Quesadilla: With refried beans, sweet potato and tomato salsa dip

Quesadilla: A Cracking Good Food Session

Quesadilla and Salad

Quesadilla and Salad

According to Wikipedia, a quesadilla is “a flour tortilla or a corn tortilla filled with a savory mixture containing cheese, other ingredients, and/or vegetables, cooked often on a griddle, then folded in half to form a half-moon shape”. Or as the Cracking Good Food Cooking Lead called it “fancy cheese toasties”.

Stuffed flat breads are available the world over, in various forms and flavours, so are a fairly good way to introduce people to new flavours and foods without it seeming too different from what they may be used to. In the UK, a ‘cheese toastie‘ is, in its’ purist form, two slices of bread with some cheese in between them and grilled until the bread has crisped up and the cheese all gooey inside. There are of course lots of variations to these fillings, my personal favourite being cheddar cheese, mushrooms and chilli flakes! Even thinking about it makes my mouth water…

Cracking Good Food is a community cooking network promoting cooking from scratch, and using sustainable and seasonal ingredients. So for this session we were showing older people how to use store cupboard ingredients and left overs to create tasty quesadilla in less than 30 minutes. I guess the significance of the session being for older people was that it was the main age group the client worked for. When chatting with some of the participants, some were nervous of cooking recipes that hadn’t been taught by their mother/grandmother. Whereas others were keen to try new recipes from different world cuisines. The ease of this dish means that it is open to anyone who wants to create their own tasty meal, especially those on a tight budget or wanting to reduce their food waste by using up bits of left overs in the fridge.

Quesadilla, Hot Salsa and Salad

Quesadilla, Hot Salsa and Salad

Using ready made large wheat flour tortillas, and created an easy version of ‘refried beans’, sweet potato filling and a hot tomato salsa. I’m going to share these recipes from memory as I forgot to pick up a recipe sheet!

The fillings and salsa dip use the same base flavour ingredients which helps bring synergy to the dish but also means there are fewer ingredients to buy for people living on a tight budget, as well as reducing the numbers of spices being left to go stale in the cupboard!

Refried Beans

Refried Beans

Refried Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of black eyed beans (rinsed)
  • 1 can of pinto beans (rinsed)
  • 1 medium red onion (finely diced)
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a large, deep sided, frying pan and fry the onions and garlic until lightly browned.
  • Add the cumin and all the beans, simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add water if it is looking too dry.
  • Once ready, add salt and pepper and coriander and give a final stir through.
Hot Tomato Salsa

Hot Tomato Salsa

Hot Tomato Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (use chopped fresh tomatoes if preferred)
  • 1 medium red onion (diced)
  • 1 large sweet red pepper (diced)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 small handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  • In a medium saucepan heat the oil and slowly fry the onions and garlic until lightly browned
  • Add the sweet red peppers, tomatoes and spices. Simmer over a low heat until you get a smooth paste like texture, about 10 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with coriander before giving it a final stir through

Spiced Sweet Potato filling

Ingredients:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes (cubed)
  • 1 medium red onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground smoked chipotle chili (or any chili powder)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, boil the sweet potato until softened then drain the potatoes, saving some of the water for later. Roughly mash the sweet potato leaving some big chunks for added texture
  • In a medium saucepan heat the oil and slowly fry the onions and garlic until lightly browned, then add the spices
  • Add the mashed sweet potato to the spices onion and garlic and stir until thoroughly combined. Add some of the saved potato water to the mix so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Warm through but do not overcook.
Quesadilla

Quesadilla

I’m not going to go through the steps of how to put together a quesadilla as there have been some great people before me who have already published step by step guides, so please refer to them.

Quesadilla and Salad

Quesadilla and Salad

Going back to the ‘cheese toastie’ comparison, the only other ingredients you need are the bread and the cheese. So get your tortillas and some of your favourite cheese and start building your tasty quesadillas… and you don’t need to be over 55 to enjoy them! 😉

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Florentines

Naked Florentines

Naked Florentines

Florentines

Florentines

For Christmas 2014 I didn’t have a lot of baking planned but wanted to try a couple of new recipes. There have been a few Florentine recipes being posted recently and I do like the look of them! So I decided to give them a try… My dad is pretty difficult to buy gifts for so this Christmas he got a hamper of goodies, mainly shop bought foods as I worried that he won’t get round to eating homemade foods with all the extra treats that are around during the Christmas holidays!

My dad has to control his intake of sugar and fat intake as diabetes and heart problems run in the family. He likes to snack in between meals but isn’t a fan of chocolate. These Florentines seemed like an ideal addition to his hamper since they are mostly made of store-cupboard ingredients, so can sit around for a little longer in a hamper. Although they are made of sugar, a little goes a long way and the use of dried fruits adds lots of natural sweetness too.

I came across this useful article where the writer did all the hard work of trying out several Florentine recipes and came up with the ideal one. Who am I to go look a gift horse in the mouth? I did change make some changes to the ingredients for the recipe to adapt to the dried fruits that I had to hand. I also decided to skip the chocolate coating, hence the ‘naked’ Florentines!

Florentines

Naked Florentines

Ingredients:

  • 45g Butter
  • 60g Demerara sugar
  • 100g Dried cranberries, roughly chopped
  • 50g Soft dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 60g Blanched almond slivers
  • 15g Plain flour
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1 tbs Double cream

Method:

  • Heat oven to 180 degrees C and line a large baking tray with grease-proof paper
  • In a small saucepan melt the butter and sugar on a low heat, set to one side
  • In the meantime combine all the dried fruits and nuts in a bowl and toss in the flour
  • Stir the double cream and salt into the melted butter then add the fruit and nut mixture
  • Spoon 1 tsp blobs of the mixture onto the prepared baking tray and flatten as much as possible and leaving enough space around each round for spreading when baking
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, mine took 10 minutes and were already very brown on the edges! Allow to cool completely in the tin otherwise they will fall apart
  • Store in an air tight container for up to 5 days
Florentines

Florentines

 Apologies for the poor quality of the photos but you get the idea! 🙂

Duck Egg Curry

Myanmar (Burmese) Duck Egg Curry

Myanmar Duck Egg Curry

Egg curry is a new idea for me, and it really surprised me that I hadn’t considered it before! I tend to bake more than I cook so always have eggs in the house. But often the eggs go passed their best as I struggle to use them up. The main reason I don’t do much cooking is because I don’t like to cook unless there is someone else to cook for. These days my partner is living away as he has gone to university as a mature student, so I find myself having dinner at my sister’s or my mum’s house. Cooking for one can be pretty dull since I tend to stick to a few one-pot recipes.

This Duck Egg Curry I tried for the first time on a recent trip to Myanmar has become my new ‘one pot curry’ recipe! It’s also a tasty way to use up all those left over eggs without having to break out the butter and sugar to bake a cheeky cake… Best served with fresh boiled rice and some stir fried greens!

This dish is commonly found in Myanmar and is a very popular lunch time meal as it is very cheap to make as well as being a quick meal to cook in the morning. I was only in Myanmar for a couple of weeks but learnt that there is still very much a culture of shopping in local wet-markets first thing in the morning. There are more supermarkets popping up in the cities but not many people have refrigerators and electricity is temperamental so it still isn’t practical to stockpile perishable foods.

There are very few ingredients in Duck Egg Curry so can be made from store-cupboard  ingredients if there is no time to visit the market in the morning before the working day starts. In Myanmar it is still the norm that women in the household do the shopping and cooking. As wages are low, it is common to see workers carrying metal tiffin lunch boxes to work in the morning, usually a layer of rice, some curry and some stir fried vegetables. When my colleagues brought out their lunches, I was always excited to see what they had prepared that day. It was so much more exciting than the standard English lunch of sandwiches!

Myanmar Egg Curry

Myanmar Egg Curry

*Recipe courtesy of Harmoneat

Ingredients:

  • 6 Duck Eggs
  • 3 Tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Shrimp Paste (can fish sauce instead or omit for a vegetarian version)
  • Water
  • 2 tbs Vegetable Oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 Dried Red Chilli
  • 6 Inches Ginger Root, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 Shallots, peeled and roughly chopped

Method:

  • Soak the dried chilli in some warm water for 10 minutes to soften
  • Boil the duck eggs for 5 minutes until hard boiled, once boiled peel the eggs and cut in half horizontally then set to one side
  • Make the curry paste by pounding the re-hydrated chilli, garlic, ginger and shallots in a pestle and mortar until you get a smooth paste (use a blender if you want to be are short on time)
  • In a deep sided frying pan (with a lid) stir fry the curry paste in the vegetable oil to release the fragrance of the spices, around 3 minutes
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, shrimp paste, and a cup of water. Stir to combine and make a thick curry sauce
  • Place all the egg halves face down into the sauce in one even layer and simmer for a few minutes, before turning all the eggs over so the yolks are facing upwards
  • If the sauce is very thick, add some more water before putting the lid on the pan and simmering for 10-15 minutes. Add salt for seasoning
Duck Egg Curry

Duck Egg Curry

I have cooked this recipe using chicken eggs as a substitute very successfully, as duck eggs are a bit harder to come by back home in the UK! This dish is pretty healthy as not a huge amount of oil is used and the eggs yolks bring richness to the curry. It still tastes great without the shrimp paste for vegetarians; I once forgot to add it! 😉

Red Curry Paste

Red Curry Paste

This red curry paste is a very simple recipe that forms the basis for ‘red’ curries in Myanmar. Make a big batch and keep a home made jar in the fridge sealed with a layer of oil for an fresh curry paste free from preservatives! 😀

For more recipes from Myanmar, check out Harmoneat’s website where you can find downloadable recipe cards. 😀

Myanmar

A New Direction, Burmese Food and Obama

A New Direction, Burmese Food and Obama

It’s 10:30 am on a sweltering Saturday morning in Yangon, Myanmar. I’ve already been up since 7 am, hand washed some clothes and had a leisurely breakfast. Life could not be more different than 2 months ago when I left a steady job in the UK looking for a new adventure… I think I found it! 😀

This is a pretty long post, sorry for taking the time to self indulge. The food bit comes at the end…

I’m not usually the adventurous type. I didn’t spend my youth backpacking around the world and I have worked hard, really hard, to build a career in the not-for profit sector in the UK. Saying that I did take a bit of a gap year when I was 27 and headed off to Tanzania, East Africa, to do some volunteer development work. Back then I’d been working for a few years after my Masters degree in Development Studies but I don’t think I had a huge amount to offer the world. Now at the age of 32, and with another 5 years of life experience under my belt I feel ready to make another stab at contributing something positive in the developing world.

Coming to this decision has been fairly easy for me. I’ve been feeling unsettled with my life for a long time, maybe two years or more. But like a lot of people I looked for distractions and kept myself busy so I didn’t think too much about how dissatisfied I was with my life. Don’t get me wrong, I was comfortable and surrounded by loving family and friends! It wasn’t that I was in a crappy job or looking to make more money… I just had a general feeling of discontent. Most nights going home in a bad mood, being no fun to be around and looking for a excuses to justify my unhappiness. I began to realise that I’m the only person who could change this!

Follow your heart!

Follow your heart!

When I started to tell people my plans to leave work and go abroad to ‘do something’, the most common reaction was “Wow, you’re brave!”. And my response was always “Or stupid!”… I made this decision quite early on in the year and as the time drew nearer to leaving my job I began to worry and about the consequences of my actions. But today I know for sure that I have made the right choice…

Right after I finished work, I went on a two week holiday to Sri Lanka. It was planned long ago and helped to cushion the blow of being jobless and without direction for the first time in a long time! It kind of felt like I was just taking a long vacation. Sri Lanka was amazing! We traveled right across the country and back, tasting delicious foods and picking up some new cooking techniques. On returning to the UK, I moved house and started doing some voluntary work. I found that not having a full time job gave me the space to explore working in other areas which I combine my passion for food and my skills in the community development field.

So that’s how come I’ve ended up in Yangon, Myanmar. You may know it by the old colonial name of Rangoon, Burma. I’m visiting a social enterprise called Harmoneat who are ‘Building Communities, Through Food’. Sounds perfect for me right?! 🙂

Harmoneat are currently looking for volunteers to help grow their business, a Burmese cooking school in Yangon, so they can start to raise funds for their community development work. Check out their website, if you have an interest in food you may find their work as exciting as I do!

I’m 7 days into my two week visit to Yangon. I’m here to see how the city is and get to know Harmoneat a little better. I wasn’t sure what to expect since Myanmar has been quite closed off from the rest of the world over the last 60 years. The military dictatorship in Myanmar officially ended in 2011, with the next general elections scheduled to take place around the end of October 2015. Arriving in Yangon, everything felt kind of familiar. My family are originally from Hong Kong and Yangon reminds me very much of Hong Kong, but maybe the way Hong Kong was 20 years ago… The city is vibrant and full of life, people live simply but technology and western influences have begun to take hold! Everywhere you see young people stuck to their smart phones and multistory apartment blocks are being built all over the city.

Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi- Nov 2014

Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi- Nov 2014 (www.abc.net.au)

President Obama has been in town this week too. I wasn’t aware of this until someone was complaining about the traffic jams, blaming Obama’s security for the massive delays it is causing to every day people going about their day to day lives. This is Obama’s second visit to Myanmar in two years and his visit has obviously caused a stir in the media. I’m sure that the Burmese people have mixed opinions about his visit and his speeches, but I can see that it is an exciting era in Myanmar! I look forward to being seeing the future of Myanmar and positive change for the good of the people.

Myanmar

Myanmar

So back to the food! Myanmar’s food is massively diverse due to the numerous ethnic groups that make up the population. Myanmar borders the countries of Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand, all having an influence on Myanmar food and culture! Can you Imagine the melting pot of ingredients and exciting flavours to be discovered?

In the mere 7 days I have been here, I have only just dipped my toes into the array of foods available to try. It is so unfortunate that there is such a limited amount of food that the body can consume when you are faced with having to make difficult choices every meal time… what to eat next?! My life is so hard these days, right?! 😉

I also had to fortune to attend a Harmoneat cooking class and market tour earlier in the week, learning 5 new recipes one one 3 hour cooking class. The tastes were amazingly varied and everything was made from fresh ingredients bought from the market that morning. I’ll be posting the recipes shortly! 🙂

Myanmar-Tea shop

Myanmar-Tea shop
(http://asiastreetfood.com/)

I’ve eaten out quite a lot here and food is amazingly cheap to buy! There is a variety of food outlets, from a basic road side tea shop to upmarket western restaurants selling nouvelle cuisine. Of course the prices vary dramatically depending on if you are eating local or imported produce, but considering you can get a bowl of noodles with dumplings for less than £1 in a decent restaurant frequented by locals and tourists alike I’d say that food is comparatively cheap…

Shan Chicken Noodles with Dumplings

Shan Chicken Noodles with Dumplings

 I have plenty of food pictures to share as I have been eating my way around Yangon, but I’ve also recipes to share too! Thanks for your patience in getting to the end of this long post, I promise the next posts will be going back to recipes… 🙂

Coconut and Pineapple Layer Cake

Coconut and Pineapple Layer Cake

Coconut and Pineapple Layer Cake

Coconut and Pineapple Layer Cake

I’ve gone from hardly baking any cakes recently to two birthday cakes in one week! The first being a Chocolate and Caramel Cake (post to follow) and the second was this Coconut and Pineapple Cake. It is almost a year to the day that I last baked a Coconut Cake. I know this because the cake was made for my cousin’s birthday and this cake was made for her next birthday! What else do you bake a coconut addict than a Coconut Cake?

Since last year’s cake was a bit complicated, and this year I didn’t have as much time so I tried a simplified version with the additional flavour of pineapple to give it a twist! After lots of searching for Pineapple and Coconut cakes, I ended up using a mish-mash of recipes to tailor the cake to the ingredients I actually had to hand (I couldn’t be bothered to head to the shops!) 🙂

I am going to be the first to admit that this cake didn’t turn out too pretty, however for what it lack in the eye candy department it more than makes up for in flavour! I have a knack of trying to fit too many things in at the same time, so I was finishing the decorating of this cake whilst last minute packing for a trip to Myanmar (Burma) the next day. I’d like to think that if I had more time I would have spent more time on the presentation, for example getting some dried pineapple slices and making them into pretty flowers to top the cake. However my attempts to get some at the local supermarket were fruitless (excuse the pun!) and I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so a bit of quick chocolate writing was what I settled for… any suggestions for future cake decorating in the comments box below please! 😀

Although this cake has a few steps, it is actually quite simple to make as the pineapple filling and the coconut custard for the frosting can be easily made whilst the sponge is baking in the oven! The ingredients are mostly store cupboard basics so should be fairly easy to get together. Feel free to use fresh pineapple if you can get it (and have the time to cut it up and prep it!)

Cake: 

  • 175 g Self Raising Flour
  • 1.5 tsp Baking powder
  • 130 g Caster sugar
  • 3 Medium eggs
  • 130 g Butter, melted
  • 2 tbs Coconut cream
  • 60 g Desiccated coconut
Pineapple Filling

Pineapple Filling

Pineapple filling:

  • 540 g Can of pineapple (340 g drained weight)
  • 2 tbs Cornflour
Coconut Custard

Coconut Custard

Coconut Cream Frosting:

  • 370 ml Coconut milk
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 20 g Caster sugar
  • 2 tbs Cornflour
  • 300 ml Double cream

To Decorate:

  •  20 g Desiccated coconut, toasted
Coconut Cream and Pineapple Cake

Coconut Cream and Pineapple Cake

Method:

For the Cake:

  • Using an electric whisk, beat the eggs and sugar until you see ribbons trails when stirred, lightly beat in the coconut cream
  • Slowly stir in the melted butter, try to avoid knocking too much air out of the mixture
  • Sift in the flour and baking powder along with the desiccated coconut, lightly combine so it is just mixed together
  • Bake the batter in a lined round 23 cm spring form cake tin for 25 minutes, 180 degrees C (fan oven)
  • Remove cake from the tin and allow to cool completely

For the Pineapple filling:

  • Pour the pineapple juice/syrup from the can into a jug and combine with the cornflour until smooth
  • Chop up the pineapple into small chunks and put into a saucepan
  • Warm up the pineapples in the pan and add the cornflour and juice mixture, keep on a low heat and the mixture will slowly thicken to look similar to apple sauce
  • Leave to one side to cool completely

For the Coconut cream frosting:

  • Make a coconut custard by combining the egg yolks with the cornflour into a smooth paste, warm in a saucepan and slowly add the coconut milk into the thicken egg mixture so you have a smooth custard
  • Keeping the pan on a low heat, add the sugar and continuously whisk until the mixture forms a very thick custard, don’t allow the custard to stick to the bottom of the pan
  • Set the custard to one side until completely cold. This can be made ahead and refrigerated, but ensure you cover the custard with cling film to prevent it from forming a skin
  • Whip up the double cream until peaks form, add the coconut custard and lightly whisk to combine

To assemble and decorate:

  • Cut the cake through the middle to create two layers, using the top as the bottom layer
  • Cover the bottom layer with a layer of the coconut cream frosting, then add the pineapple filling on top. I only used half the pineapple filling in the end as I was worried it would be too much!
  • Add the second layer of sponge then completely cover the whole cake with the left over frosting
  • Decorate with the toasted desiccated coconut
Coconut Cream Layer Cake

Coconut Cream and Pineapple Layer Cake

As you can see from the, slightly dodgy, photo of the inside of the cake it is packed with filling and cream. The contrast in textures and flavours worked well, the cake sponge was a little on the dry side but the cream helped to balance this out. All in all, a tasty version of the coconut cake in less than half the time of the original! 🙂

 

Turkey and Cous Cous Stuffed Peppers

Turkey, Feta, and Cous Cous Stuffed Peppers: Halloween fun

Turkey, Feta, and Cous Cous Stuffed Peppers

Turkey and Cous Cous Stuffed Peppers

Turkey, Feta, and Cous Cous Stuffed Peppers

Halloween party food can be full of food colouring and artificial flavourings, which I try and avoid as much as I can when cooking for myself. When looking up Halloween food recipes it was difficult to find something that would appeal to children as well as adults, as well as being filling and fun!

image

Turkey, feta, and cous cous stuffed peppers

This idea came from Google images of similar creations posted by people and is a great way of creating the Halloween look with little effort. It can also be adapted to suit any dietary requirements, I chose to use Turkey mince, feta cheese and cous cous. I found these huge peppers that were perfect for making the ‘pumpkins’ as I was worried they would shrink quite a lot upon baking.

I also made the ‘pumpkins’ with friendly faces so my 3 year old nephew would not be too scared to eat his dinner! 🙂

Turkey, Feta and Cous Cous

Turkey, Feta and Cous Cous

Ingredients:

  • 6 Large yellow bell peppers
  • 500 g Turkey Mince
  • 200 g Feta cheese
  • 2 tbs Tomato puree
  • 250 ml Passata
  • 1 Courgette (diced)
  • 1 Medium onion (diced)
  • 2 Cloves garlic  (crushed)
  • 150 g Chestnut mushrooms (diced)
  • 100 g cous cous, prepared as advised on packaging
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  • In a frying pan, fry the onions and garlic in the oil until lightly browned then add the turkey mince and stir fry until half cooked
  • Add the courgettes, mushrooms and tomato puree stir frying until evenly combined
  • Add the passata and salt and pepper to taste, allow to simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool before adding the prepared cous cous and crumbled feta, carefully mixing in so that the feta stays in large chunks
  • In the mean time carefully cut off the top of the pepper so the stalk remains intact with the ‘lid’ and remove the core and seeds
  • Carve the faces into the peppers, you’ll probably be better at this than me so be creative! 😀
  • Line up all the peppers in a deep casserole dish and fill each ‘pepper pumpkin’ with the turkey, feta and cous cous stuffing. Replace the top of the pepper to complete the ‘pumpkin’ look
  • Bake the pumpkins at 180 degree C for 30-40 minutes until the peppers are cooked through. The filling is cooked so only needs to be warmed through

 

 

 

image

Turkey, feta, and cous cous stuffed poppers

Smoked Salmon and Avocado Sushi Maki Rolls

Smoked Salmon and Avocado Sushi Maki

 Smoked Salmon and Avocado Sushi Maki Rolls

Smoked Salmon and Avocado Sushi Maki Rolls

Smoked Salmon and Avocado Sushi Maki Rolls

I really enjoy eating sushi, but good sushi in the UK is very expensive to buy. Affordable sushi is quite uninspiring so you may as well make it at home!  I’ve attempted to make sushi in the past but have always managed to ruin the rice by overcooking it. This time I tried out a new recipe and the rice came out perfectly.

  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 2 cold cups water
  • 1 tbs sushi vinegar
  • 60g smoked salmon
  • half avocado, cut into chunky strips
  • 1 tsp wabasi
  • Nori seaweed sheets
  • Extra wasabi and sushi soy sauce to serve

Method:

  • Rinse the rice a couple of times until the water runs clear
  • Place the rice and 2 cups of cold water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the rice into a large mixing bowl and add the sushi vinegar and stir thoroughly to combine and coat all the rice. Allow to cool to room temperature before using to make sushi maki rolls.
  • Rolling the sushi maki rolls is quite difficult to explain in writing, so I’ve found this handy visual guide online to direct you to!  🙂
Smoked Salmon and Avocado Sushi Maki Rolls

Smoked Salmon and Avocado Sushi Maki Rolls

I used smoked salmon as sushi grade raw fish is difficult to come by in the north west of England. You can choose whatever filling you like and use as much wasabi in the rolls as you can stand. Serve with sushi soy sauce and extra wasabi.

Making your own sushi is a little fiddly and time consuming but well worth the effort. The rice should never be refrigerated as this causes it to harden immediately, so left over sushi rice should just be left in a covered bowl at room temperature.

I made this sushi make as part of an ‘Asian Inspired Afternoon Tea’ served along side ‘Braised Duck in Cucumber Cups’, ‘Thai Style Prawn Noodle Salad’ and ‘Chicken and Shitake Pot Stickers’.

'Asian Inspired' Afternoon Tea

‘Asian Inspired’ Afternoon Tea

Thai Style Prawn Noodle Salad

Thai Prawn Noodle Salad

 Thai Prawn Noodle Salad

Thai Style Prawn Noodle Salad

Thai Style Prawn Noodle Salad

This Thai style noodle salad can be served with with or without meat. The ingredients list is a extensive but it is actually a really simple and quick meal to throw together. Serve as a starter or bulk it out for a main meal. The salad dressing really makes this dish and the last minute addition of chilli and herbs takes it to another level! 😀

Thai Style Prawn Noodle Salad

Thai Style Prawn Noodle Salad

I served this noodle salad as part of an ‘Asian Inspired Afternoon Tea’ in little tea cups to replace the sandwiches that are usually served. As well as this noodle salad I also served ‘Smoked Salmon and Avocado Sushi’, ‘Chicken and Shitake Mushroom Potstickers’ and ‘Braised Duck in Cucumber Cups‘.

Ingredients

  • 12 raw large king prawns (alternatively you can use chicken or tofu)
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • pinch sugar
  • juice of half a lime
  • 50g vermicelli noodles
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • carrots, julienne
  • cucumber, julienne
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 3 tbs peanut butter
  • 3 tbs coconut milk
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • juice of half a lime
  • small bunch of coriander stalks
  • handful of coriander, chopped
  • Approx 10 mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • 1 Thai red chilli, finely sliced

Method

  • Peel and de-vein the prawns, mix up the marinade (fish sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sugar, lime) and thoroughly coat the prawns. Leave in the fridge until ready to cook.
  • Immerse the vermicelli rice noodles in  a bowl of boiled water and leave until the water is cooled enough to handle the noodles. The noodles should have re-hydrated so they are bendy but not falling apart when stirred together.
  • In the meantime, make the salad dressing by putting the honey, peanut butter, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice and coriander stalks into a blender and whizz up until smooth. Simple! 🙂
  • Drain the vermicelli and coat in 1 tsp sesame oil to stop them sticking together.
  • Just before serving, pan fry the prawns (no additional oil required) until just cooked.
  • In a large salad bowl, toss the vermicelli, carrots, cucumber, coriander, mint and chilli together (use your hands as it’s quicker and easier)
  • Add half of the salad dressing, you may need to add more but will not need it all (serve the remainder on the table so people can help themselves to extra), add the cooked prawns and sesame seeds. Give it all one final toss with some salad spoons and serve with an extra sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Thai Style Prawn Noodle Salad

Thai Style Prawn Noodle Salad

It’s been a while since I made this salad. Since then I’ve tried it again but made a hot version by stir-frying the dressing into hot noodles, adding chicken as well as prawns. The end result was tasty, a lot richer than the salad as the noodles soak up the dressing more. Definitely a good alternative if you want a hot meal! 🙂

Braised Duck in Cucumber Cups

Braised Duck in Cucumber Cups

Braised Duck in Pickled Cucumber Cups

This is a canape version of the Duck with Hoi Sin Sauce in Pancakes often found in your local Chinese restaurant. Created as part of an ‘Asian Inspired’ Afternoon Tea. I’ve previously used a similar recipe for Braised Duck with Spring Onion Pancakes, it’s a healthier version of crispy roast duck as it does not involve deep frying. This canape version is a little fiddly but looks impressive.

Braised Duck in Cucumber Cups

Braised Duck in Cucumber Cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 duck leg quarters
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • 100 ml dark soy sauce
  • 50 ml of Chinese rice wine
  • 100 ml water
  • 2 tbs five spice powder
  • 2 tbs cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 4 inch piece of root ginger smashed up
  • Large cucumber
  • 100 ml rice wine vinegar
  • 100 ml water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Hoi Sin sauce (to serve)
  • Spring onions, julienne (to serve)
Braised Duck in Pickled Cucumber Cups

Braised Duck in Pickled Cucumber Cups

 Method:

  • Duck: In  a large sauce pan, put all the ingredients for the duck together and bring to a slow boil. Simmer the duck legs for 10 minutes with the lid on the sauce pan and then leave to braise in the pan. The residual heat will finish off the cooking so don’t take off the lid! Once completely cooled, leave to one side until needed (Do it the day before and leave the whole pot in the fridge so the meat takes on even more of the lovely flavors)
  • Cucumber: Peel the cucumber and cut into two inch cups. Scoop out most of the watery seeds in the middle but leave the bottom intact so the filling doesn’t fall through. Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a large shallow dish and put the prepared cucumber cups in to pickle. Leave for up to 1 hour, but longer if you want it to be really sharp!
  • To assemble:
    • Take the duck out of the braising liquid and shred the duck meat finely.
    • Pat the cucumber cups dry and assemble onto a serving dish.
    • Spread a thin layer of Hoi Sin Sauce in the bottom of each cucumber cup, then stuff a big pinch of duck into the cup.
    • Finish off with a small dollop of Hoi Sin sauce and the spring onions.
'Asian Inspired' Afternoon Tea

‘Asian Inspired’ Afternoon Tea

As mentioned above, I served these Braised Duck in Cucumber Cups as part of an ‘Asian Inspired’ Afternoon Tea where the traditional sandwiches were replaced with Asian style savory canapes. I also made ‘Smoke Salmon and Avocado Sushi’, ‘Thai Prawn Noodle Salad’ and ‘Chicken and Shitake Mushroom Potstickers’. Recipes to follow shortly! 🙂

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit, Mango and Lime Zest

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit and Mango: 1st Blog Anniversary Post!

First Anniversary for Tea and Sesame!

A year has passed since Tea and Sesame came into being, starting off as an idea from a casual conversation over an afternoon tea this blog has become much more than I expected; a creative outlet to share my cooking and baking with like-minded people, a way to connect with people all over the world that I would otherwise be a stranger to, and the start of a major change in direction in my ‘real’ life…

Despite promises to myself to post recipes regularly, general life seemed to get in the way. Commuting and working long hours meant weekday dinners tended to be thrown together with little creative thought process and weekends were mostly spent catching up with friends and family with the odd fancier home cooked meal thrown in… Oh how things change! This year I’ve taken the (scary) step of giving up my steady job and challenging myself to fulfill my dream of working and living overseas. Hopefully this coming year will give me time to explore a new way of living and find out what I really want to do now that I am a ‘grown up’. I’ve got a year of travelling and work planned and will be documenting my journey through this blog, so I hope you will stick around to see what I discover…

This exciting adventure started off with a couple of weeks on vacation in Sri Lanka where I was introduced to new culinary delights that I will be sharing with you soon. But first I need to catch up with some recipes that I didn’t get a chance to write up before my holiday.

This post is dedicated to Mellissa, my foodie companion and inspiration for this blog. She is addicted to anything that contains coconut and like me needs a decent dessert to make a good meal complete… Enjoy! 😀

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit,  Mango and Lime Zest

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit, Mango and Lime Zest

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit and Mango

Ingredients:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 2 heaped tbs icing sugar
  • 3 leaves of gelatin (use agar agar for vegans)
  • Pulp of 3 passion fruits
  • Cubes of fresh mango
  • Zest of one lime

Method:

  • Pour the coconut milk, double cream and icing sugar into a sauce pan and gently warm up, turn off the heat as soon as it starts to simmer and do not allow it to come to a boil!
  • Prepare gelatin as instructed on the packet, then stir into the warmed liquid
  • Pour into small bowls/moulds/ramekins (whatever you want to serve them in) and put into the fridge to set (at least 2 hours for me)
  • When ready to serve, top with passion fruit pulp, cubed mango and lime zest
Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit,  Mango and Lime Zest

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit, Mango and Lime Zest

This dessert takes minutes to put together and is so easy to make but tastes so amazing! I served is as part of an ‘Asian inspired’ Afternoon Tea to celebrate a friend’s 30th birthday so served them in little shot sized cups, but you can make larger ones for a dinner party.

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit,  Mango and Lime Zest

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit, Mango and Lime Zest

The ‘Asian Inspired’ Afternoon Tea also consisted of Cardamom and Salted Caramel Profiteroles, Candied Walnut Carrot Cupcakes and Scones. Recipes to follow…

'Asian' Afternoon Tea

‘Asian’ Afternoon Tea