Sunday, 4 January 2015

Low carb courgette noodle ginger pow




From a buttery, guilt ridden deeelish dish last week to a simple, humble and healthy one today. Oh I just love the ridiculous expectations I set myself each year. Which now lends itself to eating out less (sob sob) to save for a wedding, and training my body not to be so dependent on rice and noodles (no one wants a tubby bride...sob sob). To be able to do a diet and save money without giving in to expensive diet plans, fancy juice cleanse fads and lowcalorie this and that is an arse. All you need is a bit of forward planning, a Pinterest board for good healthy recipes to inspire you and you're on your way. 
Noodles are my life line. A week doesn't go by without me eating them and the variety of different ones from around Asian cuisines is limitless. Udon, soba, ramen, egg noodle, prawn shell noodles...the scene in Charlie and the Chocolate factory where Willy Wonka opens the gates to a field of sweets and a chocolate waterfall doesn't do it for me. Replace the chocolate waterfall with a 16 hour ramen broth and the grass as noodles of every variety... Now that's the dream. 
But alas, low carbs means finding a substitute and by golly does this one fill the gap. I was given a fancy shredder type veggie peeler, which you normally use for spring onions so it made making courgette/zucchini noodles a simple task. If you don't have this, then a simple peeler will do (make ribbons and cut them to smaller pieces) or even a box grater works also. None of this spiralizer malarkey, but take the care in making these look like noodles and you might even trick yourself into believing it. 

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Singapore squids in: Cereal butter style



Cereal butter squid madness

It's been ages since a post! As much as I hate starting the post with an apology...it is because I've been away in Hong Kong fattening myself up and eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And post dinner. And post dinner dinner snacks. And all the goddamn day street hawker snacks. Actually, I think the whole time I was there, I was never starving...but a constant 'I could eat' mentality. Half way up a mountain? 'I could eat'. Winning at the night time horse races at Happy Valley? 'I could eat'. 
There were a million and one dishes I wanted to take back to London and recreate. It's definitely my place of inspiration and I can't wait to go back. Another reason why I've been so rubbish lately is because I had some wonderful news in the form of a deserted beach on an island, my boyfriend, sunset and a proposal. (complete with a full stomach). I'm absolutely over the moon and couldn't be happier. These are the first non food related pics, but I just wanted to share them with you all.
The spectacular and romantic Turtle Bay in Lamma Island

Lamma Island sunset

Great stuff, now that's out the way let's get to the food. Because, let's face it, we could all eat. We went to Singapore for a few days to see the sights and we met up with some friends. We were treated to a brilliant local eatery (the best places in Asia are anything with pictures of the food, plastic chairs, maximum three walls by a busy road, and beer girls making they're rounds). We ordered another traditional dish called cereal prawn. Cereal?! Like cornflake cereal with prawns? OH YES. This was glorious - a dish which is buttery, fragrant, crunchy and sweet all at the same time. It is made from a cereal called Nestum, which is a light wheat cereal brand Malaysians and Singaporeans adore. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any in the UK, and so I've used oats instead. Slightly heavier than Nestum, I switched a few ingredients to make a new variation to better suit this instead.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Little Lo beef short rib pot sticker dumperring

T minus 4 days till the food feast and gorge of our Hong Kong and Singapore trip. The boyfriend has never been, and it's a funny mix of wanting to just see family and do local things as well as do the tourist attractions I've not done in years. But one thing is for certain, the food. I've mapped out all the places I am dying to try. Following a load of Instagrammers from Hong Kong is agony - seeing a beautiful bowl of noodles and then realising you're thousands of miles away till you could taste it...painful. But, a google map of all the best looking local cafés, dim sum, asian fusion is my main goal to work around as many as possible in two weeks. If anyone had any more places to add, feel free to comment below! 

My last little post before I head to HK is in anticipation of a great little place that's popular in Central called Little Bao. Worth the wait and so hard to choose which bao to chow down on. But, the appetisers were so inventive on Asian fusion and everything I love cooking having a mix of British and Chinese culture in my upbringing. 
They do these great short rib beef dumplings. I definitely can't contend with theirs, but I adore short ribs - and the cut works so well for asian flavours, it's a main element in a lot of my supper clubs. 
It's a meat which isn't sold widely enough in supermarkets, but you should always go to the butcher for this sort if thing, as you'll get a beautiful marbling of fat and meat to slow cook to beefy heaven. I get mine from Turner and George, who deliver and you can order from online. It's worth the 4am-7am pre work order time slot I promise. 

Last week I had to defrost the freezer as a new one was being delivered. Playing "eat the fridge and freezer" contents all week led to some interesting combinations. (Onion bhaji and fish cakes?!).  I realised that I have FOUR different types of dumplings in the freezer, and it was almost an intervention in itself of my dumpling/potsticker obsession. So, as a form of therapy...I cooked one last batch ahead of the exciting trip to Hong Kong. This is actually two recipes, the first is beautiful as it stands.  

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Catch a matcha eclair

As it gets colder, my butter and carb intake gets bigger. It's a direct and unfortunate relationship, and very hard when you're trying to save money for a food fest trip to HK and media-ville lends itself well to Christmas lunches and drink in the next few months. It's got so bad, the little paunch has got a name. As I write this, I've just stuffed a cupcake down me, and so my guilt and sugar high drives me to carry on typing in vain. Sunday blues with an icy wind just mean more baking and more slow cooking. So as the short ribs slowly braise in the cooker, I decided to make a little choux classic. My idiotic plan to make these mini just meant I ate more of the suckers - a perfect 2 bites of sugar, cream and chocolate. The matcha powder is a simple mellow hum to the very sweet white choc (I used Green and Blacks) and a really good pop of colour to lure you in. Fancy sugar work on the top is completely unnecessary, but a good way to waste time if you're impatiently waiting for the pastry to cool and the chocolate to set. Eclairs are one last blast of summer - they're lighty and pretty to eat - so go make a batch now. I was testing out some recipes for a moustache Movember bake sale I'm doing at work and thought these would be an ingenious way to get some 'tache-clairs. Follow me on Twitter to see if I can actually pull these off!
The ones below can also be made as profiteroles. Now if only it were able to be so versatile as to include it as one of my five a day.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Fujian seafood fried rice

A luxury twist on comfort food. Without being a total stereotype, I used to live off fried rice. It honestly was my bread and butter, especially whenever I went over to Grandma's house. No 'ma-ma chow fan' (Grandma's fried rice...boy was it a special fried rice) = unhappy, spoilt child. Especially if my Grandma would make my brother's favourite tomato beef. Yes yes, he's the prodigal son...but Grandma, I would still like your fried rice. We would dollop a load of ketchup in the rice (blasphemous) and although it looked odd, it was glorious. Little gems of vegetables, char siu pork and prawns - every little grain cooked to perfection and with the perfect aroma of ginger, spring onion and garlic wafting through from her tiny alley kitchen. If I had one last dish with my Grandma, it would be this one for sure. Will definitely put a post in for her exact recipe once I get it from her, but in the meantime, this is a brilliant (and slightly more exotic) version of fried rice.

The first time I had this was in a restaurant in London. I think it was one of those family clan gatherings and my Uncle shouted out for some Fookin rice. Ahem, what's that Uncle? No need to swear...but it's memorable Chinese name (Fukien..pronounced fookin...originally from Fujian province) all came handy when I wanted to recreate my version at home. The base is a simple egg fried rice, however it has a 'wet' gravy sort of seafood topping made from prawns, scallops and vegetables. No need for my tommy K to dollop in then I suppose. Substitue whatever veggies you want from there - and if you don't have dried scallops patiently waiting in the freezer for these kinds of moments...no worries - you can add fresh scallops or just increase your prawn quantities. There are so many variations of this dish I found, but for me I just worked with what I had available lurking in the cupboards and the Co-op round the corner. A complete meal in one, no need for any other dishes to accompany it if you don't want to. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Crispy chilli pork 'takeaway'

Shorter daylight hours coupled with my new addiction to Orange is the New Black (yes, I'm so late to the game) meant I rushed this post to catch the last bit of sunlight. So much so, that I was up on the roof shooting this just before sundown - so apologies for a rather shoddy photo as it doesnt do this meal justice. This is one of my favourite meals to do - I just wish I knew if this dish had a name. Pork fillet is an underused cut, and I'm not really sure why - it's so easy to use and pretty cheap too. Lean and quick to cook, this was a great excuse to whip up at 5:30 with the sunlight quickly fading. It's a go to dish for me when I've got friends over - a balance of sweet and salt with a hum of chilli lightly tingling your lips. It's slightly reminiscent to a sweet and sour pork shoddy takeaway, but way way better and less sticky and sweet. Cornflour seems to be the chinese cook's best friend - its great to use as a coating for a crispy finish but also a marinade and helps keep meat protected when frying at a high heat. Flexible enough that it's easy to make for one, and just as easy to make for a large group you can change the quantities how you wish. Keep this to flash frying, as its technically cooked twice over - the quicker and hotter your wok, the crispier you can keep the pork for the best texture.

As much as I love takeaways, Chinese takeaways seems to be quite low on my list - it's so hard to find a good one which doesn't obliterate any traditional cooking methods or flavours (lest we not forget the copious amounts of MSG a lot of places use). Just as Americans have admitted to having 'American Chinese' take out as a category of its own, the British are see Chinese takeaways as a bit of a guilty pleasure gorge, with a limited range of what constitutes as good takeaway here. Don't get me wrong, there are the few which go against this (I personally love the Good earth and Dragon palace in earls court), but when I was in my local Sainsbury's I saw a hideous jar of 'Chinese shop chip sauce' which made me feel more than queasy to say the least. This recipe is super quick and super tasty. Time to get your wok on.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Chilli fish balls and dirty noodle heaven: wok to table in my new Tefal range

Gruelling work at the gym and feeble attempts to do a press up call for reward. Probably, no, definitely not the most logical choice in terms of health but it's hard gym sessions like I've had this week which warrant a little comfort food. (Come the colder weather I'll be inserting this as the latest excuse.)
I'm currently preparing for a supper club next week - which always means a little trip to Queensway or Chinatown (in this case both) to get the best ingredients. And as much as I want to resist, the first fridge always seems to have an array of fishballs. It comes before the vegetable section, so I can only assume it's a staple that I must buy...even when it's not on the menu for next week. Another justification I think is if there is an emoji available, then it must be eaten on a regular meal. I recently read of one fanatic who ate for a week only emoji food icons...dedication. 
My recent trip to Hong Kong definitely did not reach the dumpling and fishball quota, much to my dismay. The street hawkers have the best ones, with the lure of the spicy curry sauce smells that they're slathered in. Dirty and wicked in the best way. 
If you've never had these little bouncy balls of wonder, you really need to change that situation immediately and order some. Be it fried, chopped up, boiled or barbecued - you just have to get them into the belly as soon as possible. 
 
This post is the inauguration of my new Tefal ingenio range I've been kindly given from Tefal. A perfect little kitchen set, this stacks a wok, sauté pan, two saucepans and two frying pans neatly in the space of a cluttered cupboard. How? Detachable handles, which make it easy to pop into the dishwasher, from hob to oven and even then to the table. Having recently fallen amateur cooking idiot recently by heating a ceramic oven dish on the hob (and consequently leading to the dish smashing across the kitchen alongside scraps of Moroccan lamb making an escape for the door), I'm definitely a big fan of hob to oven cookware, which is definitely tricky to come by when you have an electric (and temperamental) hob. 
Perfect for stir frying, the pan heated up in no time, a common gripe with electric hobs and asian cooking which needs a hot pan quick. 
Had I not eaten the wok full of noodles in five seconds flat, the range also has Tupperware lids for the pans- so another handy quick win for leftovers. 
A nifty way to keep your cupboards uncluttered, I would highly recommend this set if you need some new cookware thrills.