Thursday, 31 December 2009

Chinese Meat and Carrot Soup

I remember drinking this soup all the time growing up, it was the most satisfying and simple chinese soup recipe. By boiling and simmering meat, bones and root vegetables in water and chicken broth for several hours, you create a clear and deliciously flavorful soup that is hearty and soothing in the cold. I prefer using large bones of marrow, which are meatier and richer. Here I used leftover lamb shank bones, and you can do the same with veal and/or beef shanks. Watch the vegetables, you don't want to overcook them.

1 lb meat bones, such as beef or lamb shank
1 lb meat, such as oxtail or beef shanks
3 cups chicken or meat broth
5 small potatoes, peeled and sliced in half
2 -3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into diagonals
2 celery sticks, sliced diagonally
salt and pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add meat and bones, blanch and throw out water, draining meat and bones.
Add 3 cups of water and and broth to a pot, and bring to a boil. Then add meat and cook on medium-high heat, slightly covered, for 2.5-3 hours or until soft.
40 minutes before the soup is finished, add the potatoes. 15 minutes later, add carrots and celery.
Once vegetables and meats are soft, remove bones and oil on surface, taste and season.

Steamed Soy Ginger Seabass

This is a simple and tasty Chinese recipe for steamed fish. Dark soy sauce is used as it is less salty and enriches dishes with both its deep colour and flavour.
1 piece of seabass with skin (600g)
3 pieces of spring onion, thinly sliced
60g ginger, sliced julienne strips
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place seabass in dish and sprinkle half of ginger and spring onions over top.
Then steam seabass for about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry rest of ginger strips till brown and crunchy. Sprinkle on top of steamed seabass and drizzle soy sauce over it. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Hazelnut Praline Crunch Cake

I made this last night for my uncle to redeem myself after I cooked a disastrous dinner a few nights ago for him and my aunt. I halved the recipe, but had to settle with a large-size tube pan to make the génoise (hence why the cake is flatter and larger). I couldn't find corn syrup at any of the supermarkets either, and thus made praline to sprinkle on top instead. Nevertheless, the results were great. The génoise was light, fluffy and not too sweet, and I really enjoyed the hazelnuts. It felt like eating delicious caramel brittle. The trick is to beat the egg whites till they just retain stiff peaks, and to fold it into the yolk mixture carefully without over mixing. It is okay if it still retains white streaks, just fold it till just incorporated.

8 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt
210g caster sugar
110g caster sugar
8 egg yolks
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest
160g APFlour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

2. Combine yolks with 210g sugar and beat till creamy.

3. Add dry ingredients and water, alternating between the two.

4. Add vanilla and zest.

5. In another bowl, whip whites till stiff, then add sugar a little at a time.

6. Fold whites into yolk mixture, pour into greased 10 inch (large) tube pan and bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove and cool before removing from tube pan.


300g whipping cream

1. Whip cream until stiff, then refrigerate to chill.

Hazlenut Praline:

165g sugar
1/4 cup water
75g hazelnuts, toasted peeled and chopped roughly

1. Over low heat, stir water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Once it's dissolved, turn up to high heat and boil mixture till it browns. DO NOT STIR once you turn up the heat and begin to boil it. Once it turns amber brown (it takes about 10-15 minutes or longer so just be patient and watch it carefully, refraining from stirring it while it's boiling) mix in hazelnuts, remove from heat and beat till creamy.

2. Immediately pour onto silpat or greased wax paper, then allow to cool and harden before chopping it roughly.
3. To assemble, slice génoise horizontally into three sections. Spread whipping cream on first layer, sprinkle hazelnuts, then cover with second layer. Repeat steps, then top off with final layer. Spread cream all over top and sides of genoise, then refrigerate, preferably over night. Before serving, sprinkle remaining praline over top and sides of cake.
Serves 10-12

Persimmon, Pomegranate and Avocado Salad

I couldn't find pomegranates at the supermarket, so I replaced them with avocados. Persimmons are a wonderful fruit: sweet, soft when ripe. They pair well with the pomegranate seeds, which I normally include when I make this salad. The image doesn't look that appetizing, but trust me: it is both tasty and very refreshing, especially when the fruits are ripe.

3 ripe medium persimmons
2 ripe avocados
1 box of arugula
1/2 pomegranate
1 lime

1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
fresh pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey

For vinaigrette, stir to dissolve vinegar, salt, pepper and honey. Slowly drizzle oil and taste/correct salt and acid as needed.
Cut the tops from and peel the persimmons, then slice into thin wedges.

Wash and dry arugula. Hold, cut side down overl a bowl 1/2 of the pomegranate. Pound on the back of the fruit with a large spoon and dislodge the seeds. Pick out and discard the white pith that may have fallen from the seed. Sprinkle the seeds over the persimmon wedges.

Slice the avocados and remove the seed. Scoop them out whole and slice thinly. Squeeze lime juice over them to stop oxidation/discolouration.

To assemble, toss arugula with persimmons, avocado and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and serve.

Perfectly Crisp Roasted Vegetables

Jamie Oliver is right: duck fat makes all the difference. I used the leftover duck fat from the Ducketta and sauteed and roasted vegetables that had been pre-boiled. For some spice, I threw in rosemary, lemon zest, paprika and dried chili. The result was vegetables that were perfectly balance between a crunchy, crispy outside and a soft fluffy inside.

500g potatoes
500g sweet potatoes
6 carrots
6 parsnips
2 tablespoons duck fat or oil
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 head of garlic, cloves separated
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons paprika
3 chilies, chopped finely (or 2 tablespoons dry chili flakes)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200c/400F.
Put the potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes in a pot of salted boiling water and cook for 15 minutes, till partially soft. 10 minutes into boiling the vegetables, add parsnips (they take less time to cook) and cook for another 5 minutes before draining the vegetables.

Fluff the potatoes in the colander- this is important in order for it to have lovely crisp edges.
In a rectangular baking pan, heat oil or duck fat on a stove till hot. Add whole garlic cloves and rosemary, cooking for 5 minutes. Add the paprika, salt and pepper, then add vegetables and toss. Finally add the zest, give it one last toss and place in the oven.

Bake vegetables for an hour until roasted golden brown and crisp. Serve on it's own or with garlic aioli.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Spicy Crab Spaghettini

I made this after watching Nigella Lawson last night on the Asian Food Network. I added pine nuts to it for that extra crunch. Be sure your fish monger does a good job of picking out all the shells in the crab meat. Freshness is key.

1 scant tablespoon Maldon salt
2 cloves of garlic
4-5 large red chillies
1.25kg undressed crab, to give you 200g white meat and 100g brown meat
125ml extra virgin olive oil
juice and zest of 1 1/2 lemons
500g linguine
50g pine nuts, lightly toasted
handful fresh parsley, chopped
handful watercress leaves, roughly torn
Parmigiano Reggiano for serving
In a large pestle and mortar pulverise the peeled garlic cloves with the salt, so that it makes a smooth paste. Then add the chopped and seeded chilli and crush again until you have a gloriously red-tinged mixture.
Tip in the crab meat, breaking it up gently with a fork, and pour in the oil. Zest the lemon into the mortar and then add the juice. Using a fork, beat well to mix, and then you are ready to cook your pasta. Boil a pot of water and cook pasta till al dente.
Drain the pasta and tip into a warmed serving bowl. Immediately pour over the crab sauce and toss the pasta about in it, then throw in the parsley, watercress and pine nuts and toss again. Serve with grated parmesan.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Mango Bread

What I love about this recipe, aside from the fact that it contains mangoes (and mangoes are abundant in the Philippines, not to mention the world's best) is a) how simple it is, b) how the crust comes out caramelized and crisp, and c) how the recipe doesn't contain any butter. So long as your mangoes are ripe, your bread is going to be golden.

3 large eggs
3/4 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower oil
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour1 cup sugar1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2-3 cups diced mango (from 2 large peeled and pitted mangoes)
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, for topping

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Put the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other. (This extra insulation will keep the bottom of the bread from over-baking).

Whisk the eggs and oil together.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, switch to a sturdy rubber spatula or wooden spoon and mix until blended—the batter will be very thick (really more like a dough than a batter) and not easily mixed, but persevere, it will soon come together.

Cut mangoes into cubes and carefully fold into batter until it is evenly spread out. In my opinion, you can't have enough mangoes in the batter. The more, the merrier!

Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula, then sprinkle tablespoon of granulated sugar on top.

Bake the bread for 1 1/2 hours, or until it is golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. (If the bread looks as if it’s getting too brown as it bakes, cover it loosely with a foil tent). Transfer the pan to a rack and cool 5 minutes before running a knife around the sides of the pan and unmolding. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Serving: As good as this bread is freshly baked, I think it’s even better the next day. Leaving it overnight wrapped in plastic seals and intensifies the flavors. Course, the bread can also be eaten fresh, and tastes great for afternoon tea with coffee/tea.


I used the Minimalist's Ducketta recipe and made a simple raspberry sauce to accompany it. Unfortunately I could not find fennel seeds at Santi's or Rustan's supermarket, so I had to settle with anise seeds (not the same, don't use it). I also added basil to my stuffing, which was fine (didn't make or break it though). The recipe turned out well, except that some parts were slightly overcooked; I think on account of me leaving the duck in its oil after removing it from the oven, which continued to cook the breasts. Do not overcook the meat; overcooked duck breast tastes tough and rubbery.

2 boneless duck breast halves
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 cup fresh raspberries (or frozen)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and black pepper to taste
In a bowl, mix together the garlic, fennel seeds, rosemary, Parmesan and olive oil until paste-like.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Use a sharp knife to slice into each duck breast half at thickest part to create a pocket the entire length of breast, being sure not to poke through the other end.
Use your fingers to push herb mixture into each duck breast, filling pocket as much as possible. Sprinkle breasts with salt and pepper.
Heat heavy, large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add duck breasts skin side down and cook until nicely browned, about 10 minutes.
Turn meat and transfer skill into oven; roast 10 to 15 minutes for medium-rare. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into meat should read about 125 degrees.)
After removing duck from pan, pour out fat and add the vinegar to the skillet and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add two-thirds cup of the raspberries and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the cream, remaining salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1 minute.

Remove duck to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve on the bias into 1/2-inch pieces; serve with raspberry sauce drizzled over duck.
Yield: 4 servings