I went through a few bizarre food phases as a child, a memorable one of which was an obsession with cold rice pudding. I remember sometimes eating the full tub for dinner while watching TV on Sunday night! Here is a deliciously comforting and easy to make rice pudding using coconut for a fragrant twist!
Ingredients: (serves 4)
100g short grain rice
1 vanilla bean, cut open
1/2 cup caster sugar
400ml coconut milk
A few strawberries, washed and sliced
1. Rinse the rice, place in a saucepan with sugar, vanilla bean, coconut milk and regular milk and bring to the boil.
2. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking. Remove and discard the vanilla bean, season with a pinch of salt to bring the sweetness out and set aside to cool before placing it in the fridge.
3. Serve the coconut rice at room temperature topped with fresh strawberries or shavings of fresh mango and a few sprinkles of shredded coconut.
It’s also the perfect gluten-free dessert for your next dinner party! Make sure you use short-grain rice when making rice pudding so that the texture of the grain will stays soft when cool, which is better for a creamier result!
This cider braised pork belly is pure heaven on a plate – the poaching step is all about making the meat as moist and succulent as possible, while frying it up on the day ensures the skin is crisp to perfection! Reducing the cider broth to a delicate jus works wonders to bring all the rich and earthy flavours together. It takes a bit of planning to get started the day before, but each step is super easy and the end result is truly michelin star quality!
1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
4 sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
500ml good-quality cider
1l fresh chicken stock
1-1.5kg piece unscored boneless pork belly
1. Heat the oven to 160C. Place onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves and thyme in an oven proof casserole. Cover with stock, cider and bring to the boil. Slide the pork into the liquid making sure it’s totally submerged, cover with a lid and place in the oven for 3 hours.
2. Once cooked leave the pork to cool for a bit in the stock. Line a flat baking tray with cling film, carefully lift the pork, get rid of any bits of veg & herbs and place it skin down onto the tray. Cover with another flat tray or dish, weigh it down with something heavy place in the fridge overnight. This step is really important to ensure the pork’s skin is perfectly clean, flat – ready to be trimmed and crisped up the next day. Strain the cooking liquid into a jug cover and place in the fridge to chill.
(on the day)
3. Pour the braising juices (now jelly) into a saucepan and reduce down by two-thirds until thicker and syrupy.
4. Place pork on a clean board, skin-side upwards. Get a sharp knife and trim off any uneven edges so that you have a neat sheet of meat and cut into equal pieces. Heat oil in a large frying pan and reduce to medium heat. Sizzle the pork skin side down for 5 mins until the skin is perfectly crispy and flip it over for another couple of minutes until warm and browned all over.
Serve with cauliflower mash, mustard cabbage or any other earthy/wintery sides and drizzle the jus next to the pork on the plate. I also like to sprinkle a few bits of fried chorizo over it for extra texture!
Definitely give this dish a go for your next dinner party, pork belly is a very affordable cut of meat too, so no need to spend a fortune to impress!
A “Poule Au Pot” is a classic French dish originally made popular by Henri IV, whose ambition was for every family in his kingdom to be able to afford to eat this dish every Sunday. It is traditionally served with the carved poached meat and vegetables on a platter and the chicken broth in a bowl on the side, but I prefer to bring all the elements back to the pot and serve it as a hearty soup.
1 whole organic chicken, washed
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
2 onions, chopped
2L chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
2 leeks, washed and sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
1) Place carrots, celery, onions, parsley and bay leaves in a large non-stick pan. Season with Salt & pepper. Place the chicken over the vegetables, pour in stock and add enough water to cover the chicken (I took the below photo before adding the extra water). Simmer on medium heat for 1.5 hour or until the chicken is soft and fully cooked through.
2) Remove the chicken from the pan leave it to cool down on the side. Bring the broth back to high heat and allow to reduce for 15 minutes. In the meantime, tear the cooked chicken into long chunks.
4) Once the broth has reduced by a third, throw the chicken back in the pan, add the leeks and simmer for another 10 minutes.
5) Remove the bay leaves and serve in warm bowls with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
For something a bit more substantial, add potatoes at the same time as the carrots and green peas as you add the leeks. This soup is delicious, nutritious and super healthy too!
This is a variation of a Quatre-quart, which is a traditional French cake from the region of Brittany. It translates to “four-quarters”, meaning 1/4 of the recipe is flour, 1/4 sugar, 1/4 butter, and 1/4 eggs. My mum’s personal twist was to add apples to it, probably to make it a bit healthier as she used to make it most weekends for us growing up…served with a glass of milk, this cake is pure comfort food and an instant burst of childhood memories!
4 large eggs
250g butter, softened
250g or 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
250g or 1 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
4 apples, peeled, cored & sliced
1 tbsp baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Separate the egg whites from the yolks into two bowls.
2) Whisk the egg yolks with sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick. Add the butter, vanilla essence, baking powder beating continuously. Gradually add flour and continue mixing until the mixture is smooth.
3) Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks form. Gently, fold stiffed egg whites into the batter.
4) Arrange some of the apple slices in neat circles on the bottom of a non stick cake pan. Chop the remaining apple slices and mix in the batter.
5) Pour batter over the apple slices and cook for an hour or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. Make sure you check as it can sometimes take a little it longer with the apples added to the mixture.
You can also try a more classic “Quatre quart” recipe, skipping the apples and replacing the vanilla essence with lemon juice.
This is a simple Nasi Goreng recipe I learned at a cooking class on my last trip to Bali.
The reason why I like it so much? Because it tastes really authentic, while a simplified version of the more complex recipes I have seen before. This means that you don’t have to get too many new spices and exotic ingredients to re-create it a home. In fact, this recipe is best improvised to use up overnight rice!
2-3 tsp vegetable oil
100g chicken, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp red chilli, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 cup steamed rice, cold
3 tbsp soy sauce
1tsp Worcester sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
1tsp fish sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
Small handful of coriander, chopped
2 tbsp Fried shallots
½ cup Chinese cabbage, shredded (optional)
2 eggs, lightly beaten (optional)
1. If you’re not using left over rice, start by cooking the rice following packet instruction. Drain, cool to room temperature and place in the fridge for an hour or so. Note that it’s important to use cold cooked rice as freshly cooked rice is too soft and will absorb the oil.
2. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Fry the chicken for 2-3 minutes or until nice and brown. Season with salt & pepper.
3. Add the shallots, garlic and toss around for a couple of minutes. Add the chili, turmeric, and spring onion and fry for another minute.
4. Add the rice, mix and toss well. Add the Soy sauce, Worcester, ketchup and fish sauce. Season to taste.
5. Garnish with fried shallots and fresh coriander.
I didn’t include shredded cabbage or eggs omelette in mine, as I was serving it as a side to my chicken sate, but definitely add it in for a more substantial stand alone dish!
This tasty and healthy dish was inspired by my recent trip to Bali. Peanut sauce is one of the most popular local speciality, served with anything ranging from meats to vegetables. Chicken sate (or satay) is a wonderful alternative to a classic chicken kebab and also the perfect exotic addition to your next barbecue session!
Ingredients: Serves 4
3 garlic cloves
25g root ginger
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp each ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground white pepper
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp tamarind paste (optional)
2 lime leaves , thinly sliced (optional)
500g chicken fillet, finely sliced
Wooden skewers, soaked in boiling water
2 tablespoons oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
200g peanuts, unsalted & dry roasted
3 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
3 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt
250 ml hot water
1. Peel & finely chop shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies. Measure spices and place into a separate bowl.
2. Heat oil in a pan over a medium heat and fry the shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies for 1-2 minutes. Add a tablespoon of water to help soften, stir in the dry spices and fry for a minute.
3. Remove the pan from the heat, let the mixture cool down, then blend to a paste and add the tamarind paste and shredded lime leaves if using. Season with salt.
4. Place chicken strips in a bowl, pour marinade over it, combine well and thread 5 chicken pieces onto each skewer.
5. To prepare the peanut sauce heat the oil in a saucepan add chillies, garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft. Add peanuts and roast for another minute.
6. Place the mixture in a food processor; add salt, sugar, hot water and process again to make a thick sauce. Add fish sauce to taste.
7. Grill on the barbecue or griddle pan for 8-10 mins or until slightly charred on both sides and cooked inside.
Serve with peanut sauce, pita bread and a fresh cucumber salad for a light summer lunch or alternatively garnish with fried shallots and serve with a side of steamed rice or Nasi Goreng for a more authentic Indonesian meal.
Chicken pies and pies in general are the perfect feel-good food. Rich and flavourful, it’s the perfect home-cooked meal for your friends and family. It’s also pretty quick and easy, especially when using ready-made pastry. Once you’ve tried this classic, you will find yourself try all sorts of tasty variations of your own!
1 tbsp olive oil
300g chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 brown onion, roughly chopped
2 medium clove garlic, peeled and crushed
100g shortcut bacon, finely diced
½ leek, finely chopped
6 mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/3 cup thyme sprigs
Salt and pepper, to taste
20g grated cheese (optional)
1-2 sheets shortcrust pastry
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Preheat oven to 200°C and heat the oil in a large frying pan. Place the chicken in the pan, season with salt & pepper and cook for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan if necessary. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the bacon to the same pan and cook until lovely & crisp. Add the onion, garlic, leek to the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown.
3. Add the flour and cook, stirring continuously for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the stock, then the milk. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened & creamy. Season to taste.
4. Grease a round baking tray and dust it with flour to make it non stick. Flip it over the puff pastry and cut around it to form the lid of the pie. Set aside. Repeat with the shortcrust pastry, but this time cut circles about 1.5cm from the edge of the tin.
5. Ease shortcrust pastry circle into pie the tin, spoon in the chicken mixture, sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese if you fancy it.
6. Top with the puff pastry. Cut a small cheminee on top to allow the steam to escape while cooking, press edges to seal, trim any excess pastry using a sharp knife and brush with the egg glaze.
7. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
Serve with a side of salad for a summer dish or with vegetable, mash and gravy for a heartier winter meal! If you don’t have short-crust pastry, you can simply use puff pastry for the pie base as well as the lid, it’s just not as traditional!
This recipe came about on a lazy sunday night when there was nothing in the fridge and I couldn’t be asked going out shopping. With the help of a bit of garlic, chilli and a bit of fresh herbs, you can turn a last minute improvisation into something quite delicious — and worth preparing even if the fridge is full!
2 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried red chili flakes
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 egg yolks (optional)
1. For the pasta, use the ratio of 1 litre of water to 100g of pasta and 10g of salt, and cook as per packet instructions.
2. The traditional way of making pesto is with a mortar and pestle. Start by adding basil, garlic, salt and a pinch of garlic flakes to the mortar and bruising them to a paste. Whisk in the oil until you have the desired consistency. If in a hurry or if you’re making large quantities, you can also use a blender or food processor.
3. Once the pasta is cooked, start heating up the pesto in olive oil for 20 seconds or so. Drain the pasta, add to the frying pan with 1 tbsp of the cooking water. Toss well and cook for a few minutes. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. Add a little olive oil, sprinkle chili flakes and freshly grated parmesan. Place an egg yolk on top if you would like a bit of extra richness.
If you fancy something a bit more substantial, add prawns to the pan before the cooked pasta.
San choy bau is a beautiful Chinese classic, of tasty mince mixture wrapped in a fresh and crunchy lettuce leaf. It’s all about contrast, texture and dimensions – the intensity of the juices, crunch of the nuts, freshness of the herbs – so keep it in mind if trying to adapt the recipe. This dish can be served either by itself as a starter or as a main with a side of rice.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter):
2 tsp sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped (julienne)
1/2 onion, finely sliced
400g lean pork mince
100g mushrooms, finely sliced
2 tbsp Shao hsing wine
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 cup coriander, finely chopped
1/3 cup macadama or cashew nuts, roughly crushed
8 iceberg lettuce leaves, trimmed
1. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger. Stir-fry for 1 minute or until onion has softened.
2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add mince. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until browned. Add mushrooms, nuts and continue stir-frying for 30 seconds.
3. Pour in hsing wine, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce and stir until the pork is fully cooked through. Stir in the coriander, just before taking it off the heat.
4. Spoon the mixture with its lovely juices into a hot bowl and serve in a large platter, surrounded by lettuce leaf cups and garnish with an extra sprinkle of coriander, as well as a few slices of red chilli if you fancy it!
Fancy cooking something French and really special? Try this iconic French dish of beef, stewed with lovely vegetables and herbs in wine which are then strained off, reduced and thickened to create a densely flavoured, smooth and silky sauce. Yes, if you’re feeling lazy, you could technically skip the sauce straining steps, but then it would just end up being a lovely stew, not a true boeuf Bourguignon! I personally think the extra step makes all the difference!
Ingredients (4 people)
200g bacon, solid chunk cut into lardons
800g braising steak, cut into cubes
2 tbsp flour
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
12 shallots, peeled and sliced
3 cups red wine (ideally Bordeaux)
2-3 cups beef stock (enough to cover)
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, mashed
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
200g mushroom, quartered
50g unsalted butter
salt & fresh ground pepper
Potatoes, roasted or mashed (to serve)
Crusty bread (to serve)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan, sauté the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned and set aside on a plate.
2. Coat the pieces of beef in flour, season with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides in the bacon fat and olive oil. Set aside with the bacon. Again, in the same oil/fat, sauté the shallots, garlic and the carrot until softened. Set aside with the meat.
3. Deglaze the frying pan with the wine, pour it into an oven-proof casserole along with the meat, lardons, shallots, garlic, carrots and add enough stock to almost cover the mix. Stir in the tomato paste and add the parsley, sage and half the thyme. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove, cover and place in the oven. Reduce heat to 120 degrees and simmer slowly for 3 hours to 4 hours, or until a fork pierces the meat easily.
4. In the meantime, start preparing the mushrooms. Heat a spoonful of butter and a spoonful of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. As soon as the foam begins, add the mushrooms and a sprig of thyme, season with salt and pepper, toss and sauté for about five minutes until brown and set aside until ready to use. You may also want to start preparing the side of potato at this stage.
5. When the stew meat is tender, remove all solids from the sauce by draining through a sieve set over a saucepan. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole, discarding the bits of carrot, shallots and herbs which remain in the sieve.
6. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two. You should be left with about 2-3 cups of rich, dark sauce, thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thin, stir in a spoonful of flour and boil it down to reduce to the right thickness. If it’s too thick, add a bit of stock.Taste for seasoning before serving.
7. Pour the sauce over the side and garnish with fresh parsley to serve.
If serving later, simply allow the casserole to cool before placing it in the refrigerator. Place over medium heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally stirring the meat with the sauce.