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

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

Shakshuka

shakshuka

This is an amazingly satisfying dish to knock up for breakfast or brunch. It’s happily made in my kitchen to soothe any woes on the weekend. I made this recently with some ridiculously easy to make savory pop-ups (think breakfast muffins crossed with Yorkshire puddings) to mop up the saucy sauce. There are anchovies in this, so omit them if you would like this to be veggie. Serves 4 generously.

Shakshuka:
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
150 ml rapeseed oil or light veg oil
2-3 banana shallots, thinly sliced
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 long sweet peppers (1 red & 1 yellow), thinly sliced
4 tsp dark muscovado sugar
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
4 tbsp coriander, finely chopped (plus extra to garnish)
6 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
4-6 anchovy fillets (the salty oil preserved kind)
1 tsp saffron threads
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of dried chillies
Salt & pepper
Approx. 250 ml water
6-8 eggs

Get a large skillet to medium-high heat. Once hot, dry roast the cumin seeds for a minute or so until they smell fragrant. Add your oil and sauté your shallots for about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook them for about a minute, careful they don’t burn. The peppers, sugar, bay leaves, thyme and coriander go in next for about 5-10 minutes. Until they turn a lovely colour.

Now add your tomatoes, anchovies, saffron, cayenne, chillies and a bit of salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the thickness and consistency, you want this like a thick pasta sauce so add your water gradually throughout the cooking process to keep it at the right level of sauciness. Once this is ready check your seasonings, it should be really flavoursome.

Heat at low. Remove the bay leaves from the pan. Use a wooden spoon the make craters in the pepper and tomato mixture and gently crack an egg into each of the holes. Sprinkle with some more salt and pepper and get a pan lid on. Gently cook the eggs for around 10 minutes. I like to watch this part obsessively as I want to keep my yolks runny. When the eggs are *just* set and even still a little bit raw in the egg whites I like to take the skillet off the heat and serve the whole pan on the table ready for eating. The remaining heat of the shakshuka will perfectly cook the eggs. Sprinkle with and bit of the remaining coriander and eat!

It’s worthwhile noting that this is an easily changeable dish depending on what you have left over in the fridge. Bit of gravy from the night before? Whack it in. Fetta? Preserved lemons? Get them in! Left over bit’s and pieces are so easily used up in this beautiful breakfast stew.

Healthy Pancakes

healthy pancakes I’m not even going to try and convince you why these are healthy. They just are. And they’re delicious. It’s a recipe I’ve found through almost a year of experimenting with “The Healthy Pancake” which is more or less the holy grail of indulgent breakfast desires. But these *are* significantly healthier than your regular pancakes. This combo is a riff off the popular “Two Ingredients Pancake” with the addition of baking flour and a pinch of salt. Which still makes these babies: gluten, wheat, and dairy free. The following makes enough for 8 small pancakes.

Healthy Pancakes:
1 large banana, ripe
2 eggs
1 tsp baking flour
1 pinch of sea salt flakes
Some rapeseed oil

What I’ve found in the past is an issue with flipping these, or even sizing. So I’ve developed a bit of a work around to this which you may or may not want to follow, but I use two pans. One normal non stick frying pan and an egg frying pan to control the size. Because. Well I’m a designer by trade. Anyway, get these both on the hobs at low-medium heat. Add a tiny bit of the oil (not butter as it burns) and with a paper kitchen towel lightly coat each pan with the oil. You’ll need to do this every time you cook a new batch.

In a blender break your banana roughly into 3 segments, add the rest of your ingredients. Pulse until the banana is *just* mixed, I use 4-5 pulses and there are still maybe little bits of banana, this is okay as it helps with the rise of the batter. When your pans are at heat, pour the batter into small rounds, wait a few minutes until bubbles start to form. Use a palette knife to loosen the bases (if not following my slightly anal technique, flip now). Place the other pan on top and flip over! Easy, now let the other side cook for a few minutes while you re-oil and cook the rest. Repeat as necessary.

That’s it! Cook as you may really but this is how I do them. When it comes to serving I smear a bit of almond butter between each layer and top with berries and maple syrup. Maybe a sprinkling of cinnamon…and some butter…Hey! I’m not insane, I said the pancakes themselves were healthy! Didn’t say they had to be tasteless!

Now, what do I categorise these under? I’m going for “eggs” & “cakes”…

Creme Caramel. Otherwise Known As: Caramel Flan V2

Creme CaramelSo a while ago as I was doing the New Year’s Detox I wrote about this mega easy caramel flan I made for my family over Christmas back in Hong Kong. It went down a treat, but for my Mother and myself it just wasn’t the soft delicious delight we were hoping for. Which made me try rather a lot of creme caramel recipes of late and I’ve been working on one that is not only soft and delicious, but doesn’t liquify upon turning out. It’s probably not *perfect* but it seems pretty fool-proof so far so I thought I’d share it. I made a massive one of these to finish off my Chinese New Year party (and probably my guests too), and I’ve also tried substituting the milk for not only rice milk, but soya as well, and I’m pleased to report that it works superbly.

Makes enough for 6-8 ramekins.

Caramel Flan V2:
115 g caster sugar
1 tbsp water
625 ml milk (or unsweetened dairy free substitute)
1 vanilla pod or 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
100 g caster sugar
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks

Oven at 170°C. Get a heavy bottomed non stick pan on to high heat. Into this add the 115 g of caster sugar and the tablespoon of water. Caramelise your sugar and be careful not to burn it, I like to just let it sit for ages taking in the heat while I work on other things. I’ll only start to stir with a metal spoon right at the end browning process.

While the caramel’s on the stove, put your ramekins in a deep enough tray to use as your water bath. But without any water in it for now, put it in the oven so your ramekins take on a good amount of heat. This is so when we spoon the caramel into them it doesn’t seize up.

Take your tray of hot ramekins out of the over when your caramel’s about done, then quickly and carefully spoon about a tablespoon of caramel into all the dishes. Move them about a bit to evenly coat. Set them aside.

In another pot, bring the milk and vanilla to just below boiling point. If you’re using a whole vanilla pod, don’t forget to slice along it length wise. When at heat remove from stove and set aside.

Get a large glass bowl and mix together all your eggs and the remaining sugar. To this use a fine mesh sieve and quickly whisk and incorporate the hot milk. When it’s all mixed together you may get a lot of foam on your custard mix. I like to place a kitchen towel on top to remove this.

Ladle some custard mix into each of the ramekins. Remove any extra bubbles with the kitchen towel as above. Place all the ramekins in the water bath tray and fill it with some boiled hot water so that it’s at least over the half way point of the ramekins. Now into the oven for 20-35 minutes.

The creme caramels should have some wobble in them still, but set. Some may have a solid skin atop of them. If you’re really fussy (I am) and the top membrane is thick enough, carefully remove this then let them cool and get them in the fridge ready to be served. The longer you leave them in the fridge the better I think because the caramel dissolves more. When you’re ready to serve, run a sharp knife all the way around and turn it out on a plate.

And that’s it! This also brings an end to all the dishes I made that snowy sunday evening to usher in the Year of the Snake. So I’ll be on to regular kitchen experiments from now on.CNY Flan

Tea Eggs – 茶葉蛋

Tea EggsI love tea eggs, they’re so yummy, the smell of them cooking reminds me of home, and they look so pretty with their marbling. For Chinese New Year I made quail egg versions so guests had little tasty morsels instead of a whole chicken egg. Traditionally you leave the shell on and peel it when you want to eat it, but I didn’t want my friends faffing around with all that peeling. I’m not sure, however, that I would recommend peeling 36 quail eggs…

Below is a recipe for 6 chicken eggs or 18 quail eggs.

Tea Eggs:
500 ml of water
1 cup light soy
1 tbsp dark soy
2 tsp of sugar
3 pieces of star anise
2 generous tbsp of black tea
Stick of cinnamon
A pinch of white pepper
A pinch of black pepper

Put a pot on the stove and start boiling the water. Wash your eggs and place them in to boil. If using chicken eggs – boil for 8 mins; Quail eggs – 2 minutes. When they’re done, remove them with a slotted spoon and let them cool off until you can handle them. With the back of a metal spoon you want to gently bash the eggs all over, you don’t want to pierce the membrane just beneath the shell though, so don’t get too carried away. I think smaller cracks are prettier.

While you’re doing this add the soy sauce and all the other ingredients to the pot of just boiled water and bring it all to a boil again. Simmer the tea leaves for 5 minutes.  Now add your pre-cracked eggs and turn the heat off. Remove the pot from the heat source and let it cool to room temperature. Once cooled, decant everything into a large enough sealable container and steep them in the fridge for at least 8 hours. The longer you leave them. The better they taste.

quail eggs

Caramel Flan V1

flan

Gah…so January’s been eventful already! I’ve been so good with eating healthily as per the rituals of The January Detox (I’m currently eating a bowl of steamed purple sprouting broccoli…no jokes) that I started to reminisce about this mega easy flan I made for a huge Christmas feast last December.

Now there’s a reason that this recipe is called version 1, because this produces quite a firm flan with more of a bite than a creme caramel’s soft unctuousness, but it’s yummy, velvety and uses whole eggs. Which is handy if you don’t really have the time to separate your yolks and have left over egg bits. PLUS it’s probably the only non-cooking recipe I’ll post here because it uses tins of evaporated milk and condensed milk. But once I crack the perfect soft flan that doesn’t liquify on turning out, version 2 will be out with a gusto. I can promise you that.

Mega Easy Flan:
1 cup caster or granulated sugar
1 tbsp water
3 eggs
1 (14 ounce) can condensed milk
1 (12 ounce) can of evaporated milk
1/2 cup of whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla essence

Get your oven to 170°C.

Put the sugar, and tablespoon of water in a heavy bottomed pan on stove on medium heat. Without shaking the pan, wait for the sugar to caramelise. Careful not to let it burn, you can use a metal spoon to stir it all together towards the end, but in general with making caramel just leave and watch it. While it’s getting on its way to all lovely and golden, take the dish you’ll cooking your flan in (I used a 10 inch pyrex dish) and place it in the oven for a bit just to warm it up. This just stops the caramel from seizing up in a cold dish.

So once the caramel’s done (try not to place the spoon covered in liquid hotter than the sun in your mouth) carefully pour it in your dish and swirl it all around set it aside and let it cool.

In a large bowl, pour in all the condensed milk and carefully stir in the eggs. ‘Stir’ being the operative word, you don’t want to vigorously whip it all up and create air bubbles. Once throughly mixed add the evaporated milk, whole milk and vanilla essence and combine it all together.

Decant your creamy mixture through a sieve into your caramel dish. Cover with foil. Now place this into a water bath in the oven. So that’s a larger deeper oven tray filled with water until it reaches halfway up the flan dish. Bake for 60 mins. Or until the centre is no longer liquid when you wobble it a bit.

Leave it to cool thoroughly and when you’re ready to serve, run a sharp knife round it, place a plate on top and flip that flan over. Feeds 6-8.

Chinese Salted Eggs – 鹹蛋

salted eggs

I mentioned a salted egg and prawn dish I made with my Aunt a couple of weeks ago. Which aptly coincided rather neatly to my mother preserving her own eggs over Christmas.

W.I eat your heart out.

As I’ve never salted them before and my mum swears it tastes a million times better, I thought I’d get some duck eggs and give it a shot.

Salted Eggs:
6 duck eggs
3/4 cup of salt
1/2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
3 tbsp rice wine
3 cups boiling water

Wash your duck eggs. In a clean jar put the salt and boiled water together, stir until all the salt has dissolved. Add the rice wine and peppercorns. Wait until the liquid is room temp before you add your duck eggs. Leave for at least 1 month.

So I’ll post some recipes involving these bad boys in at least a months time. Laters.

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