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!

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.

 

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.

Charred Aubergine with Tahini & Yogurt

Charred Aubergine Dip

I’ve just come back from Puglia in the south of Italy with a group of friends. It was a cycling trip where we essentially cycled our bikes, swam in the azure seas and cycled some more until we were hungry, then proceeded to eat and drink an awful lot. The food there is so earnest and simple. They have access to some of the most incredible ingredients in the world because of their amazing climate, so they’re only interested in basic cooking to elevate the natural flavours. I’m really in to that.

Back in London we are in the midsts of this weird Summer vibe where it seems that the general en-mass willing of summer not to be over *just* yet has resulted in some pretty warm october nights. This dip is something I prepared as part of a romantic picnic in the summer solstice, so it seems only fitting to revisit it again with the warm hazy glow of Puglia and my own Londonian attempts to squeeze the very last of summer out. It’s simple and delicious.

Charred Aubergine with Tahini & Yogurt (Serves 2-4):
1 large aubergine
70g tahini paste
60 ml water
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 generous squeeze of a lemon
1 garlic clove - crushed
3 mini cucumbers - diced
seeds from half a pomegranate
3 tbsp parsley - roughly chopped
2-3 generous dollops of greek yogurt
a drizzle of olive oil
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

On a gas hob, place the aubergine directly onto a medium flame and roast for 12-15 minutes, turning frequently. The flesh should end up soft and smoky with the skin burnt all over. Alternatively, if you haven’t got gas hobs, crank up that oven high, 200°C maybe, and whack your aubergine in and keep turning it in that heat. 20-40 minutes in, the skin should also char and the aubergine should sag telling you the flesh is all lovely and soft. On a similar warning to my last aubergine post: Poke a couple of holes near the stem part of the aubergine to stop it exploding in the oven.

Once your aubergine is done, transfer all that lovely soft flesh into a medium mixing bowl. To this add the tahini, molasses, water, lemon juice, garlic, cucumber, parsley, paprika, yogurt, half the pomegranate seeds and some salt and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to your liking. Drizzle with olive oil and the rest of the pomegranate seeds to finish. Eat!

Vietnamese Grilled Aubergine with Nouc Cham Sauce

vietnamese grilled aubergineIt’s been too hot in my flat. So all I want to cook of late is dips, salads and wraps. Oh Vietnamese food, you have so many dishes I adore under this category…

Aubergines are in season and this dish is one of my favourite and simplest dishes to rustle up with said veg. But mostly its the delicious nouc cham that I love, so crack open an empty jam jar and make a load of this addictive sauce.

Nouc Cham Sauce:
100 ml fish sauce
100 ml of water
125 g brown sugar
4 cloves of garlic - minced
4 bird's eye chillies - deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 carrot - finely shredded

Mix up the fish sauce, sugar and water. Add to this the garlic, chilli, lime juice and shredded carrot. Thoroughly stir it all up and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

Now you’re ready to grill your aubergine.

Grilled  Aubergine:
1 large aubergine
3 tbsp nouc cham sauce
Handful of peanuts - toasted
1 tbsp spring onions - finely chopped
Some coriander to garnish

Get the grill on high. Pierce your aubergine near the leafy bits a could of time to stop the Exploding Aubergine from happening (this has happened to me twice…I had to scrape the oven clean of the perfectly cooked bits of veggie shrapnel). Put the whole aubergine in whole and just keep an eye on it, turn it ever so often and the skin doesn’t burn beyond the nice charred flavour. Depending on your oven and grill it should take about 20-40 minutes. If you want to can oven roast it first at around 200°C then finish it off on the grill. Once it soft and sagging you’re ready!

Place the aubergine on a dish and slice it open. Add to this the nouc cham sauce, the toasted peanuts, coriander and spring onions.

Salmon with Ratatouille and Sweet Potato Mash

salmon fillet with ratatouille and sweet potato mashOh man. Bookkeeping. Running your own freelance business does have it’s down sides. But amazingly after travelling along a floor of invoices and receipts and living in what clearly appeared to be a really specific Level Of Hell (floor 14 perhaps) I’ve discovered that for the past six months my books totally balance out and everything is pretty healthy looking in the expenses department. Huh. Mazing.

I’m a very particular type of stress cooker, and this was making a lot of appearances for the last couple of nights at around midnight and it’s pretty tasty so I thought I’d share. It’s for one, but you can easily double this.

Salmon with Ratatouille and Sweet Potato Mash:
1 salmon fillet
1 sweet potato - peeled and chopped
round courgette - sliced irregularly
1 red sweet pointed pepper
handful of cherry tomatoes - halved
glug of red wine
2 tbsp olive oil
splash of milk - I went rice milk
1 bay  leaf
1 garlic clove - crushed
1 small chilli - deseeded and finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato purée
pinch of oregano
pinch of rosemary
pinch of paprika
sea salt flakes
crushed black pepper

You’ll want to make you ratatouille first. I’ve suggested that you cut your courgette ‘irregularly’ because I have a weird aversion to perfectly square bits of courgette and I think the odd angles you cut in produce a nicer bite. So that’s your courgette. Slice your pepper however the hell you like.

1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pot on medium heat, to this add your crushed garlic, sliced chilli, bay leaf, oregano, rosemary and paprika. Then when all the spices start smelling lovely add your courgette, tomato and pepper. The eagle-eyed of you will notice there are no onions or aubergines in this dish. You can of course add these if you want, I simply didn’t have any at home. Add your glug of wine. Cover and stew while you deal with the mash. Keep an eye on this, you don’t want it to burn. Maybe add water or stock if it’s drying out too much.

To a pot of slightly salted boiling water, add the sweet potato and let that get nice soft. When it’s soft enough to mash with a fork (or mash-up with the mash attachment on your hand blender…what an awesome buy) drain and mash away. Season with some salt and pepper, and add a splash of milk or butter maybe. Keep warm and set aside.

Now cook your salmon fillet. Frying pan on the stove, high heat, tablespoon of olive oil in and wait for the oil to get really nice and hot before you put your fillet in skin side down. Fry for 2-3 mins, then cook the sides for about a minute each. Finally turn it over and cook the base of the fillet for a minute, switch your fire off and season the fish with a bit of sea salt and crushed black pepper. Prep your plate and dish up. That time it took for you to dress your plate should mean your fish is just cooked.

Spicy Chinese Pickled Cabbage

Spicy Chinese Pickled Cabbage

Happy Year of the Snake everyone! Last week my little kitchen was burning the candle at both ends to get some delicious treats out for a CNY party last night, which I literally decided to throw on Monday. A surprising amount of people agreed to come considering the late notice, it being a Sunday and the snow, so a warm glowy feeling was had by ushering the new year over great food and friends. As per usual at my foodie parties, people had to be rolled out, so the following posts here at Minikin Kitchen will really be me catching up with what I cooked throughout the week ending with the on the day dumpling making sessions. Ahhh…Chinese New Year. I love you.

So. Let’s start with this spicy, sour and slightly sweet offering of chinese pickled cabbage. My veg box last thursday happened to contain Chinese Leaf (or Nappa Cabbage across the pond) as well as carrots. Serendipitous or what?  You can if you want substitute the Chinese leaf with a head of regular white cabbage, which will result in a firmer bite.

Pickled Cabbage:
1 large Chinese leaf cabbage - cut into 1.5 inch squares
2 carrots - thinly sliced into half moon shapes
4 fresh bird's eye chillies - deseeded and thinly sliced
1-2 inch piece of ginger - thinly sliced
1/2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
1 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp rice wine (the clear one)
1 tbsp salt

This is pretty easy side dish to prep in advance. Cut and put all the veg in a large tupperware box or jar, anything with a lid strong enough for you to shake everything up.

Heat up the vinegar and dissolve all the sugar and salt. Once it’s all dissolved add the rice wine and the peppercorns. Now add this to all the veg and shake it all up. The veg will shrink in volume over time adding loads of water to the mixture. What I ended up doing is whacking it all in a big Kilner jar and every morning and night rotate and stand the jar upside down (or right side up) to shift and coat it all. I made this on the Thursday evening and did a taste test Friday evening, so these quantities are the results of my adjustments.

Serve it up using a slotted spoon or chopsticks, you don’t want to serve it swimming in the pickling liquid. It does have a spicy kick, and although my friends enjoyed it, I’d start with 2 chillies and do a taste test a day or two in. I really like spicy food, but I’m into enjoying food not enduring it.

CNY 2013

Crusted Pumpkin with a Yogurt Dip

Crusted Pumpkin

It’s the first week back to work for me, and boy has 2013 started off with a bang. I feel like I’ve had the hit the ground running from the airport since arriving back from Hong Kong. It’s also really rather cold in London compared to the shockingly low temps of 11°C I had to endure over the holiday so all I want to eat is warming comfort food. Amazingly I had all the ingredients for this at home, plus it uses up breadcrumbs that tend to sit around forever in the cupboard. What’s not to like?

Crusted Pumpkin:
a small pumpkin
A large handful of grated parmesan
A smaller handful of panko breadcrumbs
A handful parsley - finely chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Zest of a lemon
1 garlic clove
3 tbsp olive oil
A pinch of sea salt
A few cracks of black pepper
4 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tsp sumac

Oven to 190°C. Cut your pumpkin into 1 cm wedges, leave the skin on. Get them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. In a separate bowl mix all of the crust ingredients together (except for the yogurt and sumac), you can use ordinary breadcrumbs of course, but I don’t have any of those. Besides, get yourself a bag of panko it’s way *way* nicer. You’ll wait to taste your mix before adding salt as the cheese will be salty.

Brush the pumpkin slices generously with the oil and coat them with the crust mixture, you’ll want a few millimetres of the deliciousness. Gently pat the mixture to bind it better.

Whack it in the oven for around 30 minutes. I’ve burnt mine a wee bit as I left them in a bit long. Oh well. Texture!

While that’s cooking mix up your yogurt dip with some salt, pepper, maybe a bit of olive oil or cream if it’s not the consistency that you want. Sprinkle with the sumac before serving. Get those wedges out of the oven when done and maybe squeeze some lemon juice over them. Super easy and fun to eat.

Mini Caprese Stacks

I made these recently as part of a four course meal. Look! It’s a Caprese salad in bite sized form! Not only are they super easy to make, but they’re also perfect little morsels to kick start a meal. Antipasto. You clever Italians you. The only thing you need to get right for this is amazing ingredients, so go for the best tomatoes and cheese you can get your grubby little mitts on. I went with piccolos and an organic mozzarella.

Mini Caprese Stacks:
Cherry tomatoes
Mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

Carefully shave the top and tail of each cherry tomato before you halve them, this gives them a flat base to sit on so they stand properly. Trim the stem off the end of each basil leaf. Arrange your tomatoes on a plate, add a leaf, rip a bit of cheese. Leaf. Cheese. Leaf. Cheese. Leaf. Cheese. Drizzle with a bit of oil. Bit of salt and black pepper. Done.

Basic Tomato Sauce

I go to Polpo. A lot. I like the chilled atmosphere and nice little martini bar downstairs. I love their little sharable dishes and tiny tumblers to drink wine and espressos out of…but mostly I like the small proportions because I get to eat more things. Anyway, they have a cookbook now and as well as giving away their secrets, it’s beautifully bound, filled with great pics and is fun to read. They have a good Basic Tomato Sauce recipe in it. Do you by a bottle of tomato sauce for your pasta? Why do you do that? This is much, much nicer. I’ve reduced the final amount, added booze, and more spices to this. But that’s what a good basic recipe should be: adaptable. Make this on a lazy Sunday and enjoy it throughout the week. Makes just under a litre.

Basic Tomato Sauce:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion - finely chopped
1 garlic clove - crushed
1/2 tbsp salt - scant
A good cracking of black pepper
1 small red chilli - deseeded and finely chopped
A pinch of chilli flakes
375g fresh tomatoes - really ripe and sweet
1.5 tins/cartons of crushed  tomato - about 600g
1 small handful of oregano - fresh or 1 tbsp dried
1 bay leaf
A good glug of red wine
A bit of sugar - if you want, I didn't add this

Sauce pan on stove at medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. When at heat add your garlic, onion, chilli (fresh and dried), bay leaf, black pepper and dried oregano if you’re not using fresh. Stir and sweat ’em out. When the onions are glossy and translucent, get your fresh tomatoes in with the other tablespoon of oil. Cook for 15 mins.

Now add the crushed tomatoes and glug that wine in. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, lid on, leave for an hour. In the final moments, if you’re using fresh oregano (I mean, how hard is this stuff to find? Grow some in a kitchen pot for a constant supply), roughly chop it up and stir it all in. Taste. Adjust seasoning. Add a bit of sugar if your tomatoes aren’t sweet enough.

Pan off heat. Transfer into a blender or use a stick blender to whiz it all up. Done! You can strain this mixture further and add a bit more water to make a pasata if you fancy it.

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