, super orange yolked eggs, golden sugar and the poppy-seed mix are all chosen to create the most yellow cake. We made two of these the day before and they were beautifully textured the next day. I would even go as far to say that the cake is better the next day.

Lemon Sponge:
343 g (2 and 3/4 cups) self-raising fine sponge flour
30 g (1/4 cup) cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
40 g poppy seeds, equal mix of white and black seeds
230 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
400 g (2 cups) golden caster sugar
4 large Burford Brown eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 4 large lemons
juice of 2 large lemons
240 ml (1 cup) buttermilk

 

Lemon Drizzle:
100 g (1/2 cup) golden caster sugar
juice of 2 large lemons

 

Lemon Icing:
120 g (1 cup) icing sugar, or more depending on the lemon juice
juice of 1/2 a large lemon

Oven to 175°C (350°F). Put an oven rack to the lowest position.

Grease your cake tin, a large bundt tin works well, we did two deep square cakes at around 25cm x 15cm deep.

Sponge time. Sift the flour and corn starch into a large bowl. Add to this the salt, baking powder, baking soda and poppy seeds. Mix together with a whisk and set aside.

Fit a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld) and beat the butter on high speed for about 1 minute until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for a further 2 minutes on high speed until creamed together. *Scrape* *scrape* scrape* with a rubber spatular, making sure the base of the bowl is scraped through. Now add your eggs and vanilla. *Scrape* *scrape* scrape* with a rubber spatular. Finally add the lemon zest and juice on medium speed. It will look like it’s splitting, don’t panic! Put the mixer on low and and slowly add a third of the dry ingredients you’ve set aside, now 1 third buttermilk, 1 third dry, 1 third buttermilk…and so on until just incorporated. Do not over mix!

Pour the thick batter carefully into your cake tin and bake for 40-60 minutes. Until a skewer comes out clean. It’s all dependant on your oven so if you think it needs more time but the top is getting too brown, carefully put a sheet of foil on top of your cake tin. Leave the cake in for at least 40 minutes though, opening the oven mid-bake will make it sink. Once done, remove and set aside in its cake tin for 10 minutes.

While the cake is baking. Make the drizzle syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and lemon juice and stir until the sugar has fully dissolved.

Transfer your cake onto a serving plate. Using a skewer, poke a series of holes uniformly into the surface of the cake. Then with a pastry brush, carefully paint and drizzle the syrup all over. The more evenly you distribute the syrup the better. I like to do half of the syrup first, then wait and go again for maximum saturation. Now leave the cake to fully cool.

When you’re ready make the lemon icing. Carefully whisk the icing sugar and lemon juice until you get a thick but still pipe-able icing. You’ll want to adjust the juice and sugar accordingly. Whack it all in a piping bag and pipe away! This cake was such a success that quite a few of my guests asked for the recipe, so here it is, I’m so sorry it’s so late! Mum also recreated this cake for my family back home in Hong Kong who weren’t able to attend the London wedding. Lemon love!

lemon poppyseed drizzle cake

Hawaiian Slaw with Yuzu Dressing

hawaiian slaw

Or as I like to call it: “The Best Coleslaw I have Ever Made & Eaten”. It’s basically mouthfuls of flavours and textures that everybody likes. “Hawaiian style” means you have those tropical fresh flavours with a Japanese twist. Hapa food at its scrummiest, and it’s so pretty! It’s a winner of a salad. I promise you, fully paid up members of The Carnivore Club will gobble this salad down in delighted surprise at any sunny barbecue. The best and fanciest elements of this salad dressing are the Yuzu and Umeshu flavours, which are citrusy and floral in scent, lifting it from the claggy mayonnaise typicaly found in conventional slaws. You can buy these ingredients along with your pre-shelled edamame at most oriental supermarkets, but I would opt to pop into one specialising in Japanese products to be sure I get the Yuzu juice (or even fresh Yuzu if you can find them!).

Serves 4

Hawaiian Slaw:
1/4 red cabbage, finely sliced core removed
1/4 white cabbage (same as above)
1 carrot, julienned
1 cup pre-cooked shelled edamame
1 mango, cubed
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 a juice of lime
half a bunch spring onions, finely sliced
1 packet instant ramen noodles
1 handful sliced almonds
2 tbsp black sesame seeds
2 tbsp white sesame seeds
*optional* 8 quail eggs

Set your oven to 150°C. This salad is all about prep work and very little cooking! I would go ahead and mix up the salad dressing now or in advance so the flavours have time to meld together.

Yuzu Honey Salad Dressing:
110 ml vegetable oil (I used soybean oil)
2 tbsp honey or agave
30 ml rice vinegar, or sherry in a pinch
1 tbsp soy sauce
30 ml Umeshu (Asian plum) wine
30 ml Yuzu juice
1 tsp sesame oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt & pepper to taste

Got a mandolin handy? Get it out to make short work of slicing the cabbages finely and the carrots into match sticks. After cubing the mango and avocado, squeeze the lime over them to stop them turning brown.

If you want the optional quail eggs, pop them into boiling water for 2 minutes if you want them soft-boiled or 3-4 minutes for hard-boiled. When done pop them into cold water before you peel them to stop the cooking process. Then peel them and set them aside, when you’re ready to serve slice them in half and arrange on top.

With your ramen packet still closed, crush up the instant ramen into small nibbly pieces, then open up and discard the seasoning sachets enclosed (because MSG central!). Now scatter the noodles over a baking tray. Add to this the almond slices and toast them both together in the pre-heated oven, you want them toasted golden brown. Keep an eye on them and give them a shake occasionally to brown evenly, they should take around 10-15 mins. When done, remove them and set them aside to cool, then add the sesame seeds to the noodles and almonds.

Don’t dress the salad or add the dry crunchy ingredients until you’re ready to dish up. But you only need to mix everything up and serve!

Rather Boozy Tiramisu

Tiramisu

So to follow-up from a dinner of The Carbonara, I made these equally delicious tiramisu pots which I whipped up the night before. Purely so I could use these cute vintage ice cream glasses that I bought recently in a car-boot fair. This is essentiality based on the Polpo recipe, but with rather more booze (in variety and volume) as well as less sugar…because, you know, priorities.

I made enough to perfectly serve 5 ice cream glasses worth and didn’t end up using all the sponge fingers.

Rather Boozy Tiramisu:
6 double espresso shots or 360 ml strong coffee, warm
4 tbsp dark rum
2 tbsp Kahlúa
2 tbsp Disaronno
240 g caster sugar
6 medium eggs, separated
120 ml Marsala
500 g marscapone
1 packet of Savoiardi sponge fingers
cocoa powder

Combine the warm coffee with the rum, Kahlúa, Disaronno and 50g of the caster sugar. Stir until combined and set aside.

Separate the eggs into two medium/large bowls. Whisk your egg whites until they are stiff. To the egg yolks add the rest of the sugar and the Marsala. Whisk the yolks until they are pale and fluffy, then add the marscarpone and gently stir in. Now you want to fold the whisked egg whites into to the yolk mixture.

For each pot or glass of tiramisu you want about 2-4 sponge fingers. Depending on your layers and glassware. First you want to dip a sponge finger into the coffee mixture, enough to soak the whole biscuit without it falling apart. Layer this down, or break it in half and only put half in if you’re serving it in tiny glasses. Then dollop a heaped tbsp of the cream mixture and repeat until you’re happy with your layers. I had 2 layers of sponge and 2 layers of cream.

*soak* *break* *dollop* *repeat*

Chill in the fridge overnight for extra yumminess. Or eat one after only 4 hours like we did! Just remember to dust them liberally with cocoa powder when you’re ready to eat.

The Carbonara

Carbonara

Sometimes I read enough trending food articles and I will instantly go out and buy a series of ingredients to see if what they’re talking about it so damn true. Recently I’ve been reading a lot about A Proper Carbonara, that doesn’t GOD FORBID have a drop of cream in it. Which…is never anything I gave much thought about to be honest, who hasn’t added a bit of double cream or crème fraîche to some pasta. Isn’t that normal? Don’t people do that? Am I wrong that I think that it’s yummy? Considering I’m about to marry someone of Italian decent…this is something I should know right? Also, do you know how much pressure there is to present Italian meal made in a bit of an impromptu mad kitchen moment to an Italian and be like: “This is how it should bloody taste like!” Pressure. 

So I had one of these impromptu “I Have To Cook Now” days and this is the result of me combining a couple of things from a few recipes I was nerding out on. Essentially what we are talking about here is that you only really need 4 basic but high quality ingredients: pasta, guanciale (or pancetta), cheese, and egg yolk. The actual creaminess comes from the delicious mixture of the egg yolks, cheese and cured meat fat. If you can’t get hold of the delicious cured cheek jowls of pork required, or even pancetta, I have actually substituted this for maple smoked streaky bacon in a pinch before and it was still delicious (shhh…don’t tell).

Serves 2.

The Carbonara:
160 g linguine 
4 egg yolks (I used Burford Brown's)
1 tsp olive oil
100 g guanciale, thinly cut
40 g pecorino, grated
40 g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
freshly cracked black pepper

In a heavy bottomed pan. Place the guanciale in with a little olive oil over low heat. Allow this to render out nice and slowly until nice and crispy. Turn the stove off when done, the heavy bottomed pan should keep it all warm for you.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, place the egg yolks, grated cheeses, and black pepper.

Cook your pasta until al dente in salted boiling water.

Add your cooked pasta into the mixing-bowl with the egg yolks and mix straight away. The residual heat from the pasta will melt the cheese and cook the egg yolks, forming your sauce. Magic!

Now add your crispy guanciale and some of the rendered fat and keep stirring.

You can adjust the consistency of the sauce with some of the pasta water, add more of the bacon fat should you need it. Adjust your seasoning.

Serve and eat immediately with more grated cheese. I served this with a courgette salad and followed it with a Rather Boozy Tiramisu.

Carbonara prep

Ma Po Tofu – 麻婆豆腐

My first official #Veguary post. The yummy, spicy, mouth numbing Sichuanese tofu favourite. This isn’t the first veggiefied Chinese dish I’ve done. Like before you can use the exact amounts of real pork mince or vegetarian substitute. You have to eat this with rice, no exceptions.

Serves 4.

Ma Po Tofu:
450 g tender tofu (not too silken)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger
100 g mince (vegetarian or pork)
2 tbsp chilli bean paste
1 tsp fermented black beans, rinsed and lightly mashed
1 tsp garlic and black bean sauce
100 ml stock (veg or chicken)
pinch of sugar
1 tsp light soy
salt to taste
white pepper to taste
2 tbsp spring onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 pinch of white sesame seeds to garnish

Cut the tofu into 2 cm cubes. Place them in a large enough frying pan and carefully add boiling water to the pan until they are covered then add a small pinch of salt. This will make the tofu more tender to the bite. Set aside while you cook the rest.

Wok on medium-high heat. Once hot, add oil. When the oil is almost smoking, add the Sichuan peppercorns, chilli flakes and ginger. Stir until fragrant. Add your mince and stir fry until browned.

Lower the heat and add the garlic, chilli bean paste, and black beans. I like to add the garlic and black bean sauce for that extra black bean punch. The oil should get lovely and red.

Add the stock and carefully drain the tofu and add to the wok. Season to taste with the sugar, soy and white pepper. Taste it before you add any extra salt, it should taste spicy and really rich. Simmer for at least 5 minutes.

You’re ready to serve up. Finish with the spring onions, a drizzle of sesame oil and sprinkle of sesame seeds.

 

Sticky Soy Glazed Pork Ribs – 紅燒排骨

sticky ribs

I’m going full veggie this month, and I’m actually looking forward to it. As someone who used to be veggie and is now with someone who I can only describe as a Carnivore, I’m happy to cut back on the meat to be honest! I am however *very* surprised that they are going veggie with me too. Over valentines as well. This should be interesting!

This is obviously a meat recipe, but I’m a bit behind and I’m requested to cook these quite often. So here they are, some yummy sticky ribs..

Serves 4.

Sticky Soy Glazed Pork Ribs:
700 g baby pork ribs, separate the ribs
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 whole head of garlic
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
3 tbsp light soy
55 g Chinese rock sugar (or Demerara is good)
175 ml water and more to cook if needed

Marinade the pork and the dark soy for at least half an hour.

Break up the garlic head into individual cloves with skins still intact.

Wok on medium-high heat. Once hot add the oil. Wait a bit for the oil to get hot and add the garlic cloves – toss for 1 minute. Now add the cinnamon and star anise and fry for another minute. Once lovely and fragrant add the pork ribs and lightly brown, then add the light soy sauce, sugar and water. Keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Bring the heat low and gently simmer lid off for 30 minutes. Keep and eye on it and stir frequently to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom. Then cover and simmer for an hour or so. Do keep checking on the ‘Sticky Factor’ you want the sauce lovely and thick. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and a sprig of coriander if you’re being fancy. I’m probably too busy eating these with my hands to care!

The Best Damn Cornbread Muffins I Have Ever Made

cornbread muffins

First of all. My apologies. I haven’t posted in such a long time! One of my New Year’s resolutions was to post more, maybe once a week. Oops. But we know how resolutions normally go. Life has just got in the way with all sort of exciting events, trips and parties.

But I’m back now and since Thanksgiving has happened and, though not myself an American, some friends and I gather every year for a Thanksgiving Potluck. Which is *always* something I look forward to in my culinary calendar. This is a recipe from that. I made 2 things that night, a key lime meringue pie and these amazing muffins. I couldn’t believe how yummy these turned out, they’re the savoury variety, gluten-free and made with greek yogurt instead of buttermilk (as I always seem to be too lazy to get to a store that sells it) so I’m going to bravely say they’re healthier too – though I could be lying, they are just too damn delicious. These are way better and less fussy to make than my Spicy Tomato Cornbread so I’m really digging these right now. Makes 12.

Cornbread Muffins:
85 g melted butter, plus extra for frying
 2 x 198 g tins of sweetcorn, drained
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp whole dried chillies
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
110 g plain flour (I used gluten-free)
140 g polenta or cornmeal, fine variety
2 tsp baking powder
small pinch of salt
100 g sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
2 eggs
290 ml Greek yogurt
110 ml whole milk

Oven to 200°C. With a pastry brush, generously brush the melted butter in a 12 hole muffin tin. I ended up with about a 5mm pool collected at the bottom of each tin.

Next you want to add a small amount of butter to a frying pan at medium heat, and fry up the onions, garlic and sweetcorn. In a pestle and mortar smash-up the whole friend chillies. This seems like a lot of chilli, but you’ll be surprised how much baking these takes the heat out. This is just enough for a kick of heat as you’re eating them with your meal. No point of adding chilli to anything if you can’t taste it! Now add these crushed chillies, oregano, paprika and cayenne to the flying pan. Fry for about a minute until fragrant.

Mix the flour, polenta, baking powder, cheese and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller mixing jug, whisk your eggs, yogurt and milk together. Pour the eggs and dairy into the mixing bowl with dry ingredients, now add the corn and herbs. Gently mix all of this with a wooden spoon until just incorporated.

Divide this all equally into the muffin tray and bake for 25-30 minutes. They should have nicely risen, smell amazing and look lovely and golden brown. Eat them warmed up, you won’t regret making these. So yummy!

Slow Cooker Conjee (Jook) 粥

congeeUrghhhh. I have been so ill this week, which coincided with me freelancing at a new company whom I wanted to impress and continue working for so I’ve been rather run down. But it’s Friday evening and the client seems happy with the animations, so happy days! I’ve been forced to do a lot of overtime so I decided to give my slow cooker a whirl while I was at work so I could just head home to eat with the little energy that I had and head straight to bed loaded with paracetamol.

It worked I think, in that I managed to produce silky smooth congee that reminded me of the comforting healing flavours of my childhood (mmmm….rice gruel) as well as reducing that cooking time and allowing me to rest more. This is a recipe for a basic congee, it’ll do 4-6 servings depending on how hungry you are. To this I added some fish at the very end, but we’ll get to that bit later.

Basic Congee Recipe:
1 cup jasmine or basmati rice
8-9 cups water
a 2 inch bit of ginger, peeled
salt & white pepper to taste

Super easy. Use a meat tenderiser mallet or the flat side of a cleaver and smash that pealed ginger a bit to release more flavours while you cook. Whack the ginger, rice and water into the slow cooker and set it on low for 8-12 hours. Your basically done! Season to taste when ready.

Mine needed a cup more water after a 12 hour shift so adjust accordingly really, but it’s super simple to then portion out what you want to eat in a small pot on the stove to make it the perfect consistency. This technique is also good because congee usually  forever to cook nicely without rice water bubbling everywhere, so my mother will be pleased to note that this is a very clean and hassle free way of cooking jook.

To this basic recipe you then what to add other ingredients. Classics like pork with thousand-year old egg and numerous other combinations come to mind. But I only had a bit of fish in my fridge so I sliced the fillet diagonally, and marinated that with a bit of cornstarch, soy, white pepper and thinly sliced ginger. Then I cooked it very slowly over low heat and served with spring onions and a splash of soy and sesame oil. But I love this comforting rice gruel so I’ll post more recipes along this congee tangent later.

Herby Popovers (Yorkshire Puddings)

popovers Yorkshire puddings

So I was searching for a quick and easy gluten-free bread to soak up all the saucy sauce of my shakshuka and I came over these popovers. A little research, and tasting, has revealed that these are nothing more but the humble Yorkshire Pudding. The staple of so many a roast dinner. What’s nice about these though is that it made me realise that outside of the roast context (and the important toad in a hole context) I’ve never really eaten Yorkshire Puddings with very much. Why is that? Why is it that we don’t eat these delicious morsels more often? Now that I know how easy, quick and fool-proof they are I’ll be making them every time I’m short of bread. These are gluten and dairy free though you can substitute the flour and milk for the real deals in identical portions.

Makes 12.

Herby Popovers:
4 eggs
1 cup gluten-free flour
1 cup dairy free milk
2 tbsp dried herbs (I went oregano and rosemary)
12 tsp veg oil
generous pinch of salt and pepper

Oven to 220°C. When that getting hot, prep your muffin tin by putting a teaspoon of oil into each muffin mould. When the oven’s at heat pop the tray in and get it piping hot. 10 minutes should do. 

In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk everything up until it’s lump free. Remove the muffin tin and carefully pour the batter into each mould. It should sizzle as you pour.

Pop them back in the oven and wait for them to ‘pop over’ (oh right, that’s where the name comes from…). Don’t open that bloody oven! After 25 minutes they should be risen and golden brown. These are delectably light out of the oven and very moorish. I’ve just made a batch to have with some courgette soup…you have been warned.

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