Friday, 28 April 2017

Macerated Strawberry & Mascarpone Tart

With the strawberry season underway, it's the perfect time of year to get the most from this fruit. This macerated strawberry tart highlights the great flavour strawberries give us. Coupled with mascarpone, vanilla and lemon, it makes for a wonderfully light dessert that's very clean to eat and leaves you craving more.

The finished article can easily be used for an afternoon tea as a fancy strawberries and cream. The process of macerating the strawberries intensifies their flavour and removes some of their juices. Once eating strawberries this way, you may never want to have them any other way!

Recipe

Ingredients:

Base
100g digestive biscuits
50g melted unsalted butter

Filling
150g double cream
150g mascarpone
20g icing sugar
1 lemon, zested
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or essence
1 leaf gelatine or equivalent in powdered

Macerated strawberries
1 small punnet strawberries
2 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced

Method:
  • For the base, crush the digestive biscuits or pulse in a blender till fine. Add the melted butter and fully mix. Press into a lined 10 x 18cm tray with baking paper.
  • Leave the tray in a fridge to chill whilst you make the filling.
  • For the filling, place the gelatine sheet in a bowl of cold water to bloom. 
  • In a mixing bowl whisk the cream, the mascarpone, the lemon zest, the sugar and the vanilla paste.
  • Whisk all the ingredients are combined and smooth. 
  • Remove the gelatine sheet from the water and heat in a small saucepan with 1 tbsp of water till dissolved. 
  • Whisk the gelatine mix into the filling and spoon onto the biscuit base. Tap on a hard surface to smooth off edges and remove air bubbles.
  • Chill in the fridge for 2 hours till set and chilled.
  • For the Strawberries, remove the tops off the strawberries and cut into halves or quarters. Toss the strawberries in a mixing bowl with the sugar and lemon juice.
  • Leave to stand for 20 - 30 minutes letting the natural juice release. 
  • To serve, remove the tart from the tray, slice into portions and add a generous spoonful strawberries.
  • You can always add some lemon zest or chantilly cream for extra enjoyment. 

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Gyoza

Recently I've been really wanting to make some gyozas. Sadly, I've been putting it off in sight of a sweeter treat. However, this week I made the time. Gyozas are incredibly delicious Chinese dumplings. That's right - they're Chinese, no matter how popular they are in Japan. They're pan fried leaving the bottom irresistibly crispy, with the rest perfectly soft and moist.

This recipe uses traditional flavours (the ones you get if you buy the original flavour from an authentic restaurant or stall). The bold flavour of the garlic and the spring onion/ leek stay strong with the pork as you dip into that flavourful sauce. With the addition of ginger, you get that extra hint of warmth and flavour.

If you don't want to make your own wrap/ skin, they are readily available at most good Asian stores. They will normally come frozen so fully defrost before using. With the right skin and cooking, you're looking to get they perfect amount of chew to coincide with that sensational filling.

Recipe
Ingredients:                                                                                                           (Makes 18 dumplings)

(Gyoza Wrap/ skin)

150g strong flour
Pinch of salt
100ml boiling water

(Pork filling)

360g pork mince
2 cloves garlic, minced
10g fresh ginger, minced/ grated
2 spring onions or some leek, finely chopped
1 head pac choi, finely chopped
2 tbsp light soy sauce
Sprinkle chilli flakes or 1/2 fresh chilli finely chopped

(Dipping Sauce)

4 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp chilli oil/ sesame if too spicy

Method:
  • Start by making the gyoza skins. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the boiling water and incorporate with either chopsticks or a spoon. (Don't add all the water in one go as it may not all be required).
  • Make a ball with the dough, cover with cling-film and leave to rest for 30 - 45 minutes.
  • For the filling, mix together the pork mince with the remaining ingredients till combined. Season the mixture, leave in a fridge till needed.
  • Once rested knead the dough till smooth and stretchy. (4-5 minutes) 
  • Roll the dough on a floured surface until a thin as you can possibly get it. Cut out circles with a cutter. Preferably 10cm in diameter.
  • Spoon around 25g of filling into the centre of the skin. Wipe a little cold water all around the edge of the skin. Fold over and press together. 
  • With the seal at the top press down gently to create a flat bottom. Leave on a tray with baking paper whilst making the rest. Keep in a fridge until needed.
  • For cooking, heat a little oil in a frying pan that has a lid. Add the gyoza's flat side down and fry till the underneath is golden brown. 
  • Add 50-70ml of water to the pan and cover with the lid. Cook for 3-4 minutes. 
  • For the sauce mix together all the ingredient and pour into a dipping bowl. 
  • Remove the lid and continue to cook till the filling is cooked through. 
  • Serve alongside the dipping sauce. Feel free to add any addition vegetables on the side. 


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Friday, 21 April 2017

White Chocolate & Matcha Truffles


This week I've paired my favourite tea with white chocolate to make some chocolate truffles.Trust me, these chocolate truffles are highly addictive! The wonderful taste of the matcha tea, sweetened with white chocolate is heavenly.

Matcha is a wonderful ingredient and very versatile. Whether it's in iced tea, ice cream or even in a cake, it's wonderful. Not only does matcha taste and look amazing - that vivid green is captivating - it is also superbly healthy with numerous health benefits. By no means will this be the last post we see on match tea.

This recipe perfectly coincides with a World Earth Day event (22nd April) in a great community I'm part of on Google+. We are posting recipes based around the colour green specifically for it. If you have time follow this link to find more interesting recipes from around the world.

For more chocolate truffle flavours check out my selection so far - Chocolate Truffles.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                              (Makes 20-25)

Ganache
250g chopped white chocolate
125g cream whipping or double
10g unsalted butter
6g or about 1 tbsp matcha tea powder
20g icing sugar

Coating
125g melted white chocolate
Matcha tea powder (if you want tea matcha flavoured coating)

Method:
  • Boil the cream, the butter, the icing sugar and the sifted matcha powder.
  • Once the cream mixture has started to boil, pour over the chopped chocolate.
  • Whisk until smooth. Then leave in a fridge to cool and set.
  • Once set divide the ganache into sized balls. Rolling in your hands to create a round ball (cold hands are preferable so not to melt the ganache).
  • Melt the chocolate for coating. If using matcha add now. Add the matcha till you gain the colour you're looking for. (make sure to sift first) 
  • Dip the ganache balls into the chocolate and let the residual drip off before placing on parchment paper.
  • Either roll using a fork to create a spiky outside or leave to dry smooth. 
  • If drying smooth, add some garnish to the top when the coating is still wet to add flavour and extra appeal. Even an extra drizzle of chocolate in a contrasting colour can make them stand out.

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Monday, 17 April 2017

Chicken & Prawn Chow Mein


This recipe is amazingly fast and delicious. The past few posts have been a little dessert heavy so this recipe is perfect to break the pattern. Chow mein truly is a wonderful dish, I will most definitely be fielding more recipes for chow mein in the future. There are just so many variations and possibilities. I love this recipe as it will truly leave you wanting more. It's not heavy and stodgy. It's well balanced with crisp vegetables and juicy meats.

This recipe calls for a few ingredients you may struggle to get hold of. Don't worry if this is the case - they can all be substituted for similar. Button mushrooms for enoki, bean sprouts instead of baby corn... and if pac choi is not your favourite, you could swap for kale or spinach.

Recipe

Ingredients:                                                                                                  (makes 3-4 portions)

12 prawns
2 chicken breasts, sliced
120g dried noodles
5 pieces baby corn, sliced
1 pack enoki mushrooms, root removed (can be substituted)
2 heads pac choi, roughly chopped
1 small tin water chestnuts, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
4 tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
4 tbsp oyster sauce
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil

Method:

  • Cook the noodles according to the packet, making sure not to overcook. Drain and leave to one side after tossing in a drop of oil.
  • Heat a frying pan to a medium-high temperature. Add a tablespoon of sunflower oil then cook the chicken and the prawns.
  • Combine the oyster sauce, the soy sauce and the worchestershire sauce. Leave to one side.
  • Remove the chicken and the prawns from the pan once cooked, then leave to rest.
  • Heat another tablespoon of oil and fry off the vegetables. You can add a splash of water to help steam cook them if necessary. 
  • Add the noodles back to the hot pan and toss around the pan gently till they start to colour. Add the sauce followed by the chicken and prawns.
  • Drizzle with a little sesame seed oil then serve.
  • If you're looking for a little kick from your chow mein, you can use chilli oil instead of the sesame oil. Both work great. It depends on your taste as to which you choose.


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Friday, 14 April 2017

Milk & Dark Chocolate Truffles

For the next instalment of chocolate truffles, I've focused on dark chocolate and liqueur. I've left the recipe very broad to accommodate personal tastes. I would personally use Kalua (coffee flavoured). It has a deep taste that would work well with the chocolate. Alternatively, Malibu (coconut flavoured) is delicious. Don't be confined to just those - most flavours will work wonderfully. 

They add the perfect wow factor for any friends or family coming for dinner, a way to get the children into cooking or simply because you love chocolate. A crisp shell of chocolate encapsulating a smooth chocolate ganache is all anyone needs. Not to mention the slightly messy fun of making them.

If dark chocolate doesn't tickle your tastebuds check out these other flavours.

Recipe

Ingredients:

Ganache
250g chopped milk chocolate
185ml cream double or whipping
1 shot of flavoured liqueur (Optional)

Coating
125g melted dark chocolate

Method:
  • Boil the cream.
  • Once the cream has started to boil, pour over the chopped chocolate.
  • Whisk until smooth and add the liqueur if using. Then leave in a fridge to cool and set.
  • Once set divide the ganache into sized balls. Rolling in your hands to create a round ball. (Cold hands are preferable so not to melt the ganache.)
  • Melt the chocolate for coating. 
  • Dip the ganache balls into the chocolate, let the residual drip off before placing on parchment paper.
  • Either roll using a fork to create a spiky outside or leave to dry smooth. 
  • If drying smooth, add some garnish to the top to add flavour and extra appeal.

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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Ice Cream


With the temperature starting to rise, it's difficult to resist the lure of ice cream! It has always been a soft spot for me. This flavour is one of my (home made) favourites. Combining a lightly salted peanut taste with that of a good dark chocolate is sublime. You won't be able to stop at one scoop, I can assure you.

Like most ice creams, this is reasonably straight forward. I even made this without an ice cream machine so there really are no excuses. I like to enjoy mine with a good helping of crushed toasted peanuts, a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a sprinkle of chocolate.

Recipe

Ingredients:

355g milk
355g double cream
4 egg yolks
170g sugar
85g smooth peanut butter
150g strong plain chocolate
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Pinch of salt

Method:
  • Mix the cocoa powder with some of the milk to form a paste. Bring the rest of the milk and the chocolate to the boil in a large pan.
  • Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together till pale in a large mixing bowl. 
  • Add the peanut butter, the salt and cocoa powder to the almost boiling milk. 
  • Once the milk mix is brought to the boil, pour into large mixing bowl whisking to incorporate the pale eggs. 
  • Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook out. 
  • Constantly stir with a heatproof spatula until the base thickens (it should coat the back of a spoon) or reaches 84 degrees.
  • Pour in the double cream the stop the cooking then pour into a container to chill.
  • Once the ice cream base is chilled pour into an ice cream machine and follow the machine's instructions.
  • Alternatively, pour the chilled mixture into a container and place in the freezer. Every 15 minutes stir the ice cream well until thick and almost set.
  • Leave in the freezer, covered for 2-3 hours to fully set before serving.
  • Serve with chopped peanuts, chocolate sauce and chocolate bits. You could even add some fruit if you dare.

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Friday, 7 April 2017

Chocolate Mousse Filled Eggs


With Easter just around the corner, it's the perfect time to plan your Easter eggs. However, Easter most definitely doesn't have to be a time for just children. This one is for you! This recipe may take a little more time but you and anyone you may share it with will appreciate it.

Depending on how you would like the shells to look, depends on what chocolate you need to use. I used dark chocolate and white chocolate for mine so I'd get that beautiful marbled effect. Just using milk chocolate works well too as shown in the pictures. For my moulds, I used kinder egg packaging. There are other options, of course - silicon and plastic moulds being the best choice.

With the shell encapsulating this airy and rich chocolate mousse they are more than just an egg. Using coffee in the mousse helps add extra depth to the mousse, leaving you with a fuller flavour. This recipe also calls for dark chocolate, don't be tempted to swap out for milk. The chocolate with the other ingredients turn to a balanced mousse with great levels of sweetness, milk chocolate would upset the balance. Plus it doesn't have a harsh dark flavour anyway.

These certainly aren't just for Easter. For more chocolate recipes and ideas have a look here.

Recipe                                                                                                                (Makes 10 eggs)

Ingredients:

Chocolate shells
200g chocolate

Chocolate mousse
50ml black coffee
185g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
135g melted dark chocolate
235ml double cream

Method:
  • Start by making the shells. I used the packaging Kinder eggs come in, they're the perfect shape, reusable and (kind of) free. Just make sure they are squeaky clean and dry before starting.
  • Melt 150g of your chocolate of choice. Once melted stir in the remaining 50g, letting the natural heat melt the chocolate.
  • Let the chocolate start to cool, you're looking for it to start to lose its shine and begin to thicken.
  • Spoon the chocolate into each mould till they're half full. Swill the mould around to cover all the sides. Leave it to stand before repeating twice more. 
  • Hold the mould upside down over a container and let the excess drip out. Scrape the residual chocolate off the flat side before leaving face down on greaseproof paper in the fridge to set. Repeat with all moulds.
  • After 15-20 minutes gently remove from the mould and keep in the fridge.
  • Now for the mousse. Start by whipping the cream till stiff peaks, then store in the fridge.
  • Whisk the egg yolks till they become light and pale. 
  • Boil the coffee and the sugar together. As soon as it boils, slowly add to the egg yolks. Whisk constantly. 
  • Continue to whisk them till they are thick and cold.
  • Add the melted chocolate to the bowl, stirring with the whisk.
  • Lastly, fold in the whipped cream. 
  • Spoon or pour the mousse into the chocolate egg shells and leave in the fridge to set.
  • Once set, heat the rim of one shell very lightly and press against another to form the egg shape. 
  • Wait a few minutes for the chocolate to set before they're ready.
  • These can easily be enjoyed as they are or as part of a more elaborate dessert.




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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Chicken Satay Skewers


If like me, you've had a busy weekend, these chicken satay skewers are perfect. You can prepare them the day before so that when you come home all you need to do is a little cooking. Letting these marinade only helps the flavour. It's not essential. There's nothing wrong with just making them and eating them on the same day.

After spending a whole day hiking trails, constantly avoiding humongous spiders webs and riding from city to city, you can be quite weary. Luckily, having a delicious dinner almost ready at home is a welcomed sight. I was sat tucking into these skewers with some steamed rice just 15 minutes after getting home.

Recipe                                                                                                                 (Makes 6-7 skewers)

Ingredients:

125g smooth peanut butter
100g coconut milk
15g soy sauce
1/2 small red chilli
2cm piece fresh ginger
1 small stick lemongrass
1/4 small bunch fresh coriander
3 chicken breasts

Method:
  • Finely chop the chilli and the ginger. Bruise and chop the lemongrass and pick the coriander leaves from the stalk.
  • Gently saute the chilli, the ginger and coriander stalks in a saucepan. (Reserve the leaves for later.) Add the lemongrass.
  • After 1 minute, add the coconut milk. Simmer the coconut and continue to cook on a very low heat for 5-10 minutes. (You're looking to infuse the coconut milk, not reduce it.)
  • Remove from the heat and leave to cool. 
  • Once cool, pass through a fine strainer. Add the infusion to the peanut butter and the soy sauce. Mix thoroughly and add the chopped coriander leaves.
  • Cut the chicken breasts into 2-3cm cubes. 
  • Pour 1/2 of the satay sauce once the diced chicken and coat fully.
  • Pierce the coated chicken onto skewers. Place skewers on a tray/ container and cover. Leave in a fridge to marinade. They can be prepared the day before for better flavour. 
  • Either cook skewers in a non-stick pan with a little oil or under the grill. 
  • Once cooked, serve with steamed rice and helpings of the remaining sauce, spread over or as a dip.

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