Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Singapore squids in: Cereal butter style

Cereal butter squid madness

It's been ages since a post! As much as I hate starting the post with an apology...it is because I've been away in Hong Kong fattening myself up and eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And post dinner. And post dinner dinner snacks. And all the goddamn day street hawker snacks. Actually, I think the whole time I was there, I was never starving...but a constant 'I could eat' mentality. Half way up a mountain? 'I could eat'. Winning at the night time horse races at Happy Valley? 'I could eat'. 
There were a million and one dishes I wanted to take back to London and recreate. It's definitely my place of inspiration and I can't wait to go back. Another reason why I've been so rubbish lately is because I had some wonderful news in the form of a deserted beach on an island, my boyfriend, sunset and a proposal. (complete with a full stomach). I'm absolutely over the moon and couldn't be happier. These are the first non food related pics, but I just wanted to share them with you all.
The spectacular and romantic Turtle Bay in Lamma Island

Lamma Island sunset

Great stuff, now that's out the way let's get to the food. Because, let's face it, we could all eat. We went to Singapore for a few days to see the sights and we met up with some friends. We were treated to a brilliant local eatery (the best places in Asia are anything with pictures of the food, plastic chairs, maximum three walls by a busy road, and beer girls making they're rounds). We ordered another traditional dish called cereal prawn. Cereal?! Like cornflake cereal with prawns? OH YES. This was glorious - a dish which is buttery, fragrant, crunchy and sweet all at the same time. It is made from a cereal called Nestum, which is a light wheat cereal brand Malaysians and Singaporeans adore. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any in the UK, and so I've used oats instead. Slightly heavier than Nestum, I switched a few ingredients to make a new variation to better suit this instead.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Little Lo beef short rib pot sticker dumperring

T minus 4 days till the food feast and gorge of our Hong Kong and Singapore trip. The boyfriend has never been, and it's a funny mix of wanting to just see family and do local things as well as do the tourist attractions I've not done in years. But one thing is for certain, the food. I've mapped out all the places I am dying to try. Following a load of Instagrammers from Hong Kong is agony - seeing a beautiful bowl of noodles and then realising you're thousands of miles away till you could taste it...painful. But, a google map of all the best looking local cafés, dim sum, asian fusion is my main goal to work around as many as possible in two weeks. If anyone had any more places to add, feel free to comment below! 

My last little post before I head to HK is in anticipation of a great little place that's popular in Central called Little Bao. Worth the wait and so hard to choose which bao to chow down on. But, the appetisers were so inventive on Asian fusion and everything I love cooking having a mix of British and Chinese culture in my upbringing. 
They do these great short rib beef dumplings. I definitely can't contend with theirs, but I adore short ribs - and the cut works so well for asian flavours, it's a main element in a lot of my supper clubs. 
It's a meat which isn't sold widely enough in supermarkets, but you should always go to the butcher for this sort if thing, as you'll get a beautiful marbling of fat and meat to slow cook to beefy heaven. I get mine from Turner and George, who deliver and you can order from online. It's worth the 4am-7am pre work order time slot I promise. 

Last week I had to defrost the freezer as a new one was being delivered. Playing "eat the fridge and freezer" contents all week led to some interesting combinations. (Onion bhaji and fish cakes?!).  I realised that I have FOUR different types of dumplings in the freezer, and it was almost an intervention in itself of my dumpling/potsticker obsession. So, as a form of therapy...I cooked one last batch ahead of the exciting trip to Hong Kong. This is actually two recipes, the first is beautiful as it stands.  

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Catch a matcha eclair

As it gets colder, my butter and carb intake gets bigger. It's a direct and unfortunate relationship, and very hard when you're trying to save money for a food fest trip to HK and media-ville lends itself well to Christmas lunches and drink in the next few months. It's got so bad, the little paunch has got a name. As I write this, I've just stuffed a cupcake down me, and so my guilt and sugar high drives me to carry on typing in vain. Sunday blues with an icy wind just mean more baking and more slow cooking. So as the short ribs slowly braise in the cooker, I decided to make a little choux classic. My idiotic plan to make these mini just meant I ate more of the suckers - a perfect 2 bites of sugar, cream and chocolate. The matcha powder is a simple mellow hum to the very sweet white choc (I used Green and Blacks) and a really good pop of colour to lure you in. Fancy sugar work on the top is completely unnecessary, but a good way to waste time if you're impatiently waiting for the pastry to cool and the chocolate to set. Eclairs are one last blast of summer - they're lighty and pretty to eat - so go make a batch now. I was testing out some recipes for a moustache Movember bake sale I'm doing at work and thought these would be an ingenious way to get some 'tache-clairs. Follow me on Twitter to see if I can actually pull these off!
The ones below can also be made as profiteroles. Now if only it were able to be so versatile as to include it as one of my five a day.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Fujian seafood fried rice

A luxury twist on comfort food. Without being a total stereotype, I used to live off fried rice. It honestly was my bread and butter, especially whenever I went over to Grandma's house. No 'ma-ma chow fan' (Grandma's fried rice...boy was it a special fried rice) = unhappy, spoilt child. Especially if my Grandma would make my brother's favourite tomato beef. Yes yes, he's the prodigal son...but Grandma, I would still like your fried rice. We would dollop a load of ketchup in the rice (blasphemous) and although it looked odd, it was glorious. Little gems of vegetables, char siu pork and prawns - every little grain cooked to perfection and with the perfect aroma of ginger, spring onion and garlic wafting through from her tiny alley kitchen. If I had one last dish with my Grandma, it would be this one for sure. Will definitely put a post in for her exact recipe once I get it from her, but in the meantime, this is a brilliant (and slightly more exotic) version of fried rice.

The first time I had this was in a restaurant in London. I think it was one of those family clan gatherings and my Uncle shouted out for some Fookin rice. Ahem, what's that Uncle? No need to swear...but it's memorable Chinese name (Fukien..pronounced fookin...originally from Fujian province) all came handy when I wanted to recreate my version at home. The base is a simple egg fried rice, however it has a 'wet' gravy sort of seafood topping made from prawns, scallops and vegetables. No need for my tommy K to dollop in then I suppose. Substitue whatever veggies you want from there - and if you don't have dried scallops patiently waiting in the freezer for these kinds of moments...no worries - you can add fresh scallops or just increase your prawn quantities. There are so many variations of this dish I found, but for me I just worked with what I had available lurking in the cupboards and the Co-op round the corner. A complete meal in one, no need for any other dishes to accompany it if you don't want to. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Crispy chilli pork 'takeaway'

Shorter daylight hours coupled with my new addiction to Orange is the New Black (yes, I'm so late to the game) meant I rushed this post to catch the last bit of sunlight. So much so, that I was up on the roof shooting this just before sundown - so apologies for a rather shoddy photo as it doesnt do this meal justice. This is one of my favourite meals to do - I just wish I knew if this dish had a name. Pork fillet is an underused cut, and I'm not really sure why - it's so easy to use and pretty cheap too. Lean and quick to cook, this was a great excuse to whip up at 5:30 with the sunlight quickly fading. It's a go to dish for me when I've got friends over - a balance of sweet and salt with a hum of chilli lightly tingling your lips. It's slightly reminiscent to a sweet and sour pork shoddy takeaway, but way way better and less sticky and sweet. Cornflour seems to be the chinese cook's best friend - its great to use as a coating for a crispy finish but also a marinade and helps keep meat protected when frying at a high heat. Flexible enough that it's easy to make for one, and just as easy to make for a large group you can change the quantities how you wish. Keep this to flash frying, as its technically cooked twice over - the quicker and hotter your wok, the crispier you can keep the pork for the best texture.

As much as I love takeaways, Chinese takeaways seems to be quite low on my list - it's so hard to find a good one which doesn't obliterate any traditional cooking methods or flavours (lest we not forget the copious amounts of MSG a lot of places use). Just as Americans have admitted to having 'American Chinese' take out as a category of its own, the British are see Chinese takeaways as a bit of a guilty pleasure gorge, with a limited range of what constitutes as good takeaway here. Don't get me wrong, there are the few which go against this (I personally love the Good earth and Dragon palace in earls court), but when I was in my local Sainsbury's I saw a hideous jar of 'Chinese shop chip sauce' which made me feel more than queasy to say the least. This recipe is super quick and super tasty. Time to get your wok on.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Chilli fish balls and dirty noodle heaven: wok to table in my new Tefal range

Gruelling work at the gym and feeble attempts to do a press up call for reward. Probably, no, definitely not the most logical choice in terms of health but it's hard gym sessions like I've had this week which warrant a little comfort food. (Come the colder weather I'll be inserting this as the latest excuse.)
I'm currently preparing for a supper club next week - which always means a little trip to Queensway or Chinatown (in this case both) to get the best ingredients. And as much as I want to resist, the first fridge always seems to have an array of fishballs. It comes before the vegetable section, so I can only assume it's a staple that I must buy...even when it's not on the menu for next week. Another justification I think is if there is an emoji available, then it must be eaten on a regular meal. I recently read of one fanatic who ate for a week only emoji food icons...dedication. 
My recent trip to Hong Kong definitely did not reach the dumpling and fishball quota, much to my dismay. The street hawkers have the best ones, with the lure of the spicy curry sauce smells that they're slathered in. Dirty and wicked in the best way. 
If you've never had these little bouncy balls of wonder, you really need to change that situation immediately and order some. Be it fried, chopped up, boiled or barbecued - you just have to get them into the belly as soon as possible. 
This post is the inauguration of my new Tefal ingenio range I've been kindly given from Tefal. A perfect little kitchen set, this stacks a wok, sauté pan, two saucepans and two frying pans neatly in the space of a cluttered cupboard. How? Detachable handles, which make it easy to pop into the dishwasher, from hob to oven and even then to the table. Having recently fallen amateur cooking idiot recently by heating a ceramic oven dish on the hob (and consequently leading to the dish smashing across the kitchen alongside scraps of Moroccan lamb making an escape for the door), I'm definitely a big fan of hob to oven cookware, which is definitely tricky to come by when you have an electric (and temperamental) hob. 
Perfect for stir frying, the pan heated up in no time, a common gripe with electric hobs and asian cooking which needs a hot pan quick. 
Had I not eaten the wok full of noodles in five seconds flat, the range also has Tupperware lids for the pans- so another handy quick win for leftovers. 
A nifty way to keep your cupboards uncluttered, I would highly recommend this set if you need some new cookware thrills.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sweetheart tart - Hong Kong Milk Tarts

I was lucky enough to go back to Hong Kong for a week last week. Sadly, for a funeral - however the silver lining being able to see family and friends who mean the world to me. An emotional visit to say the least, however I'm so glad I went. Hong Kong to me is sometimes so strange - a homeland, but never technically a home I've permanently lived in and there are elements of great nostalgia, but always new things to discover and admire. Home is wherever your family is, and mine happens to be split between London, Leeds and Hong Kong...not the most convenient, but it makes family time when we all see each other all the more special.

The smells, hustle and noises from central Hong Kong are still astounding, and I can't wait to go back for 2 weeks in December. One of the senses which always gets me is passing chains upon chains of bakeries within the MTR transport stations. You wouldn't dream of picking up a cake for a dinner party from the Underground stations in London, but in Hong Kong no one would bat an eyelid, they're all that good (and clean!). Cakes and tarts always have a special place in my heart, and in the midst of GBBO frenzy and fever, I decided I hadn't done a sweet in a while. A haze of jetlag, I got to baking - however I state my disclaimer now, that the pastry I had made was from an old cook book, and did not make for an easy and thin casing...(and unassumingly large quantities of it were made) so we can probably skip that part of the recipe and would advise anyone to use a normal sweet shortcrust pastry dough. BBC's recipe is an easy win here. I'm pretty sure Mr.Hollywood would not be impressed with my pastry skills this time round. Substitute about 25g of the flour in the recipe for some sieved milk powder for a little more of a milky finish to the pastry if you can. 

The milk tart seems to hide away in the darkest corner of most Hong Kong bakeries. It's like the little sister of the custard tart...a little less known, a little less ambitious but a lot easier to make (mind my pastry...). The filling is a flan like texture, with a silky white finish which slips down so easily you may forget you're tucking into your third consecutive tart without knowing it. The contrast with the buttery and crumbling pastry is just heaven - and all delicately finished with a glimmer of ginger flavours for an unexpected zing.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Accidental tofu, blueberry and chia super smoothie

This most certainly wasn't a planned post. I had a great tofu recipe in mind, however in my post wedding (a friend's, not mine) hangover state I bought the wrong tofu. Put it simply, a scrambled and poor decision making ability from what was left of the weekend. However, I wasn't going to let that mean no post for this week. Onwards, I thought. 
I'd been going through my predictable phase of feeling "the guilt" about eating out, not exercising and general unhealthy habits. With a gusto force of "just do it" I've been picking myself up with going to the gym more and eating healthier. One such habit is making sure I eat breakfast. I normally crash at work around 11, and struggle to stay focused till lunch. But having a protein focused breakfast is a great way to stay full (eggs work a treat but I'm pretty lazy to be getting up any minute earlier than I need to in the mornings). 

My mistake of buying Silken tofu was not in vain... if you've never tried this before, you should - the texture is so creamy and soft, a perfect substitute for yoghurt on smoothies and has added health benefits such as being a great source of all eight amino acids. *google and insert nutritional value should you wish here*. 

Bulk up the tofu based smoothie with some super foods, chia seeds and minimal honey and it's a great post work out treat or quick and healthy breakfast. 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Crab and pork dumplings...a dedication

We're sticking to traditional (well, as close to) Chinese food this time. There isn't always a need to mess with something to try and make it better. And dim sum is a clear example of that. I'm incredibly picky when it comes to dim sum... I rarely go outside three different places in London for the lunch time Sunday rush of trolley dashing...dim sum trolley dashing that is. 
Every Sunday we would join two other families for dim sum in Bayswater. No roasties, Yorkshire puds or apple pie for me...just noodles, har gau and custard buns. What a drag. 
There's something about those Sunday rituals which makes dim sum so special. Even when my brother and I were really young we were allowed in the restaurant (stuffing noodles in our mouths and playing with our toys under the table wasn't just restricted to our house apparently), and I think that really was the start of my education and passion for restaurants and social eating. 

I dedicate this post to my Grandmother, who sadly passed away this week. She was a strong woman who looked after her family with much love. My mum is extremely lucky to have been raised by her. I would only see grandma every few years or so, but the one thing I remember most about her and my grandfather was that we would always go visit her in the same restaurant in Shatin. I remember it for two reasons...the way the staff treated my grandparents like they were their own family (right down to knowing what to order for them) and also the fact we had to pass the Snoopy park every time...amazing. It was probably the most frequented restaurant I ever went to in Hong Kong. Not the best food, but what the restaurant stood for was much more significant. I've been extremely lucky to have known all my grandparents for a long time. It's amazing how a simple lunch ritual can hold such meaning and so many memories.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Hoisin-tahini pork noodles: Chop, cook and chow down

Today was a day for a quick, make it up on the go, sort of recipe. I had some minced pork and cabbage to eat- but no real clue what to put it with until I started cooking. Starving from a run, this was a quick off the cuff meal which is perfect to make with the things lurking in your fridge. 
Noodles seem to be engrained into my weekly staple repertoire - at least twice a week I need to fulfil my noodle crazy craving (much to my boyfriend's dismay).  One of my earliest memories of food is with my brother, secretly sitting under the kitchen table stuffing our mouths with as many noodles as possible. Ultimately, our giggles and mouths jammed packed with noodles led to a mess on the floor...but it did mean my relationship with noodles started off pretty positive afrom what I can remember. 

When my friend Jen told me she's working in a noodle/ramen cafe out in LA I COULDNT CONTAIN MYSELF. Jealousy swept over, an unlimited presence of noodles four times a week? Heaven. And although this recipe most probably isn't on any level of noodle greatness..it's an easy one to chop, cook and chow down. Hoisin and tahini is a great sweet and nutty combination, with a nice crunch of cabbage and edamame (I managed to dig out from the freezer). It barely takes ten minutes to cook, so you just got to try this one! 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Turbo turbo(t) - speedy black bean steamed turbot

As I planned for a post this week, I was finding an excuse to go back to the wonderful Moxons Fishmongers on Bute Street, South Kensington. Great service, great fish and there's just that satisfying thing about trying to go against the supermarket grain and do your big shop in all the farmers' markets, butchers, bakers, local grocery stores etc. Especially when all the supermarkets are within a 2 minute walk from your house, and they scream convenience. It's good to slow down in London sometimes and make a morning out of it, planning, walking, chatting to shopkeepers. Very un-London. However, my British politeness got in the way this time, and I was so quietly angry with myself once I had left the shop. Having to settle for some turbot as opposed to another fish I was hoping for, the guy takes care, time and attention to skin, fillet and deconstruct this whopping turbot. What he said was I could get two fillets out of it, but it was a generous four servings...three more than I really needed for a blog post in fairness. And when it came round to paying, I just had to suck up £25 and pray I wouldn't ruin the fish when I got home. Even my portioning for black cod hasn't been that bad! Leaving the fishmongers slightly cheated and out of pocket, I still find it annoying that I was so British about the whole thing and just coughed up the money...

But boy, did that turbot deliver. Soft, silky and delicate... I was glad that I steamed the fillets to maintain it's juicy goodness. 
We are all familiar with black bean sauce, but so many of us turn to the jar. Actually, in most Asian grocery stores the beans are stocked right there. To make your own black bean sauce couldn't be simpler. Turbo speed for a mid-week dinner - it only takes 7 minutes to steam. Quick cook on your rice cooker, steam some asparagus in the last few minutes in the cooker as well and you're good to go. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Coconut - raspberry ice pops

Whenever my brother comes to visit from Leeds, it's a physical stomach preparation to keep up. Call it sibling rivalry, call it plain stupidity, I have the insane need to eat spoonful for spoonful against my brother. Because, even if his calorie intake allows it, I feel it it unjust for him to eat more than me. And boy, can he eat a lot. 
We had a wonderful dinner at one of my favourite restaurants, the 10 cases - Covent Garden bistro and brilliant wines done to the best standard, all with a wonderful, friendly and relaxed atmosphere. It takes a lot for my brother to step out of his familiar SW london setting, and he was blown away. Little friendly starters of crispy squid, grilled octopus, jamón iberico...followed by a juicy pork belly main course. All at sensible sizes in anticipation for the most immense and best chocolate mousse I've had...maybe ever. May we hope it is the only constant on the menu for the rest of time. 
Desserts aren't HK's strong point, however, when it comes to stealing surrounding cultures' sweet treats, they do a great job! We all know it's been crazy hot up in London and the humidity is anything but pleasant. What better way to come home to a creamy, fruity home made ice pop. Inspired by Magnum's anniversary DIY ice cream bar, this is as sophisticated ice lolly you can't wait to come home to. And it's so simple it's almost embarrassing to write this one up as a recipe. In fact, it's more of an assembly. So, have fun! 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Check out those mussels...

The past week has been a daze, mainly due to my post holiday buzz and general happiness that the next holiday is only a week away. Last week I was in sunny Spain, in a little place called Tamariu, or should I say the Beverley Hills of España. We stayed in a beautiful villa, up in the hills overlooking the sea and ten minutes away from a beautiful town called Begur. It felt like the Cannes you had always hoped for...full of beautiful artisan shops, restaurants and people, and none of the pretentious and expensive malarkey that taints your memory. If you are ever out there, there is an incredible little beach called Aiguablava with an even more incredible seafood restaurant called Toc al Mar. GO.THERE. 

One thing which always makes me feel like I'm well into the holiday is how your view of food changes. As there were ten of us, (and a beautiful kitchen I could practically live in), we cooked most nights - fresh fish, mountains of Spanish tortilla, salads, jamón, wine...and more wine. We even attempted a cake without any scales (buttery deliciousness for your information). You have the time to cook for enjoyment, as opposed to scrapping a meal of sorts after work, and your whole body seems to reset and relax. It's wonderful. That is, until you leave things out on the table and go poolside...and a wiley gang of cats come in and steal your food. Bastards.

The summer hunger you get after swimming can only be relinquished with seafood and shellfish...and mussels hits the spot for me. I wanted to make some of these sweet suckers with a little punchy zing of spring onions. The bright and contrasting colours are inviting and you can pop these mussels in your mouth again and again, like munching on a packet of crisps. The sauce is a take on what the Chinese normally eat with poached chicken. But, I've realised it's just as tasty on rice, noodles and now as a dipping sauce for this dish. Try it out, mussels are economical and most definitely a crowd pleaser. Serve with egg noodles or even just some steamed mantou buns that you can find in asian grocery shops to soak up that delicious sauce. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

For the Langoust-ine day of the year: Cantonese langoustines with noodles

I cooked up these suckers on summer solstice this weekend, and what's great was there was still a lot of light to photograph these before they were immediately devoured. I don't know how, but the sweet langoustine always seems to be the shy wallflower of the crustaceans. Constantly overshadowed and out-trendied by it's siblings like lobster (beefy royalty of the sea), crayfish (punchy vibrant minions) and crabs (even those soft shell suckers have more prominence than little lango). Perhaps it has been forgotten and cast aside due to our malpractice of dousing them in batter and calling it scampi. This breaded ill fate has meant we've actually forgotten that langoustines, served as they are (i.e. not battered and deep fried to a crisp), are deliciously plump, sweet, delicate and succulent. There seems to be a large gap between the top restaurants cooking langoustine for a delectable (and most probably expensive) dish and the keen amateur chef or dinner party menu appearance...when in fact these cute little guys are so simple to cook. To eat, if their shells are on, can be seen as rather daunting (and with about a 25% yield of pure meat it's hard to overcome), however once you know...it's so simple. Twist the head, turn the tail on its side and press down till you hear a crunch. From there, it'll be easy to pull away the meat and peel the shell off.

This recipe normally calls for shelled jumbo prawns, but the sweet little langoes were calling for me - and it's the type of dish where you sort of have to give in to the mess and accept the glorious, sweet and spicy sauce drape over your fingers. If this isn't finger licking good, I don't know what is. You can, of course, take these out their shell before serving for a more "polite" way of eating, but I like the fun of just getting stuck in in a sort of animalistic way. Egg noodles are a great accompaniment to this - it laps up and takes the sauce wonderfully. Langoustines are a truly British produce, but we associate it with holidays in Spain and France. Having recently been to Salcome and experienced some sea-side delights, it's time that we embrace langoustines with open arms (and mouths). The best of a lobster and a prawn put together - who could say no to that? 

Monday, 9 June 2014

Scallywag scallion pancake

Sorry it's been so long since a post. The bank holiday and the stream of hen do's seem to be taking its toll on me and for some reason I've not been strict enough on getting something tasty up on the blog. Naughty.  What's ironic is, I've been wanting to share this recipe for so long, and had done the photos for this - but wasn't inspired to write. The hunger for this dish was there, but the mind...alas, was not. I'm finally sitting down to this for the 3rd 4th attempt to share with you a recipe that is a simple and addictive appetiser/snack. CARBS CARBS CARBS. I'm not going to Marbella this summer, but I am soon heading off to Barcelona I feel the 'no carbs before marbs' rule,  shouldn't apply.
These spring onion pancakes are found in many breakfast shops and for dim sum. I prefer the breakfast route, and dunking this into a bowl of congee (rice porridge) is akin to a British man's eggs and soldiers. Little flecks of maldon salt and spring onions in layers of a simple dough is so easy to pop on the pan to heat up. Keep a stack of these in the freezer and toast up if you're in a rush for an Asian breakkie hit. Those who fear making bread needn't worry - this is a quick, beginners guide to kneading and proofing.

Spring onions (or scallions for the more 'international' reader) are synonymous with Chinese cooking - it makes up a lot of flavour foundations. Chopped fine enough, with a plain dough, it just gives this flatbread of sorts a ping of flavour - and the texture on top of this completes this feeling of satisfaction.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Coconut crispy pork "gua bao"

Yum bun. Bao. Flesh and buns. Momofuku. Thank you glorious chefs for bringing these sweet buns to everyone's lives. These sweet Asian pillowy sandwiches are a revolution to my life.. Well, maybe just to my diet. When I made these Asian lion's head meatballs last year, it was to satisfy my boyfriend's obsession  love of sandwiches. These certainly tick the box too. The traditional "gua bao" from Taiwan  is the godfather of bao: signature pickled greens, coriander, crushed peanut powder as the holy trinity of accoutrements... Lest we forget the sweet and sticky pork belly slices. I am a total pork belly fanatic and devotee. How I've managed to have so little pork belly on the blog so far is atrocious. This recipe draws inspiration from the original, but just some personal tweaks suited to my taste. 

I've got to admit before you read any further I'm a total cheater here. Those buns...aren't mine. There are some great recipes out there, but you need time and patience. And faith that you've not wasted four hours for nothing. When I first started out recipes for buns for supper clubs, there were so many variations: different rising times, gluten levels, fat content, flour brands, kneading levels...it's endless torture if you aren't a pro at bread. Now, I have a stock pile in my freezer that I can always whip out should the craving call for me. However, in comes convenient frozen buns from Asian food stores. Since these buns have become more famous, they're readily available in most places which is fabbo. 

What goes in it is up to you. I believe pork fillet to be an underused, value for money, secret weapon for bite sized glory. It's protected in cornflour when fried, so stays crispy on the outside and full of juicy goodness on the inside. Tucked into a soft bread bun, sliced carrots and a sweet coconut cashew crumb it's a perfect "sandwich" to put a smile on your face. You can use this pork recipe for noodles, rice or a side dish with vegetables...don't just limit yourself to buns, just enjoy how you want. The sweet sugar combo will surprise you. I took the idea from a pork belly dish we have in Hong Kong - where the belly is cooked and served cold, to dip into a choice of a spicy mustard kick, or caster sugar for a contrasting flavour. 

Monday, 28 April 2014

A Matcha made in heaven: Matcha and white chocolate puds with sticky pecan brittle and berries

Glimmers of sunshine peaking through the dark clouds every now and then can only be good signs that better weather is on the way. My office has floor to ceiling windows, overlooking glorious Regent's Park, and can really have an effect on the office mood and how the day whizzes (or crawls) past. Since booking my summer holiday, it's been the kick up the ass to get back to a relatively less noodle, rice and chocolate shaped body. And what better way to do it than fully take advantage of the park and go on a run round the park to clear my mind and burn a few calories as opposed to attempting to work and eat "al desko." 

A slight snag along the way...in that I'm so proud I've gone on my run, I think my metabolism is invincible for about an hour later and really go to town on treating myself, or should I say fooling myself into food I don't really need. Dangerous, given that in my old job a tricky weekly client meeting was almost always rewarded by an Eat matcha chiller- (ie a green tea creamy frapuccino) - and this mental conditioning of warmer weather and treating myself at work has slightly spiralled into a matcha / green tea obsession. 
I love anything with green tea matcha powder - ice cream, frapuccino, cookies, cake...you name it, I'd probably eat it. Matcha powder can be pricey, but a little goes a long way, and a lot of Asian grocery stores sell smaller pouches of the fine powder, perfect for this recipe! Another easy make ahead dessert, hugely satisfying and the flavours balance each other perfectly. Smooth mellow matcha pudding, sweetened with soy milk and white chocolate which is cut through with a slight zing from mixed berried and a brittle pecan crunch for texture. You obviously don't have to make all the elements of this dessert, but it's a well rounded pud if you're making the effort. Give yourself about 20 to 30 minutes to prepare this, and you'll be glad you made the effort. A beautiful spring green and bright red colour, it's sure to brighten your day. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Nobu: the black cod-father

This is a warning. You need two days for this recipe. There is nothing I hate more than getting all your ingredients in and proceeding with the first few steps to find you haven't read through the recipe. That sneaky "leave to marinate overnight" or "set aside to rise for four hours"... bastard, wily instructions.
As prestigious as Nobu's dish is (and as glorious as black cod is), please don't find the price tag, reputation and the amount of time it takes to make, intimidating. It's surprisingly simple and it really only takes a few steps to actually prepare. It just needs two days to marinate the beautiful sweet miso, mirin and sake into the fish.
Now I definitely can't take any credit for the recipe of this dish. Black cod with miso is synonymous with Nobu Matsuhisa and no doubt you should order it if you see it on a Japanese menu. But this isn't to say you shouldn't try it at home, and impress your guests. I hadn't actually planned on making this, until I was enamoured with the new Whole Foods in Fulham. I could walk up and down the aisles for a whole day, and it was one of the first places I saw where they sold black cod. Also known as sablefish or butterfish, this fish is so silky and buttery - it's quite difficult to overcook as it's fat keeps everything soft and moist, even that of a novice cook.
This became the perfect experiment for bank holiday weekend. Two extra days to find the ingredients (thank you Whole Foods), marinate the fish and treat yourself on Monday for a last Soeing hoorah. It's perfect to make in advance for friends, as cooking on the day barely takes fifteen minutes.
I've tried this with a similarly flaky and fatty fish as a test (should I mysteriously be unable to get myself to Whole Foods...pah!) and seabass works a treat. However, you'll need to adjust the cooking times slightly - in terms of price, there isn't much difference between the two, so do try black cod if you can.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

XO-llent Eastern Easter eggs - steamed egg custard with XO sauce

Apologies for the lack of post last week- it's the first week I've missed since starting the blog and I've been feeling guilty about it all week...well, not too guilty considering I spent a lovely weekend in Cambridge basking in the sun eating scones (they most certainly don't count as bread..right? Oh gawd, maybe I now have two things to be guilty about)
However, it did give me time to take a step back from the blog and see I hadn't done a traditional recipe from Hong Kong for a while. And although this dish might not be a regular on menus, it definitely was at Mama Lo's house. A traditional home-style one dish wonder, it is super cheap to make and feasible for both breakfast and dinner times (so twice the reason to make this!). Whilst most of my friends were tucking into fish fingers and chips for tea, I'd be requesting this comforting bowl of plain rice and steamed egg to place in my hands and chow down on in front of watching the Flintstones or Wacky Races on TV (and thus, giving myself away as a classic child of the 80's). Similar to the consistency of panna cotta, it is an unbelievably smooth texture, which breaks off like a delicate tofu piece (and with more punchy flavour too). It almost creates its own sauce as its so good to eat with rice on its own. It totally dominates scrambled eggs any day, and if you're looking for something different to your normal omelette, scrambled, poached eggs rut, look no further.
XO-llent sauce for royalty: scallops, prawns and chilli

For this recipe, I've added on top a great (optional) sauce called 'XO sauce' to elevate this into a full meal - which, to the Chinese, is the GOD of sauces. It's a sort of prestigious condiment, which is more a mini meal in itself. It is a spicy seafood sauce made from prawns, scallops and ham - and originates from HK restaurants in the 80's. The reason why it's called XO - is from XO cognac. However, there isn't a single drop of the stuff in there, it just denotes how 'prestigious' and high end this sauce is, as it would only be served in restaurants of the highest standards. It's relatively cheap to buy in jars in China town, but I definitely would try making your own.
The egg 'custard' calls for this wondrous seasoning known Maggi sauce - it's a true underdog of Asian seasoning (maybe given its origins are actually from Switzerland), but if you don't have this it's not the end of the world.
One Happy Meal please

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Spring clean super soba noodles with tofu

So, this post is in dedication to Emily, my flatmate. Don't worry, it's not an "in loving memory", she is alive and well, but she does move out Lolo's HQ in a few weeks. After two years of madness, an alarming number of Green & Blacks chocolate bars and 90% onesie wearing around the house I will miss my partner in crime. She has been a great support of Lolo's kitchen - from being a guinea pig, sous chef and cheerleader. 
Maybe this post should be a dedication to her new diet she has to follow. After some extensive tests, poor Embo has to endure a new regime for 12 weeks. That means no wine, (I repeat, NO WINE, the insanity) no citrus, dairy, berries, sweets, fried food...the list goes on. It goes on for about seven pages! But, there are some things she can eat more of which is very exciting. Tofu, sesame, oily fish, nuts, soya, avocado and red meat being but a few. Hoorah! All mixed together, no thanks. But, I was inspired to make sure my Embo had a tasty dinner she could easily cook up. 
Sesame, so I'm told, is a great source of calcium - and tahini paste is something to behold. A wonderful base for marinating, dressings, sweet fillings, spreads... And so readily available in stores now. 
You can make this recipe with any sort of noodles, swap tofu for chicken/beef/pork- whatever you please. I like soba noodles for this, as it's a great cold - pack it away for lunch al desko! 
Fresh, healthy, Spring clean for your tummy

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Mi-so happy chicken: steamy dreamy one pot chicken wonder

There are many little wins in a  fatty's foodie's day. Today was one of those days where a string of little, insignificant decisions happened to culminate to a very happy day. Pondering over an inconceivable amount of smoothie/juice concoctions and winning with a good choice at Crussh, passing by Whole Foods and being able to find a reasonably sized (and priced) bag of Chia seeds I had been searching for and sitting down for a sunny Sunday brunch without having to wait for a table. The good luck happy vibes had aligned in all it's sunny glory and was topped off with this recipe. I probably could have taken a few more photos to get the styling just right, but my boyfriend and I couldn't stop sneaking bites throughout the shoot. These are the first shots of the year outside in the sunshine, with new little bowls I found at a steal on sale. Hope you like them! So this recipe is now known as my happy mood one pot chicken. 

Traditional Chinese cooking has stayed traditional in every sense of the word. Techniques, produce and values...however the only thing that has moved with the times is the humble rice cooker, the only piece of technology that has ever been integrated and accepted into the Chinese kitchen. And even then, they all seem to look like they're from the 80's. Off white, three buttons, faded Disney stickers... an heirloom to say the least. But boy does it deliver every time. The chicken is placed on the rice halfway through cooking the rice for perfect, gentle fresh and tasty steamed chicken. I can barely call this cooking. 
For those who don't have a rice cooker, shame on you, but it is still possible with a pan. Alternative instructions provided below. Enjoy my fatties foodies!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Star anise plum glazed pork chop

It's been a super weekend with some wonderful warm rays of sunshine. An incredibly British habit to constantly start conversation off with weather, but it can't be helped when we have such little time with the sun. And what followed this British habit was quite the British weekend. Long walks in the park, trips to Maltby street market and foodie treasures and a few setbacks of disappointment. A little house trip to the zoo was thwarted when we arrived just at closing time. Not to worry, we'd booked into a nice supper at Bumpkin, which does beautiful seasonal British food. I was double thwarted when I had set my eyes on the specials - pork chop with kale, only to be told as we were ordering that all the specials had finished. 'Maybe try the pork belly?' said the waiter I then bore a strong disliking to for the rest of the night for not telling me earlier what was available. A delusional and internal rant was circulating around in my head....What sort of crazy substitute is pork belly to pork chop? When you're really happy you've made a decision for pork chops I tell you it's a difficult thing to change your mind. I think I was irrationally upset because I know Bumpkin do such great food, I could imagine exactly how perfect it would have been prepared - quality produce, simply seasoned and immaculately cooked for that memorable and moreish first bite. I settled (hardly settled as it was very tasty) for their 'Cow Pie' but my childish side was still yearning for something I couldn't have. I must have looked up longingly at the specials board at least 10 times. To console myself I set my eyes on their legendary apple pie with hazelnut crumble, which I always like to treat myself to. 
The waiter failed to remember that the apple dessert was off the menu as well. I decided to put him on my hitlist and grumble about my crumble all the way home.

However, with the pork chop craving still set, I decided to create something to satisfy my cravings. Plums are a great fruit to work with, pretty much enough varieties to mean they're always in season, and sweet and tangy enough to add to a sauce for savoury. It's almost a twist on sweet and sour pork, but the star anise and oyster sauce give a more darker and sophisticated flavour. It's surprisingly quick to make, so perfect for a mid week dish.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Supper club - come on down!

Last night Lolo's kitchen met and fed another group of wonderful people for supper club. Here's the menu  for you to peruse. If you're wanting a different experience in London with some of your friends please contact me and we can arrange a date. The food is Asian influenced cuisine, similar to the blog recipes you see here.
The way it works for now is that you organise your mateys to come over, treat my house like a private dining room and enjoy. It's BYOB, so you can bring as much or as little alcohol as you want, choose any tunes which tickle your fancy and eat, dance and drink the night away. For approx £20 per head it includes a cocktail, three courses, nibbles and tea/coffee.
I can accommodate up to 8 people - if you've got special dietary requests, a special occassion, food you want from my blog, themes etc. we can chat together for a more personalised service, just shoot over a little email.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Mochi monsters: Cookies and cream mochi snowballs

Let's defy social conventions...well, nothing too radical - it's just ice cream in March for heaven's sake. It's cold and miserable out there, but there are glimmers and afternoons of sunshine and Spring which can only put a smile on our faces. That, for me, is more than enough of a sign to capitalise on a supermarket ice cream deal.
Hong Kong has the most wonderful flavours when it comes to frozen yoghurts and ice creams - and while they don't have the prestige of a creamy and luxurious Italian gelato, they do take inspiration from neighbouring countries to host a variety of creative concoctions. Mochi being one of them.
I can't claim this as a Hong Kong recipe. Mochi ice cream hails from Japan, but it holds a dear and distant memory of hot and sticky summers in Hong Kong. Back in a dinky old apartment building in North Point where my grandparents lived, I specifically remember being stuck in an uneasy lift with my grandma after a trip to the market. We were there for a good hour, but I specifically remember being consoled by two little snowball dumplings of mochi ice cream. A little toothpick in the packet to pick it up with, the time seemed to fly by as I tried to make the ice cream last as long as possible.

Mochi is a sticky, translucent dough made from glutinous rice flour - almost like an Asian version of Turkish Delight in texture. On its own its not much to behold, however paired with some ice cream...it's bliss. I found that London are starting to embrace it, with Snog frozen yoghurt branches offering little mochi cubes as a topping for their delicious Snog yoghurts. Simple to make ahead and keep in your fridge as a mini dessert or sweet treat after work or dinner it's definitely worth trying out. Tips here are to make sure you have a lot of cornflour on hand, as the mixture is extremely sticky (but manageable with corn flour) and try to have cold hands and work quickly. (see my instagram page @loloslittlekitchen to look at a video of the speed you need and how to wrap the mochi)