Starter

22nd May
2011
written by Nibblish

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.

San Choy Bau Recipe

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

Instructions:

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!

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5th April
2011
written by Nibblish

This basic gnocchi recipe is really easy to follow and will give you the perfect, delicate, super soft and heavenly gnocchi which can be dressed in many different ways! A simple tomato sauce and grated cheese is a very delicious and authentic way to serve it, but you may prefer tossing it with other classic flavour combinations, such butter & sage, parm ham & ricotta, garlic & wild mushrooms, or peas & mint.

Potato gnocchi, gnocci

Ingredients: serves 4

Gnocchi
6-8 large potatoes
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup plain flour
1 pinch nutmeg, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Classic Tomato Sauce
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped or 1 can diced tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 handful Basil, thinly sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Parmesan, freshly grated

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Instructions:

1. Boil potatoes in salted water for about 25 minutes or until tender, drain and let is cool down for 10 minutes or so. Peel and mash the flesh while still warm and place into a large mixing bowl. Fold in the egg yolks and the flour, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and gradually add a little more flour if the mixture is still too wet and sticky to form a ball.

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2. Divide the mixture in 4-6 portions, roll each piece into a sausage shape on a floured surface and cut each into thick slices.

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3. To shape the gnocchi, place it against the back of a fork, press in and down the length of the fork. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi, dust with a bit of flour and cover with a wet cloth for up to a couple of hours or until ready to cook.

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4. To prepare the sauce, pre-heat a splash of oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, onion and season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and cook gently for 5 minutes and stir in the chopped basil.

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5. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Boil the gnocchi in small batches in salted water for 2-3 minutes, scoop out with a slotted spoon as they start floating to the surface and continue until all remaining gnocchi have been cooked. Place the cooked gnocchi in the sauce and place in a baking tray. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

While a little fiddly, gnocchi can be really rewarding to make fresh as the soft little pillows will taste amazing, honestly nothing like the supermarket bought version! One last little tip, be careful not to add too much flour though as the more flour the firmer the gnocchi will be. Adding some salt to the water will prevent the gnocchi from sticking and disintegrating while cooking. When the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to moderate. Try and add small batches of gnocchi at a time to ensure the temperature remains stable. If you wish to freeze the gnocchi, do so before they’ve been cooked and start by laying them on a tray to prevent them from sticking together. Once frozen, you can stick them in a freezing bag to store.

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28th March
2011
written by Nibblish

There is nothing cooler and fresher than a cucumber salad. The classic combination of cucumber, mint and feta cheese can make this dish pretty special too!

Middle Eastern Cucumber Salad, Lemon, Mint, Feta, Cucumber

Ingredients: (serve 4 as a starter)
3 lebanese cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
100g fresh feta cheese, crumbed
1/2 small bunch of mint, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Zaatar spice (optional)
Freshly ground pepper

Middle Eastern Cucumber Salad, Lemon, Mint, Feta, Cucumber

Instructions:

1. Place the sliced cucumber neatly on a serving plate and season with pepper and Zaatar spice.

Middle Eastern Cucumber Salad, Lemon, Mint, Feta, Cucumber

2. Sprinkle on crumbled bits of feta cheese and the mint.

3. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Dizzle the dressing over the salad right before serving.

This dish is the perfect, quick and easy way to add fresh greens at the start of your meal!

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21st March
2011
written by Nibblish

This elegant Asian inspired dish will be a hit served as a snack or as a starter. The beautiful contrast between the crispy sweet potato and the sharp and creamy wasabi Mayo will take you by surprise and make you come back for more! Nom, nom, nom!

Ingredients: (2 as a starter)

1 large sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp sesame or walnut oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp sesame seeds
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp wasabi

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice the sweet potato into very thin slices, using a vegetable peeler. Soak in salted water for 20-30 minutes.

2. Prepare the wasabi mayonnaise dip by whisking the mayonnaise in the wasabi cream and season with cracked pepper.

3. Drain and pat dry the sweet potato slices with paper towel and coat with sesame or walnut oil and season with salt & pepper. Transfer and spread seasoned potato slices on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake for 10 minutes. Using a large spatula, turn, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and bake for another 10 minutes until crisp.

Serve immediately with an extra sprinkle of sesame seeds!
The good news is that these little tasty treats are also much healthier than traditional crisps!
It’s also the perfect starter, before a sushi platter!

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13th March
2011
written by Nibblish

A good quiche is an extremely simple and fast meal to make, but never fails to impress. It’s perfect for brunch, lunch, dinner, for a picnic or even as party food!

Ingredients: (serve 4 as a starter or 2 as a main)

1 sheet ready rolled shortcrust pastry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 rashers bacon, rind removed, finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander or parsley
1 large leek, washed and thinly sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 eggs and 1 egg yolk, beaten
1 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 200°C and lightly grease and flour a round oven tray to make it non stick. Lay the pastry sheet, trim excess and prick the bottom with a fork to prevent it from bubbling as it bakes. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, coriander and bacon and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add the leek and cook for another 5 minutes or until soft and slightly caramelized. Cool and sprinkle over cooked pastry.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C. Whisk the eggs with the milk in a mixing bowl. Stir in half the cheese, grated nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Pour over bacon and leek, sprinkle the remaining cheese and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.


Let is rest for 5 minutes and serve with a green salad!
If you fancy of change, swap the bacon for salmon, and the leek for spinach, mushroom or asparagus.

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28th February
2011
written by Nibblish

Zucchini flowers stuffed with goat cheese are so delicious and easy to prepare, but can also look quite fancy as a gourmet starter! I personally prefer the batter to be super light using just sparkling water and a bit of flour but you can also make a traditional batter by adding an egg in the mix for a crispier result.

Ingredients: (4 people)

8 zucchini flowers
120g fresh goat cheese
80g Ricotta cheese
1/2 bunch of chives, finely chopped
1 handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 nutmeg, grated
Freshly ground pepper & salt
100g plain flour
200ml sparkling mineral water, very cold
30ml vegetable oil (for frying)

Instructions:

1. Gently open the zucchini flower, remove the stamen and make sure there are no insects inside.

2. Combine the goat cheese, ricotta, chives, parsley, nutmeg in a mixing bowl and season with salt & pepper. If you don’t have a piping bag, cut the corner from a plastic freezer bag, add the cheese mix to the bag.

3. Squeeze the mixture through the whole into the flowers, set aside and refrigerate for 30 minutes to avoid the mixture to leak straightaway as you start frying.

4. Prepare the batter by whisking the cold sparkling water in the flour. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly smooth when combined.

5. Pre-heat the vegetable oil in a large non stick frying pan. Dip the flowers in the batter and fry on high heat for 30- 60 seconds on each side until golden in color. Remove with the wire strainer, let drain, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

I like serve to it on a bed of green leaf salad topped with caramelised figs! It also works really well with a few pieces of crispy shredded Parma ham on top!

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24th February
2011
written by Nibblish

This is a really light, healthy and tasty dish, which will work beautifully as a lunch but also as a starter or as party food. It differs slightly from the traditional recipe as I omitted the rice vermicelli to avoid doubling up on the rice based ingredients! The secret is in the contrast between the fresh crisp ingredients, the tasty meat and the fragrant dipping sauce.

Ingredients: (6 rolls)

1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into thin sticks
200g bean sprouts, steamed
2 spring onions, cut into thin strips
1 handful of coriander, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, de-seeded and cut into thin strips
1 handful peanut, crushed
200g pork fillet, cut into thin strips
3 tbsp Teriyaki sauce
3 tbsp Hoi sin or black bean sauce
9 prawns, cooked and halved
5 rice paper sheets

Instructions

1. Pre-heat a non stick pan and cook the meat for a few minute with the teriyaki sauce. Add the hoi sin or black bean at the end and save on the side to cool.

2. Pour boiled water into a flat tray and place a dry kitchen towel flat on the surface next to it to use as a dipping and rolling station. place the rice paper roll in the warm water for a few seconds until just softened. Place it flat onto the kitchen towel spreading the ingredients toward the top edge – start with 3 prawn halves (round side down), peanuts, coriander, chilli, spring onion…

3. Continue with the vegetables – cucumber and bean sprouts

4. And finish with the meat. Add extra coriander at that stage if you like it as much as I do.

5. Roll up to enclose the filling, folding in the ends. Repeat with the remaining rolls.

You can serve it with chili sauce, soy or fish sauce. To make the fish dipping sauce – dissolve 1 tsp of sugar with 5 tsp of fish sauce, 5 tsp of lemon juice, a drop of water and a few slices of red chili. To store it in the fridge for up to 24h, cover the rolls with a damp towel, which will prevent the rice paper from drying out.

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17th February
2011
written by Nibblish

This is such a simple and classic dish, perfect as an Italian appetiser, brunch or as a snack. The trick is to rub the hot bread with a raw clove of garlic and then brush it with olive oil for an amazing flavour…It’s bold, fresh and delicious!

Ingredients (serves 4 people as a starter)

1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small bunch of basil, chopped
300g vine ripened tomatoes, diced
olive oil
white wine vinegar
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
garlic cloves, peeled & cut in half
4 thick slices round rustic bread, cut in half

Instructions

1. Preheat grill on high heat. Mix chopped tomatoes, onion and basil into a bowl and season with salt flakes, freshly ground pepper, olive oil and white wine vinegar. Toss well.

2. Toast both sides of bread slices. Rub each slice with a garlic clove while hot and brush it with a bit of olive oil.

3. Spoon tomatoes onto bread and serve immediately!

The secret for this dish to be a hit is to use the freshest ingredients you can find and keep it simple and bold. The only extra add on would be to shred a few pieces of creamy buffalo mozzarella and place it on top! You can also swap the white wine vinegar for a good quality balsamic vinegar.

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4th February
2011
written by Nibblish

Duck Liver parfait is really economical and easy to make, but it tastes luxurious and looks really fancy too. My French compatriotes would probably hate me for saying that, but I see it a little bit like a Green peace foie gras – similar in taste and texture but without the arrogance, cost or cruelty! You can also make it up to 48h ahead and save it in the fridge as an early start of a fancy meal. You can also double the measures and serve it as the master piece for a party.

Ingredients (serves 4 people)

400-500g fresh duck liver, fat, strings and green patches trimmed
250ml milk
20ml olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small bunch of thyme, leaves picked
1 slice of bacon, chopped
50ml cognac or brandy
250g butter, diced
6-8 fresh sage leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Cornichons, Brioche and salad to serve

Instructions

1. Soak duck livers in the milk for 1.5 hours at room temperature. If you are using frozen livers, simply allow them to defrost in water for 1h and then soak in milk for another 30 minutes. After soaking, drain, rinse under cool water and pat dry with kitchen paper.

2. Heat a bit of oil and a nut of butter (5g) in a large frying pan. Add the onion, garlic, bay leave, thyme leaves and bacon. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and starting to colour.

3. Add your duck livers to the pan with an extra small splash of oil and season with a pinch of salt & pepper. Cook on a high heat for 2 minutes or until the liver pieces start to plump up. Add 50ml brandy or cognac to the pan and cook it off.

4. Transfer everything to to the food processor and blend it until smooth. Add the remaining 120g of butter to the food processor, bit by bit, and season with another good 2 good pinches of salt and pepper. Pass through a fine sieve if you have one and spoon it into a serving bowl and place in the fridge to start the setting process.

5. To make the clarified butter, place the remaining 125g of butter on low heat and cook slowly until the white dairy and clear oil are separated. Clean any impurities off the top and pour the clear liquid into a separate pan, before placing it on medium heat. After a couple of minutes, add the sage to the butter to fry and take the pan off the heat. Let it cool down and pour over the cooler pate mixture. Refrigerate the finished parfait for at least 4-5 hours or until the top layer looks hard and thick.

6. Serve the parfait with cornichons, fresh butter, freshly toasted brioche and a green leave salad.

Some people like to eat the sage flavoured clarified butter with the parfait, but you don’t have to. Even if you decide not to eat it, it’s still playing a key role to locking in the flavours and keeping the parfait fresh. You can save it up 4-5 days in the fridge when sealed. If you can’t find duck liver, replace with chicken liver. /em>

Click here for a Valentine’s version of this dish!

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19th January
2011
written by Nibblish
This entry is part 1/2 of 2 in the series Chinese meal

Once you’ve tried this recipe at home, you will never order gyoza from the restaurant ever again! It’s really fun to make, super tasty and it looks very impressive too!

Ingredients: (30 dumplings)

Gyoza:
200g Pork mince meat (lean)
6 uncooked prawns, deveined & chopped
2 tbsp spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 egg
2 tbsp chinese shao hsing wine
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
30 gyoza wrappers

Dressing
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp coriander, chopped
4 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
4 tbsp spring onions, finely sliced
4 tbsp mal vinegar
1 red chili chopped
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Instructions

1. Start with the filling. Combine all the listed gyoza ingredients (except the vegetable oil and wrappers!) in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 mins.

2. Place a teaspoon of the mixture in the centre of each wrapper and shape as per below:
– Wet the edge of the wrapper with one finger
– Fold the wrapper in half and bring the edges to stick together
– Pinch the bottom edge closed and fold the edge 4-5 times to the top

3. Steam for 10 mins, and set aside. In the meantime, mix all dressing ingredients together.

4. pre-heat vegetable oil in a large non stick pan and pan fry the gyoza until nice and golden brown.
Place on a serving plate and dizzle with the dressing!

If you want to prepare the gyoza ahead, stop at the steaming stage and refrigerate or freeze as is and pan fry before eating. I would actually suggest that you make enough to freeze some extra too as you can just pan fry it from frozen on a lazy night!

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