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 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, 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