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!
A “Poule Au Pot” is a classic French dish originally made popular by Henri IV, whose ambition was for every family in his kingdom to be able to afford to eat this dish every Sunday.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!
Poire belle Hélène is a French dessert made from pears poached in sugar syrup and served with vanilla ice and chocolate sauce. It was created around 1850 by Auguste Escoffier and named after the operetta La belle Hélène by Jacques Offenbach.
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 cups water
1 pinch salt
1 splash cognac (optional)
1. Bring some water to the simmer in a large saucepan, enough to cover the pears. Stir in the honey and cinnamon. In the meantime, peel off the pears but leave the stalks intact for decorative purposes. Place them upright in a deep pan and cook for 20-30 min or until tender. Let them cool down in the syrup.
2. To make the chocolate sauce, heat the chocolate pieces gently until the chocolate has melted. Mix in a pinch of salt and a splash of cognac if you wish!
3. Place 2 or 3 scoops of ice cream in each bowl.
4. Place the poached pear quarters on top or beside the ice cream and drizzle with warm chocolate sauce.
5. Garnish with Crème Chantilly.
A Potato Salad is the perfect accompaniment for barbecues and picnics, as it’s best served with meat, seafood and a green leaf salad…A real classic for summer!
Ingredients: (serves 6 people as a side)
12 small potatoes (such as desiree), peeled
4 bacon rashers, rind & excess fat trimmed, finely chopped
3 large tbsp whole egg mayonnaise
3 large tbsp sour cream
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 shallots, finely chopped
6 gherkins, finely chopped
2 tbsp carpers, finely chopped
1/2 bunch of dill, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper & sea salt flakes
1. Cut each potato into 4, place in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and boil uncovered for 10 minutes or until tender when pierced with a stick. Drain and let it cool completely.
In the meantime, heat oil a small frying pan and cook the diced bacon until nice and brown.
2. Combine together the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic into a mixing bowl. Top with the dill, gherkin, carpers, shallots and mix well. Taste and season with salt & pepper.
3. Gently toss in the potatoes and bacon bits and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.
You can store the potato salad in the fridge for a few days. You can also top it with pieces of hard boiled eggs if you’re serving it as a main!
This has to be my favorite soup in the world and also the most often requested recipe amongst my friends! Be aware though that this is an easier & quicker “modern” version of an old classic. As you may know, cooking Pho Bo the traditional way can be a very long cooking process and might take quite a few trials and errors to get the taste right. So I have decided to skip making the broth from scratch and use instead good quality pho stock cubes and beef flavour paste that you can find in Asian grocery stores. The trick is to focus instead on adding a lot of fresh herbs, spices and meat to make it really special! It’s reasonably quick and actually tastes better than any other homemade pho I have tried…I even managed to convert my mum (who was born in Saigon) not to bother with the old family recipe!
Ingredients: (4 people)
3 tbsp instant beef flavour paste (gia vi nau pho)
2 cubes of pho soup seasoning (Vien gia vi pho)
4 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
4 lemons, 3 juiced and 1 cut into 4 wedges
4 tbsp fish sauce
400g lean beef brisket or fillet, very thinly sliced
1 large pack of flat rice noodles
1 large onion, sliced
300g bean sprouts
1 small bunch of Asian/Thai basil, washed and sliced
1 small bunch of coriander, washed and roughly chopped
4-5 spring onions, washed and finely sliced
2 red chili, seeds removed and finely sliced
1. Bring a large pan of water to boil (8 cups), then turn down the heat and stir in your beef paste and 1 of your two seasoning cubes. After a couple of minutes, add the sliced onion, star anise, cinnamon sticks and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Add the lemon juiced and fish sauce and cook for another 10 minutes on the lowest heat.
3. In the meantime, bring a separate large pan of water to boil, add your remaining seasoning cube in the water and cook your rice noodles following the instructions on the packet (usually 6 to 7 minutes). Steam the bean sprouts for same amount of time.
4. Equally divide the noodles, bean sprouts and spring onions between the bowls.
5. When you’re ready to serve, bring your broth back to a boil and cook the raw beef slices for a couple of seconds to medium rare before serving.
6. Add the beef pieces to each bowl, cover with hot broth and garnish with 1 lemon wedge and a small amount of herbs and chili.
Place the remaining herbs & chili on the table for each guest to top up to taste!
If you want to stick to a more traditional flavour, you may want to swap the coriander for mint. I personally tend to prefer it with coriander. You may also want to buy your beef at the butcher as they may be able to slice it paper-thin for you.