Friday 25 August 2017

Fresh Fruit Tartlets

With an abundance of seasonal fruits everywhere at the moment, these fresh fruit tartlets let you enjoy the ones you love the most. Don't be confined to sticking to a couple of fruits - be bold try a couple of new ones if there's the opportunity. These tartlets give you complete free reign. Taiwanese fruit markets have been stocking some wonderful selections recently. Why not head to your local fruit market to see what's best near you?

The sweet crisp pastry gives you the perfect case for these tartlets. If you're pushed for time, or don't want the extra washing up and baking, store bought ones will do just fine. Filled with a light citrus pastry cream, thanks to the addition of some whipped cream, makes these perfect for eating at any time of the day. But the fresh fruits are the real highlight. Choose a variety... peach for a clean floral taste and grapes for a wonderful pop of flavour and a little tartness. Orange too, why just use the zest? Lastly, some dragon fruit. It's visually wonderful and leaves another clean fresh flavour. I did find the red dragon fruit had more going on the flavour department.

Try out these tartlets for a late summer treat. They're great with plums, cherries, you name it. Sometimes a big tart is just too much handle. These little ones are just right.


Ingredients:                                                                                                                (Makes 7-8 tartlets)

200g plain flour
65g caster sugar
80g cold butter
1 egg

Citrus pastry cream
185ml milk
1/2 lemon zested
1/2 orange zested
2 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
25g cornflour
150ml double cream

Fruit to top
1/4 Red dragon fruit
1/4 White dragon fruit
Handful of green grapes
1 peach
1 orange segmented
(Or any fruit of your choosing)

  • For the pastry, crumb together the flour, the sugar and the butter. Once it resembles breadcrumbs, add the egg. Combine until you form a smooth ball of pastry. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Whilst the pastry is resting start on the filling. Bring the milk to the boil with the lemon and orange zest. 
  • Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together in a mixing bowl. When light, add the cornflour to the egg yolks.  
  • Pour the boiling milk over the eggs whilst whisking. Return to the pan and cook whilst whisking on a medium heat. You'll notice lumps will form at the start, persevere, keep whisking and cooking. Soon you will be left with a smooth, lump free pastry cream. 
  • Spoon into a container, top with cling and leave to cool before refrigerating.
  • Roll the pastry out until it's around 3mm thick on a floured surface. Cut into manageable sizes for you tartlet cases. My tartlet cases were 6cm x 10cm. 
  • Press into the case, trim the edges of overhanging pastry off and return to fridge to firm up for 10-15 minutes.  
  • Fill with baking beans or rice lined with oven proof cling film.
  • Bake in the oven at 180°C for 12 minutes. Remove the baking beans/ rice and bake for a further 3-5 minutes.
  • Leave to cool before removing from the tins. 
  • Whisk the cream until firm peaks. Give the pastry cream a little beat to loosen it up before folding in the cream. Spoon into a piping bag if using.
  • Pipe the filling into the tart case and decorate with all your chosen fresh fruit.


Tuesday 22 August 2017

Crispy Roasted Five Spice Pork Belly

From the crackling to the moist meat and all that lovely fattiness in between, roast pork belly can be appreciated by all.

It'd most definitely been way too long since I'd had roast pork belly. To help change up a standard roast, a delicious rub of Chinese five spice was called for. Add a wonderful dipping sauce with the right amount of bite to cut through the natural fat in the pork belly, it was hands-down a winner.

When the pork is near finishing and you're waiting for the last pieces of cracking to... crackle? Be sure to keep an eye on it. The last thing you want is to momentarily forget and for it all to go belly up and burn.

This pork will also work great for sharing. Don't be surprised to see everyone drifting over for more than just one piece.


Ingredients:                                                                                                                            (Serves 3-4)

Pork belly
500-750g pork belly, skin on
1 1/2 tbsp 5 spice
1-2 tbsp Sunflower oil
Table salt
Coarse sea salt
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Dipping sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pureed
6 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp chilli sauce
3 tbsp clear honey
1 tsp five spice
2 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

  • On the meat side of the pork belly, rub the five spice all over before turning over.
  • Deep score the skin on the pork belly, rub with fine salt (1 tablespoon should do it), then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the pork belly from the fridge and dab with kitchen roll to absorb the water now on the skin. Rub with the coarse sea salt. Again a tablespoon should do it.
  • Place into a tin foil-lined tray and into a preheated oven at 180°C on the middle shelf. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. 
  • Remove from the oven and now dab or brush the rice wine vinegar over the skin side. Return to the oven, now at 220°C for 15-20 minutes on the top shelf.
  • Remove from the oven an brush or dab with 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Only use what required to coat the pork belly, no extra.
  • Return to the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until you have the perfect crispy crackling on top. 
  • Once crisped to perfection, leave to rest on a wire rack over the tray.
  • For the dipping sauce, whisk together all the ingredients. Taste to check if you'd like more heat - if so add the required amount of chilli. 
  • Once rested, cut the pork belly into bite sized pieces and serve. I enjoyed mine with the dipping sauce and some honey roasted carrots with garlic.


Saturday 19 August 2017

Chocolate & Coconut Truffles

After binge watching the Pirates of the Caribbean, it had me thinking about bounties. Naturally, this led to me creating these Bounty inspired chocolate truffles.

I don't think anyone can openly say Bounties are their favourite chocolate bar, at least anyone I know. Either way, there's always someone that will take a hoard of Bounties of your hands from a box of Celebrations. I'm that person. It's extra chocolate and a sweet treat - how could you resist?!

Taking inspiration from this chocolate bar, these truffles soon appeared. With a white chocolate and coconut ganache, encased in a crisp dark chocolate shell, they are divine. Quite possibly more so than the chocolate bar itself. From the first crunch to the soft, creamy ganache, with all the coconut you could ever want in truffle you will be left longing for relaxing time in the Caribbean.

For more chocolate truffle recipes, be sure to check these out here.


Ingredients:                                                                                                          (Makes 35-40 truffles)

250g coconut cream/ milk
80g desiccated/ powdered coconut
250g white chocolate, chopped
10g butter

125g dark chocolate
10-20g desiccated coconut

  • Bring the coconut cream to the heat along with the desiccated coconut. 
  • Once the coconut cream has heated up, add the chopped chocolate and butter.
  • Stir or whisk until all the chocolates melted. 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.) Leave in the fridge once again before continuing. 
  • 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 the remaining desiccated coconut to garnish.


Tuesday 1 August 2017

Prawn & Corn Dumplings

I took advantage of the free time this weekend due to a possible typhoon hitting the area and unpleasant weather to make some prawn and corn dumplings and play about with shapes.

Making your own dumplings at home is very straight forward. Whether you make your own skins or head to the shop for some, they are something the whole family can do. When it comes to the shapes you can be as creative as you please. With there being almost endless possibilities, just like pasta, feel free to experiment. If you do have open face ones, steam them instead of boiling.

Corn and prawn is a lovely combination and depending on your location, corn may be in season right now. I've gone for baby corn, however, regular corn would also work just as well. These dumplings have a great crunch from the corn with the meatiness of the prawns holding everything together amongst all these fresh flavours.

For another dumpling recipe to try out, these gyozas (pan stickers) are a superb dinner or lunch.


Ingredients:                                                                                      (Makes approx. 18 size dependent)

Dumpling skins
150g strong bread flour
Pinch of salt
100ml boiling water

200g baby prawns
2 garlic cloves, pureed or finely chopped
1 whole medium sized fresh chilli, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh pureed/ finely grated ginger
1/4 bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped
4 large baby corns, finely chopped
4 large Chinese leaves of your choice, chopped small

  • Start by making the dumpling skins. If using store bought, head straight to the filling.
  • 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. Chop the prawns until they are around 5mm dice. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger and coriander. Give it a good mix before seasoning with salt and pepper. 
  • Add the chopped baby corn and Chinese leaf. Leave in the fridge until the skins are ready. 
  • Roll the dough into a cylinder and cut 18 even sized pieces. Roll the individual dough pieces on a floured surface until a thin as you can possibly get it. Normally around 10cm diameter. 
  • Place a tablespoon of filling into the centre of the skin. Wipe a little cold water all around the edge of the skin and shape into the dumpling shape of choice. 
  • Repeat for all skins. Once made keep in the refrigerator or cook straight away. 
  • Cook in either salted boiling water, stock or even the soup you may be serving with. Remember these can also be steamed. 
  • Cook for around 5-6 minutes. Remove from the water or cooking liqueur if not being served as a soup and serve with a dipping sauce of your choice. I recommend a good sweet chilli sauce or a blend of soy sauce, little rice wine vinegar and some chilli oil. 

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