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Spicy paneer wontons in a gentle spinach soup

23 Jan

spicy paneer wontons in a gentle spinach soup

I am pretty sure that I wasn’t well acquainted with paneer when I was a child, as my earliest memories of it must be from my pre- teens. I recall that one of my dad’s friends had landed a business deal delivering this marvellous new product that was increasingly popular, so popular in fact that it was flying off the shelves. It may have had something to do with the popularised chilli paneer dish? Packaged paneer ready in the fridge. I was new and it was exciting.

So he handed my dad some freebies and naturally I ensured that they landed in my lap and thus started an era of paneer experimentation. It had fast become the favourite food of every other Asian person in my network. Paneer is an unsalted, full fat Indian cheese that may be crumbly when fresh and spongy or even chewy when pressed and ready-made for sale. I think that a lot of tired taste buds weere wakened when paneer came into fashion with is almighty, loud and punchy flavours. Plenty spice, liberal use of garlic and ginger, copious soy sauce and ketchup made for lively and lasting tastes.

I love that paneer is a wonderful sponge for juices and flavours; it is clean and will mop up full flavours generously.  I experimented many times over the years, scrambled paneer in a bhurji is one of my favourites and this has become the stuffing for my wontons today.  I love thick and creamy shahi paneer dishes, kofta (balls with veg and simmered in thick gravy), I love paneer in cashew nut gravy and who can deny the simple, clean and guilty pleasure of ras malai?

A few people wrote to me this week asking about palak paneer (curry of paneer cubes simmered in smooth spinach) and it got me thinking…so I made this and I am very excited about. It’s pretty special. The spinach soup is light and easy, but incredibly addictive and soothing. Not a bad thing to find spinach addictive! The paneer is punch and full, has bite and parcelled into slippery smooth wontons. Can it get any better?

As a tip, make sure the paneer is pretty warm all the way through, cold paneer is chewy but when warm, this recipe really comes to life and it’ll be juicy and tender. Perfect.

Ingredients to serve 4 (makes 16 wontons)

For the wontons;

150g paneer, grated

¼ tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. mixed cumin and coriander powder

¼ tsp. turmeric

¾ tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. tomato puree

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or minced

1-2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 tbsp. sesame oil

½ tbsp. soy sauce

16 wonton wrappers

Salt to taste

½ tsp. chilli powder

For the soup

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

200g finely chopped (or in the food processor) spinach

800ml vegetable stock

One medium onion, thinly sliced

4-5 curry leaves

One chilli, finely chopped

1 tbsp. corn flour mixed with water

1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. minced ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

Method

  1. To make the soup, heat the oil in a deep pan and then add the chilli, onion, curry leaves, garlic and ginger sauté until the onions have softened.
  2. Add the spinach and mix thoroughly, before adding the vegetable stock and the rice wine vinegar.
  3. Bring the soup to a simmer before adding the corn flour and water paste to thicken the soup. Simmer the soup for 5-7 minutes.
  4. To make the stuffing, heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes introducing the grated paneer.
  5. Stir in the turmeric, chilli, and coriander and cumin powder and mix thoroughly.
  6. Stir in the tomato puree and soy sauce and then cook the curry for 4-5 minutes.
  7. To make the wontons, place a teaspoon of paneer mixture in the middle of a wonton and then create little drawstring purses and seal them with a little water.
  8. Steam the wontons for 8-10 minutes before removing them from the steamer.
  9. Ladle the soup into bowls and then place 4 wontons into the bowl and serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m linking this to Anneli and Louisa for four seasons because its comforting an

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Masala mushroom wontons in a curried soya bean soup

18 Jan

wontons 1Moody soup. I’d never imagined.

I never imagined that my life would be this way. I was always a dreamer and I always focused very hard on walked boldly in that direction, without fear, without doubt, without any shadow of any other person. Just me and the picture. Smiling.

Today I woke feeling bleary eyed and confused. You know those days where the waves of pace and tasks carry you along and but the mind lingers behind. It’s been one of those days where I have wondered how I got here, what decisions did I make, or not make. I bathed in rose salts and then used rose water in my porridge. Bizarre.

I then read something written by a palliative care nurse about the regrets of patients on their deathbed.

Working too hard. Not living the life that was actually desired. Not sharing emotions. Not letting themselves just be happy. Not staying in touch with friends.

So what did I do?

wonton 2

I put away my phone and iPad and that meant putting away the, ‘am I doing enough’ feeling. I grabbed a blanket, snuggled up with my boy and had a snooze on the sofa whilst watching cartoons. Then I made this soup, which matches my mood today. Mellow. ‘Screw it, just let go’.

This one looks harder than it is to make, I did it all within 30minutes or so. Silky and mildly spiced mushrooms tucked inside thin and smooth wonton parcels. They sit happily in a gentle and deep soup. Each mouthful releases a sigh. It’s uncomplicated and quite impressive. Just as life should be.

Ingredients to serve two

For the mushroom masala

75g enoki mushrooms , cut roughly into bite sized pieces
100g shiitake mushrooms, cut into 2cm pieces
3 baby onions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chaat masala
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp sesame oil
A splash of soy sauce
1/2 tsp paprika
15 wonton wrappers

For the soup

2 tbsp soybean paste
1 tbsp sesame oil
600ml hot water
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp (or to taste) sweet chilli sauce
4-5 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 tbsp of corn flour mixed with a little water

Method

1. To make the mushroom masala first, heat the sesame oil in a frying pan. Add the cumin seeds, curry leaves and turmeric and allow the seeds to sizzle.
2. Add the onions and mushrooms and sauté them for a minute. Add the chaat masala, paprika, garam masala, paprika and soy sauce. Sauté for a further 3 minutes before turning off the heat.
3. Take a single wonton wrapper and place 2 teaspoons of mushroom masala in the centre and them bring the sides inwards to make a drawstring purse. Use a little water to to keep the purse together.
4. Place the wontons in a steamer and then steam them for approximately 6-7minutes and then remove them from the steamer.
5. In the meantime, whilst the wontons are steaming make the soup by heating the oil, adding cumin seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, minced ginger and garlic and then sauté for a minute. Then add the soya bean paste, mix it together before adding the water.
6. Bring the soup to a simmer before adding the sweet chilli sauce, rice wine vinegar and curry powder. Stir it to ensure that the soyabean paste has melted into the soup.
7. Pour in the paste of corn flour and water and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
8. To serve, place the wontons in a bowl and pour in a ladle or two of soup. Garnish it with coriander.

Christmas curry? Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes

2 Dec

Christmas curry? Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes

On Christmas Day, one of the things I most enjoy eating is a good, crisp, roasted potato that is a fluffy and moist cloud on the inside. The subtle sweetness just takes me away to a land between the chippie of my childhood and a really good gastro pub that makes juicy and delicious vegetable sausages with steaming hot onion gravy.
I think I kind of enjoy the roastie banter too. My dad thinks he makes the best ones though, naturally. He does this funny thing of squashing them just before they are ready.

The sprouts though. Some of us love them (like me) and some won’t even give them a friendly prod at Christmas. As a result, we always have loads of them knocking around in the bottom drawer of the fridge. I love the Brussel sprout with its many layers, pretty like a flower. I love that they are silky, they soak up juices between those layers and I love that they are in season.

This curry is one of those that warms the tummy and keeps it flickering and teases the taste buds. It’s a glowing bowl of aroma and an utterly balanced dish for the senses. It looks mor complicated than it is…once you’ve made the curry paste, it’s very, very straightforward. What you get is a heat, sweetness and zing. You get the perfumes from star anise, kaffir lime leaves and some wonderful lemongrass. The great thing is that the potatoes, Brussel sprouts and tofu soak up all these juices.

It’s a Malaysian inspired dish. There are so many varieties of a Malaysian curry, even the term Laksa refers to plentiful variety. This is my way…give it a go.

Ingredients

One pack of firm tofu, drained and cubed into 3cm chunks
3 tbsp ground nut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 star anise
1 stick of cinnamon
2 medium potatoes, cut into 3-4cm chunks
200g Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 can of coconut milk
2-3 kafir lime leaves
300ml water
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Salt to taste
1 tbsp lime juice

For the paste

5-6 small shallots
2 red chilies
1.5 inch galangal
2 cloves of garlic
2 sticks of lemongrass
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground nut oil

Method

1. Shallow fry the tofu in 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan until they are lightly golden. Remove onto kitchen paper.
2. Make a paste by grinding together the ingredients for the paste, it should be smooth.
3. Heat 2tbsp oil in a pan and add the cumin, coriander, star anise cinnamon and lime leaves and heat through for a minute.
4. Stir in the curry paste and on a low flame, cook for 4-5minutes until the oil is absorbed into the paste.
5. Introduce the potatoes, sprouts and tofu and mix gently.
6. Add the coconut milk and water as well as the lime juice.

Serve hot with rice.

Indo-Chinese vegetable balls on spaghetti in a butternut squash and chilli sauce

29 Nov
Indo-Chinese vegetable balls on spaghetti in a butternut squash and chilli sauce

Indo-Chinese vegetable balls on spaghetti in a butternut squash and chilli sauce

I was at lunch earlier this week with a very lovely lady of mixed, european origin. We were in a pretty decent Italian restaurant and I was craving strong cheese. I met a waiter who kept tilting onto one leg, grinning and telling me that I needed to add meat to my dish, even though told him I am vegetarian.

So this lovely lady and were trying each other on for size; gauging whether our frequencies matched. We were each asking each other obviously leading questions that would reveal thought processes, feelings on certain subjects and general outlook in unspoken agreement of openness. All during lunch. All the while we repeated the line, ‘I’m going to be completely honest’.

We spoke at length about the fusion of her european cultures compared to my own, and her close family of talented cooks, like mine. We spoke about money motivations and the sensible approach of working hard now to make life more comfortable in the future. We touched on how appearance conscious certain professions are and whether can be pull-off being less talented if you are exceptionally good-looking. All familiar topics that everyone has debated.

What happened? My ambitious and warm fellow diner, whose make-up was immaculately done, revealed the same thing that so many women do to me. So many women of my age group, broadly speaking. Her focused and formidable body language softened, her smile more gentle and she rushed, ‘I just want to settle down and have kids’.

‘No time’ was the problem we discussed. No time to stop, go out and have fun. No time to rest, no time for adventures, no time for stuff for the heart. No time.

The thing is, we all have our turnaround moment in life when we do, if we are fortunate enough. Mine was only three years ago, but life teaches us and shows us along the way, if we are open enough to see it. My husbands friends wife was diagnosed with a cancer this week, 42.

So as I was munching through my pasta with courgette fritters on top, I was asked whether I get annoyed by what I eat in restaurants because as a foodie I cook a lot. The answer is no. One of the many things I miss about being near my family is being cooked for. It always feels good to be cooked for. Sometimes, someone else’s cooking just feels refreshing.

On this occasion, I did find the need to tart up the pasta dish. The courgette balls didn’t have much favour and the pasta had been left dry. So in my version I’m using a variant of the popular Manchurian vegetable balls and using them on top of a mellow-sweet and spicy butternut squash sauce with spaghetti. So what happens is that you get these soft and spongy, spicy and salty vegetable balls contrasting with the spaghetti and balancing the whole dish out. You also get some pretty colours. Move over spaghetti and meatballs eh? Try it, let me know what you think

Ingredients to serve 2-3

For the vegetable balls

1/2 cabbage, grated
2 green chilies, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 carrot, grated
50g green beans, chopped into small bites
1/2 cup plain flour
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 inch stick of ginger, minced
Oil for deep-frying

Ingredients for the butternut squash sauce

One medium-sized butternut squash , peeled and cut into chunks
500ml vegetable stock
1 tsp red chilli flakes
One medium onion, cut into chunks
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt to taste

You’ll need about 150g of spaghetti

Method
1. To make the butternut squash sauce, heat the oil in the pan and then add the onion . Brown the onion lightly before adding the squash and mixing it. Sprinkle in the salt and chilli flakes. Pour in the vegetable stock and simmer until the butternut squash is soft enough to mash.
2. Turn off the heat and use a hand blender or food processor to purée the butternut squash sauce. The consistency should be like a thick soup, rather than paste. Add water if you need to loosen it up.
3. Heat the oil whilst you prepare the Manchurian balls.
2. To make the vegetable balls, combine the cabbage, carrot, green beans, chilli, garlic and ginger in a bowl and mix well.
3. Stir in the soy sauce and combine again, before adding the plain flour and making a dough.
4. Check the oil is hot by dropping a small amount of the mixture into the oil, if it rises and sizzles the oil is hot enough.
5. Make small balls the size of a large coin and then fry them until they are golden brown before removing them with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper.Manchurian vegetable balls

Manchurian veg balls
6. I would suggest making up individual plates by combining sauce and spaghetti in whatever proportions you like then top with vegetable balls.

Chilli and tamarind, Asian style cauliflower soup recipe

23 Nov
Chilli and tamarind, Asian style cauliflower soup

Chilli and tamarind, Asian style cauliflower soup

Ladies, when you have a night off with your friends do you leave your partner to make his own dinner because he really can or should be able to, or are you utterly and perhaps overly kind like me and leave a proper meal ready and waiting. Gentlemen, when you are doing whatever it is you do and you won’t be with your wonderful lady, do you leave dinner made with love?

Now, I’m sure some people reading this may think…goodness here’s another woman from the dark ages. They may just roll their eyes reading this and think…how utterly submissive, maybe nothing better to do or even just of the mentality that I need to serve my husband.

None of the above, relax. I just can’t let go. When I’m away, my husband will eat a toasted sandwich or order pizza. He will eat pasta with ketchup and cheese or…the one that makes me cringe…he will eat cereal. That’s right, cereal for dinner.

Can you imagine how that frustrates me. Not only is cereal for dinner cold, it’s nutritionally inappropriate for more than one meal a day and its well..it’s cereal. So the reason I leave a dinner is that I can relax and have fun in the knowledge that it won’t be cereal.

That said, I will definitely opt for a quick and easy option to extend my kindness and concern. I need time to get ready and I need to stop for fuel. So here’s what I put together in 20minutes; a hot and sour soup of chilli and tamarind with cauliflower floating happily in Asian style juices. It will definitely hit the spot. It’s one that will help you feel all your senses again in this weather and the cauliflower delicately mingles and shares its essence with the soup. Aah, relax.

Ingredients to serve 4 bowls

500g cauliflower cut into 3-4 cm florets
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tbsp corn flour mixed with a little warm water
2 cloves of garlic, minced
5 cm piece of ginger, minced
2 red chillies, halved
4-5 spring onions, chopped into bite sized pieces
3tbsp tamarind concentrate mixed with 400ml water
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp smoked paprika

Method
1. Heat the oil in a deep pan and very quickly add the onions, ginger, garlic and chilies. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the onion browns lightly before adding the cauliflower. Sprinkle in the paprika and mix well.
2. Pour in the soy sauce, mix again and then add the vegetable stock and tamarind juice. Blend in the corn flour with water. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 7minutes or until the cauliflower is cooked.

It’ll be ok – Asian style sweetcorn soup with chilli, cumin and coriander rice flour dumplings

17 Nov

It'll be ok - Asian style sweetcorn soup with chilli, cumin and coriander rice flour dumplings
It’s been an amazing weekend. I feel utterly blessed and grateful. On Saturday afternoon I was on the Tesco finest interview stage at the BBC Good Food show. I had a moment of realisation as Lotte Duncan was interviewing Cyrus Todiwala before me and I saw my dad, husband, baby boy, brother, sis in law and niece waiting. Beaming. Love does funny things to you doesn’t it, seeing their faces through blurry eyes, I swelled with a lovely feeling of ‘I did that’.

Earlier that day I was in the green room. I met some wonderful people from Masterchef and The great British bake-off. Both the ex contestants/winners and presenters sat surrounding screens and munching. I thought, a lot. I thought about how brave these people are to follow their heart, to stand before a crowd of food lovers and demonstrate perfection. I thought about humility and balance in life and I saw how much of a food professionals life, heart and mind goes into delivering short and long-term. It really is different to what may people perceive.

The interview was fabulous fun. We talked about fusion food and whether it is a modern atrocity or an assault on the taste buds. We talked about my fussy boy and how he is my biggest food project and we chuckled about fishing food out of the bra and then eating it. The audience tasted some of my festive plantain chip mix and we also considered whether it is hard to be vegetarian. We even talked about whether Brussels sprouts smell like fart and what I do to them that makes them gorgeous! You know that I stuff them in a curry.

Today I am shattered. I walked around in heels the entire day and twice around the producers section eating my way through fabulous chocolate, wonderful macaroons and oils with cheeses. All I wanted today was food that real people like to eat, cuddles with my boy and the telly. I am back in leggings rather than a bodycon dress and my hair is back up.

I love this soup because it’s a whole meal; it’s hot, has a bite, has tons of flavour and those dumplings are a smooth and spicy joy. We had two bowls each…see how you go.

Ingredients

For the soup

Two large tins of sweetcorn
1.5litres of vegetable stock
2 tbsp corn flour mixed with water
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cm piece of ginger, minced
4-5 spring onions
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp soy sauce

For the dumplings

2 cups of water
1 1/4 cup of ground rice or rice flour
Salt to taste
2 green chilies
25g coriander, washed and coarsely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds

1. To make the soup, heat the sesame oil in a deep pan and then quickly add the onion, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for a couple of minutes before adding the sweetcorn. Mix in the soy sauce and stir it well.
2. Add the vegetable stock and curry powder and then bring the soup to a simmer.
3. When the soup is boiling add the corn flour and water. Make sure you mix the corn flour with warm water because it will dissolve better. Simmer the soup for ten minutes before turning it off the heat.
4. To make the dumplings, start by making a paste from the Coriander and chilli.image
5. Heat the water in a separate pan. When it is boiling add the cumin seeds then the salt and the coriander and chilli paste. Simmer for a minute and then add the ground rice or rice flour in a stream, quickly stirring with a wooden spoon. Smooth any lumps out. Let me rice flour cool until it is lukewarm.
6. To make the dumplings grease your palms and take a pinch of the rice flour and make 3-4cm sized balls. Place them onto a plate.
7. Bring the soup to a simmer again, add the dumplings and simmer for 7-8 minutes,

Serve the soup hot and fresh. It’s gorgeous.

This month I am entering this into the Credit Crunch Munch pages on Helen and Camilla’s blogs

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Being a soup this has also been shared with my friends at FSF hosted by Delicieux & Eat Your Veg on each entry.

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Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko- is it Christmas yet?

7 Nov
Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko

Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko- is it Christmas yet?

One of the many brilliant things about being British and Hindu by religion is that when you feel sad that Diwali is over, you have Christmas to look forward to! I love both festive periods and I am so lucky I am in a place to embrace both. Admittedly the Christmases of my childhood did contain a few samosa and some pav bhajhi. and the pies always had an Indian spiced stuffing, but we did make visits to Santa, sing carols, adorn a tree and watched the queens speech. Most importantly, we spent time together talking and arguing over which Christmas movie to watch.

I was in the supermarket the other day with my boy and as soon as we entered my boy pointed to the ceiling and gasped, ‘where’s the spider gone, where’s the bat gone, mumma where’s the pumpkin…oh no!!’ He was of course referring to the Halloween decorations which had been removed down since our last visit. Whilst I explained that Halloween was over and the bat had flown away and the spider was sleeping, I turned into a Christmas aisle. Already?

Later that day, I saw people posting Christmas coffee holders from popular vendors and my sister-in-law texted me, ‘we need to plan for Christmas’. For real? Are you thinking about Christmas? Are you menu planning…are you counting the days, are you gift shopping and tell the truth, are you dieting?

So here’s one for a special day. These are beautiful crisp, nutty, spicy, a little sweet and they smell wonderfully like spicy and crisp bread. Of course the inside is juicy and moist and have an oozy bite. Don’t substitute the panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) they are fluffier and give much better favour and texture to these beauties. They are pretty impressive, especially when served with my lychee and chilli dipping sauce.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tsp fennel seeds
Salt to taste
Oil for deep-frying
3 tsp smoked garlic powder ( I used one by seasoned pioneers and I found it in the speciality foods section of Sainsbury’s)
200g baby button mushrooms, washed and dried

Method

1. In a shallow bowl or tray combine the panko breadcrumbs, desiccated coconut, smoked garlic granules, cumin, salt and fennel seeds
2. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs lightly and leave to a side until you are ready to use them
3. When the oil is hot, dip the mushrooms in the eggs, shake off the exceeds a d roll them into the crumbly mix and fry them all until they are golden brown.
4. Remove onto kitchen paper and serve hot and crispy.

 

Udon and veg in a miso, sweet potato and herb soup: dinner at Deena’s and a giveaway

6 Nov
Udon and veg in a miso, sweet potato and herb soup: dinner at Deena's and a giveaway

Udon and veg in a miso, sweet potato and herb soup: dinner at Deena’s and a giveaway

U-don with Diwali? I know, really cheesy. After all good festive periods, my tummy is bloated, my skin is still greasy from oily snacks and I have a cold coming on, probably nurtured by exhaustion. I’m missing my family and all the banter and so the way I cope with post-festivity blues is to have dates in the diary with good friends and to laugh, be happy and sleep. I’m still working on the last one.

So tonight my lovely friend Heena and her husband Ash came over for dinner. Heena is lactose intolerant, chilli intolerant and is not eating fattening stuff right now. Oh and we are all vegetarian. Whilst I was sifting through my mind for exciting ideas that fit this criteria, I thought poo. I wanted to try out a new paneer recipe…no. What about that angel hair pasta with ricotta and my secret ingredient…no. I have a very busy monkey that likes to play, ‘I found it’ in my kitchen cupboards empty the contents of an entire cupboard onto the floor. So, the obvious choice of Dhokla, dhal, curry, chappati and rice was not happening. I had 45 minutes to make this meal!

 

In the spirit of the colder season and seeking comfort in cozy socks and friends, I share with you my seasonal warmer that will snuggle you better than a slanket. I am using miso to give an earthy November feel instead of vegetable stock for the soup and using seasonal sweet potato to give the soup sweetness and depth. I have packed the soup with corn cobs, pak choi, oyster mushrooms, green beans and silky noodles. It’s filling, it’s different and it’s actually herby. I’ve added coriander and Thai basil. This one is a joy.

Some great news to share with you! I’m on the tesco finest stage at the BBC Good Food show in London on Saturday 16th November. I will be talking to Lotte Duncan and I’m very excited! The Team have given me a pair of tickets to give away to you and here’s what you have to do. Just post a comment, tell me what you think of this recipe and what your favourite one pot dish is and you could win a pair of tickets to the show! Simple. More details below this recipe.

Print
Ingredients to serve four

4 tbsp miso paste
3tbsp finely chopped Thai basil
30g finely chopped coriander
Two whole cobs of corn chopped into quarters
100g green beans
100g oyster mushrooms, gently torn
A litre of water (use as much water from the sweetcorn)
250g sweet potato, peeled and chopped into cubes
2 pak choi
4 spring onions, chopped into bite sized chunks
125g Udon noodles
2 kaffir lime leaves
(Optional, two red chilies. I didn’t use them today, but I will in future)
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Method

1. Prepare the sweet potatoes by boiling them for 8-10 minutes and then blend together after removing the water until it looks like baby food. Leave it to a side.
2. Heat the oil in a deep pain and add the chillies (if you are using them) with the coriander and lime leaves. Sauté for a minute and then add the miso paste, Thai basil, sweet potato. Mix it all well and then then add water.
3. Bring the soup to a simmer and then add all the vegetables and cook for 7-8 minutes.
4. In a separate bowl, cook the udon noodles per the packet instructions and then combine them with the soup.

Serve immediately.

BBC Good Food Show London, Olympia, London, 15 – 17 November 2013

The BBC Good Food Show London is running from 15-17 November at the Olympia in London. To celebrate we have teamed up with the organisers to offer you …. general admission tickets as a fantastic prize! See some of the nation’s favourite TV Shows brought to life with The Great British Bake Off sessions featuring Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, MasterChef cook offs featuring John Torode and Gregg Wallace and Saturday Kitchen Live sessions featuring James Martin, plus Michel Roux Jr is back live on the Supertheatre and Deena Kakaya on the interview stage sponsored by Tesco finest. Shop from hundreds of exhibitors in the Producers Village and The Great British Bake Off Village and make sure to visit the Pop-Up Restaurant and Street Food Experience to savour some of the best food London has to offer.

Not a winner? To book tickets and for more information on the BBC Good Food Show London please visit bbcgoodfoodshowlondon.com or call 0844 581 1364

Cooking with Herbs

fsf-autumn
Four Seasons Food hosted by Delicieux and Eat Your Veg

Chilli and tahini noodle soup with broccoli and tempeh

28 Oct

 

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

This sort of time two years ago I sat in the cafe adjacent to wing yip oriental supermarket with my mum, dad and my large baby bump. Our noses were puffy from the cold outside and my mum and I giggled like girls as we quietly splished spicy noodle soup around our lips. The heat of schiuan peppercorn and chilies thawed our noses as our chopsticks slipped around pak choi and jabbed into tofu. We eyed up the swan shaped pastry over the counter and the little creamy and fruity tarts. Light and airy bite-me- now sized cakes and buns.

As we were dissecting the swans and sighing lazily and contentedly, tears raced down my mums cheeks. Normally full of youthful laughter and red-cheeked over-excitement, my mum smiled through her gentle tears. I shot a baffled and questioning look towards my dad. He had been busy chomping through his egg fried rice and meaty-vegetable feast. When food is good value for money and Chinese, my dad is unusually focused. He did his cliched wise-laugh thing and said something that has stuck since then with me and will always remain with me.

‘Your mum is spending the time with you now that she never has done’.

We all have different choices and circumstances in life. My mum was just 22 when she had me. Almost a decade younger than I was when I became a mother. I grew into being a mother in my own mind, through maturity and transitioning through the various phases of my life. My mum just became a mum. I grew my career as did my husband. My mum had just learned to speak fluent English, let alone have a chance to work. My husband and I bought a house and did it up before we had my boy. I was born into a council flat. But look at this…my mum and dad worked tirelessly as a team, had multiple jobs, paid their mortgage and even my university fees and expenses.

The price my brave mum paid unfortunately, is the time with me. Funny thing is I had never heard her complain in all these years. I never sensed any resentment in her circumstances. She embraced it. We ate dinner together every day, she tucked me in, told me stories about her childhood in Africa and made me turmeric milk when I was sick. Some foods will always evoke emotional responses, whether it is turmeric milk, egg and chips or samosa in the rain. I’ve added noodle soup to that list of foods.

This one is unusual, because I use tahini (sesame paste) in the soup. The result is a nutty flavour with a smooth texture. I’ve used the chilli oil from my previous recipe as well as the sweet lychee and hot chilli sauce I made recently. If you don’t like tempeh or can’t get hold of this block of fermented soy beans, use tofu. This soup is warming, spicy, nutty, has bite and is soothing. My husband says it is in his top 3 noodle soups now.

Ingredients to serve 2-3

1 large red onion, sliced
2 tbsp chilli oil with 3 tsp of the chilli flakes or 2tbsp sesame oil and 2minced red chillies 
200g broccoli cut into bite sized florets
200g tempeh cut into bite sized chunks
1 litre vegetable stock
500ml water
3 cloves of galic
1 tsp schiuan peppercorns
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp tahini
3-4 tsp sweet chilli sauce 
100g udon noodles

Method

1. Mince together the garlic and schiuan peppercorns
2. Stir fry thr tempeh in 1 tbsp vegetable oil until it catches a golden brown colour
3. Heat the oil and chilies and then stir fry the onions until they soften before adding the garlic and peppercorns. Cook for anther two minutes before adding the broccoli, soy sauce, tahini and tempeh. Mix it well and then add the vegetable stock, water and sweet chilli sauce.
4. Bring the broth to a simmer before adding the noodles. Cook for 5 minutes before serving hot.

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

25 Oct

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

Always follow your gut instinct.

This week has been a revealing and pretty testing one. When I was made redundant just before I fell pregnant, it was pretty messily and insensitively handled and frankly, the writing had been on the wall for a while, just that I didn’t read the signals. It shook my confidence so then determinedly, I secured a role that on paper was more exciting, more strategic, more pay and well, just more. For some reason however, it just didn’t feel right. I held off from accepting the offer for two whole weeks and as I drove to work on my first day as a newly pregnant and formally dressed person, I wasn’t excited. I didn’t even feel neutral. I knew the difference between nervous apprehension and plain dread.

It turned out that my gut instinct was right. It was a mistake, but I was brave enough to put a stop to that interlude. However it was another factor that I let augment my self perception.

This week I spoke to so many people with emotive challenges I’m life. For some reason my shoulder is pretty attractive to secretly woeful people who carry themselves with a smile. I listened to a friend who has anxiety attacks at work, I’ve wiped the tears from friends who miss their children because they are busy being hamsters at work. I’ve held the hands of friends contemplating fertility treatments and encouraged my neighbour back into education as she has now raised her children. I also said no to a corporate role that would have sucked the life out of my life. I listened to my gut instinct. Nobody should actively or passively do things in life that they know will make them sad.

A the same time my husband has been away for work this week. I’ve had friends and family over this week back-to-back and I feel loved and blessed. How to thank them? There’s less money in my household now so I’m not taking each of them for dinner, but what I can do is put some quality and love into a thoughtful gift.

Christmas and Diwali are around the corner, why don’t you try these either for yourself or as gifts for loved ones. It’s so lovely to receive a gorgeous catch of something tasty that doesn’t perish in a day or two. My lychee and chilli dipping sauce is versatile and smells amazing. So far I’ve used it with chips and spring rolls and can’t with each mouthful I’ve thought, ‘I can’t believe I made this’ .

This dipping sauce carries an exotic aroma, has a zesty and hot kick and is cheekily sticky. Go on, if you like it hot and sweet…

Ingredients

Two tins of lychees
5 tbsp of caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
8-10 red finger chillies

Method

1. Mince the chillies to a paste and keep them to a side.
2. Put the lychees int a food processor and blend them together to as smooth a consistency as possible, although it may be quite chunky don’t worry,
3. Pour the lychees into a non-stick pan together with the chilies and the sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer. Turn the heat to a medium flame and simmer for 15-20minutes until the juices have thickened.
4. Return the sauce to a food processor and blitz it until the lychee chunks have smoothed into the sauce.
5. Place the sauce back onto the hob and simmer for a further 5minutes until the sauce is thick and sticky.

Allow the sauce to cool before serving. If you aren’t serving it straight away then store it in an air tight, sterilised jar.

I am entering this made from scratch Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays.
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