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… 🙂

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!

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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

 

 

 

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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! 🙂

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

Banana Loaf: 3 varieties in one week!

Banana and Chocolate Loaf

Banana and Chocolate Loaf

Banana and Walnut Loaf

Banana and Walnut Loaf

Banana Loaf with Chocolate Drizzle

Banana Loaf with Chocolate Drizzle

 

 

 

 

It’s been a busy week of banana loaf baking! As with most households, the delicious banana loaf starts off with a couple of overripe banana… I didn’t have that many to make three cakes, so ended up buying bananas specifically!

Banana and Chocolate Loaf

Banana and Chocolate Loaf

To start off with there is the Chocolate and Banana Loaf finished off with a sprinkle of flaked almonds. The recipe originates from the BBC Chocolate and Banana Cake but I didn’t have all the ingredients and simplified the method a little to make it quicker and easier to bake on a week night.

Ingredients:

  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • half tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 50ml milk
  • Extra chocolate chips/chunks (I used blobs of left over chocolate ganache)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees C, line and prepare a 2 lb loaf tin
  • Dry ingredients: mix the sugar, flour, bicarb, and cocoa in a large bowl
  • Wet ingredients: mash the bananas and whisk the eggs, then add the oil and milk and mix it all up
  • Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined then add the extra chocolate
  • Pour into prepared loaf tin, level off the top and sprinkle over the flaked almonds
  • Bake for up to 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes. (the original recipe says up to 1 hour and 15 minutes so you need to judge for yourself, and it depends on your own oven!)

 

Banana and Walnut Loaf

Banana and Walnut Loaf

A few days later came the banana and walnut cake, taken to a meeting for the Bumba Foundation of which I am a trustee. The Bumba Foundation is a UK based charity set up to build schools for children in Uganda, aiming to inspire and develop young people and communities to take positive action. The trustees have been working hard recently to raise funds to furnish new classroom blocks before the new academic year starts. What else could I do but bring along a snack to help keep the creative juices flowing? 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 100g softened butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 85g chopped walnuts
  • 50ml milk

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees C, line and prepare a 2 lb loaf tin.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together, add the milk and eggs then mix until well combined.
  • Mash the bananas and add to the butter mixture.
  • Fold the flour and baking powder into the wet ingredients then sprinkle over the walnuts.
  • Pour into prepared loaf tin, level off the top and top with a few whole walnuts for decoration.
  • Bake for up to 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes.
Banana Loaf with Chocolate Drizzle

Banana Loaf with Chocolate Drizzle

And finally, there is the plain banana loaf baked for a charity bake sale. The British Red Cross have an incredible Fire and Emergency Support Service that desperately needs a new vehicle to respond to emergencies such as house fires. We held a bake sale in the office and I baked this banana cake and some chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes (recipe to follow!) to help with eh fundraising.

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 190g self raising flour
  • 50ml milk
  • melted chocolate and icing sugar (for decoration)

Method:

  • Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin. Melt butter and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  • Remove from heat and add the mashed bananas, mix well.
  • Add the egg, mix well.
  • Stir in the flour and the milk.
  • Pour into the prepared tin and bake at 160 degrees C for 45 minutes
  • Once cooled, drizzle melted chocolate and dust with icing sugar

As you can see, all three banana loaves used slightly different methods. All had slightly different flavors and turned out pretty good! Banana cakes are loved by all and can be adapted for more of a decadent flavour. Whether for a charity bake sale, a treat for a meeting or to cheer up a friend, it  is a firm favourite for everyone… 😀

 

 

 

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with a Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

After staring at a bowl of ripening pears and wondering what to do with them (I like them crunchy!) I decided the only thing was to make a cake! I’ve been on a bit of a baking frenzy recently after a couple of months of resting the oven. I blame the gradual change in weather… as the British summer time comes to an end more weekends are spend indoors making comfort food until it’s time to come out of hibernation again…

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

I have a lovely memory of when I had a slice of plum crumble cake in a little tea shop remember exactly how tasty it was. Since then, I’ve really wanted to try a cake with a crumbly topping but haven’t really gotten round to it so when I saw this Delia Smith recipe, I knew I had to give it a try! I’ve never really been one to try Delia Smith recipes so why not start with this one?! 🙂

The recipe is taken directly from the website but I had some missing ingredients and substituted some, so here is what I used…

Ingredients

(For the cake)

  • 110g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbs milk
  • 3 ripe pears; peeled, cored and quartered

(For the topping)

  • 50g melted butter
  • 75g self raising flour
  • 30g dark brown sugar
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 40g flaked almonds
  • icing sugar (for dusting)

Method

Method

  • Mix the flour and  baking powder into a bowl, then add all the other ingredients (except the pears). Whisk together until evenly combined. Spoon the mixture into a prepared tin (I used a 18cm round tin, though the recipe advises for a 20cm tin.
  • Arrange the pears in a circle on top of the cake batter.
  • To make the topping, mix the flour and sugar in a bowl then add the melted butter and lightly crumble it with a fork.  After stir in the nuts, sprinkle the mixture all over the pears and bake near the centre of the oven for 35- 45 minutes at 180 degrees C.
  • Leave it to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before attempting to take the cake out of the tin
  • Just before serving, dust the surface with icing sugar.
Pear and Almond Cake

Pear and Almond Cake

This cake is fairly easy to put together but it looks like you spent a lot more time on it!

There isn’t a lot of cake batter so I would check the cake after 30 minutes of baking to ensure it doesn’t overcook. The cake itself is quite dense but the moisture of the pears helps to lighten it up. The crumbly almond topping gives a nice contrast too.

Overall I liked the final result but adding a flavouring to the sponge next time would make it even tastier?! A little cardamom or cocoa powder perhaps…

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Serve this pear and almond cake warm with a little ice cream or if you’re living in a colder climate some thick custard would make this cake an extra special treat! 😀

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos: Marinated Cod with Guacamole and Red Cabbage Slaw on Home Made Tortillas

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos

Having invited friends for dinner and wanting to spend a little more time cooking something special, I decided to have a ‘Mexican’ themed meal. Although I love to eat food, I’m not especially keen on cooking meals that have lots of steps. I’m a one pot wonder lover! 🙂

I decided try my hand at making my own tortillas, guacamole, and coleslaw to go with the tacos. So all in all, a lot more than one pot used! 😀

I cooked for 6 people, but there was plenty left over. So here goes…

Cumin and Lemon Marinated Cod

Cumin and Lemon Marinated Cod

  1. Fish

Ingredients

  • 500g white fish (I used cod, but any firm white fish works)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • Cut fish into big chucks, put in a medium bowl
  • Squeeze lemon juice over the fish, sprinkle over the cumin powder and salt and pepper
  • Toss the fish in the lemon juice and seasoning, then cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight
  • Take out an hour before cooking to allow the fish to come to room temperature
  • Grill the fish for 8 minutes in the oven (200 degrees C) or pan fry with a little oil until just cooked
Guacamole

Guacamole

2. Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 2 Avocados
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 tbs chopped coriander
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method

  • Roughly chop the avocado and squeeze over the juice of the lime, ensure all avocado is coated in lime juice
  • Sprinkle cayenne, cumin and salt over the avocado, then mash it all into a chunky paste with a potato masher or fork
  • Add the tomatoes, onions, garlic and coriander and toss it all together until evenly distributed
  • Cover and refrigerate, take out an hour before serving to bring to room temperature
Red Cabbage Slaw

Red Cabbage Slaw

3. Red Cabbage Slaw

Ingredients

  • Small head of red cabbage
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper

Method

  • Finally shred the cabbage, squeeze over the lime and drizzle over the oil
  • Sprinkle over the salt and pepper, toss it all together until cabbage is well coated
Tortillas

Tortillas

4. Tortillas

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup warm water

Method

  • Mix all ingredients together and knead for about 5 minutes
  • Portion into 16 balls of dough and roll out each one into a small tortilla (6-8 cm)
  • Dry fry each tortilla, on a high heat, for a minute on each side (it may take less time so keep an eye on them!)
  • Keep the cooked tortillas covered with a clean tea towel so they keep soft
Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos

I served all the elements of this dish in separate bowls so the guests could assemble their own tacos.  I also roasted a tray of sweet potatoes to go with the fish tacos, the flavours seemed to work quite well!  Put some extra sour cream and chopped coriander on the table too. 😀

 

 

 

 

Cardamom Cupcakes with Strawberry and Pistachio

Cardamom Cupcake with Fresh Cream, Strawberries and Pistachios

Cardamom Cupcakes with Strawberry and Pistachio

Cardamom Cupcakes with Strawberry and Pistachio

We’ve had a busy few weeks at home! There have been lots of visitors staying with us so I’ve had an excuse to bake some tasty treats… Does there always need to be an excuse to make cakes? If so, I’m sure I could think of one at the drop of a hat! 🙂

Strawberry Plant

Strawberry Plant

During the British summer there is an abundance of strawberries, the season is relatively short but they are oh so delicious! I tried to grow a couple of strawberry plants in pots this year but there wasn’t much of a harvest…though what we did get was delicious! Strawberries and cream… the quintessential British summer treat!

Home Grown Strawberries

Home Grown Strawberries

These Cardamom Cupcakes with Fresh Cream, Strawberries and Pistachios were a real pleasure to eat! I decided at the last minute to add the cardamom as an afterthought, I have a tendency to  add cardamom to any cake recipe I get away with!

Cardamom Cupcakes with Strawberry and Pistachios

Cardamom Cupcakes with Strawberry and Pistachios

Ingredients:

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 200g butter
  • 180g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs milk (add as required)
  • 1 tsp cardamom (seeds from about 7-8 pods ground up)
  • 300ml double cream
  • 2 tbs icing sugar
  • Strawberries (for decorating)
  • Pistachio nuts (toasted and crushed for decorating)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, line a 12 hole cupcake tin with paper cases
  • Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs one at a time
  • Fold in the flour and cardamom, adding milk if the batter is too thick
  • Half fill the paper cases and bake for 10-15 minutes
  • Allow cupcakes to cool on a wire rack, in the meantime beat the cream with the icing sugar until it is thick enough to pipe
  • Once the cupcakes are completely cool, decorate with the fresh cream, strawberries and pistachio nuts
Cardamom Cupcakes with Strawberry and Pistachio

Cardamom Cupcakes with Strawberry and Pistachio

These cupcakes are very quick to make and the contrasting colours mean they look very pretty! The cardamom adds an interesting background flavour, the strawberry adds some freshness, the pistachio gives a little added texture and the fresh cream brings all the flavours together…

Cardamom Cupcakes with Strawberry and Pistachio

Cardamom Cupcakes with Strawberry and Pistachio

I very rarely use fresh cream on cupcakes but after baking these little beauties, I am left wondering why! 😀

 

 

 

Laksa Prawn, Tofu and Yam Noodle Soup

Laksa Prawns with Tofu and Yam Noodle Soup

 

Laksa Prawn, Tofu and Yam Noodle Soup

Laksa Prawn, Tofu and Yam Noodle Soup

I’m currently trying to lose a little of my ‘cake weight’ by trying out the 5:2 diet. I’m sure you have already heard about this latest fad diet, but it basically relies on eating 2 non-consecutive days of no more than 500 calories (for women) and then eating up to your ‘Total Daily Energy Expenditure’ (a metric to calculate the amount of calories your body needs to function in a day). Sounds complicated but I use a calorie counting app to help me, so it’s simple!

As I dread the thought of being hungry, I’ve done lots of research into what foods to eat on ‘fast’ days. I’ve also read a lot of evidence that shows that fasting has huge benefits for health generally!

I tend to stick to highly spiced food for my fasting meals, I guess because the flavours are intensified when my body is really hungry! I’ve been sticking to lentil and vegetable curries/soups. These are really easy to make and portion up for a week’s worth of meals. However being a food lover, the idea of having the same meal  twice a week, week in week out, fills me with dread! So Laksa Prawns with Tofu and Yams Noodle Soup was born! 😀

Laksa Prawn, Tofu and Yam Noodle Soup

Laksa Prawn, Tofu and Yam Noodle Soup

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

  • 40g Yeo’s Laksa Paste
  • 14 pieces (114 g) Konnyaku – Yam Noodles (from your local Chinese supermarket)
  • 200g firm Silken Tofu- cubed
  • 3 Rehydrated Shitake mushrooms- sliced (reserve the water for cooking)
  • 100g Sugar Snap Peas
  • 200g Shrimp
  • Chopped Spring Onions (to serve)

Method:

  • Dry fry the Laksa paste until fragrant, add the prawns and stir fry
  • Add the water from the rehydrated mushrooms (stock), then the mushroom and sugar snap peas. Bring to boil
  • Reduce heat and add the noodles and tofu to warm through. Don’t over stir it as the tofu will fall apart!
  • Sprinkle with chopped green onions then serve!

This meal comes to 250 calories a portion. It’s not a measly portion either! 😉

All these ingredients can be bought from your local Chinese/Asian supermarket. I’m not claiming this recipe to be authentic in any way, but a lovely meal to look forward to when on a calorie restricted diet! 😀