Sunday, 26 February 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

Shojo manga artists make pastries and cakes look divine. This Japanese shortcake I made is inspired by one such manga. It is assembled with two layers of sponge cake, whipped cream and lots of aesthetically pleasing slices of fresh strawberries. This cake is fun to make and looks and tastes great.

120g butter
120g sugar
120g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
Pinch of salt

200ml double cream
Fresh strawberries, as much as desired
2 tablespoons sugar

Cream butter and sugar until the colour of the mixture lightens. Beat the eggs and vanilla essence in. The baking powder and salt should be mixed with the flour in a separate bowl and folded in gradually while the batter is whisked until smooth. Pour the batter in a cake lined with baking parchment and bake at 180° for 25 minutes. Let the cake rest overnight before icing it.

Slice strawberries and let them sit in a bowl, coated in sugar for 20 minutes.
Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks. Be careful not to over-whip it! Slice the cake in half, horizontally. Pick out some of the less than perfect slices, mix them in 1/3 of the cream and sandwich it between the two slabs of sponge. Use the rest of the cream to cover the rest of the cake 
exterior and decorate with the strawberry slices. Chill for at least a couple of hours and enjoy.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Phuket cocktails

Phuket Sling and Phuket Paradise!!

Tapas for the weekend

Tapas are a great way of putting a little excitement into your dinner and they're ideal for sharing. It’s as simple as combining a few side dishes to build your meal. It can be a great way to use up leftovers, or an excuse to have all your favourites in one sitting.

This is a combo I made one weekend:

Roasted peppers

1 red (bell) pepper, cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon piri piri herbs
Pinch of salt

Toss all the ingredients together and roast in a low heat oven (gas mark 4/ 180 ºC) for 30 minutes. Best to get this going before you start preparing the other dishes.

Chicken liver in dry gravy

200g chicken liver, cleaned and cut into bite size pieces
½ onion, diced
2 stalks of curry leaves
1 tablespoon kurma curry powder
Olive oil

Fry the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in low heat to ‘sweat’ it. Add the livers and cook for 4 minutes. Add the curry powder and leaves, and lightly season with salt. Coat the livers well with the gravy that forms, adding a touch of olive oil if the pan gets too dry. Cook further for 10 minutes and ensure the liver is thoroughly cooked before serving.

The dishes above were supplemented with a portion of oven baked curly fries and warmed wholemeal pitta bread for your carb needs, and some hummus for dipping. Serves 2 very hungry people!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Tom Yum Fried Rice

 During a recent trip to Phuket, we had the good fortune of enjoying lovely Thai food in authentic restaurants (as opposed to their flashier, tourist-traps) where the locals cooked up effortlessly simple yet delicious meals.

Here is my attempt at recreating one of them, with a twist of my own.

4 bowls of cooked rice (preferably one day old- freshly cooked rice will turn to mush when it is fried)
1 onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 green/ bird’s eye chillies
1 carrot, diced
½ cup of frozen peas
½ cup of frozen sweetcorn
Pieces of chicken meat from two legs (thigh and drumstick)
1 tablespoon tom yum paste
3 eggs, beaten
Salt and white pepper powder

Remove the meat of 2 chicken legs. I find using scissors for this purpose saves time, although it probably is just as quick to use slices of chicken breast meat.

Shallow fry the lightly salted meat in a wok for 10 minutes. Remove the cooked chicken meat and leave aside for later. Using the same wok (add more oil if necessary), fry the onion, garlic, chillies and tom yum paste on medium high heat. Add the carrots first, cook for 2 minutes, before stirring in the rest of the vegetables. Make sure the rice is not lumpy before adding  it to the wok. Stir well for 3 minutes. Make a well in the centre of the wok, add a dash of oil and pour the eggs in. wait one minute before stirring the eggs in with the rice, but take care not to burn the rice. Season well with salt and white pepper. Serve while hot.

Mum’s crab curry

3 medium blue crabs
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 green chillies, halved through the middle
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp fenugreek
2 stalks of curry leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tomatoes, quartered

Curry powders
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder (or 2 teaspoons if you like it hot)
4 tablespoons fish curry powder

Salt to taste and dash of crushed black pepper

Its best to get the crab cleaned and into halves from the fishmonger. I use the thin-shelled blue crab- they tend to be meaty, juicy and easier to get into.

Saute the onions with 2 tablespoon s of oil until transparent in a pot. Add the chillies, garlic, curry leaves and spices and stir until the garlic starts browning lightly.

Adding 1 cup of water to the curry powder mixture, stir it into a thick paste and add it to the sautéed ingredients. Put the lid on the pot and bring the paste to boil. Remove the, add 1 ½ cups of water to the curry and cook further for 10-15 minutes. Put the tomatoes in and crushed them lightly to help their juices infuse into the gravy.

Season the curry with salt, pepper and sugar. The curry should be sweet and spicy to complement the natural sweetness of crab meat. Add the crabs, coat them well in gravy and put the lid back on for another 12-15 minutes (slightly longer for large crabs) and it’s done. Serve with white rice and stir fried vegetables.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Omelette rice bento

What do you do when you have some leftover curry and rice from dinner? Turn it into tomorrow's lunch of course! Although, it doesn’t have to be boring. With just a few extra ingredients, turn leftovers into an indulgent lunch. 

Mix a few spoonfuls of the curry (and the vegetables in it) into a bowl of rice and coat evenly. This saves you further seasoning your rice. Beat an egg and season it with some salt and pepper. Pour the egg into an oiled pan on medium heat. Swivel the pan around until the egg is spread into a thin layer covering the entire base of the pan. Remove from heat as soon as there are no runny parts to the egg. 

Place your rice in a semi-circular pile on one half of the omelette, and fold the other half over the rice. Garnish with some fried frankfurters and chilli sauce.

Yong Tau Foo

Pasar malam favourites
This is one of the Malaysian favourites that is often sold in pasar malam, or night markets. It’s premise is pretty simple- it’s a collection of tofu, fish and vegetables based ingredients, boiled or blanched and served with a lightly spicy sauce.  

I’ve not attempted to make my own fish balls or fish paste stuffed okras and chillies this time around, but here’s how you can fix yourself a bowl of yong tau foo at home.


Chicken stock cube  
2 stalks of spring onions, chopped  
A selection of fish balls (and/ or shrimp, crab, cuttlefish balls, or fishcakes), 4-5 pieces/person  
Pak choi, 1 head/person  
Chee cheung fun (if available), 2 rolls/person  
Porous fried tofu, 3 small pieces/ person  
Inari tofu, 1 piece/person  
Sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon/serving  

5 tablespoons hoisin sauce  
2 tablespoons chilli sauce  
2 garlic cloves, minced  
1 teaspoon sesame oil  
3 tablespoon water  

Fry the minced garlic in a tablespoon of oil until fragrant. Pour in the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir. Remove from heat when the sauce is simmering.  
Boil 1.5 litres of water in a sauce pan. Drop a chicken stock cube and some chopped spring onions into the boiling water. Boil the tofu and fish balls for three minutes before cutting them up into bite size pieces. It is best to use tongs and kitchen scissors for this. Pak choi and chee chueng fung only need to be blanched for a minute or so before they are cut up too.  
Pour the sauce over the dished up bowlfuls and sprinkle the sesame seeds on to garnish.