July 27, 2009

Good Food channel

During my cooking course I’ve been staying with my brother and he has Virgin Media, so I’ve been watching the Good Food channel on channel 260. I have enjoyed watching some of the shows, but it’s not worth us getting Virgin Media at home just for this channel!

Some of the shows:

  • Market Kitchen Showdown –  they repeat past episodes chosen around a theme (e.g. best pork dish) and get guests to rate the recipes. It’s an OK show and I watch it because Jun Tanaka appears on it, but I find the guests who rate the dishes quite annoying as they keep saying “I like it, but it looks a bit ‘cheffy’ so I’m not going to rate it too highly”. Erm, they’re chefs. What do you expect?!
  • Oliver’s Twist – this is Jamie Oliver’s new show and I’ve only managed to catch a few episodes. I like his laisser faire approach to food and cooking. I really enjoyed his series Jamie At Home, as he talked so much about growing vegetables, so I found it quite useful.
  • Barefoot Contessa – this is an American show hosted by Ina Garten and I watched it when we were living in San Francisco. I was very tempted to buy her cooking books, but the majority of her food seems to be quite calorific!
  • Bill’s Holiday – this is Bill Granger’s new show based on food grown in Australia. I used to really like him, but he’s a bit cheesy now and his voice is quite annoying!
  • Two Fat Ladies – I generally don’t like the look of anything they cook, but I’ve just seen Clarissa Dickson Wright make a Chocolate Crème Brûlée so I’m going to be making that!
  • Rick Stein’s Food Heroes – I can’t stand Rick Stein, but I’m too lazy to change channels when he’s on. I’m not sure what exactly it is about him that annoys me so much. I think it’s because he plays up to the camera too much and tries to show off. For example he visited a garlic farm in Scotland and he peeled a clove of garlic and ate it raw. From the look on his face it just seemed as if he wanted to prove a point that he’s such a big man for eating raw garlic, not because he actually enjoyed it!
  • Ace of Cakes – this is a really cool American show that I got to see in San Francisco. It’s about a speciality cake shop in Baltimore which is owned by Chef Duff and they create the most AMAZING cakes! You really have to see it to appreciate how impressive they are.
  • Hairy Bikers – LEGENDS! These were all repeats but I don’t get tired of watching these guys!
  • Rhodes Across China – I find Gary Rhodes incredibly annoying (about the same amount as Rick Stein!) and I only watched this series because I was interested in the food and seeing the different places he visited in China. It was an interesting series but Rhodes just wanted to do things his own way, even though he was in China to learn how to cook authentic Chinese food so that he could cook a banquet when he got home. I personally think he’s far too arrogant and stubborn to learn anything new.

Ken Hom's Udon Noodles with Beef and Chilli Bean Sauce

Chilli-bean-udon-noodles

MUNCH RATING: 5/5

I used a recipe from a Ken Hom book (that accompanies his new Nutriwok) as a base for this dish. I added the carrots, green beans and mushrooms as I like my veggies! I also added the udon noodles as I love them, but you can use any kind of noodles you like or serve with rice.

His recipe was a bit confusing as he didn’t list the soy sauce in the marinade ingredients, but it is in the directions, so I ended up adding it at the end!
This is a great spicy dish, which is tasty but not too hot. Marinating the beef ensures that it remains soft and tender, whilst also adding flavour to the meat.

As with all stir fries, make sure all the ingredients are prepared before you start cooking.

  • Serves: 2 (but the amount of beef and noodles can be doubled to serve 4)
  • You will need: a large wok or frying pan

Ingredients:
FOR THE MARINADE 
  • 2 Tablespoons reduced salt soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Chinese Shaoshing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour

  • 225g (1/2 lb) beef steak (I used rump), cut into 0.5cm x 5cm slices
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin slices on an angle
  • a handful of green beans, cut in half
  • 5-6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 packs of straight-to-wok udon noodles
  • 1 Tablespoon Chinese Shaoshing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons chilli bean sauce (I used Amoy Toban Jhan Chilli Bean Paste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions:
  1. Mix the marinade ingredients together and add the beef, allow to marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat the wok over a very high heat until it is hot, then add 1 Tablespoon of the oil and when the oil is slightly smoking add the beef and stir fry for about 5 minutes until nice and brown. Remove from the pan and set to one side.
  3. Wipe the wok clean and reheat over a high heat until it is hot. Add the other 1 Tablespoon of oil and heat. Add the garlic and spring onions and stir fry for 30 seconds until it smells fragrant.
  4. Add the carrots, green beans and the mushrooms and stir fry for a few minutes until just starting to soften.
  5. Add the noodles and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until they are heated through.
  6. Return the beef to the pan, then add the rice wine and the chilli bean sauce and stir fry for another minute so that everything is coated evenly (if it starts to stick then you can add a little water to the pan).
  7. Finally, add the black pepper, sugar and sesame oil.
  8. Serve immediately.

July 16, 2009

Granary Knots

TM Granary Knots

MUNCH RATING: 4/5

These rolls taste nice, but when you shape the dough into knots (which was harder than it sounds) they end up looking quite ugly!

They include granary flour we used (which is a trademark of the Hovis brand) so I would definitely make these again, but just shape them into normal rolls!

  • Makes: 12-16
  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 7/425°F/220°C
  • You will need: 2 greased baking sheets

Ingredients:
  • 225g (8oz) strong white flour
  • 1 level teaspoon salt
  • 225g (8oz) granary flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 150ml milk mixed with 150ml hot water
  • half teaspoon malt (this is for flavour, so optional)
  • 20g butter, melted
  • beaten egg or milk to glaze
  • poppy or sesame seeds to top

Directions:
  1. Sift the white flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and then add the granary flour.
  2. Blend the yeast with a little of the milk/water and add to the flour together with the melted butter, the remaining liquid and the malt. Mix to a soft dough.
  3. Place on a lightly floured board and knead well for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and will spring back when lightly pressed (make sure your hands are clean before you start kneading otherwise the dough will just remain sticky).
  4. Fold the dough back on itself towards the centre a few times, then place the ball of dough into a bowl with the seam side down. Cover and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size.
  5. Knock back the dough by gently pressing down with your fingertips to release the air.
  6. Cut the dough into equal size rectangular pieces and flatten out. Fold the edge furthest away from you into the centre and do the same with the edge closest to you, then fold the whole rectangle in half lengthways so you have a sausage shape. Roll this on the board a few times so you it is about 15 cm long, then tie it into a knot (sorry if this didn't make much sense but it's quite hard to explain!).
  7. Place your knots onto your greased baking sheets and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size.
  8. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 7/425°F/220°C.
  9. Carefully glaze the rolls with the beaten egg or milk and sprinkle with seeds.
  10. Bake for about 10 minutes. To test if the rolls are cooked, tap the bottoms, they should sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack.

July 13, 2009

Shortbread

TM Shortbread

MUNCH RATING: 5/5

Everyone said this is the best shortbread they've tasted and better than from a shop!

I’ve only made shortbread once before and I used Stork margarine which didn’t work at all! So I’ve learnt you must use butter, preferably unsalted, and these are really nice when they’re rolled quite thin, about 5mm thick.

  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 4/350°F/180°C
  • You will need: a large mixing bowl, lightly greased baking sheets, a rolling pin, a 5cm fluted cutter

Ingredients:
  • 100g (4oz) butter, softened
  • 50g (2oz) caster sugar
  • 175g (6oz) plain flour
  • extra caster sugar to dip

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4/350°F/180°C.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Sift the flour in a little at a time and mix to a stiff dough. Knead lightly until smooth.
  4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to 5mm thick (if your dough is cracking then just ease the dough together and be delicate with the rolling pin!).
  5. Using a fluted cutter, cut circles approximately 5cm in diameter.
  6. Place on the prepared baking sheets and prick lightly with a fork.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown.
  8. Cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute, then place upside down in the caster sugar so that the biscuits are well coated.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

July 4, 2009

River Cottage Scones

River Cottage Scones

MUNCH RATING: 5/5

I saw these being made on River Cottage recently and they looked truly delicious, so I had to try them as all the scones I’ve made in the past were quite heavy and stodgy. But these are light and crumbly and absolutely AMAZING! Easily the best scones I’ve ever made and possibly eaten! They are not for anyone on a diet as they contain double cream, but they are well worth making and doing a bit of exercise to burn the extra calories!

CHANGES TO THE RECIPE:
I will admit I forgot to glaze them with milk as I was too busy thinking about sprinkling them with demerara sugar, which is my own addition to the recipe, as I like the crunchy sweetness it gives. They still came out brilliantly without the milk.

  • Makes: 8 scones
  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 6/400°F/200°C
  • Oven shelf: upper-middle
  • You will need: large mixing bowl and a baking tray, lightly greased
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt (optional, I didn’t use this as I used salted Anchor butter)
  • 75g unsalted butter (at cool room temperature), cubed
  • 50g caster sugar (on TV they used 100g but I found 50g enough)
  • 1 egg
  • 120ml double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional, I only used ½ tsp)
  • Milk, for glazing (optional)
  • Demerara sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 6/400°F/200°C and lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingers until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, do this in a food processor before transferring the mixture to a bowl. Either way, then stir in the sugar.
  3. Beat the egg and cream together, with the vanilla extract too, if you’re using it. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and bring together lightly with your hands into a dough. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly to form a fairly smooth ball (it will be a bit sticky so just dust with a little bit of flour).
  4. Pat or gently roll the dough out to a thickness of about 4cm. Use a 6-7cm diameter cutter to stamp out scones from the dough (I used a 7cm cutter and only managed to get 7 scones).
  5. Put them on the prepared baking sheet, brush the tops with a little milk or demerara sugar, and bake for about 15 minutes until risen and golden.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes, then serve slightly warm. Scones do not keep well so eat them up quickly!

July 3, 2009

Duck Puffs

Duck Puffs copy

MUNCH RATING: 3/5 

 

This is Ching-He Huang’s recipe, but I have adapted it slightly to suit the ingredients I had.

 

CHANGES TO THE RECIPE:

Ching’s original recipe says it makes 10 Duck Puffs, but you will have lots of filling leftover, which is fine as I used it in some stir-fried some noodles (the duck tastes like Aromatic Crispy Duck so would be nice in wraps with cucumber and spring onion).

 

I have also changed the way the pastry is rolled out, as Ching’s way results in a lot of wasted pastry, so if you do it my way then you should get 16 Puffs out of 1 block of pastry.

 

They were quite time consuming to make, but I think they would be good for a dinner party as they can be prepared in advance and then popped into the oven for the last stage. I served them with cucumber and carrot matchsticks.

 

TASTE TEST:

The duck filling is gorgeous, but the puff pastry makes them a bit dry in the mouth. I would prefer to just serve the filling in wraps.

 

  • Prep: 30 mins plus 20 mins marinating time
  • Cook: min 1 hr 50 mins
  • Can be frozen before baking

 

Ingredients:

  • ½ finger-length piece fresh root ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons plum sauce (I used Hoi-sin sauce instead)
  • 1 tablespoon groundnut/vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons clear honey
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice (this is my addition)
  • 2 duck legs, skin on (make a few cuts into the skin & flesh)
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced (I didn’t have any!)
  • 1 340g block ready-rolled puff pastry (I used Jus Rol)
  • a little flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten

 

Directions:

  1. Marinate the duck: Mix the ginger with the soy and plum sauce (or hoi-sin), oil and honey (and Chinese 5 spice) in a deep dish, then add the duck legs, turning to coat. Cover and chill for at least 20 mins.
  2. Cook the duck: Heat oven to Gas mark 3/325°F/170°C. Lift the duck legs onto a non-stick baking tray, then roast for 1½ hours until crisp and golden. Meanwhile, tip the remaining marinade into a small saucepan and simmer for 2 mins, then cool. When the duck is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and finely shred the meat. Mix with the cooled marinade and spring onions.
  3. Prepare your pastry: Take your block of pastry and cut it into 16 even pieces. Dust your board and rolling pin with a little bit of flour and then roll each piece of pastry into a square.
YOU CAN MAKE TWO DIFFERENT SHAPES FOR YOUR PUFFS:
  • Triangles: put 2 tsp of the duck filling in the middle of each square, brush the edges of pastry with a little egg, then fold the pastry squares in half, pressing to seal so you have a triangle shape.
  • Half-moon: using a 9-10cm round cutter stamp out a circle from each pastry square. Put 2 tsp of the duck filling in the middle of each circle, brush the edges of pastry with a little egg, then fold the pastry circles in half, pressing to seal so you have a half-moon shape
To cook:

Transfer the puffs to a lightly greased baking sheet and brush with more egg. Bake at Gas mark 3/325°F/170°C for 15-20 mins until golden (I turned up the oven to Gas mark 7/425°F/220°C for the last few minutes to make them golden brown).

 

COOK’S NOTES:

  • If you need to re-roll your puff pastry, stack the trimmings on top of each other to keep the layers.
  • Freezing: Can be frozen for up to 1 month. Cook for 5 mins longer from frozen.

 

You might also be interested in: Hoi-sin Pork

Curried Potato Pasties

Curry Potato Pasties

MUNCH RATING: 4/5

I made these ages ago but I didn’t take a photo because I couldn’t wait to eat them! Luckily I kept some in the freezer and we had them for lunch today. They were just as nice cooked from frozen.

CHANGES TO THE RECIPE:
This recipe is from BBC Good Food, but I tweaked the recipe and added sweet potato, which adds a lovely sweet flavour and compliments the curry flavour. Because I added an equal quantity of sweet potato to normal potato, I had some leftover potato filling so I’m going to use it to make fish cakes.

I used the other 340g block of puff pastry (from the pack that I bought for the Duck Puffs) to make these tasty little pasties. I have changed the method for rolling out the pastry to make it easier.

  • Makes 8 and I would serve 2 per person
  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 6/400°F/200°C
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes 

Ingredients:
  • 300g/10oz potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
  • 300g/10oz sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1cm dice (optional)
  • 100g/4oz frozen peas
  • 2 teaspoon oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoon curry paste (I used 2 tsp curry powder, ½ tsp chilli powder and 1 Tbsp tomato ketchup instead)
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (I didn’t use these)
  • Juice of ½ lemon (About 1 tablespoon)
  • handful coriander, chopped (I hate this stuff so didn’t use it)
  • 340-375g block of ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten 

Directions:
  1. Heat a large pan of water, add the potatoes, then cook for 8 minutes until just soft. Add the peas 1 minute before the end of cooking time. Drain, then set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until soft and slightly coloured. Add the curry paste/powder mix and mustard seeds, then fry for a few minutes more until the mixture smells fragrant. Carefully stir in the potatoes and peas, trying not to mash them. Add the lemon juice and coriander, then leave to cool.
  3. Heat the oven to Gas mark 6/400°F/200°C. Place your pastry block onto a lightly floured surface and cut it into 8 even sized rectangles. Roll each rectangle flat until it is approximately 3x5 inches in size. Place about a tablespoon of the potato filling onto one half of the rectangle, then brush the edges with beaten egg and then fold the pastry rectangle in half to cover the filling. Pinch the edges together along the 3 open edges to seal the parcel.
  4. Place on a baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper and brush with more egg and bake for 20 minutes until puffed up and golden brown. 


COOK'S NOTES:
  • If you need to re-roll your puff pastry, stack the trimmings on top of each other to keep the layers. 
  • Freezing: don’t brush with beaten egg if you want to freeze the pasties and cook for 30 minutes if cooking from frozen.


You might also be interested in: Duck Puffs
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